Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Cinemafool Review of 2006

It’s hard to believe 2006 has rolled past already. With 41 films seen in 2005, I can happily reveal that this year I’ve seen not just 41, not just 42, but a plentiful 43 new films at the cinema. Not bad considering I spent two months away from the big screen with my foot caked in bandages and scar tissue. And lest us not forget the trips to the cinema that have not been noted on this site, be it obscure old foreign flicks (the German ‘23’ – thanks Kinoland, quite enjoyed that one), the old classics (Nightmare Before Christmas, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) or the “oh my God I didn’t remember this being so frickin’ depressing” Watership Down.

But let’s get to the important stuff. The top 10 of 2006. Below is the list in chronological order. You may notice I have included an updated rating. This is because I’m trying to utilise my CF points more in 2007, with CF5 being maximum brilliance, CF0 being recommended, and CF-5 being maximum shite. The updated ratings for these 10 films will be used as a guide for next year’s reviews.

So here we go – the Top 10 of 2006. You seen any?

A Cock & Bull Story
What: Michael Winterbottom’s attempt at an unfilmable book, with a blend of fiction and realism.
Seen: 1st February
Rating given: 8
Updated rating: CF2
I said then: Sometimes amusing, but not an out-and-out comedy… a refreshing attempt at something new.
I say now: Slightly misunderstood, you probably have to be a bit pretentious to get it. But look to the comparisons between Coogan and his character and you’ll see this is a smart little film with some brilliant little touches.
I also used the phrase: I’m so far up my own arse.

What: Emotional Oscar winner for best foreign language film about a thug who ends up looking after a baby.
Seen: 27th April
Rating given: 8.5/10
Updated Rating: CF3
I said then: Afterwards I was left with a wedge of emotion… anyone who feels nothing after watching this film doesn’t just have a heart of stone – they’re soulless evil.
I say now: Still a solid film, and though I wouldn’t rush to watch it over and over, I’d definitely recommend it.
I also used the phrase: I’m not even a big fan of babies.

What: High school film noir, with Third Rock From The Sun’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a pupil solving the murder of his girl.
Seen: 16th May
Rating given: CF2
Updated rating: CF2
I said then: Keep noir in your mind and it hits the spot… there was some good stuff in this film.
I say now: Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the driving force behind Brick’s entry into the top 10. It’s on my radar as a film to watch again, and with his solid performance and some unusual and creative direction, this is a good, original (well, is a homage ever really original?) effort for the year.
I also used the phrase: A glasses-wearing hero who isn’t a dweeb.

What: Terry Gilliam’s insane style is applied to the story of a young girl who makes friends with her dolls’ heads and some creepy creepy neighbours.
Seen: 8th August
Rating given: CF1
Updated rating: CF2
I said then: If you accept its differences and are willing to open your mind, you may well enjoy Tideland… it dared to be a bit different, the performances were impressive… well done Terry.
I say now: Stuck with me, this one, and I’ve marked it as one to re-watch. Bit of an odd one, but there’s something distinctly charming about it. Go on. Try it and see.
I also used the phrase: a mind-fuck.

A Scanner Darkly
What: Adaptation of Philip K Dick’s book on addiction, starring Keanu Reaves all animated with rotoscope technology.
Seen: 23rd August
Rating given: CF2
Updated rating: CF3
I said then: The essence of the book was captured successfully… realising Dick’s idea perfectly.
I say now: Visually one of the most captivating films of the year, and probably the closet adaptation of Dick’s work to date.
I also used the phrase: Like giving Ben Affleck a crayon.

What: British comedy/horror sees a bunch of office workers picked off in the woods by a creepy dude.
Seen: 30th August
Rating given: CF1
Updated rating: CF2
I said then: A decent script, likeable characters and some moments of absurd hilarity. This is why it shines. Best way to sum it up is “knife in the arse”. In reality, it’s pretty damn unpleasant. But it’s also funny as hell.
I say now: This makes the top 10 because it was so much fun. Fun horror, fun comedy. And amongst all the darkness of this top 10, you need a bit of fun. Especially when it’s done this well.
I also used the phrase: Creepy dude with a pair of shears.

