2011: The Review

So, 2011: what about it, eh? *makes dismissive noise and rolls eyes* It’s been a bit of a year. Well, inspired by my friend Alex’s review of the year, I’ve decided to do something similar – though not in as much depth.

Here are a few things I’ve seen this year (films, books, TV etc… wherever the mood takes me. That’s the crazy kind of guy I am) which I think are worth watching. Note that not all of them came out this year, but this year is when I saw them:

Films

I will be honest: we haven’t been to the cinema since we went to see The King’s Speech ages ago. We rent DVDs from easyCinema (or LoveFilm, I think they’re basically the same) – hence not all of these are 2011 releases. Handily, you have a feature where you can rate a film after seeing it – so I’m going to post up a selection of the films I rated 4-5/5.

  • Speed Racer – saw this on Alex’s recommendation earlier this year, and immediately ordered the DVD. (Well, Blu-Ray, but for brevity I’ll stick with DVD). Great family film, made by the Wachowski brothers around the time that they made the original Matrix.
  • Beyond the Pole – interesting film, starring Stephen Mangan. Started out as a comedy but ended up slightly tragic, still with funny moments though. Worth watching.
  • The Social Network – fantastic work. Someone told me that the writer of this film writes dialogue like poetry. I’m not entirely sure that’s exactly right but I thought it was very insightful, well paced, well scripted and well acted.
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – original Swedish version. Lots of Saabs and Volvos being driven around 😉 This was really good – I don’t know what the new version is like, but this one is very thought-provoking. I like the ‘message’ as well, that the protagonist (the girl) does seem to change and find some kind of redemption.
  • The Ghost – good psychological thriller, very cleverly written.
  • Submarine – excellent film, written and directed by newcomer Richard Ayoade (‘Moss’ from The IT Crowd). Side splittingly funny in places but with some really tender moments – kind of like ‘Beyond the Pole’ in terms of being a comedy/drama, but probably funnier.
  • Things We Lost in the Fire – great story about a family shocked by the death of the father and them learning to be a family again – I’ve probably not sold it well but this one is actually quite heart-warming in the end.
  • Tangled – a film we watched on Alex’s recommendation. Great kids film (and for adults too) – it left me with a smile on my face at least!
  • Good Will Hunting – an old film I know, but if you haven’t seen it’s definitely worth watching. Ben Affleck plays his usual character, but Matt Damon is pretty good. And even Robin Williams isn’t annoying!

Once again plagiarising taking inspiration from Alex, one or two films I thought were absolutely awful:

  • Knight and Day – I remember seeing Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz advertising this on Top Gear a while back. I thought, “Hmm, looks pretty good, I’ll check it out.” I shouldn’t have bothered … it’s awful. Couldn’t really follow the plot, it wasn’t really funny… overall, not the best film ever 😉
  • The Other Guys – this film showed some promise, I do like Will Ferrell – but just couldn’t quite deliver. I just didn’t find it funny, it seemed to follow too much in the vein of those so-called “jokeless comedies“.
  • Four Lions – in some ways I didn’t want to put this in because it was pretty good, but at the end of the day I just found it didn’t really deliver. There were a few genius comedy moments, but apart from that it was a bit sad and left me feeling … well, a bit empty. (Kind of like 500 Days of Summer last year – although Four Lions was definitely funnier.)

Other Stuff

I don’t really read much in terms of novels (most of my novel reading has been in the form of free books on the Kindle, mainly Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories). I don’t want to start recommending Christian books on here at the moment, I might do that in a separate post.

We also don’t really watch that much TV, but here are a few bits of TV which come to mind:

  • Doctor Who – really enjoyed this year’s season. Matt Smith and Stephen Moffat at their best I think.
  • Frozen Planet – amazing TV. The BBC have excelled themselves once again.
  • Rev – despite my somewhat negative review, it’s well worth watching!
  • Death in Paradise – great fun, somewhat mindless but comic fun starring Ben Miller. Feel-good TV that hits the right notes for me.
  • Outnumbered – I was a tad disappointed with the most recent series, it just felt like the kids were getting a bit too old. Part of the charm of the series was their innocence, and I think that has been somewhat lost now.

I think that’s enough from me rambling on anyway. I will now stop pretending I know anything about films or TV and move on…

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