2010’s In Film: Part One (2010+2011)

So we’ve reached the end of the year, and the end of the decade. Well, this is weird, isn’t it? There are people who voted in the last election who weren’t alive when 9/11 happened. That’s weird. Time is strange. So to cope with the inevitable passing of time, I’m going to make you all feel really f*cking old and briefly talk about one film from every month for every year of the past decade. Some of these films I haven’t seen, particularly before about 2015 when I started to go to the cinema more. We’re going to start at the beginning, because we’re not Memento.

January – Tooth Fairy

God damn you 2010. This is why this blog is hard, January 2010 was, well it was not good. Here’s a list of films released that month that I’ve heard of: The Book Of Eli, Bitch Slap, Tooth Fairy, Youth In Revolt, Leap Year. That’s it, it does feature two films that share a name with bigger things though: Girl On The Train, Stranger Things. That was a terrible start to the decade and I really hope the year gets better. I chose Tooth Fairy because it’s weird to look back on a film before a time where The Rock was legit the biggest action star on the planet. To be honest I’m not even sure how that even happened. I personally can’t pinpoint the film which launched him into superstardom, I’m guessing Fast And Furious because of the mainstream appeal those movies have. Nonetheless, this is a strange film to watch, is kind of cute and funny. Not something that will stick with you, but a film you’d probably watch if it was on and you were bored. Also, it has Julie Andrews on it, which is always nice.

February – Ponyo

Originally released in 2008 in Japan, this film FINALLY saw a UK release in 2010. I love this film. It’s one of the most adorable films you will ever see in your life. It is just so cute, the cinematic equivalent of a lovely hug. Ghibli can do incredibly mature and depressing films (Grave Of The Fireflies being a notable example), this isn’t one of them. Yes it has mature moments, but it is overall a kids film, and has all the positive things that that entails. It reminds me of the live-action version of The BFG (which sadly almost nobody has seen, but they REALLY should).

March – Alice In Wonderland

Damn this movie to Hades. This film made Disney realise that they can just do live-action remakes/re-imaginings instead of coming up with new versions. I hate this trend and refuse to watch them. I watched the live-action Jungle Book they made a few years ago and disliked it because it didn’t stand on it’s own merits; it made so many references to the animated film that you couldn’t watch it as a stand-alone movie as some of it wouldn’t make sense, but they’re not going to be better than the originals, and they’re also not going to be different enough to justify their existence. So really, what is the point of them? So yeah, damn this movie.

April – Iron Man 2

You can read my thoughts about this movie here, this is only here to make you realise how old this franchise now is. How the cinema landscape has changed and yet this franchise is still going strong. I remember people really liking this film when it first came out, yet now everyone hates it. It’s the opposite of Iron Man 3 (which I have always loved btw).

May – Four Lions

This month is the opposite of January. In this you had this film, Hot Tub Time Machine, A Nightmare On Elm Street (shut up, I like it). All films I love, albeit two of them as guilty pleasures. This is probably my favourite though. It’s one of my favourite films of all time, and is still depressingly relevant today. Really you do HAVE to see this film, it’s funny and horrifying and then back to funny again, and then back to horrifying as you realise how true most of it is.

June – MacGruber

I weirdly like this film despite knowing nothing of the character (SNL isn’t really a “thing” in England. Like A Christmas Story, Kiss, or deep-fried butter, it’s huge in the US, ignored over here). This is not the greatest film in the world, but it is a fantastic way to kill some time, and I wish I saw this at the cinema when I had the chance, or that I had watched it with people. I imagine this is great when high, not that I would know of course.

July – Toy Story 3

It was either this or Inception. I went with this instead because this film made me cry. There’s not much I can say about this that hasn’t already been said. It’s the perfect closer to a great trilogy. It’s so good I didn’t want a fourth one to exist, although when it came out I was very glad it did. Pixar are magical.

August – The Human Centipede

Yet again, a film I haven’t seen. So why am I talking about this? Look, I know I’m incredibly immature at times, but this film made me realise that I do have some sense of maturity. It made me realise I had outgrown the “watching shocking things for shocking things sake” stage. It made me realise that I didn’t want to waste my time with ugly art.

September – The Town

Damn I love Affleck. And this film is just more proof of why. I really wish he was given a MAJOR film, he deserves it as both a director and a screenwriter.

October – Despicable Me

Yup, those little yellow bastards have been with us for an entire decade. Now used almost exclusively by middle aged women on facebook to admit they’re massive alcoholics but it’s okay because it’s gin/wine, which is socially acceptable for some reason. “It’s always Gin O’Clock” is something you can proudly put on facebook, yet “I’m going to down a bottle of vodka on my lunch break” isn’t.

November – Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1

Another cinema-ruining movie. A film which made studios realise that they no longer have to make self-contained films, they can just split them into two double their money. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it really doesn’t (Twilight, The Hobbit). Here’s the thing though; I can’t remember how this film ends. I know the plot of both of them, but I can’t remember what happened in each separate film. Compare this to Infinity War/Endgame where I know what happened exactly in each part (or even the IT films). These films do seem like one film that was just cut into two, rather than made as two. I didn’t watch any of the films before the last one came out, and this is partly why; I don’t want to wait a year to see the end of a film I just paid to watch.

December – Little Fockers

Depressing point; kids today might recognise DeNiro mainly from comedy films rather than what he’s best at. That seems wrong. I kind of enjoyed the first two films, but I had no desire to see the same jokes repeated again, and the fact that NOBODY speaks about this film says a lot about it.

Now onto 2011. It doesn’t get much better

January – It’s Kind Of A Funny Story

This is here just to remind me that I really need to read this book, it’s been recommended to me by quite a few people so I should get round to it at some point.

February – Big Momma’s: Like Father Like Son

Ah, remember when this series was a thing? Quick question, did anybody actually ever like these films? You never hear anybody say anything about them, they’ve made almost zero impact on pop culture, yet somehow it still warranted sequels. Tax dodge?

March – Submarine

Oh, so I guess 2011 was just “films I should have seen but didn’t but will get around to one day”? Stop making me feel bad! And I know “why don’t you just pick another film for this month?” Because almost nothing was released this month.

April – Scre4m

Terrible title aside, I do genuinely like this film and I think it features both the best opening, and best villain motivations, of the series. The scene where the killer is injuring herself are brilliantly psychotic and looked like a lot of fun to film.

May – The Hangover: Part Two

I have a weird relationship with this film series. It boils down to me not respecting the people in it that much, and that’s down to this film. Australian racist Mel Gibson was supposed to have a cameo in this as a tattoo artist, but the cast and crew stopped it happening due to him being a drunk nazi. Now I’m not saying he should have been in it or that nazi’s should be allowed in films. But I will point out they had Mike Tyson in this series, and he’s a rapist. Yet the public seem to have forgiven him. So I don’t think it was down to morals, I think it was down to “this will make us look bad” rather than a genuine worry about ethics.

June – X-Men: First Class

The film that saved the X-men franchise which was in desperate need of saving after Last Stand and Origins: Wolverine. In the end it kind of ruined the franchise though as it led to too many discrepancies between timelines. It also led to Dark Phoenix, and fuck that film. But this did show that you can save a franchise thought to be dead. All it takes is to make a good film and people will, well not “forget”, but certainly forgive the sins of the past films.

July – Cars 2

Because even Pixar make mistakes. And for them to put three of their worst films in one franchise is admirable. Still, made a lot of merch sales.

August – Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes

Yes! Now we’re talking. This is one of the most complete trilogies of all time. It follows one story arc but each film is self-contained. Everyone was wary about this film when it was announced, and for good reason. Thankfully it turned out great. This is a trilogy where any film in it could claim to be your favourite one. The fact it lost the academy award for best visual effects is a travesty. As is no nominations for Andy Serkis.

September – Tucker And Dale Vs. Evil

Yeah everyone should have seen this film by now. It’s hilarious. It’s one of those films that you feel has always existed, like the fact that there was a time before this film existed is strange. A bit like Led Zeppelin, but with more woodchipper deaths and less raping of underage girls.

October – Tyrannosaur

Are you a happy person? Do you wake up with a spring in your step and a desire to smile and sing and bring joy everywhere? Watch this film, it will soon cure that. When Olivia Colman won an Oscar earlier this year, the collective thought from everybody who saw this film was “it’s about damn time”. I haven’t seen The Favourite, but I really struggle to see how it can be better than her performance in this. It’s completely heartbreaking and wonderful and depressing. I love it so much.

November – 50/50

The best Seth Rogan film. This film makes me tear up everytime I see it. Based on a true story and all the better for it. The cast are on top form; Rogan plays the role he played in real life, so brings an emotional honesty to the character. Joseph Gordon-Levitt puts his puppy dog-like face to the best possible use. Plus it has Anjelica Huston, and I love her. It also has the best possible use of “To Love Somebody” you’ll ever see.

December – A Very Harold And Kumar Christmas

These films don’t get the love I feel they should. They’re REALLY funny and have something to say. This one is oddly mature compared to the others, but still juvenile in the right ways.

