Nope, not going to do a “Best of the Year” list. They’re fun enough and it’s not as if I am adverse to them, but I think I’ll step away from some empirical opinions. There are those “the most overrated films of the decade” going around – OF. THE. DECADE!!! – and although it’s satisfying to see films that you’ve rated highly at the top of some list of DA BEST, it’s easy to forget it’s entertainment as well as cultural barometer. I mean, it’s daft how I raise my eyebrow every time I see ‘Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood’ trumping far more mature films and tighter scripts; or when I see ‘Booksmart’ is consistently above ‘Eighth Grade’. I mean, it’s not as if they are bad films – far from it. Besides, forgoing the numbers lists means I can cast my net wider for an indulgent overview of what I’ve seen.Oh, and I'm including Netflix releases too, it seems.
Let’s start with some drama.
Sara Colengero’s ‘The Kindergarten Teacher’ was all kinds of great: Maggie Gyllenhaul’s performance; the offbeat premise of a kindergarten taking upon herself to nurture and protect what she sees as a pupil’s nascent genius; constantly uncomfortable so you were never sure how bad or creepy it would get; a fantastic ending. A truly great drama about talent and how art is crushed beneath the mechanisms of society.
‘Vox Lux’ was just as curious as Bradley Corbet’s debut, the searing ‘The Childhood of a leader’, but not as successful. Like ‘In Fabric’, it took a jump in the middle, delineating a clear halfway point that – unlike Strickland’s film – it didn’t quite smooth over with genre. ‘Vox Lux’ was left mostly to make the leap by its own devices, being a slightly frosty and elusive character portrait of a popstar, before and after fame. Nevertheless, Natalie Portman gave what was just one of many great female performances of the year.
Speaking of which, Sarah Bolger single-handedly bolstered Abner Pastoll’s ‘A Good Woman is Hard toFind’, stopping it from falling into trite Brit-soap crime scenario, whilst Haley Bennet in Carlo Mirabella-Davis’ ‘Swallow’ is likely to be overlooked but provided a vivid and brave show of a woman discovering herself without histrionics.
Jia Zhanke delivered another fascinating female-led drama-thriller with ‘Ash is the Purest White’ with Zhao Tao as Qiao going through multiple personas as she drifts through genres trying to survive to find purchase.
Felix van Groening’s ‘Beautiful Boy’ was filtered through the mosaic aesthetic – temporal skipping; important vignettes and memories that made up the whole – that breathed a little fresh air in the “family drug-addict” genre so that it ultimately accumulating emotional heft.
Jeramiah Zagar’s ‘WeThe Animals’ also delivered this mosaic technique to giddy and dreamlike effect.
A similar style was employed by Barry Jenkins’ for ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’, but it was the scenes left long to play out that were highpoints. It was ostensibly a simple tale of a romance broken by prejudice, but as with ‘Moonlight’, Jenkins used formal experimentation and design only to enhance the emotional resonance and to conflate past and present, that being our natural state. It certainly tapped into the timeless qualities of domestic drama and, as with its predecessor, circumnavigated cheap sentiment for the genuinely romantic.
And for domestic drama, Noah Baumbach’s ‘Marriage Story’ leapt ahead. Incisive, nimble, and brilliantly played by Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. Forget all those American comedies that trade on stereotypical gender representations, here was a film that was based on decent people trying to negotiate themselves out of their attachment and feelings. It opens with a list of all their good qualities before pulling the rug from under the audience by having this list as part of the discussion for marriage counseling. But every scene had a wealth of tiny telling and truthful details: Driver asking what he should do with the divorce papers he’s been served – indeed, the whole discussion surrounding the serving the papers is hilarious; their kid planting treasure hunt clues when being picked up and his parents are still debating matters; a father-son day becoming a tour of lawyer offices, etc. Most scenes are bustling and interrupted by a multitude of perspectives so that nothing is quite focused or clear. So, like life then. No one is villainous or heroic, just going along at the mercy of their foibles. And did I mention career bests from Driver and Johansson?
Pedro Almodovar’s ‘Pain and Glory’ was also moving in effect, and although cinephiles would be gaga for the autobiographical elements, it stood independent and strong as itself: a character drama with many clean and vivid visuals and a gentle rather than Almodovarian camp touch.
