The Films I Watched in 2014.

Film For the past couple of years at around this time I've looked back at what happened in this blog's annual review a decade ago. A decade ago I kept a record of everything I watched that year (films, television and theatre) as well as listened to (mostly Doctor Who) for the entire year, and posted the results in the final week of December. That's all still here and perhaps most interesting in capturing the moment when I first watched a lot of television, notably Alias, the last series of Buffy and Friends and my first run through of Firefly. It's also the first year I signed up to Lovefilm and really began to widen the scope of the kinds of films I was attracted to, working through most of the primary French New Wave as well as the rest of the filmic canon in preparation for the applying to do film studies at university. If you can be bothered going and having a look you'll also see I hyperlinked all the titles. Most of them don't work, especially at the BBC, though it's worth noting how most of the Channel 4 shows I watched then are now available to stream over the internet from the same page I linked to back then.

Knowing that in the end I'd probably only end up writing something along the lines of the contents of this first paragraph, I decided to pay homage to that year and keep a record of the films I watched this year but posting them on the blog as and when on a generally weekly basis. Remembering the nightmares of 2004 when trying to remember on which days I'd watched which episodes of Murder One, I disregarded television and everything else.  Find below, now, a big long list of all the films I watched in 2014.  Here are some statistics.  I watched 331 films last year.  I watched only one film twice, Gravity, and another in a shorter and longer version, The Desolation of Smaug.  The only films I saw at the cinema were Boyhood, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Chinese Puzzle and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, which is a lot more than usual.  144 films came from Lovefilm-by-post.  The rest were a mix of iPlayer, Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant stream and things I already owned.  No I'm not going to go through and work out which.  Nobody cares, least of all you.  Anyway, here they all are.  Join me at the other end for the analysis and "best of..."

