Letterboxd Reviews: November 2012

My Letterboxd account documents what films I am watching, usually films for the first time but occasionally a film I haven’t logged before.

Here’s a summary of the films I have watched this month, including a rating and short review for each.

This November I have watched 30 films:

Here’s what I thought of them:

Annie Hall

“Woody Allen’s finest. His character, Alvy Singer, is brutally honest and one of the most realistic characters cinema has ever seen, and his relationship with Annie is painfully truthful. Both Allen and Diane Keaton make a brilliant lead, but most of all this is just a very funny film. Scenes are played out brilliantly with the use of subtitles and split screens etc., but Annie Hall is generally just filled of stunning cinematography and I think that’s what I loved the most.”

Love Me If You Dare

“Everything was brilliant about this apart from the very end, leaving me in too much disappointment to give it the four star rating it was going towards. It’s not the fact that it didn’t end how I expected it would either, it was just a bit too ludicrous, I feel. As for the rest of the film, it was just lovely. I absolutely love Marion Cotillard in this and her chemistry with Guillaume Canet is beautiful to watch. The story shows a much darker side of love yet it is still bittersweet in many ways. Some of the scenes are quite heartbreaking, but again the end needed to be a lot more captivating for it to end as well as it started.”

Superbad

“Great roles for all of the leading trio and a genuinely hilarious film. I love Michael Cera and this was a great introduction to Jonah Hill, Emma Stone, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse too. The script is brilliant and I could quote it all day, but the general story line is just fantastic and its awkward moments easy to relate to (not so much for me, as a female, but I see a lot of my friends in these guys!).”

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

“This was the worst in the franchise, I feel. Although it was good to see the story visually acted out on the big screen, I don’t think I would have enjoyed this film if I hadn’t read the book beforehand. Eclipse is filled with action, but the story line becomes cringey as the focus is put on the selfish love triangle of the main cast. Whilst the acting makes a noticeable improvement, especially from Lautner, the Saga continues to appeal to a much younger audience, emphasising the morals behind the story rather than the excitement described through the detailed scenes in the book. In terms of story line, however, the adaptation is actually quite successful, including all of the important aspects of the book, only occasionally skipping over explanations that may have been needed for clarifications in the next film. What helps to make the story work better on the big screen, though, and a constant quality of the adaptations, is the stunning soundtrack and the beautifully shot scenes of Forks, both of which fit around the action and drama well.”

The Twilight Saga: New Moon

“This is where the franchise took a horrible turning point that, for a fan of the books, I cannot forgive it for. Things started to get a bit too ridiculous for me; the novels weren’t so childish in their attempts to tell the story of a girl who has to choose between a werewolf and a vampire, but on screen it just didn’t come to life in the right way. But there was still something I really enjoyed about it at the same time. The soundtrack, yet again, is incredible and there are a number of scenes that I felt really captivated the right emotion – the seasons changing around Bella, the montage of her waking up screaming – but the second half didn’t really work so well.”

Almost Famous

“It’s easy to see why this is one of so many people’s favourite films of all time. Whilst Almost Famous isn’t anything amazing in terms of cinematography, it’s a thoroughly lovable film. From the director of the classic 80’s rom-com ‘Say Anything’, the film has a very classic feel to it and reminds me of the just as brilliant Dazed and Confused. With a stand-out role for Kate Hudson, the film gives an impressive lead from Patrick Fugit and it’s a shame we haven’t seen more of him since. With a great supporting cast including the likes of Zooey Deschanel, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jason Lee, Rainn Wilson, Anna Paquin, and a young Jay Baruchel, too, the casting for this is just incredible. With mesmerising performances, very real characters, some very entertaining scenes (the plane confessions and the bus sing-a-long in particular) and a continuously brilliant soundtrack, this is a film I will watch over and over again. It’s just a shame the ending wasn’t more romantic.”

Hotel Chevalier

“Prequel to The Darjeeling Unlimited, this short film captures Wes Anderson’s film style perfectly in only thirteen minutes. Jason Schwartzman and Natalie Portman are brilliant, and their dialogue and chemistry makes an interesting bit of viewing. And then you get to see Portman’s bum, what’s not to like?”

Revolutionary Road

“It’s great to see the leads of Titanic in a less romantic situation, dealing with realistic struggles of the every day world. The dialogue is brilliant, the performances are natural, and the cinematography is beautiful. These three things together are what make this film extraordinary. I’ve just seen it done with more engaging characters (Blue Valentine, The Deep Blue Sea), which is my reasoning for the lower rating in comparison to them.”

The Darjeeling Unlimited

“I love how Anderson explores relationships and the characters individually at the same time, and I think this film does this at its best. Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman have a brilliant chemistry as brothers and each give superb performances. The Indian setting also suits Anderson’s style of filming really well, which makes me look forward to his upcoming film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, even more.”

