The Entries

Antti Alanen

Michael Anderson

Geoff Andrew

Mohammad Attebai

Sean Axmaker

Martyn Bamber

Michael Bartlett

Sue Bechmann Pedersen

Paolo Bertolin

Thomas Caldwell

Michael Campi

Celluloid Liberation Front

Lesley Chow

John Conomos

Jesús Cortés

Michael da Silva

Fergus Daly

Adrian Danks

Dustin Dasig

Charles Donath

Russell Edwards

William Edwards

David Ehrenstein

Adalberto Fonkén

Jean-Michel Frodon

Steve Gaunson

Antony Ginnane

Chiranjit Goswami

Jaime Grijalba

Lee Hill

José Sarmiento Hinojosa

Peter Hourigan

Cerise Howard

Brian Hu

Christoph Huber

Sam Juliano

Daniel Kasman

Christopher Kearney

Nelson Kim

Rainer Knepperges

Kevyn Knox

Peter Krausz

Jay Kuehner

Adam Kuntavanish

Eugenia Lai

Marc Lauria

Olivier Lunn

JB Mabe

Miguel Marías

David Melville

Olaf Möller

Bill Mousoulis

Peter Nagels

James L. Neibaur

Andy Norton

Darragh O’Donoghue

Sven Erik Olsen

George Papadopoulos

Antoni Peris

Jit Phokaew

Fidel Jesús Quirós

Marcos Ribas de Faria

Peter Rist

Dan Sallitt

Howard Schumann

Nick Shimmin

Mark Spratt

Brad Stevens

Richard Suchenski

Rudiger Tomczak

Robert von Dassanowsky

Nicholas Vroman

David Walsh

Sarah Ward

Henry Welsh

Virginia Wright Wexman

Neil Young

ANTII ALANEN

Film programmer at the Cinema Orion, National Audiovisual Archive of Finland, and Head of the Programming and Access Commission of FIAF (The International Federation of Film Archives).

Studying the 2011 top ten lists of the major international film magazines I realise again that most of the best quality films no longer get cinema distribution in Finland. From 1896 until the 1980s Helsinki was an excellent cinema city, but now the first-run cinema supply has hit an all-time historical low. I have to find a solution to this dilemma since I often suffer in screenings of difficult films in a festival atmosphere (because they would need more space), and watching a DVD can only be a substitute for the real thing. Our programming team at Cinema Orion seems to agree that, more than ever, it will become our task to screen more modern quality cinema. Cinema Orion is ideal for the reflection and contemplation required by difficult films. I plan to see later all the movies top-listed in Cahiers du cinéma, Sight & Sound and Film Comment. Here are some favourites of mine of the year’s crop.

New releases: feature films

Number one:

Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (A Separation, Asghar Farhadi, 2011)

I also liked:

The King’s Speech (Tom Hooper, 2010)
Des hommes et des dieux
(Of Gods and Men, Xavier Beauvois, 2010)
Another Year
(Mike Leigh, 2010)
Miral
(Julian Schnabel, 2010)

My Finnish favourites:

Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki, 2011)
Pussikaljaelokuva
(Bag Beer Movie, Ville Jankeri, 2011)
Ella & Aleksi – yllätyssynttärit
(Ella & Aleksi – a Surprise Birthday Party, Juuso Syrjä, 2011)
Matka Edeniin
(Journey to Eden, Rax Rinnekangas)

Finnish shorts:

Ilmianto (The Informers, Milla Pelkonen)
Miten marjoja poimitaan
(How to Pick Berries, Elina Talvensaari)
Erään
hyönteisen tuho (The Death of an Insect, Hannes Vartiainen, Pekka Veikkolainen)

I understand why these are highly regarded:

The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
My favourite Malick, I got the Stan Brakhage connection, although this is a slick and polished movie in comparison

Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011)
Although he always reminds me of Andersen’s tale of the emperor’s new clothes.

Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)
But this form of slow cinema I feel I have already experienced once too often.

Loong Boonmee raleuk chat (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2010)
I get the point but I need to see more of his work.

Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011)
Very well made, but perhaps I’m overfamiliar with the tradition behind this.

Very rewarding but no masterpiece:
La piel que habito
(The Skin I Live in, Pedro Almodóvar, 2011) Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011)

A contender for the most scary horror film of all time:
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (Bill Condon, 2011) with a chilly assurance. (The more you think what it means the scarier it becomes. There are many strange parallels with the two-part movie finale of the Harry Potter saga. The protagonists in the most popular contemporary fiction are strangers in their own lives, or worse. Or maybe I have misunderstood utterly.)

The greatest discoveries at Cinema Orion:

The Ukrainian retrospective curated by the Finnish conductor Dalia Stasevska with three films we’d never screened before: A Spring for the Thirsty (Krinitsja dlja spraglih, Yuri Ilyenko, 1965), The Stone Cross (Kaminni hrest, Leonid Osyka, 1968), Famine-33 (Holod-33, Oles Jantchuk, 1991)

The Ilyich Gate (Zastava Ilyicha, Marlen Khutsiev, 1962) the 197 min 1988-1990 reconstruction from Gosfilmofond.

 

MICHAEL ANDERSON

Joint PhD candidate in Film Studies and History of Art at Yale University, and is the proprietor of blogs Tativille and Ten Best Films.

Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)
A Torinói ló (The Turin Horse, Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011)
Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (A Separation, Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
In film nist (This Is Not a Film, Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, 2011)
Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki, 2011)
Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011)
Le gamin au vélo (The Kid with a Bike, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2011)
Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)
J. Edgar (Clint Eastwood, 2011)

Runners-up (in alphabetical order)

Book chon bangh yang (The Day He Arrives, Hong Sang-soo, 2011)
A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg, 2011)
Dreileben – Etwas Besseres als den Tod (Beats Being Dead, Christian Petzold, 2011)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)
Play (Ruben Östlund, 2011)

 

GEOFF ANDREW

Head of Film Programme at London’s BFI Southbank, Contributing Editor of Time Out London and the author of numerous books on the cinema.

There were many very fine films this year, though few struck me as flawless. Those in the top ten below are as close to flawless as it got, particularly the films by Ceylan, the Dardennes and the Coens, which would constitute my own number one and ex aequo runners-up for the year. And Guerín’s “letters” to Mekas, rather overshadowing those he received in response, were certainly one of the highlights of the year. The Malick I feel very mixed about, even after a second viewing, but it merits the top ten place simply for ambition if nothing else. And Joseph Cedar’s film was, for me, one of the freshest finds of the year.

As for the next 20, I really felt I had to include Todd Haynes’ HBO series; it felt like a film in so many ways. I almost included Nanni Moretti’s Habemus Papam (We Have a Pope), but I just couldn’t take all the volleyball – a pity, as Michel Piccoli really was divine!

The best ten in alphabetical order

The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)
Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)
Correspondence: Jonas Mekas – J. L. Guerín (Jonas Mekas and José Luis Guerín, 2011)
Darwin (Nick Brandestini, 2011)
The Descendants (Alexander Payne, 2011)
Le gamin au vélo (The Kid with a Bike, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2011)
Hearat Shulayim (Footnote, Joseph Cedar, 2011)
In film nist (This is Not a Film, Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, 2011)
The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
True Grit (Ethan and Joel Coen, 2010)

The next 20 in alphabetical order

Las Acacias (Fabio Giorgelli, 2011)
Atmen (Breathing, Karl Markovics, 2011)
Bé omid é didar (Goodbye, Mohammad Rasoulof, 2011)
Carnage (Roman Polanski, 2011)
Contagion (Steven Soderbergh, 2011)
A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg, 2011)
The Deep Blue Sea (Terence Davies, 2011)
Elena (Andrei Zvyagintsev, 2011)
J. Edgar (Clint Eastwood, 2011)
Halt auf freier Strecke (Stopped on Track, Andreas Dresen, 2011)
Kiseki (I Wish, Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2011)
Labrador (Out of Bounds, Frederikke Aspöck, 2011)
Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki, 2011)
Mildred Pierce (Todd Haynes, 2011)
Post Mortem (Pablo Larraín, 2010)
Schlafkrankheit (Sleeping Sickness, Ulrich Köhler, 2011)
Shame (Steve McQueen, 2011)
This Must Be the Place (Paolo Sorrentino, 2011)
Tyrannosaur (Paddy Considine, 2011)
We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsay, 2011)

 

MOHAMMAD ATEBBAI

Has been involved in international promotion of Iranian cinema for the past 25 years, and a writer and journalist since 1988. Also a board member of NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema).

1. Jodaie Nader az Simin (A Separation, Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
2. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
3. Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki, 2011)
4. The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)
5. Le Gamin au vélo (The Kid with a Bike, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2011)
6. Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)

 

SEAN AXMAKER

DVD columnist for MSN Entertainment, contributing writer for Turner Classic Movies Online and managing editor of Parallax View.

The first three films on my list could swap spots without much anxiety on my part. In the arbitrary, often shifting border between aesthetic principle and personal appreciation, I choose to honour the passing of Raúl Ruiz and favour my predilection for labyrinthine storytelling and cinematic weaves of character and narrative across time and space, which Ruiz accomplishes with such grace and beauty. I find myself in awe of his art – his insight into human nature and the contradictions that define us.

Three of the films on my list I first saw at a film festival in 2010, and I construct this list without having seen two significant films which, by many accounts, are among the year’s best: Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan, 2011), which as of the beginning of 2012 has yet to screen in Seattle (where I live) and which did not play at any of the (admittedly few) film festivals I attended, and Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (A Separation, Asghar Farhadi, 2011) which screened for critics opposite an end-of-the-year deadline. The rest of the choices and absences are all on me.

Ten best

1. Mistérios de Lisboa (Mysteries of Lisbon, Raúl Ruiz, 2010)
2. Loong Boonmee raleuk chat (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2010)
3. Copie conforme (Certified Copy, Abbas Kiarostami, 2010)
4. Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt, 2010)
5. Shi (Poetry, Lee Chang-dong, 2010)
6. The Descendents (Alexander Payne, 2011)
7. Take Shelter (Jeff Nichols, 2011)
8. Le quattro volte (Michelangelo Frammartino, 2010)
9. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
10. Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)

Ten more (in alphabetical order)

The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)
A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg, 2011)
Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011)
Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki, 2011)
Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011)
Des hommes et des dieux (Of Gods and Men, Xavier Beauvois, 2010)
La princesse de Montpensier (The Princess Of Montpensier, Bertrand Tavernier, 2010)
Road to Nowhere (Monte Hellman, 2010)
La piel que habito (The Skin I Live in, Pedro Almodóvar, 2011)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

I also very much appreciated a year of smart, well-crafted and clever genre films, both mainstream and arthouse:

Attack the Block (Joe Cornish, 2011)
Limitless (Neil Burger, 2011)
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Rupert Wyatt, 2011)
Source Code (Duncan Jones, 2011)
Stake Land (Jim Mickle, 2010)
…and one marvelous mess of a personal project:
Sucker Punch (Zack Snyder)

MARTYN BAMBER

Currently completing an MA History of Film and Visual Media at Birkbeck, University of London, and is a contributor to Senses of Cinema.

Favourite new releases from 2011 seen in the UK (in alphabetical order)

Jûsan-nin no shikaku (13 Assassins, Miike Takashi, 2010) [International Version]
The Adventures of Tintin (Steven Spielberg, 2011) [3D Version]
Amer (Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani, 2009)
Attack the Block (Joe Cornish, 2011)
Benda Bilili! (Renaud Barret and Florent de La Tullaye, 2010)
Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011)
Henry’s Crime (Malcolm Venville, 2010)
La piel que habito (The Skin I Live In, Pedro Almodóvar, 2011)
Potiche (François Ozon, 2010)
Senna (Asif Kapadia, 2010)
Super (James Gunn, 2010)
Treacle Jr. (Jamie Thraves, 2010)
The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
True Grit (Ethan and Joel Coen, 2010)
Win Win (Thomas McCarthy, 2011)

 

MICHAEL BARTLETT

Subtitler, audio describer, and contributor to Moviemail magazine.

Barbe bleue (Bluebeard, Catherine Breillat, 2009)
Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011)
In film nist (This Is Not A Film, Jafar Panahi, 2011)
Jusan-nin no shikaku (13 Assassins, Takashi Miike, 2010)
Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt, 2010)
Le quattro volte (Michelangelo Frammartino, 2010)
Schlafkrankheit (Sleeping Sickness, Ulrich Kohler, 2011)
Sweetgrass (Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Ilisa Barbash, 2009)
Two Years At Sea (Ben Rivers, 2011)
…and despite all its faults:
Wuthering Heights (Andrea Arnold, 2011)

Best personal discoveries of the year

Les bords de le Tamise d’Oxford a Windsor (Eclectic-Films, 1914)

The projection of this short film in the open air in Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore at the Il Cinema Ritrovato festival was my personal highlight of the year. A journey down the Thames caught in beautiful compositions and bathed in the eerie glow of an early colour process, Peter Von Bagh was right to introduce it as a masterpiece. (Almost equally magical was the open-air showing of the newly-restored Les enfants du paradis (Marcel Carne, 1945), when a storm broke out at exactly the same time as it started raining on screen, and for five brief minutes, life imitated art. The sight of a hundred people huddled under the porticoes craning their heads round to follow the film definitely made up for the discomfort.)

City Girl (Friedrich Murnau, 1930)
This knocked me sideways. I’d expected a poor man’s Sunrise (Murnau, 1927). Instead, I discovered what may be Murnau’s finest achievement, and one of the truly great silent films.

Cria Cuervos (Carlos Saura, 1976)
A masterpiece. Both it and its director deserve wider acclaim.

Devi (Satyajit Ray, 1960)

Kong bu fen zi (The Terrorisers, Edward Yang, 1986)

Limelight (Charles Chaplin, 1952)

Il posto (Ermanno Olmi, 1961)

O Sangue (Pedro Costa, 1989)

Shura (Pandemonium, Toshio Matsumoto, 1971)
The fact that an extraordinary masterpiece like this can go unnoticed for so long just shows how unfathomably rich Japanese cinema is.

Welt am Draht (World On A Wire, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1973)

Wind Across The Everglades (Nicholas Ray, 1958)

It was also great to catch up again with Providence (Alain Resnais, 1977)

DVD highlights

It was wonderful to finally see the release of Campanadas a medianoche (Falstaff/Chimes At Midnight, Orson Welles, 1965), Sayat Nova (The Colour of Pomegranates, Sergei Parajanov, 1968), and, best of all, the BFI Flipside version of Deep End (Jerzy Skolimowski, 1970), beautifully restored and as fresh and spiky as on the day it was first released.

SUE BECHMANN PEDERSEN

PhD candidate, Department of History, Lund University, Sweden.

Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (A Separation, Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki, 2011)
A Torinói ló (The Turin Horse, Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011)
AlmanyaWillkommen in Deutschland (Yasemin Samdereli, 2011)

 

PAOLO BERTOLIN

Paolo Bertolin is an Italian festival programmer.

My favourite 30 of 2011

The top 10 (in alphabetical order)

Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011) – the first film I have ever seen three times at the theatre in a calendar year
Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011)
Faust (Aleksandr Sokurov, 2011)
Hail (Amiel Courtin-Wilson, 2011)
Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (A Separation, Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
Jultak Dongshi (Stateless Things, Kim Kyung-mook, 2011)
L’Apollonide (Souvernirs de la maison close) (House Of Pleasures, Bertrand Bonello, 2011)
Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki, 2011)
Pa Negre (Black Bread, Agustí Villaronga, 2010)
Wanted: Border (Ray Defante Gibraltar, 2009)

Positions 20 to 30 (in alphabetical order)

Anhey gorhey da daan (Alms For A Blind Horse, Gurvinder Singh, 2011)
Bunohan (Return to Murder, Dain Said, 2011)
Chatrak (Mushrooms, Vimukthi Jayasundara, 2011)
Cut (Amir Naderi, 2011)
Dernière séance (Last Screening, Laurent Achard, 2011)
Finisterrae (Sergio Caballero, 2010)
Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then (Brent Green, 2010)
Ha-shoter (Policeman, Nadav Lapid, 2011)
Himizu (Sion Sono, 2011)
Igillena malluwo (Flying Fish, Sanjeewa Pushpakumara, 2011)
Koi no tsumi (Guilty Of Romance, Sion Sono, 2011)
La piel que habito (The Skin I Live In, Pedro Almodóvar, 2011)
Mistérios de Lisboa (Mysteries of Lisbon, Raúl Ruiz, 2010)
Musan ilgi (The Journals of Musan, Park Jung-bum, 2010)
O Le Tulafale (The Orator, Tusi Tamasese, 2011)
Rundskop (Bullhead, Michael R. Roskam, 2011)
Saudâji (Saudade, Tomita Katsuya, 2011)
Siglo ng pagluluwal (Century of Birthing, Lav Diaz, 2011)
Tae peang phu deaw (P-047, Kongdej Jaturanrasmee, 2011)
The Ides of March (George Clooney, 2011)

 

THOMAS CALDWELL

Melbourne-based writer/broadcaster who specialises in film criticism.

Top ten films with a theatrical release in Melbourne, Australia in 2011

1. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
Rarely has picking a favourite film of the year been as straightforward for me as it was in 2011. I returned to the cinema to see Malick’s The Tree of Life a second time within a week of first seeing it to once more have it engage my mind, stir up my emotions and touch my soul. An all too rare cinematic work of art that dares to be so much more than what most people can even imagine cinema to be.

2. We Need to Talk about Kevin (Lynne Ramsay, 2011)
One of the most confronting films I’ve experienced this year was Ramsay’s intensely subjective and impressionist film, which like The Tree of Life was also a complex representation of memory.

3. Copie conforme (Certified Copy, Abbas Kiarostami, 2010)
My most unexpected highlight of the year was this cerebral and charming film where every single element in it contributed in some way to exploring its central question of how we measure authenticity in art and life.

4. Pina (Wim Wenders, 2011)
This tribute/documentary/dance film uses 3D to almost revolutionise cinematic space to convey the power of Pina Bausch’s choreography. As somebody who had previously been sceptical about contemporary dance, Pina made me see the light.

5. Never Let Me Go (Mark Romanek, 2010)
This strange and sad film overwhelmed me. The melancholic filmic style stunningly expresses the novel’s themes of fate and inevitability, without explicitly stating them.

6. Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011)
I admittedly had reservations about Drive the first time that I saw it, but it lingered in my mind enough for me to revisit it. The second viewing removed all doubt and I succumbed to this gloriously stylistic and minimalist neo-noir.

7. Take Shelter (Jeff Nichols, 2011)
A film that stayed with me long after seeing it, Take Shelter is a tense yet compassionate study of how mental illness can manifest and how it affects not just the sufferer, but also the people around them.

8. Another Year (Mike Leigh, 2010)
This has possibly become my favourite Leigh film. The central couple are two of the most wonderfully likeable characters to ever appear on screen.

9. I Love You Phillip Morris (Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, 2009)
After seeing this at the Melbourne International Film Festival in 2010, I was so pleased for it to finally get a brief, albeit small, cinematic run this year. This romantic-comedy with ultra-dark undertones is the funniest film I’ve seen in years.

10. 127 Hours (Danny Boyle, 2010)
Boyle pulls out every trick in the book to convey the range of emotions and thoughts experienced by Aron Ralston. The resulting film is a thrilling survival story, cautionary tale and character study.

Honorary mentions

Selecting my top ten films was relatively easy this year, however, finding another ten films to list as honorary mentions was extremely difficult given that the standard of cinema that I saw this year was extremely high. Nevertheless, in alphabetical order, here goes:

Autoluminescent: Rowland S. Howard (Lynn-Maree Milburn and Richard Lowenstein, 2011)
Hanna (Joe Wright, 2011)
L’illusionniste, (The Illusionist, Sylvain Chomet, 2010)
Incendies (Denis Villeneuve, 2010)
Inside Job (Charles Ferguson, 2010)
Mad Bastards (Brendan Fletcher, 2010)
Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt, 2010)
Des hommes et des dieux (Of Gods and Men, Xavier Beauvois, 2010)
In film nist (This is Not a Film, Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, 2011)
Loong Boonmee raleuk chat, (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2010)

Top ten unreleased films

Many of my highlights from the year are from films that were either only screened at festivals (in my case mostly during MIFF), during special seasons, or went straight to DVD. The following films are the best films that I saw this year that weren’t given a full theatrical release and to the best of my knowledge aren’t scheduled to receive a general release in 2012:

How to Die in Oregon (Peter Richardson, 2011)
Inni (Vincent Morisset, 2011)
Le gamin au vélo (The Kid with a Bike, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2011)
Michael (Markus Schleinzer, 2011)
Polisse (Maïwenn, 2011)
Restrepo (Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger, 2010)
Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure (Matthew Bate, 2011)
Přežít svůj život (Surviving Life, Jan Švankmajer, 2010)
Tomboy (Céline Sciamma, 2011)
A Torinói ló (The Turin Horse, Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011)

Top ten retrospective screenings and re-releases

While these lists are obviously personal, this next list is more so since it is dependant on what screenings I happened to make it to out of the many to choose from. To try and narrow the field down somewhat, I’ve restricted myself to films given full re-releases in their own season, films shown as part of a special event and films shown as part of curated seasons (for example those shown at the Melbourne Cinémathèque in what I think was one of their best years and I wish I attended more). Some of these are films that I was revisiting for the umpteenth time and some were new discoveries, listed alphabetically:

American Graffiti (George Lucas, 1973) – at the Astor Theatre

Ball of Fire (Howard Hawks, 1941) – my highlight of the Melbourne Cinémathèque’s “Sophisticated Madness: Classics of American Screwball Comedy” season

Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick, 1964) – at the Astor Theatre

Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 1954) – my highlight of the Melbourne Cinémathèque’s “You Can’t Go Home Again: The Ballad of Nicholas Ray” season

King Kong (Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, 1933) – screened at the Astor Theatre’s 75th Anniversary

L’année dernière à Marienbad (Last Year at Marienbad, Alain Resnais, 1961) – my highlight of the Melbourne Cinémathèque’s “The Garden of Forking Paths: The Films of Alain Resnais” season

Offside (Jafar Panahi, 2006) – Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne International Film Festival charity/protest screening for the imprisonment of Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof

Wong Fei Hung (Once Upon a Time in China, Tsui Hark, 1991) – my highlight of the Melbourne Cinémathèque’s “Phantoms and Fireworks: The Incredible Adventures of Tsui Hark” season

Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976) – at Cinema Nova and the Astor Theatre

Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss (Veronika Voss, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1982) – my highlight of the Melbourne Cinémathèque’s “Totally, Tenderly, Tragically: The Films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder” season.

 

MICHAEL CAMPI

Michael Campi has long been captivated by the movies with involvement in non-commercial film exhibition in various capacities over the last forty years.

The best of 2011
Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)
Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Werner Herzog, 2010)
Chultak Dongsi (Stateless Things, Kim Kyungmook, 2011)
Kiseki (I Wish, Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2011)
Mildred Pierce (Todd Haynes, 2011)
Mistérios de Lisboa (Mysteries of Lisbon, Raúl Ruiz, 2010)
Noruwei no mori (Norwegian Wood, Tran Anh Hung, 2010)
La piel que habito (The Skin I Live In, Pedro Almodóvar, 2011)
Pina (Wim Wenders, 2011)
Le quattro volte (The Four Times, Michelangelo Frammartino, 2010)
A Torinói ló (The Turin Horse, Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011)
The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
Wo 11 (11 Flowers, Wang Xiaoshuai, 2011)
Rizhao Chongqing (Chongqing Blues, Wang Xiaoshuai, 2010)

Other films of special interest this year
Amnistia (Amnesty, Bujar Alimani, 2011)
Bahay Bata (Baby Factory, Eduardo Roy Jr., 2011)
Bookchon Banghyang (The Day He Arrives, Hong Sang-Soo, 2011)
Cogunluk (Majority, Seren Yüce, 2010)
Disi zhang hua (The Fourth Portrait, Chung Mong-Hong, 2010)
Le gamin au vélo (The Kid with a Bike, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2011)
Guilai de ren (Return to Burma, Midi Z., 2011)
Han jia (Winter Vacation, Li Hongqi, 2010)
In film nist (This is Not a Film, Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, 2011)
Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (A Separation, Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki, 2011)
Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichhardt, 2010)
Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011) – and also You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (Woody Allen, 2010)
Młyn i Krzyż (The Mill and the Cross, Lech Majewski, 2011)
Moving (Park Kiyong, 2011)
Mrs Carey’s Concert (Bob Connolly and Sophie Raymond, 2011)
My Back Page (Nobuhiro Yamashita, 2011)
The Natural Phenomenon of Madness (Charliebebs Gohetia, 2011)
Pasuggun (Bleak Night, Yoon Sung-hyun, 2010)
Saranghanda, Saranghaji Ahnneunda (Come Rain, Come Shine, Lee Yoon-ki, 2011)
Tee rak (Eternity, Sivaroj Kongsakul, 2011)

In Melbourne, the often very ordinary if not lacklustre commercial cinema releases are augmented in a stimulating way by other regular film events. The Melbourne International Film Festival celebrated its 60th edition in 2011 with an astute and extremely new program of features and short films from around the world together with a specially curated selection of important films from MIFF’s long history. Presenting double bills every Wednesday night at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, the Melbourne Cinémathèque continued its wonderful work in screening mostly imported 35mm prints curated in seasons of particular filmmmakers’ work. In 2011 there were chances to see rare films by Resnais, Oliveira and Shinoda among many others. Masahiro Shinoda’s Namida o Shishi no tategami ni (A Flame at the Pier, 1962) was a special highlight. It has been a year of other Japanese film rediscoveries as well including Taiyo no Kisetsu (Season of the Sun, Takumi Furukawa, 1956), the Criterion Eclipse DVD collection of films by Koreyoshi Kurahara, and screenings of five films by Kenji Misumi as part of the annual Japanese Film Festival in Australia with Ken (1964), adapted from Mishima, being very memorable.

 

CELLULOID LIBERATION FRONT

Celluloid Liberation Front is a multi-use(r) name, an “open reputation” informally adopted and shared by a desiring multitude of insurgent cinephiles, transmedia terrorists, aesthetic dynamiters and random deviants.

