Sunday, 2 March 2014

2013 films: ROUND-UP

A few others that were good but maybe not always too good.

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE. Tilda Swinton walking down the narrow streets of Tangier to a lovely acoustic melody. Tim Huddleston with a naked torso examining rare guitars. John Hurt high on blood. Impressive stuff. There isn’t much of a plot here, but Jarmusch is the kind of director who can seduce you with style. ‘Crypto-vampire love story”, this film has beautiful bloodsuckers that swear too much. A-

PHILOMENA. Catholic church, bloody hell. The story is intriguing enough, but what makes Philomena so good is the awkward relationship between its two main characters – played by Judi Dench and Steve Coogan. A gullible, kind-hearted woman and a cynical journalist who is after a human interest story. B+

ENOUGH SAID. James Gandolfini’s last performance, and a bloody good one at that. Enough Said is a romantic bittersweet comedy that is ultimately more sweet than bitter. Also note: if you enjoyed this film, you must be getting old. B+

UPSTREAM COLOUR. Shane Carruth’s second film is stylish mindfuck about a parasite that lives in pigs, orchids and humans. It’s all very intricate, but you hold on – because the vibe is pleasantly dreamy and the story is mesmerizing in its own odd way. Is this indie sci-fi for people who know how to wear scarves? B+

SIDE EFFECTS. A very effective pharmacological thriller from Steven Soderbergh. Many people seem to have a problem with the unbelievable plot and the confusing onslaught of crazy twists, but personally, I don’t mind that in a thriller. Jude Law gave a very good performance. A-  

BEHIND THE CANDELABRA. Steven Soderbergh again, in a year that was supposed to be his last. This one is about pianist Liberace (Michael Douglas is outstanding): love, money, fame, betrayal, plastic surgery. Not a classic by any means, but an interesting study of gay eccentricity and lush extravagance. B+

CAPTAIN PHILLIPS. Another true story (maybe too many of those?) and another good thriller. Tom Hanks is masterful as a gutsy captain of a container ship attacked by Somali pirates. I don’t know how this got Oscar nominated at the expense of Inside Llewyn Davis and Blue Jasmine, but ah well. B

THE CONJURING. Maybe it’s the fact that The Conjuring is said to be based on real events. Maybe it’s the fact that it doesn’t take much to scare me. Maybe it’s demons. But I believe this was the single most frightening experience in my life. There were lots of teenagers laughing at the beginning; by the end of it, they were either gone or completely creeped out. B

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG. Brilliant entertainment from Peter Jackson – as ever. This is no longer Tolkien we are talking about, of course, this is Jackson’s fanboy imagination going obsessive, adventurous and a little insane. Honestly, I don’t see one reason why I should mind any of that. Besides, Tauriel was extremely attractive. Even for an elf. A-

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