#10: Killer Joe
Director: William Friedkin
Genre: (Black) Comedy
In order to settle a life-threatening debt, a young drug dealer, Emile Hirsch, hires a corrupt cop, Matthew McConaughey, to kill his mother in order to collect the insurance money. The theatrical poster deems it “a Totally twisted deep-fried Texas redneck trailer park murder story”, and that’s exactly what it is. When you go to KFC you’ve got a hankering for some greasy, immoral, finger-lickin’ pleasure and once you’ve eaten your chicken you feel both sick and satisfied which is not unlike the experience of watching Killer Joe.
Friedkin’s return to form, he ain’t made a decent film since the 80’s, is bold and refreshing. This film is relentless in its violent and sexual content and is certainly not for the most sensitive viewers out there, particularly die-hard Matthew McConaughey (rom-com mode) fans. The thing to remember is that this film is a comedy and it is a true delight to see such twisted and controversial content taken so lightly. There’s nothing worse than “hard-hitting trailer park drama/thrillers” and Killer Joe takes that dirty, cliche subgenre, deep fries it two times over and turns it into a twisted laughing stock.
#9: The Master
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
PT Anderson strikes again! What a little freak, right? Shot in mouth-watering 65mm film, and projected in selected theaters in 70mm, The Master is nothing short of mesmerising. More-so than Anderson’s previous efforts, The Master has been accused of being slow and boring. I won’t deny that this film can be difficult to sit through but it had all the right ingredients to keep me engaged, and I have a short attention span.
The Master explores the day-to-day activities of a cult known as ‘The Cause’, based on the practices of Scientology. Despite the fact that there are few plot developments I found it fascinating to watch the cult’s bizarre interviews and exercises play out.
The performances by the three leads are more than something to behold. Joaquin (please win the Oscar) Phoenix, back from his I’m Still Here hiatus, plays the troubled World War II veteran who is taken in by the cult. His performance as unpredictable as his character, keeps you hanging with every movement (and non-movement!). Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays the charismatic and cooky ‘Master’ of ‘The Cause’. He makes the most ridiculous and infuriating concepts seem enchanting to even myself, the viewer. He is a true hypnotist. The beloved Amy Adams shows another side of her talents as she steps out of the comfort zone of her usual sweet/comedic roles as the Master’s assertive wife.
If 65mm film, the peculiar goings-on of cults, and spellbinding performances aren’t enough to tickle your fancy, then perhaps alternative maestro, Johnny Greenwood, would have something to say about that with his magical film score! It’s classic Hollywood fare with an art-rock spin.
Behold! The Master
Director: Sam Mendes
As a fairly devoted fan of the 007 series I can honestly say that Skyfall is the best Bond film since Goldeneye (1995). It’s the perfect gateway film for both classic Bond fans (Connery to Brosnan) and Casino Royale (2006) fans. It continues the Daniel Craig franchise smoothly whilst injecting some of the old-school flare we’ve been missing from the classic series, and it does it with style. Whilst it shares a similar running time with Casino Royale it doesn’t feel as long. This installment to the franchise sees Bond spending less time developing romantic relationships and more time getting to know a colourful villain (Javier Bardem in yet another iconic villainous role) and playing with new (in some cases “old”) toys. Suit up for this classy Action Drama, ‘cos it’s a doozy!
#7: Berberian Sound Studio
Director: Peter Strickland
I don’t think this one’s had a theatrical release yet, I saw it at the Melbourne International Film Festival, but this is a film worth searching for. It’s about a British sound engineer, Gilderoy (Toby Jones), who finds himself recording sound foley for a giallo film in Italy. Shit gets crazy for Gilderoy when the film’s horrors manifest themselves in his reality.
!!! Think Blow Out (1981) meets Kill Baby Kill (1966), if you love giallo films and movies about film-making, Berberian Sound Studio is your ultimate wet-dream.
Director: Rian Johnson
What a bloody show! If you wanna excite CK, release a Sci-Fi film about time-traveling assassins and cast two of his favourite actors, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, and get them to play each other!
For me, the deal was done with the concept. The fact that JGL was playing a younger version of Bruce Willis alone was enough to make me hot, but a Sci-Fi written and directed by indie-filmmaker Rian Johnson? Woof! The only way this film could go wrong for me was if it was poorly made, and considering its pedigree, there was no way that was gonna happen.
Looper is an awesome Sci-Fi thriller with some cool ideas and a couple of landmark sequences. It’s slickly directed and the cast are loads of fun. Unfortunately, the film is not without its flaws. Looper had the potential to be the film of the year, even the decade, but it didn’t explore its grand ideas in any great depth. I suppose if it had done so, it would have been a much smaller film and quite possibly may never have been made. You’ve gotta give Johnson credit for making a crowd pleasing high-concept Sci-Fi that is actually good. Looper may not be the Blade Runner of our generation but I’ll settle for a contemporary Luc Besson style Sci-Fi/Action yarn.