The beginning of a year tends to put objectives into ones mind. Get fit! Work hard! Save money! Save the world! And in 2013 I set myself with the challenge of visiting the cinema once a week till the year came to a close. I completed it through sheer obsession, but I feel like I’ve developed some scars deep in my head, due to how much utter shit I’ve put myself through to accomplish the pointless goal. I just can’t stomach high-octane action films anymore. Make the explosions and dub step drops go away!
But it does mean I can provide a top ten hit list and a top ten shit list for you all to read.
‘Spring Breakers? Wolf Children? Not at this Vue! It’s Harry Hill The Movie and After Earth for you!’
10. Sound City
Dave Grohl (best known for his appearance in the X-Files) shares his love for an analog Neve recording console at the old studio, Sound City. Tales are told and an album worth of new music is formed with the likes of Stevie Nicks, Josh Homme, and Paul McCartney. Great times are had for all analog lovers, though their buddy Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) gets away with using digital because he’s an artist. He laughs nervously whenever it’s brought up.
9. Only God Forgives
A Korean style thriller drenched in red and blue neon. Ryan Gosling meanders around Thailand saying little to brooding synths, while the Thai police lieutenant causes mayhem and sings karaoke. While many found it to be self-indulgent nothingness, I feel it is a misunderstood piece of building atmosphere and subtle storytelling. Drive 2: Thailand Fisticuffs Adventure, it’s not.
Gravity is far from the best film of 2013, a lack of interesting character growth sees to that, but as a cinema experience Gravity is unparalleled. The 3D in this is what I imagine most thought Avatar would offer, with almost Disney ride levels of immersion. Spinning through space has never been so much fun, and the use of sound really captures an unknown and silent, um, space. Apart from Sandra Bullocks grunts and moans.
7. Django Unchained
On release it seemed Django’s existence was all about pissing Spike Lee off (who took his anger out on us by releasing a remake of Oldboy.), but really it was just a good old Western, I mean Southern, through the eyes of Tarantino. Everything is up-scaled for the sake of entertainment, and it isn’t the first time a film has poked fun at the racist past of America, see the hilarious Blazing Saddles. It doesn’t hit the heights of the best gun slingers, but it’s a fresh new lease of life for a fading genre.
6. Cloud Atlas
Cloud Atlas is a story spread across six eras, dealing with reincarnation and interconnecting events. A lot to take in, especially when the six tales switch to and fro on a constant basis. While it may cause stress headaches for some, I found the stories of love, adventure, comic misunderstandings, fast food clones, dangerous scoops (not the ice cream ones), and a stone age future a feast for the eyes as they flashed on by. Fragments of moments, sometimes achingly beautiful, other times like watching a sequel to The Matrix. Just like life itself.
5. From Up On Poppy Hill
A sweet tale of saving a school social club and falling in love, all to gorgeous backdrop of 60’s Japan. Nostalgia is on the mind when watching it, despite never being part of Japan 1963. It has that funny effect due to the attention to detail of the era, a feeling cgi could never hope to evoke. The social club is so full of life it made me yearn to sign up to one of the societies, maybe philosophy. Though I’d want no part in the incestuous rumblings going on. Not so sweet anymore!
4. The World’s End
Just five friends, on a night out, having a good time. That’s all The World’s End really is. Not including the town being full of ink filled robots. But details do get a little hazy on a good night out, and The World’s End is certainly that. It isn’t just a constant barrage of jokes and strangeness either, as it delivers well on the theme of growing up and how the past will always be the past, never to relive. Quite sad once you’ve sobered up.
3. You’re Next
Each year there tends to be one decent horror lurking among the repetitive jumps and blood belches, and You’re Next was 2013’s. A rich family get together in a mansion in the middle of nowhere, the perfect set for lots of murder! It sounds like the usual fluff one would come to expect from the home invasion genre, but You’re Next avoids the typical pitfalls by having the heroine plant her own. Having such a strong lead fight back creating Home Alone style traps with such confidence brings out the joy in invading. Fun for all the family.
2. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
Alpha Papa could have so easily ended up on the shit list if it took the typical TV to film approach, going on holiday. Thankfully, Alan stays rooted in his good old home of Norfolk, giving excellent radio chit-chat for North Norfolk Digital. But this time he’s doing it while under a siege from his DJ pal Pat, who got the sack. As sharp as the classic show without repeating the old jokes, Alpha Papa is how to do TV right. On film. Though I seriously think they should have kept with the title ‘Hectic Danger Day’. Would have made my day, everyday.
Detective Bruce Robertson wants a promotion, and to do it he intends to destroy his rivals in any way possible. Bruce revels in sex, drugs and abuse, whilst having the occasional hallucination, a man who clearly enjoys the seedier pleasures in life. He’s a despicable being who initially disgusts, but his devilish plans acted out with such gusto quickly turn opinion around. This is a film which pushes as far as it can, and as Bruce mind falls apart, extra depth is added to provide more than just a trashy shock comedy. The taxi singalong scene to ‘Silver Lady’ with David Soul is so completely bizarre and amazing, it propelled Filth to number 1 in this here film list. Even if you end up hating it, you’ll certainly never forget it, I can guarantee that much at least.
