More prompt, more films, less hate, more love. Isn’t that what everybody wants? And so, here are the films of 2015, featuring more romance, more action, more breakdowns, more murder.
10. Inside Out
If you turned somebody inside out, what would you see? A lot of muscle, no doubt, though the inside out of this film is of the mind rather than the gooey innards. It splits each emotion into a different character, helping make some sense of how we manage to function on a day to day basis, to kids and adults alike. When watching the film, your Joy will be running rampant around the mind control deck, with Sadness sometimes popping in to press a few buttons. Or you’ll just laugh at the sliced up dog, then cough awkwardly. I’m just emotionally stunted.
With Inside Out you could say Pixar are back in business, as long as you can scrub The Good Dinosaur from your memories. Let it fall into the abyss in which old memories go.
Carol works over something like Blue Is The Warmest Colour, purely because it doesn’t take the whole lesbian love story and stuff it full of soft porn scenes which feel more like a fetish of the director than to display anything truly passionate (at least that’s what I got from reading up on how the scenes were filmed). Instead Carol focuses on the romance, and the mystery that is Carol, all drenched in a hazy dream like cinematography. Few films can lull you into such comfort. It’s almost like you’re wrapped up in that fur coat she wears.
8. Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie
I grew up watching Charlie Brown cartoons, always enjoying them, though never quite getting the grasp of the references and psychoanalysis each character spouts out. Returning to Peanuts in recent times has revealed that extra depth that flew over my head like a charging Red Baron, and the Peanuts love continued. It truly is a show which speaks to children and adults alike. And the prospect of a modern Charlie Brown was enough to keep me in bed just thinking about it. Good grief.
Thankfully my fever dreams and gloomy thoughts have been put to rest. Charlie Brown and Snoopy: The Peanuts Movie (Just so you know whose in it) has taken the loveable crappy looking show and turned it into a fuzzy felt dream. Snoopy the dog doesn’t act like a Minion, nor does Charlie Brown start cracking jokes whilst succeeding at whatever it is he’s planning on doing. It’s usually kite flying or baseball, though this time the focus is the Little Red Haired Girl.
It might play it safe, but that’s okay. We need time to readjust to the new visual style and re familiarise ourselves with all the characters so we can remind ourselves why Peanuts is so special, and have the desire to invest in further sequels which will push the envelope that little bit more each time. Isn’t that right, Charlie Brown? (Say it like Linus. Please.)
7. Mad Max Fury Road
The film which is quite literally there and back again. It’s like a hyper violent apocalyptic Wacky Races (something which the new Wacky Races comic seems to be digging into), and it throws out the expected action film cliches such as romance sub-plots and damsels in favour of equals who work together for a greater cause. Which happens to be freeing the ‘breeder’s from falling into the damsel role, and finding a little bit of freedom in the wasteland whilst they’re at it.
Being hunted down by an army of crazed men, teeth covered in sparkling Valhalla spray, and a maniac who plays a double stringed guitar strapped to the front of his vehicle is a terrifying prospect, but it’s just another day in Mad Max. The sheer mentality of the action, which avoids the use of cgi for the most part, is the very essence of what people see as action films in their heads, despite rarely getting it in reality. You almost wouldn’t mind trying your chances out there.
What a wonderful day. (It was going to end up somewhere)
6. 13 Minutes (Elser)
What ifs are always fun to think about, but in the case of 13 Minutes, it’s a frustrating what if. The timespan of 13 minutes made the difference between a living Hitler and a dead Hitler, and as with most things, chance got in the way of perfect calculation. This is the film about Georg Elser, a Thurston Moore-ish looking kind of guy, and how he tried to stop the future from becoming the one we got.
It’s interesting to see the planning in action, it’s even more interesting to see how the Nazis end up so baffled on how a German could hate their party so much. Keeping interest in both the before and after is how 13 Minutes excels in the time it has to deliver the drama, and it works as a history lesson to remind us of the freedom fighter who was on the edge of being lost in time.
Every other film around the beginning of each year seems to be based on a true story. Biopics are all the rage during Oscar season, often referred to as bait, and whilst many of them are interesting, few take it further and put some lingering memories into your head. Foxcatcher is one of those, feeling more like a movie than a documentary played by lookalikes and extras.
It tells a story of rich man, John E du Pont (Steve Carell), training poor man, Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum), at wrestling, and both get a little closer, a little richer, a little madder till things erupt in a very literal sense. When money and fame are part of the game, stability is the price we pay.
The unhinged performance of Steve Carell and the bleak, cold empty atmosphere make for the best wrestling film since The Wrestler gave the sport the Requiem for a Dream treatment. Great nose on Carell, too.
