Ford On Film

Chronicles of a silver screen addict

Preparing for the end of the decade

As we approach 2020 and more and more journalists unveil their lists of the best films of the 2010’s, I’ve been thinking about my own ‘Best of the Decade’ list. I’m not in a desperate race for clicks so of course, I won’t be unveiling my own list until next year (imagine if the very best film of the last decade premiered in December? Would scupper most film critics, wouldn’t it?). Thank God, because I need the rest of the year to try and catch up with the great films I haven’t seen, the great films I watched one nine years ago, and the great films I once hated but now probably love.

boyhood 4

Some films are already guaranteed to make the list. A Separation, The Master, A Social Network – modern classics made by directors at the top of their game. It’s Such a Beautiful Day, Under the Skin, Boyhood – unique, one-of-a-kind visions that will likely never be repeated again. Paterson, Inside Out, Frank – my own personal picks for Best Film of their respective years. The last ten years have seen endless masterpieces produced, many of which are now amongst my favourite films of all time.

However, there are still dozens of films I need to rewatch or see for the first time. Too many, to be honest; with three months to go before the decade ends, I’d have to watch multiple films a day just to have a chance of catching up with anything. Some likely contenders are going to have to be sacrificed. I remember thinking Blue is the Warmest Colour was excellent when I first watched it about five years ago, but there’s slim-to-no chance of me sitting through its three hour runtime again. Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt is among the most emotionally-draining films of the 2010’s – will I be able to sit through that again? I’m not sure.

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With that in mind, I want your help on this. What modern classics do you think should be on my list? What mind-bending masterpieces deserve a second watch? What hidden gems are flying under the radar waiting to be rediscovered?  If you’ve got any suggestions for your favourite films of the last ten years, let me know!

By Harry J. Ford

 

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Is Uncut Gems going to be the wildest film of 2019?

After injecting a shot of pure adrenaline into the heart of independent cinema with 2017’s wild crime thriller Good Time, the Safdie Brothers are back with their crazy-sound new thriller Uncut Gems. Starring Adam Sandler in an increasingly rare dramatic role, Uncut Gems tells the story of a desperate New York jeweller (Sandler) as he attempts to pay off his debts after having his merchandise stolen.

First reviews coming out of Telluride have praised Sandler’s wild performance and the aggressive filmmaking and scoring, though some claim the film is overwhelming even for fans of the noisy, non-stop Good Time. Whether Uncut Gems proves to be as popular as Good Time remains to be seen, but if Sandler’s is half as revelatory as Robert Pattinson was in their previous film, this is one to look out for.

Uncut Gems

By Harry J. Ford

 

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Gaspar Noe’s Climax will leave you unsatisfied

French provoc-auteur Gaspar Noe’s films have often been labelled ‘more style than substance’. While this wasn’t the case with earlier works like 2002’s controversial Irreversible (a challenging film that explored time and fate through a violent revenge story), it’s fair to say Noe has become more interested in camera movements than characters. 2009’s Enter the Void was one of the most visually astonishing films of all time, yet its story and characters were paper thin. 2015’s Love was mostly an excuse to depict as much gratuitous sex and nudity on-screen as possible. Sadly, Climax is not a return to form for Noe. Depicting a group of dancers as they accidentally ingest LSD and have a mass freak out, Climax is yet another beautifully filmed bore.

Climax 1

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RIP Rutger Hauer

In very sad news, cult actor Rutger Hauer has died aged 75. Hauer had a varied and diverse career, always giving a memorable performance whether appearing in mainstream fare like The Hitcher and Batman Begins, or pulpy schlock like Hobo With a Shotgun. Of course, to most cinema fans, he will be best known as Roy Batty, the iconic villain in Blade Runner. His dying monologue, in which he regrets that his memories will be “lost in time, like tears in rain”, is among the greatest moments in all of cinema. It wouldn’t have been half as powerful without the gravitas and power of Hauer’s performance. He will be sorely missed.

Rutger

RIP Rutger Hauer

1944-2019

By Harry J. Ford

 

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Ari Aster follows up Hereditary with hallucinatory folk horror Midsommar

Having shredded nerves with last year’s Hereditary, Ari Aster has returned for a follow-up that leaves behind the claustrophobic interiors of his debut for the fields of sunny summertime Sweden. Though Midsommar is weirder, funnier, and more ambitious, it’s also another hideously violent, utterly disturbing horror that will have you questioning what exactly is wrong with its director.

