Friday, 31 January 2014

Review: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Year: 2014
Director: Kenneth Branagh  
Screenplay: Adam Cozard, David Koepp
Starring: Chris Pine, Kenneth Branagh, Kevin Costner, Keira Knightly

Synopsis is here:

I’m guessing some people are considering Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit as a return to the old school. Well, fair play to them. Despite what my friends sometimes think, I do like to take in the thoughts of others. However when it comes to my view on the film (which I keep calling it Shadow Agent, such is the generic title), I found it to be a cornucopia of cliché which will most likely be forgotten in a blink of an eye. Then again that’s what people want right? How dare people have high expectations for a spy thriller. They should be farted out with no distinction at all, right?

Jack Ryan may have nabbed a little from  the likes of Bourne, but it’s taken a lot more from older, more typical spy jaunts. You can see this by the vast amount of times super secret items are passed covertly between people. If you were to make this a drinking game, you could be so inebriated that you’d forget the first 2 acts.

Then again, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit also struggles with the idea of lasting effects.  Our dear Mr Branagh may state that Chris Pine’s Jack is no superhero, but trust me we get a Jack Ryan who performs near impossible feats with a near broken back and is hopping skipping and jumping better than Mario during a Bowser level. Emotional depth fares no better, but then again the limp arguments that Ryan (a spirited but slumming Pine) faces with his wife Cathy (an anonymous Knightly) come across as vague and ineffectual despite their intent.        

The only thing that remains in the mind is the idea that it’ll be those nasty Russians that will cause America’s “2nd Great Depression”. After watching how Wolf of Wall Street dissect the type of near psychotic excess that help take a dent out the western world from within, to state that it’s those pesky Red’s who be causing financial grief because of cold war flash backs, seems more than a little rich.

Sparring with the old enemy may be the only thing to spark interest in a film which is dedicated to keeping one foot in the grave, but the cold war memories also hint the issue with not only Jack Ryan, but one or two of the more recent entries of the spy genre. Do we really need a Jack Ryan now?  A spy all jazzed up for a younger audience who probably have little care for the Cold War? While an older audience may have the knowledge to check out older features that don’t seem so slight and forgettable?

The film’s disappointing box office has still managed limp into the black, so it won’t surprise me if we see another entry in the Jack Ryan series. Although money made doesn’t mean movie enjoyed, there appears to be enough greenbacks behind this to nudge an executive into action. I’m guessing I’m once again in the minority asking why. 

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Review: Inside Llewyn Davis

Year: 2013 (U.K. Release 2014)
Directors: The Coen Brothers
Screenplay: The Coen Brothers
Starring: Oscar Isaac

Synopsis is here:

Ask me to describe the Coen brothers and the first word that comes to mind is American.  For 30 years, their particular brand of storytelling has an uncanny knack of detailing small time Americana and personage in such a way that bleeds authenticity. The most popular example for many is of course Fargo, which has often been summed up with the now iconic “funny looking” sequence. It’s the kind of “funny because it feels real” moment that often appears in the brothers films, grounding the film no matter what hysteria occurs around the characters.

The second word would have to be moralists. As explained exquisitely by Tasha Robinson in a recent article of The Dissolve, the brothers seem to have their own rules about them that their hapless characters are fools to break. One of the reasons people appear to enjoy the Coens is down to the knowledge that no matter how despicable the likes of Jerry Lundegaard or Barton Fink can be, there will be comeuppance and it will be severe.

On the surface; Inside Llewyn Davis is no different from other Coen accounts, but there’s one ingredient that separates it: isolation.

I found Inside Llewyn Davis to be the Coen’s loneliest feature, one which has a character whose dismissal of moral high grounds set by the Coen’s universe, has landed him in a cold, bleak and penniless urban purgatory. Even those who know Llewyn aren’t really friends, more acquaintances that he’s allowed to use their couch for a couple of days.

Filmed in a near washed out grey, in an alien looking New York, some of Llewyn’s misdeeds are mentioned in hushed tones in tiny coffee shops, while past grief is hinted at but left to interpretation. A tragedy is mentioned involving Llewyn’s ex singing partner and there’s an underlying (and unsurprising) feeling that Llewyn’s ego may have played a part in it. This is not to say that the pain he brings to his folk music is crocodile tears, far from it.  But the emotion he feels while he strums his guitar almost seems to play into the circular nature of the narrative; an endless ring of distress with only his own thoughts for comfort. They bring little.

This odyssey of the common man lends itself a lot to the brother’s 1991 acclaimed black comedy Barton Fink. Llewyn, like Barton, believes that his work is made to touch the inner essence, yet he spites/screws himself when faced with the idea of commerce.  Oscar Isaac plays Llewyn with impeccable timing, whether on the guitar or sniping acquaintance. Both Llewyn and Barton are non-conformists with the uncanny ability to self sabotage themselves, even when they finally reach any sense of self realisation.

I found myself more struck by Inside Llewyn Davis more than expected. I expect great craftsmanship from the brothers and their crew, but despite the typical, cynical nature of the piece I found the film to have a yearning with it that is often considered missing in the Coen’s pieces. And like how so many people have mentioned; it’s obviously something to do with the cat and what a viewer believes it represents.   

After watching Inside Llewyn Davis, I found myself in three different conversations about the Coens. Within those conversations I’ve heard them being considered pretentious or that they lack depth. Sometimes it’s hard not to feel like that as their films often feels like they’re mocking their characters, running them within a booby trapped hamster wheel. Strangely, I don’t find them any more pretentious then the characters of George Lucas. Both work around worlds of exact good and evil and while you could say the Coen’s planet is a little more skewed, the forces of nature seem to be just as adequate.   

Inside Llewyn Davis expresses that Llewyn is nearly always master of his fate, but it is one he himself sabotages. The problem is in this world the consequences hold no scrutiny. It’s no surprise that people are running cold on the Coens, when they’ve shaped their selfish characters and cold worldview so well, how can you be shocked? But there is something about how the folk song soars and how much Llewyn needs to keep hold of that damn cat that belies the film’s hidden heart. 

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

Year:  2013 (U.K Release 2014)
Director:  Martin Scorsese
Screenplay: Terrence Winter
Starring: Leonardo Di Caprio, Margot Robbie, Jonah Hill, Matthew McConnghey

Synopsis is here:

Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street is like a speedball. Once again investigating American criminality, Wolf first hits like a cocaine high as it rattles through indulgence after indulgence, I found myself almost losing myself often in its depravity. In its first few minutes we are given a ludicrous dwarf throwing sequence. As the film goes on, the fornication and debaucherous excess seem limitless. The well known gangster arc seeps in within time and the slow heroin fall enters, it too seemingly going on forever. The crash is going to be a heavy one.

In terms of structure, WOWS doesn’t steer to far from my favourite Scorsese film; Goodfellas (minus that fact the speedball allegory is inverted somewhat), but here Scorsese takes his view of blue collar crime which bread and butter and bleaches it white. The calls are made with more reckless abandon, the numbers are larger, the hold and desire of greed seemingly stronger. Looking back through Gangs of New York to Casino to here with Wolf’s Jordan Belfort, Scorsese’s film is at times laugh out loud, but no less acidic. It looks to make the statement that here, in the right place and time; this is where all his psychopaths end up. Legit.

I feel this is why so many people have spent their time attacking WOWS. The likes of Toby Young have
aimed articles as shallow as the characters we’re observing. Belfort isn’t the be all and end all of the recent financial collapse. He is just one of the people who didn’t help matters. But then again, Young doesn’t bother to mention documentaries such as Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room or The Inside Job in his piece (why would he, the free market is fine, right?). Scorsese uses one man to illustrate just how widespread the problem was/is (delete as appropriate).

Leonard DiCaprio takes on the role of swindler Jordon Belford with the same charisma that infiltrated his Great Gatsby. In his finest physical performance to date; whether doped to his gourd on Quaaludes, or restraining his body from sexual desire, DiCaprio manipulates his body to silent comedy era levels. Meanwhile his Liotta-like narration has him spitting snake oil with each sentence. Every word is precise, every smile looking to be hiding something.  Twice while detailing the intricacies of his schemes, he stops, smiles and distracts us. Why do we need to know about details, when we should be enjoying the ride?

Scorsese’s film is always aware of reminding the viewer in what way the scales are tipped.  During one of the company’s weekly blowouts, we witness a woman shaving her head for a fraction of what Belfort earns. The sight of this is disturbing enough, but the way the women is nearly pushed aside and disappears into the lewd crowd of testosterone is telling. Early in the film, Belfort’s boss, Mark Hanna (a spirited McConaughey), installs the idea that clients must remind in a land of fantasy.  Scorsese’s film casts a shadow over the illusion with sparks of painful reality. It’s easy to laugh at Belfort giving the finger to a poor sap he’s just sold junk, but the pain lies in the voice on the other end that thinks they’ve got a good deal.

For a 180 minute film made by a 70+ year old man, The Wolf of Wall Street particularly crackles with energy. After Hugo; one may have been expecting a softer touch from the old hand, yet WOWS shows that there’s no signs to winding down from the director (or his regular editor Thelma Schoonmaker) in term of intensity. The controversy that has followed the film has come across as frivolous, with many arguments suggesting that such indignity should be sanitised. Many seemingly forgetting that the “lovable losers” of Marty’s past were psychopaths in the same way. It's just that Terrence Winter's script is smart enough to capture the amusement in the shennagans.

I’m happy that such provocative and vibrant films are still being pushed into the mainstream. While I won’t lie in saying that certain readings will not be kind to WOWS, but I also feel that WOWS is scabrous enough in its indictments. The Wolf of Wall Street is hilariously funny in the same knowing way the likes of Chris Morris’ comedy can be, but is intelligent enough to keep the audience at the right distance. Its final moments are taunting ones, asking a question to a crowd of desperate faces. We know the answer but after what we’ve seen, do we want to respond?

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Review: American Hustle

Year: 2013 (2014 U.K release)
Director: David O. Russell
Screenplay: David O. Russell, Eric Singer
Starring: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner

Synopsis is here:

When I think of the con movie, I always expected it to be tight wound. American Hustle approaches things differently. It’s loose, slightly baggy and always seemingly wishing to go off a tangent. This is no Mamet. No House of Cards (1987) here. Even when I think of the recent adventures of Danny Ocean and his cohorts, there’s a feeling that they know everything will be fine. I mean seriously when do you ever feel that there’s any pressure being exerted in the Ocean films?  Then again the moment David O. Russell’s latest starts, the opening credits inform you that “some of this actually happened”.

This is O. Russell mucking around with the crime film in the similar way his he enjoyed playing around with the sandpits of the sports film and Rom-Com.  His film The Fighter (2010) dropped his man-child boxing lead character into a pit with a gaggle of Punch Drunk Love-style sisters (and one corrosive brother) to verbally smack each other around. Meanwhile; Silver Linings Playbook (2012) which Adam Batty elegantly informs us in his review, remixes the romantic comedy with a new age cynicism for a generation to respond to in kind. In Hustle; as opposed to cool, clean and calm confidence men we often think of, we’re placed into a realm of heightened desperation that leans towards the quirky tics that infected Nicolas Cage’s Roy in Matchstick Men (2003). There’s no comfort gained from looking across to your partner as you’re never sure if they were ever on the same page.

As Adam mentions in his commentary of Silver Linings, this is again dysfunction upon dysfunction.  Yet this time we have broken family units slapped alongside gender deconstruction as characters that should be femme fatale argue and fight over men who try awkwardly hunting for machismo, despite their own pathetic standings. That staple of male virility; hair, is mocked often as we watch Cooper’s Richie perm his, while Bale’s Irving is first introduced to us applying his wacky comb over to hid his clearly thinning patch. While the con goes on in the background, the film is more interested in how the character’s frailties and anxieties stand lumberingly in their own way.

What I enjoyed most about American Hustle, apart from its brassy cast, is that it’s lovingly in love with the con in its own particular way.  Its glossy cinematography often lavishes characters in warm slightly garish gold, highlighting the greed. The 70’s detail isn’t as carefully attained as some of the films it’s riffing on, mostly because this is a film which is based entirely on facades any way. There’s a boldness that suggest s that trying to work the con out (which so many of us do) isn’t worth it while there’s so much fun to be had.
The amount of dicking around does become a slight nuisance. The film notes the type of corruption that could explain the nastiness of the Watergate era, or the remnants of the hedge funds that screwed us in 2008, American Hustle doesn’t really have too much time to dwell on that. Like Adam’s eye catching cleavage, it wants to distracts us and keep us a mark for as long as possible. 

There’s the slight feeling that American Hustle point is pointless and the bagginess of the piece (along with the references to Goodfellas(1990), Casino (1995) and Boogie Nights (1997)) take us out of the film somewhat. Yet I can’t say I didn’t enjoy these guys in relaxation mode. Hustle may sometimes feel to some that it’s too much of a con, but the more I think if it was played straight, the more I’d say to myself: where’s the fun in that?

Friday, 10 January 2014

Review: 12 Years a Slave

Year: 2013 (U.K. Release 2014)
Director: Steve McQueen
Screenplay: John Ridley
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong'o, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sarah Paulson, Paul Dano

Note: This review is much longer than usual writings and contains plot elements that can be considered spoilers.

Synopsis is here:

I watched 12 Years a Slave in the plush Tate Modern Cinema on the day Mark Duggan was judged lawfully killed. I was a little late but was able to get a seat at the front before the auditorium got too packed. I looked back to what was a majority of white faces. The girl behind me was nattering about Buzzfeed and Kubler Ross’ five stages. 

A black group then sat next to me and a conversation began about film critic and intellectual blowhard Armond White, who recently covered himself in glory by allegedly heckling 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen at the New York film critic awards. Already I could see where various people’s heads were at before the movie started.

The black group’s most vocal woman was incredibly fierce in her condemnation of White, despite sounding like she's only recently heard of the notorious NYC critic, who has sounded off more than once at McQueens film. For me the most notable attack was on the Slash film podcast. Amusingly White (who is Black) was critical of McQueens ability to make a film about one of America’s ugliest eras of history as he was Black British. The irony here is by saying such things, White hints at his own issues and prejudice. With Hollywood allowed to revel in its own alteration of historical events, White's attack reeked of his often felt contrarianism that the young woman I eavesdropped on, spoke of.

There were aspects of White opinion that I half agreed with. 12 Years maybe based on a true story, but like White, I too consider it a fiction of sorts and the film doesn't touch upon the lingering grip of slavery and white imperialism in the same way of the films that White mentioned (Beloved being the main text).  

Yet why should McQueen’s film live in the shadow of what’s come before it?  Unlike White I believe 12 Years a Slave to be a demanding and important motion picture on its own terms. Whether it's liked or not (in terms of superficial “enjoyment”), one should not be dismissive of it, lest you act like the patrons of the plantation who play ignorant of the torturous suffering we see on display. I may consider the picture a fiction of sorts (which films aren't) but it's a damn good one. 

The story of Solomon Northup's story in which he; a free and educated black man, is drugged and sold as a slave, is an astonishing one. We see him examined and looked upon like a dog, beaten down, whipped and mentally broken down in a cult like manner. When ignorant racists have asked "why don't they just fight back/run" (I always find it strange how many racists perceive blacks are meant to subservient and hyper aggressive in a bizarre oxymoronic manner) McQueen answers them with a stern fierceness. Like any cult arrangement, you break down who a person is to gain control.

Black civility isn’t a dirty word, but a non-existent one. Here even blacks that are "favourited" are beaten to an inch of their life. One moment as Northup fight back against a repugnant and thick carpenter played by Paul Dano (unfortunately the weakest performance of the cast) to which he is hung up by his neck to a tree with only his toes balancing him on the soft, slippery mud to keep him from choking. An overseer makes sure he doesn't die, knowing the reasons behind the fight back may be true. Yet Northup is still left to hang despite his innocence, while those around toil and play. The same fingers and toes mean nothing; even speaking the same language brings no joy. Emotion and empathy from slaves is looked at as alien. 

The most affecting aspect of the film is the passivity of such behaviour. Slaves are considered property by religious scripture. Name and identity is beaten away.  No one batters an eye at the beatings. We see one man gives a compliant stare towards the camera before being hung. In this world, there’s little wrong with hurtling a glass bottle at a black woman but if a note is passed from black to white, hands are wiped on dresses. It's almost as if McQueen takes us to the start of the now more insidious modern ignorance. It's hard not to feel anger as hot as the blistering Georgia sun, As Northup struggles to find ways of surviving such injustice. When he is first captured he screams out from his prison bars. His plea is heard as the camera pans up and shoots against a brick wall for almost an age, before rising to the skyline and the free world. If the shot is a metaphor, it is a just one. 

Sean Bobbit’s camerawork is sublime, with shots not only capturing the fragile mood of the piece (the night work is excellent) but also using the light (and make up) to show the slow deterioration of Northup, with long close ups of Chiwetel Ejiofor’s visage, painting a vivid and haunting picture.

If the ridiculous Italian Marketing campaign told us anything, it reminds us just how distracting the films white A list actors can be. While their performances can’t be faulted in terms of pitch (both Cumberbatch and Fassbender are stunning as two sides of a sinister coin) it’s tough not to notice who these people are. When Brad Pitt arrives, his position in as producer influences his role in the film. This is something I feel important to remember, considering the geography of the actors.

