Worst Ten Films Of 2011

Looking down at my worst of 2011 list it seems I managed to avoid many of this year’s cinematic duds, but let me tell you that having to sit through the animation atrocity that was Mars Needs Moms, the ice cold Chalet Girl and Dream House, the horror-thriller no-one wanted to be associated with, was more than enough to see me through.

The films I’ve chosen – and believe me when I say it was a very easy process – are what I believe to represent the most reprobate films I saw Continue reading “Worst Ten Films Of 2011”

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DVD Releases: August 22, 2011

Scream 4 (Review)

Director: Wes Craven

Starring: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette Continue reading “DVD Releases: August 22, 2011”

Feature: Top Ten Films Of 2011: January – June

So far, 2011 has been a fantastic year for film. Below, I’ve compiled a list of my ten favourites from the last six months, with a few honourable mentions that just missed out on a place. Finally, I’ve listed some somewhat less honourable mentions that you should probably avoid at all costs.

10. Never Let Me Go (February 2011)

Mark Romanek’s shamefully overlooked adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s momentous novel Never Let Me Go wasn’t exactly the hit Fox Searchlight were banking on, but that didn’t stop it being a beautifully explorative, acted and directed piece of cinema.

9. Animal Kingdom (February 2011)

This Australian crime-thriller rose from the underbelly, picking up momentum thick and fact for its astoundingly honest portrayal of a fully functional crime family. Striking direction, raw performances and compelling source material have made well worth seeking out.

8. Archipelago (March 2011)

Joanna Hogg’s stark look at family turmoil is beautifully captured and carefully paced to provide a deeply resonant and affecting glimpse into the highs and lows of family life and what makes people tick.

7. Heartbeats (May 2011)

Multi-faceted Xavier Dolan follows in the footsteps of acclaimed filmmakers Gus Van Sant, Pedro Almodóvar and Wong Kar Wai to write and direct Heartbeats, a film of true beauty, wisdom and depth beyond its years.

6. Arrietty (June 2011 – EIFF)

Studio Ghibli’s sprightly interpretation of Mary Norton’s acclaimed children’s book The Borrowers is directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, under the watchful eye of filmmaker extraordinaire Hayao Miyazaki. Arrietty boasts some truly illustrious animation and a score by French musician Cecile Corbel that made me go weak at the knees.

5. Bridesmaids (June 2011)

Kristen Wiig, well known for her long-standing stint on Saturday Night Live, was launched to stardom with hit comedy Bridesmaids. Directed by Paul Feig, the film features an array of flawless comedic performances, unforgettable gags and the goddess-like figure Rose Bryne.

4. Albatross (June 2011 – EIFF)

Niall McCormick’s British coming-of-age film premiered at the 65th Edinburgh International Film Festival to rave reviews. Written by burgeoning writer Tamzin Refn, Albatross is a fully realised and thought-provoking piece of cinema, chock full of heart, depth and humour to boot. If Jessica Findlay-Brown doesn’t become a star, then there’s something seriously wrong with the world.

3. Black Swan (January 2011)

Granted, this film opened last year in America, but due to different release schedules it was early January before I had a chance to see Natalie Portman give an Academy Award winning performance in Darren Aronofsky’s daringly dark psychological ballet thriller. Hauntingly brilliant.

2. Submarine (March 2011)

Former IT Crowd actor Richard Ayoade made his directorial debut with the mesmerising, outlandish and warm-hearted indie comedy Submarine. The entire cast, not least relative newcomer Craig Roberts, delivered remarkable performances.

1. Blue Valentine (January 2011)

This emotionally crippling insight into one couple’s turbulent relationship shot Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams back into the limelight, and earned them a few dozen award nominations in the process. After years of suffering various unfortunate setbacks, Derek Cianfrance’s passion project came to fruition with such intensity that it was hard to ignore. From the offset I was hooked, so it’d be impossible for Blue Valentine not to be my top film of the year so far.

Films of notable interest: Hobo With A Shotgun, Trust, Project Nim, Attack The Block, Rango, The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adèle Blanc-Sec, Rubber, Pina 3D, Scream 4, Winnie The Pooh, Meek’s Cutoff, X-Men: First Class, The Silent House, 13 Assassins, Perfect Sense, Thor and Cave Of Forgotten Dreams.

Films to think no more of: Mars Needs Moms, Larry Crowne, Ghosted, I Am Number Four, The Rite, Faster, Chalet Girl, Red Riding Hood and Battle: Los Angeles.

