Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Introducing….Beyond the Genius of the Sea!

Posted in Uncategorized on November 5, 2012 by anubhavbist

Hi everybody! I apologize for the long stretch of inactivity on the blog, but I promise I’ll be back with more film essay, especially as Winter approaches. But while I get back to a normal writing schedule again, I have a new a blog up called “Beyond the Genius of the Sea.” It’s a blog dedicated to my random thoughts on art (not only limited to film).

The link to my first post is below:

http://anubhavbist.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/bosch-on-film/

Please check it out and leave a comment!

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Frampton arriving to Blu-ray

Posted in Uncategorized on January 13, 2012 by anubhavbist

One of the great talents from the structual film movement of the 60s as well as the one of the finest avant-garde filmmakers ever will have his work be in the Criterion Collection and on Blu-ray! Being released as A Hollis Frampton Journey, the collection includes his magnum opus Zorns Lemma, as well as piece from his works Magellan and Hapax Legomena, including his masterpiece (nostalgia). Sadly a few essential works, but I can’t complain. Criterion already have Brakhage to their catalog so the addition Frampton will be  second member of the vastly overlooked American New Wave in their collection. Hopefully this will be the begin a trend of important avant-garde filmmakers getting the high quality treatment ( films from Jack Smith, Andy Warhol, Jonas Mekas, Maya Deren, Kurt Kren, James Benning, etc.)

For more interest in this great filmmakers works, go to the link below:

http://www.ubu.com/film/frampton.html

Top Ten of 2011

Posted in Uncategorized on January 9, 2012 by anubhavbist

While I can’t say 2011 was a banner year for cinema, especially considering how phenomenal of a year 2010 was, I will admit I saw a decent amount of great films and enough interesting films to round out a pretty good top ten list. During the start of the year I wasn’t too pleased with any of the new films the year had to offer but was happy to see some of my favorite films from 2010 get US theatrical releases. The second half was a little better but only because I had all of December to focus on finding and watching good films. Once I sorted through the many duds, I actually found myself having to make tough decisions on which films weren’t gonna be in my final ten. Sadly these were the ones that failed to make the cut:

The Future – dir. Miranda July (United States/Germany)

This was a film that got it’s share of criticism, much of which I didn’t understand. Sure there are moments where the film may feel cloying at some points with it’s quirkiness (a talking cat, new age hipster lifestyle, stopping time) and the character do often come off as narcissistic, but the film, and July, are aware of all this and even agrees. The film’s strengths are in the ways it’s able to shift from quirkiness to sadness. Though it may look like just another cheap Wes Anderson rip-off with mumblecore sensibilities, The Future is actually able to balance it’s whimsy with a genuine feeling of heartbreak. Richard Brody compared Miranda July with Marguerite Duras when he wrote about the film (he even listed it number 1 for the year). It’s an interesting comparison and worth noting that July is no afraid to bring a very literary aspect to work or let it go into darker and more psychological areas.

Kill List – dir. Ben Wheatley (UK)

Audacious isn’t a strong enough word to describe this film. Wheatley’s Kill List may be the hands down most interesting film I’ve saw in 2011. This isn’t to say its a particular good film, but it’s one that is nevertheless thought provoking. Combining aspects of occult horror and gritty kitchen sink drama to a story about two hit-men, Wheatley turns what could have been another routine exploitation film into a fascinating and violent allegory for Post-Blair England. This is a chilling film and one that I suspect to be a cult hit in a few years.

The Innkeepers – dir. Ti West (US)

Ti West is the most exciting filmmaker working in the horror genre today and his follow up to his cult hit House of the Devil proves it. Doing his own version of the haunted house story, taking place during the final days of The Yankee Pedlar Inn where the employees take on the persona of “ghost catchers,” West once again shows that the importance of a good horror film relies more on atmosphere than on nonsensical violence. Its my pick for the year’s best horror film and one I’m afraid may be get overlooked.Be sure it doesn’t.

Crazy Horse – dir. Frederick Wiseman (France/US)

It’s pretty incredible to think Wismen has been working since the 60s. While I believe Crazy Horse may not rank among his greatest works, its still a worth watching. Using his verité style, Wiseman chronicles the legendary Parisian cabaret club,Crazy Horse. The film does run a little too long but the dance routines are pretty spectacular and beautifully shot.

