Wednesday, March 23, 2011

2010: The Year We Made Contact

First, RIP Liz Taylor. I can remember seeing A Place in the Sun when I was 15 and thinking she was one of the most beautiful women I’d ever seen. I still have a picture of her on my wall in that white dress from the film.

Second, Lisa - For Hanake, I would suggest starting with Funny Games and seeing what you think. Then you can try Cache or The White Ribbon and see how different they are from Funny Games. At least, that is my opinion. I’m not a Hanake expert by any means.

Third, Ben - Glad you enjoyed The Discreet Charm. It always brings a smile to my face. If you liked that, I recommend some of Bunuel’s other films, which are also hilarious and absurd. My favorite is The Phantom of Liberty, but I also love The Milky Way and The Exterminating Angel. He’s really one of my favorite directors. Also, thanks for posting that analysis of Kubrick and Nietzsche. Very interesting.

Fourth, John - I really loved reading the back and forth between you and Brandon. Great Stuff. Also, since I know you are a lover of westerns, have you seen Hud? I watched it recently, and I liked it. It has some nice cinematography, good dialogue, and interesting themes about changing times. Melvyn Douglas and Patricia Neal are great in it, but Paul Newman owns the film. He just oozes charisma. He is always electrifying; I have no better way to describe him.

Last, here’s my top 10 (actually eleven thanks to a tie) of 2010. I realized I don’t know how to rank them yet, so I have just ordered them alphabetically for the time being. I know most of you will disagree with some of the picks, and that’s fine. You can pick on me all you want. I can take it. And, I am also breaking your rule, John, by adding foreign films based on their U.S. release. Sorry.

127 Hours

A great experience watching this in a theater. You can’t help but get wrapped up in it because it is so intimate. It’s just you and Franco (and some wonderful creativity by Danny Boyle). Franco is fantastic in the role and the film is so vibrant it’s almost palpable. I didn’t realize how much it had actually moved me until the end when Sigur Ros was pumping and I got chills. This is a really wonderful film that is filled with creativity and bustling with energy. Ben, maybe this one is Nietzschean in that it is life-affirming.


I totally see why this is your number one film, Brandon. It’s just so beautiful. It was an absolute pleasure to watch in the midst of a seemingly interminable winter. Every shot and scene is gorgeous in this, but I especially love the scene where Jorge and Natan play with the bird (Blanquita). Very sweet. I think this is the type of cinematic poem about nature that Malick would enjoy. The sea is a beautiful place.

Another Year

Check out my post on it. Great movie.

Black Swan

Wild, strange, and kind of ridiculous (in a good way). But very stylish and exciting. It has a definite Polanski feel, which is maybe why I enjoyed it as much as I did. I am a certified fan of Aronofsky. I think he makes really interesting choices as an artist. And he is very intelligent.

Blue Valentine

I also totally see why this is your number one film of the year, Ben. It’s astonishingly well acted. Gosling and Williams are two of the best in the business, and this film is a salient example of why that is. They are devastatingly realistic in their roles. It’s almost too difficult to watch them at times because their emotion is so real. At some points I stopped feeling bad for the characters they were playing and started feeling bad for the actors themselves. You can tell that they had to go to some dark, dark places for their roles. They are simply amazing though.
Cianfrance does a great job, too. His scenes communicate the reality of this relationship with remarkable honesty and intimacy. They are well constructed and extremely natural.

Coming off a difficult break-up myself and having seen the dissolution of a marriage between two close friends, this one really hit close to home. But, that is why it is so fantastic. It depicts the rise and fall of a relationship in a relatable, realistic, and brutal fashion.

Inception & Shutter Island

I’m using Leonardo Dicaprio’s presence in both of these films as an excuse to link them both together and fit eleven films on my list instead of ten. Lame, I know. But, actually these films also relate to one another in that I really like them despite some of the problems I have with them.

