Starting with the best, here are the films of June 2014. There are links to reviews included where applicable, and if we didn’t review it fully in time then there’s a bit of a write-up. For more on a few of these titles, check out our latest podcast.
Note: This list is by no means complete, we’re only rankin’ wot we seez.
Note 2: Where two films get the same rating they’re ranked alphabetically
The Golden Dream (la Jaula De Oro)
Break for the border – ★★★★½ (NW)
The final five minutes are some of the most powerful scenes you’ll see this year and some may think the imagery and final metaphor is laid on just a little too thick but in my book it was a fitting end to a beautifully told story of friendship, aspiration and loss.
Mistaken for Strangers
Brotherly Love – ★★★★½ (NW)
The film will have you smiling for the best part of 80 minutes while also managing to pack a real emotional punch as the Berningers’ relationship evolves.
Who’s the Daddy? – ★★★★ (PMcG)
Cheap Thrills has more going on than a simple gorey gross out flick, although there is enough here to keep Eli Roth fans happy.
How to train your Dragon 2
Mother of Dragons – ★★★★ (NW)
As a movie to entertain giddy kids while also giving their parents something to enjoy, there won’t be many better options on screens this year.
Cold in July
Daddy’s Boys – ★★★½ (NW)
The film has its issues but you suspect most of these have their origins in the source material. Take the film for what it is though – a showcase of three terrific actors doing their thing in a sweaty, pulpy Texas thriller.
Columbine 2.0 – ★★★½ (PMcG)
It’s been fifteen years since the Columbine high school massacre and eleven years since Gus Van Sant’s filmic take of the event Elephant. The Dirties is the latest telling of sorts as, while it isn’t based on reality, it has taken much from the real and fictionalised versions of the event.
The film is directed by Matt Johnson who also stars in the piece and co-wrote it, making him a budding Orsen Welles. The premise is that nerds or social outcasts Matt and Owen (Owen Williams) make a video for school where they pretend to kill all their high school bullies. The only thing is that Matt starts turning the joke into a reality. The brilliance of the film is having funny, heart-warming set pieces that endear you to the characters only for these to become slowly more sinister and unnerving. The film doesn’t outstay its welcome, clocking in at 83 minutes and wrapping up with fantastic closing credits.
A very impressive first outing and no doubt Matt Johnson is one to watch.
Disney Origins: Sleeping Beauty – ★★★½ (PMcG)
Angelina Jolie was born to play this role. Every inch of her body exudes menace, sex appeal and devilish wickedness. It wasn’t always so as we learn how Maleficent was a fairy with great powers who fell in love with a man only to be betrayed, thus giving birth to the more fiendish Maleficent we’re familiar with.
The film is quite dark throughout and no doubt some scenes will hopefully go over children’s heads with one scene being akin to rape. It stars Sharlto Copley (Elysium, District 9) expertly showing the lengths man will go to in search of power. There is also a beautiful story of redemption and the power of love but then again this is Disney – oh and Sleeping Beauty is in there somewhere.
Mirror, mirror – ★★★½ (NW)
There’s no need to rely on gore or cheap shock tactics as this is just a genuinely creepy and thrilling film. The final act is quite clever and very satisfactory, tying things up nicely – though chances are more seasoned horror films may have called it early on.
22 Jump Street
If it ain’t broke… – ★★★ (PMcG)
Hopefully this will be an end to the franchise as they’ve got their wares out of it and no ones wants to go into Police Academy territory.
It did matter if you were black or white – ★★★ (NW)
Trivia time… Belle director Amma Asante was in Grange Hill and visited the White House with the cast as part of the “Just Say No to Drugs” campaign of the early 80s.
The film is a British period drama about an illegitimate mixed-race girl who is brought up by her uncle and aunt alongside her cousin Elizabeth, an almost-scandalous situation in an era in the late 18th century where “negroes” were brought up to very much know their place. The film’s motives to bring a human element to a court trial on a slave ship are admirable (read up on the Zong massacre if you so desire) and it serves as a much softer, classically British addition to the recent range of films dealing with slavery.
Performance wise Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Dido Elizabeth Belle is great, but the film could do without all the Austen-lite caricatures and romantic subplots.
Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie
Up the Dubs! – ★★★ (PMcG)
Of course the film won’t be to some people’s taste but Mrs. Brown’s Boys follows on from a long line of British television shows including Hi-de-Hi! Are You Being Served? and the awful ‘Allo ‘Allo!. For every Monty Python, there’s a Benny Hill and for every Louis there’s a Mrs. Brown’s Boys. Long may she continue.
The Art of the Steal
Now you’ve seen it – ★★½ (NW)
There’s really nothing wrong with The Art of the Steal, it’s just hard to sell it as anything other than a perfectly fine film with a strong cast who do the job but are never really challenged. Ideal stuff for a movie night or a long-haul flight.
The Fault in Our Stars
The Crying Game – ★★½ (PMcG)
The work is a brave attempt to try and tackle the reality of children with cancer but gets swept away in a bright melodramatic Disneyfied version of life never delving into the darker side of disease.
Bit of a Jersey Bore – ★★½ (NW)
Personally the talk of “pizza pie” and “momma’s meatballs” all got a bit too much and had me yearning for the heroin and hard liquor we usually get in big music biopics of the period like Ray and Walk the Line.
A Million Ways to Die in The West
Brian goes West – ★★ (PMcG)
The best parts of A Million Ways are when they have small asides akin to the “it was like the time so and so did so and so” on Family Guy. The rest is meandering filler and a long drawn-out plot with Seth MacFarlane at the helm, just like Family Guy.
Fans of the western genre will get the most out of this and will see that MacFarlane was brought up on Blazing Saddles. There are some brilliant segments the best dealing with how nobody smiles in old photos from the frontier.
Really MacFarlane should have stayed behind the camera not having the star appeal to carry the film. As we’ve come to see in all his television shows he has little time for women and Sarah Silverman’s prostitute character is the embodiment of his attitudes. At nearly two hours it is too long for a comedy and like so many films of late it needed a better editor, but with MacFarlane directing, writing and starring in the film it was always going to be his way or the high way.