It normally takes some obscure flick at a small film festival for a film lover to not at least know a little detail about a movie that’s getting released, but there are always those exceptions, the ones that slip under the cracks. And this is the subject of my latest Top 5. I’ve seen these sorts of list before, but come on, to us geeks Moon isn’t an underseen film. I hope this will either turn you on to a couple of great new films, or if you have heard of them, be that little push you need to check them out.
So, on with the show…
5. Assassination of a High School President (Brett Simon, 2008, USA)
Even though included on this ‘unseen’ list, this Catholic School set noir did receive some great support from the blogosphere when Yari Film Group, the film’s distributor, filed for bankruptcy. This lost it a theatrical release, and after a failed internet campaign to get it into cinemas it wasn’t until Sony released the DVD that the rest of us got our hands on this fantastic little comedy.
A sort of Brick-lite, Assassination of a High School President focuses much more on the school societal hierarchy and the struggle for power within it, staying firmly within that structure. But even with the stakes not being as high as Brick, it still has a brilliantly-paced, twisty turny plot and its fair share of tongue sharpening dialogue. Mischa Barton plays a decent sexy femme fatale but the film has to go to the scene stealing Bruce Willis as the mad ex-desert storm veteran turned Principal.
4. Bedevilled (Chul-soo Jang, 2010, South Korea)
When Hae-won returns to home for a break from city life, she is shocked to discover the harsh lifestyle of her childhood best friend Bok-nam. As situations get worst and the violence against Bok-nam becomes more disturbing, Hae-won struggles to voice her concern. Things escalate, and it’s only matter of time before something terrible happens, causing Bok-nam to take action.
One of the best of FrightFest 2010, this excellent Korean import has unfortunately become quickly forgotten. A truly sad fact because when the first hour of this simmering volcano of a film finally erupts you will find it hard not let out a cheer as a smile spreads across your face.
With a towering performance from Yeong-hie Seo, first time filmmaker Chul-soo Jang creates a heavy and amazingly atmospheric story that really leaves its mark. Brutal, melancholic, but not without of moments of humour, Bedevilled is a revenge flick that needs to be seen.
3. Skeletons (Nick Whitfield, 2010, UK)
Davis and Bennet are exorcists, but they’re not the normal dog-collared wearing ones you’d expect. They go from sleepy town to sleepy town, offering their services to anyone having supernatural problems in their household, aided by some psychic powers and snazzy gadgets. But when they are hired to find the spirit of a missing husband and father, things begin to get strange.
Sadly, the only British film in this Top 5, Nick Whitfield’s Skeletons is the definition of a cult Brit classic in the making. With the dry cynical wit of Withnail and I, it has a warm emotional core, helped by the great chemistry from Andrew Buckley and Ed Gaughan in the lead roles.
A film with an insane rewatch value, Skeletons manages to inject enough laughs that you don’t get swamped by the heavy themes that are revealed as the story progresses. Not afraid to take its characters to dark places, simply put, this is one the finest British films of the last few decades. Not forgetting to mention an absolute cracker of a cameo by Jason Isaacs.
2. The Wild Hunt (Alexandre Franchi, 2009, Canada)
Depressed Erik, who spends most of his days caring for his mentally ill father, travels to a LARPing community in the Canadian wildness where not only his brother but his recently separated girlfriend can be found. As he attempts to win her back, the line between fantasy and reality becomes blurred. The situation takes a surprising turn and tensions quickly rise. With the dark cover of night creeping in, everything slowly becomes more real.
I always feel the need to point out that The Wild Hunt, although sounding rather silly and stupid, is a serious film. In fact, you’ll struggle to find a darker, more suspenseful and, to be honest, downright creepy film in the last five years.
It’s self-knowing about the silliness of the setting but it doesn’t try to make fun of or parody it. It delves deeper and takes time to look at the personalities that take comfort in the make believe. Erik’s brother Bjorn, obviously having trouble dealing with his father’s diminishing state throws himself fully into world, barely breaking character. It’s the escapism that comes with the fun that’s important. But as day turns to night and the fight between Erik and LARPer Murtagh for Lyn’s (or to Murtagh, Princess Evlynia’s) attention heats up, the film takes a insane left-hand turn into full blown horror, as the blood begins to spill and the battling, that was once fake, may not be any more.
1. Mr. Nobody (Jaco Van Dormael, 2009, Canada/Belguim/France/Germany)
The year is 2092 and Mr. Nemo Nobody is going to be the last human to die of old age. Currently 118, he decides to tell a reporter, who has broken into his hospital room, his life story. Focusing on three important ages of his life – nine, 16 and 34. However, as the stories began to overlap and intertwine with different timelines, the young reporter begins to question his honesty. He speaks of separate lives with three different wives, each with altered outcomes that seriously change his life path.
Love it or hate it, the gargantuan scale of Mr. Nobody has to be applauded. And I’m sure many will hate it; the intricacy and detail of the plot alone could stink of pretentiousness, but for me it’s a film that completely enthralled from start to finish. It’s an utterly fascinating look at choice, and the fact that while making a choice is simple, the importance of each choice you make is not, as each one could change your life. This film looks at every important choice Nemo has had to make and lives out each possible outcome.
It tackles entropy through a lens of regretful life choices, and looks at the complexity and level of love, fear and the importance of time in the universe. I know, even typing this makes it sound overwhelming and messy, and telling you that there are around a dozen split narratives in the film probably isn’t helping. But director Van Dormael balances everything brilliantly and has some really interesting things to say. A fantastic cast, some breathtaking visuals and a slick style means that Mr. Nobody is something of a must-see.