philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

If you missed it, you can check out the movies I ranked between 11 and 20 here.
Below is my top 10 movies from 2013. Do be aware that this is an end-of-year list and, not being a proper movie critic, there are tons of movies that I have as yet to see and review. But this selection below are the best so far.

10. Monsters University (2013)
UK release date: 12 July 2013

The demise of Pixar has been hugely exaggerated. It may be Pixar's marketing strategy that is suffering the biggest decline. I found the marketing for "Brave" to be somewhat uninspiring, but absolutely loved the final product (not least because of similarities to my favourite Disney movie of all time, "Sword In The Stone"). In the case of "Monsters University" I was actively horrified by the teaser trailer showing Mike, the smaller one-eyed green monster, being bullied by Sully, the giant blue furry monster, and treated like a living disco ball. Yet strangely this prequel to one of the Pixar films which never really spoke to me turned out to be enormous fun and absolutely crammed full of clever little details. I'd actually argue that this is one of the better Pixar movies, not the mediocre entry I was expecting at all.

(My review here)

9. Gravity (2013)
UK release date: 7 November 2013

On the negative side there's a typical "oh no, what can my life possibly be worth without children" element to the central female character which I found enormously irritating. On the positive side however, there are great performances from the two actors. (I don't count the voices of Houston or the Eastenders actor whose face is only shown in a photograph. There's only really Clooney and Bullock giving a performance here.) And of course the biggest positive point is the absolutely incredible spectacle. There's some wonderfully creative artistry involved here. Sorry astronauts if this didn't entirely capture the way everything works in outer space, but you've got to give it some poetic license and full credit for the incredibly ambitious vision involved here. As Bullock's character travels across space doing whatever she has to do to survive there's a kind of 'action movie' feel here.

This was a welcome surprise considering I'd imagined that this movie would mainly feature a woman stranded in the empty blackness of space having an existential crisis as she contemplates her inevitable death. "Gravity" isn't perfect, but it's both a fun and an intense cinematic experience. Wondering why it received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture? Heck, flipping "Avatar" received an Oscar nomination and that was nowhere near so worthy. If technical achievement is going to swing in a movie's favour at the Oscars (which, let's face it, normally isn't how it works) then "Gravity" seems like a film more worthy of that kind of special treatment. The wow-factor is strong with this one.

(My review here)

Click here to see the rest of my favourites from 2013 (so far)... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

Sorry this has taken so long. This has been a really busy couple of months for me.

It's impossible for the average movie-goer to say what the best movies of the year were actually AT the end of the year, because inevitably most of us cannot afford to see every single movie at the cinema and there will inevitably be high quality movies already on DVD from that year that we still won't have had a chance to check out. Still, that doesn't stop me from making a preliminary list, just like I did at the end of last year. (A more informed 'best of' list for 2012 will be forthcoming later this year.)

So what follows is my list of my favourite 20 movies from 2013. Naturally it can only include movies that I've actually seen and naturally I still have a lot of movies from that year I need to check out, but this is at least a helpful guide for highly enjoyable films.

20. John Dies at the End (2012)
UK release date: 22 March 2013

This was ridiculous fun and simply full of ideas. There's not much in the way of a consistent plot but, and this is somewhat hard to explain, the lack of plot is kind of intentional. What you are left with is a highly creative film where absolutely anything can happen, and often does.

Don Coscarelli was the director of the Phantasm movies and, more recently, "Bubba Ho-Tep". This is as bizarre as you'd expect from him and wonderfully enjoyable.

(My review here)

19. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
UK release date: 25 January 2013

While "The Hurt Locker" was like 'Die Hard in the army', "Zero Dark Thirty" seems to take itself rather more seriously. While the central character comes off as rather cold, that's also what makes her unique as a protagonist. By not making moral judgements on what happened during the War on Terror leading up to the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, the film is able to give us a believeable almost fly-on-the-wall account. It's not the first film where the message has been unclear, but I think if they'd tried to make the message clear it would not have satisfied anyone. Sometimes leaving things ambiguous is the right way to go and as a result this is a film that I think we'll still be talking about for years to come.

(My review here)

Click here for more entries in my top 20 list... )

My end-of-year top ten movies of 2013 will be coming soon!
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

The Tobe Hooper Retrospective is FINALLY over!!!

Next up will be "The Omen" and "Child's Play" series (which I'll be reviewing alongside one another). In the meantime here are my personal top 6 favourites from Tobe Hooper's filmography. A lot of it was pretty good fun, but to be frank, I'm not in a hurry to track down his latest movie "Djinn".

1. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) - A+
Since I began with the intention of watching this particular franchise I probably ought to check out "Texas Chainsaw" (this recent addition to the franchise has dropped the 'massacre' part, which to be frank they probably ought to have done earlier). I'm not going to be rushing out to get hold of that the moment the DVD is released, but I suspect I'll get around to it eventually. In any case, "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" is a remarkable and haunting film that definitely represents Tobe Hooper's best work.
(Full review already posted here - scroll to the end for the review.)

