I recently reviewed three films I'd seen at the start of 2011. I've since seen three more. Here are my thoughts. Spoilers follow.
Hereafter can first, starring Matt Damon as an ex-medium. The film follows three storylines (Damon's character, a French journalist, and a bereaved child) and weaves them together. This can be done with three characters (though not with many more...Love Actually, Crash...), and all three storylines held my attention. I genuinely cared about the characters. The plots were interesting and the film was entertaining. Unfortunately, the ending was pants. Very disappointing, given the previous 90 minutes. The film tried to deal with death, and did this well in terms of the presentation of the characters' various experiences of death, but very poorly in terms of what it was trying to 'say' about death. More could have been done in this area to make some sort of a point. Not an awful film, but disappointing, as it could have been much better.
Next was Never Let Me Go. I was pretty sure it would be very good, but wasn't certain. Fear not, it was very good. Best film so far this year, eclipsing Black Swan and The Fighter (see below). The story is of three school children who discover they have been bred to be organ donors (it's set in an alternate England) and their friendships as they grow into their twenties. The acting is excellent (even Keira Knightly does a decent job), the visuals are beautiful, and the plot is brilliant. Carey Mulligan is simply incredible. This film moved me more than most do...I think the only other films to have made me cry in the cinema are the three LOTRs. Not a lighthearted film at all, not a happy ending at all...but those types of films are often the best.
Lastly, The Fighter. I'd been looking forward to this one for a while, mainly because I am in love with Christian Bale. The story is of a Boxer (Mark Wahlberg) whose career is doing down the drain, partly because his brother and coach (Bale) is a crack addict. Enter ladyfriend Charlene (Amy Adams), and it all kicks off. The three leads and supporting cast are great, the fight scenes are good, the interaction between the characters is mesmerizing (especially Charlene). The biggest let down is the presence of Wahlberg's 6-or-7 sisters, who essentially act one character, just with 7 bodies. No uniqueness, few names to get hold of. Subsequently, I didn't care about them and they annoyed me. Reducing them to 1 or 2 proper characters would have been better. But other than that, another really good film.
Tentative ranking so far:
1 Never let me go
2= The Fighter, Black Swan
4= The king's speech, 127 hours
Having been to the cinema so much recently, there are another three films to see next: The Adjustment Bureau (Bourne meets the Matrix), Fair Game (looks proper intense), and The Rabbit Hole (Nicole Kidman, woop!).
Thoughts on these will follow.