That's a wrap! Neil White watches 660 films in 2012...now he's planning the sequel
For the second year, Neil White set out with the intention of watching every movie released at UK cinemas in a calendar year. But did he make it? And what were the highlights and low points of the 2012 quest?
Sitting four rows from the from the front of a cinema screen, hiding behind my 3D glasses, I have to admit I was waiting for the tap on the shoulder to ask what I was doing.
It is not that this has become an uncommon pose for me – in 2012, I have watched more than 660 new movie releases.
But this was Tinkerbell and the Secret of the Wings – and the only other people watching were very small children and their mothers.
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If they felt disquiet at my presence, let me assure them I was even more uncomfortable being there.
But this is far from the only time I have looked out of place in the quest for my Holy Grail – to see every movie released at UK cinemas in a calendar year.
Only a couple of hours previously, I had watched Miley Cyrus’s latest movie, So Undercover, an hour after the local schools closed their doors for Christmas.
The place was packed with very loud schoolgirls.
And after Tinkerbell, I went on, with my wife, to see the latest Bollywood film, Talaash. We were the only white faces in the audience.
Frankly, we are beyond caring. The ticking off of the movies is more important than whether folk think we are being a bit odd.
This year I, regularly accompanied by the redoubtable Mrs W, have travelled the length and breadth of the country watching movies.
A Sunday trek to London to watch Turkish or Tamil films which are only shown in the capital has become regular.
She always drives, because for the two hours of the journey I get out my laptop and... watch movies (preview DVDs provided by helpful independent distributors).
Apparently, my obsession ranks as “cool” with friends of my 22-year-old son and 19-year-old daughter, who are sometimes dragged along.
Master W drove to Yeovil to watch our football team play while I watched films in the back of the car.
Miss W accepts that whenever I visit her at uni in Leeds, we must always take in a film (no greater love has a daughter for her father than watching some of the rubbish she has done with me).
Miss W and her mum actually starred in a 2012 picture.
They were extras in UFO, in which the Muscles from Brussels, Jean Claude Van Damme, starred.
Actually, I would never have known that the out-of-focus lady in a red coat and teenager with woolly hat were them if they hadn’t have shouted out at the premiere screening.
This, of course, was one of the many highlights in a year of movie-watching.
Among the others was Moonrise Kingdom, which we saw in a cinema just off Hollywood Boulevard.
Mrs W and I had never been to Los Angeles before and were blown away by the atmosphere of the “theater”.
Outside, a band played and inside the luxurious screens the films were “presented”b y a member of staff.
At the end the crowd actually applauded!
We had only been in LA for two hours when we bumped into the stars.
We went for a walk and there, being interviewed by MTV, were Channing Tatum (trust me, he is big with the ladies) and Matthew McConaughey, who went on to give one of the performances of the year in Killer Joe.
Actually, that was one of the many very good movies which did not make my top 20 of the year.
Thus, there is no place for The Avengers, which was truly exciting, nor The Dark Knight Rises, which was good but which I expected to be brilliant.
However, there is a spot firmly at the top of the pile for Skyfall.
We saw this on its opening weekend at a cinema in London. At 10am on a Sunday, the screen was packed.
And we loved it.
Indeed, three times I could have stood up and applauded.
It had a fantastic chase scene, brilliant opening credits, the greatest villain and the best Bond.
Of course, there are howlingly bad movies as well as great ones.
We were in Amsterdam when we watched Adam Sandler in Jack and Jill and when we walked out of the cinema at the end, I wondered what was wrong with Mrs W.
It turned out that she couldn’t speak because she was so furious that a movie could be so bad.
When she watched The Code Of Moscow Temel, a Turkish film which she had driven 120 miles to see, she wasn’t furious as much as baffled.
“I can honestly say I haven’t got a clue what that was about,” she exclaimed.
So did I get anywhere near seeing every film in 2012?
Well, I reckon I will be around 30 short come New Year’s Eve. This was for a variety of reasons.
For example, a film called Moonbug was showed for one week only in January... in Hastings.
It has never reappeared on DVD.
Then there was the occasion in Leicester when I arrived on time to see a Punjabi movie but the staff refused to allow me in to see it.
Apparently, the small Bollywood cinema will not show a picture to fewer than three people.
In addition, earlier in the year I was just too ambitious, so I watched quite a large number of festival films.
This meant that while I was indulging my passion for Japanese pictures or documentaries, I should have been paying more attention to my criteria of success – seeing films which were listed for at least three days and were in English or subtitled.
Last year, I saw 606 movies, so have easily beaten my record.