Babylon AD
After Earth
Everest (IMAX Experience)
Ready To Fly
I Married A Witch
The Sacrifice
Blade Runner: The Final Cut
World War Z
The Little Mermaid
The Rescuers Down Under
The Juror
The Restless Breed
Repo Man
Time Crimes
In Time
The Broken Circle Breakdown
Silent Running
Death Race 2000
A Boy and His Dog
Big Ass Spider
Ikarie XB-1
Pitch Black
AI: Artificial Intelligence
The World's End
The Numbers Station
Oz: The Great and Powerful
Enchanted April (1935)
Lovestruck: The Musical
Mademoiselle C
Sketches of Frank Gehry
The Girl
Hank: Five Years from the Brink
Man of Steel
Mike Birbiglia: My Girlfriend's Boyfriend
The Wolverine
Red 2
Blood Glacier
Sunset Strip
Annie Oakley
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
Dirty War
Cool World
Beautiful Creatures
The Square
The Short Game
The Gentle Sex
Welcome to the Punch
The Look of Love
Remember Sunday
Le Grande Depart
The Last Stand
Hotel Normandy
Broken City
Stuck In Love
Nobody's Daughter Hae-won
Bachelor Knight
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
Dark Skies
Better Luck Tomorrow
Trap for Cinderella
White House Down
Wish Upon a Star
Safe Haven
The Grey
The Conjuring
Summer in February
Captain Phillips
Stories We Tell
The Woman In Black
Kick Ass 2
Pain & Gain
Black Swan
Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Safety Not Guaranteed
The Heat
The Shooting Party
Primal Fear
Me and You
The Missing Picture
House at the End of the Street
1 - Life On The Limit
Battle of the Sexes
In a World...
What To Expect When You're Expecting
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The Family
Le Week-End
The Underneath
Only God Forgives
Runner Runner
Inside Llewyn Davis
Still Crazy
Breath In
We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks
The Call
Warm Bodies
Drinking Buddies
Easy A
Gray's Anatomy
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
Premium Rush
The Last Airbender
Out of Sight
In Your Eyes
About Time
The Limey
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
Erin Brockovich
Computer Chess
Pacific Rim
The Usual Suspects
The Burning Plain
Ocean's Eleven
Full Frontal
Married Life
The Girl Chewing Gum
Through a Glass Darkly
The Act of Killing
Ocean's Twelve
The Lucky Ones
Naked Weapon
Rock of Ages
The Last Samurai
Jack Reacher
The Selfish Giant
The Good German
Ocean's 13
Reservoir Dogs
Frances Ha
Red Corner
Dallas Buyers Club
Blazing Saddles
Enter The Dragon
Evil Dead II
Che: Part One
Hard Boiled
The Five-Year Engagement
Center Stage
Che: Part II
The Girlfriend Experience: Director's Cut.
The Informant!
Star Trek Into Darkness
Chinese Puzzle
Once Upon a Time in China
Thanks for Sharing
Magic Mike
A Touch of Zen
Another Day, Another Time - Celebrating The Music Of Inside Llewyn Davis
Side Effects
Ender's Game
Don Jon
Behind The Candelabra
The Great Beauty
How I Live Now
This Means War
Two Lovers
City of Ember
Army of Darkness
The Dark Knight Rises
The Great Gatsby
Evil Dead
The Invisible Woman
The Wolf of Wall Street
20 Feet From Stardom
Violet & Daisy
Running with Scissors
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
The Guardians of the Galaxy
Labor Day
American Hustle
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Under The Skin
Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari
Adventures in Babysitting
It Rains On Our Love
Bright Young Things
John Dies At The End
The 6th Day
Short Term 12
The Kings of Summer
Chronique d'un été
À bout portant
Cheerful Weather for the Wedding
Banlieue 13
La stratégie de la poussette
From Paris With Love
The Brothers Bloom
Café de Flore
The Chronicles of Riddick
Thérèse Desqueyroux
Bruc. La llegenda
The Lego Movie
A Year In Burgundy
Gangster Squad
The Purge
A New Kind of Love
I Really Hate My Job
Darling Lili
And Now ... Ladies and Gentlemen...
Killer Joe
Stake Land
The Sword and the Rose
Promised Land
Le chant des mariées
The Conquest
The Words
The Players
Taken 2
On the Road
The Grand Budapest Hotel
La Piscine
Crime d'amour
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Veronica Mars
The Zero Theorum
The Double
Liberal Arts
Gravity 3D
Beauty and the Beast
All That Matters Is Past
Avatar 3D
The Lion King
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Suburban Mayhem
Celeste and Jesse Forever
Cave of Forgotten Dreams 3D
The Pretty One
The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey: Extended Version 3D
Only Lovers Left Alive
Dan In Real Life
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: Extended Version 3D
Ernest & Celestine
Fantasia 2000
The Last Days on Mars
The Other Man
The Emperor's New Groove
Nicholas Nickleby
I Capture The Castle
Dirty Dancing 2
Vanity Fair
Inside I'm Dancing
Hugo 3D
As You Like It
Amazing Grace
Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope
Glorious 39
One Day
Having You
Babysitting (short)
Whitelands (short)
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Edge of Tomorrow
Hemingway and Gellhorn
The Lone Ranger
It's a Wonderful Life
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
The Croods
Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Lilo & Stitch
Superman: The Movie
Superman and the Mole Men
Strange Days

With all the films in the world, thousands released every year, I tend to have themed "watches" as a way of keeping things under control, like a self curated BFI.  At the end of the previous year I worked through a selection of films set in 1963 but made retrospectively, Dirty Dancing, Love Field, Mermaids, that sort of thing.  That led into films set in the future, which continued for a while until I worked through all of the Netflix exclusives I could find then everything talked about on the Cinema Sins YouTube channel into watching Steven Soderbergh's films in order thence to a ton of French films before heading off into Romola Garai's career with loads of contemporary cinema and other catch-up in between.  Glancing through the list now, I notice a lack of world cinema and also classic releases.  The oldest item is possibly Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari which is something I'm going to have to deal with next year.  But having seen most of the canon a few times, it's about deciding where to go next.  Perhaps I'll start taking recommendations from the BFI's own lists.

