WELL, that’s enough Olympics and politics for now. No more with the honest sweat and the sour sweat. Time to talk films instead. I do like a good film and the occasional bad one, too.
BBC Culture has just released one of those lists designed to get people talking or arguing. But before moving onto the best films of recent memory, here is a film of very recent memory. And not a good one, sadly.
On Saturday we had the sort of afternoon I like: a pint in the Brew York warehouse followed by a film at City Screen. Such outings are not often allowed during the gardening season, but I took advantage of a poor weather forecast.
The only decent-looking film on at a convenient time was Wiener-Dog, directed by Todd Solondz, not a director whose work I know, even though I do love a good American indie film.
Wiener-Dog is a strange affair, a loose bag of episodes linked by the presence of a rather noble sausage dog. There are four stories…
One: a young boy recovering from cancer, but unlikely to recover from his awful parents or their cold, clean house, is given a Wiener-Dog as a pet, only for them to arrange to have it put down following an extreme episode of doggy diarrhoea.
Two: the condemned dog is spirited away by the vet’s assistant (Greta Gerwig), a bruised soul who gets herself into a sort of relationship with a drugged-out sort of friend.
Three: The dog (the same dog – who knows?) is now owned by a film lecturer and failed screenwriter called Dave Schmerz (Danny DeVito), who hates his students almost as much as they despise him.
Four: Now rechristened Cancer, the dog is owned by an irascible old woman (Ellen Burstyn) who is visited by her negligent granddaughter, who stumbles through the small-talk, watched by the dusty trinkets and ornaments of a lifetime, before getting to the point: she wants to borrow money, $10,000 this time.
All the performances are good, especially Zosia Mamet as the grasping girl and DeVito as the bitter man who cannot see beyond his own sense of failure. But the film doesn’t hang together, feels dissatisfying and is almost relentlessly depressing.
The BBC’s list does away with the idea of nominating the greatest films of all time, but instead goes for that category of recent memory. Matthew Anderson, the editor of BBC Culture, wanted to honour the “films that most people feel strongly about”.
He asked 177 film critics from 36 countries to nominate their ten favourite films, and used this poll to compile a list of the 100 best films of recent memory.
The most popular directors in the list, who had three films apiece, were Wes Anderson, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Christopher Nolan, Michael Haneke, Paul Thomas Anderson and Joel and Ethan Coen.
I was pleased to see the Coen Brothers in there, having seen all their films since Blood Simple, and happy too that Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel – one of my recent favourites – made the list.
Topping the list is David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive (pictured above), that creepy, dreamy puzzle of a movie: I lovingly worried over that film at the time, but haven’t seen it for years.
Other featured films that seem like good choices to me include Sophia Coppola’s Lost In Translation, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, the Coen Brothers’ No Country For Old Men, Christopher Nolan’s Memento, and Michael Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Oh, and I was pleased by the inclusion of Tomas Alfredson’s Swedish romantic horror film Let The Right One In, the chilliest vampire move ever – touchingly sad, too, and visually striking, with blood among the snow of an anonymous housing estate.
Ah, you can’t beat a good list.