Holding My Attention – Films

These are aren’t necessarily my favourite films from the last few months, but they’ve stuck in my head, which I suppose is as good a reason as any for talking about them.
I’m going to start with a movie, simply entitled ‘Monsters ‘. I just sort of picked this one off the shelf in Xtra-Vision. It seemed to be marketed as just another alien B-movie, but it boasted incredible reviews, so my curiosity was piqued.
As it turned out, it was brilliant. Much slower paced than you’d expect, and much more about the two main characters than the creatures – who form more of a backdrop for the most part. It is still gripping, rich in drama and suspense. Despite the B-movie marketing, anyone looking for a hectic monster-fest is going to be disappointed. This is a moody, thoughtful and – dare I say it – sensitive film about making your way through a land colonized by alien creatures.
‘The Other Guys’ was another unexpected delight. I’m not a massive fan of Will Ferrell. I find he’s either very funny or just plain stupid. ‘The Other Guys’ features Ferrell, teaming up with Mark Wahlberg, as two cops overshadowed by a pair of action heroes. When the heroes are rubbed out of the picture, our hapless two have to step in. Maedhbh and I were creased up laughing at this in places. Warning, some of the humour was the kind that shouldn’t be funny, but is.
‘Despicable Me’ was brilliant – I liked ‘Megamind’ too, but this was better. Really offbeat, imaginative, and downright hilarious in parts. In an industry dominated by Pixar, this did its own thing with style. I remain fascinated by the phenomenon of two films being released almost simultaneously, based on similar concepts – although often executed very differently. This happens with books too . . . a lot.
For tension, one of the best films this year has to be ‘Buried’, starring (pretty much entirely) Ryan Reynolds. One man, buried in a box little bigger than a coffin, equipped with only a lighter, flask, flashlight, knife, glowsticks, pencil and a mobile phone to help him escape before the oxygen in the box runs out. This is not a light, Saturday night popcorn film. The entire story takes place in this tiny space, and Reynolds manages to carry the whole thing. Brilliant, but nerve-wracking.
With Marvel continuing their onward march into domination of the superhero genre, they’ve produced one of the best ever movies in ‘X-Men: First Class’. Set during the Cuban Missile Crisis, this origins story shows the early friendship of Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr, how the X-Men are formed, and how the conflict between human and mutant really kicks off.
Skintight suits and sci-fi gear are kept to a minimum, but the strong visuals, bold characters and fast pace that translate so well from comics to films provide a real pulse-pounder of a film. With the likes of Kevin Bacon, James McAvoy, Rose Byrne, Oliver Platt and January Jones, the cast is impressive, and they all deliver, but Michael Fassbender steals the show as Lensherr/Magneto, just as Ian McKellan did in the first three X-Men films. If you haven’t seen this, do. It’s a cracking good film.
Speaking of January Jones, Maedhbh and I got the loan of the first three seasons of ‘Mad Men’ recently (thanks Kunak and Joe), and in those rare snatched periods of calm after the kids have gone to bed, we’re indulging in an episode or two. It grew slowly on us, but we’re well hooked now. Can’t say I care much for Jones’s character, but there are so many others to keep you engrossed, and though I never worked at that level in advertising (I was art director and copy writer for a small firm), there were others in the company who had spent years in big agencies, and from the stories they told, some things haven’t changed.
And finally . . . I was sent an email about a photography site recently. It’s called Perfectly Timed Photos. I started idly flicking through it and proceeded to split myself laughing. Absolutely brilliant. Adults with children beware, some of it’s really rude – but absolutely brilliant.