My four favourite films that I’ve seen at the cinema in 2014, usually it’s a top five but here its four, in honour of Germany’s fourth star:
1. In Order of Disappearance – I was resigned to waiting for the DVD to see this, so it was a pleasant surprise to find it was at the cinema, albeit only for six days which was a shame, since I would have liked to see it again. A dark Norwegian revenge thriller with a little something extra beneath the surface and Stellan Skarsgard and Bruno Ganz are in it, plus a few moments of that deliciously dark Scandinivian humour, what more could you want? I don’t want to repeat myself, not when I’m not sure that I can sum it up any better than what I wrote not long after seeing the film: https://kretschmannland.wordpress.com/2014/09/18/in-order-of-disappearance/
2. What We Do in the Shadows – I just saw this yesterday, it’s about a group of vampires who have a film crew following them around in order to make a documentary about them. It was a riot, very funny, lots of good vampire jokes. One of them wanting to go to a party dressed as Blade for example. All kinds of funny situations that you just never would have thought of, like a 3000 year old vampire called Peter having his teeth brushed for him by one of the younger vampires. Or a vampire who refuses to do his share of the dishes and leaves blood encrusted dishes around the place. Of course my favourite moment was the scene in German, and the pedant in me enjoying correcting the slight but important (at least to me) translation error. I liked that the film starts out as if it’s a real documentary and the format is maintained throughout the film, including towards the end when the cameraman is attacked by a werewolf and we see him being torn to shreds through the lens of his own camera. The fact that it feels like a real documentary just adds to the humour. As for why it makes my list, it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen, it’s weird and different and made me laugh a lot, which not a lot of films that are meant to be funny do.
3. Frank – Frank is another weird one. A bit too strange for some people I think, definitely not something that appeals to everyone’s tastes. I’m not a big fan of Michael Fassbender, I think he’s a little overrated, but he was brilliant in this. My favourite scene was him and Dom talking when he comes up with the idea of saying his facial expressions out loud, that was genius. I can’t really explain how or why it worked, I’ve seen the film three times (twice at the cinema) and each time it has defied any real explanation. There’s just something about the band and how their for lack of better word “craziness” feeds off of each other. I enjoyed seeing Dom put in his place at the end, after his earlier musings about why he couldn’t have anything dark in his past, when he asked Frank’s parents about what caused his illness. It’s good for something to dispel the myth that mental illness equals genius, or to be more precise that they are related in some way, that such an illness always comes with such a talent or a gift. Besides isn’t it kind of offensive, like implying that their talent is because of their illness, not something that they are good at and worked at?
Random tangent, one of the things that amused me greatly at the time (because of what I called the Kretschmann Connection) was that when Dom is getting tweets about where Frank might be, he gets one from a call girl agency located on the Volga. This amused me because the Volga is a river in eastern Russia which flows into Stalingrad, the Kretschmann Connection needing no further explanation there.
4. I couldn’t decide about my fourth favourite, at first I put The Rover here, then I changed it to Rush. I know it’s cheating a little since Rush was not released in 2014, but I did see at the cinema this year as part of the Bafta tour. I still think The Rover is an excellent film (as is Animal Kingdom) it’s just that Rush is special, even if I am still disappointed in Daniel Brühl. Rush is just perfection, it doesn’t get anything wrong. It’s top class in every aspect. The acting is first rate, Daniel is just as perfect as anyone could ever be in any film ever. Chris Hemsworth is equally as terrific as James Hunt. Also great is Pierfrancesco Favino as Clay Regazzoni, he manages to hold your attention which is quite something given that most of his scenes are with Daniel. One of the first things I thought after the film was, why have I never heard of this guy. I just looked him up and it turns out I had seen him in two films, World War Z and Angels and Demons. In the first he was W.H.O doctor, there quite a few of those, so impossible to remember him. I don’t even remember seeing Peter Capaldi. Though funnily enough I remember the German one, Moritz Bleibtreu. As for Angels and Demons, I will never submit myself to that borefest again. I only did the first time because Stellan Skarsgard, Nikolj Lie-Kaas and Thure Lindhart were in it.
Anyway, back to Rush, the film itself is a bit like Niki Lauda, to the point with not a wasted word. There were some areas that could have been covered a little better, their marriages for example, neither Marlene nor Suzy were well used and their characters were a little underdeveloped. But personally I don’t mind that so much, the film was about Lauda and Hunt’s rivalry and racing, and a film can’t always cover everything that happens. Anyway to cover all of the intrigues that surrounded the two of them, would take a whole mini-series. I will concede that it’s a shame that Alexandra Maria Lara didn’t get more to do.
Forget about Daniel winning the Oscar for best supporting actor (which he should have done) the people responsible for the makeup should have won one for their work. Before the accident, their work was great, afterwards it was incredible.
I think the best thing about Rush is that in all the excitement and drama of the track there is room for the little moments, Niki and Marlene’s exchanged glances as he gets out of the car and decides to stop to name one. There are plenty more but I haven’t seen it in a while, that moments there sticks in my mind, I really liked that and think about it often. And little details, like James Hunt going around with no shoes on. The film somehow manages to find a way to please diehard F1 fans and people who have no clue or interest in the sport at the same time. On that count it did it’s job a little too well, with some people pointing out that it makes F1 look more exciting and action packed than it actually is.
Other than being a truly terrific film, the reason Rush is on my list is that I really liked Niki Lauda. I knew who he was before the film but I knew nothing of what a character he was back then and how interesting he is. I loved his blunt “I don’t care what you think” style. I loved him in the car with Regazzoni and the scene where Marlene and him break down and he ends up driving an Italian’s car way too fast. My absolute favourite is when he drives a Ferrari for the first time, that scene is just genius.
If the list had been five and not four, either The Rover or The Unbeatables would have been fifth.