4. It Follows
After It Follows, you may start looking around a little more. You’ll see someone walking in a straight line towards you. Maybe it’s a friend, maybe it’s a stranger. But as it approaches, you run, and hope it doesn’t follow. People might wonder just why you’ve jumped over a school fence to get away from them, but better to be safe than sorry. For It Follows is a modern horror tale which tells the dangers sex can bring. An STD from hell.
It’s the reincarnation of John Carpenter, the visual step child of Drive, and the future of young composers and directors butting heads to make a real horror show. Add the chilling synth-ridden soundtrack to your collection, and you can experience many chills on the bus or when walking about. That’s what I did for an extra added sense of sick day to day pleasure. I even ran. Didn’t jump any fences though.
3. The Tale of The Princess Kaguya
Miyazaki may have bowed out with The Wind Rises, but it doesn’t mean the end of Ghibli (though they have gone on hiatus since…). The Tale of The Princess Kaguya is from that other guy, you know, the one who gave us the deeply depressing Grave of The Fire Flies, and the increasingly miserable Pom Poko (It’s Isao Takahata). He hasn’t cheered up much with this classic Japanese tale come to life, but he’s brought about one of the most beautiful films of all time. My eyes water every time I watch it, my vision swept away by the watercolour waves.
The hand drawn animation which evokes old Japanese art paints a pretty picture, one in which each scene could be framed and put up in a gallery, and it shows just what it’s like to be a real princess in feudal Japan, adding the history and depth any good painting should have. This ain’t no Disney princess. Nor is it a modern day Kate Middleton princess either. From what we see outside of the castle walls anyway…
If you want to be good at something, most of the time you practise your ass off for weeks, months, years, however long it takes till you reach a point were you feel some level of satisfaction. But that’s just not good enough. You should want to be one of the best, and to be the best you have to beat the rest, no matter how much you must hurt on a psychological level, or how much you must bleed. And you’ve gotta bleed.
Whiplash presents all this hard work in the form of jazz drumming, and has J.K Simmons play a sergeant like teacher, think Full Metal Jacket, barking orders, throwing insults, along with cymbals. The films title doesn’t lie when it comes to what you’ll get, and by the end of it you’ll be browsing the jazz aisle of your nearest music shop for some Charlie Parker. Might not have you picking up a set of sticks though.
1. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Sometimes a film can do more than simply entertain you; it can change you. Birdman is a fascinating look at ones man’s slowly bubbling meltdown, with the camera always following, never wandering. It’s all one big stage performance, with the backstage and front stage events starting to blur, and Michael Keaton pulls it off with full conviction, with a parallel between Birdman and his own days of playing Batman. He might as well be having this crisis, especially looking at how hot property super hero movies are at the minute. Right role in the wrong era.
The change doesn’t come from smart cinematography or the unravelling of the story and everyone involved within it, but from one speech about criticism. Critics takes hard work and tear it apart without creating much themselves. They just push labels down readers throats, no risk, and suddenly the world is against you. Because of that, the shit list doesn’t seem so fun, and all I can express is love. Because ultimately, your review isn’t important, and neither is this list.
Umm, and that’s the top ten, I guess.
10 Honourable Mentions
Bridge of Spies – Swap a spy true story, delivered by the ever dependable Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and the Coen Brothers.
Cobain Montage of Heck – Kurt’s personal recordings brought to animated life, not just talking heads. One for prying eyes.
Crimson Peak – Welcome to Del Toro’s haunted house, containing plenty of ghosts, ghouls, and romantic fools.
Ex Machina – Whilst Terminator continues its descent into nonsense, Ex Machina steps in to show just why we should fear the bot, or those who create them. Best dance scene of 2015, too.
Inherent Vice – Drugs and paranoia mixed into a detective mystery case makes for bewildering viewing. Take a trip, then watch it again to try and unravel yourself.
Lost River – Ryan Gosling directs a David Lynch movie, and who knows if he realises this. A dark surreal journey, which is probably why the DVD is already £2 in stores.
Slow West – An adventure to find one man’s love, even if they don’t have much love for them. Slow build up for a slow west. Feat. Django Django.
Song of the Sea – Irish folklore plunged deep into the animated sea. It doesn’t drown at the bottom, it keeps on swimming, evoking Ghibli whilst still staying rooted to the mythology. Cute cartoon dog featured.
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens – A movie mouth wash, cleaning out all the bad memories of Episodes I, II, and III.
Straight Outta Compton – Dr. Dre, who isn’t even a real doctor, comes off smelling like roses thanks to his involvement, but otherwise this is a hip hop biopic which hits hard. Shuffle to the beat in your seat.
Not a bad year, all things considered. Even when everything else is a mess, there is still a chance to sit down and escape, even if it’s only for an hour and a half. If you creep on over to https://channelfilm.wordpress.com/ sometime soon (or even today), you can fall deeper into the dreams that movies bring. Or just feel disconnected by all the waffle that an opinion brings.
Till next year, Bing Bong.