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First Half Of 2014 Film Round-Up

My film plans never go to plan. Last year I said that this first 2014 round-up would likely feature Bollywood. It doesn’t. Truth is, going to the cinema is expensive, Bollywood is still a rarity on the big screen here, and the films recorded from the television (last year…) I just haven’t found time to watch. But I have managed to fit in a fair number of films in general these past six months. It definitely helped that I was always thinking about how many I wanted to see and that my boyfriend and I had a few film nights.

Here are the films I have watched so far this year for which it was my first time watching them.

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Belle (UK, 2013) – A white man brings his mixed-race daughter home but his family can’t stop her discovering the horrors those less fortunate than her face. I’m glad I was able to see this; I wasn’t sure it would be out in UK cinemas. It started a bit shaky and didn’t seem to be going anywhere in particular, but then yes, it did, and it was very successful. I thought as the father (figure) did that John Davinier was too emotional but other than that it was fantastic. And, whilst based on fact and thus limited in what it could present in terms of slavery and abolition themes, it worked with what it had to go on. The light moments were well done and the key difference chosen for the suitors was perfect. Not subtle in itself, only subtle in delivery, and it was the presentation of it that really helped the romantic aspect shine.

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Definitely, Maybe (USA, 2008) – On the eve of his divorce, a man whose daughter has just been taught about sex agrees to tell her his romantic history, but she has to guess which woman her mother is. I’d been wanting to see this film for quite a while and I loved it. It’s nowhere near a suspense, but the idea of having the mystery for the daughter (which of course makes it a mystery for the viewer) is compelling and it’s just an all-round good film. This is also the first time I’ve seen Ryan Reynolds and Rachel Weisz.

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To Catch A Thief (USA, 1955) – A former criminal is hired to, well, catch a thief, and finds himself working for a mother and daughter who may or may not be truthful themselves. Not bad, though rather confusing without subtitles for the French dialogue, and Grace Kelly’s character should’ve ensured the ‘hero’ didn’t get with her.

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The Emperor’s New Groove (USA, 2000) – An uncaring monarch gets a shock when he’s turned into a llama and unable to rule. Very much an adult-age Disney film, and pretty great, however there is a bit too much humour on occasion.

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Frozen (USA, 2013) – A princess who hasn’t seen her sister or anyone else for years finds herself searching for said sister when the young woman becomes queen and her curse is revealed. I liked it, but the hype had my expectations sky-high. This said, the humour was top-notch.

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Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past (USA, 2009) – A guy who disdains the idea of love and is always having one-night-stands gets visited by ghost and ‘ghost’ women on the eve of his brother’s wedding. There are some great concepts here, and I liked the way the story spun away from Dickens’s tale, but I found Connor’s sudden change unbelievable.

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My Wedding And Other Secrets (NZ, 2011) – An ethnically Chinese Kiwi and an ethnically white Kiwi meet at school and fall in love, but the girl’s traditional parents are not happy with the idea. Cringe-worthy at times, though funny and sweet; more drama series-like than a film. It is okay overall and that it’s based on a true story makes it easier to watch.

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My Week With Marilyn (UK/USA, 2011) – Based on a non-fictional account (truth contested), this is the story of Colin Clark’s time as Marilyn’s friend during the shooting of The Prince And The Showgirl. A documentary-like air, and rather slow and lacking a plot, but the actors are pretty good and the story revealing and kind of needed (James Joyce’s Ulysses is shown at least twice).

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Passport To Pimlico (UK, 1949) – After a group of boys accidentally blow up what was supposed to be a controlled explosion of a WWII bomb, a shop keeper discovers treasure beneath his London street and this in turn leads to the discovery that in the days of Charlemagne, Pimlico belonged to Burgundy. This information having been forgotten it is resurrected by the residents to both funny and grounding results. Pretty great, really, and particularly British.

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The Sapphires (Australia, 2010) – In the 1960s, a group of Aborigine girls defy racist opinions to become soul singers and entertain troops in Vietnam. Very good film; shame about the European/American DVD cover.

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Tea Fight (Dou Cha) (Japan/Taiwan, 2008) – A young woman seeks to reverse her family’s fortunes in business and to find out about the curses of the enemy’s tea. I had been wanting to see this film since pre-production but unfortunately it’s disappointing. It doesn’t know what it wants to be – it flicks between fantasy, slap-stick comedy, angst, and family drama, and whilst the acting is good enough the story is confusing and just that little bit silly.

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The Great Gatsby (USA, 2013) – Nick recounts his experience meeting the rich Gatsby who is in love with his, Nick’s, cousin, and had built up that wealth in order to get her back. I liked the use of music and some of the acting was superb, especially Di Caprio’s. But I thought the focus on the visuals and style detracted from the story and themes. I originally choose to watch this because of Amitabh Bachchan, so it was a pity his role was so short.

I think the best way to continue, at least for this year, is to have no plan. To just keep the idea that I want to watch films in mind. Whether that’ll help with my wish for continued and better diversity I don’t know, but I hope so.

What’s the best film you’ve seen recently?



July 4, 2014, 9:37 am

I really need to watch Belle.

As for best movie lately, eh, been pretty slow with those lately


July 4, 2014, 5:39 pm

I’m sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy The Great Gatsby I really enjoyed it but I love Baz Luhrmann’s visuals so I suppose I would! I’ve not watched that many films at home because I have too many TV shows on the go but I’ve had quite a few cinema trips. The best by far I’ve seen at the cinema was Gravity back in January. Amazing visuals and performance by Sandra Bullock. More recently I really enjoyed Noah and X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Literary Feline

July 4, 2014, 5:42 pm

I am not sure I have a favorite yet this year. I have been watching quite a few movies and haven’t kept very good track I’m afraid. I should keep a little journal of them. I always mean to review them and forget to.

Of those you’ve seen, I really liked Definitely, Maybe too. I wasn’t too keen on Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. I really liked Frozen, as did my husband and daughter. My daughter’s more enamored by the music, however. She loves to sing the songs from the film. She says she doesn’t want to watch the movie, whenever I ask though.


July 8, 2014, 10:37 am

I’m waiting for Belle to be released on DVD. I’m a sucker for any costume drama. It didn’t get great reviews here but I’m sure I’ll like it, nevertheless. I watched The Paperboy the other day, and I’m still thinking about it. I also watched Mud recently, which I thought was pretty good. I seem to be on a Matthew McConaughey thing at the moment. He was excellent in both films.


July 15, 2014, 10:54 pm

Blodeuedd: Belle’s become more popular than it seemed to be, which is great. I know those no-movie times well :)

Jessica: I thought I would like it more, I loved Romeo + Juliet but I guess this was just a bit too far out for me. Weird really, because I like art house and the colours of 90s Bollywood, but yes. I’ve heard about Gravity, and all good, though I’d forgotten about Noah. Maybe it’s the lack of television but it didn’t seem to be as advertised as it could have been (or perhaps the critics just didn’t like it?)

Literary Feline: I’ve made my tracking very simple – title, a new list each year, though I’ve completely forgotten a few times. Interesting that your daughter likes the songs but doesn’t want to watch it again, that said I guess if you prefer the songs waiting around for them can be boring. Loved the sandwiches, excellent line, so much in it.

Violet: I’ve only read a few blog reviews, but I can see why the reviews might’ve been mixed. It’s a good film but definitely could’ve been better. I saw Matthew McConaughey in… is it How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days? He was pretty good in that, it was just this Ghosts that wasn’t too great. Glad to hear The Paperboy and Mud are good.



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