Every thirty days, I like to post a list of my favorite films I’ve recently watched. Here are the best films I’ve seen throughout the month of October. This list is based on movies theatrically released here in Canada, and I do not include what I have seen at film festivals.
1: Holy Motors
Directed by Leos Carax
Written by Leos Carax
Holy Motors is a carefully structured work of art; reflective, palpable, playful, absurd, precise and entirely engrossing. Motors is a prime reminder or why cinema is so treasured and celebrated. In this film, as in life, nothing is explained and things just get stranger by the minute. When most cinema these days produces nothing but the ordinary, a movie like Holy Motors is a treasure to behold and worthy of multiple viewings (I’ve seen it three times so far). This preposterous piece of filmmaking is exhilarating, opaque and heartbreaking – a truly unique work of art, and the sort that comes along once in a life time. Carax’s baroque imagination leads us into our own obsession to untangle the spools of film and dream. We are never sure of what just happened, but nonetheless we leave mesmerized. (read the full review)
Directed by Brandon Cronenberg
Written by Brandon Cronenberg
In Brandon Cronenberg’s directorial debut, two competing companies in the thriving field of celebrity disease transfusions, make it their business to harvest viruses from famous people and infect customers with clones of that virus – so that they have, in essence, fallen ill from their favourite celebrity. If that wasn’t enough to send shivers down your spine, there’s also a black market for meat formed out of cloned celebrity muscle cells.
Antiviral is a satire of celebrity fandom – a cold and clinical look at our consumerism – modern technology – and the stuff that is making us a little less human.
Directed by Ron Fricke
Ron Fricke (concept and treatment)
Mark Magidson (concept and treatment)
Filmed over five years in twenty-five countries on five continents, and shot on seventy-millimetre film, Samsara stares at disfigured marines, Asian temples, African tribesmen, disaster zones, industrial complexes, slaughterhouses, a Japanese stripper, a Balinese dancer, sacred grounds and so much more. Fricke and his producer/co-editor/co-writer Mark Magidson continue what they started back with Baraka, and while their latest may seem a bit heavy-handed, Samsara’s ravishing visuals more than compensate for any narrative flaws. Samsara if anything makes for a great travelogue to places we’ve never known, much less would ever visit.
4: The Imposter
Directed Bart Layton
There are two sides to every lie: The Imposter is a mixture of documentary, mystery and crime-thriller, which recounts an astonishing true story about a missing teenager who mysteriously resurfaces after nearly four years. Those not already familiar with the story, will walk out of The Imposter shaking their heads in disbelief. Truth be told, as a documentary, The Imposter fails with it’s poor dramatic re-creations and lazy journalistic investigations into the events which unfolded. However, The Imposter works extremely well as a genre film, a mesmerizing con-artist-black-comedy – a whodunnit mystery and a film that gets more outrageous and bizarre with every new revelation.
5: Seven Psychopaths
Directed by Martin McDonagh
Written by Martin McDonagh
Seven Psychopaths is best described as Quentin Tarantino meets Charlie Kaufman. Writer/director Martin McDonagh’s sophomore feature is kinetic, clever, funny, unpredictable and just plain entertaining. This is a movie that juggles with a lot of themes, characters, jokes, subplots, philosophical riffs and so on. Christopher Walken is at his usual best and Tom Waits and Harry Dean Stanton make fabulous cameos.
6: Cloud Atlas
Directed by Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski
Written by Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski
Cloud Atlas is essentially a patchwork of narratives thematically linked with minor coincidences and recurring symbolism. With six stories spanning several centuries, Cloud Atlas explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future. As a parable of how we are all connected, each protagonist in Cloud Atlas wrestles with some form of oppression, based on either gender, age, race, sexual orientation, genetics and so on. In 1850, a young American lawyer sailing on a ship through the South Pacific is slowly being poisoned by a doctor who wants the treasure of gold he is hiding. In the 1930s, an inspiring composer follows his dreams while recounting his journey via love letters to his gay lover. A journalistic potboiler set in 1970s San Francisco sees an investigative reporter exposing the secrets of a faulty nuclear facility. Later, a London publisher Timothy Cavendish is imprisoned in a nursing home and must find a way to escape back into society. In 2144 Korea, a cyborg-clone-slave named Sonmi-451 escapes to help lead a rebellion – and further still into a post-apocalyptic future, a Hawaiian tribesman is contacted by a representative of the remnants of an advanced civilization, to save what’s left of the human race. The sprawling, serpentine plot is enough to stretch into a mini series, yet somehow these three filmmakers find ways to intertwine these individual stories into one coherent movie. Atlas is at times frustrating and familiar but credit must be given to the filmmakers for taking on such an ambitious project. If anything, Atlas is highly entertaining even if silly at times.
Directed by Tim Burton
Written by John August
From the painstaking attention to detail in the stop motion animation, to Danny Elfman’s thoughtful musical score, Frankenweenie is Tim Burtons’ best film in years. It is also an ideal family film, and one which treats children with respect. The balance of macabre humour, charming and unusual characters, and loving homage to everything from Frankenstein to Universal Monster movies, makes Frankenweenie one of the best animated films of 2012.
– Ricky D