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Reviews

Films of the year 2013

ThirdWay Reviewers

Catherine von Ruhland's top 10 films of 2013:

1: I Wish
There were some stand-out coming of age dramas such as Mud and Kings of Summer, but they were topped by Kore-Eda Hirokazu's charmer. Two pre-teen siblings (real-life brothers, Koki and Ohishiro Maeda) join with five schoolmates to cross Japan in the hope their wishes will come true when they see two bullet trains cross paths. The act casts its own magic yet not before this slow burner has captured ordinary life's wonder, yearnings, new beginnings and joys for all ages.

2: The Impossible
Released in the first week of this year, JA Bayona's retelling of one family's incredible against-all-odds true-life survival amid the 2004 Boxing Day Asian tsunami was so much more than a disaster movie. Mother and son, Naomi Watts excelled and teen Tom Holland's debut was as astounding and memorable as Christian Bale's in Empire of the Sun. We saw what one family was worth under extreme duress and were reminded of what is important about being human.

3: A Hijacking
A very different take on a Somali pirate encounter to Captain Phillips, this Danish high seas thriller was essentially an intense threehander. Focus ricocheted between the knife edge existence of Michael Shannon-lookalike Johan Philip Asbaek's ship's cook, his desperate office-bound company boss, and the hostage negotiator middleman. Interestingly, what it did share with Hollywood's Tom Hank's vehicle was the last scene laser focus on the shattered, in shock individual caught up in this oceanbound stand-off forged by unjust global economics.

4: Spring Breakers (May issue)
Harmony Korine's most mainstream movie to date was a technicolour bubblegum nightmare about four up for it young women on a gun-toting sex and drug spree in Florida getting in deeper than they ever imagined. With the fresh-faced actresses game to play against type, Selena Gomez shone as good Christian girl, Grace along for the ride and battling tempter drug dealer, James Franco's gold-toothed advances. You could see in her eyes that she knew she had something to lose whatever her choice.

5 The Act Of Killing (left hand page)

6 Before Midnight

7 Hitchcock

8 Wadja

9 Upstream Colour

10 Gravity

Catherine's Turkey: I Give It A Year

 

Jeremy Clarke's top 10 films of 2013:

1: Gravity (3D)
What is cinema? For me, it's about magic and illusion, sound and image. It's also about actors' performances. Gravity stands in a long line of thrillers about people in confined spaces (Lifeboat, Dead Calm, Buried, All Is Lost). Here it's the wide open 3D of zero gravity space. Well scripted, it has strong visual and aural effects. The performances are stunning, especially given the conditions under which Clooney and Bullock had to work. Hats off to writer-director Alfonso CuarĂ³n. Simply awesome. See it on a big, big screen.

2: Pacific Rim
Faring much better internationally than in the US, Guillermo del Toro's homage to Japanese mecha (giant robot suits) and gargantuan monsters plays out as both intelligent top rank SF and incredible visual spectacle. Lots of quirky characters and plot twists and turns. Unlike Hollywood's more cynically produced Transformers films, it's made by someone with a passion for his source material and the culture it came from, and it feels like it. All this plus a strong performance by Idris Elba.

3: Beyond the Hills (March issue)

4: Blue is the Warmest Colour

5: Camp 14: Total Control Zone
An extraordinary documentary about North Korea's death camps combining interviews with an escaped inmate born in one and former guards. It would be impossible to film inside these camps, so equivalent footage is rendered in bleak, largely grey-toned animation. A terrifying and heartbreaking study into how people can be raised without feelings and emotions - and how humanity can still break through, showing what it truly means to be human. Not easy but worth the effort.

6: No
In 1988, Chile's ruthless dictator Pinochet attempted to consolidate his regime via that favourite politician's sleight of hand trick, the personal referendum - of course, he knew no-one would dare vote No. This docudrama is based around Gael Garcia Bernal's ad exec running the No campaign. He upsets No supporters by eschewing political argument in favour of a campaign selling happiness. It works. No wins. Pinochet resigns. An amazing and inspiring story, with clever visual effects that integrate period footage with the drama.

7. Much Ado About Nothing

8. Pieta

9. The Reluctant Fundamentalist

10. The Place Beyond the Pines

Jeremy's Turkey: Justin and the Knights of Terror

 

Gareth Higgins' top 10 films of 2013:

1: Stories We Tell (July/August issue)
Sarah Polley's hybrid documentary/biopic/ letter to herself is a unique piece of 'living cinema' - a story about people still alive, aiming to unfold their interpretations of the ordinary extraordinary. I gasped when I heard Michael Polley - Sarah's father - speak a couple of sentences about the past: that despite a culture that demands we pay attention only to horror, you 'can't outrun the mask of comedy'. So stop running, and start laughing.

2: The Lone Ranger (September issue)
The most underrated and mistakenly dismissed film of the year - a barnstorming action adventure worthy of comparison to Raiders of the Lost Ark, a comedic delight that evokes Buster Keaton, and a mainstream revisionism of 'bad' Indians and 'good' cowboys that may be more effective an activist inspiration than Dances With Wolves, this may be the best use of the multiplex in years.

3: Mud - 'Stand By Me' (June issue)
Huckleberry Finn, and the new improved Matthew McConaughey mingle to create a new Southern Gothic drama. Mud is funny and smart and dramatic and thrilling - with a crusty prophet-poet-rogue at its centre, magic in its logic, and decent father-son relationships as its hope.

4: Cloud Atlas
An epic of the inner life that contains dystopian science fiction, British slapstick comedy, Merchant Ivory classicism, 70s conspiracy thriller, and historic adventurism. Proof that books sometimes do translate beautifully to the screen, and the most intelligent movie that ever made me feel like I did when I first saw Star Wars.

5: No

6: All is Lost

7: Before Midnight

8: The Act of Killing (Jan/Feb 2014 issue)

9: Blue Jasmine (October issue)

10: Leviathan

Gareth's Turkey: Now You See Me