Top 10 films of 2015

by Ben Diamond

 

It’s the anal-retentive’s most cherished of Christmas presents – The End-of-Year List.  In reverse chronological order of viewing…

10. Taxi Tehran (review)

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I loved all the formal and meta-tricks going on in this one.  Very philosophical, very political, very accessible, funny and charming.  The idea of driving around in a taxi lent this film a mixture of claustrophobic confinement and a nervous energy, a very literal momentum.

9. By Our Selves (review)

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Admittedly, not as good as Kötting and Sinclair’s last adventure, Swandown, but I commend these two for going on a psychogeographical jaunt around Albion, retracing the steps of our forgotten national treasure, the poet John Clare.  These images are what Stewart Lee sees when he closes his eyes after he’s drunk his last ale of the evening.

8. 45 Years

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Perhaps, perhaps, a film for older people, older couples.  But the idea that things you do in the early days of a relationship come back to haunt you decades later stayed with me.  As a person in their mid twenties, I took this film as a challenge to look at my life and try to spot the seeds of destruction I’m already sowing…

7. The Falling

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I remember sitting through this and thinking halfway through that it had descended into silliness, but The Falling stayed with me for months after, especially the orchestrated faintings, en masse.  Grand choreography.  So much strangeness.  The possibilities for drawing parallels between the central mass-hysteria metaphor and all the other incidences of mass-hysteria in our daily lives are endless.

6. Wild Tales

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Six unrelated Argentinian shorts, all directed by Damián Szifron, stitched together into one anthology film.  Not entirely consistent in quality, but there’s enough humour, invention and savagery to see you through to the end.  My favourite was ‘El más fuerte‘, one of the funniest and most violent things I have ever seen.  The spirit of Bottom and Rik Mayall was looming large over that one.

5. Appropriate Behavior

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Featuring the most awkward threesome scene you’re ever likely to see.  Desiree Akhavan – just as funny and talented as Lena Dunham.  Perhaps less annoying, too.

4. It Follows

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I don’t go for horror films – but I went for this, massively.  The creepiness factor here was absolutely nuts.  Fantastic soundtrack, too.  A sudden noise can scare you, but a threatening person walking towards you in a long take from a distance will scar you for weeks.  Also love this one because it reminded me of the power of the multiplex after midnight on a Friday when you’re the only one watching in the cinema.  On the walk back to the car after, I kept looking from left to right.

3. The Duke of Burgundy

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Even writing this annoys me, as it reminds me that I’ll probably have to wait another few years until Peter Strickland’s next film.  Both this and Berberian Sound Studio are amazing and unique.  Stan Brakhage and Belle de Jour are just some of the influences on display.  Deeply sexual, deeply unsettling, hats off too to Cat’s Eyes for lovely weird music to accompany the whole thing.

2. Leviathan

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If you want to try and understand modern Russia, you need to do two things.  The first is to read Emmanuel Carrère’s book Limonov, and the second is to watch this.

1. Whiplash

Whiplash

J. K. Simmons.  Terrifying.  It’s not really about the music.  Exhausting to watch.  Won’t be taking up the drums any time soon.  Will probably stick to the stylophone for now.  Anyone want to form a skiffle band?

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