I’m not a fan of online lists. I have tried to provide considered content on this blog and not lazy journalistic filler, but I have made a pledge to be less precious and post more often, so there will be a higher incidence of fluff betwixt the articles henceforth. In typically contrary fashion though, I have waited till list season has drawn to a close before casting my pearls of wisdom.
As best I can, I have tried to recall all the films I saw for the first time in 2011. This is a valuable exercise, at times surprising. I am always chiding myself for not keeping any kind of log of the films I watch or the books I read, or the gigs and shows I attend. I know it would serve me well when I am seeking new reads, or as a source of reference when compiling lists etc, but it just isn’t my style- I am not a meticulous keeper of records, I just like to absorb my culture (pop or otherwise) and move on. The drawback of course being a few months/weeks/days later I have no idea what I have consumed.

So: I can remember all four films I saw at the cinema I believe and LoveFilm helpfully lets me know what they’ve sent me. Anything from Blockbuster or on Television I’ve had to scrounge up from memory and I know there are significant omissions. I will cast an eye over my in-house collection and try to recall which are new additions. Still, there are about eighty odd on my list already, which isn’t bad considering I thought I’d hardly seen any films this year. I can’t even imagine the number I must have seen in the last five years.
That’s clearly far too many to summarise in one blog post so, in honour of the Year of the Apocalypse, I shall select twenty and review each in only one sentence- from these I shall nominate twelve  to receive a more considered appraisal over the next twelve days. Hope you enjoy.

Miyazaki's Ponyo

1. The Illusionist (Sylvain Chomet, UK/Fr, 2010)
Beautiful, elegiac paean to a bygone era and the inexorable loss that is fatherhood.

2. Mysterious Skin (Gregg Araki, US/NL, 2004)
Utterly tragic, desolate expose of the legacy of abuse.

3. Victor/Victoria (Blake Edwards, UK/US, 1982)
Unexpectedly risqué and open about gay lifestyles in the Seventies VV makes subversive use of Andrews’ impeccable voice. [Apparently it was made in the Eighties. Comment stands]
4. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (Edgar Wright, US/UK/Ca, 2010)
Just perfectly put together: the look, the dialogue, the casting- someone finally perfected the formula.
5. The Kids Are All Right (Lisa Cholodenko, US, 2010)
There is nothing right about this film and no excuses either.

Mysterious Skin

6. Ponyo (Hayao Miyazaki, Jp, 2010)
Utterly disappointing.

7. The Incredible Hulk (II) (Louis Leterrier, US, 2008)
This concept just can’t work as live action, it just doesn’t, despite a very respectable performance from Norton.

8. The Painted Veil (John Curran, Ch/US/Ca, 2006)
Surprisingly moving, this film is stunning and the character development really pleasing to observe.
9. Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (Mat Whitecross, UK, 2010)
Clever, quirky and heavily stylised biopic that feels true to Dury’s oeuvre.
10.  Room In Rome (JulioMedem, Sp, 2010)
This film wants to be Last Tango In Paris, but it only succeeds in being soft porn framed by derivative and juvenile duologues.

11.  Piranha (Alexandre Aja, US, 2010)
Solidly entertaining popcorn flick, that doesn’t mind you laughing at it rather than with it (plus Kelly Brook.)
12.  I’ve Loved You So Long (Philippe Claudel, Fr/Ger, 2008)
You know, but you don’t really know and you know you shouldn’t be on her side, but you can’t help it.
13.  Kissing Jessica Stein (Charles Herman-Wurmfeld, US, 2001)
Sounds like lightweight titillation, but is actually a thoughtful exploration of the choice/nature debate that still lingered around sexuality in the Friends era.
14.  Brothers (Jim Sheridan, US, 2009)
Portman brings her Oscar game a year before Black Swan drops in this fascinating and largely low key relationship drama exploring the redemptive power of grief.
15.  Unstoppable (Mark Bomback, US, 2010)
A surprising power to hold the attention and cracking cinematography make this fairly paint-by-numbers action flick well worth a watch.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Mysterious Skin

16.  I Can’t Think Straight (Shamin Sarif, UK, 2008)                                                                                 Deeply flawed, but with glimpses of great potential and the occasional stunning composition- a ghost of the film it could/should have been.
17.  The Misfits (John Huston, US, 1961)
Notable as the last ever project for three major Hollywood players, this flawed tale of the end of an era is poignant and unknowingly prescient.[1]

18.  Videodrome (David Cronenberg, Ca, 1983)
Highly misleading criticism led me to believe there was some worth in this tawdry and grotesque masturbatory fantasy from some early-day fanboy. [I always forget James Woods isn’t James Spader. He’s just one of those eminently forgettable Hollywood men who used to be in fashion- like Bill Pullman/Paxton and Jeff Bridges and that other Jeff guy. SX]
19.  Serenity (Joss Whedon, US, 2005)
Caught this on the off-chance about 2am one night and finally get why it has such resilient cult appeal.

20. Hancock (Peter Berg, US, 2008)

A potentially brilliant concept, for comedy or serious character study, is squandered with a silly origin  story and pointless romantic complications.

The Illusionist

And honourable mention to Hitchcock’s Young and Innocent– because blackface is always surprising.

[1] And you see Marilyn Monroe’s breasts.

  1. Solo says:

    #I don’t know why the formatting is so weird in this post. #WP just won’t fucking do as it’s told today. #It’s almost 6am #I give up.

    [#Needs to spend less time stalking Tumblrs]

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