Saturday, 29 December 2012

2012: The Movies I Loved (pt2)

The final five movies in my ten favourites of 2012 are, like those in part 1, presented alphabetically. To recap, so far we've had Amour, Berberian Sound Studio, The Cabin in the Woods, Excision and Holy Motors.

Martha, Marcy May, Marlene (Sean Durkin, USA)

Sean Durkin's feature length debut is an insidious and haunting tale of emotional damage, an abusive cult and familial angst. Elizabeth Olsen and John Hawkes both give exceptional performances in a movie with a deftly ambiguous climax.

Michael (Markus Schleinzer, Aus) 

While a lot of people went cock-a-hoop for The Hunt, in which an innocent man is unfairly demonised, Schleinzer's humanising of a paedophile in Michael is a bolder, more unsettling and confrontational narrative. Michael Fuith won't have many more complex roles to play in his career than the titular child abuser.

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Tur, Bos/Her) 

Ceylan's reputation as one of the world's leading directors is further enhanced by this immaculately constructed, slow burning police procedural. Criticisms that the movie features no central female characters miss the point that it is because of women that the men in the movie behave as they do - for good or ill. 

Sightseers (Ben Wheatley, UK)

Wheatley's outrageous black comedy piles on the gags and gag inducing violence in equal measure. Co-writers Steve Oram and Alice Lowe's creations, Chris and Tina, cut an increasingly bloody swathe through the English countryside as their warped relationship descends into barbaric chaos.

War Witch (Kim Nguyen, Can)

The horrific experiences of a child soldier, tinged with a dash of magic realism, may not appeal to everyone but War Witch is a movie that demands to be seen. Rachel Mwanza, in her first role, makes an indelible mark as Komona, recounting the things she has seen and done to her unborn child. Deserves a widespread release.

Also deserving of a mention are: Nostalgia for the Light, Moonrise Kingdom, Some Guy Who Kills People, The Raid, Cosmopolis, Wild Bill, Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai, Detention and Jeff Who Lives at Home.

That's all folks, here's to 2013 bringing us many more cherished cinematic memories.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

2012 : The Movies I Loved (pt1)

So, when in's ten movies that really made their mark on me in 2012. They're presented alphabetically rather than in a 10-1 countdown fashion. You may agree with some and turn your nose up at others, but that's all part of the fun right?

Amour (Michael Haneke, Aus/Fra/Ger)

For me, Amour is Haneke's most conventional, and moving, movie to date. Less oblique and stylised than the likes of The Seventh Continent, Code: Unknown or Hidden, Haneke's Palme d'or winner packs a bleak but humane punch.

Berberian Sound Studio (Peter Strickland, UK)

Strickland's visually and, primarily, aurally striking movie is a heavily stylised case of life imitating art in increasingly unsettling ways. Toby Jones is pitch perfect as the genteel sound engineer slowly unraveling while working on an Italian horror flick. 

The Cabin in the Woods (Drew Goddard, USA)

An absolute blast from start to finish. I love movies that play with genre conventions and this one, written by Joss Whedon, did it to the nth degree. It's a throwaway slice of pure horror fun that also clearly loves and breathes life into the genre it deconstructs.

Excision (Richard Bates Jr, USA)

I didn't see this one coming at all; a razor sharp, whip smart 'comedy' horror that is as disturbing as it is outrageous. AnnaLynne McCord excels as unstable teenager Pauline in a cult cast featuring Traci Lords, Malcolm McDowell and John Waters.

Holy Motors (Leos Carax, Fra/Ger)

Denis Lavant's extraordinary performance(s) lie at the heart of Carax's joyously outre musings on life, death and cinema. Contains my favourite scene of the year - a multi-accordion musical interlude as wonderfully choreographed as it is amusingly inconsequential.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Cine-City 2012: round up pt2

The final week of Cine-City 2012 was a mixed affair for me, scoring as many misses as it did hits.  Barnaby Southcombe's debut effort, I,Anna, an adaptation of Elsa Lewin's noir infused New York set novel, was high on atmosphere if not on plausibility. Transferring the action to a wonderfully shot London, full of alienating concrete environments and oppressive weather, I,Anna fails to make satisfying use of a great cast that includes Southcombe's mother, Charlotte Rampling, Gabriel Byrne and Eddie Marsan. It's twists and reveals feel too contrived, though Southcombe does a stylish job of constructing the world the narrative plays out in. More impressive was Adam Leon's Bronx set teen drama Gimme the Loot, a fine snapshot of life for two young graffiti artists in modern day New York. My full review can be read here

Roger Michell's Hyde Park on Hudson, which tells of an affair between President Roosevelt and a distant cousin, has received a critical panning, and it's easy to see why. Gossamer thin, badly structured and sickly sweet, Michell's movie is only of note for its fine ensemble cast featuring Bill Murray, Laura Linney, Samuel West and the Olivias Colman and Williams. The horror anthology makes an, updated, return to our screens with V/H/S, which weaves five short stories through a tale of an abortive attempt to steal a mysterious VHS tape. Shot largely first person, V/H/S is a frustrating experience, with only a couple of the films within the film really hitting the spot. Full review here.

Proving that the old adage 'like father, like son' carries some weight, Brandon Cronenberg's Antiviral reminds the viewer of his father's more overly body-horror themed movies. Celebrity culture and the worship of it are queasily addressed in Cronenberg Jr's tale of big business, black marketeering and existential crises. Not without its flaws, Antiviral also hints that David's offspring may need to branch further away from referencing his father's oeuvre in future, though Antiviral is well worth catching up with. The closing night movie was Pablo Larrain's No, starring Gael Garcia Bernal and completing the director's trilogy of films focusing on Chile during Pinochet's regime.  More conventional, in terms of story-line and symbolism, than Tony Manero and Post Mortem, No feels like the movie that could bring Larrain the mainstream international success this fine director deserves. It's my least favourite of the trilogy but is still an engrossing, rewarding movie. Roll on Cine-City 2013.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Cine-City 2012: Eye For Film review

My final review from Cine-City 2012 for Eye For Film is of the hotly tipped V/H/S. It doesn't live up to the hype, but has its moments. Click here to read about its pros and cons.

Cine-City 2012: Eye For Film review

Bronx set drama Gimme the Loot comes under the spotlight for my latest review for Eye For Film from Cine-City 2012. Click on the link here to read about a smart, fresh and touching tale of twenty four hours in the life of two young graffiti artists.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Cine-City 2012: Eye For Film review

Click on the link here to read my review of American indie movie, Now, Forager, which was one of the festival's numerous debut movie screenings. For all of my Cine-City 2012 reviews and and coverage, and to read collected reviews of other movies screened during the festival, for Eye For Film, click here.