My new years resolution in 2009 was to review every film I saw in the cinema that year. That came to 114 films (so far) of which I managed to say at least something about 97 of them. So over the next few year ending days I will run down the films I did not review, with a general thought, and perhaps an explanation why they ended up being unwritten about. It soon turns out that it wasn’t necessarily due to them being unloved.

So working in reverse order, based on the theory that the most recent films I have had less time to write about…

A Serious Man: The Coen’s evoke an amazing sense of time and place here, and it is almost secondary to the story. And this is one of those non-story stories where we follow an impotent actor in a drama unfolding around him. Indeed this is a story of one mans impotency, how he fights all the way through the film to not make any decisions, or act in any way. This can be incredibly frustrating to watch, but luckily the film is packed with interesting secondary characters and that remarkable sense of time, place and culture. Its an interesting film in the Coen’s career – clearly intensely personal and yet building on what they have learnt from the success of No Country For Old Men. The idiosyncratic ending should be a lot more frustrating than it is, there is a sense that the Coen’s are playing with the audience but the audience have now grown up with them and are ready for their tricks. We are just happy to go on the ride with them.

The Informant!: I really like Stephen Soderbergh, even when he is off the boil. Actually I like him especially when he is off the boil, as he is a clearly talented director who loathes staying in his comfort zone. So for all the faults of the Che project, they were still fascinating to watch and work out why he made the decisions he did. Coming off the back of that biopic pairing and into another sort of biopic, The Informant! is a really odd beast. Much has be made of its:
a) Exclamation mark
b) Unreliable narrator
Both of which are key to Soderbegh’s take of this material – the whistle-blower who eventually is blowing the whistle on himself. Matt Damon plays the role really well, being a likable, watchable presence even when his lies and life spirals out of control. And yet the story of internecine dodgy financial deals is a bit too technical to make it laugh out loud funny, and Soderbergh’s presentation of it in the style almost of a seventies sitcom gibes badly with its actual mid-nineties setting. In pushing some stylistic buttons too hard to be interesting, I think he misses a third way, which is to look at nineties comedies and how they might be presented. But then I find it hard to think of any good nineties comedies off the top of my head so his choice makes sense.

Mesrine: Public Enemy No.1: I though Mesrine: Killer Instinct was terrific. It was my thriller of the year, with a great central performance from Vincent Cassel, and excellent support to show the rise of the criminal and on to an almost bizarre self aggrandizing phase in Canada. Which meant I was looking forward to the second part immensely. And in the end was a bit let down by it. It was not quite more of the same, there were more jailbreaks for one. But in framing the first film with the end of the second, there was little to learn apart from “he commits more crimes and becomes even more big-headed”. In the end the most interesting thing about Public Enemy No.1 was the very brief scene set in a London park which was clearly set in a French park, for reasons I cannot quite pin down. Perhaps the newspaper stall. A sequel which almost undermines the original (and was it a sequel – or just part two of a two part film, same as Che?)

Triangle: The main reason I didn’t want to write about Triangle was to not take the suprises away from people. Not that anyone else went to see it because to be fair to Triangle it also made sure that was the case, potentially scuppering its own potential word of mouth by presenting itself as a Dead Calm rip. Instead it is a clever philosophical horror film which has a few pretty good scars and a load of great ideas. Even better, I believe it is consistent with itself (one scene potentially makes no sense unless you give it a lot of thought). But no horror film since Frailty has excited me by its own internal logic and resultant morality this much. Feel free to challenge me on the logic of this movie, because I think that I worked it all out, but well worth seeing. Basically it is hard to write about a sci-fi, philosophical horror movie when its good, because you want as many other people to enjoy in exactly the way you did.

Coming next: Video games an smug pregnoids.