Monday, 14 January 2008
Highlights of 2007
With a new year of films kicking into gear comes the chance to reflect on what's just passed. Here are a few of the things I enjoyed in 2007...
2007 turned out two belting comedies in the shape of a Brit-com, Hot Fuzz, and Judd Apatow's latest creation, Knocked Up. Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright teamed up once again to repeat the success they had with Shaun of the Dead (2004). Knocked Up saw a performance to savour from actor Seth Rogen, in a tale of a stoner, a one-night stand and an unwanted pregnancy.
The return of Jason Bourne was welcomed at the end of the year, with Matt Damon convincing as ever as the forgetful spy who's after the truth in The Bourne Ultimatum. If the X-files has taught us anything it's that 'the truth is out there', and Bourne manages to find it by remembering a few snippets of information to put the puzzle together.
The 300 was perhaps one of the most enjoyable films of 2007. The performance of Gerard Butler as Leonidas, King of the Spartans, was enthralling, accompanied by sensational imagery and spectacular scenes of battle. When Leonidas stabs the giant he fights through the bicep mid-way through the film, you know it's going to be one heck a battle.
A plethora of good thrillers was served up towards the end of the year, with American Gangster and Eastern Promises worth particular mention. Ridley Scott managed to draw a superb performance from Denzel Washington, who plays Frank Lucas in American Gangster, as well as recovering his excellent working relationship with Russell Crowe after the pitiful A Good Year (2006). Eastern Promises was the product of another director/actor combination as David Cronenburg and Viggo Mortensen teamed up once more with outstanding results, following the success of A History of Violence (2005).
German film The Lives of Others earnt a UK release this year following success at the Oscars. The movie is set in East Germany during communist rule and follows the life of a Stasi officer who is spying on a couple he suspects are Western sympathisers. As he learns more about the pair he begins to understand and even care for them, taking him on a compelling and unexpected journey.
So, if The Lives of Others is 'a bit of culture' then surely everyone is entitled to a guilty pleasure. Rocky Balboa saw the return of Sylvester 'Sly' Stallone to the screen, packed full of steroids and looking uglier than ever. Sly writes the Rocky films and it seems he's never been tempted to sway from the original plot, even now he's on his 6th film. Somehow it's still easy to take huge pleasure from watching him 'return to the ring for one last time' and defeat someone half his age. A new Rambo film is due later this year which is great, but personally I'm holding out for a new version of 'Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.’