Phil on Film Index

Monday, December 31, 2018

The Best Films of 2018

25 - Shirkers (Sandi Tan)
Shirkers is an amazing, one-of-a-kind, unrepeatable story. Fortunately, Sandi Tan's filmmaking is able to do it justice. She's clearly an imaginative and passionate filmmaker, and that's what drove her to make a feature film with her friends in Singapore in 1992 at the age of eighteen. What happened to that film over the course of the next 25 years is revealed in this remarkable documentary, with Tan delicately reconstructing the narrative as a detective story, gradually getting closer to the truth through a series of interviews and personal recollections, and sharing footage of the film itself. The 16mm images that Tan shot in 1992 still appear wonderfully vibrant, and Shirkers is on one level a celebration of the durability and value of physical media, with letters, photographs, audio tapes and documents from the time of shooting also playing a crucial role. At the dark heart of Shirkers there's one of the year's most fascinating and dastardly screen villains, the man who stole the dreams that Sandi and her friends worked so hard to achieve, and changed the course of their lives. They'll never know what, if any, impact their film might have had on their lives and careers had it been released in 1992, but at least they now have this marvellous testament to their youthful creativity.

24 - The Queen of Fear (Valeria Bertuccelli, Fabiana Tiscornia)
Robertina (Valeria Bertuccelli), a successful Argentine actress, is just one month away from her eagerly anticipated solo stage show, but she still doesn't know what it will be. Will it involve dancing? Will there be nudity? Maybe she should get the tree transported from her garden and placed in the centre of the stage? As the deadline gets closer, Robertina's anxiety grows, prompting her to flee the country entirely and spend time looking after her dying friend (Diego Velazquez) in Denmark. While Robertina's one-woman show may hang in the balance, The Queen of Fear is an (almost) one-woman triumph for Bertuccelli, who wrote the film as a starring vehicle for herself and who shares directing duties with Fabiana Tiscornia. Behind the camera, she has crafted a poignant, funny, mysterious character study about a woman edging inexorably towards a point of either success or disaster, and the film is full of arresting individual scenes that add up to something haunting and elusive. In front of the camera she's utterly compelling, simultaneously frustrating and sympathetic, and while Robertina's future prospects may be open to debate, I'll be keeping an eye out for Valeria Bertuccelli.

23 - Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Marielle Heller)
Can You ever Forgive Me? was originally set up as a Nicole Holofcener film, with Julianne Moore playing Lee Israel. That production fell apart, but Holofcener's voice can still be heard in the sharp, intelligent script, and the title role is now brilliantly inhabited by Melissa McCarthy. The film could have worked as nothing more than a cracking true-life forgery yarn, but it is richer and more complicated than that. It's a film about loneliness, failure, social anxiety, art, insecurity and desperation. McCarthy's performance is driven by a potent sense of anger and fear, and what makes the movie really sing is the way the two relationships she strikes up during the film bring different sides out of her and complement each other so well. Her scenes with her gay drinking buddy Jack (Richard E. Grant) have a rude, raucous energy, while her encounters with Dolly Wells's lonely bookseller are so poignant, and acted with an unbearable hesitancy. Marielle Heller made an attention-grabbing debut with The Diary of a Teenage Girl, but this is a more impressive achievement. Her work here is so acute and incisive, and the whole film feels so atmospheric, lived-in and authentic.

22 - Mission: Impossible - Fallout (Christopher McQuarrie)
How much longer can Tom Cruise keep trying to outdo himself? At the age of 56 he's still running, still jumping, still climbing, still injuring himself and defying death for our entertainment. Fallout's narrative – a mess of confounding twists and double-crosses – is simply there to shuttle us from one action sequence to the next, and if you're making a film like that then the action really has to deliver. The climactic helicopter chase (including a fabulous insert of Cruise muttering “Prick!”) is jaw-dropping, but all of Fallout's set-pieces – from the crunching bathroom punch-up to the spectacular skydiving sequence – are breathtaking in their own way. There's a real sense of physicality about them, and Cruise's go-to director Christopher McQuarrie – doing by far his most accomplished work here – has the ability to shoot and edit them for maximum impact without losing clarity. Look at the way the motorbike chase through Paris juggles multiple events happening concurrently and maintains a sense of geographical space. This series keeps raising the bar. God know how Cruise is going to try and top it.

