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Wrapping It Up: January 2014

Posted on the 31 January 2014 by Shantanu Ghumare @u_me_films
Another month, another wrap-up post full of this month's viewings which will complete two full years of me doing these wrap up posts. I guess this is becoming a norm now.


Wrapping it Up: January 2014
Wrapping it Up: January 201412 Years a Slave(2013): I am purposely going to keep this vague because I am hoping to, if not a full post, at least write a mini-reviews of this one and two that follow. But I am guessing I have given you enough of what I think of them by including them in this bracket. I will just say one thing about it - it must have been a while since I just kept looking at the screen in amazement as the credit started to roll.
The Wolf of Wall Street(2013): When Django Unchained(2012) was released last year, everyone was happy that Di Caprio finally seemed to have some fun with his roles. But even then I am guessing nobody really expected him to one-up that and go on to win Best Comedic actor award just the following year, right?. After all, that it itself was a big departure from usual. Judging by his acceptance speech at Globes, even he didn't but that is exactly what he did in this role. Hit it out of the park!
Her(2013): So this is where 2013 starts to kick some ass. After it's over! Three movies that I saw on three consecutive days in the week before nominations were announced and every one of them swept me off my feet. Now I know why everyone keeps talking about 2013 being such a good year for movies. I am not a big expert or haven't been in the game for long but, from where I am standing, personally I think 2012 was better than 2011 and 2013 certainly looks better than last 2 years that I have been blogging. 
Wrapping it Up: January 2014
Blue Jasmine(2013): It took some time for me to get all the Streetcar similarities to me but now that I know, I am really surprised how I missed it. I guess it's because you don't expect something that dark, that humourless from someone like him. But even though I like his usual style, ones where he digresses from them have almost always been my favourites and ones where he doesn't show up as his own neurotic self. Maybe except Manhatten(1979). And Yes, Catt Blanchett is great in this but was she ever not?
Rush(2013): After hearing a lot of lukewarm reaction after its release, I was rather pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it. Maybe because I used to like watching these races that I was completely into this film from start. I mean, yes, it is no Senna(2011) but I don't think it is even trying to be. I even this comparison is rather unfair. I think two films were trying to achieve two completely different things and I think they both succeed at that. Bruhl was a definite standout but I think even Alexandria Maria Lara did a great job acting mostly through her eyes.
Wrapping it Up: January 2014Inside Llewyn Davis(2013): I have no idea how did Llewyn took that turn to Acker and in next shot, woke up in NYC(did I miss something here?) but this is a Coen Brothers movie. I often don't get everything at a a first go. The thing with Llewyn is there aren't many straight out comedies that I have laughed as much as I did in this film. It's a typical Coen Brother's sort of absurd, dark humor but I was loving it. And Carrey Mulligan - I don't think she has done such a spiteful role before. I am glad she is varying them up.
Blue is the Warmest Colour(2013): After picking up its Palme d'Or, as expected, for the next few months all everyone talked about this film was Lesbian Sex scenes. Maybe it's just me going on just the right outlets but what actually surprises me is over the last few months, Adele's phenomenal acting has actually taken over most of the discourse surrounding this film. I mean, at least I don't expect that sort of rational reaction from media in general. She was amazing obviously and much more than I initially thought it would be.
Ed Wood(1994): First Blind Spot of the year and it was a really good start. I love how personal Tim Burton makes this film and uses this opportunity to actually put something substantial in front of us for Ed Wood as a person when he completely had an opportunity to make a complete caricature of every single character in this film. And as good as Johnny Depp is, special mention has to go out to Martin Landau, who completely vanishes into this character. More here.
Wadjda(2013): As much as I can, I like to keep the external factors out while rating a movie. Doing so for something like Wadjda would probably be a huge disservice, even though it means I have to break my own rules. I was sort of underwhelmed by this film. There were few things about it, mostly involving the production of this film, that I wasn't sold about. But the fact that Haifaa Al-Monsour was able to get this movie made in itself is its biggest achievement and making it as good as it is, makes it monumental. I am comfortable with leaving it at that.