First, Inception. Overhyped? Definitely. But, that’s because it was overhyped in the wrong way (Kubrickian? Seriously?). It was being hyped as this total ‘mindfuck,’ when it really its just a fairly straightforward heist film. It’s more Ocean’s Eleven than it is Last Year at Marienbad, which is one of the things I liked about it. I enjoy a good heist movie where everything falls neatly into place and the scam succeeds (except when it is real like in Inside Job, then I just want to kill myself). I like that this is a creative variation on that standard set-up. And I like that it is set in the world of dreams. There is something infinitely exciting about the possibilities of dreams for me. I like the little bits about how volatile or unpredictable they can be even when you’ve got them down to a science (i.e. it raining because the dreamer didn’t go to the bathroom, the spinning van causing the hallway to spin, etc.). That stuff just seems cool to me (all the stuff in the hotel with Joseph Gordon-Levitt is damn cool).

Obviously, the film has it’s problems (sometimes, it’s absolutely ridiculous and not in a good way). There are things about it that I flat-out do not like. I hate Ellen Paige’s surrogate for the audience character. She is completely annoying and unnecessary. I agree with you guys that the snow fort scenes are lame. And sometimes Nolan’s penchant for repeating dialogue can be tacky.

But with that all being said, I really enjoyed this. I found it entertaining, and I rarely find current non-Batman related blockbusters entertaining. I know most of you didn’t like this (and I probably missed all the good discussion about it), so you all can pick on me if you like. I won’t mind.

(I should note: I’m a huge Batman fan, so I am eternally indebted to Chris Nolan. Call me biased if you’d like)

Now, Shutter Island. I rewatched it. It’s really great. I pretty much dig it for all the reasons you gave, Brandon. Still annoyed by the revelation scene, but that’s not enough to push it off this list. And let me tell you, when I got to meet Mark Ruffalo, my friend started asking him about this movie and Scorsese. It was one of the most surreal experiences I’ve ever had.

The Social Network

I find this entertaining as hell. It’s just so exciting to watch for me, and there is no reason it should be exciting. All credit to Sorkin for making the script so interesting to listen to, and Fincher for making the film pulsate with energy and excitement. It reminded me a bit of Fincher’s Zodiac and All the President’s Men (two films I love), in that all three mostly consist of people just talking, yet they are enthralling to watch.

I know this got extreme adoration from critics, but I would love it even if it got a lukewarm response from them. It’s just really, really well done. I’ve seen it a few times now, and every time I see it I am just as interested watching it as I was the first time. It’s very absorbing to me. It’s really well acted, the cinematography and look of the film is impeccable, the score is awesome, the script is intelligent, and the direction by Fincher is meticulous and flawless. Fincher has a really wonderful eye for things, and he has such a great style and appreciation for craft. I am a big fan. He makes great movies.

As a side note, I know some critics called this ‘the film that defines our generation’ or described it as this incisive portrait of the digital age and social networking. I didn’t get that at all. I don’t think the film is trying to be that. I think it is much more interested in the relationships between its characters and questions about truth and lying. I think you could replace Facebook with any other profitable company name and the film would work just as well. I don’t think it’s really about Facebook. If it were trying to be about Facebook, I don’t think it would have bothered with the deposition scenes. The deposition framing device is used to show that the film is presenting versions of the truth or different perspectives on what happened between all the characters. In this way, the film is not presenting an objective, clear portrait of Mark Zuckerberg and his founding of Facebook, but interpretations or perceptions of him. The film makes this explicit at the end when Rashida Jones says that “every creation myth needs a devil.” The film is Eduardo and the Winklevoss’ versions of Mark Zuckerberg. How come we aren’t getting Mark’s side of things, you ask? Because It probably doesn’t make for nearly as exciting a movie.

True Grit

I love everything you guys have already said about this, and don’t have much more to add. It’s a great movie. The Coens are among the very best at writing scenes, dialogue, and characters. This is a solid example of that. Hailee Steinfeld should have gotten all the best actress awards for this.

Winter’s Bone

I love the scenes between Ree and her siblings. I don’t have much more to add because I know everyone else is a fan of this.

Also liked:
The American A Prophet Fish Tank Toy Story 3

Still need to see: The Fighter, The King’s Speech, Somewhere, Animal Kingdom, The Ghost Writer

And, just for fun, my Favorite albums of 2010:

Beach House - Teen Dream
Joanna Newsom - Have One on Me
The National - High Violet
The Tallest Man on Earth - The Wild Hunt

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