Sunday, 22 February 2015

this week on 100 Films

A whopping seven brand-new reviews were published to 100 Films in a Year this week, including a previous Oscar Best Picture winner, and one of the frontrunners for this year's awards...

12 Angry Men (1957)
the outcome rarely seems certain, each victory hard won, so that the film holds you rapt, desperate for sense and reason to prevail. There are moments of tension which may literally push you to the edge of your seat; moments of exultant success which may elicit an exclamation of approval similar to a point scored in a sports match.
Read more here.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
This is the first in an occasional series in which I revisit films that are highly acclaimed but I didn’t enjoy first time round... let me begin with a point of clarification: I don’t remember when I first saw 2001, but I was very young, and most likely looking for SF films in the vein of others I’d enjoyed, like, say, Star Wars. I think we can all agree that 2001 is not like Star Wars.
Read more here.

Argo (Extended Cut) (2012/2013)
Hollywood loves a look at itself, and here it’s both satirical (“So you want to come to Hollywood, act like a big shot, without actually doing anything? You’ll fit right in!”) and congratulatory — after all, the plan goes ahead and so (spoilers) Hollywood saves the day. The film creates just the right balance between taking the mick out of Hollywood and bigging-up its role in saving some lives, while also not spending too long on this section that we forget the perilous situation on the other side of the world.
Read more here.

Boyhood (2014)
writer-director Richard Linklater strives to keep things almost unrelentingly normal. Okay, there are abusive relationships — things get a little extreme with her second husband — but even that doesn’t go as far as it could have. No one gets in a shocking accident or develops a fatal illess or dies suddenly; no one is seriously bullied or mugged; no one is arrested or imprisoned; no one is made homeless; no one gets pregnant… the list could go on. Every time you second guess that — every time you think, “oh now we’re going to have something big” — the film just rolls on with normality. Just like real life does, in fact.
Read more here.

Last Action Hero (1993)
a spoof of action-thrillers, albeit with a real-world framing device instead of just leaping in Airplane-style... the film is most alive in the first and third acts, when the two worlds initially collide and, later, when the fictional characters enter our world only to find that not everything’s the same as in the movies.
Read more here.

The Lego Movie (2014)
Despite looking like a 100-minute toy commercial with an irritating theme song, plus a moral message about nonconformity that seems like it’ll get bungled (but doesn’t), The Lego Movie is so much more — and better — than that.
Read more here.

The Thin Man Goes Home (1945)
For my money, unquestionably the series’ weakest entry so far, though others disagree — some even reckon it their favourite. The charm and banter between Powell and Loy is present and correct, though... and there are some good Asta bits.
Read more here.

The Oscars-related fun continues in all of this week's seven archive repost reviews: every one of them is a Best Picture winner...

Annie Hall (1977)
One might call it a romantic comedy, but it’s very much an indie comedy-drama (for one thing, it utilises the ever-popular tactic of not taking place in chronological order), rather than the mainstream cliché-fest that first springs to mind whenever “rom-com” is mentioned.
Read more here.

The Apartment (1960)
Wilder employs long scenes and long takes, but Lemmon never stops bustling through them, always doing something, keeping the film active and moving even when Wilder declines to follow. It's the latter that makes the former so effective, rendering Lemmon's character the odd one in an otherwise static world
Read more here.

Chicago (2002)
In its favour are a number of memorable songs, all performed with impressive routines. On the downside, they’re all quite stagey in their choreography, though this suits the daydream-fantasy style in which they come about.
Read more here.

Crash: Director's Cut (2004)
I'll take any chance I can get to go on about how this is a much better and more Oscar-deserving piece than a certain overrated film about gay cowboys. In my opinion this is a film that should be seen, not necessarily for its message, but for its quality in terms of performance, direction, etc.
Read more here.

Gone with the Wind (1939)
The direction is brilliant, displaying styles you think weren’t invented for another 20 years; all of the design work is gorgeous; and the story is epic and expertly told, moving across genres (romance, war, melodrama, comedy) with ease.
Read more here.

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
The acting is what shines in this multiple-Oscar-winning custody drama... I personally didn’t find the later courtroom scenes quite as edge-of-your-seat intense as some have, but you can’t fault the abilities of the actors.
Read more here.

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Everything that claims it’s a “feel-good film” is being slightly disingenuous. It has a happy ending, but until those closing moments it’s unrelentingly grim. Realistic, I’m certain, and depressingly so, but it seems designed for anything but making you feel good.
Read more here.

More next Sunday.

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