A Savagely Partial Look At The Films Of 2010
Reviews of the year are fun, especially when delivered with authority and comprehensiveness. Let’s see how I get on with neither.
These are the films I’ve seen that were released in 2010. I’d like to have seen more, but hey, I’d also like to earn loads of money and to have a longer inside leg measurement (seriously, I’m 6’0 and mine’s the same as my 5’1 wife, which makes buying trousers a nightmare).
To January, then, which saw the release of Ethan Hawke-faced vampire dystopia Daybreakers. The film was directed by the Spierig brothers, who previously made low-budget Aussie horror Undead which I saw at the Leeds Film Festival a while back and is difficult to describe but involves a bearded fisherman with loads of guns fighting legions of alien zombies. Daybreakers is both more serious and much stupider, a canny ‘vamps are the norm’ premise tossed away by it being quite boring. But it did fit nicely with January’s less-than-welcoming ‘the fucking world is ending’ vibe, which also included Mel Gibson and Martin Campbell’s radiation-flavoured thriller Edge Of Darkness (not shit, but falling-to-bits Mel and his rubbery Baahston accent aren’t a patch on Bob Peck’s morosely vengeful force of Yorkshire awesome in the original BBC series, also directed by Campbell). Then, in ascending order of apocalypse, there was The Book Of Eli, which did an enjoyable line in post-civilisation Western but (spoilers) pulled the rug with a dash of Zatoichi and a big bunch of Jesus, and The Road, which perfected a strain of hopelessness so pure it can only be applauded through morbid terror shakes.
To put smiles back on faces February served up a big plate of shit in the form of From Paris With Love, which had John Travolta as a shaved racist bear beating up all the Chinamen in Paris with Jonathan Rhys Meyers and his stupid girl eyes. Percy Jackson & The Trolley Of Cocks was dreary but functional, while The Crazies was meaty and a bit brilliant (it’s best if you imagine Timothy Olyphant’s Sheriff is actually Seth Bullock somehow shifted through time to smack loonies in the chops). Lastly, Shutter Island was part one in 2010’s successful two-part gambit to stop me hating Leonardo DiCaprio. I didn’t love it until someone pointed out to me recently that I was stupid and the end was much better than I thought.
March was hardly shit at all. Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon reteamed for the very un-Bourne-like Green Zone, which is an impressive thriller but also not as good at the war-on-the-ground stuff as Generation Kill and with an un-shocking conspiracy core. Dreamworks released How To Train Your Dragon, which is their best animated film by a mile and not just because it includes a character called Stoik The Vast (although quite a lot because of that). Then there was also Hot Tub Time Machine, which was sort of good during the John Cusack fuzzy nostalgia romance scenes and the funniest moment of which wasn’t the Michael Jackson joke seen a billion times in the trailers but Crispin Glover’s good-natured “No, I’ll rape you!”. Also I would marry Lizzy Caplan.
I like Sam Worthington, but April made me ask ‘Why the fuck do I like Sam Worthington?’ thanks to the stupendously balls Clash Of The Titans. There wasn’t even a fucking mechanical owl. The Losers was exactly stupid enough to be good fun and featured the best use of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ since Alvin And The Chipmunk’s 2008 album Undeniable, while Centurion was a big-fisted Roman adventure about running away from really angry Picts that disappeared quicker than it deserved. Pick of the month was Kick-Ass, which proved that Nic Cage is still the fucking man, and made a confusingly awesome superhero out of a small, violent girl.
My birthday is in May. When I was 11 I went to see Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves five times at the Chatham Cannon cinema, and in this regard the Russell Crowe/Ridley Scott Robin Hood update felt a lot like being given a shit sandwich as a birthday present. It headbutted history square in its know-it-all face and expected us to be roused by proto-socialism and a dreary, brick-brained Hollywood version of authenticity. TRY BEING FUCKING EXCITING. Watching Cate Blanchett’s army of children riding onto the Dover beach on miniature fucking horses at the movie’s close (something I may well have dreamt) is the closest I’ve ever been to having a stroke. Luckily the same weekend away in Leeds during which I saw Robin Hood also including a viewing of Four Lions, which is dark and smart and funny and all the other good things people have said.
In June Noel Clarke’s 4,3,2,1 performed the magic trick of making hot girls getting their clothes off dull by smothering it in dated Tarantino showiness, while Black Death performed the equally magic trick of being a clever and forcefully muddy medieval action movie made for very little pounds but still good enough to be mentioned alongside The Wicker Man (not the bees one). Get Him To The Greek proved that Russell Brand is probably funny enough to be a star (I really want the corridor line to be improvised) and The Killer Inside Me was beautiful but, appropriately enough, cold and difficult to love.
July was bloody full of movies. Predators almost repeated Aliens’ trick of putting an ‘S’ on the end and being awesome, though it was let down by Laurence Fishburne’s best-fed-fugitive-of-all-time and the fact I still really can’t look at Shane from The Shield since (spoilers) he blew up Lem with a grenade. Most of you probably think the original Cats & Dogs is shit, but time served at Sheffield Odeon tells me it stands up to being watched dozens of times way better than Planet Of The Cocking Apes, a fact which makes the dreadfulness of sequel The Revenge Of Kitty Galore a sad-faced affair not even salvageable by the beautiful Jack McBrayer.
The new Karate Kid mostly worked even though it’s not about karate and it’s an hour too long (Will Smith’s kid is super charismatic and also remarkably bendy) and The A-Team similarly didn’t cock up its own update of an ‘80s thing, at least not until the so-bland-you’re-forgetting-it-as-it-actually-happens finale by which point Charlto Copley had run clean away with the film anyway. The films which won 2010 for July were Toy Story 3 – masterful rather than exhilarating, but masterful isn’t bad – and Inception, which was exhilarating if only to watch an extraordinary amount of money being spent on a film filled with ambition and ideas. DiCaprio’s sadness in the quieter moments stopped me from hating him onscreen, and the year’s best line is Tom Hardy’s wonderfully delivered “You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.”
In a year filled with dick-waving special forces manfilms, August’s release of The Expendables really should have been a glorious steroidal coronation. In the event it was more like watching the dwindling, sad-faced Proper War veterans on a sombre memorial march, albeit a march that detonates impressively at the end. Luckily Scott Pilgrim Vs The World arrived to show everyone that fights are much better when the loser explodes into coins, and that, barring a few clumsy kinks, it’s totally possible to genre-fuse hipster romance with videogame metareality and kung-fu revenge. It also had the best trailer of the year by fucking miles.
Luckily for everyone who agrees with me that this post is too long, I didn’t see much after August except The Other Guys (best before Will Ferrell broke out the pimp bullshit, with Mark Wahlberg ace throughout and particularly here) and the I Spit On Your Grave remake, which is proficient but hateful, like – well, like a film that gawps lingeringly at a brutal rape as an excuse to then enjoy the victim tearing the cocks off her attackers in increasingly intricate ways.
The things I feel most stupid about having missed this year are The Social Network and The American. Things not released this year which I have also watched for the first time include The Lavender Hill Mob (the best of all the Ealing comedies I have caught up on), the actually-astonishing-I’m-not-just-using-that-as-a-word Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, and nasty Sean Connery thriller The Offence.
Good work, 2010.