Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Month: Films of December 2011

Happy New Year, guys! I wish all of you the best for 2012, cheers to a bunch of good new films, the upcoming award season, joy and happiness - and everything else!

Before I start looking at the film-year as a whole, I put some words together on the surprisingly not-so-few film experiences I've had last December.

Sadly, there's only one Indian film on the list, but I'm planning on catching up with the 2011-releases as soon as possible. More to that later.

Watched for the very first time:

Sita Sings the Blues (2008) Nina Paley - USA
The Ramayana how I would've made it. Without having read the whole original text, I hope I have the right to say that in my opinion, Nina Paley included a remarkable variety of aspects of this ancient holy text - and that seemingly effortless, with a lot of humor and especially a lot of creativity.
The songs that surprisingly turned out to be Old Hollywood style, were just my thing, too, even though after a while they all sounded the same.
This movie can be seen for free legally - check it out whenever you have the time: link.
Rating: 8.0

Vicky Christina Barcelona (2008) Woody Allen - USA/ Spain
I have a hope that I'm not the only crazy person out there who buys loads of DVDs and then watches the oldest buys last? However, I had this Woody-Allen DVD-Box that I got really cheap, and I felt the time had come to finally watch this (I have a friend who is totally in love with it... mostly due to Javier Bardem though).
And what is my conclusion? Well... it's nice. Nothing more, nothing less. Flirty, light, entertaining - and it has a dash of philosophy.
Rating: 7.4

Cassandra's Dream (2007) Woody Allen - USA/ UK
Obviously the second DVD in that Box, which turned out to be disappointing by most means. Too much dialogue, too little music (you've got to admit it; a good movie needs a good soundtrack... or at least a soundtrack at all), and the actors weren't the best, really. I did like Hayley Atwell, as always, but especially Ewan McGregor did not live up to my expectations. The plot, however, was intriguing and would've deserved a better outcome.
Rating: 5.8

Efter Brylluppet (2006) Susanne Bier - Denmark
The last of my "old" DVDs was actually the best - and the saddest, too. I'd never even dreamed of hearing Mads Mikkelsen speak Hindi. It came as a pleasant surprise.
Everything in this film is top-notch, and my admiration of Susanne Bier is growing.
Rating: 8.4

Shichinin No Samurai (1954) Akira Kurosawa - Japan
Considered to be one of the best films ever made by a majority of film-lovers, the Seven Samurais somehow failed to truly impress me.
It was ahead of its time, a trend-setter that includes a gripping soundtrack, great performances and impressive technical achievements for its time, all of this has surely been said and written before. I agree with all of this. However, I do not understand why one would exclude not just important female characters, but also almost ignore the entire sex, except for one essential "beauty". Or let's put it differently; I understand that at the time women weren't "important" and... you didn't/ don't need female characters to produce an entertaining and possibly "good" film. But that's only theoretically speaking. Unless you have a situation that really cannot include female characters, as is the case with Das Boot, I don't think there are any excuses to exclude them - there is always a way.
And furthermore I think the film was too long. You are allowed to judge me - "nowadays people don't have the patience anymore", "everybody just wants action all the time" and so on. I just want to say that I have enjoyed 3h+ films, but you have to know where the limit is. Some films are able to pull of more than 3, or let's say 2,5 hours, others aren't.
Rating: 7.2

Pyaar Ka Punchnama (2011) Luv Ranjan - India
Remember my weekly post in which I mentioned this one? I just re-read it.
It's funny, but what I wrote was actually spot-on! This film is neither truly funny, nor truly embarrassing. Both the men and the women are kind of horrible. But it's still fun, in a way.
If it wouldn't have been the only Hindi film (except for Double Dhamaal) available to watch on the overseas flight, I wouldn't have watched it, I guess.
Rating: 6.5

La Guerre est Déclarée (2011) Valérie Donzelli - France
A situation that occurs far too rarely, and that I truly love: eventually deciding to watch a film that you know nothing about, just because it "kinda looks good" - and in the end finding it to good to be true.
I am so happy that I watched this film, and as far as I can judge, this is already a sure-to-be Oscar nominee. Well, if anybody has seen it. I hope you're getting my hint.
Rating: 8.4

Submarine (2010/11) Richard Ayoade - UK/ USA
Better than some other people had made me expect it to be. Many claimed that it was just a remix of various classic coming-of-age films, which may be true, because I haven't seen many of those yet.
I liked it.
Rating: 7.2 (Yes, it looks like this one gets the same rating as Seven Samurai... please don't kill me!)

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) Rupert Wyatt - USA
Even though it had James Franco (who isn't that attractive in this one though, I wonder why), Freida Pinto and Tom Felton (extremely disappointing performance), and most people loved it, I wasn't that impressed. Actually, I fell asleep at the end, and my sister almost killed me for that. Why didn't I love this film? I really don't know. Maybe the reason is simply because I had already watched four films and traveled for about 7-8 hours. I should re-watch it.
Rating: 7.1

John Tucker Must Die (2006) Betty Thomas - USA
A surprisingly good teenage comedy, I mean for the genre it was better than I had expected. We don't get films like this one that often anymore, I feel.
Rating: 6.4

The Bucket List (2007) Rob Reiner - USA
Interesting; the director appeared in both the Hannah Montana and Wizards of Waverly Place Disney series. Well, most of you probably don't know them anyway, and I shouldn't either, but... I think that's interesting.
Anyhow... half way through the movie I realized I had seen it already some years ago. Still, it's very sweet.
Rating: 7.5

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008) Peter Sollett - USA
WHAT THE H... F... ahm...
What??? For one year or more now, I have been thinking that Michael Cera and Jesse Eisenberg are the same person! Hahha... hahahahaha... I'm the most stupid person on this earth... Oh my God. This is so embarrassing. Well, now I have two actors I like instead of one. That's nice.
Yeah... getting over the shock...
I liked this film. Really liked it. It's a very nice love story, that is incredibly youthful and even though unrealistic at parts, it is also strongly authentic in others. I loved the chemistry between the two leads - and, of course, the soundtrack.
Rating: 8.4

Happythankyoumoreplease (2010) Josh Radnor - USA
Now, I know that I really wanted to like this film, and that the possibility I wouldn't like it was tiny. Let's face it: Josh Radnor directed it, and if you like How I Met Your Mother you will know what I'm talking about. That guy is just too sympathetic.
His movie too. Technically, there are too many stories in it and one might say he's trying too hard, but I just love this film as much as I had expected. After finishing it, this was exactly what I though: "Happy - thank you - more please!"
Rating: 8.2

Horrible Bosses (2011) Seth Gordon - USA
Better than I'd thought, reminded me of The Hangover. At least it was much better than that sequel.
Rating: 7.3

Super 8 (2011) J. J. Abrams - USA
People can tell you how much they love something, but until you watch it (mostly) it doesn't really matter - you don't know whether you'll love it or hate it in the end.
People told me that Super 8 was good, and even more convincingly, other ones told me that Elle Fanning is amazing. Both things are true, and even though you think you know now, you do not except you've seen it - so everyone who hasn't; get up and do it.
Rating: 7.6

The Help (2011) Tate Taylor - USA
There were two films I absolutely had to watch on the plane before falling into the sleep I needed so bad - this one, and the following. Especially this one, a frequent 2011-favorite already.
Even though I she deserved a better hair-do, Emma Stone was wonderful, just like everyone else in this witty tale of race equality. My favorite though, was Jessica Chastain - I just love that woman. Actually I never realized it was her, until I saw the credits - one must keep in mind though, how tired I was.
What I really love about this film is that it's not depressing but very amusing, and nevertheless shocking and inspiring.
Rating: 8.4

Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011) Glenn Ficarra & John Requa - USA
Remember what I just said about Super 8 and Elle Fanning? It also applies to Ryan Gosling.
My God, nobody could ever explain to you just how attractive this man is... and how good an actor! At the beginning, I just thought well, this is a typical role, right? And a typical "sexy" but boring actor-type. But he did surprise me - as did the film. We all know about the difficulties of the genre, so kudos to the makers of the latest white hope for romantic comedies.
Rating: 7.4

Re-watched with the purpose of intense examination:

Little Lord Fauntleroy (1980) Jack Gold - UK
I don't know if this is a true Christmas classic, but in our family we watch it every year, it's a true tradition. And I love it every time. Kind of.
Rating: 7.0

Amount of films I've watched this month: 18


  1. Yay, you're back! Happy new year!
    Of your films, I've seen Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Rebecca Hall was lovely, but I didn't like it that much), Submarine (one of my favourite films of the year - I love a bit of quirk), Rise of the Planet of the Apes (loved it!), John Tucker Must Die (watched it ages was okay), The Bucket List (meh), Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (from what I remember, it was quite cool), Happythankyoumoreplease (I really liked it - I thought Kate Mara was beautiful, too), Horrible Bosses (my favourite comedy of the year), Super 8 (so Spielberg), The Help (cried so much during it!), and Crazy Stupid Love (so much fun).
    Anyway, can't wait to see what you have in store for 2012!