2. The Funhouse (1981)

Turns out that this was another Tobe Hooper film to be placed on the 'video nasty' DPP list. "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" actually avoided being entered on that list because it was believed that it could be acceptable if there were sufficient cuts. As it was, all attempts at cutting The Texas Chain Saw Massacre turned out to be in vain, because no matter what they cut it never seemed to take away from the viscious atmosphere of the film. (Remember that there is very little gore to speak of in that film. It is very much the atmosphere that makes it what it is.) So Texas Chain Saw Massacre ended up being banned, but not prosecuted as a source of moral corruption in society. That honour went instead to Hooper's follow-up "Death Trap" (sometimes known as "Eaten Alive" but not to be mixed up with the cannibal movie directed by Umberto Lenzi). Meanwhile "The Funhouse" is actually pretty mild by comparison to either of those other Hooper films and it has been suggested that the censors may have mixed up "The Funhouse" with another video nasty movie which was sometimes sold with a similar title. Video nasties often had multiple names making it all the harder to keep track of them all.

Read more... )

3. Poltergeist (1982) - B+
I'm not quite sure how I feel about this one. I'm actually inclined to blame Spielberg for my misgivings about "Poltergeist" because my biggest issue was that it felt a bit like "E.T." (and I hated "E.T.", even as a child). Love the Ghostbusters style effects, love the creepiness, but not so keen on the "Close Encounters"-style hippy-logic. Overall I guess this is pretty awesome.
(Full review already posted here.)

4. Mortuary (2005)

Mortuary was not one I was expecting much from. It scores just 3.8 on IMDB and has no score to speak of on Rotten Tomatoes. However, this is far from Tobe Hooper's worst. In fact there's a lot of fun to be had here.

A single mother has transported her family an enormous distance to a new and unfamiliar home because it will give her an opportunity to set up her own funeral services. The place where she plans to work is massively run-down, but the idea is that the place should be a good fixer-upper and with a mortuary already built below, it could make setting up the business a lot easier. (Though it's clearly a lot more run-down than she was expecting.)

Read more... )

5. Invaders From Mars (1986)
Inevitably I need to begin by reviewing the original 1953 version. Remakes inevitably carry baggage and this case is no different.

Invaders From Mars (1953)
The first half of "Invaders of Mars" is simply brilliant. Although the acting isn't perfect, the mood is. There's an Invasion of the Body Snatchers scenario with tension building gradually and devastatingly.

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Invaders From Mars (1986)

There was something quite perfect about the opening half of the original Invaders of Mars and this remake doesn't quite live up to that. However, there are a few bits that are done very well. The arrival of space ship looks very cool. The alien-possessed parents are made extra creepy by the way they eat some seriously weird food (especially when the mother appears to be scooping up chunks of uncooked burger meat and covering them in heaps sugar before calmly eating them).

Read more... )
To Sum Up:
The first half of Tobe Hooper's "Invaders From Mars" remake doesn't feel quite as oppressive as the 1953 original, which is unfortunate since the first half of the original had a very impressive creepy atmosphere to it. However, Hooper still manages to make things appropriately bizarre and in the second half provides a much better paced and satisfying movie than the original provided. Also, in spite of keeping the original ending, somehow Hooper makes that work better this time around too. Not perfect, but a very worthy attempt.

6. Salem's Lot (1979) - C-
One of the few tv movies from Hooper I chose to include. Some parts are really well done, while at other points this dragged. All in all the pacing is a real problem, but the high points are just so great that it's difficult not to be impressed.
(Full review already posted here.)

(For some slightly less good Tobe Hooper movies click here.)
(For my very least favourite Tobe Hooper movies click here.)
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
What are the best anime movies? - I don't claim to be able to answer this question myself. Though I went through a phase of watching some anime at one point, I wouldn't say I'm the biggest anime fan. A friend on LJ has finally decided to watch "Akira". They aren't really familiar with anime and what they have seen they haven't been impressed with, but they are a film lover and so they felt "Akira" was one of those films that they really ought to see.

I think "Akira" is probably a pretty good way to see up front what anime is like. It's not, to my mind, a great film. However, it does have some fantastic elements involved in it and I think it pretty much sums up what anime is like in general.

Anime movies often haven't had a big budget like Disney and a lot of their stylistic tropes have come from attempts to cut corners and save money. At the same time, in spite of having their origin in Japan, anime often involves characters with huge eyes, since this element was borrowed from western animation. The characters in Akira look a lot more like typical people than in a lot of anime.

This image is NOT from "Akira"

However, while anime may not have had Disney's budget, they also don't aim at such a young audience. Anime will often feature quite graphic violence. In fact, Akira even features some pretty graphic violence against one of the female characters.

Unfortunately another factor in the cheapness of anime is that the English voice actors are often not that great. It's not helpful that the pattern of conversations and the style of expression is very distinctive and can feel quite bizarre with an English voice over the top.

Translation isn't always great either, with some sentences making very little sense. Akira features one character trying to explain evolution. They do a pretty horrendous job of it and I don't know how far to blame the original script or the translation.