Okay now for the the ten:

10. The Kid with a Bike/Le gamin au vélo – dir. Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne (Belgium/France)

The Dardenne brothers’ portrait of a disillusioned youth struggling after being abandoned by his father is an achievement that shouldn’t go unnoticed. Structured like a fairy tale but filmed in their usual gritty documentary style, the film is able to present it’s narrative that avoids sentimentality and cynicism. I’ve seen few films this year that are able to deliver as many emotional sequences, especially the final 20 minutes. The brothers also get one of the years best performances from young Thomas Doret.

9. A Dangerous Method – dir. David Cronenberg (UK/Germany/Canada/Switzerland/France)

It took two viewings for me to fully appreciate and understand the depth of Cronenberg’s newest film. Arguably the greatest genre director ever, Cronenberg takes on Masterpiece Theater/historical film, but in the usual Cronenberg fashion, ignores the genre’s usual trappings.stead his film’s drama alternates from intense debates of philosophy, psychology and dreams, all while hinting at the era’s prejudices and class differences (as well the eventual horrors to come from them). Following the triangle relationship between Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud and Sabina Spielrein, Cronenberg explores the birth of psychoanalysis. Understated and deeply personal, I imagine this is the film Cronenberg has been waiting his life to make and I’m glad hes the one to do it. In other hands, the film could either have been just another boring historical piece or one that was too interested in scandalous nature of the story.

8. Dreileben – dir. Christian Petzold, Dominik Graf, Christoph Hochhäusler (Germany)

I’m a little surprised that this ambitious film project didn’t get the attention it deserved, but then again maybe I shouldn’t be. The Berlin School has kinda gone unnoticed in the west but hopefully that will change, especially when you consider projects like Dreileben. Consisting of three films (Beats Being Dead/Etwas Besseres als den Tod; Don’t Follow Me Around/Komm mir nicht nach; One Minute of Darkness/Eine Minute Dunkel) by three of Germany’s most acclaimed filmmakers, the series presents three inter-locking stories tackling one terrifying incident with each director taking different angles. Its an interesting experimentation on narrative and is successful because each film stand alone representing different aesthetics and director trademarks. I’m not sure when or if this will reach the states but make sure to catch it hen it does.

7. Carnage – dir. Roman Polanski (France/Germany/Poland/Spain)

I’ve heard and understand the criticisms for Polanski’s Carnage and yet I don’t mind them. I wont go as far as putting this film above the Ghost Writer, the director’s incredible political thriller from 2010, but it does have an incredible charm reminiscent to his older work. Setting everything in an apartment, reminding us of the director’s accomplished Apartment trilogy as well as his 2010 house arrest, the film showcases the director’s greatest talents as well as those of his four stars. Telling the story of two New York couples meeting about a fight that took place between their two boys, we are shown the facades of each character slowly crack revealing their true natures. I can admit this probably isn’t as good as many of the director’s greatest achievements (I’d probably put this at the level of Death and the Maiden) but a minor Polanski is still better than 90% of what I saw this year.

6. Pina/Pina – Tanzt, tanzt sonst sind wir verloren – dir. Wim Wenders (Germany/France/UK)

Has anyone else been wondering what happened to Wim Wenders? The quality of work has dropped off substantially since the 80s and, unlike Werner Herzog (the only other active New German Cinema filmmaker) has had trouble staying relevant. I’m not sure where his newest film, Pina, stands among his best films yet but I can say it’s the first time I’ve actually been excited about a Wim Wenders film in a really long time. Wenders’ tribute to German dancer, choreographer and teacher Pina Bausch is equal parts documentary, musical and avant garde experimentation. Its a truly joyous work and Wenders follows the trend with recent film-making greats like Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog, and Ken Jacobs to bring an artistic eye to 3D technology.

5. A Separation/Jodaeiye Nader az Simin – dir. Asghar Farhadi (Iran)

Winner of the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival, A Separation is easily the foreign film favorite this year ad for good reason. Its intelligently written, its well acted (Peyman Moaadi is fantastic as is the child actresses), and represents some of the strongest film direction in 2011. Descried by Farhadi as “a detective story without detectives,” he makes us the witnesses in a dilemma that has no right answers. There is a mystery in the story but what is emphasized are the characters and the problems in Iranian society. It works very similarly in the way that Nicolas Ray presents the crime in his 1950s masterpiece In a Lonely Place. And like that great film, A Separation is a truly emotionally draining. It’s also one of the best films I’ve seen in a while.

