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My Best of 2011: Super 8 & Understanding as a Child…

It’s that time of the year. To celebrate 2011, and the countdown to 2012, I’m going to count down my own twelve favourite films of the year, one a day until New Year’s Eve. I’m also going to talk a bit about how or why I chose them, and perhaps what makes this list “my” best of 2011, rather than any list claiming to be objective.

Super 8 is number ten. Check out my original review here.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

– Corinthians 13:11

It seems easy to lambast modern mainstream cinema as devoid of originality or of new ideas. It seems that every other film is a sequel or a prequel or a remake of another film, with Hollywood seemingly eager to cannibalise itself. I’ll concede that there are more franchises than before, but I also think that indie and original cinema is thriving in its own environment. I’d make the case that there’s room for all sorts of film, and that originality and quality don’t necessarily equate. Still, I doubt that will appease too many of the people who are sick of “the same old nonsense”, and I imagine that those people will cynically pick apart Super 8 as exactly the sort of copycat movie that demonstrates everything that’s wrong with modern cinema.

Naturally, I take a different approach, even if I can concede it’s hardly the most original of films. Then again, I’d make the case that this is precisely the appeal.

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Non-Review Review: Monsters

At this stage it seems almost pointless to reflect on how impressive Monsters is from a purely film-making perspective. Filmed on a ridiculously tiny budget, the film features a wonderful epic scale, beautiful locations and not-half-bad special effects (they’re more The Mist than Avatar, but let’s not complain). It’s the latest “look what modern film directors can do on a shoe string!” picture, one that you drop into conversation when you wonder how a film like Transformers can cost as much as it does. Unfortunately, as bedazzling as these aspects are, and they are very bedazzling, the film has several shortcomings which have nothing to do with budget.

Here be monsters...

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Non-Review Review: Toy Story 2

For my money, Wall-E is perhaps the strongest Pixar film from an artistic point of view. The Incredibles is perhaps the most consistently entertaining. Finding Nemo is the most emotional. Truth be told, I could probably find a way to rank almost every Pixar film so that it was my favourite in some way or another, because they’re all pretty much that good (although I’ll concede that Ratatouille, A Bug’s Life and Cars were merely “good” or “very good”). So, having completely picked apart any lavish praise I could shower on the film, I have  a very special fondness for Pixar’s Toy Story trilogy.

Just say Jesse...

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Nerd Alert! Jurassic Park Theme (1000% Slower)

Somebody sent this through to me and it was too good for me not to share. Basically, some on-line genius by the name of birdfeeder came up with the idea of slowing John Williams’ iconic Jurassic Park theme down to one-tenth of its regular speed. This sounds like something that could just be incredibly banal, slowing down a beloved piece of film music almost beyond recognition. However, slowing the track down reveals just how beautifully crafted Williams’ score is – the end result is a wonderful ambient arrangement which sounds almost choral at points.

If you’re a fan of film music, give it a listen here, or click the picture below.

Non-Review Review: Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park is one of the “big” blockbusters which defined the nineties. It’s easily recognisable and has thoroughly entrenched itself deep in popular culture – along with Independence Day or Terminator 2. Also, like the two aforementioned films, it’s actually quite good. Of course, coming from director Stephen Spielberg, the man who invented blockbuster cinema with Jaws, can’t hurt. 

I call him "Rex"...

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