Here then are the top twenty films I saw this year.  Note this doesn't necessarily mean they were released this year although there will be a lot of those.  I'll sub in the original content where possible. Sometimes I didn't write about a film but just posted a trailer which is why there's sometimes only a trailer.  Meet again after this for the final postscript...

Ready To Fly

"Ready To Fly is the story of the women's ski jumping flighting for inclusion in the Winter Olympics, focusing in particular on Lindsey Van, one of its greatest proponents. Apparently a fairly typical example of the kind of sport documentary which turn up in recommendations of Netflix, it does indeed include the usual montages of competitions, and isn't the usual thing I'd bother with when there's still another episode of House of Cards to see. But continue watching, as I did, and you'll find hidden beneath a really empowering story of another group of women having to fight for equality, incredulously seeking an approval which has already be conferred on women in other disciplines and men in theirs, forever being knocked back for reasons which look for all the world look like nothing but spite or those old dudes reaffirming an authority which they see ebbing away."

Under The Skin

Stories We Tell

"All of which discussion about telling stories is a reflection of my favourite new film of the week, Sarah Polley's brilliant, brilliant Stories We Tell. A documentary meditation on how real life becomes a story through the viewpoints and opinions and memories of the people involved, it's a brave, exciting, involving and raw piece of filmmaking that's leaps and bounds ahead of her fictional work, though you suspect that it's also the kind of piece which can only be done once.

"It's also something which should be seen without much prior knowledge (if possible), because like one of the best stories from This American Life, for example, the twists and turns are just as important as the fundamentals of what occurred, how information is revealed to the audience and the flipping of our expectations. Like Gravity, there are moments of pure visual and aural poetry which demonstrate just what films and their creators can be capable of."

Chinese Puzzle

"Anyway, other than the significant rewatch, my film of the week is Chinese Puzzle because of course it is. Having seen the first two films in the trilogy at the Cornerhouse, I made the special journey to Manchester on Tuesday for it and in a strange sense of closure, having seen The Spanish Apartment (UK title Pot Luck) in screen one there and its sequel Russian Dolls in screen three, this was in screen two which seems less significant as I type it than it did as I sat on the front row of the almost empty screening room.

"Like the Before... films and others, having grown up with these characters it's almost as though we're watching to catch up with some old friends as much as wanting to see a film, though the timeframes are much shorter in this case and unlike the Before... films, more pressingly identifiable to me because everyone is stressing how close they are to forty. I'm thirty-nine which provide an extra element of identification, if in fact not all every other significant way, not least that they have much more complicated lives involving dependents and history. Than I do.

"But despite the cast, which includes Romain Duras, Audrey Tautou, Cecile De France and our own Kelly Reilly it's also a trilogy which still feels inside, barely mentioned, culty. There's even minimal coverage in this month's Sight and Sound other than a review which seems like it should be all over it. The distribution's tiny. This is all really rather disappointing but also oddly gratifying because the best thing about the last two films was that unlike the Before series it had retained that feeling of being a kind of secret.

"That being the case and wanting you, even begging you to catch up, I don't want to go into to much detail on this installment other than to note how these four actors, whose careers have had their ups and downs between films have all returned for this installment and been given equal weight, unlike the tendency elsewhere in which some characters have clearly been forefronted because the actors who play them have become much more famous than their colleagues (though admittedly that tends to happen more in Hollywood).

"If I've a criticism, it's that of the three female characters, it's Kelly Reilly's Wendy who ends up with the short straw of having to spend most of it on the fringes scowling for various reasons when she was such an object of affection in the previous two and it's only towards the end that she's allowed to relax a bit. On the upside that scowl does provide one the films many big belly laughs which I enjoyed even if there were only two of us in the audience of about ten on Tuesday lunchtime who did.

