Spinning Platters film critics present their top 10 films of 2014
Spinning Platters film critics Carrie Kahn and Chad Liffmann each share their ten favorite films of 2014. Here is Carrie’s list, presented in alphabetical order. And you can see Chad’s list here.
Patricia Arquette and Ellar Coltrane are outstanding as a mother and son who grow and change together.
Filmed intermittently over 12 years, Richard Linklater’s film chronicling a boy named Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from ages six to 18 in real time is both a technical marvel and a cinematic masterpiece. There has been nothing like it before on screen, and there will no doubt be nothing like it again. Utterly unique in scope and vision, the film lets us watch a life develop in front of our very eyes, with all of its attendant hopes, dreams, achievements, and disappointments. Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke play Mason’s parents, changing and growing right alongside him and his older sister (Lorelei Linklater). An absolutely dazzling achievement that will leave you breathless and awed, Linklater’s picture is sure to be the one to beat for Best Picture come Oscar time. (You can also read Gordon’s full-length review here).
Michael Fassbender portrays the mysterious rocker Frank.
Loosely inspired by alt rocker Chris Sievey’s stage creation Frank Sidebottom, Irish director Lenny Abrahamson’s new film is co-written by Peter Straughan and Jon Ronson, whose memoir details his experiences with Sidebottom. But no knowledge of the film’s backstory is necessary to be utterly delighted by this quirky and very funny film, which chronicles Jon’s (Domhnall Gleeson) induction into, and relationship with, an avant-garde band led by the mysterious Frank (Michael Fassbender). The catch is that Frank wears a large papier-mâché mask not only when on stage, but during all parts of his life (even while showering). What is amazing is that although the mask has just one expression – a crudely drawn, unsmiling, wide-eyed stare, its features seem to change simply by virtue of Fassbender’s tone of voice and body language; his performance is truly remarkable. Why Frank chooses to cover himself this way is one of the film’s central questions; themes of identity, artistic integrity, and creativity are explored with nuanced humor and depth. Does creativity have to stem from inner darkness, the film asks, or can normalcy and happiness drive the creative process just as forcefully? If artistic creations become widely popular, is their worth somehow lessened? With hauntingly beautiful cinematography (many scenes were filmed around Austin) and a weird and wonderful soundtrack, Frank delves into these issues with style, charm, and black humor. Plusses: Unique, intelligent story; brilliant performances by Fassbender and relative newcomer Gleeson. Minuses: Maggie Gyllenhall is slightly grating as fellow band-mate Clara; her range here seems to hover only between fiercely angry and completely insane. Final Analysis: A smart, compelling picture about the inner lives of artists that, frankly (yes, pun intended) may well be one of the best films of the year.
Frank opens today at the Landmark Embarcadero theater in San Francisco and the Landmark Shattuck theater in Berkeley.