Letterboxd Reviews: June 2013

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 June I have watched 53 films:

Here’s what I thought of them:

Keeping the Faith

“Quite a fresh take on the rom-com genre from the drivel we are used to today. I wasn’t expecting much from romantic leads by Ben Stiller and Edward Norton but their comedic and likeable, albeit somewhat awkward, characters make for a romantic drama worth watching. Alongside Jenna Elfman, Keeping The Faith is a funny, light-hearted, and highly re-watchable feel-good film.”

Husbands and Wives

“Much of the same from Woody Allen with the focus on how the mind wonders when in a relationship, but that’s precisely what I love about his work. Allen, this time alongside Mia Farrow, yet again creates brilliant, erratic characters, who are individually so well crafted that this film and its situations feel completely natural from start to end. The ups and downs of a relationship that the film explores are thought provoking, thoroughly engaging, and geniusly scripted, so much so that Husbands and Wives will make you question a few of these philosophies yourself.”

Death Proof

“On reading reviews for this film I keep noticing the phrase “Tarantino’s worst feature film”. Well, I have to disagree. I actually much prefer this to Pulp Fiction. Death Proof is incredibly sexy but also gruesomely gorey at the same time. What I enjoyed most about this film, however, is that it follows a group of female leads; Kurt Russell is undeniably brilliant but the credit has to go to them this time around, I think. It’s outrageous, the villain is terrifying, the dialogue is brilliant, the soundtrack is classic, and the ladies are hot – QT’s film-making qualities shine throughout and I’m surprised by how much I want to re-watch this one already.”

Withnail & I

“Withnail & I is hilarious and full of great British humour, as it follows two brilliant, even if self-destructive, characters. Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann are certainly THE best slackers to follow.”

Wall-e

“Aside from the Toy Story films, this is my favourite Pixar animation. The animation is truly stunning, and for a film with very little dialogue, in the first half at least, it is completely captivating. The characters are some of the most charming that an animated film has ever created, managing to be romantic in a way I never thought possible, and it certainly an impressive film for all ages. I also really liked that Simone described this as a dystopia, because I never thought of that whilst watching the film but I completely agree. As a dystopian film, the writers create a believable future world that is quite threatening when you think about it on a serious level. But hey, let’s just think of it as the lovely, fun adventure that it is.”

Frida

“I studied a lot of Frida Kahlo’s art in my A Levels so it was really interesting to see a story about her life. And what a tragic life she lived. Salma Hayek plays the role perfectly.”

Starter for 10

“A young James McAvoy stars in this charming, period rom-com full of great British talent. With many great supporting roles from the likes of Rebecca Hall, Benedict Cumberbatch, Catherine Tate, and Dominic Cooper, Starter for 10 is horribly corny but it’s quirkiness makes for some light-hearted fun. Most of all, I love the soundtrack. The constant use of The Cure felt so fitting and really suited the atmosphere of the film. Definitely going to have to read the book at some point now.”

Brokeback Mountain

“Brokeback Mountain is a beautifully told story about two men and their powerful but conflicted relationship. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal are both outstanding and compelling in the leads, but there are a number of fantastic supporting roles from the likes of Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway, and Kate Mara, as well. The cinematography is stunning but this really is all about the chemistry between Ledger and Gyllenhaal. The story is handled fantastically, and because the two leads portray their characters’ forbidden love for each other so believably, its consequences are heart-wrenching.”

Amélie

“Talk about a feel-good movie, Amélie is all about striving for happiness, doing good unto others, and making the most of the tiny pleasures in life. That certainly lifted my spirits a little. Audrey Tatou is absolutely adorable and I think this has to be one of my favourite roles for her, although she is always exceptional.”

The young Victoria

“I like a good period drama but this didn’t do a lot for me. The costumes and sets were equally beautiful, but I didn’t care much for the characters. I find it difficult to see Emily Blunt as a serious actress, although she was brilliant in Looper, so her role felt a little misplaced, to me at least. Not being able to connect to the characters also meant that I didn’t find The Young Victoria an emotional or engaging drama, which are big flaws for a biographical film.”

Stoker

“Stoker is a film that I had been waiting to see for ages, but unfortunately it wasn’t showing at my local cinema so I had to wait until the DVD release to finally get to see it. It was certainly worth the wait, though, and it quickly zoomed into my Top 5 favourite films of the year.”

