philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

This is the sixth in a series of movie lists I've been making charting my favourite movies of each year.

My top films of 2007,2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 were the following:

Click here to see my top 5 for 2007 (which I have plans to expand)
Click here to see my top 10 for 2008
Click here to see my top 10 for 2009
Click here to see my top 10 for 2010
Click here to see my top 10 for 2011

Part way through 2012 I suggested that it had been a great year for movies. I was rebuked for this comment at the time. Looking at my favourites of the year (having been able to fill in many of the gaps) it is interesting to see that many of my selections had a very limited cinema release, if they made it to a cinema at all. "Dredd" was a flop, "Cabin In The Woods" had its released delayed for years, "The Revenant" had its straight-to-DVD release delayed for years, and most people in the UK have never even heard of "Detention". Of all my "very best of the year" top 10 movie lists, this one for 2012 contains by far the most obscure entries. I still think this was a pretty great year for movies, but I don't think I'd have been feeling that way if it hadn't been for wonderful online recommendations opening me up to so many hidden gems.



10. Excision (2012)
UK release: 2 November 2012


A twisted coming of age tale, with a protagonist who has a sexual fascination with blood. Both horrifying and comical at the same time, "Excision" is an incredible piece of work. Inventive dream sequences help to colour the more down-to-earth character drama. While Annalynne McCord is exceptionally brilliant in the central role, Traci Lords also gives a great performance as her mother.



My review here

Richard Bates Jr.'s next film is "Suburban Gothic" about an unemployed man who discovers he can channel the paranormal.



9. The Girl (2012 TV Movie)
UK release: 26 December 2012


In the same year where we saw Antony Hopkins donning extensive prosthetics to make himself look like the great director Alfred Hitchcock, Toby Jones is able to do an even more effective job working mainly with his own highly expressive face. This is a not even remotely flattering portrayal of the director (though it's worth noting that, for all it's cutesiness, neither was "Hitchcock" with Antony Hopkins), but it does work very well as a Hitchcockian drama, thick with menace and atmosphere.



My review here

Julian Jarrold's next film is "Girls' Night Out", a romance thriller about Princess Margaret in the immediate aftermath of WWII.

More favourites of 2012 under the cut... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)


Naturally it's pretty hard to read those little signs in the picture above. Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield held those cards in front of their faces when the paparazzi were photographing them.

Emma Stone's card reads:

Good morning! We were eating and saw a group of guys with cameras outside. And so we thought, let’s try this again. We don’t need the attention, but these wonderful organizations do.


The card then finishes with an arrow pointing to Andrew Garfield's card. His card reads:

www.youthmentoring.org
www.autismspeaks.org


(and don’t forget:)

www.wwo.org
www.gildasclubnyc.org

Here’s to the stuff that matters. Have a great day!



Isn't that cool? Larger images of the individual cards are under the cut....

Click here to reveal larger images of their cards... )


(Via Filmdrunk)

philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

Fragile (2005)

I decided to check this out because it's a film from Jaume Balaguero, one of the director's of the REC film series currently working on "REC 4: Apocalypse". His latest film "Sleep Tight" really impressed me, but judging him on "Fragile" was liable to be a bit of a trial by fire, since I am easily disappointed by ghost films.

To briefly outline my issues with ghost films:

1. Dying gives you superpowers.

If a ghost can cause severe harm to people and have malicious intent towards those around them then it feels bizarre when they successfully kill one person, yet then fail to pose a threat to the protagonist until exciting third act of a film. Whatever!


2. What do dead people want?
If the ghost is angry and wants to kill particular people or even just everybody, then that is fine. However, the 'unfinished business' motivation is often extremely annoying. ("Unfinished business" is, of course, a phrase established by the movie of "Casper" - the friendly ghost.) In "The Sixth Sense" the unfinished business for one ghost is that their killer was not discovered, but if so, what difference will putting their killer in prison make for the deceased entity? Murderers are generally not kept in prison forever. If they are released in fifteen years will the ghost start haunting everyone again? This idea that appeasing the ghost will stop the hauntings often annoys me, so I was quite pleased with how it was subverted in "The Ring" (the original Japanese version, of course).

Other times the ghost is trying to warn people who are still alive, but when the ghost keeps on placing enigmatic messages around the place that can be annoying. (This can also be tied to point 1.)


3. Ghosts are just like us.
Okay, so some of these problems aren't such a big deal if the movie in question is a fantasy film like "The Frighteners". But if we are supposed to be freaked out by a spectre, I need to find it somewhat believable. If the ghosts are talking to everyone like they would do when they were alive, I find it hard to take them seriously.


