Saturday, 31 January 2015

What We Do in the Shadows - Mock the Vamp

Once again I was lead into a cinema on nothing more than good word of mouth online and the idea that I maybe once saw a teaser for the film. It's surprising how often this results in a pleasant experience.

"What We Do in the Shadows" is a mockumentary following a group of vampires who all live in the same house. One of the pillars of being a vampire is not telling it to anyone, as it will only end up with fighting, and humans are just better off not knowing. The camera crew shooting an exposé excluded, of course.

The word I head of this film was that it would be one of the funniest of the year, but I was still taken aback at how funny this film actually was. They don't really do any jokes about vampires you haven't seen or heard before, but they do them in a refreshing and incredibly fun way. Having each vampire be from different points of time is one of those ways. It's often glanced over how old vampires are, and how much of an age difference there can be, but here it's all on the table. You have your present day vampires, and you have vampires dating back eight thousand years.

There has been a lot of mockumentary style comedy over the last decade or so, to the point where I myself often can be put off a bit just by the mention of it being used (even though I quite like a lot of mockumentaries). But this proves that the genre does indeed have merit. They use the mockumentary aspect more to their advantage than things like "Parks and Recreation" or "The Office" which might be the best known examples of this type of storytelling. This isn't just a comedy in the style of a documentary (i.e. shaky camera, talking to the camera), they incorporate a lot more into it. Making it feel like a proper documentary a lot of the time, making it all the more ridiculous and hilarious. If you only see one film about vampires this season, make it "What We Do in the Shadows".

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Paddington - A Lovely Reunion

I can't say that Paddington Bear had the biggest influence on me growing up. But I do remember watching cartoons about him, and my parents getting excited when visiting Paddington station in London. The thought had never crossed my mind that he should get a live action film, but here we are.

This film tells the "origin story" of how Paddington (or Roaaawrgck as he's called in Bear) comes to London and gets to live with the Brown family. In just over ninety minutes we get to see everything from the jungles of dark Peru to the suburban telephone booths of outer London. This is the first film in a long while where I felt it was exactly the length it should be, not too long and neither too short. It never felt rushed, but there were no parts where it really dragged either. Far too rare these days. Although there are still some storytelling issues which can be mistaken for dragging, but it's more of an imbalance of tone. The film starts of with quite an absurd segment. We get to see talking bears who live in houses for one, but it's also generally filmed and told in very absurd and bizarre way. It's hilarious, and makes you feel right at home in the film. Unfortunately right after this segment ends we rarely get to see that kind of storytelling again. It pops up here and there, and times when you don't really expect it. It puts you off for a moment before you realise how fun it is, and then it's all over.

The film is just amazingly cosy. There's not really a better word for it. It gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling throughout the experience. I was actually left wishing I had seen it for the first time at Christmas times when there's that special hint of fuzzy already in the air. Paddington as a character is just delightful. There are times when he can feel a bit too naive, but you are supposed to feel that way, especially when you're my age and suddenly identify more with the dad of the story than the children. The villain of the film is one of the most efficient ones I've seen. From the get-go we know what she want, and she never appears unless it is to do something necessary. There's not much dillydaddling with exposition and gloating (though there's always some) and Nicole Kidman manages to make this extremely cartoonish character feel real and scary.

This film is just a treat. It's not the best of anything, don't get me wrong. There are better films, but there are few that are more delightful. There are few that I believe can be loved by so many members of a family. It's got a little something for everyone, and I absolutely recommend everyone watch it at some point.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

American Sniper - Good but Forgettable

"American Sniper" surprised everyone when it went on to absolutely shatter previous January wide openings. It earned close to 90 million USD in its opening weekend, more than twice that of the previous record holder. It's currently tracking upwards of 300 million in the US alone, something only two films managed in 2014. Both of which ("Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Mokingjay Pt. 1") opened in the second half of the year. "American Sniper" is also nominated for Best picture at this year's Academy Awards. With all this success, how good is it?

It's above average, but that's the furthest I can stretch. It's not fantastic, but it's more than good. We follow Chris Kyle on his journey from a bachelor wannabe-cowboy in Texas to becoming the most lethal sniper in American history. We get to see several sides to the story, contrary to what many on the internet will lead you to believe. Kyle himself may be solid in his believes of what he did was for the best, for the overall good, but that isn't necessarily the film's message. We get to see the Kyle deal with having to kill so many, and we get to see Kyle deal with having so many of his friends killed. There are also detours set around his family, where we see how much it tears them too apart.

But I would still agree that they do lean a bit too much towards the "America best, foreigners evil" trope. I mean, I expected it, and I understand it. It's a film by Clint Eastwood called "American Sniper" after all. But it's still horrible to see how much every foreigner is treated as a terrorist until proven otherwise. However, that only adds to the story's emotional connection. I didn't just connect with Kyle and how he felt with what he had to do, I also connected with the Iraqis who live in an occupied country, caught in the middle of a war many of them want no part of.