I'm not entirely sure that I understand what Akira was trying to say. It's a very dark tale and I think expecting a satisfying resolution may be a mistake. The film seems to suggest that there's some hope at the end and yet, in the light of what happens during the film, I felt that seemed deeply misplaced.

I didn't feel any kind of bond with the characters (though I know there are fans of Akira who feel the characters are much stronger than I do). But I definitely felt immersed by the art. As a piece of art, "Akira" is quite incredible (especially bearing in mind the aforementioned low budget). The dream sequences in particular are extremely clever and well handled. Even as the dialogue grates, the visuals are utterly stunning.

There's one last important flaw with anime which I feel Akira highlights. Preachiness. Akira isn't happy to be a dark tale of misery. It definitely seems to be trying to teach us a lesson (hence why the ending feels so awkward for me). The message isn't exactly deep. It's the old "power corrupts" idea essentially.

So anyway, below I've made a list of my favourite anime movies. If anyone wants to recommend different ones in the comments, I'm sure my friend will appreciate it! :D

Anime TV series recommendations:

I found the "Ghost In The Shell" series boring, I couldn't get into "Evangelion", but there are a couple of series that I found appealing.

X - TV
Read more... )

Elfen Lied
Read more... )

Top 7 Anime Movie Favourites

Okay, so with tv series out of the way, here are my favourites of the anime movies....

7) Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2000)

There is an earlier "Vampire Hunter D" movie, but it's nothing like as well animated and it's much much slower paced. The dialogue isn't consistently well written here, but the voice acting is actually done pretty well. In particular one comic relief character is performed very well indeed.

Vampire Hunter D is basically "Blade" (he predates the movies, but not the comics) in that he's a half human, half vampire. However, he lives in a distant post-apocalyptic future which is styled as if it were in the past. The most obvious examples of this are the robotic horses.

Vampire Hunter D is a half-vampire who fights vampires, but another factor is the symbiote that lives in his left hand. In his left palm there's a face and it will often talk to him. In the movie "Bloodlust" it's very talkative indeed. On the one hand, it mocks D for not acting like a proper vampire, but on the other hand it needs D to survive in order to continue to live off of him.

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust is great fun. If you could forgive any flaws in "Blade II" you'll have no problem forgiving the flaws in this.

Read more... )
So, are there any ones you feel I ought to have listed? Please say so in the comments! :)
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

Many of my favourite films of the year have gone pretty much unnoticed in more mainstream circles. It's quite cool to have a pretty unique set of favourites here. Whether it's due to a very limited release in cinemas, limited publicity, or having neither of those whatsoever, many of the films in this list simply past under the radar for most people.

While there was some question as to whether this was really a good year for movies or not, I can't help but look at list and go "actually this year was pretty awesome". I still have a pretty large list of films still to check out from 2012.

10. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
UK release: 4th July 2012

Most people who've been following my blog long enough probably know that I was really excited about this before it even came out. Ever since the second trailer (the one that didn't look like the videogame "Mirror's Edge") I'd been absolutely buzzing to see this film. I was a big fan of the comics during the 90s, Andrew Garfield looked like a great choice of casting for Peter Parker and I absolutely hated Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy.

The actual film had a real focus on the characters and I thought it was interesting to portray Peter Parker learning how to be a superhero and misusing his powers out of anger over his uncle's death. He makes a lot of mistakes and this will lead to the guilt-ridden figure that Spider-Man inevitably becomes.

The combination of drama and comedy really appealed to me and the selection of Marc Webb as the director means that Peter Parker's relationship finally has some chemistry for a change.

My review here

Marc Webb is signed up to direct the sequel with Jamie Foxx expected to play the villain Electro.

9. The Grey (2011)
UK release: 27th January 2012

I fully expected this to be a "Taken" style cheesy action film. It turned out to be an existential drama contemplating the inevitability of death and the struggle to survive. The wolves themselves represent death, appearing where any of the characters die regardless of the means of their demise. From the point early on in the film where Liam Neeson guides a man through the process of death, uncompromisingly announcing "it's alright, you're going to die, just let it wash over you", we can see that this film is going to be something different.

On the one hand the film is beautiful, but on the other hand it is deeply uncomfortable to watch. The film is executed to make you think of death and its inevitability and the shots of the surrounding scenery portray it as both forbidding and tranquil. In many ways "The Grey" is a masterpiece.

My review here

Joe Carnahan is now working on a tv movie called "Those Who Kill".

More favourites of 2012 under the cut... )
philosoraptor42: (Default)

As I was growing up James Bond movies would be played on TV fairly often; not least because ITV owned the rights to the entire series and running the occasional Bond marathon was a great way to get people watching that channel. Before I get to the review and say just how much I loved the new James Bond movie, I'm going to express my feelings on the series so far first. (Though if you are in a hurry, I absolutely blooming loved "Skyfall" - so there's that.)

First of all I have to admit that there are three Bond actors out of seven which I have never seen perform in the role. I've seen the four major Bond actors: Sean Connery (the original), Roger Moore (the one I remember most from growing up), Pierce Brosnan (my first Bond in the cinema) and Daniel Craig (the current one).

