2013 Movies

I thought I’d do something a bit different this year.  Every time I saw a film in 2013, I slotted it into the list where I thought it should go, relative to the films already on the list.  So by the end of the year, I had rankings for the whole year!

This is the full list from terrific to turkey:

  1. Seven Psychopaths – From the guy that gave us In Bruges, another similarly wonderful tale of averageness, with Colin Farrell and Christopher Walken.  My number 1 of 2013.
  2. Trance – Danny Boyle’s latest film made surprisingly little impression on anyone but it’s great.  James McAvoy gets hypnotised by Rosario Dawson and it could go in any number of directions…
  3. The Place Beyond the Pines – Another memorable Ryan Gosling role and more strong support from Bradley Cooper, I will say no more.  Just watch it.
  4. The Kings of Summer – The underdog of the year – it came from nowhere and cost nothing to make, features no names and is about nothing more than kids making a house in the forest – but it’s wonderful.
  5. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues – Very much an acquired taste, but I’ve certainly acquired it.  Loved it.  Almost indistinguishable from the first one, which I’ve enjoyed more and more each time I’ve seen it.
  6. Rush – The fact that this is only number 6 is a solid endorsement of the top 5.  James Hunt and Niki Lauda have never been more compelling – even people who can’t spell F1 are coming away loving this film.
  7. The Way, Way Back – Awkward teen at a water park – much better than it sounds, very much like The Descendants.  Superb.
  8. Captain Phillips – Tom Hanks gets boarded by Somali Pirates and you can’t take your eyes off the screen.
  9. The World’s End – You need to like Simon Pegg to like this – it’s silly but it’s fun.  Pegg still can’t really write endings but this one’s is much better than Shaun of the Dead’s.
  10. Side Effects – This drama with Jude Law about a new drug and its effects on behaviour doesn’t go quite where you think it’s going.  Excellent.
  11. Django Unchained – Quentin Tarantino needs to learn how to edit – this is FAR too long, and as a result just fails to make my top 10.
  12. Bridesmaids – I know this is for girls, but I thought it was great.
  13. The Sessions – Helen Hunt as a sex therapist seeing a paralysed client.  Sensitive and moving, plus you get to see Helen Hunt in the nip!
  14. This is 40 – If I were marking all these movies now I would’ve put this a lot lower, but I must’ve loved it at the time because it’s all the way up here.  Time does funny things to the brain…
  15. Sightseers – Very British, very dark and definitely worth catching, this is the best camping movie you’ll see all year.
  16. About Time – completely nonsensical plot but great fun by the Love Actually guy Richard Curtis.
  17. Jack Reacher – Tom Cruise’s actioner is much better than expected (I’ve demoted this one because in June it was still number 3 and I can’t believe it deserved that!)
  18. Made in Dagenham (2010) – Not from this year but I’ve included it as I saw it this year – a very English tale of women fighting for equality on the Ford factory floor.  Highly predictable but heartwarming and fun.
  19. Philomena – Judi Dench does as Judi Dench always does.  Here she’s looking for her long-lost son, taken from her by nuns.  Steve Coogan’s good in support too.
  20. Stand Up Guys – Al Pacino and Christopher Walken go for one last heist.  Excellent fun.
  21. Iron Man 3 – The shining light in a very poor year for superheroes.  The ending is pure Hollywood arse but getting there was great fun.  Ben Kingsley’s main scene is a work of art.
  22. Silver Linings Playbook – Never expected to like this but Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence made it work.  Much funnier than I expected.
  23. Saving Mr Banks – Emma Thompson as the Mary Poppins author meeting Walt Disney.  Very touching and funny.
  24. Wreck It Ralph – Best animation of the year (though I haven’t seen Despicable Me 2 yet).
  25. The Fifth Estate – It’s no Social Network but I really liked it – it felt more *real*.
  26. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa – Partridge but more so.
  27. The Paperboy – A bit weird but worth seeing for Nicole Kidman’s *surprising* prison scene…
  28. Lovelace – I can’t deny it’s titillating seeing doe-eyed Amanda Seyfried as Deep Throat star Linda Lovelace, especially in the nude scenes, but this film really only came alive in the final reel, whereupon it became genuinely touching.  Surprising to see James Franco as Hugh Hefner and a few other recognisable faces – Peter Sarsgaard, Chris Noth (Big from Sex and the City), Sharon Stone glamming down, Robert Patrick (Terminator 2 baddy), Hank Azaria, Chloe Sevigny – they’re all in there.
  29. Catfish (2010) – ruined by the MARKETING!  You probably haven’t heard of Catfish, but it created a minor stir back in 2010 over whether the overt documentary was genuine or a cleverly made fake.  Well, despite the jury still being out, I’m here to tell you that it’s quite stunningly obviously not real, and the realisation very early on that is was so clearly not real made me hate it.  But once that hatred had dissipated, it’s actually not half bad.  And I hope that by popping the pompous pimple that the evil marketeers created, you will enjoy it from the off, rather than hovering over the stop button after the first 20 minutes like I was.  It’s just a fictional film, just like any other.  View it as such and it’s pretty good.  And though it’s clearly bollocks in terms of reality, not least because of the smarmy drama-school fartfest that the lead actor puts in, in the end OH MY GOD what an amazing supporting performance from the main female character towards the end (that I can’t describe without spoiling it) … if it wasn’t for the giveaways from the cinematography and the obvious acting from the other guys, I would’ve believed that *she* was real and they constructed the rest retrospectively.  Well, until the director gets in the way again.  In the end, it’s self-important crap and bitterly shallow to the point of offensiveness in places, but I still felt myself getting drawn in.  I kind of want to punch the director in the face, but I still think you should see it, because the shit that the marketeers have pooped out might be counterable with the extra hands I’ve given you, in the form of prior knowledge.  Forewarned is four-armed, or something like that.
  30. Prisoners – would be higher as it’s a very good film, but it’s hardly uplifting.
  31. Epic – Eco-animation.  Not Pixar and it shows.  I think if I watched it again I’d place it lower.
  32. Arbitrage – Richard Gere gets legal with Susan Sarandon – a strong film but I’m not entirely sure why.
  33. Welcome to the Punch – You can’t go wrong with James McAvoy *and* Mark Strong.  Could’ve been even better.
  34. Standing Up – Two kids stranded on an island, manages to avoid being mawkish and does indeed stand up.
  35. Promised Land – Matt Damon works for an evil natural gas company trying to persuade a small town to sell up.  Better than it should’ve been.
  36. Monsters University – Not a patch on Monsters Inc but still good.
  37. The Great Gatsby – Not my kind of film but nevertheless I rather liked it.
  38. We’re the Millers – I’m not sure why I enjoyed this as there’s nothing new or particularly funny.  But I did.
  39. The Call – Halle Berry’s hit-and-miss drama.  Slightly more hit than miss.
  40. The Hangover Part 3 – Same again, but that’s OK with me.
  41. I Give it a Year – Brit comedy following the usual formula, but it’s easy to like.  And how versatile is Rose Byrne?  Blimey.
  42. Pain & Gain – Michael Bay’s best film (not that it has much competition).  Mark Kermode says this is the worst film of 2013, but he just doesn’t get it.  It’s a COMEDY.  We’re *supposed* to find the characters vile and laughable, that’s the *point*.  I can’t stand Michael Bay films (Transformers, Pearl Harbor etc.) but this was fun.
  43. Precious (2009) – actually this is a lot better than that but as the first half was so hard to watch, I didn’t enjoy it very much.
  44. Red 2 – Should be awful but somehow isn’t.  And it has a Lotus Exige in it!
  45. The Look of Love – Biopic of porn-pedlar Paul Raymond with Steve Coogan in the lead and a host of familiar British faces in support.  Even given the subject matter, there’s a surprising amount of flesh jiggling about in the first half.  But *surely* that’s not why I liked it so much … surely?  Well I think it probably was, because as soon as the boobies dried up, it all got a bit transparent and I lost interest.  Such a cruel metaphor.
  46. The Heat – Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy as mismatched cops yadda yadda, but the jokes are quite funny.
  47. Behind the Candelabra – Michael Douglas and Matt Damon being gay is the whole joke.  There are good bits, but they’re all on the trailer.
  48. World War Z – Brad Pitt vs the zombies.  OK but we’ve seen better.
  49. Jack the Giant Slayer – Quite a good fun dark fairy tale, not for young kids.
  50. Hitchcock – Anthony Hopkins plays the bulbous movie director rather well.
  51. Life of Pi – The one with the tiger in the boat.  Not as good as people say it is, but worth a watch as it has its moments and is visually excellent.
  52. Cloud Atlas – Long and weird.  Many seemingly unrelated stories, theoretically interweaving (though not really) with the main stars playing different roles in the various threads.  I spent most of the film trying to figure out which of the stars was under each particular layer of make-up.  Worth seeing just because it’s different.
  53. Parkland – I did actually find myself gripped by this, but I’ve demoted it for *not being very good*.  I know that goes against what I’ve said elsewhere about demoting *good* films for my lack of enjoyment, but hey, fuck you, it’s my list :o )  The film is very much pro-Kennedy and anti-Oswald, but it was the end credits that caught my eye.  Lee Harvey’s brother, who appears in the film, is claimed to have “never doubted Lee Harvey’s guilt in the assassination”.  Hmmm.  That’s brave.  If that’s true then that’s very convincing.  Unless he thought his brother was a twat.  Presumably he himself had an iron-clad alibi.  Aaaaargh!  I’m being sucked into the conspiracy nonsense!  Noooooooo!!!!!  Stop.  Leave it.
  54. Kick-Ass 2 – Nowhere near as good as the first one but reasonably fun.
  55. Elysium – Matt Damon feeling very District 9 (and by the same director Neill Blomkamp) but not nearly as good.
  56. Now You See Me – Glitzy stage magicians.  The stupidest “twist” of the year that was still guessable because it *felt* like they were going to do the dumbest possible thing with the plot.  And abracadabra, they did.
  57. The Wipers Times – Very low budget British BBC movie about making a newspaper in the WW1 trenches.  I found the first half hour charming and engaging but the lack of imagination and heavy-handedness made it very tiresome by the end.  And, criminally, Emilia Fox was barely in it.
  58. This is the End – Very odd, American actors (and Emma Watson) playing *themselves* as the world ends.  Not as bad as it sounds, but not very good either.
  59. Oblivion – Tom Cruise’s flash futuristic sci-fi thinks it’s very clever.  It isn’t.
  60. Lincoln – Very *good* technically but yawn, rather boring.
  61. Fast & Furious 6 – Totally ridiculous but good silly fun once they start throwing CGI cars at the scenery.  Fast forward through the rest.
  62. The Internship – By the numbers Owen Wilson / Vince Vaughn vehicle about getting a job at Google.  Yes, really.
  63. Star Trek Into Darkness – Highly compelling during the talkie bits and utterly tedious during the overblown CGI action nonsense.
  64. Columbus Circle – I remember nothing about this film any more but I didn’t hate it.
  65. Red Dawn – Remake of an old Kurt Russell film about a family providing resistance against modern we’re-not-Nazis-really occupation.  Fair to middling.
  66. Riddick – Yawn.  Same as the last one.  Stylish but about as gripping as a greased banana skin.
  67. Snitch – The Rock in a not-quite-terrible actioner.
  68. The Colony – Reasonable in places but too predictable and derivative.
  69. Phantom – Ed Harris and submarines.  Unexciting.  They tried something brave with the ending and it *nearly* worked.
  70. Grown Ups 2 – Just another formulaic comedy with Adam Sandler, Chris Rock and the fat bloke from Hitch.  Took ridiculous amounts of money despite being the same film as 28,000 other equally banal comedies.
  71. GI Joe Retaliation – Not as shit as I expected but still not worth your time.
  72. Broken City – Trailer looked good.  The film isn’t.
  73. St George’s Day – Lots of swearing in this Brit gangster flick, not entirely horrible but pretty low-rent nonetheless.
  74. The Bling Ring – Supposedly true story of spoilt little rich girls burgling celebrities’ homes.  Unsparkling.
  75. Gangster Squad – Ryan Gosling *does* make bad movies after all!  Nothing to see here.
  76. Lawless – Some big names in a western that should’ve been so much better.
  77. Gravity – Everybody loves this, I thought it was shite.  The first 20 minutes were really good, then it showed off its CGI for the next hour whilst completely failing to grasp the simplest concepts of physics.  At least it was short.
  78. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Oh GOD I hate these films.  Far too long, not funny enough and FAR too serious.
  79. Dracula – Dario Argento directs daughter Asia in a film that could easily have been lifted straight from Hammer’s back catalogue.
  80. Zombie Hunter – I don’t even remember watching this.
  81. Sexy Evil Genius – Felt like a drama class.
  82. Movie 43 – sketch comedy with pretty much all of Hollywood in it.  I first saw this as a hooky download that was about half the length it should’ve been, and I thought it wasn’t all that bad.  Then I saw the full movie and realised some kind soul had cut out all the terrible bits in the version I saw, which made it passable.  The full movie is *horrible*.  I now understand the value of editing.
  83. Zero Dark Thirty – I know this is highly rated but I was bored stupid.  Just not my kind of film I guess.  Probably need to watch it again.
  84. Casa de mi Padre – Will Ferrell completely misses the mark.  I mean, it’s in Spanish.  All of it.
  85. A Good Day to Die Hard – Bruce – just STOP.  Please.  It’s embarrassing now.
  86. Death Race 3: Inferno – The Death Race series has got progressively worse after the first one with Jason Statham that was not bad, surely it can’t get *much* worse than this latest episode…?
  87. Olympus Has Fallen – Most people will get something out of this Gerard Butler shooty White House nonsense, but I just wanted it to end.
  88. Parker – Jason Statham.  Same as all his other films.
  89. Cosmopolis – Twilight’s Robert Pattinson in a David Cronenberg film that made no sense and bored the tits off me.  What happened to you, Cronenberg?  You used to be cool.
  90. Antiviral – Another Cronenberg film, this time by David’s son Brandon.  But it’s no better.  Weird for weird’s sake.
  91. Lake Placid The Final Chapter – The 4th in the big scary crocodile series, this final one contains genuinely funny special effects (because they’re so bad) and nothing recommendable whatsoever.
  92. Border Run – Sharon Stone and oh I don’t remember.  It was bad.
  93. Jobs – Pretty obviously a shoddy cash-in on the recent success of biopics such as The Social Network – but this one is awful.  Ashton Kutcher plays Steve Jobs (badly), the master of evil black magic marketing, and portrays him as a low-rent salesman with a techie background.  And all the other characters just do whatever he says.  Apple products have always been the Emperor’s New Clothes to me.  I see an overpriced shiny box that makes my life more difficult, even when I don’t have any (people keep calling me on fecking iPhones, which I can always tell immediately because I can’t hear what they’re fecking saying).  Everybody else seems to be captivated by some kind of magic spell and sells a kidney to own the shiny thing for six months until a shinier one comes out.  It makes no sense.  So I’m biased from the start, and the movie has only made it worse.  I actually felt myself getting angry watching the overblown, schmaltzy, misjudged bag of pus. If you’re anti-Apple like me, you’ll want it off your screen.  If you’re pro-Apple, it’ll offend you how Jobs is presented as a massive dick.  It’s lose-lose.  Just like a phone call on an iPhone.
  94. Blood Money – Mindless punchy crap that incorrectly seems to think it’s cool.
  95. Man of Steel – Christopher Reeve must be spinning in his grave.  Superman reduced to Hollywood drivel pap.  The disappointment of the year.
  96. Here Comes the Boom – Mind-numbingly unfunny “comedy” with Paul Blart Mall Cop.
  97. Casting Couch – I only saw it because it had tits in it.  It wasn’t worth it.
  98. Pacific Rim – Huge robots fight, directed by Guillermo del Toro, who also did the Hellboys and Pan’s Labyrinth.  Why is this so utterly dreadful then?  I don’t know.  Why does it have an IMDB user rating of 7 out of 10?  Because this species is doomed.  If I’d noticed my friend sneaking out of the cinema half-way through, I’d've done the same.  Achingly awful, but still better than last year’s worst film The Expendables 2…