More Hits: Blue Jasmine, Captain Phillips, Elysium, Pacific Rim, Side Effects, Star Trek Into Darkness, Stoker, The Last Stand, This Is The End, Upstream Color
10. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy was a pretty stupid film, but the type of stupid everyone can get behind. The sequel is a really stupid film, old jokes regurgitated with added levels of stupidity, to the point were the funny/stupid scale resets and we end up back at boring. The 24 hour news concept was an opportunity for fresh new ideas, but it obsesses with the past and the new is just a random mishmash of random plot curves outside the news room. It tries so hard to make us laugh, but nothing sticks. I like plastic!
9. Kick Ass 2
Kick Ass 2 is another confused sequel in the shit list. The violence, characters and general scale have been increased, there are gangs of vigilantes now, but everything good has been left in the trash. Returning characters return as lifeless husks, their old charm sucked away. Hit Girl as a teenager doesn’t work the same as the little girl who dropped c bombs, and Kick Ass has lost most of his comedy loser streak. It should have heeded Colonel Stars And Stripes words: ‘Try to have fun. Otherwise, what’s the point?’
8. Gangster Squad
A carefully cut trailer showed a blazing gangster epic with style and an all-star cast. The end product had the all-star cast, gangsters, and it may have blazed a bit. Blazed to the ground. The best bits are poor imitations of classic gangster movies, and each character felt more like a weapon class in a video game, than an actual fleshy human. Gangster Squad was my first film of 2013, a real bad omen for the year.
7. World War Z
Brad Pitt travels the world running away from hordes of cgi zombies and drinking Pepsi when he needs a break. Close up shot as he guzzles it down. At that point he forgets about his super perfect family, the zombies and his mission at hand. The can empties, and it all comes flooding back, and so he yawns as the zombies burst through the door. The sugar rush didn’t last long enough.
6. A Good Day To Die Hard
Father and son shoot guns in Russia. Action scenes are blurry, as is the mind on recalling memorable set pieces later on in time. This could have an original title and be seen as a completely crappy new action film, but it’s the new Die Hard. Which makes it all the worse. The only thing it shares with the franchise is character names, and the iconic ‘Yeepee ki ya mother *BOOM*’… 12A has been a curse to the action genre.
5. Bullet To The Head
Sylvester Stallone goes to Russia to meet his son, wait, that’s not it. Sylvester Stallone goes off somewhere to rescue his daughter, no, no, actually something like that does happen, but I was thinking of another film. Sylvester Stallone has to get along with Mark Wahlberg, 2 Guns… and this, but it’s Sung Kang! Bullet To The Head is so offensively bland that trying to recall moments just brings up memories of other action blasters and depressingly bad axe fighting.
4. Oz: The Great And Powerful
Oz: The Great And Powerful is a prequel that reveals many interesting facts. Did you know the wicked witch of the west used to be a hot piece of ass dressed in tight leather? And that Oscar ‘Oz’ Diggs was as interesting as a deflated hot air balloon, taking control merely because everyone was idiotic rather than being a man of great character? And that the world of OZ is actually a place so unbelievable and bloated with cgi, that it ends up appearing sterile to all that view it? The Great And Powerful is full of these little tidbits.
Epic shrinks normal girl down to snail size, and here she joins the little people to fight evil blue things who want to rot the land because they just do. A formulaic tale made by suits who want nothing more than to hypnotise children so they can squeeze money from parent’s pockets. Except the magical garden feels so manufactured (Comedy animal duo, bad boy knight love interest, parent problems, singer shoe-in, teamwork lessons and blah, blah, blah) that a child would never fall for it, they all just ran around the cinema screaming for air. And more popcorn. Epic fail more like, hurr hurr.
2. The Hangover Part III
The Hangover Part III succeeds in replicating the sensation of a hangover like no other. Tiring, painful and everyone irritates. The post credits scene brings forth the first moment of hilarity, though half the laughs may be that of relief. The trailer suggested that the film did have some good ideas, but they are mere flashes among the tedious drawl of a man baby and his boring friends.
R.I.P.D (Rest In Peace Department) is were cops with awful personalities go to hunt down the dead that hide out in the real world. A bit Men In Black, but without the humour and ever lovable Will Smith. Detective Nick Walker has the personality of a rotting corpse, fitting really, and so the time spent hunting for ‘deados’ and gold makes for a truly painful experience. It’s packed full of crazy ideas, but R.I.P.D layers it with a truly tedious set of characters and goals. And so the crazy suddenly becomes the mundane, and R.I.P.D suddenly becomes the worst film of 2013.
I’d rather be a deado than sit through another 52 films at my local VUE, and that says it all.
More Shit: Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2, Escape Plan, GI Joe Retaliation, Iron Man 3, Man Of Steel, Now You See Me, Oblivion, Oldboy, The Wolverine, Thor Dark World