Archive for the category “Film”

2011 FILM FAVOURITES: #1-7 (totally cheating)

Okay, here’s the deal. I have been delaying my top 7 (top 8 really, because I am REALLY cheating) films of the year not because I’m procrastinating or I’ve been still deliberating or whatever. These eight films have been set for ages. I’ve known exactly how I was gonna lay them out. The issue is more that when I write about these movies, I’m gonna have to list why I love them so much. And that’s a problem. I know I make hyperbole my thing and even though I’ve had this blog for less than a few weeks, that’s become more than apparent. However these eight films have had a significant impact on me and are really, really, really, really personal that I can’t even begin to talk about them without welling up. Therefore, I’m just gonna list them and if I can bring myself to write something, then I will. Though I probably will end up just posting them without saying anything really. 2011 has been really special for me. Films from 2007, 1996, 2000, yeah those have all been the years that I’ve really cherished being around for, but 2011 has….really taken the cake. This year alone, there have been eight movies released that I will proudly list amongst my all-time favourites for the rest of my life. And here they are. No words necessary. Their value can’t be restricted to language.

#7. Beginners

My heart grew five times its size after seeing this film. Not sure that’s healthy, but it’s made me quite happy.

Also, I’ve adopted Arthur.

#6. A Dangerous Method

David Cronenberg, huge influence. Huge influence. I can’t elaborate. Cronenberg. If I ever make a film, the only director I could equate with the type of filmmaking I’d like to do is David Cronenberg. Keira Knightley’s performance is criminally underrated that just even thinking about it for a moment raises the hairs on the back of my neck. It’s a stylized, over-the-top performance that so brilliantly reflects her character’s psychosis. The film is bathed in beauty. It’s flawless. I won’t even stand for a negative thought being said about it. If you do have something bad to say, or even slightly critical, get off of my blog now and never speak to me again in your life. Goodnight.

#5. The Artist

I’m a silent film junkie. I never thought I’d live to see the day where I’d have the opportunity to see a proper silent film being made, and on top of that, finding the critical and financial success that this film has had. That’s a beautiful thing. And if you’ve seen the film, you know exactly why audiences in the twenty-first century have grown to love it. Yes, in this day and age, audiences DO want to see something like The Artist. Thank god. This movie and its entire cast and crew deserve all its success and THEN some. Your face will hurt from smiling and giggling so much, I promise.

#4. Attack the Block

The creative team. You know who they are? Director/writer Joe Cornish, producers Nira Park, James Wilson, executive producer Edgar Wright. They’re a part of that crew I told you about before. I’m not gonna elaborate. I’ve been such a diehard fan of these people for more than half of my life. This movie already was an automatic favorite with me before I even got to see it.

And it bloody well should be. Seeing Attack the Block in theaters gave me dramatic flashbacks to how wee ol’ Paris felt in 2004 when she saw a little film called Shaun of the Dead in theaters for the first time. At the time, I knew that the person who was responsible for making that film was going to change my life, and he absolutely has. Edgar has single-handedly introduced me to films, television shows, people, I would have never heard of before and has shaped my personality wholly because of it. One of those people has been the great Joe Cornish, who I came to love as half of British comedy double act, Adam and Joe. For several years, Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish have written some truly genius sketches and now present a wonderful radio show on BBC 6 Music. Their brand of humour is entirely original and laugh-out-loud funny. Joe’s definitely let this spill into his directing because Attack the Block has got some hysterical one-liners (“This is too much madness to explain in one text!” “Man, you swear too much.” “It’s a big room, filled with weed. And it’s Ron’s.”) This is Joe’s directorial debut, and my god, I haven’t felt this strongly about a director’s first film SINCE Edgar. This movie is bliss. Believe, bruv.

(Also Luke Treadaway, oh my god, swoon forever)

#3. Midnight in Paris

Okay, I don’t know who you think you are, but if you think Woody Allen hasn’t made a good film in decades, then you’re clearly on something. Woody Allen is incapable of making bad movies. However, to prove the naysayers wrong, Woody decided to release this masterpiece this year.

This movie. is. me. This movie is me. This movie is me. I am Gil Pender. Gil Pender is me. I was practically mouthing along with the words the first time I even saw the film because I so deeply understand where his character is coming from. I have so much to learn from this. Midnight in Paris has become a sacred text for me.

“I see….rhinoceros.”

