As wonderful as it would be, there isn’t really any way to possibly keep up with every new release. So many are hard to access, or slip under the radar, or seem uninteresting, and so many films get skipped over by accident or simply forgotten about.
Of course, recommendations can always help to catch up again and see what we may have missed, so, here are ten brilliant, recently released films that you may have unfortunately missed! Hopefully, this can help you fill up your watchlists with some things to catch up on, or give you the final necessary push into seeing something you’ve unintentionally dismissed.
1. Like Cattle Towards Glow (Zac Farley & Dennis Cooper, 2015)
Starting off with one of the most unknown films on the list is Zac Farley and Dennis Cooper’s collaborative 2015 film, Like Cattle Towards Glow. This film is a series of five vignettes centred on young, gay men, most of which are focused on strange ways of expression with darkly comic tones.
With staggeringly good performances when taking into consideration the kinds of things that these actors (well, non-actors) are being asked to do, a totally fascinating script for each story and a certain audaciousness that makes it so admirable for a first effort (for both directors), it’s so shocking to see such a terrific film, especially considering that it is coming from a collaboration between a visual artist (Farley) and a writer (Cooper). Their follow up film, Permanent Green Light (which is sadly still largely unavailable, and very difficult to find, though MUBI did recently show it for a short while) is also receiving a great deal of acclaim.
It’s very explicit, emotionally demanding and challenging, but also really quite wonderful. It is, at times, a strikingly beautiful film, one that feels so accepting and so human despite the fact that it gets really quite discomforting at times. This one is more than worth viewing if you can manage to stumble across it, even if you aren’t exactly enamoured with each and every vignette. John Waters is also a fan… which is quite unsurprising given some of the content, come to think of it.
2. Your Face (Tsai Ming-Liang, 2018)
Tsai Ming-Liang has been making some of the most adventurous arthouse outings for some years now (Rebels of the Neon God is almost thirty years old!), and Your Face is no exception, even if it is a startling departure from the vast majority of his other work.
Whilst many of Tsai’s films hone in on uncomfortable situations and deadpan characters placed within them, Your Face is instead a documentary, bringing Tsai’s distinguishing slow cinema techniques to the talking-head style of documentary filmmaking, which makes for some captivating moments. With static shots that simply focus on the faces of each person involved for five minutes or so, many of whom don’t even speak, it becomes a conspicuously delicate film, focusing on these people in such an unbelievably tender fashion.
One interviewee in particular becomes so evidently comfortable that he even manages to fall asleep on camera, with Tsai capturing the moment with the same delicacy as every other. By morphing his usually quite abrasive style of deadpan humour merged with slow cinema and tragic narratives/themes into something so beautifully humanitarian, Tsai stunned most everyone who actually did see this film, many of whom were long time fans, but thankfully he absolutely hits the nail on the head here and crafts such an unexpectedly heartwarming documentary, one that deserves to be seen by so, so many more than it has been.
3. The Forgotten Colours of Dreams (Johnny Clyde, 2018)
A no-budget feature length debut shot on VHS (no, really!), subsequently released to a small cult following (one that is gradually growing, but one that also certainly could use a push) following Death as she visits a group of people, then conversing about their pains, their philosophies, etc. It’s a mesmerisingly tender film, as sad as some of it is, and the filter over the lens making the entire film appear as though the audience is spying through a keyhole or a spy hole adds a certain discomfort in their own voyeurism.
The colours are gorgeous, with the entire film having an odd, hazy feeling to it that really makes it feel fantastical – otherworldly and involving due to its beauty. It’s a ridiculously impressive film, especially for a debut, with such style and bravery in its form and in its subject. Few of the very best directors of all time have tackled death in such a unique and touching way, and so, a part of the film’s strong involvement power is in this amazement from the quality of the direction.
Clyde’s other films up to this point are also so undeservedly slept on – Noctiflora, a 2017 short film, is one of the greatest short films of the decade, inspired by Peter Tscherkassky among others, and Floralis, his 2019 fantasy film which puts some of the best fantasy films to shame with its wonderful expression and jaw-dropping visuals.
Clyde is an up-and-comer is ever there was one, and it is difficult not to be frantically excited about what should be coming next from him. He is emerging as one of the greatest directors of recent memory just at the beginning of the 2020’s, and there is so much anticipation from his cult following surrounding what may come next.
4. The Green Fog (Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson & Galen Johnson, 2017)
Taking footage from Vertigo, along with around a hundred other films, and much like a popular hip-hop album, it takes the pieces and inspirations it needs and makes work out of essentially sampling them, stitching them together into an entirely new film that works as a personal interpretation of Hitchcock’s seminal masterpiece.
It has hyperactive editing, a bizarre merging of limitless different styles and an overarching admiration for the most extreme visual storytelling in cinema, what more could you really want? It helps that Maddin’s interpretation of the events of Vertigo are so interesting, though I won’t spoil that for the sake of preserving the oddball surprises in this and furthermore for those who haven’t yet seen Vertigo.
Of course, coming from Guy Maddin, the mixing of all of these films and TV shows isn’t exactly seamless and the editing allows for Maddin’s creative genius to continue to shine through, in case anyone was concerned about him losing his voice and his vision by using pre-existing content.
It constantly jolts with energy, leaps and bounds from wildly different influences and becomes fascinating when it comes to spotting these different influences, as the context surrounding those then falls in and mixes with the already bursting background that Vertigo has.
It’s a strange film, working with a style that few have tried and even fewer have actually gotten right, but it is completely absorbing and deals all of its cards beautifully – it’s just a shame it’s so difficult to find and see… here’s hoping it’ll become more easily accessible, and it can manage to somehow garner all of the necessary rights to have a proper public release, or at the very least a release that this kind of a film deserves. This one fell under the radar to a painful degree, and really deserves a lot more recognition.
5. Pendular (Julia Murat, 2017)
Shown on MUBI in early 2019, Julia Murat’s Pendular is a stunning film about the relationship between two artists. Bringing to mind the illustrious work of the brilliant Claire Denis, with a piercing intimacy and beautifully expressive visual style – one that is very much grounded in reality, but exaggerated in such a way that really brings out the underlying beauty of the world in such a wonderful way – Murat’s Pendular is just incredible.
Though it is admittedly explicit in its portrayal of sex, which may put some off (though hopefully not, it isn’t a film to miss!), the portrayal of these two artists stuck in some kind of relationship-based limbo is fascinating, and the fact that Murat’s camera never seems to even think about turning away from what it is showing, which includes the good, the bad and sometimes the ugly (though not too often… it’s mostly just the bad) makes this so impressive.
It’s such a confident film, one that never seems to shy away from the vision that it has. Even featuring a gorgeous dance sequence set to Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart, which fits much more than one would expect, this one is a clear cut winner, and one that really needs to be discovered by a bigger group of film fans. It is genuinely depressing how little of a splash this one made, and now is the time to hunt this one down and give it a watch.