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.
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.
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
Dracula, now running a hotel, suffers every undead father’s worst nightmare when a young human boy discovers the hotel and falls in love with his daughter. Were this not an animated children’s film the boy would be dead within minutes.
Jeff from Coupling looking suspiciously like Andy Serkis plays a drug dealer whose life goes awry due to him being a drug dealer and hence working in an industry fraught with peril. The trailer makes this look quite good but then trailers can be deceptive bastards.
A struggling author accidentally writes his dream girl into existence. Much more substance than Stranger than Fiction, Ruby Sparks is dark, funny, and deep. I liked it.
Hit and Run
“Former getaway driver Charlie Bronson jeopardizes his Witness Protection Plan identity in order to help his girlfriend get to Los Angeles. The feds and Charlie’s former gang chase them on the road.” A road trip chase comedy with pretty poor reviews.
On the Road (limited release)
Road trip movie #2. Adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s cult free-wheeling novel that is potentially unfilmable. All anyone seems to care about is that Twilight‘s Bella turns up in a small role in which she does adult things to two men at one. In a car. While one of them is driving. What would Edward think!?
Private Peaceful (limited release)
“Set in the fields of Devon and the WWI battlefields of Flanders, two brothers fall for the same girl while contending with the pressures of their feudal family life, the war, and the price of courage and cowardice.” In a wartime drama the main characters’ surnames are Peaceful. Subtle.
Bhoot Returns (limited release)
Radioman (limited release)
Documentary about a former homeless man in New York City who has made cameo appearances on over 100 films and TV shows. This guy needs to update his IMDb page, he could bring Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon to its knees.
Lonely writer Calvin (Paul Dano) is struggling to write his second novel when he starts to dream about a young woman. Finally inspired he starts to write the book of their first meeting and subsequent romance. Much to his surprise the girl from his novel appears in his kitchen completely unaware that she is a fictional creation. At first all is well with the enigmatic Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan) but when the cracks in their relationship start to show Calvin finds himself tempted to “tweak” his dream girl by writing more about her. And you thought your boyfriend was controlling.
On the surface Ruby Sparks comes across as yet another typical indie film in which an unattractive male snares a beautiful but damaged manic pixie dream girl but there is much more to the film than that. Ruby Sparks is actually seeming to comment on the very nature of the manic pixie dream girl as the idealised romantic interest for nerds. The film goes to show that these women of fantasy are real, have flaws, and deserve to be treated as full human beings rather than whimsical ideas capable of brightening an otherwise dull existence.
While funny throughout Ruby Sparks is not an out-and-out comedy. Once Calvin and Ruby have settled into a relationship a rather dark idea starts to permeate the film; if you could “fix” your partner would you? Should you? Calvin has Ruby in the most controlling type of relationship, one in which if he wants her to love him differently he can make it so simply by typing it. The scene in which this level of control comes to a head is intense, unsettling, and a little heartbreaking. It is not uncommon in life to love someone and yet somehow hurt them more than you would anyone else.
Zoe Kazan has written a truly intriguing tale looking not just at the way women can be reduced in the male writer’s mind to a collection of quirks with no feelings, but also at the way some people try to control those they love the most. Kazan has taken on the title role herself and puts in an impressive performance as the ever-changing Ruby Sparks. Despite the changing personality there is a single coherent character present. One that both conforms to the manic pixie dream girl stereotype and tries to break out beyond it.
Other people with more impressive names are in this film but it is all down to Kazan and Dano. It is easy to sympathise with both even as one becomes an oppressor and the other simply doesn’t really exist.
Ruby Sparks is in UK cinemas 12th October 2012