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The top 10 dirtiest films of 2019

We look back at the year of 2019 and ask our writers and readers to pick their dirty movie of the year; the list is as international, diverse and downright filthy as it gets!

Another year has gone by and DMovies is now nearly four years old. Since we started in February 2016, we have published 1,400 exclusive articles and reviews. We have attended both big and small film festivals and industry events of Europe, always digging the dirty gems of cinema firsthand and exclusively for you.

This year alone, we have published 400 articles and reviews and renewed our partnership with organisations such as Native Spirit, the Tallinn Film Festival, the Cambridge Film Festival, plus VoD providers such as Walk This Way and ArteKino. What’s more, our weekly newsletter has highlighted the best films out in cinemas, festivals, VoD and DVD every Friday to our 20,000 subscribers! We have up to 100,000 monthly visitors on average.

So we decided to pull together a little list of the 10 dirtiest films of 2019. And what better way to do it than asking our most prolific writers and also our audience for their dirty pick of the year? This is a truly diverse and international list, containing very different films from every corner of the planet, some big, some small, some you can still catch in cinemas, some on VoD and some you will just have to keep an eye for, at least for now!

Don’t forget to click on the film title in order to accede to the our dirty review of the movie (not necessarily written by the same person who picked it as their dirty film of the year). The movies are listed alphabetically. And scroll all the way to the bottom of the article for the turkey of the year (a film so squeaky clean that you shouldn’t be sad if you missed it)…

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1. Animals (Sophie Hyde):

Selected by Eoghan Lyng

The glorification of male companionship has been celebrated in tragicomedies such as Withnail & I (Bruce Ronbinson, 1987) and Trainspotting (Danny Boyle, 1996). Animals, on the other hand, showcases the triumphant revelry between two young women, decadent in their communal taste for fermented depravity. Effortlessly translating Emma Jane Unsworth’s book from Manchester’s streets to the Irish capital, Animals zips with inspired zest, an energised exposition of elastic wit and inspirited storytelling.

Laura (the British born Holliday Grainger, complete with killer Dublin accent) fancies herself a writer, fancifully fantasising through voluminous bottles with the coquettish Tyler (Alia Shawkat). Their thirties fast approaching, the women see little reason to halt their precocious abilities to party, until love threatens to put these halcyon days to pasture. Minesweeping to Alphaville, Laura walks into the enigmatic Jim (Fra Fee), a precocious Ulster pianist whose scale painting conjures composites of satiated sexual desires. Between these silhouettes, a solitary fox walks, echoing the lonely poetry the film displays.

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2. Dragged Across Concrete (S. Craig Zahler):

Selected by Jack Hawkins

Dragged Across Concrete may not be the best film of the year, but it’s certainly the dirtiest. With it, S. Craig Zahler cements his status as a leading genre auteur, which is no mean feat. Few other filmmakers could get away with a 160-minute crime film of such deliberate pace and odious content.

For example, half-way into the narrative we are introduced to a young mother named Kelly, who is returning to work after three months’ maternity leave. Performed with heartfelt angst by Jennifer Carpenter, Kelly has clearly dreaded this day, tearfully lamenting how she ‘sells chunks of her life for a pay cheque so rich people I’ve never even met can put money places I’ve never even seen. With some degree of tough love, her partner persuades her to leave for the bus; what happens when she makes it to the bank will have you shaking your head in disgust. It becomes clear that the sole purpose of the character is to make you feel terrible, and it is this – along with the film’s pervasively bleak vision – that makes Dragged Across Concrete the dirtiest film of the year.

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3. Echo (Rúnar Rúnnarsson):

Selected by Redmond Bacon

This film is basically Love Actually (Richard Curtis, 2003) directed by Roy Andersson. Comprised of only 56 static takes, Rúnar Rúnarsson calmly takes Iceland’s pulse during the Christmas season; delivering a panorama that is equal parts funny, sad, ironic and loving. Displaying a supreme confidence in direction and writing, this is a major step up in form and content.

It spans through the Advent season to the New Year, that time of year when families are reunited, stress levels are high, and wallets are strained. Everyone is in the mood to either try and enjoy themselves, or simply get through the darkest days in the year. Spanning from rich to poor, old to young, alone or surrounded with family, it feels like all of Icelandic life is contained within this film.

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4. Joker (Todd Phillips):

Selected by Michael McClure

The Joker looks on its poster as yet another quirky, all-American urban mythology film, that appeals to that predictable audience base – it is anything but. With its extraordinarily talented performance by Joaquin Phoenix, it is up there with the greats of the Weimar cinema such as The Blue Angel (Josef von Sternberg, 1930) and Nosferatu (FW Murnau, 1922) as an exploration of the human psyche, that is both prophetic and insightful. It is about that phenomenon that Nietzsche called “ressentiment” in which the weak, talentless and envious take out their anger on the talented and intelligent and turn it into an internalised ritual of cruelty.

It the creed of the “people” versus the “elite”, the Nazi against the Jew, the herd against the thoughtful and intelligent. The Joker is a useless, bitter clown who in his resentments takes on the right to kill those who show him up for what he is. As such, in this age of social media, trolling and glib public opinion, this film is very modern and very prophetic. Joaquin Phoenix is up there with Emil Jannings in the complexity and depth of his performance.

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5. Never Look Away (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck):

Selected by Jeremy Clarke

What is art? Why do artists make art? These questions lie behind Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s latest film, like his earlier The Lives Of Others (2006) a German story exploring that country’s history and identity. It clocks in at over three hours, but don’t let that put you off because it needs that time to cover the considerable ground it does. Never Look Away spans the bombing of Dresden by the Allies in WW2, the liquidation of people considered by the Nazis inferior and therefore unfit to live and the very different worlds of post-war art schools in first East and later West Germany. This means it also spans two generations: those who were adults during the war, and those who were children at that time and became adults in post-war Germany.

