If 2014 was all about the eyes, then 2015 was all about the ears. The sounds and the groove and the feet. “After a long day of Turing test, you gotta unwind…”
...Oscar Isaac and Sonoya Mizuno in perfect sync to Oliver Cheatham’s Get Down Saturday Night under blood red lights - an infernal disco - Domhnall Gleeson looking on in a state of bewildered horror as Isaac gives that unzipped all-in-one tracksuit a proper workout. My favourite ninety seconds of cinema in 2015…
...Miles Teller frantically calculating whether or not he’s pushing or dragging to the syncopated beat-down of J.K. Simmons' slaps to the face. Jazz as military manoeuvre, percussion as punishment, blood on the drumsticks. Just my tempo…
...The sheer unalloyed joie de vivre as we pull into the final act of Magic Mike XXL, idyllically rendered in the warm glow of the Kings of Tampa preparing to put on One Last Show, a montage to the sound of Heatwave’s triumphant The Groove Line...
And so here’s my Cream of the 2015 Crop, and I don’t have to preface it with tedious preamble about the inherent subjectivity of personal favourites do I? Great! And, obviously, I haven’t seen Everything, because that would be madness. I do have a life, you know? One last thing: These are in No Particular Order. OK, that’s it. Let’s do it!
Birdman (Alejandro González Iñárritu)
I saw this on January 1st and wondered if anything could possibly top it over the next 364 days. Turns out that wasn’t so difficult after all...Whilst no film is for everybody, I didn’t forsee that there would be such a hostile backlash from people who really didn’t like it. I’m with Mark Twain on this: “It were not best that we should all think alike; it is difference of opinion that makes horse-races.”
Whiplash (Damien Chazelle)
Big Hero 6 (Don Hall and Chris Williams)
Fistbump! Yes, I prefer Big Hero 6 to the universally adored Inside Out. No, don’t fucking argue with me about it.
John Wick (David Leitch and Chad Stahelski)
Black Coal, Thin Ice (Bai ri yan huo) (Yi'nan Diao)
Ingredients: Retribution, vengeance, death by ice skate, fireworks, neon, dismemberment and a dance number. Marinate in blood, booze and snow. Et voilà: Superior Chinese Noir.
Magic Mike XXL (Gregory Jacobs)
The Glass Slipper. The Groove Line. The Last Ride. Magic Mike XXL hits all the right (up)beats. Dayum.
Slow West (John Maclean)
Bone Tomahawk (S. Craig Zahler) - which I already wrote about a bit here
Victoria (Sebastian Schipper) - another one I’ve written a little bit about before, here
Yes, that makes a total of nine. No, I couldn’t settle on a definitive ten. So, here’s an “Any one of these could be number ten” Close But No Cigar list:
Enemy (Denis Villeneuve)
Ex Machina (Alex Garland)
Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson)
Mad Max Fury Road (George Miller)
Mr. Holmes (Bill Condon)
Sicario (Denis Villeneuve)
The Gift (Joel Edgerton)
The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos)
Trumbo (Jay Roach)
Bonus Hate: Kingsman: The Secret Service (Matthew Vaughn)
I wrote around 1,000 words on the good and the bad of Kingsman: The Secret Service, mostly concentrating on the incredibly dubious gender politics on screen (it ain't called QueensWoman, after all...) but it was exhausting and it wasn't really helping to quell my rage. So here's the lone surviving closing sentence: "Like the shiny platters of greasy fast food that megalomaniac villain Richmond Valentine favours, Kingsman: The Secret Service is vaguely enjoyable to a point, but once you’ve swallowed the whole thing, you just end up feeling queasy and wishing that you hadn’t bothered."
And I’m out. Peace!
"Leave your worries behind
'Cause rain, shine, won't mind
We're ridin' on the Groove Line tonight"