Yorgos Lanthimos gave his most articulate and accessible satire with ‘The Favourite’, that hit all the right buttons with exceptional performances and quotable script. It belonged to that cluster of films directed by a non-Brit that nevertheless captured something quintessentially British, somewhere between prestige costume drama and Monty Python. That it was 49 on ‘Sight & Sounds’ Year’s top 50, that it was superceded by many inferior scripts surely proves a serious oversight.
I have a soft spot for maintained ambiguity that uncovers the human condition, especially that of delusion (which is why I am a fan of ‘The Turn of the Screw’). Chang-Dong’s Lee’s ‘Burning’ was a brilliant balancing act of letting character and audience perhaps misinterpret everything so that, by the end, your uncertainty was left intact, with perhaps more questions than answers. And yet it was still a satisfying and meticulously rendered puzzle happy to leave its mysteries in place.
It was also this conflating of delusion with the tragic that left a deep impression with Brian Hanson’s ‘The Black String’, the kind of narrative that drama-infected-with-horror does so well. And Frankie Muniz provided a brilliant performance that is surely to be overlooked as it’s not genre film that will get much coverage.
Rian Johnson’s ‘Knives Out’, on the other hand, as a big title, was satisfying because it was a tightly wound whodunnit with subversions, conventions and clues all carefully placed for maximum enjoyment. The cast are having fun, the story is confidently told, it twists and turns, has a little social commentary to give it bite, and it all clicks together nicely.
Alternatively, the equally entertaining ‘Come to Daddy’ by Ant Timpson seemed happy to freefall into other genres, keeping both audience and Elijah Wood on their toes.
Mike Leigh’s brilliant drama based on the massacre at ‘Peterloo’ was comparatively as baggy as it was affecting. Not as sharp as ‘The Favourite’ but its aim was different, dissecting class and cruelty over an impressive convincing canvas. It was a long wait, but the when the massacre finally comes, it creeps up and chills with its inevitability.
The trailers for ‘Eighth Grade’ did nothing to entice me; in fact, I was a little put off. But I was so wrong. I heard some reviews say something that intrigued me and so I went to check for myself. Bo Burnham’s film was hardwired with empathy for shy, struggling, awkward and uncool kids and one of the very best American coming-of-age films in the genre. It carried a pained tone and the comedy of embarrassment without ever laughing at the expense of its characters or compromising how funny it could be in serious, squirmy moments. Its understanding for those determined to battle with clumsiness and shyness and uncoolness was disarming. The scene in the back seat of the car one of the most uncomfortable and distressing of the year. The way that Elsie Fisher says “yesno” in one breath captures in one gesture the brilliance of her wonderfully awkward, raw performance. The film’s compassion and amusement stay as a permanent aftertaste and define the work so stridently.
Olivia Wilde’s ‘Booksmart’ was similarly a breath of fresh air by applying extra female empathy to the old get-to-the-party scenario. This was two young studious women that realise at the last moment before graduation that all their sacrifices for academia didn’t make them better or more worthy than their peers. The lack of bullying was a welcome absence from such a familiar scenario: indeed, it was our protagonists who appeared to be the most judgemental. Rather, the film tore through its familiar genre archetypes but left our central pair and others with integrity. But I would say it is surely an error of evaluation that ‘Booksmart’ was above ‘Eighth Grade’ by some margin in the ‘Sight & Sound’ top 50 poll, no matter how much fun it proved to be.
There was Gene Stupnitsky’s ‘Good Boys’ similarly about uncool tweens – but not shy or lonely – that offered a boys’ perspective. It was consistently funny, putting crude potty-mouth humour in its young actors’ mouths, offering the familiar bromance get-to-the-party odyssey scenario but with younger dudes. There was a lot of humour to be mined in the boys’ limbo period of knowing dirty words but not about sex toys, the knowing-of-but-not-knowing-about drift between childhood and adulthood. But it couldn’t quite shake the feeling of laughing at rather than with the kids from time-to-time, so even if it had fun boundary-breaking by having the kids swear, even as it was positive in these tweens were enlightened enough to know to ask girls permission to kiss, there wasn’t the sense that it was truly saying something new.
But if you were looking for a boys-version of the empathy found in ‘Eighth Grade’ you had to look to Jonah Hill’s ‘Mid ‘90s’. Here was something like a less judgemental and nihilistic ‘Kids’, another picture of a kid with a troubled homelife, trying to make friends and be cool, finding confidence and going slightly off the rails in the process. A regular childhood then. But it’s culminative effect was very moving. Maybe not the full hug of ‘Eighth Grade’, but a sympathetic and understanding pat on the back that turned out to be surprisingly moving. It also featured a vivid edit that conveyed the shock and speed of a car accident.