#2. Hugo



#1. (TIE) The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn/Drive

Yeah, bitch, I’m doing a tie. Originally, I was not going to cop out and do this, however my friend April brilliantly covered this issue in her own top 10 list and I think she really hit the nail on the head. I refuse to go in-depth as to what’s great about these movies because 1) it should be obvious or you’re an idiot (not apologizing) and 2) I’ve talked about it enough and 3) I will babble like a baby because I don’t know worrrrrdddssssss.

Basically to summarize April’s point that I 100% agree with is that these two films represent two really different sides of me but not one is more important than the other. Both films fuel me artistically, though they cater to different personalities. Drive is a film for my intellect, really. It’s a film that I go to as a viewer. This film has ruined me. Nothing can live up to its flawlessness. The story is not even that depressing, but after I saw the film the first time, I called everyone I knew and told them how I couldn’t stop sobbing because I’ve never seen a more beautifully shot film in a theater like that before. The impact of the cinematography in this film has AFFECTED me to my fucking core. Like, affected me. It’s become a problem. Hours of my life gone, just me getting lost in those frames…

Oh god, fucking Drive. Can somebody help me try to explain this one? Nicolas Winding Refn has become my new favourite auteur. Just like that, don’t even fucking care. Yep. Sorry, Darren Aronofsky. You’ve been replaced. I’M SORRY, BUT TO HAVE DIRECTED A FILM LIKE THIS, YOU CAN NOT POSSIBLY BE HUMAN, IT IS TOO BLOODY PERFECT AND YES, PUN INTENDED. And now I’m gonna go listen to Cliff Martinez’s score soundtrack until my ear drums give up, bye.

Tintin, on the otherhand, encompasses everything I have ever loved about movies from my childhood and on and what has inspired me to get involved in the business. It’s not just an insanely well put together film (a tight adaptive screenplay, insane technological appeal, a score that makes my heartbeat increase tenfold, etc), but it’s just pure bliss. It’s the perfect, good old fashioned adventure we’ve been waiting years for. This movie just wants to put a smile on your face. Please, just let it. The people that have made this film possible are just generally the greatest humans. Spielberg, Jackson, Wright, Cornish, Moffat, Williams, Kaminski, Bell, Serkis, Craig, Pegg, Frost, Jones, etc. They don’t even need first names. They’re legends in my eyes. Oh, and can we just mention the chase scene in Bagghar? ALL THE AWARDS. ALL THE AWARDS. HERE ARE ALL THE AWARDS AND I HAVE PERSONALIZED THEM FOR THIS SCENE. MOVIE MAGIC, PEOPLE.

I really could never accurately bring up all the reasons why these two movies deserve to both be my number one favourite of the year. The list of reasons is endless. Every time I see either of them, I find a dozen more excuses to claim it as my favourite. All I know is I’ll never stop watching them. I could honestly not care less what anybody else’s opinion about these two films are. You can hate it, I don’t even care. Their importance to me will not change.


2011 FILM FAVOURITES: #8 – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I’m gonna make this clear. I have read the book and I have seen the original Swedish film. I AM A FAN OF THEM ALL. I love the book, I f’n love the original film and you know what? This one is equally as brilliant. I really don’t intend on comparing it to the 2009 film, though it’s hard not to. I’m probably going to do it anyways by accident, whatever.

David Fincher’s take on the Millenium trilogy thus far is quite an accomplishment. The framing is really tight and adds to the invasive tone of the entire film. The cinematography here is much crisper, a lot colder than what I can remember of the original film. Of the Swedish film trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was the one I wasn’t entirely sold on just because the pacing of the first two-thirds of the film felt off to me, though I still wonder if it might just be a problem I have with the source material. Nonetheless, it worked a lot better for me here whereas my biggest problem in Fincher’s film was the chemistry between the two protagonists, Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander. Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara individually? Fan-f’n-tastic. Rooney Mara, in particular, I have a big ol’ LESSSSBIANNN crush on you (said in my best Janis Ian voice, duh) and I insist you make movies for the rest of all eternity. The lack of award consideration for Rooney Mara’s performance is unforgivable. (Anyways back on track) I suppose I just prefer the chemistry that develops between Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace’s portrayals more.

But wait, let’s go back to the endless praise I have for this adaptation. Like. THE SCORE. Oh my sweet lord, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are miracle workers. More things I love: THE OPENING CREDITS. My brain thinking about those opening credits: gkjsdkhgskdlrdsdysd. And oh my god, the humour! This movie was hilarious. I was laughing at times to the point where I actually could not stop. Forever a favorite thing: the fact that Blomkvist just calls his sometimes-pet cat….”cat.” Or Lisbeth’s boss escape from the metro thief.