4. The Miners’ Hymns – dir. Bill Morrison (US/UK)

Bill Morrison may be one of the ten best American filmmakers working today and The Miners’ Hymns is proof of this. Using found-footage images of the mining communities of Northeast England, Morrison’s film spans decades, it’s at once a celebration and elegy to coal-mining culture in the city of Durham. Accompanied by a haunting score by Jóhann Jóhannsson, The Miners’ Hymns is a wonderful cinematic experience.

3. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia/Bir zamanlar Anadolu’da – dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Turkey/Bosnia/Herzegovina)

This existential search for a dead body is one of the finest films I’ve seen this young century. Director Ceylan proves that he may be the heir apparent to Michelangelo Antonioni and his deconstruction of a police procedural provides more mysteries than it actually solves. This is a film that was made for multiple viewings and I plan to write a longer review later this month.

2. The Turin Horse/A torinói ló – dir. Bela Tarr (Hungary/France/Germany/Switzerland/US)

Bela Tarr’s swan song is his best film since his epic Sátántangó. In a year where many filmmakers filmed their own versios of the end of the world, Tarr’s apocalypse, or anti-genesis, trumps all. Following the final seven days of a father and daughter (and their horse), Tarr and his frequent collaborators, novelist László Krasznahorkai and partner Ágnes Hranitzky, create one of the most tragic portraits of a Godless world. The direction is pitch perfect, with one of the most haunting final shots ever. Few final films truly sum up a director’s career. Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salo, Joris Ivens’ A Tale of the Wind, and Luis Buñuel’s That Obscure Object of Desire were able to achieve this. You can add The Turin Horse to that list.

1. Tree of Life – dir. Terrence Malick (US)

Yes another end of the year list topped by Malick’s epic metaphysical and polarizing masterpiece. Comparisons to Kubrick’s 2001 are inescapable but really the greatness of Malick’s film is the coming of age story inside the grandiose art house experimentation. While I love the Malick’s version of the big bang, maybe the greatest cinematic interpretation of it since Brakhage’s Dog Star Man, the human story is the real draw. Hunter McCracken and Brad Pitt give two of the best performances of the year as the son and father. This ambitious project, one that has been years in the making, may be the greatest film Malick has ever made. Knowing hat, Tree of Life is nothing if not the movie of the year.

Outer and Inner Space

Posted in Uncategorized on November 15, 2011 by anubhavbist

Outer and Inner Space – dir. Andy Warhol (1965; US)

Both prophetic and original, Andy Warhol’s cinematic deconstruction of his most iconic superstar’s portrait remains one of the seminal, if not underappreciated, masterpieces of the 20th century. The work is presented as a double-screen installation where two projectors screen two 16mm film reels of Edie Sedgwick being interviewed next to a large television monitor playing a pre-recorded videotape of her in another interview. In many ways it’s an extension of Warhol’s famous 2D multi-image portraitures. Warhol offers us four Sedgwicks total, two captured on video and two captured on film. Outer and Inner Space represents not only one of the first examples of video art, but also one of the first works to effectively combine video and film formats.

Throughout the piece Warhol flattens the image so we see the face of Sedgwick’s “live” self, positioned in front of us, next to her “televised” self, sitting three-quarter profile facing left, so that both appear together to be the same size. This arrangement creates an effective visual illusion that would work seamlessly if it weren’t for the noticeable television flicker and occasional noise that temporarily distorts Sedgwick’s “televised” profile. Yet this evident difference between Sedgwicks is what makes Warhol’s piece so fascinating, as both are framed as opposites in conflict with one another. The “televised” Sedgwick, filmed with high quality Norelco video cameras, illuminates from the screen but rarely reveals any emotions; her image is that of a statuesque beauty. Compare that with the “live” Sedgwick, elegantly photographed on 16mm with distinct shadows cast on her face, showing as much character as possible when she speaks; moments of her laughing, making animated gestures and taking a drag from her cigarette help bring her to life in front of us. This visual juxtaposition plays perfectly into Warhol’s continuing artistic study on media and celebrity facades.

