First Time Viewings: December 2013

A very productive month for me, I hit the 30 mark. I don't think I've seen 30 films in one month for a number of years but I had the whole month off work which certainly helped. I got to add some more big names to my lists, such as Chaplin, Peckinpah, Bertolucci, Preminger and Spike Lee. Saw a couple of masterpieces such as Steve McQueen's Shame and saw a couple of crap films such as Kevin Smith's Cop Out. Most of the films I saw are at least recommendable to great, only 2 films fell below the 6/10 mark.
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1.
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
An American bartender and his prostitute girlfriend go on a road trip through the Mexican underworld to collect a $1 million bounty on the head of a dead gigolo. (112 mins.)
Director: Sam Peckinpah
“ Viewed: 1/12/13
My Score: 9/10

The 5th film I've seen from the legendary Sam Peckinpah is a very gritty and sombre film with a brilliant performance from Warren Oates. Not my fave from Peckinpah but pretty close. ” - Kraemorr
 
2.
1900 (1976)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
The epic tale of a class struggle in 20th Century Italy, as seen through the eyes of two childhood friends on opposing sides. (317 mins.)
“ Viewed: 4/12/13
My Score: 8/10

Finally... I've owned this film for a few years now but I've never managed to guarantee myself 5 free hours to actually watch it. Some call it a masterpiece, some say a missed opportunity, I'm in the middle. I loved it, it had so many wonderful scenes that I'm quite happy to overlook some flaws and only rarely does it drag a bit. Not the masterpiece I was hoping but quite a viewing experience nonetheless.

This is the 5th film from Bertolucci I've seen. ” - Kraemorr
 
3.
World War Z (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Former United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to destroy humanity itself. (116 mins.)
Director: Marc Forster
“ Viewed: 4/12/13
My Score: 7/10

Far from a great zombie movie I was hoping but certainly entertaining. I personally loved the last third which was heavily redone after an initial viewing, some weren't so happy but I think they made a good choice.`

This is the 4th film from Marc Forster I've seen. ” - Kraemorr
 
4.
Kick-Ass 2 (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
Following Kick-Ass' heroics, other citizens are inspired to become masked crusaders. But the Red Mist leads his own group of evil supervillains to kill Kick-Ass and destroy everything for which he stands. (103 mins.)
Director: Jeff Wadlow
“ Viewed: 5/12/13
My Score: 7/10

I'm such a huge fan of the first film I knew this one wasn't going to live up to that one but it's a lot more enjoyable than the reviews it got. Part of the fun from the first was the little girl that swore and killed people, well she isn't that little anymore so it's quite simply not as much fun. I was also looking forward to Jim Carrey but his role wasn't nearly as juicy as I thought it would be. ” - Kraemorr
 
5.
Ted (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
John Bennett, a man whose childhood wish of bringing his teddy bear to life came true, now must decide between keeping the relationship with the bear or his girlfriend, Lori. (106 mins.)
Director: Seth MacFarlane
“ Viewed: 5/12/13
My Score: 8/10

I've been putting off watching this for awhile (even though I love Seth MacFarlane) because everyone saw this when it first came out and there were trailers all over the place, I couldn't shield myself from all the hype and the jokes so I wanted that to wear off first. If you're a fan of MacFarlane's humour then you won't be disappointed. ” - Kraemorr
 
6.
Spiders 3D (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.4/10 X  
After a Soviet space station crashes into a New York City subway tunnel, a species of venomous spiders is discovered, and soon they mutate to gigantic proportions and wreak havoc on the city. (89 mins.)
Director: Tibor Takács
“ Viewed: 5/12/13
My Score: 4/10

The first really bad film I saw in December. Of course there is crummy dialogue and acting but worst of all are the spiders themselves. For starters the big spider is changing sizes all the time but the spiders when they start off and are small like a real spider are more scary than when they get big. Anyway, it's not much fun beating up on a b-grade pic so I'll leave it there. ” - Kraemorr
 
7.
Riddick (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Left for dead on a sun-scorched planet, Riddick finds himself up against an alien race of predators. Activating an emergency beacon alerts two ships: one carrying a new breed of mercenary, the other captained by a man from Riddick's past. (119 mins.)
Director: David Twohy
“ Viewed: 5/12/13
My Score: 9/10

This one took me by surprise, as all the Riddick films have but this one especially. I love the survivalist aspect of the beginning of the film but the whole thing is just so much fun I can't recommend it enough, though only to those who like this sort of thing. ” - Kraemorr
 
8.
Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
In a murder trial, the defendant says he suffered temporary insanity after the victim raped his wife. What is the truth, and will he win his case? (160 mins.)
Director: Otto Preminger
“ Viewed: 6/12/13
My Score: 10/10

Wow. I could end on that note but I will embellish a little. The 160 minute runtime goes by so quickly it's over before you know it. May be known as a court-room drama but it's so much more than that, and the courtroom drama is probably the best I've ever seen. Brilliant!