The Year of Our Lord 2011 was a remarkable one for the Out-of-Frame; the pale shadows of the Cinematic Complex were far less vivid than those projected by the events taking place “out there”. The global uprising against passive spectatorship, whose outcome is still to be scripted, was experienced before being televised. Social networks were expropriated and (ab)used to subversive ends. The direct cinema of insurrection toppled dictators and questioned the undisputed blackmail of financial terrorism. Democratic visual currency went bankrupt and, unable to finance its tired pretence, was compelled to resort to more spectacular forms of “forced infotainment”. Neo-colonial docu-fictions were produced by the axis of falsification to justify imperial manoeuvres against inconvenient business partners (Gaddafi’s Libya) while the black curtain of (il)liberal censorship fell on undesired democratic demands (“forgotten” Bahrain).

Cracks appeared and subsided in the desert of the real. The death of one of the most powerful businessman on earth was met by the kind of religious devotion only John Lennon used to get.

On a more (im)personal level the Nisi Masa workshop in Abu Dhabi was a revealing epiphany. Under the artificial light of consumer fundamentalism we discovered collective exuberance in cognitive labour, understood creativity as a participative process while editing and publishing the daily paper of the ADFF. Heartfelt greetings to the whole brigade: Maartje, Sara, Janka, Ali, Miguel, Fuad, Ziad, Mohamed, Filippo, Matthieu and Jay; you are all greatly missed! Imagination and inspiration deserted the silver screen to rediscover their crucial importance in the re-invention of collapsing socio-economic paradigms, leaving us with the following films:

Post Mortem (Pablo Larraín, 2010)
Through the dissection of Allende’s corpse the Chilean director anatomises social sloth, the eternal guardian of institutional crimes. Larraín’s film depicts the uneventful trajectory from complacency to complicity sanctioning the death of human reciprocity and the triumph of the fascism of indifference.

“The brutalising average of pornography (the highest-grossing cinematic genre)”

Still the most political form of filmmaking inasmuch as it shows the way we overtly exploit and use each other. Karl MarXXX would very much appreciate its naked truthfulness.

Bridesmaids (Paul Feig, 2011)
For the same reasons as above, minus penetrations, throat incursions, passionate colonoscopies and so forth. Erotic capital downgraded to the (red) level of an “austerity chick flick”.

Jodaie Nader az Simin (A Separation, Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
For its subtle exploration of the psychological creases of our imperfect humanity made of petty envy, opportunism and social classes.

Road to Nowhere (Monte Hellman, 2010)
The nomadic loner of world cinema eludes the synopsis, letting the two lanes of fiction and reality collide onto a black laptop. Ignoring its own individual “coherence”, the film lures the spectator “violently back upstream on the road to nowhere…”.

Silent Running (Douglas Trumbull, 1972)
Science fictional realism striking at the heart of anthropocentrism. In what now looks like a very plausible future, nature is confined into floating space greenhouses. When ordered to destroy it for good, man will entrust nature’s fate to machines. Nothing short of cyber poetry!

Essential Killing (Jerzy Skolimowski, 2010)
A film that does not allow itself to be passively consumed, staged on a serrated intimacy interspersed with sudden long shot quivers of vast evocation. A work of visionary fortitude, sharp foresight and rare ethical integrity.

La Tortura/Gloria Mundi (Nico Papatakis, 1976)
Masterpiece of intransigence and insurrectionary coherence, this is a capital film on and against militant cinema, a courageous and self-critical communiqué from the (abortive?) front of subversive filmmaking.

Bobby Fischer Against the World (Liz Garbus, 2011)
On the tragedy of unadulterated genius as necessarily anti-social and the dark labyrinth of the human psyche, with all the ugly consequences implied. The dangerous freedom of madness and the impossibility to subscribe to any social contract; Bobby Fischer against his own talent.

Machete (Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis, 2010)
The boldest indictment against the kind of immigration policies associated with a Nazi occupation but adopted by the US government. How much longer for? Not much one suspects, since it won’t be long before honest American citizens will have to clean Mexican households for a living.

LESLIE CHOW

Film critic and associate editor of Bright Lights, and an art critic at Artinfo Australia.

Best films

1. Sorelle Mai (Marco Bellocchio, 2010)
2. Sleeping Beauty (Julia Leigh, 2011)
3. How Do You Know (James L. Brooks, 2010)
It’s typical of Brooks that the glib-sounding title is actually posed as a question about our knowledge of other people. Like the great comedies of Johnnie To and Wai Ka-fai, this is a film about curiosity that poses as a sitcom. The characters include a vulnerable man afraid of being wounded by remarks; a sunny celebrity who claims to be fine with anything; and a father who is simultaneously doting and manipulative. Each man carefully limits or produces what he hears from others, wary of finding out more than he knows. This superficially blithe romance compares with Holiday (George Cukor, 1938) and “I Know Where I’m Going!” (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1945) in its depiction of a love triangle as a moral puzzle. Reese Witherspoon, as the woman who must navigate between two men, is superb; with her assertive little chin, she certainly knows where she’s going. She plays a type rarely seen in romcoms: the female jock without neurosis or needs.
4. Play (Ruben Östlund, 2011)
5. The Fighter (David O. Russell, 2010)
Russell has a strange, compelling eye for women, and so many images are memorable: Amy Adams dangling her arm over the bar; sweaty girls at a boxing match; a row of seven sisters, each of whom has a raw and arresting facial structure.
6. Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011)
7. Daan gyun naam yu (Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, Johnnie To and Wai Ka-fai, 2011)
8. Super 8 (J. J. Abrams, 2011)
9. Habemus Papam (We Have a Pope, Nanni Moretti, 2011)
10. Ok-hui-ui yeonghwa (Oki’s Movie, Hong Sang-soo, 2010)

Best performances

1. Owen Wilson in How Do You Know and Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011)
At a time when most young actors feel compelled to “man up” and develop thick necks (Leonardo di Caprio, Jake Gyllenhaal, and now Ryan Gosling), Wilson is committed to remaining daffy, charming and loose. He has an open boyishness of the kind Germaine Greer would approve of.
2. Lee Je-hoon in Pasuggun (Bleak Night, 2010)
3. Christopher Plummer in Beginners (Mike Mills, 2010)
4. Ewan McGregor and Jim Carrey in I Love You Phillip Morris (Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, 2009)
5. Michel Piccoli in Habemus Papam
6. Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg in Melancholia
7. Louis Koo in Daan gyun naam yu
8. Lambert Wilson in La Princesse de Montpensier (The Princess of Montpensier, Bertrand Tavernier, 2010)
9. Alex Karpovsky in Tiny Furniture (Lena Dunham, 2010)
10. Patricia Clarkson in Cairo Time (Ruba Nadda, 2009)

JOHN CONOMOS

Academic and critic, University of Sydney.

1. True Grit (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2011)
Charles Portis’ famous 1968 novel beautifully rendered for the screen. The performances, language and landscape are something to behold. Leaves Henry Hathway’s 1969 adaption of Portis’ novel truly in the shade.

2. Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Werner Herzog, 2010)
Werner Herzog’s 3D documentary of the ancient paintings located in the Chauvet Cave in southern France is a masterly meditation on the destiny of art and humanity. Only Herzog can inimitably pose the question whether we as humans today are “albino alligators” looking backwards towards the origin of the image.

3. The Tree of Life (Terence Malick, 2011)
Metaphysical musings aside about the Fall of Man, Malick’s film is a highly luminous and moving creation that reminds you of cinema’s lost opportunities.

4. Pina (Wim Wenders, 2011)
Wenders has given us a very exhilarating 3D film about the late choreographer/dancer/ballet director Pina Bausch and the experimental inventiveness of her artistry. Great soundtrack.

5. La piel que habito (The Skin I Live In, Pedro Almodóvar, 2011)
Almodovar revisiting Buñuel, Franju and Hitchcock, and although not the hyped up film that we are made to believe that it is, nevertheless, he is an auteur – conjurer of the first rank.

6. Bill Cunningham New York (Richard Press, 2010)
An immense, poignantly observed and heart-warming documentary about Bill Cunningham, an eccentric, vulnerable and uncompromising fashion photographer who, like Henri-Cartier Bresson, weaves and ducks like a hummingbird in the streets of New York. Cunningham plays it as he sees it: “it is difficult to be a straight-shooter in this town.” Amen.

7. Agora (Alejandro Amenabar, 2010)
I have included Amenabar’s extraordinary film on this year’s list though I saw it at the end of 2010. Recently issued as a DVD this historical drama film set in Roman Egypt is that rare thing these days: a film about ideas worthy of Roberto Rossellini.

8. The Guard (John Michael McDonagh, 2011)
Rural police corruption and international drug traffickers surround an unorthodox Irish policeman (Brendan Gleeson) in this Flann O’Brien meets Samuel Beckett black comedy of justice, morality and world-weariness. Gleeson shines as the avenging cop with a subversive sense of humour.

9. Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011)
Allen’s romantic comedy of modernism and nostalgia is simplicity in itself; surprisingly moving, hilarious and eloquent. Owen Wilson excels as the bewitched midnight-hour screenwriter who yearns for yesteryear. One of Allen’s better recent efforts.

10. A Torinói ló (The Turin Horse, Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011)
Tarr’s brutal post-Beckettian swansong is a mesmeric and poetic “antidote” to all the saccharine “feel-good” films of the last few years. Not for the faint-hearted and optimistic amongst us who may believe this is the best of all possible worlds.

Also, I would like to include two other films that I have found to be quite significant for their respective merits. Namely, Errol Morris’ hugely engaging essay film on unrequited love, stalking and lurid 1970s journalism for a 1970s US beauty queen and her kidnapped Mormon male prey, Tabloid (2010). Morris’s nose for a good story amongst the recent documentarians is second to none. And Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea’s fascinating part documentary, part reconstruction examination of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s ill-fated 1964 film project about sexual jealousy and psychological instability, Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno is not to be overlooked. Romy Schneider in an unfinished l’amour fou masterpiece film by an obsessive film genius locked in an aesthetic and technological spiral of creativity.

As for Lars von Trier’s much-heralded Melancholia, the less said, the better.

Highlights

In an era of celebrity hype, infotainment and social media and where everyone is a critic and is your friend, may I suggest several books that have been published recently that are a somber and timely reminder that to be a critic means that you have to possess the ability, as the Ancient Greeks would say, to pass judgment; one needs to be a kritikos.

The first one is a not a film book but a very insightful and resourceful little gem of a book Towards A New Manifesto (trans. Rodney Livingstone, Verso, 2011), which is a dialogue between Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer that took place over three weeks in 1956. A multifaceted, enlightening and absorbing philosophical jam-session (dare we say it in the light of Adorno’s well-known aversion to jazz) on the timeless value of being constantly alert to the contradictions, tensions and obligations of one’s life as a (film) critic, cinephile or a scholar in this one turning world that we share.

The other books are two recent 2010 contributions by James Naremore and Andrew Pulver, in the BFI Film Classics series, on the canonical noir films Sweet Smell of Success (Alexander Mackendrick, 1956) and Night and the City (Jules Dassin, 1950) respectively.

Finally, two more, if I may: Timothy Corrigan’s much-awaited The Essay Film (Oxford University Press, 2011) was certainly worth the wait. And Dudley Andrew’s horizon-expanding (as always) What Cinema Is! (Blackwell Publishing, 2010).

 

JESÚS CORTÉS

Spanish film writer for magazines and cinema sites such as Un blog comme les autres, Foco, Détour.

