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Archive for the ‘Chronicle’ Category

Halfway through 2012 – here is my top list

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I woke up a morning and realized that we’re halfway through 2012. I know – it’s crazy! How did that happen? To me the year has all but started.

So what do you make of 2012 so far? I thought 2011 was a very good year for movies; the question is – will 2012 match it? Possibly. I made my personal top list of the year so far, covering my top 20 movies. I think there are quite a few gems here and there are a couple of movies in the pipeline that I have high hopes for.

But before we start I want to get one thing out of the way:

Yes, this list includes some movies that you might think belong on a 2011 list, depending on which country you live in. I’ve decided to make my top lists from my personal perspective, following when the movies became accessible in a theatre for me. Many films don’t open inSwedenuntil several months after their theatrical release in US orUK. This was the case with several of the Oscar nominees, which didn’t arrive here until late spring.

Also keep in mind that my appreciation for a movie usually changes over time. Some films that I didn’t immediately embrace have grown; other movies that I liked at first have turned pale as time has passed. When it’s time to make the full-year-list of 2012, some of those movies may very well have changed positions, depending on my mood of the day. I’m notoriously inconsistent.

And that’s the end of the disclaimer section. Let’s move on to the list!

1. We Need to Talk about Kevin
The events in this film have been dealt with before in movies, but not from this point of view, I’d dare say. Tilda Swinton was excellent as the mother of the troubled kid Kevin. The cinematography and particularly the usage of colours are etched into my memory.

 

2. Take Shelter
The storm is coming. Or is it? Do the things that take place on screen really happen or are they hallucinations of a mentally ill person? Some people had doubts about the interpretation. I didn’t. But what we can agree about is that it’s a fantastic little movie, with a brilliant performance by Michael Shannon.

3. Tyrannosaur
A man beats his own dog until it dies. Then he cries over losing his best friend – the dog. This is the start of Tyrannosaur and it’s almost unbearable to watch. From there it goes worse. But provided you can stand watching it, this is a remarkably well played and gripping piece of drama, providing at least some glimpses of hope in all the misery there is.
 

4.Moonrise Kingdom
After three rather depressing movies I wanted to break up this list with something more lighthearted, bringing a bit of hope and happiness into the world. I can’t think of a worthier candidate than Moonrise Kingdom.

5. Prometheus
Prometheus got a bit of a beating due to some ridiculously high set expectations after the successful marketing. It’s no Alien, but despite its flaws I enjoyed it immensely. I got to explore strange new worlds, I saw truly alien aliens, I watched big things blow up in a big way and I gave my imagination a good tickle. That’s all I the sci-fi geek inside me asks for.

6. The Artist
I watched The Artist several months after everyone else, so at the point where I got to it they hype and the backlash were both over with since long. It was a love letter to the world of movies, surprisingly fun and entertaining, and I enjoyed every moment of it.

7. Bullhead
This is another dark film that is tough to watch due to some very intense and violent heavy scenes, on par with Tyrannosaur. Take caution before you watch this if you’re the sensitive kind.

8. A Royal Affair
This Danish costume drama took me by surprise. It’s well acted, well designed, well plotted, high class craftsmanship in every aspect. Highly recommended unless you really can’t stand costume dramas.

9. Chronicle
Chronicle? A found footage movie about youngsters with superpowers? Are you kidding me; how can you put this over serious movies including several Oscar candidates? I can because this debut film out of nowhere charmed me completely with its fresh take on genre that I’m usually not overly excited about.

10. The Cabin in the Woods
The Cabin in the Woods breaking into the top 10 might have to do with that it’s one of the most recent films I watched, so I still have it fresh in memory. Regardless, I had fun watching this, and “fun” is nothing to sneer at. So I’ll bring it into my top 10 to inject yet a bit more of entertainment, giving a break to all the gloomy films I usually watch.

11-20 (Unranked, alphabetic order):


The Avengers
I could never have imagined I’d enjoy a superhero movie this much. I blame Joss Whedon.


Carnage

People throwing up on the screen is rarely fun to watch, but seeing Kate Winslet doing it over a bunch of exclusive art catalogues was priceless. 

The Descendants
From my review: “There’s always something soothing about watching millionaires struggling with their lives, ending up eating comfort ice cream out of the box in front of the TV. Deep down we’re all the same – fragile, messed up and uncertain about where our journey will take us. It’s like hitchhiking. Life will take you into places you didn’t plan. You just need to learn to cope.”


Coriolanus
Ralph Fiennes breathes new life into a less popular Shakespeare play. The original lines and the modern setting mix unexpectedly well.

 

Hugo
Martin Scorsese lets his inner film geek out in full freedom. I can’t imagine anyone else who would have been allowed to make a film celebrating film restoration and Georges Méliès. But he could afford it and as the film lover I am I loved it.

The Kid with a Bike
This was my first encounter with the Dardenne brothers and I hope it won’t be the last.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Sometimes when I go to a theatre all I want is a quick ride with a big budget action movie offering spectacular action and decent actors. This was exactly this and it served me well.


The Muppets
There wasn’t a single kid in the theatre when I watched The Muppets, and I’m not even sure of how funny it is for a child who didn’t grow up with those puppets. I did though and I had a blast. As I said in the review: “On the outside I was a frustrated office worker with a Monday Blues. But hidden inside there was a singing and smiling muppet.”

