I’m going to post my review of the year in several parts over the next week – and even though I now live in the United States, I’m still northern Irish at heart, so I’ll start with the disappointments. Here’s the first seven (of 13 – a number which seems appropriate):
13: Bolt – a computer-generated film whose end credits reveal beautiful pencil and paint images that could have made it a masterpiece. Instead, it looks like an elongated version of the half-finished special features on a Pixar DVD.
12: Changeling – Clint Eastwood has an old-fashioned sense of storytelling, which makes for magnificent films when he wants to investigate parts we didn’t know about before (the guilt of the ageing killer in ‘Unforgiven’, the two-wrongs-don’t-make-a-right existentialism of ‘Flags of our Fathers’ and ‘Letters from Iwo Jima’, and the tragedy of being powerful over a small place in ‘Mystic River’). But when all he has to give us is a terrible story about terrible events, the effect is like having your face squelched in mud for two hours.
11: Vicki Cristina Barcelona – Woody Allen’s decline was sadly not arrested by his apparent belief that his recent superficial scripts would be transformed into works of genius by making one of them in Spain.
10: The Incredible Hulk – A film with a brilliant opening shot that just goes downhill; failing to recognise that the inner life of the Hulk is more interesting that genetically modified street battles, I’d rather watch the Ang Lee original instead – I mean it.
9: Get Smart – So many good actors, so much money on sets and locations, so few jokes that weren’t already in the trailer.
8: The Day the Earth Stood Still – a decently put together but cliche-ridden remake.
7: Speed Racer – My podcast co-host thought this large-scale computer arcade game (with characters, narrative, and structure as subtle and nuanced as that description would lead you to expect) was a masterpiece that will change cinema. He’s probably right about the second part.
The rest of the list will follow soon….