Friday, 14 January 2011

[425] The 10 Most Under-Appreciated Movies of 2010

In the midst of essay horrors, I was asked to contribute to Den of Geek's feature regarding films from 2010 that didn't find their audience, or were unduly under-appreciated. It's a good list, and I'm looking forward to checking out the five on the list that I didn't get to see last year. 2010 was definitely a year of 'must-see' films, even if many seem to be touting it as an underwhelming year. The fact is, there are plenty of gems outside of the obvious top 5s or 10s.

I wrote little sections on Tamara Drewe and Down Terrace, in a post-essay haze at about 2am. I'll excerpt them below, but make sure you read the full article as well.

2010 wasn't too kind on comic book movies, with only Kick-Ass managing to unite find both box office success and critical acclaim. However, Tamara Drewe showed us an alternative world that lay beyond superheroics.

Adapted from the serialised strip in the Guardian, created by Posy Simmonds, Tamara Drewe was directed by Stephen Frears, and starred Gemma Arterton, Roger Allam and Tamsin Greig, making it a real surprise that it didn't ensnare the literate, middle class audience it so effectively captured in its tragicomic tale of racing pulses in a rural writer's retreat.

Sure, its tone is a little muddled at times, especially in the broad caricaturing of Dominic Cooper's boisterous rock star boyfriend, but we dare you to resist the film's secret weapons, the bitchy teens played to high-pitched perfection by Jessica Barden and Charlotte Christie, who look on Drewe's escapades with a mixture of extreme jealousy and hopeless, wide-eyed aspiration.


So, Monsters was the low-budget, Brit-indie smash of the year. A deserved well done to Gareth Edwards and all involved, but we were seriously gunning for Down Terrace to experience a similar sort of breakthrough.

From veteran TV director Ben Wheatley, this feature debut mixed up gangster cliches with a wonderfully dour Brighton setting, playing out the disintegration of a family alongside the decline of their nefarious business, which, all too fittingly, involved running a local boozer with a profitable sideline in selling junk on eBay.

It was a joy to see familiar faces in disarming roles, such as Michael Smiley's unlikely hitman, or Julia Deakin's unnervingly callous matriarch.

But it's the film's central pair, a father-son duo that is as odd as they come, that stood out, as 30-something Karl attempts to wiggle out from under his dad's thumb. Which would be tough going in any typical mafioso epic, but with Bill, whose drug-frazzled youth has given way to wildly erratic behaviour, from impromptu blues jams to the out-of-the-blue pronouncement "Hey, I'm God!", things are, understandably, a little trickier.

Down Terrace deserved better.

Read the full article here.

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