Friday, June 14, 2013

Mixtape Movies Blogathon: Dude, It's A Volleyball!

Andy Hart AKA Fandango Groover has done it again, created another great Lamb Blogathon. This time he challenges us to bring back the mixtape: compile a collection of six movies that fit together, they are not expected to be definitive personal lists, they are just small expressions of creativity in linking the movies. Pick five movies within a chosen theme that compliment each other and one wild card that stands out as different but still maintains the theme.

"I would rather take my chance out there on the ocean than to stay here and die on this shithole island, spending the rest of my life talking TO A GODDAMN VOLLEYBALL!" - Tom Hanks CAST AWAY
I expect this third instalment of Mixtape Movies will be the last for a while but who knows what inspiration I might get between now and tomorrow? If you missed the last two tapes check out Home Sweet Home and A Tiny Flame now!

In honour of Wilson the volleyball from Cast Away this mixtape is intended to highlight loneliness and the various ways we as a species deal with it, at least in cinema anyway. With the idea that these mixtapes are intended to make friends and influence people I started making a list of movies that I love and that aren't widely seen or been used in one of the other mixtapes and I noticed this theme amongst them and it's a theme that has spread to my own writing projects of late. Lost connections, isolation and loneliness are what this mixtape is all about. That and sharing the way I see cinema.

Moon (2009) Dir. Duncan Jones

As with previous mixes I'm going to start the tape off nice and easy, Sam Rockwell in the modern science fiction classic Moon is probably as accessible as it gets when I start to think about this subject. The way he clings to his sanity via GERTY whilst an enjoyable watch is as obvious as it gets without painting a face on a volleyball with your own blood.

The Brown Bunny (2004) Dir. Vincent Gallo

A controversial choice for many but I find Gallo's sophomore effort to be a beautiful, atmospheric study of a man set adrift from society of his own doing. Sure the famous fellatio scene was perhaps a little indulgent but I can't blame the guy. Both of Gallo's films touch on the same subject matter but Brown Bunny is certainly more likely to ignite conversation versus the almost universally loved Buffalo 66.

Atmen (2012) Dir. Karl Markovics

Karl Markovics' debut is a very recent experience for me but it has stayed with me, barely a day passing without thinking about the life of its protagonist, Roman Kogler, a young man who has spent his entire life in an institution of one kind or another struggling to find his place in the world. Truly affecting cinema.

Man Push Cart (2005) Ramin Bahrani

The first film I ever got invited to watch at a film festival, it always struck me as deserving of a much wider audience than it got. Its subject is a lonely Pakistani immigrant in New York working towards his American dream and features a series of indiginities culminating in a heartbreaking ending. Bahrani has gone on to be considered a pioneer of the "neo-neo-realist" American cinema with his films Chop Shop and Goodbye Solo treading similar territory. A director well worth searching out.

Fish Tank (2009) Dir. Andrea Arnold

Fish Tank is my wildcard selection because it doesn't take the idea f loneliness as it's central theme but it underscores the entire piece by being the driving force for the behaviour one of the characters. Andrea Arnold is another director whose work consistently deals with similar events and emotions, whilst Red Road featured a woman who chooses isolation in an attempt to deal with her grief over a tragic event Fish Tank looks at a teenage girl in a working class single parent family and how she reacts to being essentially abandoned by her mother.

Wendy & Lucy (2008) Dir. Kelly Reichardt

Wendy starts the movie with three things, her car, her dog and hope. By the time the end credits roll she has had to give up all but the slightest slither of hope. A wonderful film featuring a wonderful performance from Michelle Williams.

I'm starting to think that I might not be making the best impression on people with all these less than cheerful movie mixtapes, maybe I'll make a bubblegum pop mixtape next. Join in the discussion in the comments or tweet @bbbgtoby #mixtapemovies. Did you make a mixtape I haven't seen yet? Leave a link. If you want to join in head over to Fandango Groovers for the full instructions and for more movie mixtapes check out the complete database here (after 22nd June.)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Movie Review: The Call (2013) Dir. Brad Anderson

The Pelham 123 remake but with a kidnapped girl.

The Call (2013) Dir. Brad Anderson

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Blurb: Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) is an experienced 911 operator but when she makes an error in judgement and a call ends badly, Jordan is rattled and unsure if she can continue. But then teenager Casey Welson (Abigail Breslin) is abducted in the back of a man's car and calls 911. And Jordan is the one called upon to use all of her experience, insights and quick thinking to help Casey escape, and not just to save Casey, but to make sure the man is brought to justice.