21 - Blindspotting (Carlos López Estrada)

A feature debut for director Carlos López Estrada and screenwriters Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs, Blindspotting feels like a thrilling emergence of new talent. It's a film with a lot on its mind – gentrification, Black Lives Matter, cultural appropriation, gun culture, poetry – but it can be chiefly enjoyed as an electric buddy comedy, with Diggs and Casal sharing an unmistakable natural kinship and chemistry on screen. Blindspotting doesn't seem to have enjoyed the kind of spotlight that films like Sorry to Bother You or BlacKkKlansman have had this year, but for my money it's a more invigorating picture than either of them, and it sustains itself more successfully. It may be a film that occasionally betrays signs of its makers' inexperience, particularly with the contrived nature of the climatic confrontation, but the way that confrontation is staged and executed is incredibly powerful. The film deserves a place on this list for its brilliant 'fire technicality' flashback sequence alone, complete with its Topher Grace and Jason Biggs references, and the priceless line, “How were we supposed to know that hipsters were so flammable?”

20 - Too Late to Die Young (Dominga Sotomayor)

If I have one reservation about Dominga Sotomayor's Too Late to Die Young, it might be that it covers well-worn territory with its look at a teenage girl's coming of age, and it doesn't bring anything particularly new to that scenario, but it's hard to complain when a film is this good. Delivering on the considerable promise shown by her debut feature Thursday Till Sunday, Sotomayor's film is one of the most beautifully crafted pictures of the year. Every shot is framed and edited in such an evocative way, but while her filmmaking is very exacting, she gets a great sense of freedom and spontaneity from her performers, particularly the younger members of the cast. Particularly Demian Hernández, who is such a compelling presence as 16 year-old Sofia, one of the children in this liberal environment who wants be treated as an adult. “You're too young,” one child is told. “Only on the outside,” she responds. In its own quiet, confident way I found this to be one of the year's most immersive pieces of filmmaking.

19 - Hale County This Morning, This Evening (RaMell Ross)

This film seems to exist somewhere between the worlds of Terrence Malick and Frederick Wiseman. It's a compendium of moments big and small captured during the course of the five years director RaMell Ross spent filming the residents of Hale County, Alabama. One of the key goals he has talked about with this project was to find a perspective inside this community, to shoot in a way that was aligned with their reality rather than shooting at them from a vantage point outside, and his film does achieve a remarkable sense of intimacy and normalcy. He doesn't give weight to one scene over another and he doesn't attempt to assemble these moments into any kind of narrative shape, but his film flows beautifully from one gorgeous, touching, serendipitous image to another. There are so many lovely moments, although for me nothing can beat the little kid running back and forth at full pelt across his living room. It's the kind of moment that another filmmaker might have used a fragment of, but Ross lets his camera linger and lets the moment play out, and such astute judgement and instinctive filmmaking is evident throughout this lyrical, magical film. Hale County This Morning, This Evening only runs for 76 minutes, but few films this year have felt so full.

18 - In Fabric (Peter Strickland)
The Dentley & Soper department store is a perfect setting for Peter Strickland. It’s full of rich textures and anachronistic details, a loving recreation of an environment that the director feels a particular sense of nostalgia for. Oh, and it also happens to be staffed by vampires. Whereas Strickland’s previous films Berberian Sound Studio and The Duke of Burgundy were largely confined to a single location, this one creates a whole world around Dentley & Soper, taking us into the lives of single mother Sheila (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) and washing machine repairman Reg (Leo Bill), with the connective tissue being provided by a haunted ‘artery red’ dress that murders its wearer. As well as being Strickland’s most expansive work to date, it’s also his funniest. He embraces the goofiness of his central premise and has his characters spout hilarious, often nonsensical dialogue, from Julian Barratt and Steve Oram’s obsession with timekeeping and roleplay, to Reg’s oneiric washing machine monologues. As ever, the film is scrupulously crafted, from Ari Wegner’s mesmerising cinematography to the fetishistically detailed soundscape. Another constant in Strickland’s films is the marvellous actress Fatma Mohamed, whose performance as the mysterious sales assistant is her most astonishing work yet.

17 - Asako I & II (Ryūsuke Hamaguchi)
I fell for Ryûsuke Hamaguchi's film instantly, at the same moment that timid Asako (Erika Karata) and the mysterious Baku (Masahiro Higashide) found love at first sight amid exploding firecrackers. Asako I & II may be half the length of Hamaguchi's 2015 epic Happy Hour, but I think it's twice as good. This is a rapturous romance exploring questions of fate and second chances, and I loved the way it always found ways to surprise me, repeatedly spinning off in wild directions and finding unexpected notes in these characters. Although I adored much of Happy Hour, I felt that Hamaguchi's focus on performance and character dynamics sometimes came at the expense of his direction, resulting in some poorly constructed and flatly lit scenes, and Asako I & II is a real advance in this respect. His blocking and composition is masterful, his touch with actors is as sure as ever (Higashide is particularly impressive in two amusingly contrasting roles), and he handles the film's numerous tonal shifts with grace. In fact, my only complaint is that he didn't try to match Happy Hour's running time, as I'd have been very happy to spend three more hours in the company of these characters.

16 - The House That Jack Built (Lars von Trier)

The House That Jack Built saw Lars von Trier return to Cannes for the first time since his infamous Nazi comments in 2011, so obviously it makes sense that his latest film contains lengthy sequences praising the vision of Albert Speer or the noise that German Stuka bombers made. As he did in Nymphomaniac, von Trier spends much of this film digressing into long discussions of esoteric and unrelated subjects (Glenn Gould, cathedrals and dessert wines are under the microscope here); in fact, it feels like a companion piece to Nymphomaniac, with male violence replacing female sexual as the central subject. Of course, the real subject is von Trier himself, here exploring his own neuroses and artistic impulses through the “randomly chosen incidents” that his serial killer Jack (Matt Dillon) recounts to Verge (Bruno Ganz) as they journey through the netherworld. It’s an absorbing, maddening, hilarious and repulsive experience all at once. The House That Jack Built is hardly likely to win over anyone who already thinks of Lars von Trier as nothing more than a cheap showman and provocateur, but I think it’s another audacious and vital work from one of our most fascinating artists.

15 - Shoplifters (Hirokazu Kore-eda)

Nobody creates families like Hirokazu Kore-eda, and this masterpiece about the families we create is one of his finest achievements. Kore-eda’s films have a way of sneaking up on the viewer, and that’s what this one does, introducing us to this family unit and gradually revealing more about their circumstances, developing our relationship with them scene by scene. We don’t realise how involved we’ve become with them until the heart-stopping final moments. There’s no blatant tearjerking here, just a keen sense of character and family dynamics, and the ability to use his camera to place us in this intimate, dilapidated space they call home. There are so many beautiful scenes here: a sex scene between Osamu (Lily Franky) and Nobuyo (Sakura Andô) that is both funny and tender; a rare moment of connection between Aki (Mayu Matsuoka) and her client; a moment of happiness of the beach, observed by the ailing Hatsue (Kirin Kiki); the last, wrenching shot of little Shota (Jyo Kairi). After making a strange and unsatisfying step into the procedural genre with The Third Murder, Shoplifters shows why Kore-eda is one of our greatest filmmakers.

14 - Dead Souls (Wang Bing)
Clocking in at over eight hours and consisting of interviews with survivors of Mao’s labour camps, Wang Bing’s epic documentary Dead Souls will inevitably be compared to Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah, and such comparisons are justified. Bing spent more than a decade tracking down and talking to people who had been persecuted as Rightists and sent to labour camps in the Gobi Desert in the 1950s and ‘60s, but given the conditions that they describe, it’s astonishing that anyone lived to tell the tale. Worked until they dropped, forced to take shelter in makeshift caves, surviving on scraps of food and sinking into depravity. One man recalls seeing another covered by a blanket that seemed a strange colour, and when he looked closer he saw that it was covered entirely with lice. When asked if it bothered him, the man under the blanket replied that he didn’t feel anything anymore. Bing lets his interviews play out at length, trying to capture every detail of his subjects’ testimonies, and his film stands as a vital historical document. Dead Souls is undeniably a tough cinemagoing experience to endure, but it’s also a very rewarding one.

13 - Upgrade (Leigh Wannell)
While everyone was watching a film in which Tom Hardy lost control of his body to a mysterious force, this cracking thriller – in which a Tom Hardy lookalike loses control of his body to a mysterious force – slipped under the radar. Logan Marshall-Green is Grey Trace, a quadriplegic and a widower after he and his wife are attacked by a gang of crooks. Given the opportunity to try an experimental new technology called Stem – a computer chip that taps directly into his nervous system – Grey becomes mobile again, and then he becomes seriously mobile. The first time Grey gives control of his body over to Stem was one of the year’s great movie moments; he instantly becomes a ruthlessly efficient killing machine, and the look of horror on Marshall-Green’s at his own actions is priceless. Leigh Whannell’s handling of Upgrade’s spectacular and violent action sequences is slick and dynamic, and the film has a welcome vein of wry humour running through it, with Grey and Stem sharing some amusing back-and-forth (“While I am state of the art, I am not a ninja.”). It’s the ending that really elevates the film, though. I feared briefly that Whannell might wobble and lose control of the film right at the end, but after a little misdirection, he gives us a powerfully nihilistic climax.

