I only do my favorite film lists based on the films I've seen within the year either in theaters or otherwise that were released within the year. One of my films on this list actually came out last year but was released on a platform I could see it on this year, cause I wasn't running around to festivals a year ago to make sure I saw it. But that's how I organize my list.
I have not seen "Her", "American Hustle", "Blue is the Warmest Color"(and no I'm not interested in this film because it's about lesbians or has a lesbian sex scene in it. But because I heard it is a truly great film about a relationship.), or "All is Lost" (I'm kinda sick of survivalist films however I love Redford.) all films I may find myself loving as well as others which have slipped under my radar. I think from what I've heard, "Her" is the only film with potential to knock films off this list.
1#. (I doubt this one is going to budge in my list.)
12 YEARS A SLAVE
Every critic that dismisses this film because it's 'Oscar Bait' might as well dismiss every WW2 and Holocaust film as well or for that matter any film done well about a deep subject of any kind as 'Oscar Bait'. Mental illness - nope oscar bait, holocaust - nope oscar bait, serial killer - nope oscar bait.
Is this 'Oscar Bait' who knows and who cares. Is it a good movie. No "12 Years a Slave" is not a good movie. "12 Years a Slave" is a great movie.
This movie packs powerful performances in such a raw realistic way, not hokey, not put on but razor sharpened to the most emotional point it's deeply shocking. It feels real and furthermore feels honest about this subject yet still has a poetic resonance I haven't found in any other film this year.
I saw this film twice in theaters. The second screening at the end of the movie the audience was in tears. That has not happened in my entire theatrical movie viewing experience. The movie is so good to my experience you forget you are watching a movie. You're watching an emotional experience.
I love crime dramas and this is a powerhouse with a slight hint from the horror genre another genre I love. This one is nearly pitch perfect scriptwise with electric performances from Jackman and Gyllenhaal. I kinda don't want to say too much, it's kinda a mystery. ;)
3#. The Wolf of Wall Street
It's fun and funny. Yep lots of nudity and bad behavior and this one doesn't speak quite as much about the human condition as others but while some would write it off as a party flick and maybe even compare it to wilder films from this year like Spring Breakers . . . there is a rich heart peppered and layered in this desert film that I think speaks even greater about the human condition than the film is given credit. And the truth is all the people protesting that this film condones this kind of behavior...most people WISH they were Jordan Belford for a day. And that I think is the charm, it's like a rap music video or cribs, with lots of big laughs and a little bit of heart. It's an adrenaline shot right to your basis human desires. It speaks about wealth and power in an amazingly cathartic way. Oh, Thelma the editor, is a genius, yes she keeps with her style but it works brilliantly with a few tricks here and there, including one clever one in the opening titles. Leo is electric and Jonah is HiLaRious!
As much as I have my ideas about how dull this film will be on a small screen. (a buddy of mine saw it
on a screening for awards season having missed it in theaters and said it was very slow and boring)
. . .
But on a big screen it's absolutely breathtaking. It instilled me with that sense of awe of the mysteries of the universe. And Bullock is amazing. Clooney offers just the right amount of heart and it's easily one of the most visually stunning films of the year.
5#. Dallas Buyers Club
I had the privilege of seeing this story at a Q&A with the two writers at the Los Angeles Film School. And it was worth it. For a film about dying from aids it has moments in it that are damn funny but the thing that steals the show is Matthew Mcconaughey and Jared Leto. For a film about aids, homosexuality, and the FDA drug laws causing some bureaucratic medical rules ruining lives to help create new drugs never gets preachy to me and through McConaughey's charismatic performance the film is never bogged down with this kind of feeling. It speaks about bigotry and fighting the good fight, it's a beautifully amazing film and I hope many people see it and don't write it off as 'the gay film' because it is really not. By the sheer nature of the story some people will write the film off, they shouldn't, it never comes across to me at least as sentimental or tacked on, ever.
6#. The World's End
Fast paced, quicks jokes, drinking movie . . . (come to think of it there are a lot of party movies on this list) it's wild hilarious and speaks pretty much nothing about the human condition but man is it a hell of a fun movie!!! 3 Thumbs up. (I stole a thumb)
7#. The House I Live In
This is the one that was released last year. It just wasn't available for me to see it til this year and it's too important and too much of a great film not for me to add to this list.
The American drug war and to an extension the world drug war is a sham. It is failing our world, our economy and to a greater extension our people. I have seen the wonders of drugs and I have seen the horrors of drugs (mostly second hand) and I'll say it's a broken system.
8#. We Steal Secrets
The feature film about this subject with Benedict Cumberbach was considered a failure both financially and critically. The documentary on this subject is brilliantly taught. And by one of my favorite documentary filmmakers alive today Alex Gibney. I had the pleasure of seeing it at a Q&A with Mr. Gibney at the IDA.
9#. The Conjuring (I'm not judging this film on the validity of the claims but only on it's quality as a movie.)