Star Trek Into Darkness

“I’ve never been a fan of anything Star Trek-y up until J. J. Abrams’ first take on the franchise with Star Trek in 2009, but he certainly peaked my interest then. Its sequel, Into Darkness, however, doesn’t quite do the same. The returning cast, again, are brilliant. The actors and their characters were one of the great things about Star Trek so to see them all return to their roles was an impressive factor. Unfortunately it was the story where I felt this sequel was lacking. Whilst complex and well-told, I didn’t find it at all interesting.”

Reality Bites

“I’ve seen a lot of people describe this film as “cute” and “cheesey”, but they are probably the last two words I would use to describe Reality Bites. I would say it is a quirky, 90s high school drama that people of my age questioning, “What are we supposed to do now?”, can easily relate to. As Ben Stiller’s feature directorial debut, Reality Bites isn’t revolutionary but it’s a great romantic, comedy drama if you don’t take it too seriously. I hate hipsters too but Winona Ryder and Ethan Hawke are both too brilliant to shrug off as dislikeable characters. They’re romance is real albeit not very emotional but they have a great chemistry that makes the whole film very believable. I guess it’s not a film for everybody and it won’t be making it on any of my Top Film lists, but it works.”

New York Stories

“Combining some of the greatest directors of their time, some of my favourites still today, you would have thought that New York Stories would have been quite the masterpiece. Whilst it’s not awful, it still seems to be a collection of their worst pieces of film-making. Martin Scorsese’s opening act “Life Lessons” is quite forgettable. It’s nothing really interesting and nothing really like his other work which was a shame. Francis Ford Coppola’s middle act “Life without Zoe” was probably my favourite. The story idea was clever and it was quite funny. Woody Allen’s “Oedipus Wrecks” concludes the film with a great story but not one I could relate to as well as Allen’s other films. All in all, everything was very average.”

Snatch

“So it turns out I enjoy Snatch more with every watch! The characters, the dialogue, the cast, the… everything. It’s just fantastic. I love Guy Ritchie’s directing style. The intertwining stories are brought together brilliantly, and they are individually just as good as the last. Vinnie Jones, Brad Pitt, and Jason Statham, are just a few of the big names in this and they each have their own hilariously memorable quotes.”

Upstream Color

“Shane Carruth has one complex mind. This is both a good and a bad point when thinking about Upstream Colour, or his filmography as a whole to be honest. Just like Primer, I’ve had to do a lot of reading after watching this film. Fortunately, it turns out that the film was pretty straight forward despite its muddled structure, and that in fact I did understand what was going on at the time. However, it was hard to piece together in my head and I yet again had to read various plot descriptions to fully appreciate what I had just seen. I don’t really like films like this, that purposefully don’t make complete sense, but at the same time I didn’t hate it. Still, what the hell was this?”

Intolerable Cruelty

“I’m enjoying the Coen Brothers’ work more and more as I make my way through their filmography (even if this is only directed by Joel!). I went into this not knowing anything about the plot and I’m glad I did, because every twist came as a big surprise and I had no idea how it would end. Without any preconceptions I found the story brilliantly constructed and the script witty. George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones are both excellent and they have a perfect chemistry that makes for a great rom-com. It may not be a Coen Brothers’ triumph and it certainly isn’t as complex as their other work, but it’s an easy and thoroughly enjoyable watch.”

Along Came Polly

“Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston make for a fairly original and decent rom-com, but Phillip Seymour Hoffman makes for some brilliant comedy. Slightly irritating and cringe-worthy, Along Came Polly has a few laughs but mostly you just want to punch Stiller in his annoying face; a feeling that can rarely be ignored.”

Bananas

“Nice to see something slightly different from Woody Allen, albeit full of the same well-written humour that has got him where he is today, but I find it much harder to enjoy his slightly bizarre comedies when there is no – big – focus on a relationship, even if his work does feel incredibly repetitive. It’s not as funny as Love & Death but at the same time it feels very similar.”

Chocolat

“The poster of this makes it look as if this film is a sexy, romantic drama led by Johnny Depp. If only it was. Chocolat, instead, is a film about ’emotional liberation’, religion, and, of course, chocolate. The French settings are gorgeous but that’s about as much as I enjoyed.”

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

“It’s certainly imaginative and creative, but messy films with little story and meaning cannot be pulled off by some decent visuals. Lily Cole is not an actress, as pretty as she is, but Andrew Garfield was a great addition to the cast. This was, however, all about Heath, and it always will be. He is the only thing I loved about this.”

The Giant Mechanical Man

“Some sweet original moments but overall an average and predictable indie rom-com. Jenna Fischer and Chris Messina have a cute chemistry, which works well enough for what this film is, but none of it is that moving.”

