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Unexpected Pleasures

Friday 22 June 2012, 13:31

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

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I recently saw the Danish film A Royal Affair and was really surprised by how brilliant it was. Which movies have you gone to without expecting anything very much and then found yourself completely knocked out by how great they were?

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    Comment number 1.

    Headhunters, not so long ago.

    Missed whatever I wanted to see(can't remember now, says it all) and had a choice between Headhunters(which I'd never heard of before) and Battleship(which I didn't fancy and was a packed screening). Headhunters was virtually empty, had no expectations and first few minutes I was like "urgh...can't believe I've done this", but really got engaged by it. Mark is right, subtitles make no difference and I thought it was really good fun, a really solid movie and even better my review of it got read off on your radio show and Floyd and Boyd agreed with it!

    shame they're making an English version, just watch the original, great film.

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    Comment number 2.

    I saw Breaking Away last night - I'd say that

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    Comment number 3.

    It's a strange choice, but the film that I went into having low expectations and then came out thinking it was one of the best films I have ever seen was The Muppets (2011). I didn't know anything about the plot before I watched it, but I thought it was going to be awful. I thought it was going to be a case of the filmmakers taking something you loved in your chilhood and trashing it before your eyes. But after I had watched it, I had a big smile on my face. It had everything I wanted in it: fantastic characters, enjoyable songs, and a great story for everyone. In my opinion, one of the best family films of all time.

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    Comment number 4.

    It would have been 3 or 4 years ago when I saw In the Bedroom on TV. I had seen the posters online and due to the title I thought it would be a story about infidelity between a younger and older couple in a suburban setting a la American Beauty, how wrong I was. The film remains one of the most underrated and under discussed films of the last decade (despite the impressive Oscar nominations).

    It is one of the most fascinating and wonderfully subtle portraits of grief that I have ever seen on film. The way it approaches and represents suburban life is utterly refreshing and seemingly tries to do something new that we haven't seen before. It is also takes a few deeply unexpected turns that are still logical progressions of the narrative despite feeling out of left field, for example the film is by and large about vigilantism and asks brutal questions as to whether it is ever appropriate to take the law into your own hands. However there are no heroes nor clearly defined villains and when it chooses to walk down the dark path it keeps itself admirably low key.

    Performances are uniformly terrific featuring career bests from Tom Wilkinson, Marisa Tomei and the remarkable Sissy Spacek.

    In the Bedroom is a stupendous piece of work that has something to talk about but remains unfathomably not talked about.

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    Comment number 5.

    For me a recent example would have to be Drive. At first I thought the film would be yet another showreel of car chases backed up by a paper thin plot that's been done to death. However it turned out to be the total opposite, and the film was so surprising and impressive that it turned out to be my favourite film of 2011.

    A classic example that comes to mind would have to be The Hitcher (the original 1986 version) At first I thought it would turn out to be a cliched and cheap splatter-fest of a film. Instead it was a brilliant psychological thriller that avoids the gore and frightens the audience with its suspence and cut aways. The Hitcher is a film that lets the audience's imagination do all the work, and further proves that our imaginations can sometimes turn out to be far more frightening and disturbing than what we see on screen.


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Outspoken, opinionated and never lost for words, Mark is the UK's leading film critic.

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