Not Review 2008: Film

Film I’ve been working towards putting together a top ten list of films of the year and as I’ve glanced at everyone else’s words something has become abundantly clear – my ten would look boringly like everyone elses. So rather than simply regurgitating I thought I’d instead offer five things which were released earlier which I’ve only just got around to seeing which I’ve equally loved and in some cases more so.

Across The Universe (2006)
What’s particularly clever about Julie Tabor’s film isn’t that it simply throws in some Beatles songs when required, it’s that they’re in chronological release order and she still manages to wrap a half decent narrative around them; you’re not just getting an education in the music of the band but also the history of the period when they were recording, with the emotional complexity of the characters growing along with the musical invention. Perhaps it was just too complicated for audiences, who tend to like a good singalong in their musicals these days. (pictured)

Barefoot In The Park (1967)
Lately, romantic comedies have rarely just been about two people falling in love – there always seems to be some kind of high concept reason for them to meet which more often than not leads to the need for a coherent plot resolution getting in the way of the romance. Not here. New York married couple move into rubbish apartment which is falling apart around them and they rarely leave within the next hour and half. Fonda and Redford haven’t been cuter. This is basically the film a hundred American sitcoms have begged, borrowed and mugged from.

The Man From Earth (2007)
Similarly static in its staging, but no less effective, this sci-fi tale about a college professor who suddenly offers revelations about his past to his colleagues is a great demonstration that so long as you have a clever central idea and good script everything else should fall into place. Just the kind of film which if you catch in the right frame of mind could rock your philosophical world. It certainly did mine.

After Hours (1985)
One of the few films I've saved for a rainy day or when I’m under the mistaken impression that I’ve already seen anything good. Somehow manages to work the horror conceit of anything being hidden in the darkness into a comedy. Incidentally, Linda Fiorentino finally has a new film coming out in 2009, ‘Once More with Feeling’, which does seem terribly apt.

Goya's Ghosts (2006)
Because even masterpieces can be ignored. If this had been release ten years ago it would have been Oscar nominated. But period artist biopics are out of fashion in the English speaking world, Goya isn’t a household name like Mozart and painting -- unless there’s some time lapse action isn’t the most cinematic of pursuits. Yet, this is ripe for rediscovery with its chameleonic central performance from Stellan Skarsgård and Natalie Portman in twin roles as a mother and daughter and an exciting historical backdrop, oh and Javier Bardem wearing even funnier hair than he had in the film he made next, No Country For Old Men.

No comments: