Top Ten Movies of 2013

This is a list of the ten best films I've seen from 2013.
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1.
Upstream Color (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives. (96 mins.)
Director: Shane Carruth
“ Shot as if potentially parodying the already embarassingly self-parodic Terence Malick and edited as if David Lowery and Shane Carruth were a pair of over-eager epileptics, Upstream Color is as close as any one has ever come to a film about absolutely everything - and who cares how much it knows it. I've had to dig my heels in with this choice over the course of the year and even rewatched it six months after the first screening just to check how much of the film's initial power was in its 'strangeness'. I doubt any amount of reviewing will fully exhaust this film for me though. A fairly conventional story structure is cut-up and stretched as thin as sun-peeled skin by the stylistic choices that Carruth boldly enforces upon his follow-up to the rightly revered sci-fi puzzler Primer. In essence Upstream Color is a love story about two characters who may share uncomfortably more than the same rough geographic locale. Amy Seimetz (who was superb in Adam Wingard's chilling A Horrible Way to Die) plays Kris, a woman who is drugged, kidnapped, experimented on, reeducated in some arcane system of being and then released back out into the world a few thousand pounds worse off than she was before, and seemingly without the superficially firm ground of 'reality' to tread upon. Carruth himself takes the near wordless role of Jeff a designer of some kind who has also had his world realigned in much the same way as described above. These two figures gravitate toward one another and gradually make some sense of shared experiences that seem at first to be pure intuition, but point towards a network connection that has been hooked up within them. The bulk of the film works through associative visual leaps, with the accelerated editing and frequently mobile camerawork serving to untether both characters and viewer from even the safe moorings of a throughline narrative. The rush of imagery, seemingly disconnected, but frequently reoccurring, as if echoing the self-reliance training inculcated through the arbitrary use of Walden, becomes the bulwark of a vertiginous view of human existence that is far more rewarding than the po-faced and frankly ridiculous mysticism of The Tree of Life. Kris and Jeff are suddenly slung out into the cosmos, even though their feet remain on the ground and the view from all the way out in inner space is quite terrifying at first. I've commented elsewhere on the politics that seems to inform this film, chipping away at the transaction culture embedded in material, capitalist existence. In such a culture improvement is desirable and is purchased, the world opens up only as far as you are able to trade away elements of yourself within it. Kris and Jeff's bizarre experiences have opened up existence as if it were some Deleuzian rhizomatic network, rather than the empirically reinforced hierarchies of late-capitalist individualism. They are suddenly conscious of new ways of sensing and feeling that Carruth clearly believes can only be adequately conveyed by sabotaging the received syntax of cinema. This is not to say that Upstream Color is some radical departure from conventional narrative film, as I said towards the beginning of this ramble it essentially has a conventional love story at its heart, but it undoubtedly utilises an excess of style to approximate the sensory overload of being fully switched on to a new 'reality'. The cause and effect linkage of some drug experiments with larvae, a flower changing colour, a pig farmer who also records the world around him to construct experimental electronic music for purchase in record stores and the experiments upon our two central characters, rather than creating a hierarchy of relations instead expands upon the fluid interdependence of a widening network. The title hints at this fluidity by slyly articulating the notion that a stream doesn't run on linearly in one direction, but cyclically refuels itself, infuses and is infused. The seemingly trite ending in which a community of the experimented upon find the abandoned source of their programming, speaks of a degree more boldness in Carruth's tacit assertion that not only is everything connected, but only through communal negotiation and interdependence can we really make sense of any of it. A truly beguiling movie. ” - rohanberrywriter
 