That said, this is Chiwetel Ejiofor's film almost entirely. Those who follow film have known of his pedigree for years, but here he is allowed to carry a film with conviction and quiet nobility. We are so clear of his civility in his demeanour, that even at his lowest ebb, we feel his decency and most importantly his very being still resides. Ejiofor’s Northup makes judgements we may not agree with, but these actions only remind us of his selfhood. This balance of human frailty yet unyielding spirit is played though Ejiofor’s expressive face. We see the torment; we’re astounded by the emotional reserves.      

12 Year’s a Slave works best when we see Northup placed against the distress of other slaves. To see him put to the test against those whose resolve is dangling by a thread and have been considered as “property” for too long. To be told not to inform people that you’re learned (or face death), to witness women who are considered animals yet must be receptive of their masters carnal desires (Nyoong'o performance is heartwrenching). How do you hold maintain your insanity when those around you are so dehumanised?

This could possibly be more effective in turning a generation of people on the more difficult conversations of race than other narratives, mostly due to the stories entry point. Northup’ elegance and stature from the start (as opposed to Django Unchained’s straight up slave to badass narrative) help connect to where we are now to the culture. The atrocities faced often become a metaphor to sins of our recent history and present. The idea of Northup being drugged and placed into slavery has similarities from the sex trafficking stories we are told of. The examinations we witness remind us how easy it was to conduct the likes of the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. Both those examples dehumanising its subjects to the state of mere vessels. The aggressive evil that inhabits Fassbender’s Epps may only really be seen by people on the fringe, but the “pleasant” demeanour of Cumberbatch’s Ford lingers in the same way we observe those who completely ignore that white privilege doesn’t and has never existed. To Ford; Northup is an “exceptional” nigger, but he is still a nigger. Observe how the killings of Trayvon Martin and the aforementioned Duggan have divided opinion due the perception of the victim over the shooter. Consider the stats that state that blacks are up to 28 more times more likely to get stopped. Speak to the “right” people and you’ll still witness that people believe there’s a negative aspect to a black person because it’s simply “in them”. I’ve said so much about the film already, so I’ll stay quiet over the cotton picking scene involving Northup and Armsby an alcoholic ex-overseer.  Such scenes help illustrate how the seeds were sown.    

12 Years a Slave maybe McQueen’s most accessible film, but it’s still no easier to watch. His facial close ups still hurt; the violence causes revolution and anger.  Film has a wonderful sense of pace, rhythm and space. He also manages to make the hurt of over 200 years feel fresh. It’ll be interesting to view this again when the awards buzz leaves us. The awards season (as always) distorts readings of film and I fear the films narrative and angle will serve it well for glittery things but do little to rouse Hollywood towards the underlying issues they refuse to face. Will we observe more black stories? Will they all have to head down the same path of slavery and racial tension? Will Ejiofor’s superlative performance open doors for him and others? When we look at an even wider perspective, will 12 Years a Slave finally do what the likes of (award winners) The Blind Side (2009) and The Help (2011) didn’t and open up boarder dialogues of race? I don’t see many silent movies after The Artist (2011 Oscar winner). These questions are for the Oracle to answer.  

Armond White considered this a whitewash of the themes at hand and I strongly disagree. As the credits rolled, the predominately Caucasian crowd was quick to get to their mobiles and sighed with relief. It was back to the real world. More buzzfeed and normality. The same woman who was angry at the start was angrier now. Seething at how quick some had sat up, began natter and distance themselves from what had happened on the screen. I stayed to the end and turned round to see who else did when the lights came up. Everyone who did was black, with many younger than me. It seems we took it all in. I feel like to that woman 12 Years a Slave was more than a simple water cooler moment. This moment helped demonstrate how important this movie could become to a future. Maybe she saw the same things I saw. Perhaps the dialogue has started.

Monday, 6 January 2014


2013 turned out to be a pretty bad year for me from a personal standpoint. My pleasant experiences have been marred and tainted by many displeasing ones, including job losses, suicide and relationship worries. It’s nothing that many others have faced, but for the first time in my own life, I’ve found it more than a little overwhelming. Mostly due to the intense timeframe of when these things occurred.  It is times like these that make me happy that I can still lose myself in the glare of the screen.

