From Diaz’s interpretation of Crime and Punishment to Jodorowsky’s Dune, Getintothis’ Adam Scovell uncovers the hidden gems of cinema in 2014.
With the dramatic yearly increase of films evolving more and more into an overflowing torrent, keeping up and not missing out on modern cinematic gems is becoming increasingly difficult.
Though this piece isn’t designed to be a best of 2014 list, the films included here owe their presence not only because of their sheer quality but also because of their virtual non-existent screen time in Liverpool. At most, these films have had single screenings or, in some cases no screening at all in spite of their brilliance.
All of the films below are worth your time and are, at least now, available on DVD with the exception of Jodorowsky’s Dune. They all deserve a wider audience for their wit, their visual splendour and their intelligent audacity.
1) Norte, The End of History – Lav Diaz.
Coming in at just over four and a half hours, Lav Diaz’s epic interpretation of Dostoyevsky‘s Crime and Punishment is actually one of the director’s shorter films, with his work often clocking in at over the nine hour mark. Moving the drama to the Philippines instantly creates a refreshing sense of urgency and the narrative’s dark turns are given a cold digital gloss making it the perfect amalgamation of modernity and Dostoyevsky’s depressingly relevant parable on intellectual greed and detachment from humanity.
2) A Spell To Ward Off The Darkness – Ben Rivers and Ben Russell.
Being a mixture of film and digital, Rivers and Russell’s faux ethnogeographical experiment is a hugely interesting look at community, culture and landscape. Though the reviews often tended towards obsession over its detailed capture of a black metal concert in Oslo, A Spell To Ward Off The Darkness has hidden depths that belie its strangely surreal and whimsical look at communities on the sociological precipice.
3) Bastards – Claire Denis.
One of the few recent films that genuinely deserves the title of neo-noir, Denis‘ Bastards is a deeply unsettling crime drama looking at the underbelly of modern day Paris in a way that is both gripping and ultimately repellent. That such a hypnotically distanced film can still end up being hugely watchable is a testament to the director’s skill and it easily leaves in its wake the year’s other crime flicks produced by her less talented male peers.
4) Jodorowsky’s Dune – Frank Pavich.
Though Dune has now entered into the lexicon of cinema pop-culture thanks David Lynch’s enjoyably horrendous adaptation, the man behind El Topo (1970) and The Holy Mountain (1973), Alejandro Jodorowsky, had vast plans for the novel’s cinematic adaptation. In this detailed documentary, the film’s production process is charted which ranged from designs by H.R. Giger, music by Pink Floyd and a cast that would have included Mick Jagger, Orson Welles and Salvador Dali.
If anything, the film makes the viewer mourn the loss of such an insane sounding project though it did bring Jodorowsky back together with his long estranged friend, producer Michel Seydoux, meaning that 2014 saw his first film made in twenty three years in the form of The Dance of Reality.
5) The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears –Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani.
Though a homage to the great Italian horror maestros Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci, The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears is a hugely original piece of horror. Its hyper-editing style is almost catatonia inducing and the photographic sequences are some of the most innovative scenarios out there in 2014. It also manages to make Giallo style hyper-violence seem strangely beautiful and is a film far more than simply an ode to the pulpy pleasures of 1970s Italy.