Wednesday, December 19, 2012

50 Best Tracks of 2012

50) Rihanna
     "Birthday Cake (Remix)" ft Chris Brown
  • Always a head turner if you're in a club full with foxy browns. Also like to think that the repetitiveness of the word "cake" transcends into "Drake", a straight slap in the face to song feature and ex Chris Breezy.

49) King Louie
     "Val Venis"

  • The title alone places this song on the list.

48) MS MR    
  • Didn't see this video till now, pretty fucking good.

47) Future
    "Turn on the Lights"
  • Love how this Jar Jar Binks looking fuck gets this Babraham Lincoln in this video.

46) Chief Keef
    "I Don't Like" ft Lil Reese
  • Plays out like a Halloween anthem. He doesn't like much does he?

45) Rick Ross
   "Stay Scheming" ft Drake & French Montana

  • Do you stay scheming?

44) Bobby Womack
     "Please Forgive My Heart"
  • If you are planning to cheat and get got, get this track.

43) Costello 
     "The Representatives" ft G.I.
  • Irish Hip-Hop is often scoffed at and rightly so because until now there really hasn't been anything worthwhile or at least consistent. Costello, G.I. and the WorkinClassCrew are the real thing.

42) Joey Bada$$ 
     "Survival Tactics" ft Capital STEEZ
  • Similar to Costello, Joey Bada$$ from Brooklyn pays homage to the Hip Hop renaissance, New York early to mid 1990s. Both of their music sounds from that era and they are dedicated towards true lyricism. From Dublin to Brooklyn!

41) Danny Brown
     "Grown Up"

40) Cassie
     "King of Hearts (Richard X Remix)"

39) Cloud Nothings
     "Stay Useless"

38)  Korallreven
     "Sa Sa Samoa (Elite Gymnastics Remix)"
  • Many tributes for Whitney Houston after her passing, but this ecstasy/rave homage has to be the most original.

37) Nas

  • This is what MC'S this age should be rapping about.

36) Kanye West 
   "Mercy" ft Big Sean, Pusha T & 2 Chainz

35) Purity Ring

34) Schoolboy Q
    "Hands on the Wheel" ft ASAP Rocky

33) John Talabot
     "Destiny" ft Pional

32) Earl Sweatshirt

31) Grizzly Bear
    "Yet Again"

30) Meek Mill
     "Amen" ft Drake

29) Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti 
   "Only in my Dreams"


28) Grimes

27) Schoolboy Q
    "There He Go"

26) Sky Ferreira
  "Everything is Embarrassing"

25) Niki and the Dove
  • Sweden always make the most uplifting pop songs.

24) Perfume Genius
  • Riding off into the sunset music.

23) ASAP Rocky

22) Le1f
  • This guy got lost up Hershey Highway and never found his way out.

21) Frank Ocean
     "Bad Religion"
  • If he is gay, no problem...still talented. If he made it up to create a hype, love him even more. Whether you're going through the front or back door, this song can relate to anyone.

20) Jai Paul

19) Azealia Banks
  • This song conveys Jumanji. It comes up, down, hits you from every angle. Reminds me of one of those shitty safari type roller coasters that pull and jerk at every turn.

18) Unsane
     "No Chance"
  • If I were a wrestler, this would be my theme music.

17) Killer Mike
    "Big Beast"

16) Nicki Minaj
     "Beez in the Trap" ft 2 Chainz

15) Mikky Ekko
    "Pull Me Down (Ryans Hemsworth Remix)"

14) Baauer
    "Harlem Shake"

13) Killer Mike

12) Rustie
    "After Light" ft AlunaGeorge

11) M.I.A.
   "Bad Girls"

10) Kendrick Lamar
   "Swimming Pools (Drank)
  • Kendrick Lamar's good kid, m.A.A.d. city deals thoroughly with peer pressure. Swimming Pools is the dive from a few drinks into being succumbed by alcohol. From a tipsy night to a complete blackout. Swimming Pools makes you not want to take that dive.

9) Kendrick Lamar
   "Cartoon and Cereal" ft Gunplay

8) Mister Lies

7) Solange
    "Losing You"

6) Miguel
  • This song has an innocent doo-wop 50s/60s aura about it, enhanced by Miguel's ridiculous pompadour haircut. It's a giddy, puppy love song and impressive that he pulled it off in 2012 when we are all becoming a little bit too cynical.

