My Top 10 Movies of 2010

This is my list of my top ten movies from this year. It changed a lot while deciding on the 10, and will probably change after I’ve posted it, but at one point, this was the list I thought was perfect. 

10. Shutter Island

9. Catfish

8. Despicable Me

7. Buried

6. A Single Man

5. Toy Story 3

4. Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part I

3. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

2. Inception

1. The Social Network

The list changed (twice) while putting the post together. There is also a lot I haven’t had the chance to see yet that I would have like to, so obviously, the list doesn’t include those…

The only Bollywood movie that would have been on there would be My Name Is Khan, and probably would have been number 1. So Shutter Island got lucky I guess.

The next five would have or could have included (not in any particular order): Brothers, The Killer Inside Me, Kick-Ass, The Ghost (Writer), The Town

Really wanted to include, but couldn’t because they haven’t released in the UK yet: Black Swan, Never Let Me Go, The King’s Speech, 127 Hours.

Bollywood Review/Rant: Tees Maar Khan

This review requires a bit of a disclaimer. It’s going to just be a long list of complaints about the film.

I’m not a fan of Akshay Kumar. He needs to retire or go back to supporting roles. I’m not a fan of Katrina Kaif. She can’t do much apart from looking good. I liked Shirish Kunder’s Jaan-e-Mann but he’s obviously gone in the wrong direction.

And Farah Khan… Oh Farah. I love her as a choreographer, and she’s a fun person. But director Farah is going down hill. Main Hoon Na was good, as was Om Shanti Om, but OSO as a film wasn’t all that, just very entertaining to watch, and that worked. But Tees Maar Khan has really ruined my opinion of her as a filmmaker. She was the female director who didn’t do the arthouse movies, who showed female directors are capable of proper fun masala movies. Now, she’s shown they’re also very capable in making very bad ones.

I like giving people the benefit of doubt, and so I say it’s not really her fault. You know whose fault it is? Shirish Kunder! And its not that he’s bad at what he does, he’s a good editor. And he can make up (i.e. copy) a good story. And the title song, however irritating, isn’t all that bad, neither was the background music. Why he had to do so many things though is beyond me. I wish he had hired better people to do some of the things he did. Even a producer – we all know Twinkle Khanna does not count. And I refuse to believe Ronnie Screwvala is more than just a UTV credit here. I would like to think he wouldn’t let things get this terrible.

The script (which is by ‘him’ and Ashmith Kunder) definitely needs work. A lot of work. The actors did what they could, but there is only so much that can be done with no real characters, and cheesy, patronising dialogue. What makes it worse is that they weren’t trying to go towards the spoof genre. It’s not even bad enough to laugh at, it’s worse.

What makes the film just about bearable is the hope of songs. The songs were done very well, and after a lot of skepticism, I grew to like three of the five songs (Sheila Ki Jawaani, Wallah Re Wallah and Badey Dilwala). But Farah Khan is a choreographer, so if the songs were badly picturized she would be completely screwed. I wish there had been more songs. Farah Khan is possibly the only person who can make a full on musical with very little dialogue (basically a feature length multi song music video) and get away with it. Instead we got barely 4 songs in 2.5 hours of shit. Also, the placement of the songs was completely random and story-wise they were completely unnecessary. I know the days when songs were crucial to the plotline are long gone, but they weren’t even trying here. ‘Wallah’ has literally no point, and neither does the Salman Khan cameo. It literally happens, because Akshay’s character calls him up to celebrate Eid, three months late no less, and so they sing a song, which starts before Salman arrives, and finishes after he leaves. And would you put your item song (Sheila) in the beginning? (I’m going to pretend like that creepy animated baby, and everything before the song did not actually happen) It’s the best song, and what a lot of people will go to see the movie for, and it’s over pretty soon.

The three songs I mentioned (by Vishal & Shekhar) are good, but I don’t know what was going on with the Happy Ending business at the happy end. I wish the projector had died or the cinema had gone up in flames before I heard that.