"What I did particularly enjoy was how Klapisch has updated the various visual storytelling elements. The first film was all about paper, so paper maps and postcards and old media flew across the screen and provided relevant captions. This is full of tweets, instant messaging, email, Skype and Google Maps. Then, one of the elements was about collecting messages and making phone calls in the department and this underscored how connected everyone is, mirroring my own experience. But it never forgets that none of this can replace human contact, especially with loved ones.

"So if this is just a trilogy, it's the perfect end. But Klapisch has said in various interviews that he's not against a fourth installment if there's a reason for it, for example Europe as an entity being destroyed or something which would be worth commenting upon using these characters. He also said that he'd try to bring Kevin Bishop back too, who missed this installment due to a tv commitment and I oddly missed. He's a massively irritating presence in the first film, but in the second you saw how you can't assume that someone's personality when they're young will dictate who they will always be."

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

"Captain America: The Winter Soldier is awesome, just as all of these Marvel films are awesome, yes, even The Incredible Hulk which entirely managed to capture the romantic aspects of the green goliath. If as some reviewers have noted, even Kermode, that the film begins like a riff on 70s conspiracy films (see the nod to All The President's Men, and I don't just mean the casting) before tumbling into supersoldier mythology and a generic action movie ending, you're missing the point.

"It's a superhero film. Complaining that it does the thing superhero films tend to do is like complaining that a joke has a set-up and punchline. When reviewers have noted that it becomes less interesting when it returns to the mythology of the first film and an climax in which the hero has to put a thing in a thing to stop a thing, they need to remind themselves about what a genre is. This should be seen in contrast to Kick-Ass 2 which was an anti-superhero film which erred by trying to be a superhero film. You can't do both, and CA:TWS knows this.

"But more than that it's epoch changing. It's a moment when MARVEL's shared universe does the spectacular thing, does indeed the thing which has been happening in comic books for years but has finally occurred in a cross media way, in way which admittedly looks similar to similar efforts, which I'll talk about in a minute but I can really remember seeing in this way. When I mentioned on Saturday how television and film are slowly becoming the same thing, along comes CA:TWS to offer a useful example." [The rest of this epic review is available here.]

The Guardians of the Galaxy

"If you've seen MARVEL's Guardians of the Galaxy already you'll know that it ranks with Inception, Gravity and Boyhood as one of the greatest film exploits of all time, one of those epoch changing moments in cinema which can do nothing but inspire awe. Much of this has to do with both the film itself which is as spectacular a space adventure as we could hope it might be based on the trailers, but also the effect it potentially has on the film business and the nature of the blockbuster. If MARVEL's Captain America: The First Avenger was innovative in how it extemporised the narrative synergy between film and television, MARVEL's Guardians of the Galaxy has the potential to change everything.

"Such hyperbole probably need some explanation and in short order, here it is. MARVEL is the shit. " [The rest of this even more epic review is here.]

Frances Ha

"Frances Ha. Oh Frances Ha. Frances Ha is one of those films I've been putting off and putting off simply because I have a strong feeling that I'm going to love them but I'm almost too scared to watch them in case the anticipation was more enjoyable than the hour and a half I spend in its company. Then it turned up on Netflix, Greta Gerwig stood in my watch list clicking her fingers every time I opened the app so I realised there wasn't much else I could do. I was not disappointed. I did love it. Of course, I was meant to, it's a celebration of French New Wave, Woody Allen, mumblecore, has multiple random (though integral) dance numbers, a female protagonist in the form of Greta Gerwig and is essentially her earlier film Lola Versus done properly. Indeed, it's almost feels like a reaction to Lola, a film in which she plays a similar character but who ultimately won't find fulfilment without a man. We're told throughout this that Frances is amongst the undateable and as a young woman at The New Yorker Q&A notes, there aren't many films in which women are allowed to go through the emotions she does here where men and finding love and all of that are beside the point.