Overall this film is more than decent. I doubt anyone will remember it in a few years' time, but even though it feels a little out-of-date it still strikes the right chords. The acting is the best part of the film, and I fully understand Bradley Cooper getting a nod for Best male lead. Whether he deserves to win it or not is something we can discuss when the Academy Awards ceremony is a bit closer.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Big Hero 6 - Disney Is King

"Big Hero 6" is Walt Disney Animation Studios' first dive into Marvel's superhero universe after their parent company, The Walt Disney Company, acquired Marvel Entertainment. Despite being based on a Marvel superhero comic, it has nothing to do with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is a standalone picture, not even Marvel Animation's films have anything to do with this.

"Big Hero 6" mainly follows the 14 year old boy genius Hiro and his older brother's robot nurse Baymax. Hiro spends a lot of his time building bots that he uses to hustle big-time bot-fighters around the city. His brother, Tadashi, feels he is wasting his talent and tries to convince him to join San Fransokyo Institute of Technology where he himself is part of a team of tech developers. Hiro goes to present an invention of his own in hopes of being accepted into class, but a lot goes wrong. The rest of the film we follow Hiro trying to fix his mistakes, and Baymax aiding him however he is asked.

"Big Hero 6" has all what you have come to expect from Walt Disney Animation Studios over the last couple of years. If you enjoyed "Bolt", "Tangled", "Wreck-It Ralph", and "Frozen" chances are you will enjoy this as well. If you happen to also enjoy superhero films in general, you are in for a treat. This isn't just a good animation film, this is a good superhero film period. No, it doesn't have the same tones as most live-action superhero films these days, but that shouldn't matter. It has traded the more serious and intense drama for delightful and wonderful adventure. It reminds me of the best parts of both "Astroboy" (2009) and "The Incredibles", and is yet more proof that Walt Disney Animation Studios have reclaimed their throne from Pixar whose success has been their own slightlydownfall.

This is the first film in a while where I was left wanting more, not because I felt that there were things left untold, but because there was so much amazing happening that I just wanted to see more of it. It is packed full from start to end, never wasting too much time with exposition. Why does it appear that we are in a weird blend of Japan and the USA? We don't know, we just are, and we don't really care because that's the way it is. I wouldn't be surprised at all if this film gets mentioned again on this blog next January first.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Blackhat - Chris Hemsworth's Abs

I never really expected "Blackhat" to be particularly good, but I never bought the opinions coming in from the US about it being absolutely horrible. It cost 70 million USD to produce, and only brought in just under 4 million USD in its opening weekend (16th - 18th of January). On the overall list for its weekend it made a million less than "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" which had already been out for a month. Opening weekends are always the best weekends, so "Blackhat" is a certified bomb. But did it deserve to lose that much money?

I wouldn't say it deserved to be such a huge flop as it is, but I would neither say that it deserved to earn as much as its budget suggests it should. It was a completely standard film that had very little going for it. There's nothing to see here that you haven't seen done better before. But it is entertaining, most of the time. It didn't feel like a 133-minute film. I can recognise parts that could have been cut out to tighten it up, but it didn't drag on like a lot of other films do when they reach that kind of runtime. The beginning is its worst part, which will serve it no favours when it will eventually have to cater to cable and VOD customers. It takes ages to get to a point which is interesting enough to catch your attention. We are not even sure who the main character is until maybe ten minutes into the film.

It doesn't do itself any favours in term of visuals either. They switch back and forth between being generic and readable, to experimental and distracting. Suddenly they'll cut to something completely different and move the camera differently than they did in the previous cut. And some of VFX shots look like actual placeholders that never should have made it into a film of this caliber. There is one in particular where they have placed a blurred out person on top of a surveillance feed to make it appear to be hidden in a public place, but the person never moves. I am not talking about a person who just stands still, I'm talking pixels that stand still. At some points they move the person slightly, to make it appear not completely static, and it's so easy to see. If it's not a placeholder shot that somehow made it to the final cut, someone deserves to have their job history looked at.

Overall this is a completely okay film. There are better films to watch in theatres if you absolutely want to go. This can wait till a cold Sunday afternoon when it happens to pop up under "related titles" after a Netflix binge watch of "Boston Legal". Unless you want to watch Chris Hemsworth's abs on the big screen before "Age of Ultron" later this spring. Then hurry before they cut the release short!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Mr. Turner - Turn Down For What?

"Mr. Turner" is one of those typical "pretty looking films" that get nominated for all the traditional visual categories at the Oscars. Cinematography, costume design, and production design. And even one for original score. A British film with such a great cast set in Victorian era England (at least mostly) is almost always guaranteed to get a costume design or production design nod. But how was the actual film?

The first time I saw the trailer for "Mr. Turner" I thought it looked mind-numbingly dull. Yet another typical old-timey film about gloomy characters in Britain of yesteryear. But, as I do, the moment I saw it received nominations at the Academy Awards I wrote it down on my list of films to watch. And I do not regret it. Despite its long 150-minute run time (I only watched six films longer than that in 2014) and lack of any significant action it managed to hold my interest throughout its entirety. Just watching Timothy Spall, who did a better job here than Steve Carell did in "Foxcatcher", was worth the trip on its own. And if you don't think that might be enough to keep you entertained for 150 minutes, you might not want to watch this.