Its possible that I have exaggerated a little about how terrible the film is, but it was definitely not worth the effort watching. The songs will at some point be on YouTube, they might already be there. Watch them there. Don’t bother with the film. And I blame Shirish Kunder for the catastrophe. I might even dare to ask whether Farah actually directed it, or let her husband take over the show. I hope and pray whatever Farah decides to do next, she does without him, or with as little of his input as possibly. I still have faith in her, just about. 

Review: Love & Other Drugs

Love and Other Drugs starts out as a rom-com, with a couple of dramatic moments, and ends up being a full on emotional drama, which had a funny start. There are times when it feels like it doesn’t really know which way it is going, but really its a romance film covering both bases.

In the trailers for Love and Other Drugs, they tell you that Maggie Murdoch, Anne Hathaway’s character, is seriously ill. Every time I saw it I wished they hadn’t revealed that. In the movie, you know she has Parkinson’s seconds before you actually see her, and again I wish I didn’t know so soon. Not that there is anything wrong with a character with Parkinson’s, but the audience has no time to get to know the character herself. And so later on, when she’s screaming about having a life apart from her disease, but we don’t really believe it.

That’s kind of a difficult one though. Not knowing about her illness would have meant they couldn’t have met how they met, and even if they met differently, coming from a medical family and knowing so much about medicine, Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal) would have figured it out soon enough. Also, as the story is his story, it makes sense that audience knows what he knows, and finds things out when he does. It would be odd if he knows about the Parkinson’s but we don’t. Its just unfortunate that is how it all plays out, because I think it will really effect how people feel about Anne Hathaway’s character. It’ll be more pity than anything else.

Another issue I have with the story is that I didn’t feel like he actually fell in love with her. They just had a lot of sex, and then one day he’s in love. And then when she’s in love, he doesn’t seem to be so much anymore.

It’s all very sweet and predictable, and what you’d expect it to be. Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal are both very good, and they go well together. They make a very believable couple, and the film relies very heavily on their chemistry. It would be difficult to make it work quite like they do with another two actors.

Some people might be disappointed by the film, as it doesn’t really offer anything new for either of the genres it attempts, but its still good. And there’s a lot of nudity, so that’ll make it more watchable for most people. 

Review – TRON: Legacy

I tried to lower my expectations before seeing Tron: Legacy with all the negative reviews. I think everyone agreed, looks great but story is shit. And even going in expecting nothing from the story I still felt a little disappointed.

I’m still not really sure if there was too little story or an attempt at too much. Or there’s just nothing to care about. Maybe its because all the drama is set in a digital world, there doesn’t really seem to be anything at stake. And the end! Why couldn’t Jeff Bridges do that or something like it before? I mean, he is ‘the creator’.

And then there’s Sam Flynn. Or Garrett Hedlund. Let’s start with Sam. The director and the script do nothing to make you feel bad for him. Sure his dad went missing when he was young, but he grew up just to be a rich prat rather than a troubled man. I think they tried to go the troubled way… All I can say is try harder. I’d say the same to Garrett. The dude isn’t unwatchable but he also gives nothing to make me want to watch him. He’s unbelievably boring and has a voice that should be on hypnosis CDs. He seems like a nice guy but could they really find no one else?

The visuals as everyone already knows are stunning, but it starts looking the same after a short while. Nothing new was introduced to keep it looking fresh. It’s all just strobe lights and neon lights. All the high contrast, with everything that’s not a light being black, gets very boring.

Tron: Legacy was probably too big a movie for a first time director. Everyone involved obviously set out to make a big digital age epic, but it doesn’t really work out. I’m not saying that first time directors can’t do big studio movies, but not all are going to be the right choice. Joseph Kosinski obviously knows how to do the style thing, but he failed to bring out parts of the characters that would make the audience connect with them.

The soundtrack is brilliant, and music is very important, but it’s not going to make the film better. You could really just try and enjoy the soundtrack, treat the film like a very pretty and long music video with some very irritating dialogue.

I didn’t hate Tron: Legacy, but it is such a disappointment. It could have been so good, you can see that from what it actually is, and that makes it all a bit sadder. Had the script been rewritten one or time, or someone had raised issues with the story early on, things could have been so good. 

