Jake’s Top Films Of 2016

Following on from Keith’s Favourites from 2016 I commented and including my own list, here it is again in case you didn’t see it.

1. No Home Movie
Belgian artist and film maker, Chantal Akerman, revisits familiar themes here. A tough, yet beautiful piece of documentary self portraiture, that ranks with her greatest work.

2. The Assassin
A rigorous experiment with the themes of classical Chinese Wuxia films. Contemplative, with sparks of blunt aggression. The film Refn’s Drive (2011) wishes it could have been.

3. Fire at Sea
Verité document of Lampedusa (setting of this years La Piscine riff, A Bigger Splash, there couldn’t be a more different film). The cinematography and editing here is top notch, and highlights a fascinating microcosm reflecting larger global issues.

4. Court
I was completely knocked out by this Mumbai-set absurdist gem. An elderly dissent poet/singer is brought into court on trumped up charges of inciting a sewage worker to commit suicide. The resulting case, and the efforts of both the defence and prosecution to bring it to a conclusion, creates a film that brings to mind the films of Ruben Östlund or possibly Roy Andersson.

5. Cemetery of Splendour
An ex-nurse and young soldier suffering from a mysterious sleeping sickness become friends as he drifts through different states of consciousness. Another wistful and gently funny magical realist masterpiece from Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

… and the rest:
6. Little Men
7. Love and Friendship
8. American Honey
9. The Pearl Button
10. Louder than Bombs

Favourites from 2016

arrival-movie-still

So we enter the Award season and the moment when we reflect back on the previous year. I thought a good year, but not a great year for film: but there were some great movies. Of the new releases that I watched at the HPPH I was especially impressed with:

Arrival (USA but also Canada 2016). Denis Villeneuve has directed the most interesting sci-fi in years and Amy Adams offers a sterling performance.

The Pearl Button / El botón de nácar *France, Spain, Chile, Switzerland 2015). Patricio Guzmán provided a documentary that was moving, analytical and both looked and sounded great.

Son of Saul / Saul fia (Hungary 2015). László Nemes produced an intense and revelatory treatment of an often overworked subject.

Taxi / Taxi Teheran (Iran 2015). I prefer film to video but Jafar Panahi can make an impressive film with any sort of cinematic technology.

Our Little Sister / Umimachi Diary (Japan 2016). The latest film by Hirokazu Koreeda is a simple tale of four sisters: and goes into my list of the top films of the century so far.

still-ourlittlesister2

We also enjoyed a lot of classics from times gone by. The best in a competitive field for me was:

Eternity and a Day / Mia aioniotita kai mia mera (France, Italy, Greece, Germany 1998). Theo Angelopoulos’ rich and complex film was screened in a good quality 35mm print.

March Poll

We’ve put up a new poll to find out what you liked the most during the month of March. With the Young Film Festival taking place and a couple of big releases there weren’t many films that got multiple screenings so there are only three choices. You can always vote for other (we can see what you enter but can’t find a way of easily sharing this with everybody – perhaps clicking through and adding comments on the results page would be the best way). It’s interesting that all three of those films  Hail, Caesar!Anomolisa and High-Rise have proved to be divisive with both audiences and critics, which surely only make the films much more interesting. Mark Kermode discussed this and aggregated review scores in one of his recent video blogs.

January Poll

We’ve added a Poll section to the website, you’ll see it in the sidebar (or at the bottom of the page if you’re looking on your mobile). For the first question we’re asking you to look back at January and pick your highlight. Was it one of the award season contenders such as The RevenantRoom and Joy or catching up with Sunset Song or The Lady In The Van or the sold out screenings of Labyrinth made even more poignant by the sad death of Bowie. You can also vote “Other” for anything else such as one of the great Tuesday Wonders (Forbidden Room, Taxi Tehran, Güeros).