Chalet Girl was this year’s secret classic and I suspect the teenage version of me would have judged it the year’s best (which makes this choice about nostalgia for the person I once was). It’s essentially a British take on the Mary-Kate and Ashley cultural tourism series, but throughout it explodes expectations by making the bitchy blonde rival the best friend, putting the handsome suitor at the epicentre of a discussion on class politics and hiring Bill Bailey to play an emotionally crippled Dad. But the key success is Felicity Jones as the eponymous service worker who uncannily appropriates in her tiny form some of Katherine Hepburn’s verve, timing and just general weirdness, taking full advantage of a script which is drenched in buckets full of cynicism and still able to look just plain cute in a ski coat against the snow. it's just a shame the typically mishandled advertising campaign and critical reaction put everyone else off.
Time was that late sequels to films recast everyone or put the same name on a remake and although that's still happening (though luckily so far not to The Happening), with the upcoming American Wedding and Scre4m there’s been a Herculean effort to bring the gang back together no matter where they are in their film career. Ostensibly rerunning some of the elements of Scream 3 with Sydney reliving past horrors, there’s often nothing wrong in seeing much the same thing, with the same characters in a slightly different order (I should know being a Doctor Who fan). I was even surprised by the ending, entirely buying in to expectations of what the fourth film in a horror series should deliver. Hopefully we’ll have 5cream before too long.
In The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec, Luc Besson attempts to remake all of Steven Speilberg’s films. At the same time. It’s Indiana Jones meets Jurassic Park with the sensibilities of 1941 directed in the style of Hook. I suppose. A plot synopsis would resemble a game of consequences because just when you feel as though you have a handle on the story, Besson chucks in something else to contend with. I don’t want to give too much away because his film wasn’t much seen, but this has one of the best closing scenes of the year and I might even have enjoyed this more than the Harry Potter conclusion which felt slightly anticlimactic somehow (other than essentially making Neville the hero). People who were disappointed by Tin Tin have said this is a useful alternative.
One of my few really vivid memories of primary school was the Film Club. Each Friday after four o’clock, a large percentage of the constituency would pile into the main hall, where a giant screen had been erected by a teacher who would show us actual film prints of old Disney classics. I remember particularly seeing One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing and the Winnie the Pooh features. The latest release in that series by denying almost all modern innovations bar Zooey on the soundtrack took me right back to those times, reminding me that sometimes the simplest stories are the best. The sequence in which everyone is stuck in a hole was one of the most amusing in a year which also brought the seminal projectile vomiting scene in Bridesmaids but Disney's film as whole demonstrates it is still possible to be funny without being rude.
Hands down my favourite sequence of the year at least in the Hollywoods that aren’t Hugo, is the appearance during Thor of the Warriors Three in New Mexico, their panto costumes otherwise so in-keeping with the sets of Asgard entirely incongruous against the small town backdrop. Looking nostalgically backwards to the kind of fantasy epics of the 80s which were guaranteed the cover of Marvel’s Starburst, if Thor was anything, it was a homage to the Masters of the Universe film, but done properly with a sizable chunk set in Eternia. This whole Avengers project has been a joy and it’s a tragedy that some creative agreement can’t be made with the rights holders to other Marvel characters to have them all set in this same universe rather than making the rivals they shouldn’t be.