Just a rock solid horror film through and through. That even though there are a billion possession/haunting movies out there it legitimately manages to feel fresh. Every edit is exactly where it needs to be for maximum scare, ever sound, nuance, every frame, every shot, movement, every performance, and it gets tighter and tighter and tighter til it crescendos to a mad peak with sickeningly violent violins and beautifully taught violence. Not too much, but just enough. James Wan the director of the first Saw film, Insidious (which also loved and the sequel was fun as well, 100% worth a check out if you liked the first one) I believe has directed his very best film to date. And as a fan of horror it's hard for me to be surprised by the genre and this one did and still does get to me. It's the kind of film my roommates and I had to pause to take smoke breaks because it was just getting a little too creepy. Classic.
10#. Spring Breakers
In the same way that perhaps "Wolf of Wall Street" was but also in the same way "Enter the Void" and other Noe films are 'Spring Breakers' (a Harmony Korine film) is the cinema equivalent of a sucker punch.
Captain Philips -
This is the End -
Would You Rather -
Thor 2 -
Catching Fire -
***If you wanna know why "Inside Llewyn Davis" isn't on my list, read my review below.
Saturday, December 14, 2013
I love folk music.
This movie, awe man oh man, this movie.
Best picture...nope. Not at all. Good movie, yeah. Worth checking out....well that depends on who you are.
This review will contain no spoilers. I'll just talk about my feeling overall.
This is a great movie . . . and a terrible movie all in one package.
It really depends on the type of person you are an the type of movies you like to see.
The main reason I think this film is getting a lot of positive review buzz inside of 'The Industry' is because we were all at one point starving artists, at least those of us who've struggled at one point in this business, the entertainment business. But I don't believe people who don't understand the lifestyle of freelancing and gigging will get the bleak sorrow that is this ballad the Coen's have wrote. And what is really about. And even worse outside of 'artists' I'm not sure people who don't understand this lifestyle will be able to relate. I relate, but just barely enough to give this movie a passing grade. I don't relate completely to this character. He's a fuck up and kinda an asshole. But "Inside Llewyn Davis" illustrates how success and failure hang on a thread so thin it seems to almost be nonexistent. And there is a moment at the very end of the film when all is lost, and all is lost, that is shows a glimpse of a great artist just about to catch on and it made me realize that Llewyn Davis is a film about 'the other guy' it's a film about the failure.
The theme of "Inside Llewyn Davis" is much more important than the actual film itself. 'Give up music, and what get a job and just what? Exist' - 'Is this all you think we do is exist'. It's a question all artists asks, when is it time to give up 'childish things' but art isn't a childish thing, but it can be childish pursuit or a fools errand. And this film illustrates that point to such a razor sharp edge it took my breath away.
If it wasn't for the way the ending turned out I'd of hated this movie. And it doesn't build to a great moment but it makes a great moment out of nothing, a great moment out of a soft moment, which great films tend to do well. But the middle of the story, (if you can call it a story, it's just a man traveling on one adventure to the next stumbling around hoping seemingly aimlessly for success) It's a slice of life of a character whose kind of an asshole, but kind of reasonable fed up that he's both made bad decisions...and that life has rather just shit on him.
I get this story. It is sad, bleak, full of failure, but poetic in that since. A ballad of a loser that's relatable if you have any sort of artistic passion you pursue outside of your comfort zone.
* * * The characters are very well acted but some of the side characters seem like caricatures like slice of life Norman Rockwell actors with 1 beat jokes in the delivery of line that's humorous but often distracting.
* * * I love the folk songs, and despite Llewyn in his personal life kinda being a jerk, kinda being downbeat having been so beat-down, Oscar Issac sings beautifully. And deserves the Oscar in his name. (Though just nominated there are other performances this year that took my breath away but his is a great one, subtle, but the right tone.)
* * * The cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel (Amelie) is bleak, blue, icy, and just perfect for the tone of the film.
The final lines of the film "American Psycho" a film whose bleakness I deeply enjoy do the awkward comedic satire of the film, yet it still reminds me of Llewyn Davis and I know it's an odd comparison but for me it fits because there truly is no cathartic tone for the movie. It's the same note as when it began, some films are the emotional equivalent of Rhapsody in Blue and Llewyn is the emotional Ligeti or just one cord being pulled back like an arrow but never fired. It's bleak and almost feels flat at times. If you've seen enough Coen films it's easy to predict how this film will play out. I wasn't surprised. And that to me is a downer for a film with such high accolades. But there are moments peppered in that made me laugh, made me reflect, and one at the very end that made it all click into place that without that one little moment tying it all together I would have hated the film. I can't help but recommend it to the right person who just might love it, who it just might ring really true to as appose to me who it only rung vaguely true to. It is a great film and a bad one all at once, not quite a mixed bag, the tone is consistent, but there is no catharsis and it is a downer but with honest human moments in between.
"But even after admitting this, there is no catharsis; my punishment continues to elude me, and I gain no deeper knowledge of myself. No new knowledge can be extracted from my telling. This confession has meant nothing." AMERICAN PSYCHO. Hang me Oh hang me
Oh there is also a cat . . . .