Thoughts: Brad Anderson is responsible for high quality recent thrillers The Machinist and Transsiberian as well as great work on The Wire, The Killing, Treme and Boardwalk Empire but after the giant misstep of 2011's Vanishing on 7th Street the best he could get for his next project was this WWE Studios production complete with a wrestler in the cast. It did not bode well and that's before I take in to consideration the fact that guaranteed quality repellent Halle Berry is the star.

If you want a popcorn thriller this is probably as good as it gets in 2013 thanks largely to the skill of Brad Anderson. There's a good concept at its heart, the 911 operator dealing with a call from a kidnapped girl, but when it goes beyond that basic idea it treads the line of absurdity far too readily.

The opening scenes were pretty much as expected, i.e. stupid and exposition filled and I was filled with regret at having gone against my initial instincts and seen this movie just because of the director.

The middle section surprised the hell out of me with its quality, although with Anderson at the helm it shouldn't have, the tension is skilfully built up to almost unbearable levels despite the best intentions of a dodgy screenplay.

But once it comes out of the other side it lost me once more with a final act that had no place in the kind of film we had just had set up for us. I appreciate that there are certain expectations from your lowest common denominator audience and that these are almost certainly met with the slasher horror that the film becomes but I just find these things stupid and unnecessary.

It certainly could have been worse but I don't think Brad Anderson disgraced himself too much by taking on this project. It was so not awful that I didn't even want to punch Halle Berry in the face. I'm actually astounded that it won't even trouble my "Worst of 2013" list.

Any thoughts on Halle Berry? Is there any way back for Brad Anderson? Join the discussion in the comments, on Letterboxd or tweet @bbbgtoby

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Revelation 16 Perth International Film Festival: 4 - 14 July 2013

The 16th Revelation Perth International Film Festival is fast approaching and I'm quite excited indeed as I just got home from the program launch of what looks to be an incredible fortnight of cinema and cinema related events.

To quote directly from the website this years festival offers:
  • A once in a lifetime live experience featuring Goblin playing their live score to Dario Argento's 1977 horror classic Suspiria
  • 50+ Australian premieres
  • 4 world premieres
  • 30+ guests from Australia and around the globe
  • Workshops and masterclasses
  • A return to our micro-cinema roots with the Dome Pop-Up
  • 4 venues across Perth
  • Over 100 sessions 
  • 120+ individual films from China, Australia, India, Canada, Germany, France, UK, Switzerland, Denmark, Russian Federation, Iceland, Norway, South Korea, Israel, Belgium, France and Iran.
  • Films from direct from film festivals the caliber of Toronto, Berlin, Rotterdam, Sundance, Cannes, SxSW, Telluride and many of our favourites.
  • A host of true discoveries that makes Rev a real independent showcase and breaker to titles in Australia and elsewhere.

This is THE Western Australian film festival, everything else pales in comparison and this year it has expanded to four venues to accommodate the growing stature and vision of the event, with a lineup of films to match! There might not be any Romanian New Wave but it's still worth booking your holidays for next month and flying to Perth for Revfest. Gold Passes which give access to every single screening are a ridiculously cheap $190 and if I wasn't getting one for free I'd probably pawn my jet-ski to pay for it.

Being from Perth I seem to always find something to complain about and usually it's that nothing really happens here, especially in terms of interesting cinema but RevFest stands out from the crowd as something exceptional and unique to my city and I'm proud of volunteering my services to help with the smooth running of events as well as spreading the word about some exceptional programming this year.

Two things instantly stood out for me, the Australian premieres of Ben Wheatleys A Field In England

and White Reindeer with a Q&A session with perhaps my favourite American indie director Zach Clark afterwards. What the hell do people ask in Q&A's? My mind always goes blank. Which might actually be preferable to what happened when I bumped in to my favourite singer in a bar that time.

Ordinarily that would be enough for me but wait there's more, here's a few that really tickle my fancy:

Upstream Colour
A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the lifecycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.

The new film from the director of Primer has been receiving rave reviews worldwide. I don't care what it's about, after so many years waiting to see what he'd do next this was always going to be a must watch movie.

The Fifth Season
A time of climatic derailing, never-ending winter, spring that never arrives, disappearing bees, cows that no longer produce milk, and impending famine. Instead of blaming the heavens, the village’s inhabitants find themselves some other people to blame: a man who was just passing by with his disabled son.

