Not Review 2007: Films

Film Once again this year my cinema going was random at best. As I said last year, my approach to film releases has stopped being – chronological. There have been very few films which I’ve dragged myself to the picture house to see and more often than not I’ve completely missed something. So I’d be shocked if any of the Branagh trilogy (man had three films out this year) or Two Days In Paris wouldn’t have been on this list had they actually been on in Liverpool for long enough for me to realise. Anyway, apologies in advance for the mainstreaminess of the films, and I’ve really got my work but out next year catching up on everything. Not that I’ve caught up with 2006 yet. And in case you're wondering I've included films which were released in the UK in 2007 based on this official listing.

300
Sometimes all that's needed to make a great film is Gerard Butler and pals implacably facing down demon hoards with nothing but some swords and a bit of shouting. Underneath all of that though, the film takes a very interesting theological perspective on the art of war and actually gives the ravishing Lena Headey some cogent political intrigue. Plus Xerxes!

Hallam Foe
Sometimes quirky is good, and Hallam Foe is oh so very quirky. Demonstrated to me for the first time that Jamie Bell does have the chops for an extended acting career and Sophia Myles confirmed that she’s entirely wasted currently working in an Angel knock-off for US television. It’s also one of the best looking films of the year, the night time scenes of Edinburgh by cinematographer almost worth seeing the film for on their own [full review].

A Prairie Home Companion
Perfect footnote to Robert Altman’s career with a massive improvisational cast, supernatural element and the overall sense of the end of an era – it’s almost as though he knew it would his last film. Musically it’s perfect too, weaving the same magic as Nashville in making country and western listenable [full review].

Blade Runner: The Final Cut
I’m sure there’s a rule against including rereleases in these things, but it’s not often your served with your favourite film, something you’ve seen dozens of times, in way which makes it totally new again. This cleaning and re-editing doesn’t put a foot wrong and actually deepens the experience, as well as underscoring what’s been lost as Hollywood’s shifted inexorably towards digital imagery [partial review].

Bobby
Emilio Estevez’s fictionalisation of the assassination of RFK was largely ignored or shouted at by critics even though it features some of the best performances of the year. Yes, it slackens narratively somewhat in the middle – as most of these Grand Hotel-style films tend to, but given that the writer/director actually references that earlier work right at the beginning, it’s almost as though he intended it to.

Enchanted
Very late entry, but I couldn’t not mention this really sweet and charming piece of work that I’m still thinking about days later wishing that the dvd was already available (legally). Loony Tunes: Back In Action was on television earlier and that’s a salient and humourless demonstration of how not to do this stuff (even though it features a Dalek voiced by Roy Skelton) [full review].

Hot Fuzz
Watched this again yesterday and although I still don’t think it’s as good as Shaun of the Dead, it was still the best British comedy of the year, constantly inventive and hilarious always repaying repeated viewings. I love that Somerfield agreed to let their supermarket with the film be managed by an utter murdering bastard (albeit one played by Timothy Dalton) – I can’t think of many other brands that would be that open minded.

Notes on a Scandal
The trailer for this turned out to be total disappointment. As usual we found clips from the film with jangly piano music underneath. When what it really needed was names in block capitals and exclamation marks filling the screen one after another DENCH! BLANCHETT! ONLY ONE WILL SURVIVE! Followed by a clip of sour faced old Judi and naïve Cate wrestling with one another outside the house. Yeah, that would have been nifty.

Ocean’s Thirteen
Well I thought it was good. Again the reviewers jealously described the cast as smug or detestable whilst simultaneously ignoring Soderbergh’s experimental approach to narrative, imagery and editing. Both this and Twelve are ripe for reassessment in the future and I look forward to the fall out. Roll on Fourteen frankly. I mean how can you not love a film when one of the characters has The Human League’s Don’t You Want Me as a ringtone? [full review]

Orchestra Seats
Whilst I wait for Cécile De France to accept my friend request on Facebook, I can at least watch her brightening up a small corner of Paris. This is the kind of romantic drama which the French seem to do so effortlessly but always end up feeling a little forced over here (see Born Romantic etc.). Now that I’ve been through the Proms education plan, it’d be nice to revisit it this with half the possibility I’ll understand the musical references [review].

Paris Je T’aime
Clearly I can’t get enough of films about Paris and here were a couple of dozen of them. Why should it be unsurprising that most of the contributing directors managed to produce some of the their best work in years given the tiny and focused running time? Apparently the plan was to make this even more of a hyperlink-lite work, with the various characters interacting more closely – I suspect that would have spoilt it though – this film is about showing a collection of unconnected visions of one city [review].

Sicko

I was watching Bowling for Columbine the other day, and in between bothering Moses, Moore offers some suggestions as to why the US has the highest number of gun related deaths and already he was comparing the health system of his own country with Canada and its almost as though you can see him test out a few ideas for this later film. These films are not isolated collections of anger but a sustained attack [full review].

Sunshine
If ever there was a film that deserved to be made in IMAX. Some hated the ending because it seemed to throw out the more thoughtful elements of the film out in favour of a good old fight to the death, but throughout this straddles the sub-genres and although it’s clearly at its most comfortable when exploring the Sol imagery it wouldn’t nearly be as watchable were it not for the crew [full review].

The Bourne Ultimatum
Magnificent, majestic and obviously the best action film of the year. Die Hard 4.0 was good fun, but it simply lacked the emotional character beats and understanding of how they can drive a plot forward, that contrivances are not always the only option. I’m still reeling from the realisation that the first two thirds of the thing happen in the closing moments of Supremecy. It takes a really gutsy bunch of filmmakers to try something like that and pull it off [review].

The Last King of Scotland
Forrest Whitaker seems to live two lives. In one he’s the director of fairly anodyne chick flicks like Hope Floats, Waiting To Exhale and First Daughter – he might even help his landlady out with her garbage. In the other he plays, crooks and charlatans and African dictators demonstrating what a job of acting his turn as Idi Amin actually was. It’s one of those rare occasions when a man looking through a television screen actually makes you take a step back because you think he might kill you.

Water
Taking two whole years to be released in this country, this Oscar-nominated film which you’ve probably never seen looked at how we really do need to balance how religious and cultural ideas effect human freedom. Why should the life of a seven year old be mapped out because a fated husband she’s never met dies? A truly courageous and surprising piece of film making that deserves to be seen by everyone [old review].

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