35 best new and relatively recent films I have seen during the past year

Gone, Baby, Gone (Ben Affleck, 2007)
Petit tailleur (The Little Tailor, Louis Garrel, 2010)
Morrer como um homem (To Die Like a Man, João Pedro Rodrigues, 2009)
Nucingen Haus (Nucingen House, Raúl Ruiz, 2008)
Habemus Papam (Nani Moretti, 2011)
Independencia (Raya Martin, 2009)
Hereafter (Clint Eastwood, 2010)
Kyatapirâ (Caterpillar, Kôji Wakamatsu, 2010)
Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki, 2011)
Jiabiangou (The Ditch, Wang Bing, 2010)
La folie Almayer (Almayer’s Folly, Chantal Akerman, 2011)
Mistérios de Lisboa (Mysteries of Lisbon, Raúl Ruiz, 2010)
Il se peut que la beauté ait renforcé notre résolution – Masao Adachi (It may be that beauty has strengthened our resolve – Masao Adachi, Philippe Grandrieux, 2011)
Mercado de futuros (Mercedes Álvarez, 2010)
Sorelle Mai (Marco Bellocchio, 2010)
Nostalgia de la luz (Nostalgia for the light, Patricio Guzmán, 2010)
The Town (Ben Affleck, 2010)
Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011)
Vidas pequeñas (Enrique Gabriel, 2010)
Ok-hui-ui yeonghwa (Oki’s Movie, Hong Sang-soo, 2010)
La reine des pommes (The Queen of Hearts, Valérie Donzelli, 2009)
Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold, 2009)
Recuerdos de una mañana (Memories of a Morning – Jeonju Digital Project, José Luis Guerín, 2011)
The Box (Richard Kelly, 2009)
The Road to Nowhere (Monte Hellman, 2010)
J’attends quelqu’un (Waiting for Someone, Jérôme Bonnell, 2007)
Shekarchi (The Hunter, Rafi Pitts, 2010)
How Do You Know (James L. Brooks, 2010)
Chantrapas (Otar Iosseliani, 2010)
Dreileben – Etwas besseres als den tod (Dreileben – Beats Being Dead, Christian Petzold, 2011)
Ruhr (James Benning, 2009)
The Adjustment Bureau (George Nolfi, 2011)
Unstoppable (Tony Scott, 2010)
Le gamin au vélo (The Kid with a Bike, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2011)
Shuga (Darezhan Omirbayev, 2007)

70 best older films seen for the first time in 2011

Nezabyvayemoye (The Unforgettable, Yuliya Solntseva, 1968)
Next Time We Love (Edward H. Griffith, 1936)
Povest plammenykh let (Chronicle of the Flaming Years, Yuliya Solntseva, 1961)
Cuba Libre (Christian Petzold, 1996)
Bojo (A Mother’s Love, Hiroshi Shimizu, 1950)
Alcoa Premiere: Flashing Spikes (John Ford, 1962)
Baddegama (Village in the Jungle, Lester James Peries, 1980)
Letter of Introduction (John M. Stahl, 1938)
Polustanok (Whistle Stop, Boris Barnet, 1963)
Tatlong taóng walang Diyos (Three Godless Years, Mario O’Hara, 1976)
The Outcasts of Poker Flat (Joseph M. Newman, 1952)
La merveilleuse vie de Jeanne D’Arc (Marco de Gastyne, 1929)
Le nouveau testament (A New Will and Testament, Sacha Guitry, 1936)
Tanoshiki kana Jinsei (This Happy Life, Mikio Naruse, 1946)
Correo de Indias (Edgar Neville, 1942)
The Sound of Fury (Cyril Endfield, 1950)
Piccadilly Incident (Herbert Wilcox, 1946)
The Way Ahead (Carol Reed, 1944)
Thomas Harlan – Wandersplitter (Thomas Harlan – Moving Shrapnel, Christoph Hübner, 2006)
Le triomphe de Michel Strogoff (Viktor Tourjasnky, 1961)
Nidhanaya (The Treasure, Lester James Peries, 1972)
Cry Wolf (Peter Godfrey, 1947)
La tête d’un homme (A Man’s Neck, Julien Duvivier, 1933)
Den sorte drom (The Black Dream, Urban Gad, 1912)
Inside/Out (Rob Tregenza, 1997)
Shiinomi Gakuen (The Shiinomi School, Hiroshi Shimizu, 1955)
La morte rouge/Soliloquio (Víctor Erice, 2006)
The House on Telegraph Hill (Robert Wise, 1951)
Akashingo: Suzaki Paradise (Suzaki Paradise: Red Light, Yuzo Kawashima, 1956)
Partiinyi bilet (Anna, Ivan Pyryev, 1936)
Armiño negro (Black Ermine, Carlos Hugo Christensen, 1953)
A Queda (Ruy Guerra, 1976)
Noi vivi / Addio Kira! (We the Living, part I & II, Goffredo Alessandrini, 1942)
Path to War (John Frankenheimer, 2002)
Une partie de plaisir (Pleasure Party, Claude Chabrol, 1975)
The Underworld Story (Cyril Endfield, 1950)
Libera, amore mio (Libera, My love, Mauro Bolognini, 1973)
Vollmond (Full Moon, Fredi M. Murer, 1998)
L’uomo di paglia (Man of Straw, Pietro Germi, 1957)
Red Road (Andrea Arnold, 2006)
Mado (Claude Sautet, 1976)
The Treasure of Pancho Villa (George Sherman, 1955)
Os fuzis (The Guns, Ruy Guerra, 1964)
Varastettu kuolema (The Stolen Death, Nyrki Tapiovaara, 1938)
La via del petrolio (Le origini, Il viaggio, Attraverso l’Europa) (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1967)
Deep Waters (Henry King, 1948)
Rojo no reikon (Souls on the Road, Minoru Murata, 1921)
Die singende stadt (The Singing City, Carmine Gallone, 1930)
Zemlya v plenu (Land in Captivity, Fyodr Otsep, 1928)
Pour la suite du monde (For the Ones to Come, Pierre Perrault and Michel Brault, 1962)
Manolescu, der König der Hochstapler (Manolescu, the Prince of Adventurers, Viktor Tourjansky, 1929)
Os mutantes (The Mutants, Teresa Villaverde, 1998)
Sappho (Mad Love, Dimitri Buchowetzki, 1921)
Huoshan qingxue (Loving Blood of the Volcano, Sun Yu, 1932)
Pilotinnen (Pilots, Christian Petzold, 1995)
O’Hara Shosuke-san (Mr. O’Hara Shosuke, Hiroshi Shimizu, 1949)
Giulio Questi shorts (Mysterium noctis, Repressione in cittá, Tatatatango, Lettera da Salamanca, Doctor Schizo e Mister Phrenic, Visitors, Vacanza con Alice, Giulio Questi, 2002-2007)
Le voyage en Arménie (Journey to Armenia, Robert Guédiguian, 2006)
Ride Clear of Diablo (Jesse Hibbs, 1954)
Mein Herz ruft nach dir (My Heart Calls You, Carmine Gallone, 1934)
Wundkanal (Thomas Harlan, 1984)
Os Deuses e os Mortos (Gods and the Undead, Ruy Guerra, 1970)
By Love Possessed
(John Sturges, 1961)
L’equipage (Flight into Darkness, Anatole Litvak, 1935)
Talking to Strangers (Rob Tregenza, 1988)
t händer inte här (This Can’t Happen Here, Ingmar Bergman, 1950)
La noire de… (Black Girl, Ousmane Sembène, 1965)
Der lebende leichnam / Zhivoy trup (Redemption, Fedor Ozep, 1929)
Rings on Her Fingers (Rouben Mamoulian, 1942)
Reed: México insurgente (Paul Leduc, 1973)

70 best among revisited

Yokihi (Empress Yang Kwei-fei, Kenji Mizoguchi, 1955)
Kohayagawa-ke no aki (The End of Summer, Yasujiro Ozu, 1961)
Glomdalsbruden (The Bride of Glomdal, Carl Th. Dreyer, 1925)
The Long Gray Line (John Ford, 1954)
Agantuk (The Stranger, Satyajit Ray, 1991)
Wohin und züruck – Part 1: An uns glaubt Gott nicht mehr, Part 2: Santa Fe, Part 3: Welcome in Vienna (Where To and Back, Axel Corti, 1982-86)
The Tall T (Budd Boetticher, 1957)
The Song of Bernadette (Henry King, 1943)
Loulou (Maurice Pialat, 1980)
L’angelo bianco (The White Angel, Raffaello Matarazzo, 1955)
Phantom (The Phantom, F. W. Murnau, 1922)
Blaise Pascal (Roberto Rossellini, 1972)
Tous les garçons et les filles de leur âge – Deuxième époque: Le Milieu des années 60: U.S. Go Home (Claire Denis, 1994)
The Big Mouth (Jerry Lewis, 1967)
Sonnenstrahl (Ray of Sunshine, Pál Fejös, 1933)
La femme et le pantin (The Woman and the Puppet, Jacques de Baroncelli, 1929)
No Man of Her Own (Mitchell Leisen, 1950)
Mahanagar (The Big City, Satyajit Ray, 1962)
The Miniver Story (H. C. Potter, 1950)
Plymouth Adventure (Clarence Brown, 1952)
Utajo oboegaki (Notes of an Itinerant Performer, Hiroshi Shimizu, 1941)
Cartesius (Roberto Rossellini, 1973)
Once Upon a Time in America (Sergio Leone, 1984)
Johan (Rapids of Life, Mauritz Stiller, 1921)
The Nun’s Story (Fred Zinnemann, 1959)
Shockproof (Douglas Sirk, 1949)
Il Messia (The Messiah, Roberto Rossellini, 1975)
The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (Terence Fisher, 1960)
The Blue Gardenia (Fritz Lang, 1953)
Le diable probablement (The Devil, Probably, Robert Bresson, 1977)
Uccellacci e uccellini (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1966)
Le petit lieutenant (The Little Lieutenant, Xavier Beauvois, 2005)
Sammy Going South (Alexander Mackendrick, 1963)
Black Bart (George Sherman, 1948)
Remontons les Champs-Élysées (Sacha Guitry, 1938)
To Each his Own (Mitchell Leisen, 1946)
Le Palais des mille et une nuits (Georges Mélies, 1905)
Song of Love (Clarence Brown, 1947)
The Horn Blows at Midnight (Raoul Walsh, 1945)
In nome del Popolo Italiano (In the Name of the Italian People, Dino Risi, 1971)
L’homme qui aimait les femmes (The Man Who Loved Women, François Truffaut, 1976)
Apache drums (Hugo Fregonese, 1951)
Víctimas del Pecado (Emilio Fernández, 1950)
Texasville (Peter Bogdanovich, 1990)
We Own the Night (James Gray, 2007)
Battle Hymn (Douglas Sirk, 1957)
Figures in a Landscape (Joseph Losey, 1970)
An American Werewolf in London (John Landis, 1981)
Traviata 53 (Fille d’amour, Vittorio Cottafavi, 1953)
La Marie du port (Marcel Carné, 1950)
Hell Bent for Leather (George Sherman, 1959)
Sylvester (New Year’s Eve, Lupu Pick, 1924)
Risate di Gioia (Joyful Laughter, Mario Monicelli, 1962)
Hurry Sundown (Otto Preminger, 1966)
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (Clint Eastwood, 1997)
The Sins of Rachel Cade (Gordon Douglas, 1960)
The Seventh Cross (Fred Zinnemann, 1944)
Gli anni ruggenti (The Roaring Years, Luigi Zampa, 1962)
They Flew Alone (Herbert Wilcox, 1942)
L’amour fou (Jacques Rivette, 1969)
Ternos Caçadores (Sweet Hunters, Ruy Guerra, 1969)
Gone to Earth (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1950)
Between Heaven and Hell (Richard Fleischer, 1956)
Death Takes a Holiday (Mitchell Leisen, 1934)
Blow Out (Brian de Palma, 1981)
The Scarlet Claw (Roy William Neill, 1946)
Elle a passé tant d’heures sous le sunlights (She Spent So Many Hours Under the Sun Lamps, Philippe Garrel, 1985)
The Two Mrs. Carrols (Peter Godfrey, 1947)
Riff-Raff (Ted Tetzlaff, 1947)

 

MICHAEL DA SILVA

Graduate of the University of King’s College with a diverse list of cinematic interests.

2011 saw a large number of strong films dealing with both deep issues (see Another Earth [Mike Cahill, 2011] and numbers 1 and 2 below), and the ability of film to both explore these issues and offer an escape from them (see numbers 5 and 6 below). It was also a year of passable but largely redundant remakes like Straw Dogs (Rod Lurie, 2011) and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011). Joel Edgerton, the star of one largely unnecessary remake, The Thing (Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., 2011), also starred in the film that would have been number 11 on my list: Warrior (Gavin O’Connor, 2011). Warrior was one of the year’s best genre films and had one of the most powerful final sequences in recent memory.
The most overrated film of the year was likely The Ides of March (George Clooney, 2011).

As in previous years, my list will be composed of films that are primarily in English. This is not a slight against foreign language cinema so much as a recognition of the limited number of foreign language films I viewed this year. I was fascinated by A Torinói ló (The Turin Horse, Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011) and greatly entertained by La piel que habito (The Skin I Live In, Pedro Almodóvar, 2011). Pina (Wim Wenders, 2011) made an excellent use of 3D in a year where the technology really came into its own (see also: The Adventures of Tintin (Steven Spielberg, 2011) and number 6 below).

Of course, I also limit my selections to films I watched for the first time in 2011. Accordingly, my favourite film of 2010, Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt, 2010), is not included below despite receiving its official release this year. I am sure that the early months of 2012 will introduce me to several films that rank among the best of 2011, just as the early months of 2011 introduced me to great 2010 releases like Enter the Void (Gaspar Noé, 2009/2010), Somewhere (Sofia Coppola, 2010) and Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy, 2010).

My list of the top ten (primarily English) films of 2011 is as follows:

1. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
2. Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011)
3. Shame (Steve McQueen, 2011)
4. Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011)
5. The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)
6. Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)
7. Tinker Tailor Solider Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)
8. Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011)
9. Hanna (Joe Wright, 2011)
10. 50/50 (Jonathan Levine, 2011)

 

FERGUS DALY

Fergus Daly has written on Sidney Lumet in issue 8 of online journal Experimental Conversations.

2011 wasn’t a vintage year for new releases. The films were overshadowed by the deaths of great artists like Raúl Ruiz and Sidney Lumet, as well as John Barry, Maria Schneider, Susannah York, Elizabeth Taylor, Farley Granger, Jorge Semprún, Peter Falk, Cliff Robertson and Maurice Garrel.

Best film of 2011

A Torinói ló (The Turin Horse, Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011)

Also loved

O Estranho Caso de Angélica (The Strange Case of Angelica, Manoel de Oliveira, 2010)
A Letter to Elia (Martin Scorsese, 2010)
Ok-hui-ui yeonghwa (Oki’s Movie, Hong Sang-Soo, 2010)
The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
Mistérios de Lisboa (Mysteries of Lisbon, Raúl Ruiz, 2010

Worst film of 2011

Super 8 (J. J. Abrams, 2011)

Disappointments of 2011

1. The muddled thinking at Cahiers du Cinéma that has editor Stéphane Delorme and writer Nicolas Azalbert dismissing The Turin Horse whilst Super 8 makes the top ten of the year list.
2. Not having had the opportunity to see Sokurov’s Faust.
3. Melancholia. Not half dark enough. If Von Trier thinks that’s what depression is, he ought to live in Ireland for a time!!!

 

ADRIAN DANKS

Senior Lecturer and Head of Cinema Studies in the School of Applied Communication, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (University). He is co-curator of the Melbourne Cinémathèque, and editor of Cteq: Annotations on Film, published in Senses of Cinema.

Top 20 (in preferential order)

1. Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)
2. Mistérios de Lisboa (Mysteries of Lisbon, Raúl Ruiz, 2010)
3. Mildred Pierce (Todd Haynes, 2011)
4. All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (Adam Curtis, 2011)
5. Le gamin au vélo (The Kid with a Bike, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2011)
6. Tranquility (Siegfried A. Fruhauf, 2010)
7. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
8. Project Nim (James Marsh, 2011)
9. Recuerdos de una mañana (Memories of a Morning, José Luis Guerín, 2011)
10. Neds (Peter Mullan, 2010)
11. Puss in Boots (Chris Miller, 2011)
12. The Dust Machine (Damon Mohl, 2011)
13. Post Mortem (Pablo Larraín, 2010)
14. Bé omid é didar Poster (Good Bye, Mohammad Rasoulof, 2011)
15. True Grit (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2010)
16. Autoluminescent: Rowland S. Howard (Lynn-Maree Milburn and Richard Lowenstein, 2011)
17. Senna (Asif Kapadia, 2010)
18. Sea Swallow’d (Andrew Kotting, 2010)
19. Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt, 2010)
20. The Arbor (Clio Barnard, 2010)

 

DUSTIN DASIG

Assistant professor, film critic, writer and training director.

My 10 best films of 2011 are categorised by theme, as follows:

The family in crisis (and the society in general)

Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (A Separation, Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
Le gamin au vélo (The Kid with a Bike, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2011)

Family secrets, secrets and lies

We Need To Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsay, 2011)
Marţi, după Crăciun (Tuesday, After Christmas, Radu Montean, 2010)

The family in crisis (and the world as a stage)

The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
Another Year (Mike Leigh, 2010)
Hævnen (In A Better World, Susanne Bier, 2010)
Avaze gonjeshk-ha (The Song of Sparrows, Majid Majidi, 2009)

Life as a drama (and the world as a stage)

El secreto de sus ojos (The Secret In Her Eyes, Juan Jose Campanella, 2009)
Des Hommes et des dieux (Of Gods and Men, Xavier Beauvois, 2010)

Outstanding performances

The cast of A Separation
Jessica Chastain in The Tree of Life and The Help (Tate Taylor, 2011)

Best directing

Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life

Best writing

Asghar Farhadi, A Separation

Best visual design

Emmanuel Lubezki, cinematographer, The Tree of Life
Hayedeh Safiyari, editor, A Separation
L’illusioniste (The Illusionist, Sylvain Chomet, 2010) for the narrative

Best aural design

The Tree of Life and Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011), for the use of classical music
The Illusionist, for its original score

 

CHARLES DONATH

1. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
2. Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Werner Herzog, 2011)
3. Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011)
4. Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011)
5. Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt, 2010)
6. Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)
7. The Mill and the Cross (Lech Majewski, 2011)

These would be my top movies of the year in no particular order. But I must say that the first four and Hugo were in a way inspiring where the other two were not. The sheer cinematic dazzle of The Tree of Life and Hugo calls for repeated viewings. That being said, these were my favourites.

 

RUSSELL EDWARDS

Film critic for Variety.

Sseo-ni (Sunny, Kang Hyeong-cheol, 2011)
The Tall Man (Tony Krawitz, 2011)
Snowtown (Justin Kurzel, 2011)
Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)
Bu-dang-geo-rae (The Unjust, Ryu Seung-wan, 2011)
Guany Yin shan (Buddha Mountain, Li Yu, 2010)
Hwanghae (The Yellow Sea, Na Hong-jin, 2010)
Rang zidan fei (Let the Bullets Fly, Jiang Wen, 2010)
The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
Bridesmaids (Paul Feig, 2011)
Cho-neung-ryeok-ja (Haunters, Kim Min-suk, 2010)

 

WILLIAM EDWARDS

Long time film fanatic who lives in Sydney.

Best fiction features

1. Jodaie Nader az Simin (A Separation, Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
2. Snowtown (Justin Kurzel, 2011)
3. Elena (Andrei Zvyagintsev, 2011)
4. Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, USA, 2011)
5. We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsay, 2011)
6. The Help (Tate Taylor, 2011)
7. Tomboy (Céline Sciamma, 2011)
8. Road to Nowhere (Monte Hellman, 2010)
9. Koi no tsumi (Guilty of Romance, Shion Sono, 2011)
10. The Ledge (Matthew Chapman, 2011)

Best documentaries

1. Bill Cunningham New York (Richard Press, 2010)
2. We Were Here (David Weissman and Bill Weber, 2011)
3. Tabloid (Errol Morris, 2010)
4. Public Speaking (Martin Scorsese, 2010)
5. George Harrison: Living in the Material World (Martin Scorsese, 2011)

Worst of the year in no particular order

Warrior (Gavin O’Connor, 2011)
Rabbit Hole (John Cameron Mitchell, 2010)
Biutiful (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2010)
The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
The Iron Lady (Phyllida Lloyd, 2011)
Drive Angry (Patrick Lussier, 2011)
Wasted on the Young (Ben C. Lucas, 2010)
Habemus Papam (We Have a Pope, Nanni Moretti, 2011)
Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (Bill Condon, 2011)

The most significant event in cinema in 2011 was the death of the great and one-of-a-kind talent Ken Russell. In over 30 years of cinema-going no filmmaker has given me so much pleasure. Vale Ken Russell.

 

DAVID EHRENSTEIN

Writer on film, literature and politics, whose books include The Scorsese Picture: The Art and Life of Martin Scorsese and Open Secret: Gay Hollywood 1928-2000.

Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)
Mildred Pierce (Todd Haynes, 2011)
Mistérios de Lisboa (Mysteries of Lisbon, Raúl Ruiz, 2010)
Weekend (Andrew Haigh, 2011)
We Were Here (Davis Weissman and Bill Weber, 2011)
In the Land of Blood and Honey (Angelina Jolie, 2011)
Carnage (Roman Polanski, 2011)
Vito (Jeffrey Schwarz, 2011)
Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki, 2011)
Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011)

 

ADALBERTO FONKÉN

Lima-based social communicator, photographer and film writer for the Séptima Ilusión blog.

In Perú, various candidates for the Academy Awards and other movies from film festivals are released with great delay or never are released.

Best films seen in 2011 (commercial release)

1. Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011)
Reality and dream, the lost generation, Cole Porter, the Versailles’ gardens.
2. Thirst (Park Chan-wook, 2009)
Vampires, a love story, much blood, murders and a great finale
3. True Grit (Joel & Ethan Coen, 2010)
4. The King’s Speech (Tom Hooper, 2010)
5. Insidious (James Wan, 2010)
6. Rango (Gore Verbinski, 2011)
7. Barney’s Version (Richard Lewis, 2010)
8. Un cuento chino (A Chinese Tale, Sebastián Borensztein, 2011)
9. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (Terry Gilliam, 2009)
10. Carancho (Pablo Trapero, 2010)
11. The Human Centipede – First Sequence (Tom Six, 2009)
Good performance from Dieter Laser as the sinister Dr Heiter.
12. Amador (Fernando León, 2010)
13. La casa muda (The Silent House, Gustavo Hernández, 2010)
Filmed in only two sequences with a digital photographic camera.

Worst film

La horde (Yannick Dahan, 2009)
Hungry French zombies, excessive tension, bad characters and intolerable music.

Best films seen in 2011 (film festival and DVD)
1. Gomorrah (Matteo Garrone, 2008)
Multiple histories, crude violence, drugs and poor boys.
2. Uzak (Distant, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2002)
Incommunication, loneliness and no employment.
3. Mogari no mori (The Mourning Forest, Naomi Kawase, 2007)
4. Gli amici del bar Marguerita (The Friends at the Margherita Café, Pupi Avati, 2009)
Hilarious comedy and good characters.
5. Gasolina (Gasoline, Julio Hernández, 2008)
Minimalist, nocturnal film from Guatemala.
6. Jerichow (Christian Petzold, 2008)
7. La vida útil (A Useful Life, Federico Veiroj, 2010)
8. Paraíso (Paradise, Héctor Gálvez, 2009)
A neo-realist Peruvian film.
9. Somewhere (Sofia Coppola, 2010)
10. The Life of Brian (Terry Jones, 1979)
11. The Sting (George Roy Hill, 1973)
Features a great poker scene with Paul Newman and Robert Shaw.

JEAN-MICHEL FRODON

Film critic at slate.fr and professor at Paris Sciences Po.

L’Apollonide (Souvenirs de la maison close) (Bertrand Bonello, 2011)
Le Gamin au vélo (The Kid with a Bike, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne 2011)
Habemus Papam (We Have a Pope, Nanni Moretti 2011)
Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki, 2011)
Hors Satan (Bruno Dumont, 2011)
In film nist (This is Not a Film, Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, 2011)
Pater (Alain Cavalier, 2011)
Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)
Pina (Wim Wenders, 2011)
Kong bu fen zi (The Terrorizers, Edward Yang, 1986) – released in France for the first time in 2011
A Torinói ló (The Turin Horse, Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011)

 

STEVE GAUNSON

Early Career Fellow in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University. His research focuses on early Australian cinema and the theme of social protest.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Werner Herzog, 2010)
The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011)
Rango (Gore Verbinski, 2011)
Snowtown (Justin Kurzel, 2011)
Clay (Giorgio Mangiamele, 1965)
Ninety-Nine Percent (Giorgio Mangiamele, 1963)
Submarine (Richard Ayoade, 2010)

 

ANTONY I. GINMANE

Producer, distributor and commentator based in Melbourne and Los Angeles. President of FG Film Productions (Australia) Pty Ltd / IFM World Releasing Inc and currently producing Last Dance and Patrick in Australia.

Top ten (Eligibility: 2010 theatrical, festival or premiere DVD first release in the USA, Canada, Australia or New Zealand. Listed alphabetically by title)

Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011)
A car, a girl and a gun. Walter Hill meets Monte Hellman in this existential meditation on Los Angeles.

J. Edgar (Clint Eastwood, 2011)
Once again Eastwood focuses on the interaction between life and cinema (’30s Warner’s crime, Dillinger’s death outside a movie-house) and classical cinema stylists. The Hoover/Tolson love story channels Sirk.

X (Jon Hewitt, 2011)
The best Australian film of the year. Abel Ferrara comes to Sydney. Two spectacular performances. Michael Mann visuals. Revenge, eroticism and high-octane violence.

Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)
Touching ode to silent cinema and the early days. Spotlighting Méliès and highlighting archival and restoration issues. And a landmark step forward for 3D.

La piel que habito (The Skin I Live in, Pedro Almodóvar, 2011)
A blend of Chabrol, Franju and Hitchcock, Almodóvar continues to challenge and excite, always with a touch of very black humour

The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)
The second film dealing with silent cinema and its relevance to 2011 this year. Funny, moving and hopefully an opportunity to revitalise retrospective theatrical screenings of classic silents and reiterate that cinema didn’t begin in the ’30s.

In Time (Andrew Nicol, 2011)
This year’s piece of dystopian sci-fi Philip K. Dick-style, which considers with more clarity than Gattaca the paranoia arising out of political unease. The occupy Wall Street movie.

Rango (Gore Verbinski, 2011)
The western gets a makeover in this sardonic revisiting of every B serial out of Republic or Monogram.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)
This world-weary burnt out end of the Cold War piece recalls everything from The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (Martin Ritt, 1965), The MacKintosh Man (John Huston, 1973), and The Ipcress File (Sidney J Furie, 1965) to so many other ’60s/’70s examples of post-Bond cynicism.

We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsay, 2011)
The performance piece of 2011 – subtly nasty and vicious and a counterbalance to UK period preciousness.

Unstoppable (Tony Scott, 2010)
Classical action piece that never falters. A timely reminder of the visual splendour of trains in cinema.

Faster (George Tillman Jnr., 2010)
Roger Corman / Jonathan Kaplan style crime thriller with Dwayne Johnson filling in for Jan-Michael Vincent. Eccentric and relentless.

Other titles that have excited or inspired me during the year include

1. The Debt (John Madden, 2011)
2. Hanna (Joe Wright, 2011)
3. The Ides of March (George Clooney, 2011)
4. The Adjustment Bureau (George Nolfi, 2011)
5. Unknown (Jaume Collet-Serra, 2011)
6. The Mechanic (Simon West, 2011)
7. Scream 4 (Wes Craven, 2011)
8. Ichimei (Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai, Miike Takashi, 2011)
9. Priest (Scott Charles Stewart, 2011)
10. X-Men: First Class (Matthew Vaughn, 2011)
11. Los Ojos de Julia (Julia’s Eyes, Guillem Morales, 2010)
12. Super 8 (J. J. Abrams, 2011)
13. Tabloid (Errol Morris, 2010)
14. Colombiana (Olivier Megaton, 2011)
15. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Rupert Wyatt, 2011)
16. Attack the Block (Joe Cornish, 2011)
17. Senna (Asif Kapadia, 2010)
18. Contagion (Steven Soderbergh, 2011)
19. The Guard (John Michael McDonagh, 2011)
20. Hesher (Spencer Susser, 2010)
21. Carnage (Roman Polanski, 2011)
22. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)

 

CHIRANJIT GOSWAMI

Resides in Winnipeg, Canada, where Abbas Kiarostami’s Certified Copy (2010) regrettably never received a sustained theatrical run.

Best films of 2011

1. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
2. The Descendants (Alexander Payne, 2011)
3. Moneyball (Bennett Miller, 2011)
4. Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)
5. Contagion (Steven Soderbergh, 2011)
6. Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011)
7. Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011)
8. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Rupert Wyatt, 2011)
9. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)
10. Michael (Markus Schleinzer, 2011)

Honourable mentions

Marvellously hilarious, modestly perceptive

Bridesmaids (Paul Feig, 2011)
The Muppets (James Bobin, 2011)
Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011)
The Trip (Michael Winterbottom, 2010)
Jeff, Who Lives at Home (Jay and Mark Duplass, 2011)
Horrible Bosses (Seth Gordon, 2011)

Genuinely exhilarating

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (Brad Bird, 2011)
The Adventures of Tin Tin (Steven Spielberg, 2011)
Source Code (Duncan Jones, 2011)
Hanna (Joe Wright, 2011)

Surprisingly chilling, enduringly creepy

Insidious (James Wan, 2010)
Paranormal Activity 3 (Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, 2011)

Unexpectedly captivating

Martha Marcy May Marlene (Sean Durkin, 2011)
X-Men: First Class (Matthew Vaughn, 2011)
The Oranges (Julian Farino, 2011)

Masterfully, achingly, exceedingly nostalgic

Super 8 (J. J. Abrams, 2011)

Dependable delivery

Crazy Horse (Frederick Wiseman, 2011)

Erratically fascinating, frustratingly inconsistent

Ides of March (George Clooney, 2011)
Young Adult (Jason Reitman, 2011)
Shame (Steve McQueen, 2011)
We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsay, 2011)

 

JAIME GRIJALBA

21 year-old Chilean wannabe writer of film and fiction, he contributes in the Wonders in the Dark community blog.

2011 was weird for movies, for me. I live in Chile; I still have to see a lot of films that haven’t been made available in any way for movie fans here. But still, I’ve managed to see a bunch of those I had interest in, and amongst them those that were most revered by the people I knew, and here I’m strictly talking about The Tree of Life, which I think may be a bit overrated (I didn’t hate it, but I don’t think it’s a visual masterpiece) or Drive, again, with a ridiculous amount of praise (again, no hate, but I still can understand those hating voices and say “I know what you mean”) that my taste seems challenged continuously by the consensus, and the movies I ended up liking were so few and far between that I don’t know if I may have gotten a bump on my head (some of my choices may lead people to say that) or if I’m liking modern cinema less and less. There’s only one masterpiece this year. Not a common thing for me, I usually name four or five each year. So, take that the way you want to.

And now, my list, with a few annotations:

1. Efectos Especiales (Special Effects, Bernardo Quesney, 2011)
I include here a picture because I’m sure no one will ever list this movie, not even if you receive a thousand emails. This is a little independent no-budget Chilean film that has been making rounds in certain underground and major film festivals here. But this was made available to watch online for one night, and that’s how I ended up seeing one of the best movies of the year and one of the best Chilean films ever made. Going barely beyond the hour mark, this film mixes the poetic tone of modern Latin American cinema with the cynicism of the meta-filmic experience the plot concerns. Making fun of all the clichés that plague student and professional films made in Chile, and even independent cinema all over the world, this movie is about the making of a movie, filmed in long takes as the movie progresses and the actors get more and more confused with the improvisational character of the film and the director, who seems to know what he’s doing yet at the same time does everything that shouldn’t be done when you’re directing a film. The movie itself progresses as a comedy, but ends as a mystery, with the enraging nature of the director and a final long take that lasts over 15 minutes that will remind you more of Asian art cinema than any Latin American film you’ve ever seen. This is a masterpiece of comedy and has deep implications. The director of the fake film is played by the director of this film, so that should tell you a lot about it.

2. Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (A Separation, Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
Now this is a film I understand the praise for. It’s a great Iranian drama that moves within the realm of the court drama and the family drama. It tells a lot about Iranian society and how a family works in that country, as well as revealing some issues about what people can say and do in a country that seems liberal and free, but you may have to look again to really see what is happening there. Movies like this are brave and evolve into greater cinema. The acting is really great, as well as the editing, the framing and the writing. This is the best film, but the Chilean film needed the attention.

3. Paranmanjang (Night Fishing, Park Chan-kyong and Park Chan-wook, 2011)
I managed to see this online when it was uploaded by the people at the Apple Film Festival, and I found it mesmerising, even if they uploaded it with no subtitles whatsoever and I still can’t find a version that has them. It’s a Korean short film shot with an iPhone (it was even an item of news around these parts, where we have barely seen any Korean releases the past five years), directed by one of the modern masters of cinema (Park Chan-wook) and his brother. It mixes two worlds, and even if I saw it with no subtitles, I saw the connection between the foggy and almost colourless world of the fishing and the yellowish and lively world of the ceremonial spirit of the Koreans. On pure visual power, this film is brilliant.

4. Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011)
Many people have sung its praises and I may just shut up for a moment and let other people with far more experience than me talk about this visually arresting film. It has a great performance from Kirsten Dunst, maybe my favorite from the whole year. Lars von Trier manages to prove once again he is one of the most important directors working right now, turning in another great film.

5. A Torinói ló (The Turin Horse, Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011)
Tarr’s last film, according to his own words, may be one of his less talked about films and is generally just ignored in the circles I reside when there’s talk about film in general, especially the ones that don’t get a wide release in the US as of this date. The long takes and the cinematography are just essential to this movie; it’s the film language, the Image-Time at its most didactic, pure and incredible. It leaves you breathless.

6. Koi no tsumi (Guilty of Romance, Sion Sono, 2011)
Sion Sono has found a place among two kind of crowds: the horror hounds and the arthouse lovers, mixing both sensibilities even more with each new film, and he has managed to combine them perfectly in his last two films (not counting Himizu, still not available, as it hasn’t been released in Japan yet) Cold Fish (2010) and this one, where he combines the sexiness and nakedness with the furious blood of violence. Here he manages to tell a story of sexual liberation beyond all boundaries, mixing it with literature and an investigation that has been botched in its DVD release, leaving us waiting for the uncut 140 minutes of the film, while we still look around for the best and still amazing bits of the 117 minutes of the UK release. This film is beyond culture, poetry and beauty: it’s a philosophical stance on love, beauty and sex. All filled with a healthy dose of blood and gore.

7. Scream 4 (Wes Craven, 2011)
Now here is where everyone thinks I’m mad. Scream 4 is what the Scream series of movies wished they had been when they originally played in theatres during the 1990s and 2000s. They are still movies I like (the original beats them all, of course), but this little discourse on the nature of the remake/reboot/long-distance-sequel, makes it the best of the whole series, and one of the most inventive horror films of recent times (the obvious first place in that category is last year’s I Saw the Devil, a masterpiece and a commentary on sick, gory torture-porn horror). The 11 years that passed between Scream 3 and Scream 4 were just the thing it needed, and like wine, this franchise gets better with age. Now it can really be ultra-meta and beyond meta, the first ten minutes show it to you, and even if the ending is a bit too obvious in the message it tries to get across about cinema and especially the cinema of our time (cinema like Efectos Especiales), it is still straightforward, and in that a brave film that still manages to be a riot.

8. Life in a Day (Kevin Macdonald and many people all over the world, 2011)
A testimony to the power of the internet and how little we know about the world. When I first saw it, I was entranced, I was learning a lot about people from all over the world, in a first person mode, and it was fascinating. Every minute of it was great, and the editing here is flawless, even sometimes referencing Eisenstein’s “montage of attractions” or perhaps a montage that was more familiar and closer to that of Vertov. The best part of the whole film is the ending: her face and her speech speak about the importance of what it is to be human, of what it is to be in a place and time, it is an ode to life itself, to human life, to human relations, and especially and most importantly, to the human condition and its faces.

9. Contagion (Steven Soderbergh, 2011)
A movie that flows constantly and a masterclass for anyone who wants to become a filmmaker. It’s a great amalgam of splendid editing, directing, acting, writing and, above all, tone. This movie feels like it belongs inside its own universe, and even with the somewhat dispersed elements that appear because of the multiple stories, it still doesn’t feel like a collection of different clips from different movies, they seem to belong with each other, and that’s how the movie flows.

10. All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (Adam Curtis, 2011)
There is a great amount of stock footage and interviews that move around during the three episodes of this BBC miniseries. As usual, there are many, many themes in Curtis’s latest, going from Ayn Rand’s nasty followers to the idea that our brain is more similar to a computer than we would think. Cybernetic theory comes into place, as well as biology and many other theories that feel like scientific truth but are more akin with the new age sentiment of “the secret”, but still it’s impressive to even think that the theories presented by the avid narrator are truth. In the end you feel that this was all a joke, a big scam, and then you see how genius is Adam Curtis at crafting his documentaries.

11. Rango (Gore Verbinski, 2011)
The best animated film of the year. A great western pastiche with great references. Emotion Capture should be used more.

12. Le gamin au vélo (The Kid with a Bike, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2011)
The best child actor of the year can be found here. Terrific framing and story, as well as great writing. A classic from the Dardennes, who have never dissapointed us.

13. Win Win (Thomas McCarthy, 2011)
Paul Giammati is now a high-class actor and it shows here. He also manages to shine the light upon a new set of actors.

14. Mildred Pierce (Todd Haynes, 2011)
The best fiction television and the greatest female casting of the year. And Kate Winslet and Evan Rachel Wood give some of the best performances of the year.

15. The Umbrella Man (Errol Morris, 2011)
A video that appears at The New Yorker among the best movies of the year? Yes. Morris has mastered his style here, and in this short film he makes a great short story/fable.

16. La piel que habito (The Skin I Live In, Pedro Almodóvar, 2011)
Almodóvar makes a great thriller, one that really builds up, and when the revelation comes, you realise even more how good the acting and the script are.

17. We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsay, 2011)
A very visual work with a great performance by Tilda Swinton. The star here is the character of Kevin and the artistic framing (such that you could “frame” and hang it on a wall).

18. Thor (Kenneth Branagh and Joss Whedon, 2011)
The best superhero film of the year, it’s a visual piece more than a plot piece, and still it holds up greatly thanks to the Shakesperean undertones Branagh brings to the mix.

19. The Adjustment Bureau (George Nolfi, 2011)
Matt Damon gives a good performance, and the whole concept, even if it gets muddy with “the g-word” as some people complained, it’s still good sci-fi/fantasy entertainment.

20. Another Earth (Mike Cahill, 2011)
A sci-fi tale that turned into a love story and then into a drama. Superb acting.

 

LEE HILL

Writer based in London, England. He is the author of A Grand Guy: The Art and Life of Terry Southern and a BFI book on Easy Rider.

Bests including double and triple bills

Biutiful (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2010) / Las Acacias (Pablo Giorgelli, 2011)
Inside Job (Charles Ferguson, 2010)
A Letter to Elia (Kent Jones and Martin Scorsese, 2010) / George Harrison: Living in The Material World (Martin Scorsese, 2011)
You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger (Woody Allen, 2010) / Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011) / American Masters: Woody Allen: A Documentary (Robert B. Weide, 2011)
The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011)
Dark Horse (Todd Solondz, 2011) / Without (Mark Jackson, 2011)
Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)
Hors Satan (Bruno Dumont, 2011)
Tyrannosaur (Paddy Considine, 2011)
Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011) / Contagion (Steven Soderbergh, 2011)
Snowtown (Justin Kurzel, 2011)

Louise Wimmer (Cyril Mennegun, 2011) / De bon matin (Early One Morning, Jean-Marc Moutout, 2011)
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011) / Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)
The Descendants (Alexander Payne, 2011)

Blue movies and loops

Crazy Horse (Frederick Wiseman, 2011)
Salma Hayek’s interpretation of Rufus Wainwright’s “Going To A Town” in Americano (Mathieu Demy, 2011)
“Girl Panic” video for Duran Duran (Jonas Akerlund)

Academy of the overrated

We Need To Talk About Kevin (Lynn Ramsey, 2011)
True Grit (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2010)
Kill List (Ben Wheatley, 2011)
La piel que habito (The Skin I Live In, Pedro Almodóvar, 2011)
The Future (Miranda July, 2011)

Reissue

Cutter’s Way (Ivan Passer, 1981)
2011 was to my relief and delight a very good year to go the movies. Scorsese, Malick, Ceylan, Allen, Dumont and others proved again and again that the director can still be a superstar. Still I would like to see the following arthouse tropes disappear in 2012: the increasingly common “kicking someone in the head until they die” scene and the depressing sex scene, all too prevalent in films I liked as a whole (Drive, Hors Satan) and those I didn’t (Kill List, The Skin I Live In). Good old fashioned fun showed up in the various frissons found in Wiseman’s doc, the bravura sequence in Mathieu Demy’s otherwise weak debut, and the shamelessly decadent Duran Duran video were signs. Violence was integral to Kurzel’s absolutely terrifying and necessary Snowtown, probably one of the best films of the last few years that I don’t wish to see again for awhile. It was a year when filmmaking as a whole felt like a proper grown up activity again, but one where child-like surprise remained abundant.