Because there is no real plot to speak of in this film. It is truly a slice of life picture. We go through the waves, as it were, of the last 25 years of Mr. Turner's life. Whatever happens happens. At times it can feel more like a miniseries than a film. The characters are so well-established, and so quickly, that it feels like you've been watching them for several installments not even halfway into the film. The characters are what keep it interesting. Seeing how they react, what they do, and most importantly how they interact. There is a clear progression from start to end. Characters can show up at various points of the film, and even though you feel like Mr. Turner hasn't changed much as you've watched him, you suddenly realise he has when you see him deal with the same characters in a different manner than before. It's like life itself, you never really notice yourself changing until you look back at how you once were.

It does drag on a tad towards the end, however. It's not so much that we know how it's going to end for quite some time, but more that they don't portray it rather interestingly. The film stops up, it changes directions in how it tells it. In one way it's fitting, as it shows how life slows down when you get older, and you have a different perspective on things. But no film is long enough for something like that to have the desired effect, instead you notice the difference rather quickly, and if it's not done well it can throw you off. It's not so bad that it renders the film worse, but it's bad enough that you wish it was better just for the sake of a more satisfying impression.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Timbuktu - The Familiarity of the Unfamiliar

"Timbuktu" is one of the five films nominated for an Academy Award for "Foreign Language Film" this year. The official entry of Mauritania, it is in truth as much, if not more, French than Mauritanian. But how good is it?

Nominees for foreign language film can be hit or miss. People often forget how different cultures can be, and how different perceptions of good and bad can be from place to place. This, for me, feels a lot more familiar than even some South Korean films. Even if on the surface a Norwegian and Korean appears to live more similar lives than a Norwegian and a Mauritanian. However it's not so much because our lives are alike, it's more because it's about concepts and people I hear about a lot. People I don't necessarily know, but people I know of. I think this made the film a little less interesting than it could be.

The film has an interesting concept. It's set in the Malian city of Timbuktu during an occupation by Ansar Dine, an Islamic based militant organisation. We mainly follow a family of three and their lives on the outskirts of the city. All of their neighbours have left, but they remain to herd their cattle and mind their own business. The first downfall of this film is that it doesn't exclusively follow this family. We also look at other people and groups, see what they do. It appears as if it tries to be a film about the titular city, but throughout the story it's made clear that it cares the most about the small family. The stories of other smaller characters just fade away as we focus more and more on the family. They don't do much, and the film doesn't help make it seem more interesting than it is. It has its upside, it makes the whole city seem really everyday and normal, even in a situation as it is in. But it also just makes it plain uninteresting.

The acting is rarely any good. The mother in the small family is particularly bad. I may not know the languages they speak, but they don't seem very natural in what they're doing. They look like they're acting. There are a few notable exception. A French-speaking kid who used to be a rapper does a good job portraying a boy scared out of his mind. Not entirely sure what he has gotten himself into. But all in all it falls rather flat. It's well crafted, it looks nice, it sounds nice, but there's nothing to really hold on to. Nothing to grasp. Sometimes it works, but this time it didn't.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Foxcatcher - Weird and Imbalanced

"Foxcatcher" is already one of the big winners at this year's Academy Awards with five nominations. With two for male acting (lead and supporting), one for directing, one for writing, and one for make-up it's managed get in on four of the biggest categories of the evening. But does it deserve it?

I didn't know what to make of it the first time I saw the trailer for "Foxcatcher". I thought it looked like one of those films you'd see characters in other films watch on television. It seemed bizarre, odd, weird, and extremely American. Perhaps that is what put me off the most, maybe it is so American that I don't quite have a handle on the references and cultural acknowledgements that the film presumes I have. Because honestly, I did not think this film really deserved any of its nominations, it shouldn't even be a film worth mentioning in those contexts.

Maybe I was a bit harsh there, I do think Mark Ruffalo did a great job, I can see why he is nominated for supporting actor. And the makeup and hairstyling is pretty on-point as well. But nominations for Carell for lead actor? Was he even the lead actor in this film? I sure don't think so. He did a mediocre job at best portraying a weird and off-putting character, I felt Channing Tatum did a better job with what he was given than Carell, but he's not amazing either.

The film, as many others lately, is also too long. With a run time of 134 minutes you'd expect either a lot of fast paced action, or a lot of interesting character work. We get neither. The first 90-ish minutes go by pretty fast, but then you learn that all of that was basically just the set-up for a slow paced last forty minutes. There is nothing wrong with having a film last a hundred minutes or less, even for biopics and character pieces.

The story itself I feel there's little to comment on. I understand it's "based on true events", how much is true and what is fiction I do not know, but I don't think all of it works. The premise is certainly interesting. I have a soft spot for sport films that showcase sports that don't normally get films made about them. And having the characters be weird can be an added bonus, but only if you play it off well.

This film could have been a great Wes Anderson-esque picture, but instead it falls flat with little inspiration. It struggles to figure out just how comedic it is, and just how dramatic it is, never managing to find that sweet spot. It's almost a make-your-own-genre type of film. If you think it's a comedy it suddenly seems rather funny, if you think it's a drama it seems kind of scary and emotional. But it's not quite well crafted enough to fully be either.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Whiplash - One of 2015's Bests

I was dismissive when I first saw the trailer for "Whiplash". I actually thought it looked stupid. Pretentious, overzealous, absurd, bizarre, but it got great reviews all around. People started giving it awards. So when it finally came to Norwegian theatres I gave it a go.

