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  • Writer's pictureKev Reynolds

Cinema 2020: Some Mid-Year Thoughts

Updated: Jun 15, 2020

I had the striking thought the other day that March the 3rd was the last time I entered a cinema. That's over three months ago! Although there are far greater things to be thinking and worrying about at the moment, the notion of it being so long ago got my mind ticking over as to what my favourite films so far this year might be. So, i decided to make a list...

It has been partly influenced by the arrival of Parasite on Blu-ray this week - ready for a sophomore run-through. A second viewing that I shall relish!

So without any real demand, and zero ceremonial pomp - a top 5! I'll look back at this later in the year when the future of cinema exhibition is a bit more clear. Who knows if I'll have much of an opportunity to revise it. For now, this is how I feel.

5) 1917 (Sam Mendes)

A technical exercise par-excellence and one that also works on an emotional level, to a greater than expected amount. Aside from the slight stunt casting of a few of British cinema's greatest names in minuscule parts - Hello Colin Firth! Bye Colin Firth! - Mendes and cinematographer Roger Deakins conjure up some of the most beautiful images of the year so far.

One particular sequence in Escoust-Saint-Mein might have the most striking use of limited lighting in a scene of any film this year.

4) The Personal History of David Copperfield (Armando Iannucci)

As an adaptation of an acclaimed Charles Dickens novel, this had a lot of expectation of greatness placed upon it. Especially coming from Armando Iannucci, whose last film The Death of Stalin, a graphic novel adaptation no-less, had some of the greatest examples of gallows humour seen in a British film for a good while.

Luckily Mr. Iannucci, whose televisual, satirical, masterworks The Day Today and The Thick Of It are among my favourite small-screen comedies, has crafted an often very funny script that strikes the right balance between respect for the source material and modern visual flourishes and touches.

This is highlighted by the use of ethnic and colour-blind casting that should be the model for any modern retelling of a classic: reflect today’s society and your audience. It helps that he has Dev Patel, who is utterly charming and hilarious in the lead.

3) The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers)

A singular cinematic experience. It could be described as David Lynch meets Promethean myth, with a dash of Moby Dick, and one that demands to be seen on as large a screen as possible.

With striking imagery, including a truly horrific moment involving a seagull, and inspired performances from a bedraggled and flatulent Willem Defoe and a nervy and oddball Robert Pattinson, this is destined to be a cult classic. The former actor continuing his run of fine performances and the latter confirming himself as one of the most interesting character actors in films at the moment after his great leading performances in the likes of Good Time and High Life.

2) Uncut Gems (Josh Safdie & Benny Safdie)

The Sandman takes one of his bi-annual holidays from Netflix distributed comedies to take on a dramatic performance and probably puts in the greatest turn of his career- one that feels cruelly denied some recognition at the Oscars.

After scoring critically with the aforementioned Good Time, the Safdie brothers push him and their heightened reality, grime-laden, aesthetics further into what ostensibly becomes a roller-coaster adrenaline ride, fueled by the anxiety-inducing decision making of their protagonist, Howard Ratner (Sandler), who is always trying to score that little bit higher. It also features a surprisingly great performance by Kevin Garnett, essaying the ultimate actors challenge - portraying himself!

1) Parasite (Bong Joon Ho)

I probably haven't laughed as much at a film in a cinema in recent years as I did during the first 30 minutes of this film. Beyond being an amazing and biting piece of satirical film making, trying to decode all of the class structure symbolism is a task in itself and makes this worthy of multiple viewings. For all the importance of it being the first foreign picture to win the best picture at the Oscars - although certainly not the first film worthy of taking that title - its greatest victory is being the best film out the group of nominees and converting that into a victory. Sometimes that doesn't happen.

Hopefully, the success of Parasite means the Academy will continue to think outside of the box with their choices.

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