But while we do get to see Sedgwick at her most playful, it’s impossible not to take in consideration what would take place only six years after the completion of the piece; Sedgwick’s death at the age of 28. Much had been documented of the Sedgwick’s socialite status and deeply troubled past, dubbed affectionately as the “poor little rich girl,” to her eventually fallout with Warhol and subsequent troubles with drug abuse. This makes the ending of Outer and Inner Space all the more tragic. Watching Sedgwick continue her interview while the image of her “televised” self slowly deteriorates to static before finally disappearing all together, serves as a sad yet perfect illustration of what would be Sedgwick’s eventual downfall after her departure from the factory.

Oscar in Review

Posted in Uncategorized on February 28, 2011 by anubhavbist

Last year I decided to take some interest in Oscar coverage mainly because  I had seen all the films nominated and a good number of the nominated films were in my top 25 including the number one spot (the Coen Brothers’ masterpiece A Serious Man). Sadly this year, only one film was good enough to include in my top ten (Pixar’s fabulous Toy Story 3) but it wasn’t high enough to make me care to cover the whole show. But there was still enough in me to actually watch the event. So I’ll began with what I thought was bothersome about the night:

The Hosts:

While I think James Franco and Anne Hathaway are fine at acting, I don’t think they had the necessary comedic chops to actually make the jokes work. It started with the lazy opening sequence that basically just edited together scenes from the nominated films in a “humorous” way rather than actually making an enjoyable parody. The jokes were far too conservative especially compared to the edgy and brilliant work done by Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes. However James Franco’s facial expressions did make me chuckle only to sigh, remembering that the fact Franco accepting hosting duties might as well be the Academy (and him) saying out loud that hes not gonna win. To bad because he gave a good performance.

Memoriam:

While I enjoyed the Lena Horne section but, as a film enthusiast, I would have saved Dennis Hopper and Arthur Penn for last. Both were instrumental in the arrival of New Hollywood and one could argue that they were responsible for the two most important films to jump-start the movement (Bonnie and Clyde and Easy Rider). Again I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority, but it would have been a stronger way to go. Also where was Corey Haim?

Director:

One change which I though was just downright stupid was lacing the the Best Director spot before the Best Actor and Actress. I will not accept this. The Director should always be before Best Picture because the Director is the highest on the food chain; they are the artists of the piece (I’m sure this will be disputed by some but I stand by my opinion). Its disrespectful to the director and I hope to see it changed for next year.

Godard:

I was already disgusted by the change of having the honorary Oscar presentation taken place outside of the ceremony but I had a full year to get over it. While I was excited that they wrote their wrong of finally giving Jean-Luc Godard the Oscar he deserves, it was a little deflating to see clips from the Governor’s Ball. It was even worst to not even see a picture when they showed the three other participants on stage. Well anyways he didn’t have a comment to spare for the Academy either.

Winners:

I didn’t think the King’s Speech was actually gonna win the top spot going in, but the Oscars did a terrible job hiding their decision during the ceremony (especially the final movie montage with the monologue from the film playing over it). I guess I didn’t have much to yell about with the film taking the top spot even though I thought Toy Story 3 was by far the best film of the ten with the Social Network being the runner up. I still thought it was disrespectful to have that montage playing and all the other signs of Academy love for the King’s Speech.

Fincher:

I remember back in 2000 when Gladiator took home all the top prizes outside of the director’s spot. While I despise Gladiator as a film and believe it to be one of the worst winners ever, I felt it was even worse to see Ridley lose. If you’re already going to award the cruddy film all the big award, why not just give Ridley Scott a Best Director Oscar? Did Steven Soderbergh do such a brilliant job directing Traffic that he needed to get the Oscar over Scott that year? If I remember correctly it was Ang Lee who got the most praise for his work on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon by the critics. Hell I thought Stephen Daldry did the best job of the five (or four because Soderbergh was nominated twice for some reason). But no, Ridley lost yet another chance at an Oscar because the Academy believed that Soderbergh deserved the trophy more for some reason or another. Now I know how the Academy works and I know they aren’t above giving a great director (or anyone at that matter) an award as a sort of life time achievement for a film that is obviously not his/her best work. Ridely Scott might not be considered a great filmmaker in some people’s eyes (if anyone reads this blog or knows me knows that I’m not one of them) but I believe he has made enough great films to at least be worth a phony Oscar; And if you don’t want him to award him that then give it to a director that’s worthy of the award. I personally felt this was the case for David Fincher this year. The Social Network was not a bad film at all and in no way deserves to be compared to the tragedy that was Gladiator (I cant say the same for his Oscar winning Curious Case of Benjamin Button), but it was in no way as good as the filmmaker’s other works. I hold his work from the nineties like Se7en and Fight Club (which was in my top ten of the Allan Fish’s nineties poll) at such high regard and believe Zodiac to be one of the greatest films ever and easily the best serial killer film since M. His last two nominations really don’t exemplify the director’s best work but if I was to see Fincher win an Oscar I would have rather liked to have seen it with The Social Network. Seeing Tom Hooper win instead brought up the same feeling that I felt in 2000 and has made me feel that Fincher is in the same boat as Ridley Scott; A director that will most likely never get an Oscar.

