Saturday, January 28, 2012

Catchup from Last Year

I am trying to catch up on writing about films. I usually go off the grid around the middle of December, and being slow and prone to procrastination, especially when it comes to writing, this creates an awful backlog. I usually get back to film watching quickly enough - backlog!

Some films, I'm still brooding over - Shame, A Dangerous Method, Hugo and the Artist - I want to do them justice. They all raise interesting questions - I keep circling them... I'll get there eventually. They are all associated with awards and the like - so they are still somewhat topical - so I feel less guilt about not getting anything posted about them. I will though. They are films to think about.... The films here - it's not so much that they aren't intriguing or important (I mean, hell - one of them is a bona fide masterpiece!) - but - who knows. The masterpiece at least is 45 years old, so I don't feel too guilty about shorting it. Anyway - I want to put something down about these films, most of which I saw at the end of last year...

Week End - 14/15 - rereleased in a shiny new print, one of the great End of the World and None Too Soon flicks... Two slimy bourgeoisie take a trip, suffer traffic jams and Mozart, and are murdered and eaten by revolutionaries with names like Arizona Jules. Perhaps the darkest dark comedy ever made. Godard at his harshest, but also hilarious. Very strange, but the strangeness funny - a string of surreal incidents, violence and murder, pornographic tales and encounters with madmen - St. Just and Emily Bronte; Joseph Balsamo, son of God and Alexander Dumas, who promises to grant their wishes if they take him to London. It's political points are delivered in the same style - a kind of deadpan surrealism, absurdity played dead seriously, kind of - those garbagemen lecturing them on colonialism... It's kind of an absurdist version of Bergman's Shame (or maybe Shame is Week End played straight. I prefer the Godard - I prefer Godard to Bergman on principal, I suppose, but here, I think the absurdity of Week End saves it from the traps that afflict Shame. But that's neither here nor there - it's a great film, and always thrilling to see it - see any Godard, let's not pretend otherwise - on the big screen.

Tales from the Golden Age - 11/15 - anthology film from Romania, 6 stories from the days of Ceaucescu, all written by Christian Mungiu, directed by various filmmakers. The stories are:
1. The Official visit - just that, a village prepares for a (possible) visit by an official - the visit is cancelled, but the lesser officials are partying, and end up taking a ride on a carousel - because the top official ordered everyone to ride, the operator is on the machine as well - they can't get off...
2. The Party Photograph - Ceaucescu meets D'Estaing at the airport, there is a photo - which is subject to constant negotiation on retouching. The party insists that Ceaucescu should be wearing a hat (he'd taken it off for the photo) - the photo editors do so, but aren't allowed to check the photo before it goes to press - they forget to erase the hat in his hand...
3. The Zealous Activist - this one is about a bureaucrat who goes to a remote village to force everyone to learn to read. It is quite conventional, really - standard comedy with yokels and a city slicker...
4. The Greedy Policeman - a very good little film - alternates between 2 kids and their parents (who are neighbors). One family buys a pig for the holidays, but it is delivered still alive - they don't know how to kill it. They end up gassing it - that works, but then they try to burn the hair off the animal with a blow-torch, with predictable results.
5. The Air Sellers - a boy who goes door to door collecting bottles (pretending to be inspecting the water) meets a girl - she needs money, so she joins him in his scheme. She is more ambitious than he is - she convinces him to scam the super at a building for bottles, but they are caught - she runs, he's arrested, but he doesn't really care - his father works for the party....
6. The Chicken Driver - about a man who drives poultry to port, who always stops at the same inn for supper - one day, one of his tires is stolen and he has to stay over - in the morning, he finds he has hundreds of eggs in the truck - the innkeeper convinces him to let her sell them. He tries it again - but he's caught, and ends in jail...

I should find more to say about this - it is a very fine film. Works in the vein of realistic absurdity that is characteristic of Romanian films (at least most of the ones that get released here), well made, amusing and wryly moving.

The Rum Diary - 9/15 - Hunter S. Thompson novel starring Johnny Depp, written and directed by Bruce Robinson - set in Puerto Rico, 1960, with a Thompsonesque writer turning up on a lousy newspaper, getting tied up in a scheme to build hotels and ruin the natural beauty of places, with an array of mad eccentrics around the poor fellow... It's amusing enough, and a fair story, but tends to bog down, and never really delivers on the madness half-promised. Depp is a Thompson figure in the process of becoming Hunter S. Thompson - and thus a bit bland. Better for the set pieces and occasional flights of rhetoric than for the story...

