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Tuesday, 14 June 2016

The Last 5 Films I've Seen (from best to least best)

Just Say No: Aronofsky's nightmarish Requiem For A Dream

I thought it might be fun to spin off this part of my Your Week In Film column into its own regular mini-feature. I try to see a minimum of five movies every week - this isn't always easy as I work evenings, have a family and a largely unsuccessful sideline writing graphic novels. Sometimes they are films I've seen before, but mostly it's stuff I'm seeing for the first time or for the first time in a very long time. I watch a mix of old and new (mostly new this week), all sorts of styles and genres. I'm keen to see as many new movies as possible while slowly but surely working my way through the classics, be they British, American or foreign language. I try to be as discerning as possible (life's too short for bad art) and, as a result, don't see too many genuine stinkers. So, without further ado, here are this week's five...

1. Requiem For A Dream (2000): Darren Aronofsky's nightmarish, super-stylised journey into the dark heart of drug addiction is like a 'Just Say No' ad campaign masterminded by a lunatic. Adapted from Hubert Selby Jr's novel of the same name, it's bleak, surreal, disturbing and quite brilliant – Clint Mansell's sublime soundtrack is the cherry on the top.
2. The Secret In Their Eyes (2009): Cracking Argentine thriller about a retired legal counsellor returning, after decades, to investigate an unsolved murder that has long played upon his conscience. This 2010 Oscar winner boasts a powerful political edge, strong characters, methodical plotting and a twist that hits like a right-hook when it arrives.
3. The Assassin (2015): Hsiao-Hsien Hou's unique take on the ancient Chinese martial arts - or wuxia - genre is beautiful, oblique and a real slow-burn. Don't expect to fully appreciate its charms first time around, as it really is one of those films that richly rewards repeat viewing (in fact, reading a little about The Assassin before you see it will help enormously). 

Killing in the name of: Hsiao-Hsien Hou's The Assassin

4. The Nice Guys (2016): Ryan Gosling (a boozy private eye) and Russell Crowe (an unreconstructed thug) are terrific in Shane Black's retro buddy comedy set in 1970s Los Angeles, but are let down by a half-baked plot that isn't so much confusing as downright uninteresting. Kim Basinger – 
'80s stalwart of 9½ Weeks and Batman – is criminally underused.
5. Self/less (2015): High-concept sci-fi flick that sees terminally-ill business mogul Ben Kingsley transfer his consciousness into the body of supposedly dead former marine Ryan Reynolds. You never for a single moment believe that Kingsley and Reynolds are the same person but I'm a sucker for imagination and redemption, and Tarsem Singh's fun but flawed film provides both.

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