Ryan Gilbey on film

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The Independent Culture
I'm not a "lists" person. But do you realise just what an incredible four-and-a-half months of films we've had? It's like 1972 or something. (How fitting that The Godfather is being re-released in July.) It may not be cool to get this giddy about a year when you're not even halfway through it. But even if 1996 doesn't produce another single frame of the remotest worth, it should still go down as the richest year of the decade so far. I can't remember ever feeling quite so happy to hand over my seven quid.

There have already been seven or eight pictures that make you want to take whoever you're with and shake them by the shoulders, grinning like a big lug as the credits roll. We couldn't have got off to a better start - the unexpectedly moral Seven; Lars Von Trier's hilarious and haunting four-hour soap-from-hell, The Kingdom; Mike Figgis arriving back with Leaving Las Vegas, the film that he was put on this earth to make. And all those in January. You had to rush home and put on something by Alan Parker, just to remind you of the bad things in life.

Then there was Safe, Todd Haynes's devastating environmental horror, which remains the year's most astonishing work. What else? Smoke, Dead Man Walking and, in the next fortnight, Secrets & Lies and Fargo, the best work yet from Mike Leigh and the Coen Brothers respectively. Surely it can't get any better than this?

There's always a down side of course. The popcorn still tastes disgusting.