Film Of The Week: No ★★★★★

With February the last of the award season contenders arrived, Hitchcock ★★½ and Flight ★★½ have finally reached British shores with their huge promotional display. However those big Hollywood productions are overshadowed by three smaller films that can easily be considered among the best of the year. Having to choose one of them, by a very narrow margin, ‘No’ ★★★★★ is our recommended film of the past fortnight.

Pablo Larraín’s final instalment of his recent Chilean history trilogy is also his finest. Lightening the tone from the grim sleaze of his debut ‘Tony Manero’ or the sombre ‘Post Mortem’, the director has chosen a feel-good comedy for his account of the elections that put an end to Pinochet’s bloody regime, after the dictator driven by growing international pressure agreed to a democratic referendum for the Chileans to decide if they wanted him to stay in power.

The depiction of those events, told from the point of view of the advertising creative who shaped the campaign for the negative vote, is incredibly engaging and works in many different levels; as a comedy; as a political thriller and as a thoroughly researched narration of recent history. Visually the clever mix of techniques makes the film even more rewarding. Some of it, shot imitating the typical eighties image coming from video tapes; plus real and faux documentary footage and commercials. Gael Garcia Bernal brings the star power needed to ease its way for international audiences. Nominated for the Foreign Language Oscar and four Rober Awards, including best picture; ‘No’ is not be missed.

Fierce competition in the arthouse scene comes this week from Japan and Hirokazu Koreeda’s charming urban children’s story ‘I Wish’★★★★½. The Nippon auteur had already shown an special talent to film with kids, now refined through this lovely tale of two brothers gone to live in different cities after their parent’s separation. They will plot to go to the place where the Bullet trains going north and south meet, as according to one of those children legends, when the encounter between the two trains happens, the energy generated has the magic power to grant whatever wish the spectator asks for. Wisely combining childhood’s fantasies with serious family issues and blessed with an arresting young cast that hits an emotional chord with the viewer; ‘I Wish’ is a joy from beginning to end and deserved to have featured high in those end of the year best of lists. It has earned two nominations for the Robers 2012.

And also with two Rober nominations and one to the Foreign Language Oscar last year is Belgium’s Michael R. Roskam first feature ‘Bullhead’★★★★. An accomplished drama about the criminal ways of a countryside gang dealing with hormone-treated beef; it benefits from an amazingly physical central performance by the acting revelation of the year, Matthias Schoenaerts. His role as the gang’s bully, left emotionally handicapped by a terrible event during his childhood and having found in steroids and muscle growth a replacement for his damaged sense of masculinity, succeeds as a complex character study.

Over the last two weeks there’s been plenty other interesting releases, read on to check the Top 15 we currently recommend. ★★★★★
Pablo Larraín WISH ★★★★½
Hirokazu Kore-Eda
Michael R. Roskam
4-AMOUR ★★★★★
Michael Haneke (RE)
Kathryn Bigelow
Quentin Tarantino
7-LINCOLN ★★★★
Steven Spielberg
Rich Moore
George Stevens (RE)
Lenny Abrahmson
11-EVERYDAY ★★★½
Michael Winterbottom
Jonathan Levine GIVE IT A YEAR ★★★
Dan Mazer
14-FLIGHT ★★½
Robert Zemeckis
Sacha Gervasi

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