Looking back…

…some of the early promotional materials for We Need to Talk About Kevin were a bit misleading.

(This was at least 50% funnier when it was just an idea in my head yesterday)

Top 20 Films of 2011

As 2011 comes to a close is it my obligation as a film blogger to put together my pick of 2011’s releases. I’ve gone for my top twenty as narrowing it down to just ten would be too harrowing a task and my only rule is that they must have been released in UK cinemas during 2011. This takes us from The Next Three Days (absolutely not in the list) to The Lady and The Artist and is only limited to films I have seen. I’ve also chosen not to speak to the wider Mild Concern team, mostly due to laziness, barring watching Waste Land at Kat’s insistence. This was a decision I have come to regret considering the rambling you will find below.

The scene properly set, let’s get onto the list. Looking back 2011 has been a great year for cinema, here are my top 20 releases of 2011:

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Mild Concern BFI London Film Festival Awards 2011

Hello and welcome to the second annual Mild Concern BFI London Film Festival awards to celebrate and berate various films screened at the 55th BFI London Film Festival. Today I will be sitting in my tuxedo handing out the feted awards, the Raised EyebrowsTM, to any film which grabbed our attention in a positive or, equally likely, negative way.

Best Use of SymbolismWe Need to Talk About Kevin
A favourite to win a few bigger awards this year, even Best of the FestTM, but ultimately a few surprises took the crown. Instead Kevin is recognised for the amount of time poor Tilda Swinton is cleaning red off of her hands, her house and her car. Red is everywhere in Kevin. It’s not subtle but it’s certainly effective.

Best Use of Jon SnowCoriolanus
Jon Snow’s cinematic appearances are few and far between, it has been too long since Zombie Farm, but they are always a treat. Here he plays a newsreader with some classic Shakespearean dialogue. Best bit of the film.

Best Use of Felicity JonesLike Crazy
As the official Mild Concern crush we had to give Felicity Jones a mention. She is at the top of her game in Like Crazy and the film gives her a chance to show her acting chops, and captures her in a gorgeous light throughout. The more I think about the film, the better it seems.

Totally a Play AwardCarnage
Carnage was a hell of a lot of fun but, with four speaking parts and a set consisting of two rooms, hasn’t gained much in transitioning from stage play to motion picture. You’d struggle to find a theatre gathering this stellar cast though so all is forgiven.

Most Improved Performer – George Clooney for The Descendants
At last year’s festival The American was a major low point in my week, it was a dull and pointless film. Thankfully George Clooney took my criticism and returned this year with two films getting rave reviews. The Descendants takes the award for one good reason: it’s the one I saw.

Most Prolific Performer – John C. Reilly for Carnage, We Need to Talk About Kevin and Terri
John C. Reilly has the unique distinction of having a major role in three quality films at this year’s festival. In every film he is a less than perfect father figure to a troubled young boy. Don’t be fooled into thinking he is just playing the same role again and again, each time he plays a distinct character proving that Reilly is not a one trick pony.

Struggling to Stay Awake Award (Documentary)Crazy Horse
Visually beautiful and with a few nice insights into a famous Parisian club, Crazy Horse is a documentary with nothing to say but plenty of time to spend not saying it. I checked the time three times during the screening, willing the film to end and trying to keep my eyes open.

Struggling to Stay Awake Award (Feature)Last Screening
With Last Screening my battle to keep my eyes open was lost and became a battle to maintain consciousness. A film about a serial killer shouldn’t be boring, this is completely unacceptable.

Biggest Affront to Germaine GreerTales of the Night
In a series of fairy tales women fail to be anything more than pathetic damsels in distress. With the actors within the film amending some of the stories they fail to acknowledge women as competent human beings and give the female characters any initiative. It’s as if Buffy never happened.

Best Mix of Tears and Titters/Best Comedy50/50
I laughed, I cried (almost) and I found Seth Rogan funny throughout a film for the first time. 50/50 manages to fill a film about cancer with humour without ever belittling the disease. Good work people.

Scared to Walk Home Award/Best DramaMartha Marcy May Marlene
Stealing Kevin‘s award is a harrowing tale of a young girl who has escaped from a modern-day cult. A brilliant debut feature for director Sean Durkin and a stellar introduction to Elizabeth Olsen. You won’t ever want to be left alone again.

Best DocumentaryInto the Abyss
Werner Herzog certainly knows how to put together a documentary. Here he presents the story of a triple homicide without comment, simply allowing the people involved to tell the story from their point of view. Includes a moving scene where a man starts to cry as he tells a story about a squirrel.

Best AnimationAlois Nebel
So far from cartoon animation this gorgeous Czech film is a truly adult feature. The rotoscoped performances and mixture of CGI effects with hand drawn images make for a real work of art. Still not sure what was going on though.

Best Short FilmThe Monster of Nix
In a similar vein the best short film mixes live-action, computer animation and hand-painted background to make a gorgeous short film which could easily be extended to a full feature. If you’re listening Rosto, we want an extra hour please.