I would be surprised if this film doesn't show up again in a post on the first of January, 2016. It may only be the twelfth of January, 2015, but I am sure this will be one of the best films I see all year. It's masterful, it's magnificent, it drags out a bit towards the end, but it makes up for all of it.

The acting is really what is at the centre of this piece. JK Simmons and Miles Teller are absolutely excellent in what they do. It's rare for me to feel so much with and for on screen characters, but they came to life absolutely. It was as if I had known them for years, every mannerism, every speech pattern, every stance, they were perfect. They really know how to play off of each other, give each other exactly what is needed. Before this film I was mostly indifferent to Simmons' acting ability, and leaned more towards the negative side for Teller, this changed everything. Simmons isn't James Jonah Jameson Jr. anymore, Tiller isn't that one guy from "That Awkward Moment". They fully are Fletcher and Neiman.

The only thing that drags this film down even a little is part from around the three fifths mark to the four fifths mark. Quite a few times it feels as if the film is getting ready to end, and on a good note, but it keeps going for a while. It took me too long to realise that it was actually going to go on for a little while longer, and it made me kind of resent the film. Almost made me bored at parts, especially as these parts are a bit slower than the rest. It could have used some tightening to really make the film pop all throughout. But in the end it does all come together, it does become worth it. It's just a shame that you have to wait until the end to be able to appreciate the middle parts.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Staying Alive - Tynt på tynt

Til tross for ein smårar og uinteressant tittel så ble eg interessert i "Staying Alive" frå fyrste gong eg såg traileren på kino. Den var visuelt pen, den var morosam, ljodbilete var gøy, og det såg ut til å vera iallefall greit skodespel. Men koss var den egeneleg når eg endeleg fekk sett den?

"Staying Alive" handler hovudmessig om Marianne som går gjennom eit samlivsbrudd etter ho oppdager at kjæresten Håkon har vore utru. Med huslån, to barn, og eit veldig felles sosialliv er det lettere sagt enn gjort å gå frå kvarandre etter femten år. Har ho i det heile tatt egenleg lyst å gå frå han? Har ho lyst å vera åleine att? Kan ho kanskje takle og leve med at Håkon var utru med ei frå regnskapsavdelinga?

Filmen er heilt klart morosam, til tider nesten hysterisk morosam, men alikevel gjekk eg vekk med ei kjensla at den egenleg ikkje var morosam i det heile tatt. Eg lo gjennom nesten heile filmen, men var den gøy? Hovudproblemet med "Staying Alive" (anna enn tittelen) er strukturen. Halvvegs gjennom filmen var eg klar til å gå. Ikkje fordi eg følte den hadde vart veldig lenge, men fordi det føltest som om filmen hadde fortalt alt den ville fortelle. At det ikkje var meir att å sjå. Alikevel fortsatte filmen i ein god halvtime-tri kvarter til før den til slutt slutta på eit punkt som egenleg ikkje føltest som ein slutt.

Det er mange gode ideer i denne filmen, men det er óg ein del dårlege. Den dårlegste er kanskje det veldig tynne sideplottet med Linn Skåber sin karakter som tar sted hundre prosent i en bil mens kjæresten hennar øvelseskøyrar. Det høyrast morosamt ut, og det var det fyrste gong me fekk innblikk i den verda, men det var alt med såg av det plottet. Alltid i den bilen. Og det hadde ingen konsekvens for kva som skjedde utanføre den settinga. Ho snakka aldri med Marianne om det som skjedde i bilen, ho fekk ikkje noko gode ideer der som kunne hjelpe Marianne, alt me fekk var ein mannleg karakter nummer to som så vidt prøvar å kaste litt ljos på Håkon sin side av saka. Det blir for tynt.

Alt i alt er dette ein heilt grei film. Klart verdt å sjå, du kjem til å få ein god latter. Du kjem til å kjenne med Marianne når ho går gjennom alt, kjenne koss ho har det. Men det er ikkje ein film du kjem til å hugsa ved slutten av året, det er ikkje ein film som du kjem til å absolutt elske. Noko som er synd, for som sagt er det veldig mykje bra ingredienser, dei er berre ikkje blanda bra nok inn.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Tak3n - Taken Too Far

Look, it's not like anyone really expected "Taken 3", also known as "Tak3n", to be particularly good. No one. But it's got Liam Neeson, and the first two were nothing if they weren't at least entertaining. This one? Not so much.

Bryan is back again due to popular demand, and I don't blame him. I'd be want to come back too if I was taken away so often. This time we are in Los Angeles, and Bryan seems to be pretty content, except for maybe with how fast Kim is growing up. He's just going about with his day, doing what ever it is he does, air marshalling or something, when suddenly his ex-wife turns up dead. He is suspected, and the rest of the film is just Bryan trying to both clean his name and keep his daughter safe.

People always note with franchises like this how bad luck the main characters tend to have, but that's actually one of the more believable things about this series. Bryan has been involved with a lot of bad people, and it's really not surprising that some of those bad people will try to get back at him. I just wish they'd be a bit more original, and a bit more entertaining while they did. This film is just a completely average action film, there's not particularly fun or interesting going on that you haven't already seen a thousand times over in better films. The acting is shoddy, the music is shoddy, the sound mixing is shoddy, the directing is shoddy, the colour grading is shoddy, there is very little about this film that stands out. The one thing I really liked, was the title sequence, but that was it. After that I was left waiting for the film to come to its conclusion, and that's not something you want from a film that's not even two hours long. They try to keep an air of mystique and wonder, but we all know from the beginning what is going on. They try to hide it, but we know, there are no real shocks. Not that there has to be, but you can tell they intend for there to be some degree of shock.