It looks quite beautiful and Ronan at Next Projection has a perfect poster quote: "A bit like what would have happened if Béla Tarr and Roy Andersson co-directed The Wicker Man."

Gimme The Loot

Malcolm and Sofia, two determined teens from the Bronx, are the ultimate graffiti-writers hatch a plan to tag an iconic NYC landmark, but they need to raise $500 to pull off their spectacular scheme. What follows is an adventure over two summer days to raise the cash any way they can.

I've had the pleasure of seeing this one already and it is a fully enjoyable light comedy directed by a director with an eye for interesting composition. This is a low budget indie flick filled with promise.

The Act of Killing

In a place where killers are celebrated as heroes, these filmmakers challenge unrepentant death-squad leaders to dramatize their role in genocide. The result is a surreal, cinematic journey, not only into the memories and imaginations of mass murderers, but also into a frighteningly banal regime of corruption and impunity.

At nearly three hours it might take a lot out of you but The Act of Killing has widely been hailed as a must see film about humanity and human nature and if you can stomach the content you should join me for what promises to be an experience you won't forget in a hurry.

Pictures of Superheroes

Marie is hired as a maid by businessman Eric who also asks her to pretend to be his wife to seduce his clients. While cleaning Eric’s home, Marie becomes close to Joe, an aspiring superhero artist who also lives in Eric’s house, although unbeknownst to Eric.

A film said to be a quirky deadpan comedy, with a premise that intrigues me to the point of having to watch it. Beyond that I know nothing about this film, the stuff that film festival memories are made of.


A loan shark is forced to reconsider his violent lifestyle after the arrival of a mysterious woman claiming to be his long-lost mother.

Ordinarily a new Kim Ki-Duk film coming to Perth would be pretty big news for me but such is the quality of this years lineup it has become just another great film to look forward to.

Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction

Documentary looking back at the career of the popular character actor Harry Dean Stanton, featuring songs performed by Stanton.

Watching Harry Dean Stanton be the centre of attention for 77 minutes? Who wouldn't want to watch that?

London - The Modern Babylon

Julien Temple directs a documentary looking at the past century of London's history.

The premise is enough. Of all the cities of the world London fascinates me the most, despite having lived there for a large portion of my life I still feel like I hardly know the place. Two hours surely isn't enough?

Whose coming? What are you most looking forward to? Comment and tweet and stuff.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Mixtape Movies Blogathon: Home Sweet Home

Andy Hart AKA Fandango Groover has done it again, created another great Lamb Blogathon. This time he challenges us to bring back the mixtape: compile a collection of six movies that fit together, they are not expected to be definitive personal lists, they are just small expressions of creativity in linking the movies. Pick five movies within a chosen theme that compliment each other and one wild card that stands out as different but still maintains the theme.
"These children, they're not really bad most of them, just products of rotten neighbourhoods and bad family situations." - Sixteen by No Doubt
I enjoyed making A Tiny Flame to Cup One’s Hand Around and Protect From the Wind so much that I couldn't stop thinking about new ways to share groups of films with people who are in need of my education and so several more mixtapes were recorded to my long play VHS tapes. First up is Home Sweet Home, a movie mixtape title that recalls one of my favourite music mixtapes that I ever made and an early blogging attempt. 

The phrase Home Sweet Home conjures up images of family dinners, cross-stitched sofa covers and a cat to sit on your feet whilst you watch TV but I can't say I've ever cared much for movies about warm, loving parents, hot dinners, family holidays and other such movie cliche. Perhaps because I had never experienced it in real life, when I think of families in cinema I think of the damage that they inflict upon each other without even trying and sometimes when they do.

In keeping with the previous theme of making a mixtape to educate or impress another human being I picked six films that demonstrate my cinematic taste, my "wide" knowledge of world cinema and my cynical outlook on life and family. If you were to watch one of these a day for a week and still want to hang out with me come Sunday then I think we're gonna be good friends.

Festen (1998) Dir. Thomas Vinterberg

A nice easy Dogme '95 movie about buggering your young son to start things off. Without making light of the scenario Vinterberg demonstrates the conflict within a group of adult siblings desperate for parental approval. Material that Arrested Development would mine frequently to great effect.

L'Enfant d'en Haut (2009) Dir. Ursula Meier

Either of Ursula Meier's acclaimed films could have found a home on this mixtape, but it is the more recent Sister that I eventually landed on due to the honest reality presented as opposed to the slightly surreal nature of Home. The familial relationship here whilst bleak also offers real hope that "modern family structures" can provide warmth and support for their young children.

