As I’ve been spending way too much of my time working in a call centre, I’ve unfortunately been unable to set aside a few full days to research and write up detailed film criticism. While the analyses will return to these pages in the future, I will instead offer a short list of what I’ve watched, enjoyed and can recommend for my readers here. At home the films which have stood out in recent weeks are The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer, 2012), a magnificent documentary whose premise has to be seen to be believed, Post-Tenebras Lux (Carlos Reygadas, 2012), a difficult, confusing but beautiful work of film art, La Città delle Donne (Federico Fellini, 1980), while Fellini is one of my favourite filmmakers this is one of his that I had never watched, a great work of surrealism which I thoroughly enjoyed, The Selfish Giant (Clio Barnard, 2013), a film I missed on its theatrical release, arguably simple compared to Barnard’s debut but a powerful work of social realism nonetheless, Leviathan (Verena Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, 2013), the kind of film I tend to hold above all others – those which use only images and sound to tell their stories, where aesthetics are all important – a truly alien film set on a fishing trawler, and Roger and Me (Michael Moore, 1989), a major example of Moore’s ability to persuade with ostensibly faultless logic.
At the cinema, I’ve enjoyed ’71 (Yann Demange, 2014), an explosive and thoroughly entertaining thriller set during the Troubles in Belfast, Gone Girl (David Fincher, 2014), an interesting film noir, at times fascinating and at others highly problematic, Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy 2014), a compelling and punishing media satire which is definitely worth a watch, and most importantly Leviathan (Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2014) which is probably the best film I’ve seen this year. How this film was released and selected as Russia’s official foreign language entry for the Oscars, bearing in mind the recent censorship filmmakers and artists are currently enduring in Russia, escapes me. It is a severe critique of contemporary Russian politics and a film which is both excruciatingly painful and beautiful to watch. Anyone seriously interested in cinema must see this film.
I unfortunately missed Ida (Paweł Pawlikowski, 2014) but will catch it as soon as possible. Future films I am looking forward to, and which will probably become the subject of subsequent blog posts, are in no particular order: Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh, 2014), Interstellar (Christopher Nolan, 2014), Winter Sleep (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2014), Life Itself (Steve James, 2014), Citizenfour (Laura Poitras, 2014), Hockney (Randall Wright, 2014), Sacro GRA (Gianfranco Rosi, 2013) and Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard, 2014). In addition, the Star and Shadow Cinema has programmed a diverse Sci-fi Film Season (http://www.starandshadow.org.uk/on/season/194) which looks promising.