Cosmopolis

“I didn’t want to be saying this, but I’m one of those viewers who just didn’t get it. It bored me for the most part and from about half way in I was just looking forward to it ending rather than wanting to know more. There was far too much talking about things that held very little meaning to me, so I couldn’t engage with it. Pattinson was brilliant though; I’m a big fan of his roles outside the Twilight Saga (Remember Me, Water For Elephants), but his role here showed that he is a very capable actor and that he has a lot more potential in him than anyone would have imagined.”

Argo

“What an incredible directorial piece of work for Affleck, hey? He handles this true story amazingly, and has created quite the periodic thriller with Argo. The whole feel of the film is captured so well, from the music to the clothing, and the tone of the film really keeps you engrossed. I found that the first half dragged a little bit but the second half was absolutely brilliant so it more than made up for it. The performances are all great and the cast is very strong, with interesting roles, especially, for the likes of Bryan Cranston. Alan Arkin and John Goodman. On a whole, it’s just a great piece of filmmaking.”

Kill List

“Erm, what? What did any of that even mean? I’m so lost… Now, before watching this film I was told that many others had reacted the same, and I thought, “Pah, idiots.” Yet here I am. Kill List is a brutal and gorey thriller that is incredibly intense and much more well-paced then I thought it would be. With decent and very natural performances from its low key cast, It could have been improved by a little more character development but it is a brilliant British film nonetheless. I do have my criticisms, however, and that comes with the films end. For me, a ridiculous ending like the one it has can really ruin a film, but whilst I was left somewhat disappointed feeling that it needed a lot more explanation behind it, I was still very impressed by everything beforehand.”

Submarine

“Richard Ayoade has creating a completely stunning film with Submarine, but unfortunately I didn’t like it much at first. I don’t want to pick it to pieces though, because it is an extremely well made film, and fortunately on a second viewing the charm comes through a lot better. The coming of age story is captivating and completely engaging because of its relateable nature, and the impressive cast are great in their roles, although Craig Robert’s voice does annoy me at times. There are parts of this film that I love, but it just didn’t win me over completely.”

The Help

“I didn’t know what to expect with this film, but after seeing it I can’t believe I held it off for so long. The Help tells an emotional and powerful story that had me in tears more than once. The cast is incredible and all of their performances are very strong – I especially love Emma Stone’s role but of course it is Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis that steal the show, whilst Jessica Chastain and Bryce Dallas Howard have great roles too.”

Layer Cake

“I keep confusing the plot of this film in my head with The 51st State, but Layer Cake is so much better. I love the cast of this film – two current Eastenders stars, one young Tom Hardy, Dumbledore and Kingsley from Harry Potter… but in all seriousness, Daniel Craig is brilliant in the lead, and this was his first stand-out role for me, in a role that probably helped him to get the Bond part (as it’s a role that also made him appear quite sexy!). The film also includes some of my favourite crime/thriller scenes – the kettle attack, the rooftop revelations – as well as some of my favourite lines – “Do you know where I live? / No. / Fuck off then.” It’s very smart and even funny in places, and for that reason it is probably my favourite drug dealing crime thriller of all; a great directorial debut for the brilliant Matthew Vaughn.”

The Lincoln Lawyer

“An amazing performance from Matthew McConaughey, and a role that made a great turning point in his career. An interesting story line that is sharply written, enough to keep you engaged anyway. I didn’t love it, though.”

The Prince of Egypt

“I absolutely love this animation, and it was one of my favourites when growing up (and even now, to be honest!). The story is one we all grew up knowing – whatever we feel about it – and the Ancient Egyptain culture was something I loved learning about at school, so this film interests me for many reasons, but mainly because it re-tells the story so well. The songs are brilliant, and this wasn’t something I realised when I was younger but the film also has a great voice cast too, including Val Kilmer, Ralph Fiennes, Sandra Bullock, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Patrick Stewart.”

Bottle Rocket

“As Wes Anderson’s debut feature, Bottle Rocket shows the very early, rough-around-the-edges stages of Anderson’s quirky directorial qualities. It doesn’t have the same feel as his later work, although it does share many similar characteristics, but it is definitely one his funnier films. Owen and Luke Wilson are great together, but apart from the occasional few laughs they give I didn’t enjoy much else.”

The Fountain

“This was far too complicated, for me – the end came together well but everything beforehand felt like it was trying to be more clever than it actually was. I need to watch it again but there wasn’t enough to make me want to straight away. One thing I can say, though, is that Weisz and Jackman have a brilliant chemistry and both are extremely compelling. The cinematography is pretty incredible, too, but on a whole it was just a bit of an odd film, I think. Poetic, but mainly boring.”

Home Alone

“A Christmas classic. This film brings back so many memories of growing up, and it will remain a film that I watch every year for a while to come. Macaulay Culkin was a great child actor and this film is just a lot of fun. I do prefer the second film, though.”