4. Dead? No problem!
This is yet another issue from "Caspar". Bill Pullman, who plays Christina Ricci's dad, makes friends with Caspar's less friendly ghost-friends and they persuade him to kill himself so he can become a ghost like them. This is a bit of an awkward issue for "The Frighteners" too when Michael J. Fox makes himself clinically dead so he can wander around as a ghost for a bit. This is admittedly, an issue more often found in fantasy-like films such as "Caspar" and "The Frighteners" where the films are not really taking themselves so seriously anyway. But sometimes more serious depictions of ghosts will display them as if being a ghost is just an inevitable and predictable result of death, rather than a rare occurrance. Just because there are ghosts all around you, doesn't mean that when you die you will become one of them. (I'm looking at you, "The Orphanage".)


5. Ghost experts
Reports of ghostly activity do not generally involve vivid experiences and are generally surrounded by a large degree of mystery. People who believe in ghosts may have their own idea about what causes someone to become a ghost, but this isn't a field open to a great deal of empirical study (particularly when the entities at the centre of it appear so fleetingly and their entire existence is in question). Yet in films, someone often seems to turn up to explain exactly how ghosts work and to establish clear rules. A recent example of this is "Mama" where an archivist explains matter-of-factly that the spirit of a person becomes distorted after death.


I don't like to be too harsh when judging ghost films. I am quite keen that a ghost story have some kind of truths to reveal about real life for the non-ghostly characters. Sometimes there may be ambiguity about the existence of the ghost, so that what really matters is not the spirit itself, but the effects its supposed presence has on those who are haunted. If that's the case I can forgive a few issues. Alternatively if the film has fantasy elements, I can cut it a fair bit of slack. In the end, what I want is to be entertained.


Read more... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)


I'm not at all sure what the hell is going on with a bizarre upcoming movie called "Frank" about a band fronted by a figure I remember appearing on channel four during the nineties. But Michael Fassbender stars as the masked frontman and apparently the film also features Maggie Gyllenhaal playing a theramin.

Anyway, this song comes from the movie and regardless of what the film is like, it's a pretty cool song. There's a slight almost out-of-tune element which shouldn't work, but kind of does:


(Song found here on Nialler9)
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
Just discovered this bizarre trailer for the movie "Wolf Cop". It's from the director of a recent horror film called "13 Eerie". One actor who seemed more familiar, Jonathan Cherry, turns out to have been one of the stars of "Final Destination 2". He played a drug addict and acted as comic relief in the film.

I'm always up for a good horror comedy and this has potential.




(video link)
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

The figure above is Tubal-Cain, the villain played brilliantly by Ray Winstone in the "Noah" movie.

There were a few important differences between the Noah movie and the excellent graphic novel. One element which I already mentioned in my review was the way the introduction was handled. In the movie there's a long explanation of the early parts of the Book of Genesis.

It should probably be noted that in explaining the Cain and Abel story, the movie fails to mention that Cain made a vegetable offering to God while Abel offered an animal sacrifice (which God apparently approved of more). That might be slightly at odds with Cain's descendants in the movie being meat eaters while Noah's family (descended from Seth) are vegetarians.

From now on you should be warned that there may be SPOILERS for the movie "Noah" (and, of course, for the graphic novel). I shall be working through both in the same order found in the films, so the earlier parts of this article will relate to earlier parts of the film or graphic novel. So the further through you go, the more spoilery it will get. You have been spoiler-warned!

...

Setting up the world of the Noah re-interpretation
Read more... )

Noah's family values...
Read more... )

The role of Japeth
Read more... )

The ending of the story. How important is Biblical accuracy?
Read more... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
Okay okay, so perhaps it should have been obvious.



Still, I've always taken it as read that when Ricky Gervais is acting like a mean obnoxious bully it is actually all an act. After all, he often plays characters that get mocked a fair bit themselves, so they idea that he would have a bullying mentality in real life seemed to me to be somewhat unlikely.

Whether Gervais is doing tv or movies or stand-up it always seemed likely that we weren't seeing the personal opinions of Ricky Gervais. "He MUST be presenting a fabricated persona," I always thought.

However, that illusion was shattered when I listened to the Kermode and Mayo podcast for last week. Simon Mayo interviewed Ricky Gervais in relation to his role in the recent Muppets sequel. Naturally Gervais is just as likely to be putting on a persona during an interview as anywhere else, but the nature of the interview, promoting a childrens' Muppets movie, put Gervais' comments completely at odds with any kind of carefully planned role-playing.

