Ah yes, as 2014 departs we are left with only the memories of what went before! We’d happily recommend any of them. If you’ve missed one, they’re well worth checking out.
10. Only Lovers left Alive –“For a vampire movie there is a surprisingly lack of gore and some are sure to be disappointed by the low body count. But you get the impression Jarmusch set out to surprise. In this film he uses great casting, setting, and music to create an ambiance that feels very original and fresh, despite its musty mansion location. The beauty of these modern vampires love story and the sad isolation of their existence is exquisitely captured. It makes for a unique and memorable movie.”
9. Jodorowsky’s Dune – Let our your inner nerd and feast on what could have been. This documentary delves into the original attempt to create a film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune, and what could have been, as he assembled one of the most fascinating teams of creatives and actors ever, only for the full project to fall through.
8. Mr. Turner – Movie Review – “Turner’s last words are said to have been “the sun is God”, and Pope’s cinematography follows suit by giving light itself a near palpable presence, both on the grand scale in which Turner himself operated and in tight close-ups that illuminate every feature of Leigh’s performers. As much as the film’s visuals evoke Turner’s work they also offer a corrective to it, bringing to vivid life the individual human presences that are reduced to mere dots in the painter’s imagery. Attuned to both the sublime and the earthy, this is by far the most beautiful film of Leigh’s career, and it seems unlikely that a more beautiful film will be released in 2014.”
7. The Rover – “This is a movie with space. There are long scenes where very little happens, but it all looks just so good. The cinematography is exquisite and the sound track should keep any hipsters in the audience happy. It features tracks from Tortoise, William Basinski and Colin Stetson to name but a few, and it works wonderfully well with the long scenes of trucks driving through the open landscape. It’s a film with many quiet scenes and these serve to make the explosions of violence all the more intense. The ending of the film are the only moments that stop this from being a classic. It fades away with a resolution I did not enjoy. Otherwise there are few things to fault. The performance of Pearce is at the core of the film, and he’s very impressive as a moody loner. If Pattinson makes a few more like this, I might even forgive him for the Twilight films!”
6. The Babadook – Ba Ba dook, Dook DOOK! For a horror film that almost cracked the top five, it must be pretty impressive and this is just that. The sound in this film was one of the most dazzling things about it. I watched it while sitting next to the wall of the cinema, which literally seemed to shake on occasion! One that might get lost on the little screen, but if you have the chance to see it in the cinema, indulge yourself.
5. Leviathan – Movie Review – “There are even flashes of humour, on a human scale that tempers the sombre tone and the stark, implacable grandeur of the photography. The film bears comparison with Andrei Tarkovsky, exhibiting a similar grave beauty to his last film, The Sacrifice (1986) – although Zvyagintsev’s allegorical intent is less pronounced than Tarkovsky’s. The performances are uniformly excellent, with Lyadova a particular stand-out in a difficult role, and Serebriakov animating the human, as well as the emblematic, dimensions of his character. The performance that will resonate most for many, though, is Madyanov’s mayor – by some distance the most repulsive screen villain of the year. The film’s final scene, in which his character is brought into sharp focus with a mordantly witty flourish, is likely to leave viewers outraged as well as exhilarated by the sheer force of Zvyagintsev’s filmmaking.”
4. The Grand Budapest Hotel – These films really should not work, ensemble casts, far fetched plots and all very much self aware, but somehow Wes Anderson keeps it on the road. The most impressive thing about his work is the look and feel of them, they are rich, evocative and totally over the top. It’s the type of film making that will keep a smile on your face throughout.
3. Finding Vivian Maier – A once in a lifetime find at an auction created a fascinating story to try and piece together one of the best street photographers of the last 50 years. Completely unknown in her own lifetime, photographer Vivian Maier worked as a nanny, taking her charges with her to the areas she would photograph. This is her story told largely through the children that she minded.
“Undoubtedly this is a great story but the material which Maloof and Siskel had to make a documentary with was both limited and yet unwieldy. The interviews, which are at its heart, if not judiciously edited and cut could have become repetitive but somehow the interviewees themselves make up such a varied cornucopia of individuals that the whole piece transforms itself into a celebration of a life unostentatiously led but now extolled because of Maier’s skill as a photographer into a life worthy of acclaim as an artist and as a chronicler. Maloof and Siskel in the process have done her proud and proved themselves to be fine chroniclers too.”
2. Nightcrawler – “L.A. looks fantastic in blacks and purples contrasted with the lights of endless traffic. Writer and Director Dan Gilroy (in his directorial debut, believe it or not) does an excellent job of bringing together the various strands and keeping the movie on a straight road. A steady pace is kept throughout with witty and disturbing dialogue and moments of laugh-out-loud humour mingled with high-octane car chases and moments of nail-biting suspense. In the last quarter, however, the movie shifts to fifth gear and the climax is a brilliantly executed, adrenaline fuelled joy-ride that will have the entire cinema on the edge of their seats.
Nightcrawler is a modern tale of the twisted values of the American Dream. It is disturbing, powerful, important and darkly funny.”
1. Ida –“Pawlikowski raises many sensitive issues which are still potent in Poland. His skill as a film maker enables him to create breathtaking close up frames which in their simplicity, in black and white, underline the various dilemmas which each character faces. Time and again close ups of Anna, the Aunt and the youth reveal their doubts and their certainties. Agata Trzebkuchowska as Anna makes her film debut in what can only be called a masterly performance. Agata Kulesza gives an commandingly assured performance as the Aunt which evokes a range of emotions as she faces into the latter part of mid- life where the knocks along the way have been a great deal tougher than the fleeting rewards. Pawlikowski has created a work of art which also delineates the frailties and contradictions which underlie Poland and its citizens after the ravages of the twentieth century. It is a triumph of which he can be justly proud.”