Wednesday, 9 July 2014

[Feature] Best of the Year...So Far

We're now in July, and we're past the halfway mark of the year. Where in the hell did that go? As usual, its that time of the year where we quickly wrap-up the 10 Best Films I've Seen This far.


Director: Sion Sono

Synopsis: A renegade film crew becomes embroiled with a yakuza clan feud.

Why Is It On This List?

"From the Moment I heard just a mere sample of the iconic opening riff of the theme from Kinji Fukasaku's 'BATTLES WITHOUT HONOUR AND HUMANITY' splashed over the opening title, well I knew it was love at first sight. Sion Sono's 'WHY DON'T YOU PLAY IN HELL?' is a fun, loving, if not demented ode to both the artistry of filmmaking and film fandom itself."


Director: Lukas Mooddysson

Synopsis: Three girls in 1980s Stockholm decide to form a punk band -- despite not having any instruments and being told by everyone that punk is dead.

Why Is It On This List?

"Lukas Moodysson returns to form with this charming, delightful love note to Punk Rock. Hmm, I'm noticing a theme here in my choices thus far. 'WE ARE THE BEST!' is an exuberant look at the care-free spirit of Punk Rock as framed through the perspective of three teenage girls, all of whom are coming of age. So naturally, it is a coming of age story about friendship, first romances etcetera. Just with a tremendous Early Eighties Sweedish Punk Rock Spirit fuelling it.What a pleasant little delight this turned out to be."


Director: Lars Von Trier

Synopsis: A self-diagnosed nymphomaniac recounts her erotic experiences to the man who saved her after a beating.

Why Is It On This List?

"L'enfant terrible Lars Von Trier is back and this time he is concluding his unofficial Depression trilogy with 'NYMPHOMANIAC'. Who knew that this would be as amusing of a satire as it turned out to be? A brilliant study on the nature of Hypocrisy within the Human Condition. Also, it's a dead certainty that after seeing this movie you will never look at the Fibonacci sequence the same way ever again."


Director: Frank Pavich

Synopsis: The story of cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky's ambitious but ultimately doomed film adaptation of the seminal science fiction novel.

Why Is It On This List?

"You truly have to admire Alejandro Jodorowsky. Even in his Eighties, the man still has an ever burning enthusiasm for life in and of itself. I defy you to show me one moment in this brilliant documentary where he is not brimming with joy and happiness? Well, perhaps with the exception of the bittersweet and crushing moments of realization that his version of 'DUNE' would never be made, a crime in and off itself. None the less, Frank Pavich's look back at the behind-the-scenes process of a failed project is funny, insightful and moving. There is just something so damn charming about hearing Alejandro Jodorowsky proudly proclaim that he "raped the source material...with love."


Director(s): Phil Lord and Christopher Miller

Synopsis: An ordinary Lego construction worker, thought to be the prophesied 'Special', is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil tyrant from gluing the Lego universe into eternal stasis.

Why Is It On This List?

"At its most base, 'THE LEGO MOVIE' could have turned out to be nothing more than a cynical and crass marketing effort from Warner Brothers and Lego to shill the numerous licensing brands they hold in their possession. And yet, Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller have built something that is not without a surprising amount of heart. 'THE LEGO MOVIE' is not just a feature-length commercial for a toy – although, don’t be surprised if you do feel the urge to buy some Lego on the way home, but it is, in fact, smart, funny, and self-aware love note to the freedom of childhood imagination."


Director: Wes Anderson

Synopsis: The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.

Why Is It On This List?

"'THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL' is definitely a Wes Anderson film, down to its very core. If you know his style, then you known what to expect, as this movie is full of it. Thankfully though, it's not a case of style over substance, with a great story to accompany the gorgeous visuals. You really can't go wrong with this film. It has gorgeous visuals, excellent acting and a wonderful story. If you're a fan of Wes Anderson's previous work, you cannot miss this, and even if you're not a fan you should go and see it anyway."


Director: Joon Ho-Bong

Synopsis: In a future where a failed global-warming experiment kills off all life on the planet except for a lucky few that boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe, where a class system evolves.

Why Is It On This List?

"Prior to its release here in the West, the Weinstein brothers wanted to cut twenty minutes from the film and add expository voice-over. To do so would have been a crime. 'SNOWPIERCER', like 'BLADE RUNNER' thirty years before, isn't as inaccessible to audiences as one might think. It knows exactly what it is, exactly what it wants to be, and exactly how to show it. It may lack the polish of 'BLADE RUNNER', but it makes up for it with sheer grit. 'SNOWPIERCER' is that rare breed of Sci-Fi Blockbuster. It treats its audience with respect for their intelligence. It also just happens to be one hell of an exhilarating ride from beginning to end."


Director: Richard Linklater

Synopsis: The life of a young man, Mason, from age 5 to age 18.

Why Is It On This List?

"In the span of three hours, Richard Linklater perfectly captures the very essence of transitioning from childhood to adulthood. Not only is it a truly stunning technical achievement, but it is also a sincere, heartfelt and soulful portrait of ones coming-of-age. Proving once again why Richard Linklater is one of the finest filmmakers working in America today."


Director: Isao Takahata

Synopsis: An old man makes a living by selling bamboo. One day, he finds a princess in a bamboo. The princess is only the size of a finger. Her name is Kaguya. When Kaguya grows up, 5 men from prestigious families propose to her. Kaguya asks the men to find memorable marriage gifts for her, but the 5 men are unable to find what Kaguya wants. Then, the Emperor of Japan proposes to her.

Why Is It On This List?

"Sad times are a-foot at the legendary Studio Ghibli. All three of the company's founder father's are said to be in retirement. The studio is still pushing ahead with the upcoming feature "When Marnie Was There", but one can't look at the Studio and not fret that the end of Ghibli may be near. Personally speaking, I sincerely hope this is not the case. Especially after seeing 'THE TALE OF PRINCESS KAGUYA'. 'THE TALE OF PRINCESS KAGUYA' is an exceptional reworking of an age old Japanese Folk Tale. It may have taken us 14 years to get another film from Isao Takahata, but the wait has been entirely worth it. The Tale of Princess Kaguya is an exceptional piece of work from a truly gifted filmmaker."


Director: Gareth Evans

Synopsis: Only a short time after the first raid, Rama goes undercover with the thugs of Jakarta and plans to bring down the syndicate and uncover the corruption within his police force.

Why Is It On This List?

"And so here we are at Number One. 'THE RAID 2: BERANDAL' by Gareth Evans. I'm going to do something completely different right now. I'm going to be quiet and let the trailer do the talking because quite frankly it says everything I need to say about it. Happy Trails..."

But what about you out there reading this? What were some of your favourite films of the year thus far? Let us know...

- Daniel M



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