Wednesday, 1 January 2020

My Top Films (and Books) of 2019 – And of the Decade


There seems to be a consensus that 2019 was a strong year for film and, while that may be the case, I feel like overall it's (once again) the films from the archive which excited me most – thanks, in no small part, to the BFI's double-whammy of a stupendous Weimar Cinema season and a complete Antonioni retrospective. Of course, now that we're heading into the 2020s, it's an appropriate time to be looking back, so I've also included a list of my top films of 2010s below, along with my list of the Best Books I Read for the First Time in 2019.

That's a lot of lists!

As always, I've limited myself to one film per director/one book per author.

My Top Films of 2019
01) The Irishman (dir. Martin Scorsese)
02) Waiting for the Barbarians (dir. Ciro Guerra)
03) Ghost Town Anthology (dir. Denis Côté)
04) Vitalina Varela (dir. Pedro Costa)
05) mid90s (dir. Jonah Hill)
06) Venezia (dir. Rodrigo Guerrero)
07) I, Apostate (dir. Jeremy Moss)
08) I Lost My Body (dir. Jérémy Clapin)
09) It Must be Heaven (dir. Elia Suleiman)
10) The Ghost of Peter Sellers (dir. Peter Medak)

The Best Films from Previous Years that I Saw for the First Time in 2019
01) La signora senza camelie (1953, dir. Michelangelo Antonioni)
02) Hangmen Also Die! (1943, dir. Fritz Lang)
03) Life Begins Tomorrow (1933, dir. Werner Hochbaum)
04) The Student of Prague (1926, dir. Henrik Galeen)
05) All Quiet on the Western Front (1930, dir. Lewis Milestone)
06) Madagascar Skin (1996, dir. Chris Newby)
07) Room at the Top (1959, dir. Jack Clayton)
08) You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet (2012, dir. Alain Resnais)
09) Mother Krause's Journey to Happiness (1929, dir. Phil Jutzi)
10) La otra (1946, dir. Roberto Gavaldón)
11) No Man's Land (1931, dir. Victor Trivas)
12) The Love of Jeanne Ney (1927, dir. G. W. Pabst)
13) Her Majesty, Love (1931, dir. William Dieterle)
14) Man of a Thousand Faces (1957, dir. Joseph Pevney)
15) Happy End (2017, dir. Michael Haneke)
16) A Special Day (1977, dir. Ettore Scola)
17) In Vanda's room (2000, dir. Pedro Costa)
18) Scherben (1921, dir. Lupu Pick)
19) The Song of Life (1931, dir. Alexis Granowsky)
20) The Story on Page One (1959, dir. Clifford Odets)

The Best Films of the 2010s
01) The Turin Horse (2011, dir. Béla Tarr)
02) Ida (2013, dir. Paweł Pawlikowski)
03) Silence (2016, dir. Martin Scorsese)
04) Boyhood (2014, dir. Richard Linklater)
05) Miss Julie (2014, dir. Liv Ullmann)
06) Blue Valentine (2010, dir. Derek Cianfrance)
07) Birds of Passage (2018, dirs. Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra)
08) Museum Hours (2012, dir: Jem Cohen)
09) La Sapienza (2014, dir. Eugène Green)
10) 1945 (2017, dir. Ferenc Török)
11) I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians (2018, dir. Radu Jude)
12) The Assassin (2015, dir. Hsiao-Hsien Hou)
13) An Elephant Sitting Still (2018, dir. Bo Hu)
14) Demain? (2011, dir. Christine Laurent)
15) The Revenant (2015, dir. Alejandro G. Iñárritu)
16) 36 (2012, dir. Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit)
17) On Body and Soul (2017, dir. Ildikó Enyedi)
18) Horse Money (2014, dir. Pedro Costa)
19) Under the Skin (2013, dir: Jonathan Glazer)
20) Once upon a Time in Anatolia (2011, dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan)


The Best Books I Read for the First Time in 2019
01) My Antonioni – Carlo di Carlo
02) All those Tomorrows – Mai Zetterling
03) The Late Mattia Pascal – Luigi Pirandello
04) R.U.R. – Karel Čapek
05) Mikhail Kaufman: Ukrainian Dilogy
06) The Hound of the Baskervilles – Arthur Conan Doyle
07) Piers of the Homeless Night – Jack Kerouac
08) Nosferatu in Love – Jim Shepard
09) United States Vs. Murder, Inc. – Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming
10) Metropolis – Thea von Harbou

Where to Begin with Costa and Resnais

For the BFI, I wrote a piece on Where to begin with Pedro Costa

Earlier in the year, I also wrote about Where to begin with Alain Resnais, but for some reason I never posted a link on this blog. You can read it here

Monday, 14 October 2019

Friday, 28 June 2019

VENEZIA

I reviewed the excellent VENEZIA for Filmuforia, here. The post also contains a few words on LOVE TYPE D. 

Friday, 31 May 2019

10 Great shorts that became features

To coincide with the release of Thunder Road (which I previously reviewed for The Skinny, here), I wrote about ten great shorts that became features for the BFI. Read it here

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Monday, 18 March 2019

JANUARY Wraps Filming


In 2016, I was hired by producer Vanya Rainova to co-write the feature length screenplay for JANUARY, alongside the film's director, Andrey Paounov. Inspired by Yordan Radichkov's play of the same name, JANUARY is a surreal tale of five men stuck in a snowstorm at the edge of the world, who try to solve a mystery as it slowly devours them. Andrey and I have described our take on the material as 'WAITING FOR GODOT meets THE SHINING'. Perhaps that will give you an idea of what to expect, perhaps not…

Either way, I'm pleased to say that JANUARY has now finished filming. I wasn't on set, but the shoot seems to have gone well. Some beautiful behind the scenes stills can be found below.

Radichkov has been described as 'Bulgaria's most distinctly-voiced, locally rooted, yet universal author of the past century', and in 2001 he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature. I had a huge amount of fun adapting the play, and I'm extremely excited to see how the final film turns out.

Photo by Boryana Pandova. © Portokal

Photos by Svetoslav Stoyanov. © Portokal

Photos by Svetoslav Stoyanov. © Portokal

Photos by Svetoslav Stoyanov. © Portokal

Photos by Svetoslav Stoyanov. © Portokal

Photos by Svetoslav Stoyanov. © Portokal

Photos by Svetoslav Stoyanov. © Portokal

Photo by Boryana Pandova. © Portokal

Photo by Boryana Pandova. © Portokal

Photo by Boryana Pandova. © Portokal

Photo by Boryana Pandova. © Portokal

Photos by Svetoslav Stoyanov. © Portokal

Photos by Svetoslav Stoyanov. © Portokal

Photos by Svetoslav Stoyanov. © Portokal

Photo by Boryana Pandova. © Portokal

Photo by Boryana Pandova. © Portokal

Photo by Boryana Pandova. © Portokal

Photo by Boryana Pandova. © Portokal

Photo by Boryana Pandova. © Portokal