Continuing a look through the first few months of the year…
In which Jack McConnell is chased around 1971 Belfast for the duration of The Worst Night of His Life, pursued by the IRA, the UDA and military intelligence. As events spin out of control, he finds he doesn’t understand enough to be sure of his survival; but he knows enough about who’s working with who that everyone wants him dead. Brutal, fast, stripped down, bold, I loved this movie. One problem: with everyone in moustaches and dodgy suits I sometimes lost track of who was on what side. But then, maybe that was the intention? A-
5. Mad Max: Fury Road
Non stop sturm and drang in excelsius. Fury Road dispenses with what it doesn’t need, distils down what it requires, and explodes into baroque excellence the one thing it celebrates above all else: pure kinetic energy. Added bonus: a beating feminist heart. Definitely the best Mad Max movie ever (and I liked all the others), and a probable contender for the top of all future “best car chase” lists. Everything else in such a list will be there because it features a car chase. Fury Road will be there because of pretty much the whole movie, and deservedly so. A-
4. Catch Me Daddy
An all-male search party hunts down a runaway couple in rural Yorkshire.
Like ’71, Catch Me Daddy was a masterclass in stripped-down high-tension filmmaking. The quiet periods are a little longer, a little woozier, and have a little more humour. That only makes the violence and energy, when it erupts, all the more terrifying. Genuinely unsettling in its depiction of people who have lost their moral compasses. Even more terrifying when showing people who are working with a moral code of total vengeance.
True, the ending when it comes is massively frustrating – the only misstep in the movie. But the rest of it is so good, and it’s beautifully shot by cinematographer Robbie Ryan (Fish Tank, Wuthering Heights).