Category Archives: 2013 cinema releases

Films that hit the screens in 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) by Peter Jackson

Smaug the Dragon has been my favourite character of childhood. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” my favourite childhood book, that I’d read over and over again.

Later in my teens, I quite enjoyed the gloomy trilogy combined into “The Lord of the Rings”.
When Peter Jackson took off with the trilogy, I was devastated by how much was removed out of the original rich story. But well, this was a must to cut the film down to a digesteable length.

However, what was done to “The Hobbit” is unacceptable. There are *added* stories, characters and elements to make three films out of one short(ish) book!
Other than that – I was disappointed by Smaug. In the book that I remember, he is smart, witty, and converses intelligently. Here he is a selfish monster. I only like about him the eye that is shown in the last scene of the first part of The Hobbit trilogy.
A disappointment.
Obviously there is the always great Ian McKellen as Gandalf, but all in all, I want my 3 hours back Mr Jackson!

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The Wolf of Wall Street by Martin Scorsese (2013)

Based on a true story which makes this film even more incredible than it already sounds.
Inevitably it has to be juxtaposed with last year’s “The Great Gatsby” starring Leonardo DiCaprio in a similar role.
The level of acting proficiency seems to be an amalgamate of many previous roles of DiCaprio’s – including especially “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” in one unforgettable episode. He is great throughout. If he doesn’t get an Oscar this year it would be a large disappointment – one more time!
What deserves a special mention here is a brilliant episode of Matthew McConaughey, who within only a few minutes of presence onscreen should onehandedly be given an Oscar for Supporting Actor.
Fantastic music score (including e.g. the classic The Surrey with the Fringe on Top), great coherent story, bold main character as well as the supporting team of background antagonists (not one character is truly a protagonist). Amazing self-ironic Jean Dujardin as Swiss banker (btw a great play on stereotypes).
It is a fascinating story and a very good film.

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La Vénus à la fourrure (Venus in Fur) by Roman Polanski (2013) #WFF2013

Emmanuelle Seigner et Mathieu Amalric in a claustrophobic drama set on stage of a seemingly abandoned theatre somewhere in Paris.
Amalric takes on the role of Polanski himself – just like Owen Wilson does in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris”.
Emmanuelle Seigner is herself. Obviously the above two statements are probably oversimplifications but this is definitely how the film feels.
Emmanuelle Seigner plays an actress (sic) and Mathieu Amalric a stage director (yeah) during a dangerous casting taking abrupt turns as the game of power unveils. What begins as typical male dominated situation ends up in total submission to the weaker sex.
It is a close study of two characters confined in an enclosed space. Not bad. But not much exceptional either.

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“Before Midnight” by Richard Linklater (2013)

A third to the trilogy with Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke. Probably this is the last one, but who knows?
Woody Allenesque – in the sense that there is tons of talking and dialogue on life, literature, sex and relativity.
Some say this is the best one, but I think each one of them got made in different times and therefore none of them can get better than the other. Each of the three (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, now Before Midnight) shows two same characters, who are somehow different as one would be within two decades.
The fascinating story of two lovers, who met on a train, is carried on. Now they have kids, and still lead more or less disturbing disputes about time travelling, time, the magic of machoism and feminism.
As before – this is a peaceful atmosphere, great cinematography, close-ups and great melancholic entertainment.

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The Look of Love by Michael Winterbottom (2013)

A mockumentary. With Steve Coogan as the King of Soho (which was the working title for this movie) – the rich and famous Paul Raymond.
Aside from the plot – the film is a crafty reconstruction of an era that has gone into the history. The interiors, the costumes deserve recognition. It is a well made trip into the 1970’s London and its surroundings. What stays with you for a little longer than that is the voice and face of Paul Raymond’s daughter singing “The Look of Love” – a well known jazz standard which in her interpretation is nostalgic and simply sad.
Anna Friel and Tamsin Egerton are two lovely partners of Coogans in this atmospheric picture.

