Tuesday, 22 January 2013

BBC 6 Music's Greatest Hits - My Favourite 5 Tracks

BBC Radio station brings its 10th anniversary celebrations to a close.

Poll to find the listeners' favourite single from 2002-2012.

BBC 6Music have released a list of the Top 100 singles released during their first 10 years on the airwaves and have given its listeners the near impossible task of picking their favourite song.

Naturally, I took a look at the list and tried to pick a favourite. I failed. I took a second pass at the list and wrote down any track which I thought might be the one. This produced a short list of 12. 

In no particular order, here are the 5 tracks which made the final cut.

The National - Bloodbuzz Ohio

Bloodbuzz Ohio caught my attention with its toe-tapping beat and sustained my attention through its captivating yet wilfully cryptic lyrics. Like many The National songs, Bloodbuzz Ohio is deceptively simple in its structure but the band manage to build up the instrumental layers to create their great sound (look no further than Bryan Devendorf's fantastic drum beat). Bloodbuzz Ohio also exemplifies Matt Berninger's ability to write songs about universal themes of adulthood in a wonderfully poetic manner.

Arctic Monkeys - I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor

Shifting over 360,000 copies in the first week (with just under 120,000 of those on day 1), the band's debut album
Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not was the must own album across the country. Thankfully, the hype was deserved as WPSIA,TWIN is an outstanding record and lead single I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor is the perfect exemplifies the album's brilliance. It grabs you by the throat, throws its bombastic urgency into your face and puts you down in the blink of an eye.

Janelle Monae [feat. Big Boi] - Tightrope

Janelle Monae is one of the most exciting artists to emerge in the past few years. Taken from her astounding debut album The ArchandroidTightrope is an infectious soul-funk-rap mix that manages to create something original and exciting from well worn musical genres. In a world of studio moulded pop groups, it's refreshing to see a record label (Sean Combs' Bad Boy Records) give a chance to an artist with such uncompromising ambition and crystal clear vision of what they want their music to say. 

Foals - Spanish Sahara

Spanish Sahara begins with a drum beat so quiet, you check that your radio or computer is working properly. The lack of noise catches you attention. What follows is a masterful lesson in building tension through delicate layering of sounds. This was the first track released from Foals' second album Total Life Forever and it grabbed everybody's attention. More importantly, Spanish Sahara was a great indication of Foals' progression as a band.

Arcade Fire - Wake Up

One of the 3 stand out tracks on Funeral (an album full of great songs) along with Rebellion (Lies) and Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)Wake Up is a wonderfully rousing song. Yet the lyrics speak of entering adulthood and learning that the world is not what you thought it was.  As children we are told everything will be alright but as we grow older, we realise that was a lie. Now we have to adjust to this harsh reality and move on with our lives. Wake Up perfectly captures Arcade Fire's ability to merge stirring music with an underplayed and often downbeat lyricism.

And The Winner Is ?

Erm... good question.


Foals - Spanish Sahara

The 6Music poll closes this Friday at 7pm. The countdown of the top 100 will take place on February 1st.

I'll post again after the Top 100 are revealed.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Films Of 2012 - The Honourable Mentions

Films Of 2012 - The Honourable Mentions

A further 10 films which deserve recognition

2012 was a good year for film. Not excellent but still good. Whilst I found choosing my top 10 films relatively easy, choosing those worthy of an honourable mention proved to be more difficult. There were those films which narrowly missed out on the top 10, films which missed out because of the odd flaw and those which require additional viewings to fully be appreciated.

So here are my honourable mentions of 2012,  in alphabetical order.

Cabin In The Woods
The Dark Knight Rises
Even The Rain
The Master
Moonrise Kingdom
The Muppets
A Royal Affair
Rust And Bone
Your Sister's Sister

These films wouldn't necessarily make up my 11-20 list, but each one does something noteworthy enough to deserve its mention here.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Films Of 2012 - No. 1

Films Of 2012 - No. 1

Martha Marcy May Marlene (Dir. Sean Durkin)

After leaving the cinema back in February of 2012, I was very impressed (if a little baffled) with Martha Marcy May Marlene and it's outstanding debut performance from Elizabeth Olsen. As the year progressed I continued to revisit the film, reading other reviews and interviews etc. It had burrowed it's way into my thoughts and slowly became a personal benchmark for other films in the year. When I came to chose this list, it was the obvious choice but I wanted to see the film again before settling on my decision. Not only is it fully deserving of my number 1 spot, but it was arguably better on the second viewing.

