We’ve taken a leaf out of Santa’s book, and have decided to reflect on the films of the year by determining which ones have been ‘good/nice’ and which ones have been downright naughty/bad. All of the team have put forward three films on their nice list and three for their naughty lists, giving their reasons why certain films have made the right or the wrong impression. So, grab a mince pie and some egg nog and join us to examine the lists. Ho, ho, ho!
The Other Side of the Wind
It should not be understated that the fact that The Other Side of the Wind exists at all is a flat out miracle. No one could have predicted, no one could have seen it coming, yet here it is, the final finished film of Orson Welles, though only partially edited by him, and released 30 years after he died. And it’s a brilliant film, messy yes, but brilliant to say the least.
It’s a film very much of its time, yet also very much of this time as well. It’s a reminder of what we have lost as film has evolved, and the maverick directors of old, have faded into obscurity. It’s a film about the art of film, of the camera and how it captures us in the most unsavory of circumstances, and how it can damage our very soul. It’s a film about the very finality of filmmaking, an apocalyptic warning that the flickering light we’ve come to know as movie making has an expiration date.
No one understood this more than Orson Welles. He made this movie, when he was written off as too old, too fat, and burned out. Maybe he was all of that, but he had that passion of experimenting and the heart of an artist where nothing stood in his way, and he fought on every project, yet lost almost every battle. It’s nice to see another one of his flawed masterpieces has seen the light of day.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Maybe the nicest movie I can think of that’s all about death. A western anthology of short films, some brilliant, some slight, some grim, and some absurd. This is the film equivalent of being nestled next to a warm fire with a book of short stories in your hand, and the stories themselves are made by the best storytellers in the business.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs in my mind may be the most entertaining film of the year, in how it changes the tone so often, and makes you feel so many different things. It’s a harsh film in many respects with some off putting violence, and dark humour. But there are moments of quiet grace and beauty that should not be thought of any less. Yes death is prevalent as we are witness to characters who die without any purpose or real reason, other than to tell us that the world can be cruel.
Yet, it’s important to understand that sometimes, and it’s a comfort in many ways that we are all in this world together and we should all have mercy on each other, and though death may be lurking behind us, it’s important to go through that uncertain valley with our head held high.
This is a nice film in how it is very humble. Where as most films are brilliant dense canvases, this feels like a sketch, or a drawing made by a humane artist. The film focuses on the trials and tribulations of being a woman in Iran, and how they are perceived to fill a role by their family without given the chance to live their own lives. We see the quiet desperation, but also the perseverance of some of these women who want a better life for themselves.
Yet this is a very light film, and doesn’t directly make you feel one way or another, but rather it observes, to let you make up your own mind. No one is judged in this film, and no one is thought of as the bad guy. But it becomes a very warm portrait of an Iranian village, and is full of light humour and humanity. The pacing never rushes, and the camera is left to linger on a certain frame, sometimes trailing off to some different aspect or reveal.
We as the audience are left to make up what we want from it, to contemplate and meditate on it. It shows how powerful a tool film really can be by simply showing us things, no matter how mundane or unimportant they might be. This film is life being shown before our eyes, and it’s a beautiful thing to behold.
The House that Jack Built
I can’t think of a film naughtier this year than Lars Von Trier’s latest film about a serial killer who regails in his past exploits of murder, and violence, all the while making his masterpiece designs of frozen corpses. This is a depraved film, depraved in the sense it lacks any depth, and is one of those that like to shock its audience for the sake of shocking. What is the meaning to this film? What is the point? Looking closer, I found there was no point, at best what I found was rather shallow and indulgent.
It’s Lars Von Trier in love with his own style, an ego boost for himself if you will. It’s telling that this film has clips of Von Trier’s own past films to show his depravity, but explaining through the character of Jack how there is beauty in such things, which others would find offensive. That’s fine, but the film becomes tiring and unbearable, even repetitive. I left with a bad feeling in my stomach, like I came out of a seminar lead by a speaker who could relate to Adolf Hitler. Perhaps I was foolish to look for morality in a Lars Von Trier film, but maybe I was at least hoping for a bit of decency.
It’s very naughty of Venom to come out and become a worldwide phenomenon. Last time I checked it surpassed Wonder Woman in box office numbers. How can this be? Are there that many Tom Hardy fans who would follow him down to the worst film of his career just to see him get a chance to do a buddy comedy with a piece of black CGI goo?
The same can be said for Michelle Williams. Michelle Williams!!! Why is she in this? I don’t blame the actors actually, they need to work sometimes, they need the money. There is so much pressure for them, I’m sure to star in blockbusters such as this, to keep their profile in the spotlight, and if that can give them a nice pay cheque in order to go back and do smaller budget films, than more power to them.
Who I will not forgive is the movie going public for not wanting more out of their movie going experience. This film doesn’t even pass guilty pleasure muster, and yet it will be one of the biggest hits of the year. We will now get a sequel. Are you happy audience? I just hope all of you who enjoyed Venom are pleased with contributing to the decline of civilization as we know it, and the next time you complain about not being able to have nice things, take a good look in the mirror and look at that Venom ticket stub I know you hold so dearly.
Naughty, naughty Green Book for even being part of the discussion for the Academy Awards. Here we are almost 30 years after Driving Miss Daisy took best picture, while Do the Right Thing wasn’t even nominated, and we have almost the exact same scenario at play again. The real naughty people here are the critics who hold Green Book in such high esteem, you have exposed your shallowness.
The buzz words you use to describe this film such as “sentimental” or “feel good”, or even “deep” and “meaningful” show you’re just the critics who like seeing their name and quotes on the movie poster, naughty, naughty. We are in the year of Black Panther, Blackkklansman, The Hate U Give, Sorry to Bother You and Blindspotting among others who all have important things to say about race. Green Book, you are too safe for your own good, and you need to be tossed in the bargain bin of mediocrity never to be heard from again.