Published on January 18th, 2016 | by Callen Diederichs0
Callen’s Best Movies of 2015
Callen Diederichs is a filmmaker and manager at Saskatoon’s amazing Roxy Theatre. He weighs in on film with is his best movies of 2015 list.
Each year, Callen Diederich, a manager at The Roxy Theatre and a filmmaker in his own right, gives us his list of the movies he liked best for the year. He always some gems most people missed that are worth checking out. Without further adieu, heeeeeeere’s Callen!
I am a movie lover that lives on a backwater planet on the Canadian prairie, which means that one must make some accommodations for lists like these. Some films from years past only made it to where I am this year, and a lot of this year’s most-buzzed films haven’t yet — some never will. (Plus, I try to avoid the multiplex, so if a film has only played there, I haven’t seen it). And thus, I bring you a random best of movies list that you simply HAVE to see.
A rambling, mumbly, silly mess of a film, with the weight of the 60s crushing compassion and rebellion out of our drug-addled hero. Shotgun casting, lazily formalistic cinematography, affecting soundtrack, and miles deep subtext help to confirm PT Anderson as the Master (groan) of contemporary American cinema.
Duke of Burgundy
In theatres at the same time as that other film about BDSM, this Groundhog Day meets Fassbinder black comedy takes an infinitely deeper look at negotiating power dynamics, throws in a bug fetish, and presents it with pan-European dash and striking sound design.
An Argentinian western starring Viggo Mortensen speaking his native Danish, it starts out odd, gets deeply weird, before finally going down the rabbit hole to another dimension. Filmed using an archaic photochemical process, it’s also the best-looking movie of the year.
Clouds of Sils Maria
The rare film where the trailer doesn’t only not give away too much, but actually performs misdirection, which enhances the meta quality of the proceedings. Assayas again proves his adeptness both at defying genre and in crafting female-centric storytelling far beyond the low bar of the Bechdel Test.
Do Androids dream of seducing humans so they can get the hell out from under their control? That’s the case in this day-after-tomorrow film, which starts as a theoretical exploration of artificial intelligence and ends as a gripping indictment of misogyny. The conclusion to an accidental trilogy with Her and Under The Skin?
Performances, cinematography, and score create a perfectly controlled tone of increasingly demented doom. More surreal and poetic than Polanski’s, but no less nihilistic (that’s a good thing).
Hard To Be A God
With frequent snot-blowing, public urination, and head wounds, this is not a dinnertime film. But it is one of the most singularly realized films I’ve seen in ages: constant-motion long takes in black and white follow scientists from earth’s future trying to bring the renaissance to a parallel earth stuck in the dark ages due to repressive politics.
Beyond its dyslexia-baiting title is an unconventional love story, a family melodrama, a furry apocalypse, and some of the best animal-wrangling in cinema history.
While We’re Young
See Adam Driver play a villain more frightful than any Sith Lord-wannabe: an opportunistic hipster narcissist. And yes, I’m revealing my identification with the middle-aged curmudgeon protagonist.
That a 3 1/2 hour movie, whose plot could be explained in a drunken text, would be less of an endurance test and more of an existential event is testament to the skill of this Turkish auteur.
I expected this film to be dumb fun, which it definitely was — the funniest of the year. But I wasn’t expecting the nuance of the characters, inventive art design, and even some genuine pathos. Plus, my vote for Petyr as best character of the year.
Far From Men
A beautiful and timely road movie, and the 2nd alt-western on this list starring Viggo, this time playing a French national in ’50s Algeria charged with taking an Arab to his death. The rare film to focus on faith, friendship, and a ‘choose life’ message with no sentimental dross.
Time Out Of Mind
A less confident director would’ve tried to milk every ounce of pathos and melodrama from this story of a homeless, mentally ill man trying to reconnect with the daughter who hates his guts. But by using creatively framed dolly shots, a literal and metaphorical space is created around the characters to give a resonance much deeper than mere pity.
Far more interesting than the film’s accuracy as a biopic is its dissection of the relationship between capitalistic technocracy and a certain type of male ego, and its formal rigor: the entire film takes place at product launches, using different film stocks and digital mediums to delineate the time periods, with a Greek Chorus of his victims and accusers.
With no plot, characterization, or acting to speak of, this re-release from ’81 about a family trying to cohabitate with dozens of wild tigers, lions, and leopards never ceased to entertain me for a second. Plus, I learned that elephants are the douchebags of the animal kingdom.
It was a good year (other honourable mentions): Victoria, Diary Of A Teenage Girl, It Follows, Queen of Earth, Slow West, Nasty Baby, The Assassin, Love and Mercy, Wild Tales, Phoenix, Faults, End Of The Tour, Room, Hungry Hearts, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, MM:FR, SW:TFA.