Paul Dano’s debut ‘Wildlife’ also had a solid and vivid look at family life through the eyes of a kid. The father-figure goes off firefighting, seemingly as a result of midlife crisis, and the mother-figure goes off the rails. The kid has to absorb, understand, cope and grow up. Young Ed Oxenbould, who had been so obnoxious in ‘The Visit’ and promising in ‘Better Watch Out’, here revealed a performance of such subtlety that those films hadn’t even hinted at. He proved the equal of the heavy-weighters Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan. There was a consistent softly lit but clear edged hue to the compositions that often made it beautiful, creating the look of unsentimental nostalgia.
But if you were looking for bildungsroman without the hint of privilege, then there was the poverty of Nadine Labaki’s ‘Capernaum’ which trod a fine line between the manipulation of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and the kind of raw street despair found in, say, ‘Pixote’ or ‘Vito and the Others’. But the contrivance of our young protagonist making a case to divorce his parents really was secondary to all the genuine anguish and details that made up the bulk of the film. The scene of young Zain having to decide to desert his baby-sitting duties and not quite being able to walk away was one of the year’s most emotionally gruelling scenes.
‘Honey Boy’ was all about Shia LaBeouf but benefitted from Alma Har’el’s subtle leading-in the leading-out with editing and composition that implied something more dream-like. In fact, the IMDB page does a nice summary: “A young actor's stormy childhood and early adult years as he struggles to reconcile with his father and deal with his mental health.” It doesn’t even mention that it’s based upon LaBeouf’s childhood (even watching ‘Even Stevens’ he evidently had something; I liked him in ‘Holes’, had no interest on him going the ‘Transformers’ route, and then fully redeemed by ‘American Honey’). Har’el’s attention to temporal shifts, smooth segues and always a hint of the dreamy when not letting the characters just play out and bounce of one another meant this felt so much more than a vanity project – LaBeouf plays his own dad, after all. Never once does it feel like ego: the lack of sentiment, the dominance of melancholy and sadness, the performances by the leads and several good one-liners help (several frustratingly included in the trailer). Even the meta stuff doesn’t get in the way of the story. A great autobiographical reflection.
But if any film was enhanced by how it was made, Mark Jenkin’s ‘Bait’ proved remarkable upon learning that its creation included Bolex camera stock development with coffee granules. With its themes of modernity stomping all over more traditional cultures, of class war and masculine pride, it certainly felt pertinent, even as its aesthetic bridged past and present forms of cinema. Its clash of the old and new was baked into its very DNA. If Guy Maddin went all Ken Loach, it might resemble this.
‘Bait’s dialogue with the form was certainly more interesting and invigorating than Tarantino’s ‘OnceUpon A Time… in Hollywood’, whose nostalgic recreation of a bygone screen era was enjoyable to wallow in, but then stretched into rewriting history and thus staking it out clearly as pure wish-fulfilment. Still, its Golden Era Los Angeles 1969 recreations surely boosted it up the cinephile’s Top 10s, despite its inconsistency.
Joe Talbot’s ‘The Last Black Man in San Francisco’ offered another pleasant depiction of characters defined by place. There’s an agreeable breeziness with a laid-back depiction of a desperate culture, even the trash-talking street corner gang, but there’s a core of unmistakeable melancholy. If it ultimately relies upon notching up the dramatics for effect, it’s held high by the central performance of Jimmie Fails and Jonathan Majors’ delicious turn as Fails’ oddball gentle friend.
Craig Brewer’s ‘Dolemite is My Name’ is a safe biopic of underdog-made-superstar kind about Rudy Ray Moore. But Eddie Murphy hits a peak, managing to step back from being too loud and rude, as you might expect, so that Moore’s humanity and naivete shows through. If it ultimately holds no surprises, it’s affable, amusing and entertaining with many fine turns, including from Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Wesley Snipes.