The War Zone (1999) Dir. Tim Roth

I wouldn't be a true cinephile or mixtape impresario if I didn't include something obscure and in desperate need of being seen by more people. Tim Roth's The War Zone is exactly that movie in this instance. It's a film with a scene that made Ray Winstone cry during production and holds a mirror up to a Broken Britain that isn't getting fixed any time soon.

Dogtooth (2010) Dir. Giorgos Lanthimos

Considering some of the dark material included in this mixtape the unusual family situation presented in Dogtooth becomes a remarkably light watch for the most part. This choice allows you to ponder the bliss of not knowing that you are suffering abuse at the hands of your parents whilst thinking that you live in paradise.

Tillsammans (2000) Dir. Lukas Moodysson

I debated on the positioning of this one on the tape, whether to end with something slightly lighter or not. Tillsammans presents a Swedish comic alternative to the traditional family unit, a young boy is moved in to a hippy commune with his mother and all that that entails. Quirky yet serious, a social reevalutation with interesting characters.

There Will Be Blood (2007) Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson

My wild card is my choice to end the mixtape with. It doesn't fit with the whole in that it isn't solely about families but it does feature a relationship that is worth highlighting and any excuse to get somebody experiencing this masterpiece is good enough for me. There Will Be Blood is many things, including a not very pleasant portrait of Daniel Plainview, father. It had to be the last track, how do you follow this film other than a cup of coffee with your new friend who made you this mixtape?

What do you think? I'm bound to have left out some great films on similar subjects, what would you have included? Leave some comments here or on twitter @bbbgtoby with #moviemixtape. Did you make a mixtape I haven't seen yet? Leave a link. If you want to join in head over to Fandango Groovers for the full instructions and for more movie mixtapes check out the complete database here (after 22nd June.)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Top 10: 30 Countries Project

It's a wonderful feeling, the sense of achievement in completing something. In May I completed two feature script writing projects, my first two in five or six years, and the 30 Countries Project as mentioned at the start of the month. I'm not saying that watching 30 movies from 30 countries in 30 days is on a par with the other achievement but by the time the credits rolled on Esma's Secret on Friday morning I was well and truly pleased with myself.

The concept of the challenge/project was put forth on Letterboxd in late March and whilst there were several dozen participants interested in exploring cinema from around the world only a handful of us seem to have completed it, further proof that I have accomplished something I feel,

I consider myself relatively well watched when it comes to cinema but actually putting a foreign language film in my player had become something that I found excuses not to do, thanks to this challenge I got past that block in style and ended up seeing a lot more than 30 non-English language films in May, more than I had watched in the previous 18 months in fact.

It has been documented in various social mediums that I have been discouraged from watching Eastern European cinema because it is so bleak but the quality of those I discovered last month was so high that I find myself drawn to them instead of my usual easy access Hollywood mindless nonsense. Yes, my relationship with Leah has suffered slightly over these petty disagreements on cinema about abortion and Communist era lifestyle and now I plan to help dismantle your relationships too, here are my Top 10 discoveries of the 30 Countries Project, with my highest recommendation to you.

10. Reprise (2006) Dir. Joachim Trier - Norway

9. Home (2009) Dir. Ursula Meier - Switzerland

8. Cache (2005) Dir. Michael Haneke - Austria

7. Festen (1998) Dir. Thomas Vinterberg - Denmark

6. Sonbahar (2008) Dir. Özcan Alper - Turkey

5. Soldier of Orange (1979) Dir. Paul Verhoeven - The Netherlands

4. Lorna's Silence (2008) Dir. The Dardenne Brothers - Belgium

3. Dogtooth (2010) Dir. Giorgos Lanthimos - Greece

2. Police, Adjective (2009) Dir. Corneliu Porumboiu - Romania

1. Wake In Fright (1972) Dir. Ted Kotcheff - Australia

Right well there you are, feel free to let me know how your loved ones react in the comments or tweet me @bbbgtoby but please don't cite me in any divorce papers that get filed. Thanks.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Currently Listening: Just Dreaming by Owen Stephen (2013)

You may recall the name Owen Stephen from the credits of my short film Until Now. The Hertfordshire, UK based singer-songwriter was responsible for composing and performing the original music in the film and now after six years of solid touring with a variety of live acts has released his debut EP, Just Dreaming.