Overall this film is just borderline okay. It may be worth one watch, just to see Liam Neeson kick some ass, but nothing more than that. You'll find yourself having a better evening by rewatching the first or second film instead of seeing this.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Tremors 5 Pushed Forward

That didn't take long! Just one week into the new year Michael Gross himself came with a very exciting reveal regarding "Tremors 5" over at his Facebook page

That's right, "Tremors 5", previously slated for a 2016 release, has been pushed forward to October of this year. Just about one year after the original announcement of the film. If you remember, a lot of people thought that something like summer/fall 2015 was the logical time for the film's release when taking into account the type of film, budget, and today's need-it-now mentality. Having the film released in 2016 made some think they might take their time with it, doing the best they can with what they have. This of course doesn't mean that they've just decided to not even give the film a chance, it is possibly just to capitalise on the Halloween season. I guess we'll all find out this fall.

I have been told that the post is down for some people, below is a screen cap if you need it:

Friday, 2 January 2015

Seventh Son - Magic and Stuff

"Skal tidlig krøkast" is a saying in Norway. It means that you have to start early if you want to get good at something. This year's first cinema trip came already on the second day of the year, and it's even a proper 2015 release, a year can't start off much better than that. It had its premier in Norway today, and will premier in the USA on the 6th of February despite being an American film. It is "Seventh Son".

I didn't know anything about this film before hand except from what I had seen on the few posters hanging around the cinema. I knew Julianne Moore was in it, and that it was some sort of horrible fantasy adventure film, possibly based on a book. Turns out I was not wrong, except from it being horrible. I am not the biggest of fantasy fans to begin with. Other than the "Harry Potter" series I've tended to not be sold on the concept of the genre, especially the ones that are set on medieval worlds, like this one happens to be.

"Seventh Son" follows Tom, the seventh son of a seventh son. In this world the seventh son of a seventh son is supposed to be seven times as strong as an ordinary man, and they're hold in high regard by those who deal with creatures of the dark (ghasts, boggarts, witches, those kind of things). Tom is "bought" from his family by a "spook" called Master Gregory. Spooks are the guardians of humans against the supernatural. They catch or kill whatever might be threatening the nearest village. Gregory has just lost his last apprentice to the queen of the witches, and Tom is to take his place. Together they journey to kill the queen, to stop a reign of terror across the world.

The plot is very straight forward, it's the same as any hero's journey. A hero, a mentor, a love interest, a villain, some wonky family connections, troubled pasts. For a while I was almost convinced that I was watching a remake of "Star Wars" without the stars. Alas it isn't as good as that. What makes this film not horrible, but instead rather good, are the characters and how the action is handled. All the character aren't good, in fact now that you're pressing me, the main character and his love interest are two of the worst, but the supporting cast is extremely fun. Jeff Bridges kills as Master Gregory, he's a perfect analogue to Obi Wan for this film. He's funny, he's clever, he's badass, and he doesn't mess around. Likeways the main villain, the witch queen played by Julianne Moore, is good. Not as good as Gregory, but good. She's good at keeping many things from the people around her, she doesn't mess around. When she wants something done, she gets it done.

Overall this film won't be on anyone's list of anything this year unless Jeff Bridges suddenly dies and this turns out to be one of his last films, knock on wood, but it's fun. You might not want to waste cinema ticket money on it, but definitely check it out when it hit Netflix later this year. I'd be surprised if it isn't there by September.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Film Stats of 2014

2014 is over and the year of giant blockbusters is here. "Avengers: Age of Ultron", "Jurassic World", "Star Wars - Episode VII: The Force Awakens", and "Paul Bart: Mall Cop 2" are jut some of the biggest franchises getting new instalments that are more or less guaranteed to make big money. But how was 2014? In this post I'll go over my year in film, one of the biggest ones I've ever had, with all the stats and opinions that I think might be noteworthy.

Over the 365 days of 2014 I managed to get through 372 films, roughly 1.016 films a day throughout the year. However, 43 of them were at least my second viewing, meaning 329 films were films I had never even seen before. 263 of the films originated in the USA, 29 in the UK, 18 in South Korea, and 12 in Norway. The rest being shared between France, Sweden, Japan, Canada, China, Australia, Germany, Denmark, Ireland, Indonesia, Chile, Switzerland, South Africa, Singapore, Russia, Poland, and Austria. 21 countries in total. However, as you can easily see, the vast majority of films, almost 79%, were from countries with English as a primary language South Korea and Norway are the only non-English countries that really put up a fight. Which makes it a bit interesting to note that there are five different countries represented in the top 10 first-viewing films of 2014. The USA, UK, South Korea, Sweden, and Germany. As a matter of fact, there's even four different countries represented in the bottom 10 of first-viewing films. The USA, UK, South Korea, and China. 
     Considering how the USA vastly outnumbers the rest of the countries I had thought they would dominate both the top and bottom a lot more. Just because there's so many more of them. But instead it seems that because I've watched so many American films they balance each other out. There are more of them available for me to view, and I am more used to them, I know what to look for in them to find something I like. With the other countries there is less of this. Firstly, there's less of them available easily. This means that the ones are available most likely fall into one of two category. Either they are so good that they got picked up by the major providers, or they are so poor that the providers could basically pick them up for free. Given that I'm also not totally accustomed to some of the represented countries' cultures and ways of living, it may be hard to get the same out of them as their intended audiences. I find that I very much enjoy Korean films, as the stories are very similar to Western cinema, but they are told and handled in a different way. They become exotic and "interesting" more easily. But just as easily they become crap, because I just don't understand any of the cultural foundation of the films. I'll come back later with the specifics of my top and bottom 10 films.

