Who doesn't love an obligatory end-of-year round-up list? These are 6 films I watched this year that stayed with me for various reasons. From a young and sexy Christian Slater to a bloated and seductive Marlon Brando, from Glaswegian Sci-Fi to caravanning serial killers, these are some of the films I saw this year and really, really liked.
Where to begin with Holy Motors. I was baffled and in awe of Monsieur Oscar and his ever-changing characters the whole way through. What was his job exactly? Or was the whole of Paris made up of actors in some Truman Show fashion? Exactly what was going on in Holy Motors was never clear but it was refreshing to watch a film by a director who didn't treat the viewer as someone who required spoon-feeding. Each segment was more miraculous than the last. At times I was overwhelmed by the beauty of a scene, very often repulsed and sometimes on the edge of my seat waiting for something, really, really awful to happen. There isn't an easy way of describing Holy Motors, but it is exactly the sort of film that thrives from being watched without any previous expectations.
I watched Shame in the Pleasant Street Cinema in Northampton, MA while I was studying in America. I went with a new friend, gobbled down some tagine in the Moroccan place next door beforehand and then sat back and relaxed for 100 minutes of unbridled shame and sex. Lots of skin-on-skin contact and wet sound effects. Perfect for an early friendship date. But we both left completely moved by Shame and the continuous shot of Michael Fassbender running through the streets of New York at nighttime to Harry Escott's beautiful 11 minute score stayed in my mind for days and months to come.
A sci-fi set in the future. In Glasgow? I was intrigued to see Death Watch which was rereleased this year 22 years after it originally hit cinemas. In a spooky precursor to reality television culture, Harvey Keitel plays an employee of a television company who has cameras inserted into his eyes in order to film and broadcast the death of terminally ill Romy Schneider to the world. The television show lends its name to the title of the film, 'Death Watch.' The result is a bizarre and brilliant dystopian film which is simultaneously very futuristic and very 1980s. Watch the trailer here.
I watched Last Tango in Paris for the first time about a month ago and I fell in love with it pretty hard. I've rewatched it about 3 times since and downloaded the soundtrack so that I can listen to it's sexy, jazzy saxophone melodies whenever I like. Who am I? I'm like my 4-year old self who used to watch the Little Mermaid every single day. Or my 10-year old self who used to watch Clueless on repeat without tiring of it. But being really, really into one film when you're 21 years old isn't really cool anymore. I'm going to try justify it with legitimate and clever-sounding reasons. Like 'the script is really good.' Seriously, it is. See here. 'Jeanne: What strong arms you have! Paul: The better to squeeze a fart out of you.' I don't know about you but a film which involves Marlon Brando talking about farts in a romantic setting is the kind of film I'm into.
There are people of a certain age who know all about the charms of the adolescent Christian Slater. I was not one of those people until I watched Pump Up The Volume. Which thankfully obscured my present-day visions of Slater-with his wincing eyes and a villainous hair-line- with the cooler Christian Slater as Mark "Hard Harry" Hunter. The freaky, sexy high school student who anonymously airs a pirate radio show from his bedroom and woos Samantha Mathis with his anti-establishment persona. His brilliant playlist of Leonard Cohen, Jesus and The Mary Chain and Richard Hell probably did a lot to help in the wooing department too. This film is a classic example of the 90s era films that have been revived in public popularity again. Mark's desk overflowing with cassette tapes tugs on the heartstrings of those who know that swapping High Fidelity-style mixtapes on memory sticks or on mixcloud just doesn't cut it. And Mark's Ferris Bueller-esque 'fuck the system' messages against the stoopid bureaucratic school-system and entrenched social hierarchies is perfect if you're in the mood for a film that'll make you fist pump and shout 'Yeahh!'
How can a film be brutally, gruellingly violent and yet simultaneously hilarious? It's something about British comedy at its finest and darkest and most discomforting that does it. I saw far too many heads smashed on stone obelisks and bodies crumpled at the bottom of ravines (sound effects and all) and yet I was disgustingly charmed. If a little wary of the problems my long line of pet-hates might one day present- do I have it in me to let the sight of a litter-dropper be the catalyst of a murder spree? Morals aside, I guffawed a lot through this one. From Tina's baggy-arsed blue jeaned shuffle to her scheming Mother at home in Birmingham who throws herself down stairs, call-alarm in hand dialling Tina in a bid to make her leave her caravan holiday. She ain't coming back though. She's in love with a serial killer and 'thinking outside of the box' herself. This is the sort of film that makes me really proud of British cinema.