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Rellik San Presents: Top 5 Movies Of 2013


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#1
Rellik San

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Usual disclaimer here; these are my personal picks and in no way the objective best, I live in the UK so certain films that may have been the tail end of last year for US viewers were beginning or later for the UK audience. I'd also like to point out, anyone who has my FB already knows my number 1. As ever feel free to post your thoughts, comments and own Top 5 Movies of 2013 in this thread.

 

5.  Frozen:

 

Disney's revolutionary tale where true love is not from a kiss, love at first sight is poo pooed and gives us no real villain until the third act. This is an odd film, I wouldn't say it's one of their best, but it's amazingly trope shattering and shows every now and again Disney proper can pull their heads out of the sand and change with the times. This is a fairy tale for the ages. Don't let the lame adverts fool you.

 

 

4. Elysium:

 

Blomkamp once again visits an allegory for the plight of immigrants and just how much privilege we all have comparatively, it's a gritty dark, but yet imaginative tale, with single throw away items other movies would make entire scenes out of. (i.e. the cutting tool). The action is solid, the cinematography is excellent and the performances are just the right side of hammy, it's obvious Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley has a whale of a time chewing the scenery and it's an excellent cautionary tale on how paranoia will eventually be all of our undoings. Maybe a little too left leaning for some, but for me, it spoke to something I've been saying for years.

 

3. The Worlds End:

 

The final installment of Pegg, Frost and Wright's; "Cornetto Trilogy", it packs more fun into an invasion of the body snatchers style movie whilst throwing in some genuine scares, the performances are all strong, the laughs thick and fast Pegg and Frost have such chemistry on screen you'd think they've worked together their whole life (see what I did there? See it?). But the clever writing about the homogenising of the small pubs in favours of chains and the effect that has on our society's soul is a wonderful cautionary tale. You won't be drinking in a Wetherspoons for a while after this one.

 

2. Django Unchained:

 

The years best slave story... if only because I'm yet to see 12 Years a Slave, but still this scholockey, brutally campy affair from none other than the master of the genre piece Tarantino is an excellently affecting piece, some of the best revenge fantasy put to screen and some of the greatest lines in any movie this year... most of which you can't repeat in polite company. But the real star turns comes not from Foxx or Jackson, who are both cush forces of personality already, but instead from the effortlessly charming Christoph Waltz as Dr. King Schultz and the viciously despicable Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candy both of whom turn in performances of a life time, Waltz even winning a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance.

 

1. Pacific Rim:

 

IT HAS GIANT FUCKING ROBOTS PUNCHING THE SHIT OUT OF GIANT MONSTERS HOLY MOTHER FUCKING SHIT AND IT LOOKS BEAUTIFUL WHILST DOING IT AND IT ISN'T AS DUMB AS SOME PEOPLE LIKE TO CLAIM! *ahem* If Tarantino is the master of Genre flicks, then undoubtedly Guilmero Del Toro is the Patron Saint. A lot of people wrote this off as a big dumb action movie... that said a lot of people liked Twilight... mostly the ones who wrote this movie off. However whilst true the story is shallow, it's the way it's told that's smart, the way a big summer blockbuster shows it's not just one nation that defeats the threat, it's all nations working together. This is a film of the future, in a truly global society of joint operations from all military factions, we're finally given a movie that reflects this, in a world where the internet has more or less rendered borders mute, this film paints no nation as right or wrong, but instead of many working as one to a single goal and achieving anything. A film full of star turns and great twists, a film of bright neon and subdued browns, a film of slow pacing and high octane action... a film since it's release I have now watched 47 times without getting bored and 11 of those were on Imax 3D. This is the film of the year, hands down and not just for giving me everything my inner 11 year old wanted... but for giving me everything my outer adult wanted out of a movie too.


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#2
Rellik San

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In my defence Hobbit will be on next years list as I didn't get to see it until today, I basically refused to watch it in anything but Imax 3D HFR Premiere seating (I need that leg room), because god dammit I'm a purist and HFR is amazing, unfortunately me being a fussy bastard meant I've only just seen it, consider it edited in at number 3 for now though. As for Prisoners, it left me a little cold and it was hard to get into, it was a damn good movie, no doubts there, but just not one of my favourites.

