The Best Films of 2018

By Alan Mattli

A_The Best Films of 2018

According to my Letterboxd account, which I’ve started cultivating in earnest in 2018, I spent roughly 378 hours of said year watching movies – 206 of them, to be exact – averaging four viewings per week. Now, as the year has drawn to a close, it’s time once again to pick my favourites from that selection, as I’ve done on The Zurich English Student for the past seven years (’11, ’12, ’13, ’14, ’15, ’16, ’17). In 2018, I landed on a comparatively modest set of 15 films, though that is the result of perhaps a more rigorous decision-making process than in the past, which led to the shutout of such high-quality offerings as Steve McQueen’s Widows, Xavier Legrand’s Custody, and Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer.

As usual, my list differs from those by the likes of David Ehrlich or Priscilla Page – to name just two of my favourite critics – in that it is missing a few essential players from the 2018–19 awards season (The Favourite, If Beale Street Could Talk) and instead includes a few familiar titles from last year’s Oscar campaign. The reason for this is the same as ever: my list adheres to the Swiss release schedule, which all too rarely coincides with its U.S. equivalent. So what follows are my top ten films that opened in Switzerland in 2018, preceded by five honourable mentions (highlighted in bold).

Continue reading

Advertisements

She Has Time

Senar Arcak

This was amongst my very first attempts in creative writing. I have always liked stories with a bit of weirdness and tried to in this very amateur writing to bring about the idea that “We are all a bit weird sometimes” with unexpected qualities. I wanted to share it with you, I hope you enjoy it!

What is about time that makes it so precious? Isn’t it something that humanity imagines and then measures? For Sarah and Nova the timing of their meeting was a good omen. It was two weeks ago in a crossroad of Irvington when Sarah lost control of her bike and almost took Nova’s left eye out. She wished she were dead instead of embarrassing herself in front of such a handsome man. But when she saw Nova just staring at her, she could do nothing except for asking his name, in half a smile half a blush. But within her excitement and happiness she never forgot time was tricky and wondered if that was an illusion too.

Now, Sarah has just moved into a bigger place in Lane Road, Irvington, and she thinks it is time she invited Nova to her new place for their third date. She cannot stop herself from looking out the window to see Nova. She knows that he is supposed to be with her now, but she doesn’t check the time to know that. 

Her new place has a cozy kitchen with light wooden floors and a big white window above the sink. Even though the kitchen is invaded with the heavy and sour smell of baked potatoes, roasting duck, and wine, Sarah doesn’t open the window or the curtains. The curtains in the new house are almost always closed. The coziness of the new place is wounded by the dimness and thus a sullen quietness rules the house.

Continue reading

“For the Love of Metal”: Dee Snider Is Still Carrying the Flag

deesniderfortheloveofmetalcd
By Raph al Guul

Dee Snider is a legend of metal, there are no two ways about it. He’s a legend to the point that if he’d put out a shitty hip hop album today, he would still remain legendary. Continue reading

What Was the “Matrix” Trilogy All About?

Matrix 1

By Gabriel Renggli

The Matrix movies are a strange beast. The Matrix redefined the action genre, using cinematography, choreography, costumes, and special effects to raise shoot-outs and punch-ups to new levels of stylisation. The Matrix Reloaded was bigger, louder, and less focused, but cool enough to have our teenage selves excited, for the most part. The Matrix Revolutions was my first big lesson in how thoroughly an anticipated production can let down its fan base. Revolutions helped to get underway some considerable backlash, as people started looking more critically at the other two films, too. By now, the consensus seems to be that we allowed ourselves to be taken in by a case of form over substance. As in: boy, did these films ever look good, but, boy, did they make no sense at all from a story-telling or philosophical point of view.

Continue reading

“Black Panther” and “Isle of Dogs”: The Limits of My Criticism

By Alan Mattli

NOTE: This is a translation of my own article, originally published in German.

Black Panther 1What do Ryan Coogler’s Marvel blockbuster Black Panther and Wes Anderson’s stop-motion adventure Isle of Dogs have in common? Well, there’s the fact that both titles feature animals. Oh, and both are American films that, crucially, are set outside the United States. But the two most important similarities are about reception: not only are both movies among the year’s best so far; few other releases generated as much discussion in the media. You’d think that this fact, along with my opinion of the two films, would be more than cogent reasons for me to review them.

However, since February, when I saw both works for the first – and not the last – time, I’ve been putting off writing about them, even though I’m less than enthusiastic about the thought of letting two five-star movies pass me by without comment. The reason for this is not a lack of intriguing talking points or stylistic choices but the knowledge of not being able to add anything meaningful to the existing discourse.

Continue reading

The Great and Terrible Beauty of “Annihilation”

By Alan Mattli

AnnihilationWarning: This review contains major spoilers.

An ambitious and overwhelming tale of biological hybrids and a cinematic hybrid itself, a curious case of Apocalypse Now-meets-Under the Skin, Alex Garland’s sci-fi horror film Annihilation, a Netflix exclusive outside of North America and China, is something of a masterpiece. Based on the eponymous novel by Jeff VanderMeer, Garland’s sophomore directing effort expands upon the subdued, slow-burning intensity of his 2015 debut, the brilliant Ex Machina, and fully commits to the idea that in some stories, suggestiveness, abstraction, and open questions trump neat resolutions.

Plenty of commentators take issue with what Garland has attempted here (just take a look at the IMDb reviews), with some criticising the film for its supposed failings as an adaptation while others dwell on what they perceive to be immersion-breaking plot holes. Some also make more valid points, mainly highlighting issues with the script, which is fair enough: its language is functional, steely and stylised, which works a treat in some instances but jars in others.

But here’s what strikes me after three viewings of this extraordinary movie: I don’t care. Continue reading

Untitled

The weight of words thus impassed
on streams of sounds made him aware
of all the empty strings that lie
on a full and surely scriptable web.
Then spiders roam between the flying
lines, catching now and then
flies that thought not well enough
that they perhaps are not the most
important creatures in the air.
Hence they die, with tasteful flair.