Wayward Wolf: FILM OF THE YEAR 2014

If a 2014 film review of the year is written in a forest and no one is around to read it, does it have any impact on people’s lives whatsoever? Does anyone care? Does it even exist? Well, there’s probably no better site to find out…

Welcome to the second, annual Wayward Wolf film of the year awards hosted here on my site (but chiefly in my head), in front of an imaginary crowd of glamorous sorts, dressed to the nines; award acceptance speeches scribbled on bits of paper, ready for the big moment.

I set myself a target to take in fifty new release films at the cinema this year and whilst that was always going to be a tad optimistic, I at least hoped to beat 2013’s respectable haul of thirty.

Ultimately though, it was twenty-seven cinema visits in 2014 for this here film buff. Not bad I suppose and although the number is slightly down on 2013 and one of those twenty-seven ultimately counted towards 2013’s stats, the quality of 2014’s offerings was arguably higher, over all, than the preceding year. Swings and roundabouts and all that.

Enough with the amateur statistics and general ramblings and on with the show.

Before revealing my pick of the bunch, here’s to the outstanding ten contenders of the year, in an ‘as they were seen’ order, only:

All Is Lost – A tense tale of survival against all odds and a film of very few words.

The Wolf Of Wall Street – Classic Scorcese and an absolutely fantastic, larger than life romp through a world of finance and debauchery.

Dallas Buyers Club – Matthew McConnaughey on top form as an HIV victim doing what he can to shake up the medical system in the 1980s Aids climate of fear and rejection.

Her – A mesmerising and touching tale of virtual love in a futuristic age.

Calvary – Set on the beautiful landscapes of coastal Ireland, this ‘who’ll do it’ is as much an examination of the Catholic church’s place in modern society as it is an excellent thriller.

Tom A La Ferme – A mysterious and disturbing story of a small, dysfunctional family unit and an uninvited guest. Bleak, yet gripping viewing.

All This Mayhem – One of the best and most messed up documentaries I’ve seen in a long while. Brilliant, euphoric and tragic in equal measures.

Boyhood – A truly beautiful and heart warming film made against all the logistical odds. One that should resonate with us all. Stunning cinema.

Night Crawler – Jake Gyllenhaal portrays a creepy, psychotic loner, ‘working’ his way to the top of the ‘shock news reporting’ game through any means possible.

Mr Turner – Another gem from director Mike Leigh, portraying the life and times of the artist William Turner. Visually stunning and engaging on so many levels.

All tremendous and all worthy of a watch for such a wide variety of reasons, but there can be but one winner and as difficult a task as it was to whittle it down, I’m plumping for the truly wonderful ‘Boyhood’ as my film of the year for 2014.

https://waywardwolfblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/13/film-review-boyhood/

So, that was the best, but what was the worst film? I don’t really like to dwell on the negatives in cinema, but the wooden spoon this year was a pretty clear winner, ‘Bad Neighbours’ ; not a film I’ll be revisiting in any sort of hurry, let’s just say that, but just incase you’re intrigued:

https://waywardwolfblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/film-review-bad-neighbours/

One final thing. I decided to place ‘Blue Is The Warmest Colour’ in the 2013 category in the end, despite seeing it in January of 2014, due to it actually being released at the tail end of 2013 and consequently it narrowly edged out ‘The Act Of Killing’ to become 2013’s film of the year; you know, just incase you were wondering!

So that’s it. 2014’s over – and what a memorable year for film it was.

Here’s to 2015!

Until then folks.

Wayward Wolf Full 2014 Film Listings Table (in order of preference):

1. Boyhood

2. The Wolf of Wall Street

3. Dallas Buyers Club

4. Her

5. Calvary

6. All This Mayhem

7. Mr Turner

8. All Is Lost

9. Night Crawler

10. Tom A La Ferme

11. Locke

12. Under The Skin

13. Blue Ruin

14. Magic In The Moonlight

15. ’71

16. Lucy

17. Tracks

18. Jimmy’s Hall

19. Vi Är Bäst (We Are Best)

20. Interstellar

21. Unknown Known

22. The Railway Man

23. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (3D)

24. Yves Saint Laurent

25. Chef

26. Bad Neighbours

 

 

 

 

 

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FILM REVIEW: Interstellar

I’ve seen far-off planets, failing planets, new planets, star constellations and alternate universes.

I’ve witnessed black holes, worm holes and event horizons.

I’ve looked on in awe at mile-high tidal waves and vast dust storms sweeping mercilessly across American corn rows.

I’ve observed flying craft docking in deep outer-space and marvelled at mind-bending quantum physics.

I’ve seen astronauts struggle with matters of the heart, of life and death; the birth of new generations and the cryogenic preservation of the old…

…and on top of all of this, I’ve been vibrationally rattled to the back teeth by an impressive Odeon, IMAX sound system.

Yet somehow I still feel curiously dissatisfied?

But why?

Interstellar, incase you’ve been living on some far-away planet for the last few months, is a story of space exploration and an attempt to colonise new planets on which the human race can re-start; a situation brought about by the increasingly uninhabitable nature of planet earth.

Matthew McConnaughey puts in a heavyweight lead performance of some note and he’s well supported by Hollywood’s finest. Anne Hathaway, John Lithgow, Matt Damon and even the old master, Michael Caine all put in strong performances, key to Interstellar’s plot.

Special effects (achieved impressively without the use of CGi) are very special indeed; big, bold and convincing, yet still organic and with a very ‘real’ feel to them.

There’s a strong and distinct storyline and the dialogue is mercifully, relatively schmaltz-free and believable.

Indeed, there’s actually so much to admire about Interstellar and the hugely ambitious cinematic project that it undoubtedly is, but therein lies the problem; it actually feels simply too ambitious.

On the one hand we have a very human story of the tight bonds of family and of love and longing, whilst on the other (and at times it could be said, rather shoe-horned in), we have an improbable story of space adventure, discovery and a dabble into the world of quantum physics. Even if we suspend our disbelief for a moment and take the film on face value, for what it really is, Interstellar just doesn’t convincingly marry these two elements together; to my eyes at least.

That said, you can see what Christopher Nolan was trying to achieve and there are very definitely moments of great poignancy and emotion throughout, as well as a big, cinematic dose of the  ‘wow’ factor thrown in, as you might expect from a Christopher Nolan offering.

I have a hunch that Interstellar will actually improve through repeat watchings. It’s certainly the sort of film that would benefit from it, if only to fully comprehend and appreciate some of the more complex, scientific concepts and ideas covered.

It’s a long film, yet strangely it never really allows us the ‘time and space’ to truly ponder and contemplate the enormity of the subject matter; instead we are whisked along in a fast and furious succession of thrills, spills and set pieces.

Credit to Nolan, he maintains this momentum throughout; no mean feat for a movie that clocks in at a bum-numbing 166 minutes, but it is at times somewhat at the expense of what is essentially a rather moving ‘human’ sub-plot.

I can’t help making comparisons with the 2013 film ‘Gravity’ which, whilst perhaps not being quite as ambitious, scientifically-speaking, was nevertheless a film that I feel was far more successful in blending the disparate aspects of space adventure with matters of the heart and resulted in a film that simply worked, from start to finish.

It is of course not a sci-fi competition though and I’d urge anyone to go and see Interstellar; you’d actually be missing out if you didn’t.

It’s a very enjoyable three hours or so and a lot of love and dedication has been put into its creation, that much is obvious; just don’t be expecting the hollywood classic that it’s been painted out to be…

…it isn’t.