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Wrong Cops (2013)
Wrong Cops includes a cop selling dead rats filled with drugs, kidnapping of teenager and a cop dreaming of a musical breakthrough. And, of course, characters portrayed by Jon Lajoie and Marilyn Manson. Police are overruling with their power, which makes this movie is just as crazy, hilarious and awkward as anyone could hope.
Filth is based on a novel of a same name. The author behind it is Irvine Welsh, a Scottish writer whose most famous work is possibly Trainspotting. Filth goes almost on a same level of filthiness as Trainspotting while describing Scotland and its folks, mostly the protagonist, Bruce, who is desperately looking for a promotion as a detective sergeant. The shot for this promotion is given, when an Asian immigrant is killed brutally by a youth gang.
Characters are interesting and especially Bruce is the one who develops the most as the story goes forward. His problems get clearer and clearer all along and the performance that James McAvoy delivers is just splendid. The humor is great and dark. Word "disturbing" might also describe Filth quite well since there are quite a lot of drugs and brutal violence. Isn't that quite obvious because of the title?
The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)
The Place Beyond the Pines stands out nicely from the common Hollywood shite. Nicest thing here is that the movie really shows the effects of the people from one to another. Human life has value and taking that from another really breaks many people. We see the troubles of a little crook and the depression of the one that kills him. After that the movie tells how it still influences in the second generation.
First and the third part of the story aren't that good as the second one and that might be because Gosling's character is no way near as interesting as Cooper's. Nether is the performance as good. This might be a case of stupid logic of the Gosling's character taking the control of the lost love and the lack of sympathy towards him. Then again Cooper's is everything but un-sympathetic.
The Counselor (2013)
It's almost surprising what kind of a twist The Counselor suddenly makes. People are mainly talking about their sexual experiences most of the time in the start, which almost seems tragicomic piece of writing when it comes to a dialogue. Here and there are some interesting, horror stories which are that highlighted that it is obvious that some of them are going to be true. The Counselor is a nerve wrecking thriller with some morbid action. Actions are lead by the ill values of the people, which most often is just lust for money. Hottest names of Hollywood are working all together well and especially Fassbender's performance stands out.
Side Effects (2013)
It's been a while since I last saw some good work by Soderbergh. Side Effects surely is one to call a good film. I had not made any expectations towards Side Effects before I saw it, since I knew about it as much as Jo Snow. Psychological thriller builds up pretty nicely and the whole thing stays together through the twists and turns of the film. The three actors - Rooney Mara, Jude Law and Catherine Zeta-Jones - all do well in their roles and the characters are interesting. Some real emotional bonds are evolving as a viewer, which is always a great mark of a great writing. The blue atmosphere of the film is fascinating and depressing at its bests and even Channing Tatum isn't ruining it.
Gravity includes three of my greatest fears of all time. The abysmal space and the idea of floating there, heights, and George Clooney and Sandra Bullock starring a film together. Gladly, the last one mentioned I overcame with. The space though is horrifying but unfortunately the film doesn't get quite everything out of it. It is more dull than exciting how almost everytime our heroine saves herself just in time taking a grip from any ledge there is. Strong woman is strong though and visually this is lovely.
The Great Beauty (2013)
Oh dem gorgeous women and lifetime of a party - isn't that what all we want? Preciously well aged Jep Gambardella is living that dream after finishing a greatly liked novella some years ago. But more we are introduced into his life, the more we are made to ponder, whether is it nightmare that he, among the others, is actually living. The film shows the vainglorious and still life the people in such a terrific way.
A Touch of Sin (2013)
Wealth isn't split even for everybody. Anywhere. Especially in China. The working class struggles in the bourgeoisie authority and the joys are rare. Film is divided in four episodes, each one of them told from the perspective of the poor individual looking for a brighter future. For some this demands acts of violence. And no matter how brutal violence is, the feel of guilt is massive in the viewer when everything still feels justified. Violence is extremely visual and nothing is worth to be censored. Some characters' stories are more interesting than other's but still A Touch of Sin is a strong film overall.
