I became the last person in the universe to watch DJANGO UNCHAINED yesterday, and I really liked it. In fact it's growing on me the more I think about it: underneath all of the crash-zooms and splatter and incongrous music cues (aside from the use of some classic Morricone and the brilliant DJANGO and DAY OF ANGER themes, this is Tarantino's worst soundtrack by some distance - previously a master of picking exactly the right piece of music to accompany a scene, he's now definitely just giving the impression he's idly cycling through his iPod) there's a really thoughtful and interesting piece of film-making here. The setpieces, action and performances are so immediately exhilirating that the ambiguity of the decisions made by the likes of Django, Schulz, Stephen and Candie only begin to reveal themselves after you have a bit of distance from the film.
Here we are guys. The top ten of 2012. It all feels so final, doesn't it?
For general housekeeping please refer to my previous entry, but otherwise let's get right to it.
(I will say this though - THE DARK KNIGHT RISES was initially in my top 5, before I had a change of heart and dropped it down to #11 for some reason. In between these two posts I've rewatched it and realised I was wrong to do so. For the sake of completists at home, slot DKR in at #6, and shift everything below it down one. Or do whatever the hell you want, it's just a dumb list anyway.)
Hey there. I saw a lot of films in 2012. A lot of them were good. Very good. In fact, in the words of Homer Simpson, it was a very good beer. Except switch the word 'beer' with 'year'. Then you'll get what I mean.
Films like THE AVENGERS, END OF WATCH, GRABBERS, THE DESCENDANTS, THE INNKEEPERS were all good, for example. RUBY SPARKS was good. SINISTER was good. PARANORMAN and FRANKENWEENIE were both good. THE GREY is very good. TOWER BLOCK, SKYFALL, EXCISION. KID WITH A BIKE, 21 JUMP STREET. DREDD. These are all films that I classify as 'good' on the sliding scale of bad/good without losing much sleep.
None of these films were good enough to make my top 21.
Next month sees the 56th London Film Festival hit, somewhat predictably, London, in what promises to be one of the most interesting and important festivals of any stripe to take place in the capital for many years.
Perhaps the first thing to mention about this year's festival is that popular longtime LFF director Sandra Hebron has stepped down and been replaced by former Sydney Film Festival director Clare Stewart, who has wasted no time in stamping her mark on the event with a number of fairly radical changes: the biggest of which appears to be the vast increase in the number and variety of venues, with the stalwarts of the Odeon Leicester Square, the NFT screens and Vue Leicester Square now being accompanied by a host of other cinemas outside of the centre, including the Rich Mix centre, Hackney Picturehouse, the ICA, Screen on the Green and the Brixton Ritzy.
This means more films than ever – 225 features, 111 shorts - but this increased number coupled with the festival’s shorted overall running time (now 11 days, four days shorter than last year) means it’ll be even harder for the hardened festival-goer to get to see absolutely everything. This has led to a few journalists grumbling about having to race all round town to see the films they want, and I for one completely agree. How dare this upstart Aussie Stewart come over here and devise a festival schedule that makes films more readily available and accessible to the – retch – without taking the Oyster card needs of the beleagured, overworked film press into account, who now will only get to see dozens of free films a week instead of hundreds? The bare-faced cheek. I tell you, if she takes away the endless piles of free chocolate bars, I’m burning down the BFI.
Another big change is the division of the film programme (major galas and premieres aside) into themed strands, with line-ups divided into Family, Love, Debate, Dare, Laugh, Thrill, Cult, Journey and Sonic. At first look this appears to have been an astute move - one of my main complaints with last year’s programming was the noticeable lack of representation left-field, oddball cult cinema, but the arrival of ‘Cult’ strand this year appears to signify a much greater dedication to weird cinema from now on, with new films debuting from Don Coscarelli (BUBBA HO-TEP, PHANTASM), Kim Jee-Woon (A BITTERSWEET LIFE, A TALE OF TWO SISTERS), Oriol Paulo (JULIA’S EYES), and Cronenberg (Jnr, granted, but still).
Add to this a fascinating documentary programme, some must-see screenings of restored Hitchcock and Lean, a special one-off editon of Adam Buxton's Bug and a packed slate of new shorts, and you’re all but sure to forget all about the noticeable absence of THE MASTER, SKYFALL, TO THE WONDER, CLOUD ATLAS and DJANGO UNCHAINED. And hey – there’s always the surprise film.
Here's some of my personal, first glance picks of the 2012 programme: