Sunday, January 26, 2014

Best and Worst Films of 2013

On today's episode of Sounds of Cinema I counted down my picks of the best and worst films of the past year.


1. 12 Years a Slave 

2. Her

3. The Square

4. Nebraska

5. Gravity 

6. Stories We Tell

7. The Place Beyond the Pines

8. I Declare War

9. American Hustle

10. Philomena

  1. A Good Day to Die Hard
  2. A Haunted House / Scary Movie V
  3. Grown Ups 2
  4. Texas Chainsaw 3D
  5. The Host
  6. Red 2 
  7. The Counselor
  8. The Big Wedding
  9. Passion
  10. Machete Kills

You can find more information, including rationales for each film and lists of honorable mentions and cinematic trends of 2013, here

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sounds of Cinema 2013 Wrap Up on Jan. 26th

The episode of Sounds of Cinema airing on Sunday, January 26th will take a look at the movies of 2013, including my picks of the best and worst films of the past year. Tune in to see if your favorites (or least favorites) made the cut.

In the meantime, here is a look at other best and worst lists from other sites and critics.

10 Worst Movies of 2013 by Mary Pols of TIME

10 Best Movies of 2013 by Richard Corliss of TIME

50 Best Films of 2013 by the staff of Empire

Top 10 Films of 2013 by Scott Foundas of Variety

10 Best Movies of 2013 by Andrew O’Hehir of Salon

13 Best Movies You Didn’t See in 2013 by Erik Henricksen at Wired

Best & Worst of Movie Moments of 2013 by the staff of The Wrap

10 Worst Movies of 2013 by Peter Travers of Rolling Stone

The 15 Worst Films of 2013 by the staff of the AV Club

My Ten Worst Movies of 2013 by Mark Kermode
Best Films of 2013 by What the Flick

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Film Reviews: January 12, 2014

Here is a summary of the films reviewed on today's show:

Grudge Match is not a very good movie but it is very entertaining. It is fun to see Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro poke some fun at their most famous roles and it has enough humor to make it worthwhile, at least as a matinee or a rental.

However problematic it may be and whatever its compromises, Saving Mr. Banks is a well-made film with a terrific performance by Emma Thompson. Like Finding Neverland, this is a picture that explores the way fantasy allows us to deal with life’s difficulties.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom improves over the course of the story and because it ends on a better note than it begins the film is satisfactory. The filmmakers fall into the common traps of biographical filmmaking and so what they’ve made is a fairly average movie about an extraordinary man.

Mandela and de Klerk is a very well made piece of historical filmmaking. The picture shows its age but the performances and the complex rendering of history make it worthwhile to seek out.

You can find the full reviews in the Sounds of Cinema review archive

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Movies About the Making of Movies

This Sunday’s episode of Sounds of Cinema will feature a review of Saving Mr. Banks, which dramatizes the difficult collaboration between author P.L. Travers and Walt Disney in the effort to adapt Travers’ book Mary Poppins into the 1964 motion picture.

Here is a look at other films that dramatize (and sometimes largely fictionalize) the making of famous motion pictures.

This dramatization of the making of Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song stars and was written and directed by Mario Van Peebles, whose father Melvin was the writer, director, and star of the original film.

A dramatization of the making of Psycho with Anthony Hopkins in the title role. The film is pretty straightforward and generally a flattering portrait of the filmmaker but it's also fun, especially for those who are already familiar with the 1960 picture. 

The Girl
Another film about a Hitchcock production, 1963’s The Birds. This film is far more intense than Hitchcock and is far less flattering about its subject. The Girl portrays Hitchcock as a cruel and obsessive bully who terrorized his lead actress, Tippi Hedren.

Shadow of the Vampire
Based on the making of the silent-era classic Nosferatu, a film crew is gradually destroyed by the star of their film who is actually a vampire.

Ed Wood
A biographical picture about legendary director Ed Wood. The film dramatizes several of his productions, most notably Plan 9 from Outer Space.

The Life and Death of Peter Sellers
This picture dramatizes the career of British actor Peter Sellers, played by Geoffrey Rush. The film mostly focuses on Sellers’ many marriages but also his many memorable characters for films like The Pink Panther, Dr. Strangelove, and Being There.

RKO 281
This dramatization of the making of Citizen Kane emphasizes the struggle between filmmaker Orson Wells and newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. The story was also told in the excellent documentary The Battle Over Citizen Kane.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Film Reviews: January 5, 2014

Here is a summary of reviews from today's show:

Philomena is at its core a compassionate film about people struggling to overcome histories of abuse. As heavy as that sounds, the film also has a sweetness and a sense of humor, making it very enjoyable even while it addresses weighty issues.

The Wolf of Wall Street is very entertaining, it has some terrific performances, and with respect to its filmmaking craft the movie is undeniably well made. But it is also too long for a movie that reveals so little.

47 Ronin is not a great movie but it does make for satisfactory popcorn entertainment. It is erratic and in many instances the filmmakers waste opportunities to make a better film. But taken simply as an action adventure matinee the movie works well enough.

Hours is a mixed effort. It is flawed in some critical ways but the movie succeeds as a thriller and the filmmakers tell a compelling story.

Parkland is great historical filmmaking. Like Paul Greengrass’ United 93, it takes a familiar historical event and restores the emotion and tragedy to it and in the process makes viewers reconsider how they’ve thought about the JFK assassination, one of the most picked over events in American history.

You can find the full reviews in the Sounds of Cinema review archive.