2.
The Great Beauty (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Jep Gambardella has seduced his way through the lavish nightlife of Rome for decades, but after his 65th birthday and a shock from the past, Jep looks past the nightclubs and parties to find a timeless landscape of absurd, exquisite beauty. (141 mins.)
“ In some ways The Great Beauty was as decadent and bloated a spectacle as The Wolf of Wall Street, with Sorrentino similarly refining elements of his back catalogue into an at times garish and absurd snapshot of a winnowed life in a decaying civilisation. Although frequently funny The Great Beauty isn't a comedy, but rather a bittersweet elegy and a rather intoxicating one at that. Longtime collaborator Tony Servillo plays Jep Gambardella with a backwards nod to the playboy intellectuals embodied by Mastroianni in his fifties and sixties pomp. Jep is a one-time novelist who has parlayed a single book into a career as a columnist, celebrity intellectual and gad about, always on standby for a witty put down or a mordant one-liner. He stalks the partying classes of Rome, at once at the heart of the party and yet very much at a remove from it all. Loss is the undertow of Sorrentino's movie - as has been the case with quite a few other excellent releases this year - with the movie opening to the news that Jep's one-time lover has passed away. Over the ensuing 140mins of screentime it becomes gradually more apparent to both Jep and us that this lover's death is felt far more deeply than his superficial cool will normally allow. What makes The Great Beauty such a special film is the imaginative reconstruction that is going on throughout its parade of farcical situations, pseudo-profound musings and hedonistic displays of capital. Jep is essentially reworking a failed relationship into a great ideal of beauty, which finds echoes and resonances within the city that he has in many ways chosen to devote his life to rather than embrace that love. Thus Rome becomes a site of personal archaeology and a sentimental fantasia, that makes the Renoir-inflected closing shot of the Tiber one of the most genuinely moving sequences in any film this year. The Great Beauty is a contortionist trick of a film, profoundly human yet pretending to be as frivolous as the Eurotrash dance music that assaults the ears at every rooftop gathering. ” - rohanberrywriter
 
3.
Under the Skin (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
A mysterious young woman seduces lonely men in the evening hours in Scotland. However, events lead her to begin a process of self-discovery. (108 mins.)
Director: Jonathan Glazer
“ Additional Viewing after January 2014. Ranked 3. ” - rohanberrywriter
 
4.
Tangerines (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
War in Georgia, Apkhazeti region in 1990. An Estonian man Ivo has stayed behind to harvest his crops of tangerines. In a bloody conflict at his door, a wounded man is left behind, and Ivo is forced to take him in. (87 mins.)
Director: Zaza Urushadze
“ Additional Viewing after January 2014. Ranked 4. ” - rohanberrywriter
 
5.
Starred Up (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Eric Love is a 19 year old teenager who is so violent he has been 'Starred Up' (Moved to Adult prison)... (106 mins.)
Director: David Mackenzie
“ Additional Viewing after January 2014. Ranked 5. ” - rohanberrywriter
 
6.
Nymphomaniac: Vol. I (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A self-diagnosed nymphomaniac recounts her erotic experiences to the man who saved her after a beating. (117 mins.)
Director: Lars von Trier
“ Additional Viewing after January 2014. Ranked 6. ” - rohanberrywriter
 
7.
The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
Following the disappearance of his wife, a man finds himself on a dark and twisted trail of discovery... (102 mins.)
“ Additional Viewing after January 2014. Ranked 5. ” - rohanberrywriter
 
8.
Before Midnight (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
We meet Jesse and Celine nine years on in Greece. Almost two decades have passed since their first meeting on that train bound for Vienna. (109 mins.)
“ By this stage welcoming Celine and Jesse back into my life at roughly decade long intervals, has become like a welcome reacquaintance with erstwhile friends, or, perhaps more revealingly, a running commentary upon my own life's headlong rush. Before Sunrise seemed to speak directly to the romantic dreamer of my teens and early twenties, drunk on the new horizons a summer Interrail could economically reveal - alas, not anymore. Before Sunset caught me in the morass of confusion that was my mid-twenties, feeling the need to assert myself and make a mark on the world, but utterly ill-equipped to fathom how or why. Before Midnight came along on the first anniversary of my marriage and thankfully that is where most of the similarities end. Celine and Jesse have always been just that bit ahead of me, like the big brother/sister I never had and in many ways their journey has served to signpost in advance some of the bumps in the road ahead. Before Sunrise is the film I feel most sentimental toward, perhaps because of the Kath Bloom and Daniel Johnston tracks featured in it, but more likely because it has become melded to my own European journeys, a year or so down the line. However, sentiment only gets you so far in a film and Before Sunset took the dangerous decision to mess with the first film's ineffable lightness by hunkering down into the lovers lives when they have real responsibilities and adult pressures. Linklater and co-writer Kim Krizan managed to swerve away completely from the law of diminishing returns in terms of sequels gifting their audience a film that was far richer than the first with one of the truly great closing shots in recent cinema. The tantalising unknown of that closing shot is now ruptured by the third film in the series, which although not quite as impressive as its predecessor manages to evolve the relationship of C&J in ways that play out as rather intense psychodrama compared with the romantic longueurs of the earlier efforts. Whereas Before Sunrise seemed to be all about the young couple's mobility and sense of discovery and Before Sunset was a tentative, teasing arousal of those earlier passions, played out upon familiar terrain, Before Midnight is defined by persistence and stasis in the face of an impulse toward rupture. The genius of Linklater and his writing cohorts (Delpy and Hawke) is in locating a private hell in the the home of the ancients, as if seemingly finding the comedy, tragedy and part-fallacy in Sartre's Huis Clos. The long take dominates the film and is deployed in a similar fashion as McQueen's extended setpieces in 12 Years a Slave. By drawing out time on the screen it allows these characters to breathe and the discomfort to gradually wrack up, as we realise that all is not rosy in the garden. Routine has taken hold of this love affair, trivialities have begun to dominate, the complications of family and the modern distances between family members only throw further spanners in C&J's Elysium. The bickering and sniping within the hotel room is very much of the Huis Clos variety, but it is infused with something more than irritation, self-loathing and existential angst, it also speaks deeply of the couple's love for one another and more importantly the difficulties of maintaining and sustaining that love when two people become ever-so-slightly complacent, or begin to peel off in dramatically different directions. I'll be intrigued to see whether the Academy has the balls to give a best original script statue to Linklater, Delpy and Hawke, as the creation of BM seems to fly in the face of the conventional Hollywood wisdom that a screenplay has to be crafted with a tight structure and should avoid the kind of freewheelin', improvisory approach beloved of the 'arthouse' circuit. I also sincerely hope that Linklater and co. will return a decade hence with more surprises from the life of C&J. ” - rohanberrywriter
 
9.
The Selfish Giant (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Two thirteen year-old working-class friends in Bradford seek fortune by getting involved with a local scrap dealer and criminal. (91 mins.)
Director: Clio Barnard
“ Having been impressed with Barnard's debut feature The Arbor, an innovative and insightful look into the life and work of the late Andrea Dunbar, I had high hopes for this, her narrative feature debut. In short, I wasn't disappointed. The Selfish Giant is an exquisitely composed work, very much in the vein of Lynne Ramsay's debut Ratcatcher which was, in turn, inflected with liberal references to Ken Loach's seminal coming-of-age drama Kes. That said, Barnard has managed to concoct a work that, although clearly reminiscent of other British films, nonetheless is shot through with a sense of spiky anti-authoritarianism that is very much her own. I must confess that it's a little hard for me to disentangle my own experiences of the Yorkshire locales in which the bulk of the drama plays out and the melancholic palette that Barnard has brought to this work. There is an all-pervasive drabness about the world that Arbor and Swifty inhabit - both young performers are superb in this film. Unlike many other films about working class Britain that drabness isn't from the usual cliched indicators of the disenfranchised, but rather in the peculiarly plastic and anodyne manner that institutions like the school and the power company now present themselves. There is a surface presentation at work here that simultaneously masks and enhances people's sense of alienation from the things within society that are meant to be benefiting them. It comes as no massive surprise that the boys end up in a situation where they seriously underestimate the consequences of their actions, given just how difficult it seems to make sense of the environments they are growing up in. As Arbor, Conner Chapman is an electric dynamo of chaotic energy and frustration. He's a kid that just doesn't fit into the piegonholes that school tends to thrust on us. He's also a kid who doesn't have adequate male role models to shape him and offer stable guidance. The friend that he is closest to, Swifty, is equally well played by young Shaun Thomas. Bigger and bulkier, Swifty has an implicit trustfulness that is surely the legacy of his larger family situation, even if his dad is a vision of failure - literally selling the sofa out from underneath his kids. Arbor's wily machinations and scheming are the catalyst for the bulk of the boys misfortunes and the final fifteen minutes of the film are all the more affecting for the manner in which Arbor realises just how much he has lost as a result of the selfish decisions he has made and the manner in which he has ultimately taken advantage of his one truly loyal friend. There is a hell of a lot of horror in this gritty fable, particularly one sequence involving a small pony that paints Arbor in the most negative light possible, yet Barnard manages to craft so much genuine affection for her characters that it is impossible not to continue investing in Arbor's plight right up to the claustrophobic end. A film that I would actually place alongside the most painful of Atom Egoyan's works (The Adjuster and The Sweet Hereafter) as a profoundly moving meditation on loss and the reasons why things are lost. ” - rohanberrywriter
 