 

JOSÉ SARMIENTO HINOJOS

Film critic, media manager, music producer and musician (or just a very busy guy) from Lima, Peru.

From the last three years (everything, from theatre projections, DVD releases, festivals, etc.)

What a wonderful time for cinema, indeed. Whoever said good cinema is dying clearly needs to find a proper internet connection.

Exceptional masterpieces

A Torinói ló (The Turin Horse, Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011)
Le quattro volte (Michelangelo Frammartino, 2010)

Masterpieces

Pater (Alain Cavalier, 2011)
Die Frau mit den 5 Elefanten (Vadim Jedreyko, 2009)
Aurora (Cristi Puiu, 2010)
Archipielago (Joanna Hogg, 2010)
Robinson In Ruins (Patrick Keiller, 2010)
977 (Nikolay Khomeriki, 2006)

Excellent

Road to Nowhere (Monte Hellman, 2010)
Attenberg (Athina Rachel Tsangari, 2010)
Nostalgia de la Luz (Nostalgia for the Light, Patricio Guzmán, 2010)
Marti, dupa craciun (Tuesday, After Christmas, Radu Muntean, 2010)
Nothing Personal (Urzula Antoniak, 2009)
Puha Tonu Kiusamine, or The Temptation of St. Tony (Veiko Ounpuu, 2009)

Very good

Without (Mark Jackson, 2011)
We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsay, 2011)
Pig Iron (James Benning, 2010)
It Came From Kuchar (Jennifer M. Kroot, 2009)
Blue Valentine (Derek Cianfrance, 2010)
Toruneé (On Tour, Mathieu Amalric, 2010)
Drive (Nicholas Winding Refn, 2011)
The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)

Have a redeeming feature

Bridesmaids (Paul Feig, 2011)
Tabloid (Errol Morris, 2010)
La belle endormie (The Sleeping Beauty, Catherine Breillat, 2010)
The Road (John Hillcoat, 2009)
Des hommes et des dieux (Of Men and Gods, Xavier Beuvois, 2010)
Another Year (Mike Leigh, 2010)
Caterpillar (Kôji Wakamatsu, 2010)
The Ghost Writer (Roman Polanski, 2010)
Somewhere (Sofia Coppola, 2010)
The American (Anton Corbijn, 2010)
True Grit (Ethan and Joel Coen, 2010)

And from the new millenia vault (recently seen this year)

The Slow Business of Going (Athina Rachel Tsangari, 2000)
The Rabbit Hunters (short from Memories, Pedro Costa, 2007)
La fille coupée en deux (The Girl Cut in Two, Claude Chabrol, 2007)
Observando el Cielo (Jeanne Liotta, 2007)
The Last Letter (Frederick Wiseman, 2002)
Tôkyô sonata (Tokyo Sonata, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2008)
Yeojaneun namjaui miraeda (Woman is the Future of Man, Hong Sang-Soo, 2004)
La captive (The Captive, Chantal Akerman, 2000)
Le genou d’Artemide (Artemis’ Knee, Jean-Marie Straub, 2008)
O Estranho Caso de Angélica (The Strange Case of Angelica, Manoel de Oliveira, 2010)
Hulahoop Soundings (Edwin, 2008)
Hotel (Jessica Hausner, 2004)
Andarilho (Cao Guimaraes, 2007)
Message Machine (Azazel Jacobs, 2002)
Phantom Love (Nina Menkes, 2007)
Vers Mathilde (Claire Denis, 2005)
35 Rhums (35 Shots of Rum, Claire Denis, 2008)
El cant dels ocells (Birdsong, Albert Serra, 2008)
Oú gît votre surire enfoui? (Where does Your Hidden Smile Lie? Pedro Costa and Thierry Lounas, 2001)

 

PETER HOURIGAN

Leads film discussion groups with the Centre for Adult Education, Melbourne.

I had many satisfying experiences in the cinema, but very few really took me to some place new or really different. Some that did were:

Le quattro volte (The Four Times, Michelangelo Frammartino, 2010)

Howl (Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, 2010)
Yes, you can make a film from a poem.

Mad Bastards (Brendan Fletcher, 2010)
The only Australian film this year that was fresh, for me.

The Tempest (Julie Taymor, 2010)
Yes, you can make a fascinating film from Shakespeare.

Młyn i Krzyż (The Mill and the Cross, Lech Majewski, 2011)
And, yes, you can make a film about a painting.

Archipelago (Joanna Hogg, 2010)

Take Shelter (Jeff Nichols, 2011)
Especially for the compelling performance from Michael Shannon.

There also perhaps needs to be a new category. Some of my most enjoyable experiences were with works not conceived directly for the cinema. The TV mini-series came up with some immensely satisfying experiences, including:

Downton Abbey (creator: Julian Fellowes, 2010)

Treme (creators: Eric Overmyer and David Simon, 2010)

And, towering over them all, in both the mini-series and cinema versions:

Mistérios de Lisboa (Mysteries of Lisbon, Raúl Ruiz, 2010)

There are also several films that I’m not going to make a definitive judgment on after only one viewing. But for the record, two films that may (or may not) prove to be worthy of the list:

The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
Biutiful (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2010)

 

CERISE HOWARD

Freelance writer and peregrine film critic whose involvement with Senses of Cinema dates back to 2001.

Screen cultural highlights for the year that was 2011 (This account of the year that was has been cannibalised from, but also expands significantly upon, a premature wrap of 2011 to have been published in The Trip, the magazine for subscribers to Melbourne community radio station 3RRR-FM)

Best seen in general release in Melbourne

Snowtown (Justin Kurzel, 2011)
A forthrightly harrowing, nasty, nasty, nasty piece of work. Astonishingly accomplished and shocking in its impact. Kurzel will surely go a long way.

I Love You Phillip Morris (Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, 2009) / Bridesmaids (Paul Feig, 2011)
By quite some margin the two greatest comedies released in cinemas in Melbourne last year.

The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
Equal parts the most stunningly beautiful home movie ever made, and to 2011 as Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey no doubt was to 1968

Next best:

Never Let Me Go (Mark Romanek, 2010); Des hommes et des dieux (Of Gods and Men, Xavier Beauvois, 2010); Source Code (Duncan Jones, 2011); Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011); Le quattro volte (Michelangelo Frammartino, 2010); Loong Boonmee raleuk chat (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2010); Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt, 2010)

Best to be in general release in Melbourne very, very shortly

Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)
A marvellous valentine to early cinema, yet utilising the most here-and-now of filmmaking technologies, Hugo, atop its many other virtues (e.g., that opening shot!), does wonders in re-presenting some of Georges Méliès’ original works, alongside imagined re-enactments of some of his works-in-progress, in that otherwise often still underachieving format du jour, 3D. Were only Méliès still around to see it for himself!

Best seen at the Melbourne International Film Festival

Peter Tscherkassky
A wonderfully urbane, droll and generous festival guest whose masterclass in the techniques and philosophies underpinning his unique brand of darkroom voodoo, alongside screenings of his incredible “CinemaScope Trilogy” (1998-2001), delivered a clear highlight of the 2011 MIFF.

Přežít svůj život (Surviving Life, Jan Švankmajer, 2010) / Ovoce stromu rajských jíme (Fruit of Paradise, Věra Chytilová, 1970)
MIFF pandered to my Czechophilia this year – and how! – with the singular new feature by legendary Czech Surrealist animator Jan Švankmajer double-billed with one of the more free-form and beautiful highpoints of the Czechoslovak New Wave.

A Torinói ló (The Turin Horse, Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011)
An epic piece of transcendental miserabilism, with long takes, if you’re like me, to die for. (And if you’re not, perhaps instead to die from… of boredom.) An exquisitely beautiful account of the most hardscrabble of lives eked out amidst a wind storm in the middle of nowhere, it was parodied by one of this year’s MIFF’s trailers equal to the task. (Geoffrey Rush in cod-Polish, and with relish: “I have peeled one potato.”)

Las Palmas (Johannes “Puppetboy” Nyholm, 2011)
An ingenious and absolutely hilarious short in which a baby, cast as an appallingly behaved tourist, does its inexorable utmost to terrorise the stoic marionette staff of a beach resort bar…

Mer dare (Our Century, Artavazd Pelechian, 1983)
An absolutely mind-blowing, ecstatic apocalyptic space race fantasia. Mind you, the whole Pelechian program was rather good (to say the least!)

Next best:

Tomboy (Céline Sciamma, 2011); Circumstance (Maryam Keshavarz, 2011); Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011); Le Gamin au vélo (The Kid with a Bike, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2011)

Best seen elsewhere, in the wider world

Best documentary

Herbstgold (Autumn Gold, Jan Tenhaven, 2010)
An inspirational and very funny documentary about elite geriatric athletes and the rivalries between them in the lead up to an Olympiad for the elderly in Finland. Its opening of Prague’s Jeden svět (“One World”) festival of documentary films about human rights was highly memorable; one of the film’s stars, 80-something high jumper and local hero Jiří Soukup, took to the stage at the glorious Kino Lucerna after the screening and proceeded to run through some light calisthenics!

Next best:
Senna (Asif Kapadia, 2010); Bill Cunningham New York (Richard Press, 2010); The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye (Marie Losier, 2011); Autoluminescent: Rowland S. Howard (Lynn-Maree Milburn and Richard Lowenstein, 2011

Best animated feature

Gadkiy utyonok (The Ugly Duckling, Garri Bardin, 2010)
Nothing for years has left me a tearier mess in a cinema than Bardin’s exquisite claymation feature-length fairytale – and it’s also a terrifically effective, allegorical satire of Communism (and Socialist Realist musicals) to boot!

Next best:

Chico and Rita (Tono Errando, Javier Mariscal and Fernando Trueba, 2010)

Best and most unclassifiable big screen provocation

Sailor (Norman Leto, 2010)
My most singular film experience of 2011, Sailor is a series of lectures in hilariously acerbic, supercilious pseudo-science, accompanied by extraordinary, otherwordly computer visualisations of various human cognitive (in)activities, wrapped around a punk rock diary film. This film has chutzpah to burn!

Best rape-revenge film

Portret v sumerkakh (Twilight Portrait, Angelina Nikonova, 2011)
There’s still life in this most benighted of genres, and it takes masterful filmmaking to get away with a film as ideologically slippery as this one – it’s rape-revenge, but with highly troubling lashings of Stockholm Syndrome…

Best action film

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (Brad Bird, 2011)
A massively and, viewed at an IMAX cinema, vertiginously entertaining action flick, and from a first-time live-action feature filmmaker, what’s more! Narratively, at least, it’s perhaps not so great a remove from The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004); but still…. I think Brad Bird can pretty well write his own cheques from here on in.

Best miscellany caught on the festival circuit

Lotfan Mozahem Nashavid (Please Don’t Disturb, Mohsen Abdolvahab, 2010)
Shi (Poetry, Lee Chang-dong, 2010)
Harud (Autumn, Aamir Bashir, 2010)
Los Colores de la Montaña (The Colors of the Mountain, Carlos César Arbeláez, 2010)
Wu zhi xia nian (Year Without a Summer, Tan Chui Mui, 2010)
Crulic – drumul spre dincolo (Crulic – The Path to Beyond, Anca Damian, 2011)
Viagem a Portugal (Journey to Portugal, Sérgio Tréfaut, 2011)

Greatest meta-cinematic happenings of 2011

Blue Grassy Knoll and Buster
Blue Grassy Knoll returned with some new and old scores to accompany screenings of several timeless Buster Keaton shorts at the Melbourne Recital Centre. The Play House (Keaton, 1921), a multiple exposure marvel I’d never seen, let alone seen this wonderful band score before, was especially a joy to behold.

At MONA (Hobart)

Last Riot (AES+F, 2005-07) is a captivating digital video art triptych, replete with no few tableaux of androgynous youths, after a United Colors of Benetton fashion, toying with (being toyed with) annihilating one another, interspersed amidst scenes of natural and industrial catastrophes, which caught me completely unawares during a first recce of the extraordinary MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) in Hobart. It demanded repeat viewings there and then.