Martha Marcy May Marlene (a weird but perfect title) tells the story of Martha, an impressionable young woman who flees from a sinister farming commune. She is collected by her older sister and goes to stay at a luxurious lake house. The film moves between her time at the commune and her time at the beach house, as she struggles to keep control of her fractured mind.

That's about all I can say to set up the film. Along with About Elly and Berberian Sound Studio, it's a film that is best viewed with as little prior knowledge as possible. Don't watch any of the trailers. Not only do they suggest that the film is something it isn't, but they spoil far too many of the film's moments. Note how I said moments and not plot. Martha Marcy May Marlene is not a conventional plot driven film. It's pace is purposeful slow, almost lethargic and requires a good deal of patience and attention.

Director Sean Durkin moves between the two time strands using slow fades as opposed to sharper cuts. This creates an unnerving dream like atmosphere which perfectly compliments Martha's troubled state. Her unstable nature develops into paranoia, insomnia and the blurring of dream and reality.

The two strands present totally different lifestyles and social viewpoints. At the lake house, Martha is surrounded by materialistic excess and the money orientated attitudes of the sister and her husband. On the other hand, the farm community are attempting to free themselves from the shackles of 21st century living through a self-sustainable farm and traditional methods. Martha finds herself unable to fit in either society. The commune is clearly a disturbing place to live but does ask a few questions of the socially accepted modern  lifestyle.

Elizabeth Olsen is nothing short of mesmerising in the title role. Often required to portray a whole host of emotions without saying a word, she carries the whole film on her shoulders with apparent ease. Oscar nominee John Hawkes has a small but key supporting role as persuasive commune leader Patrick whilst Sarah Paulson and Hugh Dancy are excellent as the sister and husband.

Martha Marcy May Marlene is an uneasy but infinitely rewarding experience. On this basis, Sean Durkin and Elizabeth Olsen (both make their feature film debuts) have exciting careers ahead of them. Martha Marcy May Marlene is haunting, confident, utterly unique and rightly sits at the top of my top films of 2012 list.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Films Of 2012 - No. 2

Films Of 2012 - No. 2

Shame (Dir. Steve McQueen)

Michael Fassbender has slowly built a reputation as a very talented performer from stand out performances in blockbusters (Prometheus, X-Men First Class) to critically praised work in independent films (Fish Tank, Hunger). He's one of the most sought after actors in the world right now (take a look at his upcoming projects if you don't believe me) and his staggering performance in Shame is a magnificent showcase of his talents.

Fassbender plays Brandon, a handsome, successful young man living in New York. Behind this seemingly idyllic lifestyle, Brandon harbours a secret sex addiction which has control of his personal and social life. One night stands, a wealth of explicit material and a strict routine have given his life a sense of structure and discipline. This lifestyle is disrupted by the arrival of his sister Sissy who brings her own troubles to Brandon's doorstep.

Shame is a devastating glimpse of a man living with a crippling addiction. Addiction and not perversion. Steve McQueen treats Brandon's troubles as many other films have treated drug or alcohol addiction. The film examines how this addiction has prevented Brandon from forming any emotional relationships. In his mind sex doesn't involve an emotional connection, he barely seems to enjoy any of the sexual encounters in the film. These scenes, whilst very graphic, are not in any way erotic. They show a character feeding his addiction. During the film Brandon begins to date a co-worker, but this shows how he can't cope with a relationship that is both physical and sexual. Brandon attempts to combat his loneliness and self-loathing through sex only to come crashing down after the act, leaving him hungry for his next fix.

Brandon's loneliness is fuelled (or certainly not aided) by the city he lives in. McQueen shows New York to be the enormous place that it is and how easy it is to be alone when surrounded by so many people. The arrival of his sister Sissy throws a grenade into Brandon's lifestyle and also drives the film's narrative strands. Carey Mulligan is outstanding as Sissy, displaying a strange charming innocence to gloss her own problems. Mulligan received a BAFTA nomination for her role in Drive but this is the meatier, better role and more deserving of a nomination. She gives a beautiful rendition of "New York, New York" in a key scene. McQueen stays with Mulligan for over 4 minutes, only cutting away to show Brandon's reaction. It's beautifully simple and indicates that there might be hope for Brandon and Sissy in their dysfunctional relationship.