And that’s the lot.  Didn’t quite make the ton, but nearly!  Not long to go before 12 Days a Slave cleans up at the Oscars (I haven’t seen it yet but I can *feel* it…)

Maybe I’ll post something about cars soon…

Welcome home, old friend

It’s been a long time coming, but it’s here!  The fabled Capri is back on the streets!  I can engage my Professionals fantasies again!

Capri 2.8i

Capri 2.8i



I can’t even remember when I last drove it, but it was *many* years ago.  Surprisingly it’s not in bad nick considering it’s been parked outside for at least five years without going anywhere to speak of.  It’s been from Hinckley to Guildford to Droitwich to Ottershaw.  It’s had the magical hands of Copsons junior and senior fitting the new brakes and giving it a good old fettling, and the reliable boys at Lakeside Engineering have seen it through its MOT.  Now, finally, it’s back in Hampshire where it’ll be staying for the foreseeable future.

Driving it feels completely new.  I’ve done a few track days in it long ago, but I really don’t recognise the driving experience at all.  It took forever to get it going at Lakeside and it was bone dry of fuel, but £75 of V-Power later it’s happy to start first turn now and has obediently carried me over 100 miles so far with no issues.

Capri's engine bay


Well, I *say* no issues.  The passenger door mirror’s hanging off.  The water temperature gauge doesn’t work.  The cigarette lighter socket doesn’t work.  The blower doesn’t do anything.  The windscreen washer doesn’t operate.  It has three slow leaks in the tyres which I suspect are down to porous pepperpots (the wheels) … but nothing that stops it from *going*.

I’ve only been tickling around so far, surfing on the huge waves of torque – I’m building up confidence both in the reliability and the trust that it isn’t going to go hedge-hunting if I boot it.  Mileage will create a bond.

I’m starting to *get* the whole idea of a classic car now.  Every trip is an event – you have to plan ahead, allow extra time both on the road and before the journey to make sure everything works, and you’re never quite sure if you’re going to make it to your planned destination.  But everybody’s happy to see it – it gets exclusively positive roadside reactions.  Fathers on bikes stop just so they can point it out to their small sons.  When it was being trailered to Droitwich, the Marussia F1 truck passed and gave us a little hello honk on the horn.  People *like* to see it around.

I’m sure if it lets me down I will suddenly lose the rosiness, but until that day, it’s all going rather well.

Welcome home, old friend.