Young & Beautiful (2013)
We see a sweet girl taking a sun at the beach with her family. When she gets invited to a party by the boy of her interest, she ends up losing her virginity. Bonding with this boy seems impossible and when the holiday is over, it's time for this girl of seventeen to go back to school. In the contrast for a young and innocent girl, she is already arranging online dates and starting a career of a teenage prostitute. Easy money and sex are the things that intrude this foolish little girl. She is eager of having an experience.
Sexuality is present all along and strongly. A lot of pressure is on the shoulders of Marine Vacth, and what an outstanding performance she delivers. The film is all in all also good-looking but the extra credit goes for the soundtrack, which includes a track by brilliant Crystal Castles.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
From the trailer and hearing people talking about this, I was afraid that The Wolf of Wall Street was all about throwing dwarfs and screwing around. Surprisingly, everything turned out to be done in a good taste. The story of Jordan Belfort urges to be told with all the messing around and that is great part of the humor and excitement of the film. With him cheating on his wife, you kind of hope him to get red handed from the adultery. The drug experiences were worrying the shit out of me and yet sometimes they are the most hilarious part of the film. The crimes, the story of a nobody becoming a somebody and the relationships of the people are interesting and there is enough of excitement for the great length of three hours. The passion of Leonardo DiCaprio towards his role is massive and his performance might also be his greatest.
Only God Forgives (2013)
I got to known Nicolas Winding Refn by Bronson. Ever since I have been fascinated about his work. His best-known films are his second latest from 2011, Drive, and Pusher trilogy. In Only God Forgives, Winding Refn worked again with the actor in the leading role of the Drive, Ryan Gosling. Before the release, was also sure that Winding Refn was also working with one of my favourite directors of the past few decades, Gaspar Noé.
The brother of Julian kills and under-aged prostitute in Bangkok, where the brothers are also running a Thai boxing gym together. A violent cop starts investigating the case with his own idea of justice and nothing seems easy, when the mother comes to see the body of her son.
Not too many words are being shared in Only God Forgives. More it leans on the visual narration. Like in Drive, Only God Forgives has also the clear handmark of Winding Refn. Bangkok is being shown as a filthy city with the filthy people and the neon lights over the city and in the strip holes gives the brightest of lights. Perverted family relations and characters are somewhat as or even more disturbing than the visual violence of the film.
12 Years a Slave (2013)
It is easy to sympathize the characters of the film. Taking one's freedom and turning him into a slave is the main idea of the story, when Solomon is one sunny day kidnapped by the slave dealers and soon sold far away from his home. Film is full of strong performances, including Academy award winner Lupita Nyong'o, Chiwetel Ejiofor in the leading role, Michael Fassbender as a furious cotton farmer and one of my favorites, Paul Dano as a bad guy as always. The film gives its best through Edwin Epps' love stories towards his wife and one slave of his, Patsy. The ways how he favors and monitors her are both cruel and disturbing things to witness.
The Wind Rises (2013)
Jiro dreams of flying an aeroplane. Since his eyesight isn't that good, Jiro's passion puts him design some instead. The Wind Rises tells us a story of young boy growing up, living the dream through the terrors of Japanese history.
The Wind Rises mixes the dreams and reality together in a lovely way. In the dreams Jiro sees creatures familiar from Miyazaki's older films and in reality the actual historical accuracy and Jiro's story growing up in such a conditions is touching and interesting. Visually the film is beautiful and the variety of the characters is great. Deepest are the greatest and caricature-like are the funniest. And oh them feels.
Concrete Night (2013)
It's been a while since Finland looked this gloomy. For that we can thank again Pirjo Honkasalo. I'm not familiar with the source material, the book of the same name by Pirkko Saisio, but because of this film I think I really need to be more familiar with her whole work. Concrete Night is a story taking place in Helsinki, where two brothers are spending a night together before the older one is sent prison. The night is full of devastating hopelessness and lessons of life in the dialogue and in the action.
