Sunday, 1 July 2012

June's Little Gems

Great month for films!  Even the worst on this list was bearable and at least useful for my PhD.  I don’t think I’d give any of these (except number 11) under 6/10.  So without further ado, here’s the countdown of what I watched this month:

11. The Tapes (Lee Alliston and Scott Bates, 2011)
British found footage horror.  Three annoying friends with a video camera try to make a Big Brother audition tape.  When they discover a barn that is the setting for swinging parties, they decide to secretly film the participants in action.  But they soon discover they are about to witness a lot more than old and fat wrinkly folk swapping partners.  It’s vaguely interesting and amusing for the Big Brother audition tape angle but the characters are damn annoying and this adds nothing new of note to the genre.

10. OSS-117: Lost in Rio (Michael Hazanavicius, 2009)
Bond-style secret agent spoofing from the director and star of The Artist.  Not as good as the Austin Powers films but has some very funny moments.  Jean Dujardin’s square secret agent getting jiggy in an orgy with a group of dirty hippies on a beach is the hilarious highlight.

9. Mr Nice (Bernard Rose, 2010)
Howard Marx is played by Rhys Ifans and the film distils the frankly occasionally boring book down to the highlights of Marx’s time as a dope smuggler.  Could have been a lot more fun if directed with a bit more flair but still, this is a pretty effective and almost quite emotional tale of one man’s fight to give people the right to smoke weed (and make himself a fortune).

8. Another Earth (Mike Cahill, 2011)
The first of two Indie science-fiction films I watched this month from writer-star Brit Marling.  This one deals with the discovery of a new planet exactly the same as our own but more specifically focuses on one young lady’s relationship with a very troubled man.  How the two are connected and why leads the film to be dramatic and suspenseful but it’s all a bit too understated and slow for my liking.  Infinitely more interesting if less beautiful than Melancholia though.

7. Take Me Home Tonight (Michael Dowse, 2011)
Topher Grace and Anna Faris star in this really sweet, pretty damn funny 80s coming-of-age-over-one-night story of a boy going after the girl of his dreams.  The 80s music is a joy, the script is sharp and occasionally hilarious but as with any rom-com, just too predictable to be a great movie.  Still, this deserves to be seen by more people.  Worth watching for the coke head best friend character’s antics alone.

6. Friends with Kids (Jennifer Westfeldt, 2012)
Impressive directorial debut from writer/producer/star Jennifer Westfeldt that does a deft job of balancing depressing autopsy of married with kids life and finding the funny side of two friends going into the baby-making business together.  As with most rom-coms it’s painfully predictable but there are enough cringingly honest scenes and decent laughs to make me want to see more from Westfeldt.

5. One Day (Lone Scherfig, 2011)
This is actually a surprisingly good adaptation of the book.  The leads are great despite Hathaway’s dodgy accent and the ending had more of an impact than it did when reading the book.  It’s all so quick that I wonder how much sense it would make to people who haven’t read the book.  Such well written characters and a touching love story told over twenty years, it’s hard not to be swept up in the emotions of it all.

4. Sound of My Voice (Zal Batmanglij, 2012)
See review here.

3. Michael (Markus Schleinzer, 2012)
Horrible tale of a distinctly average Austrian man who has a small boy locked in a room in his basement.  This is paedophile drama with a total lack of sensationalism.  Fortunately it’s not one of those indie films that tries to make us understand and care for the monster behind the headlines.  It just does an excellent job of showing the banality of evil and thankfully has quite a strong ending that gives cathartic pleasure in the fate of one character while leaving the fate of another painfully ambiguous.  If you can stomach a film about a paedophile, this is gripping, disturbing stuff.

2. The King of Comedy (Martin Scorsese, 1983)
How come people don’t tout this as De Niro’s best performance?  Hilarious and a little heart breaking, this is a real departure from what I’m used to seeing De Niro doing.  The tale of a man desperate to be a comedian is surprising, funny and just a tad sad.  One of my new favourite Scorsese films.

1. Prometheus (Ridley Scott, 2012)
Ridley Scott’s sci-fi sort of Alien prequel is visually stunning, exciting, mildly scary and a hell of a ride.  A great cast get decent characters and the story spills over with interesting ideas.  The last half is less intellectually stimulating but more pulse-pounding thrilling.  The suspense of the first half gives way to all-out action with a host of creatures, gore, self-surgery and sacrifice as Rapace delivers a great Ripley inspired kick-ass action heroine with just the right mix of fragility and strength.  Fassbender nails the eerie android David and fortunately it’s all left tantalisingly open for a welcome sequel.  

How was your month?  Best and worst?  Got an opinion on any of these little gems?

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