Sunday, 22 December 2013

Adam's Film of the Year - No 1 - 2013

After all that it comes down to the film I most enjoyed during 2013 and it was...

Before I start, I need to stress that this film TECHNICALLY came out in 2012 but literally the arse end and I saw it in January so I had to count it otherwise it would have missed both lists. It's ironic that my 2012 film of the year 'Cabin in the Woods' was filmed 2 years prior to release so I do have form of cheating like this.

This was the only film on the list that I've wanted to watch again almost immediately and I did. Silver Linings is a drama, a comedy, a Rom-com with some dirty dancing sprinkled in. It's a movie of many genres. It's so sweet and sexy. 

The acting isn't something you'd rave on about with a film starting Bradley Cooper, Chris Tucker (?!) and an aging Rob DeNiro, who for the most part of the 2000's hasn't bothered to act his way through a film. Everyone is amazing here, especially DeNiro, he clearly felt a connection to the script and portrayed an additive OCD father effectively. Bradley Cooper's best film by far and finally Jennifer Lawrence seems to pick and choose projects as if she knows every one will be golddust.
Speaking of Lawrence, dear god, she's hot in this film. Maybe it's just me but everytime she's on the screen whether it's in a diner, a gym or a dance hall, she is simply captivating.

There are people I know who have seen it who I wouldn't normally think would like this film but did and it shows how broad the appeal is. The director David O Russell has had a good record run of quality films since Three Kings and The Fighter but also the upcoming American Hustle which is also slated for Oscar nominations.

When all's said and done, Silver Linings Playbook is my film of they year because it made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me happy and it made me sad.

Roll on 2014!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Adam's Films of the Year - No 2

This was my No1 film until 24 hours ago when I changed my mind back to my original choice. Directed by Paul Greengrass and starring Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips is the 'true' story about a cargo ship overtaken by Somali pirates and the rescue mission that was put in motion. The acting is so raw and realistic it's almost as if it was improvised on the spot. Tom Hanks is on his A-Game here especially in his last scene but it's the Somali pirates that steal (no pun intended) the show. Apparently the American based actors who played the pirates were plucked from obscurity during city auditions across the country but you'd think they had played law-breakers all their lives.
The film itself isn't given any kind of Hollywood makeover, what happened during the film apparently happened in real life. The only contradiction seems the be the bravery of the captain himself. According to the actual crew, Captain Phillips was 30 miles from the African Coast whereas all ships were advised to stay over 100 miles away from it. It is this behaviour that some of the crew stated that Phillips flouted as if he wanted to be boarded but the film ony shows the 'brave and courageous Captain Phillips'. To put all that to one side, I picked this as my no 2 film because it was absolutely gripping and intense. I didn't remember how the actual events played out so it was new to me but I'd guess that viewers who did know the story would find it equally exciting.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Adam's Films of the Year - No 3

It was the film that started Summer 2013 and it ended it as the best of the lot. The original Iron Man film was fresh, cocky and took a hell of a risk in Robert Downey Jnr and it turned out to be amazingly perfect casting. The sequel, in my opinion was a step backwards and after The Avengers, this was to be the first foray into Marvel's phase two programme and it needed to be special and it was. The seeds for the success can be found back in 2005, three years before Downey Jnr even put on the suit. Some of you may not remember the 'other ' Robert Downey Jnr but to put it simply he was a loose cannon, a older Charlie Sheen, or older (I don't know how old they are) anyway, he was a drug and alcohol fuelled genius who could act when he wanted to and be terrible if he wanted to. But in 2005 he was given a chance to star in a film called KISS KISS BANG BANG and if you haven't seen it, stop reading this and find it. It's a Christmas film set against seedy modern Hollywood with pulp crime influences. It was a fantastic flick and it brought together RDJ with the director Shane Black. As with most masterpieces, Kiss Kiss didn't do well initially but found its feet on home DVD and fast forwarding to 2013, they were reunited once more. You may think Tony Stark had good dialogue as is but with Black's involvement, it went to another level. Another plus was the introduction of the villain, The Mandarin. I personally found the arc of this character to be genius but sole hardcore comic fans balked at the twist. If you don't read the comics, which I don't, then I think you'd side with me. If it weren't for the continuation of the Marvel universe, I'd say this placed a neat bow on the trilogy but as Iron Man AND RDJ are both retuning for Avengers 2.0, it will be a strange thing to undo all the good work of this film. Anyway, Tony Stark makes it to No3 and this goes next to other comic book films such as X2, The Dark Knight and Spider-Man 2 as sequels that were better than their originals.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Adam's Films of the Year - No 4

