Films of 2010

31 12 2010
   

'Dogtooth'

And so, without further ado, here’s my pick of the best films released in the UK in 2010:

The Top 6 ½

Dogtooth / Kynodontas (Greece, Director: Giorgos Lanthimos)

A pot-bellied Greek patriarch keeps his wife and adult children under lock and key in this intriguing and somewhat kinky post-Fritzl fantasy.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives / Loong Boonmee raleuk chat (Thailand, Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

Filmed in the jungles of Northern Thailand, Uncle Boonmee… is both a continuation of director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Phantoms of Nabua project, documenting the legacy of a bloody anti-Communist counter-insurgency in the ’60s and ’70s, and a film about the life, death and many re-births of one man in particular. Pure cinematic poetry.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

Uncle B.

Another Year (United Kingdom, Director: Mike Leigh)

Nothing less than Mike Leigh’s Tokyo Story. Shorn of the mannerisms and the caricatures that often get in the way of this director’s storytelling, Another Year instead goes straight to the heart of what it means to be an ageing human being today; what it means to be a friend, a son, a lover and a parent; what it means to offer the hand of kindness to a stranger, and what happens when that kindness reaches its (necessary?) limits. In the grand humanist tradition of Renoir and Ozu, no-one is entirely to blame and no-one is entirely blameless for the compromises and half-truths and downright self-deceptions engaged in by the main characters here. The final, wintry section in particular is one of the best things that Leigh’s ever done.

Another Year, Mike Leigh

'Another Year'

Certified Copy / Copie conforme (Iran, France, Italy, Director: Abbas Kiarostami)

Kiarostami’s first English- (and French-) language film is an enigma wrapped in a mystery, wrapped in a very pretty puzzle-box indeed. The poster shows Juliette Binoche putting on a pair of colourful earrings, but it may as well have shown a giant question mark instead, perhaps hovering over the rolling hills of Tuscany, where the film is set. A middle-aged art historian (William Shimell) meets a French antique shop owner (Binoche) and sets off with her on a journey of make-believe, deception and fakery across the Italian countryside. One scene doesn’t quite convince (could this be deliberate?) but otherwise Certified Copy is by far the trickiest, most self-contained and most playful piece of cinema released in the last twelve months.

Certified Copy, Juliette Binoche, Copie Conforme, Abbas Kiarostami

Juliette Binoche, yesterday

The Social Network (USA, Director: David Fincher)

I’m going to go with the crowd on this one, if only for the trippy regatta scene midway through. The story of the rise and rise of Facebook, the revenge of the nerds, and the partial revenge of the non-nerds.

'The Social Network'

 

I Am Love / Io Sono L’Amore (Italy, Director: Luca Guadagnino)

Enter The Void (France, Germany, Italy, Director: Gaspar Noé)

Two films that are as mad as a sack of ferrets, and deserve to be seen on the biggest screen possible. The first channels pure DH Lawrence and Alfred Hitchcock, as it tells of the love, boredom and obsession that destroys a Milanese textile dynasty. The second takes us to the grave and beyond, as a young American in Tokyo is shot and dies, only to live on as a floating, disembodied ghost, watching over his little sister. Of the two, I Am Love is perhaps the more subtle, and Enter The Void is full of narrative holes, but both offer a vision of pure, boundless cinema and are absolutely unlike anything else released this year.

Tilda Swinton, Io Sono L'Amore

'I Am Love'

Other Good Stuff

Four Lions (United Kingdom, Director: Chris Morris)

Rubber dingy rapids!” An inspired comic take on terrorists and ‘the war on terror’.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (USA, Director: Werner Herzog)

Nicholas Cage loses his shit in epic style. Werner Herzog is there to capture it on film.

Inception (USA/ UK, Director: Christopher Nolan)

Once again, Christopher Nolan shows himself to be the master of the chin-stroking action thriller, with this Leonardo DiCaprio-fronted sci-fi fantasy . (Whether it actually needed to be such a full-on action thriller in the first place is up for debate.)

A Prophet / Un Prophète (France, Director: Jacques Audiard)

A little overrated I thought, but still an involving, solid, slightly off-genre piece about the pains and perils of doing Bird at at the pleasure of Monsieur le Président.

White Material (France, Cameroon, Director: Claire Denis)

Elusive and subtle even by Claire Denis’ standards, White Material pushes cinematic storytelling into all kinds of new and intriguing shapes.

The Headless Woman / La Mujer Sin Cabeza (Argentina, Director: Lucrecia Martel)

A film that feels like a migraine. How can this be possible?

The Killer Inside Me (UK / USA, Director: Michael Winterbottom)

A deeply uncomfortable watch, Casey Affleck is a pure Southern gentleman of a psychopath in this hard-boiled, ultra-violent noir.

Of Gods and Men / Des dieux et des hommes (France, Director: Xavier Beauvois)

Who’d be a monk, eh?

 

 

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