Child's Pose (2013)
Child's Pose is excruciating film in every way. When bourgeois Cornelia and her friend are watching a play, sad new comes to her ear. The son has been a driver in a car accident, which ended killing a little boy. The guilt on him is massive but the mother has no intentions of losing his son in the prison. The excruciating side comes, when the mother is bribing anyone in the case and the mental burden of her son is getting larger every minute, like an avalanche. The death is handled by the view of every character beautifully and the forgiveness is hard for every single one of them. The family life isn't easy ether and so the son is literally on the verge of total breakdown.
To create such a big emotions, the film need extraordinary actors. As it happens, each of them is. Luminita Gheorghiu and Bogdan Dumitrache, mother and son in the film, are at least two worth a mention. The film won also a FIPRESCI Prize and Golden Bear in the Berlin Film Festival.
Blue Jasmine (2013)
Woody has been a little jolly lately. Blue Jasmine is not that much, and actually quite depressing and anxious movie if I was to describe it. A high society lady, Jasmine, has to start back from the start after her husband is jailed for tax evasion and fraud. Little bird hasn't ever learned how to spread her wings and starting is everything but easy. She has clearly been losing her mind and she is seen taking pills and talking by herself right from the start. It is then obvious that this is going to be one-woman-show. And what a show it surely is.
What Blue Jasmine does is that it handles the relationships and mental illness incredibly beautiful way. Jasmine's illness is something that dominates and give the guiding principle for the whole set. It effects in the relationships hugely when ever it comes to dealing with her husband, sister or her family, total strangers, and her crush. It is also admirable how the film deals with Jasmine's bourgeois friends and how they treat her. Ginger's struggle to pleasure Jasmine and finding her own comfort zone creates also some great scenes in the film, when she is making her mind who is a decent man and what does it even mean.
Blanchett deserves every praise that you've heard or read about her being said. Following is another praise about her performance: she is magnificent.
Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
"If it was never new, and it never gets old, then it's a folk song."
Basing in the 60's New York introducing struggling folk music artist, the starting point is simply great. Llewyn Davis is the one struggling to do for living the thing that he loves the most in his life, being a folk musician. He doesn't have an actual place to live and therefore sleeps in the couches of his friends whenever possible. When on the road, he hichhikes or rides a bus.
Different characters come up with great conversations and that is when we are as a viewers witnessing the magnificence of Coen brothers. Some of them are awkward and full of black humor, which is greatest type of course. Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Stark Sands and John Goodman are the ones shining on the screen and with such a great performances.
There are plenty of films from the year 2013 with a great music, but Inside Llewyn Davis has absolutely exceptional soundtrack.
The Past (2013)
Divorce isn't easy, as far as I want to believe. The Past deals with those feelings in every possible way from the view of every character. The deeper the movie goes figuring the feelings of them, more and more unpleasant things behind everybody's motives are relieved. But unpleasant truths are the ones that makes the characters stronger. It is either the new man of the wife that puts divorcing husband in questioning his feelings and what his place is to be the life of his stepdaughters or the fact how the new man has come into wife's life. This all isn't just shown plainly from the grownup's point of view but we also come to see how the children feel.
The feelings are quite all the same from every character: there is some love and pressure. With love there comes joy and jealousy and with pressure there comes the will of pleasing and a pinch of competitive spirit. Bérénice Bejo is truly amazing in her role but there is no need of underestimating the men in the leading roles, Tahar Rahim and Ali Mosaffa, too.
Spring Breakers (2012)
Harmony Korine must be the most interesting director from the land of United States of America. I got to known him by Gummo, for which I totally fell in love with. It was sooner or later followed by Julien Donkey-Boy and Trash Humpers. His unique handmark is being seen in every one of these three and all these caused some high expectations towards Spring Breakers. And because I was familiar with his style, the most interesting thing in this film was casting former teen stars and others like Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Heather Morris and Ashley Benson. Not to mention James Franco and Rachel Korine.
