5. The House That Jack Built
The controversial director Lars Von Trier creates another extreme and highly personal masterpiece. “The House That Jack Built” follows the story of Jack (Matt Dillon), a serial killer, and the way he chooses his victims. Although Jack is a nasty serial killer, he suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Thus, Jack has not only to deal with his victims, but also to find rational reasons for his actions.
“The House That Jack Built” is a mixture of violence and black humour. There are subtle comments on sexuality, morality and art. It may seem that this is a comedy-horror depiction of a serial killer, but is basically an autobiographical statement about Lars Von Trier art and life. Jack believes that killing is a form of art as well as a social comment on morality. This is a metaphor for the way Lars Von Trier sees the world as an artist.
“The House That Jack Built” is an existential drama about philosophy, art and culture. On the other hand Matt Dillon delivers a decent performance, whereas Bruno Ganz is outstanding as a guest character.
Lars Von Trier’s innovative and autobiographical story about life and art should have been nominated for the best picture award as well as for the best director award.
Overall, Lars Von Trier, who is one of the most controversial artists of the 21st century, creates a unique and unforgettable cinematic experience mixing art-house horror with black comedy. One of the best movies of the year.
4. The Old Man and the Gun
“The Old Man and the Gun” is probably Robert Redford’s last film of his career.
It is heart-warming crime drama based on the true story of Forrest Tucker (Robert Redford), a seventy-year-old compulsive robber who is also a true gentleman. Forrest Tucker is a career criminal who spends most of his life either robbing banks or escaping from numerous prisons. He is a clever, polite and charming old man who cares less about making money rather enjoying life. However, John Hunt (Casey Affleck) a young detective wants desperately to bring him down. Thus, not only Forrest has to deal at his age with John Hunt, but also with Jewel (Sissy Spacek) a beautiful woman he meets.
Directed by David Lowery (“A Ghost Story”) this inspiring tale isn’t only a marvellous depiction of a gentleman but also Robert Redford’s swang song. The great Robert Redford probably delivers the last performance of his mythical career creating another cool character. Moreover, the guest appearance by the musician Tom Waits, the old-fashioned storytelling and the great soundtrack create a cosy and warm atmosphere.
“The Old Man and the Gun”, in spite of Redford’s brilliant performance, it has not received an Oscars nomination. It could have been nominated for the best adapted screenplay or best leading actor award.
Although “The Old Man and the Gun” is Robert Redford’s last appearance, it is a movie that will definitely put you in a great mood.
“Burning” is a South Korean mystery film about a young guy Jong-Su (Ah-in Yoo) who bumps into an ex-schoolmate Hae-mi (Jong-seo Jun), a charming but naive girl. Hae-mi asks Jong-Su, who has fallen in love with her, to take care of her cat while she is away on a trip. When she returns, she introduces a mysterious, rich and handsome guy Ben (Steven Yeun). Ben has a lot of secrets as well as a dangerous and violent habit. Jong-Su in order to protect Hae-mi has to find Ben’s hidden secret and stop him.
“Burning” is not only a slow-paced mystery film with gorgeous cinematography, but also an existential drama about love. It is a “slow-burning” thriller with captivating performances and a great scenario that create a haunting and tense atmosphere.
The film, which is an adaptation of Haruki Murakami short story “Barn Burning”, has an endless feeling of fear and agony that puts you out of your comfort zone. You will probably feel the threat, but you will not see it. It is an unorthodox mystery story that looks like a magic spell that penetrates through your soul.
Although “Burning” is one of the best foreign films of the year, it has been snubbed by the Oscars. It should have been nominated for the best foreign film award or best adapted screenplay.
Overall, “Burning” is a jewel of modern Korean cinema that needs more love and appreciation.
2. You Were Never Really Here
Lynne Ramsay, who is one of the best female directors of the 21st century, creates another masterpiece. “You Were Never Really Here” is a suspenseful thriller that follows the story of Joe (Joaquin Phoenix), a tough guy with OCD syndrome who rescues abducted girls for a living. He is a mysterious guy who doesn’t fear death since he is a war veteran, but has trouble fighting his own demons. Although he is mentally unstable and experiences hallucinations, he is determined to save young missing girls.
Furthermore, “You Were Never Really Here” looks a lot like Martin Scorsese’s anti-hero masterpiece “Taxi Driver”. Both films have tragic characters, outstanding cinematography and original story.
On the other hand, the performance by Joaquin Phoenix is mesmerizing creating one of the best anti-hero characters of all time. He is a dark, fearless and violent guy who tries to fight his own thoughts as well as to understand life’s true meaning. Although it is the diary of a madman, it is also the individual fight of an alienated guy for justice.
“You Were Never Really Here” is a pure gem that has been criminally underappreciated. It should have been nominated for the best picture award as well as for the best leading actor performance.
To sum up, “You Were Never Really Here” is a dark, disturbing and violent depiction of the personal hell of a tormented guy that will stay for you for a long time.
Being one of the greatest filmmakers of the New French Extremity wave, Gaspar Noé’s “Climax” is another unique, exhilarating and intense cinematic experience. The plot is quite simple as some real French dancers gather around in a school to practise. They even have a small party while drinking unknowingly sangria laced with LSD. Then everything gets out of control and no one can stop this insane mayhem.
“Climax” opens with an interview of the dancers where we can see Gaspar Noé’s cinematic influences such as Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “Salò, or the 120 days of Sodom” or Luis Buñuel’s “Un Chien Andalou”. It is quite obvious that “Climax” is also a surrealistic depiction of a party gone wrong and a commentary on drugs’ side effects. Besides Sofia Boutella, all the other actors are amateurs since they are real dancers or musicians such as Kiddy Smile. The dj set by Kiddy Smile enhances the whole psychedelic experience.
On the other hand, “Climax” looks like a rollercoaster of emotions. The first part is a nice little party with wonderful music whereas the second one a chaotic depiction of a depraved and disgusting reality.
Although “Climax” is one of the most terrifying experiences of the last decade, it has not received a single Oscar nomination. The film should have been at least nominated for the best foreign language film award.
Not only “Climax” is a triumph of New French Extremity, but also a delusional nightmare where everyone is deranged.