Saturday, 28 December 2013

2013 - TEN OF THE BEST

Before 2013 is yesterday's news, full of embarrassing haircuts we'd all rather forget, I'd just like to shoehorn in my films of the year. As usual, I've tried to go with my guts, so all these choices are intestinal. And you can't argue with your intestines. 

10. SPRING BREAKERS (Harmony Korine)

Harmony Korine's SPRING BREAKERS is a dreamy, psychedelic satire about the most vacuous holiday imaginable (Spring breaaaaaaaaaak). It's a Day-Glo car crash of a movie, but beneath the beaches and the boobies, there's more going on than meets the eye. I think.



9. THE PAPERBOY (Lee Daniels)

Lee Daniels' THE PAPERBOY is also set at the height of summer, but it's an altogether sweatier affair in which Efron, Kidman, Cusack and McConaughey perspire their way through 60's Florida, getting up to all sorts of clammy japes. The resultant sweat-fest is as moist as a A STREETCAR NAME DESIRE (1951) or, if I may be so bold, A TOUCH OF EVIL (1958). Which is not to say that Lee Daniels is the new Orson Welles. 



8. FIRE IN THE NIGHT (Anthony Wonke)

A nightmarish tale of brotherhood, survival and apocalypse at sea, FIRE IN THE NIGHT is a documentary about the night of July 6th, 1988, when the Piper Alpha oil platform went up in flames. As told by the survivors of the disaster, it's a gripping, horrifying and admirable document of a tragedy.



7. IT'S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY (Don Hertzfeldt)

IT'S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY unravels the disintegrating mind of Bill, a little stickman struggling to come to terms with his place in the universe. Herzfeldt's inventive mini-epic is full of cinematic ambition, narrative playfulness and ingenious use of sound. You can download it here for a few quid and it's well worth every penny. Do it. Do it NOW.  


6. A FIELD IN ENGLAND (Ben Wheatley)

Ben Wheatley's A FIELD IN ENGLAND is a headfuckingly strange black and white arthouse film that created a feeling of excitement and potential in original British filmmaking once again. Stuck at home with a heavily pregnant lady, I tapped into the hubbub surrounding the film's multi-platform release by watching it on the old telly box on the day it came out. And lo, it was a trippy delight. 


5. THE ACT OF KILLING (Joshua Oppenheimer)

Replete with dream sequences, dance routines, and a horrific (and potentially faux) purging of the soul, THE ACT OF KILLING is an unbelievably bizarre, powerful documentary about humankind's disturbing capacity to murder. It's given me nightmares. 


4. UPSTREAM COLOUR (Shane Carruth)

'Imagine a Terence Malick film edited by Roger Corman' - Kim Newman's astute summing up of Shane Carruth's second feature; UPSTREAM COLOUR. Which has given me a great idea - why doesn't Corman edit everything Terence Malick made after BADLANDS and gift the world a glut of 90-minute Malick-Corman belters?


3. A HIJACKING (Tobias Lindholm)

High pedigree Danish drama with an outstanding 'man under a fuckload of pressure' performance from Søren Malling. Written and directed by Tobias Lindholm (writer of THE HUNT and BORGEN), A HIJACKING is as taut as a Holmegaard bow string (i.e a bowstring that is very, VERY taut).


2. STORIES WE TELL (Sarah Polley)

STORIES WE TELL is a documentary in which Sarah Polley interrogates her family history and uncovers some jaw-dropping revelations amidst the tapestry of narratives on offer. It's a highly personal film that eloquently elaborates on a universal truth: families are fucked up. 


1. THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES (Derek Cianfrance)

Putting these films into some kind of hierarchical order for this blog, I was kind of surprised to see THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES hop up to the top of the list. But back in April, with the weight of impending fatherhood bearing down on me like a great behemoth from the sky, Cianfrance's epic tale of responsibility and legacy struck a chord with me. D-minor, I think. The saddest of all the chords.