Man of Steel

“As the first instalment in a new Superman franchise, Zack Snyder‘s Man Of Steel is epic beyond all measures. A film about Superman’s origins, the story that Man Of Steel follows is both surprising and fascinating to watch. Split into two halves, the first set on Krypton and the second coming back down to Earth, the film works on many levels; as a stand alone film, aside from being a superhero blockbuster, Man Of Steel is a brilliant science fiction. The CGI world of Krypton is incredible and it’s great to see so much back story to Superman’s character, which kicks the film off superbly.”

Daydream Nation

“Incredibly surprised by this; I expected a decent high school drama but I didn’t expect something quite so dark and engaging. The end had a few crazy moments that felt quite out-of-place, but apart from that the story is brilliant and well-told. There’s something I’ve always liked about Kat Dennings, as well, and this role suited her perfectly.”

2012

“This is one of those real ‘LOL’ films, and that’s the only way I can describe it. 2012 wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, my only real problem with it being how completely ridiculous it was. But sometimes that makes for quite a fun film, and it was funny to watch. Unfortunately that wasn’t really its intent. Whilst 2012 also has an impressive cast, none of the roles or performances are stand-out and, as a whole, it’s just hard to take seriously.”

Jarhead

“I’m not usually a fan of war films but Sam Mendes does a fantastic job with Jarhead. Not only is it visually stunning, but the acting and characters are all spot-on. Jake Gyllenhaal leads the film brilliantly – he really is outstanding here – and Jamie Foxx gives a great supporting role. Being based on one man’s real-life account of his experience in the Gulf War, as well, the story is compact for the four days it is set over and is even quite moving at times, focusing on the effects of war and the people in it.”

The Emperor’s New Groove

“As a Disney film, it is definitely in the bottom 10! Bottom 3 for me at the minute, at least. I guess it needs to be taking into consideration that I never watched this as a child, and today was my first ever viewing. As an adult, I didn’t find any of it impressive, the humour very slapstick, and the lead character far too full of bad characteristics to be likeable.”

Lady and the Tramp

“One of Disney’s most timeless films, I think, and one that has aged incredibly. Lady and the Tramp is a lovely story about dogs falling in love. It’s just beautiful! The characters are some of the best animated animals going and the songs are some of my favourites. The ending is one of the saddest moment in all of Disney’s films, as well! I guess this film just holds a lot of childhood memories for me. I think this is also the reason why I don’t like cats; them Siamese cats still freak me out.”

Gangs of New York

“Another incredible Martin Scorsese drama. Beautifully shot and well designed from the fantastic opening scene to the equally great closing scene, Gangs of New York is bold, brutal, cleverly told, and well paced. This isn’t Leonardo DiCaprio’s best but he leads the film exceptionally. Cameron Diaz also has a great role, one that is enjoyable to watch for a change, but this is very much all about Daniel Day-Lewis, who, as always, is exceptional. His voice echoes throughout this film with such a power that it’s impossible not to be terrified by even the thought of his presence. He tends to have this effect with most of his roles, which I absolutely love.”

In Search of a Midnight Kiss

“I like indie films, and I love serious romantic dramas, but when the two are combined I find it hard to feel the chemistry. Just as I felt about Like Crazy, I didn’t enjoy the lead couple enough to be engaged with their story. The female lead, especially, annoyed me from the very beginning and I held on to the hope that the male lead would find somebody else to spend his NYE with. Stuck with her until the end, I really didn’t car about how the events unfolded. There were a few sweet moments towards the end and I enjoy that the story took a realistic approach but without feeling any chemistry it didn’t work for me.”

Paper Man

“A lovely indie dramedy about real characters, their problems, and their fucked up states of mind. The relationship at the centre of the story is a little messy, as it is supposed to be. Whilst it is believable and makes for a brilliant story, it does feel a little awkward. This messiness is both a quality and a flaw; it’s great to see something real happen between these characters, but at the same time the awkwardness interrupts any real engagement. Saying that, Emma Stone and Jeff Daniels both give incredible performances, both provoking quite a bit of emotion.”

New York, I Love You

“I’ve seen a few films like this lately – a number of great directors, an impressive cast of well-known actors, and a collection of short stories that all vary but link in the smallest of ways. Whilst I haven’t ever seen it been done well before, New York, I Love You was outstanding. Telling a varied collection of stories about people of all ages and cultures, this anthology is well structured, connected, and subtly linked. All of the segments and its characters are thoroughly enjoyable and equally moving. Starring the likes of Bradley Cooper, Shia LaBeouf, Natalie Portman, Anton Yelchin, Orlando Bloom, Irrfan Khan, Rachel Bilson, Christina Ricci, and Ethan Hawke, the combination of these famous faces alone make this one worth watching.”

