Episode 98: Favorite Films of 2020 Part 1

“Archaeology is about digging. It’s like the work of moles, who live underground. A mole is virtually blind, but it has a nose and a feel for finding what it needs. And it has the patience to collect what it finds. It collects provisions to last through the winter.

In a dictatorship, the idea is to amass hidden stores of images and words, portraying the things that people living under the dictatorship might have actually experienced, but that could not necessarily be seen or heard. Then, when the dictatorship was no more, those images bore witness to it. Similar to the mole, the work of collecting those images required a certain nose for the worthwhile as well as practice, since a picture seldom makes it immediately apparent what it depicts and a sound seldom tells us of the part we can’t hear.”

Thomas Heise

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This week on Drink in the Movies Michael & Taylor discuss their number 10-6 favorite films of 2020. As well as hand out show awards for each of their Wounded Soldiers of the year, Squandered Talents, Top 3 Ensembles, Paths Back to Excellence and their Top 3 Documentaries.

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The Father

Written by Taylor Baker

82/100

Playwright Florian Zeller’s directorial debut The Father an adaptation of his own play is an exquisite demonstration of tone management and trusting of central players. There is no gawdy tricks, nor leaning on tropes. From start to finish The Father is exactly what you see it as. Confusing, scary, loving, and sad.

Wonderful turns by Olivia Colman, Imogen Poots, and Rufus Sewell cement the ever changing world that Hopkins encounters. The deft balancing of the preceding players is remarkable, them together with an understated brief performance by Olivia Williams end up mixing together as the beating heart of this thing you take with you. It’s a story to be sure, and Zeller is masterful at telling it. But the very unreliability of it, make the people Hopkins leans on the reality of the piece. Likewise they are the keystone’s of the film that the audience will assuredly carry away with them, unable to explain the film without bringing them to central focus.

We don’t know what happened to Lucy and by the end it doesn’t quite matter. But if you like me found yourself continuing to think about it. Then perhaps we can agree this isn’t just deft storytelling, this is mastery of structure. This is one of the most fully formed voices I’ve seen spring into the film medium this year. More exciting than this project, is the promising future that Florian has. I can’t wait to watch that future in theaters instead of at home.

Highly Recommended.

Taylor Baker originally posted this review on Letterboxd 10/21/20

The Father is part of the AFI Festival 2020 line up.

AFI Fest Website: https://fest.afi.com/

Father (Otac)

Written by Taylor Baker

83/100

Otac or rather Father, is a story that is best experienced without spoilers so I’ll be careful about what I mention in my assessments.

Srdan Golubovic serves as co-writer and director of a film I can only describe as a brooding on circumstance in modern Serbia. As one who is entirely unfamiliar with their contemporary issues on a global or local level found in Serbia, I can only make assessments off of the material here. And that material is notably stark. This is a film in which a dog getting hit by a car, a woman self immolating, and neighbors stealing from one another is simply a back drop. It’s center is Nikola, the titular Otac meaning Father.

Through complex circumstance I won’t go into here, Nikola’s children are taken from him by the government. Instigating a road movie, that has no cars. But rather a laborious walk in poor health through a brutal and somewhat if not entirely hopeless feeling landscape. With the only constant being signs to Belgrade. Where he will petition the Minister for his children.

Goran Bogdan, the actor bringing us the unshakeable Nikola is wearying to simply witness. His eyes, and labored breathing signal a sadness and exhaustion that is at best disabling and at worst fatal. His journey, solidity, and dignity are remarkable. This isn’t a film that sears itself into you, more a yolk of something great that you’ll carry with you. Likely mentioning it with a timid fondness to others and feeling disappointed that they haven’t seen it’s stark depiction of life in Serbia themselves.

Highly Recommended.

Taylor Baker originally posted this review on Letterboxd 10/06/20

Otac is part of the Vancouver International Film Festival 2020 line up.

VIFF Website: https://www.viff.org/Online/