5) El-P
 "Full Retard"
  • And if you want the complete opposite of "Adorn" then El-P has the thing for you. He has no hope, complete cynic and believes in full excess just for the fuck of it. This track is brooding with a stubborn confidence, you hate everybody and know you're in the right when listening to this.

4) Japandroids
 "The House that Heaven Built"

  • Fucking A!

3) Usher
  • RnB has been having more promising artists in the last couple of years with people like The-Dream, The Weeknd, Frank Ocean and Miguel. However, Usher has always held his own and brought out strong records. While most RnB singles are recyclable trash with no substance or originality, Usher has always separated himself from that majority. Here he teams up with Diplo to produce an excellent dubstep-esque/rhythm and blues track.

2) Jay-Z/Kanye West/Big Sean
  • Same formula as usual for this group. Everything has to be bigger than life, and this is. "Clique" even reigns more supreme than "Niggas in Paris" with its belching, hiccuping beat from Hit Boy. Verses are precise, nothing original, but perfectly executed. Best club track of the year.

1) Frank Ocean
  • Frank Ocean happened to bring something bigger than GOOD Music productions with his 10 minute, tempo changing sprawl that follows the story of Cleopatra. Begins in ancient Egypt, where she was feared, respected and loved. The story moves to contemporary society where she is a stripper, under control of a pimp. Yet she regains power again when she returns home to her boyfriend, who is helpless as she dances for other men. Ocean depicts the power struggle between man and woman on an epic scale with Pyramids, which helps prove that he is one of todays most essential songwriters. (video below is a shorter version)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Silver Linings Playbook: 4 Macs

With his 2010's The Fighter and his latest movie Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell has proven to be an avid student of the screwball comedies of the 1930s and 1940s. His films have inherited the rapid and interrupted dialogue that we can find in Howard Hawkes' Bringing Up Baby (1938) and His Girl Friday (1940). Both The Fighter and Silver Linings concentrate on the issue of the dysfunctional family, where arguments are obviously going to occur. Most other movies in these arguing scenarios tamper with the dispute by allowing each character to get their words through distinctively without interruption, but Russell realises that this isn't reality. He allows these characters to talk over each other and interrupt, which is chaotic and really funny. 

Pat Solitano is released from a mental institution, where he was placed because he assaulted the man his wife had an affair with. He has a positive new outlook on life, but for the wrong reason. He wants win his wife back, even though everyone around him tries to persuade him against it for his own good. His mother (Jackie Weaver) has the patient of a saint with Pat and his father (De Niro), who also is a tad off the wall with his superstitious obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles and gambling. Pat and his father don't bond and never really have with the obstacle of Pat's older brother Jake (Shea Whigham). However, Pat Senior does try, which he explains in an extremely emotional scene midway through the movie. Life back home with family is tense, we get scenes that commence with light humour, which then transcend to verbal or domestic violence. 

Pat has his friends too. Danny (Chris Tucker), who spent time with him on the inside and has a bizarre obsession with his hair. Ronnie (John Ortiz), who fully supports Pat, but is losing his own mind slightly because of the leash his wife has on him. Through Ronnie, Pat is introduced to Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), who is recently widowed and who also had a mental breakdown, but she used sex as her weapon rather than violence. They enjoy a discussion about the different medication they have been on.  Although Pat is attracted to Tiffany, he won't give in to sex with her because he feels it will destroy his chances at reuniting with his wife. They become friends, Tiffany promising she'll help him with contacting his wife in exchange for Pat being her dance partner for a competition. Just like the family this friendship/love interest is dysfunctional. Soon Tiffany and the family meet not on good terms and the insanity begins resulting in a whacky bet involving Eagles vs Giants and the score Pat and Tiff get in the dance competition. 

Russell follows the conventions of the modern romantic comedy, but with his own screwball twist on it. That is what makes this movie so refreshing. Also, it has to be mentioned that Russell has true technical skill in smooth camera work and cinematic vision. Many of his shots are inspired by Scorsese, and the tracking shot of Pat in the dance function is like watching a Brian De Palma thriller. 

This is a really great movie, probably the best casting of this year. Great to see Chris Tucker in a good movie again and this is possibly De Niro's best performance since Heat (1995) or Jackie Brown (1997).

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Cabin In The Woods: 4 Macs

The Cabin in the Woods is a thrill ride for audiences and a puzzle to keep trying to out guess for true horror fans. We realise before we step into the theatre that this is not going to be the run of this mill teen horror flick, we already know that there are bigger things developing outside the cabin, but my guess is that the main assumption of all was that it was an experiment on these horny kids, either malicious or medical. However, we learn that this is not an experiment, but an extremely necessary sacrifice.

We are completely in Joss Whedon territory here. The creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (one of the top 5 television shows of all time) co writes and produces, and his influence is so evident with the blending of supernatural horror and sci-fi. Whedon also has a huge interest in the supernatural within a military format. This enhanced more as the Buffy series continued, army bases with confined demons, some released with chips in their heads. He has definitely created his own cult movement within popular culture, and could possibly be seen as more of an auteur if he made more movies.

We meet five college students in Cabin in the Woods: the slut, the jock, the intellectual stud, the joker, and the virgin (maybe not) a.k.a. final girl. So not only are we dealing with a supernatural sci-fi, but also the set up for a slasher flick. Whedon and director Drew Goddard tangle up all these elements to create yet another homage to horror, but with an original premise. These kids aren't as hip or savvy as the Scream characters, they are not as cool or uncool as them either. They don't list off killers or gory death scenes from past films. These are the kind of losers the "scream team" would mock. They are genuinely in the moment and it is the strings that are been pulled from behind the screen where true horror fanatics belong, joking and placing bets.

And this movie does have its comedy, which is very funny. It is delivered by Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford, who have the nasty business of offing these innocents, or place them in hairy situations and let them choose their own destiny. They both have become so numb to the process that they make jokes and bet just so they can cope with their harrowing job. And this is where the unsuspected comes into play. It is their job, not a sadistic hobby, but a duty that is so intrinsic to our very existence that I am not going to reveal it in this review.

Another great factor about this film is the enhanced gore that would not be allowed on Buffy. Whedon has the freedom to unleash his Tom Savini side. The last 15 to 20 minutes is a blood drenched action movie, with an image similar to Stanley Kubrick's bloody elevator scene in The Shining. What occurs between then and when the horror begins lays the film's true originality.

It has been argued if this is a homage or criticism of horror movies and their conventions. It very may well be, but we must remember that Joss Whedon does not fall into the same category as Craven, Carpenter, Landis or Hooper. He is not a slasher icon, and has never followed the conventions that are so great about those directors movies. It is an unwritten rule and exercise that slasher directors must follow. Punish the whores, let the virgin survive, must have this camera angle here or I want this to make the audience to jump there. There is a certain respected process among that community. Whedon is not a slasher director, he is a supernatural visionary, so he can criticise the conventions if he wants. He is wrong, but he is in an entirely different genre and generation to me. Great filmmakers have gone against the grain before; Stanley Kubrick, William Friedkin. Brian De Palma criticised both of these men because they broke conventions. They did, but they still made great movies and so has Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Hunter: 5 Macs

Willem Dafoe has one of those faces that tell a thousand stories, a face with character that belongs in a Sergio Leone movie. The Hunter has the perfect role for Dafoe as Martin David, who is hired by a company to hunt and kill a rare Tasmanian Tiger. The company Red Leaf need the DNA of the creature, who may or may not exist. Dafoe's weathered face suits Martin's hunter exterior, but he also possesses a subdued and gentle personality. Martin David is quiet, neat and a lover of classical music. Why are all killer's like this? And he is a killer, not of humans, but his hunt is dedicated to animals. Even when he is approached by Red Leaf, it looks like the Mafia hiring a hitman. He is a professional, his hunting style seems simple and direct.

Martin is sent to Tasmania to stay with a broken family in a broken home. The father and husband was too in search of the rare tiger, but disappeared during the summer up in the mountains. Martin presumes by falling or freezing, but as time goes on his doubts about the existence of this tiger and the father's fate change. This happens through the help of the children, who basically run the household, while mother (Frances O'Connor) still suffers from shock and depression due to her husbands disappearance. 

In possibly the best scene of the movie, the mother, Lucy wakes up to Bruce Springsteen's hauntingly beautiful I'm On Fire. The scene begins as one of hope as Martin fixes the generator, which enhances his bond with the children. We, the audience are uplifted as Martin celebrates and dances with the kids outside. Lucy awakens with hope in her eyes, but we quickly realise before her the despair and sorrow that is about to happen. She wanders slowly through the romantically lit house to the front door to see her children in the arms of a man with his back facing her. She presumes it is her husband, who has returned, hence the happiness of the kids. She walks up behind Martin and hugs him with relief, turns him around only to see that it is not her husband. The disappointment is devastatingly poignant, especially with Springsteen's haunting tune in the background. 

Lucy falls back into her depression, but Martin is quick to help her. He cleans her up in the bath with the help of the kids and warns them not to give her anymore of the medication pills. However, this isn't a melodramatic feature, though elements of it are perfectly portrayed. Business is business and Martin has a tiger to hunt. The locals of the area are unwelcoming and hostile towards Martin due to the fact that they are on the brink of losing their jobs due to logging protests. The hippy protesters admire Martin because they believe he is only researching Tasmanian Devils. 

Mystery and paranoia unfolds as Martin believes he is been followed by what seems to be the aggressive locals. A shady character is Jack played by Sam Neill, who is a dirty old guide, who barely takes care of the family. It is a funny role for him because he usually plays more defined or cultured characters rather than the old guy using the outback. Martin's suspicions are also pointed towards Red Leaf when he figures out that they also hired Lucy's husband to hunt for the tiger. Lucy's young son "Bike" is silent for most of the movie, but is the closest bond to Martin. It is through his direction that Martin begins to believe that the Tasmanian Tiger does exist. 

Martin's various trips to the Tasmanian hunting grounds bring him closer to the tiger, but also reveal something new about the mystery of the missing husband/father and who is pursuing him. When Martin eventually comes face to face with the very last Tasmanian Tiger, emotions run high and we understand why he does what he has to do.

The Hunter is the best film of 2012 so far. It succeeds in balancing an intriguing story with greatly stylised and emotionally charged scenes, along with breathtaking shots of the Tasmanian landscape and some charming and funny moments (when the kids hop into the bathtub naked with Martin, who is afraid he will be labelled a child molester). All these factors I found to blend perfectly, to create a fantastic thriller with some real emotional depth. The climax isn't necessarily a happy one, but really one more of relief. I find it is the little things that make this film truly great. It's all about action and reaction here, like the I'm On Fire scene or Martin's reaction when he comes face to face with the tiger. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Shakespeare went to Prom

Brian De Palma's Carrie (1976) is now an American horror classic and has it's staple in popular culture, but it's theme stems from a High Art patron...lil Billy Shakespeare. As we all know, so many of William Shakespeare's plays concluded in tragedy, mainly foreseen tragedy and Carrie portrays this in the cruelest manner. 

"High School is hell...and the the further down the ladder you are, the more like hell it becomes"

                                                                                                         -Stephen King

Carrie, a high school outcast and frequent victim of bullying finally gets a glimpse of hope, a chance to aspire and live happily when her gym teacher gives her self esteem and she is invited to the prom. However, a cleverly orchestrated sabotage crushes all of her dreams in one masterful and complex scene by De Palma.

Other Shakespearean factors are also present here. Carrie's overprotective, religious fanatic and violent mother and the romance that sparks between Carrie and dreamboat (lol) Tommy Ross.

<<<Form a line ladies.

Romance and family were always intrinsic themes within Shakespeare's writing i.e. Romeo and Juliet or King Lear. Stephen King's novel set the premise alright, but De Palma's casting helped create such great characters such as Piper Laurie as Carrie's insane mother Margaret White. The dialogue even popped up some great original phrases as did Shakespeare during his era. Margaret White hilariously, but sincerely refers to Carrie's breasts (tits) as "dirty pillows". The tension within the household is to the max. Carrie's first period is considered to be a sin and she is forced into a dirty, cramped closet in order to pray for forgiveness. 

What is so great about this movie are the motives of all the characters accompanied by the delusion and misunderstanding by Carrie at the chaotic climax. Carrie wants to fit in, queen bitch Chris (Nancy Allen) wants revenge, her boyfriend Billy Nolan (John Travolta) just wants a blow job from her, Miss Collins (Betty Buckley) and Sue (Amy Irving) want to do what's best for Carrie, Tommy (Katt Williams) is just along for the ride (and possibly a blow job) and Margaret White wants Christ. There is a lot going on here and it plays out perfectly in the before mentioned prom scene, when Carrie and Tommy are announced prom king and queen. From that moment until after the pig's blood spills on poor Carrie is pure cinema. No dialogue, just a score and the camera to show us what is going on. The dream is realised for Carrie as she is announced prom queen. There's bright lights, beautiful music and then Sue notices the string that Chris and Billy are holding under the stage. The camera follows this string down, up and around until we see the bucket of pig's blood. It is too late, the dream has slowly transcended into nightmare. The build up and tension is so intense that it is as if Chris gets an orgasm when she pulls the string allowing the blood flow out over Carrie.

Shakespeare's use of foreshadowing is also adapted by De Palma a few times within the narrative. In a scene early on when Miss Collins attempts to encourage Carrie about he looks, the camera zooms into her face as she gives a worried look. Another slice of foreshadowing occurs during the prom when Tommy and Carrie are dancing. When they begin Carrie is nervous and hesitant, but when those crazy kids get going, the camera moves around them, soon faster and faster until it seems like they are spinning out of control. 

Carrie has proved to be an exercise in horror, character, style and technique and hopefully now you may choose to agree that it is indeed an exercise in Shakespeare.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Casa de Mi Padre: 4 Macs

So far, Casa de Mi Padre is the funniest and most enjoyable movie of 2012. People come out after the screening complaining "that was such a stupid movie" as if they were expecting Schindler's List or something. It's Will Ferrell in a Mexican telenovella/spaghetti western film...what do you really expect here?

This low-budget, over-acted, melodramatic spoof succeeds in what it aims to do. Will Ferrells Spanish is impeccable as Armando Alvarez, the dumbwitted yet noble son of Senor Alvarez (Pedro Armendariz). When the prodigal son Raul (Diego Luna) returns home with his beautiful bride to be, Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez), the conflict commences. Armando and Sonia spark it off when their eyes meet, Armando then discovers that Raul is part of the drug crime wave that pollutes his land, and is also a rival of major drug lord Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal).

Both Luna and Garcia, who are close friends in real life look like they had great fun making this movie, and succeed as comic actors. When Armando, Raul and Onza meet at a seedy bar, Armando's buffoonery and social awkwardness is hilarious, he even tries to shake hands with the enemy. Onza smokes Canadian Slims, while Raul I don't think is ever seen without a cigarette in his mouth throughout the entire movie, even when he kisses his bride during the wedding. 

Director Matt Piedmont borrows the style and technique of former spaghetti westerns, but where Sergio Leone or Sergio Corbucci shot on real spectacular locations, using the vast Spanish landscapes, Piedmont, for comical purposes uses fake backgrounds like they used in the classic Hollywood studio system. It is funny, but fails in comparison to the epic stature of the real spaghetti westerns of the 1960s. Piedmont definitely is skilled in his craft and even though shots such as blood dripping from a white rose  or the wedding scene are supposed to mock art film, they are actually done extremely well. 

Casa de Mi Padre clearly pays homage to telenovellas and spaghetti westerns, however I also found myself been reminded of French New Wave or Italian neorealist films. The jump cuts, the odd mise en scene (mannequins), and break of narrative flow all correspond to this notion. And the bizarre talking white cat sequence nearly gives the audience an epilepsy fit.

Will Ferrell is one of the most original comic minds of his generation, he has proved before that he can take on dramatic roles, now he is speaking fluently in Spanish with a nearly all Latin cast. He has had some flops of course, but he never stops trying something new, taking on challenges. In conclusion, this is a very well made, ridiculous comedy, which had the audience laughing all throughout.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Best Films of 2011

Very late doing this, but the Academy Awards takes longer and normally don't get it right so no harm in trying now. First of all I would like to point out that these are my personal favourite films that were released in 2011. There are certain feature I did not get to see, but no point in holding out any longer. Titles that I did not get around to viewing and will not be on the list are as follows: Attack the Block, Young Adult, Our Idiot Brother, 50/50, The Descendants.

1) Rango

As far as I am concerned there hasn't been any really intellectually or down right serious animation films released since the Toy Story franchise began (besides the Toy Story movies themselves.) People adored Shrek were I just found it incredibly cringing and not funny whatsoever. Studios are releasing animation features for stupid children, which is fine, but what is so embarrassing and irritating is that they are also aiming these films at adults, who actually find this shit funny and entertaining. These audiences are the lowest common denominator, who get a giggle and jiggle out of a shitty inside joke that all the "grown ups" can get a chuckle out of. The writing in these films are not adventurous, but repetitive with little nods to pop culture. A hip-hopping Disney character, who can "chill" with the new kidz. Its just reference after reference of the same common day nonsense. What's next? A faggoty little Goofy hipster wearing skinny jeans. Fuck off! Same thing has happened to The Simpson's, entertainment has gone too postmodern that its head is up his own ass. But I digress...

Rango takes the staple classic narrative route and delivers an amazing film full of happiness, sorrow, fear, companionship, violence, comedy and romance. It does in fact enclose references, however these homages are paid to film itself. It pays respect to classic Hollywood films, most prominently the western/spaghetti western genre, which real cinema loves will cherish and the average joe will appreciate because the story stays true to itself. When Rango is in despair we genuinely feel for him, when his enemies threaten him we are seriously cautious. No bullshit pop culture wink to distract viewers from the  true goal of this project, which is to tell a great and entertaining story. Its succeeds. Best film of the year.

2) Midnight In Paris

While Rango stands as the most entertaining film of the year in my book, Woody Allen's Midnight In Paris proved to be the greatest original screenplay of the year and could possibly be argued to be one of the best of all time. That might sound outrageous, but when you think of the creativity and love that Allen put into this thing, you really have to admire it. That crazy old Jew has shown us again that he is a true auteur in every sense. As soon as the credits role you know its a vintage Woody Allen picture. I will not try to pretend that I know the first thing about 1920s Paris and the artists to which it acted as their playground, but I knew enough names and references to understand and enjoy every minute of it. 

The theme comes down to one that we have all thought of before, we all have the urge to live in a different era whether it be 1920s Paris, 1980s New York, Biblical times, but the fact of the matter is that "THIS" is our time and place in history. The way Allen explored these fantasies and realities is done so effortlessly, which makes it all the more enjoyable. You can tell its a personal movie and Owen Wilson does a terrific Woody role. Very close to beating Rango and just might with time.

3) Drive

Style over substance is necessary sometimes and it works perfectly here in Nicolas Refn's ultra-violent movie. Just like its protagonist (Ryan Gosling) all looks calm on the surface, but soon we can see the tension build up and pop in arrays of bloody violence that Tom Savini would be envious of. The 80s synth pop and lack of dialogue gives Drive its own ambiance. It has sneaky and interesting characters and sorta turns into a slasher film within the last 30 or so minutes. Great cinematography and gory effects.

4) The Skin I Live In

Once the screen went black at the end of Pedro Almodovar's movie one thing was definite...what an excellent screenplay. The format and process in which this film is told is so perfect. It is wild...wild stuff mind you. During you might wanna look away, but after the film is over you realize that there actually was barely any violence at all. It is the idea that fucks with you. I can under no circumstance explain why the thought fucks with you because this type of movie you have to see it to believe it. I will say that Antonio Banderas is fantastic in it and it reminded me how versatile of an actor he is. Hugely comical with dead sincerity. You have never seen a mad man so calmly personified until now. There are definitely Hitchcockian elements played out here with a colourful cast in the bright sun filled Spanish rural.

5) The Guard

The McDonagh brothers are an Irish treasure in playwrighting and screenwriting. I have just finished reading Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman, which is a darkly humorous and touching playwright that has the same narrative unfolding and dialogue technique as Quentin Tarantino. His brother John Michael possesses the same talent, but also conveys an excellent style and screen vision to his film The Guard, which forces Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle to rise above their cultural differences in order to solve a homicide on Ireland's rugged rural landscape. This film is not as racially controversial as was suspected . Gleeson is not an ignorant racist, but gets a thrill out of pissing Cheadle off with stereotypical racial slurs. This is not as dark of a piece of work as Martin's In Bruges, rather it delivers the classic Hollywood western scenario, with Gleeson taking on a John Wayne role. He is the complicated hero, who stands for what is right. There is an emotional subplot that consists of Gleeson's character Gerry Boyle and his dying mother. All in all this is a great exercise in genre and style with John Michael making many film references, sometimes with camera technique.

