Friday, January 3, 2014

Sam's fave films of 2013i



So I'm making my Top Ten, after the year is over, because I'm late and lazy, not because I had to see a bunch of things that I'm sure would make this Top Ten, and I'm sure there are many (Great Beauty, Gloria, In A World, maybe Wolf of Wall Street? etc), anyway I've decided that this Top Ten wouldn't be what I thought THE BEST films of 2013 were, but instead the ten films I liked the best, that I saw in 2013, I've been a bit lax with release dates as I go to film festivals and for me films that haven't "come out" count, and also for me Spring Breakers and Frances Ha count as 2012, and thats just how it is. So in no particular order, here they are .

The Lifeguard - Liz W. Garcia
Probably one of the titles on this list, that is unlikely to make anyone else's Top 10 or Top 100 even. Perhaps here is where I re-enforce my caveat, that these are my favourite films of 2013, both out of the films that I saw, because I most definitely didn't see everything. Also films that I connected with, and stayed with me for whatever reason. We all bring our own baggage to a film screening, mine currently seems to be a weakness for flicks centred on a second coming-of-age for the 30+. Ponderings on the seemingly arbitrary nature of "direction", the empty grind of working, dating, eating, sleeping, drinking, worrying, investing, ad infintum. Feeling trapped by expectations, your friends, your parents, your own - so instead saying "Fuck it" and moving back home to try and be a teenager again, oh yes I love it all. Theres something more taboo than drugs, promiscuity et al at least for me, and thats bad choices. Kristen Bell makes a lot of them in this film, not huge ones, like kidnapping/robbery etc a la Pain and Gain, but enough that she hurts some people, enough to be a old-enough-to-know-better fuck up. She carries the film by playing her pitch perfectly, without taking it into schlocky territory. A supporting turn by perennial fave Martin Starr, who I never fail to cheer when he comes into a film. This is not a film about incredible people, this is a film about very ordinary people, doing very ordinary things, and I loved every minute of it.

Her - Spike Jonze

One of the more divisive films on the list, at least among my circles. There is a lot of bad words I've heard this film called "masturbatory" and "uncinematic" being the most abrasive. Which I can actually understand. There are films when you can understand its weaknesses, see other peoples negative perceptions, understand their criticisms, but love it all the same. Her is one of those films. I'm not just saying it cause the female lead had my name too - I swear. Her is a film for anyone whose been in love, whose struggled with love, whose been through a break up, who have dated people who've been through break ups - its a film for people who feel things acutely, its a film for people who think too much, who feel alone, who struggle to connect. It feels like a film for anyone in the 21st century really. Also the rude little game character is hilarious and Amy Adams is just a big cream puff in it. Joaquin Phoenix's mustache is super distracting, and I don't know what else to say, except it made me feel all the feelings. C'est Tout.


Blue is the Warmest Colour - Abdellatif Kechiche

I wasn't sure I even like Blue when I walked out of it. I saw it in a highly agitated state the first day of TIFF, it was 3 hours, which is a lot of time during Festival to demand attention, also I needed to pee for the last hour, TMI probably, but those things do affect your feelings about a film. However were that not the case, I don't believe I would have felt the length as much, as I found the love story so engrossing, though I understand the voyeurism of the shooting style, and I did feel like a bit of a peeping perv  during the sex scenes, my favourite shots where that of the two girls in the park together, I described it to a friend of mine as an affectionate camera, and I'll stand by that phrase. That scene flits into my mind all the time, the light, the shadow the pan, the closeness, all of it. It was one of my favourite shots of the year, and it still gives me tingles when I think about it. Also I find the whole aftermath of a break up and the process of moving on, fascinating, so Blue, scored big points for me there as well

Inside Llewyn Davis -  Joel and Ethan Coen 

I amazingly saw this film in Basel, Switzerland on Christmas day, where I played 17 Swiss Francs for the privilege and to a fairly full cinema considering the day. I loved the look of the film first off, the muted, washed out effect made the whole thing quite magical. Its been said a million times, but that cat, man, he was amazing, theres nothing really else to add but my own echo-ed endorsement, that cat can act! Carey Mulligan also had some killer withering lines that I'd like to imitate at one point in my life.

Overall though for me, what I'm grateful to the Coen brothers for with this film, is celebrating or at least taking a look at all the musicians (and all creative professions by extension) who try and fail. How many of them there, more now than ever I believe. The pressure to be "creative" specifically draw, paint, play music, design, act, make films, write etc, feels overwhelming sometimes. Of course not everybody can be a photographer, a singer, a playwright or whatever, theres just no way. Someone has to take out the garbage and "just exist" as Davis says in the film. Is it better to try and fail or just keep trying? I have no idea, but its an interesting question nonetheless.

We Are the Best - Lukas Moodyson

Lukas Moodyson's return to the light, after the extreme darkness and suffering of his last few films, We Are The Best is a Moodyson film of Together era. He is a director with a real insight into the personality of girls, women, ladies whatever. His girl characters feel authentically real, as does his experience of youth. I could watch this film a hundred times, if I ever wanted one, this would be my feel-good-hit of 2013.

The Punk Singer - Sini Anderson

As much as she doesn't seem to want it, and definitely doesn't need it, its hard not to love Kathleen Hanna, this film is everything I wanted, and more. If you don't already love Kathleen Hanna, this film will probably make it so.

12 O'Clock Boys - Lotfy Nathan

I saw this randomly at this year's Hot Docs Film Festival, when a friend had a spare ticket. An observational documentary about bike gangs in Baltimore. The films central characters are engrossing, as it focuses on a young boy, desperate to join the cities motorcycle gang the 12'Oclock Boys (because wheelies) and his family. It was such an engrossing and beautiful film, that celebrates the majesty in riding motorcycles very fast  - honestly some of the most stunning shots of the year. Hidden gem for me in 2013 if ever there was one.

Only Lovers Left Alive - Jim Jarmusch 

There is nothing that I don't love about this film. Sometimes you see a film that feels like a missing part of your DNA, this for me was that film. Ostensibly its about Vampires, but that hardly seems like a real factor in the film. Everything in the production design was completely perfect, the film was also filled with a million magic moments, like a visit to Jack White's house in Detroit, a quiet little dance scene between to long time lovers and a lot of great guitars. The only thing I would change would be Mia Wasikowska's character, but its almost like she amplified the perfection of the rest of the film with her wrongness, perhaps harsh, but feels very true.

Ida - PaweĊ‚ Pawlikowski

Sometimes great filmmaking is about restraint, and there seems no better example of this than Ida. Sparse, controlled, black and white and square format, everything about it felt absolutely essential, there is not fat on this film, its as tight as a drum, with a simple but achingly felt story that I'd rather not spoil here. Definitely worth tracking down and seeing in a quiet, dark room, preferably a cinema, duh.

Jodorosky's Dune - Frank Pavich

I hadn't read Dune when I first saw this film, and I'm afraid I still haven't, and that has had very little impact on my enjoyment of this film. A brilliantly executed documentary about the making of a film that was never made, is so much more entertaining than I could ever describe here. I can quite honestly say I feel that I've seen Jodorsky's Dune or as close as anyone has come. What a film it would have been. This film oozes personality and ideas, and was legitimately inspiring. An ode to grand ideas and imagination.

Honourable mentions -Kings of Summer, Blue Jasmine, The Grandmaster, Dallas Buyers Club, The To Do List, Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Computer Chess, Like Someone in Love, Young and Beautiful and Side Effects.