Gainsbourg (A Heroic Life) - 10/15 - very clever bio of Serge Gainsbourg, using puppets and animation to fill out his personality - his mug as a character... A nice film, maybe nothing more - but thoroughly enjoyable.

The Mill and the Cross - 11/15 - A walk through the Breugel painting The Road to Calvary - the painting is presented as a real world, augmented with painted backdrops - the film is a kind of critical essay on the painting, an explanation, as well as a kind of dramatization of it. Begins with a young couple, who are attacked by Spanish soldiers, the man is beaten and put on a wheel and lifted to the crows - later taken down, just the crows left.... This atrocity is repeated in the staging of the crucifixion - the march to the cross, first, with the painting presented as time stopped in the middle of the procession - then the crucifixion, and the peasants dancing, after the time of the painting itself... The film addresses the politics of it - the Spanish, the Flemish resistance, and so on; some of the background of Breugel himself; and the painting, as work of art - its design, structure - the spider's web, with Jesus in the middle, almost obscured, with the mill above, the miller looking down, grinding the bread of life.... All of this is a fantastic idea for a movie - a very effective and intriguing way to work with art. I thought the film came a bit short - but only a bit... it may have tried to do too much, and couldn't quite get all the pieces (the history, art history, art criticism, as well as direct religious and political ruminations of its own) to cohere - or couldn't quite do justice to all the things it tried to do. But still - a great joy to see.

Weekend - 10/15 - a guy goes to a gay bar after hanging with his friends - picks someone up there - the film picks up in the morning, as they are in bed, talking about it. It turns out the pickup is an artist, who interviews the first guy, and as they talk, they start to become friends. The rest of the film follows them around, this weekend - one of them is off to America Monday morning. Etc. It starts out quite casual, but they bond very quickly - and their parting proves to be traumatic.... ends like Lost in Translation - the two men whispering something to each other we don't hear. All this is nicely done - the characters are interesting, the dialogue and filmmaking is all well out together. It's all a bit stagy, but not bad, overall.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Random Musical Friday

Another random list, I'm afraid - I'm running late again. May iTunes reward....

1. Melvins - Dies Iraea
2. Elvis Costello - Big Boys
3. System of a Down - Soldier Side (intro)
4. Bootsy Collins - Psychoticbumpschool (live)
5. Neil Young - Harvest
6. TV on the Radio - Wolf Like Me
7. Pere Ubu - Monday Morning
8. The Clash - Inoculated City
9. John Zorn - Chinatown
10. The Seeds - Satisfy You

That was a nice set, if you ask me... so video? Bootsy is indicated, for sure:

And - this song didn't come up, but - the Seeds on network TV? plopped down in someone's living room? I have to post this! Gassy!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Very Random Friday Music Post Here

Now I'm starting to worry about this Not Listening to Music thing. Yesterday, I was on a long train ride - and still didn't put on the iPod. That's what those things were invented for! As has been the patter for the last year or so - I read a book instead. I suppose you take what you get....

Anyway - once again, I end up going completely random - nothing wrong with that, I suppose.... Here goes:

1. Dave Van Ronk - DId You Hear John Hurt
2. Love - Everlasting First - this is Love with Hendrix
3. The Stooges - Passing Cloud
4. Black Mountain - Don't Run Our Hearts Around
5. Johnny Cash - Thirteen
6. Dream Syndicate - Cinnamon Girl
7. Pink Floyd - The Happiest Days of Our Lives
8. Johnny Thunder and the Heartbreakers - One Track Mind
9. Television - Venus
10. Melt Banana - One Drop, One Life

Video? bit a retro, hippy vibe up there - Black Mountain sounds good....

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stopping SOPA & PIPA

I doubt by 5 or 6 readers would be much inconvenienced by me taking my site black for the day - but I don't want to let the day pass without note. SOPA, PIPA, indeed any similar law that would undermine the roots of the free internet, in the name of any of the supposed evils of the day, must be stopped. You must protect the means of speech and communication before you can worry about what the speech and communication might be.... and in this case - you have to be sure that the means of speech and communication remain free of the control of either the government or of corporations. So - do what you think best, oh gentle readers. But oppose this evil.

Here is a petition, from Google, a big corporation that at least is on the side of the angels on this one: End Piracy, Not Liberty

And Wikipedia's information page, explaining the blackout etc.: Learn More.