  2. You´re back! Awesome! Have not seen a single one of those films, jsut wanted to say Happy new year 2012!! :D

  3. Ok, this is what I say 'You have better opinion of Indian Cinema than most of us Indians'. I never would have seen Pyar Ka Punchnama even when it was the only Hindi movie in the list. It sucks big time.

    Others from your list, I have seen quite many and I have to agree with most of your ratings except off course Seven Samurai, because it is epic.

    And about Cera and Eisenberg, I used to think that as well. I dont know about others but I also confuse Harrison Ford with Richard Gere and Mickey Rourke with Jeff Bridges and so on. :)

    Happy New Year !!

  4. Welcome back! You saw some good ones recently. After the wedding is so powerful, in MY secret top 100 , ha ha ( :

    Submarine, as with Drive, I prefer the soundtrack over the movie.

    I agree about Happythankyoumoreplease, its in my top 10 films from 2011.

    I must see The Help, hopefully soon!

    Happy New Year

  5. Stevee - Thanks and same to you! Wow, you've actually seen many of these. Actually, I first heard about The Help on your blog, and because of your review I had to see it.

    Gaja - Haha, thank you and of course same to you :).

    SDG - Yeah, Mickey Rourke and Jeff Bridges... I don't confuse Ford and Gere though, because I like the latter a lot more.
    About Pyaar Ka Punchnama... it does, doesn't it? But I just thought, this is my last opportunity to watch a maybe at least decent Hindi film this year, so I did it.

    Chris - Thanks, I'd like to keep it that way. I really don't know where some of the crap I sometimes watch comes from.
    After the wedding will surely be in my updated top 100, but that'll have to wait a while.
    Oh, I can't wait to see Drive...

    Is it legit to include an "official" 2010 film that released in 2011 in a top 10 2011 list? I wonder... because then this one would be in mine too.

    Happy New Year.

  6. It is great to see you back Mette. Looks like you were able to see a lot of movies on your holidays. I've only seen a few of these.

    Vicky Christina Barcelona was alright, I liked the locations and the cast but no matter how hard I try, I'm just not a Woody Allen fan.

    You know I tend to agree with you about the length of Seven Samurai, it does seem to drag a bit in parts. But not the rating, it is still an excellent film in many ways.

    I haven't seen La Guerre est Déclarée yet, hopefully I can track it down before the nominees are announced.

    Submarine was just so-so for me, and like Chris I enjoyed the soundtrack more than the movie.

    Happy New Year!

  7. Bonjour Tristesse - Thanks! I hope you'll find a way to watch La Guerre est Declarée.

  8. I actually liked Pyaar Ka Punchnama, it was a bit different. The character Liquid stood out (in a good way!).

    I haven't seen many English films lately as I have so many Hindi films to watch. These days I look forward to reviewing films more than actually watching them!

    Check out my review of Pyaar Ka Punchnama Mette!

  9. The Bolly Hood - I'll do that, I'm curious what parts you liked. Don't remember which one was Liquid, though.
    My problem with watching new Hindi films is that I have to buy them myself if I want to watch new ones, if not watch them online, which I feel kinda bad about... I'll write a post on that soon, by the way.

  10. Liquid was the geek with the glasses and the foul mouth! (I take a look at what film he could make after Pyaar Ka Punchnama in my review...)

  11. I don't like too many Woody Allen movies, but I really enjoyed Vicky Christina Barcelona. Allen does have a way of taking people for a voyage in his films.

  12. Max - I've seen four of his films until now, and I liked three and loved two of them (Match Point & Midnight in Paris). They say he's made some quite poor films too though, which I believe after seeing Cassandra's Dream. However, until now I generally like his films.


Let the discussion begin!