2023 movies list

What’s left of 2023 – A few more movies from the past year

Although we are largely in 2024 by now, I brought the calendar back a couple of pages with a small list of movies I would like to have talked about in 2023 but have not had the chance for one reason or another.

After all, I often talk about the cinema of the 1980s and 1970s or go even further back to the 1950s or the beginnings of silent film, so how about a couple of months?

I understand how, in the society of social networks, we live mainly on the last 24 hours, and news that appeared a week ago is a geological era old like the extinct dinosaurs; however, the timeless magic of cinema, fortunately, has no expiration date.

What’s more, 2023 was a year so rich in excellent movies about which I had already written my personal list of preferences multiple times, emphasizing “personal” with the fact that every morning, I might wake up in a different mood and change my choices just as many times.

Anyway, I don’t want to bore you over much with my cinematic schizophrenia, so let’s check to see if there is anything among these recommendations you may have missed, slipping through the loophole of forgetfulness, anonymously away from your attention.

Don’t worry because your humble fisherman is always ready to haul ashore the drag of that cinema that sometimes eludes the same audience looking for it, maybe blinded by the shinier promotion and marketing of other productions.

Invitation to a Murder

Invitation to a Murder 2023 movie
Amazon Prime Video

Beginning with a misunderstood Agatha Christie-style detective story starring the romantic flower girl Miranda, not surprisingly a passionate and voracious reader of Agatha Christie novels.

In her dreams, there has always been a detective of great intelligence and deduction like Poirot, but of course, when the wish comes true, it is never exactly as we would have wished.

In this case, everything changes for the girl when she receives an invitation to a private reception from the wealthy and mysterious Lord Findley, excitedly setting off to the remote island where the patron lives in complete solitude.

Or rather, we should say “lived” in solitude, since Miranda and the other guests, five strangers she has never seen before, quickly discover Findley is dead, and all of them are his illegitimate children, of whom only one will receive the entire inheritance.

But as soon as the guests begin to get acquainted, they find the body of the trusty footman murdered under circumstances that deny each guest any alibi.

Mindful of her readings, Miranda improvises herself as a detective and begins the investigation of her half-brothers and half-sisters, who, as per tradition, have much to hide and have no small motive for committing the murder.

Director Stephen Shimek stages a delightful game of Clue following all the stereotypes of the genre created by Agatha Christie; however, managing to shuffle the cards originally and intriguingly.

Above all, the choice of Mischa Barton as the determined and sharp protagonist is extremely apt; older and chubbier today than we remember her in “The O.C.” series, but gaining in sympathy what she lost in beauty.

In short, it is a little puzzle for mystery lovers to solve, with that touch of humanity that takes the recipe to a different level that, unfortunately, not everyone enjoys.

The Conference

The Conference 2023 movie
Watch on Netflix

Some time ago, I recommended some movies to watch upon returning to work from vacation angrily, and, although late, this entertaining horror film from 2023 may well add to the list.

It revolves around some town hall employees in a small Swedish village where some multinationals are pushing to build a shopping mall.

The locals are none too happy about the initiative, especially after the suicide of an elderly fellow villager due to pressure (legitimate and otherwise) to have him dislodged from his little piece of land.

So these employees call a conference to sponsor the project with the (supposed) benefits it would bring to the region, while office manager Ingela uses the occasion for a psychological session to compact the group.

But of course, we have assumed that this is a horror film, so almost immediately, a homicidal maniac masquerading as a pilgrim appears and starts killing indiscriminately everyone from employees to poor hotel managers in an escalation of unstoppable violence and thirst for justice.

At the same time, a newcomer to the job, Lina, discovers the lies behind the documents drafted by Ingela and her sidekick Jonas, who are willing to do anything to seal the deal and finally turn their careers around.

Patrik Eklund makes his Netflix debut directing and screenwriting this entertaining metaphor about the stupid and obtuse mentality of political/corporate life, managing more than decently in combining comedy and horror.

Perhaps the heroine-for-heroine Katia Winter is anonymous, but much better are the two exasperatingly evil antagonists, the gorgeous Maria Sid and the slimy Adam Lundgren, two co-workers we would never want to have.

Chain murders, blood drowning in idiocy, and a bit of easy but effective morality make this black fairy tale something unmissable for all lovers of the comic and irreverent slasher.

Ferrari

ferrari 2023 movie

Let’s change genres with a biopic of one of the pioneers of world motoring, Enzo Ferrari, a former racing driver who later became famous with his unmistakable sports cars.

