Tag Archives: 2014

The top 10 movies I watched at home in 2014

I stole this idea of Table Nine Mutant over at Cinema Parrot Disco. I watched some great movies outside of the theatre in 2014 and I wanted to celebrate those too. For the sake of this post I have stuck to movies I hadn’t seen before this year otherwise it would have just been a long list of old favourites.

What Maisie Knew

What Maisie Knew (2012)
Starring: Onata Aprile, Alexander Skarsgård, Julianne Moore
From my review:
Although this film ends on a positive note I was left with a sinking feeling, wondering just what would actually happen to Maisie in the future when one of her obviously petty parents decided to exercise their parental rights… and I can’t stop thinking about it… which is clearly the sign of a good film. The four lead adult performances are all excellent but it is Aprile who steals every scene she is in. A star in the making.
“Lincoln: I’m her… sorta… like… Maisie’s stepfather.”

Sightseers

Sightseers (2012)
Starring: Alice Lowe, Steve Oram, Eileen Davis
From my review:
It’s as much about Chris and Tina’s brutal kills, as it is about the minutiae of their burgeoning relationship and their weird personalities and I couldn’t quite decide if Chris was perfect for Tina or the worst thing that had ever happened to her. Whatever you end up focusing on, I can tell you that hubby and I laughed out loud all the way through.
“Chris: So what were you like when you were a little kid, then?
Tina: Unhappy.
Chris: You didn’t like school? I know, nor me.
Tina: What were you like at school, Chris?
Chris: I wasn’t like anything. I was, like, invisible.
Tina: What about you being ginger?
Chris: Well, that’s a problem, yeah.
Tina: That’s not invisible, is it?
Chris: No, but I wanted to be.”

Prisoners

Prisoners (2013)
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Hugh Jackman
From my review:
This film keeps you guessing until the very end. I changed my mind about what was actually going on and who was responsible about twenty times throughout and I was still wrong. There are excellent performances from Gyllenhaal, who portrays Loki as a man teetering on the edge between following the rules and losing his temper, Jackman, who steals the show as a man who will do anything to get his daughter back – even if it destroys him as well as Dano, who manages to be both incredibly creepy and incredibly pathetic as Alex.
“Keller Dover: He stays in custody till my daughter is found right? Right?
Detective Loki: We have a 48-hour hold on him. It ends tomorrow unless we bring charges.
Keller Dover: Well, then charge him with something… Charge him!
Detective Loki: Mr. Dover…
Keller Dover: [Interrupts] Detective, Detective. Two little girls have *gotta* worth whatever little rule you gotta break to keep that asshole in custody. Now, I know you can’t promise me anything, I understand that. But I’m asking you, be sure. Be 100% sure…
[Loki nods]
Keller Dover: Thank you… I appreciate it.”

Pretty One

The Pretty One (2014)
Starring: Zoe Kazan, Jake Johnson, Ron Livingston
From my review:
The Pretty One is a kooky little film with a somewhat bonkers premise that could have gone horribly wrong but Kazan is so charming as Laurel that it’s hard not to get sucked in by her search for her own identity. The connection between Laurel and Basel is lovely to watch and seeing how Laurel learns to understand herself and her relationships by becoming someone else is very interesting.
“Basel: What do you think, if you show me how you feel, I’m not gonna like you?
Laurel: Yeah, maybe.
Basel: Really? This isn’t gonna last if it’s like that. If this is real, we gotta tell each other the bad stuff. And if this isn’t real, if this is just my kind of imagination… then I wanna know now.”

