If you’ve haven’t read part one and two of my Top 10 Films of 2013 I’ll provide you with a brief recap…
#10 Keanu Reeves
#9 Side by Side (Kenneally, 2012)
#8 Doctor Who: Day of the Doctor (Hurran, 2013)
#7 You’re Next (Wingard, 2011)
#6 Frances Ha (Baumbach, 2012)
#5 The Great Beauty/La grande bellezza (Sorrentino, 2013)
#4 Spring Breakers (Korine, 2012)
Just as Matt Smith’s time as the eleventh Doctor has ended, so to must my countdown conclude – Geronimo!
MUD (Nichols, 2012)
Jeff Nichols first came to my attention with 2007’s Shotgun Stories, which starred Michael Shannon. Then Nichols disappeared for five years until he resurfaced with Take Shelter (2011), which featured another great performance from Shannon. This year Nichols gave us another of his blue-collar character pieces, this time centred upon the mysterious and enigmatic, Mud, played by Matthew McConaughey.
Mahogany can be a ridiculously boring actor but put him in a sleazy/dangerous role and the man delivers time after time – just watch him in Killer Joe (Friedkin, 2011).
MUD focuses upon the tale of two boys helping the titular character evade authorities and even bounty hunters. It’s another brilliant example of Nichols’ unique style and it’s another great role for Mahogany, an actor who is set to have a very busy 2014.
Blue is the Warmest Colour/La vie d’Adèle (Kechiche, 2013)
I was deeply sceptical about Blue is the Warmest Colour (Kechiche, 2013), the most troubling element being its leering male POV of a lesbian relationship and what’s more, the actresses haven’t exactly been complimentary about shooting the film with its male director, Abdellatif Kechiche.
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And then there was its length, at just under three hours it was going to have to be something special to justify that bloated running-time.
Fortunately my scepticism was misplaced and Blue is the Warmest Colour only just missed out on the #1 spot (in my top ten of 2013). It is overly long and some of the sex scenes are needlessly protracted and leering, but I prefer to think of it as an indulgent film.
Its real strength lies in its depiction of love, with Kechiche’s camera focusing in close-up on lips, ear lobes, a caress of the hair and then when the infatuation subsides, so the camera retracts (or rather there are not these varieties of close-ups). It isn’t quite as accomplished as Weekend (Haigh, 2011), another film that deals with ‘queer’ relationships – and by queer I’m referring to relationships outside the ‘norm’ – but in its heady depiction of love, Blue is the Warmest Colour has few contemporaries.
Blue is the Warmest Colour:
Only God Forgives (Refn, 2013)
My favourite film of 2013 is the re-teaming of the duo behind the oh-so-cool, Drive (Refn, 2011) – director, Nicholas Winding Refn and actor, Ryan Gosling. Yes, Drive was one of those slow-burn films whose reception at first was underwhelming but slowly people came around to its charms ie Gosling, some slick direction and some very catchy pop tunes. However, despite my fondness for that film, it’s far from perfect, with its latter half feeling somewhat sluggish in comparison to the films opening 45 minutes.
With Only God Forgives (Refn, 2013), Refn confidently rebuffed the ‘groupies’ with this trim, Oedipal oddity. Gosling continues to look beautiful while shot through Refn’s lens – and all those sharp suits don’t hurt either – but Refn delivers a far more balanced film than Drive and gone is the populist soundtrack, here we have Cliff Martinez working his full magic for the films 87 minutes.
I enjoyed it on its release but nothing has resonated as much as this violent and bloody gangster thriller set in Thailand. The locations are all brilliantly shot and there’s the sense of being immersed in a foreign culture, an impenetrable one – we’re as lost in the madness as Gosling’s Julian.
And then there’s Kristen Scott Thomas as Crystal, the avenging mother, who’s flown in to take vengeance for the murder of her oldest son, Julian’s brother. Some might call Thomas’ performance to be nothing short of doing a ‘Kingsley’ in Sexy Beast (Glazer, 2000), but to do so is redundant. Thomas is fantastically frightening as the ultimate ‘bitch’ and all controlling mother. Quite simply, a sensational performance, in what is (without doubt), my favourite film of 2013.
Only God Forgives:
And that wraps up 2013!