Gladly, Spring Breakers succeeds in everything that it is trying. The mockery of the teenage dream, MTV generation and people in general is both hilarious and sad to watch. James Franco carries his pack like a boss and my love towards him seems to grow on and on. Music in this film is something that plays a big part. Shit like Skrillex is something that annoys like the stupid people in this and then in the other hand Ellie Goulding in the end credits and Cliff Martinez gives something special for the beautiful shots. Visually Spring Breakers is also great looking, but what could have we expected from the maestro that is responsible for the visual acid trips of Trash Humpers and Gummo.
Upstream Color (2013)
Shane Carruth's Upstream Color hit a bit out of the blue for me. I got interested about this when it came to Finland in some film festivals but sadly it didn't fit my timetable at any means. Luckily, in the end, I was fortunate enough to watch this anyway. I was not familiar with the directors previous work but something pulled me towards this extremely hard.
Kris gets drugged violently and then robbed in a masterful way of suggestion by the same guy. Days go by and Kris finds herself in her messy apartment without knowing anything that has happened in the past days. She tries to understand, what has happened and why, when she finds interesting guy called Jeff, whose she is getting more and more known to. Somewhere pig farmer plays with ambient sounds. Talking any further is hard when trying not to spoil anything.
The whole film comes together like a puzzle. It isn't like there are everywhere some little pieces to be taken, but the narration of events gives this a little puzzle-ish flavor. Main reason for this is that the motives are told later than the events. It took me two viewings to understand the case and even then I'm not quite sure if I understood this right. But well enough though and that is also one more reason to like Upstream Color so much: there is definitely something for the third view also. And like anybody else, I like beautiful films and Upstream Color definitely is one. Beauty comes with the visual style and the score. Visually the style is stunning, when the colors changes between the moods and even the littlest act of violence is oppressive enough to turn the stomach.
Camille Claudel 1915 (2013)
Bruno Dumont is one of the most interesting directors of the decade. Best known from his films from the New French Extremety films, his latest film, Camille Claudel 1915 differs from his earlier filmography quite a lot. When the first rumors about his co-operation with one of the greatest actresses, Juliette Binoche, I just couldn't wait to see this one.
Movie starts with a shot of Camille Claudel taking a bath in an asylum. At the moment, it is somehow clear that the character is fragile. As the movie goes on, the more unsure the viewer is about is Ms Claudel in the right place at all. She is given certain liberties in the weekday routines and the nurses seem to handle her differently from the other patients. Her rather repetitive everyday routines get a sudden change, when she hears that her beloved brother is going to pay a visit to her in a couple of days.
Visually Camille Claudel 1915 is breathtaking. Windy French countryside beyond the hills does its own part in all this beauty. Film includes some incredibly long close-ups takes from Binoche's face, which are both heavy and stunning. The emotions of her swarms from the screen into the viewer and so is also the greatness of Binoche indisputable. One thing that is also worth of pointing out, is the use of actually disabled people as actors. The chemistry between them and Binoche is great and the sincere roles of them is everything that audience would wait for.
To the Wonder (2012)
There is nothing as delightful as hearing that Terrence Malick is making another new film. Malick has always been the silent boy in the class. Malick's debut feature was in 1973, when Badlands came out. To the date, he has made only six feature films. His latest before To The Wonder was The Tree of Life, which premiered in Cannes Film Festival in 2011.
Some of the audience was a bit shocked when The Tree of Life came out. It was something what you could call 'different' film as if Malick doesn't follow the guidelines of narration. There simply is no need for it. To the Wonder follows the guidelines that The Tree of Life somehow set, but after all, To the Wonder is quite much clearer one. It tells a love story of a struggling couple (starring Ben Affleck and Olga Kurylenko) in France, intending to move into USA, where the man is from. As they move in, the daughter of Kurylenko's character and she herself are having problems of blending in and they start to feel desperately homesick. At the same time, in the side we are shown bonding a priest with his little community.
