The list of the 10 best films of 2023 continues with numbers 4-2.
4. Only the River Flows
Shujun Wei’s third film, Only the River Flows (He bian de cuo wu), was one of the few great films at Cannes this year. Presented in the Un Certain Regard section, it outshone anything from the competition. The film is reviewed here, and I also interviewed the director.
3. Sobre todo de noche
Sobre todo de noche, or Foremost by Night as it is called, with an untranslatable pun, is the second debut feature on this year’s list. Víctor Iriarte had only directed one short before he embarked on this first film. However, he is no novice when it comes to cinema. He has been a programmer at the San Sebastián festival for years, and his cinematic knowledge is evident from the first image of this highly accomplished work. Read my review on Sobre todo de noche here. Screened in the Giornate degli Autori at the Venice Film Festival.
2. La Bête
La Bête is the latest film by Bertrand Bonello, following his Covid-motivated Coma last year. Even though I liked Zombi Child (2019), Bonello has typically not been a director who managed to impress me. All that changed with La Bête. Ostensibly an adaption of Henry James’s The Beast in the Jungle, the film goes off in several directions. The novel in question was already adapted this year by Patric Chiha. A work that received praise in some quarters.1 The Storyline about Gabrielle (Léa Seydoux), who must go back to her past lives to purify her DNA, is merely the bare skeleton of this rich film, which frequently evokes Resnais—a reference I don’t take lightly.
I’ve only seen La Bête once. It floored me then, but I’m waiting to write a piece about it until I can rewatch it. The fact that it was rejected by Cannes is laughable and tells you all you need to know about that festival. Normally, this would have been the best film of the year, but…