Waltz with Bashir
Ari Folman’s animated documentary about the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and the massacres in the Palestinian refugee camps Sabra and Shatila is one of the best war movies ever made and hands-down the most beautiful film of the year.
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
Arguably the worst date movie of all time: set in Rumania during the dying days of the Ceausescu regime filmmaker Christian Mungiu tells the story of two students trying to obtain an illegal abortion. Amazing performances and gorgeous ultra-realist cinematography won this the Golden Palm at Cannes. Few of us get to experience the pleasure of living under a soul-crushing communist regime so this is a good way to experience that overwhelming sense of paranoia and perpetual doom in the comfort of your own home.
Man on Wire
The weird, fascinating story of French dare-devil Phillipe Petit and his obsessive quest to walk on a tightrope between the two towers of the Manhattan World Trade Center.
Filmed and set in Iceland before the country went bankrupt and they all had to go back to lives as fishermen, this thriller is based on one of Arnaldur Indriason’s intense, bleakly funny thrillers. The murder of elderly men, rape of young women, dead babies kept in jars – what else do you look for in an evenings entertainment?
Guy Maddin’s dream-history of his home city Winnipeg, Manitoba – ‘the sleep-walking capital of the world’. Psychic rivers run beneath the city, historical figures vomit ectoplasm. Rumour has it the film was financed by the Tourism Board of Manitoba who must have been aghast when they saw what their funding had wrought.
(A word of warning, My Winnipeg IS pretty weird and not to everyone’s taste. You might want to check out the trailer before you rent the DVD.)
The Dark Knight
Batman fights the war on terror; Christopher Nolan’s sprawling, confused parable in which the Joker is Osama bin Laden and Batman represents President Bush, VP Cheney and the CIA is both a demented far-right fantasy and an outstanding action film whatever your political persuasion.
Up the Yangtze
The mind-numbing pace and scale of modern China is illustrated by this documentary about the lives of two teenagers who get work on a riverboat hauling western tourists up the Yangtze river, past the drowning cities and farms soon to sink forever beneath the waters of the Three Gorges dam.
Edge of Heaven
Turkish-German film about the complicated relationship between the two countries tells three intersecting stories in which the subjects try to find happiness, through sex, love, revolution, travel and redemption.