ARTS / Perplexingly good double act: Film of the Year

A YEAR of disappointments began with the sad news that Oliver Stone had not solved the murder of John F Kennedy. Stone himself may think otherwise, having boiled the suspects down to the CIA, the Mafia and half the US government. Other dud solutions: Barbra Streisand cracking the code of Nick Nolte's childhood in Prince of Tides, Bridget Fonda doing the same to Jennifer Jason Leigh in Single White Female, and Batman making a hash of the Penguin case. That movie should have been Bat v Cat, and no holds barred.

Like Tim Burton, Martin Scorsese was way off form; Cape Fear made him look like a nasty little show-off, which is not the case. Still, his next film is The Age of Innocence, a fascinating prospect; not even Scorsese can wangle rape and tattoos into Edith Wharton. Much more inspiring was Clint Eastwood's return to the Western in Unforgiven - a grizzled and leathery work, with particularly strong playing from Morgan Freeman and Gene Hackman. If anything, it was too tightly packed: it kept on telling a bitter fable about the decline of the Wild West, and the last breath of old illusions. It seldom relaxed into plain story- telling, which is why I preferred The Last of the Mohicans - a less clever film, but far more stirring and unabashed. Michael Mann will always come up with something stylish, but there was more to this; it marked him out as the last of the Romantics. Notice how Daniel Day-Lewis doesn't ask Madeline Stowe for a kiss, or come up and gaze into her eyes; he just marches past her, through the flaming fort, takes her arm - and she follows him, off for a long embrace, as if she'd planned the whole thing.

More love and death from the Continent: around the turn of the year we had Toto the Hero shading into Delicatessen and everything was set fair for a great European renaissance. It never happened, but there was a pocketful of miracles. Les Amants du Pont-Neuf barely hung together, but that was no surprise: it travelled a long way, from scrawny documentary to pompous dream. If you like movies to knock you over the back of your seat, the sequence on the Seine is for you - the quiet Juliette Binoche letting rip, just for once, with the sky on fire behind her. Maurice Pialat is a great and daunting director, and many viewers were put off by the length and severity of Van Gogh. Of the many films made about the artist, this was the strongest; more than that, it painted a difficult and downbeat picture of genius, of beauty cracked from side to side.

If you found that hard to watch, how about The Double Life of Veronique? This was directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski, whose forbidding Dekalog took us as deep into the soul of a Polish housing estate as most people would like to go. Veronique was much more spirited - it could hardly be less - but also more perplexing. Having seen it three times, I am really none the wiser; but I am much the happier. Irene Jacob played the two identical, unrelated girls and somehow sparkled with melancholy, a kind of joie de mourir. This is my film of the year: it makes you work hard, but repays the effort. It's still on at the MGM Swiss Centre, as if to prove that great films just won't go away.

(Photographs omitted)

Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam