Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Best Movie of 2011


My lovely bride and I made a pact to see at least one film a month in 2011. If nothing else it gets us out of the house. It also means that there were a heck of a lot of films to choose from as my favorite.

January and our first mis-step. Out the door and immediately we trod in...

Tron 2: This film had bike races, crashes, space ships, Daft Punk and yet still managed to be as dull as stowing away on a freight train. I did, however, appreciate the way they actually used the uncanny valley to intentionally make the bad guy repulsive.

Recommendation: Do not see, but have a listen to the amazing soundtrack.

The King's Speech: It was certainly a charming tale but ultimately it left me with a sense that some indefinable opportunity had been missed.

Recommendation: Give it a go.

True Grit: Everyone raved about this film but it was so dense with growly accents I couldn't really get invested. The end was weird and contrived.

Recommendation: See it if you love westerns.

Rango: Amazing graphic design and a story that flails around like an unattended fire-hose. I dated a girl like that once. This film starts off well but falls apart very early on and only reached the back of my eyeballs.

Recommendation: Avoid!

Super 8: A cross between E.T. and Cloverfield. Excellent performances by the young stars and a great sense of claustrophobia. A fun summer romp.

Recommendation: Good date movie.

No! The other E.T.

Oceans: Free tickets to go and see a documentary about the oceans. Perhaps I've been spoiled by David Attenborough documentaries but this felt a bit like those old Disney films where they follow a couple of wacky raccoons around the park as they get themselves into mischief.

Recommendation: Watch Frozen Planet instead.

Source Code: Loved it. A cross between Groundhog Day and Mission Impossible. Everyone loves that fantasy of fixing the mistakes they made in their past. One of those great films where you chat about the implications for hours afterwards.

Recommendation: WATCH IT!!

At this point our pact became slightly unravelled. In the first six months we had a film for every month and we were one ahead. Then we travelled. Who wants to sit in movie theatres when there are fantastic sites to see? I guess I could kind of cheat and include the movies I saw on the plane, but in the tradition movies on planes I tried to select weird or downright bad films.

These included Thor (Pleasant enough super hero movie), Paul (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost doing okay without Edgar Wright), Never Say Never (The Justin Bieber Documentary) and a little nostalgia with Spies Like Us (Lord it was terrible. My expectations must have been so low back then)

We'd lost our momentum and getting back into the cinemas on our return was tricky.

Harry Potter 7 - part 2, Earth, the Solar System, the universe: We finally managed to put to bed these horribly mediocre films. It was okay but I think mostly I just felt relief when it was over. I loved the books but watching the films was a bit like looking through a Tolkien calendar. Nice to see the scenes realised but not narratively satisfying.

Recommendation: If you liked half of the Harry Potter films then this one will be good enough.

With only a few weeks to go at the end of the year we desperately tried to catch up.

Tin Tin: A decent enough spielbergian family action film but as it was based on a children's book from the sixties it didn't have much for a mature audience aside from spectacle and nostalgia.

Recommendation: Watch it if you want to kill a rainy afternoon with a pre-teen.

Mission Impossible 4: I wouldn't have seen this but for the fact that Brad Bird directed. It was a great action film but, like a children's playground, the story was there to facilitate Tom Cruise running and jumping and climbing and occasionally skinning his knee.

Recommendation: Sure. Why not.

If you are captured we will disavow all knowledge and no one will kiss it better.

Attack the Block: I had high hopes for this film and it's okay but nothing to write home about (or on a blog). Decent performances. The thing reads like a high school short story, but it is nice seeing the emotional change of the initially unlikable characters.

Recommendation: If you like comedy horrors you could do a lot worse.


Now, the big one. What was my favourite film of all of these? Which one left me so emotionally affected and inspired? Which one do I urge you to run, don't walk and try out?

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.

Whatever you think about his musical stylings, his popularity with teen girls or his 'too cool for school' attitude there is no denying that the story of this kid's rise to stardom is amazing. His natural talent, his dedication to his craft and the enthusiasm he brings to delighting his fans. This film had me grinning with delight in the back of a 737 with tears running down my face.

Recommendation: DO NOT LET your preconceptions (or the first 8 minutes of fan service) prevent you from watching this incredible story about an amazing creative mind. You may not end up a Belieber but it won't be time wasted.
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