Originally making his name as a bass player for English alt. rock band The October Game he has performed a variety of roles, including as part of former Savage Garden singer Darren Hayes' touring band on recent world tours and this debut EP demonstrates the confidence of a man who has mastered his craft in front of thousands of screaming fans. His sound belies his relatively minor stature in the world of pop music and instead of becoming shoe-gazey and introverted like a lot of fledgling singer-songwriters, Owen aims for the stars.

His experience playing stadium tours shines through, his songs are wide in scope, offering the kind of large radio friendly sound that characterises such acts as Matchbox 20, The Goo Goo Dolls and Third Eye Blind, complete with catchy choruses and soaring guitars. I expect that it is only a matter of time before he is called upon to provide a song for a massive Hollywood romantic drama.

Owen recently toured this EP coast to coast across America, supporting Ramin Karimloo and it is the country influenced track ‘Place Called Love’ that stands out on first listen. It also garnered a lot of attention for him with several radio appearances and a review from KKYR that was quite effusive in its praise, calling it "effervescent and reminiscent of fifties era rock and roll but with a bluesy, modern twist...the beat is catchy and joyful...perfect listening on a sunny summer day." The same could be said about the entire EP in fact.

He wears his influences on his sleeve with clear joy; taking in Tracy Chapman, the aforementioned American radio rock acts, Barenaked Ladies and Jack Johnson amongst others, and yet never sounds derivative. The only negative that I can draw is the lack of overall direction in the EP, these are six very enjoyable tracks on their own but as a collection they work better as a demonstration of Owen's enthusiasm for his music and his versatility as a songwriter. The variety of sounds give a disjointed feel to the whole which might not be so noticeable on a full length album, which I'm told will be released towards the end of 2013 or the early part of 2014.

I fully recommend downloading this album from Bandcamp and if you're so inclined follow Owen on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for updates about live performances, new releases etc.

Comment below or why not tweet #justdreaming @bbbgtoby?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Blahblahblahgay Makes Movies: Until Now (2007) & Canard (2006)

You may remember that I posted a link to my short film, Until Now, in the recent past and that for some reason the music was missing from the upload. Well fear not I discovered the finished article in a drawer this week and have made it available on Vimeo. As before, I appreciate all feedback especially the constructive kind.

To bring the rest of you up to speed, this was my university graduation piece from 2007. A two man crew of myself and Simon Bonner, shot for around £200 if my memory serves me correctly. The script was a finalist in some international competition that was so unimportant to me (because I didn't win) that I have forgotten what it was called.

The all important rediscovered musical composition was written and recorded by Owen Stephen who has recently released his debut EP as a singer-songwriter. He can be found on facebook, twitter and bandcamp.

I'm working on something new for the first time in many years, so consider this a show reel page of sorts for when I start begging for help with expenses or making like I'm Zach Braff or whatever. Leah suggested I show you my other film as an example of how I prefer to use a camera and tell a story; so this is Canard, a short piece created for "Experimental Cinema" class. A video that one user has described as being "hypnotizing and relaxing...absolutely wonderful!"

So yeah, comment away by all means, I like it when you tweet me @bbbgtoby so do that too if you feel like it.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Movie Diary #11: May 2013

May is over. Thank goodness. I found myself in an ever expanding attempt to watch a larger number of movies, only managing to stop the compulsion to put another DVD in the player when I reached a hundred, otherwise I might have gone way past the 116 films I eventually saw. This level of insanity cannot continue in to June as I seem to have written my way out of writer's block and have multiple projects in need of rewrites and pre-production to think about but still after five months of the year I have seen 397 films so far.

I revisited 7 films in May bringing the total rewatch count in 2013 up to 51. If I can get this number under 10% I'd be very happy but with research for possible film productions that ambition may go the way of the dodo.

The 2013 film counter had a further 12 added to it this month bringing the total seen this year to 33.

I've managed to pare down the 116 to some essential recommendations for you. There's a horrible 10 I advise you to avoid, 20 to keep an eye out for and 5 masterpieces you should see today if you haven't already, of which Star Wars day only contributed one entry.


