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The forgotten films of Simon Abrams in 2022

We asked ten contributors to choose three movies from 2022 that they think everyone should see before making their top ten of the year. These are the choices of Simon Abrams.

It’s hard to know how to talk about, let alone recommend, overlooked films of the past year. A few of these films are unknown due to a lack of publicity and/or distribution, although honestly, after a certain point, your guess is as good as mine. I would even say that some films should not be described as neglected, unless they include titles that have been published and promoted by well-known and/or respected cultural institutions. A few of these films still somehow make it onto my year-end list, which is necessarily still a work in progress.

In the meantime, I’ve chosen three films that I fell in love with, but haven’t seen much of my peers talk about yet. These three movies come together nicely, and not just because two of them feature scenes where the main protagonist points his index finger at various heavyweights and somehow “real” bullets air his opponents. It’s just a coincidence, ha ha.

Detective Vs. Detectives

The most surprising thing about the unpredictable Hong Kong thriller “Detective Vs. decades, catered to mainlanders’ tastes, so I don’t think anyone expected a box office bonanza from this manic procedural, all about a disgraced, mentally unstable HK policeman who lives under a bridge.

Lee Jun (Lau Ching Wan) was fired from the Royal Hong Kong Police 17 years ago when he violently interrupted a press conference and accused his colleagues of arresting the wrong suspects in two high-profile investigations. Now, a vigilante flash mob is killing people based on Jun’s wild (and unconfirmed) theories, so Jun must stop them, with the help of friendly and heavily pregnant cop Chan Yee (Charlene Choi).

Lee Jun’s maddening investigation suggests that the tabloid-friendly criminals and serial killers of Hong Kong’s pre-transfer past were still symptomatic reflections of a financially unstable and deeply neurotic community of repressed city dwellers. They couldn’t (and really, still can’t) talk about what they had in mind, because the mainland Chinese and Hong Kong authorities frown on that stuff, so scapegoating and conspiracy theories are become a contagious coping mechanism. This cycle of tortured and self-centered fabulism does not end with the story of Lee Jun. If anything, the film’s final image, of Lee Jun staring at his distorted reflection, suggests there’s no end in sight to this kind of hyper, convoluted, and hyper-antihero counter-narrative. ultimately irresistible.

A man of integrity

Iranian writer and director Mohammad Rasoulof’s tragic drama looks even more devastating five years after it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. (I first saw and wrote about it in 2017.) In real life, Rasoulof was arrested earlier this year for speaking out about police brutality on social media. And in “A Man of Integrity,” Rasoulof pursues Reza (Reza Akhlaghirad), a desperately principled goldfish breeder who refuses to let his neighbor Abbas (Misagh Zare Zeinab) – and the corporate interests Abbas represents – intimidate him. to sell his land.

“A Man of Integrity” is a kind of fable about the institutionally structured and protected corruption that prevents someone like Reza from acting according to his principles. One hand vigorously washes the other, leaving Reza and his wife Hadis (Soudabeh Beizaee) at the mercy of selfish authoritarians and venal bureaucrats.

Rasoulof strives to show that Reza is neither ignorant nor immune to the immediate and constant repercussions of his actions. And while “A Man of Integrity” may lack the surreal touches that defined some of Rasoulof’s earlier anti-fables, like “Iron Island” and “The White Meadows,” Reza’s story has the stubborn simplicity of a bedtime story, although it is not. ‘t have a clear beginning or end. With exceptionally well-crafted performances and characterizations, and superb wide-angle compositions measured by cinematographer and now regular collaborator Ashkan Ashkani, “A Man of Integrity” remains one of Rasoulof’s most stunning and viscerally heartbreaking dramas. nowadays.

too cool to kill

This mainland Chinese remake of the 2008 Japanese comedy “The Magic Hour” not only matches, but sometimes surpasses its charming predecessor. Both films follow an enthusiastic extra who is tricked into posing as a legendary assassin by a pair of hustlers. The hustlers, in both films, try to appease their paranoid mob boss, who is convinced he is the assassin’s next target. But in “Too Cool to Kill,” the gangster is also a movie producer named Harvey (Chen Minghao), and the two con artists are Mi Le (Huang Cailun), an insecure director, and his jaded sister/star, Mi Lan (Ma Li).

Wei Xiang stars as Wei Chenggong, a committed hobbyist who imagines that any challenge to his ego is truly a creative opportunity. Wei’s balanced and deeply silly performance is reminiscent of Stephen Chow’s Chaplin/Lewis-style comedies, especially Chow’s 1999 milestone “King of Comedy.”

I was lucky enough to see “Too Cool to Kill” when it hit theaters earlier this year; a recent rewatch confirmed the response from my small but enthusiastic audience – it’s not just another brilliant remake.

“Too Cool to Kill” seems to exist in its own self-sufficient artificial universe. The actors’ costumes make them look like characters from a Broadway play; the sets seem to have been built and not found; and the camerawork and lighting are just artificial enough to draw attention to themselves. “Too Cool to Kill” feels like a movie that primarily announces how good it is, not just a conscious homage to (sigh) the magic of the movies.

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