short film reviews, criticism, and occasional musing.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

2011 in Review

For the second year running, I failed to keep track of new films watched, which makes it difficult to write a comprehensive year-end post – I find that whenever I’m asked to come up with lists, my mind draws a blank if I don’t have a cheat sheet handy. But I’ve been asked to think on this, so I will – and maybe next year I’ll actually keep my list up to date.

I’ll be honest – Netflix streaming is a total disaster for me as far as serious movie watching is concerned. It’s so easy to re-watch something or to pile crap on crap. It’s one of the reasons that filmsnack posting dropped off so severely and why my list went to the birds. So I’ve got to give credit where it’s due and thank Lars von Trier for pulling me out of the instant-watch funk. Going to see Melancholia in November really made me question where my love of film had disappeared to. Von Trier’s latest is, as usual, something of a mess, but it’s a glorious one, filled with humor, pathos, big questions, and Udo Kier. And it’s without question one of my favorite films of 2011.

Other favorites? I loved Drive. I finally saw Carpenter’s The Thing, which deserves the hype. Fast Five and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol were exactly what popcorn flicks should be, and Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a popcorn flick plus. I got into Andrea Arnold, and thought Red Road in particular was quite an accomplishment (and damn, somebody get Tony Curran more work). Miike’s 13 Assassins was among the best of his career. Cary Fukunaga edged a bit too close to the sexy Rochester trap by casting the ubiquitous Michael Fassbender (who was also fantastic in Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank), but still made a stark and affecting Jane Eyre. Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block was a delight (and in a similar vein, Super 8 a real letdown), as was Michael Hanzanavicius’s The Artist (check out his OSS 117 movies if you’re a Bond fan).

Bad films? Don’t get me started. Not only did Netflix provide instant-watch trash in spades, but at some point in the year, my boyfriend and I decided to take on the A.V. Club’s best bad films of the ‘00s. Which is how he finally saw The Room (we own a copy now) and we both watched Dreamcatcher (ditto). We still can’t bring ourselves to watch Boat Trip, and we fell asleep both times we've tried Basic Instinct 2, but otherwise we’re nearly done with the list. A dubious accomplishment, but a pretty entertaining one.

Hopes for 2012? I need to catch up on some gems from last year (watching the wonderful Bill Cunningham New York on New Year’s Day was a good start), and get out to foreign films more. I need to turn off the streaming and walk a couple of blocks to the rental place when I find myself without something to watch. And I need to finally grab the boyfriend and sit down with The Ballad of Narayama, which I’m pretty sure we’ve had sitting atop the console in its red envelope for at least two months now.


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