In this week’s ‘Recommended’ feature, the Film section’s editors and writers reveal their picks from indie-distributor-turned-award-winning-production-house A24.
Amy – Zofia Gryf-Lowczowska
Directed by Asif Kapadia, the 2015 documentary film Amy follows the life and career of British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse. The film details the singer’s relationship with her family, the media and addiction, empathetically depicting her struggles in life and the tragedy of her death. Most importantly, it exhibits Winehouse’s tremendous talent as both singer and songwriter, and her immense passion for music before and after fame. Accompanied by previously unheard recordings of some of her most famous songs, Amy is a reminder of the timeless excellence of Winehouse’s music.
Eighth Grade – Michal Wasilewski
In his brilliant and honest directorial debut, Bo Burnham wrote a character in whom we can all see parts of our younger self. 13-year-old Kayla is soon to start high school and simply wants to become a different person. After being an outsider and failing to make friends throughout middle school, she hopes that her graduation will be the start of a new chapter. While dreaming of the ideal teen life portrayed by social media influencers, she slowly lose the distinction between who she is and who she wants to be.
Good Time – Josh Sandy
Directed by Josh and Benny Safdie, 2017’s Good Time is a sublime masterclass in tension and pacing. The film follows small-time criminal Connie (Robert Pattinson) on a gritty night-time odyssey through the New York underworld as he tries to break his disabled brother (Benny Safdie) out of jail. Alongside Pattinson’s stand-out performance, Connie’s anxiety-inducing race against time is skilfully enhanced by both Oneohtrix Point Never’s frenetic electronic score and Sean Price Williams’ urgent cinematography. Amid the film’s moral complexity, there is a subtle but powerful exploration of privilege and racial dynamics in modern America.
Mid90s – Jesse Byrne
Jonah Hill’s directorial debut sensitively encapsulates the transition into adolescence, the comfort found in subculture, and the lonely intensity of deciding one’s identity after boyhood. Mid90s follows curious young Stevie as he enters the world of 90s skate culture. Juvenile thrills aplenty, it is in the quiet moments, following the boys as they therapeutically surf the pavements of Los Angeles, when Hill’s passion shines through. The narrative serves not only as a window into the ups and downs of maturation, but as a love letter to skating itself.
Midsommar – James McCafferty
Florence Pugh gives a magnificent performance as a college student dealing with immense personal trauma in Midsommar. Alongside her boyfriend and a group of his friends, she travels to a midsummer festival in rural Sweden. A mixture of disturbing horror and emotional drama, the audio-visual texture of the film is incredible and confirms Ari Aster as a filmmaker with deep understanding of the craft.
The Death of Dick Long – Tobias Soar
I’ll say this much: it’s like if Fargo was set in Alabama. Quite possibly the funniest film I have ever seen, the genius of The Death of Dick Long rests upon how the film uses the absurdity of mystery as the central tool for storytelling. With deadpan delivery, noirish visuals, and overly-dramatic acting, I reckon the film would have been a huge hit in the UK—it’s a crying shame it didn’t get a wide release.