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6. Parasite (Bong Joon-ho):

Selected by DMovies’ audience and Lucas Pistilli

Our audience’s pick is our most read review of 2019, and the film isn’t even out in UK cinemas yet!

The latest Palme d’Or winner at Cannes, and the first Korean film to win the prestigious prize, follows a small family of four They live in a shoddy basement flat in an impoverished district of Korea. They face unemployment, and the future does not looks bright. They steal wi-fi from their neighbours. They panic when the password is changed, leaving them disconnected from the rest of the world. But that isn’t their one “parasitic” action. All four are con artists. One by one, they take up highly qualified jobs with a super-rich family, which also consists of four memebers. They are very well-spoken and manipulative. Their bosses never suspect that there’s something wrong with their highly “diligent” workers. These impostors are also extremely charming. Your allegiance is guaranteed to lie with them.

Furthermore, Lucas wrote: “A home invasion-social critique hybrid that exposes the malaise of late-stage capitalism with a Hitchcockian flair, Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite is a film that rewards multiple viewings and is very deserving of every acclaim sent its way. The thriller establishes a sense of barely-contained mayhem early on and doesn’t let the audience go until the only way out is sheer chaos. A killer picture is every level”

Parasite is also pictured at the top of this article.

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7. So Long, My Son (Wang Xiaoshuai):

Selected by Patricia Cook

Across four decades of turbulent Chinese society, Wang studies a married couple, using the death of their son as a focal point around which to subtly explore the single-child policy and the impact of the Cultural Revolution.

The unconventional structure zips back and forth through different time frames, gradually moving along a central timeline. The story occurs in episodes which each have the feel of their own short story, but which fill in the details of the other things we have seen. Wang leans heavily on dramatic irony, raising the tension as we wait for truths to emerge. One wonders if he couldn’t have found a way to cut 15 minutes or so from the run time, so languid are the first two hours. It isn’t until the final 50 minutes that So Long My Son really pays off every beat he’s set up. Like a Koreeda film, revelation is piled upon revelation, disarming you with one bombshell and then slapping you with another. Wang even uses the flashbacks to abet this by undercutting the outcome of one scene with the reality of the past or present.

In addition, Patricia wrote: “A thoroughly engrossing film, beautiful to look at and outstanding in interweaving the personal and the political. It is an epic story covering the impact a tragic event has on a group of friends. Although long, it never fails to engage”.

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8. Sorry We Missed You (Ken Loach):

Selected by Victor Fraga, editor of DMovies

Ricky (Kris Hitchen) is a building worker with an impeccable CV, living with his family somewhere in suburban Newcastle. He persuades his wife Abbie (Debbie Honeywood) to sell off her car in order to raise £1,000 so that he can buy a van and move into the delivery industry. A franchise owner promises Ricky that he’ll be independent and “own his own business”, and earn up to £1,200 a week.

The reality couldn’t be more different. Ricky ends up working up to 14 hours a day six days a week. He literally has no time to pee, and instead urinates in a bottle inside him own vehicle. His draconian delivery targets and inflexible ETAs (estimated time of arrival) turn him into a delivery robot. A small handheld delivery device containing delivery instructions virtually controls his life. Ricky has been conned. His “independence” is but an illusion. He might own his car, his company and his insurance, yet he’s entirely at the mercy of his franchiser.

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9. Uncut Gems (Sadfie Brothers):

Selected by Daniel Luis Ennab

Everything about Uncut Gems excites. A mythological sprawl that feels timeless, and tragic in its overall emptiness by the time Howard Ratner supposedly wins. I’m reminded of Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant with an ugly, repulsive enforcer addicted to chaos. Ratner is a study of desperation. An addict with nothing beyond his own stakes. Nothing to offer, nothing to redeem, a man always running even when he never actually has to. Everything that happens in Uncut Gems could’ve simply been avoided, and yet — the vile beauty of such a fact is that it wasn’t. It’s the story of a dreamer, a chaser, one for fool’s gold.

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10. The Vast of Night (Andrew Pattinson):

Selected by Paul Risker

Effusing the nostalgia of 1950s small town America, director Andrew Pattinson’s debut feature is a near-perfect film, a quintessential addition to genre cinema. Set during one night in a small town in New Mexico, young radio DJ Everett (Jake Horowitz) and switchboard operator Fay (Sierra McCormick) set out to discover the origins of a mysterious frequency they hear over the radio. In those moments when strange incidents that may explain the mysterious frequency are recounted to Everett and Fay, Pattinson incorporates the oral storytelling and the literary traditions. He asks us to imagine for ourselves rather than to show us, and this makes The Vast of Night striking for its anti-cinematic shades. The stillness of these moments is effectively offset with the urgency of the pair to unravel the mystery before its too late, and an ending that effectively compromises on revealing versus preserving the mystery.

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and the turkey of the year is…

Vita and Virginia (Chanya Button):

Virginia Woolf has never been this dull and joyless before! And love has rarely seemed more anodyne than in this awful biopic, which has a miscast Gemma Arterton and Elizabeth Debicki playing the two lovers. Here one of the most important women to have ever put pen to paper is reduced to a wholly passive, sickly, and sad woman, devoid of any true emotion, inspiration or true internalisation. Her lesbian lover, Vita Sackville-West fares no better, Gemma Arterton more focused on her aristocratic mannerisms than her transgressive personality or desire to shake the system. Together they seem like they’re still reading through the script.


By DMovies' team - 20-12-2019

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