1.) World of Tomorrow (short film) (Don Hertzfeldt)
This is a masterpiece, it blew me away. A hugely ambitious 17 minute short film by writer/director/animator Don Hertzfeldt. To think he almost single-handedly made it is mighty impressive! So full of ideas and quite moving as well. Looking at the present and the future of mankind. I think you have to see it multiple times to fathom all the details.
2.) Far From the Madding Crowd (Thomas Vinterberg) (review)
3.) Inside Out (Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen) (review)
4.) Amy (documentary) (Asif Kapadia) (review)
5.) Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller) (review)
6.) Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (documentary) (Alex Gibney) (review)
7.) Wild Tales (Damián Szifron) (review)
8.) Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation (Christopher McQuarrie) (review)
9.) White God (Kornél Mundruczó)
Recommended to me by Pete from I Love That Film. Finally released on dvd. Hungarian drama, which won the Un Certain Regard Award at Cannes.
The world of dog fighting and dog steroids is difficult to watch, so the main character’s love for her dog is needed to give it balance. It’s rare to watch a film with such innocence juxtapositioned with such menace and ugliness. The ”acting” by the dogs is very impressive and realistic. It’s emphasized in the opening credits that the real life dogs were rescued from the streets and placed in care.
The music teacher puts up with Lili’s audacious remarks (commenting he is heartless), but maybe he admires her honestly and sees talent in her? This is not explained further.
There is some social commentary, in how we treat our animals, and the story makes a point that animals have feelings as well, both good and bad. The other layers may have been lost on me, because I’m not familiar with the Hungarian way of life.
While the ending is memorable and thrilling, a few of the threads are not tied up, such as the future of the characters, so some viewers may leave unsatisfied. Apart from that, the story was exiting, emotionally involving, and different to most films you will see.
10.) A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Roy Andersson) (review)
I only rated this film 7/10 upon first viewing. I think I was too harsh. I now consider it an 8/10. While the style isn’t as groundbreaking as Andersson’s previous films in the trilogy, A Pigeon does benefit from some imaginative ideas and amusing moments. The more I think about it, the more I appreciate it. With time, I may grow to love A Pigeon as much as Songs from the Second Floor (2000) and You The Living (2007). I interpret it that characters may have dreamed other scenes in the movie, which explained why situations felt surreal/dream-like(i.e. the African slaves scene, the soldiers from another era in the bar). The trilogy makes us reflect on our own life and the (sometimes absurd) society we live in.
Clouds of Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas)
The scenery in the Swiss Alps is beautiful. An interesting and challenging intellectual exercise, real life imitating art, and the different perspectives of a younger and middle aged woman. Even though the dialogues seemed to meander, the story sustained interest for the duration, and would reveal more on a rewatch. The film won’t hold everyone’s attention, because it is slow paced, wordy and on the surface feels a bit pretentious, but if you stay with it, it’s worth the effort.
I didn’t understand why the two of them kept rehearsing the play if she had already pulled out? She probably just changed her mind off screen.
Spoilers: You can interpret the story in various ways. The interpretation I prefer is that Maria (Juliette Binoche) did not value Valentine’s (Kristen Stewart) opinions. Near the end before she steps on to the stage, Maria began to see her own arrogance and started to truly listen to Jo-Ann Ellis’ (Chloë Grace Moretz) remarks about the play. So for me a film about a middle aged actress learning to appreciate the opinions of those she might initially perceive as young and immature. Obviously you can use that knowledge in your own life, to really listen to what others have to say and be respectful of their opinions. I’m sure Assayas put other components into the story, but that was the essence of it for me. However you could also perceive Valentine and Jo-Ann as big-headed and arrogant, so things may not be as clear-cut as I assume.
Favorite quotes: “Taste can get worn out, just like desire”
“To excel, and to know how to show it, is to excel twice”
Sinatra: All or Nothing at All (TV Mini-Series) (Alex Gibney) (review)
Kung Fury (short film) (David Sandberg) (review)
Ex-Machina (Alex Garland) (review)
Cobain: Montage of Heck (documentary) (Brett Morgen) (review)
What missed my top 10? You can read my full ranking of 2015 here
For this list, I’ve decided to count short films and documentaries. Have you seen any of these? Which are your favorites of 2015 so far?