10.
The Missing Picture (2013 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Rithy Panh uses clay figures, archival footage, and his narration to recreate the atrocities Cambodia's Khmer Rouge committed between 1975 and 1979. (92 mins.)
Director: Rithy Panh
“ From the delirium of excess to the horror of restraint. The Missing Picture is my first encounter with the work of Rithy Panh and certainly will not be my last. At the close of this small-scale production about such vast oceans (a recurrent visual motif) of pain, loss and suffering, I can only describe my feeling as being within a sensory deprivation tank, unable to coherently navigate my way through Panh's attempt to intervene in 'official' history and resolve the unresolvable. To some extent I feel that this response is a legitimate one, as so much of what Panh has constructed here is about absence or elision, what can't be said, cannot be shown and can never be found or recovered. Panh has devoted a significant portion of his career as a film director to tackling head-on the legacy of the Khmer Rouge reign in Cambodia and in The Missing Picture his masterstroke is to interject into, or overlay upon, remaining Khmer Rouge footage of the time his own questionable memories of growing up during the regime. These memories are mounted in diorama form, the film beginning with a demonstration of the manner in which each figurine is moulded and hewn into just the image that the director desires, a kind of poetic reconstruction of the chiselling forces of ideology upon the human character. So much of the film is deliberately static that it privileges those sparing moments of 'primitive' animation as a sense of childlike desire for life, as opposed to the crushing acceptance of a living 'official' death in the agrarian nightmare of Pol Pot's 'utopia', a place of mute colours and sounds, stultifying re-education, soul-destroying labour and truly terrifying state solutions to dissent. Throughout the film a narrator, that we assume is Panh, but isn't (as far as I'm aware), keeps returning to the need to find an image, that missing image that can help him to recover a sense of self, a sense of continuity, a sense of the 'truth', a sense of expanded history, yet the recurrence of waves washing away at the camera lens seems to testify to the futility of such an enterprise. However, I'd argue that in a sequence toward the close of the film Panh stumbles upon a haunting image of trauma that will linger with me as surely as the most powerful of the dramatic setpieces from 12 Years A Slave. Panh's concertinaing of the burial pits, the ideology of the Khmer Rouge, a sense of how the past is buried before it has even become the past and his own claustrophobic sense of having survived, is harrowingly given presence in a moment of pointed repetition. Of all the films on this list this is the one I'm certain I will rewatch in the coming months. ” - rohanberrywriter
 
11.
Ida (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Anna, a young novitiate nun in 1960s Poland, is on the verge of taking her vows when she discovers a dark family secret dating back to the years of the German occupation. (82 mins.)
“ Additional Viewing after January 2014. Ranked 10. ” - rohanberrywriter
 
