Friday, January 3, 2014

On other 2013 films and my year end mad dash to catch up.....

As is my year end norm, the final couple of days  of 2013 became a mad dash to try and see as many films from the year as possible. This involved mad dashes to the theater, long hours in front of the DVD player and scouring cable. I'm trying to see as many films as possible so I can have som part in the year end discussions.

Unfortunately this year I missed a whole lot. I just didn't have the time to get to Her, Walter Mitty, Wolf of Wall Street or some of the other big films. The time I had to watch stuff between Christmas and New Years was much less than I thought. Then again time has been a factor all through out 2013, I just didn't have the time to see everything- or rather everything I wanted.

I should point out that I saw a good many films in 2013 that never got mentioned. Many didn't warrant mentioning (remember the focus of Unseen is supposed to be recommending good films-with the exception being our film festival and new release coverage), however there are a bunch I'm going to review them down the line. I have a whole week of animated films from 2013 that has been bounced around the calendar since October and now seems to have landed in March. My review of the Hugh Jackman thriller Prisoners is due for posting in a few weeks, as is my piece on the surprisingly good Enders Game (this film has been improving in my memory since I say it). A review of the second Tales From The Dark, the first  world premiered at the New York Asian Film Festival, will be part of our Chinese New Year series. Gofrey Reggio's Visitors will finally be reviewed (I saw it back in the fall and I've had to wait until it's theatrical release to review it). And of course I have a whole slate of 2013 films that will be playing at the New York Jewish Film Festival starting Monday.

In order to give you an idea of some of the stuff I was racing through (and in some cases it was racing) I'm going to give you some quick reviews:

Snitch- good but a tad too preachy film about Dwayne Johnson making a deal with prosecutors in order to save his son from jail time.

Free Birds- animated turkeys on the run tale made money simply by being a new choice in theaters. I had been warned by parents and kids that it wasn't good...but I saw it anyway and regretted it. Not bad as such, but not good and a real time waster.

Baggage Claim- Woman wants to get engaged before her youngest sister gets married. Been there, done that film is the sort of film that needs to be stopped- women don't need to have a man to be successful.

Over 21- I love it when a film puts its IQ in the title. yet another film about drunken debauchery that would be okay if it didn't try so hard and be so stupid.

Fun Size- Weird film about high school senior  who has to watch her brother on Halloween. He goes missing and she goes has moments but they are the exception.

Battle of the Year- Okay dance film with great dance sequences and run of the mill everything else.

Getaway-Paycheck film for Ethan Hawke and John Voight. I had hopes since several small films Hawke has been in lately (Sinister, The Purge) were winners. The was just stupid.

Madea Christmas- Typical Madea  insanity but set at Christmas. As Medea films go it's one of  the better recent ones.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone- Amusing comedy has Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi as Las Vegas magicians battling street magician Jim Carrey. This was much better` than I expected.

Runner Runner- I heard this described as one of the worst films of the year. While I wouldn't go that far, I think the script for this tale of a college student getting mixed up with a shady on line gambling mogul was some how better than the film that resulted from it. It kind of almost works, but mostly if all falls flat.

Hours- One of Paul Walkers final films is a flat footed attempt to a touching drama as Walker must keep his new born safe in a hospital being struck by Hurricane Katrina. Contrived, poorly paced little rings true. It doesn't help that Walk is much too stoic in the face of his wife's death and his daughter predicament.

Spring Breakers confounds me. I’m not a Harmonie Korine fan but there is something about this film which kind of almost works. James Franco is frequently really good as a slimey guy who hooks up with a bunch of girls who are too stupid to know better. It’s a wildly uneven film with great moments and crappy ones. I don’t have any clue as to what the point of it all is.

Young Detective Dee and the Rise of the Sea Dragon - Tsui Hark's epic follow up to Detective Dee and the Phantom Flame is a spectacular piece of film martial arts mystery madness. A great deal of fun I regret not seeing it on a big screen (A review is coming during our Chinese New Year celebration)

Fruitvale Station heart breaking story of the final day in a life of a man like any other which makes it even more tragic.

Thor The Dark World- Just okay follow up to the first Thor and Avengers film.  Not bad but nothing special.Its big, loud and kind of dumb

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Idris Elba is scary good as the man who changed the world. A very good film who's only flaw is that it  occasional dips into docudrama. Give it points for being warts and all.

Out of the Furnace-great cast gives great performances in a low key crime drama full of ugliness. It's good but I was completely in the wrong head space for the film but I will revisit it down the line

Of course this isn't to say that I'm done with 2013, only to say  that the mad dash is done for this year. Now it's time just to go back and write about good films where ever and whenever they come from.

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