Simon Mayo puts forward his claim to high levels of Muppets fandom when he notes that he bought the Muppets album on vinyl when it was released back in the 70s. Ricky Gervais' response is actually to mock Mayo for this level of fandom. And if that was where it stopped that might have been okay, but Gervais' laughter at his own joke runs into hysterics and takes on a very mean and spiteful air.



Now if this is just a persona and not Gervais' real life opinion, then why is it put forward in an interview intended to promote the Muppets movie? Surely mocking the old Muppets album would be a pretty poor way to market the new Muppets movie, quite possibly alienating fans.

And things actually (somehow) get even worse. Once he's spent a while laughing at the idea of anyone being excited by the Muppets album, Gervais then makes an analogy with a teacher in his school. The teacher apparently admitted to crying during a movie and had to leave the school due to the embarrassment caused by mockery from pupils.

There's something very immature about Gervais' attitude. It's the old schoolyard bully mentality of mocking other people to make yourself look good. And the analogy with the teacher in school seems like a pretty clear admission that Ricky Gervais WAS that kind of schoolyard bully and he seems to remain one to this day.

Simon Mayo's original interview with Ricky Gervais is still available here:


(video link)

After the interview, undeterred by Gervais' immature mockery, Mayo played this rather cool song from the Muppets album (making use of a Gilbert and Sullivan song).


(video link)

About everything you could ever want from Ricky Gervais' brand of comedy is found in a very short section of the Matthew Vaughn movie "Stardust". Just 2 short minutes and you've no real need to see anything he does ever again - and I really hope I never do.
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)


Hey everyone!

Anyone have any opinion on "The Conjuring"? (I made a post about my initial thoughts here. Review on the way.)

I've been meaning to rewatch "The Exorcist" for a while now, but the last time I saw it I was still somewhat religious. (I've never been VERY religious, but I grew up as your typical non-Churchgoing CofE member-by-default.) A friend of mine had said he thought "The Exorcist" was hilarious at the time, while I genuinely found it pretty creepy.



In recent years I've decided to get more into horror movies than ever before thanks to encouragement from others on Livejournal. I've realised that I have a big horror-comedy um... fandom?

Anyway, I'm finding horror-comedy is everywhere. "Return of the Living Dead" and "Re-Animator" are awesome horror-comedies with zombies, the Child's Play movies are great horror-comedies, there's some clear horror-comedy in the "Nightmare On Elm Street" series and some of my favourite Friday the 13th movies like "Jason Lives" and "Jason Goes To Hell" seem to be, you guessed it, horror comedies!

Still, there are certain horror films which seem to be taking themselves deadly seriously and end up seeming unintentionally hilarious to me and I'm beginning to notice a pattern. I'm an atheist these days, so perhaps there's a link between that and my inability to take the following movies seriously:

The Rite

(my review)
This was actually doing a pretty good job of making me take it seriously. I felt the style of the movie was a little formulaic and it has a very blatant pro-exorcism message in the background. Still, I was prepared to accept it on its own terms to start with. It was in the second half where thinks went nuts and when Anthony Hopkins shouted "BAAAAAL!" that was where I finally cracked. It was pretty ridiculous.

The Possession

(my review)
I wrote the review quite a while back, but it took me until now to post it to my own journal. I think there are hints all the way through the film that it was originally written to be a horror comedy and Sam Raimi's presence as a producer makes that seem very likely. Sam Raimi is absolutely brilliant at making movies which are equally scary AND funny, often at the exact same moment. But once we reach the finale, the big 'shocking' moment involved one of the most ridiculous things I have ever seen.

The Conjuring

(initial comments)
The very first scene of the movie had me cracking up. If this were a horror-comedy, I think I might have loved it.

Notice the pattern? Yep, they're all exorcism movies.

And it's not like I will inevitably hate exorcism stuff. I absolutely LOVED the tv series Apparitions. Though that being said, Apparitions is the creation of Joe Ahearne and he's actually an atheist. But I must say, I think what really matters is whether you can tell a convincing and engaging story.


I think I need to finally give "The Exorcist" a watch. I'm quite interested to see what happens. On the one hand "The Exorcist" is the critic Mark Kermode's favourite movie of all time. On the other hand, my friend who is a horror fan (and pretty religious too btw) does not really think "The Exorcist" is a very good movie. But even if I don't end up liking "The Exorcist" (and I don't remember being terribly keen on it before) that doesn't mean that I'll find the scary moments laugh-out-loud funny.



