Jan 092013

After a great deal of intense consideration and numerous cans of Red Bull I have finally compiled my top 20 films of 2012. I would, however, like to point out (before ICTV’s resident cameraman Matt throws his hands up in disgust), that over the festive period I have failed to watch two of the biggest movie blockbusters…Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit and Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, therefore I fear that my top 20 may not be completely accurate…I’m especially intrigued to see The Hobbit which was filmed at a revolutionary 48 frames per second, that’s worth a few brownie points alone – yes, sadly this stuff impresses editors like myself.

Anyway, enough of the waffle, here is the list in reverse… I enjoyed the top five so much that I have included my own personal reviews.

(20) Looper – Dir. Rian Johnson.
(19) The Hunger Games – Dir. Gary Ross
(18) Ill Manors – Dir. Ben Drew (Plan B)
(17) The Loneliest Planet –Dir. Julia Loktev
(16) Cabin in the Woods – Dir. Drew Goddard
(15) Into the Abyss – Dir. Werner Herzog
(14)Once Upon a Time in Anatolia – Dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan.
(13) Twilight – Breaking Dawn Pt 2. – Dir. Bill Condon
(12)Ted – Dir. Seth MacFarlane
(11)Martha Marcy May Marlene – Dir. Sean Durkin
(10)Skyfall – Dir. Sam Mendes
(9)Killer Joe – Dir. William Freidkin
(8)Rust and Bone – Dir. Jacques Audiard
(7)Prometheus – Dir. Ridley Scott
(6)End of Watch – Dir. David Ayer

(5) Magic Mike – Dir. Steven Soderbergh

So… I went to see this film with a group of girls from work (the majority of which are avid Channing Tatum fans… purely for the love of his acting… of course). I hadn’t heard much about it beforehand other than that the plot consisted of the life of a male stripper. Naturally I assumed it would be a load of light entertainment fluff (enjoyable… but definitely fluff). Well, to my surprise this was not the case. The film contains a great deal of depth and an intelligent plot that explores real issues relating to the adult dancing industry and the lifestyle that surrounds it.
Matthew McConaughey plays an excellent supporting role as the businessman behind the strip clubs, which is great to see as he is usually cast in soppy chick-flicks. The rest of the cast play their parts convincingly – even Channing who is actually not that bad of an actor. I enjoyed the realism in the film and found the dance sequences highly entertaining (as did most of my friends). This was the biggest surprise of the year, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

(4)Amour – Dir. Michael Haneke

I always make it a priority to watch the film that wins the yearly Golden Palm at the Cannes Festival. It was a challenge to convince my boyfriend  to watch this with me, he had lost faith after I suggested watching the 2010 Palm winner Uncle Boonmee which revolves around a family dinner party of reincarnated glowing bears and a woman that has relations with a talking Koi Carp! Nevertheless, we both saw Amour and it did not disappoint.
This character driven film depicts the life of a happily in love elderly couple. Early on in the film the lead character Anne has a stroke and throughout we slowly witness her health deteriorate. Her husband George lovingly cares for her until her final day. The film does not solely revolve around what is happening to Anne but it concentrates on their relationship and their private ways of dealing with each other. Despite what you might think, I felt quite uplifted by the film and it’s depiction of love between the two characters. Haneke is a serial Cannes winner who usually explores the more sinister side of human beings (seen especially in The White Ribbon and Hidden), so it was refreshing to see a different side examined. Overall, I believe it was a deserving win and a very touching story without patronising or over-dramatising.

(3)The Angels Share – Dir. Ken Loach

Before I start, I must confess that Ken Loach is one of my favourite directors,so I may be slightly biased.
The Angel Share throws together a group of Glaswegian misfits who are serving a community service program together. During a sponsored trip to a whisky distillery, we discover that lead character Robbie has a rare and profitable skill for whisky tasting, which expectedly leads to a whisky related escapade.
The film is funny, different, thought provoking and is clearly directed by someone who embraces the human spirit and gives people a chance from all walks of life.
The film follows the typical Ken Loach conventions of working class social struggles and uses a cast of non-professional actors who fit their roles perfectly. It is lighthearted which is uncommon for Loach but he pulls it off well. Furthermore, I was quite impressed to see this film distributed at Ipswich’s mainstream cinema. An unusual choice for a Loach film, but I’m not complaining.

