Jan 16

The Freaky Trigger Movie Poll 2015: #40 – #31

Do You See12 comments • 552 views

harrisonfordsilent“Hi I’m Harrison Ford, the silent movie star with a somewhat unusual name, welcoming you to the first ten films in the Freaky Trigger countdown of the top movies of 2015. Now, truth be told I haven’t seen any of these films on account of being dead for 58 years. I am however pleased in perusing this number forty to thirty one list that no films with my coat-tail dragging namesake turn up – a man whose acting is a wooden as his carpentry. Which is to say it is wooden, as that is what carpentry is; I was a silent movie actor and I am still not all that confident with my words, especially since my death. So sit back and see what talkie nonsense people seem to rate these days.”

Thanks Harrison and I daresay if we were doing the 1928 poll Three Weekends with you and Clara Bow would have made the list. But we aren’t and having had a charitable 24 responses we can call this inaugural film poll a success. Just a reminder that to make the list a film had to receive more than one vote (in the case of a tie, a film with more votes was place higher). Films with an (*) I haven’t had a chance to see so I will semi crowdsource an opinion from those who did…

40: London Road (dir by Rufus Norris)

On the whole successful adaptation of the National Theatre verbatim musical about the murders of prostitutes on London Road in Ipswich, which as a sentence and idea shows the hoops which the film has to jump through to work. Some people loved the way real speech was twisted into rhythmic forms to highlight the characterisation, some people hated it with a passion.

39: Sunset Song* (dir Terence Davies)

A labour of love for Terence Davies, an adaptation of Lewis Grassic Gibbons classic Scottish novel. Apparently it looks fantastic, has some good central turns from Agnyss Deyn and Peter Mullan but was possibly a little too hang tied to the books to soar as a movie. Ewan’s review here is tentatively positive.

38: Phoenix (dir Christian Petzold)

Post WWII a captured Jewish survivor of the concentration camp returns to Berlin nervous, shattered and with plastic surgery to hide her scars. She discovers her husband also survived the war and he sees her, and realises that her resemblance to his dead wife means he could use her to potentially get her inheritance. What sounds like a ridiculously melodramatic plot is contrasted with terrifically naturalistic acting and a devastating final sequence where nothing and everything happens.

37: The Martian (dir Ridley Scott)

Solidly crowd-pleasing adaptation of the best selling book, where Matt Damon is stuck on Mars and sciences the shit out of the situation. Star-studded, action-packed pro-science film with no villains, it stands and falls on the quality of its script, which Scott, a lousy director of late, cannot fuck up. Nevertheless, we really shouldn’t be letting Matt Damon go anywhere, so we don’t have to rescue him any more. Also, it is set about ten years in the future, there is no way someone is just stuck with 70’s hits on an iPod, even if we have the happy outcome of Starman on rotation.

36: Spectre (dir Sam Mendes)

Personally I thought it was a pretty weak Bond movie, opening sequence notwithstanding, but a number of people threw it a bone. Craig seems weary with the role, and the two villains really embody the banality of evil, one side a government pen pusher, the other because we are all villained out with him. Still it had the usual visual wow, Lea Seydoux is a effective Bond girl and its almost worth it for disinterested Craig on the interview circuit.

35: Love And Mercy (dir Bill Pohlad)

Two films for the price of one, we get a pretty regular bio-pic of young Brian Wilson in his prime, creating his best music and slowly going off the rails. And at the same time we see an older Brian Wilson, falling in love with a carsaleswoman and how she helps him finally break free from the controlling influence of Dr Eugene Landy. Paul Dano is a perfect young Wilson, and John Cusack looks like an older Dano (without ever looking, or really acting, like Wilson). For all its flaws, the film has an interesting biopic half, mixed with a highclass Hallmark romance half anchored around Elizabeth Banks strong performances. Lacks a killer Manzarek moment though.

34: Shaun The Sheep: The Movie (dir Mark Burton & Richard Starzak)

One for the silent movie fans, Aardman’s big screen leap for the kiddie pleasing sheep is actually the stop motion animators finest physical performance. The sheep don’t talk, and their baa’s don’t get very expressive so it is down to the animators to sell the whole story and all of the gags. And like Aardmann at their best, the set pieces and gags are excellently set up, and the characterisation in the clay is fantastic. Truly one for all ages, it wasn’t just nominated by people with kids!

33: Grandma (dir Chris Weitz)

A perfect little modern family comedy, irrascable lesbian grandmother, pregnant granddaughter looking for money to get an abortion. Grandma has a consistently funny and matter of fact script, consistently well played but mainly built around a very strong and comfortable Lily Tomlin performance. Julia Garner’s frizzy haired granddaughter grows admirably in the film, but it knows its point, it avoids needless sentimentality whilst dealing with the most sentimental of topics and gets out under 80 minute. Terrific stuff.

32: Timbuktu (dir Abderrahmane Sissako)

So your in Africa and ISIS and their like have taken over your area. What does this do to you if you are a kid, a woman, a farmer, the resistance. Dripping with sadness, and framed and shot beautifully, Sissako threads moments of droll satire in and around his ultimately tragic story. Perhaps it is a bit broad in places, and is quite happy to settle on some beautiful imagery rather than build a complex narrative, but it is an undeniably powerful movie.

31: Ex Machina (dir Alex Garland)

There are two views of Ex Machina. One is seeing it as a small, deliciously creepy piece of thoughtful science fiction about artificial intelligence and gender roles. The other is to see it as the obvious first directed film of Alex Garner who has clearly read too many Tharg’s Future Shocks in 2000AD. I sort of thought the latter, and its joys (including the best dance sequence of the year) were more in seeing a pretty classic AI movie made and being acted extremely well. Also notable for being the first of nine films released this year with Alicia Vikander in it, and probably her best.