Nymphomaniac

Nymphomaniac Vol. 1 (2013)
Starring: Charlotte Gainsborough, Stacy Martin, Stellan Skarsgård
From my review:
Not to say that all of Nymphomaniac Vol. 1 is grim. There are some brilliant moments of black humour. I loved the scenes where the wife (Uma Thurman) of one of Joe’s lovers arrives at her home complete with children in tow just after her husband has left her for Joe. It was the perfect combination of hilarious and cringeworthy. When we got to the end of this half of the story I was definitely left desperate to know what happened next so stay tuned for the next installment.
“Joe: It’s actually the souls of the trees we’re seeing in the winter. In summer everything is green and idyllic but in the winter, the branches and the trunks all stand out. Just look at how crooked they all are. The branches have to carry all the leaves to the sunlight. That’s one long struggle for survival.”

Kings of Summer

The Kings of Summer (2013)
Starring: Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias
From my review:
I found this film utterly lovely. The beautiful, slow motion nature screens were enrapturing and made even outdoor-phobic, hyper allergic me think I might fancy some camping. All three young actors were excellent, as were the supporting cast and it was easy to identify with both the boys’ and their parents’ frustrations. Director, Jordan Vogt-Roberts, manages to successfully capture the freedom that exists in the precious moment between the restrictions of childhood and responsibilities of adulthood with warmth, humour and more than a little nostalgia. Coming of age gold.
“Biaggio: In Italian, the word for snake means ‘the demon’s cock’.
Patrick: No it doesn’t.
Biaggio: There’s a chance that it doesn’t.”

Frances Ha

Frances Ha (2012)
Starring: Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Adam Driver
From my review:
Gerwig who also co-wrote the script captured the essence of what modern city living is like in the period between finishing your studies, figuring yourself and embracing a reality you can live with. Highly recommended.
“Frances: It’s that thing when you’re with someone, and you love them and they know it, and they love you and you know it… but it’s a party… and you’re both talking to other people, and you’re laughing and shining… and you look across the room and catch each other’s eyes… but – but not because you’re possessive, or it’s precisely sexual… but because… that is your person in this life. And it’s funny and sad, but only because this life will end, and it’s this secret world that exists right there in public, unnoticed, that no one else knows about. It’s sort of like how they say that other dimensions exist all around us, but we don’t have the ability to perceive them. That’s – That’s what I want out of a relationship. Or just life, I guess.”

Chronicle

Chronicle (2012)
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan
From my review:
There is a lot to love about Chronicle. It feels realistic and accessible and the performances of the three main characters are heartfelt with DeHaan in particular proving excellent. I liked that the phenomenon that imbued the boys with their powers is barely explained. It’s not important how they got their powers but rather what they do with them and spending ages exploring it would have just distracted from the emotional impact of unbridled power on those who don’t have the maturity to deal with it.
“Andrew Detmer: I’ve been doing a lot of reading, you know? Like, online about, like, just evolution and natural selection and how like there’s this thing, right? It’s called the apex predator, right? And basically what this is, is the strongest animal in the ecosystem, right? And as human beings, we’re considered the apex predator but only because smaller animals can’t feed on us because of weapons and stuff, right? A lion does not feel guilty when it kills a gazelle, right? You do not feel guilty when you squash a fly… and I think that means something. I just think that really means something.”

Blue

Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013)
Starring: Adèle Exarchopoulos, Léa Seydoux, Salim Kechiouche
From my review:
I felt like this film took me on an epic journey through first love, self discovery and what is means to be part of a relationship and still keeping hold of your individuality. Initially I thought Adèle was a bit of a tit but as I got to know her, I genuinely felt for her plight and I was fascinated to see what would happen to her, even though this is one of those films where nothing really happens and it doesn’t have much of a conclusion. I loved the little hints of blue scattered throughout and the way writer/director Abdellatif Kechiche used Adèle’s love of the novel Life of Marianne to inject deeper meaning into scenes.
“Adèle: I miss you. I miss not touching each other. Not seeing each other, not breathing in each other. I want you. All the time. No one else.”

Blue Jasmine

Blue Jasmine (2013)
Starring: Cate Blanchette, Sally Hawkins, Dice Clay
From my review:
Blanchett gives an incredible performance as a woman who is so self-absorbed and entitled that despite her repulsiveness is fascinating to watch. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the screen, particularly as Jasmine seamlessly reinvented her past to embark on a new relationship with a wealthy potential husband. A well-deserved Oscar.
“Jasmine: Who do you have to sleep with around here to get a Stoli martini with a twist of lemon?”