However, I have never seen George Lazenby (who my friends all dissed when I was following a Bond marathon on tv while still in school), Timothy Dalton (whose run as Bond has always been rated pretty low) or Peter Sellers (whose unofficial spoof of James Bond, titled "Casino Royale", is generally recognised as dire).

When I say "official" James Bond movies, I mean the 23 that were produced by Eon. There are two full movies and a tv episode that weren't produced by Eon. The 1960s "Casino Royale" spoof, the 1980s movie that brought back Sean Connery titled "Never Say Never Again" and the tv episode from the 50s (apparently part of a dramatic anthology series called "Climax Mystery Theatre") is also titled "Casino" marks the first ever on screen appearance of James Bond, except on that occasion the character was played an American. I have not seen any of the unofficial works, not because I need my Bond to be official, but because these are shown less often (with the tv episode for a long time pretty much unknown by most people) and are generally not rated very highly.

The films I have seen and enjoyed oddly often seem to come from directors who have made more than one Bond movie. So without further ado here are my top four James Bond directors....

4. Guy Hamilton:

Don't think of the number as indicating my opinion of the director. In fact, instead you can think of it as indicating the number of movies that director has made (since it rather neatly fits that pattern). So first up is Guy Hamilton who made no less than 4 James Bond movies, starting with perhaps the most iconic:

Read more... )

3. Lewis Gilbert

Read more... )

2. Martin Campbell

Read more... )

1. Roger Spottiswoode

Read more... )

So without further ado here is my review of this year's Bond movie: Skyfall (2012)

Admittedly after "Quantum of Solace" expectations were not high. Sure Sam Mendes was on the case, but his last film "Away We Go" had left me a little nervous on that front (and to be frank, nothing from him had really blown me away since "Road To Perdition"). The first scene jumps into the action and it's pretty cool stuff, though not so different from what we've seen before. It's exciting and well put together and it definitely gets us back into the Bond spirit in spite of any misgivings when entering the cinema. The final climax of that opener kind of knocked me for six though. And while I was reeling from that, the film hits me with possibly the most gorgeous opening titles song and imagery sequence in the entire history of the Bond franchise.

Read more... )

Summary on Bond movies....
Above I shared my top nine of the twenty five Bond movies released so far. By mentioning the Bonds I haven't seen, plus my ignorance on both unofficial titles, that accounts for fourteen of the Bond films. I also discussed another two that I wasn't so keen on and I've never seen "Octopussy" (in spite of the intriguing title), so that leaves another 8 undiscussed. For that reason I am wrapping this up with a neat little list of all the bond movies in chronological order accompanied by a very quick comment in each case. This probably isn't entirely necessary, but it puts the above discussion into context showing you exactly what order the films were released.
Read more... )

If you are interested in more in-depth consideration of the Bond movies, I can highly recommend the Now Playing retrospective series of podcasts on the Bond franchise. They do not refrain from spoilers at all, so if you want to enter the films fresh you'll need to watch them first. (So when they get to "Skyfall" DEFINITELY watch the movie first.) However, the podcasts are entertaining and the discussions often include some neat little interesting facts about each film.
philosoraptor42: (Default)

(Via Heavenly Nostrils @ GoComics)

Just discovered that the comic artist who did the excellent "I Drew This" comic has a new strip called 'Heavenly Nostrils' about a girl and her unicorn. It's BRILLIANT (though you probably ought to read it from the beginning).

Dana Simpson (previously known as David Simpson) made the "I Drew This" strips during the Bush era. Here are a few links to some of my favourites:
Link 1
Link 2
Link 3
Link 4

The "I Drew This" Archives are here

Another comic I've discovered that's really good (though it's more plot-related than comedy) is "Strong Female Protagonist". It takes superhero themes in a new direction by starring a female superhero who has decided to give up crime-fighting upon discovering, from her arch-nemesis no less, that they are both being played for fools. One of the early parts of the story involves this former heroine marching at an Occupy Wall Street protest demonstrating very clearly how superpowers can sometimes be more harm than good, particularly when things get political.

(Via Strong Female Protagonist)

There's a rather neat article on the "Strong Female Protagonist" strip here.
philosoraptor42: (Default)
It always annoys me that lists at the end of the year often contain many films that have not even been released in the UK at the time and miss out films that were released the previous year in the US. While my 2010 list included anything that IMDB classes as a 2010 movie (whether because first aired abroad in 2010 or even sometimes because it appeared at a film festival or two in 2010), this list combines anything that did not receive a cinema release in the UK prior to 2011. That means some crossover, but it also means that this isn't a list of just 9 films I really liked, rather than a gradual build up to the best of the best.

There's a few cases below where I've reassessed a film's original score after a second watch.