Bicentennial Man

“I used to watch this over and over again as a child, and it’s easy to see why when as an adult I can only see how over sentimental it is. To a naive mind Bicentennial Man is a sweet story, but now I find it inconsistent, lacking of detail, and a little bizarre in the development of its character relationships. It’s not a bad film, but it’s definitely not good either.”

Spring Breakers

“I really don’t know what to think about Spring Breakers; for the first half the film I thought that it was so far from reality that it was just ridiculous, but as soon as that Britney Spears song came on I was in awe. Now, the more I think about it the more I love it. I just know that wasn’t the case at the time.”

As Good as It Gets

“I didn’t really like When Harry Met Sally, but for me As Good as It Gets is how a romantic drama should be. The dialogue is one of the best things about this film as there are some great lines between the film’s leads Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt. The two lovely together and come together fantastically to make this a moving, albeit quite dark, dramedy with characters who are thoroughly entertaining to watch develop.”

Year One

“I knew I liked this film when I first saw it, but I needed some massive reassurance so I re-watched it this week. Regrettably for some, I still like this film. Maybe it’s just because I have a mad crush on Michael Cera and Juno Temple that I find this annoying comedy watchable, as it’s undeniably the type of film that I would usually find too cringe-worthy. Just like Your Highness, however, it balances its cheap gags with enough decent humour and actors that it borders on being actually quite good. With many great cameos as Jack Black and Cera travel through the Biblical era, Year One is completely nonsensical and typically moronic, but you can’t help but enjoy a film like that sometimes. It’s definitely not on par with Harold Ramis’ other work, though.”

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

“I’ve not read the book but I imagine it to be quite good; better than the film at least. The film is quite fun and not at all bad but I just felt it was too much of a children’s comedy adventure rather than a mature, well-made one. It just had very little effect on me.”

I Am Number Four

“I actually have no idea what happened in this film, all I know is that Teresa Palmer is one sexy lady.”

A Lot Like Love

“I didn’t feel the romance much but it was quite an original rom-com. Amanda Peet and Ashton Kutcher work well together but it was just an average film.”

I’m Reed Fish

“A film written by Reed Fish that tells the story of Reed Fish making a film about Reed Fish? Well somebody really likes themself! Nonetheless, it made for a well-told story and it was interesting to see how it would pan out. I really liked its construction, but without that it was just a typical romantic dramedy.”

Robin Hood

“Since I’m from Nottinghamshire, live near Sherwood Forest, and have visited Robin Hood’s house/tree, this was a big favourite of mine when I was younger. Taking the classic story, this film has everything a child would want from an animation; fun characters, an adventure, some catchy songs, a goody, a baddy, a bit of lurveee. I actually think I fancied the fox when I was younger. This really is one of Disney’s biggest classics.”

The Sword in the Stone

“Another one of my favourite Disney films, but one I’ve grown to like more as an adult than I did as a child. One of Disney’s more comical animations, there are some great scenes in this film – the fish scene, the squirrel scene, the wizard’s duel – it’s magical and so much fun, and the songs are brilliant as well!”

Before Sunset

“After not thinking too much of the first film and finding it hard to enjoy the leading couple, I was sceptical about this sequel but wanted to watch it before attempting the latest instalment, Before Midnight. Turns out I much preferred the couple this time around, so I can now happily anticipate the third film. Whilst I still found Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy a little annoying to follow, even though their chemistry feels very natural, it was their honest dialogue that I was more interested in. Fortunately I’m in one of those moods so I happened to relate to a lot of it, therefore enjoying it a lot more than I usually would have, but the film also runs for the perfect amount of time to keep you interested and engaged fully, piling in a lot for its short run time to make you realise how little time the couple had together. If you like the first film then you will definitely enjoy this one, but if not I would recommend seeing them one after the other, preferably with a few weeks inbetween to let their separation have its full effect.”

Sliding Doors

“A great concept looking at one woman’s life over two parallel timelines, mixing fantasy with romance and comedy to put a unique spin on a typical rom-com. It may not break any boundaries, especially not in any romantic or comedic sense, but it’s an easy watch that is quite heartfelt at its core.”

Seven Psychopaths

“The latest from Martin McDonagh, Seven Psychopaths is a violent, hilarious, and excellently cast crime comedy. With an original plot that is well constructed, the film is brilliantly scripted, mixing violence and wit perfectly. But most of all, Seven Psychopaths thrives from being so character driven. Whilst Colin Farrell’s role was very average, mainly because the events happen around his character rather than to him so he doesn’t have much of a chance to shine, Sam Rockwell, Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, and Woody Harrelson are all excellent. Their characters are all individually fantastic but their stories come together so well that it’s hard to find any of them unlikeable despite their actions.”

