2014 Best and Worst

2014 was an uneven year in film.  One side featured fine independent productions making good use of limited budgets. The other had the usual swathe of Hollywood blockbusters, sequels and remakes.  Creatively, Tinseltown often resembled a wasteland of ideas – something that will likely to continue with the ongoing quest for dollars.  With the threat of downloading and internet based media looming large it will be interesting seeing where films go next.  Hopefully this will result in some higher quality movies with more risks being taken.


In the meantime here is my annual Top Ten list for the year.  Find out which films made me happy to see them and others that made me wish I hadn’t……..





10.          Jersey Boys


9.            Edge of Tomorrow


8.            The Grand Budapest Hotel


7.            Snowpiercer


6.            Dawn of the Planet of the Apes


5.            X-Men: Days of Future Past


4.            Nightcrawler


3.            The Wolf of Wall Street


2.            Guardians of the Galaxy


1.            Gone Girl


What I said then: “One of his best films out of a great career, ‘Gone Girl’ is one of Fincher’s most daring projects.  Consistently insightful and engaging, it’s a cinematic oasis amidst a barren sea of recent celluloid mediocrity.”


What I say now: An unapologetic examination of marital hell and media manipulation, ‘Gone Girl’ was one of the bravest Hollywood films of the year.  Setting itself apart from the usual formulaic movies, it was consistently surprising and compelling.


Honourable mentions: Inside Llewyn Davis, 12 Years A Slave, The Two Faces of January, The Hundred-Foot Journey, A Most Wanted Man, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Kill the Messenger, The Drop, Into the Woods.





10.          Grudge Match


9.            Noah


8.            22 Jump Street


7.            Paranormal Activity 5


6.            Hercules


5.            Pompeii


4.            Endless Love


3.            The Fault In Our Stars


2.            Tammy


1.            Mrs. Browns Boys D’Movie


What I said then: “Mrs Browns Boys D’Movie’ is a deceptive and cruel beast.  Behind its masque of hilarity lies a seething cesspit of crudity and malice.  It’s a celluloid abomination richly deserving of its place in cinema’s Hall of Shame.”


What I say now: A cinematic shocker in every sense, ‘Mrs. Browns Boys D’Movie was simply appalling.  It established its own creative nadir with no sacred cows spared in its desperate quest in plumbing new comedic depths.


Dishonourable mentions:  The Equalizer, Before I Go To Sleep.


That’s it for another movie-going year.  Everyone enjoy a safe and happy Christmas and may 2015 be even luckier than the year about to go. Until next time – thanks for reading!



Into the Woods

Debuting in 1986, James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim’s musical ‘Into the Woods’ has been enduringly popular.  Combining elements from various Grimm fairy tales, the mix of fantasy, horror and music has appealed.  With the current obsession with all things fantastic, it was a given Hollywood would soon come knocking.  Filled with an excellent cast, tight direction and stirring melodic arrangements ‘Into the Woods’ fits the bill in providing enchanting escapism.


When a baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) learn they have been cursed childless by a witch (Meryl Streep), they aim to set things right.  Journeying into the mysterious forest where the witch resides, they must find objects that will break the curse.  Encountering Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) and others during their quest, their task is made harder by the witch’s machinations.  Learning about responsibility and the power of wishes, the duo set forth on an epic and bedazzling adventure.


Unlike recent movie musicals, ‘Into the Woods’ achieves the right balance of story and song.  As characters sing about their predicaments, their tunes allow the tale to briskly move along.  Graced with a strong cast embracing their roles with gusto, ‘Into the Woods’ is a very delectable treat.  Whilst moments are predictable, the actors never over-play them with Streep and company enjoying the challenge.  They equip themselves admirably during the musical numbers and remember to have fun as well.


Director Rob Marshall is an old hand in this genre, having overseen ‘Nine’ and ‘Chicago’.  He does it well as he ensures the visuals match the story’s grandiose sweep.  Managing to avoid the confined ‘stagey feel’ that often drags down similar works, Marshall successfully utilises the many locations ‘Into the Woods’ requires.  The blend of story-book vistas with dark, brooding spaces are finely melded as the many colours on display mirror the multiple turmoils the characters face.


Entertaining while imparting its messages, ‘Into the Woods’ is a fine stage to screen adaptation.  Fans should be pleased with its aim for quality more than achieved.


Rating out of 10:  8