"I should probably write a "genre games" post about this (though frankly I should write a "genre games" post about anything) but we must be in the territory of there being a genre of film about female protagonists in cities. Bits of Frances Ha clearly pay a debt to Cleo 5 to 7. There's also Cedric Klapish's When The Cat's Away. Amelie. Nobody's Daughter Hae-won. Slaves of New York. Tiny Apartments obviously. 20 30 40. Yeast. Black Swan. Not enough for a corpus yet I suspect and it's probably a mix of semantic and syntactic, there being first act turning point which is most often someone being kicked out of their apartment or dumped by their boyfriend (or both), the final resolution being the character finding themselves somehow, reaching an equilibrium most often in the shift to proper adulthood or indeed all too often finding a new boyfriend. In that way it's possible to suggest what doesn't fit. When Harry Met Sally doesn't. Neither does Friends With Benefits. Hannah Takes The Stairs doesn't either oddly because it's a love triangle. Rom coms are right out. For once in Frances Ha we have a work which is both entirely familiar yet completely fresh."

The Broken Circle Breakdown

"Not in any way fun but the best film of the week was The Broken Circle Breakdown, a romantic tragedy about blue grass singers in Belgium which is the very expression of the kind of story, I think Phoebe in Friends describes as, "Life sucks and just when you think it can't suck any more, it does." The poster doesn't prepare you for what's about to happen. But apart from that I'm not going to tell you much more about it because part of its power is its ability to punch you in the gut at various intervals while allowing you to listen to some of the most beautiful soundtrack music ever recorded (I think). The performances from Veerle Baetens (who's next job was Margaret of Anjou in the BBC's The White Queen) and Johan Heldenbergh feel utterly real but we're always aware that they are movie constructs, especially when the former is lolling across the hood of the car in a stars and stripes bikini top. There's also a dream-like quality even when the events were witnessing are sobering and heartbreaking. My point is that you'll come out at the end depressed and elated which is an uncomfortable combination."

The Square

"The Square deserves its Oscar nomination as a long form piece of reportage from inside Tahir Square in Egypt during the various revolutions following the lives of three men caught up and with differing ideological perspectives on events including Khalid Abdalla who played the grown up Amir in The Kite Runner. As the horror and bloodshed unfolds, and the protestors and the country exists through cycle after cycle of uncertainty it soon becomes clear, and this is impassioned by Ahmed, one of the other revolutionaries, that it's not about who's in power there but how they use that power and if they're prepared to make that power the subject of a constitution which is fair to all peoples and separated from rather than governed by religion, speaking for all the peoples of the country - in other words what some of us elsewhere can take for granted (even if it sometimes doesn't seem like that separation is as clear as it should be). This is powerful filmmaking and editing and in zooming in on events there's plenty not covered elsewhere in the media."

Short Term 12

"The advertising for Short Term 12 is a bit misleading. My impression, admittedly based on the poster and Kermode's review was of an unremittingly grim investigation into the US care system full of heartbreak, pain and not much in the way of levity, one of those Ken Loach or Mike Leigh pieces which essentially reminds us that our society remains broken. It is full of heartbreak and pain, but it's also incredibly warm, funny, has depthful characters you can really become attached to and utterly lacks the slightly (slightly?) judgmental tone which can marr my appreciation of both Loach and Leigh, presumably because writer/director Destin Daniel Cretton has worked in this very system and has an insider's appreciation that isn't just a enunciation of class."

The Grand Budapest Hotel

"The film of the week is The Grand Budapest Hotel, which may well be Wes Anderson's masterpiece. Considering his career this is quite some achievement. As purest a distillation of the director's style as we've seen so far, almost a live action version of what he achieved in The Fabulous Mr Fox. The production design is as deliciously detailed as the cakes which the fictional bakery makes within, looking utterly ravishing on blu-ray once you've adjusted the aspect ratio of the television the opening title card ordering me to change the setting to 16:9 taking a couple of attempts before entirely convincing me. Of all the toys and tools which filmmakers have access to but ignore, Budapest reminds us of the strength of the Academy ratio with its ability to force the viewer to concentrate on particular aspects of image and sense of dimensionality without artificial stereoscopy. Oh and the whole thing is damned funny, especially when it breaks out the swears."

