Critics are stupid. I just checked out the Film Comment poll. My favorite movie of the year, The Mill and the Cross, doesn't even get a mention. My guess why? Everyone was tripping over each other trying to talk about the next big thing being hyped, like We Need to Talk About Anything But the Cross. There's no time to stop and reflect on a beautiful work of art criticism as feature film.
Anyhow, I took the Film Comment poll and stripped it of its non-2011 titles (I'll do the same to the Indiewire poll eventually, but this one's shorter so it gets stripped first)! From 50 down to 28. Here are the results:
1. Tree of Life
3. A Separation
4. A Dangerous Method
6. Le Havre
7. The Descendants
8. Midnight in Paris
9. Take Shelter
13. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
14. The Interrupters
15. The Artist
17. The Skin I Live In
19. Martha Marcy May Marlene
22. The Future
23. Super 8
24. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
26. J. Edgar
27. Jane Eyre
I've only seen 9 (roughly 1/3) of those and I can't say that I'm all that excited about most of the rest.
Of course, there's also the "unreleased" list. A stupid joke. Most of the films on their "unreleased" list will get big mentions on 2012 lists. "Unreleased" here means that it played in one location (maybe Cannes or Venice) instead of three (Cannes or Venice PLUS Newd York and Lost Angeles). Many of the "released" films remain "unreleased" in the Binghamton area (unless you know some piratical tricks or unless you believe everything those big shots in NY and LA want you to believe).
It's my favorite time of year for being a movie nerd.
I haven't watched many movies lately. Only two.
Christmas in July is my new favorite Sturges film. At a tight 68 minutes, it doesn't waste any time. One of the best things about Sturges is his use of the same group of actors. This seems to be an essential element of the successful writer-director. Surround yourself with actors you trust and there will a whole lot less problems realizing your script.
I have a lot of respect for The Great Dictator. I'm having a hard time placing it on my '40 list. It's a ballsy movie. 71 years after its release, I respect it more than I love it. This film may be a victim of its own success. Hitler is now a joke. Chaplin has won. The subversive element here is undermined because we all now think that Hitler was a ridiculous little man.
Earlier this year, I read an Antoine de Saint-Exupéry memoir given to me by Ben. I think that Antoine would have really liked Chaplin's rousing final speech. I like to think that he got a chance to see this film.
Hugo. What can I say about Hugo that you guys haven't already discussed? It's a beautiful love letter to cinema (and literature and adventure and technology, etc). The 3D was fine, but it's still distracting to me. I can't appreciate it. I know that this was shot as 3D, but I'd like to see it again in 2D.
What do you guys think of the argument that Hugo is guilty of "The Parent Trap problem?" It's one of the more interesting (mild) criticisms that I've seen and I certainly thought about this while watching the film.
Other than that, I've been watching a lot of TV. 8 episodes of Smallville. 5 episodes of Justified. 2 episodes of Bored to Death. Season 4 of Smallville is the best yet. I love that Clark has really blossomed as a stupid jerk. The way that he indignantly gives everyone around him a "second chance" while he continues to self-righteously lie through his teeth (is there any better way to lie?) is always there in all of his interactions with all of his friends. Justified is a nice piece of police procedural meets modern Western. It's not as mind-numblingly-tingly-compelling as the soapish Smallville (or BSG), but it's a good "slow burn" character drama. Bored to Death annoyed me, but I'll give it a few more chances. The characters are uninteresting and I'm not sure how far the gimmick can be stretched.
I lament the fact that it doesn't look like there will another CR5FC event before the year is out. Just wait. I'm planning on throwing a film club members-only party in January or February. I'll prove to the Howard Bros once and for all that Benjamin Lainhart is something other than a fractured personality of my highly fragmented schizophrenic condition.
In the meantime, my advice is for everyone to enjoy a Trapped in Paradise/Blast of Silence double feature before or after Christmas (I'll also be happy to hear anyone's alternate suggestions for a Christmas movie double feature). Have a merry one.
I hope to squeak in at least one more post before the civil calendar ends.
Peace on earth.