Friday, 31 December 2010

2010 Over

Across the year I've managed to endure 181 films and now as 2010 rolls to a close it's time to indulge in a spot of obsessive list making under the flimsy veil of stepping back to assess the year.

Most end of year film lists concern themselves with cinema releases, so I've blindly followed suit and compiled 10 favourites, but the big screen isn't the whole story here at The Ape. It's also about hunting for gems outside of the regular film watching avenues and tolerating an abnormal amount of complete crap in the process and to honour these facets of the blog there's also 5 little screen gems alongside the 10 worst abhorrencies that flopped across my retinas, irrespective of screen size.

Enough waffle, to the lists:

10 Favourite New Big Screen Films:

1: Bad Lieutenant
A never less than gleeful pairing of Herzog and Cage that pushes drug addled lunacy to a remarkable level of graceful genius, the soul-dancing scene alone is enough to make this number one.
Fucking Iguanas.

2: Inception
Superb style amalgam that saw extravagant action set pieces pinned into place by an immensely enjoyable unravelling puzzle. Similar, I imagine, to watching Professor Layton giving James Bond a good dose of the buggery.

3: Four Lions
Rubber Dinghy Rapids. Pretty much sums it up.

4: The Social Network
Given how senselessly boring and fucking tedious it is in everyday life I never thought that such and engrossing movie could be wrangled out of people talking to each other.

5: Toy Story 3
Incredibly affecting litany of primary colours which contains both a funny bit with a cucumber and an exploration of the emotional turmoil that comes with the vampiric curse of agelessness.

6: Shutter Island
Mesmerising dream imagery punctuates a brilliant detective tale which is the cinematic equivalent of that duck/rabbit visual illusion, the twist being a simple shift in perception.

7: Monsters
Succeeds by eschewing the standard monster movie razzle dazzle and instead opts for an all pervading gentleness.

8: Rare Exports
Menace, dread and Christmas steadily combine in perfect ratio resulting in the breathtaking sight of scores of naked old men running through a snowy mountainous backdrop chasing a helicopter full of kidnapped children.

9: Predators
A lesson in how to successfully hark back to big, dumb eighties action fun when plot was acceptably secondary to crazed baddies, breathless gunfights and witty one liners.

10: The Hole In 3D
More eighties throwback fun, but this time it's a kids movie remade through the sombre lense of modern japanese horror cinema.

5 Favourite Little Screen Films:

1: A Serbian Film [Srpski film]
Expert decent into bleakness laced with apalling imagery. It probably isn't the deep allegorical parable talked about as the excuse for such nastiness, but it is like Cronenberg's Videodrome with Hardcore Porn replacing Television and that's good enough for me.

2: Valhalla Rising
The point at which primitive brutal violence, vibrantly coloured graphic novels and Andrei Tarkovsky meet.

3: A Town Called Panic [Panique au village]
Many things accused of being zany and inventive blatantly aren't. This blatantly is. I feel almost privileged to be able to partake in such a unique sense of humour.

4: Rec 2
Makes the statement "When we run out of new ideas, let us take the most disparate of the old ones and force them together into well honed genius" and sticks to it.

5: White Ribbon [Das weisse Band - Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte]
Has just enough of the story filled in to create an astonishingly vivid portrayal of turn of the century German village life and enough blanks left out to make the sense of cloying threat that preempts the country's future history genuinely insidious.

10 Shittest Films:

1: The Last Airbender
A film whose high point was somebody pointing at a child and shouting 'he's a bender' which in enjoyment levels puts it on a par with standing in the dinner queue at primary school. Given Shyamalan is now blatantly refusing to listen to anybody, the next step is to tattoo 'Complete Shit' on the inside of his arsehole and see if he gets the hint the next time he jams his head up there.

2: American Psycho 2
Fucking awful cash in that is such an insult to the original, whilst being an embarassment to itself, that I'm amazed that Brett Easton Ellis hasn't attempted some kind of suicide bombing on Hollywood.

3: Cats & Dogs: The Revenge Of Kitty Galore/Furry Vengeance
I couldn't decide which was more asinine, talking animals or Brendan Fraser. However the argument is eclipsed by a far bigger question which is why do people keep putting either of them in new films?

4: A Nightmare On Elm Street [2010 Remake]
As Hollywood's remake obsession becomes more and more desperate we got this before original Elm St had time to get cold in the memory. I can only assume this was done to ensure clarity in the viewer that the new version was unmitigated bollocks both by comparison and on its own terms.

