It’s not easy this time of year. Everyone wants your ‘best of’ lists. The Problem is I can’t narrow things down that simply so I’m not going to. This year I’m just going to divide my article into sections, film, books etc, and wax lyrically about what I’ve enjoyed from each chapter of my life in reviewing in this Year of our Coffee 2018. I’m not going to mention my disappointments or what’s really let me down, there is enough ugliness in the world at the moment, and I’m also not stating this is anything definitive. If you enjoyed something else or didn’t quite like the same things as I did that’s absolutely fine, this article isn’t Twitter, we don’t have to go to war over whether a film or comic I consumed was worthy of praise or not. So, what shall I focus on today? Films, I think.
Films are becoming a poison chalice for me to get reviewed now. Due to family circumstances I can no longer travel everywhere so can only look at festival films and independent productions if there is PR companies willing to allow online access, thus my intake of what I like to call proper storytelling is getting smaller by the year. There is also the problem of choice. Do I choose to re-mortgage the house and go to a cinema, or shall I feed my children? It’s a no brainer really, the children must be fed! DISCLAIMER: This may not be the case when Aquaman comes out. [this article was written last week, the children are now apparently getting beans on bread (toast being too expensive) after a weekend cinema visit - Ed] I find myself more reliant on my streaming services for anything new I fancy I taking on, or my rather impressive DVD and Blu-Ray collection for anything else, and to be honest I am fine with this. Both Amazon and Netflix are throwing cash at films, something we have long wanted studios to do, and there is so much variety to choose from that I barely miss paying £20 to sit in a dark room with people who won’t switch their fucking phones off or shut up. This year has seen me look back to my past for a lot of my cinematic entertainment, so whilst rediscovering my love of Kevin Costner’s Waterworld, and watching Leonardo DiCaprio in Shutter Island have been personal highlights of 2018, they aren’t really what you have tuned in for are they? So, what have been my highlights in 2018? In no particular order (and bearing in mind at the time of writing I haven’t seen Aquaman or The Old Man & the Gun)…
Mute directed by Duncan Jones
Berlin. Forty years from today. A roiling city of immigrants, where East crashes against West in a science-fiction Casablanca. Leo Beiler (Skarsgard), a mute bartender has one reason and one reason only for living here, and she's disappeared. But when Leo's search takes him deeper into the city's underbelly, an odd pair of American surgeons (led by Rudd) seem to be the only recurring clue, and Leo can't tell if they can help, or who he should fear most.
The Guilty directed by Gustav Möller
Alarm dispatcher Asger Holm answers an emergency call from a kidnapped woman. When the call is suddenly disconnected, the search for the woman and her kidnapper begins. With the phone as his only tool, Asger enters a race against time to save the endangered woman. But soon he realizes that he is dealing with a crime that is far bigger than he first thought.
Gangsta directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah
Antwerp. The lives of four dealer friends, who want to become real-life swaggers, spins out of control when they steal a shipment of cocaine. They trigger a full out war between them, an Amsterdam drug lord and the ruthless Colombian cartels.
Major Arcana directed by Josh Melrod
A long-troubled itinerant carpenter returns home to small town Vermont and attempts to build a log cabin by hand, hoping to free himself from a cycle of poverty and addiction. But when he reconnects with Sierra, a woman with whom he shares a complicated past, he becomes locked in a desperate struggle between the person he was and the person he hopes to become.
The Captain directed by Robert Schwentke
The Captain follows Willi Herold (Max Hubacher), a German army deserter who stumbles across an abandoned Nazi captain's uniform during the last, desperate weeks of the Third Reich. Newly emboldened by the allure of a suit that he stole only to stay warm, Willi discovers that many Germans will follow the leader, whosoever that happens to be. A parade of fresh atrocities follows in the self-declared captain's wake and serve as a profound reminder of the consequences of social conformity and untrammelled political power. Simultaneously a historical docudrama, a tar-black comedy, and a sociological treatise, The Captain presents fascism as a pathetic pyramid scheme, a system to be gamed by the most unscrupulous and hollow-souled.
The Senator directed by John Curran
The scandal and mysterious events surrounding the tragic drowning of a young woman, as Ted Kennedy drove his car off the infamous bridge, are revealed in the new movie starring Jason Clarke as Ted Kennedy and Kate Mara as Mary Jo Kopechne. Not only did this event take the life of an aspiring political strategist and Kennedy insider, but it ultimately changed the course of presidential history forever. Through true accounts, documented in the inquest from the investigation in 1969, director John Curran and writers Andrew Logan and Taylor Allen, intimately expose the broad reach of political power, the influence of America's most celebrated family; and the vulnerability of Ted Kennedy, the youngest son, in the shadow of his family legacy.
Deadpool 2 directed by David Leitch
After losing Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), the love of his life, 4th-wall breaking mercenary Wade Wilson aka Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) must assemble a team and protect a young, full-figured mutant Russell Collins aka Firefist (Julian Dennison) from Cable (Josh Brolin), a no-nonsense, dangerous cyborg from the future, and must also learn the most important lesson of all: to be part of a family again.
The Ballad of Lefty Brown directed by Jared Moshe
When cowboy Lefty Brown witnesses the murder of his long-time partner, the newly-elected Senator Edward Johnson, he strikes out to find the killers and avenge his friend's cold-blooded murder. Tracking the outlaws across the vast and desolate Montana plains, Lefty stumbles across a young wannabe gunslinger, Jeremiah, and an old friend, a former hard-drinking pal turned U.S. Marshall, to help deliver the men to justice. After a gunfight with the outlaws leaves Jeremiah wounded, Lefty returns home with the names of Johnson's killers only to find that he is being accused of his friend's murder by the governor. With the tables turned Lefty must evade the law, get the Marshall to stop drinking again, and prove his innocence by exposing the powerful men ultimately responsible for Johnson's death.
Image/synopsis - IMDb.