It’s Christmastime!

Yes. The end is nigh. Lists of things that happened during 2012 and lists of wishes and dreams for 2013 are springing up EVERYWHERE, and I thought: if it works for them, why not for me? It does help that I most definitely am an avid fan of lists. They are my life. I have to-do lists. I have packing lists. I have lists of what I should pick up from somewhere. I have lists for groceries. I have lists of things I can improve. I have pro/con lists on various ideas. I have lists of music I need to listen to and books I need to read. I have lists of temporarily displaced (a.k.a. lost) items I somehow need to recover. I have a list of movies I’ve watched (sort of).

But movies to watch? I mean, I try to keep track of it, but there is just so much material out there guys! You know it, I know it, everybody knows it. As someone who has started blogging about film though, I believe I should get my act together and work on it. Sort of.  So here follows a very brief list of films I SHOULD have watched this year. If you haven’t yet either, get to it! These four films made it on the list, because I consider all of them daredevils, each for their own reasons. It really is a shame I haven’t seen any of them yet, though Les Mis of course hasn’t actually been released yet. I don’t think I’ll get to it before the ending of the year though, so that’s why I included it here as well. These films are really pushing against the existing boundaries of the medium, which is very laudable in my opinion. Whether that makes them good films is a different matter, but I do believe these are films that everyone should see. Just because they are trying to do something very new. Let’s list ’em!

First, there is Cloud Atlas, released in October. It’s based on the book of the same name, which everyone agreed was unfilmable. Were they right? Maybe. Independently produced, it is one of the most expensive films in that category of this year. And for good reason. Cloud Atlas is an epic, of epic spread and proportion, trying to link together six storylines in different times and locations. I don’t think it’s too big a stretch when hoping for some epic music and landscape as well. I consider this film a daredevil, because the producers are really going for EPIC. The last we saw of that was probably the Rings-trilogy, with before that Gladiator. Epics are scarce in our time, which is a pity. Now we got Cloud Atlas and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Trying (and whether they succeeded or failed is not up to me) to wrap six separate storylines together is a big feat. I applaud the producers for still taking on that challenge and working to push the epic as a genre forward again.

Then there was the release of Life Of Pi in November. I have read the book, and am really curious about how they translated that. Especially whether they included the plot twist at the ending or not. They must have, right? It’s a plot twist! How can any filmmaker ignore a plot twist such as this one, I ask of you? Director Ang Lee explains why this is a daring film: “Water, kids, animals and 3D. Everything you should avoid in the movie business. I thought it was unmakeable, even though it’s very inspiring.” This idea, again of a book being unfilmable, and still going for it, made this film a daredevil for me. I have seen some stills, and they look gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. This is one film I am actually very sad about not having had the chance to see yet, and I will definitely try to hit it up later. Somehow.

Now, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, was (as I hope you are aware. If not, I invite you to leave your little hidey-hole under your rock, and rejoin the world) released this month. I haven’t seen it yet. And honestly, I don’t feel as excited as I probably should. When the Rings-trilogy came out (2001, 2002, and 2003), I was 8, 9, and 10 years old. The rating of these films would have kept me from seeing them (my Mom is very strict with that sort of thing), and I don’t think I was even aware of who Tolkien was at that point, let alone his books. I did join a school-organized (yes, you heard me. My school is epic, as evidenced here as well) marathon of the extended cut of the entire trilogy. Food was provided. It was pretty good. Furthermore, Howard Shore is again on board for this trilogy, so I honestly don’t understand why I’m not excited. It’s weird. This movie is on this list, because of its controversial use of High Frame Rate (HFR). I have no idea what the effect looks like, but reviews call it very sharp. And again, it pushes the boundary of film as we know it, as we have become used to, as we have come to expect it to be. I am not going to delve much more into all that (this guy explains it very clearly), but I do believe I will watch this one in the theater, just to experience that HFR and see the medium breaking free of expectations that have been imposed on it for a very long time.

And finally, Les Miserables, will enter theaters this Christmas-day. I have never seen the musical or read the book on which the musical is based. I’m currently considering the latter, and contemplating the musical. We’ll see. What is fresh and renewing about this one, is the fact that all the songs are recorded live. Usually, in a musical film, the songs get recorded beforehand. During the scenes the songs are featured, the actors are just playbacking to that earlier recording. This is not the case with Les Mis, which really frees up the actors (which is an amazing bunch, I might add: Hugh Jackman, Eddie Redmayne, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe. Amanda Seyfried. And that’s just from the top of my head!). Deducing from the various trailers, I think that Jackman is making the most, and most effective, use of that freedom. He doesn’t stop the acting when singing. He incorporates the singing in his acting! Which makes for amazing material. The live recording of songs (all right, and its theatricality) places Les Mis on this list.

What really strikes me, is that three of the above are directly based on a book, and the other is indirectly based on one. Literature has always been a welcome source of inspiration for filmmakers of course. I believe that around 50% of films which get an Oscar, are based on some form of literature. That is a lot! Seeing as this is a list of daredevils though, does that mean that literature really lends itself for the pushing of film? I don’t know, but I do think it’s certainly something I’ll be paying attention to with the upcoming literary adaptations!


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