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The Great Gatsby by Baz Luhrmann (2013)

Almost a musical, but not quite. Almost a burlesque, but not really. Almost.
It is definitely a matter of taste what has been done here with the breath of history. Charleston, foxtrot, tonnes of sequins, live music – mainly jazz – this was what I would have thought could have been the power of this film. However, to my disappointment it is only the visual that does seem to be giving justice to the glorious 1920’s. The music is contemporary through and without – including Lana del Rey as one piece on the soundtrack.
Other than that – it is a very poetic adaptation of the famous book by the one and only F. Scott Fitzgerald.
The fact that Leonardo di Caprio has not bagged an Oscar yet does not cease to surprise me. For he is an exceptionally talented one.
His partner here is the new rising star – Carey Mulligan, who also seems to be giving justice to the impersonation of a 1920’s nymph who once rejected the one true love, then keeps coming back to him like a suicidal moth.
For the visual – a definite yes, for the musical aspect – it’s a crack for me, but some did like it.

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The Hangover Part III by Todd Phillips (2013)

The Hangover made in 2009 was fresh. It was funny with its absurdities and lightness of being. The Hangover Part II made in 2011 was done with a bit more effort but still worked as a piece of entertainment. The Hangover Part III misses on a few of the above mentioned features. The concept is a stretch at extending the popularity of the previous two films. Unfortunately, what could’ve been added as an epilogue to the second film, here has been made into feature length.
This time the missing piece of jigsaw is the mystery present from the very start in the previous two films. There is no coming back to follow the footsteps of the previous night. A risky decision to make a linear sequence this time did not work.
Bradley Cooper is charming, Zach Galifianakis does not disappoint with his awkward gestures and clumsiness. But this film did not provide a reason to have been made. And am glad I did not pay for the ticket but watched it at a closed private early preview.

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Los Amantes Pasajeros by Pedro Almodovar (2013)

Entitled in English as the tagline of a famous song “I’m so excited” which is performed brutally and emphatically during the film’s climax. 

We have the unity of time, place and action as per Aristotle’s classic recipe. Coach class is put down to sleep so as not to disturb the actual dramatis personae: the crew and the passengers of business class. The flight leaves for Mexico, but never gets there. Antonio Banderas is to blame but the plane cannot leave Spain. What we get as a result is good old Almodovar – getting back to his roots, back to his 1980’s gems – light comedies with a grain of melancholy. As always – colourful, artistic and rich in so many jokes, metaphors, blow jobs as well as brilliant insights into society rules and borders.

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Side Effects by Steven Soderbergh (2013) #OffPlusCamera2013

Without giving too much away – this film seems to be for the first part an antimanifesto – a voice against the pharmaceutical lobby bearing power over society in the US.
Luckily, this film is more than that. It is a craftily told story of how easy it is to be deceived by appearances, by what we’re told, by what we receive/are being fed from the outstide world – mainly by the media.
Jude Law is only slightly convincing as a shrink turned Sherlock Holmes (huh?), when Zeta-Jones fails on all fronts.
Rooney Mara is great but I only saw her in Prometheus recently and don’t feel like she had time to convert to this new role?
All in all – don’t watch it unless there is nothing else in the cinema near you.

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Django Unchained by Quentin Tarantino (2012)

I didn’t really want to go and see it. But well, it did get a Bafta and the Academy nomination for script, so I eventually did watch it.
Great costumes, seductive music, very good acting. All of that will not replace the usual agility that Tarantino got me used to. Tarantino’s cameo is less subtle than Hitchock used to implement.
a) It is a western genre, b) although it does carry a breath of Tarantino, it is, in the end, too long.
I am used to Tarantino’s films galloping lightly through plot and it was hard for me to slow down, to adjust to the pace of this film. Certainly great artists (and Tarantino definitely is one of them) have to evolve, but I am just not sure if by evolving here Tarantino stays true to himself. The metaphoric explosion at the end (without revealing too much of a plot) I read as the end of Tarantino. Perhaps I was wrong. But in order to judge that, I will need to wait for his next project.

I am very curious as to which film will become the Best Motion Picture on Feb 24th 2013. And am sincerely rooting for Argo.

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