You Can't Take it with You(1938): 66th of Best Picture Winners. I am slowly getting there. It was one of the surprises of this exercise of watching all winners. It's quite simple story but done very well. Frank Capra does that quite well. Think It Happened One Night(1934)! However what I find most interesting is how a film wins Best Film and Best Director and nothing else? And I spent most of this film thinking where have I heard Jean Arthur until I remembered Shane(1953). She has a very peculiar voice to forget.
Wrapping it Up: January 2014
Wrapping it Up: January 2014The Family Stone(2005): I own this movie on DVD for almost three years now and this is the first time I am watching it. I don't even have any reason why I didn't see it before because I quite liked it when I finally saw it. It is one of those weird movies where its ending is sort of too neatly wrapped up and I would usually hate it for that but here, I was actually rooting for it to be that.I like how utterly predictable it is but still makes me care for each and every one of its characters.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey(2012)(Re-watch): Remember I said I am not going to as big fan of these movies as I am of LOTR and then I see this for third time inside a year. But after watching the second one, this one gets half a star improvement because some of the things here make little bit more sense now. I am still not sure if he really needed a lot of it but at least there is something happening for them. And Gollum! Gollum's story is my least favorite part of LOTR but given in moderation, I love him here.
Frozen(2013): Part one of my 'Double Feature Sunday' followed by The Wolf of Wall Street. Quite a double feature, eh? It was really beautiful and cute. Almost all the songs were good and couple of songs were stuck in my head for a very long time. Story wise it was very predictable and even execution wasn't very different or anything but it had enough charm in it to let me turn a blind eye towards it.
Wrapping it Up: January 2014
Mary Poppins(1964): I might be the last person on earth to see this one but what would really surprise me is I am the only one not to think world of it. I mean, it is all nice and sweet and has its moments but it's too much kiddie-fare. Anyone above 5 would probably think of it as too sweet. And every song and dance sequence is almost twice long than it has any right to be. Julie Andrews is obviously amazing but now I totally think that was a pity Oscar. If MFL casting didn't stir up everything, I don't know if she would've won for this.
Dallas Buyers Club(2013): As amazing as Matthew McConaghey and Jared Lato are(and they are truly amazing. I have other performances that I like more personally but I don't think I would have any problem with them winning their respective Oscars and it has become almost inevitable anyways), I don't get the love this one gets as a film. To me, there was nothing besides them. I appreciate the story and care with which it is presented it but ultimately, it was rather slow and even overlong.
Wrapping it Up: January 2014The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug(2013): Peter Jackson is just trying to cash on his LOTR glory here. I think I read the book about 6 years ago. So lot of details are really sketchy but I am pretty sure majority of this film has nothing to do with actual story. It's him saying "So people loved Legolas and Bloom doesn't seem to be doing anything else. Let me insert him here for no reason". I had same problem with first one and I seem have warmed up a bit to it now but second one is one such sequence after another and even I was tired of it after a while. I expect to like it even less with time.
American Hustle(2013): As more I think about this film and as more time goes by, less I like this one and all this talk after getting so many nominations isn't helping it at all. I loved Amy Adams(duh!) and Christian Bale in their roles but they were all over. On the other hand, Jennifer Lawrence was completely one-dimensional but personally, a character I couldn't care less about. If this film had even a hint of any screenplay somewhere, if Russell had put some effort in it, I might have liked it so much more.
Total Count: 17. 16 First Time Watches and 1 Re-watch .
2014 YTD CountTotal Count: 17. 16 First Time Watches and 1 Re-watches.
I started this year with Mary Poppins but next 15 days or so were about nothing other than 2013 films. I wanted to see as many Oscar contenders as possible before the nominations were announced. There are still a few left but I watched more Oscar nominated films in first 15 days of this month than I had seen for the whole year before it. It also included a double feature on one of the Sundays which was after... I don't even remember how many years. Hopefully, I will have time and resources to get to some others that I desperately want toin February before finally moving on to all the other films I have been stalling for past few months. Seriously - so many movies, so little time.
So, how was your month? Did you see anything interesting? What do you think of the movies I saw? Any favorites?

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