Crucially, McQueen doesn't attempt to explain how Brandon and Sissy came to be the people they are but hints at what the cause of their troubles might be. This may frustrate some but I can imagine that any explanation would dissatisfy a large portion of the audience. Harry Escott's score is overblown and Sean Bobbitt's cinematography is crisp and glamorous. Steve McQueen's direction is elegant and uncomplicated, consisting of long takes and precise set ups. Shame's striking colour palette avoids the sometimes grimy and "realistic" look that addiction films tend to have.

Shame is an unapologetically grand piece of film making. It may have been overlooked by the major Hollywood awards (thanks in part to the stigma attached to the NC-17 rating) but I'm sure it will be remembered in years to for its early performance from Michael Fassbender, Oscar winner.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Films Of 2012 - No. 3

Films Of 2012 - No. 3

Berberian Sound Studio (Dir. Peter Strickland)

Of the 10 films in this countdown, I saw 9 of them in a cinema. Of all of them, Berberian Sound Studio was the one which felt like it needed to be cinema. Having recently watched it again on DVD (in an odd coincidence, it was the last thing I bought from HMV who have just entered administration and may have disappeared from UK high streets by the time you read this) it was less impressive on the smaller screen but still worthy of a place in my top 3.

Sound engineer Gilderoy arrives at the Berberian Sound Studio in Italy to begin work on a new film, "The Equestrian Vortex". Having not been told anything about the film before arriving, Gilderoy is quite shocked to learn that he will be working on a gory, sinister horror film (not a nice film about horse riding). As he immerses himself in his work, he begins to lose his grasp on reality.

There are many other psychological horror films which portray a character's mental decline, but Berberian Sound Studio stands out thanks to its brilliant use and focus on sound. As Gilderoy goes about his work recording sound effects, director Peter Strickland never shows the corresponding screen images. He forces the audience to imagine the horrific images that Gilderoy has to work with. In doing this, Strickland highlights the importance of sound in film, particularly in horror films.

Gilderoy's decent into madness is utterly believable thanks to the film's measured pace, an unnerving sense of claustrophobia and an outstanding performance from Toby Jones. Gilderoy is a mild mannered, meek middle aged man from the countryside who is totally out of his comfort zone. His situation isn't helped by the fact that he is surrounded by a group of insufferable co-workers. From an egotistical director, cantankerous actresses and a producer who constantly berates him, Gilderoy enters as the only normal person in the room but is slowly driven to insanity.

Berberian Sound Studio could have been accused of taking itself far too seriously were it not for a wonderfully black sense of humour that accompanies the action. Whilst we may not see any of "The Equestrian Vortex", we do get some scene descriptions which are horrifying and hilarious. To mention any would spoil them but when combined with some other well placed comedic moments, they give the film an almost playful tone which reminded me of the excellent Rosemary's Baby.

It doesn't make complete sense (even after two viewings) but I don't think it's meant too. It seems it was intended to be more of a "mood piece" than a strong narrative tale, but it is a highly original and memorable piece of film-making.

Be sure to catch Berberian Sound Studio in a cinema if you can. Otherwise find a nice dark room with a large screen and good sound system (don't adjust the volume either, the loud moments are meant to be uncomfortable). Sit back and relax, a whole new world of sound awaits you.

All of the trailers I found for the film contained too many spoilers in my opinion. It's best to avoid them if you can. So instead, here's the title sequence for "The Equestrian Vortex" which is the only footage of that film shown during Berberian Sound Studio. Not only does it hint at the film's tone, but it showcases the excellent soundtrack by Broadcast.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Films Of 2012 - No. 4

Films Of 2012 - No. 4

Young Adult (Dir. Jason Reitman)

Spoiler Warning: The film's ending is not discussed in detail, but it is mentioned.

“Psychotic Prom Queen Bitch.” This is how one character describes Mavis Gary, but high school was a long a time ago and everyone else has grown up. 

With her series of moderately popular young adult novels coming to an end, Mavis learns that her high school boyfriend Buddy is now married and has a newborn baby. She jumps at this chance to return to her hometown with the sole intention of reclaiming Buddy from his “torment” and kick starting her own life.

Charlize Theron is outstanding as the mean spirited and stunted Mavis, in easily one of my favourite performances of the year. As a writer of novels for teenage girls, she can’t escape her teenage years where she was adored and looked down on the people who now have everything she wants. Other films would let the nerds get revenge on the high school bitch or allow the prom queen to atone for her mistakes. Young Adult succeeds by doing neither.

