5. Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)
Palm d’Or at 2012 Cannes Film Festival and Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film – just to name a few – are some of the prizes won by Michael Haneke’s most famous and acclaimed work, “Amour”. Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Luc Trintignant are an 80-year old couple of music teachers, and they live a quiet life until the woman contracts Alzheimer.
The film is quite a thing especially because of its slow pace, that emphasizes the disease’s atrocious progression and make us feel weak, impotent. The protagonist cannot escape her demon, which eat her from the inside and destroys also part of her husband’s life. Haneke demonstrates of being one of the best contemporary directors: his style is perfect to tell the story of a lose, this terrible tale of death and love, memory and fragility, dedication and frustration.
Haneke’s masterful long takes, absence of music, glacial representation of everyday life and senility: “Amour” is a punch in the stomach, a movie that moves you in an authentic and honest way. It’s one of the few cases when a movie make you feel reconciled with life and Cinema despite showing so much sufferance and sadness.
4. Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019)
The most anticipated movie of 2019, Quentin Tarantino’s last feature is everything a cinephile can expect from a movie. Set in Los Angeles, the film is about Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Cliff Booth (an excellent Brad Pitt), an actor and his stuntman. Rick is the Sharon Tate’s neighbor, during the year that changed everything, the year after which nothing would be as before: 1969.
“Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood” is wonderful: it’s a love letter both to the Cinema industry and to the 1960s, the period in which Tarantino was born and raised. The American director interlines reality and fiction as usual, giving a complete view of a magic and shining late ‘60s L.A. Rick and Cliff’s friendship is special and profound: the actor cannot live without the body double and viceversa. The movie is a full immersion in the habitat that Quentin admires and loves, and this strong feeling is visible during all the 161 minutes runtime.
The most moving – and also genial – aspect is Sharon Tate’s character, played by a divine Margot Robbie: Tarantino represents her as a goddess, in all her beauty and sensuality, and the work he does on her in the final act is excellent and very powerful. As he did in “Inglorious Basterds”, Tarantino plays with history through Cinema, thus giving to the Seventh Art all its glory and importance. Sharon Tate lives forever, and also the great Cinema does. And the sequence in which the billboards of L.A. light up at nightfall is a dream that becomes reality.
3. Boyhood (Richard Linklater, 2014)
American director Richard Linklater is known for his accurate description of the passing of time as he did in the “Before Trilogy” (1995, 2004, 2013). “Boyhood”, winner of Silver Bear at 2014 Berlinale, is an extremely interesting project because of his realization: it was filmed during the course of 12 years, so that the characters really grow old. The story is that of Mason, a common guy, from 6 years old to 18.
During its two hours and 45 minutes, “Boyhood” is simply phenomenal: we see Mason’s everyday life, his adventures and problems. In fact, his life has nothing really special, and it’s precisely that the sheer beauty of the movie, or the perfect portrayal of an existence we could all live.
With its natural dialogues, its superb performances, Linklater’s vivid direction, and brilliant sense of drama, “Boyhood” is unique for its realization and extraordinary for its execution. A masterclass of storytelling and a diamond of humanity. It’s simply poetry in motion.
2. Roma (Alfonso Cuarón, 2018)
Winner of the Golden Lion at 75th Venice International Film Festival, “Roma” is the return of Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón to a certain type of independent and more intimate Cinema. After the sci-fi successes “Children of Men” (2006) and “Gravity” (2013), Cuarón made a film set in early 1970s Mexico City, and follows the life of a live-in house keeper of a middle-class family.
“Roma” is a semi-autobiographical picture, a moving and overwhelming portrayal of a microcosm (the life in the house where the protagonists live) inside of a macrocosm (a period of social tension in Mexico), which interact with each other in order to let the spectator live a thrilling and exciting experience and stage an intimate tale that express universal, important values: dolor, resignation, abandonment, motherhood, solidarity and feminism.
With a splendid black and white photography, a direction of rare grace and inspiration, extraordinary performances and impeccable screenplay, “Roma” is as cinematographically amazing as it’s brilliantly emotional. Cuarón opens his heart to the public and it’s masterful how he manages to express aspects of everyday life with such an intimate, sensitive touch.
1. Her (Spike Jonze, 2013)
This Academy-Award winner film is basically a science-fiction movie, because it’s set in a dystopian future where artificial intelligence is present everywhere, on the agenda. Theodore – played by an excellent Joaquin Phoenix in one of his best performances – is a lonely, quiet man who is unhappy due to his divorce from his childhood love Catherine. He comes in contact with Samantha, an O.S. – voiced by a superb Scarlett Johansson – with which a special relationship is created.
“Her” is romance drama at its very best, it’s such a poignant and tormenting film that every viewer should love. It’s the most human American movie of the 2010s despite the fact that the central love affair is between a man and an O.S. It’s extraordinary how a strange and unusual relationship is so sweet and heartbreaking and how the viewer is completely captured by the beauty and authenticity of the characters.
“Her” is utterly incredible because it’s profoundly unsettling due to the representation of a near future in which real love is slowly disappearing and human contacts are being erased, but it’s at the same time absolutely moving giving to its superb sensitivity and warmth, staged by a Spike Jonze in state of grace, who involves and excites the viewer from beginning to end and gives beautiful sensations that remain in the heart and mind days and days after the vision. “Her” is definitely a modern masterpiece.