1. Inception

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Christopher Nolan’s mind-fuck is more like a metaphysical version of Heat than The Matrix in a pressed-suit. In many ways a conventional heist film with one of the most compelling and unique ‘jobs’ ever put to film. But if you’re after a display of its meta-powers, it’s like Nolan went into every other filmmaker’s dreams, stole their good ideas and replaced them with shit ones. (At least, that’s how I’d like to explain how we’re halfway through the year and I only have 3 films in my Top 10).

Pick something at random, point at it and in all likelihood, Inception is probably more intelligent than it – unless of course you’re pointing at Bamber Gascoigne, Stephen Fry or that small child with the curly hair from the 90s that was really good at antiques. However, if you’re pointing at 1 and 3, you probably haven’t moved for 20 years and are either: dead, dreaming (Ooooooooooh), or intellectually outclassed by your belly-button fluff.

2. Lebanon

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A tour through one of the world’s most beautiful locations from the inside of a dark, damp, sweat-filled box. Thankfully, Lebanon, isn’t set in Judith Chalmers’ under-passage, but it is (one would imagine) equally haunting, scary and disorientating. Unlike said tour (still imagining here) the film is also incredibly exciting and equally moving. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before; unless of course you’re the director, who based it on his real-life experiences as a tank gunner in the Lebanon war, which, as shit jobs go, must rank alongside being Jamie Oliver’s toothbrush for sheer unbridled horror.

Despite the obvious hardship in revisiting his youth, Samuel Maoz’s filmmaking-as-therapy makes for incredible cinema that stays with you. It’s just a place you probably won’t want to visit again.

3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

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In the past year, I’ve been confronted by 2 glassy-eyed people, both recommending books with such conviction that I felt a little bit scared. One of these books was Dianetics by Lionel Ron Hubbard, the other was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. One book’s filmic adaptation: Battlefield Earth, offered much in the way of LOL-age, whereas the other raised barely a chuckle. But what The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo loses by not featuring a 9ft tall alien John Travolta with dreadlocks, it makes up for by being completely unshit.

There’s nothing revolutionary about Niels Arden Oplev’s film; it’s basically the immensely entertaining culmination of great work from all involved: It tells its tale in an engaging and confident way, is beautifully shot, well acted and keeps you entertained to the last frame. There’s not much more to be said really, except that despite undoing the good work that the Swedish tourist board have been doing over the years, with Abba and that Chef from the Muppets, the film made me want to visit Sweden, despite the now apparent risk of rape/murder/beer in hair.

4. Precious

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Another gruelling film which stays with you and forces you to think – though in the case of having to write about it, I’m left thinking: “If only Iron Man 2 wasn’t so crap”. The story of Precious, a girl growing up in Harlem in the 80s, is basically the last-word in cinematic hardship. And as the challenges she has to overcome get bigger, she becomes more emotionally resilient and, for better or worse (though normally worse),¬† you’re with her every step of the way.

Compared to what she goes through in the preceeding hours, Precious’ emancipation ends the film¬† on something of a high-note. Though if you’re expecting the strange, orgiastic dance scenes of of Mamma-Mia, you’d be way-off and probably have comparable problems to those of the protaganist. In short, it’s highly, but hesitantly, recommended.

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