The film gradually adds layers to Mavis’ character traits which give us an insight as to how she ended up being so hateful. Patton Oswalt plays Matt who tries to reign in Mavis’ wild ideas and acts as the audience’s conscience. Like Mavis, Matt is an adult defined by his teenage years where he was the victim of a hate crime attack which has left him disabled. The two characters form a strange bond which is both tragic and impossible to take your eyes off. 

Young Adult pulls off its unconventional tale thanks to 100% confidence and belief in the project from writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman. The gut punch of an ending is in keeping with the film’s dark, sardonic tone and gives a happy outlook to one of the most detestable protagonists in modern cinema. 

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Films of 2012 - No. 5

Films Of 2012 - No. 5

Sightseers (Dir. Ben Wheatley)

Not content with reinventing the British gangster film in Down Terrace and shredding everybody's nerves in Kill List, Ben Wheatley's 3rd film celebrates two ever present British traditions: caravanning and funny Brummie accents.

Despite her mother's best protests, Tina sets off on a romantic holiday with boyfriend Chris. Manned with their caravan and an itinerary which takes in some idyllic areas of northern Britain, what could possibly spoil their trip? Quite a lot, it turns out, as some psychopathic tendencies start to take over.

Sightseers is a film that is as dark as it is funny, quite often at the same time. One unfortunate incident that is told in flashback is horrifyingly grisly and yet so ridiculous that you can't help but laugh. Wheatley and D.P. Laurie Rose show the British countryside as the beautiful place it still is, but crucially the visual style changes to reflect the ever darkening tone of the film.

Compared to his previous efforts, Sightseers is less of a "Ben Wheatley Film" as the undeniable stars of the show are writers and actors Steve Oram and Alice Lowe. In Chris and Tina, they have created a couple whose initial sweet natured charms are soon overshadowed by the rising body count. Most importantly, each murder impacts on their relationship which drives the narrative forward and ensures the film doesn't turn into a series of sketches.

Edgar Wright is an executive producer on the film and Sightseers can join Wright's own Shaun Of The Dead as one of those rare cases where the humour doesn't prevent each film from being an effective genre piece.

The film will definitely resonate most with British audiences but will find a home overseas as there is plenty of universal humour. 2012 wasn't a great year for British film and I was very disappointed that BAFTA failed to recognise any of the superb work on display from two fantastic comedy performers and one of the most talented British directors of recent years. Sightseers is, without a shadow of doubt, the funniest film of 2012.

(Trailer contains strong language).

Friday, 11 January 2013

Films of 2012 - No. 6

Films Of 2012 - No.6

Skyfall (Dir. Sam Mendes)

I am a huge James Bond fan. I may have lost some of the encyclopaedic knowledge which I held as a teenager, but I have watched all of the 22 films a near unhealthy number of times. It's fair to say that the release of a James Bond film is one I very much look forward to.

Therefore, the prospect of a James Bond film directed by Sam Mendes with an all star cast and crew was incredibly exciting. I was sure it wouldn't live up to my expectations, but I'm happy to say that Skyfall is magnificent.

After seemingly falling to his death whilst in Turkey, James Bond returns to the UK after MI6 is attacked by a new terror.

The key to Skyfall's ($1 billion) success is the excellent script which delivers everything expected of a James Bond film in a refreshing manner. Whereas previous adventures have built a story around locations or set pieces, Skyfall is driven by a compelling and emotional narrative rarely seen in the franchise (Casino Royale and On Her Majesty's Secret Service being two notable exceptions).

The cast is faultless. Judi Dench thrives on working with the best material of her Bond career and Daniel Craig convinces as both the action hero and the suave spy. However, it is Javier Bardem's villain Silva who makes the greatest impression. Camp, ruthless and menacing, Silva is a very original villain but also one which remembers its place in Bond history.

Some were worried that because of his roots in theatre and more traditional drama, Mendes' film would be light on action. Thankfully, this isn't true. The action sequences are entertaining and well placed, which helps with the pacing of the film (something which Quantum of Solace struggled with). Mendes boldly takes Skyfall and it's final set piece, which in Bond lore has to be the most overblown of the film, into enthralling new territory. This leads to an unforgettable climax and seals Skyfall's position as one of the year's best films.