The only fully fledged comedy on the top 10 list but also the only one to 50 pints of lager. As we all know, this is the finale to The Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy which started with Shaun of the Dead and continued with Hot Fuzz. The quality hasn't suffered and I found myself smiling throughout the entire film for the simple reason that I love seeing Pegg and Frost on screen together. Seeing as they used to sleep together (not like that) it's no wonder they have chemistry only the Chuckle Brothers could compete with. The best thing about this film is the attention to detail and the back and forth dialogue that gives you little chance to laugh at because you're already listening to another great line. Pegg and Frost are supported by a very strong British cast that would normally be found in some gritty Indie melodrama with Mike Leigh. Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan has flirted with Hollywoodland in the past but never quite latched on but their comic timing is surprisingly on the mark. The direction has Edgar Wright stamped all over it and it seems his fight scenes has improved after his time fighting the world with Scott Pilgrim. In my opinion, it only lacks two things, a realistic and funny female romantic element (sorry Rosamund Pike but I will never like you) and a decent ending (just didn't connect with it once they reached 'The Worlds End'). However all in all, it didn't sully the mark left with Shaun and Fuzz. Pint?

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Adam's Films of the Year - No 7- 5

It's hard to know whether Peter Jackson really wanted to spend another 10 years of his life, given that the original director Guillermo Del Toro chickened out, filming the world of Middle Earth. The first installment of The Hobbit just didn't feel right and featured so much introduction, we didn't get to see much action. However this time around, it gets serious and all the better for it. It's as if The Two Towers had a little brother with enjoyable ways of decapitating Orcs, separate journeys within the group and even some Legolas action. The final third is mixed as it features the introduction of Sherlock, sorry, Khan, sorry Smaug the Dragon but also a boring and lazy stopover to Laketown with Stephen Fry. Martin Freeman once again shines as Bilbo but when you leave the cinema, if you think back, he didn't say an awful lot in terms of dialogue. Best bit? The 'barrel' sequence halfway through which brings to the fore the fact that this is much more family orientated than its older brother LOTR. 


Ahhh yes, supposedly the film of the year. Well it is quite good but it's the visual bells and whistles that provides all the hype. What you 'see' is what you've heard from anyone who has seen it, a visual masterpiece. This breaks new ground for D, digital filmmaking, even space photography. In fact the 3D is so well presented, that the man who hates the medium more than anyone, Mark Kermode actually advised you to watch it in three dimensions. So what makes Gravity miss out on the top 5? Well it's literally one astronauts journey from A to B. But not a journey that's filled with backstory or witty dialogue, it is LITERALLY about getting from A (danger) to B (safety) and that's it. The dialogue as mentioned is really quite awful but this is all about the mise en scene. It deserves to be seen on the big screen and if you haven't yet seen it, you're probably too late. The weird thing is that if someone watches Gravity in 6 months time on Lovefilm, they will say "God this isn't all that!" simply because I don't think the experience will translate to the small screen.


A slow burning drama concerning the abduction of two young children in a wintery American suburb. Sounds like a load of ole melodramatic phooey. And it is melodramatic but I was hooked. I started watching this in bed on my ipad at 9am and I had to leave the house at 12pm and this film is three hours long. I watched it all in one sitting and I hardly ever watch films in one sitting at home anymore. But I literally couldn't stop and I felt I owed it to the movie to do it before I left. The acting in the film is top drawer, even Hugh Jackman but the star of the show is Jake Gyllenhaal who really shines in a somewhat understated standard detective role which could easily have been boring as balls. The fact is that we don't even know if the prime suspects did it until the very end and it leaves it hanging very nicely. I'm not saying there's gonna be Prisoners 2 : Electric Boogaloo just that I loved it beginning to end. I know some people won't (and don't) like the film, they may even go as far as to say its slow and boring. But give it a try and see what you think. 

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Adam's Films of the Year - No 10 - 8

If it isnt apparent already, I'm no film reviewer, which means that I haven't seen every film this year so the list is only as good as my dedication and free time. Saying that I have seen over 70 films this year, half of which released in this calendar year so I do feel some justification in my choices. So let's begin.....

Just Missing Out - Elysium, Zero Dark Thirty, Wreck it Ralph, The Wolverine, World War Z.


Superman Returns is a strange thing to follow. It seemed to me that the reaction to the film was similar to Titanic, Avatar and Phantom Menace. It received decent/good reviews and decent word of mouth at the time but fast forward a few years and it seems to get crapped on a lot. So We pretend it never happened that Clark did/didn't have a super baby that could push a piano a few feet.
Back to 2013 and Warner Bros give it another shot but this time they employ the man of the moment, Chris 'Trenchcoat' Nolan. From then Man of Steel follows Batman Begins' origin formula and tone quite closely. Which isn't a bad thing. Zack Snyder directs, and this is the guy who has previously adapted 2 comic books to screen (300/watchmen). The action was well staged and most of the films controversy has come from the level of destruction Metropolis receives. I personally don't see the issue. The Avengers brought the fight to New York and no one cared. The whole film was well acted and looked amazing throughout. My favourite element of Man of Steel however is the new Superman theme. I must have listened to it 100 times since summer and it gives me goosebumps everytime

You won't see this movie on practically anyone's best of list so far and maybe it wouldn't make mine if I had seen some more Oscar contenders. But it's on here for one simple reason, it does what it sets out to do. It's Die Hard in the White House. I've had a soft spot for anything concerning the president since The West Wing so this is right up my Diagon Alley. Terrorists storm the White House and demand the usual stuff terrorists demand. But the president's old bodyguard and ex-chum is determined to  cancel the party, McClane style. Grittier and more intense than its poor rival, White House Down, this played the hand it was dealt and gave a solid action thriller.