Right At Your Door
What: LA dirty bomb drama that bypasses the disaster flick and goes right for the human heart.
Seen: 24th September
Rating given: CF2
Updated rating: CF4
I said then: An emotional, unsettling drama worthy of your attention.
I say now: Still makes me shudder, this is a little film with a big impact. Watch it.
I also used the phrase: Reminded me of a scene in Watership Down.

Children Of Men
What: Chilling vision of a buggered future with no kids and a crap government obsessed with illegal immigrants.
Seen: 27th Sep 06
Rating given: CF3
Updated rating: CF5
I said then: I just command you to watch this film… a chilling yet believable view of the future and some stupendous direction.
I say now: Still in my mind as one of the best films seen this year. It’s a tad bleak, but oh so very good.
I also used the phrase: average action pleb.

The Departed

What: Scorsese’s third film with DiCaprio, combining mafia/police mole confusion into a bulky drama.
Seen: 14th October
Rating given: CF2
Updated rating: CF4
I said then: The plot is sly… the performances spot on…a master-class in acting and directing.
I say now: A good introduction to Scorsese for beginners, or another solid contribution to his impressive CV. Beefy acting, engaging plot. Another brilliant effort.
I also used the phrase: Probably all tourists.

Pan’s Labyrinth
What: Dark Spanish film that sets the horrors of the Spanish civil war set against a little girl’s fantasies inside a creepy Labyrinth.
Seen: 6th Dec
Rating given: CF2
Updated rating: CF3
I said then: An unsettling but compelling experience. It boasts a strong cast, prominent direction and awesome effects.
I say now: The most recently seen of the top 10, but its sheer presence and texture make this a strong contender this year. Not a frolic of fun, but definitely worth your attention.
I also used the phrase: David Bowie’s gigantic crotch.

2006: The Turkeys
There were a few films that got my goat this year, either for being a bit disappointing, irritatingly bland or just utter shite. The main culprits were:

Little Fish
What: Cate Blanchett plays Aussie drug addict.
Seen: 26th July
Rating given: CF-1
Updated rating: CF-2
I used phrases like:
Lots of slow build-up, then just a big fizzle at the end.
Well acted, but long and quite frankly boring.
More like one of those single cell organisms at the very depths of the sea.

Angel A
What: Luc Besson’s black and white guardian angel blah blah blah.
Seen: 9th August
Rating given: CF-1
Updated rating: CF-2
I used phrases (with the voice of Karen the Producer) like:
It might look very pretty, Luc, but that doesn’t make it a good film.
Your plot is as skeletal as your angel.
God I’d be a great producer.

The History Boys
What: Film adaptation of Alan Bennett’s stage play about school boys trying to get into Oxbridge.
Seen: 1st November
Rating given: CF-2
Updated rating: CF-4
I used phrases like:
The boys were irritating little pricks… I just wanted them all to die horribly.
Characterisation, Spice-Girl style.
The dialogue continued to pour forth like bacterial infected blood from a relentlessly singing, poetry-quoting wound.
All in all I seem to be much crosser than I had originally planned.

And finally. The big tamale.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.
What: Endless, pointless drivel. At sea.
Seen: 13th July 06
Rating given: CF-3
Updated rating: CF-5
Choice phrases:
150 minutes long.
One hundred and fifty minutes.
The sort of thing that young children come up with when they start to make little sense and get a bit annoying.
Orlando Bloom… the simpleton you can’t shout at… so bad it made me wonder if this was tongue-in-cheek acting.
Keira Knightly… orange face, square jaw and smugness that oozes from every pore.
To have a crap film take up 150 minutes of my life with crap, and then end in a crap way without resolving anything. It’s just taking the piss.

Most Ironic Fact of the Year
Highest grossing film of the year… Shite Pirates of the Shite-ibbean. It grossed over $1 billion.
Thus confirming my view that the majority of the public are idiots.

Second Most Ironic Fact of the Year
I’m highly aware that I saw Shite Pirates of the Shite-ibbean, and therefore contributed to its $1 billion travesty. I only hope that everyone else who saw it also realised their mistake, and the third film tanks like a big, fat, lead-filled tank.

The End

So there you have it. That was 2006. There’s a list of ten films for you to watch. There’s a couple you shouldn’t bother with. Bring on 2007. Let’s see what you have to offer.

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