Was the past year a good or a bad year for movies? Every year is a good and a bad year for movies. On the onset of this year, I set out with the aim of watching more Ghanaian stuff and I did start well but I just couldn’t keep up and lord knows I tried. Everything was a disappointment or a near disappointment which was in some contrast to 2013 which saw some decent to good Ghanaian films. Probably the most interesting thing I saw this year was Potomanto which I would give a strong 4 out of 10 and Shirley can and has done way better. The rest were all romantic and slapstick fare or both which I generally have disdain for and I just wonder; can we break of the norm romance/telenovela narratives which are grossly tonally imbalanced by the humor forced into the scripts? That’s a question I hope to address this year. Things may have picked up of course and Shirley’s Love or Something Like That appears to have done great in the awards season but so did the abominable House of Gold last year so that may not mean much but I may check it out. I just wish there was some genre variety, something that appealed to my sensibilities. One of the reason I really liked 6 hours to Christmas was because of how different it was to the usual stuff whist retaining the directors touch (though it did play things safe) but I saw nothing like it this year.
Away from the disappointment of the local scene, I really spent some quality time (and money) at the cinema which is great as that is the proper way to view films and I give myself a pat on the back for that but I really would sleep much better knowing I spent more on Ghanaian productions than say films like No Good Deed but whose fault is that? I didn’t see much East-Asian cinema compared to 2013 where I gobbled up some great stuff from China, Japan and Korea and I hope to do more of that this year but i did see A Touch of Sin and Unforgiven which were great. Asian cinema for the most part looks to offer uncompromising work devoid of some nasty boardroom interferences. I hear Weinstein absolutely massacred his edit of The Grandmaster for western distribution meaning some people would miss out on the full splendor of that impressive work of Wu Xia culture. A mention too for my pledge to start a walk with the horror genre Which I have largely shunned because i’m a sissy and I did start with The Exorcist and The Babadook which surely is one of the alpha cinematic double bills. More on that later.
There were some real ugly and disappointing offerings which were to be expected and I am looking at Ride Along and 300; Rise of an Empire which were absolute shite and Horrible bosses 2 and Sin City 2 which fell in the total disappointment category. I never include Ghanaian films in these categories because they do not stand a chance but a special mention must go to this local film starring Kofi Adjorlolo of which I forget the title which makes an absolutely horrendous attempt at horror, shameful.
Now for the stuff that left me with great memories, I had Joe, Grand Budapest and About Last Night in my mid year picks but they miss out. Joe and Grand Budapest I did not see twice which is why they do not make the final cut. They were impressive works from directors famed for their own very contrasting but unique approaches but if I wasn’t moved to see them again, it means they didn’t really captivate after all. Still though, how about Gary Poulter in Joe; one of the more remarkable casting tales backed with a terrific performance. These films (in no particular order) however did make the cut:
Terrific mash up of action and sci-fi accompanied with impressive visuals and a strong showing from Chris Evans in the lead. Full review
- EDGE OF TOMORROW
Never forget this was and original piece of intense sci-fi action which left room for thought. This for me trumps every other blockbuster released this year amidst this era of sequels, reboots and adaptations. This is Tom Cruises best performance in a minute. Full review
- GONE GIRL
Starts out as a “did he dunnit” and shifts gears seamlessly into a terrific satire that elicits lots of uncomfortable laughter. Bless you David Fincher and bless you Rosamund Pike, I really do forgive you for Die Another Day. Full review
- GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
I’m just going to go on and call this the funniest film this year and one I did not see coming. Flawed it is but that does not take away from the tremendous heart it brings and if Andy Serkis had played Rocket, I bet some folk would have be talking Oscars. Full review
Every year there is that one film I regret not seeing in the cinema. Last year it was Gravity (and I am still waiting on my penance from God for that) and by the time I had finished watching Godzilla on my laptop, I knew I had another regret. Godzilla has its issues (*cough cough* Aaron Taylor Johnson) but the direction from Gareth Edwards shines through with aplomb. He films the colossus with total reverence for the “God” they purport it to be.
After viewings of Interstellar, some section of audiences felt the terrific lift of sequence justified the whole film to which I say K but the final 30 minutes of Godzilla starting from the Halo jump sequence makes up for the 1 hour of Taylor-Johnson putting on his “improbable white man act” justifies the existence of this film. It totally left me spell bound and I cannot emphasize enough how much I regret not seeing this in theatres. It is cinema at its purest with a score to die for anchoring the spectacle which was a love letter from Edwards to silent cinema. I must have seen that section of the film 20 times.
If I was to pick an outright number 1 film, it would be between Locke and Nightcrawler. First time director Stephen Knight delivers this compact piece on different levels set almost entirely in a car on a high way and the film is driven to success on the back of Tom Hardy’s strong acting. Full review
Another film from a first time director sees and incisive media satire and darkly black comedy with a terrific central performance and very original DP work. Full review