Runaway (1984) Dir. Michael Crichton
This movie is stupid. Selleck has a massive moustache. The robots are not even remotely believable. In a post Blade Runner world this is what they came up with? Michael Crichton was big on ideas that's for sure but beyond that I'm not sure he ever really managed to succeed in the film industry.
I Give It A Year (2013) Dir. Dan Mazer
Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny. Not funny.
It's like watching Kristen Wiig's dentist in Ghost Town less funny sister for 90 minutes. Or one long Stephen Merchant sketch. Really? This got made? Poor Rafe Spall.
A Glimpse Inside The Mind of Charles Swan III (2013) Dir. Roman Coppola
What is the point of this movie? Roman Coppola is nearly 50 and chooses to step out of the cinematic shadows of his father, sister and mentor with this half arsed attempt to be Charlie Kaufman crossed with Wes Anderson? I just don't understand his decision making here.
Charlie Sheen is not someone who can read this dialogue and make you believe it. He might be an arsehole having a midlife crisis in real life and that probably helped him play an arsehole having a midlife crisis here but acting is not his strong suit.
It's a giant mess. Largely unfunny. I want my 90 minutes back.
Parker (2013) Dir. Taylor Hackford
I tried watching without my previous affection towards the novels, Lee Marvin or even Payback, hoping to enjoy it. I mean there's a cast with bags of potential here, even J.Lo could have been a great choice if she'd channelled her Out of Sight performance, Donald Westlake aside, this could have been pure mindless entertainment of the highest order.
Taylor Hackford man. Fucking Taylor Hackford. Shoddy lazy directing at best.
Broken City (2013) Dir. Allen Hughes
Very little of this movie works. It's a schizophrenic piece that doesn't know whether it's a neo-noir detective story or a political thriller. I love to watch Mark Wahlberg but this is one of his worst and most uninteresting films to date. The dialogue is pretty bad throughout but coming out of the mouth of Catherine Zeta Jones it's especially dreadful. I've never been particularly impressed by the movies of The Hughes Brothers but it seems that when one of them works on their own the quality drops even further.
The Runaways (2010) Dir. Floria Sigismondi
This movie is actually pretty dreadful. It's a terrible biopic, it's a terrible music biopic, it's a terrible coming of age story, its a terrible punk movie, it's a terrible feminist movie, it's a terrible movie about the exploitation of teenagers. I only watched this movie for Michael Shannon anyway so I got what I deserved I suppose.
Summer Window (2011) Dir. Hendrik Handloegten
Yes, I am complaining at being suckered in by the presence if Hoss and the soft science fiction angle of the plot, a soft science fiction time travel story that's been told a thousand times before with different variations sure; but still nothing interesting was done with the concept, nothing was at stake and I certainly didn't care whether the movie ended in a positive or negative manner for the protagonist, as long as it ended and ended soon.
A Good Day To Die Hard (2013) Dir. John Moore
Quite possibly the worst movie ever made. Ed Wood has nothing on John Moore and Skip Woods. I would rather watch a Len Wiseman movie instead of this it's that bad. At least Taken 2 had some half decent action scenes, this just has some zooming cameras and gratuitous car crashes. I will watch another 300 movies this year and I won't see anything close to being this awful. I saw Mickey Rourke in Java Heat and had a better time than watching Die Hard 5. I'm going to make a T-Shirt of that and send it to Bruce Willis.
Take This Waltz (2012) Dir. Sarah Polley
If this movie had a face I would want to punch it in it. If Michelle Williams character existed in real life I would make sure I was never in the same location as her because she is so mentally unstable I'd be afraid of inadvertently getting caught up in one of her frequent bursts of tears over nothing. She's afraid of connections. This film is afraid of subtlety and undertones and is filled with painfully obvious metaphors and symbolism and a constant colour correction that hurts your eyes and so many more problems.
Joy Ride AKA Road Kill (2001) Dir. John Dahl
Holy shit this is awful. JJ Abrams wrote this?! John Dahl directed it? Not my kind of movie in general but with Dahl helming I hoped for more. I like Steve Zahn on occasion but in this instance he makes Paul Walker seem talented. Waste of time. Waste of $26m too.

