Django Unchained

Bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) frees a slave called Django (Jamie Foxx), who has information on the Brittle Brothers, Schultz’s next targets. After Django helps him find them, Schultz agrees to train Django to work alongside him as a partner, with the intention of saving Django’s wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), from plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). But to save Broomhilda, the pair will also have to get past Candie’s ruthless housemaster Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson).
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Top 10… Philip Seymour Hoffman Films

Philip Seymour Hoffman is the recipient of this month’s Acting School over at the LAMB. I’m trying to get a bit more involved with the Lamb (hence my appearing in two recent podcasts, and hopefully a few more in the future), so I figured I’d compile a list of my favourite of Hoffman’s films for the school, which gets posted over at the LAMB on Monday.
I’ve always liked Hoffman as an actor, and not just because we’re of a similar build, especially around the midriff. He’s able to deliver a huge variety of performances, most of which I think I’ve covered in this list. And I’m aware there’s a few of his more prominent films that I’ve missed off, but that’s generally because I haven’t seen them yet (The Master, for instance). And this is a list of his best films, not his best performances, so whilst he was thoroughly deserving of his Oscar for Capote, it doesn’t appear on my list because as a film I’m not overly keen on it.

Safe

Carol (Julianne Moore) is a bored housewife, sorry, homemaker, in the San Fernando Valley. Her husband Greg (Xander Berkeley) is a successful businessman, and the pair live in a lavish home with Greg’s son Rory (Chauncey Leopardi). Carol has many friends and an active social life, attending various parties and gym classes. There’s nothing wrong in Carol’s life, other than her new sofa being delivered in black rather than teal, yet she suddenly finds herself becoming ill, which she soon believes to be caused by the “chemicals” found in modern life. But is she suffering from a real sickness, or is it all in her head? Maybe moving to the secluded, desert-based Wrenwood Centre, a “chemical-free facility”, will result in a cure.

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Iris

Iris Murdoch (Judi Dench), the celebrated British author, is writing her 26th, and ultimately last, novel, Jackson’s Dilemma, when she begins to experience the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Her husband, John Bayley (Jim Broadbent), always the less dominant half of the couple, struggles to cope with the situation and care for his wife. Meanwhile, we see the beginnings of their relationship, as their younger selves (Kate Winslet and Hugh Bonneville) meet as students at Oxford University whilst she attempts to get her first novel published.
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Carnage

After their sons have an altercation in the park, their parents get together to settle the matter over coffee and cobbler. Just as the Cowans (Kate Wisnlet and Christoph Waltz), the parents of the fight’s assailant, are leaving the Longstreet’s (Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly) apartment, they end up being drawn together for the rest of the evening under various circumstances, be it phone calls, not wishing to upset the neighbours by arguing outside or one of the party throwing up everywhere. Tempers fray, bonds are formed and broken, alcohol is drunk and all politeness and civility is thrown out the window.
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Les Miserables

Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) has worked his last day of nineteen years of slavery, all for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving family, and subsequently  trying to escape. Upon his release he is informed by policeman Javert (Russell Crowe) that he will be on parole for the rest of his life, so Valjean flees and tries to make a life for himself anew. Some years later, Valjean has become a successful businessman, but Javert remains on his tail, which distracts Valjean at a key moment, which in turn dramatically affects the future of one of Valjean’s employees, Fantaine (Anne Hathaway), and her young daughter Cosette. Some years later, and on the eve of the French Revolution, Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) becomes the object of affections of Marius (Eddie Redmayne), a young but prominent revolutionary, who is himself adored by Eponine (Samantha Barks).

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Citizen Kane

Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles), an unimaginably wealthy publishing kingpin, drops his snowglobe and dies alone in his bed. His last dying word, “Rosebud,” sends the national newspaper journalists into a frenzy, all eager to discover it’s true meaning, in the hope of shedding some light onto the tycoon. Led by Jerry Thompson (William Alland), the reporters speak with Kane’s former wife, friends, employees, business partner and butler on their search for the truth. Could it be the name of a girl? A dog? A boat? Or just the rambling ravings of an insane old man?

Up until last year, Citizen Kane has topped Sight and Sound magazine’s Greatest Film Of All Time list, but was recently toppled by Vertigo. It’s been a little while since I’ve seen Hitchcock’s classic, so I can’t vouch for whether the change is correct or not, but I can say that I have no problem with Citizen Kane having been up there for quite so long. This film actually appears on all four of the lists I’m currently working through, and so great is its reputation that I can’t imagine a respected film list denying it a place. I mean, it spawned the prefix “It’s the Citizen Kane of…” as a way of saying a film is the greatest of a specific type. And heads up, this isn’t going to be the Citizen Kane of Citizen Kane reviews. So what makes it so important? Why is it revered by so many people? Will every paragraph in this review end in a question mark?

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Top 10… Anticipated of 2013

Apologies for not posting this yesterday, we had an impromptu cinema trip to see Les Miserables during the time I’d anticipated sitting down and tapping this out.

2012 was a pretty good year for movies, and it looks like 2013 could be just as good, if not better. Here’s my pick of the films I’m looking forward to seeing most this year. There’s a few that have already been released in other countries, but haven’t made their way to England yet, but in my eye’s they still count as 2013’s films.

Honourable Mention
Wreck-It Ralph
I’ve been looking forward to this film for a long time, because I do love animated films that are skewed firmly at adults. It hasn’t helped that Wreck-It Ralph has been out in America for over 2 months now, and that I’ve been hearing no end about it on The Adam Carolla Show, as he apparently voices a donut in the film. I’ve heard good things about it, but I think quite a lot of the references may go over my head, as I’ve never been a massive gamer, especially when it comes to the more classic arcade games. Anything related to Crash Bandicoot, Pac-Man, Sonic, Mario, Grand Theft Auto or Portal should be pretty clear to me, but I don’t recognise most of the villains in the picture over here. Hopefully there’ll be plenty to keep me amused though.
UK release: 8 February 2013
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Contagion

Chaos descends onto the world when a deadly, and highly contagious, illness descends worldwide, seemingly beginning with Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow), who has just returned from a business trip to Hong Kong. The CDC are soon brought in to deal with the situation, but things rapidly spiral out of their control as the illness spreads across the country. We follow the outbreak from the points of view of those desperate to stop it, members of the public affected by the crisis, and the few who see it as an opportunity for personal gain.
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Top 10… New-To-Me Films of 2012

2012 saw me watch a total of 231 movies that were new to me. This is my list of the best of those, or rather, the ones I liked the most, and would be willing to see again some day, if I haven’t already. Some are from the 1001 List, some from my Film-Makers quest, some new, some a little older. This list does not include any of 2012’s new releases though, they were covered on this list.

Honourable Mention
Return to Horror High
Hang on, I’m going to clarify this. Return to Horror High, one of the first George Clooney ever appeared in, is a terribly made film, with poor acting, shonky sets and a frankly ridiculous final act. Fut it was also one of the most entertaining films I saw this year, because I watched it after a Friday night drinking session, for all the better to enjoy it’s ridiculousness. Maureen McCarthy as a cop bizarelly aroused at the site of a dismembered corpse, ridiculous lighting choices and the greatest behind-a-door silhouette of a decapitated head being flung up inexplicably into the air. I still stand by the 2/10 rating I gave the film, because it is terrible, but it was terrible in a really good way.

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