June! 6 months into the year! Where did the time go? Here’s a list of every film I’ve seen at the pictures this year (that I can remember) in order of how good they were:
1. Anvil: The Story of Anvil
2. Let The Right One In
3. In The Loop
5. The Wrestler
6. Slumdog Millionaire
7. Star Trek
9. Synecdoche, New York
Actually it’s only the top 4 that are in any definite order, the others are more general. I’ve not seen any film I didn’t enjoy on some level really, but I’m pretty selective about what I go and see.
I really can’t state how brilliant Anvil was. I went in expecting a slightly amusing small scale Spinal Tap, and the film did start a little like that to be fair, but then it turns into this amazing film about Kindness and Optimism and the Human Spirit and Not Letting Things Get You Down and other Important Things. It really was touching. Generally I tend to think of myself as a fan of fiction over non-fiction, but documentary films always have a much greater emotional impact on me.
Let The Right One In had me thinking about it for days after, couldn’t get it out of my head. I think bits of it were flawed (CGI cats), but I just loved the ambiguity of it. I’ve blogged about In The Loop already, but it is brilliantly funny. Frost/Nixon was just a really classy film. Great performances from everyone involved, helped along by a cracking script.
The Wrestler had great performances/direction and would make an excellent companion piece to Anvil if you were doing a festival or whatever. Slumdog was a vibrant slice of ‘neo-Dickensian fairytale’, and Star Trek was a nice little guilty-pleasure roller coaster of a film in a similar vein to what Iron Man was last year.
Watchmen wasn’t the mess that I’d feared it could be, but I think a better director (Paul Greengrass for instance, who was previously attached to the project) could have taken some of the themes and adapted it into something more interesting. I thought the film had put the original book up on this impossible pedestal and the director was so worried about offending the fans/creators that he just stuck as closely to the page as possible. This method was successful in some places (the Dr Manhattan flashbacks-on-Mars sequence was really good to see on film), but the original was essentially a comic about comics, and so this panel-by-panel adaptation just felt slightly pointless almost, and the directors visual styles ended up undoing some of the comic’s main points – the wire-work and slow-mo made them appear way too super-heroic. Again, Paul Greengrass’ more visceral style would have worked much better. On the plus side, the opening montage sequence was brilliantly realised, and the altered ending was in my opinion better than the book’s. In other words, the bits where the director didn’t slavishly stick to the book were the film’s biggest successes.
I still can’t decide what I really thought about Synecdoche, New York. ‘Frustrating’ I guess. Just a long round-about way of saying not much at all. Which is sort of the point of it. Not as good as Eternal Sunshine/Adaptation/Being John Malkovich basically.
And yes, that’s my ’09 in films so far. Can you tell that I’m bored at work? I didn’t mean to go on so much…