2013 – Emma's take on the cinematic year

In cinematic terms, 2013 isn’t a year that’s going to stand out for me. Certainly not when it comes to blockbusters anyway. Then again, blockbusters are not really my thing but here’s what I was dragged along to…

I had some hope for Elysium from writer/director Neill Blomkamp of District 9 fame and though its heart was in the right place, the effects pretty good and Damon “guns” on top form, it lacked the dark cynicism of its predecessor and Jodie Foster’s part an absolute waste of her talent.

Apparently I also popped along to World War Z though I don’t really believe that. If I did, well, I got what I deserved. Check out Screen Junkies- Honest trailers on YouTube for all the synopsis you need on this one!

Gravity promised an awful lot and it certainly lived to the hype when it came to effects. Its depiction of that silent eerie place we call “space” and the notion of two human beings being suspended there was unnerving and the action sequences were thrilling. Bullock did well carrying most of the film herself but I found Clooney’s character hugely annoying and a waste of his abilities. The script was for the most part juvenile and twee.

So what did float my boat this year…?

Staying on a nautical theme, my film of 2013 involves a ship that gets hijacked by Somali pirates. No! Not Captain Phillips. I’m talking about A Hijacking a gripping film from Danish writer/ director Tobias Lindholm.

Mikkel, in an excellent and sensitive performance by Pilou Asbaek, is a cook on a cargo ship headed for Mumbai when they get hijacked by a group of Somali pirates. The first thing that sets A Hi-Jacking apart from your average action-film is that we never see the moment the hijacking takes place. The film opens as Mikkel placates his wife on the phone because he has to stay on longer to train on a new cook. In the next scene the pirates have already taken the boat siege and we are plunged into the same fear that the ships crew are experiencing. Another effective ploy is that when the pirates speak, in Somali of course, there are no translating subtitles for the viewer. The crew have no idea what these men are screaming at them as they wave their guns and knives and neither do we. In one of many terrifying scenes we watch Mikkel sweat drip onto the vegetables he has to chop as a gun is pushed to his head- something that would make even scare Gordon Ramsey.

The point of view swaps from the shocking scenes on the boat to the clean professional setting of the office where CEO Peter (Soren Malling, The Killing) works with a consultant negotiator Connor Julian (Gary Skjoldmose Porter) to try and get his crew back at the right price. The scenes of negotiating are tense and cold and given realism by the fact that Porter is not an actor but a real-life negotiator. A Hijacking is a chilling and gripping thriller, streets ahead of any big budget offering I’ve seen in years.

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Another understated gem I saw this year was Pilgrim Hill by Irish director Ger Barrett. A beautifully directed and sensitively acted film set in the rural Ireland which follows the lonely life of an Irish farmer. With nods to Lenny Abrahamson and Ken Wardrop work -this film is well worth given a try for its raw depiction of the Irish countryside and its delicate treatment of the human condition.

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And lastly for something completely different, another high-light for me was Baz Luhrmann’s take on F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, The Great Gatsby. It wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea and has been criticised in terms of the acting and non-adherence to plot among other things but I found it an absolute feast for the eyes and thought that along with the direction, the design and soundtrack perfectly summed up the era.

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So there you go – that my 2013 in movies!