23. Attack The Block (2011)

While I really enjoyed this, I think there were problems with the underlying morals. I liked that there was a message of taking responsibility for your actions. However, it's not clear that at the end of the film the protagonists have actually learnt their lesson. Trying to get us to not only empathise but sympathise with a teenage gang who are happy to mug a nurse as she comes home from work was always going to be a rather ambitious project, particularly when the gang are, essentially, the protagonists of the film. I can't help but feel that Jodie Whittaker's part should have been bigger, partly because she is an awesome actress and partly because she very much acts as the voice of reason during the story. Some might say that it is not only classism but also racism that is being tackled here, so making the story all about a white woman could miss the point. Still, it seems like they could have put someone like Lenora Crichlow (from Being Human) in the role if that was really an issue. The problem is that it is difficult to care about the protagonists for the first third of the movie and the introduction of an even bigger baddie in the form of the drug dealer Hi-Hatz (played by Jumayn Hunter) is of limited help. Still, this is a good little feature film with a good mixture of comedy, action and horror in even measure and, to my mind (speaking as someone who liked Raiders of the Lost Ark and hated E.T.), actually does a good job of capturing some of that old 80s Spielberg magic.

Read more... )
philosoraptor42: (Default)
Not the 2011 list yet. First of all there's a few changes to the 2009 list that I needed to point out. Here's the complete selection of 2009 favourites in movie poster form....

New entries in the 2009 list.
18. Daybreakers

Yep there are 19 titles in the list now. At the time I felt like Daybreakers didn't quite deserve to enter the list and I made a point of stating that it had been a borderline case at the time. I argued that characterisation wasn't quite as good as it should be. On a second watch, however, I thought I was being unfair. I was actually particularly surprised how well Ethan Hawke's performance held up. The whole world-building angle in Daybreakers is just as brilliant as ever and the parallels with real life work far better than anyone ever had any right to expect from this sort of film. Also, now having seen the Sperig Brothers' rather less impressive debut "Undead" (featuring both zombies AND aliens) I'm more interested than ever in following the future work of the directors.

This actually comes back into the list ahead of Where The Wild Things Are which I rated highly because of the emotional affect it had on me. However, WTWTA isn't quite so big in the plot department driven rather more by the characters than the story. I think perhaps the biggest downside for WTWTA is that I'm not sure that children (who it is presumably aimed at) are really interested in a movie which makes you want to cry the whole time. (Toy Story 3, for example, I think did a better job of balancing the adult nostalgia for childhood with the fun little children's story elements. WTWTA seemed to be somewhat lacking the latter, which wasn't a problem for me, but could be a problem for young children.)

15. Get Low

Bill Murray plays another of the comically cynical characters he always does so well. Meanwhile Robert Duvall has the perfect combination of dry wit and strong acting talent to hold the film together. The big revelation doesn't feel quite as huge as it's built up to be, but there's plausible enough justification for that to let it slide. The characters are endearing and the performances are excellent all round. The central premise of an solitary old man with a bad reputation who decides to hold his funeral while he's still alive so he can hear what the locals have to say about him is an intriguing one and works well.

This comes into the running just ahead of "Coraline", the beautiful animated movie, but just behind "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans", the Herzog-directed iguana-filled movie about a drug-fuelled corrupt police officer.

6. A Town Called Panic

I placed this along with the two big animated movies of the year, "Up" and "Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs". It's difficult to choose between the three of them. However, with careful consideration I placed "Cloudy" in the top spot of the three (5th favourite of the year) with "A Town Called Panic" just behind in 6th place. All three are hugely inventive. The fact that the Pixar movie about a man who decides to fly his house to South America using balloons is mainly outranked by these two films because it's not quite as crazy as they are, probably tells you all you need to know.

Challenges to the 2008 list:
"Kung Fu Panda" and "Frozen River"

Kung Fu Panda is a great little animated film, but it really needs to be seen in conjunction with Kung Fu Panda 2. It really works to set you up for the sequel and it's a lovely little story itself, but on its own its not really quite so special.

Another contender for the 2008 list is Frozen River, which I was told was similar to Winter's Bone. While I could see the similarity, I didn't really feel that it was in the same league. There's a bit where the characters are talking about miracles which seemed a little cheesy, like the filmmakers were unwilling to take expand on the darker elements of the story and instead wanted the story to tie up happily in the end. This felt like a bit of a cop-out to me. Still, a very good movie well worth watching, but probably not amongst the very best of that year.

For my list of the best of 2010 click here.
For my index of all reviews so far click here.
philosoraptor42: (Default)

As we enter a New Year the internet is now full of lists of "The Best of 2011". However, the fact is that as an ordinary viewer I haven't SEEN most of the stuff from 2011 yet (and, to be frank, neither have some reviewers). So, while I shall be doing a list of my favourite movies so far from 2011 fairly soon, the REAL list right now is THIS one.

Now, I released a "my opinion so far" list for 2010 last year with just 9 films. The complete list now contains 28 films and "Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll" has sadly been knocked off the bottom. Andy Serkis gave a brilliant performance and it's still really good, but there's not exactly a consistent message. "Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll" is an excellent love letter to the life and works of Ian Drury, but as a movie it's missing something overall.

Below is the final list of 2010. As usual I am using the years featured on IMDB so some of these films weren't really released until 2011 and some weren't yet in the UK until 2011. All the more fitting to be releasing this list now rather than last year.