12 - The Old Man and the Gun (David Lowery)
If you’re going to make a whole movie about an old guy being charming, then Robert Redford is obviously the man to call. He’s turning the charm up to 11 in this true-life tale of an elderly bank robber, but it’s not just Redford’s show. Danny Glover and Tom Waits play his fellow burglars, Sissy Spacek is the woman he finds unexpected romance with, and Casey Affleck is the cop determined to take him down. Every actor fits snugly into their role and everything about the movie just feels right. David Lowery has crafted the film as a throwback, from the grainy cinematography to the camera zooms – even down to the title font – but he’s too smart and precise a filmmaker to allow it to feel like an empty pastiche. He’s never winking at the audience or playing games, and everything feels rooted in the characters and their world. The Old Man and the Gun has a laid-back, conversational quality that drew me in, but the film never feels dawdling or static, with Lisa Zeno Churgin’s impeccable editing allowing Lowery to zip through whole time periods when required without disrupting the film's rhythm. I think this picture has been admired but slightly dismissed by many, but I found it to be a moving and resonant portrait of people growing old and trying to figure out what to do with the time they have left. If this is to be the last we see of Robert Redford on screen, he couldn’t have chosen a more elegant way to say goodbye.

11 - Monrovia, Indiana (Frederick Wiseman)

Frederick Wiseman’s latest examination of the municipal workings in a small town has taken him to the American Midwest for the first time. In contrast to his 2014 film In Jackson Heights, which explored one of the most diverse places in America, here we have community that is white, conservative and built around particular traditions. We see some of these traditions being practiced, from a Masonic lodge to a wedding ceremony to a funeral, and while some of the idiosyncratic details are amusing (such as wonderfully theatrical eulogy), they are also conducted with a sincerity that is very moving. Wiseman’s work is a study in empathy, he captures people’s foibles and quirks and reveals our common humanity. Wiseman’s editing is as fluid and pointed as ever, and while this film might initially appear to lacks the epic scope of some of his similar community-based ventures – such as In Jackson Heights or Belfast, Maine – it builds into a typically engrossing and affecting experience, ending with one of the director’s most resonant closing shots.

10 - The Rider (Chloé Zhao)
As the rodeo rider recovering from a near-fatal head injury, Brady Jandreau is essentially playing himself in The Rider, having suffered through this same experience in 2016. Chloé Zhao took a risk by casting non-actors in her film, and asking them to play roles that closely resembled their lived experiences, but it paid off. When we watch Brady spend time with his father and sister, his close friend Lane Scott (a former champion paralysed after an accident), or his beloved horses, we see interactions that possess a purity and authenticity that can’t be faked. The Rider is a film about coping with loss and finding a sense of purpose; Brady knows that another rodeo mishap might kill him, but if you're somebody who absolutely lives for those eight seconds on the back of a bucking bronco, what else can you do? Zhao's quite, sensitive direction invites us into this world and allows us to observe and understand these characters. A beautiful, intimate and perceptive piece of filmmaking.

9 - Apostasy (Dan Kokotajlo)
Dan Kokotajlo drew on his own experiences of life as a Jehovah’s Witness for this powerful portrait of a family divided by faith. It’s a remarkably confident debut feature, with Kokotajlo shifting perspectives between the three central characters and including ellipses in scenes that many directors would have exploited for maximum drama. Newcomer Molly Wright is the devout teenager Alex, who has a rare blood condition but who refuses to accept a blood transfusion under the tenets of her faith, while her older sister Luisa (Sacha Parkinson) has found new friends outside the church and a wider perspective on the world at college. But this is really their mother’s story, with Ivanna (Siobhan Finneran) being forced to deal with the ramifications of her younger daughter’s illness, and then having to shun her eldest daughter when she falls pregnant. The coldness of the elders who order Luisa’s “disfellowship” is contrasted with the conflict of a mother desperate to help her child, but unable to step outside the belief system that has shaped her entire life. Kokotajlo’s direction is tightly focused on his actors, who each give shatteringly natural and emotive performances, and his refusal to over-dramatise events or paint characters in broad strokes makes this complex, wrenching film even more powerful.

