THE BEGINNING

Loud And Quiet Film Editor Ian Roebuck runs down his top 5 movies of 2013

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5. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
Fighting it out with Ryan Gosling for fifth place is Alan Partridge. The Place Beyond the Pines and Only God Forgives are deserved contenders but for the Roachford backed title sequence alone we’re plumping for Partridge every time. Alpha Papa showed us Steve Coogan’s virtuoso character really can translate to the big screen as a nation breathed a sigh of relief. Partridge is a man who won’t be told what to do by an automated woman and he’s got a shooter so back down Gosling. All that brooding and bikes are no match for his mid-range saloon and mid-morning chat.

4. A Field in England
They used to grind mushrooms to dust and blow them in the vicinity of unsuspecting squares, and watching this film felt just like a face full of fungus. The prevalence of hallucinogens in the 17th Century triggered Ben Wheatley’s inventive mind whilst filming a documentary on historical reenactments and so A Field in England was born. It turned out having your brain invaded in barbaric fashion by Wheatley was more pleasant than you’d imagine. Tethered with authentic prose from Amy Jump’s screenplay, this films muddy grip dragged us into the English Civil War and gloriously left us stranded.

3. Gravity
So Alfonso Cuaron and his little brother Jonas fell short on the screenplay, and the allegorical final third lacked subtlety, but for sheer bloody-minded thrills Gravity delivered. Spacewalking from set piece to ridiculous set piece, Sandra Bullock’s Ryan Stone went from eye-wateringly naive to Ripley-ripping-her-clothes-off in a blink of an eye and as tough as it was to stomach the 3D more than made up for it. After your head stopped spinning the details remained, the camera travelling magically through Stone’s helmet, while George Clooney’s lost in space monologues sparkled amongst a starry sky of minutia. A special mention for the audio too, Cuaron’s use of silence is as deadly as the pulsating soundtrack.

2. The Act of Killing
100 minutes through this astonishing documentary by Joshua Oppenheimer, two of the four inhabitants of the scandalously small Soho screening I attended upped and left. This ferocious film coaxed Indonesian war villains to re-enact their atrocities and so we are taken along on a savage, mental ride, mouth agape and senses aghast. By the time the gut-wrenching final act kicks in, the audience are drained dry because The Act of Killing is the most merciless of films and its ending is a horrifying relief. To see real life protagonist Haji Anif finally come to terms with his life’s work was one of this year’s cinematic musts. Sit tight and see it out.

1. Before Midnight
Plenty can happen in nine years. Richard Linklater’s heartfelt trilogy of films has made us smirk, sob and feel spectacularly old. Almost two decades since the first encounter (Before Sunrise, 1995) and nine years since the last (Before Sunset, 2004) Before Midnight joins Jesse and Celine’s story once more and how we missed them. This time we’re in Greece, after Vienna and Paris another alluring location and the love-struck couple’s romantic fate has been sealed. We know this as their wonderfully spiky conversations have developed into full-blown rows and there are children trying to sleep in the back of the rental. Linklater’s magical spark with Ethan Hawke (Jesse) and Julie Delpy (Celine) has far from dulled over the decades. Thankfully they gelled again to design a fantastic and very real premise, the screenplay grown up and the execution effortless. The Greek countryside a subtle choice for their relationship to untangle, it’s a holiday destination that adds a bittersweet note chiming perfectly with the trilogy’s tone. Our familiarity with the characters only reinforces the films strength and Hawke and Delpy revel in taking Jesse and Celine down into darkness. Before the clock strikes midnight we’re treated to spectacular relationship lows but it’s testament to the film’s deft skill that these touching moments are never far fetched, in fact they’re grounded in reality which makes this soulful movie that much better.

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