Tomboy
I wish this film didn’t need to be done. I wish everyone could be allowed to be themselves, using any kind of gender identity they wanted to without being questioned. Sadly enough we’re not there yet. And this film should be shown and talked about at school.

50/50
Cancer and humour doesn’t sound as if it mixes well. But in this film it did.

A couple of mentionings

There are several movies that didn’t make the cut this time, but which very well can end up somehwere on the top list by the end of the year. As I said initially: my ratings change from day to day. The current runner-ups are Warhorse, Elena, Wuthering Heights and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

I won’t talk much about bad movies, mostly because I’ve seen so few of them. So far this year there have only been two movies I’ve given a 1/5 star rating. Interesting enough they represent two extremes on a scale of artfulness. On one end we have Rock of Ages, which had an abundance of cheese but no soul. On the other end there’s Alps, which no doubt had higher artistic ambitions, but felt equally heartless, empty and boring.

So, which are your ups and downs so far this year? Which films are you pretty certain will remain on the list when it’s time to narrow down the top 10 of 2012?

The post where I declare my love for Chronicle and make a revelation

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Do you think movie bloggers carry a secret wanna-be-dream about getting a job in the film industry? Do we write about movies instead of making them ourselves since we lack the right talent and dedication?

Normally my answer would be a decided “NO”. If you’re foolish enough to spend hours each day blogging for no other reward than possibly a comment once in a while and some virtual hugging, you’re not doing it because you think it will award you a ticket into the business. You do it because you’re in love with writing, in love with the world of cinema and probably also because you’re a little bit of an exhibitionist (even though you’d rather die than admit it).

But there are exceptions. Once in a while I stumble upon a movie that fills me with so much love and amazement over the infinite possibilities of the film medium that the thought crosses my mind: “I want to do this too!”

This was what happened when I watched the recent science fiction movie Chronicle.

Enchanted smile
I went into it with barely any previous knowledge at all, apart from that it was a “found footage” film about some teenagers who gained super powers in some mysterious way and tried them out, not necessarily to save the world like a traditional super hero, but for more egotistical reasons.

My expectations weren’t overly high to be honest. Thor and X-men: First class were both among my lowest rated movies in 2011. I just don’t seem to mix very well with film about people with super powers. Admittedly I eagerly await the return of the Dark Knight, but he doesn’t count, does he? Isn’t he more of a talented guy with good equipment than like someone with unearthly abilities?

In any case, Chronicle won me over. When I went out from the theatre 1 hour and 20 minutes later (yep, they still do movies as short as that), I had a childish, happy, enchanted smile on my face. And I sent a tweet: “Do you think they’ll accept a 44 yr old at film school”? I wasn’t entirely serious about the question, but I immediately received a number of encouraging replies from tweeting film bloggers claiming my chances were good. Of course it was a lie, but a sweet one.

What I liked
I don’t want to go too much into the story because I think this is the kind of film that gains from not knowing too much about it on beforehand

But here are a few examples of what I liked about it:

1. The focus
In a standard movie on this theme, you would expect a scientist to turn up sooner or later, going into some quasi scientific explanations about why they got the abilities and how they work. In a standard movie you’d also spend a lot of time following how society responds, throwing in some plot that included boring adults in the form of police or military who would try to either stop or take advantage of the kids.

But this isn’t a standard movie and it makes nothing of this. It focuses on what’s going on with the teenagers, on their everyday ordinary life, on where they’re coming from, on how the abilities mix into this and about what happens in the group as they develop. This focus makes it far more engaging than it otherwise would have been and brings it to a different level.

2. The characters
The main characters aren’t altogether “good” people. They have flaws. But unlike in the case of Attack the Block I found myself sympathising with them, caring about their wellbeing and future.

3. The found footage theme
Yes, you read me right. I like found footage! I know others complain about it being done and over with but I don’t mind as long as it’s well done and I think it is in Chronicle. I rather enjoyed how the film makers challenged themselves to make every shot make sense. Apart from the filming of one of the boys who just has gotten a camera of his own, they’re using a multitude of different sources such as surveillance cameras and various people’s cell phones. This brings a bit of variety. I would even go as far as to say that there are scenes where the shaky hand camera approach adds a bit of atmosphere. Especially in the scenes where they’re testing out certain abilities it gives a feeling of urgency and “this is happening for real”.

4. The visuals
Considering the fairly modest budget for being a movie in this genre (12 million dollars) I think it’s quite good from a visual standpoint. There’s no shortage of special effects and a couple of scenes are even a bit jaw dropping.

Didn’t drop the ball
So don’t I have anything negative to say? Well, I suppose that would be the ending, which maybe didn’t hold quite the same class as the rest of the movie. It contained elements that were… well… I don’t know how to put it without spoiling stuff. Kind of cheesy you could say. I hesitated for a moment but then I decided to go for it and just accept it. It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t so bad that they ruined the film. They didn’t drop the ball.

I predict that Chronicles will be a strong contender for the category “best debut feature” as we’ll be making our summaries for 2012. The director Josh Trank and the screenwriter Max Landis are both in their mid 20s. They really couldn’t have started their careers in a better way.

Chronicle (Josh Trank, US, 2012) My rating: 4/5

PS FYI: Yes, as you realize by this post, I’m on Twitter and No, I haven’t told you about it since I’m not sure of what I’m doing there or if it will be long lasting. But the address isn’t a secret, so if you want to a not overly active tweeter, you’ll find me at @Thevelvetcafe.

Written by Jessica

March 6, 2012 at 1:00 am