2019 was not that a good a year for new releases and the Sight & Sound ‘top fifty’ left me underwhelmed. However, there were still some fine new releases, of which the following six are my favourites.
Happy as Lazzaro / Lazzaro felice – Italy | Switzerland | France | Germany 2018.
A very fine drama combining a sort of magical realism in the countryside with neo-realist style in the city
Out of the Blue – Britain, US 2018.
A fine neo-noir with one of the performances of the year from Patricia Clarkson.
Pain and Glory / Dolor y gloria – Spain, France 2019.
Pedro Almodóvar on top form with this exploration of his own career.
Sean the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon – Britain, France, US 2019
One for sheer entertainment value and a title that milked other films without making them clichés.
So Long, My Son / Dijiutianchang – China 2019
One of the pleasures of 2019 have been several films from China and this is an extremely fine drama that covers the recent decades since the return of capitalism.
Transit – Germany, France 2018
A story that reminded me of other films but gave these tropes a wholly distinctive treatment.
The year was improved by some re-issued and /or restored films.
We had Alfred Hitchcock’s finest Hollywood outing on 35mm, Rear Window, 1954. accompanied by the short but brilliant variation on the plot, Accidence, Canada 2018.
There was the classic British gangster film Performance, 1970; also in 35mm and with an interesting presentation.
And the Leeds International Film Festival, among the few 35mm screenings, offered a very fine print of Beau Travail, France 1999.