Archived entries for Film Diary

Ally Clow’s Films of 2012

The discussion of whether or not the year has been ‘good or ‘bad’ for our various art forms is redundant as always; the deeper you look for art, the more you will be rewarded by the continual reinvention of its content and form. In 2012, those who made the year’s biggest cultural events from the Olympics opening ceremony to Skyfall and The Avengers, wanted to please their audiences without cynicism, without patronising them and in so doing, a truly mass appeal was achieved.

Whilst it was a great year for these blockbuster releases (Skyfall became the most financially successful film ever at the UK box office hitting £100M at time of writing) the documentary form enjoyed a great year too.

Films like The Imposter and This Is Not A Film enjoyed great critical success but it was Searching For Sugar Man that I enjoyed the most. The film tells the story of Sixto Rodriguez, a singer-songwriter who played the bars and basements of Detroit and released two albums of beautiful acid folk-rock then disappearing into oblivion. After the albums were imported to South Africa however, they struck a chord with the anti-Apartheid movement and Rodriguez, and especially his Cold Fact album, became as important to the South Africans as Bob Dylan or the Rolling Stones. The documentary’s strength lay in its gradual uncovering of the protagonist’s story whilst holding back enough for the viewer to be surprised throughout. When and how did he die? Is he even dead at all? Why did the success of his albums in South Africa not translate into financial reward? The documentary answers its questions and reveals a man so full of warmth and humanity that was truly inspiring. Continue reading…

Ally Clow’s June 2012 Film Round-up

Ally Clow looks at Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, the French film Polisse, the start-studded Snow White & The Huntsman and a treasure from Orson Wells.

Every two years, the cinema industry (and a few others) reel in anticipated horror at 22 men kicking a ball around a patch of grass. At this point, the box office crumbles like England when faced with penalty-kicks and apart from the opening weekend of June, when Ridley Scott’s sci-fi epic Prometheus boosted the UK numbers by 25% year on year, the remainder of the month was an average of 25% down on 2011 due to a dearth of major new releases in the face of the football. Continue reading…

Ally Clow’s May 2012 Film Round-up

May began in a funk of April’s promise of rain and cold – perfect cinema weather in my book.  The success that Avengers Assemble enjoyed was down to great direction and script but it also had luck on its side being released bang in the middle of this dank climate too.  As I write, the heatwave most of Britain is going through has all but killed the UK Box Office figures for films such as Men In Black 3 and Moonrise Kingdom. Sacha Baron Coen’s The Dictator on the other hand made the most of a mid-May release date, avoiding any of the truly hot weather.  There were a couple of great remastered classics and even a rare 35mm showing of a Russian masterpiece with what seemed like half the UK’s film industry in attendance – a real event.  May kicked off in style however with Joss Whedon’s Avengers Assemble. Continue reading…

Ally Clow’s April 2012 Film Round-up

If one is torn between the darkly lit cinemas of weekday afternoons but also likes to soak up any hint of the British sun, April’s weather made the choice of where to spend your days very easy indeed. The dreary weather meant the British Box Office was up against last year for three weeks out of four and many cinephiles took solace from the wet, dank atmosphere of the outside world in the dry (but sometimes equally dank) atmosphere of the local multiplex. I spent my April catching up with some classic docs, a couple of big budget affairs, some US indie and even a horror all-nighter. Continue reading…

Ally Clow’s March 2012 Film Round-up

The Hunger Games and a BFI re-issue were highlights in a month full of releases.

March is usually an interesting month for cinema patrons looking for a certain kind of film. Awards season has come and gone and spring yields mainstream films that were never in with a chance for your consideration as well as independent films at odds with the summer blockbuster crop to come.

Mainstream March included The Hunger Games and This Means War and had a bit of everything – comedy (21 Jump St), a new Aardman (The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists!), some 3D spectaculars (John Carter and Wrath Of The Titans), horror (Devil Inside), schmaltzy romcoms (Wanderlust, We Bought A Zoo) and even a gross out teen party movie (Project X).

On the independent side of things, Dexter Fletcher released his directorial debut Wild Bill, some arthouse auteurs returned to our screens such as Jafar Panahi (This Is Not a Film), Werner Herzog (Into The Abyss,), the Dardennes Brothers (The Kid With A Bike) and Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Once Upon A Time In Anatolia). Other strong independent fare included Michael, Trishna, Contraband, This Is Not a Film and Tiny Furniture as UK Box Office wise, the influence of 2011’s King’s Speech, Black Swan and Tangled was finally running its course. Continue reading…

Ally Clow’s February 2012 Film Round-up

February 2012 was the final countdown to the Oscars held on the 26th at the Hollywood and Highland centre in Los Angeles. The final few Oscar films for our consideration were released in the UK such as The Descendants and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (no Albert Nobbs yet however) and some interesting non-Oscar fodder too.  As was the case with January, the UK Box Office was down considerably against 2011. No releases have matched joint efforts of The King’s Speech, Black Swan, Disney’s Tangled and Gnomeo and Juliet and even Paul and True Grit did respectably well on their run. Indeed War Horse, Woman In Black and The Muppets were the only three films in the second month of 2012 to have grossed over £10M to date in the charts. Continue reading…

Ally Clow’s January 2012 Film Round-up

“And here’s your starter for 2012, I need your answer before the gongs”

January is usually a golden month for movies yet equally forgotten too. For the critic, January’s Oscar films have been seen at festivals and any December releases that stretch over to January have been reviewed in the previous year. Their end of year lists rarely includes January films for this reason: those films have been included in the previous year’s ‘best of’ lists. For the public, it’s a catch-up month, watching those Oscar films that have been hyped over the previous twelve months and desperately watching the films on others’ best of lists from the previous year they didn’t have the time to watch. Continue reading…

Ally Clow’s Year in Film, 2011

At the start of the year I had a bit of time on my hands. Leaving a job and deciding on what to do wasn’t easy so I made a pact of recording every film I watched over the course of the year. The below is not an exhaustive list but the choice selections of some of my film highlights in the past 12 months, including my top ten films of the year. Continue reading…



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