As we have just past the half way point of the year I thought I would take a look back at what I have been watching so far this year. I have visited the cinema on 59 occasions and the films I have watched have include just 2 documentaries and 4 subtitled films. I have also seen one reissue of an old film.
Despite having a decent cast and a passable concept, the worst film I have seen all year is The Darkest Hour. The plot was ridiculous, the acting poor and the effects laughable. Worst of all the filmmakers were so confident in what they were doing it finishes as if they intend there to be a sequel. The Iron Lady was similarly terrible but the critics have been kinder to it than it deserves, there are no redeeming features beyond strong performances from Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent and the always great Olivia Colman. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and Wrath of the Titans aren’t much cop either but they are notable as sequels that are better than the original film, but they started from such a low point this really is faint praise. Maybe someday the same will be said of a sequel to John Carter, there is plenty of source material to go at and whatever they do with it can’t be worse than this mess of a film. If you only intend to see one Snow White movie this year I suggest you don’t go for Mirror Mirror. Snow White and the Huntsman is a long way from being a masterpiece but is by far the better of the two. Silent House has to top the list of unwise remakes, the original Uruguayan film was terrible, the remake makes all the same mistakes. A total waist of Elizabeth Olsen’s talents, you would be far better advised picking up a DVD of Martha Marcy May Marlene.
Living in the UK, we get a lot of movies after north America, there is an upside to this, in January while America is experiencing a quality drought we the big awards films, the choice of these are The Artist, Young Adult, Shame and The Descendents. The pleasant surprises of the year include: Haywire, using first time actress and former cage fighter Gina Carano as the star of a movie was always going to be a risk, but Steven Soderbergh is never afraid to experiment and take a risk. The movie was met by mixed reviews and it polarised opinion with audiences. I loved it. Having read The Hunger Games trilogy over Christmas I didn’t know what to expect from the movie. Again I was pleasantly surprised, the movie really works, in some ways more than the book largely thanks to the perfect casting of Jennifer Lawrence. Bringing together a mixed bag of super heroes together could have been a disaster but The Avengers manages it with ease and became one of the best movies of the year as well as the highest grossing. The Woman in Black finally lived up to the name of its studio, Hammer. There was some unfair criticism of the producers cutting the film to gain 12A certificate, possibly to bait the Harry Potter crowd. The Raid could not live up to the hype of the movie that reinvented the action movie, despite this, it is still really good. Another film that could not live up to the hype but is well worth a viewing on its own merits is the Alien prequel Prometheus.
With the aid of the internet the hype surrounding many movies starts years before their release, that is why it is often nice to find a great movie that has come out of nowhere and you have no prior knowledge of. Movies that fit that criteria this year include the gritty British drama Wild Bill; the Norwegian (American remake already in the pipeline) thriller Headhunters; the American indie movie Chronicle that is kind of timely given the glut of both superhero and teen movies churned out by the studios; and the flawed and bonkers but great fun “based on an original idea by Luc Besson” Lockout.
Mel Gibson has had his problems and is Persona non grata in Hollywood, for this reason his latest movie How I Spent My Summer Vacation (aka Get the Gringo) didn’t get a cinema release in America, it did here in the UK and despite its flaws is actually really good. As action stars get older they tend to slow down and move towards other genre’s, Liam Neeson seems to be going the other way. Following a career peppered with action movies, they are all he seems to make these days, The Grey is no exception. For years Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis seemed like Hollywood’s most grounded (if that’s possible in Hollywood) and enduring couple. As rumours spread of their impending separation they both had a movie out in the same week. Many people saw Depp’s interesting but uneven Dark Shadows but Paradis’ superior Café de Flore went under the radar.
My total spend (excluding travel expenses) has been £102.94. This breaks down as £89.94 for my monthly cinema pass; £6 for 3D supplements (a total waste) and £7 for a trip to The Electric, my local independent cinema. I remain my cinemas worst customer having spent a grand total of nothing on “refreshments”. Going off on a tangent (as I tent to do a lot), that is clearly how the pass makes money. There will be a certain number of people who pay for the pass and rarely use it, a little like gym members who never use the facilities. The real money comes from those who spend a fortune on refreshments. While many people complain about this I am happy for others to subsidise my film viewing.