A special mention must go to cinematographer Roger Deakins who ensures that the exotic locations (and dingy castles) dazzle on the screen.

Would Deakins be involved without Sam Mendes? Probably not.

Would Mendes have agreed to direct if the script hadn't been as strong? Probably not.

A great script can attract the best talent. Simple as that.

Producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson brought together an A-list cast and crew to create a film which, in the year of 50th anniversary celebrations, tipped its hat to the previous films and proved that the franchise has a place on cinema screens for many years to come.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Films Of 2012 - No. 7

Films Of 2012 - No. 7

Looper (Dir. Rian Johnson)

After the vastly over-rated Brick and the criminally underrated The Brothers Bloom, Rian Johnson returns with his 3rd film Looper about time travelling assassins.

Some years in the future, criminal organisations are using time travel to eliminate their enemies. These enemies are sent back in time where they are killed by a Looper, thus erasing them from the future. Joseph Gordon Levitt is Joe, a Looper who falters when he has to kill his future self (Bruce Willis).

As a premise, it is elegantly simple and riddled with potential complications. Johnson successfully avoids getting bogged down in the intricacies of time travel by not attempting to answer them. After establishing the story, time travel takes a back seat as the film asks questions about destiny and consequences. Not particularly original for a science fiction film I agree, but Johnson surrounds his story with compelling characters and setting. It reminded me of Drive in its production design, very familiar elements brought together in an original way.

With no source material or prequels to start with, Johnson successfully establishes the world that the Loopers inhabit with an opening act that, despite essentially being an introductory lesson, is consistently entertaining. The film’s second act is an effective thriller with both Joes being chased by each other as well as Jeff Daniels and his cronies who manage this time travelling business. The film’s final act sees Looper take its foot off the gas and morph into a more intimate character drama.

This final act showcases strong work from Levitt and Willis as well the ever excellent Emily Blunt and the astonishingly assured Pierce Gagnon as a child at the centre of the storm. The ending satisfies on a character and story level and ensures Looper stands out as one of the most entertaining and original films of the year.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

David Bowie - An Unexpected Return

Musical icon's new album was amazingly kept secret from everyone

I'm a big David Bowie fan. I'll admit, I haven't listened to most of his albums (I've started to) but he has produced some of the finest rock songs of the 20th century. If I were to be stranded on a desert island with only a handful of tracks, Life On Mars would most certainly be one of them. It's just perfect.

Even with the best will in the world, I had accepted the fact I probably wouldn't get the chance to see him play live. He hasn't made an album in 10 years and had rarely been seen in public in that time. Bar his brilliant cameo in Extras and playing Nikola Tesla in magician drama The Prestige, Bowie had seemingly turned his back on the media and his career. How wrong we were.

Everybody will have their own story of how they heard about the new track. I can imagine that for those who grew up with his music, it could be a potentially emotional experience.

Personally, I found out about through Twitter. More specifically, through Duncan Jones. For those of you who aren't aware, Duncan Jones was known as Zowie Bowie and has established himself as a talented new film director with his films Moon and Source Code

This is how he revealed the news of his father's new album:

"So who wants to know a secret?"
"So... First off, its midnight in NY. That means a HUGE HAPPY BIRTHDAY is in order to my very lovely, very talented dad!"
"Been ten years since his last album..."
"So you better go to itunes. ;)"

I quickly went to Youtube and typed "David Bowie" and selected for results from that day. 

And there it was. Where Are We Now?, the new David Bowie song.

It was a magnificent moment, truly unexpected.

Many musicians make album announcements, but the impact of the new Bowie album hadn't been softened by rumour. He had managed to avoid the media attention altogether and made the announcement on his own terms. There wasn't the endless hype which goes with so much of modern culture (though I'll admit, Bowie is in a near unique position where he doesn't need to build up hype). 

There were no photographs of him leaving recording studios, no interviews and no cryptic messages on social media outlets. Nothing... nothing... nothing... nothing... and then something.

Millions of fans shared that moment of unexpected joy and I was glad to be one of them.

Films Of 2012 - No.8

Films Of 2012 - No. 8

Life Of Pi (Dir. Ang Lee)

Spoiler Warning: The film's ending is discussed in detail.

Having not read Yann Martel’s award winning novel, I knew very little about Life of Pi before entering the cinema. Even if I had read the source material, I doubt it would have affected my cinematic experience. Despite many calling the book "unfilmable", Ang Lee’s Life Of Pi can stand on its own two feet (or four paws) as a marvellous film.