 

I'm surprised you're not lambasting me for not including Equestria Girls on there either.


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#3
Rellik San

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I don't know what HFR is. I'm pretty sure we only have 3D or IMAX, although the Odeon cinemas have some isense nonsense which I presume is basically IMAX. 

 

Are they basically those VIP seats in the cinema? Rellik, you fussy bastard - VIP in the cinema, really? :lol:

 

I had to google Equestria Girls, and of course, I have not seen it, but I am shocked it didn't make your top five. :o

HFR is High Frame Rate, basically most films and TV is transmitted and woefully piss poor 24 frames per second, which is why when acting for a screen, you'll notice a lot of people moving deliberately and slowly, in a way that doesn't look natural, because rapid movements cause a blur or strobing effect at low frames. HFR is 74 Frames Per Second, which makes movement smoother and more natural, reduces strobing to create a sharper image and looks better.

 

Isense is refitted Imax screens, with a higher resolution screen, refitted audio and mood lighting, seeing as my Imax screen is already an 8k resolution running a 24.6 sound system, it doesn't need it.

 

Premiere seats are the ones dead centre near the back with decent back support and decent leg room you pay like an extra £2 for them, I like the best possible experience when watching a movie. Our VIP section is a private balcony with leather recliners and beer slaves, but it's too high above the screen for my tastes, it's what you take a date too, not what you go to watch a movie in.

 

Also if you saw it in Imax, you saw it in HFR chances are. You probably thought at the beginning the movement looked a little off until your brain adjusted to it. Not an insult, even I found that.


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#4
Algernon

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I’m going to write some thoughts on a couple of movies from 2013. They’re not ranked at all, though. I am loath to rank any movies right now because I haven’t watched enough of them yet. Nor can I be bothered right now to write thoughts on all movies from last year, so excuse the random selection; the first movies that come to mind will have to do. More will follow later.

If that’s not acceptable for this thread, feel free to delete my post.

All Is Lost: A man alone on a sailboat on the ocean. A movie like this needs an actor delivering his performance of a lifetime to even be average, let alone to shine and be good. Robert Redford surely has the talent, and he shows it here. Silent and grim determination, optimism, relief, worry, resolve, calm, hope, irritation, fear, anger, desperation, realisation, regret, resignation... He conveys all those and more with gusto. He is fantastic. And apart from Redford’s stellar acting, All Is Lost has more going for it as well: a scenario that’s smart in its soberness (both events-wise and Redford’s psychology), there are no unnecessary, cheesy soliloquies that this kind of movie all too often employs, music is sparingly and deftly employed and is restrained and evokes desolation and dread with unsettling conviction and quiet intensity, and overall the sound effects are very effective as well. The ominous creaking of the boat, the approaching storm, the crashing waves... There are two small negative things, however: the big storm wasn’t sufficiently violent (neither the images nor the sounds), and the ending was a letdown in that it drifted dangerously close to clichéd Hollywood. Still, those are just two ultimately insignificant niggles. All Is Lost is certainly one of the best movies of 2013. Thank you, Mr Redford.