372 films are a lot of films, how did I watch all of them? Where did I watch them? Rather neatly, exactly half of the films, 186, where viewed on Netflix. With the large catalogue and cheap subscription, Netflix is a very easy way to watch films for me. When considering that just two and a half years ago Netflix wasn't even available to me, this is a big change in habit and film viewing experience. I am almost surprised that not a larger portion of my films were watched on Netflix. Over a hundred films below, on second place, we find the cinema. I went to the cinema 68 times in 2014 to watch 66 different films. On third we find my television provider's VOD service, Altibox, with 48 films. After that there's a lot of films scattered amongst various VOD services, television channels, websites, and some optical media. VOD is by far the most usual way for me to watch films, 254 films, 68.3%, were watched on some kind of VOD service. This wouldn't even be a possibility just a decade or so ago. Watching this many films would not only cost a lot more money, but it would take a lot more time as you would have to go somewhere to even find the films you wanted to watch. Even then this would be a tough feat. I can't even be certain if my local video rental place even had 372 different films in at any given time, they'd definitely not have that many films that I'd actually be interested in watching.
     If we look at my ratings compared to the media we find something akin to what I expected from the distribution among the countries. The more films I watched using one medium, the closer to the overall average rating it is. The ones that stand out the most are BD (Blu-ray Disc) and cinema. For me to own and watch a BD copy of a film, that means I already have to like it quite a lot. So it's almost ten points (out of a hundred) above the overall average. With the cinema it's a similar thing. I have to actually pay a non-nil amount of money every time I go watch a film, so the screening process is a bit more thorough than for Netflix where I might watch a film just because the cover is interesting. There' also the fact that going to the cinema is a lot more of an experience than watching at home. The visuals are better, the audio is better, there's the feel of the audience, it's generally just a much nicer experience.

Now let us talk actual ratings. I've been a bit vague in the paragraphs above, saying that something is above or below average. But what exactly is average for me? Turns out that the average score for a film is 65.766/100, with the median score being 66, and the most-often given rating being 65. The "problem" with this is that a lot of people might want to say that 50 should always be the average, as it's right in the middle on a 0-100 rating system. But there are a few flaws with that. Firstly it assumes that I would watch films based on how well I think I would like them, and actually watch the ones I'd think I'd hate. If I watched all of the films in the world it might be a lot closer to 50, but as this is based on a selection I've already made based on my preferences, it skews upwards a fair bit. To the point that me giving a film a rating of 50 would more mean it was bad than it was average. Secondly, although the rating system goes from 0 to 100, there are a lot of those scores that are almost never given, just because they are in the extremes. The lowest rating I gave a film was 11, and the highest 99. This already makes the scale efficiently go from 11 to 99. Look a bit closer and you'll see that exceptionally few films scored above 90 or below 30 at all and it's even narrower. This is a subjective rating system after all, even I don't agree with all the ratings on my list. The further back in the list I go the more likely I am to disagree. I actually retroactively removed a film from my top 10 video (seen below) because I really didn't feel like it belonged there. I can remember setting the score and thinking it fit, I can remember really liking it, but as time as gone by it just didn't stand the test. I will however keep it in its spot for this post, so see if you can find which one was cut from the video.

You should note that this video shows the top 10 of films I watched at the cinema
in 2014. So it will differ from the overall 2014 top 10 list besides the cut entry.

