Monday, 30 December 2013

Top Documentaries of 2013

I watched 8 documentaries this year, all of which were released in 2013 in the UK. A couple of these are likely to end up in my top 20 films of the year when I finally get round to making that list. First I have to get through my list of shame and then I'll get on to making a top 20 for 2013. Here's my list of world cinema films I watched this year as well and here is a rundown of all the TV I also watched this year.


8. More than Honey

'Despite the attention to details, presentation of facts and such an intriguing question at the heart of the premise, More Than Honey is less than thrilling. The future of beekeeping is briefly considered but by the end, you may find that you have heard more than enough.'


7. When the Dragon Swallowed the Sun

 'When the Dragon Swallowed the Sun gives the sobering facts with little fanfare and pieces together a chronology of resistance leading up to the Beijing Olympics while giving a voice to those who too often remain unheard.'
 
I also interviewed the director Dirk Simon for Filmoria which you can read here. 

6. How to Survive a Plague

 'How to Survive a Plague is a testament to the incredible bravery, impressive organisation and inspiring action of those at the frontline in the fight against AIDS'
 
5. The Gatekeepers

'The Gatekeepers is a riveting exploration of men with unnatural and terrifying amounts of power. Their actions in the past are often inexcusable, but by the end, their thoughts and their argument will have you hanging on their every word. The Gatekeepers is an extremely important piece of film; its message and conclusion should be heard by those in positions of power all over the world.'


4. Utopia

'Utopia has a powerful message to share and deserves to be seen in every Australian school and by everyone blinded by the sunny delights of Neighbours and Home and Away.'


3. Sound City 

'Sound City details the history of the studio before Dave Grohl collects together an array of musicians to record an album on the old Sound City production board.'


2. Desert Runners

'Desert Runners is a near perfect documentary, capturing the wonder of the human spirit and letting the audience into a world most of us would never dream of becoming a part of. Most importantly it makes us care for characters that could have been hard to connect with. You might not go running with them, but you won’t forget them.'


1. Side by Side

'Side By Side is much more than a documentary about the differences between film and digital. It is a chance to see some of the best directors in the film business discussing their craft and an incredibly important historical document for film buffs. If the end of film is nigh, then Side by Side is a brilliantly fitting swansong to a medium that has made us all fall so deeply in love with the movies.'

What were your favourite documentaries of 2013 or that you saw this year?

Why don't you stay awhile? More 2013 lists from I Love That Film:

TV in 2013: Breaking Bad, Dexter, The Walking Dead, Homeland and more

World Cinema in 2013

Best books I read in 2013

2013 List of Shame or 25 films I should have seen this year

2013 Top 10 Horror, Fantasy and Science Fiction

2013 Top 10 So Far (written in July)

Best British Films of 2013

Top 25 Films to see in 2014

TV in 2013: Breaking Bad, Dexter, The Walking Dead, Homeland and more


I watched a crap load of TV in 2013. Films have always been my big thing and even with The Wire, The Sopranos and 24, I still didn't jump on the loving TV bandwagon. But this year, that really changed. I'd been slowly but surely getting stuck into a few TV shows and this year, two of my favourites finished forever; Breaking Bad and Dexter.





Helpfully my friend also showed me a way to keep up with TV shows without having to subscribe to ludicrously expensive TV services. More importantly I got sent a few TV boxsets to review for Filmoria and I also got lots of work writing for Yahoo on both The Walking Dead and Homeland.

These are all the TV shows I watched in 2013. If I reviewed them, then just click the titles to see my reviews:

TV shows I watched in 2013:



'Unit One might not reach the heady heights of other recent Danish crime exports but has plenty to offer fans of the genre and will certainly please fans of both Mads Mikkelsen and Nordic noir with a healthy feminist streak.'


'Jack Irish is a cut above many TV movies, injected with plenty of Aussie charm amidst the occasional stereotypes and distracting subplots, but shot, edited and scored very effectively. While Irish is the focus, the supporting cast offer just as much fun and help to illuminate the central character. Guy Pearce is a very welcome presence to the small screen and makes further Jack Irish adventures a welcome prospect.'



'What I loved about The Killing is that there was a thick web of characters surrounding the case. They all felt very real and provided a great deal of interest and suspense into the events after the murder. The family of the victim, a politician and his campaign crew and more and more assorted suspects keep clotting up the case and providing fresh intrigue and fresh suspects throughout the 20 episodes.'


The Walking Dead Season 2

Better than the first season but I still hadn't fallen in love with the series yet despite loving the premise.


Black Mirror Season 2

The second episode of this season, White Bear, was one of the best bits of TV I'd ever seen. Check out my reviews of White Bear and The Waldo Moment here. 


Game of Thrones Season 1

Loved it so much, I started reading the books on holiday in Thailand. I got half way through the second season and then stopped so I could read the second book first. Now I've just finished A Clash of Kings, I'm going to finish watching the second season and then move on to the third books.

