As begun last year (and, even slightly MORE delayed than last year), I thought an ideal blog topic was a list of the films that I watched over the last 12 months, and a brief description of each (in the ongoing quest to try to write a blogpost of under 800 words)…

  • The Ghost Writer – Ewan McGregor gets brought in to write an ex-PM’s memoirs, and uncovers stuff that puts his life in danger. I don’t recall this being too irritating, although now I try to think of what happened all I can think of is scenes from Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
  • The Tree Of Life – I definitely recall this being too irritating.  Too irritating to watch, that is.  And I sat through Powaqqatsi.
  • Juno – quirky story about a girl volunteering to be a surrogate parent, which was quite enjoyable and overcame its consciously quirky & jaunty soundtrack.
  • Tristan and Isolde – quasi-Arthurian love epic which we watched in a hotel in Cheltenham after a massive birthday lunch.
  • Lantana – infidelity, murder and intrigue in this Australian film I’d been meaning to see since 2001.  We watched this following Tristan and Isolde, and I recall liking it quite a lot, and not periodically saying “Fiddle-dee-dee, po-tay-tas” for comic effect every few minutes as I did with the previous film.
  • The Descendants – George Clooney piece in which he’s twisted with turmoil and indecision over a multimillion dollar Hawaiian property deal because he finds out his comatose-and-in-intensive-care-wife was cheating on him. Picked up a slew of awards and nominations, which is weird because it didn’t have nearly enough submarines or dinosaurs for my liking.
  • Police Academy – a classic.  The sort of classic it’s probably best to avoid ever having to watch again, if you can.  But still a cast-iron classic if only for the Blue Oyster Bar sequences.
  • The Iron Lady – about this point in the year I was starting to wonder if I was going off films, because this Margaret Thatcher biopic left me out in the cold a bit.  I was expecting a more straight biopic rather than the sequence of flashbacks, which probably made more sense to people already more familiar with Thatcher’s story.  I very much felt like I was being shown a very accurate impersonation of Thatcher, which in some way distracted from the business of telling the story.
  • The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – English adaptation of a Swedish author’s book, where an author is contracted to investigate the disappearance of a girl, and enlists the help of a goth computer hacker. There’s way more to it than that. Great performances though, and quite striking in many ways. Really liked this.  Partially because of Trent Reznor’s spot-on soundtrack.
  • The Help – story depicting racism against maids and other house staff in the 1950’s in Mississippi, and their opportunity to fight back through a book collated by a newspaper columnist. Slightly surreal because of the distance from anything I recognised from within my life.  My notes say in bold “shit pie”, which is a plot note rather than a review.
  • Snow White and the Huntsman – De-Disnified telling of the Snow White & Seven Dwarfs tale, repackaged in the obligatory “darker” way that everything gets the treatment of nowadays.  I was mildly irritated at the number of Irish accents that cropped up (the dwarfs were called Beith, Muir, Quert, Coll, Duir, Gort, Nion, and Gus – distractingly performed by various actors whose faces were photoshopped on to their small bodies) and had me thinking of the “fiddle-dee-dee-po-tay-tas” again.
  • The Artist – gong-laden bit of silent film awesomeness which I wanted to see purely because it starred OSS117 star, Jean DuJardin.  Fabulous.
  • The Angel’s Share – Ken Loach’s comedy/commentary on the situation of youth in Scotland transforming a group’s life through one lad’s enthusiasm for whisky, and the heist-hijinks that ensue. I felt a little like the cinema spotlight was being dragged onto another aspect of British eccentricity (as it was in Morris: A Life With Bells On), but certainly made for an enjoyable film.
  • Rock of Ages – movie version of jukebox musical about beleaguered rock & roll venue featuring various love struggles. Of interest due to casting of Alec Baldwin (but he just looked like Jack Donaghy with extensions) and Russell Brand (is more convincingly gay in his usual persona), and Tom Cruise trying to play straight amid the pantomime performances.
  • O Brother Where Art Thou – Coen Brothers masterpiece based on Homer’s Odyssey, with excellent soundtrack. It’s a story that sort of just goes where it takes you, but is quite a fulfilling watch and didn’t leave me scratching my head thinking “What the hell did I just watch that for?”.