28) The Ghost

While some might argue that it's only my sense of principle that keeps this film in the lowest position, I think this is actually the right ranking by comparison to the other films in the list. The premise (as presented in the movie at least, since I cannot speak for the book) seems rather daft and that detracts from the more serious tone the movie seems to be half-pretending to air. Actually it's greatest strength is that it has a bit of a silly side to it. However, it's well put together and the audience is given a great opportunity to take sadistic pleasure from what is, essentially, Tony Blair being done for war crimes. It's a pity that the director is a rapist scumbag, but what can you do?

27. The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec

A cross between Raiders of the Lost Ark and Amelie. More intentional failings of logic than you can shake a stick at, producing a bizarre yet charming fantasy adventure. Luc Besson is back on form at last.

26. Treacle Jr.

A fun little film, held back by cheaper production values, but with a heart that shines through everything. Both sweeter and darker elements work against one another while Aiden Gillen holds the whole project together brilliantly. (Though if this were a big budget movie, it might well be accused of being "Oscar bait".)

Read more... )

Bonus: Five Biggest Disappointments of 2010

Read more... )

For my favourites list for 2008 click here.
For my favourites list for 2009 click here.
philosoraptor42: (Default)

Ardent Atheist Podcast.
Very rude, but often very funny podcast about atheism.

Beyond Belief. Podcast from Radio Four discussing religious ideas and issues from a variety of religious perspectives.

Filmsack. Excellent comedy podcast focussing on older cheesy movies. Anything from Cronenberg's "The Fly" to "Troll 2". From the Frogpants network.

Fourcast. Discussions about the possible future. Sometimes serious, mostly silly. Great fun. From the Frogpants network.

Friday Night Comedy Podcast. Sometimes this will be the Now Show and rubbish like that. The only weeks you need take an interest is when it's the News Quiz. Funniest UK news-related comedy you'll find.

Horror Etc. Discussions of all things horror and some things vaguely related. If you like horror, it's worth checking out. Interesting discussion, not comedy.

Jumpcut Junkies. Vodcast rather than podcast. A short video discussion with a opinions on recent releases with a fair bit of bantering between the two presenters. Like a lower budget version of Red Letter Media, but with the benefit of LJ's resident moviebuff [ profile] fabfunk.

Kermode and Mayo Film Reviews. Often very funny podcast of Radio Five show reviewing the latest films.

The Movielicious. Ordinary people discussing recent films. It's actually got a bit lacklustre recently with one of the contributors having recently had a baby, meaning that she's often been missing. It's been great in the past and I'm inclined to stick with it. Often very funny. From the Frogpants network.

Now Playing Movie Podcast. Quite amusing podcast discussing films. Often dedicated to looking back at whole franchises or similar sets of films. Warning: Spoilers aplenty. If you haven't seen the film yet and actually plan on seeing it, leave the podcast aside until you've watched the film yourself.

The Phileas Club.
Discussion of the news considering the different perspectives around the world. Each contributor not only says their own views on the latest news, but also the bias in the way the news was reported in their part of the globe. More serious than comedy, but occasionally quite amusing anyway. From the Frogpants network.

The Pod Delusion. A Podcast about various interesting things. Some episodes are better than others. Particularly interesting stuff will normally be even longer in Pod Delusion Extra (which contains extended interviews and such). Affiliated with the BHA (British Humanist Association).

Red Letter Media. Vodcasts rather than podcasts, but features some very funny reviews of the latest films. (The same people who did the extra long Star Wars Prequels critiques, explaining precisely why those films were awful.) When they try to do comedy sketches, it's a bit lame. However, asides from that, they are hilarious.

Slashfilmcast. My second favourite podcast for film news and reviews after Kermode and Mayo. Not a comedy podcast. I actually prefer the "After Dark" episodes because they discuss movie-related issues rather than simply have people giving their personal opinions on current films.
philosoraptor42: (Default)
The Doctor Who TV blog are planning on running a poll of the best moments from Series Six. At the moment they are asking for nominations.

Personally I reckon the best moment, though it certainly isn't from my favourite episode, is from "A Good Man Goes To War"....

"Do you want me to repeat the question?"
Explanation - Spoiler for "A Good Man Goes To War" )
philosoraptor42: (Default)
I've never been terribly big on being scared by movies. But movies will generally benefit from a good atmosphere and a sense of fun, so what better genre to do both those things than the horror comedy?

15 Severance (2006)

I love Christopher Smith's work, but I'm a bigger fan of his recent movies "Triangle" and "Black Death". Still, this movie was good fun and was the first movie to get me to notice him as a director. It's becoming clearer as time goes on that he pulled off quite an exceptional feat in pulling such a good performance out of Danny Dyer. Laura Harris comes in as the American actress to raise the film's international success and does a pretty cool job. (Some may remember Laura Harris for her role in "The Faculty", a horror-comedy which narrowly missed a place on this list.)

