Many films in 2019 dealt with semi-autobiographical tales. Ageing directors wrote and/or directed stories which mirrored their lives. They looked at aspects of their own collective past and current present, giving us films like Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” and Pedro Almodovar’s “Pain and Glory”. Lulu Wang made us remember how much we love our grandmas in “The Farewell” and Shia LaBeouf showed us the specific and cathartic toll that acting and fatherhood can take on a person. None of these personal stories compare to the one told by longtime friends-turned-collaborators Joe Talbot and Jimmie Fails with “The Last Black Man in San Francisco”.
In the opening scene of “Little Women” (2019), when we see Saoirse Ronan’s character entering a publisher’s office to try to sell her work and get herself taken seriously as a writer, we’re not just seeing the character of Jo March. We’re also seeing Louisa May Alcott, who wrote the novel that the film is adapted from, and perhaps even the film’s writer and director Greta Gerwig herself.
"The Peanut Butter Falcon" is one of my top films of all time. I managed to see it twice in the cinema and can’t wait to get the DVD so I can savour it over again. It’s an adventurous escape and a lesson in the power of loving broken people - as well as yourself. Structurally it's a straight forward story with two central characters and two antagonists, all with very clear goals. A) Get to the wrestling school and escape life, B) Catch the protagonists.
2019 was an eventful year for me, I grew so much as a person and found an outlet to express my writing and thoughts about film as a whole. This isn’t a definitive list by any means but a list of the films that have had the biggest impact on me personally. I have a lot to say about some of these so let’s get started, shall we?
While Bong’s films are often very funny affairs, “Parasite” is his first outright comedy since 2000 debut “Barking Dogs Never Bite”. This is a pitch-black farce that frequently becomes a delightful caper – albeit one whose heroes have ineffably murky methods. You love to root against the Park couple: Yeon-kyo (Jo Yeo-jong) is a prim-and-proper lady and Dong-ik (Lee Sun-kyun) is a suave tech executive, but in reality they’re disgusted by the slightest bit of the real world.
“Little Woods” isn’t a perfect film, but it certainly is an indication that Nia DaCosta is a director to keep our eye on. While it has much to say about the United States that is particularly relevant, it is also a movie about the lengths that sisters will go to for each other. If you’re looking to catch up on some films in 2019 that were overlooked, “Little Woods” is a great place to start.
There’s no film from this year that is the perfect storm of incredible dark comedy and strong storytelling than the sophomore feature effort of writer/director Riley Stearns – “The Art of Self Defense”. The film, about a timid man attempting to find some self-confidence through learning karate only to discover the dark secrets of the local dojo he goes to, is just purely immaculate. Right from the first scene, the film easily found a direct line to my funny bone and continued to rattle it with every wild and odd moment that comes from Casey’s (Jesse Eisenberg) experience with learning martial arts and the overtly serious nature of Sensei (Alessandro Nivola).
As we approach the end of 2019, the ITOL team are compiling their end of year lists of their favourite films. Here's James Cain's list and his personal top 20 films of 2019! Another year, another fresh bout of shame. I didn’t see “Hustlers”! I didn’t fit “Always Be My Maybe” onto my list of favourite movies! Anyway, here are my Top 20 Films of 2019.