A Young Doctor’s Notebook & Other Stories [inspired by writings of Mikhail Bulgakov]
“All unpleasant sensations stop completely. Man’s inner powers are manifested at their absolute peak. And if I had not been spoiled by my medical training, I would say that a man can only work normally after an injection of morphine.” - A Country Doctor’s Notebook
Here at OCD, we like to do things slightly differently, like wait until the end of January to publish our ‘Best of 2013’ list.
So here are the top ten films we saw last year, we cannot recommend every single one enough:
1. Blue is the Warmest Colour (La Vie D'Adele)
Winner of the Palme d'Or, Abdellatif Kechiche’s masterpiece, starring Adele Exarchopoulos & Lea Seydoux, is one of the best films I have seen in my entire life, let alone in the last year. Beautifully shot, mind-blowing and heart-wrenching performances. Simply stunning, a cinematic masterpiece. How storytelling should always be done. Watch out particularly for the bar scene at the beginning (above) and the cafe scene at the end, the most moving and truthful character and relationship development you’ll ever see.
2. Short Term 12
Adapted into a feature by Destin Cretton from his own short film of 2008, Short Term 12 is nuanced, delicate storytelling with a powerful message at its heart. Brie Larson shines as Grace, a supervisor at a residential treatment facility taking care of everyone but herself. The young cast provide brilliant support, particularly Keith Stanfield and Kaitlyn Dever as Marcus and Jayden, the rap sequence and shark story will steal your hearts.
3. 12 Years A Slave
Steve McQueen. Chiwetel Ejiofor. Michael Fassbender. Lupita Nyong'o. A true story so important and so moving, it’s difficult to understand why it isn’t widely known.
4. Side Effects
Very rarely am I tricked when watching a film. Soderbergh managed it here, and I loved every second of it. Mara steals the show as the troubled Emily, with great turns from Law & Zeta-Jones as two of the Doctors who treat her. A carefully crafted plot, allowed to play out beautifully by Soderbergh, in what was - at the time - to be his final film.
Watch it. Then make everyone you know watch it. You won’t believe it until you see it, then you’ll start to question a whole lot of things. Heart-breaking, anger-inducing. FUCK SEAWORLD.
7. In A World…
Winner of 'Best Screenplay’ at Sundance 2013, you’ll understand why only a minutes into the film. Bell manages to take a concept that on paper seems pretty dull, and turns it into a hilarious, moving, and brilliantly human film, where not one word is wasted. Not only the writer and director, Bell captains the film as its lead, one that you fall in love with instantly, and root for against all odds. Peppered with bizarre and brilliant cameos, with a great supporting cast, In A World will leave you grinning from ear to ear, and have you speaking in a trailer voice for weeks.
8. The East
Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling’s second feature-length collaboration might not have the diamond-in-the-rough charm of 'Sound of My Voice’ but its a film that proves they’re more than a match for - and better than - the big players of Hollywood. A bigger (but still modest) budget allows for a more adventurous story, better cinematography and a cast including some of the best actors currently on the scene - particularly Ellen Page and Toby Kebbell. As with everything Marling, Batmaglij (and fellow collaborator Mike Cahill) seem to touch, you are guaranteed quality story telling told in an unconventional and thought-provoking fashion. It’s difficult to remind ourselves that these talented filmmakers haven’t been around for long. We cannot wait to see what’s next.
9. The Bling Ring
Somewhat overlooked by many, Sofia Coppola’s 'The Bling Ring’ is a very well put together piece of cinema. The story lacks depth, but so do those the story centres on, the shallow, celebrity-obsessed, media-fuelled youth - so in that respect it is a perfect representation of everything Coppola is trying to say. The performances from the five leads are pitch perfect, they are easy to hate and yet we can find ourselves very easily sucked into their world, wanting to see just how far they will get. Based on a shocking true story, the film is beautifully shot, and there are certain facts uncovered that suddenly make the story seem inevitable, in fact, why had this not happened before? Coppola lets the story breathe, which works wonders, she doesn’t need to preach anything, she simply holds up a mirror up to Hollywood, and Hollywood does the rest. It’s not a pretty sight.
10. The Call
The film last year that we found ourselves sitting on the edge of our seats throughout. The film we saw last year that had the most active audience participation. People were gripping their seat arms, shouting out 'No!’ on multiple occasions. If you wipe from your memory the last 60-90 seconds of the film, you have yourselves the perfect example of a thriller.
So ok,Oscar fever is still here-there are some films that deserved a nod for 2014 and surprinsgly it is one of those anticipated films of that year after reading it from BFI.
Belle (2013)-Amma Asante
Dido Elizabeth Belle: I have been blessed with freedom twice over, as a negro and as a woman.
Before I jump to this review,my sis and I are talking my thoughts of it (She came in last minute after I finished it) interested in the painting
This is my talking point as I show screen caps of what I watched on how the blacks are painted. It leads me to one of my soft spot films-Amazing Grace (2007)
A few years ago,in discovery of my teen years-about William Wiberforce (played by Ioan Gruffudd,who is Henry Morgan in Forever)-the father of abolishment of slavery,and with William Pitt (Benedict Cumberbatch-now oscar nominee for The Imitation Game). What is interesting that it was told in a white man’s perspective,driven by religion (with mingling of John Netwon who wrote the beloved Amazing Grace). The only woman who is significant-Barbara Spooner (Romola Garai-Bel Rowly of the Hour) plays a small role in the film and pretty much the only stake is a White man’s world to save the society for a cause of godly conscience (No offence-I loved this film but that is not my case)
However let me talk about the subject Belle,a lady of great intelligence played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Whovians would recognise her as Martha’s sister in The Lazarus Experiment). I am extremely moved by her sheer determination,she is not painted broadly but as a layer persona like the painting. The part where she found about the horrors,is absolutely heartbreaking and should have been placed as one of the oscar nominees this year. That anguish,the playfulness and of course her sheer will is placed with closeups of the face-never feitshed.
The supporting actors like Tom Wilkison as Lord Mansfield (Hey a Grand Budapest cast member!) as the uncle,is moving and Sam Stein,as the idealist lawyer is proved wonderful with Gugu’s chemistry.
The cinematography-mannnnn it was incredible-it reminded me of Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon and if you observed-lots of rack focus on her to show her silence and of course the use of shadows til the second half.
That is not my point,what strikes me is not the romance,but for her as an individual. The paintings which Dido saw all her entire life- portrayed Africans as helpless figures-looking to the whites as the oncoming messiahs (Hell she is freaking anxious when she heard about the paintings)
It is no longer the colonial gaze,she has to fight-it was her gender where women are not allowed to express their opinions of themselves. This is where it was untouched in my opinion in period films-A man can say whatever he wants but not her. That what makes it incredible,and hoping to see. Dido has her own wits,to appreciate culture in light of Handel and Purcell but also a mind to stand what is right. The script does justice to such an enigmatic figure-who gives about the slavery-it was a journey we go as an audience.
She is not like her namesake-Dido,left behind to cry over the lover at sea (there is a paraell of her real father leaving her). She withstand the flames of prejudice of society and her peers to be a better person. It may be saddening to hear that there are no living testaments of her legacy (I hear that she has an unmarked grave and all is lost til the 70’s) but this film shows the triumph of a woman in her times,where is repressive and if not unforgivable. To me,as a young asian woman-that is incredible.
I ended up having to take out a few minutes in the middle of my film, and had to scrap a good number of shots in the middle of production. I
still like some of them, a lot of this segment was subtle body movements
which I actually enjoy animating.