Progress Report: Winter 2013 in Film

WinterQuarter2013

Compared to last year, Winter was a little down.  I did end up seeing 18 movies, but the quality is what suffered even more.  While I certainly enjoyed enough of the movies, I wouldn’t call very many “good,” and I’d venture to guess there wasn’t a “great” movie in the bunch.  Click here for the complete list of films from January 1-March 31.  Please note, I have missed a couple films.

Missed: The Gatekeepers, Lore, No, Oz the Great and Powerful, Room 237, The Sapphires, Spring Breakers, Stoker, Trance, Warm Bodies, and Yossi.

Honorable Mentions: LUV and Snitch

Top 5 Movies (Alphabetical Order)

“The Angels’ Share”

This one barely squeaked onto the list.  The British comedy/drama isn’t the most accessible film.  However, it kinda has a “Trainspotting” feel to it.  It’s about a troubled new father trying to escape his old life, so he turns away from crime to…more crime.  Makes sense right?  What if the crime is an elaborate heist of almost priceless whiskey?  That’s exactly what “The Angels’ Share” is and the relationship between the main character, Robbie, and his mentor, Harry, make the film worth it.  Plus, his band of misfits are pretty damn funny…even if it doesn’t seem like a funny premise

“My Brother the Devil”

Probably the best of the lot, “My Brother the Devil” is a surprising tale about two Arab brothers trying to make it in London.  Being “outsiders,” the two brothers turned to crime to fit in.  However, while one, Mo, is on the way into the crime business, the other (Rashid) is on the way out.  The two face plenty of prejudices – some you wouldn’t expect – and the conflict that truly comes to the surface is much different than you’d probably expect.  I won’t ruin what the conflict is, but I will say that it didn’t bother me at all.  This film goes to show how accepting we should be culturally, and that is a huge part of the film’s effectiveness.  It also marks the debut of Sally El Hosaini as a director and James Floyd as a great actor.

“Side Effects”

Of the five movies on the “Best Of” list, this is the only wide release.  Steven Soderbergh’s potentially final film stars Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, and Jude Law.  It’s the most traditional in praise.  Soderbergh’s direction, Mara and Law’s performances, and Scott Z. Burns’ script all stand out.  The hidden standout, though, was Peter Andrews’ cinematography.  The muted colors perfectly portrayed the psychological aspect of the film.  However, I do think the film missed the chance to go from “good” to “great” when it focused more on business than psychology.  Don’t let that deter you, it’s still a quality flick you should check out.

“Starbuck”

I saw this film so long ago.  It played at last year’s Seattle International Film Festival and had its U.S. release pushed back.  From what I remember, the film was insanely funny and it marked the first time subtitles enhanced the comedy.  The French-Canadian film, directed by Ken Scott, is about a degenerate middle-aged man trying to figure out his life.  But get this…he’s unknowingly the father to 533 children!  When he was growing up, he regularly donated sperm.  When his children band together to find his identity, his life obviously changes.  It may sound like the premise to a stupid raunchy-comedy, but “Starbuck” isn’t this.  It has a surprising amount of heart.

“The Sweeney”

Another limited release and another film taking place in Britain.  “The Sweeney” is based on a British TV drama (which I’ve never seen) and is about Detective Jack Regan’s (Ray Winstone) quest for justice.  The rugged Flying Squad officer is a Jack Bauer-like figure that goes to any length to get justice.  The actual plot is pretty pedestrian – insert bank robbery and corrupt government officials – but there’s something about Regan that is so enjoyable.  Nick Love directed the film and he excellently films one of the best scenes of the year (the tracking shoot-out across London).  In a quarter full of action movies, “The Sweeney” is the best.

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I’m not going to lie, this quarter was far less than desirable.  There were some gems in the rough.  However, I’m still looking for the big diamond.  While “Iron Man 3,” “Star Trek Into Darkness,” and “Man of Steel” won’t really be diamonds in the rough, I’m hopeful the blockbusters and indies for next quarter amount to far better results.  Let me know what I missed…

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