Really Very Good Actually

Solider of Orange (1979) Dir. Paul Verhoeven
This is a classy and intelligent wartime biopic that suffers from some of the same flaws that all pictures of this type suffer from; a large cast of characters that get lost in the wide scope, an episodic plot, details left out or glossed over for the sake of brevity, that kind of thing but not to any major detriment.
Bug (2006) Dir. William Friedkin
Horrible, shocking, mesmerising, the kind of cinema that is so far removed from the staid comfortable lifestyle most of us live that your jaw will drop repeatedly (if you manage to raise it to begin with,) you will want to vomit several times, if you think on it too hard you may find tears have sprung to your eyes and the whole time your brain is screaming, fighting to unscramble what you're seeing, to put a label on it and quantify it as a metaphor or several metaphors even, a statement about something, anything, just so long as you can classify it and deal with the fall out in a more comfortable manner.
Home (2009) Dir. Ursula Meier
Idyllic family unit, living in the countryside, next to an abandoned freeway. The freeway is reopened and their lives change forever. I expected a movie with this concept to be a little more surreal, instead this is a political message film posing as magic realism disguised as kitchen sink drama. I cannot even pretend to know what this movie is a metaphor for but I would hazard a guess at the perils of modern life, the planetwide disaster that is technological pollution, mental illness, the importance of family.
Cache (2005) Dir. Michael Haneke
An interesting psychological drama bordering on horror that holds your attention throughout by not explaining anything. Well played Heneke as that was obviously your intention. But much like American horror movies this is populated by stupid people who don't behave like normal people when faced with these scenarios. 
Reprise (2006) Dir. Joachim Trier
Joachim Trier is a very interesting director. He takes a little of the Amelie gimmick and rubs it in a heavy dose of coming of age realism to create a sobering yet joyful experience filled with poetic visuals and somehow succeeded in making a quite lovely film despite it being is debut.
Jess + Moss (2012) Dir. Clay Jeter
Jess + Moss really is like a book of beautiful moving photographs with words and music added for effect. A perfect example of Appalachian poverty and the rich life (however mythical) of the inhabitants.
Police, Adjective (2009) Dir. Corneliu Porumboiu
Police, Adjective is a minimalist police procedural film that follows the hard work of one man trailing a teenage boy on suspicion of drugs offences that is at the same time a portrait of post-Communist Romanian, a discussion of the nature of police work and the law, alienation and the effects of being a policeman on the policeman. Mesmerising from the first six minute silent tracking shot of the cop following the teen and doesn't let up through meals, meetings and stakeouts. I couldn't help but enjoy it and even now I find it growing on me further.
The Prefab People (1982) Dir. Béla Tarr
Bela Tarr started off making social realist cinema? Unlike Ken Loach, Tarr isn't using the medium to highlight the failings of society, instead he seems to be highlighting the faults of humanity, the internal conflicts which when externalised cause further interpersonal conflict, in this case the memories of a struggling married couple with two children in 1980 Communist Budapest. It's far from perfect but it is exactly the kind of film making I take great pleasure from.
Breathing (2012) Dir. Karl Markovics
Breathing might be the debut feature from actor turned director Karl Markovics but it is such an assured piece of cinema that I can't see it being his last. I admire his directorial style a great deal, he sets his shot, locks his camera and allows his actors to do what is needed to get a strong performance out of them. First time actor Thomas Schubert is wonderfully expressive as the protagonist, allowing his eyes to do a lot of the work as he deals with a range of emotions and new experiences, most notable grief, guilt and fear. As Peter de Lane frequently says, it's all in the eyes.
A Serious Man (2009) Dir. The Coen Brothers
I will always remember being the only person laughing in the cinema when this was released and the strange looks I got from other people as they left. Brilliantly funny, superbly shot. One of the Coen's best films.
Dogtooth (2010) Dir. Giorgos Lanthimos
Much like the work of Haneke you can take a thousand different readings of this film, you can believe it is a political statement, you can see it as an allegory, you can even watch it as a documentary of an evil man but if you watch this film and aren't affected or moved, even if it's to nausea, you probably weren't paying attention.
Cinema like nothing else I've experienced so far.
Jennifer's Body (2009) Dir. Karyn Kusama
This must be one of the most underappreciated and misunderstood movies of recent times. This is not a horror movie, it's not even supposed to be scary. Diablo Cody's script is hilarious from start to finish and is very deliberately deconstructing the high school horror genre, just not in a Cabin in the Woods way. It is so well made that it makes Megan Fox look like she put in a good acting performance. All of these characters are real, wait the goth kids are not real, highly stylised versions of real kids with a completely made up slang (which I happen to think is genius of Tolkien like proportions) but real in an unreal situation. Oh man, Adam Brody is so fucking brilliant as the lead singer of the devil worshipping indie band he deserves his own spinoff movie/TV series and a role in every movie ever made from here on out.
Two-Lane Blacktop (1971) Dir. Monte Hellman
A quite wonderful road movie that deserves its cult status. Existentialism and all natural performances from non-actors and a superb Warren Oates as their counterpoint. Considering the year of creation you can read metaphor and symbolism in to just about every scene if you so choose but even taken at face value - a story about men and the road - it is a film that entertains on all levels from start to finish.
Lorna's Silence (2008) Dir. The Dardenne Brothers
Very cool. A thriller of sorts, told in the realist style with incredibly natural performances. My first experience of the Dardenne Brothers was quite something. A look at immigration issues within the European Union at present without the hysteria applied by the media.
The Dirty Dozen (1967) Dir. Robert Aldrich
Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson and Jim Brown have enough punches in them to take down an entire country on their own in most movies but when you back them up with nine other men Hitler stood no chance!
Festen (1998) Dir. Thomas Vinterberg
Festen is quite clearly the best film made under the Dogme '95 guidelines, not just for the visceral nature of the storytelling but the way Vinterberg made the obstructions, the restrictions, the vow of chastity work for his film. It seems like all other Dogme directors actively sought out loopholes but Vinterberg embraced the challenge and it shows in the quality of the finished product.
Sonbahar (2008) Dir. Özcan Alper
Quality low budget world cinema from a strong new voice worth keeping an eye on. Packed with beautiful vistas and long moody takes without dialogue it is the use of ambient noise, or at times a lack of, that most impressed.
The Last Seduction (1994) Dir. John Dahl
This movie is all about Linda Fiorentino. A great modern noir with a kick ass bitch who doesn't take shit from nobody as the protagonist/femme fatale. It really was an Oscar worthy performance opposite the guy who would go on to direct Battleships.
King of the Hill (1993) Dir. Steven Soderbergh
This film should have crowned Steven Soderbergh's career and marked him as a true great of American cinema and yet almost nobody has seen it. If, for example, this had been one of those remarkable pieces from John Huston during his renaissance we'd all have heard it mentioned as a modern classic whenever a critic wants to wax lyrical about the majesty that cinema should strive to always achieve.
Behind The Candelabra (2013) Dir. Steven Soderbergh
Douglas and Damon are marvellous, calling them career defining performances sounds rather absurd considering the age and previous body of work from both of them but if this movie is not regarded as a true watermark against which all their work is judged in future I will be very surprised. And then there's the work of Rob Lowe which is almost show stealing.