Long Shot (2019)

I think I’m at the point where “new film by Jonathan Levine” will sell me on a movie. 50/50, Warm Bodies, The Night Before, and now this. I mean, it won’t be enough to make me pay full price for a DVD of a film I haven’t seen by him, I mean, he did still make Snatched which was pretty woeful and a waste of Goldie Hawn. This film is entertaining as hell and well worth a watch. Everything works well and flows together in this film, it’s a great example of everybody working well to create something great. The director brings the best out of everybody, Theron and Rogen have great chemistry, the ensemble cast work well together, the soundtrack is fun, and the script is superb.

Actually, I’ll give more about the script here because it really deserves plaudits, yeah the dialogue is a little too “Seth Rogen” at times, but mostly it’s a pleasure to sit through. The comedic set-pieces are hilarious, some of the dialogue is razor sharp, and when it uses the film to state something about the world, it does it in a way that is unsubtle enough for you to notice, but subtle enough that it doesn’t smash you over the head with it. It says a lot about modern news, modern politics, and modern gender. “The woman who stays with the man who has cum in his beard gets more flack than the man with cum in his beard” (I’m paraphrasing I think) is a gross way to make a very pertinent point. That’s what this film is GREAT at, focusing on what modern women have to put up with on a daily basis from a supposedly post-feminist world. A world in which “but women are equal” is said five minutes before “We can’t have a female president, what about when she’s on her period?”. And that is this world btw, make no mistake about it, it definitely is. Female politicians get described in one of two ways: icy and unemotional, or hysterical and emotional. If they show any form of passion they get slated, if they show none they get slated too. Think of how many of the criticism of Hilary Clinton were based ENTIRELY on her gender. Things like that annoy me, because I think Theresa May is an awful person, but it’s not based on gender, it’s based on the fact she seems to hate evidence-based policies and instead focuses on things to gain headlines. This is probably the most satirical film Rogen has been involved in since The Interview, but whereas that was focusing on large-scale politics, this focuses more on day-to-day stuff which effects everybody in modern countries; from the aforementioned gender issues, through to news all coming from one giant conglomerate, it takes a lot of shots, and hits like 81% of them. There are a few which probably won’t date well. Actually, considering a large part of this film is about Theron becoming the first female president, I really hope this film becomes outdated quickly.

This film isn’t perfect at all, it’s a bit too long and formulaic. The length is a definite issue, the opening spends too long setting up the characters so obviously that it doesn’t make them seem real, it only really tells us what we need to know, and doesn’t leave anything unsaid either, as such you feel like these characters don’t really exist outside of this film. Also, you can basically plot out the entire film from the opening. But I suppose that’s not the point with this film, it’s not about where it takes you, it’s about how it takes you there. It’s a bit like a really good cover song, whilst it’s not original, it does something different with what you already know to create something wonderful. So yeah if you get the chance, go see this, and not just because it features this song, which is one of my favourites and genuinely made me slightly squee when I heard it in the film. Also, Andy Serkis is delightfully disgusting in it. It’s also delightfully sweet and lovely, but gross in parts, a bit like having sex with someone who doesn’t wash.

Why We Love….The Witches

1. The Story

Roald Dahl may have hated almost every film that was made of one of his books, but to me, they usually work pretty well. Willy Wonka will always have a special place in my heart (mainly because of Gene Wilder), and The BFG last year was so good it was described as

“fairy lights and sunshine on celluloid”

by someone incredibly important and intelligent (yeah, it was me). Am I missing any out?

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This film really speaks to me for some reason

Oh yeah, that one. So whilst Dahl hates them, films of his work are generally loved by people. That’s down to the worlds he creates, the fact he writes FANTASTIC child characters, and of course, the stories. With a lot of children’s books, you look at them as “books for children”, books which are fine if you’re young, but lose their magic as you get older. And the ones that don’t suffer from another problem; you can easily see their influences. You can read them and think “oh, the author obviously has read x before”. These don’t, they’re unique stories, wonderfully told, that’s why the films work.

2. It’s quite dark.

Well, I saw “quite”, it features a scene where the main villain changes a small child into a mouse. It’s not instantaneous, it’s like you can feel it happening to you, you can tell it’s not painless. It also features a scene where the villain tries to push a baby off a cliff. I love kids films like this, ones which you watch them as an adult and think “why did we let kids watch this?”. It’s kind of basically a kids horror movie (much like Goosebumps, which I still recommend everyone go see). I mean, the opening features a child being cursed so they disappear into a painting. That’s not a kids movie, that’s a fucking Twilight Zone episode.

