Sunday 15 December 2013

Top 30 Of 2013: 10 To 6

10) Drinking Buddies by Joe Swanberg

One of the biggest surprises of the year, since a mere few days before seeing it at the LFF I didn't even know of its existence. And while I knew Joe Swanberg as a great actor (A Horrible Way To Die, You're Next, The Sacrament...), I had not seen any of his films as a director previously.

Drinking Buddies follows the interactions between two couples, from friendship to love and anything in between, and is a great throwback to a certain kind of grown-up cinema that was more prominent in the 70's. Indeed, watching this makes you realise how very few American contemporary films seem to actually tackle relationships head on without the need for some padding, be it comedic or overly dramatic. Even indie films often hide behind a rather grating affectation. Here there are no artifices, it all feels terribly real and well observed, very funny at time but never over-written, since most of it was actually improvised.

Sunday 8 December 2013

Top 30 Of 2013: 15 To 11

15) Blancanieves by Marco Berger

This Spanish silent adaptation of Snow-White, transposed in the Seville of the 1920's could have turned so horribly wrong, as a pastiche or vacuous style exercise. Yet instead, this is a pure joy, a beautiful love letter to cinema, stylish and stunning, with tributes to many classics of silent cinema of all genres. Blancanieves is also incredibly funny, with a hilarious and plucky rooster, and a star turn from Maribel Verdú channeling old school glamour as the OTT wicked stepmother.

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Top 30 Of 2013: 20 To 16

20) Lords Of Salem by Rob Zombie

Rob Zombie has surprisingly proven to be one of the most consistently interesting voices within the US indie horror, even with his misguided Halloween remake and its sequel. And I hold The Devil's Rejects as one of the best and most exciting horror films of the last decade. Yet he takes another unexpected turn with his latest, Lords Of Salem, which features a cast that is not just a tribute but actually includes the entire group of genre actors from the 80's (Dee Wallace, Maria Conchita Alonso, Meg Foster, Ken Foree...).

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Tokyo Fist Review

With the skyscrapers of Tokyo pressing down on him, insurance salesman Tsuda (actor/director Shin'ya Tsukamoto) lives a life pinned in and sedated by the cubicles of modern apartment living, his job and the traditional conventions of his engagement to Hizuru (Kaori Fujii). Tsuda bumps into his childhood friend Kojima (Kohji Tsukamoto, real life brother of the director), who is an obsessive boxer and  who quickly turns Tsuda's life upside down by attempting to seduce Hizuru.

Sunday 1 December 2013

Top 30 Of 2013: 25 To 21

25) Gravity by Alfonso Cuarón

I may have been the last person to seen this, but I am even more impressed by its stratospheric success considering how singular this is. First of all we can't deny the spectacular technical achievement this represents, making any other films set in space seem comically inaccurate. But while some have lamented how straight-forward the story is, I enjoyed its simplicity, in an age of overwrought scripts with 17 writing credits. While it doesn't match the metaphysical highs of say, Solaris or 2001, it still contains some unusual philosophical depths for a film of that scale.

I find thinking about the unfathomably enormous vastness of the universe and our minuscule place within it dizzying, and seldom has it been so adequately represented, within a nail-biting yet almost contemplative survival adventure. I love cinema when it can still be that bold despite a big-budget, and make us reconsider the 3D format we had long given up on.