Good luck, internet! You have been very good to me!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Short Reviews of Recent FIlms

I've fallen way behind in my film reviewing - even just doing these kinds of capsules. Some of the problem comes from the fact that a couple films tend to get away from me - the capsules start to edge into full reviews, and then what? Actually - it would be a bit more accurate to say there are a couple films I've seen in the last month or two that I can't stop arguing with myself about. That sort of mixed reaction can really slow down the process... Anyway - there is no point waiting for those films to work themselves out to post about others - so - here are a few quicker reviews of recent films. This will have to do for now - I suppose these are, almost by definition, not the most interesting recent films - but there you go. That isn't really true - there are a couple gems on here - but they're gems that I don;t find it hard to figure out. So... anyhow:

Carnage - 10/15 - 2 sets of parents meet to work out something after a fight between their kids. Then they can't leave the apartment. Roman Polanski's latest, an adaptation of a play, a tour de force for the actors and Polanski, to make a visual feast out of one room and 4 people and an hour and a half of time.... There has been something of a run lately of films that struck me as being much better in the execution than the conception. I don't know if there is much to this story - it's rather bland and unrevealing, really, though there are some sharp lines - but the acting more than puts it over. The cast is absolute trumps, I will say. The men are hilarious - Waltz can get a laugh from almost anything - reactions, timing; John C. Reilly is his usual abrud self. The women play differently - Winslet and Foster are both more tightly wound, both play the characters a little straighter - but they give the men plenty to play against, and sneak in their own comedy along the way. Winslet especially gets some neat physical comedy moments - Foster seems willing to take the straight role, trying to take the Whole Thing Seriously while the rest of them riff - it works. And Polanski keeps it moving, uses the space, blocking, timing superbly. The film remains fun to watch, even if the story is, you know - drab. I liked it, even if it didn't amount to as much as it seemed to think it did.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - 8/15 - hey! Another film better in the execution! This time, I suppose, the gap is nearly insurmountable - and Fincher and his cast, for all their virtues, can only do so much with it. Everyone else in the world seems to have read these books - at least carried them around for a year or so - so I suppose there's not much point is talking about the plot. What do we have? Daniel Craig as a reporter who's just lost a libel suit to a guy who looks like a cross between Julian Assange and the guy who plays Nicolai Carpathia in the Left Behind films. He's then hired by Christopher Plummer to find out what happened to his granddaughter (or niece or grandneiece or something like that) Harriet, back in 1966. This is intercut with the misadventures of Rooney Mara in the person of Lisbeth Salandar, a girl with a dragon tattoo and some kind of supersleuth. Eventually reporter and hacker/spy/whatever she is join forces and solve the mystery and wreck Julian Assange Carpathia in a 30 second subplot at the end. Yay! It is very silly, very silly indeed - though Fincher and his cast make it seem like it ought to be interesting. It is saddled, I suppose, with a particularly obvious mystery to solve - and can't really build up any suspense when characters are put in peril since, I mean - there are two more books, right? So - that leaves Fincher working very hard to make the process of looking at old pictures and running google searches seem inherently interesting. He manages it too, mostly - he should stick to procedurals, though he'd be well advised to pick material that has something interesting about it. I am going to give way to my inherent cynicism and guess that the reason these books are so popular is because they are full of fake atrocities and icky sex and violence and really obvious plotlines that make anyone feel clever. The movies I imagine are popular because girls in leather are cool, and this one is particularly cool. Though probably not Aeon Flux cool, try as she might.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - 10/15 - classic spy novel made into a film by Tomas Alfredson who made Let the Right One In, with Gary Oldman heading a cast of the Finest British Actors... Story about uncovering a mole in British intelligence, told elliptically, very coolly - it looks great, widescreen compositions, barren forbidding spaces - but maybe is a bit too cold. I also suspect the act of compressing the novel into a feature film has pushed the story past clear comprehension - it seemed a bit of a mess... But it is a solid film, the performances are quite good, and it looks like the 70s on ice.

The Descendants - 11/15 - Alexander Payne's new film, with George Clooney as a lawyer whose wife is in a coma; he is also the trustee on a large estate that has to be sold. He has 2 daughters, 17 and 10 - he has not been the best father, and they are both a bit crazy - but they have to bond and all... They make the rounds of their families, telling the bad news about the wife (who is going to die), and bringing out various secrets and lies. And so on. It's interesting - a quiet, patient character study, with several people emerging - the daughters as well as Clooney. Understated and decent. It is hard to summarize - not that there isn't a story to summarize, though Payne does tend to approach the plot obliquely, through the characters - but because the plot does seem less important than the relationships that develop. Somewhere, back when it first came out, I saw a remark that it felt like a TV sitcom pilot. There's something to that. I know that sounds dismissive, but I think that describes the structure of the film very well - the story you see feels like setting up the central relationships, the new family unit. A lot of the story ends up deliberately deferring decisions - and the ending (Clooney and girls sitting on the couch, watching TV) feels like it is setting up more, rather than finishing what has come. You can imagine what comes next - the motherless family, the land issues and family issues left unfinished in the film. It would work. In any case - I liked it - a very satisfying film.

Le Havre - 12/15 - New Kaurismaki, and a wonderful little film - lovely and moving and funny, classic Kaurismaki. About a shoe shine man and his wife, living on the edge of poverty - she becomes ill, with something usually fatal. She lies about it to her husband though - meanwhile, he has run across a boy from Gabon, who managed to narrowly escape being caught by the police. So the man hides him, and tries to get him to London to be with his mother. The cops look for the kid - the man and his friends organize a concert to raise money to send the boy to London - in the end, another character is also redeemed. And - sometimes the doctors either get the prognosis wrong or do their jobs better than they know... great little film.

Outrage - 11/15 - one more big time auteurist film, a yakuza flick from Beat Takeshi, an unusually cold and dour one. Starts at a big meeting, where the top boss tells a major underling to look out for another gangster - so the underling tells his underling, Kitano, to get the rival. This sets off a series of ploys to shake down the other gangsters, push them out, force them to fight. It's very cool, the way Kitano's gang keeps escalating things, while the gangster on the other side can't figure out what is going on. This continues until the rival is broken - but then, the big boss starts going for the rest of them, especially when the rival turns up again. And so on - the top boss plays the rest of them against each other (Kitano's Otomo, his boss Ikemoto, another one, Ozawa, in between) - until they all burn one another up. It is single-mindedly nihilistic - the top bosses manipulating the people under them - the smaller fry attacking one another and consuming one another as they go, all burning up like paper in a fire. It offers none of the catharsis of his older gangster films - no one (important) goes down in a blaze of glory - people die sloppy, cruel little deaths, knifed in a prison yard, shot down naked in a sauna, gunned down by a dull confederate during a beach party, dragged from a car by the neck.... no one but the money men are left standing. You have to figure that is the point - the purposelessness of it all, without redemption or even glory.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday Shopping Report

This was a surprise - I found a copy of Godard's Histoire(s) du Cinema on the shelves at Newbury Comics! I knew it was being released, but can't say I expected to find a copy in a local store....

It'll keep me busy a while - 7 hours long and all - but that's not a problem.

I also found this one -

- the new Criterion edition of Tokyo Drifter. But that's what I went in looking for...

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Noisy Musical Friday

Though I should still be trying to catch up on last year's music, today, it's back to the randomizer!

1. Beastie Boys - Egg Man
2. Pere Ubu - Postcard
3. Mozart - The Marriage of Figaro [well - two pieces in a row from this record came up - strange enough...]
4. Yoshimi & Yuka - KoRoKoKoRo'n Insects
5. Butthole Surfers - Moving to Florida [I'm gonna bowl me a perfect game]
6. Rites of Spring - Spring
7. Aihiyo - Your Eyes Have the Sparkle of 10,000 Volts [Keiji Haino goes pop!]
8. Velvet Underground - Some Kinda Love [put jelly on your shoulder]
9. Danielson - Time that Bald Sexton
10. Liars - Here Comes all the People

Okay - the randomizer must be very happy to have access to the whole catalogue again (after all those 2011 posts) - it's definitely trying to please - that's the kind of playlist I like to see! Video? The Surfers seem indicated, combining the absurd with the vulgar, to a fault....

...which leads us to the Velvets, on their revival tour, doing what they do, and even Lou sounds halfway decent (until he starts trying to scat.) This is, of course, one of the great songs of all time.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Desert Island DVDs

Via Jim Emerson, Matt Zoller Seitz has initiated a new kind of meme - Movies for a Desert Island. The rules are simple enough - "You can list 10 feature films, one short and a single, self-contained season of a TV series" - and "Every slot on the list must be claimed by a self-contained unit of media." So - no combining Godfather movies, that sort of thing.

It's a fun exercize - and comes in time for my Sunday Screen Grab, which is an invitation, I suppose. So up first - a short? there are good choices, but I am going to stick with something necessary - Buster Keaton's One Week. Holes, you know...

As for TV - in the end, this is not very hard: Season 2 of Monty Python's Flying Circus. That's the Piranha Brothers and Silly Walks, the Spanish Inquisition, Blackmail, Scott of the Antarctic, Archeology Today, the Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook, the Lifeboat sketch (how long is it?) It's great stuff, and beats out the nearest competition (the first and third year of Mpnty Python, I imagine), by a hair.

And now to movies. This gets a bit complicated - there are certainly more than 10 films I don't want to live without. But I guess the fun of a thing like this is the pain of separation, and the joy of choosing what you choose. So - here goes, with comments and pictures, most of the time.

1. I'm going to start out cheating, sort of. It's a film I have never, in fact seen - and I don't think it's actually available anywhere, at least not legally: it's Out One: Noli me Tangere - 13 hours of Jacques Rivette? Oh yeah, I'd take that sight unseen without worrying that I'm wasting a slot.

2. Next up, something obvious - It's a Wonderful Life. I waffled on this, to tell the truth - I've seen it many many times, to the point of memorizing it just about... I could take something else, I thought, and memorize it. But then - I will be trapped on a desert island; whatever I take, it won't be long before it is as familiar as this is. And will it (whatever that film is, that I leave off in favor of this - say - Seven Samurai) be as endlessly revelatory as the Capra? Well - probably - but which will I miss more? No - how better to remember what you had (and what you're finally free of) than It's a Wonderful Life?

3. The Maltese Falcon - another one I've seen many many times and considered skipping - in favor of, oh - a Hawks? (His Girl Friday?) Yeah but - proof is in the pudding, I still have to watch this every few months. (Same with His Girl Friday, of course, but what can you do? there are only 10 films.)

4. M - this is another one I have seen many times, but I would never for a second consider leaving it off.

5. McCabe & Mrs. Miller - another film that never seems close to exhausted.

6. Early Summer - I'm not going anywhere without Ozu.

7. Duck Soup - here, I think I'm moving more into the comfort food section. Some of the films above can be kind of rough sledding - but this is plain joy. I don't think I have to defend this, though.

8. Bride of Frankenstein - similarly - I put this on and am happy with the world. Just to listen to the voices, even...

9. Finally, a couple recent films - Rushmore.

10. O Brother Where Art Thou - I also considered Big Lebowski, but in the end, this is better, and more fun, and more - moving. And a musical.

Friday, January 06, 2012

My Favorite Music of 2011

This is very strange - I don't think I can even pretend to make list of favorite records this year. I bought a modest number of new records - 30 or so - many of them by bands I like and respect, some for a long time (REM! a new Feelies record!), some more recent (Battles? just found them...) - more than a few serious favorites - Feelies, Gang of Four, PJ Harvey, Tom Waits, Boris, Damon and Naomi, REM, Earth, Bill Frisell, 6 Organs of Admittance, TV on the Radio.... But I have just not listened to them. Maybe a song here or there, coming up on the iPod, but only a handful got beyond that. I mean - being honest, I think I might have listened to a grand total of - what - 6? all the way through? somewhere along the line?

PJ Harvey
Josh Pearson
The Feelies
Gang of Four
Iron & Wine

I think that might be it. It's a question of habits, really - of not putting on the iPod every time I get on a train, say. (Which has other implications - I've read a lot more in the last couple years than I had been - I pull out a book when I step on the subway, these days.) It will change back, I know - somewhere in the next few years, I will get obsessive about music again. When it does, I will have to come back to 2011 and try a more serious ranking. For now? I can make a list, but the first two are the only ones I feel confident will be on any future top 10:

1. PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
2. Josh T. Pearson - Last of the Country Gentlemen
3. Gang of four - Content
4. Tom Waits - Bad As Me
5. Feelies - Here Before
6. Times New Viking - Dancer Equired
7. Iron & Wine - Kiss Each Other Clean
8. Wire - Red Barked Tree
9. Boris - Attention Please (the Wata record)
10. TV on the Radio - Nine Types of Light

Okay - the one good thing about listening to music on an iPod is that you do, in fact, get to hear songs. So I can, I think, offer a fairly convinced version of my 10 favorite songs of the year:

1. PJ Harvey - Words That Maketh Murder
2. Wire - Please Take
3. Iron & Wine - Big Burned Hand
4. Battles - My Machines
5. Boris - Spoon [sounding remarkably My Bloody Valentinish]
6. Gang of Four - She Said 'You Make a Thing of Me'
7. PJ Harvey - On Battleship Hill [I could have limited myself to one song per artist - I've left out a few I like, REM's Discoverer, the Feelies' When You Know, maybe Radiohead's Lotus Flower, etc... - but this is just too good - one of the most distinctive tunes of the year...]
8. Mogwai - Mexican Grand Prix [I remain a sucker for a nice bit of motorik]
9. Tom Waits - New Year's Day
10. Times New Viking - It's a Culture

Good enough. One thing I will commit to - PJ Harvey's Let England Shake is a damned Great Record. I liked it enough when I got it - it's grown since. I like it as much as any of her records, and that is saying something. I will add - it was the occasion for some outstanding videos as well - here is "Let England Shake":

And on that subject - here is another great one, that might be my favorite video of the year, after, or along with, Polly Jean's. Gary Numan singing with Battles, on "My Machines". (And another note - while I bought a fair amount of music, but didn't listen to it - what I bought was almost all stuff I am very familiar with already. I think this record - Battles' Gloss Drop - is just about the only record I got this year from a group I don't already own the rest of their catalogue. Battles and Josh Pearson. And nothing at all that's genuinely new, since they've both been around a while - and of course, I bought up their back catalogue too.):

Monday, January 02, 2012

Best Films of 2011

Here we are again, a new year - a couple days old now, and time, I suppose, to sum of last year. 2011 - making this list, I was surprised to see how many films I rather liked last year. At the halfway point, I thought it was a very thin year - even later, in the fall, it didn't seem that a lot of really interesting films were coming out - but I guess they did. Certainly, the last couple months have been very satisfying. And it helps that a good number of truly outstanding foreign films were released this year, especially early. So - here you go - best 25 films I saw this year. As always, my criteria are: films that received a commercial release in metro Boston in the year 2011. (That I managed to see - there are a couple out in release now I haven't seen, but should - but they will have to wait, because I don't want to.)

1. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall his Past Lives - Apichatpong Weerasethakul
2. Mysteries of Lisbon - Raoul Ruiz
3. Certified Copy - Abbas Kiarostami
4. Melancholia - Lars von Trier
5. Quattro Volte - Michaelangelo Frammartino
6. Poetry - Lee Chang Dong
7. Le Havre - Aki Kaurismaki
8. Meek's Cutoff - Kelly Reichardt
9. Strange Case of Angelica - Manoel de Oliveira
10. Take Shelter - Jeff Nichols
11. 13 Assassins - Takashi Miike
12. Dogtooth - Yorgos Lanthimos
13. Martha Marcy May Marlene - Sean Durkin
14. The Skin I Live In - Pedro Almodovar
15. Tales from the Golden Age - Hofer, Marculescu, Mungiu, Popescu & Uricaru
16. Jane Eyre - Cory Fukunaga
17. Nostalgia for the Light - Patricio Guzman
18. Rapt - Lucas Belvaux
19. The Descendents - Alexander Payne
20. Outrage - Takeshi Kitano
21. Rango - Gore Verbinski
22. Page One:Inside the New York Times - Andrew Rossi
23. A Dangerous Method - David Cronenberg
24. The Guard - John McDonogh
25. Sleeping Beauty - Catherine Breillat

And also - the best new films from 2011 - whether released or not. This is necessarily a very tentative list:

1. Melancholia - Lars von Trier
2. Le Havre
3. Meek's Cutoff
4. Take Shelter
5. Martha Marcy May Marlene
6. The Skin I Live in
7. Jane Eyre
8. The Descendants
9. Rango
10. Page One

And finally, using this chance to revisit Last year's list of new (in 2010) films:

1. Carlos
2. Exit Through the Gift Shop
3. The Social Network
4. True Grit
5. A Film Unfinished
6. Greenberg
7. The Tillman Story
8. The Ghost Writer
9. The Kids Are All Right
10. Kick-Ass

Given a year to think about it, see a few of them again, and see a broader sampling of 2010's films - here is a retroactive list. The films from last year's top 10 are italicized:

1. Carlos
2. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall his Past Lives
3. Mysteries of Lisbon
4. Certified Copy
5. Quattro Volte
6. Poetry
7. True Grit
8. Exit Through the Gift Shop
9. 13 Assassins
10. Oki's Movie
11. The Social Network
12. The Strange Case of Angelica
13. Another Year
14. A Film Unfinished
15. Nostalgia for the Light
16. Outrage
17. Greenberg
18. Road To Nowhere
19. Somewhere
20. The Tillman Story
21. Sleeping Beauty
22. The Housemaid
23. Gainsbourg
24. The Ghost Writer
25. The Kids Are All Right

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Film Posts 2012

This post is meant for the sidebar, as an index of my film posts in a given year. A little more flexibly than the tags.

Long Form:

2/18 - Hugo and the Artist, and neo-silent movies (from Luimiere and cCompany to Heart of the World.)
12/7: Zep and the Mats: More music and nostalgia than film - but based around two DVDs - Celebration Day and Color Me Obsessed

Occasional Pieces:

1/2: Best Films of 2011 list.
2/5: Ben Gazzara obits and screen shots.
2/26: My Oscar picks.
4/28: Dennis Cozzalio's Spring Quiz - Nuns!
5/21: 1930s Polls - my votes from the 30s for Wonders in the Dark
6/20: Andrew Sarris
7/8: Halftime Report
7/30: Chris Marker obit.
8/5: my votes for films of the 1940s on Wonders in the Dark.
8/7: Reflections on Sight & Sound's Poll, and my top 10.
10/13 - Fall Quiz...
10/15: 1950s Films Voting record

Screen Grabs:

1/1: Happy New Year! - Husducker Proxy
1/8: Desert Island DVDs
1/15: Shopping Report - Godard's Histoire(s) du Cinema, and Tokyo Drifter.
2/12: WWII films: Mrs. Miniver
2/19: WWII: Cranes Are Flying
3/4: WWII: Fighting Elegy
3/18: WWII: Cross of Iron
4/1: WWII: Fires on the Plain - long essay, with pictures
4/8: WWII: Christ imagery, for Easter
4/15: WWII: The Pianist
4/22: WWII: Das Boot
5/13: WWII: Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence
6/4: John Ford's Midway
6/6: D-Day Sam Fuller shot
8/26: Fassbinder's Lola
10/31: Re-Animator, for Halloween


1/17: Recent Films - Carnage, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Descendants, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Le Havre and Outrage.
1/28: Catch up from 2011 - Week End and Weekend, Tales from the Golden Age, Rum Diary, Gainsbourg and Mill and the Cross.
3/26: In Darkness and Free Men - two new WWII films.
6/19: Big Roundup - Chico and Rita, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Mirror Mirror, Kid With the Bike, Deep Blue Sea, Five Year Engagement, This is Not a Film, Dark Shadows, Bernie, The Pirates...
6/24: Moonrise Kingdom
8/18: Summer Film Roundup - Keyhole, Safety Not Guaranteed, Your SIster's Sister, To Rome With Love, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Hara Kiri: Death of a Samurai, Brave, The Campaign, Dark Horse.
9/27: The Master, with comments on For Ellen
12/3: Fall Roundup #1 - Restless City, Two Days in NY, Cosmopolis, Oslo: August 31, Lawless, Compliance, Paranorman
12/16: Fall Roundup #2 - Silver Linings Playbook, My Worst Nightmare, The Sessions, Argo, Alps, How to Survive a Plague, Keep the Lights On, Looper
12/18: Fall Roundup 3 - Killing them Softly, Holy Motors, Cloud Atlas

Ring out the Old, Ring in the New

Happy new year, everyone! brought to you by one of the great new year's eve films... The Hudsucker Proxy doesn't always get the love some of the other Coen brothers films do, but it gets better every time I see it. It's a movie movie, all those parodies, all those quotes - everything from the Crowd to Gene Kelly films, though heaviest on the Capra and Sturges quotes (like Capra done Sturges style) - all the jokey interludes - newsreels, newspaper front page montages, fake home movies - it's fun fun fun. Mostly, it's the sheer pleasure of the actors and their lines - Newman and Robbins and especially Leigh bite off their lines and chew, and it is a joy. It's almost a disappointment that actors like Leigh and Robbins (or William H. Macy, say) have only done one Coen brothers films - they seem perfectly at home in them. But any actor looks good working with the Coens.