5: Prince Of Persia
Jake Gyllenhall made me wish I was watching Donnie Darko, Ben Kingsley made me wish I was watching Sexy Beast and Gemma Arterton made me wish I was watching anything but this moronic shit.

6: Haunting In Connecticut
Massively distasteful, badly played out nonsense with the added insult of purporting to be true because there had actually been a haunting reported in Connecticut some time in the eighties which was nothing to do with anything in this film.

7: Acacia
Redefined tedium and did so with a glaring absence of style usually associated with Asian horror cinema.

8: Ghost In The Shell: Innocence
Would frequently get so lost in bad philosophical codshit that it appeared to forget altogether that it was meant to be a sequel to Ghost In The Shell. In fact it forgot altogether that it was meant to be enjoyable, exciting or watchable.

9: Wolfman
Fumbled disaster with Anthony Hopkins scoring the incredible feat of sneering contemptuously at a film he was starring in whilst he was acting in it. There's foresight.

10: The Last Exorcism
Promises and then thinks it's being clever by refusing to deliver before melting down in a train wreck of ugly stupidity.

I raise my glass to 2011 and another year filled to the brim like Baulty's teas with both the absurd and the complete turds. Bring them on.


  1. Funnily enough, Ghost In The Shell: Innocence is the film that sprang to mind watching Inception, in terms of enjoyment levels. Both mark nadirs of cinematic experience for me. I haven't actually seen many of the others - Bad Lieutenant was ace and Predators was a lot of fun too.

  2. I haven't separated out what I saw in the cinema and at home, but everything was released in the cinema in 2010 (even if saw it at home).

    1) Inception
    Nolan's wildly imaginative puzzle of an action movie was mainstream Hollywood movie-making at it's finest. Di Caprio holds everything together with a brilliantly, multi-layered performance. The exposition, of which there is plenty in the first hour or so, is handled expertly and visually it is remarkable. While not very deep it is always very clever (some might say too clever it comes across as smug) and is packed with more ideas than everything I saw that isn't in this 10.

    2) Toy Story 3
    The greatest final part of a trilogy ever made.

    3) Four Lions
    The funniest film in several years with a brilliantly poignant touch at the end that elevates it to masterpiece.

    4) The Social Network
    The best on screen dialogue since the Coen's last movie elevates what could have been a dull movie about Facebook into a stunning film about success, greed, and social status.

    5) Winter's Bone
    A subtle reworking of film noir as 17 year old Ree searches for her meth dealing Father who has put their family home up as collateral on his bond. Jennifer Lawrence should win every best actress award going.

    6) Bad Lieutenant : Port of Call New Orleans
    A welcome return of the real Nic Cage. Bonkers.

    7) Rec 2
    An unbelievably brilliant horror movie that manages to give a well worn genre a genuinely new spin and instantly puts it up there with the genres very best.

    8) Shutter Island
    Despite a fairly obvious twist Scorsese's pulp thriller is a cracker. Di Caprio gives his second stellar performance and the dream imagery is gorgeous.

    9) Green Zone
    Greengrass and Damon reteam for a great action thriller whose biggest problem is the un-necessary weight added by the setting (Iraq) and the last line of the movie being in the trailer.

    10) Kick Ass
    On first viewing this was a complete joy; wild, fun, depraved, exciting. On second viewing it seemed to be trying a bit too hard. But that first time was great.

    Those that just missed out but are still well worth checking out included Exit Through The Gift Shop (Banksy's excellent documentary), Precious, Iron Man 2, Scott Pilgrim, Mother, The Town, A Town Called Panic, Exam, How To Train Your Dragon and Up In The Air (which I saw in 2009 so didn't count).

    The worst films of the year, in no particular order except...
    1) A Nightmare on Elm Street
    The stillborn remains of studio execs gangraping the original. Unpleasant in every concievable way.

    Prince of Persia
    Big loud and vacuous it can never work when the maguffin is a reset button; although no-one figures out is a reset button until you've sat through 2 hours of expensive effects which end up meaning nothing.

    Last Airbender
    Better than The Happening isn't really a compliment, but it's true. Flat, bland, unintentionally snigger inducing and as 3D as a piece of A4.