Pacific Rim: I wanted to enjoy this film. I really, really wanted to enjoy it. It’s got Guillermo del Toro, who is one of my favourite directors, and it’s got giant robots fighting giant monsters. On paper, it should have been an incredibly fun movie, if nothing else. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for me to hate this movie. I was rolling my eyes a lot minutes in, and as the credits rolled, I was biting down on a washcloth so I wouldn’t bite off my tongue in epileptic rage. The storyline were just about all of Hollywood’s clichés rolled into one, the dialogues were either wooden or cheesy (or both), the soundtrack was uninspired and cheap, there were some weird inconsistencies, every scene was predictable and a lot of scenes were unnecessary filler that added nothing at all and just wasted time. There were a few, tiny things I enjoyed, but even those combined were a drop of water on a hot plate: the doctor Drifting reminded me of a Lovecraftian doctor almost going insane because of the otherworldly knowledge he acquired (and given that del Toro is a big Lovecraft fan, that might have been the inspiration), even though the knowledge itself was horrendous and contained many irritations in itself, dragging the ship along like a greatsword before a battle, Ron Perlman’s character (great Tom Waits-like craziness, even though I thought that whole thing was unnecessary) and the father saying, ‘That’s my son. My son.’ That was beautiful, emotional acting. Unfortunately, that was also the only line in the whole movie that wasn’t completely and utterly awful. It didn’t help that the main characters weren’t engaging at all. There were several scenes that were simply cringe-worthy in its horrid cheesiness and made it difficult for me to sit through. There were no surprises that took you aback, and even the selling point of the movie – giant monsters fighting giant robots – wasn’t exceptional; the fighting scenes were largely messy, chaotic and unenjoyable. The special effects were well-done, but the fighting itself was a letdown. Plus, controlling the robots seemed rather silly to me, and the whole theme of ‘we have to work together to win’ was undermined, really, because it’s not teamwork: it’s two minds connecting into one whole, so it’s more one mind in two bodies. Mirror images. It’s not actual team work where you have to trust each other and actively work together and take care of each other. The further the movie progressed, the worse it got. Near the end, I was numbed with its stupidity and with how bad it was. Then when the climactic battle evolved, I was revived again – by sheer rage. The stupidity, awkwardness and cheesiness of the whole movie would have made me judge it as simply ‘very bad’. But the final events made me hate the movie. I could go on and list tons of specific annoyances and hatreds, but I’ve made my point. Pacific Rim was just plain horrible. Horrible, horrible, horrible. It’s doubtlessly the worst movie of 2013 I have seen. I couldn’t disagree more with Rellik’s opinion.

The Butler: As easy as it may be to draw this comparison, Forest Whitaker’s performance as a butler to all American presidents from Eisenhower to Reagan reminded me a little of Anthony Hopkins in The Remains of the Day. I don’t put Whitaker on the level as Hopkins at all, but both roles showcased the power of understated acting. Whitaker here was impressive. Although The Butler is sometimes too preachy and tries too hard to cram its message down your throat, it’s a movie that’s entirely carried by the performances of its actors. Whitaker is superb. Oprah Winfrey, who plays his wife, is right up there with him. I was surprised exactly how good she was. Apart from them, you have a slew of good actors doing their thing in cameos: Robin Williams as Eisenhower, John Cusack (with fake nose and all) as Nixon, Liev Schreiber as Johnson, Lenny Kravitz as another butler, Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan, Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan, plus Vanessa Redgrave in another small cameo. When all of those actors turn in solid performances, it’s not too difficult to overlook the sometimes melodramatic slant of the story. Furthermore, I always take special note of soundtracks and they can make or break a movie for me. Neither was the case here, but it was certainly one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard in a while and added the appropriate emotions and moods to the scenes without becoming sentimental.

World War Z: This was an entertaining film despite its many flaws. It also suffered from its negative progression: a promising and intense first act, a moderately entertaining second act and a disappointing final act and ditto ending. That tends to influence the final judgment. The movie didn’t seem to know what it wanted to be: adventure, action or zombie survival horror. That hurt it somewhat as well. I wasn’t as impressed with the wall-climbing scene as most people (mainly because it looked like some kind of cheap videogame), but the action was overall quite enjoyable, especially in the first part of the movie; it was dull in the last part. The ‘cure’ was silly and the ending unsatisfying, but first part was entertaining and intense, Brad Pitt carried the entire movie very well and David Morse, a highly underrated actor, had a nice little cameo that fleshed out the backstory in an intriguing manner. Overall, it’s worth a viewing.

