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Sunday, 29 December 2013

We Ain't Them


One slightly frequent post after another, woah. I'm just trying to full up on my backlog of written thoughts on the films that I've seen. Some of these I saw a couple of weeks ago, others only recently. This post would have gone up earlier if it weren't for two things: work and Brooklyn Nine Nine.

Worked all week (including Christmas and Boxing Day) and got my entire week mixed up. Was messaging a friend thinking that I had plans on the weekend when it turned out I was already in the weekend. Oops.


Anyways, this is usually the best time to draw up a list of top films I saw that I super enjoyed this year but like last year, I'll just say that the two defining films of 2013, for me, were Fruitvale Station and Spring Breakers.

As I said previously, Fruitvale Station made me a completely emotional wreck due to its powerfully tragic story of the wrongful killing of Oscar Grant. As for Spring Breakers, it was surprisingly the most original film I saw this year (original in the sense that nothing else I saw this year in cinemas even came close to tapping into the energy that the film had, making it incomparable and in a league of its own). I'm as surprised as anyone that Spring Breakers is among my top favourites of 2013. Thoughts on each film contained in corresponding links.


Oh yeah, Brooklyn Nine Nine is a show I've started watching too. Currently, it's on mid-season break so I was able to catch up on all the current episodes available (as a new show, it's still in its first season so it was pretty easy to play catch up).

Essentially about a police unit based in Brooklyn, New York and their everyday work. First few episodes were a bit hit and miss for me - some jokes were great, others fell flat. Andy Samberg's appeal is still a mystery to me and though I was irritated by his man-child detective in the beginning, he's started to come round to me. It wasn't til their Thanksgiving-themed episode that I really started enjoying the show.

I've also noticed that a lot of sitcoms don't really begin to find their feet and understand their characters until a holiday-themed episode comes around (Community being a perfect example, I reckon.) Enjoying the show, despite a few flaws, and going to continue with it (also Terry Crews so ya know, selling point).

Now I'm either going to have to start watching House of Cards or Orphan Black - both new shows that began airing in 2013 (or in House of Cards' case, streaming). Man, I still need to play catch up on shows like Boardwalk Empire and Homeland. Boo.


In case you may have missed it, my full review of Kim Ki-duk's The Bow can be found over at Modern Korean Cinema. I've still got plenty of Kim's films to delve into; this is gonna take some time.


PEPPERMINT CANDY: Like Beijing Bicycle, I feel that Peppermint Candy is best appreciated if one has a good knowledge of the country's history. History notwithstanding, Peppermint Candy is an important film in Korean cinema. Long before Memento and Irreversible, Lee Chang-dong tactfully utilised the backwards narrative to expose the multiple identities of South Korea through a troubled (and that’s putting it lightly!) man. Another great film for Lee, though personally speaking, Peppermint Candy isn’t as absorbing as his later works.


OASIS: Oasis is without a doubt the one of the most forthright and honest film potrayals of a handicapped person I’ve ever seen. A romantic drama in only the way that Lee Chang-dong could have made, Oasis is one of the best Korean films I’ve had the pleasure of watching and between this and Secret Sunshine, it’s hard for me to determine which I love more. Warm, sincere and effective, Oasis is truly a magnificent film to behold. Can't recommend it enough.


POETRY: Poetry is another great film in Lee Chang-dong’s near-perfect assemblage of films. Lee’s heroines are written so well and, for such understated works, his films are so commanding and arresting. While his previous films have certainly been ambitious to a degree, Poetry feels like as though it has the most threads as far as its story is concerned. Where lesser directors would lose control of other subplots, Lee ties everything up wonderfully, the sign of a master at work both in his direction and his writing. Sublime filmmaking.


THREE KINGS: Though it may feel like a Michael Bay film at times, Three Kings is super energetic and fun though it does lose a bit of this when the film becomes more serious in the later portions of the film. Mark Whalberg and George Clooney are also two guys I'm starting to come around to as well. A well-intentioned dose of satire and social commentary earmark the film just for good measure though I can't help but feel that Rockstar Games borrowed a few cues here and there from this film for their recent juggernaut, Grand Theft Auto V.


ONLY GOD FORGIVES: Ryan Gosling plays the brooding quiet type again in Nicolas Winding Refn's latest but there wasn't much about Only God Forgives that I enjoyed. Aside from its immaculate visuals and nightmarish tone, I feel that a lot of the film is bogged down by some really strange editing choices with shots lingering on longer than they ought to (which results in a movie that feels longer than it actually is). Only God Forgives didn't look like it had a purpose either - and if it did I wasn't picking up on it. Disappointing when you consider Drive. Maybe another viewing will change that.


21 JUMP STREET: If it weren't for the fact that I'd been spoilt crazy thanks to Tumblr, I probably would've enjoyed 21 Jump Street a lot more. That said, I think it's a pretty solid and memorable comedy. I didn't have gut-busting laughs but it was just so consistent and fun that it didn't matter if I did. Admittedly, I'm starting to come around to Channing Tatum who kills it in this film.


CRAZY STUPID LOVE: Most of this movie is kind of dumb, let's be honest. A lot if it feels so manufactured and projects the typical Hollywood standards of romance. Weirdly plotted at times though I will admit that the massive fight between the main characters of the film felt completely earned and made the second half a little bit more enjoyable as a result (trying so hard to forget that graduation speech though, ugh). Dunno how this is so beloved, it's kinda not great.


THIS IS THE END: Yes it has a thin narrative but the concept of this film is so brilliant that it's a wonder why nobody else has tried to do something similar before. Prides itself on humour on referential and self-deprecating humour. Endlessly fun stuff. Thankfully I wasn't too spoilt by Tumblr or anything else really. Whew. Such a likable ensemble and some fantastic cameo appearances too.


PACIFIC RIM: Don't see the love for this film, to be honest. Didn't hate it but felt awfully underwhelmed given the lofty expectations that were set for it. Kinda dumb for the most part and works illogically against the rules established within its own world. For a movie that concerns itself with apocalyptic threats, there hardly seemed to be anything at stake. Eh.


THE WORLD'S END: Despite warnings of the film being overrated, I still found myself enjoying The World's End for what it was worth. It's unquestionably the most mature entry into Edgar Wright's Cornetto Trilogy which, in the end, just reminded me that I needed to see Young Adult (perhaps a good double considering how both films' main characters are habitually stuck in time). Though perhaps not nearly as focused as the other films in the trilogy, the charm of Wright's characters left me smiling. Where to go from here with Wright and company?


THE THING: Oh boy, did this film ever meet my expectations and then some. Though it may look a bit hokey by today's standards, John Carpenter's The Thing is one hell of a lesson in horror filmmaking. A staple of the genre, Carpenter understands completely how to drum up fear and paranoia, expertly using his setting to do so. At times it can be quite thrilling and fun to go along with The Thing and personally speaking, I find this film to be a lot better than Alien as far as claustrophobic alien films go. Genuinely great, really what more can be said about The Thing that hasn't already been said?

This blog has become so impersonal, ey? No photos of me or my life whatsoever, haha. This will be the last post of 2013 and to send you off into the new year is Childish Gambino with his track, 'We Ain't Them' - the title for this blog post. It's off his free 2012 mixtape, Royalty, and the beat reminds me of summer weather (but the song also has a lyric where CG wishes Community was cancelled so that he could focus on his own projects - of which there are many). Ugh, just remembered that I still have to check out his latest album, Because the Internet. Changing this now. 

Have a safe 2014, everyone. 

End post. 

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