2014: A review in pictures

January

In January my bestie, Jen, had to leave London because of stupid immigration. I was very sad!

In January my bestie, Jen, had to leave London because of stupid immigration. I was very sad!

February

February

Mr O and U celebrated our fifth Valentines’ Day together

March

Mr O and I made a surprise trip to South Africa for my brother's 30th and we got to see some penguins

Mr O and I made a surprise trip to South Africa for my brother’s 30th and we got to see some penguins

April

The book I worked on about the Home Office's unfair laws surrounding UK citizens with non-EU spouses came out

The book I worked on about the Home Office’s unfair laws surrounding UK citizens with non-EU spouses came out

May

May

My favourite time of the year! Eurovision!

June

Mr O and I met our friends Bron and Dave in Amsterdam and the best photo ever of Bron and I was taken

Mr O and I met our friends Bron and Dave in Amsterdam and the best photo in Bron and my 27 year friendship was taken

July

Em and I spent July photographing literary benches around London. This is the Paddington Bear one.

Em and I spent July photographing literary benches around London. This is the Paddington Bear one.

August

Jen and I were reunited for a Game of Thrones tour in Ireland

Jen and I were reunited for a Game of Thrones tour in Ireland

September

Mr O and I spent three days in beautiful Riga to celebrate out third wedding anniversary

Mr O and I spent three days in beautiful Riga to celebrate out third wedding anniversary

October

I was dead Alice for Halloween

I was dead Alice for Halloween

November

Mr O bought me these amazing flowers for my birthday

Mr O bought me these amazing flowers for my birthday

December

I spent another Christmas with my wonderful in-laws

I spent another Christmas with my wonderful in-laws

My top 10 2014 releases so far

With UK release dates not quite lining up with US releases I have decided to stick with my favourite films I’ve seen in the theatre in 2014 based on US release date and then sometime around the end of the first quarter I’ll do a second round based on films I’ve seen in 2015 that were 2014 US releases. So here goes!

xmen

X-Men: Days of Future Past
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Hugh Jackman
From my review:
Days of Future Past focuses again on the relationship between Charles and Erik and their fundamentally different ideals with Charles believing in the essential goodness of humanity and Erik convinced that human nature is to destroy anything different. With this as the central theme of the film, while the effects are pretty spectacular it’s more about making a connection with the characters, which is what makes Days of Future Past something that much better than the average superhero film.
“Professor X: Charles.
Charles Xavier: Charles.
[looks around]
Charles Xavier: Is this what becomes of us? Erik was right. Humanity does this to us.
Professor X: Not if we show them a better path.
Charles Xavier: You still believe?
Professor X: Just because someone stumbles and loses their path, doesn’t mean they’re lost forever. Sometimes, we all need a little help.
Charles Xavier: I’m not the man I was.
Professor X: You’re afraid. I remember.
Charles Xavier: All those voices… so much PAIN.
Professor X: It’s not their pain you’re afraid of. It’s yours, Charles. And as frightening as it can be, that pain will make you stronger. If you allow yourself to feel it, embrace it, .it will make you more powerful than you ever imagined. It’s the greatest gift we have: to bear their pain without breaking. And it comes from the most human part of us: hope. Charles, we need you to hope again.”