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3. Ensemble Cast

Okay, the kids acting isn’t exactly good, but the adults are. Jane Horrocks is lovely and her silent disgust is evident throughout, Rowan Atkinson is good with the small amount he’s given. My favourite though is Mai Zetterling. This was one of her final films and she really shines, it makes me sad she wasn’t in more things. She’d have been perfect as Aunt May in a John Hughes made Spiderman movie in the 80’s (what a good idea for a blog that would be, that’s foreshadowing).

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4. Anjelica Huston

This film is hers. She doesn’t so much chew the scenery, as cut it into small manageable pieces and delicately nibble on it. She plays such an evil character with so much poise and sophistication (so much so that she doesn’t seem to walk, but glide) that she almost becomes likeable. I think she may be one of my favourite actresses, when she’s good she’s REALLY good. There’s this, The Addams Family, and 50/50, and I’m sure there are many others which I’ve yet to watch. She’s one of the few actresses I’d really love to be able to meet and just talk about her films with her.

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Side note, is it just me or did she have a resemblance to Anne Hathaway

5. Possible remake

Usually, I’d be set against this, but apparently, if it gets made it will be done by Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro, with Jennifer Lopez as the main witch. I want that so much. And now I’ll end this the same way I end every day; with casual attempted infanticide.

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Comedy; It’s No Laughing Matter

I was having a conversation with someone yesterday about script ideas when I mentioned I was working on a romantic comedy. The response I got was pretty much “why don’t you aim higher?”. I find that a little bit insulting, not to me, (I’m rather glad they think I’m worth something), but to comedy. People dismiss comedy far too easily; it’s rarely nominated for any major film awards (for example; the last comedy to win Best Picture Oscar was Annie Hall in 1977, unless you count The Artist, which I don’t, because the first thing you think of when you think of that film isn’t laughter). When people ask for the best films they’ve seen they tend to go with the serious artsy ones, maybe because they actually like them, maybe because they feel that’s what they should be saying. 

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“Ass-ablanca is the best movie ever made” “don’t you mean-” “I know what I said”

I don’t know why people are so dismissive of comedy. I suspect it has something to do with people assuming it’s too lowbrow. That “comedy” is just made up of swear words and slapstick; which is ridiculous (for one thing; they’re completely missing “puns” and “racial stereotypes that white people find funny”). I will freely admit that most of my favourite tv shows and films are comedies. And it’s not just because I haven’t seen the “classics”. I’ve watched Citizen Kane, I’ve watched 2001: A Space Odyssey, and I’ve watched Full Metal Jacket, and I did really appreciate them and loved them, but I didn’t ENJOY any of them half as much as I enjoyed films like Airplane, Lego Batman Movie or In The Loop. 

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Comedy can do (and does) a lot more than people think. It can change the way people think about the world, it can inspire ideas, it can affect you in ways that leave you emotionally devastated (I’m looking at you 50/50)

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I’m then looking away, because if I look too long I’ll cry

It’s not just comedy that gets a bad rap; anybody involved in comedy does too. If an actor known for comedy makes a comment about something he is instantly dismissed. We need to start taking things like that more seriously; let’s not dismiss Jim Carrey’s thoughts about vaccines causing autism just because he’s a comedian, let’s dismiss his thoughts because they’re wrong and he’s a fucking idiot about it.

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And for being a prick

Personally, I love it when comedy and comedians effect me in an emotional way. If something includes a little bit of light it makes the darkness seem more extreme (and therefore effective). On the flipside; laughter can also make something easier to take in. It’s why people will watch and read Horrible Histories and learn more from that than from A Complete History Of British Rulers.  One of the best examples of a comedian embracing the darkness a few years ago came from American tv personality Stephen Colbert. He took a week off from The Colbert Report to deal with his mum and her death. When he came back he opened the show, not with a roundup of the show ahead, not of a bunch of silly jokes, but with a heartfelt tribute. Here’s a condensed version:

She was born just a little ways from here in Larchmont, NY on Chatsworth Ave. in 1920, the same week women first got the right to vote. She spent her summers in the Adirondacks with her older sister Colleen and her younger brother Ed, who called her Snodgrass. She met my father James at age 12 at cotillion and she liked him, but she didn’t want him to know how much, so she would make her friends ride their bikes all the way across town to pass by his house, but then she’d never look to see if he was in the front yard, which of course drove her friends crazy. And evidently, she also drove my father crazy because they were married and promptly had 11 children. She made a very loving home for us. No fight between siblings could end without hugs and kisses, although hugs never needed a reason in her house. Singing and dancing were encouraged, except at the dinner table. She knew more than her share of tragedy, losing her brother and her husband and three of her sons. But her love for her family and her faith in God somehow gave her the strength not only to go on but to love life without bitterness and instil in all of us a gratitude for every day we have together. And I know it may sound greedy to want more days with a person who lived so long, but the fact that my mother was 92 does not diminish, it only magnifies, the enormity of the room whose door has now quietly shut. In her last days, my mother occasionally became confused, and to try to ground her we asked simple questions, like what’s your favourite colour, what’s your favourite song. She couldn’t answer these. But when asked what her favourite prayer was, she immediately recited A Child’s Prayer, in German, that she used to say to my eldest brothers and sisters at bedtime when they were living in Munich in the late 1940s. Her favourite memory of prayer was a young mother tucking in her children. We were the light of her life, and she let us know it ‘til the end. 

