9/10 Blue Valentine
Dir: Derek Cianfrance (USA)
Actors: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams
Plot: The story of a young, blue-collar couple living in smalltown America which cuts back and forth between the start of their relationship and their troubled present.
My thoughts: Realistic, Quirky, Moving, Slow. Nice Filming. Great Acting. The unfolding story is engaging and in contrast with the majority of Hollywood films the central relationship feels natural, boosted by real charisma between the two leads.
Dir: Justin Kurzel (Australia)
Actors: Craig Coyne, Daniel Henshall, Louise Harris, Lucas Pittaway
Plot: A charismatic drifter brings horror to an Australian suburb in this shocking take on a notorious real-life crime.
My thoughts: An exceptionally difficult watch, not sure I’d recommend to everyone, but v glad I saw it as it adds real insight into a horrid topic which one probably would not take time to read about. Powerful stuff, very atmospheric NOT the side of Australia you usually see, deprived, no hope, dysfunctional families and society. The acting is brilliant and uncomfortably real, probably due to the fact that only the lead is a professional actor. Lasts long in the memory and with much to think over. Outstanding film-making from a debut Director.
8.5/10 The Skin That I Live In
Dir: Pedro Almodovar (Spain)
Actors: Antonia Banderas, Elena Anaya.
Plot: Almodovar in dazzlingly idiosyncratic form; a sexual melodrama on gender issues and human identity. Features the visual austerity of his more recent work with elements of sheer Almodovarian entertainment.
My thoughts: Gothic, horror and humour make for a weird mix but one I hugely enjoyed. Thoughtful and distinctive, a true auteur Almodovar makes films for himself with no compromise.
8.5/10 We Need To Talk About Kevin
Dir: Lynne Ramsay
Actors: Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller, John C Reilly,
Plot:The mother of a troubled teenage boy tries to deal with her feelings of responsibility for her child’s actions, based on Lionel Shriver’s award-winning 2003 novel.
My thoughts: Dealing with blame, guilt, gender roles, society pressures and stereotypes, this is a provocative and often bleak film with no easy answers but stimulating in its approach. A superb adaptation, extremely visual and bold which enhances the narrative.
Lynne Ramsey’s first film since 1992 Morvern Caller it marks her out once again as a powerful director with an individual vision. Deliberately confusing in parts and featuring many crimson-tinged flashbacks, the ride is not smooth, but it forces the audience to think. A chilling and powerful antithesis to the “happy family” Hollywood blockbusters we usually get presented with. The novel and film provides a voice for thoughts, feelings and discussions which are seldom heard and for that alone it deserves a place in my Top 6. Never mind the powerful and nuanced performance of Tilda Swinton who totally convinces in a difficult and complex role. She effortlessly reveals the contrasting layers of emotion such a horrific scenario must provoke.
8/10 Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Dir: Tomas Alfredson (France | UK | Germany)
Actors: Gary Oldman, John Hurt, Colin Firth, Ciaran Hinds, David Dencik, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong.
Plot: A flawless cast and stylish direction creates a masterful new rendering of le Carre’s classic spy thriller.
My thoughts: Slow but engrossing and complex, woven beautifully together by “Let The Right One In” director Tomas Alfredson. Gorgeous muted colour palette, attention to detail and sharp framing entertain the eye. Each role is perfectly cast and every actor is flawless, especially Oldman who gives Smiley an intense mesmeric centre ensuring we are totally drawn into this Cold War chess.
8/10 127 Hours
Dir: Danny Boyle (USA | UK)
Actors: James Franco, Amber Tamblyn.
Plot: A mountain climber becomes trapped while canyoneering alone near Moab, Utah and resorts to desperate measures in order to survive. Based on a true story.
My thoughts: Danny Boyle’s best film since “Trainspotting”. He brings this story to life and keeps the audience gripped with stylish direction and superb editing. The bulk of the film is set in one location and in the hands of a less-skilled director it could easily have become laboured. Boyle uses lots of tricks and techniques to allow the tale to unfold whilst the tension racks up. The clever script allows plenty of scope for the emotions of the narrative to be shared with the audience. James Franco imbues the role with charisma and physicality, creating a courageous and strong-willed character with a huge will to live. Engrossing and inspirational.
And the Rest:
7.5/10 The Kings Speech
7/10 True Grit, The Guard, Drive, Hugo 3D
6 ¾/10 The American, Contagion,
6.5/10 Submarine, Senna, Jane Eyre, Ides of March
6/10 The Way Back, The Fighter, The Big Picture
5.5/10 How I Ended This Summer, Sarah’s Key
5/10 Black Swan
4.5/10 Wuthering Heights (such a massive disappointment as I loved the Directors last film “Fish Tank” which was my Best Film for 2009)