Best of 2007

It is almost the end of 2007, so I thought a round up of the year in film and television would be appropriate. Everyone else does it, so why not me?

‘Best’ is a misnomer. I don’t claim these choices to be in some way superior to any other suggestions or options. They are just my own favourites.

··· Film of 2007 ···

The Return

Directed by Asif Kapadia

Written by Adam Sussman

Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Peter O’Brien, Sam Shepard, Adam Scott and Kate Beahan

I saw very few new films in 2007, partly out of laziness, but mainly because most didn’t interest me enough to make the effort.

Although released into cinemas in 2006 in America, ‘The Return’ didn’t make it over here until 19 January 2007. It was met with negative reviews and barely troubled the box office, grossing a little under $10 million worldwide.

I watched this film three times at the cinema and have subsequently watched it again at least that many times on DVD. Although the promotion suggested a horror film, perhaps hoping to cash in on Sarah Michelle Gellar’s 2004 hit ‘The Grudge’, this is actually a thriller with supernatural elements.

The narrative moves slowly, by current standards, at least, although certainly not in comparison to the ‘70s American cinema that it vaguely resembles. It has a melancholy and downbeat feel. The performances are similarly detached, perfectly suiting the atmosphere that director Asif Kapadia was clearly attempting to achieve.

It perhaps would have benefited from a little more flesh on the bone, but this is a quietly impressive and underrated film.

··· TV Show of 2007 ···

Ghost Whisperer

Created by John Gray

Starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, David Conrad, Camryn Manheim and Jay Moir

I don’t try to claim it is a great show that will be remembered for its influence or quality, unlike say ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ or ‘The West Wing’, but I’ve increasingly enjoyed watching it and look forward to new episodes. I think the turning point came with the rather impressive two-part season one finale, ‘Free Fall’ and ‘The One’.

Although it is in its third season in America, I am currently on season two.

It’s sentimental and saccharine and the resolutions at the end of each episode are often ludicrously glib and unbelievable. A case in point is ‘Children of Ghosts’, the eighteenth episode of season two, which features Jenna Boyd, a young actress who was very impressive in the film ‘Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants’. Somehow, Melinda and her hubby (Jennifer Love Hewitt and David Conrad) manage to become foster parents to this troubled young girl at the drop of a hat and then when Melinda discovers the identity of the girl’s real mother she is able to hand her over with nary a form to sign. It’s trite and wears rose-tinted glasses, perhaps, but it has a big heart and that particular episode is also a favourite of mine.

I find it nearly impossible to dislike Jennifer Love Hewitt. She is surely too perky to take a real dislike to - and my instinctive leaning in her favour has been strengthened recently by the spiteful, childish and scarily inaccurate gossip about her weight.

··· Best TV of 2007 ···


Doctor Who Season Three: Episode 10

Directed by Hettie MacDonald

Written by Steven Moffatt

Starring David Tennant, Freema Agyeman, Carey Mulligan, Lucy Gaskell and Finley Robertson

I was a little underwhelmed in general by the third season of the revived ‘Doctor Who’. Perhaps partly because I haven’t yet taken to Freema Agyeman’s character Martha Jones, replacing Billie Piper’s wonderful Rose Tyler from the first two seasons. However, what the third season did include is possibly the best ever episode of the show and certainly the best 45-minutes of television in 2007.

‘Blink’, like the controversial, love it or hate it, ‘Love & Monsters’ in season two, pushes the Doctor and his assistant/companion into the background. In this case, the story centres on Sally Sparrow, wonderfully played by Carey Mulligan. It’s creepy and unsettling and constantly inventive. If there is a drawback, it’s simply that the character of Sally Sparrow is instantly more memorable than Martha Jones, but hopefully Martha will become more integrated with the changes planned for season four.

Steven Moffatt, the writer of ‘Blink’, was also responsible for the ambitious and largely successful BBC updating of ‘Jekyll’, starring James Nesbitt.

··· Newly discovered TV Show from the Past ···

Joan of Arcadia

Created by Barbara Hall

Starring Amber Tamblyn, Joe Mantegna, Mary Steenbergen, Jason Ritter, Michael Welch, Becky Wahlstrom and Chris Marquette

This show was cancelled at the end of its second season in April 2005 and I missed out on it when it was shown on, I believe, the Living channel in the UK. I’ve long wanted to see it, partly because of the cast, partly because of the comparison to the brilliant ‘Dead Like Me’, and partly because of the premise of the show and its take on faith, which sounded interesting. All I can say is, hoorah for R1 DVDs.

I haven’t made it into season two as yet, so my selection of the show as my discovery of 2007 from the past is based solely on the first season. It’s not just as good as I had hoped; it has exceeded my expectations. I can understand the comparisons to ‘Dead Like Me’, but like all of these shows the obvious influence is ‘My So-Called Life’. The supernatural element of the show might drive the narrative, but in some ways it is incidental to it. The relationship between the various characters is what really matters.

It’s sentimental and likes to resolve stories with a positive moral outcome, lacking the edge of ‘My So-Called Life’ in that respect, but these are not faults - and even if sometimes the resolutions are a little glib it is not a criticism.

The cast is great. I’ve yet to see Amber Tamblyn in anything where she has not impressed me. It’s been too long since I last saw Mary Steenbergen in anything and it has reminded me that I must check out her 1979 film ‘Time After Time’ again.


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