The Lego Movie

"The Lego Movie is awesome. Sadly my viewing of it was disjointed, crappy experience as I had my first experience of seeing something through Blinkbox on the Chromecast. Tesco are closing their Clubcard TV service which hasn't had nearly as much usage as they were expecting it seems, which isn't surprising given that the only way to see it through a television was by plugging a laptop in the HDMI socket, there not being any apps available. As part of the announcement I was sent a voucher code for their Blinkbox service and having realised quickly it wouldn't cover a new release, I chose The Lego Movie and unlike all the other apps, the stream quality was appalling and kept buffering. Eventually I watched the last hour on my tiny iPad screen. Sigh. I've added the film to my Amazon wishlist nonetheless...."

Veronica Mars

"The essential problem with Veronica Mars is that it ends. Having endured s3, even though this isn't a monumental return to form, probably for reasons of budget and scheduling Piz, Wallace, Mac and Weevil are short changed and the mystery isn't that surprising, but Kristen Bell is extraordinary at this, and as soon as the voiceover kicks in, there's a sense of "and we're back". All of the strengths of the series in its earlier years are here, the chemistry between Bell and Enrico Colantoni as her father, the class struggle, the corrupt police department and the sense of her investigations as a calling and addiction, not something she simply does as a lark but because she can and so therefore she has to. There are a few stunt cameos but not so many that it gets in the way of the story too. It's affectionate without being cloying. If they ever do get around to making the My So-Called Life reunion it should be just like this, though you sort of expect by now it'll be more akin to The Big Chill. Who would they bump off?

"Like I said, the essential problem with Veronica Mars is that it ends. For all the way its shot, this is still television and if nothing else this feels like a pilot episode for a new series, especially at the end when Veronica marks out her territory. Don't read further if you haven't seen this yet. Still here? Gone yet? Good. Everything about it breathes set-up. Wallace is back at Neptune High. Mac's as Kane Software. Weevil's back with the gangs. The old information network's being put back in place. That doesn't feel like an ending but a beginning and there's a desperate moment right as the screen turns black when you realise that the next episode isn't on the disc. Plus it's more clearly what the show was leading up to than the silly FBI reboot which made the mistake of trying keep the spirit of Veronica Mars while removing everything which made it different to other shows. You can take the Mars out of Neptune but you can't take the Neptune out of Mars. Which probably works just as well as the moon being a giant space egg."

Celeste and Jesse Forever

"Similarly, despite the title, Celeste and Jesse Forever favours the latter, with the mighty Rashida Jones in what's effectively the Bill Murray role of not being able to deal falling in love with a best friend and just the wrong moment. Co-written by Jones herself (with Will McCormack who c0-stars and she's now writing Toy Story 4 with), like The Pretty One it has the not quite mainstream atmosphere of going with the emotional rather than comic beat whilst still being completely hilarious. In places the screenplay even seems to be commenting on mainstream romcom cliche. Elijah Wood plays a gay friend and Ari Graynor is the foul mouthed mate but neither of them fulfills the cliche, for reasons which border too closely to being a spoiler. If nothing else, it's made me want to revisit NY-LON which is still on 4od bless it, in which Jones plays a character not too dissimilar to this and indeed everything else she's ever made. Or at least the good things. A few pointers would be helpful. I can't imagine I Love You Man is any good. Or The Big Year."


"Having watched most of Mia Wasikowska's back catalogue in the past few weeks, including the utterly rubbish Suburban Mayhem in which she plays a beautician, I think Tracks is her defining moment. The real life story of Robyn Davidson, who decided to walk the Australian outback in the 70s in order to get away from people, Wasikowska convincingly portrays someone who simply wants to be left alone and has to leave those people behind in order to understand why she really needs them. Which sounds like a snatch of the voiceover script but is the best description I can come up with. Adam Driver plays the National Geographic photographer tasked with photographing her and pretty much confirms his position as his generation's Jeff Goldblum. No desert film trope is ignored, but it's mostly because they're part of the experience she's searching for. It's a confirmation for people like me that there's nothing pointless in challenging yourself and experiences what, from the outside, look like entirely pointless exercises."