Django Unchained: I’m not the biggest Tarantino fan. I think Pulp Fiction is highly overrated and thought Inglourious Basterds was decent at best (apart from Christoph Waltz, who was amazing). This movie, however, was great. Everyone’s acting was superb. Foxx, Waltz, DiCaprio, Jackson... Absolutely superb. Normally Tarantino’s sense of humour doesn’t do anything for me either, but for some reason everything just clicks here. I’m guessing it’s because of everyone’s acting. Really, everyone’s good in this, from the main characters to the lowliest figurants (of course, the main characters are a lot better than merely ‘good’ here). I do have some complaints, though, the main one being that the final act was a disappointment. I didn’t reach the quality of what came before at all. My other complaints are pretty minor: Candy’s behaviour after he realised the truth was strange and didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but on the other hand that could be attributed to his eccentricity. Some scenes were too long and others unnecessary. The movie could have been shorter and, consequently, punchier. On the other hand, I can understand the logic of those scenes and the movie’s length; I just don’t share the belief it did what it was supposed to do, and thought it worked to its detriment. I would mention the soundtrack as another thing I disliked, but it fits Tarantino’s philosophy, so with that in mind I recognise it’s an integral part of the movie. All in all, definitely one of the best movies of the year.

12 Years A Slave: I don’t think this movie is as mind-blowingly amazing as a lot of people seem to think, although it is a very good movie with some very fine actors: the always splendid Benedict Cumberbatch, the always underrated Paul Giamatti, a stunning Sarah Paulson (perhaps the revelation), a terrifying Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt surprisingly in a small role and Paul Dano, amongst unknowns who left a shining impression. The soundtrack overall is quite good, and it has some very impactful passages, one in particular that stands out with the dread it evoked. Very powerful. It luckily never rises to overt sentimentality, which you would expect from a movie like this. I’m not a fan of the archaic language frequently used (i.e. an Americanised version of Victorian English). I understand it was the language used in the literature of that time, and I admit I am a fan of it, but when spoken, it doesn’t feel natural; it feels theatrical at best, scripted at worst. Fortunately not all the dialogue is like that, but that also makes it more clashing when it does come by – and those moments tend to be the emotional scenes, so that exacerbates it even more. That’s not a big grievance, though. In the end, although the story itself isn’t exceptionally remarkable, it has several elements that elevate it to something special: very fine acting, landscapes and settings and costumes and attributes that instil it with a sense of authenticity, sentimental restraint that make the emotions more genuine, a beautiful soundtrack and some heart- and stomach-wrenching moments. I also found that, as the movie progresses, I was dragged into it more and more. As a final note, I must admit that I was tearing up at the ending, which is a severe rarity at best, and it was not achieved by any cheap sentimental triggering. I don’t think this movie is a historic classic or a cinematic landmark as many make it out to be, but it is supremely excellent. Perhaps I’ll consider it a classic after a second viewing.
 


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#5
Rellik San

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I always encourage others to post their favourites and why so long as you go into why and not just a massive list of movies you sorta kinda liked.

 

Yeah, I understand a lot of people didn't like Pacific Rim for the reasons you stated above, although that said, you could argue the point that the characters are meant to be like that, as it's a love-letter to anime genre piece. So I guess the real dividing line with it, is if you agree authorial intent is a factor in the film, or if it should stand by it's own merits, which fair enough as you say, we couldn't disagree further on the issue.


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#6
Algernon

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Some more movies. More to come (unless you think this derails the purpose of the thread and want me to post in a separate thread for general 2013 reviews):

 

Gravity: The premise of this movie must be one of man’s most profound imagined fears: drifting in space in a spacesuit. That’s as intense as it gets, and Gravity perfectly captures that intense fear and tension. It’s difficult to mess up a story about such a horror, but there is a difference between ‘not mess up’ and ‘be good’. Gravity has several things going for it: George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are convincing (of course, they’re both veteran actors with quite a track record), the scenario is pretty smart (in the first half of the movie, at least), and the psychology of the main characters (especially Clooney’s) is tremendous. Their personalities and the reasoning behind their actions and words are some of the most believable, wonderful and human I have seen in quite a long time. They are generally tiny things, but they thrilled me with their depth. Some of the best psychology in years. Gravity grabs you from the start and doesn’t waste any time with unnecessary trivialities. It just grabs you and rarely lets go. Another thing I liked is that the movie didn’t take the cheap-frights route of painting space as a one-sided realm of death. Of course, the impossibility of space is the backdrop, but at the same time its poetic qualities, beauty, spirituality and aesthetics are highlighted as well – as they should be. I also thought Ed Harris as Houston’s voice is great casting. His voice is authoritative and demands attention. On the other hand, there is a development halfway that annoyed me quite a bit and took me out of the story to such an extent that it knocked down the movie several notches. It ruined the carefully built and sustained tension, and it ridiculed the movie’s concept. Gravity tries to recover from it, but it doesn’t really succeed. Furthermore, there is some really cheap symbolism that annoyed me: the ending that aped mankind’s evolution, the embryonic position with ‘umbilical cord’ etc. But those are tiny things compared to that development. Not only did it ruin a lot, what happens afterwards seems like a cheap imitation of what happened before and feels more like a Michael Bay movie than a serious drama/thriller. Based on just the first two acts, Gravity was one of the best movies of 2013. Because of the horrid third act, however, the movie as a whole is partly ruined for me and I can’t rank it that high. It’s an unfortunate and sad letdown – but definitely still worth watching just for the first two-thirds. That was sublime.