For one final paragraph before we go to the bests and the worsts of the year I want to go over some of the remaining stats that aren't necessarily that interesting, but still worth noting, at least for myself. As they show some signs towards what kind of films I watch that I might not really know myself.
     First, run times. The longest film I watched was "The Wolf of Wall Street" with its 179 minutes. Whereas the shortest film I watched was "Sex.Violence.FamilyValues." with just 47 minutes. Now, I know a lot of people might not consider something below the one-hour mark a film, but I decided to go with the Academy which defines a feature film as being over 40 minutes. Of course this technically allows for a lot of television programs to be counted as well, but my general rule is that if it's marketed as a film, then it is a film.The average run time for a film was 102.107 minutes, with a median of 100 minutes. This is basically the norm we all know from films. Roughly one and a half hours, not very interesting. The most common run time range was 95-100 minutes, closely followed by 90-95 minutes. It's clear that some of the longer films outweighs the very short ones.
     Gender, that's one of the more experimental ones I tried to track. I subjectively decided if a film had a male lead(s), a female lead(s), or if there was a healthy mix. This was a bit hard to nail down to a science, as I didn't want to count screen time, lines of dialogue, or overall importance to the plot. I just chose what I thought was the right classification. 52.7% of the films I watched had a male lead. This might not sound that bad when viewed alone, it's barely above half. But only 15.6% of the films had a female lead, the remaining 31.7% were various degrees of mixed. I've had a bit of trouble with this one. I am male, so it is very possible that I seek out films where I can more easily relate to the main character, but we also know that there absolutely are a shortage of female-lead films.Whether or not it is as extreme as portrayed here, I do not know, but it's definitely not balanced.
    Then let's talk release years. The big winner here, with home field advantage, is 2014. I watched 100 films from 2014. In 2013 there were theatrical releases for 201 films in Norway, assuming a similar number for 2014 I have to say I did quite alright for myself. Speaking of 2013, it's the second year on the list with 70 films. The list is rather easily predicted from here on in, recent years are the most prominent, and other than few weird bumps (like 2009 being above both 2010 and 2011) it keeps at it all the way back to 1956. "Godzilla, King of the Monsters!" from 1956 (Americanized version) was the oldest film I watched in 2014. Along with "Dr. Strangelove" from 1964, and "Freaky Friday" from 1976, they are the only films pre 1980 I watched. I am most definitely a product of my own time.

But now, for the main attractions! First, a few clarifications. I will only go over the films' first viewings. The lists would be very skewed otherwise, as it's a lot more likely a rewatched film will have a higher score than average. If there are any interesting exceptions, I will note them. Let's start with the bottom 10.

"Cashback". UK, 2006. 32/100

I watched this all the way back in January, and still it didn't have the time to be knocked off the bottom 10 list. It's just boring, it what it is. Comes off as being very artsy, and being much more important than it actually is. It's just not worth your time.

"Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony". USA, 2012. 32/100

I never really knew anything about the brony phenomenon before watching this film, and now I don't want to know any thing more. It solely focuses on the most hardcore fans, the social outcasts, the most awkward bronies they could find. Because of this, it feels like a really unfair representation of the culture, even though I know nothing about it. We see more normal people in the background, sometimes noting on something, make it about them. The actual fans. This becomes too much like "Trekkies" which I can't stand even though I myself enjoy "Star Trek".

"Dasepo sonyo". South Korea, 2006. 31/100

Another one of those films where I have no idea what is going on. Something about some high school where people have a lot of sex, and then there's a dragon. I. I just don't know. Sorry. Only reason it isn't lower on the list is because it's so crazy.

"Agent F.O.X.". China, 2014. 26/100

You know those weird animated films you've never heard of, but you keep seeing them while in line at the grocery store? They always sound like something you've heard before, and they're always from a country you didn't even know made animated films. This is one of them. Although I knew China has a very large base of animators, this is just garbage. It looks like an 87-minute version of something I would've made my second year of animator's school. The only fun thing about this film is to make fun of it.

"Screwed: The Movie". USA, 2013. 25/100

A guy watches a film that makes him great in bed. That's the plot of this crapfest of a film. The worst part about this film is that you actually recognise some hope, some good pillars. But it's torn down by acting, the editing, the lighting, the directing, the colour grading, there is very little that's decent about this film. Very little.

"Back In the Day". USA, 2014. 21/100

This film was apparently so forgettable that I had no idea what it was when I first saw it on the list. Not even my mini-review gave any insight, but when I googled it it jolted my memory. A film about a bunch of people going to their high school reunion. After an hour of watching it it felt like it should've ended half an hour ago, but there was still half an hour to go.

"Cougar Hunting". USA, 2011. 20/100

There isn't really much to say about this one. It's your average stupid teen film about getting laid, only there is close to 0 entertainment value. And that's coming from a guy who normally likes almost all stupid teen films about getting laid.

"The Freedom of Silence". USA, 2012. 18/100

Christian propaganda film set in a near future where Christianity for some reason is outlawed. I thought it might be an interesting thought experiment. It's almost always fun to watch films that take bizarre concepts and see what would happen if they were true, but this takes the cake. There's nothing realistic about it, it's almost impossible to buy, especially considering how near to present day it's supposed to be. The only thing decent about this picture is its cover.

"InAPPropriate Comedy". USA, 2013. 15/100

Now this is one of the few I actually watched because I thought it was bad. I just didn't expect it to be this bad. It's an anthology style film filled with various celebrities, much like "Movie 43", but this one goes even worse down the bucket. I don't think I had a single laugh during this entire event. The thing that's better with this than "Movie 43" is that it doesn't make you lose respect for as many actors.

"Saengnal Seonsaeng". South Korea, 200611/100

"Better" known as "Mr. Wacky" abroad, this Korean film tells the tale of a third-generation teacher who has to take up teaching at the local high school if he wants in on his grandfather's lottery winnings. It sounds alright on paper, but I am still not entirely sure what the point of this film was. The biggest problem was the storylines that ran alongside each other. They never prompted when they were starting a new one, or visiting an existing one, meaning half the time you don't even know which story you are watching. Are you following the main character and his love interest? Are you following that one weird student? Or that other weird student? Is that the headmaster? Who's that? It might be because of the cultural differences, but this still gets the honour as the worst film experience of 2014.