I wasn't blown away by the first installment as I felt its scope was quite small. It also used the same trick as Transformers in that the final third of the film takes place on one street (cost cutting) but it had decent humour and likeable characters. It's 2013 sequel comes off the back of The Avengers and this time it had to pack a serious punch to continue the work of 'phase two' and luckily it did just that. It's definitely bigger and better but not sure about 'darker'. It features a lot of gags, some of which ill timed (tube), some coming out of the mouth of an annoying actress (Kat Dennings) but a lot hit the mark. The action is split between Earth and Thor's gone world but it's only when Loki is released from captivity that the film hits full pelt. It's box office performance has been good enough to see a third solo outing but it will never reach the heights of Iron Man or Supes.

The countdown continues later this week. 

Adam Yates

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Worst films of the year

Soon I will compile my top 10 of the year. I just have a few more I want to watch before confirming it. But I doubt my worst five will change so here they are....

Jason Bateman has a thing with swapping body movies and this isn't too far from that. But the joke falls flat very quickly and a running gag concerning a punch to the throat gets tired after the 5th attempt. Both stars undoubtedly have great comedy timing but it's simply another on the road-buddy comedy getting from A to B which in America I'm sure is hard but us Brits can get from one end of the country to the other in 4 hours (or even 3 if we pay for a Pendolino).

Weird tone, not funny and at one point, Mark Wahlberg's character wanders around the EXACT apartment complex as Dexter Morgan and that just took me out of the movie completely. I didn't even finish the final third cause I was so bored and uninterested.

Part Two was a bit amusing but The Hangover Part 3 is beyond the realms of reality. It's almost as if it's characters now know they are in a film as they no longer act as regular 30 somethings. The plot isn't a shade on the original which at least was touching fresh caper. The trilogy also strangely follows the arc of the Ocean's films, the first being in Vegas, the second being a trip abroad and the third signalling a return to where it all began. They never should have left.

Let me make this clear, I'm not saying this is one of the worst of the year in a quality sense, of course there are worse movies. But at least with them, you expect shitness. This is on the list because of the anticipation and that it failed to deliver so fantastically. The 2009 predecessor was fantastic, fast paced and possessed so much heart and sparkle. This was a tremendous letdown. Not everyone agrees with me but honestly I could easily recite through the precious film's scene by scene but I can hardly remember anything about this film.  JJ Abrams recently admitted that keeping the obvious identity of Benidict Cumberbatch's character a 'secret' was a mistake. Every fan knew he was Khan but the makers denied it right up to the end and when it was revealed in the film, we all didn't care. Plus the new crew of the Starship Enterprise are on a different path than the original so the whole Kirk/Spock death scene is just a nostalgia play. If you haven't grasped it by now, I hated this film not because it's shit but because it didn't capture me the same way the first did and for that it made me very sad.



A few years ago I attempted to stay away from watching trailers, photos and TV spots for The Dark Knight Rises. I practically made it into the film blind and it was a great showing of my self control. I decided to do it again with this film and I wish I hadn't because if I had seen a trailer I could have saved myself £7 quid. John McClane is an American everyman hero, yes he got a bit silly in the fourth installment but placing McClane in another country is as wrong as hearing that your parents once had sex. It may have happened but you don't wanna see it. In this film we see McClane's 'son' we last saw briefly as a child in the second film but now he's an unlikeable beefcake with a massive head. And he's a spy, I think. I forget. And Bruce Willis is still a cop, I think. I forget. And they both shoot the shit out of Russia with minimal visuals of any kind of police presence. Then there are the special sequence shows father and son exit a building through the window and then land on a handily placed structure all in one's fucking dire. I urge you all, if you like Die Hard, don't sully it by watching this. Although if it were you telling me it wouldn't stop me but I wish it would.

Notable Mentions -

White House Down - lost the race to release by Olympus Has Fallen and relied too much on CGI.
The Internship - a 98 minute Google advert with old looking wedding crashers.  And then Owen Wilson has it off with Rose Byrne, where's the justice in that?!
Jobs - a poor mans Social Network. iMitation.

Next week - My top films of the year 10-6
Adam Yates