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Christmas Catch-up: Films

Posted: December 26th, 2009, by Marceline Smith

At once a beautiful (mostly) CGI-free homage to the thoughtful sci-fi of the Sixties and Seventies and a series of curveballs intended to keep aficionados of the same on their toes.  Duncan Jones has proven himself to be a talent to watch, and Sam Rockwell’s performance as a lonely lunar miner about to come to the end of his contract is a career best. (Alex McChesney)

I really enjoyed Duncan Jones’ Moon, a film less about science fiction than about loneliness and what it means to be a human being. (Chris Summerlin)

Judging by current Cinema, the two most popular movie monsters these days are vampires and zombies.  My distaste for vampires is well-known, but I’ve always had a certain deep-seated affection for the cannibalistic consumer of brains and flesh known as the zombie.  Perhaps it’s because I, stumbling aimlessly through life, often feel like a zombie.  Regardless, I’ve eagerly lapped up the cinema exploits of zombies for years, from George Romero’s classic ‘… Dead’ trilogy, to their reinvention in the hands of recently deceased director Dan O’Bannon’s ‘Return of the Living Dead’, to more modern interpretations such as the stupendous horror/farce ‘Shaun of the Dead’. In recent years, however, even I’ve gotten a little tired of zombies.  We all know the routine – some military experiment goes awry or some strange disease spreads across the land and pretty soon the dead are clawing their way out of the grave to rip open people’s bellies and chew on their entrails.  Because of this, I almost didn’t even bother to see ‘Zombieland’.  This would have been a great personal loss.  While I won’t go as far as a friend of mine who claimed it to be the greatest of all zombie movies, ‘Zombieland’ is pretty damn good.  Part of its success is the fact that it presumes its audience is familiar with the zombie mythos – it doesn’t even bother with setting up the zombie apocalypse; out of the gate we land right in the middle of the human/zombie battle sure to soon be raging on our streets.  From there the movie mixes together a clever combination of intriguing characters (Jesse Eisenberg’s ‘Columbus’ is like a young Woody Allen caught in a zombie Holocaust), snappy dialogue and plenty of blood and gore.  On top of all that, the female lead is my most recent cinema crush, Emma Stone.  Such enticing ingredients combined with a great cameo appearance by Bill Murray, are enough to make you forget all about those ‘Twilight’ vamps. (Wil Forbis)

The Hangover
Nothing stands out. The Hangover was good, childish fun though. (Simon Minter)

Shanghai Kiss
I rent DVDs from LoveFilm and they have always been awesome at sending me stuff from the top of my list but for some reason they’ve gone a bit mental lately and have sent me random things from way down. I was initially a bit unhappy about this but it turned out good as this is now one of my new favourite films. It’s basically a Lost in Translation for China but with half an American high school movie thrown in and Miles from LOST. I love teenage high school movies, I love China and I love Ken Leung so hurrah. It’s actually adorable – you should see it. (Marceline Smith)

The Dirty Three
I also heartily recommend the DVD documentary on the Dirty Three even though it came out some time ago. It’s a little heavily weighted towards recent footage (understandably because no one gave a shit enough to film them at the start) but it’s a wonderful tale. (Chris Summerlin)

Paranormal Activity
Among the constant flow of Hostel sequels and shitty Michael Bay remakes, a proper, old-school  – and excellent – horror. Hurrah for that. Paranormal Activity is basically the movie equivalent of a rollercoaster ride, and I’ve never seen a cinema audience so nervy watching a film. It’s expertly, artfully crafted, observing the conventions of the genre when it needs to, and subverting them when it feels like it. The pace is excellent, the characters wholly believable and it understands that the best horror always takes place off the screen. (Stuart Fowkes)

In The Loop
This has been an amazing year for movies but the one I have watched over and over has been In The Loop which also gives me the opportunity to crowbar some gushing about The Thick Of It into this entry. Basically I wish I was Malcolm Tucker, fearless and seemingly without conscience, a man so focused on his aims he appears to suffer no remorse at the hands of fools. If only I could be so single-minded. Even better though his language and swearing is a pure symphony of poetic bile. This was a movie and TV show that required much concentration to which the rewards felt almost infinite as an edutainment tool. Now just don’t get Toby and Olly mixed up. (JGRAM)

World’s Greatest Dad
You’ve seen Death To Smoochy, right? The last truly good Robin Williams movie? Well, I have good news. There’s a new black comedy starring Robin Williams and it’s a bazillion times better than Death To Smoochy. Crazy, I know. And even crazier is that it’s written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait. It’s about Williams who plays a single father attempting to be a published author with a teenage son (played by Daryl Sabara, the curly haired redhead from those Spy Kids movies) who is into any and every kind of crazy ass fetish porn, and the two of them have some, to put it lightly, relationship issues. Actually, the problem is that they’re both huge ass holes. Watching Williams being such a prick is so entertaining. I honestly can’t remember the last time I laughed so long and hard (yup) when watching a movie. I literally had to rewind it a least a dozen times to catch new jokes that I missed while laughing at the old ones. There are some pretty serious parts, though. At times, it’s just fucking tragic. But I applaud the movie that makes me laugh my ass off at the most horribly depressing things. Which might be the reason World’s Greatest Dad slipped by relatively unnoticed. It is truly unique in it’s comedy darkness. My guess is not everyone can handle that sort of humor. But I’m sure most of you can. Especially since there weren’t too many truly fantastic movies this year (only Star Trek and Crank 2 immediately come to mind). And for one of them to have such a strong performance from an increasingly shitty actor makes me so happy. I can’t think of a single reason not to see this movie. (Justin Snow)

Marceline Smith

Marceline is the fierce, terrifying force behind diskant.net, laughing with disdain as she fires sharpened blades of sarcasm in all directions. Based in Scotland, her lexicon consists of words such as 'jings', 'aboot' and 'aye': our trained voice analysts are yet to decipher some of the relentless stream of genius uttered on a twenty-four hour basis. Marceline's hobbies include working too much and going out in bad weather.


1 Response to Christmas Catch-up: Films

  1. wil

    Yeah — I’ve heard good things about “world’s greatest dad.” If you like that, you should check out “shakes the clown,” the first movie directed by Bobcat.