Leither Films of the Year


Posted by in December's Magazine

Adam Smart with The Leither’s best (and worst) Films of the Year

The Road
January

Carrying with it a fire to re-ignite a genre that has long lost its spark, The Road warns audiences that humanity has more plausible terrors to be afraid of in the post-apocalyptic wastelands of civilization than the threat of Zombies or Aliens. This terrifying road-movie succeeds in generating a more believable doomsday scenario of dread than recent additions to the genre, such as The Book of Eli or Daybreakers. Blending disturbing scenes of violence, psychological torment and the constant fear of cannibalism, it focuses on the relationship between Man (a superb Viggo Mortensen) and Boy (Kodi Smit-Mcphee), as they struggle to survive off the scraps of a dying world. John Hillcoat adapts Cormac McCarthy’s elegy to his son into a miniature masterpiece that was criminally deprived of Oscar recognition. Crafted with passion and intelligence this is a difficult film to watch, but all the more impressive and rewarding for it.

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I Love You Phillip Morris
March

Outrageous is an underestimation when referring to Jim Carrey’s most recent black-comedy gem. Jaw-droppingly crude and stroke-inducingly funny, there are a myriad of moments where you will not believe the profanities and situations that arise. Carrey gives yet another under-rated performance as real-life con man Steven Russell, supported by an equally wonderful Ewan McGregor as his love interest who is the Phillip of the title. As well as being hysterical, this is also a very touching love story. Containing proper adult humour and with two excellent performances by its leading men, I Love You Phillip Morris is the year’s best comedy. Hopefully the future will see Carrey staying away from the generic Hollywood machine and participating in more projects of this quality.

City of Life and Death
April

This historic epic is a mesmerizing and unforgettable account of the mass rape and murder of 300,000 Chinese civilians and soldiers during the 1937 Japanese invasion of Nanking. A visceral assault on the emotions this is an extremely difficult film to endure due to the atrocities committed on screen. Yet, at the same time it is a stunning work of art thanks to cinematographer Yu Cao, as he turns devastating acts of brutality into shots of cinematic beauty. Far superior to Schindler’s List, director Chuan Lu’s third feature is a truly important piece of cinema and a testament to the human spirit.

Inception
July

Inception is directed by the genius that gave us The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan. I do not feel I really need to say any more on the matter: just sit back and enjoy the year’s most innovative and imaginative blockbuster.

The Town
September

Ben Affleck’s second outing in the director’s chair contains exciting action set-pieces, excellent performances and a brilliant, if slightly unoriginal story, making this one of the year’s most enjoyable films. As well as returning to writing and directing duties, Affleck makes a return to acting as well; for too long his ability in front of the camera has been unfairly panned and here he proves he still has what it takes to be the leading man. Also starring The Hurt Locker’s Jeremy Renner and Mad Men’s Jon Hamm, at first glance one might think this would be nothing more than a testosterone fuelled heist movie. In fact this is a very powerful and character driven crime-thriller that deserves to be recognised alongside modern heavyweight classics such as Heat and The Departed.

… And the Worst Film of the Year

Alice in Wonderland
March
Over-hyped, unimaginative, unoriginal, shockingly acted, coma-inducingly boring; in all honesty, rather than watch this movie I would have happily paid the Vue ticket clerk £6.75 to come out from behind her booth and kick me square in the testicles. Alice looks like a gothed up crack-whore; Johnny Depp’s performance is weird even by his standards; the CGI is far too primitive for the $200million budget; Danny Elfman’s score is what hell must sound like; and Tim Burton really needs to stop casting his wife in every bloody film he makes to prove to the world he is getting laid.108 minutes of my life I will never get back.

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