2011 FILM FAVOURITES: #9 – Jane Eyre

I’ll give you this: until I saw the film for myself, I was convinced this was going to be a disaster. The trailer is not all that enticing and Mia Wasikowska bores me. However I was floored once I finally saw it. This adaptation of the Charlotte Bronte classic is by Cary Fukunaga, whose previous film Sin Nombre is so good that I’m clenching my fists in order to refrain from typing up a gushy review of that instead of what I’m doing now. But back to Jane Eyre! This is a period piece to die for, oh my god, it’s so pretty to look at. I want to give that art director a hug for being so good to my eyeballs. I tried coming up with a list of reasons of what makes this film so good, but the biggest appeal for me is just generally the look of the film. All year long I’ve seen some phenomenal films, but for some reason my heart remains loyal to this one. I can’t shake it off.

Once again, like most of 2011’s films, Jane Eyre features an ensemble cast who are all #winning. I feel obligated to inform you that Jamie Bell is in this film, and that alone should be reason enough to be sold on it.

2011 FILM FAVOURITES: #10 – Shame

Oh my. So Shame, right. It’s kind of impossible to see it and not have some sort of strong opinion on it. For the record, Steve McQueen is one of my favorite contemporary directors because of his fearless approach to filmmaking. He’s not afraid to get dirty and he won’t allow you to get too comfortable. His follow-up to 2009’s flawless, oh-my-god-I’m-drooling-just-thinking-about-it-because-it’s-so-good Hunger is just as bleak if not way more. I am so proud of Fox Searchlight for not pushing McQueen to make any edits to the film in order to bring it down to an R-rating, because as graphic and excruciating the sex scenes are to sit through in a theater, it’s completely warranted. There is no way to understand how fucked up Brandon (Michael Fassbender’s character) truly is unless you have to live through it yourself. Yes, you’ll be begging for the camera to look away, but don’t count on it. This is a Steve McQueen picture, folks. The scene ends when the shame itself is too much to bear. The visceral effect it will have on you is something I’ve always come to appreciate with McQueen’s films.

By the way, Michael Fassbender? Yeah, Best Actor. Have it. Just take the Oscar. Take the Oscar and walk away. I have nothing more to say on the matter.

Also special recognition for Harry Escott’s unforgettable score.

2011 FILM FAVOURITES: #11 – Super 8

Super 8 is movie magic. It reminds me so much of what makes Spielberg’s early work so brilliant. It’s like Close Encounters of the Third Kind but with kids and *cough Close Encounters happens to be my favorite of all of Spielberg’s films.

There is so much to love about this film, I’m not even sure where to begin. The cast is ideal. Riley Griffiths is pretty much my favorite kid alive. I want to be his best friend. Oh, and Elle Fanning’s too, but mostly I just want to be her. Speaking of Elle, that girl. is. going. to. go. FAR. Holy shit. Her and Joel Courtney could act circles around 80% of most Hollywood actors.

You guys, I feel stupid trying to explain what a happy movie this is. Has anyone ever seen it and NOT liked it? Legit question. Leave a comment below and tell me if that is the case because I don’t believe you. It’s just generally one of the most enjoyable nights out at the cinema I’ve had in ages. It’s a modern day classic, I’m telling you. JJ Abrams, you’ve cemented my admiration for you with this piece. Good work, sir.


2011 FILM FAVOURITES: #12 – The Tree of Life

Alright, perhaps the most controversial film on the list. I’m sure I’ll have some people up in arms about this. Terrence Malick is an interesting director. He’s incomparable, he’s complex, but above all, he’s a visionary of the highest order. His films are hard to digest at times, but you can never question the absolute beauty that accompanies them. The Tree of Life has polarized critics (lol, not gonna mention audiences. psh, audiences don’t go see Terry Malick films. Only hardcore cinephiles see Terry Malick films.) with some claiming it’s the masterpiece to end all masterpieces and some calling it a disaster.

I won’t go as far as to say it’s the ultimate masterpiece, because I definitely prefer some of his earlier films to this, but The Tree of Life is a remarkable feat. It encapsulates some of the most broadest themes and puts it in the most simplest terms. How do you summarize the history of all of mankind in one film alone? I have some qualms with some aspects of the pacing and such, but the imagery in this film is enough to warrant a spot on this list for me. I’m just speechless.