Now that all that’s all taken care of, its time to talk about the good of the night:

Sorkin:

Aaron Sorkin wrote one of the wittiest and best structured scripts of the last ten years and deserved the win. Sometimes its just nice seeing someone writing dialogue that is actually smart and no one does it better than Sorkin. Its the sharp writing that made A Few Good Men and The American President memorable and that made the West Wing one of my favorite shows. With the Social Network, Sorkin was able to work with a director far more talented than Rob Reiner and produce a film that was one of the strongest American films of the past year. It was also great to seeing him give a wonderful speech that was, really, the highlight of the night for me.

well that’s gonna be it for my Oscar rant for the year. Please comment!

Top Ten of 2010

Posted in Uncategorized on January 12, 2011 by anubhavbist

It’s that time of the year again when film enthusiasts reflect on the year that was and compile a list honoring the best of the best. But in the end, its all subjective and one of the best parts of “ten best” lists is to argue about them. So, it goes without saying, that the ten I’ve picked are films that have had a lasting effect on me but ones that I personally feel push the medium further as an art-form. But before I list my selection, I feel obligated to talk about other films that have caught my attention this year. This includes films that just missed the cut and others that were interesting (and sometimes disappointing) misfires. One of these films is Abbas Kiarostami’s first non-Iranian film, Certified Copy (Copie conforme). Described as Kiarostami’s most convention film to date, but the film is still fascinating and experimental. At first it would appear as if the legendary director was channeling Richard Linklater (think Before Sunset and Sunrise), but as the film progresses characters begin to change, making it’s viewer question whether they are revealing their true selves or hiding behind a persona. It was one of the best films I’ve seen this year and its probably my choice for the 11th spot (though I almost want to tie it with my number ten). Another favorite of the year was Jia Zhangke’s I Wish I Knew (Hai shang chuan qi), a film that underwhelmed many of the critics who saw it at the Cannes Film Festival but impressed me. Beautifully shot and heart warming interviews made it one of the most unforgettable documentaries in recent years. Hopefully it will get a wide enough US release in 2011 so other film enthusiasts could weigh in. Xavier Beauvois’ Of Gods and Men (Des hommes et des dieux), however, won a lot of acclaim at the festival (winning the Grand Prix) and deservingly so. Its a magnificent and subtle film that just missed my list.

This year also saw the release of very highly anticipated films which I hoped would end up on my list. One film that shouldn’t surprise many reading is Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan; I know I’m not alone when I say that this was sort of a disappointment. While I enjoyed aspects of the film (the background ballet scenes, the wonderful hand-held camera movements, the many good performances) but the film is ultimately undone by Aronofsky. Black Swan begins to lose all subtlety after we see Natalie Portman hallucinate and turn into a swan. Had Aronofsky resisted his urges to allude to is his favorite horror films (Ex: Suspiria, Repulsion, The Fly) and to revert back to his old overtly surrealist visual tricks. I could have actually seen Black Swan reach the level of a brilliant psychological horror film like David Cronenberg’s 1988 masterpiece Dead Ringers, but instead it will remain a very fascinating misfire. I think the film is good enough to maybe grow on me in the future but when compared to his last two films (the brilliant and underrated The Fountain and his magnum opus The Wrestler) it’s a huge disappointment. I could also include Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere on that list. While I admit that I’m not the biggest fan of Coppola’s films (I like Lost in Translation but I don’t put it on the pedestal that others do), I can at least tell that she is talented and capable of creating a masterpiece. Somewhere, while it won the Venice Film Festival’s prestigious Golden Lion, is not that masterpiece. While it features solid performances, it fails because you get the feeling that Coppola is trying too hard to be like the filmmakers she admires (something one could say the same about Black Swan). I’ve heard on many occasions (including her Academy Award acceptance speech) where Coppola mention her love of the films of Michelangelo Antonioni and Wong Kar Wai, and I guess it’s evident in Somewhere (and some of her other films). The problem is that her films don’t even come close to showing the emotional depth and sadness of those who she admires. Another film that sort of falls in this category is the Coen Brothers’ True Grit. Its a film that I really did enjoy and one that has grown on me since the last time I watched it. Its filled with wonderful performances (especially newcommer Hailee Steinfeld who steals the film) and offers everything one expects from a fun film. Maybe the only thing that disappoints me about this is that it falls short to their other great films, including their masterful A Serious Man which I thought was the best film of last year and the best the Coen Brothers have ever directed.