On the other end of the spectrum, Guy Nattiv’s ‘Skin’ was the biopic of a white supremacist, Bryon Widner, who struggled to leave that upbringing. It’s a timely film, asking the audience to find the humanity in these violent fascists, with Jamie Bell giving a full-blooded and believable performance. Both he and Danielle Macdonald find that through-line from the character’s angry past to their determination to evolve. Nattiv keeps the narrative on its toes by intercutting with the two-year process it took for Widner to have his tattoos removed and dispenses background information in casual conversation so that the story is never burdened with flashbacks or too much obvious manipulation. It’s a clear-headed film that calls for empathy but not necessarily sympathy, a commendable balancing act.
‘One Cut of the Dead’ by Shin'ichirô Ueda was an instantaneous horror hit, mixing zombies, farce, a little meta-fiction, a little media commentary and many layers of humour. But it’s overarching good-humour and altruism for low-budget filmmaking also made it an uplifting treat.
Jordon Peele’s ‘Us’ perhaps had too much ambition and too many ideas for its own good, but I can’t really fault it for that – even if this did lead to a clunky piece of exposition to cram it all in. If nothing else, he proved that extending his agenda from race and embracing class allowed him to access the zeitgeist in increasingly interesting ways, happily playing with, taking and giving old and new symbolism.
On the other hand, Peter Strickland’s ‘In Fabric’ also seemed wilfully stuffed with whatever it fancied, a highly odd and unique vision of a killer dress and perverted British deadpan that happily laughed with the genre, rather than at it.
And speaking of uncharted genre regions, I was so happy to go into Ali Abbasi’s ‘Border’ knowing next-to nothing so that its surprises came fully formed and were some of the best. I went in knowing that it was by John Ajvide Lindqvide, author of one my very favourite horrors, ‘Let The Right One In’: I was not disappointed.
Joe Begos’ ‘Bliss’ and Adam Egypt Mortimer’ ‘Daniel Isn’t Real’ went the more psychedelic routes which made them delirious and compelling. Both were about finding and grappling with identities where you couldn’t quite trust yourself. ‘Bliss’ channelled a punk rock sensibility whilst ‘Daniel’ was like, maybe, Abel Ferrara doing Bret Easton Ellis. Both had the warning that the cosmos is against us.
Dan Gilroy’s ‘Velvet Buzzsaw’ was horror set in the pretension of the art world – not the struggling punky art fringe of ‘Bliss’ – and although this setting made it intriguing, its satire fell short of gelling. Not as sharply honed as Gilroy’s ‘Nightcrawler’. Or maybe it wan't shambolic enough?
Ari Aster’s ‘Midsommer’ was no disappointment after his noteworthy debut ‘Hereditary’. Like that film, it was so very well directed – he is a master at sudden reveals, showing close-ups when they will impact most, or slowly panning to show the worst – that this almost leapfrogged the fact that it was fervently tied to genre tropes and convention. But it had many unforgettable set-pieces and a sun-drenched folk horror environment that easily put it above most others. Surely this kind of example is why we're living in a golden period for horror.
Emma Tammi’s ‘The Wind’ was an example of small-scale horror showing its strength in eschewing the demands of a big budget. Mood and the desolate setting of a Western Frontier in the 1800s were enough where a woman believes herself to be plagued by a prairie demon. Shuffling the timeline of the narrative doesn’t help when a straight through-line of development for Caitlin Gerard’s performance would and should have been the backbone, but this is the kind of film that plays up and satisfies the love of the uncanny and hinted horrors. Robert ‘The Witch’ is the epitome of this lowkey allusive genre strain, but ‘The Wind’ will satisfy those looking for something a little more ambiguous than mainstream fare, not to mention feminist.
Andy Mitton’s ‘The Witch in the Window’ was another superior small-scale horror
Ciarán Foy’s ‘Eli’ was also held together by another strong child performance from Charlie Shotwell. But the adults seemed underwritten and the answer to all the mystery wasn’t really so much. Nicely filmed, though.
Lee Cronin’s ‘A Hole in the Ground’ was another example of generic horror being told solidly with above-average execution and showing that boundary-breaking wasn’t always necessary to being good. It was creepy and left haunted by an aftertaste of paranoia about reality and others. Which was agreeable.
Alejandro Aja’s ‘Crawl’ was popular, although I did have a couple of friends that thought it laughably bad. I don’t think the CGI alligators did it for them, but I confess it made me jump a couple of times and I found it fun enough. But it was Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett’s ‘Ready or Not’ that proved the hit, providing a decent and winning dose of genre fun and satire.
