Monday, January 10, 2011
Here is our annual top ten list. I hope you find something you like.
Didnt see: Last Train Home, Dogtooth, Film Socilism, Another Year, Inside Job, Four Lions, Tales From the Golden Age, Uncle Boonmee, Daddy Longlegs, etc......
Enter the Void
Bold, visionary and entirely original filmmaking. Some of the most inventive and intoxicating camera work I’ve ever seen. The best visual effects in cinema history. A deep sense of melodrama. The most psychedelic film ever made. Gaspar Noe has the strongest track record in cinema right now, with three complete masterpieces under his belt, and they just get better and better.
Dang, this was good. The rare film that has a totally unexpected ending that changes the way you view the entire second half. Incredible acting from everyone involved especially the J and Pope characters. This is an dark epic crime saga based on the Pettingill family in Melbourne. I loved everything about it. That’s all I’ll write, just watch it.
Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child
Finally we have a proper telling of Basquiat’s story. Julian Schnabel’s movie from 1996 was good but didn’t do the man justice. As we know, Basquiat is a giant of contemporary art but with this film we get a very intimate look into his mind: his ideas, creative methods, profound intelligence, and personality. Tamera Davis unearths an insightful interview she did with him in his prolific LA phase and anchors her film with it. Jean-Michel was just a kid that hit it big- huge in his life time. This is the fascinating and moving story of someone whose work will be cherished and remembered for as long as earth is around. Amazing.
I’m Still Here
A bold and unusual career move from Phoenix that resulted in a movie, that is not only hysterical, but a poignant comment on the Idiocy of our Times.
As many have noted, there are flaws with Inception. Among them, who would actually break up their families’ empire after a dream on a plane? The film suffered from too many “handsome actor” types that, you can tell due to the over-editing, weren’t even on set the same days they were supposedly doing a scene together. Way too much expository dialogue too, they could have scaled back one dream level. Never the less, this is an incredibly accurate and trippy dive into lucid dreaming and a whole-heartedly original work on a grand scale. Nolan could have squandered the money on crowd pleasing fair- he didn’t. A minor masterpiece, and a step in the right direction for Hollywood Blockbusters.
In many ways a companion piece to Aronofsky’s the Wrestler: the emotional hardships of dedication to an art. I really liked this one but felt it lacked some of the visionary magic of his earlier work like The Fountain or Requiem. Portman’s performance was indeed incredible. The scene where she runs to the bathroom to call her mom was one of the best of the year. My only complaint would be that the story is a little too repetitive (she hurt herself, she didn’t, she hurt herself, she didn’t) but this still towers above most other films this year. Solid.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The film works better thematically with its original title, Men Who Hate Woman. This is an unflinching look at the seedy side of rich sexual predators that get away with abuse. The film’s subject matter rings true, as a child porn ring was recently been discovered amongst government officials in Mexico . And, of course, Lisbeth Salander is the radest heroin we have seen in a very long time.
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
I have an entirely new respect for Joan Rivers. She is an old school workaholic that will take any job she can get. Watching her make fun of her red carpet gigs and the celebu-tards is really something. And she is funny as fuck. This is 24 hour access to the mind of a comedy legend.
Like a solider says in the movie, whoever has the best offense has the best defense. In Restrepo, an army platoon tries to take Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley , a strong hold of the Taliban that had never been-and still hasn’t been- taken by invading forces. This is an interesting look into the front lines of imperialism. Watching these kids suffer through such a worthless war is painful- you can’t help but feel sorry that they got suckered into the army propaganda or were so broke back home that they had to do this. The footage is incredible, up there with PBS’ Frontline (see: Behind Taliban Lines). But, unlike that piece, this is yet another story from the side of the offenders- the US military, which is getting really old. Yet the raw footage alone makes this one of the years best. The platoon leader at the end of the film gives a speech about charging the front line and dying for one’s cause that is eerily similar to many great Hollywood movie war speeches, especially Kirk Douglas’ in Paths of Glory. Except his isn’t satire.
This film might seem out of place here but I liked it because it didn’t try to be anything it wasn’t. It was just a well acted popcorn movie about a tired clique: corrupt cops. Maybe I was really stoned but I enjoyed it. There were a couple other procedural dramas that weren’t bad this year like The Town.
Special shout out to A Serbian Film for being extremely twisted. The Art of the Steal was a an excellent doc about powerful greedy scumbag is Philly. uTrue grit was pretty good, though I preferred the Coen’s previous effort, A Serious Man. Home with French Goddess Isabelle Huppert was worth seeing- about a family that has an actual freeway in their front yard. Police Adjective was an interesting peek into a depressed Romanian town. Mother was OK. Winter’s Bone was decent. Unthinkable was fun. Exit Through the Gift Shop was dope but spent way to much time on Mr. Brainwash, who has been ruining streets of LA with his “art” for way to long. The sheep movie, Sweetgrass, was mellow in a stony way- worth watching. Vahalla Rising had potential but got bogged down in heavy metal cliques’. Shutter Island sucked. Green Zone was a let down- crappy propaganda. Human Centipede was beyond terrible- just sub-par filmmaking all around. I watched about 3 minutes of Alice in Wonderland before I realized it wasn’t for adults… Tim Burton is a studio hack without ideas... I Think We’re Alone Now, the movie about Tiffany super fans, was awesome. This year’s season of Frontline on PBS was amazing, I’d recommend going to their website and watching those before seeing almost any of the movies on this list….
Worst movie- Monsters
I heard from reputable sources this was an interesting and intelligent movie about Aliens. Not so. Bogged down by an incredibly cheesy and contrived story, the decisions these characters make are so irrational it completely ruins the movie. This isn’t a fun horror movie where dumb decisions are expected- this is a self serious picture about aliens… and immigration. Instead of waiting 6 months in a Mexican paradise, a rich girl wants to risk her life and drive through the dreaded “Infected zone” to the North. They are accompanied by a team of locals skilled at surviving the zone- yet every one of them dies except the two White People. There are way too many “contemplative moments” along the way and not enough dialogue. The filmmaking is almost condescending- we get it, the story is a parable about immigration, no need to shove it down our throats to the point that it insults our intelligence. The score is awful- trying way too hard to make you “feel something.” The movie is basically a cheese ball love story with a few scenes of CGI aliens attacking. They don’t really focus on the aliens at all. It’s not clear if they can sniff out life forms to kill or if they just systematically destroy everything. We do know that they rest during the day but attack at night. But, our characters decide to travel by night instead of hiding…Incredibly unrealistic and cheap.