“Hey, Harrison Ford (yes, that one) here again, and they all sound jolly interesting – except I don’t know whata Bond movie is and that Ex Machina just looks like a Metropolis rip-off to me. Still we will be back soon with the next ten movies for me to catch up on the streaming beyond the grave services. Till then.”


  1. 1
    Mark M on 5 Jan 2016 #

    Seen one, voted for one (Love And Mercy). The Martian was the film I almost saw most times last year – I’m looking forward to catching up with that and Shaun The Sheep. Maybe I’ll give Grandma a chance after your write-up – repeated viewings of the trailer had slightly put me off. Not sure what circumstances would be needed to make me watch Sunset Song.

  2. 2
    Pete Baran on 5 Jan 2016 #

    Of the ones above not mentioned I’d definitely give Phoenix a spin. I didn’t like it as much as his previous film Barbara, but it works pretty well despite its ludicrous plot.

    I know how you feel about Sunset Song (I will only see Peter Mullan in comedy of musical roles now…), but did convince enough people that Agnyess Deyn was a decent actress in Electricity that I feel duty bound. I liked Love & Mercy a lot but felt the Cusack/Giamatti were in a much broader film, Dano and Banks were terrific though.

  3. 3

    There are no good Bond movies but Spectre was particularly dreary, even if you brought magbot’s theory to bear, that this was part one of a Moffatt-esque twofer in which JB was actually trapped inside his own hallucinating and/or dying brain for the entire second half.

  4. 4
    sarahluv81 on 5 Jan 2016 #

    this is the point where I remember all the stuff I saw and forgot to vote for. Comments:

    I hated London Road for it’s message about sex workers, not for its singing.
    I wasn’t sure about Phoenix, but the ending completely got me.
    I havent’ seen Sunset Song but I’m veryu annoyed about them using completely the wrong accents in it. No Doric. urgh.
    Review of Ex Machina: #killallmen

  5. 5
    Andrew Farrell on 5 Jan 2016 #

    I had to really strain to remember Andrew Scott as the second villain of Spectre – surely the henchman’s cap goes to Dave Bautista, who is Grrrreat every time he turns up grinning?

    I saw Shaun the Sheep quite recently, but still can’t actually remember much about it – there is possibly something to be said about the trip through the Aardman oeuvre on the well-trod path from things that happen in secret to things that become well famous, from night to day as it happens.

    “The other is to see it as the obvious first directed film of Alex Garner who has clearly read too many Tharg’s Future Shocks in 2000AD.” This is clearly bad science as there is no such thing as too many Tharg’s Future Shocks!

  6. 6
    Ewan on 5 Jan 2016 #

    Alex Garland isn’t it? Anyway, I missed three of these, but I’m pleased to see the others, all of which I liked. Ex Machina is one I didn’t think a huge deal of at the time, but the more I think about it, the more it seems to be about how terrible dudebro tech “genius” types are.

  7. 7
    Alan on 5 Jan 2016 #

    It is Alex “Dredd (2012)” Garland

  8. 8
    Pete Baran on 5 Jan 2016 #

    Alan Garner /Alex Garland etc etc (edited for correctness). And yes, there are too many Tharg Future Shocks, namely the ones made after the Ultimate Future Shock: http://freakytrigger.co.uk/ft/2004/10/ufs1/

    Ex Machina review: #killallmen – I think that might be what is going to happen. And lets be fair, if all the robot knows of men is the two blokes from Star Wars, he inductive reasoning would be sound.

  9. 9
    swanstep on 6 Jan 2016 #

    Only ones I’ve seen here are The Martian and Ex Mahina. I liked them both a bit better than almost everyone here it seems. Nothing too surprising in the plot dept from the latter (Frankenstein’s monster escapes) I’d concede but, yeah, the gender-based callousness stuff ended up hitting hard, and the movie looked (reminded me a bit of Zsigmond’s stuff on Images (1972) but, you know, better) and sounded (Geoff Darrow from Portishead was half of the score team IIRC) amazing. Will make a great double bill with Under The Skin (2013) in future for these reasons.

    Am *really* looking forward to Phoenix and Timbuktu.

  10. 10
    Andrew Hickey on 6 Jan 2016 #

    Can’t agree that Cusack never looked or acted like Wilson. He didn’t look or act much like Wilson did after he was released from Landy’s “care” and put on weight, but if you look at Wilson around the time that part of the film is set — the late 80s — he looks very like Cusack, apart from the hairline (see for example http://www.bradcoweb.com/rockgroups/bw1988Bwilson3.jpg )
    I also thought he caught the mannerisms of latter-day Brian *very* well — to the point that I came out of the film thinking that Dano had done a very good job of playing Brian, while Cusack had just *been* Brian…

  11. 11
    Pete Baran on 6 Jan 2016 #

    I guess I never forgave Ex Machina for getting the Turing Test wrong (which it admits but its a bit late for that), but agreed it sounds great and looks good too. It probably suffered from having too high expectations from me.

    As for Cusack, I guess Cusack has never done a good job of vanishing into characters to me, and instead exuding that Cusackian charm that has started to wear thin of late. But agreed that photo does look a lot closer.

  12. 12
    xyzzzz__ on 22 Jan 2016 #

    Phoenix was beautiful and the Petzold season at the Goethe prior to the release of it was one of the highlights of my cinema-going year. His films are incredible (so much so that Phoenix was slightly disappointing at times – but only when seen against that season)

Add your comment

(Register to guarantee your comments don't get marked as spam.)


Required (Your email address will not be published)

Top of page