Stand-Up Guys: I feel I need to mention this movie because it’s one of those movies that are funny and entertaining while that’s not the setup at all. Think Lucky Number Slevin, a thriller about a reluctant hitman that’s light-hearted and entertaining in a benign sense throughout. Stand-Up Guys is similar: a crime drama with a pervading sense of fun – and it’s got the legends Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin as the main characters. Some things are jarring, e.g. erection jokes involving Al Pacino, but Pacino had become a caricature of himself years ago already, so I can forgive that. This isn’t a ‘good’ movie and with any other actors, it’d be just plain bad, but these three guys make it work and make it a movie worth watching if you just want to relax and watch an entertaining movie with a light smile throughout.

Hours: A guy’s daughter is born prematurely in the middle of Hurricane Katrina. Power goes out and he needs to keep the incubator active or she dies. Simple, but already suspenseful. Paul Walker plays the main character and he’s decent, but he’s not a good enough actor to elevate the movie to a higher level than the story itself. Sadly, he’s not an actor who can do intense emotions well, and the psychology of a story like this requires intense emotions. The soundtrack does its job, but is wholly unremarkable. The best part was Hurricane Katrina itself: the battering rains and gales, and the unsettling and ominous sounds of the effect the storm has on the building. The light-hearted moments and flashbacks distract more than do anything else. You need to keep the suspense in a movie like this or it misses its target. The weaknesses of both the script and Walker’s acting also necessitate exposé one-liners that are awkward and unrealistic. They should have looked at Robert Redford in All Is Lost and taken notes. Furthermore, the three-minute gimmick isn’t exactly realistic either. If they had prolonged it a little, it would have been more acceptable. As it is, it’s in dangerous of becoming comical – and it becomes a distracting and time-wasting crutch. As if it’s the only thing they can think of to get the movie to ninety minutes. To make matters worse, the gimmick degenerates into an utterly bizarre impossibility. And it goes from bad to worse. The last thirty minutes are just... shit. And the last ten minutes are even more offensive to an even partly functional brain. Some people love this movie, so I feel obliged to explain why I don’t share their opinion. As it is, Hours offers a promising concept, but fails in every other regard. It starts promising but rapidly devolves into an eye-rolling shitfest – before diving into an even deeper, more abominable level. Forget Pacific Rim. Hours is the worst movie from 2013 I’ve seen.

The Call: I’m not sure what to think of this. I like it, but I don’t yet know how much. After a lukewarm start, the suspense is ratcheted up and maintained for the remainder of the movie. The first hour deftly uses the 911 phone call gimmick without making it a crutch. Indeed, it gets all the mileage out of it that it reasonably can and then moves on. With the suspense on such a high level, it’s easy to overlook the slight niggles that develop throughout. The last hour is more of a regular serial killer thriller, but here, too, the tension remains tight. The music is compelling, the actors all do their jobs and the serial killer himself has some frighteningly realistic tormented, sick and twisted facials. His motives are fleshed out to such an extent that he becomes more terrifying and memorable than the usual Hollywood murderer. It’s unfortunate the last act is so short. I would have loved it if the movie was half an hour or so longer and focused on the serial killer himself. Sure, the third act has some problems as well, but those don’t really bother you because you’re engrossed and on the edge of your seat. As it is, The Call is a surprisingly good thriller with a minimum of irritations and, once it gets going, great suspense.


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#7
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