12.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stock-broker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government. (180 mins.)
Director: Martin Scorsese
“ I was very tempted to stick with this film in my Top 5 as no other film this year gave me as much sheer - and extremely guilty - pleasure as Scorsese's comic spectacular. Yes, this is a film that seems to luxuriate in the hedonistic chauvinism and debauchery of an extremely privileged individual, a man that has made millions from selling *beep* to those who can barely afford it, a man who zealously pursues his every whim and fancy. In many respects we are in prime Scorsese territory, think Goodfellas without the fascination with guns and violence. Here the seductive force is money, and more importantly all that money can buy. What makes The Wolf of Wall Street more than just another tired entry in the gradual decline of a great American filmmaker's talents is the pursuit of the comic, and more importantly the comic spectacle, that seems to unlock a dynamism in both Scorsese and DiCaprio that hitherto has only been hinted at in films like After Hours and Catch Me If You Can. The most surprising thing about TWOWS is the fact that DiCaprio has a natural gift for comedy. We're all so used to seeing little Leo playing it straight and troubled that I think some of us have forgotten our funny bones at the entrance to the cinema and have entered TWOWS under the false impression that this will be a coruscating dissection of the contemporary avarice for Mammon. Oddly TWOWS in its dogged questing after spectacle (in this case it is more of an ode to early cinema than Scorsese's Hugo) actually comes closer to diagnosing the demented and orgiastic energies of unbridled capitalism than many a po-faced Pilger expose. It's a messy movie, but for all of about thirty minutes of its running time I thought it worked fantastically well. In a film that is literally gushing with onanistic testosterone dispensing Margot Robbie deserves a special mention for her give and take with a pill-rattling DiCaprio in the film's final third. It's one more successful transplantation from Scorsese's back catalogue (think Minnelli and De Niro in New York, New York - another misunderstood Scorsese masterclass) in this superlative greatest hits of a film. Finally, how could Thelma Schoonmaker keep up with that editing. Bravo! ” - rohanberrywriter
 
13.
The Grandmaster (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
The story of martial-arts master Ip Man, the man who trained Bruce Lee. (130 mins.)
Director: Kar Wai Wong
“ Additional Viewing after January 2014. Ranked 10. ” - rohanberrywriter
 
14.
Child's Pose (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
The news of a fatal car accident involving her son will trigger against all odds, a mother's struggle to set her child free. (112 mins.)
“ If the major international acting awards were genuinely doled out to the best performances of the year then the relentless Luminita Gheorghiu (The Death of Mr Lazarescu, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) would have to have a building constructed just to house the silverware. This was yet another great Romanian drama that, if anything, was actually partly hamstrung by the incredible turn of Gheorghiu as the entitled, manipulative and searingly passive-aggressive matriarch, Cornelia, hell-bent on reasserting herself as an overbearing presence in her manchild son Barbu's life. So much of this film is about subtext that superficially Barbu's cowardly, ineffectual and selfish personality makes him seem like an ungrateful child, but that would be to ignore the central role that Cornelia has had in the formation of this man uncomfortable in his own skin. In a year of great domestic confrontations - Before Midnight, The Selfish Giant and The Wolf of Wall Street, to name a few - no scene has been able to trump the dinnertable sequence in which Barbu spirals out of control and lashes out in all directions, yet remains unable to remove Cornelia's smothering, sickening love. A powerful yet flawed masterpiece. ” - rohanberrywriter
 
