Blah blah blah, another year done with, blah blah, isn't mainstream cinema shit, waffle waffle, I like weird films, I wish my local cinema would show more fucked up shit etc. etc. blah blah, here's the good ones and the bad ones.
10 Favourite New Films That I Saw On A Cinema Screen
The multiplex continues to suffocate under wave after wave of banality, what I saw wasn't of particularly high standard and what I didn't see speaks a whole other story (Movie 43, Warm Bodies, Haunting In Connecticut 2, Identity Thief, Jack The Giant Slayer, The Last Exorcism 2, GI Joe 2, Scary Movie 5, Hangover 3, After Earth, White House Down, Turbo, RED2, Smurfs 2 etc. etc.), despite this there's still plenty of great films out there. There's still the usual high standard festival fare, refreshing oddities still appear on city multiplex listings and a few gems even manage to creep into the local fleapit now and again. Here's 10;
Who'd have thought after all my bitching about the ingrained growing rot in the multiplex that a mainstream one-two of Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in space would be my film of the year. Well it is, so either you can wipe that judgemental look off your face or you can fuck off.
2: Big Bad Wolves [Mi mefahed mezeev hara]
Peadophiles are not funny. Torture is not funny. Corruption is not funny. And yet this film, armed with these themes, milked genuine belly laughs from me. This then made it all the worse when moments later it began punching me in the gut instead. Outstanding.
3: Spring Breakers
Look at all my shit. Look at all my shit. Look at my one dimensional tits, beer and partying. Look at all my shit. Look at my imperceptible slide into mania. Look at all my shit. Look at my gentle shimmering dream states. LOOK at all my shit. Look at my rich textural examination of the human condition via Britney Spears covers. Look at all my SHIT.
4: A Field In England
A remarkable power-play ably handled by an excellent small cast. You know you're watching something special when a grinning man walking out of a tent in slow motion terrifies you, and this is before you have to get through the climactic mind-blowing hallucinogenic meltdown.
5: Only God Forgives
Neon light, stylish ciphers, and inventive swearing. Enough for me.
6: Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
I think that a considerable amount of effort would have to be invested to fuck up a Partridge movie. Fortunately all that effort seems to have gone in to making it brilliant instead.
7: The Congress
To begin with I marvelled at the courage behind attacking Hollywood's studio system with your first American movie, then I marvelled at the invention found in creating a future where the party drug of choice turns you into animation, finally I marvelled as the fast unravelling threads of insanity were skillfully brought together and tied into a neat ending. Originality isn't dead yet.
8: the Stone Roses: Made Of Stone
Regardless of your opinion of the band in question, it's impossible to deny Shane Meadows' ability to not only capture but also directly communicate raw human emotion. Here joy and elation palpably spills from the screen to smother you with nice.
9: ABCs Of Death
With 26 short films there's invariably going to be a couple of stinkers. The solution on offer here is to make sure there's also a high proportion of excellent ones and then sprinkle in a few that will destroy minds. 'L' still swims through my darker thoughts now and again.
Unlike other heist movies that rely on wit, charm and glamour, Boyle's effort relies on bodily harm, confusion and shaved genitalia. Boyle wins.
5 Favourite Films I Watched On A Little Screen
Proving the rude health of film in 2013 three of these should have been in the big screen 10, but time and/or distance were prohibitive so I watched them on my telly instead.
1: The Act Of Killing [Director's Cut]
You know that satisfying moment in an argument where realisation dawns on the other person that they are actually in the wrong and they're forced to relent? This is kind of like that, only on a gigantic humanitarian scale that's quite breath-taking to witness.
2: It's Such A Beautiful Day
Manages to stretch from the minutae of existence all the way up to the really fucking big issues and then ends with a response to everybody's greatest fear that is simultaneously uplifting and soul crushing. All communicated via a stick man called Bill.