At the wheel of this movie (strangely most ignored in 2023) is Michael Mann, another pillar cinema-master’s short list returned after the thrilling cyber/crime Blackhat.

To best tell the essentials, Mann sets the story within the few days of 1957’s tragic Mille Miglia, where a driver and dozens of spectators died after a fatal accident.

Meanwhile, Enzo is in trouble in his professional and personal life; he is short of cash and still deciding whether to accept help from the Americans at FORD or ally himself with fellow Italian Giovanni Agnelli at FIAT.

Not least, his married life is now at an end, with his wife Laura unable to overcome the trauma of the loss of their son Dino, who died at a very young age of muscular dystrophy, while his relationship with Lina Lardi, from whom Piero, future heir and currently vice-president of Ferrari, would later be born, comes to the surface.

Michael Mann discounts no one, bringing to the stage with toughness an ambiguous character, neither good nor bad, simply human in his imperfection but tempered by the sporting spirit that distinguished him from his colleagues in the auto industry.

Simply perfect is Adam Driver in this challenging role, already appreciated under Ridley Scott‘s direction to embody another celebrity of the Italian scene, Maurizio Gucci, a scion of the lucky/cursed family of the same name at the head of Italian fashion.

The only limitation is the somewhat glossy cinematography for an Italy that is sometimes too postcard-like, but we forgive this venial sin to the great Mann, who adds another brilliant gem to his already glorious filmography.

The Killer

The Killer 2023 movie
Watch on Netflix

Let’s stay in the company of one of my favorite directors, David Fincher, a humble craftsman of cinema who learned his trade among special effects and music clips, eventually rising to fame with successes like Seven or Fight Club.

Here, Fincher adapts a comic book to the flesh-and-blood features of a resounding Michael Fassbender as an apathetic, systematic, and ruthless nameless killer.

But this man is not infallible; indeed, it is from his mistake that this story blazes breaks out when he misses his target and accidentally hits a woman who had placed herself in his crosshairs.

Without much red tape, we learn that in the profession of assassination for hire, there is a price to pay for those who fail: thus, some colleagues wound his Colombian girlfriend, also failing, however, without killing her.

Unable to accept what has happened, the killer tracks down those responsible to eliminate them one by one, whoever they are and in whatever way they are involved, however marginally, in the attack on his beloved.

Therefore, from the simple taxi driver who brought the hitmen to his home up to the top of the client for whom he had failed the job, this artist of death paints his masterpiece of slaughter without pity or any empathy.

Despite what it may seem from the premise, The Killer is not a fast-paced action movie; it is perhaps the slowest and most schizophrenic story on this 2023 remainder list.

I mean schizophrenic because in the emotionlessness of Fassbender’s perpetual monologue, no longer a human being but a fearsome predator; then killing becomes as legal and natural as breathing.

It is a flawed movie, minimal, almost to the point of being empty, yet it is precisely what I needed and recommend as a nearly spiritual experience.

The Holdovers

The Holdovers 2023 movie
Amazon Prime Video

We conclude by returning to our school desks under the direction of an equally accomplished film professional, Alexander Payne.

It was Christmas Eve in the distant 1970s when homecoming time arrived for the wealthy students of Barton Academy, hotbed of secrets and personal dramas never told.

Among these dramas, we have Professor Paul Hunham, equally hated by students, colleagues, and even the school’s principal (his former student), who, as punishment, forces him to stay over the holidays as a nursemaid to the few boys who could not leave.

But cohabitation with the boys is short-lived, as all of them sneak off in a helicopter to enjoy the vacation, except for the unfortunate and brilliant Angus, who must stay along with Professor Hunham and the institute’s cook, Mary, who has recently been grieving for her son and therefore has no desire to celebrate anything.

As the days go by inexorably, the relationship between these three characters becomes closer and closer, going beyond simple friendship, becoming almost a miniature family more understanding and happy than their real natural families.

Alexander Payne stitches up the tatters of the American flag torn to shreds in the 1970s amid youthful demonstrations and senile intolerance of the most conservative, loading the bulk of the work onto the experienced shoulders of a thoroughbred actor like Paul Giamatti.

He is a professor we love to hate at first, except later to discover the secrets and missed opportunities in his life, which bring him closer to the equally complex character of the excellent and very young Dominic Sessa.

More intimate and delicate is the role of the sympathetic Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who, after losing her son, becomes almost a putative mother to these two men, one at the end and the other at the beginning of her life.

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