07 February 2011

Best Films I Saw of 2010

It could be because I didn't go to the Chicago International Film Festival in 2010 but I had a lot more excitement about the movies I saw the previous year. There were 2009 movies I saw that didn't even make my top 13 list that I liked better than some of the movies on this list. Where has the good stuff been hiding? Is culture winding down? Maybe I just haven't seen enough Romanian or South Korean films this year. Though I have seen several. I guess last year the English language was represented by Julia and Avatar. This year Another Year is all by herself apart from the two political documentaries.

1. Lourdes (France)
2. A Prophet (France)
3. The Illusionist (France)
4. Another Year
5. Dogtooth (Greece)
6. I Am Love (Italy)
7. Ajami (Israel/Palestine)
8. Cell 211 (Spain)
9. Soul at Peace (Slovokia)
10. Inside Job and/or Casino Jack and the United States of Money

Honorable mentions: Black Swan, Blue Valentine, Brotherhood (Denmark), A Call Girl (Slovenia), Catfish, A Farewell to Hemingway (Bulgaria), Gordos (Spain), Harlan: In the Shadow of Jud Suss (Germany), Jack Goes Boating, Mary and Max, Milk of Sorrow (Peru), The Other Irene (Romania), Prima Primavera (Hungary), Please Give, Rabbit Hole, Winter's Bone

And movies I quite liked that came out in 2010 but which I saw in 2009 but which didn't make my 2009 list: Fish Tank, Mother

And for being fun cinematic experiences: Inception, Tron: Legacy

What this list wants you to know is that you should be sad if you don't live in a city that has the Gene Siskel Film Center or the Music Box. (Unless you happen to live in New York or San Francisco or something in which case consider yourself a victim of my evil eye of envy.)

5 Worst Movies I Saw of 2010

Last night I finally saw an English language movie from 2010 that I thought could be worthy of the title "Best English Language Film of 2010" so I decided to reverse my previous decision of not making a top ten list this year. It's a month late but it shall follow. As a prelude, here are the five movies I hated the most this year:

1. The Secret in Their Eyes

I hope I will be able to say that this is the worst movie to be awarded Best Foreign Film in my lifetime. It's cheap. It's predictable. It insults your intelligence at every turn.

2. Casino Jack

Why is Kevin Spacey allowed to make movies?

3. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Why is Michael Douglas allowed to make movies?

4. Slaves in Their Bonds

I feel like the running theme here is: It's cheap and predictable and insults your intelligence at every turn.

5. Get Him to the Greek

Why is Jonah Hill allowed to make movies? All of these dumb comedies in recent years are such a putrid blend of poor taste and cheap sentiment.

Runner up:
Sex and the City 2,

06 February 2011

Burlesque (Steve Antin, 2010)

All Cher's whores and all Cher's mens could not put this turkey together again. Cher was pretty fun to watch in this movie but the rest of the movie was pretty much a waste of time. The songs ran the gamut from bad to mediocre, generally. There wasn't really anything inspired about the movie except for the casting of Cher and Christina Aguilera. Christina Aguilera is magnetic but she acts at a level that is appropriate for a music video. I'd probably like her to make more movies but only if she studies acting hardcore before doing so. The guy who plays her boyfriend is unnaturally pretty and has a lovely form from head to toe but he's not that interesting. In fact, none of the characters are any more interesting than the story. I got the feeling the script was salvaged from some bin of unproduced screenplays from 1988. Financially strapped nightclub threatened by an unscrupulous real estate developer? Add a couple of hired goons and this becomes a flashback to USA UP ALL NIGHT. Rhonda Shear is on the line, Mr. Antin. D

happythankyoumoreplease (2011) / The Illusionist (2010)

happythankyoumoreplease reminded me of those indie comedies from the 90s that dealt with various creative New York people and their romantic goings on. It's about a short story writer who wants to be a novelist but who lacks the maturity for that and he finds a lost boy on the train who doesn't want to go back to foster care and ends up keeping him for a while. He also picks up this bartender named Mississippi and they amble towards couplehood while his best friend and his cousin (stepsister?) work through their own emotional hangups. It's not groundbreaking and its pretty slight and periodically very cheesy but it was generally entertaining. C

I found The Illusionist to be a film of real grace and a beauty that was at once complex and simple. An elderly French magician in what I assumed to be the late 50s travels around the UK working thankless jobs for an audience that has moved on from his old-fashioned amusements. A young girl attaches herself to him and she seems to believe he's a real magician who can supply her with all the things she desires. They live together. He tries to please her. Life goes on. There was this intense authenticity running through every scene and watching it was an experience of aching beauty and wonder. It's really amazing how affecting all the little details and background characters are. It's definitely the best animated film I've seen in the last year. Maybe in the last ten years. One of the best I've ever seen, I think. It's a little sad that Toy Story 3 is going to win this year just like whatever bogus nonsense beat The Secret of Kells last year. A