I'd like to finish by pointing out the rather cool podcast "Monster Talk". It's a science-based podcast about monster stories. They have a very cool podcast they released detailing the full story of the Warrens from "The Conjuring":
http://www.skeptic.com/podcasts/monstertalk/13/10/16/
I first head about this podcast when it was recommended by the hosts of the Horror Etc podcast who appreciated the movie of "The Conjuring" a great deal, even if it does beatify blatant scam artists. (Actually the controversy over the central figures actually increased rather than decreased my interest in this movie. I had every expectation that the fictional version of the Warrens story could make for a great horror film, even if the real life story was much more mundane.)


Did they change the doll because they couldn't get the rights to use Raggedy Ann? Because they wanted to make the doll more scary? Or because the doll needs to pick things up and Raggedy Ann has no fingers?
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
Is this supposed to be a horror comedy?



I'm over half way through the movie and every now and then something happens that has me in fits of hysterics. Yet overall this seems to take itself really seriously.



I'd be inclined to give this credit for being "so bad it's good" except this is the biggest selling horror movie of last year (over and above V/H/S/2, Evil Dead, Byzantium, Maniac and Antiviral). We just had a "vomit into your mouth" moment à la "Drag Me To Hell" and yet people are praising this film and taking it seriously. I don't understand!



I'm going to go back and watch the rest of this now... Expecting to laugh a lot more before the end.
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
Considering Aronofsky's Noah Film



1. The Ridiculous Bible Story

Noah has long been a bit of a punching bag when it comes to criticising religion. Certainly when Christians are deciding which stories to reject as fables, the truth of the Noah story seems to be rejected quicker even than the truth of the Adam and Eve story. And I can understand that.

Both stories have a clear problem with a population bottleneck, at the end of the story we are expected to believe that just a very few people are going to need to produce the entire human race through centuries of inbreeding and it's generally just presumed that God would have to make it work somehow. But the Noah story also brings in some very concrete and obvious logistical issues that are much harder to ignore.
- How does Noah gather up the animals?
- How does he make space for all of them in one craft?
- How does he keep them from eating one another during the long time at sea?
- How does he feed them if they cannot eat each other?
- How does he clean up the excrement of this varied group of animals?
Read more... )

2. Aronofsky's Graphic Novel



So how is Aronofsky going to make this story compelling for modern audiences? Well, now I've had a chance to check out the graphic novel Aronofsky is basing this one there are several clear reasons why this is compelling. And they might be rather surprising to anyone who is seen the rather uninspiring trailer.

The graphic novel is, essentially, science fiction.

Yes, you read that right.


Read more... )

3. The Target Audience?

Which is why it is so annoying that the trailers for the Noah movie seem to avoid suggesting that there is any kind of interesting reinvention of the story present. It looks mostly like a bland by-the-numbers version of the story. There's a simple reason for that though and it's not hard to work out. Conservative literalist and hardcore Christians came out by their droves to see "Passion of the Christ". They are saving the recent "Son of God" from being a complete flop. The Bible has a massive fandom and the studio funding "Noah" do NOT want to miss out on this.


Read more... )

4. Poor Marketing

The trailer could be said to mislead the audience because it looks like a simple retelling of the Noah story. But actually there are loads of snippets of the imagery Aronofsky intends to employ. They are just buried as a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moments.

This includes Noah with a flaming sword:

Read more... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)


So I've finally joined Letterboxd. I've got the same old username over there, still fatpie42.

Check it out here:
http://letterboxd.com/fatpie42/

For anyone not yet aware, it's like Goodreads only for films instead of books. It's a website dedicated to film reviews and film lists. It's got a very nice layout and it's kind of sweet.

I'm posting links to old reviews with little segments from the conclusions (Rotten Tomatoes style), so with so many reviews already over here at Livejournal, my Letterboxd account is growing at a rate of knots.

At very least, it's becoming a rather cool alternative to my Livejournal film index. :D
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)
Recently I've been listening to a podcast called "Radiodrome" and they occasionally finish up with an obscure song. They played this song at the end of podcast number 156 and my instant reaction was to try to find out who the artist was. However, looking up the lyrics didn't seem to do the trick. It turns out that the song is only found on the soundtrack of an obscure 80s apocalypse movie called "Radioactive Dreams", so I guess no one bothered to write the lyrics up anywhere. Anyway, having tracked this song down I've just got to share. I have now bought the entire Radioactive Dreams soundtrack, but this song seems to be the best.