But my new job as a newspaper editor, my dedication to my football team (I’m a season ticket holder), joining a golf club (with Mrs W) and spending time with family and friends means I haven’t quite cracked it.
However, since the summer, I have finely honed my system and my movie Everest is there to be conquered.
Thus, I have bought the domain name www.every film.co.uk, where all of the previous two years’ reviews will be stored, along with those of 2013.
Yes, I am going for it again. Let’s hope I will have the complete list by this time next year.
What keeps me going?
Well, every day 1,000 people read my reviews from all over the world and 2,300 follow my opinions on Twitter.
These include a host of producers, actors and directors who seem to value what I say.
As a film fanatic, I was bowled over, for example, to be followed by William Friedkin, the director of the Exorcist, who also directed Killer Joe.
And as a journalist of nearly 30 years,I find appreciation intoxicating.
I have been so used to the brickbats we have faced as an industry that to write about the fun side of life is something that I doubt I will be able to give up in the foreseeable future.
To follow Neil’s continuing quest to watch every movie released in 2013, visit his blog here.
THE 20 BEST MOVIES OF 2012, ACCORDING TO NEIL WHITE...
The 50th anniversary Bond manages to doff its hat to the franchise's history while at the same time being bang up to date. Simply fantastic.
2. SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN
The story of Rodriguez, an unknown singer from Detroit, and his unparalleled fame in South Africa is astonishing and moving.
This adaptation of a Jo Nesbo novel is taut and tense and has more twists and turns than a Russian Olympic gymnast doing the floor exercise.
4. THE HUNT
Mads Mikkelsen, one of the best actors around today, gives a tour de force as a nursery teacher who is falsely accused of paedophilia by his best friend’s daughter.
5. THE HUNGER GAMES
Jennifer Lawrence is superb as Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of this tale of survival in a harsh world of the future. Brilliant special effects too.
6. FIVE BROKEN CAMERAS
Emad Burnat spent years recording clashes sparked by the threat to his family's Palestinian village. One camera even saved his life when an Israeli bullet lodged in it.
Made by the nephew of white Australian athlete Peter Norman, who supported the Black Power protest from the winners’ podium, this film moved me to tears.
8. THE KING OF DEVIL’S ISLAND
Marius Holst's film tells the true story of Bastoy – a Norwegian island prison for teenagers. Brutal but brilliant.
Kevin MacDonald's biopic of Bob Marley chronicles the singer's life to the most minute detail but, most importantly, he manages to reflect the essence of the man.
10. EVEN THE RAIN
A drama about exploitation of tribal people which has a powerful environmental message and scatters heavy moral dilemmas like bullets from a Gatling gun.
11. SNOWS OF KILIMANJARO
A union leader is faced with deciding between family unity and his conscience. This complex social conundrum is expertly tackled.
12. THE WOMAN IN BLACK
Daniel Radcliffe is very good indeed in his first major screen role since Harry Potter, while James Watkins’ film made me jump seven times. Great thriller.
13. THE MUPPETS
The Muppets in the top 20 movies of this year? Nobody is more surprised than me. In fact, I would make it the best comedy and best musical.
Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra deserve Oscars for their performances in this wonderful Bollywood tale of a deaf man with an impish sense of humour.
This is the bewildering case of missing Nicholas Barclay. His family took in for months a much older French conman who claimed to be him. But why?
Ralph Fiennes makes his directorial debut and also deserves huge plaudits for his performance in this modern-day adaptation of William Shakespeare’s tragedy.
17. BEING ELMO
A tricky one. I watched this moving and funny doc about the Sesame Street character before sex allegations prompted puppeteer Kevin Clash to quit the show.
18. IN DARKNESS
This story of Jews surviving in sewers is a startling achievement and when the end-of-film summary told what happened next in this true story, I nearly cried.
19. A ROYAL AFFAIR
This drama, which surrounds British Princess Caroline who is married off to the eccentric King Christian VII of Denmark, captures the spirit of the times beautifully.
Tough school drama which was engrossing and superbly acted, with echoes of Ryan Gosling's excellent Half Nelson. I would heartily recommend it.
1) CELEBRITY SEX TAPE
2) HIGH SCHOOL PARTY GIRLS
3) STRIPPERS VS WEREWOLVES
4) BREAKING WIND
5) CODE OF MOSCOW TEMEL
6) TIM AND ERIC’S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE
7) THE THREE STOOGES
8) JACK AND JILL
9) SILENT HILL: REVELATION
10) PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4
*YOUR SHOUT: What was your favourite and worst film of 2012? Let us know using the comments box below.