January was a patchwork of family films, some great some not so great (I’m looking at you 102 Dalmatians) but if you can’t watch films about fallen stars or fugitive rabbits at Christmas then when on Earth can you watch them? So here's a little, jagged and personal run down of what I saw this month.
I really don’t have much to say about 102 Dalmatians other than how much children’s films have improved since it was made; no more boinging sound effects, no more slipping on bananas. Hooray!
12 Years A Slave
Everyone should see 12 Years A Slave, it's raw, shocking and horribly difficult to watch at times but it's essential. After watching it I was struck by the realisation that a film like this has not been made before which is really, completely unbelievable.
A Touch of Larceny
Little known/much forgotten (what ever you prefer) A Touch of Larceny is quietly funny and features George Sanders; close your eyes and it's Shere Khan in all his velvety tones.
It's a Wonderful Life
My favourite film ever (which is a bit like saying the Beatles are your favourite band but I don't care). This bit above with the dancing and the swimming pool, "this is a very interesting situation", "Merry Christmas you old building and loan". Bliss. Still, I can't help but feel a little melancholic that George Bailey never makes it out of Bedford Falls. I like to hope that he uses a bit of that extra money to take a train journey somewhere, I'm sure noone would begrudge him it.
Comfortingly silly. I'm the biggest light-weight and hide behind my fingers at the slightest shadow so this was a bit of a fright-fest for me, but in that unconvincing, 80s gloopy blood way - so, basically, the best way.
I shamelessly love Stardust. I love the big Take That theme tune. I love Claire Danes (who doesn’t?). I love Mark Strong (again, who doesn’t?). Witches, a flying tall ship, a falling star, dastardly, fratricidal heirs... yep, what's not to love? Yes, it has been completely rewritten for the film but I kind of like that, it’s funnier and more feel good.
Star Trek: Into Darkness
I remember watching Star Trek on channel 4 in the evenings after school. Spock and Captain Kirk would beam in and out (apologies if this is completely incorrect Star Trek grammar) of interesting looking worlds and fight or befriend interesting looking beings. While I enjoyed looking at it I never really paid attention to what was happening. Anyway, from what I can see, this looks very much like those old ones I used to watch and now I'm wise enough to follow the story. Enjoyed it too, definite extra bonus.
The Wolf of Wall Street
Funny, loud, big, fast.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
I’m still in awe of this, even now it looks good and no one has ever come close to replicating it. Christopher Lloyd’s eyes popping out scared me senseless as a child; it’s one of those images that stayed with me, like in Ghostbusters when the red eyes shine out of the darkness. Seriously, the 80s made the best tangible monsters and bad guys, CGI just isn’t the same. OK rant over. Fun fact: I can’t watch this film without thinking of the time that my friend and I saw Bob Hoskins out and about and she mistook him for her uncle.
It's Pixar/Disney so of course it's sweet and heart-warming. But it's not UP. Then, I guess nothing else ever will be.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
OK, so confession time - I actually really enjoyed The Lord of the Rings when it was released. I saw all three in the cinema. I thought I'd like The Hobbit. I didn't much; all the craft that went into making the Hobbit timeless and visually identical LotR didn't work for me, it made the whole thing look dated. This second film was an improvement, not least thanks to Luke Evans and his back story.
Mirror Mirror is sickly sweet and very dull. It doesn't help that it was released alongside the far superior Snow White and the Huntsman.