8 - Happy as Lazzaro (Alice Rohrwacher)
Happy as Lazzaro was released on Netflix in the United States but it will arrive in UK cinemas early in 2019. See it with a crowd to share what I experienced when I saw it at the London Film Festival: a stunned collective gasp as the film we thought we were watching suddenly turned into a completely different one. You should also see it on the big screen to appreciate the the Hélène Louvart's entrancing 16mm cinematography, which helps Alice Rohrwacher create a film that has a timeless, otherworldly quality. Happy as Lazzaro feels like a film rooted in a grand tradition of Italian cinema – I saw hints of De Sica, Olmi, Rossellini and the Taviani brothers – but Rohrwacher's gentle touch and imaginative flights of fancy takes it in a whole new direction. A study of inequality and exploitation, the film largely rests on the shoulders of first-time actor Adriano Tardiolo, who plays Lazzaro as a true innocent, too good and too pure for this world of wolves. The best fables have a simplicity that disguises their thematic richness and depth, and that's the delicate balancing act that Rohrwacher has achieved here. It is a transcendent experience.

7 - The Wild Boys (Bertrand Mandico)
The trailer for The Wild Boys give away its central casting gambit, which is a shame, as it’s the kind of film that benefits from no foreknowledge. I watched it with no idea of what I was about to see and had a truly revelatory experience. The wild boys of the title are five teenage tearaways guilty of a violent crime, who are sent as punishment to a strange, exotic island under the command of an intimidating sea captain (Sam Louwyck). Things then turn very queer – in all senses of the word – as these adolescents fall under the spell of the island and the imperious Dr. Séverin (Elina Löwensohn), with both the characters and the film evolving in surprising ways. Bertrand Mandico’s film is a hallucinogenic, metamorphosing fantasia that feels like a completely unique vision even as it often brings bring names like Haynes, Fassbinder, Maddin and Borowczyk to mind. A film constructed from a series of lush, surreal and dreamlike images, The Wild Boys is a head-spinning and intoxicating trip.

6 - Madeline's Madeline (Josephine Decker)

Madeline’s Madeline plugs us straight into the mind of its protagonist, and it’s a challenging place to be. Madeline (Helena Howard) is a teenager fresh out of a spell in a psychiatric ward, who has a fractious relationship with her mother (Miranda July) and is trying to channel her complicated emotions into a theatre piece orchestrated by Molly Parker’s over-zealous acting coach. I’d admired Josephine Decker’s two features before this without flipping over into loving them, but this is something else. It’s a film that feels like it’s going for broke and operating without a safety net in every single scene, from forcing us to share the perspective of a turtle to building her climax around a remarkable dance sequence. Some viewers will undoubtedly find this vexing and alienating, but I was enraptured by it, and aside from its exhilarating surface pleasures (I loved its hazy, fragmented imagery), the film is a fascinating and ambiguous contemplation of the line between inspiration and exploitation in the creation of art. But at the centre of everything is Helena Howard; a stupendously gorgeous, inventive and charismatic performer, who explodes onto the screen and commands the viewer’s attention. I can’t wait to revisit this film, and I can’t wait to see what this special actress does next.

5 - If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins)
It’s impossible to imagine anyone better suited to adapting James Baldwin than Barry Jenkins. In If Beale Street Could Talk, he captures the tone of Baldwin’s writing, the combination of love and anger, while also making something that feels entirely fresh and cinematic. It feels less like an adaptation than a fusing of two artistic visions, and it feels like an even greater achievement than Moonlight. There are so many challenging scenes here, so many perspectives that Jenkins has to illuminate, but he always finds the perfect camera movement or the exact use of colour required to make the moment connect. The whole film has an undercurrent of rising emotion that bursts through at key points. The film captures what it feels to be in love, and it also makes us feel the agony of having that love torn away through injustice. I can identify the exact moment I knew I was watching masterpiece; it’s the scene in which Fonny (Stephan James) runs into his old friend Daniel (Brian Tyree Henry). He’s a buoyant presence when he enters the film, but as he talks about his recent incarceration he reveals his pain, his fear, and by extension the pain and fear of being a black man living in a country where the odds are stacked against you. It’s a breathtaking feat of writing, directing and acting, as is the whole film.

