Saturday, 18 January 2014

My top films of 2013:

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Looking back, I didn't see as many new films in 2013 as I should have.  I love going to the cinema, but I've fallen into the dangerous and repetitious entertainment trap that is Netflix on the sofa, under a cosy blanket.  Unfortunately, it isn't socially acceptable to go to the movies in your pyjamas - although I could probably get away with it at my local cinema, the Dominion, as it's tiny and only round the corner!  Still, I happen to think that the 2013 films I did manage to see were some of the best last year had to offer. 

Source: here

The original Monsters, Inc. (2001) movie is high on my list of favourite Pixar films.  I love Billy Crystal (mostly thanks to his performance in When Harry Met Sally) and who doesn't have a soft spot for John Goodman?  I think Pixar did a lot of stuff right when it came to Monsters University.  For one thing, there were twelve years between Monsters, Inc. and its prequel, which I think proves that Monsters University wasn't just a slapdash, money grabbing scheme.  Obviously a lot of care went into creating the animations, recording the voices and writing the script, resulting in a sweet and funny film that is a credit to Pixar's legacy, not an embarrassment.

I enjoyed finding out more about Mike and Sully's back stories, and how they became such firm friends in time for Monsters, Inc.  I was also (somewhat cynically) amused by what I read as the film's underlying message for a new generation of kids who will not be encouraged to go to university as readily as I was: you don't need further education to get a job.  And, even if you go, it probably won't help you much.

Source: here

I might be the only person in the world who wasn't forced to study The Great Gatsby in high school, so I haven't had the pleasure of reading F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel yet.  I do, however, think that this gave me two main advantages when seeing Baz Luhrmann's film adaptation.  First of all, I didn't know the story at all, really, so I wasn't bored, and wasn't concentrating on what had been added or missed from the book.  Secondly, I had no idea if the casting was appropriate in comparison to the novel's characters, or even if the sets and locations were accurate.

Of course, those of you who have seen or read it will know that the story is sad in parts, but the glamour and decadence that is always present in Baz Luhrmann productions was taken to extremes in Gatsby.  The whole film looks stunning, down to every last detail, which makes anything worth a watch, in my opinion.  Even if you decide to watch it with the sound off.

So, as someone admittedly coming to The Great Gatsby as a total novice, I really enjoyed the movie for what it was.  I thought Leonardo DiCaprio was - if you'll pardon the unintentional wordplay - 'great' as Gatsby, I'm a big fan of Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire redeemed himself a little in my eyes by being actually quite funny.

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Another film based on a book, and another book which I haven't read.  I have, however, read some other Irvine Welsh novels and short stories before, so I had an idea of what to expect when it came to Filth.

To be honest, if I had to choose a favourite film for the whole of 2013, Filth would be it, no hesitation required.  It's simultaneously hilarious and devastating, just as any good movie should be.  Also, this is easily James McAvoy's best role of his career so far.  He has officially waved goodbye to being typecast as a nerdy love interest, and was much more interesting to watch as a manic drug addict/alcoholic.

I've blogged about this before, but I love to see Edinburgh in films and on TV, so Filth was a joy to watch.  Also, Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson (McAvoy) and his colleagues are generally despicable characters, portrayed in such a way that I felt I already knew them, or at least had encountered them on a night out in the Grassmarket.

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I don't know what it is about Sofia Coppola movies, but I find them strangely watchable, even though not much ever seems to actually happen.  The Bling Ring was no exception to this rule.  Somehow, the fairly juicy true story of five teenagers who begin to systematically rob the houses of celebrities became a laidback affair under Coppola's direction.  And, yet, I really enjoyed it.

If you're looking for something deep to wrap your mind around, this isn't it, but don't write it off completely.  Again, it's a really visually pleasing film, and vicariously snooping in celebrity walk in wardrobes was pretty fun for me.  The soundtrack also features the Sleigh Bells track 'Crown on the Ground', which is damn catchy.

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I only saw Drinking Buddies recently, but it was a surprisingly powerful indie film that stayed with me for a few days after watching.  It stars Jake Johnson (who you might know better as Nick from New Girl), Olivia Wilde and the usually hilarious Anna Kendrick whose comedic talent is frankly wasted in this movie.  However, Johnson and Wilde are very cute and funny as the film's (somewhat alcohol dependent) leads.

Drinking Buddies explores the slightly awkward territory of intergender friendships, documenting their pitfalls as well as their benefits.  In fact, the whole film is endearingly awkward, just as real life is.  It doesn't have a perfect Hollywood ending, either, which is something that always makes me respect writers and directors more.

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As for this year, there are already quite a few films that I'm looking forward to in 2014.  

The Wolf of Wall Street was only released in UK cinemas and has already had some amazing reviews.  A true story, dark humour, Leonard DiCaprio and Jonah Hill are all plus points for me, so I'm sure I'll really like it.  

The Grand Budapest Hotel (due to be released in February) is Wes Anderson's follow up to Moonrise Kingdom (2012), which I absolutely loved.  His films are always funny, wonderfully surreal and look gorgeous.  Plus, Edward Norton and Bill Murray are among my favourite actors.  Anderson always chooses a brilliant cast!

I'm a fan of Garden State (2004), so I'm looking forward to seeing Zach Braff's Wish I Was Here in September.  The film was crowd funded by Braff's fans through Kickstarter so that he could make it exactly the way he wanted, without Hollywood sticking their nose in.

Are there any films on your 'must see' list this year?

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