I’ll follow Tom Hall’s lead and call this my “Incredibly Personal, Completely Subjective List of the Best Films of The Decade.” Consider it a snapshot of my taste right now. Conspicuously absent are several filmmakers who made great films this decade but who, for whatever reasons — my age? critical backlash? the weather? — didn’t […]
To carry on the tradition from past years (2006, 2007, 2008), here’s a breakdown of the feature-length films I saw at TIFF, more or less in order of preference. Masterpieces Will likely end up on my short list of favorite films of the decade: none Stand Outs Will be among my favorite films of the […]
Antichrist (Tars von Trier) When asked at TIFF what I thought of Antichrist, I got in the habit of saying, “Well, it’s a testament to von Trier’s talent that he can make such an unremarkable film of such remarkable imagination and control.” It’s a genre film, right? A psychological horror movie with a few unexpected […]
Like You Know It All (Hong Sang-soo) Given the generally low opinion of Like You Know It All among many Hong fans, and given my enjoyment of it, I’ve concluded I just can’t tell the good ones from the bad. This one has everything I enjoy about his work: a self-absorbed, unintentionally cruel, and likable […]
When I spoke to Olson after the screening, she told me how overwhelming it was to visit the set, to listen to Milk’s voice, and to know that it was here — right here — that he contemplated his imminent murder. She’s translated that experience well to her film, which is ghostly and deeply moving. But, of course, it wasn’t right here that Milk made his tape. This is a meticulously dressed set.
While watching Les Bons Debarras, I was struck by how familiar it felt. I was eight when the film was released — near enough to the age of Manon (Charlotte Laurier) that I was able immediately to recognize that particular era of childhood, even if her experience of it is so much different from my own.
American “regional” cinema (again with the ironic scare quotes), especially that of the indie variety, has an unfortunate tendency to come off like tourism, in the sense that the camera is too often set up in front of objects that only reinforce our preexisting sense of the place. “The South,” for example, is often reduced to a now-vacant and picturesque block of what was once a small town’s main street before the interstate and Wal-Mart moved in.
Heartbeat Detector is a tricky one. Immediately after my first viewing a couple weeks ago, I went searching for decent writing about it but found slim pickings. Judging by the responses of most critics I’ve found online, it’s little more than a too-long and “oh so European” corporate thriller. Unflattering comparisons to Michael Clayton are the norm, and there’s a not-so-subtle (and strangely patronizing) animosity running through the reviews: that a film would seriously compare the workings of modern capital to the Holocaust is just too much, apparently.
I watched Late Spring for the first time last night (yeah, I know) and had a grand time spotting the details that echo throughout Denis’s film. Mostly, though, I was struck by just how strange a filmmaker Ozu really is, particularly in his cutting. It made me realize that I’m not so sure, exactly, what we mean when we call a film “Ozu-like.”
Here’s a quick breakdown of what I saw, more or less in order of preference. I’m never sure how to handle the Wavelengths shorts, so I’ve included several of them that I thought were especially strong and arbitrarily omitted others. Wavelengths was, without question, the highlight of TIFF for me this year.
I’ve developed a lazy habit of saying that I don’t particularly care what a film is about; I care what it does formally. But, while well-directed and wonderfully performed, the standout feature of Gotz Spielmann’s Revanche is the story, which, particularly over the last 80 minutes, is perfectly constructed.
The Toronto International Film Festival is always the most highly anticipated week-and-a-half of my year, but this time around my eagerness to go watch movies, hang out with friends, and wander around a great city is being trumped by the more basic and urgent need for a vacation. I’m deep-down-in-the-bones tired and I can’t wait to get away and be a different version of myself for 11 days. When I got home last year, I told Joanna that Toronto has become my mistress. I’ll stand by that metaphor.
What fascinates me about Los Muertos is that it explores the connection between form and content by taking all of the tropes of “transcendental cinema” and staining them, by narrative means, with dread and violence. It reminds me of Brian Eno’s answer (apocryphal, perhaps) when he was asked if he was the father of New Age music: “No, my music has evil in it.”
Along with simply being a tremendous pleasure to watch, The Iron Horse offers a fascinating peek into the evolution of the Hollywood film style. By 1924 — and with four dozen films under his belt — Ford already understood the mechanics of what would eventually be called standard continuity editing, and so, for me, the most interesting moments in the early films are when something breaks, as in the following sequence.
With so many directors now throwing in their cameras with the “single-shot scenes from a fixed position” school of filmmaking, there’s a growing problem for those of us who believe that a fundamental job of critics is to accurately describe what we see. Films built almost entirely from images that would have been described traditionally as “establishing shots” beg the question: How does one describe and evaluate this kind of montage (if that’s even the right word)?
Dir. by Abderrahmane Sissako “There is an organic unity to village life, but it is both fragile and alienating. In this regard Sissako refuses to either promote some pure, untouched pre-modernity or to mourn for some lost social integration. Sissako’s encompasser always has to make room for those transnational nomads who can’t quite pass muster […]
One reason I’m completely unconvinced by all of the critical praise being heaped on the Coens’ treatment of evil and violence in No Country for Old Men is because violence — real, non-metaphoric violence — is always sorrowful and tragic. Lynch seems to have been born with a peculiar sensitivity to that fact, and has spent his career perfecting the formal means of articulating it.