Directed by Olivier Assayas
Clouds of Sils Maria feels like a film that rewards multiple viewings. It constantly feels like it’s a few steps ahead of you, which may irritate depending on who you are, but for those who enjoy a bit of mental gymnastics, Clouds should prove a satisfying, Bergman-esque experience, if not becoming a bit too self-reflexive and insular on occasion. A voyeuristic look into the process of fading stardom within the film industry and the struggle to stay relevant within a system that thrives less on artistic skill as a commodity, but rather current trends and the celebrity zeitgeist. The lead performances are mesmerising, and rightfully so, as the pain their characters feel becomes more and more apparent as they slowly come to terms with how little control they ultimately have in deciding their fate.
Directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien
I saw The Assassin at this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF), and it was a strange experience on a few levels. Prior to this, The Assassin won Hou Hsiao-Hsien the Best Director prize at Cannes, so naturally the session I went to was packed out to the brim. Interestingly however, no other session I went to at MIFF had as many walkouts as this one. People were constantly trickling out of the door for the first half of the film. The projector in the cinema was certainly out of focus, but still – who’s to blame for the disparity? The film or the audience? The film plays out in 4:3 aspect ratio, and contains a certain stillness that one would assume Western audiences maintain an aversion towards to this very day. What do most audiences want when they pay their money to see a film? Do they want to be challenged, to be opened up to different cultures, or simply distracted from their own lives for two hours? Who knows. Regardless, The Assassin is by all means a different experience: one that pays tribute to an ancient history and tradition, with a stoic style and form that is as uncommon as you’ll find in today’s contemporary cinema. It may not deliver at an electrifying pace, but it’ll become a film that lingers inside the soul, with every frame filled to the brim with beauty.
Directed by Jim Jarmusch
Jim “King of Cool” Jarmusch shows us life under his Ray-Bans yet again with a story of two lovers, disillusioned by the naivety of human beings and kept together through music and their own esoteric form of company. You can’t help but be drawn in by the mysterious leads, played to perfection by Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston. Featuring a brilliant soundtrack and great, almost self-reflexive dialogue, you can’t help but be reminded of that one fact: there is, and for all eternity, will only be one Jim Jarmusch.
Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche
Winner of the Palme d’Or, Cannes Film Festival 2013
I wasn’t sure what to expect going into “Blue”. What I got was better than anything I could’ve imagined. This film was a thunderbolt to the chest, and Adèle Exarchopoulos is a tremendous force of nature in herself. The coming-of-age film to end all coming-of-age films, “Blue” shares many philosophical and social commentaries with “The Great Beauty”, but instead of keeping the audience at a distance, “Blue” is nothing but incredibly intimate and personal. Heavy on the close-ups, you never lose sight of every painful, confusing and liberating feeling of love shown of Adele’s expressive face. You’re there with her every step of the way, and she fucking owns every single frame. This is cinema the world needs more of. I wish I made this film. A beautiful, beautiful work of art.