Pride

Pride
Starring: Ben Schnetzer, Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy
From my review:
All too often you hear someone describe a film as being the total package or suggesting that you’ll laugh and cry and get angry and be uplifted all in one film but when it comes to Pride this all really is true, as is the actual story. Schnetzer is an absolute stand-out as the extremely inspiring Mark and is Jessica Gunning as Sian, a miner’s wife awakened to her potential as a leader. An instant classic and a must-see.
“Steph, Stella, Zoe: [to the Tune of “Solidarity Forever”] Every woman is a lesbian at heart/Every woman is a lesbian at heart/Every woman is a lesbian at heart…
Reggie: You can’t possibly say that every woman is a lesbian.
Zoe: Why not?
Reggie: Because they’re not! Esther Rantzen isn’t a lesbian. My mum is not a lesbian.
Stella: How do you know?
Reggie: How do I know my Mum’s not a lesbian?
Ray: What he’s trying to say is, you can’t make grand, sweeping generalizations. It’s not acceptable.
[beat]
Steph, Stella, Zoe: [Resumes Singing] Every woman is a lesbian at heart/Every woman is a lesbian at heart/Every woman is a lesbian at heart/Including Reggie’s Mum!”

Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Riz Ahmed, Rene Russo
From my review:
I will come straight out and say that I loved this film. Gyllenhaal gives a career-defining performance that is absolutely mesmerising. While the true nature of Lou’s character unfolds slowly throughout the film, there is an immediate feeling that there is something off about him, something which is dark and unsettling, adding to a film which manages to be thrilling and occasionally surprisingly amusing.
“Lou Bloom: Now I like you, Nina. And I look forward to our time together. But you have to understand, fifteen thousand isn’t all that I want. From here on, starting now, I want my work to be credited by the anchors and on a burn. The name of my company is Video Production News, a professional news-gathering service. That’s how it should be read and that’s how it should be said. I also want to go to the next rung and meet your team, and the station manager, and the director, and the anchors, and start developing my own personal relationships. I’d like to start meeting them this morning. You’ll take me around, you’ll introduce me as the owner and president of Video Production News, and remind them of some of my many other stories. I’m not done. I also want to stop our discussion over prices. This will save time. So when I say that a particular number is my lowest price, that’s my lowest price and you can be assured that I arrived at whatever that number is very carefully. Now, when I say that I want these things, I mean that I want them and I don’t want to have to ask again. And the last thing that I want, Nina, is for you to do the things that I ask you to do when we’re alone together in your apartment, NOT LIKE THE LAST TIME. So, I’ll tell you what. I have the van crash on Moorpark tonight. It was a couple of stringers actually. That could lead by itself on an average night. I’d be willing to throw that in for free. So what do you say, do we have a deal?”

HTTYD2

How to Train Your Dragon 2
Starring (voice actors): Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler
From my review:
How to Train Your Dragon was one of those very few animated films I actually liked so I was anxious to see how the sequel would pan out and I’m glad to say I wasn’t disappointed. The animation, particularly for the flying scenes, is dazzling, the relationship between Hiccup and Toothless is wonderful and getting to see so many new and interesting dragons is awesome.
“Hiccup: [to Valka, about the dragon sanctuary] This is where you’ve been for twenty years?
[Valka nods]
Hiccup: You’ve been rescuing them. Unbelievable.
Valka: You’re not upset?
Hiccup: I don’t know. It’s kind of hard to wrap my head around, to be frank. It’s not every day you find out your mother is some kind of… crazy, feral, vigilante, dragon lady.
Valka: [laughs as Cloudjumper helps her down] Oh. Well… At least I’m not boring. Right?”

Grand Budapest

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Tony Revolori
From my review:
Fiennes and Revolori have magnificent chemistry and you can absolutely buy the idea that these two “alone in the world” characters have formed a weird little family of their own. Pair this up with some vintage action, a bucket load of quirky characters, a hilarious script and a star-studded cast and how could you possibly go wrong. For me, without question my favourite Wes Anderson film yet.
“Zero: [Reading a letter from M. Gustave] “My dear and trusted colleagues…”
M. Gustave: I miss you deeply as I write from the confines of my regrettable and preposterous incarceration. Until I walk amongst you again as a free man, the Grand Budapest remains in your hands, as does its impeccable reputation. Keep it spotless, and glorify it. Take extra-special care of every little bitty bit of it as if I were watching over you like a hawk with a horse-whip in its talons, because I am. Should I discover a lapse of any variety during my absence, I promise swift and merciless justice will descend upon you. A great and noble house has been placed under your protection. Tell Zero if you see any funny business.
Zero: [Finishing the letter] “Your devoted Monsieur Gustave.””

