Monday 27 December 2010

2010 - Highlights of the Year in Films

This post should really be titled Going to the Cinema, since I’m only referring to films that I saw in a cinema - the real film experience.  Somewhat to my surprise I found that I have seen 18 films that way.  Not that many, but more than the previous year.  I was under the impression that we went to the cinema more often and more regularly.  Still 18 films is not bad.
Most were very good and very enjoyable.  The highlights included The Secret in Their Eyes by Argentinian director Juan José Campanella, The Time that Remains by Palestinian director Elia Suleiman and Whatever Works by Woody Allen.  These were three of the films that I did review on the blog during the year.  The first one you can find here and the other two here.  All three were excellent and engrossing films.

Below are the other films that I especially enjoyed but did not manage to write about.  The three Swedish films that make up The Millenium Trilogy were definitely one of the year’s highlights.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl who played with fire and The Girl who kicked the Hornet’s nest were all terrific to watch and faithful to the originals.  The books are more complicated so the directors and screenwriters had to pare the films down to the key essentials.  Which they did manage very successfully.  The first was directed by Danish director Niels Arden Oplev and the other two by Daniel Alfredson from Sweden.  All three feature great performances from Michael Nyqvist as Mike Blomqvist and Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander - she of the dragon tattoo.  It now seems that Hollywood is to make their own version of the trilogy.  David Fincher is to direct with Daniel Craig as Mike Blomqvist and Rooney Mara as LIsbeth Salander.  Will be fascinating to see just what, if anything, Hollywood can add to the Swedish films.

Two other films really stood out for me this year.  The American is a most unusual movie, at least for a USA produced film.  It is really a European film with an American star in the lead role.  Directed by Dutch director Anton Corbijn and filmed on location in Sweden and Italy it features a mainly Italian cast.  The American is played by George Clooney in a wonderful performance of few words.  A lone assassin, the American is in hide out somewhere in rural Italy.  There is no back story to Clooney’s character nor to any of the other characters, other than the prostitute he falls in love with.  Beautifully shot with a thrilling climax this was a surprisingly good film.

I was also most impressed by Revanche, a film by Austrian director Götz Spielmann.  This is another very tense film with sparse dialogue.  There are no heros or hero like figures in this tale, just ordinary people dreaming of a better life.  Unfortunately, for Alex, the main character, this involves a bank robbery.  Which goes horribly wrong and results in the death of Alex’s girlfriend, shot by a policeman.  The death shatters Alex and he slowly tries to rebuild his life while at the same time seeking revenge.  Revenge does come, though not in the expected way.  Slow moving and intense with great performances from all the cast.  Johannes Krisch as Alex in particular is very very good.

All in all a good year for movies.  My pick of the bunch has to be The Secret in Their Eyes, a quite outstanding film with just about everything - suspense, action, humour, romance, social comment and wonderful performances from all the cast.  Next year I intend to get to the cinema more often as I know I missed out on quite a few good sounding films.  The King’s Speech and The Black Swan are already pencilled in for early next year.

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