2010: 52 weeks & 52 movies

Scene from A Single Man
In my quest to watch 52 films during 2010 I’ve had some catching up to do to reach my target. I’ve watched a number of movies during the holiday period to make up lost ground. Usually I have the luxury of time to devote an entire post to each film – but I want to wrap this up quickly so today includes a number of short reviews.


Revolutionary Road

Scene from Revolutionary Road
In short this film is a very accomplished movie based around a not entirely nice story of a couple in the ‘50s struggling to come to terms with their personal problems after seven years of marriage.

Watching the film, I felt like I was willing things to go right for Frank Wheeler (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his wife, April (Kate Winslet), hoping that a happy ending was just around the corner. In truth, both characters are to blame for taking actions that result in the couple failing to realise their dreams.

In truth, both characters are to blame for taking actions that result in the couple failing to realise their dreams.

Sam Mendes directs the film and touches of American Beauty (the award winning movie Mendes directed from 1999), in particular the feel of the score, are evident in this piece of work. DiCaprio and Winslet give great performances in this film and have great on-screen chemistry. Although you might find the topic and storyline a little draining, it’s worth watching Revolutionary Road to see the quality of acting from Dicaprio and Winslet.

Rating: 3.5/5


Toy Story 3

Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story 3
As we all know, and if you don’t – you really should, the 1995 release of Toy Story was a ground-breaking theatrical release. The phenomenal world-wide success of Toy Story paved the way for so many other CGI animated movies and franchises such as Shrek, Ice Age and many more collaborations between Pixar and Disney in the shape of The Incredibles, Monsters Inc, Cars etc.

The 1999 sequel Toy Story 2 was, to me, a bit of a let down. Apart from the amazing opening sequence featuring Buzz Lightyear and the emotional ‘Jessie’s Song’, Toy Story 2 failed to live up to what Toy Story achieved.

…Toy Story 2 failed to live up to what Toy Story achieved.

Happily, Toy Story 3 is a return to form, and I might even go so far as to say it’s the best of all three! It’s beautifully animated, totally engaging and, as with so many Pixar/Disney films – it knows exactly how to push your emotional buttons. Let’s just say you might want to have some tissues at the ready to wipe away an odd tear or two from your eyes come the end of the movie.

Highlights for me were the introduction of a number of new characters without them feeling forced or leaving little time to develop their characters. Ken (from Barbie and Ken) in particular was an excellent inclusion with his camp, vain and cheesy personality. As was the idea to have the factory settings of Buzz changed to Spanish – a comic triumph!

Rating: 3/5


The International

Scene from The International
I managed to watch this film while on my holidays in the US. A ‘better-than-average’ thriller based around Interpol Agent Louis Salinger (Clive Owen) and Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts) attempting to expose one of the world’s most powerful banks and their part in an international arms dealing ring.

I’ve not seen many Clive Owen films but he performs pretty well on the big screen and has just enough mood about him to carry the film. Playing the role of Salinger, an ex British cop with a dark history, he eventually finds that the only way to bring justice to the bank is to break the law and become a criminal himself.

…what I found great about this film is the amount of times the music stopped.

The film features the locations of Berlin, Milan, New York and Istanbul and is well directed by Tom Tykwer – keeping the pace and intensity throughout. The score adds what it needs to proceedings but what I found great about this film is the amount of times the music stopped. The silence really added to the suspense of the movie and was something that really stood out to me.

One final note is that towards the end of the film is a fantastic scene at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Quite breath-taking and very intense. Seriously – it’s worth watching the movie for that alone.

Rating: 3/5


Lost in Translation

Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson
Watching films on a small screen in an aeroplane is never an ideal situation. However, I had this film recorded on my old Freeview box for some time and hadn’t got around to watching it. While flicking through the options on the plane I decided that now was the time.

Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is an American film actor with the best of his career behind him. He’s visiting Tokyo on business – shooting a commercial to publicise a whisky brand. Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) is a recently married young wife and in Tokyo with her husband a professional photographer shooting on location. The two form an unlikely friendship when Bob isn’t working and Charlotte’s husband is. Both suffer from not being able to sleep and the isolation of being in a country and culture where everything in ‘Lost in Translation’.

Sofia Coppola directs the movie and there is a lovely gentle pace about it. There’s no rush for things to develop un-naturally and luckily the acting skill of Murray and Johansson allow for this – not once did I feel bored or that nothing was happening. Some of the cinematography is great and really shows not only the beauty and diversity of Tokyo, but also the isolation the two characters are experiencing when alone.

Some of the cinematography is great and really shows not only the beauty and diversity of Tokyo, but also the isolation the two characters are experiencing when alone.

The relationship between Bob and Charlotte never materialises into anything sexual. The fact that Bob is distant from his wife and children both emotionally and physically, and that Charlotte seems lonely in her marriage might lead you to believe that an affair between the two of them is inevitable. But eventually, although the two build a strong bond during their time together, Bob has to return home and he is left with the difficult decision of how to leave things with Charlotte.

In a very ‘talked-about-at-the-time’ sequence Bob leaves the hotel for the airport only to see Charlotte walking down a busy street. He stops the car and runs to catch up with her. They kiss and Bob then whispers something in Charlotte’s ear. It is never clear what is said – though it has been widely speculated. I prefer not to know and like that you can fill in the words for yourself.

Rating: 3.5/5


The list

In alphabetical order:

No. Film Rating
1 21 2
2 500 Days of Summer 3.5
3 Alice in Wonderland (2010) 3.5
4 American Splendor 2
5 Anvil: The Story of Anvil 3.5
6 A Single Man 4.5
7 Assault on Precinct 13 (2005) 2
8 Avatar 4
9 Battle Royale 2 2
10 Changling 4
11 Chloe 3.5
12 Clash of the Titans 2
13 Daybreakers 2
14 Extract 3
15 Fame (2009) 2
16 Fanboys 1.5
17 Frost – Nixon 3.5
18 Ghost Town 3
19 Harry Brown 4
20 Invincible 2.5
21 Iron Man 2 2.5
22 Kick Ass 4
23 Knight & Day 2
24 Kung-Fu Hustle 3
25 La Antenna 1.5
26 Law Abiding Citizen 3
27 Lost in Translation 3.5
28 Metropolis 4
29 Monster 3.5
30 Moon 3.5
31 Nine 1
32 Paranormal Activity 3
33 Revolutionary Road 3.5
34 Romeo & Juliet 3.5
35 Salt 2.5
36 Sherlock Holmes 4
37 The A-Team 3.5
38 The Blind Side 3
39 The Damned United 4
40 The Fourth Kind 2.5
41 The Ghost Writer (Ghost) 1.5
42 The International 3
43 The Island 3.5
44 The Proposal 2
45 The Sentinel 3
46 The Ugly Truth 2.5
47 The Wolfman 2.5
48 Toy Story 3 3
49 Up in the Air 4.5
50 When in Rome 2
51 Zac & Miri Make a Porno 3.5
52 Zombieland 2.5
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