So, 2014 has been and gone – a year characterised by crippling cuts, extreme poverty, geo-political posturing by mad warmongers, racial and religious intolerance, horrific disease outbreaks and planes crashing all over the place with mysterious and scary regularity.
it is time to put these more trivial issues to one side. The passing of the year means that it is time to evaluate whether the ten films that LUC identified as ‘most anticipated’ at the dawn of the year turned out to be as good as we hoped.
Each film will has been carefully analysed and enjoyment levels calibrated. This will enable us to evaluate whether we can add cinematic disappointment to the list of doom that summarises the crisis strewn car-crash that was 2014.
Anticipated enjoyment: 8 /// Actual enjoyment: 10
Our high hopes for Richard Ayoade‘s second feature were brilliantly exceeded by The Double. We liked it so much that we screened it during our film festival. Stylish, dark, funny and thoughtful – The Double is the best film we saw this year.
The Zero Theorem
Anticipated enjoyment: 7 /// Actual Enjoyment: 3
After a great opening and really engaging first ten minutes or so, this turned out to be a real disappointment. For a film with so many deep themes and weird moments, I’m not sure why it seemed like such hard work to get through. But hard work it was. One of our viewing party got so fed up that they went for a walk. Maybe for a film about the eventual pointlessness of existence, provoking that sort of response is a conceptual success.
Anticipated enjoyment: 7 /// Actual Enjoyment: 8
This was a brilliantly tense and highly cinematic revenge flick. Lean and sparse, the plot unwinds tragically in a believable and rather harsh manner. The central performance by Macon Blair as an inept, but determined agent of vengeance is brilliant – anchoring the harsh and brutal plot with an air of fatigue and doomed inevitability. If you haven’t seen it yet check it out ASAP.
Anticipated enjoyment: 8 /// Actual Enjoyment: 9
Somehow still not released in the UK (we tried to screen it at the LUC Festival, but the distributor’s wouldn’t let us), our hopes were very high for Bong Joon-ho’s crazy sounding sci-fi train flick. However with the long-running saga of Harvey Weinstein vs Bong and no news of any screenings at all our hopes for actually seeing it were very low.
However, once it was released in other territories we were able to crack open the LUC Bunker piggy bank and get hold of a Spanish Blu-ray copy.
This turned out to be well worth the effort, Snowpiercer is a great movie, marrying action and visual flair with brilliant casting and a strong socio-political criticism. Like many films with Korean heritage it doesn’t let you settle for a second; surprising you with humour at some points then leaving you wincing at some violent onslaught moments later.
If we had managed to see Snowpiercer on a big screen, it may well have been alongside The Double as our film of the year. It does contain the performance of the year from Tilda Swinton as Minister Mason, seemingly the offspring of an unlikely affair between Margaret Thatcher and Alan Bennett. There’s an image for you.
NOTE: Arranging a screening of Snowpiercer is on the LUC to-do list for 2015.
Anticipated enjoyment: 8 /// Actual Enjoyment: 8
We were expecting a film as gritty as a gravel enema and The Rover didn’t let us down. It was billed as a post-apocalypse road movie in the mould of Mad Max, but this is more of a ‘during-apocalypse’ story. It predicts a world where capitalism has gone horribly wrong (or horribly right if your name is George Osborne) – civilisation is breaking down as the economy ceases to function.
This harsh backdrop is amplified further by setting the story in the stark Australian desert – which frankly seems like a horrible place.
A troubled (and troubling) loner, Guy Pierce, has his car nicked and sets off on a relentlessly focussed journey to get it back. Suffice to say, this doesn’t go well for most of the people involved, although the world’s most naive weapons dealer only really has himself to blame.
Despite the simplicity of the plot and fairly slow pace, The Rover succeeds because it builds such a convincing world, populated with engaging yet disturbing characters. Pierce and his hostage/sidekick played by Robert Pattinson are both excellent and the strange relationship between them is both intriguing and a bit sad.
Anticipated enjoyment: 9 /// Actual Enjoyment: 8
Being a huge fan of the previous collaboration between John Michael Mcdonagh and Brendon Gleeson, The Guard, this was LUC’s most anticipated release of 2014.
A lot of the stuff that made the Guard so great is also present in Calvary, Gleeson is superb, it is brilliant written and acted by a great cast and the central idea of a priest condemned to death by an abuse victim is twisted and strong.
Despite being a really good film, with some genuinely outstanding moments, Calvary didn’t quite live up to expectations. It seemed a bit padded out at times and some of the meta-narrative jokes fell a bit flat. Having said that it was still head and shoulders above almost everything else that we saw in 2014 and is the sort of film that will certainly get better with repeated viewings.
The news that the Gleeson/Mcdonagh axis is working on a third film, The Lame Shall Enter First, about a paraplegic ex copper investigating a murder, is very exciting indeed.
Anticipated enjoyment: 7 /// Actual Enjoyment: 5
Not nearly as good as Rubber or Wrong – Wrong Cops is a bit of an endurance test. The short that was released featuring Marilyn Manson was great, but as a full movie it isn’t as entertaining, inventive or surreal as you’d expect. However, Quentin Dupieux’s next film looks good…
This astoundingly intriguing film still isn’t ready, so will be rolled over to our most anticipated films for 2015…
How To Catch A Monster
Something appears to have gone a bit wrong with Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut, it got a bit of a kicking at Cannes by all accounts, the title has been changed to the less interesting “Lost River” and it is now going to be released straight to what is still described as “home video” April 2015.
Which all makes me want to see it more.
Unfortunately, due to the ‘blink and you’ll literally miss it’ release of this we didn’t get the chance to see Mood Indigo. Which is a shame because it looked cool.
There was a net enjoyment deficiency of minus four.
After tallying up all the scores and using our cutting edge, cold-war era technology to produce the stunning statistical visualisation below, we can reveal that overall, cinema in 2014 did not quite meet our expectations and can therefore be classified as “mildly disappointing” by future historians.
To end on an optimistic note, 2015 looks like it could be a great year for cool and interesting movies in between the unending cavalcade of comic book adaptations and soulless franchise sequels. Our most anticipated films of 2015 will be published tomorrow!