Review of Films I’ve seen in 2013

Dear Readers,

Another year has passed, it’s time for another summary of what I consider to be the best films I’ve seen at the cinema, on DVD, Youtube and whatever other medium I’ve seen any moving picture on!

As usual, I didn’t expect much from mainstream Hollywood film culture and even much so-called independent or alternative film culture didn’t offer a great deal that challenged audiences to think beyond their mental cocoons. Several film-makers who have done great work in the past now seem pigeon-holed into repeating themselves or have been cowed into making pretty films about safe subjects. This is obviously the effect of an overbearing political and economic climate in which all-out global war seems just one push-button moment away. Recent revelations of all-embracing surveillance by the National Security Agency in the United States by whistle-blower Edward Snowden, while not surprising, are just the edge of a deep and hitherto unknown universe in which control of information and what goes into, through and out of people’s minds into what they say and do is paramount; this leads inevitably into an increasingly roboticised society where thoughts and actions have to be predicted, and their consequences known, measured and quantified. This is all done for the purpose of blackmail (so that targeted victims end up self-censoring their actions) or for exchange with corporations serving hidden agendas for profit (so that people’s thoughts and actions can be monitored, with a view to companies anticipating and pre-empting such activities).

On the whole then, this year’s lot of theatrical film releases I’ve viewed has been dismal with very few outstanding films and nearly all of them documentaries. Of course when it comes to viewing films on DVD or other media, I can pick and choose what I want to see and so the calibre of past film releases has been far greater than what I’ve seen at the cinema recently. A boon to my film-watching has been the Japan Foundation Sydney Library which I joined very late in 2013 despite that library being close to my place of work since 2007! (Oh well, better late than never!) This fount of film archives has yielded some great classics of Japanese film culture which I had almost given up hope on.

Enough from me, let’s roll out the Good, the Bad and the Plain Ugly of 2013!


The Good

H Babenco, “Kiss of the Spider Woman”

P Berger, “Blancanieves”

Ingmar Bergman, “Persona”

Ingmar Bergman, “Wild Strawberries”

S Carruth, “Upstream Color”

Jean Cocteau, “La Belle et La Bête”

G Cowperthwaite, “Blackfish”

A Cox, “Repo Man”

M Curtiz, “Casablanca”

K Fukasaku, “Battle Royale”

A Gibney, “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God”

A Hitchcock, “Shadow of a Doubt”

M Kobayashi, “Kwaidan”

H Korine, “Spring Breakers”

A Kurosawa, “The Hidden Fortress”

S Kubrick, “2001: A Space Odyssey”

G Lucas, “THX 1138”

H Miyazaki, “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind”

S Suzuki, “Branded to Kill”

S Suzuki, “Tokyo Drifter”

R Wise, “The Day the Earth Stood Still”


The Bad

Richard Fleischer, “Fantastic Voyage”

P Larrain, “No”

T Miike, “Hara Kiri: Death of a Samurai”

Claude Miller, “Thérèse Desqueyroux”

J Oppenheimer, “The Act of Killing”

C W Park, “Stoker”

M Szumowska, “Elles”


The Plain Ugly

J A Bayona, “The Impossible”

K Bigelow, “Zero Dark Thirty”

Temujin Doran, “Obey”

S Gervasi, “Hitchcock”

Trey Parker, “Team America: World Police”


And fingers crossed, let’s hope that 2014 delivers a batch of new films that will improve on 2013’s lot!

Thanks for all your support and best wishes for the year.



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