Fury

Fury
Starring: Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Shia LaBoeuf
From my review:
I am a bit of a sucker for a war film and this one really does not disappoint. While it might be pretty straightforward in terms of plot development it’s got heart, tension and real power without shying away from the devastation and senselessness of war.
Wardaddy: I started this war killing Germans in Africa. Then France. Then Belgium. Now I’m killing Germans in Germany. It will end, soon. But before it does, a lot more people gotta die.”

Frank

Frank
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Domnhall Gleeson
From my review:
Frank is in equal parts hilarious, touching and very sad, exploring mental illness in a sensitive and engaging manner. I loved the parallels between Jon and Frank’s home lives and the idea that the difference between mediocrity and genius could just be a touch of madness but that touch could also mean the difference between success and anonymity.
“Don: You play C, F and G?
Jon Burroughs: Yeah.
Don: You’re in.”

Edge of tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow
Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton
From my review:
I wasn’t expecting to like this movie because I’m not a big fan of Tom Cruise’s at the best of times but Edge of Tomorrow is actually really entertaining, despite a couple of plot holes, it’s fun watching Cruise play a character that needs a lot of pushing to develop his heroic side, Emily Blunt is as radiant and fierce as ever and the two have great chemistry. Even my sci-fi connoisseur husband liked it.
“Griff: Why would we follow him into combat?
Lt. Col. Bill Cage: I don’t expect you to follow me. I expect your to follow her.
[Rita Vrataski steps into the scene]
Griff: That’s the Full Metal Bitch.”

Dawn of Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Starring: Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman
From my review:
Not only is the motion capture so incredibly impressive that you almost instantly forget that you are not watching real apes but the theme of two leaders just trying to do the right thing is universal. I found the decision not to push the audience to side with the humans or the apes refreshing and it makes it truly about the characters.
“Caesar: War has… already begun. Ape started war. And human… Human will not forgive. You must go… before fighting begins. I am sorry… my friend.
Malcolm: I thought we had a chance.
Caesar: I did too.”

Boyhood

Boyhood
Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette
From my review:
There isn’t anything particularly special about Mason’s life. This doesn’t matter though as his experiences are so relateable and the use of the same actors creates a connection that I don’t believe would be possible if the characters were played by several different actors. I also loved the realism within the film and the way the characters changed and grew or devolved the way real people do.
“Mason: So what’s the point?
Dad: Of what?
Mason: I don’t know, any of this. Everything.
Dad: Everything? What’s the point? I mean, I sure as shit don’t know. Neither does anybody else, okay? We’re all just winging it, you know? The good news is you’re feeling stuff. And you’ve got to hold on to that.”

My top 10 movie characters of 2014 – so far

As 2014 draws to a close I am looking back at the characters that have captivated me this year. Of course as I am based in the UK there will be a series of 2014 releases that don’t drop here until 2015 so there is a chance this list will get an addendum at some point next year but this is where we are so far.

Amy Dunne

 Amy Dunne
Played by: Rosamund Pike
Film: Gone Girl
Why is she awesome: Because she’s absolutely deranged and she’ll stop at nothing to get what she wants no matter how brutal or fucked up it is.
“Amy Dunne: I’m the c*nt you married! The only time you liked yourself was when you were trying to be someone this c*nt might like. I’m not a quitter… I’m that c*nt.”

frank

Frank
Played by: Michael Fassbender
Film: Frank
What makes him awesome?: He’s absolutely mesmerising that you can’t help but get sucked into his weird circle of influence but at the same time he’s complicated and fragile and damaged and probably the most realistic portrayal I’ve seen of mental illness on screen.
“Frank: [singing] Stale beer. Fat fucked, smoked out. Cowpoked. Sequined mountain ladies. I love your wall. Put your arms around me. Fiddly digits, itchy britches. I love you all.”

GBH

Gustav H.
Played by: Ralph Fiennes
Film: The Grand Budapest Hotel
What makes him awesome: He’s fabulously charismatic and dignified and at the same time pure filth.
“M. Gustave: Rudeness is merely an expression of fear. People fear they won’t get what they want. The most dreadful and unattractive person only needs to be loved, and they will open up like a flower.”

Groot

Groot
Voiced by: Vin Diesel
Film: Guardians of the Galaxy 
What makes him awesome: He’s so innocent and loyal and funny and he manages to communicate so much in just one statement.
“Groot: I am Groot.”

Katniss

Katniss Everdeen
Played by: Jennifer Lawrence
Film: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
What makes her awesome: Katniss will always been one of my favourites. She’s one of the most well-rounded complex female characters we get on screen – strong but vulnerable, brave but damaged, selfish and selfless at the same time, heroic but humble.
“Katniss Everdeen: I have a message for President Snow: You can torture or bombed us, blasted our district to the grounds. But do you see that ? Fire Is Catching… If we burn, you burn with us!”

Lou BloomLou Bloom
Played by: Jake Gyllenhaal
Film: Nightcrawler
What makes him awesome: He is absolutely terrifying despite being generally softly spoken and his ability to manipulate others is second to none.
“Lou Bloom: What if my problem wasn’t that I don’t understand people but that I don’t like them? What if I was the kind of person who was obliged to hurt you for this? I mean physically. I think you’d have to believe afterward, if you could, that agreeing to participate and then backing out at the critical moment was a mistake. Because that’s what I’m telling you, as clearly as I can.”

Quicksilver

Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver
Played by: Evan Peters
Film: X-Men: Days of Future Past
What makes him awesome: He’s just so fricking cool and his cheeky behaviour towards Professor X and Wolverine steals the whole of DOFP.
“Logan: We need your help, Peter.
Pietro Maximoff: With what?
Logan: Breaking into a highly secured facility and get someone out.
Logan, Pietro Maximoff: Prison break? That’s illegal, you know?
Logan: [Looks around and sees the items Peter has obviously stolen] Only if you get caught.”

Rita

Rita Vrataski
Played by: Emily Blunt
Film: Edge of Tomorrow
Why is she awesome?: Because she is the baddest ass female to grace our screens in 2014
“Lt. Col. Bill Cage: [while in training] Stop! Wait, wait, wait, wait! Stop! Wait a second, wait a second! I’ve been thinking… I mean, this thing is in my blood. So maybe there’s some way I can transfer it to you.
Rita Vrataski: I’ve tried everything, it doesn’t work.
Lt. Col. Bill Cage: I mean have you tried… you know… tried ALL the options.
Rita Vrataski: Oh, you mean sex? Yeah, tried it.
Lt. Col. Bill Cage: …how many times?
Rita Vrataski: Alright…
[Cage gets hit by a spinning robot]”

Mark

Hefina
Played by: Imelda Stauton
Film: Pride
Why is she awesome: She’s bold, brave and she takes no prisoners plus it’s always fun watching the elderly swear.
“Hefina: “What in the hell do you think you’re doing? Get out there and find a gay or a lesbian right now!”
Guy: “I don’t want to give them the wrong impression.”
Hefina: “Right, cause you’re so bloody irresistible!” 

original

Augustus Waters
Played by: Ansel Elgort
Film: The Fault in Our Stars
What makes him awesome: He’s the guy that we all should have fallen for when we were teenagers, you know instead of the douchebag bad boy who had a motorbike. Plus he’s endlessly positive even in the face of total uncertainty.
“Augustus Waters: I am in love with you. And I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed. And that one day all our labor will be returned to dust. And I know that the sun will swallow the only earth we will ever have. And I am in love with you.”