Arrested Development Season 4

Disappointing but still had it's moments. I also got a perfectly timed second free trial month from Netflix to watch it all. Not enough Job, not enough Tobias and a bit too convoluted and clever-clever for its own good!


Breaking Bad Season 4

Best season of the series yet. The dynamic with Gus Fring went to another level and dominated this season and I loved every minute of it. Ended with an absolute shocker too. Walt had descended to his absolute lowest and scummiest and suddenly I found myself caring for Jesse again.


'Unit One series 2 furthers the drama of the first series and has a consistently fascinating array of mysteries and murders. The increasingly challenging relationships of the team might at first appear to take a back seat but by the end of the series, the members of Unit One are still the ones audiences will warrant worthy of further investigation in future series.'


Breaking Bad Season 5

Even better than the fourth season, this was pretty much perfect TV. Episode 14: Ozymandias was literally unforgettable and was the pinnacle of the show for me. Read how excited I got about it here. Then I wrote a piece for Yahoo on saying goodbye to two of TV's greatest anti-heroes, Dexter and Walter White. They will both be sorely missed although White went out on a massive high whereas Dexter kind of over stayed his welcome.



'It was an incredibly eventful season with Michonne getting to kick ass, The Governor becoming a truly terrifying threat and supporting characters like Glenn and Daryl finally really getting a chance to shine. With the deaths of Lori and Andrea, it even tugged hard at the heartstrings before all out war made for an action packed final episode. Season four will have a lot to live up to.'


Homeland Season 1

I had to race through this as I had to catch up with the whole show before season three started and I began my writing for Yahoo on the series. Loved season 1 but kind of wished it had ended with Brody blowing himself up and then that would have been that!


Dexter Season 6

The Colin Hanks starring series was ok but ended with the mother of all cliffhangers; Deborah finding out about Dexter. That was enough to keep me watching the next season.

Dexter Season 7

It all started losing the plot a bit here with Deborah knowing about Dexter's secret life. However, again it ended with an absolutely gobsmacking climax; Deborah killing LaGuerta. I personally think that would have been a pretty brilliant and bleak way to end the show.


Homeland Season 2

Not nearly as good as the first but much better than the third season. 



'Low Winter Sun sits in the very long shadow cast by other far better dramas but is a success on its own terms, acting as an autopsy of a dying Detroit that would soon be declared bankrupt.'


Homeland Season 3 


I am still currently watching:


The Walking Dead Season 4 which we are half way through and will start again in February.

Game of Thrones Season 2 which I am about half way through and intent to finish now that I have read A Clash of Kings.

Dexter Season 8 which I just have the final ever episode left to watch!

In 2014, I intend to get through Game of Throne season 3 and hopefully 4 when it comes out, finish The Walking Dead season 4 and watch Homeland season 4. I'm also tempted to start on Boardwalk Empire and Under the Dome.

Best of World Cinema in 2013

I watched 20 world cinema films this year, 11 of which were films that were released in the UK in 2013. Here are the 9 that were not released in 2013 and if I reviewed them, then you can check out my review by clicking the title.


Django, Prepare a Coffin 

'It does have much to recommend it with an iconic star with swagger to spare, a great score, some occasionally stylish visuals and stunts and fight sequences to savour. Just don’t expect the visual and verbal pizzazz of Tarantino’s latest.'

Lisa and the Devil

'Lisa and the Devil is wilfully weird and guaranteed to leave you wondering what the hell you just witnessed.'

Black Sunday

'Bava’s best film is undoubtedly a classic of the Gothic horror genre. Understandably banned on release for its striking and harrowing opening scene, it may never quite match this sequence but it is still influential and incredibly well made.'

Holy Motors

Never got round to reviewing this but I'm in the camp that absolutely loved it! Filled with utter madness, I even had to visit the cemetery in Paris that featured in this bonkers scene.



The Raid

Didn't review this either. Hoping Hollywood learns from the action scenes in this in the way that they were shot and edited. 

Rust and Bone

Disappointed by this. Great performances but I found the story fairly forgettable.

Baise-Moi

 'Baise-Moi is where art house meets pornography. Though there is a clear intention to create something that is an affront to traditional values (rather than a simple masturbation aid), Baise-Moi is less punk rock feminist exploration of modern women and more a rape-revenge, guns, girls and sleaze-a-thon.'

Black Sabbath

'The three films contained within Black Sabbath are the best of Bava; funny and terrifying in equal measure, a must for fans and real treat for newcomers to the director’s work. Ozzy Osbourne would be proud.'

Headhunters

Bonkers thriller with some seriously shocking scenes of violence. Loved it!

And now for the world cinema films that were released in 2013 which I present for you in a countdown to my favourite!



