Film Journal

THE FILM JOURNAL | May 2013

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.


 

May: a vast improvement over last month in terms of number of films watched, as my final university assignment was handed in. This freed me up to begin getting back the cinephiliac momentum I once had. Onwards and upwards! – without leaving my chair, of course.

• 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

~ ~ ~

21andover121 & Over [2013]
Superbad, I’d like to introduce you to The Hangover. I’d now like to introduce you both to Jon Lucas and Scott Moore. I would also now appreciate it if you let them annhialate both your legacies as modern comedy classics, and birth a mutated, putrid mess of a film that sickly burps up yawn-inducingly vulgar jokes and cries for you to please, please god kill me. 

Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies [2012]abrahamzombies1
Budget collides with ambition in this unsurprisingly amateur project. It’s unfair to malign something so small, but this at least can be said of it: it’s definitely a film.

barbara1Barbara [2012]
Stately and restrained, Barbara is an engaging character study in the middle of social disparity in Germany. Tensions are fraught, relationships suspicious and good deeds carried out unnoticed.

I’m So Excited (Los amantes pasajeros) [2013]imsoexcited1
Almodovar returns from 2011’s twisted parable The Skin I Live In with a light slice of aeroplane hijinks. Though it may act as a social commentary in its native Spain, Almodovar’s charming oddities entice as ever inside his token universe of slanted sexual nature and incongruous, outrageous and perfectly brilliant plot tangents.

gimmetheloot1Gimme The Loot [2013]
An energetic look-in at a couple of NY criminals (but they’re darn loveable), who are most definitely products of their environment; little-acknowledged backstreet circles that double as the cynical veins of the Big A are exposed as the city’s true lifeblood. If Spike Lee were to start over again, and with less of a political agenda, he might turn out something like this.

Theorem (Teorema) [1968]theorem1
At points intellectually stimulating, but overburdened with an incredibly portentious (not to mention pretentious) predeliction with the dichotomy of art and suffering, and the role of sex to the human condition. Unfortunately, it’s also a colossal load of bollocks.

startrekintodarkness1Star Trek Into Darkness [2013]
Solid sequel material is turned out by the ever-reliable JJ Abrams, in what is another chapter of incredible action, genuine spectacle and heart in this wonderfully re-energised franchised.

 

Clueless [1995]clueless1
1995’s gently subversive teen flick is a treatise on all things vapid, including some high school politics. Essentially about nothing, it never feels any less than teeming with a kind of  anarchic zeal in its sometimes widly irreverent handling of some dark occurences. 

loveisallyouneed1Love Is All You Need (Den skaldede frisør) [2013]
What looks like a wet blanket of a movie turns out to be a complete smile pill, completely led by its shining leads.

 

Rebellion (L’ordre et la morale) [2013]rebellion1
There is a Kubrickian confidence in the use of single images here, but not much of the emotional arc needed to cement it – but it makes a damn good try.

hijacking1A Hijacking (Kapringen) [2013]
• Recommended
Halfway through, I actually had to take some painkillers thanks to the headache this film was giving me. A headache brought on by the insurmountable tension, the backroom politics, and the cracked moral compass at its centre. Absolutely indispensable topical filmmaking.

Mud [2013]mud1
• Recommended
Jeff Nichols continues his run as guardian of the Great American Movie with his follow-up to Take Shelter. This is a sacred piece of filmmaking, at once capturing youth, hope, adolescence and other BTs (Big Themes) in the minituate between its otherwise straightforward plot, dialogue and other tropes. Along with its predecessor, it’s a potential future classic.

incendies1Incendies [2011]
• Recommended
Shocking, moving, and outright gripping from first frame to last. You won’t find two and a half hours of non-stop excellence this side of French Canada.

The Wild Bunch [1969]wildbunch1
More an interesting product of its time – it was released during the Vietnam war – than a true classic, The Wild Bunch is still Sam Peckinpah’s violent ode to the West.

myownprivateidaho1My Own Private Idaho [1991]
In its attempt to mix theatrical grandeur and experimental narrative flourishes, Gus Van Sant’s bizarre movie about a relatively untouched subject fails as statement – but as study, it serves as fantastic showcases of its stars River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves.

Husbands and Wives [1992]husbandsandwives1
• Unmissable
Possibly Woody Allen’s most autobiographical film, to say his 1992 film doesn’t cut close to the bone would be an outright lie.

valhallarising1Valhalla Rising [2009]
After Bronson but before Drive, this hallucinogenic journey to Hell in the eye of Mads Mikkelson’s unnamed warrior is frightening, brutal and moving in a palpably unsettling way.

Gods and Monsters [1998]godsandmonsters1
Ian McKellen is so good, so might fall off your seat. End of review.

ivanschildhood1Ivan’s Childhood (Ivanovo detstvo) [1962]
A visually stunning debut from the eventual Russian master of the medium, this has all the trademarks of Tarkovsky’s later and greater work, but with energetic strokes of its own.

——

Lars and the Real Girl [2007]larsandtherealgirl1
Not a Gosling fan? Cure that horrible ailment with this movie.

——

hidden1Hidden (Caché) [2005]
• Recommended
Described by some as ‘the first great film of the twenty-first century’, they’re not far from the mark. Michael Haneke’s troubling anti-thriller is cold, disturbing, jaw-dropping in places and heart-wrenching in others. Superb cinema from an already certified superb director.

Howl [2010]howl1
Lightweight in places, but gripping thanks to its myriad answers on the question of true merit in art, this is buoyed mostly by James Franco’s bespectacled turn as poet Allen Ginsberg.

——

hangoverpart3The Hangover Part III [2013]
In its wrangling between dark thriller and gross-out comedy, Todd Phillips fails (a second time) to reignite the laughs, heart or relatability of the first instalment in this two-thirds-turd trilogy.

V/H/S [2013]vhs1
While some segments smack of trite convention or float on shock value alone, this otherwise scary horror anthology is mildly inventive and definitely worth a watch for those tired with similarly low-budget but uninspired products of the genre.

Follow the editor @GaryGreenScreen

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About GaryGreenScreen

Freelance film critic.

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Gary Green: Freelance film critic.

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