The Tourist / The Next Three Days

So, I’m putting the reviews of The Tourist and The Next Three Days together, not only because I saw them on the same day, but because what I had read of both of them prior to seeing them was that they were pretty shit. One was, one wasn’t so much. Also, I don’t have much to say on either so might as well keep it to one post with two short reviews.

The Tourist

The only bit in this movie where I got anything close to excited was the reason I actually went: my friend is the guy in the train conductor’s uniform in the train scene. He appears three times, for a few seconds. The rest was just ridiculous. It wasn’t boring, because I was laughing a fair bit at the stupidity of it all, and Angelina Jolie’s accent, which was really unnecessary, but really did not care about what was going on. And the twists were predictable. From the letter I knew who Johnny Depp was. I mean everyone must have got it by at least half an hour before the “big” reveal. Right?

It was basically a Jolie/Depp show. Nice looking shots (a lot of which looked a bit soft) of them around Paris and Venice. It also didn’t seem very challenging in terms of their acting abilities.

I have yet to see Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s The Lives of Others, and I still want to, but I can’t say I’m going to be keen on anything else he might do outside Germany.

The Next Three Days

First off, I’m going to call this film The Last Three Days, because whoever titled it needs to be fired. Or banished from any film industry. Also, I haven’t seen Pour Elle, the French original.

This was nowhere near as bad as I had read it would be. It’s definitely not perfect, but I think it serves its purpose. I love that you don’t know for certain whether she did it or not. Also, that the character of John Brennan doesn’t know how to help his wife escape prison. The easy way and the cliché is that he just happens to know how to do those things, but I enjoyed watching him struggle, even though it at times works against the pace of the film.

Its nice to see Elizabeth Banks doing serious, and that she can do it well. I think having someone who isn’t that well known for doing dramatic roles helps the mystery a little.

Apart from the length and title, my other main issue is that I didn’t feel completely satisfied with the ending. I won’t ruin it, but I would have liked it to be a little more difficult to get to where it did so that the ending would really work. However that would have then adding to running time, so I guess it might just have been a compromise.

And I have to say this again. The NEXT Three Days? Are you kidding me? Not only does that make no sense whatsoever, The Last Three Days is better, as the editor realized, or whoever’s idea it was to have the Last Three Years/Months/Days moments. If anyone ever understands that, please explain it to me. 

Review: 127 Hours

I’ve taken my time to start writing this review, mainly because I feel like I will say something wrong. Given that it’s a true story, it feels weird commenting on the things I would normally comment on in a review, like the story of the film, and the performances. A movie where it isn’t a true story, or I don’t know it is, makes it a lot easier to comment on characters and what actors do with them. But I can’t say whether James Franco did justice to the real Aron Ralston. I liked him in it, and I really believed his felt the pain and the emotions, but for all I know, Aron isn’t really like that. Having said that, Danny Boyle probably would not have stopped until Ralston’s story was told perfectly and accurately, so it is my faith in him that allows me to love this so much.

I’m guessing comparisons to Buried are inevitable, but it didn’t really make me think of it at all. Boyle’s style is so engraved into his, it doesn’t feel like another movie about a man stuck in a confined space. Had anyone else attempted this, it probably would have been a slightly boring drama, but thankfully it isn’t. There’s something a bit unusual about how the film is, and how it works, which could be down to the editing (by Jon Harris) as well.

The 90-odd minutes just fly by, but they aren’t minutes I could relive again. Not any time soon, anyway. It’s odd, because of how much I loved it, but some of those minutes are terribly difficult to watch. And they’re not the ones you expect going. Maybe it’s because of everything I had to deal with before ‘the scene’, but that I could just about deal with again. (I might not even have to cover my eyes for the most part the second time… who knows.)

The music is great; I’m so glad A. R. Rahman did it. I really hope he gets more opportunities in the west as well, as long as he saves time to do something in India as well.

As I have said, its not an easy watch, but its definitely an important one that everyone who can handle it should see, and its possibly one of the best of the year.

And for people who have seen it, did anyone else have a dream like the sofa premonition after watching the film? ‘Cos I did… and it was freaky. Interesting to see who was there and who wasn’t.