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Ian Briggs » Film Review: January’s films

Film Review: January’s films

Posted by: Ian Briggs on 3rd February 2012 at 11:05 pm

Categories: Films | Tags: , | No comments

This is a summary of the films I saw in January. It has been a really good month for film viewing, largely helped by being on holiday for the first week and due to a free trial of Netflix via AppleTV. Anyway, here is a summary of what I’ve seen:

The Main Events

Harry Potter

I received the Harry Potter films on a Bluray set for Christmas; all 8 films in lovely HD. Having never seen any of the Harry Potter films before, we ended up getting a bit addicted and watching one film every night at the start of the month.

They turned out to be a bit of a surprise. I wasn’t expecting them to be nearly as good as they were, but in the end we really enjoyed them, and following the characters through 8 films allowed for a lot of development. The stories were mostly good with plenty of action and plenty of famous faces to look out for. The odd silly theme and possibly the most ridiculous ending to any film I’ve ever seen, in Deathly Hallows: Part 2, spoiled the series a bit but overall they were well worth watching and are films I may well return to in the future.

The Artist

For me, this was a masterpiece of cinema. I think everyone agreed that the concept of a silent film in the modern era was a brave decision but it worked fantastically well.

From the introduction consisting of a film-within-a-film to the tense central act and the inevitable romantic conclusion, the story itself was strong enough to keep the attention without the need for dialogue. I actually think the production could have been braver by having fewer inter-titles but on the whole they complimented the story well. The concept of a ‘silent’ film raises interesting questions about how necessary or important dialogue really is in films; a concept explored by many foreign directors in films usually referred to as ‘slow’ (see previous tweets re: Bela Tarr, Michael Haneke et al.!).

Various parts of the story (and as recently reported, part of the score) were borrowed from other films and the Singin’ In The Rain parallels were obvious. But this didn’t detract from the film at all, and in fact comes across as the director paying homage to some classic films.

In the end, the film was full of laughs, drama and slapstick in just the right amounts. A great film that I would love to see again and one which will hopefully be seen by many people who, ordinarily wouldn’t dream of seeing a silent film.

Other Films

Incendies

This was a pretty horrendous story of religious hatred, torture and murder to put an interesting twist on a reasonably familiar plot. Overall, gripping to watch and difficult to believe in parts; I thought the film was well presented and enjoyable.

The Skin I Live In

A weird but engrossing film that I wanted to see last year but missed.  It was edited beautifully; every bit of the film was important and necessary for the overall picture.  Banderas was great but it was undoubtedly a screwed-up concept!

The Ipcress File

I enjoy watching Michael Caine films and this one was no exception. A slightly bizarre story with some great moments, and Caine is brilliant throughout in this classic British film.

Tell No One

One of my favourite films was even better on a second viewing. It’s been a couple of years since I saw this but I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the acting. I also like the directing style of Guillaume Canet and he uses some great techniques throughout this film. Based on a book I have read by Harlan Coben, the film brilliantly captured the fast-paced style of the author.

Je Vais Bien, Ne T’En Fais Pas

The main crux of the story was obvious from the beginning but the way it was revealed was quite unique and overall the way the story and the characters developed was well told. I may investigate the director, Philippe Lioret, further.

Capote

A strange film that was largely carried by Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance as Truman Capote. It seemed to stretch a fairly ordinary story into nearly two hours when 30 mins would have done. A series of short episodes in Capote’s life as he tries to write an account of a murder in 1959 are stitched together in a kind of bumbling fashion. The central themes were played out in an obvious way with a big build up to each ‘moral-of-the-story’ moment, while the interesting parts of his character such as his alcoholism and attitude towards his friends were underdeveloped. Unfortunately, not a film I particularly enjoyed.

Harvie Krumpet

A nice little short film from Australia by the same director of Mary & Max (a brilliant animated film I saw a year or so ago).  It had all the necessary parts of a good story nicely put together in a great style, as is his later film.

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