Whilst you were splashing your student loans on Avengers: Infinity War and Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom, some good cinema went under your radar. Here are a few picks of what you might have missed and what is new.
What you missed
Shirkers (wri-dir. Sandi Tan)
You almost definitely missed Shirkers, with all its 812 IMDb ratings, this year. A documentary by Sandi Tan, it is testament to the dictum that truth, truly, is stranger than fiction. The film is Sandi’s exploration into her own past, when she attempted to make Singapore’s first indie film with her friends under the guardianship of an enigmatic tutor. It’s a heart-warming story of friends pursuing their dreams – until, that is, shooting wraps and their director-tutor disappears with their film. The tonal shift is jarring, unsettling to the point where one feels that they’ve crossed into the cinema of horror than documentary. But maybe I posit an unfair liminality; perhaps reality, constituted by the inexplicability of action, is what really is scariest of all.
You Were Never Really Here (dir. Lynne Ramsay, wri. Ramsay & Jonathan Ames)
Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here is an intense experience that leaves you feeling battered. The ninety-minute run time is efficiently used and the film features one of the best scores of the year. Joaquin Phoenix has an unstoppable rage as Joe, a hired gun who rescues trafficked girls and brutally brings down his opponents. So immersive is the film that every punch thrown can be felt. Adapted from a novella, Ramsay shows great skill in directing this arthouse thriller. This year’s horror films only wish they could leave you similarly terrified.
What is yet to come
Sorry to Bother You (wri-dir. Boots Riley)
BlacKkKlansman meets Black Mirror in Boots Riley’s frankly insane debut Sorry to Bother You. Lakeith Stanfield finally gets the leading role he has deserved for some time. Tessa Thompson, Armie Hammer and Steven Yeun are hilarious additions, and eventually you forget they’re in a movie. A deeply jarring, bizarre plot twist and some real directional flair from Riley makes this worth a watch. Come for the cast and humour. Stay because you won’t be able to take your eyes off it.
Sorry to Bother You is showing in cinemas now.
Roma (wri-dir. Alfonso Cuarón)
Cuarón’s sweeping shots and grand scale are more at home in a high budget fantasy film. But Cuarón’s subject matter is an au pair serving a rich, white family in 1970s Mexico City, and in Yalitza Aparicio he finds his muse. With raging fires and tumultuous waves – both literal and emotional – Cuarón puts the audience in a state of awe. Considering American awards ceremonies’ aversion to reading subtitles, Roma faces an unnecessary uphill climb for statuettes. But it’s 2018’s best shot at having a film we’re still discussing in fifty years time. Roma cements the Mexican director as one of the most exceptional directors of our time.
Roma is now available on Netflix.