  • Batman: The Dark Knight Rises – 2012’s Christopher Nolan dark superhero must-see.  Some fairly huge & disappointing breaks with storytelling technique left a bit of an empty feel, but very spectacular. Sadly overshadowed for us because it was virtually impossible to see it in a cinema and not be reminded of the recent shooting in the US which happened at a screening.
  • The Big Lebowski – another Coen Brothers masterpiece, this needs no further description.
  • The Life of Brian – Liz proved yet another reason why she’s absolutely awesome by selecting this to watch one afternoon.  I think I’ve now watched and read more documentary footage, biopic and speculation examining the controversy surrounding this film than the total hours I’ve spent re-watching it.  But a rewatch is always worthwhile and shows the Python team at the top of their game.
  • The Hunger Games – lots of buzz for this film, which I noted as “Like The Running Man, but with kids instead of Arnie”.  Quite good enjoyable escapism, which appears to try to launch some worthy themes although I think some of them were better dealt with by Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror.
  • Unstoppable – Probably the most face-slapping film of 2012 for me: a couple of mismatched railway workers are introduced fairly laboriously, then undergo an intense bonding as they chase down a runaway train in order to save the lives of a percentage of a small township (including the estranged wife of one of the railway workers, who lives right in the likely path of the forecast train wreck). I could only watch this on a long-haul flight, as it’s the only way I’d find myself in an environment with no other better options, and nowhere else to go.
  • Total Recall – Another film on the plane to Australia; this time a remake of the 1990 Arnie brainmelter.  Not actually anywhere near as bad as I was expecting it’d be, and I quite enjoyed the notion of the future Earth being 2 colonies joined by a huge trans-core elevator (even if that bit reminded me of an episode of Roger Ramjet I saw once).  The most difficult bit was to not think about Benny Crime’s comments re: Colin Farrell playing Quaid.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1z3AXMOcj8
  • The Amazing Spider Man – wasn’t sure whether I’d already seen this, and was a bit surprised to find a series reboot after only 10 years. Blockbuster which certainly wasn’t designed to be watched in a plane seatback.
  • Skyfall – Liz & I have developed a bit of a thing for Daniel Craig’s Bond films, so seeing the latest shortly after release was a must-do. It gained huge points with me for its London-centricity (made it feel a bit more palpable), and Javier Bardem’s bad guy was fantastic.
  • Casino Royale – Now in a Bond mood we retraced to Craig’s other works.  Seeing Casino Royale again made me really wonder how people ever felt that he would make a boring Bond. The card game exposition parts were a bit blah, but on the whole an absolute masterpiece of a Bond film.
  • Quantum of Solace – quite a good setup for this piece about a powerful and shadowy behind-the-scenes cabal, which I felt sadly let itself down in the 2nd and 3rd acts.
  • Sightseers – off-piste British minor film about an ordinary-ish loser couple who go on holiday in the midlands, and start killing people.  I was expecting a more Natural Born Killers vibe, but was captivated by it.  A fascinating surprise.  Definitely worth a look.
  • The Hobbit – 33% of Peter Jackson’s new epic yet compulsively serious trilogy based on one Tolkien book.  I went to the 48fps 3D session of this, and wasn’t too distracted by the visual properties of the film, although it took a little bit for my brain to accept that much of it was going to look like animated in-game sequences from computer games than like actual actors acting.  Nevertheless, a rich setting and I’m very much looking forward to seeing the 2 remaining films.
  • New Year’s Eve – multi parallel-lives story about a bunch of people in New York City on New Year’s Eve and the events that befall them.  Realisations of love, humanity, and all that sort of bullshit.  Pretty lightweight, but didn’t make me groan or want to walk out of the room.  A bit too Love Actually for me – actually, a bit more British sentiment might have made it jar less I think.
  • Precious – slightly odd choice for last film of the year, but an excellent bit of film nonetheless.  Not sure how to sum this one up in one sentence without feeling a bit overly flippant about it: best thing is to do a bit of reading about it and maybe watch.  Great film.  One throwaway comment though is that one of the most amazing things about the film was that it meant I was able to watch Mariah Carey do something without my stomach trying to escape through my mouth.  Although I didn’t realise it was her til the very end.

Nope.  Nowhere near 800 words in that lot.  Carry on.