Posted in Film

My year in film: January – February 2013

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Shall we get some nachos?

Watching a film on a rainy Sunday afternoon while pigging out on snack food is definitely one of my favourite things. This post kicks off a new series charting my trips to the local multiplex through 2013.

1st January: Pitch Perfect. An excellent feel-good film for New Year’s Day. I don’t watch hit US TV show Glee but suspect Pitch Perfect might be Glee‘s future college roommate. Reluctant fresher/aspiring DJ Beca (Anna Kendrick) tries to give an all-girl campus singing group a much-needed musical update. I defy you not to sing along during the final mash-up.

13th January: Quartet. Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut set in a bucolic English retirement home for former musicians. The residents’ annual concert seems in jeopardy when Jean Horton (Maggie Smith) – the fourth member of a renowned quartet – moves in and the cosy lives of  the other three singers start to unravel. Smith can pretty much play a crotchety old diva in her sleep; the standout performance has to be Pauline Collins as befuddled Cissy. A charming film in much the same vein as 2012’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Stay for the closing credits to find out more about the supporting cast, who are all bona fide musicians.

20th January: Les Misérables. One of my all-time favourite musicals gets the big-screen treatment care of King’s Speech director, Tom Hooper. I’ve been literally hopping with excitement ever since I first saw the trailer for this film and it doesn’t disappoint. The score is sung live, so the performances are raw and more emotional than they might be on stage. Anne Hathaway has carted off all the silverware for her brief appearance as Fantine. However, Hugh Jackman is well cast as Jean Valjean, Eddie Redmayne makes a surprisingly good Marius and Russell Crowe edges Javert out of pantomime villain territory. If you’ve seen the show, you’ll most likely love this adaptation. But don’t think you have to be a fan of musical theatre to enjoy Les Mis; the narrative themes are sufficiently epic to capture most imaginations. Be prepared to cry a little (or even a lot).

27th January: Lincoln. Daniel Day-Lewis deserves all the plaudits for his portrayal of US president Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s examination of the battle to abolish slavery. Unfortunately, the political machinations surrounding the signing of the thirteen amendment move along at a snail’s pace and the film is far too long. One for the history buffs.

3rd February: Flight. In the face of catastrophic mechanical failure, pilot Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) manages to crash-land a commercial flight with minimal loss of life. Initially hailed a hero, attitudes towards him soon change when it comes to light that he was flying under the influence. Washington is great in the lead role but British actress Kelly Reilly really caught my attention as Whitaker’s sort of saviour, drug-addict Nicole.

10th February: I Give it a Year. A back-to-front rom com. The main protagonists (Rafe Spall and Rose Bryne) get together during the opening credits. The audience then spends the next 97 minutes willing them to break up. I wanted this film to be so much better but in the end there’s not much rom and not much com. Minnie Driver and Olivia Colman get the few laughs on offer; good old London Town steals every scene.

12th February: Warm Bodies. A film that proves romance isn’t dead. Hanging out with his peers at an abandoned airport, zombie R (Nicholas Hoult) is an introspective creature and a bit of a misfit. When he encounters full-of-life Julie (Teresa Palmer), R feels the sudden urge to protect her from his flesh-chomping companions and, with it, an unexpected beating of his heart. Could this be the stirrings of lost humanity? R’s internal monologue is hilarious as he ponders the day-to-day life of a zombie and tries to second guess what a human might say or do in any given situation (“nailed it!”) A rom com with heart (and other body parts).

20th February: A Good Day to Die Hard. Switch your brain to autopilot: Bruce Willis is back as maverick cop John McClane. And with his son Jack (Jai Courtney) in tow. Daft plot, old-school Russian baddies, nifty one-liners and lots of stuff blowing up. Seriously, what’s not to like?

22nd February: Song for Marion. Quartet has a lot going for it but Song for Marion easily wins my vote in the head-to-head battle of the singing seniors. In a musical journey of self-discovery, grumpy old git Arthur (Terence Stamp) is coerced into joining a local pensioners’ choir after the death of his wife, Marion (Vanessa Redgrave). Butting heads with his son (Christopher Eccleston), it falls to chirpy young music teacher Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton) to get Arthur back on track. Song for Marion is a simple and not exactly ground-breaking story (think along the lines of 1996 Brit flick Brassed Off) but the characters, and the situations that they find themselves in, seem genuine. If you don’t cry during at least one of the musical numbers, then there must be something wrong with you.

26th February: This is 40. A film written and directed by Judd Apatow, that stars Mrs Apatow (Leslie Mann) and both of the Apatow kidlets (Maude and Iris), This is 40 really is a family affair. Luckily, all those Apatows are balanced out by the presence of Paul Rudd, one of my favourite American comedy actors. This is 40 is billed as a kind of sequel to Apatow’s 2007 film Knocked Up. Married couple Pete (Rudd) and Debbie (Mann) hit a big old mid-life crisis on the eve of their fortieth birthdays. Not so funny for them but very funny for us. Catch an extended outtake featuring Melissa McCarthy during the closing credits – a stream-of consciousness rant that has all of the other actors corpsing.

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Prone to magpie tendencies, I enjoy nothing more than musing – in pictures and in words – on a few of my favourite things.

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