Throughout June I saw a whopping 53 new-to-me films (you can see a full list here), more than I have seen in any other month. There were so many fantastic films in the list, that it made it really hard to choose my top 5. For instance, Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell, 2012) was much better than I had expected, as I always thought the trailer looked slightly dull, Parental Guidance (Andy Fickman, 2012) was also thoroughly enjoyable as a family comedy. Orphans of the Storm (D.W. Griffith, 1921), and City Girl (F.W. Murnau, 1930) were very close to making my list as two absolute gems of cinema history, but unfortunately did not make the cut. They would however have been in my top 10 of June. Nevertheless, I thought carefully about my list, and came up with the following as my top 5.
5) Drop Dead Fred (Ate de Jong, 1991)
Drop Dead Fred is a comical tale of a young woman, Lizzie, whose troublemaking invisible childhood friend, which is in fact a ghost named Fred, reappears in her adult life to cause havoc. Fred is portrayed by comedy genius Rik Mayall, and his slapstick jokes are a brilliant source of laughter in this classic 90’s film, which a remake of is currently in development. Aside from the comedy, there is an almost symbolic layer to the film in which Lizzie learns that in order to be happy, she must take control of her own life. The film’s comedy is intertwined with moments of reflection that add depth to the narrative, and Jong’s seamless direction ensures that the spectator is thoroughly absorbed in the story, Many of us may see ourself reflected in Lizzie, and perhaps that is what makes Drop Dead Fred so much more than just a simple family comedy.
4) Before Sunrise (Richard Linklater, 1995)
Before Sunrise is the first in Linklater’s trilogy (followed by Before Sunset (2004) and Before Midnight (2013), and was much more enjoyable than I had first anticipated. The narrative is propelled primarily through the script which is brought to life through the acting talent of Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Exploring the relationships between humans, Before Sunrise focuses on two people who spontaneously meet on a train journey and find they have a significant connection, one which propels them to want to see each other again. The film oozed charm and wit and is notably clever in its exploration of how humans work together in conversation. Scoring a whopping 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, Before Sunrise is definitely worth a watch.
3) Monsters University (Dan Scanlon, 2013)
Many who grew up watching Monsters Inc. (2001) on its first release, are now themselves heading to university or college, and so Monsters University becomes a fitting prequel for those who grew up with the original instalment in the series. The Pixar-Disney co-production focuses on Mike and Sulley as they first meet, and battle against each other to become the biggest scarer. Filled to the brim with classic moments of comedy and memorable characters, Monsters University is a worthy back story to the original. Undoubtedly an instant classic in Pixar and Disney film history, be sure to watch through the credits to see the post-credit clip!
2) Summer In February (Christopher Menaul, 2013)
Little marketed and little shown throughout the UK, the Cornwall-based adaptation of Jonathan Smith’s novel of the same name is an absolute gem that focuses on painter Alfred Munnings in the years leading up to the First World War. Starring the young acting talent of Dominic Cooper, Emily Browning, and Dan Stevens, the film seamlessly explores love and loss in Edwardian England. The script and score, amongst the performances, are perhaps the elements of the film that deserve the most praise. Smith adapted his own book into a screenplay which carries across the emotional power of the novel, and is accompanied by the elegant compositions of Benjamin Wallfisch. Despite little publicity, Summer In February has fought for advertisement across the UK (follow them on Twitter here, and check out the website here), and the film has become one of my favourites of 2013.
1) Populaire (Régis Roinsard, 2012)
Populaire is a charming tale of a speed-typist, Rose Pamphyle, who is hired as a secretary by the handsome Louis Échard, only to find that he wants to take advantage of her typewriting skills and enter her into a speed-typing competition. As the two work fiercely together to ensure Rose’s efforts in the competition aren’t in vain, romance blossoms as the two become closer. Accompanied by the score of Emmanuel d’Orlando, Populaire is undoubtedly an instant gem of French cinema.