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Animation Documentary Features Live Action Movies Top Ten

Top Ten Movies
(and more)
2023

Work in progress – subject to change. Because I am still watching movies released in 2023, so it’s always possible that a new title could usurp the number one in due course. Before that, I have a lot more movies still to add / sort.

All films received either a theatrical or an online release in the UK between 01/01/23 and 31/12/23.

This version includes re-releases, but those aren’t numbered. It’s hard to imagine movies improving on Powell and Pressburger’s i know where i’m going or The Red Shoes, Powell’s Peeping Tom or Von Trier’s Melancholia.

In addition to re-releases, this version also includes films seen in festivals which haven’t had any other UK release in 2023.

The star ratings may occasionally differ from the star rating I gave a particular film at the time of review.

Beyond the first 25 numbered titles, there may be numerous errors (missing links to reviews where I wrote one, year of release, country, and maybe more). All this will be fixed in time, but I wanted to get something online in the holidays.

Finally, last year’s list is here.

Top Ten Movies (and more) 2023

Please click on titles to see reviews. (Links yet to be added.)… Read the rest

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Animation Documentary Features Live Action Movies Shorts

Film Festivals

Click the links below for coverage of:

2023

Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF)

London Korean Film Festival (LKFF)

London East Asia Film Festival (LEAFF)

Cinema Unbound: The Creative Worlds Of Powell + Pressburger

BFI London Film Festival (LFF)

Annecy

Focus Hong Kong

Japan Foundation (JPF) Touring Film Programme

2022

Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF)

London Korean Film Festival (LKFF)

London East Asia Film Festival (LEAFF)

BFI London Film Festival (LFF)

Annecy

Focus Hong Kong Making Waves

BFI Anime 2022

Japan Foundation (JPF) Touring Film Programme

Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival (YIDFF)

Focus Hong Kong Chinese New Year

2021

BFI Japan 2021

MUBI New South Korean Cinema season

London Korean Film Festival (LKFF)

London East Asia Film Festival (LEAFF)

BFI London Film Festival (LFF)

Scotland Loves Anime

Annecy

Japan Foundation (JPF) Touring Film Programme

Or click any of these tags:

Categories
Animation Documentary Features Live Action Movies Shorts

The Picks that spoiled our film critic!

Jeremy Clarke returns to the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival in order to cover the Critics’ Picks section (which is now on its second year); he encounters what’s probably the strongest section of the event

Some people have a fear of flying. I don’t, but dislike of all the bureaucratic paraphernalia that surrounds airports. Not to mention London’s transport system, which is good most of the time, but not so much when it goes wrong. Coming home from the Festival last year, I got caught up in a tube strike. That didn’t happen this year. Indeed, the travel to and from the airport worked better for a number of reasons.

One was that the Festival’s hospitality team were kind enough to book my flights to and from Heathrow. This meant I could use the Elizabeth Line to travel to and from the airport. I currently live on the Victoria Line, which connects directly with three major rail terminals (Kings Cross, Euston, Victoria) but not the Elizabeth Line. The Elizabeth was all a bit too new last year, but Londoners who frequently travel into the centre of town as I do have got rather more used to it, and the Oxford Circus (Victoria Line) to Bond Street (Central Line) to Heathrow (Elizabeth Line) is reasonably easy to navigate.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The Old Man
And The Land

Director – Nicholas Parish – 2023 – UK – Cert. none – 100m

*****

As he works on the land, an aging farmer hears his two adult children argue about the future of the family farm – premieres in the Critics’ Picks Competition at the 27th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

Movies. You think everything’s been done, then along comes something you’ve never seen before. Or, in this case, seen or heard before.

The Old Man in question is an English farmer (Roger Marten) whose family have worked the land for generations. He’s getting on in years, so won’t be around forever. His wife died a while ago, so he’s now running the farm on his own. He has two children who have long since grown up and left home: a son (voice: Rory Kinnear) and a daughter (voice: Emily Beecham), and the big question is, when he dies, will they take over – or will they get rid of the farm?

In recent years, the UK has produced a number of rural movies that stand in stark contrast to the urban- (Often London-) based films produced. Quite a few of these have been about farms or farmers (e.g.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Mrs.

Director – Arati Kadev – 2023 – India – Cert. none – 111m

****

After getting married, a woman is expected to work cheerfully from dawn to dusk, waiting on the menfolk of the house hand and foot – premieres in the Critics’ Picks Competition at the 27th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

This is the Hindi remake of Malaysian film The Great Indian Kitchen (Jeo Baby, 2021).

It starts off cheerfully enough with a big song and dance routine with lots of percussion instruments in which the heroine Richa (Sanya Malhotra), who we later learn is a keen amateur choreographer, shows off various Bollywood dance moves in sync with her fellow dancers. You wouldn’t know it from the cleverly constructed trailer, but there are surprisingly few song and dance routines overall for a Bollywood production – the only two complete numbers take place right at the start and right at the end, with the film’s running length at just under two hours a lot shorter than your average, three hour, Bollywood epic which tends to interrupt the action for a song every five minutes. In that sense, the whole thing feels surprisingly Western.