Best of the FestThe Artist
With so many heavy films the best thing we saw all festival was a French silent film set in Hollywood as the talkies began. Invigorating my love for cinema and hopes for its future The Artist is so much fun you can’t help but fall in love with it. It also has a release date now, get ready to smile on 30th December 2011.

A Note For Film-makers:
To collect your award simply send us an email with the address you’d like it sending to and we’ll post it on as soon as we cobble something together. And in case you’re wondering how to incorporate the award into your marketing campaign, here’s an example using Coriolanus:

If you missed any of our reviews, all films covered can be found by clicking on the appropriate thumbnail below:

Out Now – 21st October 2011

Contagion
Imagine there’s a deadly disease spreading across the population and it is actually killing people rather than being blown out of proportion by the media. Imagine lots of A-listers including Kate Winslet and Matt Damon making frantic phone calls and flinching whenever someone coughs. Imagine “disturbing content and some language”. You just imagined Contagion.

Monte Carlo
Frothy girly romp, notable only because this image above includes two exciting things. Firstly Selena Gomez, star of Wizards of Waverley Place, the best Disney show an unemployed person could hope for, and secondly a horse. I love horses, best of all the animals. I love horses, they’re my friends.

Paranormal Activity 3
A once novel franchise is now becoming a bit of a farce. For the third time round we go back to the beginning as we see the haunted childhood of the sisters at the centre of the previous films. Expect more things going bump in the night.

Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer
With a title like this you know you’re onto a winner. In summary Judy Moody has a summer which could not be described as a bummer. Good timing this release.

Restless
Gus Van Sant returns with a film with the most indie of synopses: “The story of a terminally ill teenage girl who falls for a boy who likes to attend funerals and their encounters with the ghost of a Japanese kamikaze pilot from WWII.” Just think, in the end he’ll have to attend her funeral and it will ruin his hobby forever.

We Need To Talk About Kevin
A modern-day Rosemary’s Baby stars Tilda Swinton as the mother of an evil young boy. We thought it was fantastic and recommend you go see it before you do anything silly like give birth to demon spawn.

Blood in the Mobile (limited release)
Prepare to throw away your Nokia (as if anyone but me still has a Nokia) as documentarian (third use of the word this week) Frank Piasechi Poulsen investigates all the suffering people go through to gather the materials needed for him to have a mobile phone. By suffering I don’t mean working in Phones 4U, I mean mining metals using your hands.

Reuniting the Rubins (limited release)
Lenny Rubins must reunite his estranged children for a Jewish holiday to fulfil the wishes of his dying mother. British comedy starring Timothy Spall and about which I can’t think of anything amusing to say.

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (limited release)
A Swedish documentary about the US Black Power Movement, filmed way back when but edited together recently. It’s been ages since anyone made me a mixtape, I suppose I should make Sweden one back. Would Abba be too predictable?

The Yellow Sea (limited release)
A cab driver is offered the chance to sort his life out, all he has to do is kill one person. Considering this is a man living in a region between North Korea, China and Russia who makes extra money by playing mah-jong, he should probably go for it.

Four (limited release)
Brit flick about a man who kidnaps his wife’s lover in order to scare him off. Things go awry much like in The Disappearance of Alice Creed which also starred Martin Compston.

We Need to Talk About Kevin – LFF Review

Adapted from Lionel Shriver’s hit novel, We Need to Talk About Kevin focusses on Eva (Tilda Swinton) as she struggles with memories of her son from hell and deals with the aftermath of his violent actions. From birth, Kevin (Ezra Miller, Jasper Newell and more) favours his father (John C. Reilly) and treats his mother with extreme disdain. If you’ve ever wanted to see a toddler express pure contempt, this is your film.

In the film’s opening sequence the ratcheting sound of a garden sprinkler sets the tone for the film. Resembling the ticking of a clock gathering pace as the camera slowly moves towards an open patio with curtain billowing, it creates a sense of tension and embeds the idea of the film building towards a devastating climax. This simple shot had me unsettled from the very beginning and the film didn’t relent until the credits rolled and I could escape from its hold. We Need to Talk About Kevin is a powerful beast.

Poor Eva has a traumatic time throughout, unable to earn the love of her son and later, unable to escape the crimes he has committed. In the earlier scenes flashes of red are scattered throughout, be it a red kettle in the kitchen or a stripe along the wall. In the present day the red becomes overwhelming, from a wall of tomato soup or paint thrown over Eva’s house. Numerous times we watch Eva trying to wash the red stuff away, never able to get the blood spilled by her son off her hands. Lynne Ramsay’s use of colour may not be subtle but it is beyond effective. As a director Ramsay does not glorify the violence in the scenes, instead emphasising the emotional turmoil as expressed by her excellent cast.

We Need to Talk About Kevin is a fantastic film, brilliantly put together by Lynne Ramsay and with perfect performances from Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller. Be warned though, it will either put you off having children or if it’s too late, prevent you from teaching them archery or buying them a guinea pig.

We Need to Talk About Kevin screens again today at 14:45 in the London Film Festival and is in UK cinemas this Friday 21st October 2011.