Earlier in 2020, I decided to switch gears and start this movie site. I’ve loved world cinema and foreign language films for a long time so I finally decided to start writing about them. Here’s a selection of my favorite One Inch Tall Movies that I watched in 2020.
Favorite Superhero Movie: Gundala
Favorite 2020 Crime film: Beasts Clawing at Straws: It’s a slick looking and well executed mix of Tarantino, Coen Brothers, and Guy Ritchie
Greatest Discovery of 2020 is the Malayam director Lijo Jose Pellissery and his last four movies: Jallikattu, Ee Ma Yau, Angamalay Diaries, and Double Barrel.
#Alive is both familiar and different at the same time. It utilizes a close perspective and a limited setting really. As chaos and the unknown swirl outside of the confines of an apartment and our protag tries to figure out just what in the hell is happening, it was hard not to think of early COVID lockdowns. Really effective and fun movie.
Asuran is an Indian actioner about the divisions of class and the ways that the more powerful harm those with less power. The first half of Asuran are damn near perfect. A Father and son are on the run out in the wild. Why? What happened? Who is after them? What really struck me about Asuran, especially the first half, is how it actually takes an old story type from a different genre and shows the universality of the human experience when it comes to class struggles. It’s very reminiscent of some western genre stories where the homesteaders are trying to carve out a life from the land but have to do battle with the large cattle baron outfits. But that’s a stray thought really. Asuran is a tense movie with some great action sequences and a really good lead performance by Dhanush.
I feel that I, along with many others, owe Variety Chief Film Critic Peter Debruge a huge thanks. When he named A Sun as Variety’s film of the year he shined a huge light on a a capitol G Great film that was hiding in plain site on Netflix. Epic in scope and intimate in detail. In almost any given scene there is so much action, character work, and motivations at work through glances, mood and subtle gestures.
Bulbbul is a colorful and stylish and sometimes brutal look at the practice of child brides. It’s drenched in mythology and history and builds to an explosive third act.
The Call is twisty, turny, and may not fully make sense but a pair of great performances ground the movie and the whole thing is a blast to watch.
Drug War has an inferred premise that falls outside of the movie itself. Is it possible to make an old-school Hong Kong heroic bloodshed movie, set in mainland China, in a post handover Hong Kong, where China has greater and stricter censorship control over content?
Johnnie To aims to find out and he gives us a mother fuck of a movie as a result.
Freedom at Midnight
Freedom at Midnight is a stylish and adrenaline soaked prison escape flick. You know the steps to this dance so it’s about executing it as best you can and Freedom exceeds all the requirements. It sets the scene, introduces the characters, and sets them loose doing their thing. And you’ll be cheering them on the entire time.
The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil
Like a greatest hits album of South Korean crime thrillers. You’ll recognize bits and pieces from other movies but who gives a shit and crank it up.
Characters going to a backwoods town, are met by people who don’t want much to do with outsiders, and secrets get uncovered. Sounds familiar right? You’ve never seen it done like this. Impetigore has been submitted for Oscar consideration and it’s really good.
Ishq is an affecting psychological thriller that tackles the complicated issue of moral policing. It a dark movie that starts off sweet before going to some very dark places. In service of it’s thematic explorations it will take the viewer to some uncomfortable places. This is a pretty fucking dark movie and I’ve thought about it long after watching.
The Night Comes For Us
The Night Comes For Us takes the old Hong Kong heroic bloodshed story, strips away the loyalty, camaraderie, and platonic love and makes the whole thing meaner, more realistic, and into noir (oh no!) territory. All of which advances the heroic bloodshed genre on a new direction.
Old Stone isn’t as stylish as Diao Yinan’s work (Wild Goose Lake and Black Coal, Thin Ice) but the inevitability of its doomed march to an ending you know is coming is really effective in the way that the best classic noirs can deliver.
Finally caught Parasite when it hit Hulu and, yeah, it really is that good. I truly admired the framing, the shot composition, and the clockwork precision of the plot. I love seeing Bong Joon-ho get this level of attention and acclaim.
Nothing is as it seems and Robbery takes a sharp right turn every few minutes and has multiple tonal shifts. Things might go from raunchy comedy to grand guignol, from sentimental to farcical, a moment of sudden violence may lead to laughter. More than once I though, what the fuck is happening.
Super Deluxe is a whole lot of movie. Gorgeously shot, wonderfully acted. There’s a lot to love, some things to make you scratch your head, and some things to give pause. This is a film of moments and there are a lot of wonderful moments.
A group of men gather around the table, pulling up chairs and lighting cigarettes. They are covered in blood. They’re talking fast, making plans. The camera stays with them and starts to swirl around the table as their talk continues. What have they done? Within the scope of the ever expanding story a hero will rise and a Lady MacBeth figure will emerge from the wings of the stage.
Vada Chennai was a very satisfying crime epic.
The Wild Goose Lake
In the best noir tradition The Wild Goose Lake is a twisty and turny affair and a gorgeous looking film. The Chinese are making some damned fine noirs these days.
The Witch: Subversion
Another one that I’d been looking forward to seeing for a long time and finally got around to it. After an action packed opening that asks many questions, we pivot to a more intimate story of a girl living on a farm with her family. When she goes on a nationally televised singing competition, her secrets will get exposed and suddenly everyone is after her. The amount of world expansion that happens from start to finish is amazing. This is an amazing film that everyone should see. The sequel will be starting to film soon and this is a rich sandbox to be played in.