    Cop Out
    Awful attempt from Kevin Smith to recreate the 80's action/comedy buddy movie. Willis looks embarrassed to be there. A few moments of none awfullness are present in Sean William Scott's 5 minute cameo.

    Without doubt the best Twilight movie. That does not actually make it any good though.

    Clash of the Titans
    Sam Worthington suggests Avatar may have been a fluke as he has no charisma whatsoever while Gemma Arterton gives her second Keanu-esque performance (after Prince of Persia). As dull as the image becomes through the 3D glasses.

    Overall I found it to be a good year for movies, much better than 2009. Here's hoping 2011 matches it.

  3. I forgot to mention in the stuff that just missed out section both Tron and Monsters, which have been discussed here, and The American which hasn't and was only narrowly edged out by Green Zone.

  4. Can't grumble at all about these choices, although I'm not entirely convinced by Inception yet. More well made bollocks from Nolan I suspect, although I will give it another watch. But I just can't figure out the point of Kick Ass apart from "swearing child."

    Toy Story 3, Shutter Island, Four Lions, Social Network, Bad Lieutenant all definitely. I'd also give shout outs to Scott Pilgrim, The Killer Inside Me, The American, Bonded by Blood, A Prophet, Piranha, The Town, Takers, both Megamind and Despicable Me. Actually, Burlesque was pretty good as well.

    Bad movies - the Tourist was pretty ropey (did I hear Johnny Depp's performance is up for a Golden Globe? What?) Tron Legacy could've been so great, but wasn't. Expendables had the worst script of the year. And I've just remembered Bounty Hunter. A remake of Midnight Run with the ex wife in the Charles Grodin role - what could go wrong? A masterclass in bad filmmaking.

    But worst film of the year, hands down - Gulliver's Travels. And I didn't even have to watch it. I don't want to do this dance.

  5. Midnight Run doesn't need to be remade, it's not even in a box-office-troubling foreign language. Talking of remakes, I forgot one film I did see in 2010 that hasn't been mentioned yet - Edge of Darkness, which is a remake of an early 80s British TV show. Having now seen the original I can say it's much better. The film takes all the key elements of the show and drops them, turning it into a run-of-the-mill thriller instead.

  6. You can't beat Midnight Run (I've got the Elfman soundtrack in the car) but it could be done again with a twist. I like The Front Page for example, but His Girl Friday benefits from the inclusion of an ex-wife.

    Edge of Darkness would have made my ten most mediocre films of 2010. I didn't know it was a old UK show, but it makes sense. It'll now past into history as Mel Gibson's last film.

  7. Yeah, Midnight Run is class. I can't imagine how you'd improve on it really. The original Edge of Darkness is all about cold war politics and the nuclear threat + is generally nihilistic and understated - check it out if you get chance, it's rather good.

    The remake misses all the subtlety, and most of the key characters, and sets about turning it into an easily digestible, unimaginative story about one man's quest to avenge his daughter's death.

  8. I thought Edge of Darkness was pretty good for two acts and then got in a big damn rush. It was as if Gibson's character suddenly realised there was only 20 minutes left and rushed killing everyone and then Winstone decided to change for no reason. A shame because it was a good revenge thriller til then. Not great, but far from bad. I've not seen the original, but that is sure to be denser due to the longer runtime.

    Gibson has a new film out soon; Jodie Foster directed The Beaver. It's about a man trying to win back his family's heart by talking thru a glove puppet of a beaver. It's been delayed about a year because he went a tiny tad nuts.

    Like it or not Inception should at least be praised for not being just another franchise movie and actually being original (as in not based on something or a remake). Helen did spot something that makes no sense though when we watched it the other day. Why doesn't Arthur wake up in dream 1 when the van rolls?

    Unfathomably, yes, Depp is nominated for best actor (musical/comedy) at the golden globes; for both the thoroughly mediocre The Tourist and Alice in Wonderland. And if that wasn't daft enough, True Grit got no nominations, allegedly because the globes wanted to class it as a comedy while the Coens said no, it's a drama.

    The Bounty Hunter isn't actually a remake, is it?

  9. No Bounty Hunter's a rip off rather than a remake.

    I've remembered another terrible movie from 2010 - The Devil, in which a slice of toast is used to prove the existence of Satan. From the mind that brought you Last Airbender

  10. I've just seen one... Salt. Probably not quite bad enough to be put on my worst of list, but not good. Not good at all.