Film Journal


I look back at the films I watched through the previous month, whether they were brand new in the cinema or simply new to me. Here are my thoughts.


Ah, April. While you smelled of rosey spring and the warm promise of summer, you were also the bane of this wannabe film journalist’s life; assembling a fanzine in order to please the education gods (read: my uni tutors) is actually a lot harder than you’d think, as it turns out. And ironically, in between writing awesome features and personal diatribes on the state of movies in time for a deadline, I didn’t get to watch that many. The next edition will be much better, I promise; in the mean-time, you get to look forward to Hard Cut magazine. Watch this space.

• Unmissable
Those pieces of work that prove cinema is one of humanity’s better endeavours.
Example: Apocalypse Now

• Recommended
Extraordinary films that are must-sees, but perhaps not considered masterpieces.
Example: Kick-Ass

• Avoid
Movies that exhibit technical ineptitude, cause severe ideological malaise, or both.
Example: Grown Ups

~ ~ ~

illusionist1The Illusionist [2010]
Pretty, emotive and dialogue-free, this wistful animation evokes a great sense of loss -mainly concerning the latter half of the 20th Century’s disillusionment with magic, And yet, it doesn’t manage to instil much more than a moot interest for the rest of its brief duration.

A Life Less Ordinary [1997]alifelessordinary1
Ewan McGregor’s breathtakingly bad haircut carries this. Danny Boyle treads the Hollywood studio system again, and once more to the detriment (think of the critical reception of The Beach) of his otherwise impressive oeuvre. Boyle’s auteuristic flourishes with the camera are still present, yet his energetic voice is largely stifled with this unoriginally plotted caper picture that is as confused with its own intentions as it is bored with its material (including plenty of limp music editing, atypical to his famous aptitude for that part of filmmaking), plus an angelic subplot fails abysmally to convince. Frank Capra turns in his grave.

darkskies1Dark Skies [2013]
Close Encounters of the Turd Kind. It does achieve a deep, palpable layer of dread, and the struggles the family are put through are believable. But yet again for cheap modern horror, the dialogue can be atrocious at the best of times and fully neglectful of the rule-book of horror cinema: don’t show the Godamn monster, especially when it’s MARVIN THE FREAKIN’ MARTIAN. 

Jack the Giant Slayer [2013]jackthegiantslayer1
Soft monster action from Bryan Singer. Its broad story strokes and half-baked effects leaves you worrying about X-Men: Days of Future Past.

troublewithharry1The Trouble With Harry [1955]
Perpendicular to his usual sense of humour, The Trouble With Harry treads a fully surrealist plot with a never-seen-before style of humour that Hitchcock always seemed to have bubbling on the backburner in his previous pictures.


The Croods [2013]croods1
Comedy of the year so far. What begins as a scatty, sub-par Dreamworks animation (and you know that’s low) finds its footing as a inventively hilarious  treatise of modern family values in a prehistoric setting.

springbreakers1Spring Breakers [2013]
Harmony Korine is clearly educated in the role of the gaze in the cinematic medium, and his most accessible film yet – which is saying something – typifies this to satirical effect of the most brilliant degree. Even when removed from its preoccupation with Žižekian screen desire, it defies the machinations of regular plot to deliver a fever dream of adept contrasts and outrageous guns.


Oblivion [2013]oblivion1
The story beats are all entirely in the wrong place in this genre mash-up to rival Spaceballs. There is much gumption in its desire to hit on the ‘Big Themes’ of sci-fi masterpieces, but ends up either aping such works entirely or instead developing an over-gilded cluster of retarded ideas that are either way undercooked or presented too late in a movie infused with much visual resplendence, but little intellectual or emotional resonance.


pointblank1Point Blank [1967]
• Recommended
Art house action has never been better. Pre-Dirty Harry tropes meet European art cinema values in a dark, arresting tale of desire, broken visages and other assorted neo-noir themes. John Boorman went on to direct the incredible Deliverance in 1972, but this remains just as tantamount to the high art-meets-commercial viability zeitgeist of ’60s American cinema.


Evil Dead [2013]evildead1
Workmanlike in its execution and gleefully graphic, Fede Alvarez’s remake of 1981’s The Evil Dead possesses enough grit of its own to see it through its otherwise lacking sense of dark, sick wit that made Sam Raimi’s original a video nasty classic.  

ironman3Iron Man 3 [2013]
Kudos to Shane Black, and then some to Kevin Feige: Marvel newcomer Black has possibly directed the franchise’s first meta movie, one that is aware of its inherent silliness as it is in love with its brilliant characters. Action sequences that should come with a heart palpitation warning are streamlined by countless character moments; spectacle, wit and – yep, heart – come together seamlessly in the first post-Avengers Marvel movie. Phase Two is off to a flying start.


Olympus Has Fallen [2013]olympushasfallen1
• Avoid
Ugly visuals. Unacceptable gaps in logic. Genre aping. Turgid dialogue. Yes, this is a dumb action flick that is actually too dumb to like on any level whatsoever. Essentially, for the majority of the picture, I felt like Aaron Eckhart’s president as he was kept hostage in the White House bunker, tortured, bloodied and insulted.

lookoflove1The Look of Love [2013]
Michael Winterbottom, what went wrong? Material perfect for the director’s abilities ends up as a montage-filled, bare-bones biopic that serves as a myopic look at an endlessly interesting figure, Paul Raymond. At least Steve Coogan is, as ever, an inspired slice of casting.


Upstream Colour [2013]upstreamcolour1
• Recommended
You’re sitting on a bus, staring out at the passing world. As your mind gently and undetectably slips into a semi-conscious oneness with the blurring scenery, you begin to think not just about things as such, but the myriad different ways they’re connected – how all life is connected, and as a result you wonder why there is so much negativity in the world, and ruminate on the ontological possibilities we as a race could achieve if only we took a closer look at… the bus stops suddenly, and this beautiful train of thought comes to a shamefully abrupt end. With Upstream Colour, director Shane Carruth – responsible for the much-loved indie hit Primer – has clearly remembered to bring a notepad and pen with him on the bus. 

kingsofsummer1The Kings of Summer [2013]
• Recommended
Stand By Me for the digicam generation. This endlessly charming film wants to burst at the seams with its equally balanced qualities of beauty and hilarity, but is held back from doing so by a taut script and a central quartet of perfomances that will go on to stand the test of time. Put this movie on with your friends, and smile in silence as these characters bury themselves into your memory the same way only your closest buddies do – and go watch the damn movie when it gets a UK release date, and support a type of filmmaking that’s almost lost from our modern vernacular. 

Sleepwalk With Me [2013]sleepwalkwithme1
Woody Allen meets modern independent cinema. A struggling comedian slowly rises through the toilet circuit, juggling his floundering relationship with his girlfriend with a sleep disorder; this is as touching (and as funny) as it sounds. Unfortunately, no UK distributor wanted the damn movie – so you’ll have to zip over to iTunes. Now.

acod1A.C.O.D. [2013]
The kind of movie that Sundance film festival is great for; Adam Scott stars in this poignant tale of grown-ups fighting the demons of their parents’ divorce, which is peppered with many sincere gags and accessible characters.


Follow the editor @GaryGreenScreen

About GaryGreenScreen

Freelance film critic.


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Gary Green: Freelance film critic.

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