11. More than Honey 

'Despite the attention to details, presentation of facts and such an intriguing question at the heart of the premise, More Than Honey is less than thrilling. The future of beekeeping is briefly considered but by the end, you may find that you have heard more than enough.' 

10. Escape

'Though it looks stunning and is directed with plenty of flair, the script could have done with some development in order to ramp up the action elements and make this really worth fleeing out to see.'
 
9. Sleep Tight

From one of the directors of REC, but far more chilled and chilly. A really nasty and depressing little film.

8. Everybody Has a Plan 

'From the producers of The Secrets In Their Eyes, Everybody Has A Plan lacks the brilliant twist, complex plotting and wonderful visual flourishes of that film but still has many moments to recommend it.' 
7. The Gatekeepers 


'The Gatekeepers is a riveting exploration of men with unnatural and terrifying amounts of power. Their actions in the past are often inexcusable, but by the end, their thoughts and their argument will have you hanging on their every word. The Gatekeepers is an extremely important piece of film; its message and conclusion should be heard by those in positions of power all over the world.'

6. The Deep 

'The Deep elevates the ordinary man into an extraordinary subject. It might not excite as much as a Hollywood version but it captures the drama of the sinking and subsequent survival with commendable restraint.'


5. Come as You Are 

'As a coming of age story with a difference, Come as You Are excels, creating fully believable characters that neither beg for pity or scream of stereotyping. Come As You Are may not fully explore gender politics, but it notably adds to the increasing array of representations of people with disabilities and is certainly a trip worth taking.'


4. No 

'The documentary style and use of the U-matic camera adds inexorably to the authenticity and the use of real footage seamlessly blended with new footage is masterful.'


3. A Hijacking 

'A Hijacking might not have the explosive action its title might suggest in a Hollywood film but it has high tension, high drama and high stakes. Though it skips the actual moment of hijacking, it never flinches from the psychological repercussions on the main players. For the 120 plus days depicted, it is completely captivating.'



2. Our Children 

'Our Children offers a frighteningly bleak look at marital strife, crushing depression and a shocking and disturbing end that distances you from both Murielle and all her children. Thanks primarily to Dequenne's performance, it is heart breaking and completely unforgettable.'


1. Rebellion

'Rebellion is Kassovitz right back on form. With its tense hostage rescue scenario, it deserves to be this year’s Argo. Stylish, intelligent and gripping, Rebellion is a smart thriller that will blow you away.'

What were your favourite world cinema films of 2013 or beyond?

Why don't you stay awhile? More 2013 lists from I Love That Film:

TV in 2013: Breaking Bad, Dexter, The Walking Dead, Homeland and more

Best books I read in 2013

Top Documentaries of 2013

2013 List of Shame or 25 films I should have seen this year

2013 Top 10 Horror, Fantasy and Science Fiction

2013 Top 10 So Far (written in July)

Best British Films of 2013

Top 25 Films to see in 2014

Friday, 27 December 2013

2013 List of Shame or 25 films I should have seen this year

I've seen around 150 films in 2013 but due to my writing commitments for Yahoo, I've been watching a hell of a lot more television than ever before. As a result, I'm going to hold off on making my best films of 2013 list for a very long time. There are a huge amount of 2013 films I have yet to see and will have to find a way of watching before I can even begin to entertain the idea of making a top 10 of 2013.

It's always this way. I don't get the chance to see lots of films in the cinema and every year I say I will get better at it but never do. I need the cinema to be cheaper, to live closer to one and for my wife to be up for seeing more films.

Anyway it's all a bit of a guessing game as to what could end up on my top 10 of 2013 list but judging by a few of the lists I have been looking at, these are some of the likely contenders. In no particular order, here are the top 25 films I should have seen in the cinema this year but didn't and am now totally regretting:

The Place Beyond the Pines 


Before Midnight


Kill Your Darlings


The Selfish Giant

Thor: The Dark World


Short Term 12


Blue is the Warmest Colour


Frozen


The Act of Killing


Nebraska


Pacific Rim


World War Z


The Bling Ring


Prisoners


The Spectacular Now


Blue Jasmine


The Conjuring


All is Lost


The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug 


Mud


Philomena


About Time


Blackfish


Lincoln


The Great Beauty

That's one big giant unhealthy looking list and until I've seen a significant number of these, don't expect a best of 2013 list from me anytime soon.

What are the films you most regret seeing on the big screen this year?

Want to know what I have seen this year? Check out these other 2013 lists from I Love That Film:

TV in 2013: Breaking Bad, Dexter, The Walking Dead, Homeland and more

Best books I read in 2013

Top Documentaries of 2013

Best of World Cinema in 2013

2013 Top 10 Horror, Fantasy and Science Fiction

2013 Top 10 So Far (written in July)

Best British Films of 2013

Top 25 Films to see in 2014