The titular Pi is travelling with his family and their zoo animals to start a new life in Canada. After the ship is sunk by a vicious storm, Pi finds himself on a life boat in the middle of the ocean with only a few zoo animals for company. 

Life Of Pi is a stunning technical achievement which could not have been made (and was rightly not made) until the technology was in place to create the mesmeric oceanic backdrop of the extensive middle act. More importantly, the mix of CGI and real life footage used to create the powerful Bengal tiger Richard Parker works splendidly. If the tiger wasn’t so convincing, it could well have been rather distracting. 

Suraj Sharma plays Pi for the majority of the film and turns in a fantastic performance. For someone who had never acted before and was not able to swim prior to filming, Sharma gives a fantastic performance where he convincingly portrays Pi’s changing moods and attitudes whilst floating across the ocean. Life of Pi takes the audience on a colourful and eventful journey, but its real focus lies in its ending and the nature of storytelling and faith.

Everybody “prefers” the first story (it’s got a tiger in it!), but the second story is the true one. Does my preference for the first story mean I believe in God? No. For some, their preference for the first story mirrors their acceptance of faith. Sometimes believing in the more unlikely fantasy can give that person the hope and strength they need to face the often harsh reality of life. That’s not how I personally live my life but I can accept that that is how some people live. The adult Pi chooses to live his life this way, but the film doesn't force this viewpoint on its audience.

Ultimately, Life of Pi asks questions of our attitude towards faith and makes for a thought provoking and dazzling piece of cinema.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Films Of 2012 - No.9

Films Of 2012 - No. 9

About Elly (Dir. Asghar Farhadi)

Asghar Farhadi won plaudits from everyman and his dog for his brilliant Oscar winning drama A Separation. After that film’s success 2012 brought the UK release of his previous film, About Elly, which won the Silver Bear at the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival.

A group of friends travel from Tehran to a seaside villa for a holiday. Amongst them is the titular Elly who has very little connection to the group apart from being the teacher of some of the children. The group invited her in order to meet their single friend Ahmad in the hope that they might take a liking to each other.

To say any more would spoil what is a compelling drama. It has been described by some as a “moral whodunit” which is an accurate description of what makes the film so great. About Elly is a drama about morality and the fallout of lies but is very intricately constructed like the very best thrillers. The significance of some seemingly minor details in the film’s first hour only become relevant in the second. Farhadi refrains from showing certain conversations and actions in order to create tension. Most importantly Farhadi doesn’t spoil his ending with convoluted plotting but instead reflects on society in modern day Iran.

It may not be quite as good as A Separation, but About Elly is a superbly crafted drama from a very talented writer and director.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Films Of 2012 - No.10

Films Of 2012 - No.10

The Raid (Dir. Gareth Evans)

The Raid is style over substance. There’s no doubt about that. However when the style is so breathtaking and refreshing, the lack of substance is completely forgiven.

A team of elite Indonesian cops set out to clear a tower block of the murderous crime lord and his cannon fodder.

The key to the film’s success is in its careful construction of the action. Director Gareth Evans worked with main stars Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian to choreograph not only the action, but the camera movements. Having seen enough “shaky-cam” fight scenes in recent years, Evans’ direction is frenetic without being an incomprehensible mess. What plot and characterisation Evans does include is perfunctory but acts as a welcome pause between the action scenes. He manages to keeps things fresh by changing the action as the story progresses. The cops enter the building armed to the teeth but are forced to improvise as their ammunition runs dry.

Only the final bone crunching fight outstays its welcome and with Evans already working on a follow up, it remains to be seen if he can avoid treading old ground. For now, The Raid deserves to be celebrated as a wonderful piece of action cinema.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Films Of 2012 - My Top 10

Films Of 2012

My Top 10 films from 2012

I'm a huge fan of critical lists. It's perhaps unfair to compare films of different genres, but making a list forces you to evaluate the merits of each film in finer detail.

I've managed to see 35 films with a 2012 UK release date. Choosing the 10 films was fairly easy. There were a handful of films in contention for the last few places but the choice eventually became clear. It's not a definitive list either, as there are many films which I would've liked to see before the year's end.

I'll post a short review of each film for the next 10 days, starting tomorrow with my number 10 choice.