To the Wonder might be one of the most sentimental films I saw this year. The reason is pretty much the narration. Dreamlike, absolutely breathtaking pictures pictures with the fantastic score is something that really evokes some feelings. I was lucky enough to see this in the cinema and this is definitely the best way to get everything out of To the Wonder. Terrence Malick is also one of the few people that uses narrator as it is the best. When the lines of the characters in the film are quite rare, the narrator goes through the thoughts in their head. But in the other hand, do we even need that when the emotions are as clear as they are?
I don't quite remember when was the last time Ben Affleck had performance this bearable. Maybe the secret here is the lack of the lines, although he is also used as a narrator in the film. The emotions are real and therefore the love story is both revolting and sympathetic. Kurylenko is also something special and you could say the same about Javier Bardem and Rachel McAdams too.
Blue Is The Warmest Color (2013)
Sadly, I'm not able to say that this movie hit me out of the blue. The winner of Palme d'Or is always something wort a wait and Blue Is the Warmest Color didn't disappoint me. Weirdest and funniest thing here is that I was not familiar with the director, Abdellatif Kechiche, at all. Maybe because of Blue Is the Warmest Color is only Kechiche's fifth film.
It is brilliant how mature and meticulous the film is. For that the film surely needs a delicate, sensitive and sympathetic main character. And that surely Adèle is. She is a young high school student that doesn't know how to be. Her deepest interests are in the school and literacy but she surely feel deep need to fill her social life. One day walking on the streets she sees Emma and everything is clear then. She wants her and she wants to be with her. One night at the bar she finally meets her again and the meetings become more and more regular and after all they start dating.
In the great length of three hours the relationship and really gets its space to evolve. First we see Adèle as a bit shy and unsure about her feelings, as she is sexually awakening. She is regretting things that she didn't say or do when she had a chance and feels guilty for herself. She meets a boy that is infatuated in her and a blue-haired Emma that she herself is fascinated about. When finally meeting Emma, Emma is the experienced one but also the one that already has a girlfriend and therefore also the guilty one when starting to spent time with Adèle.
Fascination and teenagers' feelings turn into love and love is full of passion. They don't care anymore what the other people say or think about them. They are not afraid to show their feelings in public. And why would they? Only when visiting Adèle's parents, the feelings are a bit hidden since she hasn't told about her sexuality. But then again when the lovers are just by the two of them, there is no need to hide anything. There's been a lot talk about the sex scenes included in this film and that is just one way how the passion of love is shown in the film. There are ups and downs in a relationship and when it hits the rock bottom, the lack of passion is obvious and hurtful. Jealousy isn't a strange feeling here also.
What a great joy is that how amazingly good the leading actresses, Léa Seydoux (as Emma) and Adèle Exarchopoulos (as Adèle) are. I dare to say that a great deal of the greatness of this movie is because of that. When the emotions are this strong as they are, movie needs talented actors and that surely the two women are. The film looks ridiculously good and the music is purely enjoyable. Extra credit I would like to give for the bar scenes and the music that is being played there.
There is no doubt how neat and tight this movie is as whole piece. No feeling is let loose and every cause is followed by an effect.
The Act of Killing (2012)
Recreation of a genocide is not a bad idea. It's a horrible idea. But former Indonesian death-squad leaders and other members are thrilled of an idea of making a feature film of their actions. The Act of Killing is a documentary of the mass murderers' ambition of making that film come true and of the people who lived through the terrors.
How light can the atmosphere be? These death-squad leaders are proud of what they have done in the past and are forcing people into recreated scenes, where villages are burnt down, women raped, and countless people. "You acted really well in there, but would you kindly stop crying", says one to a child, who goes through the re-created scene as it was true. Lightness in the atmosphere isn't present even when representing the torture methods and listening of stories of the victims there. Not so many have lived through the terrors Anwar Congo and others caused. When they are interviewed in this film by the people who caused them, they are forcefully faking a smile and nervously laughing. The killers are chuckling at the same time. But more we see the monsters behind the genocide, more they open up. We even see some of them regretting what they have done and some of them fighting with sleeping problems because their doings. So are they people after all? Fuck no.
