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.

Toy Story 4 (2019)

I don’t care about this movie. I don’t care that it’s missing one of the main voice actors to him sadly passing on. I don’t care that it seems like a cash-grab. And I don’t care that it kind of overrides the perfect ending of Toy Story 3. I don’t care about any of this, because I fucking loved this movie. I loved this movie from the opening scene, a flashback to between Toy Story 2 and 3 that makes a nice change of pace for these films, normally they end with you crying, this film starts with it. From the moment this film opens it grabs you by the heart and never lets go, culminating in what I believe is one of the great closers of all time when it comes to movie series. The others felt like potentially they could have ended the series, this feels like it has to, there’s no way to continue it in a satisfactory way.

I did think that of the third film at the time, but looking back that was possibly a bit naive to assume that just because Andy (and the audience) held Woody in high esteem, that Bonnie would too. I’ve seen some weird reviews of this film calling Bonnie a bitch because she doesn’t play with Woody, which is strange because, you know, she’s a child, and children sometimes get bored of certain toys. I think that’s why it’s weird when people call Sid from the first movie a psychopath because he mutilated toys, forgetting that just because we know they’re alive, doesn’t mean he does. If Pixar made a movie called Lettuce, about sentient salad, would that mean the people in the film who ate it are evil? No, they’re just hungry.

They’re not the only weird reviews, I’ve also seen some really weird reviews saying things like “I didn’t like it”. Which is unfathomable to me. If you liked the first 3 (i.e. are you a human?), then you’ll like this one too. It’s not wildly different, but it’s also not the same. It’s the kind of film only Pixar would make. It plays with expectations brilliantly, setting up expected villains only to pull the rug away from their villainess. Before that, they do seem genuinely creepy and it made me think I really want a Pixar horror film.

Onto the best thing about this film: it looks SUPERB. You kind of forget it’s animated after a while, there are so many things going in the background, nothing exciting, but it really helps build the fact that this is reality. The performances are good, but most of the actors have been playing these characters for decades, so that’s to be expected. The new ones hold their weight too. Keanu Reeves slots into this universe brilliantly, as do Key And Peele. Christina Hendricks is one of the best additions though, not as comedic as the other two but responsible for a lot of the emotional depth this film has. The true new MVP though? Tony Hale, in the wrong hands this character would be annoying as hell. If you gave this role to a comedy actor known best for madcap fast-speaking (Kevin Hart, Jim Carrey etc) then it would have been too much, it wouldn’t have seemed real. Hale plays him with just the right vulnerability, but also the comedic chops to make repeated suicide attempts in a kids movie socially acceptable

So in summary, go see this film, in fact I’m disappointed you haven’t already. Yeah it’s almost 2 hours long, but it really doesn’t feel like it, it flies by.

The Incredibles 2 (2018)

Fourteen years. Fourteen long years we waited for this. Cinema has changed, animation has changed, yet this film is set the day after the first one, so the characters haven’t changed. And I don’t care, this film was superb and I loved it.

The first one was Incredible, and this one was Incredible two (I’m so sorry). Everything about this film just works beautifully, the voice-work, the way it looks, the story, it all interacts with each other in the most wonderful way.

It picks up almost immediately after the first one ends, starting with a fight with the villain that turned up at the end of it. The action scene that that causes lets you know what kind of film it’s going to be: bombastic fun that looks INCREDIBLE (although let’s face it, with Pixar, you always KNOW it’s going to look great). The story is serviceable, it doesn’t come anywhere near the depth of Toy Story 3, or the heart of Finding Dory, but that doesn’t actually matter. You’re not sitting there thinking “well this story is pedestrian” because the way the film is done you don’t really care, you’re just sitting there amazed at what you see unveiling in front of you. It does what it needs to do, and it does it well. That’s not to say it’s a simple movie, it’s probably the only mass-market animated movie this year that has dealt with the themes this does. Themes of masculinity and feeling worthless because you’re not the one the family depends on, the emasculation that can cause.

There was a worry when the initial trailer came out that the film would focus too much on Jack-Jack, pushing him from background character to the main one, making him as insufferable as minions became. We really should have trusted Pixar more. They use him well, using him as an excuse for some amazing visual slapstick gags. More about the visuals; these films have their own visual style, it’s not just the animation. The architecture is a kind of future-past hybrid that just works beautifully and helps create a universe which is both retro and timeless.

