The Best Films of 2015

Caren Pistorius in Slow West

 

 

 

There’s a tendency among people who watch a lot of films to boost ones that stand out rather than ones that are good. This can lead to some perverse choices in the “best of” lists that proliferate at this time of year. So that probably explains the rogue nature of the list below – ha ha. If you’re expecting to find Spectre (not at all bad) or the latest Marvel movie or Jurassic World, look elsewhere. These are just the films, of the maybe 350 films or so that I’ve watched in the past 12 months, that jumped out and grabbed me. Some of them are 2014 releases.

 

 

 

 

Ten Best

 

 

Paddington (dir: Paul King)

Operating in Mary Poppins territory, this adaptation of Michael Bond’s books is charming, funny and clever, has jokes for kids and some more thoughtful though never intrusive observations for adults, integrates the animated bear from darkest Peru with the live action brilliantly and there’s even an action-star gag by support-playing baddie Nicole Kidman that’s aimed at ex-husband Tom Cruise.

 

Wild (dir: Jean-Marc Vallée)

The redemptive drama is a hard sell, but this one about a broken woman’s long trek to self-realisation works in every way. Reese Witherspoon is believably frail as the wee girl dwarfed by her huge rucksack (metaphor), director Jean-Marc Vallée uses music perfectly and does something many directors have forgotten all about – he structures his film visually, using the editing suite to full advantage. His compositional work is remarkable.

 

Ex Machina (dir: Alex Garland)

Just as we are realising that technology’s grip is icy, and Google might not be our friend, along comes Alex Garland’s directorial debut, a dystopian slab of hard sci-fi in which geeky Domhnall Gleeson falls for robot Alicia Vikander while hipster tech uberlord Oscar Isaac looks on. A three-hander – give or take – getting perfect performances from all concerned, and it glistens like a tiny, beautifully cut gem.

 

Kajaki (dir: Paul Katis)

A gaggle of British squaddies with names like Tug, Spud and Smudge wander into a minefield and suddenly their casually homophobic banter is replaced by focused professionalism and a sharp interest in staying alive. Gruesomely tense, horrific in its depiction of the damage inflicted by IEDs, is this the best British war film since Ice Cold in Alex? It’s a great war film by any standards.

 

It Follows (dir: David Robert Mitchell)

Sexual intercourse as an engine of death isn’t new in horror films, but It Follows finds a simple and brilliant new way of telling the story all over again – zombies who are “slow but not dumb” and might appear any time, any place, anywhere, dressed in nightwear or perhaps not very much at all. A lurchingly subjective camera, expressionistic framing and Disasterpeace’s Wendy Carlos-alike score help rack up the intensity even further.

 

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (dir: Ana Lily Amirpour)

The Muslim jilbab as a kind of vampire’s cape – what a brilliantly observed idea that is in one of the strangest horror films of recent times, which combines something of the mass-observation aesthetic of photographer Sebastião Salgado with the disjointed cool of early Jim Jarmusch. Shot entirely in California, yet clearly a film about and for Iran, it’s a fascinating, Middle Eastern take on the Let the Right One In “innocent vampire” genre.

 

Slow West (dir: John Maclean)

Michael Fassbender’s astonishing run continues with this out-of-nowhere debut by John Maclean, an exquisitely wrought western making clear its debt to old pulp novels and their love of hard-tack glamour and salty danger. Tense as hell, in fact the whole film is one long, slow build towards a great finale. And it looks the business too.

 

Aferim! (dir: Radu Jude)

There hasn’t been a great Romanian film for about ten minutes, but here’s a slightly different sort than what we’re used to – a historical picaresque following an 1830s cop and his son as they seek to capture a Gypsy and return him to his owner, a rich boyar whose wife has been too free with her favours. Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon inspires some of the look and pace of it, and Don Quixote is clearly also a reference, though Cervantes didn’t finish on as gruesomely gripping a high as this does.

 

Theeb (dir: Naji Abu Nowar)

It takes a while for it to sink in, but what we have in Theeb – as we follow the exploits of the youngest son of a Bedouin tribe in the Laurence of Arabia-era desert – is a story straight out of Rider Haggard territory. It’s the sort of ripping adventure that once upon a time emboldened Spielberg and Lucas to make Indiana Jones but is done without a cocked eyebrow here, with genuine danger, tough decisions, cruel fate and a bit of socio-economic background (the collapse of the Ottoman Empire) all adding spice.