Oppenheimer has got himself really deep into this one, which is hugely admirable. The film represents the monsters the way they are and really close. They wanted to make a western-gangster musical which they are given and which gives a pinch of an atmosphere for the film. Masterpiece in so many ways.
The name "Anonymous" appears 49 times under 27 different crew positions in the credits. These crew members still fear revenge from the death-squad killers.
Theodore works in a company where he writes (or "dictates" might be a better word) letters for other people. He is very good with words and seems to be a lot involved in the people's lives for whom he writes the letters to. Maybe even too much and therefore seems to forget to live his own life a little. When hyper intelligent operating system comes available, Theodore is eager to try it, since he seems to be pretty much into technology. The OS shapes itself for the each user personally and also gives itself a name, Samantha. Hyper intelligent as it is, it doesn't seem impossible to form a relationship between the OS and a human being. Actually even that strong as falling in love.
When it comes to accepting feelings, it seems rather awkward for every one of the characters at first. As awkward as it seems then, it seems later just as understandable and acceptable when the film goes forth. This is a strong emphatic experience in the film that keeps changing as the characters are stating what they are actually feeling. Most emphatic you feel of course in the boots of the main character, Theodore, who is performed in the most brilliant way by Joaquin Phoenix. The relationship between Samantha and Theodore reminds of long distance relationship, where a couple can only hear each other. That was the first feeling for me, when I was trying to accept the relationship of the two. Rather soon I realized that it doesn't need to be understood. Everyone needs love and to be loved.
But how sincere the feelings are? That is something that keeps haunting the mind of mine the whole time. Samantha keeps telling how she (or it) wants to grow up as a person and therefore she seems so human-like that questioning the feelings seems just stupid. And when Theodore says something bad that could hurt her feelings, she clearly starts a little fight and tells when she is insulted. Then again, all this can be something that the programmers have programmed the hyper intelligent OS to do, teaching her to act like a human being. Does Samantha just express her feelings like a Tamagotchi would? His job is stating the love for other people from other people, but how can he not see the situation that he is himself in? Catherine (Rooney Mara) is the one to put in doubt everything. This might just be the most interesting part in the whole film and its thesis: is Theodore lonely? We see him talking mainly with a video game character and with Samantha. The answer lies there, if you think Samantha more as a person rather than just sparks and hard drive. Then maybe the next question would be, how are we different?
It is fetching how Theodore experiences everything and therefore develops massively throughout the film. Theodore is struggling to let go of a failed marriage, when the divorce documents are waiting to be signed. He likes being married and hates letting it go. However, Samantha gives him a new hope and a light for each day. One interesting point in the film is, when Theodore feels awkward with the body double of Samantha that she requests trying. Isn't that whole body double thing sort of Theodore's own job? Theodore isn't the only one changing, and some nice developing is also seen in Amy's and her spouse's relationship and characters. The most obvious developing is seen in Samantha, when she is eager to explore the whole humankind and history, interested to become more acknowledged as a person for the people.
Her is just massive film and writing about it is a little bit hard for me. I think I have so much to say about the film that I just can't or don't want to put into words. The film has huge personal value for me and that gives the film an exquisite meaning. Visually this film is great-looking and the soundtrack is full of emotions. We hear Theodore calling for a melancholy song and later characters showing exactly how they feel with tunes. Film has its own great laughs, mostly when Theodore and Amy are playing some video games. Film gives also great tears. Through all the woebegone and happy moments Her is just magnificent. I already gave a compliment for Joaquin Phoenix but becoming ladies Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson, Olivia Wilde and Rooney Mara surely deserve their's too.
In a halfway point of the year 2014, it is time for me to publish my favorite films from the year 2013. Sadly, by the time I didn't get my hands into films like Jodorowsky's Dune or Before Midnight. I welcome recommendations of any kind, although I believe that I will not update this list afterwards.
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