Yes, the reveal of the villain is kind of obvious, but I’d rather a films twist was obvious than if it made no sense. And you don’t really sit there and analyze the story of this, you sit back and let it take over you. Pixar movies really are great, they’re the only studio for whom I eagerly look forward to almost anything (cars excluded) they do. Even the films which are thought of as bland, are only seen as such compared to the excellent standard they normally produce (seriously, give Brave a rewatch, it’s actually REALLY good). This is Pixar at their best, but if they make me wait fourteen years for another one, I will be pissed off.

The Shape Of Water (2017)

Don’t watch this film! I mean it, do not watch this film. It’s one of those films that’s actually impossible to sit down and watch. You do not watch this, you absorb it. You sit back and let it take over every single ounce of your being. You sit there and marvel at the beauty you see before you, this is cinema as art, and is one of the most awe-inspiring things you’ll see all year. Guillermo Del Toro should now be given free reign to make whatever film he wants. Actually, I’d love to see him do an episode of Doctor Who or Black Mirror. Every shot looks like a watercolour painting, full of the majesty of colours and wonder. The music too is superb, you won’t leave the cinema humming the melodies or anything, but it enhances every single scene it’s in, it really compliments the images to the point where it almost seems like the scenes were made to match up with the music, as opposed to the scene coming first and music being decided later.

It’s not just behind the scenes though, the people in front of camera help make this brilliant. Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones deserve every accolade thrown their way. They’re mute characters who have to lead the film, that’s not easy. It could be argued that it’s slightly easier for Sally Hawkins as she at least gets sign language to utilise, but that’s like saying it’s easier to run a marathon with one leg than no legs. It still takes remarkable skill from her. Ordinarily this would be the best performance I see all year, but unfortunately for her, Three Billboards also exists. It’s a shame that both existed in the same year as it meant one had to lose out on deserved awards. Doug Jones is also pretty darn great in this, doing sooooo much with body language that you kind of don’t realise he’s not speaking, he doesn’t need to.

The supporting cast also pulls their weight, obviously since Richard Jenkins got nominated for best supporting actor. Michael Shannon also deserves praise. His character is utterly reprehensible, partly due to the writing, but also due to how he plays it. He completely loses himself in the character, holding absolutely nothing back.

My main issue with this film? It’s really hard to criticise. It’s all so beautiful, everyone is so great, and the story is so heart-warming and emotional, it ties all the loose ends up but also leaves room for different interpretations and questions about the characters. That’s why this review has been so hard to write, it’s difficult to make “this film is amazing!” into a compelling piece of writing. That’s my opinion though, others think differently. Not many others though, mainly Rex Reed from the New York Observer. Who wrote (and I won’t link to it, I don’t want to increase his views):

“This horror film masquerading as a fairy tale is about a mute woman who cleans toilets, scrubs floors and falls in love with a monster from beneath the sea. The pathetic girl is played by the wonderful British actress Sally Hawkins, who specializes in defective creatures herself.”

A few points: 1) it’s not a horror film. At all, it’s a fantasy film. It may use a few horror tropes and conventions, but it’s still at its heart a fantasy film, albeit one aimed at adults.

2) “pathetic girl”. Fuck you. Fuck you in the ear. She’s not pathetic, and if you think that then I worry for you.

3) “defective creatures”. Ok, this is just a horribly offensive comment. Just because someone is mute does not make them a defective creature you ableist asswipe.

The review only goes downhill from there, referring to Get Out as “overrated piece of junk” and getting the director’s name wrong. Look, I know Benicio Del Toro is a good actor, but he’s not a director. Yes, they have similar names, but you can’t call yourself a film reviewer if you can’t distinguish between the two. It would be like getting Billie Joe Armstrong and Billie Jean King confused. I find negative reviews fascinating when they’ve clearly not actually watched the film. The best example of this was Toy Story 3 where the reviewer seemed to only watch the opening 5 minutes, getting the villain wrong, the story wrong, and his final mark wrong. Don’t be like that guy, don’t be wrong. Buy a ticket to Shape Of Water and revel in its greatness, you’ll thank me.