Odds and Ends, best of 2013

This year has been a year where lots of films have found their way into my orbit, as well as some serious TV serials extravaganza (The Wire, Luther, re-watching The Sopranos). Notable films included the harsh, floating wilderness of Beasts Of The Southern Wild. This was a moving picture for me, filled with amazing performances and a sense of out-there wonder. Following the sad new of Peter O'Toole's death I had to revisit Lawrence of Arabia. It still looks like nothing else in cinema and O'Toole is imperious and beautiful as Lawrence. Michael Fassbender's droid in the almost rubbish but somehow fascinating Prometheus, pays dutiful tribute to O'Toole. I had to watch Prometheus twice to see if I'd missed something crucial. Of course I hadn't but the second viewing improved the film considerably, it has its moments.

Lawrence Of Arabia
Stinker films I caught this year were many. Nicole Kidman was in a few of them. The ludicrous and slutty The Paperboy was just so funny (if unnecessarily violent), with lots of needless subplots, what was the point of this other to cause sniggering? Ultimate snigger picture award goes to another Kidman movie Trespass. This is the most ludicrous thing I've seen for a long time. For all the wrong reasons this was fun, Nicolas Cage sleepwalking through films is somehow transfixing for me, and again, screen milf for hire Kidman does her worst. Seriously, worth a look. A stream of undeniable trash has wormed its way into my vision this year – some good, some terrible. Re-visiting Oliver Stone's JFK was wonderful and showed how under appreciated this film is (especially in its obvious influence on the look of so much modern cinema). Another Stone picture which time hasn't been so kind too was Wall Street. Mission Impossible 3, Valkyrie and Minority Report all seemed to quench that Tom Cruise itch with mixed results. I also did some Harrison Ford damage with Air Force One and his Jack Ryan potboilers.

The Paperboy
I've had a thirst for other trash this year, so I've experienced the awful Sucker Punch, a couple of Alan Moore adaptation massacres in V for Vendetta & The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I've drowned in Soderbergh's smug Ocean series but was saved by the thrilling The Rock. The Siege and The Island both were depressingly bad (though Annette Bening was okay in the former). Denzel Washington was way over the top in Training Day, whilst he fared much better in the secretly brilliant Devil In A Blue Dress. Hal Hartley's early films were re-issued and mostly remained a joy. I watched Tomb Raider and Blade for the first time, loved them unconditionally. To many other worthy pictures came and went. Top picks below.

Devil In A Blue Dress
1. The Place Beyond The Pines.
2. Lawrence Of Arabia
3. Simple Men.
4. Beasts Of The Southern Wild.
5. Prometheus.
6. Behind The Candelabra.
7. Django Unchained.
8. Devil In A Blue Dress.
9. Blade.
10. JFK.

This a list of movies I saw in 2013 and never really mentioned here (because I saw them alone or we ended up not writing a review for some reason):

Argo (2012). Don't you just love it when a little bit boring and even-featured actor grows a beard and directs and/or stars in a film that relates to the Middle East somehow? I do. Ben Affleck never really was it for me, until the other day when I saw what he would have looked like in the 1970s.

Cloud Atlas (2012). I bought the book years ago but it's still waiting on the shelf. One night recently we took a leap of faith and decided to embrace the nearly-three-hour beast with not so good reputation. It was worth it in a way, although I was annoyed by the re-incarnation idea the film put forward. My worst nightmare would be that after dying I would still not be dead (but reincarnated).

Before Midnight (2013). Originally this was to be our romantic cinema date. Then time ran out and I took a girl friend instead. Kind of luckily, because this was some heavy unromantic shit. Sometimes there can be too much realism in a movie.

The Hours (2002). This is a film I must have seen a dozen times. One evening home alone I felt like giving it yet another go – now from the new perspective of being a mother and older than the last time I cried while Ed Harris was mean to Meryl Streep. I still cried – more than before.

Trouble With The Curve (2012). I used to give a hard time to Clint Eastwood. Not anymore. I feel that he should retire and stop exercising for the sake of his heart. But if he keeps making movies, I'll keep watching them. Even if Clint now thinks that matching Justin Timberlake with Amy Adams is believable.

Shrink (2009). I secretly loved this movie. Kevin Spacey as a dope-smoking heart-broken shrink. Los Angeles. Nothing much happens except he begins to recognize his horrible sadness. Perfect for a lonely night.

Sopranos (season 1) (1999). We returned to the wonderful TV series recently. The first season is genius. Actually, I don't think that Wire comes close to the goodness of Sopranos. And time has only made the characters more poignant.

L. A. Gigolo
(or Spread) 2009. Last summer I went through a very short moment of feasting on Ashton Kutcher movies. Suddenly I understood something I had always considered dumb. There is nothing intelligent I can tell you about it.

The OH in Ohio (2006). I like Parker Posey so I found this on Netflix sometime. It very quickly became clear that this was no Hal Hartley or anything else cool and indie that Parker might involve herself with. It was simply a story of a woman going from never experiencing an orgasm to having orgasms all the time. Kind of fun.


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