Only the 3rd film from Preminger I've seen. ” - Kraemorr
 
9.
Ain't Them Bodies Saints (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
The tale of an outlaw who escapes from prison and sets out across the Texas hills to reunite with his wife and the daughter he has never met. (96 mins.)
Director: David Lowery
“ Viewed: 6/12/13
My Score: 7/10

I loved the Malickian feel of this film, and the performances were wonderful but I did have an issue with Casey Affleck's character which let me down a bit. Someone who loves his family so much would not seriously risk their own safety and well-being for his own selfish reasons would he? Well Affleck's character attempt such a thing which I didn't like personally. ” - Kraemorr
 
10.
The Boys from Brazil (1978)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A Nazi hunter in Paraguay discovers a sinister and bizarre plot to rekindle the Third Reich. (125 mins.)
“ Viewed: 9/12/13
My Score: 7/10

Bizarre curiosity item from Franklin J. Schaffner. It is quite corny at times but it has fair deal of entertainment. Also I can't understand how Laurence Olivier was nominated for an Oscar over Gregory Peck when Peck gave the better and more memorable performance. Oh well, that's the Oscars for ya. ” - Kraemorr
 
11.
Gravity (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A medical engineer and an astronaut work together to survive after an accident leaves them adrift in space. (91 mins.)
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
“ Viewed: 10/12/13
My Score: 8/10

I'm hearing a lot of divided opinions about this, people are relishing dissing a film that has been critically acclaimed. And I can fully understand their dislike of it, the screenplay is not far from terrible. Alfonso Cuaron's screenplays don't quite do it for me, as his Children of Men (also highly acclaimed by critics) I found less than riveting as well (though I also really liked that film as well). As purely a director he is quite wonderful though, and that's what wins Gravity for me. I really felt like I was out in space with them which is just an amazing feat for a director. If you can bring yourself to accept that you're going to be in space for the 90 mins with practically no intervening from earth than you should be able to enjoy the sheer terror of Gravity. ” - Kraemorr
 
12.
Fast Five (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Dominic Toretto and his crew of street racers plan a massive heist to buy their freedom while in the sights of a powerful Brazilian drug lord and a dangerous federal agent. (131 mins.)
Director: Justin Lin
“ Viewed: 11/12/13
My Score: 6/10

Go to next review... ” - Kraemorr
 
13.
Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Hobbs has Dominic and Brian reassemble their crew to take down a team of mercenaries: Dominic unexpectedly gets convoluted also facing his presumed deceased girlfriend, Letty. (130 mins.)
Director: Justin Lin
“ Viewed: 11/12/13
My Score: 6/10

So I thought I should get around to these to pay a little tribute to Paul Walker, and Walker is wonderful in these movies. There are many things I like about 5 & 6 but the sheer impossibility of some of the stunts is really starting to annoy me. The whole bank vault thing in 5 and the plane sequence in 6 really ruined things for me. Thankfully the cast is so likeable. ” - Kraemorr
 
14.
Elysium (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
In the year 2154, the very wealthy live on a man-made space station while the rest of the population resides on a ruined Earth. A man takes on a mission that could bring equality to the polarized worlds. (109 mins.)
Director: Neill Blomkamp
“ Viewed: 13/12/13
My Score: 6/10

As a fan of Neill Blomkamp first feature District 9 I was really looking forward to this but I was quite let down. I felt it had a pretty lazy screenplay, and personally I felt it was way too preachy and one-sided, but that's the films point I guess. Jodie Foster is wonderful though. ” - Kraemorr
 
15.
The Circus (1928)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
The Tramp finds work and the girl of his dreams at a circus. (71 mins.)
Director: Charlie Chaplin
“ Viewed: 13/12/13
My Score: 8/10

Not quite the greatness of The Great Dictator or City Lights, imo, but thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish with a very poignant ending especially for this type of film.