4 - An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo)
Hu Bo took his own life shortly after completing An Elephant Sitting Still and fighting bitterly with producers over the film’s length, making this both an extraordinary debut feature and a devastating final statement. It’s hard to view this ghostly epic independently of this knowledge; it is a movie mired in despair, ruminating on the cruelty of life and the meaninglessness of existence. “Wherever you go,” one character suggests, “you will find nothing different.” Four hours of this might sound unbearable, but An Elephant Sitting Still is a completely absorbing film. Hu Bo shoots it in long takes, often using shallow focus to isolate his leading characters from the world around them, and across the film’s four hours he creates a haunting and deeply felt portrait of isolation and struggle in contemporary China. At the end of it all, he finds an unexpected point of hope and beauty to end the film on. It’s a terrible shame that we’ll never see what else this gifted and confident young filmmaker might have given us, but An Elephant Sitting Still alone is still a remarkable legacy.

3 - Leave No Trace (Debra Granik)
I was caught off-guard by Leave No Trace. I went into the film expecting something darker, something that hewed closer to the thriller template of Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone, and I was completely disarmed by the film it turned out to be. This is a film about empathy, kindness and understanding; a film about people trying to forge their own lives and create their own communities in a country that offers them little support. Haunted by PTSD, Ben Foster’s veteran only feels at home when he is with his teenage daughter (Thomasin McKenzie, just perfect) with whom he has made a makeshift home in the woods, but does she need more than the love, protection and education he provides? Is his attempt to give her an independent life holding her back? Granik’s patient observation of these characters captures their deep bond and the gradually shifting dynamic between them, and her empathy as a filmmaker is extended to all of the characters they meet on their journey. I kept expecting Leave No Trace to slide into darkness or tragedy, but Granik follows her own path. It’s a film that makes your heart swell before it breaks it.

2 - First Reformed (Paul Schrader)

Almost fifty years after publishing his critical study of transcendental filmmakers, Paul Schrader has finally joined their company. First Reformed is a film made in the lineage of Bresson, Dreyer and Bergman, but it’s also a film plugged directly into our current moment of environmental crisis. How can a man keep his faith in a world that increasingly gives us no reason to hope? That's the position Reverend Toller (Ethan Hawke, magnificent) finds himself in; a continuation of a character type that Schrader has been following since Taxi Driver, Toller feels like the ultimate manifestation of God's Lonely Man in Schrader's work. After the 'anything goes' craziness of the undervalued Dog Eat Dog, Schrader's filmmaking here is precise and focused, with sharp static compositions and crisp editing. It is the work of a man who knows exactly what he wants to say and how he wants to say it. He builds to a climactic sequence that has me holding my breath, and when he finally does move the camera right at the end of the film, the effect is rapturous. First Reformed is a great work from one of the most vital artists from the past five decades of American film. A work that encapsulates so many of the themes and the ideas that he has been developing throughout his career, it feels like the one film he was always meant to make.

1 - The Other Side of the Wind (Orson Welles)

The greatest film of the year was directed by a man who died 33 years ago. The Other Side of the Wind – shot between 1970 and 1976, and left unfinished when the money inevitably ran out – is a film from the past that eclipsed everything else released this year. A caustic look at the Hollywood that rejected him, the film is a pure demonstration of Orson Welles’ genius, his spirit, his boundless sense of adventure. The party scenes that make up most of the film – in which a once-legendary director, struggling to finish his film, is celebrating his 70th birthday – are intense, cacophonous and claustrophobic, while the film-within-the-film (co-directed by Oja Kodar) is an expansive and composed exercise in style, packed with vivid, strange and sensual images that haven’t left my mind since I saw the film. Two extraordinary sequences in particular – an erotically-charged encounter in a nightclub bathroom, and an exhilarating sex scene inside a car – are masterclasses in editing and framing, and one regrets that cinematographer Gary Graver, who dreamed of this project’s completion for years, is not still with us to receive the plaudits his magnificent work deserves here. Other gifts from beyond the grave include Huston (at his imperious, Hemingway-esque best), Norman Foster and Susan Strasberg, whose performances here are surely among the year’s best. But it is the re-emergence of Welles that is so moving; a reminder of what made him so vital, such a unique force of nature. Even after suffering so many body blows, and having so many passion projects fall apart, he never stopped creating, pushing and exploring, and The Other Side of the Wind stands as a stunning final statement from one of the great artists of the 20th century. It is unquestionably the film event of 2018. “Shoot all the boys and girls. Shoot them dead.”