Remembering excellent films of 2014

Boyhood (2014)

This coming-of-age by Richard Linklater charts the growing years of fictional protagonist Mason, from the age of 5 to 18. I found the running time a tad too long, even for a time-lapse type movie that took 12 years to complete. Still, overall excellent because it is classic Linklater — full of mysterious, tentative moments and uncertain conversations between such likeable people.

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Guardians of the Galaxy

This film is fairly divisive and I’m aware of the naysayers that find those “lame jokes trashy”, “character development problematic” and “dialogue full of clichés”. In defense of these three major complaints, I say well of course it’s not the funniest film there is, but no less humorous than any other film in the superhero genre. Pretty damn entertaining on the overall and casting did a great job with Quill the Starlord.

What I find earnest about this film, is James Gunn’s intentional treatment of the space western being a different beast entirely from conventional superhero flicks. Whether in conscious revolt to self-important straight-up Marvel movies, OR mere satisfaction of style and whim consistent with his career trajectory as an indie writer-director of B movies (Dawn of the Dead, Slither) I can’t say with certainty. Maybe a combination of both. With that in mind, is James Gunn officially an auteur? Yes. Does being one also make him an artist? Maybe, maybe not. Anyway, considering Kubrick’s axiom that “a film is or should be, more like music than fiction.” I’m inclined to agree with all final verdicts that declare “Guardians of the Galaxy being an unpretentious, fun and likeable mess.”

Too many cling to the naive belief that a movie rises and falls with character development — not necessarily. While it is okay to care about character development, over insistence is to place too much emphasis on just one element and overlook the rest.

What matters is the overall design works in favour of story material using suitable language. GotG is geared towards the edgy, cheeky and comical. Bunch of goofs and misfits become friends and save the galaxy.

It’s a real shame that clichés in the film intentionally deployed before being voluntarily jettisoned by self-awareness midpoint (as a form of comic device) has completely escaped the naysayers.

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I’m So Excited (Los amantes Pasajeros) 

This latest offering by Pedro Almodóvar is an unbridled, satirical film with flashes of political and sexual humour. In many ways, I’m So Excited is a valuable testament to the hedonistic cultural wave of La Movida Madrileña (the famous Spanish 80s) where freedom of expression, transgression of taboos imposed by the Franco Regime, use of recreational drugs all exist to celebrate a new spirit of freedom in the streets of Madrid.

Far from existing in a farcical vacuum, it would be prudent to consider the historical undertones in this excellent film — it is a subtle reminder of how far the Spanish identity has since evolved in post-Franco years.

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Rush (2013)

This sexy sports drama by Ron Howard is all about risk taking. Terrific, terrific photography by Anthony Dod Mantle in the race track sequences.

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Blue is the Warmest Colour (La vie d’Adèle)

Léa Seydoux gave a really intense performance as the sophisticated, blue-haired Emma. Amazing movie reminiscent of the painful longing so beautifully captured in Brokeback Mountain.

LANGUAGE IN FRENCH & ENGLISH

★★★

Other films I’ve seen that fall under this category: Before Midnight, Blade Runner (1982), Blue Jasmine, Inside Llewyn DavisPacific Rim, Philomena, The Heat, Mud (2012)The Raid 2: Beranda, The Selfish Giant, Spring Breakers (2012)The Wicker Man (1973), The Wolf of Wall Street, Threads (1984)

Movie Meter Count: 29

a list of good-mediocre movies seen in 2014…

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