The fact that he went from this straight back to his usual jokey self made it mean more; the sudden mood whiplash caught you by surprise, and I only hope I could write anything half as beautiful. Until then, I’ll just have to settle for watching it here.

5 Films To Watch When Everything Goes To Shit

Because sometimes people do something unbelievably stupid and you need to do something to not go insane.

1. Airplane

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Really any of the 80’s/early 90’s parody films: Airplane, Hot Shots, Naked Gun etc. The trouble with a lot of comedy lately is it’s too serious. Everything needs to make people think, to have a higher purpose, it’s almost as though comedy is a swear word. I saw someone on Twitter complain about the length of a lot of comedy films by saying “Airplane is 87 minutes long and fits in loads of jokes, your film doesn’t need to be longer”. For better or for worse this film is also responsible for the okay Scary Movie, and the just plain awful Epic Movie. This film is also responsible for changing Leslie Nielsens career. Before this he was actually a serious actor. After this he became a comedy legend. Before this: Poseidon Adventure, Forbidden Planet. After this: Naked Gun, Spy Hard. And let’s face it, the world is all the better for having him discover comedy, as I discuss here.

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2. Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs

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The sequel too. Yes, the sequel was mainly just an excuse for a lot of food puns, but I’m a fan of food and puns so I was perfectly okay with that.

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And this is adorable

But like most films, the original was the best. This film does have a stupid title, and I’d like to say the film itself is more mature, but it’s not; it’s just as silly, gloriously so. But it also teaches you important lessons: be yourself, being smart is awesome, and don’t get in an ice cream fight with a monkey,

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3. Buried

Because it’s hard to feel worried about your own life when you’re watching something that kills your soul and any hope you ever had. This is a fantastic achievement in film-writing, the entire film is set within the confines of a coffin. When I first heard about it i thought that that couldn’t possibly work. Surely they have flashback scenes? Or he gets out about half hour into the film and suddenly it turns into an action film? But no, it’s just one guy, in a box for the entire film. And it is a remarkably effective piece of filmmaking. The singular location means the audience feels just as trapped and claustrophobic as the character. If the film had any cutaway scenes it would only serve to break up the tension. I recommend that everybody see this film at least once.

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But only once

4. The Muppet’s Christmas Carol

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There are two types of people in this world, those who like this film, and those who beat their partners. I am on the former. To me this is one of the best Christmas films around, and is also my favourite adaptation of A Christmas Carol, probably one of the most faithful too, it has quotes directly from the novel, and yet it never seems out of place. This is one of the most effective displays of adaptation you will ever see. Michael Caine gives a fantastic performance, the songs are catchy, plus, it’s the f*cking muppets.

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This is still terrifying though

5. 50/50

Because sometimes the best way to deal with stressful situations is just to have a good cry, and believe me, this film will reduce you to a quivering wreck of tears and sadness. This will kill you emotionally, and yet it’s also ridiculously funny. Now the first thing people will ask when you tell them you’re going to see a film is “what’s it about?”. In this case your answer will be “it’s a comedy about someone with cancer”. “Comedy” and “cancer” are two concepts which usually go together as well as cheese and cardboard (although if anybody has any cardboard recipes they’d recommend then send them to the usual address). However in this case it goes together as well as cheese and marmite.  If you’re looking for a standard feel good film then don’t see this one; it will depress the living hell out of you at some points (although it’s a film about cancer so that’s to be expected), although it will also make you laugh so hard you choke a little bit. It’s actually ended up being probably the best film I’ve seen at the cinema all year . It’s smart, funny, and ridiculously heartfelt with some fantastic performances all round. Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt have an on-screen chemistry that makes it seem like they’ve known each other for years; and that really helps the film. Also it is great to see Anjelica “morticia adams” Huston back being awesome (and looking surprisingly like one of my primary school teachers)

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So that’s it for today. What kind of stuff do you watch when you need emotional assistance? Because one thing’s for sure, we’re all going to need it.