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- Best of the year that was the worst 2/2 -
Merry Christmas Film Enthusiast,

I hope this finds you positive and well. It's not easy for everyone at the moment with everything that's going on, so whatever you're able to do this Christmas, I hope you can make the most of it,  and enjoy some well deserved festive cheer. There's going to be a lot of toasts to 2021!


Thankfully, there seem to be some great films out at the moment. At least for people like us that's something to look forward to!

I've got the new cut of The Godfather part 3 on my list, which  I've heard some really good things about, plus there's the new Charlie Brooker (Black Mirror) Comedy which comes out some mysterious time this month. So classic cheery Christmas movies right!?

I caught the end of Catch Me If You Can last night which felt a bit more festive! I could've watched it from the start on iPlayer. but there's something inexplicably enjoyable about the broadcast of tv that I enjoy, rather than being in total control. I'm not sure I can explain that,  but I'm sure I'm not the only one...

Anyway, I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and thank you for reading this year. It's been a great outlet for me and without you I'd just be a weirdo with a laptop. it's much nicer to be a weirdo with a laptop and some loyal subscribers, so thanks and here's to many more!

Now, for some film chat...
Monday 21st December

The best of 2020 - part 2

 
It wasn't the greatest but at least on screen, it's been a good year! In no particular order here are some films from 2020 that I found interesting:

Uncut Gems

This one feels so long ago I almost forgot it came out in January. Prior to its release, where you to hear that Adam Sandler would win the Independent Spirit award for best actor you might be as surprised as I was. Unless perhaps if you’ve seen him in Punch-Drunk Love, then you might be one of the few who don’t think of him as the crude loud obnoxious joker he also is. It’s genuinely shocking this wasn’t up for a single Oscar. It is brilliant. With Uncut Gems The Safdie brothers might have outdone themselves for obliterating typecast actors, and it might just outdo their other masterpiece Good Time but only in the way that Pulp Fiction is a better film than Reservoir Dogs. A film about the dangerous thrill of gambling, a heart pounding ride from start to finish, and a great contribution to American cinema that sits comfortable on the shelf of among others like Bad Lieutenant, California Split, or The Hustler.

Where to watch: Netflix.
Actor Adam Sandler holding a jewel encrusted furby in the movie Uncut Gems

Tenet

Christopher Nolan’s Tenet makes my list almost purely out of gratitude for its release. It was the fourth highest grossing movie of the year and it still lost Warner Brother’s $100 Million. It was essentially the only major blockbuster that was out when cinemas first reopened, and although in hindsight it was a bit of a band-aid over a burst waterpipe, It was worth it to put people back in a cinema hearing a Hanz Zimmer-esque score reverberating through a room again. The fact that Bond 25 still hasn’t been released and that John David Washington won’t be considered for Bond 26 for me, means Tenet is the only high-octane, global espionage film we needed this year. I’m sure my reaction was hyperbolic, but I’ll try to keep my rose-tinted glasses on for when the time comes to watch again. A thoroughly enjoyable movie at a time where fun was in high demand.

Where to watch: Still available in some cinemas, available for home media this month.
Actors Robert Pattinson and John David Washington from a still of the movie Tenet

Mank

Mank is a new film by David Fincher, made for/by Netflix. It is an ode to Classic Hollywood and the magnificent screen writer; Herman Mankowicz. Mank was the man who wrote Citizen Kane, or at least the screen play. It is based on the same controversies that Pauline Kael famously resurrected between Welles and Mank for a share of the writer’s credit for the film. Mank is a story about authenticity, true storytelling and betrayal but one that is heavily romanticised.

I went into this film with two expectations; One, to watch a finely crafted film about Old Hollywood from one of modern Hollywood’s great directors. And two, to potentially be disappointed at the reduction of Orson Welles’ role in the creation of Citizen Kane. Luckily, the strength of the former is enough to suppress focus on the latter.

Despite using some of the same tarnished brushes, to paint Welles as a power-hungry pipsqueak, Mank is not really about Welles. It’s not even really about the famous credit controversy. It’s about the mythology of the Hollywood writer, it is a story about storytelling and namely one obelisk of a storyteller.

Gary Oldman as Mank, is charming, unapologetically fallible, and wonderfully romantic. He plays a sweet old man in the autumn of his years and a true storyteller in the most allegorical way. From writers’ rooms, to film sets, to drunken binges, Mank occupies the peripheries of social groups where most are either ignorant to, or not interested in, the politics outside their own bubbles. Most notably he is included in the inner circle of William Randolph Hurst, where he observes the growing political desires of powerful men, the dramas of which become his influence for Kane.

A charming ability to narrativize the lives of his peers is both Mank’s genius and his crux. He embodies the role of the storyteller like it’s his natural born identity, he soaks up the dramas that surround him as cuts through peoples bullshit with ease, which has its price. Mank's reliance on alcohol to write transcended that of most Hollywood drunks, and along with his creative pursuits he lead a selfish and solitary life.  He neglected the ever-faithful love of his life who was known to his peers as, ‘Poor Sara’. ‘I put up with all your platonic cheating’ She tells him, ‘I don’t wanna be called poor Sara any longer.’ He’s not a bad man, but he wilfully neglects both his health and his wife remaining loyal only to his work, his calling.  

Fincher’s film is about the mythological figure of the Hollywood writer, often tormented artistic types underappreciated in relation to actors and directors. Mank was often uncredited for his work, and his incredible influence on Hollywood was underrated. Because of this he died relatively poor succumbing to his reliance on alcohol. Fincher neglects to credit the many others who contributed to Citizen Kane, none more so that the genius who assembled it with no prior cinematic experience. But he succeeds in bringing light to the life of a magnificent man who wrote the greatest screenplay ever and without doubt the best he ever wrote.

Where to watch: Netflix.
Black and white still from the movie Mank

Honourable Mentions

*Parasite

Although it didn’t reach UK audiences until Feb 2020, it premiered almost a year earlier at Cannes in May of 2019. There’s not much more I can say about Bong Joon Ho’s Magnum Opus, and since this is a list of 2020 films that’s all I’ll allow!

Where to watch: All the places you possibly can, all film lovers should see the best film of 2020 – so good even the Oscars couldn’t turn it away. Okay, I’m stopping now.

 

*Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Like Parasite, also shown in UK theatres this year, but first given a theatrical release in September 2019. Celine Sciamma’s scintillating tale of life affirming love, loneliness and masterful artistry seen through the eyes of Women in 18th Century France also misses out today due to Gregorian limitations.

Like Parasite seek it out and you won’t be disappointed. Just listen to Para One and Arthur Simonini’s Soundtrack for a taster. The rich blend of joy and fear in this song is emblematic of the film.
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