UK Box Office: April 29 – May 1, 2011

1. Thor – £5,449,300

2. Fast Five – £2,609,244

3. Insidious – £1,441,292

4. Rio – £801,102

5. Arthur – £682,187

6. Scream 4 – £396,190

7. Hop – £314,829

8. Beastly – £210,974

9. Source Code – £196,978

10. Red Riding Hood – £169,325

UK Box Office: April 22 – 24, 2011

1. Fast Five – £5,332,096

2. Rio – £886,669

3. Arthur – £764,468

4. Scream 4 – £730,963

5. Beastly – £553,069

6. Hop – £466,676

7. Red Riding Hood – £345,421

8. Source Code – £331,988

9. TT3D: Closer To The Edge – £312,998

10. Limitless – £282,879

Review: Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood is director Catherine Hardwicke’s follow-up to the hugely successful Twilight, and stars Amanda Seyfried, Shiloh Fernandez, Max Irons, Lukas Haas, Billy Burke, Gary Oldman and Julie Christie.

Valerie (Seyfried) is a beautiful young woman torn between two men. She is in love with a brooding outsider, Peter (Fernandez), but her parents have arranged for her to marry the wealthy Henry (Irons). Unwilling to lose each other, Valerie and Peter plan to run away together when they learn that Valerie’s older sister has been killed by the werewolf that prowls the dark forest surrounding their village.

For years, the people have maintained an uneasy truce with the beast, offering the creature a monthly animal sacrifice. But under a blood red moon, the wolf has upped the stakes by taking a human life. Hungry for revenge, the people call on famed werewolf hunter, Father Solomon (Oldman), to help them kill the wolf. But Solomon’s arrival brings unintended consequences as he warns that the wolf, who takes human form by day, could be any one of them.

As the death toll rises with each moon, Valerie begins to suspect that the werewolf could be someone she loves. As panic grips the town, Valerie discovers that she has a unique connection to the beast – one that inexorably draws them together, making her both suspect and bait.

Hardwicke’s direction is limp and lifeless, undoubtedly let down by awkward staging, tacky production design and a script that doesn’t seem to know where it’s going, what era it’s in or how best to use its talent both in front of and behind the camera.

Seyfried is striking to look at and easily fulfills the sumptuous ‘big eyes’ part of the characters profile, but it never capitalises on the actress’ raw talent to demonstrate both innocence and transgression simultaneously.

The less said about the male leads, the better, as neither Fernandez nor Irons prove themselves capable of acting with conviction – they’re merely there as objects of Valerie’s affection.

The supporting crop, including Oldman, Christie, Haas and Burke, all take a decent stab at their respective characters, showing much more conviction and flair than the younger, more integral group, but they suffer from far too many cliches, hilariously cheesy dialogue, and severely limited screen time to make an overlying impression.

Red Riding Hood is quite obviously cashing in on the Twilight crowd, and does nothing to convince audiences otherwise. It’s badly acted, badly scripted and shockingly directed.

Saying that, with its glossy aesthetic, thundering emo-rock soundtrack and inclusion of Seyfried, there are obvious attempts at bringing the old Red Riding Hood fairytale into the 21st century, but sadly Hardwicke’s vision isn’t strong or clear enough for it to be any more than a disastrous attempt.

UK Box Office: April 15 – 17, 2011

1. Scream 4 – £2,061,885

2. Rio – £1,695,927

3. Your Highness – £926,338

4. Red Riding Hood – £842,398

5. Hop – £788,809

6. Source Code – £674,202

7. Limitless – £603,963

8. Winnie The Pooh – £159,369

9. Sucker Punch – £144,612

10. Little White Lies – £125,273

Cinema Releases: April 15, 2011

Scream 4

Director: Wes Craven

Starring: Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courteney Cox

Red Riding Hood

Director: Catherine Hardwicke

Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Lukas Haas and Gary Oldman

Winnie The Pooh

Director: Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall

Starring: Jim Cummings, Craig Ferguson and John Cleese

Little White Lies

Director: Guillaume Canet

Starring: François Cluzet, Marion Cotillard and Benoît Magimel

Meek’s Cutoff

Director: Kelly Reichardt

Starring: Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood and Paul Dano

The Last Picture Show

Director: Peter Bogdanovich

Starring: Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges and Cybill Shepherd

US Box Office: March 25 – 27, 2011

1. Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules – $24,400,000

2. Sucker Punch – $19,015,000

3. Limitless – $15,225,000

4. The Lincoln Lawyer – $11,000,000

5. Rango – $9,800,000

6. Battle: Los Angeles – $7,600,000

7. Paul – $7,506,000

8. Red Riding Hood – $4,340,000

9. The Adjustment Bureau – $4,245,000

10. Mars Needs Moms – $2,186,000

US Box Office: March 18 – 20, 2011

1. Limitless – $19,000,000

2. Rango – $15,315,000

3. Battle: Los Angeles – $14,600,000

4. The Lincoln Lawyer – $13,400,000

5. Paul – $13,155,000

6. Red Riding Hood – $7,225,000

7. The Adjustment Bureau – $5,932,000

8. Mars Needs Moms – $5,317,000

9. Beastly – $3,260,000

10. Hall Pass – $2,600,000