6) Scream 4

There hasn't been one bad Scream movie in my opinion and the fourth is comes second after the original. As with the first we are back in meta territory with about 6 million different slasher film nods. The opening scene(s) is basically Wes Craven shitting on any of his denouncers with a meta marathon. This is a comedy/horror as usual, but the gore is real and I am pleased to see that he has enhanced the violence somewhat for modern audiences. What makes this latest installment of the Scream franchise so brilliant is   the return of Kevin Williamson's writing. New characters such as the peppy bitch assistant to Sidney Prescott, Rebecca Walters, Sheriff Dewy's Deputy Judy Hicks, who portrays that psycho ex-girlfriend look and a fresh group of sexually active teens ready to be slaughtered. There is a great moment when the hot Hayden Panettiere screams out a number of slasher films for the killer in an act of homage to the genre. Also this movie contains the funniest one liner in cinema this year, delivered by Robbie Mercer (Erik Knudsen) after the class is informed of the first murder.

7) Shame

Not many directors or actors would go this far in the non-pornograhic world, but its not the actual sexual content that is daring in Shame, it's the lack of satisfaction and feeling that is frightening. Fassbender's Brandon is dead inside, he fucks around trying to top the latest porn scene he just jerked it to, but can never reach that pleasure he wants. He is addicted to sex and a slave to the hollow sex industry. His sexual performance with random women is probably satisfactory, but when he attempts with a colleague he actual likes and respects he is unable to perform. This topic is rarely touched on in society because we  want to keep the perception of casual sex as fun, which it can be. But people like Brandon Sullivan can never reach that level of fun with a one night stand...they need more.

8) The Trip

Two middle aged, out of character comics driving through the northern England countryside, going to food tastings? Sounds pretty tame, but this film isn't really trying to tell much, little hints of unhappiness, loneliness and jealousy, but at heart this is just a great hang-out movie. Because that's all that Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are really doing. Doing impersonations of their favourite film or television characters and for me its great. The climax is quite thought provoking about what's really important in life, but it's not shoved in your face for the films entirety, which makes it more moving.

9) Hugo

3D cinema has clearly made a comeback in an age of extraordinary visual effects. The groundbreaking Avatar 2009) is the pentacle of which any filmmaker who wants to make a 3D movie should aim for. Cameron's film was a ride, a brand new film viewing experience. However, since he topped Titanic (1997) with it in box office ratings the big Hollywood studios have realized that this 3D phenomenon equals big bucks. Now this would be all fine if the 3D films being released reached the standard of Cameron's but they simply don't. You pay $5 extra or whatever for a film built up to be an extravaganza of visual delight when what you actually get is a feature relying on shoddy effects, who disregard any quality of storytelling or real filmmaking craftsmanship. Its a sad state of affairs. People are so easily attracted to these big budget schlocks...a flash and a big noise gets some amped up like dogs chasing cars.

Since this phenomenon there has been three really great examples of how a 3D movie should really look and feel like: Avatar, Pirhana 3D, Jackass 3D and now Martin Scorsese has succeeded in joining this list with Hugo. The opening scene is masterful and genuinely makes the viewer feel like they are in a rollercoaster seat ready for a ride. Scorsese has made a personal movie paying homage to vintage cinema using the latest tool in 3D filmmaking.

10) The Artist

Similar to Scorsese's direction, Michel Hazanavicius pays an ode to cinema, specifically to the silent era in this daring, experimental melodrama. It really is a classical Hollywood tale of romance, comedy and drama. It is reminiscent of Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard (1950), which depicts a delusional former silent star, who succumbs to a life of isolation. This is what eventually happens to George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), who is shun as "talkies" become the marketable enterprise. The film is beautifully shot in black and white, contains emotional depth in humour and devastating despair. The demise of George's career is very real and can correspond to any generation or field of work. The feeling you have when you are not needed anymore is especially relevant during these economically harsh times. Dujardin possibly gives the best performance of the year along with Michael Fassbender in Shame and Paul Giamatti in Barney's Version. 

Honourable Mentions:

  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
  • Super 8
  • Red State
  • Moneyball
  • Mission Impossible 4
  • Straw Dogs
  • Paul
  • Warrior
  • I Saw the Devil
  • Barney's Version