With all that out of the way, I think it’s best I just reveal the list…

1o. Shutter Island – dir. Martin Scorsese; US

Scorsese’s Hitchcock homage Shutter Island is a film that was made for people who love movies. Its a film that divided most critics and film fans, but I thought it deserves to be recognized as one of the strongest of the year. Personally its my favorite from the great director in the last ten years (far more interesting the Oscar friendly Gangs of New York, Aviator, and The Departed). Adapting from Dennis Lehane’s pulp detective novel, Scorsese fuses elements of  both classic suspense thrillers and modern crime films (with a dash of psychological thriller) to create one of the best films of the year.

9. Poetry (Shi) – dir. Lee Chang-dong; South Korea

Lee Chang-dong has been getting a lot praise for his film Secret Sunshine this year, which had come out in 2007 but released in the States in 2010 (which is why it wasn’t on this list), but Poetry is no slouch. This is a wonderful film that proves that South Korea is producing some of the greatest filmmakers and films in the world. Last year, Park Chan-wook  and Bong Joon-ho made two incredible films (Thirst and Mother were both in my top 5 in 2009) and now it’s Lee Chan-dong time to shine. Poetry in a way is very much like Joon-ho’s Mother; Both are moral tales which showcase the talent of their veteran lead actresses (Jeong-hie Yun delivers a great performance). While  is not the stylist that Joon-ho is, but Chang-dong masterfully handles material with subtly. This is a great film.

8. Toy Story 3 – Lee Unkich; US

Toy Story 3 was probably the most popular film of the year and it’s not surprising. Its final installment to one of, if not, the most loved and successful animated film franchises ever. The first Toy Story was a monumental achievement for animated features and one of the best films of the 90s and the sequel was just as widely lauded (though not by this reviewer). Combine that with the fact that Pixar had already hit critical and financial gold with their last three pictures (Ratatouille, Wall-E, and Up each won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, with the latter being nominated for Best Picture) and the thought of a third Toy Story was enough to garner anyone’s (die-hard film lover or not) attention. And with such lofty expectations, its so reassuring to see that the film deliver. This might be the best film Pixar has produced since the original Toy Story started it all back in 95.

7. Film Socialsme – dir. Jean-Luc Godard; France/Switzerland

I could make a very strong argument that Jean-Luc Godard’s status as a great filmmaker wasn’t solidified by the work he produced in the 60s, during the height of the New Wave, but his experimentation from the decades since. Godard has produced so many polarizing films, each helping to push the art-form. The last decade alone has shown some of the filmmaker’s most daring works, the height being his 2001 masterpiece In Praise of Love (Éloge de l’amour). Film Socialisme continues the Godard’s experimentation with the medium being the first of his films to be shot on HD Video (though he has experimented with digital format since his 1975 film Numéro deux). While I won’t say this is the best of Godard’s films from this century nor is it a perfect one. But the film’s first segment, taking place on a cruise ship, is as good as anything the Godard has ever filmed. Its good enough to overlook a rather slow second segment. The film’s final segment is a brilliant video montage that is nothing less than brilliant. While that might sound like I’m praising  2/3 of great film (and in a way it might be), the best parts of Godard’s Film Socialisme are worth it. This is a film that I can’t wait to view again.

6. Carlos – dir. Olivier Assayas; France/Germany

No art house film this year has been more critically acclaimed than Assayas’ Carlos. It was number one on Film Comment’s end of the year poll and finished number two (behind the Social Network) on the Village Voice Film Poll. A 5 1/2 hour film that makes you forget it’s time length and a center piece performance (from Édgar Ramirez) that is easily the best male performance of the year. On the surface Carlos might look like a toss up to Lean’s grandiose epics from the 60s (in the way Che was) but really the film shares more with the intelligent crime thrillers of the New Hollywood movement (think something like the Godfather or even Dog Day Afternoon). This is a film that is destined to be an instant classic.

5. Honey – dir. Semih Kaplanglu; Turkey/Germany

Honey, the third of Kaplanglu’s Yusef trilogy (after Milk and Egg), is nothing if not a masterpiece. A beautiful coming of age story that made me think of Ray’s masterpiece Pather Panchali and Erice’s Spirit of the Beehive. Winner of the Berlin Film Festival (awarded by a jury headed by the great Werner Herzog), the film doesn’t disappoint. Its filled with so many beautiful moments and takes it’s time to show us (not tell us) Yusef’s life. Its a small film but a memorable one and filmmaking at its best.

4. My Joy (Schastye moe) – dir. Sergei Loznitsa; Ukraine/Germany/Netherlands

When I saw Hunger a couple years ago, I remember telling everyone I knew that Steve McQueen has established himself as the most talented new filmmaker of the decade. In hindsight it might be a little premature to make such a statement, at least until McQueen’s follow-up, Shame, is released. But how could you blame me? Hunger was debut for the ages and was one of the best films of the decade. After watching My Joy, I feel myself wanting to say the same about Sergei Loznitsa. His debut is just as deserving of attention, but most American critics won’t see it (like most of the films on this list) until later this year. This is a dark allegory that examines the history of violence rooted in the soil of Russia. The best way to describe it is as an endless nightmare. Its a film that is bleak, and at times almost absurd, but its a film that will surely stir up some discussions.

3. Tuesday, After Christmas (Marti, dupa craciun) – dir. Radu Muntean; Romania/France

The Romanian New Wave is still producing masterpieces, this time from Radu Muntean. Tuesday, After Christmas is not only one of the most heartbreaking portraits of a marriage falling apart, but one of the greatest Christmas films ever. But this film shows the holiday for what it really is; nothing more than a holiday celebrating consumerism. But that is secondary. The centerpiece is an intense domestic drama that is handled so perfectly. Its also a showcase for great acting as the director lets scenes play out, without any cuts. This ranks among the greatest films the Romanian New Wave has produced.

2. The Ghost Writer – dir. Roman Polanski; UK/France/Germany

The Ghost Writer is no less of an achievement than Polanski’s own Chinatown from 1974. This is a film that works on so many levels: a fun pulp conspiracy theory thriller, a send up to the great suspense classics (much like Shutter Island), a political satire, or even a personal parable to the director’s recent troubles. But above all else, its an incredibly entertaining film; the rare kind of gem that can appeal to both the art house lover and the causal film goer. With incredible performances from a talented case (especially Pierce Brosnan and Olivia Williams) and Polanski creating an eerie paranoid atmosphere (a Polanski trademark), it hard not view this as one of the best films of the year.

1. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Loong Boonmee raleuk chat) – dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul;Thailand/Germany/Spain/France/UK

While Polanski’s The Ghost Writer made an excellent case for best film of the year, I just couldn’t recognize it as such. Apichatpong Weerasethkul’s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives just had too much going for it. A great piece of filmmaking that best personifies why I love film. Combining aspects of avant-garde filmmaking, Thai folk lore, absurdist humor, strange creatures, and political defiance, Weerasethkul presents his viewer with what could be the most euphoric 113 minutes any film could possibly wish to offer. We follow the final days of Uncle Boonmee, as he spends them with his sister-in-law and family friend while mysterious spirits come to communicate with him. I feel like telling more but I just want the world to go out and watch it for themselves (that is when it gets its official release in the States). I don’t expect to see a better film in a while.

Metanoia needs help

Posted in Uncategorized on November 29, 2010 by anubhavbist

 

Metanoia Poster Art

It’s not often that I put up a post that isn’t a film review but this is going to be one of those posts. Over the past couple of months, I’ve been working as an assistant director for an independent film project. Its called Metanoia and we’ve are still in pre-production. We have set up an Indiegogo account to hopefully raise funds and are in need for donations. Below you’ll find the link to the Indiegogo page (where you can also watch our promotional video with the film crew) and the film’s website (runs by yours truly). Than you and we’d be very appreciative for your help.

IndieGoGo:

http://www.indiegogo.com/metanoiaRVA?a=57251&i=addr

Metanoia website:

http://metanoiafilm.wordpress.com/