Admission

“From the director of the first American Pie film, Paul Weitz, Admission is a touching and comical look at adulthood and the admissions process into an Ivy League school. Far from excellent or of the level of comedy Weitz can be known for, the film is a good balance of its genres and sets up its tone well, by which I mean it plays itself down enough to be enjoyable for what it is. However, I wouldn’t class this as a rom-com because the romance was terribly lacking, having only a very small focus which seemed often forgotten about. Tina Fey and Paul Rudd are both great and typically funny, sure, and it wasn’t really about a flaw in their chemistry because their characters just weren’t given the chance to create any. It was a shame as it seemed like it was going somewhere, even though it was slightly misplaced in between the drama, but by the end we had to make our own presumptions about their relationship. As a comedy drama alone, however, Admission works well. Funny and serious in all the right places, it has a decent enough story to tell, keeping you focused and interested long enough for it to be watchable and somewhat likeable.”

Zero Dark Thirty

“After all the Oscar buzz this film received earlier this year, I thought I’d finally give it a chance. Unfortunately, it really was wasted on me. I’m not really a fan of war films, but when it’s done right I can find them surprising, for example Jarhead. Whilst I understand the acclaim given to Zero Dark Thirty, it’s not a film that I enjoyed watching. I don’t quite understand the acclaim for Jessica Chastain, either, to be honest. Yes she’s stunning but being able to pull a serious face all of the time doesn’t make for a great actress. I’m still to be convinced, anyway.”

Jack the Giant Slayer

“I think you have to know what you’re going in for when you a watch a film like this, and fortunately I wanted nothing more than a light-hearted little adventure. Therefore, it wasn’t awful.”

Groundhog Day

“I’m ashamed that it took me this long to see this film; Groundhog Day is obviously a classic comedy. Bill Murray is fantastic and his bitter and sarcastic traits work at their best here. I surprisingly found myself enjoying Andie MacDowell’s role, too. Its concept is what sets it aside, though. Whilst it is a comedy, I also really enjoyed how the film makes you think about what you would do if you were made to live a day over and over again, and it really does depress you after a little while.”

The Hangover Part II

“Now I’ve been avoiding this film for as long as I could because I feel like The Hangover should have been left well alone as a single film, but it turns out the sequel wasn’t all that bad after all. The hilarious and equally brilliant Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis return for another adventure that they can’t remember. Whilst the story line runs on very similar territory and it does become quite tedious in terms of plot, I found myself laughing an awful lot, once again. At least now I can kind of look forward to seeing the third instalment, though I have no real anticipation for it.”

Little Birds

“The directorial debut from Elgin James, Little Birds is an honest and moving indie about adolescence that is certainly worth a watch. The cinematography is beautiful, but the realistic story is the film’s key quality. I really enjoyed how it played out, taking all the right turns to successfully draw in an audience to a story that’s quite difficult to relate to, albeit having character traits that are easy to recognise in yourself. Most of all, I enjoyed Little Birds for its two main characters and cast. Juno Temple is yet again outstanding; she’s one of my favourite young actresses at the minute and its films like this that show exactly why. Alongside Kay Panabaker, the pair make a great set of characters to follow and engage with. Leslie Mann also has a nice little supporting role which I wished we got to see more of. Having hers and Temple’s mother-daughter relationship expanded on, especially towards the end, would have made for a much bigger emotional impact. Nevertheless, I can’t wait to see more of James’ work in the future.”

Tanner Hall

“Tanner Hall is an amazing debut from directors and writers Francesca Gregorini and Tatiana von Furstenberg, and the second indie drama that I have really enjoyed this week (after Little Birds). All of the leading actresses are fantastic, but it is undeniably Rooney Mara who stands out. Her character development was most engaging and I really enjoyed the story around her and the teacher. I did, however, think that the ending was a little abrupt, but then again that’s because I felt like these girls stories were ones I could watch for hours, so I have to let it off. Just like Little Birds, the story is realistic but Tanner Hall is much easier to relate to, with there being four main characters, so it’s an easy film to love.”

The Details

“The Details is one of those films that you really don’t feel anything about. For a start, it has Tobey Maguire in the lead role. That’s never a good sign, especially when he’s having affairs and smoking weed; he was annoying enough before. Elizabeth Banks and Laura Linney make a decent supporting cast and they bring in some laughs, but apart from that the story does very little.”

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