I still think this film is bigger than me, but god knows I love it to bits.

2011 FILM FAVOURITES: #13 – Contagion

Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion is a taut mystery. I’ve always been such an enormous fan of Soderbergh’s because the cinematography and lighting in his films are so intriguing. You have to respect a man who is his own director of photography! It’s impossible to walk away from a film like this and not shudder after every little cough, every little wipe of the nose on the sleeve. That’s what I love about this film in particular is how Soderbergh manages to evoke fear mostly through the medium itself and does not resort to just letting the story scare you. Cliff Martinez’s (who also scored 2011 darling Drive) score is electrifying and quite nerve-wrecking too, to be honest.

Soderbergh is a dream for budding film students, by the way. If you’re at all interested in making your own films, look into his credits and check out some more of his films. You could learn a lot from the way he works. He’s not just a great technical director but fortunately there’s a lot to appreciate from the content of his films as well. Contagion explores a lot of universal themes, but obviously deals the most with mass hysteria.

Contagion also features a RIDICULOUSLY talented ensemble of actors that almost seems neverending. Apparently you were a nobody if you didn’t manage to snag a role in this film. Like even a cameo or something. Matt Damon and Kate Winslet deserve shoutouts because they were way too good. Also, Bryan Cranston is in this, guys! *flails about*

2011 FILM FAVOURITES: #14 – The Trip

Oh, yes. The glory that is Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip. Originally a six-part BBC series, the show was edited and adapted to a feature length in order for it to have a global cinematic release. I require everyone to get up out of their seats right now and bow at the feet of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon for their glorious performances in the film. As a fan of British comedy, I am a diehard fan of these two and The Trip is them at their finest. The pair play fictionalized versions of themselves embarking on a restaurant road trip. Sure the comedy is absolutely perfect and their impressions – oh my sweet lord, their impressions – are gold, but this film has finally proven their ability to be considered serious, dramatic actors, Coogan especially. Last I heard there was to be a follow-up series and I wait with bated breath.

This film is an absolute masterpiece and just perfectly crafted in every respect. Available to you now on DVD, blu ray and also, Netflix instant! Please do check it out. Genius work.

2011 FILM FAVOURITES: #15 – Bridesmaids

Okay, so this movie has joined the ranks of Mean Girls and Zoolander as the perfect movie to put on while hanging out with friends while you QUOTE EVERY SINGLE LINE TO EACH OTHER, VERY LOUDLY. Because that’s what I want to do all day, errday.

Directed by the legendary Paul Feig (at least legendary to me – Freaks & Geeks alum forever!), Bridesmaids is a triumph for Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo who’ve managed to write a perfect screenplay. Yeah, it’s perfect, guys. Haters gonna hate. You know it’s the real deal when a Judd Apatow-produced comedy is getting serious award consideration. I would be overjoyed if Kristen and Annie got a Best Original Screenplay nomination because you can’t deny that Bridesmaids has had some of the most memorable scenes of the year, not to mention it’s way, way, way quotable.

“I feel like I can communicate with you with simply a look.”
“At first, I did not know it was your diary. I thought it was a very sad, handwritten book.”
“This should be open. It’s civil rights. This is the 90s.”
“What kind of name is stove? Are you an appliance?”
“Oh, shit, that’s fresh.”
“So you’re saying she’s at her apartment, that’s where she is? God, that was crazy of her.”

Also any movie that makes my Irish hubby Chris O’Dowd a heartthrob deserves awards. All kinds of awards, perhaps even ALL OF THE AWARDS? Yes.

2011 FILM FAVOURITES: #16 – Another Earth

I am breathless.

This film leaves me just…breathless. Another Earth was one of two films released this year dealing with planetary imbalances, but unlike Lars von Trier’s also excellent Melancholia, this film hit me on a gut-level. I was overwhelmed with my emotions after seeing it. My mind was reeling and was haunted by this film for months afterwards. I can’t think of another film in recent memory that has been able to illustrate such humanity with a concept so bizarre. Some of the longer bits of dialogue lead to some really profound points that could spark quite a bit of discussion. In fact, I need to go call some friends right now and re-analyze this movie. It just keeps on giving, haha.

Brit Marling and William Mapother give solid performances, with the former receiving a standing ovation on my part. My god. Brit Marling, where the freak have you been all my life? I have a crush on you, really. Directed by Mike Cahill and co-written by Cahill and star Marling, this pair are ones to watch out for. A stellar achievement for them both. You will not be able to shake this film off.

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