15.
12 Years a Slave (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. (134 mins.)
Director: Steve McQueen
“ Perhaps still too fresh in my mind to fully evaluate, however having heard some critics taking the film to task for an overly picturesque approach to the major theme of slavery I was more than happy to find little trace of that. Instead what you've got here is a muscular piece of narrative cinema that shows the full range of McQueen's cinematic talents, whilst not straying too far from his love of character studies and his penchant for punishing extended dramatic setpieces. Ejiofor is magnificent as the evermore withdrawn and observant Solomon Northup, a man taken out of 'civilisation' and transported to an Old Testament land of suffering, where every word of scripture serves to smite him and justify the smiting. I've said elsewhere in this Top 10 that John Ridley's script has a little of the Diderot in it with its narrative arc resemblance to La Religieuse (three different masters: a seemingly benevolent but benign one, a ferocious sadist and a dangerously indulgent one; not to mention each adaptation's fondness for a similar level of spectacular abjection). It's no insult to say that 12 Years a Slave's is most affecting in moments (a lynching unlike any other seen in Hollywood film, an accusatory stare directly into camera during the rendition of a soulful song, the utter vacancy in Fassbender's face during a truly bizarre and brutal whipping), although the cumulative effect of the films deliberately extended takes is what ultimately makes McQueen's film. Yes, there are moments that will haunt, but it is the consistent and rigorous extension of those moments beyond any immediate narrative exigency that makes this a far stronger film than I had imagined it could be. Beatings are drawn out until the inflicter of the beating is worn out from his own exertions, or until the tool used actually buckles and breaks. Cruelty and inhumanity are omnipresent rather than reserved purely for the interactions of master and slave. In Epps, Fassbender presents us with a figure that is so hellish as to seem almost to be pickling in his own hatred and loathing, yet even his overt sadism is given moments of texture, particularly in his relationship to his equally callous, and frequently crueler wife, brilliantly played by Sarah Paulson. Finally, two cameo performances stood out for the sheer quality of the actor's work. Producer Brad Pitt turned in another one of his quietly forceful turns as the Canuck labourer who ultimately helps Northup escape hell. What was impressive about this brief role was the way in which Pitt's interactions with Fassbender's Epps conveyed some of the genuine fear and discomfort that even a 'free' white man could have in the face of the slaving machine and the plantation owner. Alongside this small role was a gossiping, spritely, pinky-finger extended turn from the always immense Alfre Woodard as a black woman who has elevated herself to lady of the plantation and exerts some influence over the affairs of white folks, even if her influence mainly runs to the self-preservatory. ” - rohanberrywriter
 
16.
Short Term 12 (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A 20-something supervising staff member of a residential treatment facility navigates the troubled waters of that world alongside her co-worker and longtime boyfriend. (96 mins.)
“ I came to this film cold in a double bill with La Religieuse (a film adaptation that has a similar tripartite, descent into hell structure as 12 Years a Slave). My immediate impression of the film was a well-constructed piece of hipster-inflected whimsy and yet it just would not fall back into the melange of films I've watched over the course of the year. There is something potent about Destin Cretton's dead-headed pursuit of 'earnestness' and 'niceness' that endeared it to me, without ever making me feel as if I was being emotionally manipulated or cheated, a la Beasts of the Southern Wild. Brie Larson gave a wonderful, understated central performance as the internally scarred Grace, a young woman zealously protective of her pain. Whilst young Kevin Hernandez and Keith Stanfield were equally superb as the bickering teens that give the film some local colour. I'm sure there were bigger and more important films this year, but this is very much a keeper. ” - rohanberrywriter
 
17.
Le Week-End (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
A British couple return to Paris many years after their honeymoon there in an attempt to rejuvenate their marriage. (93 mins.)
Director: Roger Michell
“ Additional Viewing after January 2014. Ranked 7. ” - rohanberrywriter
 
18.
Computer Chess (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
A 1980s-set story centered around a man vs. machine chess tournament. (92 mins.)
Director: Andrew Bujalski
“ Additional Viewing after January 2014. Ranked 13. ” - rohanberrywriter
 
19.
Traffic Department (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Comic and tragic scenes from the lives of police officers in the Warsaw Traffic Department. (118 mins.)
“ The prolific late-bloomer Wojciech Smarzowski is one of the best contemporary Polish filmmakers and this is his strongest film to date. Ostensibly an action-thriller that explores the corruption within a department of Warsaw's traffic police the film manages to work its way through a Hollywood plot arc without once losing its iron grip on place. Smarzowski has a jet-black sense of humour that has almost become a cinematic brand (in the mould of Kusturica) and the plethora of camera technologies deployed in the film also echo earlier works like Wesele. Yet despite this the film feels fresh and dynamic, as if the director has refined his technique considerably with his detour into historical drama with Roza. This is partly due to the fact that the endless clips of mobile phone footage have a real resonance within the context of police officers having to film their public interactions to cover their own backs. The film also features one of the best rooftop chase sequences I've seen in recent cinema, which once again manages to take a pure Hollywood action movie conceit and make something far more interesting of it. Enjoyable viewing. ” - rohanberrywriter