Top 10 Films of 2012

2012

It’s finally here! Welcome to my obligatory annual blogger’s list in which I try to rank incomparable films that share one thing in common – a 2012 UK release date. I tried to limit myself to just 10 films this year after finding 20 a bit too many in 2011. I managed to whittle my list down to 10, then added two I felt I just couldn’t leave out. It’s my top 10, I can have 12 if I want to.

12 - Holy Motors

Holy Motors starts the list in a cautious manner. I slept through a lot of the film and confessed as much in my review. Watching a famously mind-boggling film in French while half asleep was a terrifying experience. I could barely read the subtitles and would often wake up to find the lead actor was playing a different character to when I was last conscious.

The film follows a mysterious man as he travels between appointments in a stretch limo. What appointments are these? I couldn’t even begin to explain. Suffice to say that each time the limo stops a different character step out to play a minor or major role in someone elses lives. The end is so bizarre I thought I had actually dreamt it. One of the Jo(h)ns I saw the film with has tirelessly defended it over the past three months and I couldn’t not include it in my extended top 10. In Jon’s own words:

“It came out of nowhere, it was beautiful, strange, intriguing and was utterly compelling even though I don’t think I really understood it. Just like a girl I used to fancy.”

No other film on this list includes two erect penises.

11 - The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

How could I not? This film about a retirement home in India catering only to British actors of the finest pedigree. It was a film featuring both Dame Judi and Maggie, comprised of a myriad of storylines and was consistently funny and touching for the entirety of its two-hour running film.

Many have said that the success of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is down to its ability to pick up the grey pound. While I admit that this is one of very few films last year that could be said to specifically cater to the older generation I think the appeal expands far beyond the wrinkled amongst us. As I exited the screening at 20th Century Fox in Soho Square (ahem) I instantly texted both my mum and my sister (such is the life of the single blogger) to let them know that their new favourite film was hitting cinemas in a couple of months.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a warm hug that everyone can enjoy and famously (well, not really) made me want to whisk Judi Dench off to India and retire in a dilapidated hotel.

And now for the proper Top 10: Continue reading

Holy Motors – Non-Review

After getting no sleep at the weekend I made the foolish decision of seeing Holy Motors late on Monday evening. Slouched down in my seat I teetered on the edge of consciousness for the full two-hour duration trying to keep a grasp on what little narrative there was and holding my eyes open just enough to be able to read the subtitles. Because I didn’t watch Holy Motors with a full quota of consciousness I don’t think it fair to properly review the film. Instead I will offer some words before wandering off to bed to catch up on the 15 hours of sleep I seem to be missing.

Holy Motors is a unique piece of French art house cinema which I am now going to struggle to synopsise. The main character is Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant) and yet we never really get to know him. Instead we follow Oscar as he moves from appointment to appointment in a stretch limousine, constantly changing his face, posture, and outfit as he takes on various roles in the world. At one appointment Oscar is a beggar woman, the next he is a motion capture performer before moving on to play an evil model-kidnapping leprechaun and so on. The whole sequence of events is mind-boggling and dream-like – not least because I was occasionally asleep.

There’s no denying that Leos Carax has directed a beautiful film or that Denis Lavant provides a real showcase of his acting talents as he fully embodies eleven wildly different characters. There’s no denying as well that Kylie Minogue sings a truly heartbreaking song, that she sings it live, and that I want to play it to myself, drink red wine, and cry a little. However… there’s also no denying that I felt detached from Oscar as the majority of the time I spent with him he wasn’t being himself. Arguably with half my brain trying to escape and frolic in a dream world with the pretty girl from work, I wasn’t in the best position to relate with the character but I simply didn’t. Lavant did manage to radiate an inherent sadness and loneliness, something that must come with not having a life of your own but literally living vicariously through others.

Hang on, I think I’ve started to convince myself that Holy Motors is a good film. Thinking about it the idea at the centre of the film is pretty remarkable. There are many people in your day-to-day life that you only see for a few minutes a day. What is that woman you see on the train every day doing when you aren’t with her? Does she go on existing or does she hop in a limo and become the barista at your local Starbucks? Presumably she goes on existing, but can you be sure!? Ask her tomorrow, see what she says.

Holy Motors does have an interesting idea at its centre, is lovely to look at, and filled with fine acting… but the individual vignettes themselves weren’t necessarily making the most of the idea. For every scene in which Kylie Minogue breaks your heart there is another in which you watch two giant snake demons have graphic sex. At the film’s climax things take such a turn from the sublime to the ridiculous that I genuinely thought I may have dreamt it.

Certainly not terrible Holy Motors could well be considered a work of art. All I would say is that don’t see it without getting a full night’s sleep or the whole experience will become more than your emotionally unstable little brain can handle.

Kat’s note: If you are looking for a non-sleep-deprived opinion, the friends who attended the same screening with Tim enthusiastically declared it “good”. (See comment below, as I have obviously undersold their reaction.)

Out Now – 28th September 2012

Looper
JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT!!!
RIAN JOHNSON!!!
TIME TRAVEL!!!
BRUCE WILLIS!!!
NO OTHER FILM MATTERS TODAY!!!
NOT EVEN FELICITY JONES IN A FILM ABOUT VIBRATORS BEATS THIS!!!

Resident Evil: Retribution
The fifth (fifth!?) instalment in the Resident Evil series. Milla Jonovich is clearly terrible at killing zombies.

The Campaign
It’s funny comedy time as Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis play rival candidates for US congress. Not as funny as it should be say the reviews I have hastily read. Not enough time travels say I.

Barbara (limited release)
When I was 7 I found out that my teacher’s name was Barbara and it felt like the world’s most explosive revelation. Now Barbara is a film about a “doctor working in 1980s East Germany finds herself banished to a small country hospital.” So a German Doc Martin then?

Holy Motors (limited release)
Controversial art house drama about a man who is driven around town in a limo/dressing room taking on various guises/roles/characters. Essentially a series of short vignettes in which each shares a character playing a different character. Does that make any sense?

Husbands (limited re-release)
“A common friend’s sudden death brings three men, married with children, to reconsider their lives and ultimately leave together. But mindless enthusiasm for regained freedom will be short-lived.” Stars the late Peter Falk. Sad face.

The Babymakers (London only)
After a man’s sperm becomes lazy he plots to steal back some of his less lazy sperm from the sperm bank in order to impregnate his wife. He clearly should have put his sperm into a current account rather than whatever strict saver he seems to have become stuck in.

Cross of Honour/Into the White (limited release)
English and German pilots shoot each other down and are forced to struggle for survival together in the same isolated cabin in the Norwegian wilderness. With Rupert Grint among the cast this feel like the angsty camping segment of Deathly Hallows but with less sexy Emma Watson.