Last Train Home (China/Canada, dir. Lixin Fan)
A strange year: 2009. The first decade of the millenium finished with (by all accounts) a vintage year at Cannes, yet seemingly few offerings from the world’s major auteurs. Looking back, it’s obvious that through no one’s fault but my own I’ve managed to get far behind on many of the year’s most noted releases. That said my viewing experience of the films of 2009 has been one of many unusual surprises and unexpected meisterwerks. Many indeed – the crop of 2009 releases begs belief – not least thanks to Lixin Fan’s Last Train Home, one of the most astounding and deep-cutting documentaries ever made. With a relevance and imagery that will resonate far into the future as China usurps the US economy and more Westerners flock to the exotic safe-haven of Asian employment, Last Train Home is as sharp and astoundingly immediate as it is timeless in its imagery and themes of pain and profound sadness.
Tom Ford’s directorial debut proved that the perspective of a creative power-house fresh to the feature film industry can pay dividends in both style and substance(but mainly, in style). Science fiction was served well in the multiplex by District 9 and Star Trek and the horror genre was given some skillful work-outs in Drag Me To Hell and The House of the Devil.
As with every year, there were many hidden gems floating in the soup of festivals and limited release schedules. Of these, the mysterious Colombian odyssee, Los Viajes del Viento, the slow Tazmanian survival horror, Van Diemen’s Land and seedy slice-of-life, Tony, about a serial killer living in Dalston, London, went a long way to boost the vintage of the 2009 releases I’ve seen so far.
Los Viajes del Viento (Colombia, dir. Cirro Guerra)
2009 Watchlist: AMER – BROKEN EMBRACES – CITY OF LIFE AND DEATH – DOGTOOTH – DOWN TERRACE – THE MAID – MARY & MAX – MOTHER – A PROPHET – SIN NOMBRE – TRIAGE – THE WHITE RIBBON
A Single Man (USA, dir. Tom Ford)
Tony (UK, dir. Gerard Johnson)