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Searching for Sugarman in Parkland with Ginger & Rosa the year’s best DVD releases

Published: 
Sunday, December 29, 2013
Django Unchained. Django is a slave whose brutal history with his former owners lands him face-to-face with German-born bounty hunter Dr King Schultz, who is on the trail of the murderous Brittle brothers, and only Django can lead him to his bounty.

Though the 13 months from December last year to now were not exceptional for new films at the cinema at the mall, it was a pretty good year for home cinema in your own living room, with several new films released for home viewing while still on the big screen, and many “older” ones having their first release on DVD/ Blu-ray. This year, BC on TV names, not the top ten, but the top 15 DVDs, with an additional top five films sorted by some of the most popular categories, most available on DVD locally. This year-end recap also includes an Indian film category, which did not ignore Bollywood DVDs. If, next year, enough good-enough films can be found early enough, there will be a Nollywood section. Two rules were applied in choosing films: one, no form of sequel was allowed; and, two, the film had to be released on DVD, or screened at the T&T Film Festival (   TTFF), in the last 13 months, an important sub-qualification given the top four positions. The starting cutoff date was December 2012.

 
Top 15 DVDs of 2013,
All Categories

1.  The Dream of Lu—The highpoint, for BC on TV, of this year’s TTFF was the debut feature of Mexican director Carlos Sama, a filmmaker of stunning talent who turned the most difficult theme in human experience—the death of a child from the mother’s perspective—into something beautiful.
2.  Songs of Redemption—Miquel Galofre’s brutal and beautiful film about bad men being made good by music was the deserved winner of the People’s Choice and co-winner of the Best Documentary jury prize at this year’s TTFF.
3. Payday—A contender for the Strongest Caribbean Film Made to Date, the debut feature of Barbadian filmmaker Selwyn Bourne is entirely, unapologetically Bajan—and very good, within the limitations of its tiny budget, even if the heavy Bajan dialect almost requires it to be filed under “Foreign Language”.
4. God Loves the Fighter—The TTFF People’s Choice Best Narrative Feature-winner, Damian Marcano’s powerful film about a part of Trinidad—a big part—the rest of us would rather pretend did not exist may not be the smoothest feature film ever made, but it does everything cinema—and art—ought to.
5. Ginger & Rosa—Probably the most overlooked film of 2012 and certainly the most undeservedly overlooked one, this fine drama about love and betrayal is as close to perfect as films get.
6. Skyfall—By far the best Bond film ever made, with all respect due to Sean Connery and the revitalising powers of nostalgia.
7. Searching for Sugarman—This year’s Best Documentary Oscar-winner is a paean to the human spirit that makes the heart soar without once approaching sentimentality.
8. Disconnect—An Amores Perros/ Crash-style multiple-storyline film that confronted critically important issues with courage and grace.
9. The Sessions—The true story of a man in an iron lung who found romantic love is mind-blowing; and stars Helen Hunt as she’s never been seen before.
10. The Paperboy—Despite having two of Hollywood’s most bankable actors in Matthew McConaughey and Nicole Kidman (three, if you count Zac Enfron as, apparently, teenaged girls do) this is a powerful, violent, sexually disturbing independent film from the maker of Precious and The Butler.
11. This is 40—A comedy adults can watch over-and-over and laugh harder every time.
12. Prisoners—The best thriller BC on TV has seen since The Silence of the Lambs, this was released on DVD just in time—December 17—to make the cut.
13. Parkland—The best idea for a film to come out of Hollywood for the year (based on the book by Vincent “Helter Skelter” Buglioski) it tells the story of the assassination of JFK from the unusual perspective of the emotional cost of the events as they unfolded.
14. Django Unchained—No one does troubling, troublesome films better than Quentin Tarantino. Gory, over-the-top violent, provocative - and magnificent.
15. Simon Killer/The Place Beyond the Pines—A sneaky draw for last place gets BC on TV out of the difficult task of pronouncing which of two edgy thrillers is “better”.

 
Special mention: Amour and Forward Ever: The Killing of a Revolution. Michael Haneke’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar-winner this year would almost certainly have made the list—perhaps topped it—if BC on TV had been able to surmount DVD problems and seen the whole thing before deadline; and Bruce Paddington’s excellent, comprehensive documentary about the end of the Maurice Bishop experiment in revolution in Grenada would have been in the list—at joint #3—if BC on TV could be sure that what screened at the TTFF would be the final cut.