This above-expectation standard went for others such as Andre Ovredal's ‘Scary Stories to tell in the Dark’ and Lars Kleverg’s contentious ‘Child’s Play’ revival. Of course, these were known properties that brought with them expectations, so the fact that they weren’t absolute disappointments tended to give them a pass. The former didn’t need to be so solid just as the latter didn’t need to be ultimately so generic.
For comparison, films like Nicholas McCarthy’s ‘The Prodigy’ was just too formulaic, despite having one uncomfortable and chilling possessed kid outwitting his shrink/exorcist scene. Tate Taylor’s ‘Ma’ held promise, but it too was ultimately too typical, despite its memorable and nasty basement denouement. Even so, the acting and the characterisation was a cut above – after all, this had Octavia Spencer, but also Diana Silvers, Juliette Lewis and even Luke Evans delivering the goods. Is it just me being too generous are does it seem that characterisation in such genre fare has recently raised its quality just a notch? Even standard fare like Paul Davis’ ‘Uncanny Annie’ seemed to have protagonists that were coloured in a little more than just archetypes.
Where Christopher Landon’s ‘Happy Death Day 2U’ was also a lot of fun as a follow-up, features like Danishka Esterhazy’s ‘The Banana Splits Movie’ and Bobby Millers’ ‘Critters Attack’ ultimately ended up with “must try harder” stickers, despite the pleasing practical effects.
Oh, and incidentally one my most enjoyable and surprising experiences was watching Joran Ruin’s ‘The Drone’ at FrightFest. The poster had me expecting a very average film about a killer drone, but as soon as the serial killer started reflecting that he needed to call an Uber and the audience started laughing, I realised I had been very wrong in my expectations. A very funny parody of those Eighties possessed-thingy horrors where I could feel the audience enjoying themselves. They were just the right crowd and I laughed a lot.
And although I am a fan of Jim Jarmusch, ‘The Dead Don’t Die’ just seemed lazy and surprisingly amateurish. If Jarmusch’s style is to cross over to horror, he has yet to find the right vehicle and angle.
Speaking of reboots … why do I insist on being hopeful and disappointed by the latest ‘Godzilla’ trend? Like ‘Kong: Skull Island’, ‘Godzilla: King of Monsters’ had several notable moments and images but didn’t quite make it to being unquestionably good. But as a friend retorted when I was laying into ‘Skull Island’: “Then again: it’s a movie about a giant ape.” It’s true that the idea of these films is usually greater than the end result, and that’s been the standard for almost the entirety of the unstoppable ‘Godzilla’ franchise, with the original exempt and a few exceptions, depending on your generosity.
Of course, if you were truly going for the gargantuan and cosmic, then the Russo brothers’ ‘Avengers: Endgame’ had it in spades. Despite the genre’s detractors, its agenda promotes people coming together to battle seemingly insurmountable odds to stop an egotistical, sociopathic delusional bad guy. That seems to me a far more mature message than rewriting history for a revenge fantasy offered by ‘Sight & Sounds’’ number 2 film of the year, ‘Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood’. Aside from that, the fact that ‘Endgame’ had such a big cast, didn’t drop the ball and achieved an ending that was genuinely epic, intimate and moving in equal measure isn’t bad for a supposedly juvenile genre.
And then I liked Peyton Reed’s ‘Ant Man and The Wasp’ for its modesty, for being so small-scale as a contrast. Nothing exceptional at all, but solid fun with a wealth of good size jokes.
Of course, Zack Snyder’s ‘Justice League’ wasn’t going to bolster the genre any, and you had retorts like David Yarovesky’s ‘Brightburn’ flipping the Superman mythos. Going dark and adding horror is often mistaken for a mature response to the superhero genre, but the genre has always done this.
And then there was Todd Philips’ ‘Joker’ to set the cat amongst the pigeons and remind people that the comic book genre also wanted to be taken seriously. A film about psychological issues without the cushion of Oscar-baiting earnestness, although it did have an award-worthy performance from Joaquin Phoenix at its centre. Both loved and hated, it was surely a surprise commercial success, hanging around the cinema screens for the latter months of 2019 and lingering on into the next decade. …And did I foolishly say this wasn’t the kind of thing that usually got awards?
For more reassuring thrillers, Chad Stahelski’s ‘John Wick: chapter 3 – Parabellum’ offered the entertaining fights – death by library book! – whilst being as dumb and as juvenile as a president photoshopping his head on ‘Rambo’ (and no, I didn’t see ‘Rambo: Last Blood’). Of course, it helps to have the thoroughly likeable Keanu Reeves as your frontman.