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Holiday is an unflinching depiction of abuse from debuting director Isabella Eklöf

Proceeded by a warning that the film contains graphic sexual violence, Isabella Eklöf’s feature debut Holiday is the definition of ‘challenging cinema’. An icy, provocative depiction of the abusive power dynamics between a gangster’s moll and her violent criminal boyfriend, Holiday is not an easy watch, but Eklöf’s assured direction and ambiguous storytelling prove rewarding for those who stick it out.

Holiday - Still 1

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Thunder Road is a showstopping debut for writer/director/star Jim Cummings

Adapted from the award-winning short of the same name, Thunder Road is a dark comedy drama unlike anything you’ve seen. Veering wildly from uncomfortable laughs to powerful monologues, the film is a shot in the arm for low budget (under $200,000) filmmaking. While its audacious narrative and inconsistent tone don’t always pay off, Thunder Road is a stunning breakthrough for director, writer, and leading man Jim Cummings, who might just be the Next Big Thing in American independent cinema.

Thunder Road 1

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Why Robert Pattinson being cast as Batman is great news

Yesterday, the internet went into meltdown at the news that Robert Pattinson is stepping up to replace Ben Affleck in Matt Reeves’ upcoming The Batman. While sensible, rational people were intrigued by the prospect of Pattinson becoming the caped crusader, a vocal minority were furious at the idea of ‘that guy from Twilight’ making of a mockery of the gravelly-voiced billionaire playboy who dons a mask and cape to run around at night fighting clowns and penguins.

Clearly, these people are stuck in 2011, or simply haven’t seen any of Pattinson’s performances in the last seven years. Since the Twilight franchise (a series of films Pattinson himself isn’t a big fan of) came to an end, Pattinson has been blazing a trail across independent cinema. Not only has he worked with some of the most-acclaimed auteurs around (including David Cronenberg, Werner Herzog, and Claire Denis), he’s given an outstanding array of diverse and challenging performances in almost every film he’s appeared in this decade.

Good Time

From his reputation-shifting, reptilian work in Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis to his intense, off-kilter turn in David Michod’s The Rover, and from a scene-stealing supporting role in James Gray’s The Lost City of Z to his outstanding, Ford On Film-heralded starring performance in The Safdie Brothers’ Good Time, Pattinson has become one of the most reliable and interesting leading men of his time. Whether his somewhat-awkward experiences with the Twilight Saga gave him his fearless, experimental taste in roles is unknown, but it seems fair to say he’s relished the chance to give arthouse cinema a boost and build a terrific reputation for himself.

Who knows if Pattinson will make a great Batman or not? Only time will tell, but for those who believe he’s miscast because of his work in Twilight, you’re only showing your own lack of film knowledge. Pause the Endgame rewatch, check out any of his great performances from the last seven years, and see if you don’t get excited at the prospect of his take on the dark knight.

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Vox Lux is a messy, mesmerising portrayal of a pop star’s damaged psyche

Having amassed an impressive list of acting credits by the age of 30 – including working with European heavyweights like Lars von Trier and Michael Haneke – Brady Corbet now seems intent on becoming a world-class filmmaker as well. His first film, 2016’s The Childhood of a Leader, may have featured a frustratingly-ambiguous narrative, but it was hard to fault Corbet’s arresting compositions and ambitious storytelling. Nearly three years later, Corbet’s sophomore effort Vox Lux shows even more signs of promise. Bizarre and pretentious it may be, but there’s no denying Vox Lux is a unique, fearless blast of arthouse cinema adrenaline.

vl_01614Vox Lux

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The Future of Ford On Film

Hi readers,

You may have noticed I haven’t updated the site for a few weeks. Recently, I started a new job which takes up most of the free time I previously used watching films and writing blogs. My work may settle down in the future, or I may be able to find some pocket of time to watch and write more, but for the next few months, I’m going to be a lot busier and will likely not have a lot to write about.

That isn’t to say I’m going to end the blog, or say goodbye, or anything drastic like that. I’m just going to be slowing down the amount of content I write for the immediate future. Whether I post some archive blogs or short think pieces, I’m not sure, but I thought it was fair to let you know that Ford On Film will be updated much more infrequently for a while.

In the meantime, keep watching lots of films, keep reading my previous blogs, and I’ll see you soon.

Peace and love,

Harry J. Ford

Truman Show

 

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