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2

“I’ve been on neutral grounds about the Twilight Saga on a whole, as whilst I am a fan of the books the films have never done them enough justice in my eyes. With this final instalment, however, I cannot help but feel a little sad that it’s all come to an end. The first film will always be my favourite instalment, but the final two Breaking Dawn chapters come close behind, and that’s because, for the most part, it sticks with a focus on its more adult themes. With Bill Condon changing the ending of Stephenie Meyer’s final novel here, in part two of his Twilight adaptations, this is one of the smartest moves the franchise has made, bringing in a sense of emotional engagement and something for its fans to appreciate. Of course, it’s never going to convert its haters, but we knew that a long time ago. This final instalment may not be the greatest of films, but it brings a decent end to the franchise, and is a fairly good adaptation overall. The action is alright, and the CGI is okay; it certainly has its cringey moments still, but what the hell, I liked it.”

P.S. I Love You

“This is a great romance that doesn’t turn your stomach or fall to clichés. It’s heartfelt, it’s original, and it’s deeply engaging. Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler have a lovely chemistry together which makes the premise of this film truly heartbreaking. With a great supporting cast too and a beautiful soundtrack, it hits a nerve every time.”

Rust & Bone

“I have been watching the trailer for this film for months, but Rust and Bone wasn’t what I was expecting at all, which is both a good and a bad thing. The soundtrack (excluding Katy Perry) and cinematography are huge qualities, but I was hoping for more underwater scenes with the orcas. Instead, we were faced with more of a focus on the male character, and whilst the scenes with his son provoke a lot of emotion, the scenes of fighting didn’t give the contrast I was hoping for. Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts are both excellent but, again, I was expecting more passion in their relationship so I was somewhat let down by that. Despite this, Cotillard is one of my favourite actresses so it was hard not to fall in love with her performance and therefore find some of the story quite moving. The film just didn’t have the captivating power I was so ready to feel from it. I just expected a little more.”

Welcome To The Rileys

“A moving film in places, Welcome to the Rileys has an emotional story at its core. The performances are brilliant, with Kristen Stewart giving one her strongest, and her on-screen relationship with James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo is what makes this film worthwhile. There are few great looking shots and the film has a very nice indie feel to it which make the sloppy parts of the script work well enough in context, but I felt it could have been a lot stronger in most aspects.”

Jane Eyre

“A pleasantly surprising adaptation of a literary classic. The soundtrack and score are beautiful, as is the periodic reconstruction, making the whole aesthetic of this film come together brilliantly. Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender are the reason that this film works so well, however, giving excellent performances and having a fairly strong chemistry that most will find engaging. They were no Kiera Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen in Pride and Prejudice, though, hence my lower rating, but what I did prefer was the intensity that this film built up, making this romantic melodrama quite dark in places and therefore very atmospheric. Whilst the leads relationship wasn’t as strong on-screen as it could have been, the ending still made me tear up.”

Beasts Of The Southern Wild

“This is one beautiful film. The premise is quite simple but there’s still a depth to it, making it powerful and emotional, but light hearted and extremely cute at the same time (I hate the word ‘cute’ but it really is!). There’s a lot of meaning behind what happens, mainly expressed through the young girl’s narration, mixing an incredible piece of imagination with a strong sense of reality. It’s completely refreshing, and a huge reason for this is because of the beautiful performance given by the lead star Quvenzhané Wallis, who really manages to pull on your heart strings.”

The Woman In Black

“I’m not sure how this was a novel beforehand as absolutely nothing happened. This was two hours of a woman’s screaming face appearing in the background and not much else. It may have made me jump every two minutes, but it wasn’t particularly scary. The ending was a bit of a let down, too, and whilst Daniel Radcliffe gave a fairly decent performance, he will always be Harry Potter to me.”

The Switch

“Well, it wasn’t awful. Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman play their typical roles, but they have a great chemistry nonetheless. It’s the child star that gives this film it’s charm, however, and the only reason that this film feels slightly engaging.”

Iron Man

“And Iron Man quickly becomes the coolest super hero there is, mainly because Robert Downey Jr. is perfect in the role. This is a brilliant mix of action and comedy, combined with a well-developed plot and excellent dialogue. All of the performances are brilliant, and Jon Favreau does an amazing job. He’s definitely done well to get non-comic book fans excited for the Marvel Universe adaptations.”

Deception

“A fairly clever film that has its original moments. I thought that it was an interesting role for Hugh Jackman, but Ewan McGregor was very average and whilst Michelle Williams was the reason I watched this film at all, she has done far better. It was all pretty mediocre but it still had its surprises, and remained interesting for the most part.”

The Reader

“An outstanding performance from Kate Winslet, and her chemistry with David Kross is strong, allowing the audience to feel sorry for her as his character does. The story is incredibly interesting and intriguing, and it unravels really well. For a two hour long film, it manages to keep you engaged until the very end as well.”

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