Movies of the Year 2014
Yet another year where new movies didn’t feature in my life as much as they have in the past (Television is just too damn good at the moment) but I enjoyed more or less everything I saw.
In alphabetical order:
The most terrified I’ve been in a movie theatre for years.
The title character is a simple yet fantastic invention who inhabits the most frightening children’s pop-up book ever created. Bizarrely overlooked in its native Australia (released on only 13 screens) this will leave you scared to turn the lights out for weeks.
A film that is perhaps more to be admired than loved, this was nonetheless a towering achievement. Richard Linklater sets out to document the life of a young man unfolding over twelve years and achieves results better than anything outside of the Up series.
Nothing necessarily major happens in Mason’s life but Linklater manages to wring some big moments from the small stuff.
“Hey man, I know this is personal. That’s how you’ll fail. No speeches, no talking. You point the gun; you shoot the gun”
Shaken out of a decades long funk by the release of his parents’ killer from jail Dwight, a quiet man who lives rough, knows he has no choice but to even the score.
On TV this year Happy Valley delivered a fine lesson on the consequences of actions, this did much the same on the big screen. Flawless.
What a partnership John Michael McDonagh and Brendan Gleason are turning out to be. After his superb debut with The Guard, McDonagh returned this year with his sights on the church in Ireland.
Gleason plays the priest who’s told in confession he is going to be killed in a week. The film follows his tour around his parish as the clock ticks down to judgement day.
Grand Budapest Hotel
I finally decided to lift the Wes Anderson boycott this year and was amply rewarded. This managed to rise above the director’s signature twee affectations with a rather touching love story (or two intertwined love stories if you like; one hetro, the other bromantic) set amongst the decaying decadence of the intra war years.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Hands down the most fun I had in the cinema this year.
This is what superhero movies should be all about: fast-moving; tongue-in-cheek and populated by characters that are just fun to be around. Oh, and it’s got a killer soundtrack too. Marvel’s best yet.
A young nun, a week away from taking her vows, discovers a family secret and leaves the convent to investigate.
Shot in spare black & white in mostly rural settings this gave off vibes similar to 2011’s Winter’s Bone, but whereas that earlier film chose to focus solely on obligations to family, Ida takes on morality, the holocaust, Polish history and even the very notion of belief.
Hey, remember that overblown, disjointed and slightly boring SciFi flick David Lynch made in the mid 80s? Well, wild man Alejandro Jodorowsky almost filmed Dune five years before.
He bagged Moebius and HR Giger for the visuals, got Pink Floyd on board for the soundtrack and cast Mick Jagger, Gloria Swanson, Orson Welles & Salvador Dali. All he needed was the money to finance it.
This is the story of how that version nearly, so very nearly got made.
The tale of corrupt officials making a grab against an innocent land owner is a oft told one in film. Once Upon a Time in the West, Wild River, The Castle and others have tackled the subject but none so crushingly as this.
Kolya’s family home is coveted by a degenerate mayor so he calls in a lawyer friend to help him. They both soon find out just how venal the state can be.
As an allegory for modern Russia this is about perfect.
To ask a man to sacrifice his morals to advance his career is one thing but what if he has no morals to begin with? Jake Gyllenhaal plays his part beautifully as a drifter who discovers he has a gift as a crime scene photographer and a yen for inspirational bon mots. The dubious depths he plumbs in order to succeed are both disturbing and thrilling to watch.
Under the Skin
When I left the theatre at the end of this picture I heard a fellow patron say “I’m not sure what I’ve just seen.” Seven words that could function as a perfectly succinct review of Jonathan Glazer’s latest.
This explores the inner conflict of an alien visitor to Earth after she takes human form. Whether we’re witnessing a semi disguised Scarlett Johansson cruising the mean streets of Glasgow in a white van or seeing her involved in a seaside tragedy with horrifying consequences this is bizarre and yet incredibly rewarding.
Just Missed Out
- 20,000 Days on Earth
- Cold in July
Not sure this was as clever as it thought it was but it sure looked nice and was a lot funnier than billed.
- Gone Girl (Trash, but incredibly enjoyable trash)
- Edge of Tomorrow
Starship Troopers by way of Groundhog Day. If only all actions films could be this good