This is only the 4th feature length Chaplin film I've seen. ” - Kraemorr
 
16.
Pi (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A paranoid mathematician searches for a key number that will unlock the universal patterns found in nature. (84 mins.)
“ Viewed: 13/12/13
My Score: 8/10

I've been a fan of Aronofsky since Requiem for a Dream but never got around to his debut until now. A very interesting film that's quite unlike anything else I've seen, though I can understand comparisons to David Lynch's Eraserhead. I would call this film a thriller, because it is in fact thrilling unlike so many so-called thrillers that get chewed through the system. It's one of those films that a re-watch is in order to get my head around it a bit better.

I've now seen all 5 of Darren Aronofsky's films. Bring on Noah!!! ” - Kraemorr
 
17.
Spring Breakers (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  
Four college girls hold up a restaurant in order to fund their spring break vacation. While partying, drinking, and taking drugs, they are arrested, only to be bailed out by a drug and arms dealer. (94 mins.)
Director: Harmony Korine
“ Viewed: 20/12/13
My Score: 8/10

Another intriguing piece of cinema that I like the more I think about it. At first it seems corny but that is it's charm. James Franco gives an incredibly corny but sincere performance, and the sincerity of a Britney Spears sing-a-long is just amazingly poignant... and ridiculous and trashy... This film will certainly have it's fair share of haters but I'm thinking about upping my score just thinking about it again. Quite a unique film only Harmony Korine could do... surely. ” - Kraemorr
 
18.
Shame (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
In New York City, Brandon's carefully cultivated private life - which allows him to indulge his sexual addiction - is disrupted when his sister arrives unannounced for an indefinite stay. (101 mins.)
Director: Steve McQueen
“ Viewed: 20/12/13
My Score: 10/10

The second masterpiece for the month of December. I thought I should hurry up and watch this as Steve McQueen's new film 12 Years a Slave could be the next best picture at the Oscars and I wanted to familiarise myself with him a bit. That I certainly did. This is one of the best directed films I've ever seen, and the power of Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan's performances should have garnered Oscar nominations but not to be. The main character is a rather cold and distant human being it's hard to like him but you certainly feel for him, not pity, well maybe pity, all I know was this film is spellbinding. ” - Kraemorr
 
19.
Moonstruck (1987)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Loretta Castorini, a book keeper from Brooklyn, New York, finds herself in a difficult situation when she falls for the brother of the man she has agreed to marry. (102 mins.)
Director: Norman Jewison
“ Viewed: 21/12/13
My Score: 9/10

A marvellous film from Norman Jewison. You would categorise it as a rom-com but there's so much truth and wit herein it's hard to lump with other rom-coms. Truly remarkable how this film actually got pulled off but I'm glad it did.

This is the 9th film from Norman Jewison I've seen. ” - Kraemorr
 
20.
Max Payne (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  
Coming together to solve a series of murders in New York City are a police detective whose family was slain as part of a conspiracy and an assassin out to avenge her sister's death. The duo will be hunted by the police, the mob, and a ruthless corporation. (100 mins.)
Director: John Moore
“ Viewed: 22/12/13
My Score: 6/10

This film has a great look, and honestly wouldn't mind a sequel but it's far from great. Though seeing as though it's a video game adaptation it's quite successful. ” - Kraemorr
 
21.
Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
As Cecil Gaines serves eight presidents during his tenure as a butler at the White House, the civil rights movement, Vietnam, and other major events affect this man's life, family, and American society. (132 mins.)
Director: Lee Daniels
“ Viewed: 22/12/13
My Score: 7/10

Unfortunately the film felt a little too much like Forrest Gump crossed with The Help (which is probably not that bad) and while I thought the cameos were quite entertaining, they were also unnecessarily distracting. So that's the bad out of the way. The good is that Forest Whitaker is perfect and I didn't want to say this but Oprah Winfrey is equally effective. Quite entertaining but it's not quite successful on what it wants to hit home. ” - Kraemorr
 
22.
The World's End (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Five friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from twenty years earlier unwittingly become humanity's only hope for survival. (109 mins.)
Director: Edgar Wright
“ Viewed: 22/12/13
My Score: 8/10

Not quite as successful as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz but still very funny and Simon Pegg probably gives his best performance so far. ” - Kraemorr
 
23.
Before Sunset (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Nine years after Jesse and Celine first met, they encounter each other again on the French leg of Jesse's book tour. (80 mins.)
“ Viewed: 23/12/13
My Score: 9/10

Celine meets up with Jesse at a booksigning and the two go for a walk through Paris talking. That's the story and how wonderful it is. I know these films aren't some peoples cups of tea as nothing gets blown up and nobody gets killed but these people are so fascinating to watch. ” - Kraemorr
 
24.
Before Midnight (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
We meet Jesse and Celine nine years on in Greece. Almost two decades have passed since their first meeting on that train bound for Vienna. (109 mins.)
“ Viewed: 23/12/13
My Score: 9/10

This time Celine and Jesse have been a couple since Sunset so this film has a different feel to the first two films. It's still talky, sweet and funny but has a very dramatic moment that rings so true that it reminds me of my failed marriage. Also, the performances by Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke are both brilliant and should win many awards but they unfortunately won't.