On New Year’s Eve, I once again found myself talking to some old friends about movies, with more current features gaining much of the focus. “I just want to watch silly, stupid things” said a old university friend, who quit film studies during the first year as he felt the course sucked the fun out of the actual watching of movies. 
Another friend (who completed film studies with much displeasure) appeared to nod in agreement. This isn’t new to me. I’ve seen a few old friends both in college and university, become disinterested in film, due to having to study it.

As usual, I opened my big mouth and nearly killed the conversation with my belief that when it comes to film, there must be a decent balance between easy entertainment that most audiences appear to crave and of course films which look to enrich the viewer with what it considers intelligent discourse. While it’s great to crunch the corn, slurp the soda and zone out to the often stated (by critics) “mindless spectacle”, I do believe there should also be room for something else. Something that can be savoured without the need for a second or third part to rectify all that was “missing” from the film you just spent XX amount on. What frustrated me with a lot of this year’s viewing, looking back, was that I really noticed that balance starting to slip. Not just from film to film (just speak to Mark Kermode about the false belief of choice at a multiplex) but within film themselves.

Many complained about how disappointing the summer blockbusters were and there are some interesting theories behind that. For me what I found was a lack of risk, ambition and that very balance that we used to find in films before. Three of the biggest films; Iron Man 3, Star Trek into Darkness and Man of Steel were all different franchises at different stages in their cycles, and yet every villain was a typical terrorist and their schemes had very little to differ them. All had lengthy running times, but plots that couldn’t really sustain them. All were shinny enough for brief amusement but did little to cement them within my mind. I couldn’t tell you anything about Star Trek in Darkness now, and I only watched it in the summer. I warmed to Man of Steel while I wrote about the film, but after a week I felt I lied about what I had scribbled down previously. There are other entries that I would like to re-engage with, but I know that deep down those titles can wait. Honestly; it’s not usually like this.

I think part of the problem is this the continuous arrested development which is taking place in mainstream movies. These features are becoming more and more impersonal with the only thing connecting them being the knowledge of the brand itself. The Benidict Cumberbatch’s twist that wasn’t a twist in Star Trek into Darkness was a very clear example of this. The reason this character exists in this film universe is only to remind you that he does. The same goes with the vague and needless nods that littered Spike Lee’s oddly limp Oldboy.  The words cut and paste has never felt more apt. But then again it is said that they’re all singing from the same hymn sheet.

With that in mind, I found it harder to gain that inmate connection I often get with movies. I’m now even less surprised by the continuous rise of the television golden age. The Walter Whites and Dexters of the small screen, present character conundrums that seem to appear less and less as brand recognition and franchise entries strengthen their hold. Let’s not lie to ourselves as if the era of Don Simpson didn’t exist and that all mainstream, populist films gave us intellectual sustenance. Broad is broad. But you only need to watch the first 30 minutes of A Good Day to Die Hard to notice there’s been an uncomfortable shift somewhere. As these characters and narratives are given less nuance, the warm feeling I enjoy has dimmed slightly.

The rabid internet culture hasn’t helped things, nor has the transitional state caused by technology dismantling the business model as we know it. Now we have an audience that want original and new product that doesn't stray from whatever source material it’s from and they want it at decent quality... for free. A quick glance at a film forum, comment board or twitter feed has reminded me just how all consuming the internet as become.
Normally I’m more critical of the idea that the quality of films are going down and often mention that we, the audience, are masters of our own cinematic destiny. Yet as 2013 wore on, I found myself becoming wearier of things I usually found easier to ignore. I’ve moved back to a town which has two cinemas, and yet both still show signs of only chasing the same audience to compete. It becomes maddening to know that certain films play at both while others (that could possibly do ok business) play at neither. I’ve upped my streaming options at home by signings on Netflix, but as this article illustrates, Netflix isn’t as welcoming to certain types of film lover as you may think. Issues I’ve found problematic in the past have improved their voice and learned to shout a little louder.

I shouldn’t complain too much, because as always, I still had some great film experiences at the cinema as well as at home. I still managed to struggle with picking ten favourite films out of a fair few that really hit the mark and I still enjoyed more than I truly hated. I’m just in the minority that’s seeing a bit too much of mould, and wouldn’t mind it being broken a bit more. Silly stupid films are fine, but there used to be a time when they felt smarter than that. 

As always; these are my favourites and you shouldn’t complain if you don’t see yours (No order):

What Richard Did

Damn Fine Honorable Mentions:

Side Effects
Captain Phillips
Bling Ring