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Films of the Year 2014 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sheila Seacroft   
04 01 2015

ImageIt's been funny old year. Many of the films I expected a lot of, revered by many critics, turned out, for me, to be disappointing. The perils of high expectations! Mr Turner, Winter's Sleep, even Leviathan, much as I enjoyed it, underwhelmed me. Even the universally admired 12 Years a Slave, though powerful, graphic and hugely important, seemed to have a whiff of Hollywood gloss about it that stopped it from being truly as great as its ambitions. So here, in no particular order, are the films I've enjoyed most in 2014.

LE P'TIT QUINQUIN (Bruno Dumont) As soon as I'd seen this film I wanted to start watching it again! Made as a four-part TV serial, this 3-hour 20-minute film nevertheless makes for a perfect cinematic experience. Who'd have thought dour, difficult Dumont had so much humour in him? From an early shot of a cow suspended high in the air watched by a gang of delighted young rascals and serious-faced policemen, it never lets up in its funny, surreal, disturbing, touching and wrong-footing picture of rural life just across the Channel. A fabulous cast of odd-looking coves, many non-professional, topped by the wonderful young Alane Delhaye as the roguish but touching Quinquin himself, makes it probably my top film of the year.

INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIES (Joel & Ethan Coen) What a long time ago it seems. Llewyn is a hapless, likeable folk singer of some talent, skidding down the back streets and highways of 60s America. We join him on his entertaining and poignant journey of professional and personal self-destruction over a week around the folk clubs and shabby apartments of bohemian New York. As usual the Coens produce an utterly irresistible combination of fun and painful melancholy.

ImageLOCKE (Steven Knight) Best British film of the year. One-man bravura performance by Tom Hardy as builder Ivan Locke driving through the night beset by impending potential disasters, professional and personal. All filmed inside a car, it shouldn't work as cinema but, marvellously, it does, visuals matching the steadily building personal drama and occasional comedy. Thrilling, moving and totally absorbing.

BLUE RUIN (Jeremy Saulnier) A vengeance film with a difference, as Dwight, mild mannered hobo, scrubs up and sets out to avenge his parents. The colours of blood, grime and decay flavour this highly original film as the reluctant but determined fury crashes his breathless way across unremarkable middle America.

THE LEGO MOVIE (Phil Lord & Christopher Miller) Good films don't always have to be a hard-won, difficult pleasure. Family audiences often get fobbed off with easy and soppy stuff, but here's one that's clever, highly entertaining, actually meaningful without preaching, and a visual delight. I defy anyone not to be taken up by this film. It really is awesome, in fact, and, well, even that irritating song is as guiltily pleasant as getting toffee stuck round your teeth.

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (Jim Jarmusch). I loved this film. It may be self indulgent and just plain daft at times, but this whimsical story of two self-obsessed modern day vampires living in Detroit and Marrakesh is in so many ways how cinema should be - gorgeous, fluid, witty, dreamlike.

ImageTHE GOLDEN DREAM ( LA JAULA DE ORO, Diego Quemada-Diez) A the opposite end of the spectrum of what cinema can do, this naturalistic film by a disciple of Ken Loach, using untrained actors and set in dusty reality, is the best of any I've seen (and there have been a few lately) that show the desperation of the bright young of the third world to make themselves better lives, as we travel with three of them from Guatamala towards the false golden dream of the US. Moving and suspenseful.

And, one pleasing oddball, still not seen on release in the UK and not, to be honest, likely to be: THE SECOND GAME (AL DOILEA JOC, Corneliu Porumboiu), a film consisting entirely of an old TV recording of a football match between the two Bucharest teams 25 years ago, with off-screen comments by the Porumboiu and his father, a top referee at the time, may not sound that thrilling, but Porumboiu, one of Romania's finest directors, has made a film that grows in stature as you stick with it, a strange unexpected portrait not just of the tragic-comic pre-revolution state of Romania but of the unexpected heroism of everyday and the weird power and absurdity of football.

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