This is the 7th film from Richard Linklater I've seen. ” - Kraemorr
 
25.
Out of the Furnace (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
When Rodney Baze mysteriously disappears and law enforcement doesn't follow through fast enough, his older brother, Russell, takes matters into his own hands to find justice. (116 mins.)
Director: Scott Cooper
“ Viewed: 23/12/13
My Score: 7/10

I wanted to love this movie, the atmosphere Scott Cooper creates is masterful and the acting is sublime by Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson and Willem Dafoe. Unfortunately the script takes matters into its own hands and the characters start doing things that the script tells them to, I didn't believe the characters would've done some of the things they did in the second half, just stupid stuff. It's so frustrating to watch such an amazing film in some areas and then to be seriously let down by another aspect. By the end I didn't care less what happened because in reality I didn't believe the situation would've even occurred. But the acting... wow. ” - Kraemorr
 
26.
Don Jon (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
A New Jersey guy dedicated to his family, friends, and church, develops unrealistic expectations from watching porn and works to find happiness and intimacy with his potential true love. (90 mins.)
“ Viewed: 24/12/13
My Score: 8/10

Now here is a thoroughly enjoyable sexualised romp by director-writer-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt. So many things about this film ring true and Gordon-Levitt is wonderful as a guy who has an unrealistic view of relationships due to his porn addiction. ” - Kraemorr
 
27.
This Is the End (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
While attending a party at James Franco's house, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel and many other celebrities are faced with the apocalypse. (107 mins.)
“ Viewed: 24/12/13
My Score: 7/10

This apocalyptic comedy is at times very funny though at other times is rather dull and feels a little overlong. A lot of in-jokes for those who have seen most of these types of movies and a rather cynical view of actors in general which is very entertaining. ” - Kraemorr
 
28.
Trance (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
An art auctioneer who has become mixed up with a group of criminals partners with a hypnotherapist in order to recover a lost painting. (101 mins.)
Director: Danny Boyle
“ Viewed: 24/12/13
My Score: 8/10

Yet another impressive film by the ever reliable Danny Boyle. A thriller that slowly unfolds and by the end has been flipped on its head. Excellent acting by all, though can sometime tell me the significance of the pubic hair thread? I didn't mind it though. ” - Kraemorr
 
29.
Cop Out (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  
Jimmy's rare baseball card is robbed. Since it's his only hope to pay for his daughter's upcoming wedding, he recruits his cop partner Paul to track down the robber, a memorabilia-obsessed gangster. (107 mins.)
Director: Kevin Smith
“ Viewed: 31/12/13
My Score: 3/10

I forgive Kevin Smith. He didn't write this and that is why I've put off watching it for some time. But this is worse than I could've imagined. Not once did I laugh, or snicker, or even grin. I did however grimace a few times when poor Tracy Morgan kept trying to make jokes that just simply weren't funny, or maybe it was just his delivery, either way I found Morgan very annoying. The thing with Beverly Hills Cop is that behind all the gags it's actually believable (to a certain extent), and Eddie Murphy is totally believable as a cop, as he's quick to react and quite intelligent but Morgan's character has none of those qualities and is quite sad to watch. Bruce Willis does what Bruce Willis does but he seems to be coasting through this movie letting Morgan try his hardest instead. This is the worst film I've seen this year.

This is the 9th film from Kevin Smith I've seen. ” - Kraemorr
 
30.
Do the Right Thing (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
On the hottest day of the year on a street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, everyone's hate and bigotry smolders and builds until it explodes into violence. (120 mins.)
Director: Spike Lee
“ Viewed: 31/12/13
My Score: 9/10

At least I got to end the year on this wonderful film. Spike Lee's classic film is often regarded as his best film and one of the best of the 80's. I've seen many of Lee's films and I've enjoyed most of them, I love his jazzy style, I can't believe it's taken me this long to watch this one. I'm a little confused at what his message is at the end, but I was very moved by it anyway. Wonderful performances all round by I was especially moved by Danny Aiello's and Ossie Davis' performances. Exceptionally good film-making by Lee.

This is the 10th Spike Lee joint I've seen. ” - Kraemorr