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  • Don’s Favorite Narrative Films of 2013 | #31-40

    Best of 2013

    By | December 26, 2013

    40) Drinking Buddies

    As a long-time fan of Joe Swanberg’s films, I was admittedly a bit skeptical when I first learned about Drinking Buddies, mostly because I did not expect Olivia Wilde and her cohorts to be up for the task; but, thankfully, I was proven wrong, and the actors go places that I would never expect studio-seasoned actors to go. Also, Swanberg admirably retains his cinematic style while simultaneously smoothing out the inherent edges of a micro-budget production.

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    39) The End of Love

    Extreme levels of realism make The End of Love an incredibly difficult film to watch. Mark is an accident waiting to happen as he attempts to drown his self-pity in other people’s wine with reckless abandon; but then his gentle and loving interactions with Isaac is something truly magical. Played by Webber’s real-life son, Isaac is the most impressive two-year-old actor I have ever witnessed on screen. Isaac obviously could not memorize his lines, right? (Check out my full review of The End of Love.)

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    38) Wrong


    A mystery that takes place in the midst of a mad, mad, mad, mad world of Brazil-ian bureaucracy, Wrong is not your typical “man loses dog” film. We do, however, learn a lot about human relationships with animals and how you don’t know what you have until its gone — or, maybe we don’t learn about any of that at all… Why should we learn anything? No reason. But if you do need one reason to watch Wrong, it is William Fichtner’s scene-chomping performance as Master Chang. Honestly, I could watch the Master Chang scenes on repeat, ad nauseum, into infinity and beyond… (Check out my full review of Wrong.)

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    37) A Teacher

    Writer-director Hannah Fidell’s A Teacher maintains an extremely high level of suspense as Diana takes bigger and bigger chances in order to be with Eric. Brian McOmber’s masterfully atonal and percussive score escalates the film’s tension with its disturbing alternation between droning and piercing sounds; and it is not long before we realize that McOmber is forcing us inside of Diana’s crazed head-space. Andrew Droz Palermo’s cinematography is equally unnerving as it places us directly within the personal space of the characters. (Check out my full review of A Teacher.)

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    36) Something in the Air


    Something in the Air lends Assayas a soapbox on which to ruminate about the relationship between art, politics and class. The intense discussions about experimentalism versus realism in cinema seem to be mainlined directly from Assayas’ own internal debate, serving as a sly self-reflexive comment on his oeuvre. And for film programmers looking for a double feature, Something in the Air plays as an interesting companion piece to Cold Water (1994), with identically named protagonists existing in moral opposition with each other. (Check out my full review of Something in the Air.)

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    35) The Hunt


    The Hunt brutally captures the hypersensitivity of modern day parents who view almost every grown person as a potential pedophile or kidnapper. It’s a sad, sad, sad world we live in that parents are willing to jump to such drastic conclusions; teachers, too, are always on the lookout for signs of abuse or neglect among their students. Modern society seems to revolve around fear and suspicion. We jump to conclusions and are no longer cognizant of the affects that such charges might have on the accused, just as we seem to have forgotten the old adage of innocent until proven guilty. (Check out my full review of The Hunt.)

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    34) I Killed My Mother


    I Killed My Mother premiered at the 2009 Cannes Film Fest (in the Directors’ Fortnight series) where it earned three prizes: the Art Cinema Award, the Regards Jeunes and the SACD Prize. Armed with his auteurist visual aesthetic (akin to Jean-Luc Godard [circa 1960-64], François Truffaut [circa 1959-1962], and Wong Kar-Wai) and penchant for high-brow literary references (Cocteau, de Maupassant, de Laclos, and Rimbaud) it is not surprising that Cannes fell so in love with Dolan. It is also not surprising that many critics are using Dolan’s very prominent (read: unrealistic) directorial eye as a strike against him since it functions in such stark contrast to the naturalism of the script. I, for one, enjoy the dichotomy — in fact, that is what I find most enjoyable about I Killed My Mother. (Check out my review of I Killed My Mother.)

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    33) Like Someone in Love


    On paper, Like Someone In Love‘s script may read like a western chamber piece about 24-hours of a call girl’s life; but Kiarostami adopts a far eastern perspective, luxuriating in the narrative’s sense of subtlety and quietness. Like Someone In Love begins (and ends) in medias res, and seems to exist in the relatively tranquil space within a more turbulent narrative. Very little seems to happen during the 109-minute run-time; as soon as the tension does begin to reach a crescendo, Kiarostami rolls the end credits (which are nicely soundtracked to “Like Someone In Love” by Ella Fitzgerald). Well played, sir. (Check out my full review of Like Someone In Love.)

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    32) This Is Martin Bonner


    Winner of The Best of Next Audience Award at Sundance 2013, writer-director Chad Hartigan’s This Is Martin Bonner plays like a gritty, 1970s odd couple character study. (Even the poster hearkens back to the glory days of the first wave of American independent cinema.) A masterful exercise in minimalism and subtlety, This Is Martin Bonner is an incredibly basic story, with absolutely no action or drama — and very little comedy — but this is precisely how and why Hartigan’s film excels. (Check out my full review of This Is Martin Bonner.)

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    31) Diamond on Vinyl


    Writer-director J.R. Hughto’s cinematic chamber piece questions the authenticity of our selves, specifically what we say. Are we all just playing roles in this world? Do we sometimes adopt false personas in order to fit into certain situations? Do we sometimes over-think (mentally rehearse) what we are going to say? Do we, like Henry, strive to have the perfect conversation? (Check out my full review of Diamond on Vinyl.)

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