Friday, December 17, 2004

AKA Year in Review: The Movies

Right, I was going for a Top Ten but, being an ornery critter, I couldn’t whittle the list down that much. So I’m going with a Top Twelve. For the sake of fairness, I have deliberately rejected any films I saw in a professional capacity. If I reviewed it elsewhere, it was immediately disqualified for inclusion.

For those with memories longer than that of your household goldfish, you will know I’ve already unveiled four of the twelve. (That would be Kill Bill Volume 2, Man on Fire, Oldboy and The Punisher).

Time to stop you from waiting any longer. Here, in absolutely no order whatsoever, are the rest of the AKA 2004 Top Twelve Movies. Have at thee!

The Cooler – I’ve discussed this film on the blog before, so I won’t repeat it all here. Nevertheless, one of the all-time great Vegas movies.

The School of Rock – I wish I had been eight-years-old when I saw this, so it could have changed my life. All family movies should be as brilliant as this. (Having said that, I wish all Jack Black and Richard Linklater movies were even half as brilliant as this.) Rockin’ good fun.

Lost in Translation – In retrospect, maybe it is a little po-faced and pretentious. But the two central performances are fantastic, and it was funny, touching and beautifully shot. People who complained that there was no story should be locked in a Karaoke Bar with their ear lobes stapled back for all eternity.

Spider-Man 2 – I’ll come clean. I was one of the only people on the planet who thought the first Spider-Man movie was a bit, well, average. Having suitably lowered my expectations for the sequel, I was absolutely thrilled with this. Stan Lee’s most famous son faces off against Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus in THE Marvel Comics movie of 2004. (Which more than compensates for the truly dreadful Blade Trinity, which managed to unleash a heavy stream of piss all over the first two movies and Wesley Snipes, whilst producing a fantastic performance by Ryan Reynolds at the same time.)

Hellboy – Ron Perlman and Guillermo Del Toro weave wonders with Mike Mignola’s creation about a demon raised by the Allies to fight-the-forces-of-evil in the wake of the Second World War. Apart from the abrupt ending, this was sweet perfection.

American Splendor – A different kind of comic-book hero. The inspiring life of loveable curmudgeon Harvey Pekar and his stubborn refusal to change his ways for anyone, whilst all the while he plugs away at his life’s work, the underground comix of the title. Paul Giamatti should have won the Best Actor Oscar for this.

Infernal Affairs – Makes Michael Mann’s Heat look like a straight-to-video cheapie knock-off. A Hong Kong crime epic that will be neutered by its forthcoming Hollywood remake. The most rich and complex crime movie since L.A. Confidential.

Dawn of the Dead – This should have been awful. A Hollywood remake of one of the most beloved cult zombie classics ever. Somehow, it worked. Replace Romero’s shambling Undead with 28 Days Later’s souped-up Infected, stick some cannon fodder in a mall, and let rip. Resplendent in all its awful beauty, and genuinely scary.

WORST FILM OF 2004: Elephant – When Gus Van Sant was being reviled for his unnecessary shot-by-shot remake of Psycho, I just shrugged. So what? It was just an art-house conceit welded onto a Hollywood classic. Superfluous? Sure. But maybe that was the point. Well, Gus, I’m not going to fight your corner anymore. This film SUCKED! A meandering, directionless meditation on Columbine, this broke the cardinal rule of cinema: it was boring. Elephant dung.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: The Incredibles, Northfork, Jersey Girl.

No comments: