Some time ago (about a year funnily enough) – I chose the 10 films I was most looking forward to in 2013. Now that the year is up, LUC can reveal, with exacting scientific objectivity, how justified the anticipation turned out to be. Of course we are all very busy these days, what with starving to death in Cameron’s Britain and being flooded every five minutes, so for those who don’t want to read the whole lot here is a quick summary…
– Upstream Color turned out to be ace and is the LUC film of the year. Stoker, John Dies at the End and Wrong are all gathered together precariously on the bit of the podium for second place.
– They weren’t on the list but I also really enjoyed Jodorowsky’s Dune and Alpha Papa
– I’m really glad I didn’t choose to anticipate Pacific Rim, The Worlds End or Man of Steel as they were all shit
– I should probably make more of an effort to anticipate films that are actually coming out during the calendar year
– It turns out that my actual enjoyment was slightly higher than anticipated. How very satisfying.
The Last Stand: Anticipation 7/10 Actual Enjoyment 5/10
I had high hopes for this seemingly retro action flick from Kim Je-Woon especially considering he made the bonkers chase epic The Good The Bad and The Weird. Despite some brief bursts of inventive, violent action, The Last Stand was a bit of a dud. It wasted the chance to get some great actors (Peter Stormare, Harry Dean Stanton, Forrest Whitaker) involved in a crazy High Noon meets Vanishing Point plot, leaving us instead with a by-the-numbers affair with leaden expository dialogue grumbled by Arnie. Never mind.
John Dies At The End: Anticipation 6/10 Actual Enjoyment 8/10
There should be loads more films like John Dies At The End, a fantastic, surreal, inventive and funny way to spend 99 minutes. Having scoped the trailer I was cautiously looking forward to it and was pleasantly surprised when it popped up on Netflix (US DNS settings are a great thing). This is the kind of film that you grin all the way through, it is dense with great writing and bizarre moments – I really can’t recommend it enough. Plus it has both The Kurgan and Mayor Clarence Royce in it – watch it immediately.
The Purge: Anticipation 6/10 Actual Enjoyment 4.5/10
Admittedly, I didn’t have huge expectations for this high concept thriller – still it failed to match them. The Purge has an interesting premise involving a future America where the masses are kept down through the use of a one night amnesty on all crime. This sounded like it should be a John Carpenter-ish tense satire, but turned out to be a bit of a standard horror/slasher flick with some mildly pointed moments. It dow feature some excellent masks though.
Upstream Color: Anticipation 6/10 Actual Enjoyment 10/10
Have you heard the term ‘Shelf Classic’? I’m fairly sure it was coined by Adam and Joe to describe the books and music that you buy because you feel you should know about them, but due to their difficult, intimidating or difficult nature just end up sitting there, making your shelf look clever. Good examples include Finnegan’s Wake, Dr Faustus and anything that could be described as ‘Post-Rock’.
I was expecting Upstream Color to be a bit of a shelf classic on the 2013 list. The writer/director/cameraman/catering consultant Shane Caruth’s prior film, Primer is excellent, but almost completely inscrutable. The advance glimpses of Upstream Color certainly gave the impression that we were in for more of the same, perhaps even more so.
While it is certainly true that Upstream Color is just as unconventional and initially labyrinthine as its predecessor, it is the kind of film that wraps you up in the experience of watching it to the point where your lack of understanding is irrelevant and disorientation forms part of the enjoyment.
This is a real work of art, I found it almost hypnotic. While the underlying plot, or at least what you might call a mechanism, is easier to divine than Primer that doesn’t mean that it is anyway more commercial or run of the mill. I thoroughly recommend getting to see this if you can. LUC will definitely be trying to get a screening sorted soon.
Stoker: Anticipation 10/10 Actual Enjoyment 8/10
Almost certainly the film that I was most excited about last year. Due to a criminal lack of places showing it, plus the type of organisational skills most commonly associated with the running of Coventry City Football Club, I managed to miss it at the flicks. Despite a likely-lads style set of measures intended to avoid all spoilers, information and hints at either the plot or quality I heard a few whispers that it was a bit of a disappointment, especially considering the pedigree of the director.
Thankfully when I caught up with Stoker on the smaller screen I found it to be a stylish, twisted treat. It is much closer to Thirst than Old Boy, but none the less a great thriller, which made me all the more annoyed that I hadn’t caught it at the cinema.
Wrong: Anticipation 6/10 Actual Enjoyment 8/10
If you’ve seen Quentin Dupieux’s prior film, Rubber, the ‘surreal with a capital U’ meta-horror/road movie about a killer psycho-kinetic tyre, then you might be ready for just how brilliantly bizarre Wrong is. There’s no point getting into what goes on in this movie – rather like Upstream Color, it is far better described as an experience than a traditional film.
This went down brilliantly in the LUC bunker, but your mileage may vary – this film could very easily be one of the most annoyingly weird, pointlessly arty things you’ve ever seen. It may even depend on what sort of mood you are in, but love it or hate it, you can’t deny that it leaves an impression. The follow up Wrong Cops looks absolutely amazing!
Of the rest of the ‘Most Anticipated’ list, The Counselor came and went in such a hurry that we didn’t get the chance to track it down – it certainly took a bit of a kicking, but I’m still looking forward to catching up with it. Unfortunately Snow Piercer, Under The Skin and The Rover haven’t actually been released – so they will be rolled over to 2014’s anticipation list which will be coming very soon.