Saturday, 3 January 2015

2014 home-viewing highlights

Here are some of my favourite non-cinema watches this year (there are so many that you can forgive me if I say you can IMDB them for yourself…)

Wake in Fright”: an Australian nightmare that I found I couldn’t quite shake.
Lore”: notable for great performances and for not going where you think it might.
“Heli”: does a fine show of what it’s like to live with unspeakable violence as part of daily life
Blue Ruin”: a brilliantly performed little thriller that concentrates on how pathetic and self-destructive revenge fantasies can be.
“What Richard Did”: a small story about how one irredeemable act can ruin lives, all filtered through the kind of convincing naturalism that makes most other drama look like panto.
“A Field in England”: because having a tiny budget shouldn’t stop you from making a trippy Civil War re-enactment.
12 Years a Slave”: an important film about what men can do to one another – pretty and painful in equal amounts.
Bronco Bullfrog”: captures that adolescent feeling of being unwanted and having nowhere to go as well as a miserabilist Britain that will instantly recognisable to anyone living through either.
Animal Kingdom”: because I like this style of film-making and I like Ben Mendelsohn.
Neighbouring Sounds”: The guy that served me in Fopps said this had a tremendous opening.  Better than ‘Enter the Void’? I asked. Yes, he answered after some thought. The truth is that it is different rather than better, of course, and the subsequent film is no let down. A film full of the tensions of everyday life.
The Grand Budapest Hotel”: funny and gorgeously designed, of course; probably Wes Anderson’s most commercial film.
The Selfish Giant”: a moving account of a friendship between two boys, one of which especially isn’t particularly likeable, but it is all credible despite its Oscar Wild fairy tale basis.


Surprise watches…
Spring Breakers”: for being a trippy music-video of a film and almost the total opposite of Harmony Korine’s “Trash Humpers”.
Tucker and Dale vs Evil”: for its central gag (what’s the ‘evil’?) and for being funny and nasty.
“Permissive”: for being like a Larry Clark film decades before Clark had a career (minus the porn-fetish); and for a glimpse into another England long since gone.
Combat Shock”: for being no-budget guerrilla film-making, looking it, and being grungy, unforgettable and ambitious in equal amounts.
“Sky Blue”: for being delicious to the eyes and not having a storyline that totally ruined the pleasure.
Arbitrage”: for showing how money corrupts and can get you out of anything without resorting to reducing Richard Gere to standard villainy.
“Frankenweenie”: for being amusing and gorgeous and a horror fanboy’s delight.

I also want to mention “A Separation” for outlining how complex working life can be, and “Import/Export” for portraying working life as a series of degradations.

Notable re-watches:
The Tin Drum”, because I have always loved this film and haven’t seen it in a long time.  
The Fall of the House of Usher”: how did I not see how wonderful and wonderfully twisted this is the first time I saw it? I mean, I knew it was good, but… And gothic atmosphere to die for. And Vincent Price, of course.