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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Best Films of 2013 (Part 5)

So, I've been watching lots more movies than usual lately (which, is quite an achievement cause I love movies) due to a combination of finishing postgrad, being unemployed and breaking my foot (which has me very immobile for the next 5 weeks). So I made a list, as I usually do. Other than the top 5 the rankings are quite fluid and all the films are quite good. (Disclaimer: I haven't seen Nebraska  which is why it's not on the list.)

1. Before Midnight- USA- English/French/Greek. Directed by Richard Linklater. The first one taught us adventure, the second one hope (and perhaps fate). This one teaches us the inevitability of real life. As with the previous films, the dialogue is brilliantly scripted almost to the point of unrealistic perfection. For me the film was a difficult and depressing watch because seeing the changes of my favourite screen couple with family life is like watching your childhood sporting hero when they're past their prime. It is as honest and brilliant and insightful as the previous two, and considering I've watched the preceding films more than 20 times each, for this to live up to expectations was almost impossible. Yet it did.


 2. The Act of Killing - Norway/Denmark/UK-Indonesian. Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer. This film transcends documentaries, it's further than that where it's innovation and film-making bordering on elite art form. The very idea of letting mass murderers film their own versions of their remembrances is genius-level crazy. The entire film is eerie and very difficult to watch as killers (who were never jailed or tried) recreate their past Hollywood style. Just that alone, the documentation of the past and their recollection of the past is enough for a good film. But then the film shows the catharsis and the emotion felt by the murders forced to come up through the recollection. That vision of the men behind the monsters might be the best testament to the power of film-making to find answers.

  3.  Inside Llewyn Davis- USA/France-English. Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen.Soundtrack and folk performances alone are worth taking a look for.The film is rather brooding and dark but in a strangely comedic way (reminding me a lot of A Serious Man) . It's a look at a time I have a lot of love for musically (1960s) as well as a character who's a bit too familiar (to me) excellently played by Oscar Isaac. The film has a structure that's very loose and very cyclical. To try to explain why this film is excellent is difficult except that is is, as most good fiction is, character driven and the best characters are the flawed ones.

  4.American Hustle- US-English. Directed by David O. Russell. Another great film from David O. Russell and after Silver Linings Playbook he had a lot to match. An amazing acting performance from Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner manages to get Oscar nominations in all acting categories for a second year running for a Russell film. The heist-comedic feel to the story works very well, as it usually does because comedy-drama is a Russell feature, as is character studies. That's what this film is really, a deep look at characters trying to get ahead.


 5. Her-US- English. Directed by Spike Jonze. Set in a not-too far off future it's a film that seems like it's telling a story that could be a prediction.The initial premise of a man falling in love with an Operating System has been done before and it seems comic, at best and sad, in most people's eyes. But this film is brilliantly written and manages (through brilliant acting by Joaquin Phoenix and voice-acting by Scarlett Johansson) to be one of the better romantic stories of the year.

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