I watched a fair few films this year, but with the exception of Les Miserables, I never got round to writing about them. I mostly felt like I didn’t have enough to say to be worth a post, so I decided to collect a few together as mini reviews.
“A team of explorers travel through a wormhole in space in an attempt to ensure humanity’s survival” (IMDB). I love films that leave me thinking about them afterwards, and Christopher Nolan is a pro at making that kind of film – I loved Memento and Inception too. Interstellar can be a little bleak at times, and requires a certain amount of suspension of belief, but is a great story brought to life by great acting and breathtaking imagery.
I’d heard this film mentioned a lot because it was a favourite at the awards ceremonies, but I had no idea what it was about until I picked it up for £3 at the supermarket. I certainly got my money’s worth! It’s a funny, touching and thoughtful story that combines mental health problems, friendship, love, family, ballroom dancing and American football. A new favourite that I’m sure I’ll watch again and again.
I spent 10 years of my life as a German student, so I’ve seen my fair share of documentaries on German history, both the over-dramatised and the dry. This one is just right – it’s cinematic enough to immerse you, but still carefully accurate and unbiased. Bruno Ganz is superb as Adolf Hitler, but every character is spot-on and no detail seems unnecessary.
I haven’t seen the finale of The Hunger Games series yet, but got ready with a marathon of the first three. I read the books and thought they were fantastic, but had actually only seen the first film in the cinema so far, so it was nice to catch up on the whole story. I think they’ve done a really good job of translating these to the screen, and I appreciate that they’ve made the romantic side of things more subtle. In particular, I find Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of Katniss more relatable, because she just seems uncomfortable with all the attention, whereas in the books she struck me as a little bit bratty at times.
Although I loved The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the sequel didn’t captivate me as much. It’s still a fun, feel-good movie, and the acting talent is still top notch, but the majority of Sonny / Dev Patel’s story lines were just a drop too cringe-worthy this time.
I watched this on the flight to Atlanta, followed by The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which may be part of the reason the latter fell a bit flat for me. Clouds of Sils Maria is for the most part a very quiet film, which gives you time to think and analyse what the characters are saying and why. It tells the story of an established actress, Maria (Juliette Binoche), preparing for an upcoming role along with her assistant, Valentine (Kristen Stewart). Maria’s big break was the role of Sigrid, a confident young woman who becomes the downfall of her employer, Helena. 20 years later, Maria is asked to star in a revival of the play, but this time as the older woman, with a new Hollywood starlet, Jo-Ann (Chloe Grace Moretz) cast as Sigrid. The parallels start to show through to “real life” – the relationships between Helena and Sigrid, Maria and Jo-Ann, Maria and Valentine, and even the media portrayal / popular opinion of Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart themselves. The film is set in Switzerland, and the filmography is lovely, with lots of dialogue between Maria and Valentine, taking place indoors, interspersed with scenes where they hike around the stunning alpine scenery. It feels very like a play, with limited characters and locations, but lots of dialogue and emotion. One I’d recommend, especially if you feel like you’ve seen one too many big blockbusters full of special effects.
That last one turned into a bit of a full review – I hadn’t even realised how much I’d liked Clouds of Sils Maria until I started writing! What are your favourite films you’ve seen this year?
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