The movie is here if you are interested. Doesn't appear to have a DVD release.

Naturally I've had a bit of a kick for music that sort of pretends to be from the 80s in the style of the movie Drive. So I guess it was only a matter of time before I got similarly excited by a song that is actually from the 80s. Check it out:


(video link)
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
Okay so initially I saw the godawful trailer for "Frozen" and all the interest in another movie from the creators of Tangled (my review of "Tangled" here) just felt entirely smothered and smooshed out by the clear suggestion that no one older than 5 would have any interest in this. The problem was the bizarre cuts straight after lines from the snowman character as if those were intended as fantastic one-liners.

Anyway since then [livejournal.com profile] gothrockrulz posted the following awesome scene. I've also heard wonderful stuff about the whole premise behind the snowman character on the Kermode and Mayo podcast which makes me a lot more interested in that character now. Frankly, they'd have been better off just using this scene as their advert for the movie:


(video link)

So here's the interesting bit. An ex-LJ blogger from my f-list [livejournal.com profile] beckielric has apparently moved to tumblr and it was there that I found this awesome re-interpretation of the above video. Check it out:

philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)


This is the fifth in a series of movie lists I've been making charting my favourite movies of each year (working steadily backwards).

My top films of 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 were the following:


Click here to see the full list for 2008
Click here to see the full list for 2009
Click here to see the full list for 2010
Click here to see the full list for 2011


5. Molière (2007)
UK release: 13 July 2007


"Molière" is an absolutely hilarious French film with an invented story to explain the rise of the eponymous French playwright. Certainly the idea is somewhat inspired by "Shakespeare In Love", but I found this film far superior. Romain Duris gives an electrifying central performance which holds together the farce-comedy storyline and the quirky characters. I loved every second of this.



Director Laurent Tirard's last film was "Astérix and Obélix: God Save Britannia". He does not appear to have made anything up to same standard as "Molière". However, the main star Romain Duris' next film is "The New Girlfriend" from director François Ozon. Ludivine Sagnier was recently in "Love Crime" alongside Kristin Scott Thomas and her next two upcoming movies are "Lou" and "Tristesse Club".

More favourites of 2007 under the cut... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
The previous trailer made by this guy can be found here. This is the same again, but with clips from the latest Amazing Spider-Man 2 trailer included too.


(video link)

If anyone is unfamiliar with the 90s cartoon intro that this is based on, you can see it here.

(video link)
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)


This is the fourth of my new lists charting what I now believe to be the best movies released in the UK in previous years. My others include: 2011, 2010 and 2009. My favourites from those previous three lists were the following awesome films:


Click here to see the full list for 2009
Click here to see the full list for 2010
Click here to see the full list for 2011

Below is my list of what I consider the very best movies of 2008...


10. Mongol: The Rise to Power of Genghis Khan (2007)
UK release: 6 June 2008


"Mongol" had a bit of a mixed reception when it first came out, annoyingly with many people wondering why it only focussed on the very early years of Genghis Khan's life and not really coming to a satisfying conclusion. In actual fact it was always intended as the first part in a trilogy and it's clearly a take on Genghis Khan that we haven't seen before.

In spite of being an unsurprisingly male-centric movie, this just about passes the Bechdel Test. The relationship between Temudjin (Genghis Khan's original name) and his wife is very interesting and was a good set up for somone who would go on to be a very strong character in her own right, had the intended sequels been made.

Even accepting that sequels may never come about, this is still a wonderful film in its own right. The acting is fantastic, the story is engaging and atmospheric and the whole thing also happens to be gorgeously shot. While the film does not exactly have a message, we do get to see Genghis Khan as a figure with a different sort of code than that we are used to rather than simply a mad dog barbarian. As far as biopics go, this is head and shoulders above the usual fare. While it may be taking massive liberties in its portrayal, it had me so caught up in the story being told that I didn't care whether it was true or not.



Sergey Bodrov has been involved in fairly small time projects since "Mongol", but is currently working on "Seventh Son" starring Jeff Bridges.



9. [REC] (2007)
UK release: 11 April 2008


Looking back, I actually think this is as important an addition to zombie lore as "28 Days Later" or "Shaun Of The Dead". (These both being rather less controversial examples than Romero's original "Night Of The Living Dead".) "28 Days Later" took zombies in a whole new direction having, while not the first instance of zombies that run, certainly the most influential example. The idea of a 'rage virus' caught the imagination of many filmmakers and changed the portrayal of zombies in many films (much to the annoyance of many of the more purist fans of the genre). Similarly "Shaun Of The Dead" showed the comic potential of the zombie genre and while it wasn't the first time that zombies had been played for laughs (my personal favourite being "Return Of The Living Dead") it did give zombie comedies a second wind.