The thing that annoyed me about Severance was it's use of the whistle-and-bang method (whereby scary sounds ending with a loud sound are used to make the audience jump). This method is ridiculously effective on me in the sense that it always makes me jump, however it's horribly annoying because it takes my attention away from the thing that's actually supposed to be scaring me on screen. Thankfully, the use of this in Severance is pretty sparing and often turns out to be a red herring. It's mainly to keep the audience guessing and is rarely used explicitly for things that are genuinely scary.

It's the story of a team-building exercise with administrators from an arms dealing company. I really don't think I need to add anything to that. None of the characters is really in the business of using arms. They just sell them. Tim McInnerny is particularly awesome in his role and is really showing his versatility in his career these days, coming a long way since his role of Captain Darling from Blackadder. Things get quite horrible in places, but it never turns into torture porn. There's one scene which I'll just call "the scene with the plane" that is absolutely hilarious and guarantees this movie a place on the list.

Read more... )

Honourable Mentions
Read more... )

Cross-posted to [ profile] candycorncomm 
(X-post part one)
(X-post part two)
philosoraptor42: (Default)

Now that there are five Coheed and Cambria albums, I decided to make a best of album and I'm most happy with the initial songs I've chosen. These are the songs that have really stood out for me.

If you haven't come across Coheed and Cambria before, they are essentially a progressive metal band, but they are often mistaken for an emo or post-hardcore band. The mistake is mainly due to the tendency for lead singer Claudio to sing in a rather high pitched voice. Essentially whether you like Coheed or not will depend on whether you find the lead singer distinctive or offputting.

Read more (about the accompanying comic series)... )

So without further ado, the songs.

1. Radio Bye Bye
Album: "No World For Tomorrow"
(Youtube link)
Notable lyric: "Why are you afraid of what you've done?"
Calling out someone's hidden guilty feelings. There's always been something I've liked about songs which are jolly, but suggest darkness beneath the surface in their lyrics. When I was younger I was a big fan of Suzanne Vega and was quite shocked when I discovered that the sweet cheerful song "Luka" is about a girl being abused and lying about it. Still, Radio Bye Bye has lyrics which are much easier to sing along to and it's a lot of fun.

2. Ten Speed (Of God's Blood and Burial)
Album: "Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star"
(Youtube link)
Notable lyric: "Ten speed of God's blood and burial, Ten speed of God's blood and burial...."
When I first heard this song I had no idea that a ten speed was a bicycle. It was quite odd to read the comic that accompanies this album and see the comic writer referring to a bike as his "ten speed". The meaning of this song is a lot clearer than others. The comic writer is arguing with the bike about whether he should kill off the love interest in his comic or not. As usual, I'm less interested in the meaning and more interested in the music and singing along "ten speed of god's blood and burial!" The absurdity of those words just adds to the fun. It's actually probably my favourite song of all Coheed and Cambria's albums.

Also "Apollo", from the album title, is the comic writer's dog. *facepalm*

3. A Favor House Atlantic
Album: "In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth"
(Youtube link)
Notable lyric: "Good eye sniper, I'll shoot you run"
This is widely recognised as one of Coheed and Cambria's best songs and it's probably their most popular one. The music video they made for it seems similar to the sort of thing you'd expect from Bowling For Soup aimed at the emo market. What the video doesn't make clear is that the song is linked to a science fiction comic about a couple who are being expected to kill their own children. At very least the song is about enlisting a sniper to kill someone, but that doesn't stop the music and lyrics from being very upbeat.

Read more... )
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Most popular posts of 2010
Some other blogs seem to have a "most popular posts of the year" entry, so I thought I'd try it out. Certainly I thought it might reveal which stuff I write is the most popular. The most popular posts seem to be quite diverse in the kinds of content they involve, which is a good thing really.

When choosing the most popular posts of 2010 I was sensible enough to discount comments I made myself.

Read more... )

Read more... )

Read more... )

Top ten most popular posts for 2010
Read more... )

Most popular posts prior to 2010
I did this list first and it was a while before I considered discounting comments I made myself. Whoops. Anyway, these appear to be the most popular entries on my blog prior to 2010. Check it out!

Read more... )

The top ten most popular posts prior to 2010 (with a lot of posts in joint last place)

Read more... )
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Okay, so I've been using the imdb years in order to work out what movies go in which lists. As such, a few movies which are on a lot of 2009 lists have to go on my 2008 list. This feels a bit fairer to me since I was always horribly annoyed to see The Wrestler wasn't on any 2009 lists in spite of that being the year it was properly released in the UK.

So without further ado, here is my list of favourites from 2008....

Best of 2008

15. Bolt

Disliked mainly by people who first saw it in 3D. I can't help thinking that 3D would put you in completely the wrong mood for this movie. When the film starts the first five or ten minutes give the impression that this is going to be some big over the top nonsense. The thing is that the 3D might well convince you that it's supposed to be over the top nonsense. Meanwhile, watching this section on DVD, I was enjoying bits of it, but nevertheless feeling like I must be the wrong audience for this sort of thing. It's at this point where there's a real game changer. There's something almost Matrix-y about the way the lead character is completely deluded about their surroundings. Oh, and I don't care who disagrees with me; Rhino the hamster was absolutely brilliant!

Read more... )

Also check out:
Part One: The Best of 2010... so far.
Part Two: The Best of 2009... finally!
philosoraptor42: (Default)
Finally, I reveal my favourites from 2009. Perhaps it makes sense to start by explaining some of the movies which are missing from the list.

Movies Missing From my "Best Of 2009" List

1. Daybreakers

From my own perspective, perhaps the strangest gap is "Daybreakers". I really loved it, I thought it was visually very striking and I thought the metaphor of vampires was used in a much more clever way than one would normally expect. On the other hand, I recognise that it's not awards material but, more importantly, it's biggest failing is in characterisation. As fantastic as the world-building elements of the movie might be and the feel of the movie too, the characters in a movie are important. It's not like Underworld where it's all a load of old rubbish, nothing feels real and yet it keeps you watching anyway. Daybreakers is not just well-organised tat like Underworld. It is actually a very good movie. However, the characters feel limited depth-wise and that's what kept it out of the list.
Read more... )

Best of 2009

I've spent a whole year gradually working my way through the best movies of 2009. It's been a really good year for movies and here are the ones I consider to be the very best. I'm still missing A Town Called Panic, Four Lions, The Disappearance Of Alice Creed and Amreeka

16. Where The Wild Things Are

There's something very special about this exploration of a child's mind through his encounter with similarly child-like "wild things". The level of visual creativity in this movie is very impressive, but all in all this is very chracter-driven. However, my biggest concern with this movie is that it is not suitable for children. Not in terms of being scared by the monsters. I'm pretty sure they'd be fine with that. Rather the style of it. I'm rather worried that I might be underestimating children when I say this, but I think the movie was a bit too thoughtful rather than eventful. All in all I think young children would prefer a movie where the monsters spend rather less time crying.

Meanwhile for young adults like myself, I think the movie does a great job of evoking the inner life of a young child. Perhaps children will feel the same? With "Karen O and the kids" providing some awesome yet stirring music (Karen O being the lead singer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs), I found myself close to tears for most of the running time. I cannot deny that this movie hit me close to the bone and stirred me in a way which is hard to deny.
Read more... )
Check out Part One: Best of 2010 (seen so far)

In Part Three... my favourites from 2008 (such as The Hurt Locker).
philosoraptor42: (Default)
Okay, a loooong time ago (in fact the beginning of last year), [ profile] fabfunk  was providing his list of 2009 favourites and asking for people to provide their lists. This year I still need to see a few more 2009 movies, but I'm in a much better position to pick some favourites from that year. Meanwhile, I feel rather limited in my capacity to list the best 2010 movies, but I'll start with those nonetheless. (Some may remember me posting my imdb lists. The choices here are from those lists, but here I'm going to a bit more detail about the reasons behind my choices.)

Best Of 2010

9. Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll

With only a small number of movies in the list, it feels wrong not to give a mention to this rather awesome little gem. Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll is a loving tribute to the life of Ian Drury.

In the lead role we have the wonderful Andy Serkis giving a fantastic performance as the legendary punk rocker. Meanwhile the excellent up and coming Bill Milner (Son Of Rambow) is typically brilliant as his troubled son. (Milner is soon to play Magneto as a child in the Matthew Vaughn's upcoming X-Men: First Class.)

The movie feels almost like a concert in some ways and is perhaps a little unsure as to how it should end. However, there's little doubting that, like many other movies in this list, it's a fun ride.

Read more... )

In Part Two.... the long awaited verdict on movies from 2009

In Part Three...the best of 2008

philosoraptor42: (Default)
Yay! Now I can make lots of annoying lists of movies for you. :)

There are many more movies from 2010 still to see, not least since many of them only really having been seen by people at film festivals so far. As such, my list of favourites from 2010 numbers only 8. Still I've bothered to give a little explanation for the inclusion of each one:
Favourite movies of 2010!

Much more extensive is my list of favourites from 2009. Currently there are still a few more movies that I really ought to look into before I finish this (such as A Town Called Panic, Four Lions, The Disappearance Of Alice Creed, Amreeka, REC 2), but currently these are my sixteen favourite movies of 2009:
Favourite movies of 2009!

My list for 2008 currently includes 15 movies. These are my favourites from that year:
Favourite movies of 2008!
philosoraptor42: (Default)
Okay, this all started with an announcement by [ profile] fabfunk that he had a big long list of the best movies of 2009 and that he wanted to hear what we'd put on our own lists. Over the course of this year I've been trying to catch up on all the movies recommended for 2009 (expect a post on that soon-ish), but at the time I figured I'd simply try to work out what my favourite movies were from each year (or, if earlier than 1980, my favourite movies from each decade). As well as my recommendations from 2009, I've also seen some classics and I was interested to see whether this list changed at all. Well, a bit... Check it out! (The years are provided by imdb.)

For each year or decade I've provided some alternative suggestions (including a few I haven't seen). If you think there's a movie that really ought to be vying for the spot, please suggest it. What would you put in each of these sections?

1930s                                                 1940s
M - Fritz Lang                                                                        It's A Wonderful Life - Frank Capra

Read more... )


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