Sunday, 8 January 2017

FilmLand Empire Top 5 of 2016

I have asked my contributors to list their top 5 films of 2016, without giving them any particular rules. A few years ago I had launched the "bloggies", doing a round up of blogger top film lists but I feel that is far more interesting to publish each writer's own list, as it is a lot more personal that way, so here they are, including mine!

Monday, 12 December 2016

Manchester By The Sea by Kenneth Lonergan - Review

December marks the beginning of snowy weather, hot cocoa, and seeing your relatives wayyyy too much, but for cinephiles it also marks the beginning of an onslaught of potentially great films every weekend. There are a few contenders for the best film of the year so far. Writer/director Kenneth Lonergan has thrown his new film, Manchester By the Sea, into the ring.

Casey Affleck gives the best male performance of the year as Lee, a Boston handyman who gets a phone call telling him that his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) has died of a heart attack. Lee returns home to Manchester, a fishing town in Massachusetts, to set up the funeral and figure out what to do with Joe's son, Patrick (Lucas Hedges), a teen who he used to be close with.

Monday, 5 December 2016

The Black Hen by Min Bahadur Bham - Review

Nepal seems to be having something of a moment on the big screen, with Hollywood blockbusters like Everest (2015) and Doctor Strange (2016) setting scenes in the Himalayan nation as a novel new arena for adventure and spiritual self-discovery. But that’s for tourists. Here’s the real deal. The debut feature from director Min Bahadur Bham won Best Film during Critics Week at last year’s Venice Film Festival and proves to be an accomplished meditation on its creator’s childhood growing up amidst the Maoist Insurgency, a conflict tat saw the country drawn into a bloody civil war between 1996 and 2006.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Certain Women by Kelly Reichardt - Review

The opening image of director Kelly Reichardt’s new film is mountains looming over the barren landscape of Montana and then the sound and light of a train enters frame to slowly take command of the screen. It signals an entrance, or rather, an intrusion into a quiet and forgotten world. 

Certain Women is about observing the most intimate, and insignificantly significant moments in the mundane everyday. The audience is an intruding voyeur as Reichardt shows us a window into three lonely and belittled Montana women’s lives that aren't seen or heard by anyone else.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Moonlight by Barry Jenkins - Review

The most critically acclaimed film of the year is a triptych tale about a black boy who grows up in Miami. Writer-director Barry Jenkins sets his coming of age tale in a dangerous world with fragility overwhelmed by the threats of a poisoned environment. The result is a film of sensitivity that feels suppressed by hate and gives a sense that our lead character, Chiron, is missing his life. We see his world in brief chapters as a young boy (Alex Hibbert), a teenager (Ashton Sanders), and a man (Trevante Rhodes). As a kid and teen he grapples with being gay in an environment of hyper masculinity.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Nocturnal Animals by Tom Ford - Review

Adapted from Austin Wright 1993 novel Tony and Susan, Nocturnal Animals marks the return of Tom Ford in his directorial guise after a seven year absence. Ford’s second foray into directing sees him taking on an oeuvre which at times seems almost unfilmable. The film is a dense piece with a triple stranded narrative, which owes as much to Hitchcock as it does to the 1950s melodramas of Douglas Sirk. It is a visually stunning tale of getting your own back, and doing so with class and without any regrets.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Shin Godzilla by Hideaki Anno & Shinji Higuchi

Japan’s latest Godzilla entry is a reboot much like Gareth Edwards' near great 2014 blockbuster. While that film evoked Spielberg creature features like Jaws and Jurassic Park, Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi's interpretation is in line with Japan's original vision of an all-powerful god-like monster. Toho Studios have answered the call of the west with "actualllllly, this is Godzilla" and they've put the "God" back in Godzilla. Shin Godzilla, which translates to “True Godzilla,” has the style, scale, and creature effects that recall the best films in Toho Studios kaiju collection.