Only The Sangfroid

Mark is of fair average intelligence, who is neither perverse, nor morbid or suspicious of mind, nor avid for scandal. He does live in an ivory tower.

These are his draft thoughts…

Don’t look at me. It’s way too soon to see… The films of 2013

I buried myself in films this year, mostly in the form of marathons but I also scraped along to the cinema a few times.  It seems to have been a year for sequels and reboots, but I don’t know to what extent that’s been true for a while now rather than something specific to 2013.

Here’s the list of films that I saw in the cinema and wrote up a review.  There were a bunch of film festivals I attended but didn’t get around to writing them up, mostly because the films I saw were bafflingly awful.

Star Trek Into DarknessThe World’s End, and Iron Man 3 were films that I ended up seeing more than once, though I’d happily watch Wreck It Ralph and The Wolverine again.  These films were unabashed, joyous fun.  As I’m writing this entry, I’m watching a documentary about the new Pope and a cardinal from South Africa is bemoaning the lack of clear masculinity in modern society.  By coincidence, a friend updated her Facesbook with a complaint that modern men were becoming too effeminate.

If there is a ‘problem’ killing off masculinity, it was yet to reach cinemas in 2013.  All but two of these films were specifically about a male protagonist rising to the challenge of their environment.  If anything, this ‘traditional’ view of masculinity became almost unbearable in several of these films.  This Is The End is a group of guys making jokes about the possibility of one of them being interested in raping Emma Watson.  Kick Ass 2 is about a teenager whose 30-something girlfriend is raped by his teenage nemesis.  Pacific Rim is the heartwarming story of a man who is less capable than his female colleague but still manages to get all the attention.  Man of Steel is about a man who is super and who doesn’t let Lois Lane do anything, despite being the most competent person in the film.

And so on and so forth.  Even the films which were about women were really about guys.  Zero Dark Thirty was more about capturing Osama Bin Laden than following the protagonist.  Hunger Games 2 was about a group of men who were conspiring to bring down a dictator by putting a young woman in danger.

A few of the films tried to tackle big ideas.  Most surprising of all was Star Trek Into Darkness which did an excellent job of deconstructing Kirk.  Iron Man 3 did a great job of exploring something deeper about Tony Stark as well.  The disappointments were Pacific Rim and Elysium which skirted around their philosophical themes.  In Elysium‘s case, it seemed the film was just bogged down in making an allegorical point rather than explore the logic of the situation.

Much Ado About Nothing was a joy and a surprise.  Shakespeare on a shoestring projects should definitely be encouraged, but it’s a shame that Whedon didn’t do more to tackle the skeezy gender issues in the play.  ‘My daughter is a disgusting whore; check out this track on my iPod’ made for a weird aesthetic combination.  Perhaps we let the misogyny slide in Game of Thrones because everybody is dressed like a feudal lord.

The key thing about 2013 is that it was a year of films without stories.  There was very little emphasis on nailing the storytelling aspect of cinema.  Each year, I can think of a movie or two that came out that were genuinely great stories.  This year, I struggle.  Perhaps it was because there were so many sequels, the art of which we still haven’t quite mastered.

So here’s hoping that 2014 will be better.  Or, if not better, then at least bigger.  I need to stop getting excited about Days of Future Past because there’s every chance that it will be disappointing.  Much to my shame, I’m looking forward to both Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return and Maleficent.  The former because of Patrick Stewart as a tree that becomes a tugboat; the latter because I hope the protagonist wins.  Also, there’s a new Godzilla film which will be politically interesting.


4 responses to “Don’t look at me. It’s way too soon to see… The films of 2013”

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