Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Best Films of 2011

This is our yearly write up on cinema. The following are my ten personal favorites of the year. I didn't pay too much attention the order and most of the 20 films listed at the end are just as good as the top 10. I hope this helps you to discover some cool movies. Also, I started a Twitter account strictly for film reviews: @FilmPsychedelic

1. I Saw the Devil
Of all the fantastic Korean revenge thrillers of the last few years this complex web of vengeance stands out as the most brutal, the most poetic and the most all out crazy. It’s dark and violent with strands of black humor like only the Koreans can do. Jee-Woon Kim’s next film is an American blockbuster so hopefully this isn’t his last hurrah.

2. Bedeviled
It was the year of South Korean cinema- so much great stuff. In this refreshingly feminine take on a classic revenge tale, a woman is taken to an island solely inhabited by a weirdo misogynist family and all hell breaks loose. A smart and thoughtful debut from Chiu-soo Jang. Seek this out.

3. The Kid With A Bike
Another intense and unpredictable tale of everyday life from the Dardenne Brothers- this time focusing on a neglected child. Simple and touching, this is film making at it finest.

4. Snowtown
Similar in tone to last years amazing Animal Kingdom, this movie is also about the lives of lower class Australians. Specifically, a study of the environment and the culture that would produce something as horrific as the Snowtown murders that dominated headlines in the 90s. Also, Snowtown contains the most disturbing scene of the year (the bathtub) so extra points for that.

5. Bill Cunningham New York
This is a seriously inspiring documentary about a fashion photographer in NYC that has truly dedicated his life to his art.

6. Essential Killing
Vincent Gallo in a silent role as a Mujahideen fighter on the run in the Middle East. Amazing! Gorgeous and subtle filmmaking from Jerry Skolimowski.

7. Ides of March
A refreshingly smart and well made movie about back room political power-plays and their often devastating casualties.

8. House of Pleasures
Also known as House of Tolerance, this is a strange and poignant film about the lives of prostitutes in a Paris brothel in 1900, featuring lots of champagne, opium, corsets and naked ladies. The end of the film is really surreal and has some of the best shots of the year. Fans of David Lynch or Catherine Breillat should check this out.

9. Cold Fish
Yet another demented psychological mindfuck from Sion Sono, this one centering on themes of fish, family and discipline... Sono is a maniac. "Life is Pain, living your life hurts."

10. Melancholia
This has some deep insight into the nature of depression and how it manifests itself. And it's definitely one of the best apocalypse movies in recent times. I love Kirsten Dunst and it’s nice to see Kiefer Sutherland getting some decent work.

Also of note: The Housemaid (best ending of the year), Martha Marcy May Marlene (worst ending of the year), Moneyball, Submarino, Attack the Block, Man From Nowhere, Tree of Life, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Tiny Furniture, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Yellow Sea, When A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, Trust, Troll Hunter, Bullhead, Incendies, Tabloid, Project Nim, Drive, Crazy Stupid Love.

Worst movie.
I don’t see any of the kid films or Adam Sandler “comedies”- I’m sure those are the worst… but one movie I did see on a plane this year deserves a mention: Trespass. Wow. I watched it because it was a home invasion movie and that’s usually a decent genre but this was incredibly bad- just one unbeliveable plot twist after another. The corniest being the bad guy that is secretly in love with the mother he is terrorizing and decides to go against his fellow robbers to protect her ½ way into the movie. Nicole Kidman has ruined her face and Nic Cage looks terribly bloated and unhealthy. The only good thing about it is the lead bad guy Ben Mendelsohn, a fine actor who played “Pope” in Animal Kingdom last year. Regardless, Joel Shumacher has further ruined his name with one of the worst movies I have ever seen.