Best Films Of 2021 and Screen Time December 2021

And so another year comes to an end, this time with a bin full of (mercifully, negative) lateral flow tests. Despite a few difficulties along the way, the film review project survived intact: if we count this post, then every single movie I watched, either at home or at the cinema (when they re-opened) has been written about in some way on this blog.

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House Of Gucci, Spencer, Respect and others – Screen Time November 2021

Here’s one way to sum up November’s cinematic delights: four films about fascinating, real women, and two films about equally fascinating, fictional women. Tellingly, the latter were far more interesting than the former, with one important exception, as I’ll describe in a moment.

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Dune, The Silence Of The Lambs, County Lines and others – Screen Time October 2021

Not the cheeriest of months… well, as long as we don’t count the Paw Patrol movie. Although I am partial to kids’ fare (which, in my view, requires extraordinary skill to pull off well), I must point out that this particular cinematic offering was enforced viewing as part of a childcare stint. But rules is rules, so it must be recorded on these pages. Mind you, it was a more-than-passable time filler, with plenty of vivid, screen-popping visuals to entertain my young companion. It didn’t move me to explore the eponymous pooches’ TV output, although I was pleased to have the opportunity to discover what’s fed to little ones on the small screen these days. But more than anything else, I was intrigued by the curious accent choices of the characters: many spoke with identifiably British voices, but while using American vocab and construction. Some bizarre form of cultural imperialism in action?

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Annette, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and A Clockwork Orange – Screen Time September 2021

If September’s film viewing was bound together by an overarching theme, it was the idea of integrity. In Annette – Leos Carax’s memorably surreal musical – the main characters grappled with their attempts to remain true to their artistic lives – and their splintering selves – while singing their way through some deceptively banal songs. (Do banalities always achieve profundity if they’re repeated often enough?) Adam Driver was superb here, presenting an image of destructive masculinity that spanned the full range from barely-moving subtlety to limb-flinging ostentatiousness.

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Another Round, Supernova and Summer Of Soul – Screen Time July (and August) 2021

Things must be going back to normal if there were only three cinema outings for me in July (and none in August, incidentally). I pray this resumption of regular routines isn’t a short-lived reprieve and that we don’t return to the world of restrictions in the autumn. But no point worrying about that at the moment. 

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Tina, Ammonite, Midnight Cowboy and others – Screen Time March 2021

Through no conscious planning, March turned out to be a time for extraordinary women, at least as far as film-viewing was concerned. The month’s first movie – Pieces Of A Woman (dir. Kornel Mundruczo) – certainly didn’t shy away from placing the female experience at the centre of its focus, but it was a tediously unconvincing affair, with one of the most laughable childbirth sequences of recent years. The female with whom I watched it doubted whether anyone involved in the production had ever stepped inside a delivery room. 

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News Of The World, I Care A Lot, Mank and others – Screen Time February 2021

Looking back at the list of films I managed to notch up in February, I’m struck by how many of them veered towards the bizarre. For instance, there was The Prom, Ryan Murphy’s colourful film version of the Broadway musical about celebrity types injecting an acceptance of diversity into small-town America. The shopping-mall-set rendition of the Bible-basher-bashing Love Thy Neighbour (“There’s no way to separate / Which rules you can violate / Let’s hope you don’t masturbate”) certainly scored high on the weirdness meter. But it was several notches below the outright bonkers-ness of Barb And Star Go To Vista Del Mark (Josh Greenbaum) which featured, amongst many other surprises, a talking crab, friendly sea spirits and the sight of Jamie Dornan delivering a (convincing!) Eurovision-style song-and-dance number containing the immortal lyrics, “Seagulls in the sand, can you hear my prayer?” Dornan was perhaps the best thing in this ludicrously enjoyable romp, striking just the right balance between straight and silly.

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Le Mans ’66, The White Tiger, Assassins and others – Screen Time January 2021

Seven films in one month is quite a poor achievement for me, and as I type these words, I’m trying to work out why I didn’t treat myself to more in-house cinematic outings. But the reasons aren’t forthcoming. Was it all to do with the extra-grey, Covid-enhanced January malaise by which so many of us seemed to be dragged down? Or was I just a bit too busy with writing commitments? I feel certain that, had we been in the ‘normal world’ (what does that even mean any more?) I would have managed to go to the cinema on more than seven occasions, but in the all-pervading spirit of counting our blessings, I suppose I ought to declare that seven is better than none.

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Best Films Of 2020

Surprise, surprise, my attempts to keep this blog updated with regular posts in 2020 failed. Mind you, I can’t take all the blame this time. A certain microscopic nasty caused what we might call ‘some disruption’ to all our lives last year, and although I had (and continue to have) a great deal to say about the situation, much of it was probably best kept to myself. Or, to be more precise: best relegated to the fiction-forming part of my brain, ready to emerge years from now in a short story or novel.

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My Favourite Films Of 2019 + The End Of The Reviews

The year ends, and so does my little film review project. It started with a pope so perhaps it’s appropriate that it finished with two. Many thanks to those of you who took the time to read these little scribblings. Below I’ve put together a list of my favourite movies of the year. As I watched 71 in total (the lowest number for the last … Continue reading My Favourite Films Of 2019 + The End Of The Reviews