Edge of Tomorrow

Safety Not Guaranteed

"The best time I had this week, the moment when I was screaming and cheering was the final few minutes of Safety Not Guaranteed, but to tell you why would be a massive spoiler and unfair so I won't. It's also the film in the week I knew nothing about beforehand other than that it was a piece of mainstream mumblecore, co-produced by the Duplass brothers and co-starring Duplass Mark and Jake Johnson off of New Girl. It's a prime example of the kind of film which turns up on Netflix and you ended up watching because the cover is yellow or some such.

"Parks and Recreation's Aubrey Plaza plays a magazine intern who's dragged on a "fishing" trip to investigate a wanted ad from a guy who says he's going to time travel and needs a partner. She becomes his chosen partner. Meanwhile, Johnson's character looks up an old flame because this also happens to be his home town and before long we're in the usual mumblecore/indie meander though it quickly becomes apparent that writer Derek Connolly and director Colin Trevorrow are playing some genre games with the injection of thriller elements and romance.

"Other than Plaza, who's frankly a mighty presence and is now my reason to get around to watching Parks and Recreation, is how the film consistently undercuts our expectations but not without purpose and on reflection everything thematically falls into place. About the only dodgy element is another intern played by Karan Soni who is just the kind of stereotypical secondary character the Harold & Kumar films are commenting on. Other than that, you can see why the writer and director have been handed the keys to the Jurassic Park franchise. Sort of.

"After all of this, my opinion that we needed to see even more films with women characters in lead roles is undiminished. In an industry which often says its desperate for new ideas, there's a whole untapped, underexplored wealth of potential stories featuring female characters outside of the usual genre expectations. Why is the attitude that we've already seen a "ballet" film when there are presumably a multiplicity of potential films in that world? Why is The Heat the only recent buddy film featuring women law enforcement? Why? Why?" [With a quick side note that it was between this and Joe Swanberg's Drinking Buddies but this only won because of the ending...]

Inside Llewyn Davis

"Where to begin. At the top, I suppose, with my film of the week for a change. Inside Llewyn Davis is a bit of an atypical Coen brothers film in that sight unseen I'm not sure you could finger the Coens for it. Perhaps because they're utilising a different cinematographer than usual, Bruno Delbonnel in for Roger Deakins, there's less of a sense of artifice, greater reality, which is odd, because Delbonnel's CV which includes working with Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Tim Burton is all about artifice. But in capturing the folk scene in 1961 New York, in the gap between Woodie Guthrie and Bob Dylan, there's a very rich sense of place, of everything being lived in, importantly of the film almost having fallen through time having originated in the 1970s in the era of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls. Delbonnel's key image, the cover of Bob Dylan's The Freewheelin', sweats through every pour.

"The Coens are the kind of directors for whom half of the job is done when selecting the cast. But this is an occasion when a star emerges and there's Oscar Isaacs suddenly burning, after a string of relatively faceless supporting roles (with the possible exceptions of in Robin Hood and Sucker Punch) hoofing around with the charm of the young Pacinos, Goulds and Hoffmans, owning the screen, out compelling even John Goodman in the scenes when Goodman should be in ascendancy. Not only can he sing, but his adeptness in physical comedy has elements of Tati, especially in the cat scenes. Seriously, this is one of those occasions, like Renner in The Hurt Locker when we're in the presence of a star of the old school and want to see everything else they do. Presumably Kevin Feige already has him on speed dial to play Steve Strange. Actually, that would be *amazing*.

"But the whole thing is delightful. There's Justin Timberlake who's also fast become an acting favourite happy to fade into the background as the more successful mirror to Isaac's character's hopelessness. Carey Mulligan sings! Notice how she and Michelle Williams are quite neatly both managing to have a career in roles which they must both surely be considered for, though it's true that Mulligan just has the edge at the moment. Hopefully they can continue and unlike Renee Zellwegger and Joey Lauren Adams they don't end up cancelling each other out. Plus the music is glorious and it's well worth tracking down the Inside Inside Llewyn Davis documentary for the footage of the pre-recording sessions which look like they were a collaborative hoot (though the music in the film was recorded live). About the only criticism is that it ends."

