The Tongues of Men

A novel in redraft by Gabriel Smy

Film diary 2012

Remember all that sport last year? All that winning? I blame it for the lower tally of films watched, especially as we kept the TV licence after the Olympics. Oh look, Scream I/II/III is on again!

Anyway, I still saw a few. 2012 was the year that Almodovar had a dip in form (The Skin I Live In) whereas Woody Allen finally got one right (Midnight in Paris). Wes Anderson wonderfully became more of what he already was (Moonrise Kingdom), but so did Herzog (Cave of Forgotten Dreams). I think I've finally fallen out of love with Herzog altogether.

Classic films are of course classic (Sunset Boulevard, On the Waterfront, Notorious, Psycho) and Tokyo Story is not the best film ever made. It's up there though. For something entirely different, try My Summer of Love, Bombay Beach, Arrietty or Morvern Callar.

Twitter film reviews 2012

*****Outstanding ****Excellent ***Good
**Okay *Poor 0–Atrocious

My Summer of Love (Pawlikowski 2004)**** Pitch perfect teen angst & eroticism in a bored Yorkshire village, tongues-speaking nutters & all.

Sunset Boulevard (Wilder 1950)***** Engaging story, glorious lead, cheesy noirish script & sharp shooting justify Hollywood parody classic.

On The Waterfront (Kazan 1954)***** So that's what all the Marlon Brando fuss is about. Plus: Best. Priest. Ever.

Harry Potter 7/1 (Yates 2010)*** Series gets grown up acting, cinematography and CGI. Also gets moping and ennui: biding time before pt 2.

Harry Potter 7/2 (Yates 2011)**** Sweeping, dramatic, with outstanding effects intrepid story. Everything matures into a satisfying end.

Hannah Her Sisters (Allen 1986)**** Devastatingly acute relationship drama mixed with vintage comedy script. Moving, funny, thoughtful.

Intolerable Cruelty (Coen, 2003)*** Repeated views unlock the quirky genius hidden in mainstream romcom. Or maybe I just heart the Coens too much.

The Cat in the Hat (Welch 2003)*** 1-yr-old's fave film. On constantly. Want to hate but Mike Myers carries it and we're all quoting it.

Flags of Our Fathers (Eastwood 06)**** A little obvious, but true WW2 story w/ strong aesthetic, grown-up structure & visceral authenticity.

Midnight in Paris (Allen 2011)**** That's more like it, Woody. Perky Paris stages whimsical tale about nostalgia living in the present.

Letters from Iwo Jima (Eastwood 2006)**** Same battle, different war. Moving stories of childlike Japanese soldier and his General in WWII.

Also rewatched A Serious Man at the weekend. I love the Coen tropes, the sheer craftsmanship, and the repeated 'it's just a story'.

Oranges and Sunshine (Loach, 2010)*** Emily Watson is intense in open ended, natural story about forcible migration of kids to Australia.

With all the great films available on the long haul flight, I ended up watching The Hangover, I and II.

Tokyo Story (Ozu 1953)***** Best film ever made? Not for me; but a gentle, understated masterpiece about parents and their adult children.

Also, The Royal Tenenbaums. Reader, I watched it again.

Bombay Beach (Har'el 2011)**** Surreal, choreographed documentary about 3 poor American lives. Beautiful, clipped, hope & despair together.

@geoffstevenson They loved [Lord of the Rings I]. Bit plot heavy, but plenty of cool monsters. Had to keep hiding Atty behind the fridge though.

The Skin I Live In (Almodovar 11)** The usual craft and a twisted sexual plot, but pushed too far. Anti-erotic, disconcerting, unrewarding.

Notorious (Hitchcock 1946)***** A perfect film.

Shadowlands (Attenborough 1993)**** Stuffy academia & pop theology of CS Lewis stripped away to leave a simple, devastating love story.

The Inbetweeners (Palmer 2011)** Embarrasing teen boy jokes, hilarious on TV, feel thin in feature length. Series has run its course?

3:10 to Yuma (Mangold 2007)**** Post-Unforgiven yet still a true Western. Magnificent leads from Crowe & Bale, do justice to superb writing.

Psycho (Hitchcock 1960)***** Deserves its reputation as a defining moment in cinema. One of Hitch's best. And terrifying.

District 9 (Blomkamp 2009)**** Gory apartheid with aliens. Extraordinarily literal and uncomfortable. Overwritten but superbly acted.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Almodovar 1988)***** Hilarious Spanish farce involving a drug laced gazpacho.

Arrietty (Yonebayashi 2010)**** Straight telling of The Borrowers, with such tranquil mise en scene and music it's an indulgence.

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)***** Pure essence of Wes Anderson. Emotionally troubled kids, depressed adults, lots of cub scouts. Very very funny.

The Illusionist (Chomet 2010)*** 50s Edinburgh, beautifully drawn. Gentle story belies source (unproduced Tati script) & sensitive subject.

Morvern Callar (Ramsay 2002)**** Poignant study of childlikeness, of life lived in the moment. Tactile like Ratcatcher, but more mesmeric.

La Vie En Rose (Dahan 2007)*** Engrossing Edith Piaf bio. Cotillard deserved best actress. Overdoes timeline jumps though.

Shallow Grave (Boyle 1994)*** Bold debut with brash performances from young stars. Influential – but why didn't they just split the money?

Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Herzog 2010)** The cave paintings are bewitching. The documentary is short, basic, laced with director's nonsense.

The Social Network (Fincher 2010)**** If only real software was as sexy as a Sorkin screenplay.

Hugo (Scorcese 2011)*** Magic for the cineaste, but slow, sentimental and over CGI-ed. Perhaps the key is to see it in 3D in the cinema.

Mr Poppers Penguins (Waters 2011)** Jim Carrey with penguins. Bit hard to care about this one. Alludes to much better films than itself.

The Nutcracker in 3D (Konchalovskiy 2009)** Magical Viennese start dissolves surreally into Turturro's rat king & Tim Rice's lyrics. Panned.

Valiant (Disney 2005)* Pre-Toy Story animation despite coming a decade later. Gervais is offputting, even/especially as a dirty pigeon.

Whale Rider (Caro 2002)**** Idiomatic and understated Maori tale, simmering with universal emotion.

Taking of Pelham 123 (Scott 2009)** Yawn. A good idea dropped from the hands of Travolta's terrible generic mad villain.

Previous years:
2011 film reviews
2010 film reviews
2009 film diary
2008 film diary
2007 film diary

I'm always open for what to watch next – tell me on Twitter.


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