How nice it was to relive all of those special films. Three of which were from 2006, it's apparently not a very good year for films. Now let's jump right onto the top 10 best films which actually includes 12 films due to a three-way tie for the 10th spot.

10. (1)
"The Zero Theorem". UK, 2014. 85/100

This was one of the biggest surprises of the year for me. I never heard about this film until just a couple of weeks before I got to watch it. I'm not sure if I would call it objectively good, but it's just the kind of film I love. Weird world, quirky characters, and a shallow deeper meaning.

10. (2)
"Edge of Tomorrow". USA, 2014. 85/100

Another big surprise. Expected just another stupid action film with Tom Cruise, got a film that's actually fun, interesting, intense, and just completely entertaining. I've heard people call it "Groundhog Day with aliens" as an insult, but that really is what it is, and it is amazing for it.

10. (3)
"Die Welle". Germany, 2008. 85/100

Had heard about this here and there, but never got around to it until last year. Very powerful and fascinating. Based on an actual "experiment" it shows how easy it is for a fascist group to rise, even in a country with very recent bad experiences with them. 

"About Time". UK, 2013. 86/100

Very different time travelling film than you're used to. Directed by the same guy who gave us "Love Actually" and "Bridget Jones's Diary". This was a film I actually wanted to see, and actively sought out, so it's extra nice that it actually paid off. It's just the story of a family, the son in particular, and how he can travel back in time in and do over things in his own lifetime. It's not mindblowing, not really, but it's such a fresh take on the concept, and the emotional aspect is so strong that it still stands in my head as one of the bests of 2014.

7. (1)
"The Fault In Our Stars". USA, 2014. 87/100

Yes, another split spot. "The Fault In Our Stars" holds a bit of a weird spot in my heart. I never read the book, though I did buy it afterwards. But I have followed the writer, John Green, on YouTube for several years. It was so weird to see "some YouTuber's" book being made into this near-blockbuster of a picture. The film's weakest point is definitely how much it feels like it was made in present day. It almost already now looks a bit dated, but the story, the characters, and everything else is strong. Had me shed a tear in a theatre full of tween girls.

7. (2)
"Captain America: The Winter Soldier". USA, 2014 87/100

A bit different from "The Fault In Our Stars" but still just as good. When this was released it was easily the best Marvel Studios film to date. So different from everything else they had made up to that point, but still the same enough for it not to feel completely out of place. A spy thriller for the modern day.

"X-Men: Days of Future Past". USA, 2014. 88/100

It was a good year for superhero films, again. "Days of Future Past" is in my opinion the best X-Men film to date, and the way it brings back both new and old favourites to one giant film is amazing. You'd think they would have bigger problems balancing all of them, but they did it marvellously.

"Återträffen". Sweden, 2014. 89/100

First film of the list I'm certain the vast majority of you have never even heard of. A small artsy film about an artist who plots "revenge" against all the people who treated her wrong at school. She goes to the reunion and tries to talk to everyone about what they remembered from school, how it seemed to them. It's almost painful to watch at times, as you can recognise yourself in all parties. Both the victims and the perpetrators.

3. (1)
"Locke". UK, 2014. 90/100

Yeah yeah, yet another split spot. That's what you get in the top, too few ratings to go around. "Locke" is about a guy in a car named Locke. That's basically it. The entire film takes place in more or less real time in the car as he drives to a hospital to witness the birth of his child. He had to leave a big project at work, and the film shows him balancing work and private live over the phone. Trying to keep everyone happy. It's a must-watch.

3. (2)
"Guardians of the Galaxy". USA, 2014. 90/100

Best superhero film as of today. Marvel took a big risk with this one, doing everything no one else dared to. A virtually unknown comic book featuring a talking raccoon and tree. That's not something most people do when they hope to earn hundreds of millions of dollars. But it all worked. It's exciting, it's funny, it's dramatic, it has everything you look for in a film. And it's set in space with spaceships, aliens, and lasers. Come on.

"Snowpiercer". South Korea, 2014. 93/100

I love this film for the same reasons I love "The Zero Theorem". It's got an outrageous concept, crazy characters, and a shallow deep meaning. It's just so bizarre to go through this train, all the different people and thoughts. Wondering about what is going to happen, and who could let all of this go on.

"Her". USA, 2014. 99/100

This is the time I have to note something. The first time I watched "Her" I gave it a 92, placing it under "Snowpiercer", but the second viewing, at the cinema, was so much better. To accurately represent this, I am going to share it with the 99 rating.
This is literally my favourite film now. It's perfect. I can't really think of anything I would have different, anything I would have added or removed. The acting is some of the best, and the fact that Phoenix wasn't even nominated for Best Actor at the Academy Awards is a crime. I could go on and on about this, but I don't think it's fair. The more I talk about it, the less likely you are to enjoy it as much. It will just hype it too far. But it is, in my opinion, the best film made.

That was that. 2014 summed up in one far too long blog post. I am positive that you don't agree with me on anything I've said here, you probably even question the average rating for my films. And that's fine, I wouldn't have it any other way. If you feel inclined, tell me your favourite or least favourite films of 2014 in the comments below. I hope to see a lot more to you this year, as I'm embarking on a new goal for my film viewings. 100 cinema trips in 2015. So hopefully that means you'll get at least 100 more blog posts before we meet back for "Film Stats of 2015".