3: Who Can Kill A Child? [¿Quién puede matar a un niño?/ Death Is Child's Play/ Trapped/ Island Of The Damned]
The finest of JoeFest. Avoids all the usual exploitation trappings in order to present a genuine cloying insidiousness. If you've ever asked yourself if it's good form to cheer on somebody as they gun down hordes of children, then you need to watch this to get the slightly unsettling answer.
4: Hidden [Caché]
My fifth Haneke and no lesser a film than the other four masterpieces. I'm now happily convinced of this man's genius and have the rest of his canon lined up in the watching queue.
5: Upstream Colour
An exposition free joy. Hollywood take note, you don't need to explain fucking everything. If this film is anything to go by, you don't actually need to explain anything just make sure your film is really fucking good and involves some weird shit with pigs.
10 Shittest Films
And of course the bad ones. What actually constitutes a bad film is becoming increasingly harder to define these days. With a confusion of intentionally bad films, excellent films with poor production values and excellent production values being squandered on piss poor nonsense it can be difficult to judge the true worth of a piece of cinema. My criteria is if at the end of a film I gently shake my head and mutter "Jesus Christ, that was shit." then it's fucking shit. Here's the worst;
1. A Good Day To Die Hard
It gets my goat when people complain of a film raping their childhood (see Star Wars prequels, Indy and the bollocks Skull etc.). Get over yourself, your childhood is both fine and intact all that happened is somebody made a shit film. Far more distressing is watching A Good Day To Die Hard in which Bruce Willis visibly rapes himself. I'm fairly certain I even heard him whisper "Here's the real reason your vest got grubby" into his own ear. I never want to be made aware of the existence of this film ever again.
2. Bleeders [Hemoglobin/The Descendant]/The Dunwich Horror [Witches:The Darkest Evil]/Leprechaun In The Hood
The worst of JoeFest all lumped together in one place. Our edict was to watch some appalling barrel-scraping exploitation fare, and we really outdid ourselves with this selection of pure shit. To be fair to Joe two of these films I picked. And I was also the one to convince him we should watch Leprechaun 5. Gotta take the rough with the smooth and all that.
3. The Croods
A film that could only be improved if it had a neck so you could grab it and smash it's face off the nearest sharp edge.
4. Evil Dead
It's one thing to fail to understand the film you're remaking, it's quite another to fail to understand the mythology that runs throughout your film like words through seaside rock. A bit like watching somebody make a cake by throwing all the ingredients in a bin before pissing in it whilst punching themselves in the face.
Exhibits such a chilling level of stupidity you wonder if half of the names on the cast and crew list are people employed to stand next to the other half and whisper "breathe" every couple of seconds lest they collapse.
6. Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief
Made all the worse by Charlotte reading the book a month later and intermittently telling me all the amazing stuff that was either hopelessly mishandled or just completely left out. Also retrospectively makes Percy Jackson And The Sea Of Monsters all the more impressive as you realise what a clusterfuck they had to untangle whilst also trying to tell a story of their own.
7. Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl [Kyûketsu Shôjo tai Shôjo Furanken]
I know the point of these crazed Japanese monstrosities is to be shit (see also Robo-Geisha, Machine Girl, Dead Sushi etc.) but even so a line has to be drawn somewhere. This easily runs full pelt across wherever you choose to draw that line.
I got the really funny joke about Guy Pearce being hopelessly miscast about 3 minutes into the film. Then I realised that they were going to stretch this joke across 90 minutes. And then I realised it wasnt a joke.
Not here because it's cheap, not here because it has awful production values not even here for the acting comparable to pine furniture. No it's here because to defeat the titular evil the protagonists required a magic spear, kept safe for a random number of years by the town drunk. If you have no money, production values or actors then a magic fucking spear is not going to save your shitty half-baked film.
10. Red Lights
The plague of surprise twists sparked by M. Night Shyamalan's inexplicably excellent debut seems to now finally be dying down. However, before we can get back to telling stories sensibly without a giant "BUT!" at the end, here's one more film with a last-five-minute curveball that makes no fucking sense, undermines the entire film and leaves the audience with a face like they've just had a hippo shit into their brain.
On to the next year. I think I need a drink.