Another year has gone by and DMovies is now nearly seven years old. Since we started in February 2016, we have published more than 2,500 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.
Despite the numerous challenges posed by the pandemic, we physically attended five A-list festivals across Europe: Berlin, Locarno, Venice, San Sebastian and Tallinn. Other gigs included the Tromso, Saravejo, Transylvania and the second Red Sea Film Festival, in Saudi Arabia, plus the usual suspects across the UK (the BFI London Film Festival and our indie favourite Raindance). We have published 400 articles and reviews and renewed our partnership with organisations such as the Black Nights Film Festival and VoD providers Festival Scope and ArteKino.
We decided to pull together a little list of the 10 dirtiest films of 2022. 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…
1. Aftersun (Charlotte Wells):
Selected by Laney Gibbons
Gripping the viewers right from the start, Aftersun is an emotional rollercoaster that tugs on your heartstrings. An intimate story between Father and Daughter, memories are portrayed in a montage. The film combines a duo of camera techniques and compliments them with some magnificent cinematography, all supported by the amazing cast performances delivered by Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio..
Selected by John McDonald
This filthy genius documentary offers very some harrowing and compelling insight into the Armenian Genocide of 1915, and it’s on animation.
Armenia’s official submission for the Oscars in the Best International Feature category is one of extreme significance, fantastic creativity, and unbelievable star quality. Aurora’s Sunrise is a hybrid film in every sense of the word; a documentary in nature but one that is structured with exquisite animation, harrowing silent film footage, and topped off with a detailed interview that features one of the bravest female protagonists in cinema history. Although it’s incredibly unique, it strikes a similar tone to that of 2021’s outstanding Flee (Jonas Poher Rasmussen, 2021), with its adult-like animation and crushingly real story, but it differs in that it spreads its wings just that little bit more, and the result is simply a cinematic marvel.
3. Blonde (Andrew Dominik):
Selected by Ian Schultz
Andrew Dominik burns Hollywood to the ground (and possibly his career) with this misunderstood Lynchian horror masterpiece. Ana de Armas gives a performance for the ages as the little girl lost Norma Jean/Marilyn Monroe. Every shot is a piece of art and the emotional truth is so overwhelming that any embellishments of the truth the film may have don’t matter. The JFK sequence is the stuff of nightmares.
Selected by Victor Fraga
Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain (2005) meets Ingmar Bergman’s Cries and Whisper (1972), with a touch of Arab female sensibility. This is a movie so powerful that it is guaranteed to stay with you for a long time. A real powerhouse drama guaranteed to move even the most homophobic and sexist of viewers. Moroccan director Maryam Touzani succeeds in creating a film that’s profound and respectful of both its male and also of its female characters.
Fifty-something Halim (Saleh Bakri) lives with his wife Mina (Lubna Azabal) of about the same age. They have been married for decades. Halim is an experienced maleem (tailor) who runs a shop in the local souk, assisted by his spouse and a young, beautiful and devoted apprentice called Youssef (Ayoub Missioui). He is working on the titular blue dress, a sumptuous robe and symbol of status that is passed from generation to generation. He refuses to use a sewing machine and instead works on the ware by hand, to the disappointment of the demanding and yet impatient client. Halim treats the delicate fabric with tender loving care. Much in the same way as Touzani handles her film.
The irony is that I watched one of the best gay movies I’ve seen in a long time in Saudi Arabia of all places. The fact that I was in company of attentive and deferential locals makes this an even more memorable viewing experience. This is a film as universal as it can be. I hope it that receives wide distribution in the Arab world, the West and beyond.
The Blue Caftan is also pictured at the top of this article.
5. Everything Everywhere All At Once (Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert):
Selected by James Luxford
This film has a balance I rarely see in cinema: high concept and adventurous, but also grounded in a touching humanity. There are moments of outrageous entertainment, but others that brought me to tears. I watch a great many films in a year, but few (if any) leave me as genuinely surprised as this film.
Selected by Jeremy Clarke
A man in a gas mask descends into a dark, dangerous world on a mysterious mission, encountering strange creatures, humanoids and societal constructs along the way – stop-frame epic 34 years in the making – as of Tuesday, June 28th, has become the most watched premier of 2022 on Shudder and is now on Blu-ray, DVD and digital.
My immediate reaction after watching this was two-fold. On the one hand, wow!!! On the other, how on earth do I put the experience of watching this into words? Mad God definitely has a structure, yet what’s amazing about it is the visuals, the animation, the effects. Even though I’m familiar with the work of its director Phil Tippett (as one of the heirs apparent to stop-motion maestro Ray Harryhausen in the world of visual effects – career highlights include RoboCop (Paul Verhoeven, 1987), Jurassic Park (Steven Spielberg, 1993) and Starship Troopers (Paul Veroeven, 1998) – this film is something altogether different (even if its roots can be seen in his VFX work).
Selected by John Bleasdale
Albert Serra has steadily gained a reputation as a filmmaker to watch. Provocatively, he has mixed the high and the low, no more explicitly as in his Cannes shocker Liberté (2019); and yet there was frequently the suspicion that there was more ambition than effect. Like someone poking you sharply in the ribs to gain your attention only to forget what he had to tell you.