S. Craig Zahler’s ‘Dragged Across Concrete’ offered an exceptional long, slow burning denouement. Whilst Zahler is always interesting on violence – he’s good at finding that super-violence and delivering it just so it hurts, so it’s not quite the celebratory humorous overkill of ‘John Wick’ – and while his rehabilitation of Vince Vaughn has been successful, his same for Mel Gibson might be frowned upon. Nevertheless, Gibson does good work and although it’s all a little ambiguous, the film could be seen as white-man-whining-and-redeeming-with-violence or it could be seen as a little dig at past-it white machismo at Gibson’s expense. It’s a long, riveting thriller that – like Ari Aster – is interesting for what he shows and when. For example, we don’t get the heist as expected, but the aftermath is one prolonged showdown that escalates to a near end-of-the-world starkness.
If ‘Wick’ and ‘Concrete’ had exemplary set pieces, Kiril Sokolov’s ‘Why Don’t You Just Die?’ dragged out the action set piece to feature length, admittedly abetted by flashbacks. It spooled out with the mechanics of the action getting meticulous attention – like ‘Delicatessen’s Caro and Jeanet doing John Wick, perhaps; a favourite moment had our hapless anti-hero pulling a defeated face as a television set bears down on his face in slo-mo – and then with the claustrophobia of a single room theatre production. It moved through double-crosses and escape attempts with similar aplomb and proved thoroughly nihilistic fun.
Takashi Miike’s ‘First Love’ was typically enjoyable genre hokum. I saw it at the London Film Festival where there was an introductory video of Miike leaning against Godzilla and cheekily promising burning dogs. Miike has done this kind of Yakuza drama in his sleep, but very few directors are as focused on being unruly so that you never quite know what’s coming next: street horror, humour, outrage, violence and romance in equal measure.
There was a notable response of ambivalence from friends to Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’. Similarly, I thought it good and admirable (and not because of the CGI) but I couldn’t quite muster up full excitement.
Rather it was Ciro Guerra’s ‘Birds of Passage’ that offered a fresher setting and context for the genre. Perhaps not as otherworldly and unique as ‘Embrace of the Serpent’ but Guerra’s respectful attention to cultures is riveting and revealing. There was the same clear composition and direction that was observational, empathetic and fascinating.
It was Alejandro Landos’ ‘Monos’ that was a triumph of startling visuals and increasingly tense narrative pull. It just seemed to reach into that cinematic realm of the truly phenomenal.
Claire Denis’ ‘High Life’ occupied the adult science-fiction corner, delivering the heady mixture of alienation, sexuality, humanity and sex in that particular way that only this genre can reach. And of course it helps to have Robert Pattinson as your frontman, adrift in space with memories and big themes. If perhaps it left a little detachment (and I wasn’t the only viewer who found it initially a little confusing) maybe multiple viewings will be more rewarding.
Whereas Josh Cooley ‘Toy Story 4’ was one of those sequels that won by not being a disappointment: of course coming on the back of a beloved and pretty much perfect trilogy was not going to do it any favours, but it was a decent conclusion for life-after-ownership for the toys themselves. And ‘Toy Story’ never quite forgets how creepy dolls can be. Hell, I’m not even fully comfortable with Forky.
But it was with Jérémy Clapin’s ‘I Lost My Body’ that showed the oddball potential of animation could be found, telling the tale of a disembodied hand trying to make its way back to the young man it belonged too. Along the way, the lost appendage seems to possess the memories of his attempts at romance in a fairly drab and uncaring world. Highlights include the hand battling a pigeon and Naoufel (Hakim Faris) the pizza delivery man unsuccessfully trying to deliver to a woman, just communicating through the intercom. It’s a melancholy film that happily utilises surrealism and gentle, downbeat romantic drama to touching effect, all the time utilising beguiling composition and animation. And it’s hard to argue with Jared Mobarak’s conclusion to its meaning: “We must acknowledge our phantom limbs and accept that we’ve survived.”
Films I didn't get to see but wanted to:
'Shaun the Sheep: farmageddon', 'The Souvenir', 'Parasite'. Wimped out of going the see the first on my own, couldn't see the second showing anywhere and tried to book the third for the one showing I could see but it wa already sold out.