REC hasn't been as influential as either of the previous two. It isn't the first of the found footage horror movies and nor does it generally seem to be the first one referenced when the genre comes up. However, REC is, to my mind, the very best found footage movie that cannot be classed as a faux documentary (unlike "Troll Hunter" which is clearly documentary footage plus outtakes, REC is more of a continuous roll of footage). What I have always found particularly impressive from the start is how natural the inclusion of the camera seems (with good excuses found for why the camera might actually be an essential tool rather than an unnecessary hassle during the most climactic points in the story). REC also preceeded all the hype around the found-footage monster movie "Cloverfield" and I think REC was the superior of the two.

Asides from the found footage element, there's another way that the REC series distinguishes itself from other zombie mythologies. I don't really want to reveal this since it's a spoiler for the first two REC movies. This new direction can seem rather jarring upon first discovery and not everyone is entirely sold on it, but then again it's good that this approach to the genre remains unique to the REC series. The main hallmark of the first two REC movies are the very creepy atmosphere of the appartment block which actually seems to affect and interfere with the camera itself at times. The REC films are quite inventive in the way in which they make use of the medium in which they are filmed and presented.



Jaume Balaguero is currently working on "REC 4: Apocalypse". It will follow straight on from "REC 2" though it is possible that at least a few elements from "REC 3: Genesis" might become relevant.

More favourites of 2008 under the cut... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)


Okay, so here's a grumpy rant about a term I've been hearing over and over on movie message boards and I am fed up with it. "Plot holes" is a term where the meaning appears to be deeply unclear (at least in the way most people use it). In some cases a short review of a film could actually be as simple as: "It sucked because it was full of plot holes." I am here to argue that such a review is practically meaningless.

Before I even worry about whether "plot holes" is a good term or not, perhaps I should show some evidence than anyone actually uses it. I found myself rather annoyed to see it being used a reviewer. I've recently discovered a reviewer on The London Film Review website called David Ollerton. In an article about "Looper" he said the following:


"Looper is full of plot holes right from the start, and I'm not even talking about the time-travel logic (which makes little to no sense throughout), I'm talking about some of the basic ideas."


I immediately groaned. I keep on hearing this term in IMDB message boards and it is frustrating as hell. However, to be fair to Ollerton (who actually seems to write some pretty good reviews) this wasn't his review of "Looper", but rather an article breaking down what he believed to be some less-recognised issues with the film which people might have missed.



There already is a major problem with using the term "plot holes" in a review. If it is possible for most people to watch the film without even recognising a plot hole, how is it an important criticism of a film? Am I really going to have a poor movie-going experience due to a factor I cannot recognise while I am watching the film? Anyway, more on that later...


Is The Term "Plot Holes" Really Used THAT Much?



Looking at reviews by ordinary internet users on Rotten Tomatoes the following is just a small sample:
Read more... )
How Much Do Critics Use The Term "Plot Holes"?

In one forum post on Rotten Tomatoes an ordinary RT user said this about "The Godfather":


"There were many gaping plot holes in this movie (which critics usually attack other movies for, but not this one)"


Actually I don't think this is true. I think most critics don't actually use the term "plot holes" very often at all, never mind randomly missing out that term in relation to "The Godfather".

Read more... )

"Plot Holes Big Enough To Drive A Truck Through!"

Oh please Lord make it stop!
Read more... )
Plot Holes Don't Matter!

There is one user comment which uses the dreaded phrase which I think helps to make clearer why I dislike the term "plot holes" in the first place.


Timecop 2:
"Talk about your plot holes big enough to drive a truck through. But hey ... I'm a sucker for time-travel flicks. Even if they suck I love them."


I'm going to go one further and not just accept that you can love movies with plot holes, but that plot holes don't matter.
Read more... )

A Case Study: Prometheus

It's been bugging me for a while now that most people hated "Prometheus", while I actually preferred it to the original "Alien". So why was that?

Well "Prometheus" captured my imagination because in the end it's all about the savage origins of religion. The premise of an alien race who are keen on self-sacrifice and the cycle of death and rebirth, while having absolutely no time for human fear of mortality or their attempts to preserve themselves though creating automata to imitate them.



Read more... )

Just knock it off with the term "plot holes" okay?

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