Sketches of Frank Gehry

"Sketches of Frank Gehry is the late Sydney Pollack's fascinating investigation into the architect's working methods which funnily enough has a similar structure to the fashion film but has the bonus of featuring people with something interesting to say about their subject. Gehry was a fairly middle of the road architect until his decided to take a risk in his mid-sixties and revolutionised the business. There's a lesson for all of us in that."


"Her is a difficult film to watch in isolation if you've any idea of its history. Apart from its similarities to Electric Dreams (of which this is, as I suspected, essentially updated homage with Miles in love with the computer rather than his neighbour) but the fact that Samantha Morton, present throughout shooting was replaced with Scarlett Johansson. It's to Spike Jonze's fantasy romance and Johansson's credit that I did eventually manage to largely put this to one side, but there were still moments when I thought, how would Morton have played this? What the Morton line like that Joaquin Phoenix is reacting to here? What did Morton not do that Johansson is? Was it simply that Johansson's the bigger name and they were looking for a wider audience, was this a studio decision?"


"Boyhood is one of the greatest films of all time. Within six months to a year, articles will appear in film journals. Within ten years it'll appear relatively high in the Sight and Sound film poll and within twenty it'll be in the top ten. Along with Gravity, it's a demonstration of how every generation is still capable of producing works as thoughtful and mighty as Citizen Kane, Sunrise, La Règle du jeu or Tokyo Story, that in these moments when it seems that film has plateaued or become stagnant, that there will always be a work can stand amongst the greats. If you've not seen it yet, go now before it disappears from cinemas so that in years to come when you're talking about it you can say you saw it at an auditorium on release rather than streamed it. Or indeed go because it also feels like the final celebration of celluloid, the last gasp of a medium which as the filmmakers explain became increasingly difficult to shoot on as the project proceeded.

"What will those film essays consider? Most filmmakers change their style somewhat over time, especially directors as industrious as Linklater so we could ask about the extent to which that impacted on the creative decisions he made during shooting. Is it possible to see his own creativity develop and change across the film along with his characters or is the resulting work different to how it might have been when he started out? What about the element of nostalgia or as Linklater has himself identified in interviews the way in which he was shooting a kind of contemporary period piece knowing full well that what was cutting edge technology would seem archaic by the time the film was released. As he also says, the ambience of society hasn't changed as much in these twelve years as it did between, for example the late 60s and the early 80s, the same period in years as his work on this has.

"The film's production began at the same time as this blog. I think of this blog as an ageing relic sometimes, so what must it have been like for the Linklater to edit this film? What of the cast, who hadn't seen any of what was shot before it had been put together, not least Ellar Coltrane who was apparently entirely discombobulated by the experience of seeing the six year old version of him acting for the first time. The film's big achievement, I think, is that it's constantly possible to forget the effort and simply enjoy the result even if sometimes it is possible to guess which other project Ethan Hawke was working on depending on the extent of his facial hair and girth. There's also the clever Harry Potter element in which he acknowledges the kinship with that other film series which shows young actors growing with their parts. But the intents have been different, Linklater's level of creative will greater."


It's going to be quite strange watching films now know I won't have to have an opinion of them by the end of the week unless its something I really want to write about, which is lucky considering what my lunchtime viewing was.  If I had to do a top five, it would be Boyhood, Stories We Tell, Guardians of the Galaxy, Edge of Tomorrow and Celeste and Jesse Forever, which is silly and strange since it doesn't include Under The Skin or Tracks or any of the sixty-nine other items I originally decided I'd liked enough to put on this list.  In sum, when I'm not watching the usual genre, I seem to favour films with female protagonists or by women filmmakers or both which is often because they're more likely to show me something I haven't seen before.  More of that please.

Now, wasn't that interesting?

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