Review of Films I’ve seen in 2015
Dear Under Southern Eyes Readers,
Another year, another summary of the films seen over the past 12 calendar months!
I must say that of the films released in 2015 that I saw, most were mediocre. A trend I’ve noticed of late is for recent British historical drama flicks like M Tyldum’s “The Imitation Game”, J Marsh’s “The Theory of Everything” and S Gavron’s “Suffragette” is to take actual historical events and fictionalise them with the intent of inserting a current political agenda not at all relevant to the original events themselves. This may be intended to make the events and their historical context seem more “real” or “authentic” to modern audiences but also has the potential to distort these events and their context in ways that do not do justice to the events themselves and the people involved in them. At worst these events can be used to justify actions or policies that could go against the public interest, serve agendas that are plainly undemocratic and unjust, and/or even backfire against those groups whose interests are supposedly being upheld by the films. This is something that I noticed especially with “Suffragette”, in which a working class character is essentially being exploited by a middle class movement and whose relations with her family, her community and her class are destroyed as a result. The film purports to support women’s rights, particularly their rights to custody of their children during family break-ups but the way in which this is done in “Suffragette” looks deliberately confrontational to the point where it seems stereotyped.
As usual Hollywood continued on its merry way churning out tired and unoriginal blockbuster dreck based on Marvel and DC Comics characters and I managed to avoid seeing most such new releases. On the other hand, free films at the New South Wales Art Gallery and DVDs borrowed from my local library cheered me up – proof that finding and seeing good quality cinema does not need to burn holes through your hip pocket. One unexpected bonus was finding old Charlie Chaplin films at my local library.
Of the films I saw at the cinema, the best were A Garland’s “Ex Machina”, an intelligent if modestly budgeted sci-fi flick in which a robot proved more human and the humans proved more robot in mind if not physically; J Vanderbilt’s “Truth” which worked fairly well in detailing how governments force the news media to massage their product into propaganda; G Pontecorvo’s “The Battle of Algiers”; and Pasolini’s “The Gospel According to St Matthew”. The most entertaining documentary I saw (either on Youtube or on the big screen) was Zachary Maxwell’s “Yuck! A 4th Grader’s Short Documentary about School Lunch”
At the other extreme, J Oppenheimer’s “The Loss of Silence”, the companion to his earlier “The Act of Killing”, was boring and pointless, and Avi Lewis’ “This Changes Everything” was quite shallow. Kim Kiduk’s “Pieta” was a frustrating waste of my time and all I can say is the less I say about it, the better. Zvyagintsev’s “Leviathan” was another film that mocked ordinary people and their efforts to survive and thrive under circumstances in which everything was pitted against them.
So onwards into 2016 … while I have no hope for Hollywood and the British film industry, I am hopeful that there’ll be some pleasant surprises from far below (and above) my radar. Let’s hope 2016 is a better year for film than 2015 was!
Cheers to all!
Nausika / Under Southern Eyes