 

Mommy (dir: Xavier Dolan)

With Tom at the Farm it became clear that Xavier Dolan was something of a genius. Mommy is further proof, a tough drama about the stumbling relationship of a flaky mother (Anne Dorval), her aggressive, firecracker ADHD teenage son (Antoine-Olivier Pilon) and their nervous neighbour (Suzanne Clément). It wears its emotions out there on a selfie stick – “fuck off” in this film often means “I love you” – and there are at least two scenes so powerful you might have to remind yourself to breathe.

 

 

 

Honourable Mentions

 

Victoria Almeida in What's Left of Us
Victoria Almeida drives the boys crazy in What’s Left of Us

 

 

Appropriate Behaviour (dir: Desiree Akhavan)

The life and times of a second generation Iranian, or of a confused bisexual, or of a girl in the big city, or of a struggling 20something – Desiree Akhavan gets it all just right in this through-the-fingers New York comedy.

 

Maps to the Stars (dir: David Cronenberg)

Still Alice won her the acting accolades, but Julianne Moore is actually better in this return to nightmarishness for David Cronenberg, as a fading star and member of a family for whom the term fucked really doesn’t cover it. The Player meets Sunset Boulevard.

 

Life After Beth (dir: Jeff Baena)

Aubrey Plaza gives it her absolute all as a newly dead zombie trying to have a relationship with old boyfriend Dane DeHaan – who finds her a whole lot more into him than she used to be – in a genuinely inventive comedy made all the better by the presence of John C Reilly and Molly Shannon as Plaza’s concerned parents. Dead funny.

The Tribe (dir: Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy)

Shot entirely in Lithuanian sign language, acted by first-timers and set in a school for the deaf where a new boy finds that the descriptor “sex and violence” barely covers what’s going on, this film sounds like a stunt – and it obviously is to some extent – but it’s a stunt that works. And the lack of dialogue is no bar to understanding when emotion this direct and action this unambiguous is concerned.

The Babadook (dir: Jennifer Kent)

There’s a touch of The Innocents in this highly atmospheric Aussie horror about a mother driven to desperation by her needy child. Or is it the child we need to feel worried for? Sure, it goes slack in the middle, and becomes over-focused on telling us that writer/director Jennifer Kent has seen a whole load of old horror movies, but wait for the finale – barking, scary and brilliant.

 

The Book of Life (dir: Jorge R Gutierrez)

A Mexican flavoured animation with a Day of the Dead theme and a plot with a distinct Orpheus and Eurydice flavour – she’s dead and he goes after her into the underworld (ish). The visuals are spaghetti western meets Ren and Stimpy, the songs are jaunty and mariachi-flavoured and the voicework (Ice Cube in particular) is exemplary.

 

Pictures of the Old World (dir: Dusan Hanák)

“The best Slovak film ever made”, the reputation of Dusan Hanák’s disarmingly simple documentary from the early 1970s – about the dirt poor lives of ancient peasants up in the back of beyond – is entirely deserved. “I’m going to die this year, I can feel it,” says one old timer. And that’s what it’s about – quite starkly. Death.

 

Two Night Stand (dir: Max Nichols)

Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Pink Panther, It Happened One Night and The Dick Van Dyke Show are all in the mix in this subversive comedy about a girl (Analeigh Tipton) who has hook-up sex with a stranger (Miles Teller) and then gets stuck in his apartment. Old-school screwball romance follows, charmingly, smartly and at speed.

 

Predestination (dir: Michael and Peter Spierig)

Robert Heinlein’s sci-fi story All You Zombies provides the backbone for the Spierig brothers’ follow-up to the similarly idea-crammed Daybreakers, a “guy walks into a bar” tale of a hermaphrodite (Sarah Snook) who walks into Ethan Hawke’s bar and tells him a story about time travel and the paradoxes that erupt from it. Refreshingly hard sci-fi.

 

Frequencies aka OXV: The Manual (dir: Darren Paul Fisher)

Strip away the romance and what is human courtship about? Status, clearly, according to this lo-fi, highly fascinating film about “what happens when a high frequency meets a low frequency” – hot, smart girl meets average guy, in other words. It’s patchily acted and a bit speechy towards the end, but there are enough ideas in this bizarre film for about 12 Hollywood blockbusters.

Turned towards the Sun (dir: Greg Olliver)

A simple and revelatory documentary about 90-something poet and Second World War hero Micky Burn, a long-form visual version of a Daily Telegraph obituary whose power lies in the richness of Burn’s Zelig-like life. He was – just one for-instance – the guy in the secret radio room at Colditz.

 

What’s Left of Us aka El Desierto (dir: Christoph Behl)

A simple but powerful Argentinian zombie movie about a girl, a boy and another boy all locked up together in a house while the world goes to hell in a handcart outside. And inside, it turns out, once sexual dynamics and the fallout of a fetid love triangle start to exert themselves. Victoria Almeida is a powerful and provocative lead, the sexy counterweight to the hothouse atmosphere of death.

 

Tusk (dir: Kevin Smith)

Kevin Smith reminds us how good he can be with a film about a guy (Justin Long) being turned into a walrus by a demented surgeon (Michael Parks) while his much-cheated-on girlfriend (Genesis Rodriguez) searches for him. A simple film, it somehow manages to be funny and appallingly gruesome at the same time.

 

Face of an Angel (dir: Michael Winterbottom)

Michael Winterbottom’s drama takes the bones of the Meredith Kercher/Amanda Knox case and constructs a brilliant meditation on the modus operandi of the media, as well as a modern-day Dante and Beatrice tale in which film-maker Daniel Brühl is smitten by virginal Cara Delevingne, as anyone watching probably will be too.

 

While We’re Young (dir: Noah Baumbach)

Not-as-young-as-they-once-were couple Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts try to keep up with hipsters Adam Horovitz and Amanda Seyfried in a very Jewish New York comedy – smart, dry, a touch bitter – about the importance of being not just true to yourself, but of doing this absolutely and totally properly.

White God aka Fehér Isten (dir: Kornél Mudruczó)

Kicking off with a quote by Rilke, this unique Hungarian film is like a Disney animal flick about the adventures of a mongrel, except done as existential sci-fi – what exactly would happen if dogs had the same degree of consciousness that humans have?

 

The Salvation (dir: Kristian Levring)

Director Kristian Levring used to be a Dogme man, but shouts “I’m so over all that now” with this remarkable western that’s like a fusion of Sergio Leone, John Ford, Sam Peckinpah and Robert Aldrich, with a perfectly cast Mads Mikkelsen as a Clint Eastwood-alike quester after vengeance. If looks could kill…

 

Run All Night (dir: Jaume Collet-Serra)

Another of Liam Neeson’s geri-actioners, though this time he’s back with director Jaume Collet-Serra for a deliberately retro dash for the finish in which strong, silent Neeson takes on the good guys, the bad guys and eventually the whole of New York. Hugely overwrought, entirely satisfying, it’s genre done properly.

 

Still the Water aka Tutatsume no mado (dir: Naomi Kawase)

If Douglas Sirk had been Japanese he might have come up with this overheated love story about teenage lovers hedging towards full penetrative sex as the waves crash, storms rage and their families conspire against them. Leisurely, beautiful, lusty and lovely, an unusual mix of the entirely natural and the gigantically metaphorical.

 

Phoenix (dir: Christian Petzold)

The latest of a string of dark, intelligent films that director Christian Petzold and actor Nina Hoss have made together is a revenge drama set in the aftermath of the Second World War where Hoss, just released from a death camp, is recruited by her own husband to play his dead wife – he doesn’t recognise her, obviously – and she plays along. Oh deary deary me.

Marshland aka La Isla Mínima (dir: Alberto Rodriguez)

Stunningly good-looking policier about an ageing Franco-supporting cop and his younger more democratic sidekick investigating a murder out in the photogenic Guadalquivir marshes in 1980. Brilliantly acted and shot, with locations and music to match, it’s even got does a car chase in an entirely new way. Did I mention how good it looks?

 

Little Accidents (dir: Sara Colangelo)

Old school 1970s-style humane ensemble drama with a standout Boyd Holbrook as a survivor of a terrible mining disaster whose testimony about the event at an upcoming hearing are going to decide the futures of a whole lot of people in town. An ambling drawl of a movie, with Elizabeth Banks and Jacob Lofland almost as good as Holbrook, surely a star of 2016.

Turbo Kid (dir: François Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoan-Karl Whissell)

Utterly on-the-nail pastiche of 1980s straight-to-VHS movie-making, a post-apocalyptic Total Recall meets Mad Max story of a BMX-riding kid, called Kid, gaining special powers, falling for a special girl (a special Laurence Leboeuf) and saving the world. Funny and gory, with in-jokes for nerds, and a fabulous John Carpenter-like soundtrack by Le Matos.

 

Mad Max: Fury Road (dir: George Miller)

Pedal-to-the-metal furious punk-funk madness, with a barely speaking Tom Hardy as Max, the road warrior on the road with badass Charlize Theron (the film’s real star) while director George Miller obsessively choreographs the relentless chase/action mayhem around them.

 

Tomorrowland (dir: Brad Bird)

Whatever happened to the futurism of jet packs and flying cars? Brad Bird answers the question with jaw-dropping visuals in a modern-day Wizard of Oz quest-adventure coolly received by critics with ass/elbow disassociation disorder.

 

Cop Car (dir: Jon Watts)

Another of those great Kevin Bacon movies he comes up with every few years, with our guy as a really bad cop on the trail of a couple of kids who have nicked his car, unaware there’s something in the boot they really don’t want to be discovering. A high-concept B movie of real distinction, lean, simple and with smart, believable dialogue, especially for the kids.

 

Palio (dir: Cosima Spender)

A remarkable documentary about the Palio, a horse race run in Siena, Italy, twice a year, which takes such pains to introduce us to its characters – chiefly, the young buck hoping to steal the grizzled champion’s crown – that when the race kicks off, you’re really in the medieval square with the riders.

Minions (dir: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin)

After the boring Despicable Me 2, who’d have thought that a spin-off – the backstory of Gru’s little yellow helpers – would have worked this well. Brilliantly animated and written, it’s a breathless, idea-packed, funny, inventive animated comedy.

 

I Believe in Miracles (dir: Jonny Owen)

Even if you have no interest in the 1970s, or British football, or managerial legend Brian Clough, this documentary about his astonishing success and idiosyncratic style will have you hooked. “The most charismatic man I ever met,” says one former player, part of the team of underdogs he willed to European Cup success, twice.

 

 

And if you want to watch or buy any of the films, this Amazon link will allow you to do just that – enjoy!

 

 

© Steve Morrissey 2015

 

29 June 2015-06-29

Maika Monroe in It Follows

 

Out This Week

 

Appropriate Behaviour (Peccadillo, cert 15)

The New York Neurotics Club – founder member Woody Allen, recent arrivals Lena Dunham (Girls) and Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha) – gets a new member in the shape of Desiree Akhavan, who gives us a smart, self-deprecating comedy about a slightly deadbeat woman struggling in a mumblecore world where everyone else seems to be doing OK. Playing, in Larry David style, a version of herself, Akhavan is Shirin, the bisexual daughter of immigrant parents who can’t or won’t come out to mum and dad, and whose private life is a shambolic mess like the rest of her life. The meat of the film is a chronologically messed-with analysis of Shirin’s relationship with Maxine (Rebecca Henderson), which goes from sweet and hot to cold and contemptuous as we watch. From Maxine’s point of view, anyway. Shirin remains puppy-dog needy throughout, her bisexuality making her just twice as desperate. Akhavan’s writing is seriously good – there’s an edge-of-seat quality to every scene as we are teased with one wrestle for power after another, though how rarely anyone acknowledges that that’s what they’re doing. And the acting is seriously good too. Appropriate Behaviour swings constantly between exuberance and embarrassment, building to a brilliant portrait of life in your 20s – how great it is and how bloody awful too.

Appropriate Behaviour – Watch it/buy it at Amazon

 

 

 

It Follows (Icon, cert 15)

Rather than following, the huge reputation of this film preceded it, to the point where I was quite surprised by what I saw when I put it on. I knew it was a horror film about some sort of thing that followed a person, in slow zombie style, but I’d expected just that – a zombie film, with running and screaming and what have you (the trailer stoked this delusion). Instead I got a much moodier film than expected – mining a 70s/80s vibe, with a John Carpenter meets Wendy Carlos synthy soundtrack (courtesy of Disasterpeace) and the deep pastels of Mike Gioulakis’s cinematography making much of the cosiness of the American suburb where it’s set, and the young woman involved (Maika Monroe, touchingly vulnerable). The plot – thing follows person – “it’s slow but it’s not dumb”, as one victim says, until that person can pass the thing on to another person by sleeping with them. A straightforward metaphor for sexually transmitted diseases, then. So straightforward in fact that it’s barely metaphorical at all. The power of the entire film comes from this directness – of plot, and theme. And mood – director David Robert Mitchell matching his film’s pace to that of the stumbling creature who might shift shape but is always a touch under-dressed, in underwear or nightwear, which has the effect of keeping us straining, in scene after scene, for the first glimpse of the thing as it comes from out of the distance through the crowds, long grass, car park, cinema rows, wherever. Nice subjective camera too, all those moody dollies and pans.

It Follows – Watch it/buy it at Amazon

 

 

 

Jupiter Ascending (Warner, cert 12)

I’m just recovering from the madwoman’s breakfast that was Cloud Atlas and here’s the Wachowskis again, with another “more is more” offering. The plot is a loose rerun of The Matrix – but this time Mila Kunis is the nobody who doesn’t realise she’s a somebody, an immigrant Russian cleaner who turns out to be the princess of some planet far far away. Yes, the Wachowskis have also got Star Wars in their sights too – you can’t fault them for ambition. Channing Tatum takes the Carrie-Anne Moss role, as the guide to the new world who falls for his charge (of course he does – you don’t cast Tatum and not throw in a romantic subplot). Whereas Eddie Redmayne goes Hugo Weaving, the baddie who likes to roll the words around his mouth rather than just spit them out. The same applies to the whole film, which is astonishing to look at, but rolls everything around a bit before trying to build it into a towering pile of froth, every surface embellished, every corner decorated. If there’s a crocodile, then it has to be a talking crocodile, and a talking crocodile with wings. I didn’t mention that Tatum flies about on gravity boots, or that he is a cross between a man and a wolf and has pointy ears. For what reason? Who knows? It’s highly enjoyable, until it collapses from a case of over-compressed storyline-itis, though its insistence on its own importance would have got it in the end anyway. Really, and this is something a lot of film makers are getting wrong right now, it should be a TV series.

Jupiter Ascending – Watch it/buy it at Amazon

 

 

 

Force Majeure (Artificial Eye, cert 15)

Force Majeure has a setup so powerful that, in a sense, the film never really recovers from it. It’s no spoiler – the trailer does it, and the film gets its big idea out into the open within scant minutes of the opening credits anyway – to tell you straight up that it’s about a nice holidaying Swedish family who, as they have lunch in a mountain restaurant one day, are suddenly threatened by what looks like an approaching avalanche. The wife makes a mad lunge for the kids. But the dad grabs his iPhone and runs away. The “avalanche” over – they got only the preceding fog of snow – dad returns, the family continues with its lunch. Except mum is now not speaking to dad, and won’t even look him in the eye. He’s continuing as if nothing has happened. She is appalled and is questioning everything she thought she knew about this man – his suitability as a husband, as a father, the very nature of maleness – while he pulls variations on the “What? What?” response. There are other side characters introduced to get this discussion more fully into the open – a cusping middle-aged woman holidaying on her own and indulging in the sort of sex tourism you associate with men, a 40something friend of the husband and his new, younger version of the woman he left – but they feel like nothing more than writerly devices. But at its core are these two people and their big argument – why can’t a man be more like a man, to paraphrase Professor Higgins – and it’s a vibrant, interesting one couched in such a way that you’re never sure whether the film is a conservative re-affirmation of maleness, or an ironic comment on the same. Or you could just watch it for the Let the Right One In-style cool interiors and blasts of mountain snow.

Force Majeure – Watch it/buy it at Amazon

 

 

 

Chappie (Sony, cert 15)

Neill Blomkamp was hailed as a fresh new voice in genre cinema when he arrived with District 9, which recast the alien invasion movie as a parable for apartheid in South Africa. Hollywood sucked him up, he gave them Elysium, in which his vision of a futureworld divided into the haves and have nots was eventually swamped by 1980s action-movie noise. Chappie is both the much vaunted “return to form” and “return to his roots”, another go round the block with the dystopian sci-fi movie, but this time back in South Africa, and with a budget he’d have killed for when making District 9. Anyway. And…? He’s made Terminator as panto. Oh yes he has. Dev Patel is the Buttons character, a lanky, larky programmer who has written a program that confers self-awareness, which he inserts into a broken police droid marked for disposal. This sentient robot is then stolen by some very skanky criminal exponents of the Zef style (after the white trash who used to ride around in Ford Zephyrs way, way back in the day) and trained to be their own secret weapon. Blomkamp says he had the idea of a robot being kidnapped while he was listening to the South African rave-rap band Die Antwoord. Putting literalism where his money is, he’s cast members of Die Antwoord Ninja and Yolandi as the Mad Max-alike low-lifes who get their hands on the discarded but super-capable Chappie, teach him how to talk Zef, gangsta-walk, how to accessorise with bling, hold a gun, and so on. All very amusing. There’s a nature v nurture thing going on here, Blomkamp firmly in the nurture camp, and his villain, played by Hugh Jackman, the sidelined cop with mad plans for even more hi-tech oppression, is on the nature end – his justification for his policing methods (in a nutshell: oppress the shit out of everybody) is that the people on the streets are rotten to their DNA. Talking of which, as a social commentary this film is quite bizarre – Chappie, for example, is an avatar for the oppressed black people of South Africa, and with or without surrogate mother Yolandi reading him The Black Sheep as a bedtime story, we’d have worked that out. But there are no active black characters in this film (Chappie himself is played by Sharlto Copley, taking an Andy Serkis mo-cap role for the team). Otherwise, this is an intensely interesting film undermined by its relentless snark – it’s caviar, that stuff, you don’t need much.

Chappie – Watch it/buy it at Amazon

 

 

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Fox, cert PG)

No one is dirt poor and no one dies of heat stroke in this Sunday night sequel to the original, which reunites the majority of the cast (not Tom Wilkinson, and Penelope Wilton is only in it for a minute). It also introduces Richard Gere to the franchise, and uses what the target audience will recognise as the Hotel Inspector plot from Fawlty Towers as a device. Is Gere one? Or isn’t he? Having wanted to shoot myself while, and after, watching the first one, and then having been surprised to find everyone else in the world seemed to like it (as long as everyone is patronised by a film, that’s OK, it seems), I was pleasantly surprised by this second one, which has a loose Ealing feel, a few good one-liners and pretty much leaves the actors to do their work – Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie and Ronald Pickup as the pensioner Brits whose anteroom-to-death sojourn in pension-friendly India is complicated by a few minor bumps to be ridden over. Dev Patel’s progress towards marriage with the beautiful Sunaina (Tina Desai) is also blocked by a leaf on the line, and even enterprising Patel’s mother (Lillete Dubey) gets a romantic storyline – prizes for everybody, inclusiveness all round, a very British sense of fair play, unless you actually examine things too closely. Because it’s still “don’t they talk funny and I wouldn’t drink the water and you can’t get Bovril” and all that. Never mind racism; the Indians are perfectly capable of looking after themselves. It’s the Brits I was worried about.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – Watch it/buy it at Amazon

 

 

 

Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter (Soda, cert 12)

We’re told that this film is based on the true story of a Japanese woman who loved the film Fargo so much that she went off to America and tried to find the money that Steve Buscemi was seen burying in the snow towards the end of it. These are the acts of a clearly mentally disturbed woman, and I’m never really sure what the point of films about mentally disturbed people is, unless they are trying to show things from their point of view – which this film doesn’t. So, that off my chest, this deluded, depressed Tokyo salarygirl throws in the job after being insulted by the boss once too often, and jets off to snowy Minnesota to get rich. She meets a succession of quirky “characters” in what turns into a road movie, the writing/directing Zellner brothers occasionally delivering a Coen brothers-alike corridor or hotel lobby, while cinematographer Sean Porter keeps the looks matt and flat, in the now standard Let the Right One In style. Waitresses, motel clerks, shop girls, retirees, a bumbling cop – there’s a deliberate focus on the people of low status, at a wintry time of year, in a state no one ever gets too excited about. It’s no surprise to find that Alexander Payne is involved as a producer, given his fascination with road movies, unvisited locales and the sort of characters most films ignore. There’s a kind of quirky humour to it all, recalling David Byrne’s True Stories, from all those years ago. This film has won a bunch of awards, from festivals all over the world, but it didn’t do a thing for me. The story was novel, but its indie treatment, delivered with a hint of condescension, was the same old same old.

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter – Watch it/buy it at Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

© Steve Morrissey 2015