Masterpiece Cinema

Wake In Fright (1972) Dir. Ted Kotcheff
A truly brilliant example of Australian cinema. A nightmare that piece by piece strips back the civilised veneer of one man and demonstrates the dark animal nature at the heart of us all. Adapted from the masterpiece of Australian literature by Canadian director Ted Kotcheff this was the first time Australia and Australians were authentically depicted in cinema, and it really is brutally honest.
Weekend (2011) Dir. Andrew Haigh
Andrew Haigh's debut feature makes me want to scrap every script I've been working on and question just what it is I want to achieve with my life. This love story is charming, funny and moving, told with quite stunningly simple direction in what were surely cramped working conditions and quite perfect natural performances from the two leads. It's near perfect independent cinema that I can only dream of matching some day.
The Empire Strikes Back (1980) Dir. Irvin Kirshner
Han gets frozen in carbonite and Luke loses his hand. Come on, what's not to love?
Unforgiven (1992) Dir. Clint Eastwood
I can't remember the last time I gave a full 10 out of 10 rating to a film on first viewing but Unforgiven is just that good. There are cinematic lists of shame, if you haven't seen Unforgiven then it should be at the top of yours. This is one of the greatest films ever made and it is obvious from the opening minutes. Nearly perfect in every way. I doubt there's a better western or ever will be. I shall not discuss the ins and the outs, the whys and the wherefores, there is no point, this is a film over 20 years old now and still it shines as s beacon of light for all that a genre picture can be. Every single person involved in this film did their jobs to the best of their abilities. Between the incredibly intelligent script from Peoples and the sublime directorial vision of Eastwood we have been granted a glimpse in to the strengths and failings of mankind and the inevitability of our expiration.
Damnation (1988) Dir. Béla Tarr
Add me to the list of this man's admirers, I'm hopelessly smitten and was from the very first shot. I'm told Damnation is Bela Tarr's breakthrough film, the moment he first utilised his now trademark style of long takes composed of beautiful cinematography and very little dialogue, but there's a fair amount of the social realism he began his career with too, forming some kind of poetic social realism that contrasts misery and desperation with heart stopping beauty. Mesmerising, unique cinema that will surely not be to all tastes.
Over on Letterboxd I discovered that I've been shitting on people's childhoods with by dislike of Runaway, anyone got any favourites from when they were kids that they want me to shit on in June? Comment on that or anything else that my recommendations inspire you to say, below or tweet @bbbgtoby.