(2) Even the Rain – Dir. Icíar Bollaín

Even the Rain tells the story of a Spanish film crew who arrive in a poor area of Bolivia. They are making a historic film about the arrival of Columbus and the oppression of the indigenous people that soon followed. As the plot unravels, we see uncomfortable parallels between the 500 year old colonial oppression and the relationship between the film crew and the present indigenous people, who have been cast for less than two dollars a day – “…after all”, the director explains whilst sipping on champagne, “we are on a budget…”.
It is the screenplay that is the real gem of the film. The dialogue is powerful yet subtle, it does not preach but does pose uncomfortable questions (often home truths) about the effects of globalisation. Its critique on religious imperialism may be controversial to some, but I think the director has made a brave attempt to portray the lasting effects of colonialism in the modern world. The cast is fantastic and stars one of my favorite actors Gael Garcia Bernel and is set against a beautiful backdrop in Bolivia. Overall, a really enjoyable drama.

(1)The Dark Knight Rises – Dir. Chris Nolan.

Nolan has pulled off another great addition for his batman trilogy. He has managed to make a film which is essentially about a troubled man who dresses up as a bat and has turned it into a gripping film with a plot that explores serious political and social issues that can be seen in our current economic climate.
The film not only contains great set pieces and special effects it also contains dark and multi-layered drama. The film contains sentimental undertones and shows the deeper sides of the characters and delves into the reasonings for their often destructive motives (sometimes I found myself agreeing with the villain Bane – the man often talked some sense). The drama did not fail to impress and the casting was perfect. The film not only pleases mainstream cinema goers but the art house crowds love it too. Easily my favourite film of the year!

Oct 172012

As the Olympic torch heads to Ipswich, the VXM project holds a celebratory gig in Christchurch Park. ICTV crew are there to capture highlights from the day including exclusive backstage access.

Sep 032012

Following the yellow brick road, Becca reviews one of the greats of the twentieth century…

This film was made in 1939. It doesn’t seem possible that a film this old could have stood the very test of time for so long, and yet, here I am expressing my awe and disbelief of it. It has topped many a-list of Greatest Films of all Time, and even now, it still has that certain charm and – well, magic about it, that films of today have lost.

You know the story: Dorothy Gale of Kansas is taken to the wonderful City of Oz, via the very efficient mode of transport that is a house caught in a tornado, and has to find her way back home. She lands in Munchkin-Land, home of the Munchkins, who until Dorothy arrived and flattened her with her house (by accident, of course), were being terrorised by the Wicked Witch of the East. And her sister, the Wicked Witch of the West, ain’t too pleased about it neither. However, the Good Witch of the North is on hand to protect and guide Dorothy, giving her the deceased witch’s magic ruby slippers, and sending her on her way to the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz – the only one who can help Dorothy get home.

So along with her loyal dog, Toto, Dorothy meets a few friends on the way: a Scarecrow (Ray Bolger) in need of a brain, a Tin Man (Jack Haley) without a heart, and a cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr), and together, they skip merrily to the Emerald City, wherein resides the Wizard who will (fingers crossed) grant their wishes.

I cannot tell you how much I love this film! Well okay, I can, but you’ll probably get bored, so I’ll try and keep things short n’ sweet. I watched this for the first time when I was six years old, after my sister had been given a copy of the video for her birthday. I believe this was the first time it had been in colour, but even though I have watched TV in colour all my life, to see Oz revealed through the opening of Dorothy’s front door is still truly mesmerising – just imagine what a momentous occasion it must have been for the adults who grew up having to watch it, completely in black and white! It’s so vivid, yet soft and dream-like, as if you’re walking through Disneyland (seriously!).

Judy Garland may have been only seventeen when she starred in this, but her performance is stunning. She comes across as a young girl only just stepping onto the threshold of adolescence, yet she is kind, gentle, and almost motherly in dealing with her companions, particularly the Lion.

The relationship between her friends is a touching one, and the boys play off each other with surprisingly quick wit and brilliant comic-timing. A good example follows after they are ambushed by the Wicked Witch’s Flying Monkeys, resulting in the capture of Dorothy.  The Scarecrow is a little worse for wear.

Scarecrow: They tore my legs off, and they threw them over there! Then they took my chest out, and threw it over there!

Tin Man: Oh, well that’s you all over…

Lion: They sure knocked the stuffin’ outta ya, didn’t they?

But as wonderful as the characters are (my particular favourite is Tin Man. He is absolutely adorable, with a great singing voice), no one can forget the songs. They too have stood the test of time, but none more so than “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, which has been covered numerous times by numerous artists, though none of them can best the original. Garland’s voice is both melancholy and sweet as honey to the ears, and it makes you want to listen to it over and over again.

Heck, I’d quite happily watch the whole film over and over again!

Rating: 5/5