Pacifiction might well be his first out and out masterpiece. Visually stunning via the cinematography of Artur Tort, there is barely a shot or moment in the film that is not worthy of absorbed contemplation. Benoît Magimel plays De Roller, the high commissioner for France of Tahiti in French Polynesia. As he likes to remind people, he is the representative of the State. He shamelessly employs his power to garner his business interests and give himself access to the local nightclubs. In his double-breasted white suit and perpetual sunglasses, he could have slipped from between the mound mottled pages of a Graham Greene novel. He negotiates with the locals, both officially and via the underworld. Various pies have been fingered. A new casino is due to open. The navy admiral (Marc Susini) is orbiting like a little mosquito. A mysterious Portuguese man has lost his passport. The CIA have a presence. And De Roller begins a flirtatious friendship with a transgender hotel worker (Pahoa Mahagafanau).
Selected by Eoghan Lyng
From the opening shot to the probing final one, this film holds no prisoners, precisely because it’s about being imprisoned. And much like the harshest prisons, the invisible chains are harsher and more enduring than any physical shackles.
The story centres on 14-year-old Jeanne (Jana McKinnon), who is part of a commune where sex is encouraged as long as it doesn’t lead to affection. Her parents barely visit, preferring to spend their time in the cities, and although they enjoy a cosmopolitan existence, their daughter finds herself swept up in the type of love that nominally waits for people in a metropolitan hideout. And it is in this prison where she finds love, perhaps the one and only commune where it is not only frowned upon, but completely prohibited.
Set in Austria, the film bravely confronts its difficult past, by illustrating by commune founder and father Otto Muehl’s fanaticism and ominous view on humanity, by piecing together a collective who shadowed themselves in the green lands of their country, aching for a new perspective in life.
Selected by Steve Naish
A Danish family have to contend with duplicitous Dutch visitors, in this effective horror flick about the consequences of docile mannerisms.
Danish couple Bjørn (Morten Burian) and Louise (Sidsel Siem Koch) and their young daughter Agnes go on vacation to Tuscany. They meet Dutch couple Patrick and Karin (real life married couple Fedja van Huêt and Karina Smulders respectively), and their young son Abel, who has trouble speaking due to a congenital defect. They become friendly and spend the last few days of their vacation together. A number of weeks after the vacation, Bjørn and Louise receive a postcard invitation from Patrick and Karin to spend a weekend at their house in the Netherlands. Bjørn and Louise accept the invite and drive across the country. In the presence of Patrick, Karin, and Abel, they notice behavioural red flags that alert them that something is amiss with the Dutch family.
10. We Might As Well Be Dead (Natalia Sinelnikova):
Selected by Paul Risker
We Might As Well Be Dead, is German filmmaker Natalia Sinelnikova’s impressive graduation project and directorial feature debut. Co-written with Viktor Gallandi, it tells the story of a gated community in a tower block at the edge of a forest – a symbol of hope to those seeking shelter from an unseen dystopian reality.
Sinelnikova effectively explores the manipulative nature of fear to compelling effect – a double-edged blade, the characters not only use fear to pursue their own agendas, but they’re manipulated by their own internal insecurities. In effect, a mirror, the story is an uncomfortable satire about the way societies and communities fall apart under the pressure of suspicion and paranoia, induced by cultural and personal fears. Using art to critique and hold up a mirror to our political and social reality, it’s a vital response to unsettling political and cultural events that are threatening the stability of western democracies.What makes it so uncomfortable at the same time as it is entertaining, are the minor misunderstandings that escalate the tensions within the community. This taps into the concept of control over the narrative (popular in political discourse), that distorts truth and divides people.
We Might As Well Be Dead is a timeless and universal film that understands the nature of humanity, and our inherent tragedy.
And we have two last minute additions to the list (yes, we cheated, effectively making this our top 12 dirtiest movies)…
Selected by Truls Rustrop
The conclusion to the loose Oslo trilogy is “a romantic comedy for people who do not like romantic comedies”, according to the filmmaker himself. In 12 chapters, plus a prologue and an epilogue, we meet Renate Reinsve starring as Julie. She is a woman pushing 30 and in a genre-typical state of indecision on what to do with her life. She frivously changes subjects and partners at university, searching for her purpose. So far, so romantic comedy and coming of age story.
Once again Trier teams up with trusted stalwart Anders Danielsen Lie, who plays a variation of his previous roles as troubled comic artist and older romantic interest Aksel. His oeuvre is the alternative comic Gaupe, heavily based on an actual ’90s Swedish underground comic series called Arne Anka about a drunken, cynical duck’s observations on society.
Selected by Livan García-Duquesne
Mysterious and eerie, Earwig moves at an extraordinarily slow pace but is relentlessly captivating through its evocative cinematography, score and sound design. At the intersection between Victor Erice’s visual poetry and the twisted bleakness of David Lynch, Earwig is one of those films that can alter a viewer’s perception of the world once they walk out of the screening.