With the advent of this blog’s ten year anniversary, I thought it’d be fun to compile a Top Ten based on the end-of-year Top Tens for all ten years of this blog (2007-2016). So below you’ll find what I consider to be the best movies I’ve seen that were released in the last ten years or thereabouts. I’ve taken into consideration that certain movies I originally loved have aged better than others and that I’ve also grown to appreciate certain movies more since I originally saw them.
Has it really been that long? Today marks this blog’s 10th anniversary since my very first post. I may not be all that popular compared to other blogs and I suppose my blog’s subjects are not that unique to grab a big audience, and well I don’t pay for advertisers to help boost my views either. Yet I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy writing this bog, sharing my opinions and what’s going on in my life. I hope whomever takes the time to read anything I post, takes something away from it, either interest for a movie they had been wanting to see, discovering a movie they may not have previously been aware of, or just enjoy my writing style and what I have to say.
A big thank you goes out to regular readers and subscribers for your continued support. I may be a small-time blogger but I’m dedicated and I appreciate every comment and view and like that I receive. Keep coming back and I’ll keep posting. Don’t forget you can also find me on Twitter and Facebook(<<< click)which you can also find on the panel to your right >>>
Although I enjoyed the original 1991 anime of the same name by Mamoru Oshii, I always felt like something was missing from it, that it wasn’t the complete package. So the prospect of a live action remake was for once, intriguing. Scarlett Johansson plays a cybernetic agent who’s only human part is her brain and fragmented memories of who she used to be. Other than that she’s a highly skilled killing machine, who’s agency ‘Section 9’ is killed in when a cyber terrorist begins killing various members of a robotics organization by using innocent people and hacking into their minds.
This took a little getting into. Translating a cyber-punk future Tokyo-like aesthetic to live action takes no end of CGI and visual flair, and initially it’s overwhelming, all weird holograms in the streets and bizarre costumes and gadgets. Yet once the story kicks in I really began to get absorbed in this world. Johansson is aided well by several recognisable faces, especially Juliette Binoche (The English Patient) as a scientist and veteran Japanese actor ‘Beat’ Takeshi Kitano (Battle Royal). Johansson herself is decent as a character trying to figure out what it’s like to be human and adjust to her robotic body, and she conveys the not-quite-human personality eerily well. The movie is also filled with several action sequences, although these are a little hit and miss – full of cool looking imagery for the trailer or poster, but fail to flow as well as say, The Matrix – there’s a little too much style and choppy editing to fully make them ‘zing’. Also the suit that Johansson’s character wears to go invisible … I’m still undecided if it looked sexy or silly (the original movie’s was much more skin-like and could easily be seen as naked). Such a look was probably avoided however to maintain that 12A/PG-13 rating (another issue that impacts the action).
Thankfully where it all leads is much more fleshed out and satisfying than the original movie and has more closure for the lead character. So for the always difficult task of translating anime to a mainstream audience, director Rupert Sanders has done a commendable if somewhat rough around the edges job, that’s still worth your time if you like your sci-fi with style cranked up to 11.
Back in the day I was confident that the Japanese version of The Ring (aka Ringu) was the scariest movie I had ever seen. However in subsequent years the reputation of Jap horror and it’s uprising has been diluted by a series of inferior American remakes and over-use of some of its tropes (there’s always a dead girl with long hair over her face). So my attention waned. Yet recently I’d been craving that ‘something special’ I had originally stumbled upon, and so I found myself lured back when I saw this get the special edition treatment.
Coming from the director of the Ring movies, Hideo Nakata my hopes were high and although I’m aware of the U.S. remake of the same name I’ve never bothered to see it. Here we have a fairly familiar story of a single mother and her little girl, who move into a run down apartment building during a messy custody battle between the woman and her ex-husband. Whilst there, it becomes clear there’s a strange presence, seemingly linked to a patch of water coming through the ceiling of the apartment. Set in an eerie pastel-grey coloured building, the atmosphere is one of stillness and gently growing dread. Performances on a whole are decent but it’s the story that intrigues, helped in no small way by Nakata’s masterly direction that fills the rather slow pace with discomfort and genuine creepiness. I’ve said it before but something that is sorely lost when such movies get remade, is a sense of their setting, something that works particularly well here. Something about how Japanese actors portray themselves, their formalities and customs and how they interact with one another can be ‘eerie’ at times, and it’s no different here. The mystery at the heart of this is a good one and builds to an intense climax with at least one truly terrifying moment. It may not be that far removed from what Nakata did in Ring, but how he makes something as familiar as water, constant rain or an over-flowing bath unnerving, is an accomplishment in it’s self. One of the other great Jap horrors you might have missed … that’s well worth seeking out.
As expected from Arrow Video this is another packed Blu-ray release. Image quality is a little underwhelming whilst clean but very soft, seeming to lack fine detail overall but does it’s job for what is purposely a dreary looking movie. I should add that on the whole the subtitles are good but occasionally white backgrounds can cause some of them to become less clear to read. Sound is much more impressive and helps build up atmosphere with good separation to make things like running footsteps and dripping water very effective. We also get a detailed booklet in the case as well as the Blu-ray & DVD. Extras consist of several featurettes including interviews with cast, as well as a couple more pieces, one being a new interview with Hideo Nakata, discussing his work and themes. No commentary isn’t all that surprising, and along with dual sided cover art, this is another decent release.
A down on his luck busker who’s also a former drug addict, finds his life transformed when he’s befriended by a ginger cat. This heart-warming true story follows the story of James Bowen, a guys initially living on the streets, scraping together money by performing with his guitar who has also been disowned by his father (Anthony Head) but finds solace in a mysterious cat who helps people see the good in him … including a neighbourhood girl (Ruta Gedmintas).
I loved how this movie played out. Initially you’re watching the fly-on-the-wall story of this guy, a recovering drug addict, no-hoper who has a bit of a talent for busking. However the inclusion of the cat, a lovely ginger tom could have tuned this into a cheese-fest but is handled well, including clever ‘from-the-cat’s-viewpoint’ perspectives that help to communicate the bond that is formed. However this doesn’t sugar-coat the harsh reality of homelessness or drug addiction either, despite never getting all that hard-hitting. Therefore this is generally a feel-good journey and performances across the board are solid, especially an easy to like Luke Treadaway as James who’s plight thoroughly grabbed me. I also should add this brought a tear to my eye towards the end, and is filled with many charming and touching moments that really hit home. It’s the sort of movie that also makes you think differently and open your eyes.
When you consider that all this happened as well, it’s quite remarkable and made me believe that in some shape or form, there’s a guardian angel out there for all of us. If you haven’t guessed by now, I loved this probably more than expected. A must-see.