In another sense, the first hour or so doesn’t feel Western at all.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Fez Summer ’55
(” 55″ خمسة وخمسين)

Director – Abdelhai Laraki – 2023 – Morocco – Cert. none – 114m

****

An 11-year-old boy navigates the rooftops of a Moroccan city while insurgents plot the overthrow of French colonialists in private courtyards and sometimes confront the occupying police in the streets – premieres in the Critics’ Picks Competition at the 27th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

The old medina of Moroccan city Fez, a lattice of narrow streets where there is room for no more than pedestrian traffic. Or, to 11-year-old boy Kamal (Ayman Driwi), a network of rooftops and walkways allowing him to go anywhere. His freedom on the top of the city stands in sharp contrast to the country’s political reality: occupied by France, with their police patrolling the streets. The locals either keep their heads down or agitate for the return of their exiled ruler, Sultan Mohammed V.

The story is very much told from Kamal’s point of view. He is at once possessed of a child’s enthusiasm for life and from his rooftop vantage point able to see things unseen by most of the narrative’s adults most of the time. Yet, he is hampered by his immaturity and lack of understanding of what’s really going on.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The Land
Where Winds
Stood Still
(Zhel Toqtaghan Zher)

Director – Ardak Amirkulov – 2023 – Kazakhstan – Cert. none – 108m

*****

A Kazakh mother made homeless by Soviet policy must protect her two sons in the harsh environment of the Steppes – premieres in the Critics’ Picks Competition at the 27th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

An historical, period, survival movie. In the wake of the Russian Revolution, Soviet forced collectivisation polices, intended to have a levelling effect, instead forced Kazakh peasants off the land and led to the famine of the early 1930s. People were reduced to eating livestock essential for agricultural production, not to mention each other.

In a barren Steppes landscape loosely reminiscent of the Spaghetti Western, mother Jupar and her two pre-teenage sons Jolan and Boshay must survive mounted gunmen, starvation, extreme weather, wolves, and hungry fellow human beings. Jupar carries a concealed knife within her clothing and will stop at nothing to protect her kids in one of the most powerful expressions of motherhood ever to grace the screen.

Their seeming nomadic existence is however not without purpose; she has to get them to the eponymous Land, the village where she was born, and safety. Yet the dangers they face on the way are legion.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Observing
(Opazovanje)

Director – Janez Burger – 2023 – Slovenia, Italy, Croatia, North Macedonia – Cert. none – 83m

*****

A paramedic must deal with the aftermath of a man being kicked unconscious after people watch the incident on social media livestreaming – plays in the spirit of the Critics’ Picks Competition at the 27th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

The sounds of a man (Vito Weiss) being beaten up by others. No images. Mercifully.

If you lived in Slovenia, you’d be familiar with a news story about a man who was beaten up by others who livestreamed the event over social media, picking up an audience of 20 000, out of whom only a negligible number, maybe a handful, thought to call the police. That incident was the starting point for this film, which is an attempt to come to term with such events.

It’s a drama based around the three-person ambulance detail who find themselves picking up the victim of the livestreamed attack. He’s in a bad way and winds up in intensive care. Most of the ambulance pickups either die on the way to or in hospital, or they make a full recovery; this man, however, remains stable but unconscious in the ICU with no sign of either recovery or lapse.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Nobody Leaves Alive
(Ninguém Sai Vivo Daqui)

Director – André Ristum – 2023 – Brazil – Cert. none – 86m

****

After a woman is incarcerated in Brazil’s notorious Colonia psychiatric hospital simply because she is pregnant outside of marriage, her hold on reality starts to disintegrate – premieres in the Critics’ Picks Competition at the 27th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

Lovingly shot in a stylish black and white that both makes the whole thing feel like a dream and detracts from any sense of reality, this opens with a young woman being bundled by two men into what looks like a cattle truck. Inside the truck are other people, and the group is clearly being sent somewhere specific.

Once off the train they are frogmarched down a country track, through some wrought metal gates of late 19th / early 20th Century design and into a hallway where they are separated into men and women and the women (since it is one woman’s story we are following here) are taken to a large, tiled room and hosed down by two women, the younger of whom is Laura.

Then the woman we are following is taken for interview with a man who denies he’s a doctor. Her name is Elisa, and she explains there’s been some sort of mix-up.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Light Falls

Director – Phedon Papamichael – 2023 – Georgia, Greece, Albania, Germany – Cert. none – 90m
*****

A Greek island, a lesbian couple from L.A., migrant Albanian workers, a racist cop, and an abandoned brutalist hotel… What could possibly go wrong? – terrific thriller premieres in the Critics’ Picks Competition at the 27th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

Photographer Ella (Nini Nebieridze) and her girlfriend Clara (Elensio aka Elene Makharashvili), Georgians resident in L.A., are holidaying on a Greek island. On the same island, three Albanian youths – two brothers, the older Altin (Jurgen Marku) and the younger Eddy (Juxhin Plovishti), and their cocksure friend Veton (Silvio Goskova) – hang around in the hope of running into rich Western tourists they can fleece. Certainly, when a rich English couple drive up in a nice car and ask the where the nearest pharmacy is (the three don’t speak English), it looks like the three are going to do something awful to them. But then, the man sensibly drives off. The audience is left with a sense of dread.

The three Albanian men have just been turned away from a restaurant when the two L.A. girls enter, hang out, and learn from friendly locals where they can rent a 50cc Vesper (no licence needed).… Read the rest