At Mezipatra

Much to my merry surprise, I found myself being asked to host a Q&A after a screening of Far From Heaven (2002) with the highly forthcoming Todd Haynes at Prague’s queer film festival, Mezipatra. It went gangbusters. In fact, my experience generally at this most convivial of festivals, in which I also got to become acquainted with the at least equally affable Tom Kalin (whose Swoon (1992) still amazes), stands as a personal highlight of my 2011 adventures in film culture. It is all too rare to become even more enamoured of highly personally regarded filmmakers’ work after meeting its makers, so my encounters with Haynes and Kalin both are ones I’ll long treasure. (Welcome too was Mezipatra’s programming of František Vláčil’s magisterial Údolí včel (Valley of the Bees, 1967), making abundantly clear a queer subtext that had [surely?!] been there all along.)

Visiting Bruges

After adoring Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges (2008), and finding myself in the neighbourhood, this was a necessary – and wholly enjoyable – pilgrimage, although the crowds descending (sometimes even en masse, astride Segways!) upon the extraordinarily picturesque Bruges, even in the off-season, are rather heavier than McDonagh’s film ever depicted, possibly due in no small part to that selfsame film’s success, more’s the pity (she wrote, without irony).

Macula conception

I’ve only recently got hip to the amazing world of video mapping. The good folks of Czech outfit The Macula are perhaps the standard-bearers, and their projections upon Prague’s Old Town Hall in celebration of its Astronomical Clock’s 600th anniversary this year form a jaw-dropping AV tribute to the six centuries to have passed before its beautiful clock face. A terrific recording of “The 600 Years” is accessible on The Macula’s Vimeo channel – and how do you like that aspect ratio? – something on the order of 1:1.6! Granted, that might merely be a function of the dimensions of the building being mapped onto, but it nonetheless has me wondering whether there mightn’t be some possibilities the cinema mightn’t be sage to mine in working with portrait-proportioned compositions rather than almost invariably defaulting to landscape. If the cinema’s to keep ahead of home theatre, in terms of what it can offer experientially – and the gulf, let us not mince words, is fast closing – then it might need to think a little outside of the 1.85:1 box…. C’mon folks – let’s get perpendicular!

At any rate, I’m sure more and more site-specific projections such as The Macula’s will emerge and astound in 2012 and beyond. And while their greatest impact will of course be contingent upon being in the right place at the right time, being granted free access to records of these events as compelling as the one cited just above is in itself the stuff of a significant contribution – I hesitate to say to “screen” culture – to the culture of the moving image.

 

BRIAN HU

Artistic Director of the San Diego Asian Film Festival.

20 favourites from a year of watching movies in California, Berlin and Taipei:

1. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
2. Niu pi er (Oxhide 2, Liu Jiayin, 2009)
3. Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011)
4. Tao jie (A Simple Life, Ann Hui, 2011)
5. Xian shi shi guo qu de wei lai (Disorder, Huang Weikai, 2009)
6. Tee rak (Eternity, Sivaroj Kongsakul, 2010)
7. Book chon bang hyang (The Day He Arrives, Hong Sang-soo, 2011)
8. Suan ming (Fortune Teller, Xu Tong, 2010)
9. Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011)
10. In the Family (Patrick Wang, 2011)
11. Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki, 2011)
12. Gang de qin (The Piano in a Factory, Zhang Meng, 2010)
13. Dyut meng gam (Life Without Principle, Johnnie To, 2011)
14. Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt, 2010)
15. A Torinói ló (The Turin Horse, Béla Tarr & Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011)
16. Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (A Separation, Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
17. Wo kou de zong ji (The Sword Identity, Xu Haofeng, 2011)
18. Le gamin au vélo (The Kid with a Bike, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2011)
19. Le quattro volte (The Four Times, Michelangelo Frammartino, 2010)
20. Himizu (Sion Sono, 2011)

 

CHRISTOPH HUBER

Film critic for Die Presse in Vienna.

17 Sensations

Mishen (Target, Alexander Zeldovich, 2011) & The Uh-Oh Show (Herschell Gordon Lewis, 2010)
A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg, 2011) & Alpis (Alps, Yorgos Lanthimos, 2011)
The Heart, She Holler (Vernon Chatman and John Lee, 2011) & The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
DreilebenKomm mir nicht nach (Don’t Follow Me Around, Dominik Graf, 2011) & Polizeiruf 110: Cassandras Warnung (Dominik Graf, 2011)
4:44 Last Day On Earth (Abel Ferrara, 2011) & Empusa (Paul Naschy, 2010)
L’Apollonide (Souvenirs de la maison close) (House of Pleasures, Bertrand Bonello, 2011) & Jìng xióng nǚ xiá qiū jǐn (The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake, Herman Yau, 2011)
Koi no tsumi (Guilty of Romance, Sion Sono, 2011) & The Ward (John Carpenter, 2010)
Il villaggio di cartone (The Cardboard Village, Ermanno Olmi, 2011) & Die Herde des Herrn (The Flock of the Lord, Romuald Karmakar, 2011)
Tao jie (A Simple Life, Ann Hui, 2011) & Pa negre (Black Bread, Agustí Villaronga, 2010)
Winnie the Pooh (Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall, 2011) & Nintana Rantarô (Ninja Kids, Miike Takashi, 2011) & The Muppets (James Bobin, 2011)
Siglo ng pagluluwal (Century of Birthing, Lav Diaz, 2011) & Sodankylä ikuisesti (Sodankylä Forever, Peter von Bagh, 2010)
Sherlock (Paul McGuigan, Euros Lyn, 2010-11) & Super (James Gunn, 2010)
Tropa de Elite 2O Inmimigo Agora é Outro (Elite Squad 2, José Padilha, 2010) & Duo mingjin (Life Without Principle, Johnnie To, 2011)
The Color Wheel (Alex Ross Perry, 2011) & 3 Kreuze für einen Bestseller (Klaus Lemke, 2011)
Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011) & Serbuan maut (The Raid, Gareth Huw Edwards, 2011)
J. Edgar (Clint Eastwood, 2011) & Cave of Forgotten Dreams 3D (Werner Herzog, 2010)
O baraõ (The Baron, Edgar Pêra, 2010) & The Innkeepers (Ti West, 2011)

The short version: 13 thrills

Schakale und Araber (Jean-Marie Straub, 2011)
Conference notes on film 05 (Norbert Pfaffenbichler, 2011)
Iz Tokio (From Tokyo, Aleksej German Jr., 2011)
13 Minutes in the Lives of (Stanley Kwan, 2011)
Führung (Guided Tour, René Frölke, 2011)
Ninifuni (Mariko Tetsuya, 2011)
Un héritier (Jean-Marie Straub, 2011)
Die Falten des Königs (Matthias van Baaren, 2011)
Marian Ilmestys (The Annunciation, Eija-Lisa Ahtila, 2011)
Un documentário extraordinario (Edgar Pêra, 2011)
Joule 3D (Nadia Ranocchi and David Zamagni, 2010)
Bohemian Rhapsody (Robert Dahlem, 2011)

The treasure trove

a) 5 sumptous sets

Apache Drums (Hugo Fregonese, 1951) & The Raid (Hugo Fregonese, 1954) & Saddle Tramp (Hugo Fregonese, 1950) & One-Way Street (Hugo Fregonese, 1950) & Pampa salvaje (Savage Pampas, Hugo Fregonese, 1966)

Sellaisena kuin sinä minut halusit (The Way You Wanted Me, Teuvo Tulio, 1944) & Loviisa, Niskav uoren nuori emäntä (Louisa, Valentin Vaala, 1947) & Valkoiset ruusut (White Roses, Hannu Leminen, 1943) & Tyttö kuunsillalta (The Girl from the Moon Path, Matti Kassila, 1953) & Kirkastettu sydän (The Translucent Heart, Ilmari Unho, 1943)

The Courtship of Eddie’s Father (Vincente Minnelli, 1963) & On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (Vincente Minnelli, 1970) & The Sandpiper (Vincente Minnelli, 1964) & A Matter of Time (Vincente Minnelli, 1976) & The Story of Three Loves (Gottfried Reinhardt and Vincente Minnelli, 1953)

Anna (Alberto Grifi and Massimo Sarchielli, 1972-5) & Spatiodinamisme (Tinto Brass and Nicolas Schöffer, 1958) & The Vincenzo Neri Medical Collection, seq. 1-12, 29-37 (Vincenzo Neri, 1908-28) & Il caso Valdemar (Ubaldo Magnaghi, Gianni Hoepli, 1936) & Film no. 9 (Luigi Veronesi, 1943-7)

Tales from the Crypt (Freddie Francis, 1972) & The Vault of Horror (Roy Ward Baker, 1974) & Torture Garden (Freddie Francis, 1967) & The Monster Club (Roy Ward Baker, 1981) & From Beyond the Grave (Kevin Connor, 1974)

b) 30 superb singles

Noi vivi [& Addio, Kira!] (Goffredo Alessandrini, 1942)
Gingakei (Galaxy, Adachi Masao, 1967)
La danseuse orchidée (The Orchid Dancer, Léonce Perret, 1928)
The D.I. (Jack Webb, 1958)
Priklyucheniya Sherloka Kholmsa i doktora Vatsona (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Igor Maslennikov, 1980)
Framed (Phil Karlson, 1975)
Shan zhong zhuan qi (Legend of the Mountain, King Hu, 1979)
The Revolt of Mamie Stover (Raoul Walsh, 1956)
Hi no tori (The Phoenix, Ichikawa Kon, 1978)
Le quattro giornate di Napoli (The Four Days of Naples, Nanni Loy, 1962)
Qun long xi feng (Pedicab Driver, Sammo Hung, 1989)
Endstation (Ludwig Cremer, 1973)
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (Roy William Neill, 1943)
Carousella (John Irvin, 1966)
Rituals (Peter Carter, 1977)
Rücke vor auf: Frühlingsmorgen (Reinhard Kahn, 1984)
The Great Garrick (James Whale, 1937)
Bôhachi bushidô: Porno jidaigeki (Bohachi Bushido: Code of the Forgotten Eight, Ishii Teruo, 1973)
Neulovimye mstiteli (The Elusive Avengers, Edmond Keosayan, 1967)
Counter-Attack (Zoltan Korda, 1945)
Drei Unteroffiziere (Werner Hochbaum, 1939)
Wild BeastsBelve feroci (Franco Prosperi, 1983)
Saadia (Albert Lewin, 1953)
It is Fine! Everything Is Fine! (Crispin Hellion Glover and David Brothers, 2007)
The Squeeze (Michael Apted, 1977)
Elvis (John Carpenter, 1979)
When Strangers Marry (William Castle, 1944)
Sexual aberrationsesso perverso (Libido Mania, Bruno Mattei, 1979)
Das Vermächtnis des Inka (Georg Marischka, 1965)
Uptown Saturday Night (Sidney Poitier, 1974)

c) 10 durable doubles

The Protector (James Glickenhaus, 1985) & Slaughter of the Innocents (James Glickenhaus, 1993)
İMi hermano Fidel . . .! (Santiago Alvarez, 1977) & España, una, grande, libre! (Giorgio Ferroni, 1939)
Lafayette Escadrille (William A. Wellman, 1958) & The President Vanishes (William A. Wellman, 1934)
Et slot i et slot (A Castle Within a Castle, Carl Dreyer, 1954) & Der Spanner (The Voyeur, Lasse Braun, 1976)
The Camp on Blood Island (Val Guest, 1958) & Die Insel der blutigen Plantage (The Island of the Bloody Plantation, Kurt Raab, 1983)
1860 (Alessandro Blasetti, 1934) & Quatre-vingt-treize (Albert Capellani, 1914/21)
The Deadly Affair (Sidney Lumet, 1966) & Strip Search (Sidney Lumet, 2004)
Was soll’n wir denn machen ohne den Tod? (Elfi Mikesch, 1980) & Bombenwerfer (Elfi Mikesch, 1994)
Fuego en castilla (José Val Del Omar, 1958/9) & The Responsive Eye (Brian De Palma, 1966)
Der lachende Stern (Werner Schroeter, 1983) & Truth and DareIshamel Bernal (Peter Kern, 1993)

 

SAM JULIANO

Writes for the blog, Wonders in the Dark.

1. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
2. War Horse (Steven Spielberg, 2011)
3. Mistérios de Lisboa (Mysteries of Lisbon, Raúl Ruiz, 2010)
4. Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (A Separation, Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
5. Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011)
6. Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)
7. Tomboy (Céline Sciamma, 2011)
8. Des hommes et des dieux (Of Gods and Men, Xavier Beauvois, 2010)
9. Shi (Poetry, Lee Chang-dong, 2010)
10. Jane Eyre (Cary Joji Fukunaga, 2011)
11. Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan, 2011)
12. Shame (Steve McQueen, 2011)
13. Win Win (Thomas McCarthy, 2011)
14. Pina (Wim Wenders, 2011)
15. Incendies (Denis Villeneuve, 2010)
16. Copie conforme (Certified Copy, Abbas Kiarostami, 2010)
17. Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011)
18. Coriolanus (Ralph Fiennes, 2011)
19. The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)
20. A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg, 2011)
21. Młyn i Krzyż (The Mill and the Cross, Lech Majewski, 2011)
22. Le quattro volte (The Four Times, Michelangelo Frammartino, 2010)
23. The Descendants (Alexander Payne, 2011)
24. Like Crazy (Drake Doremus, 2011)
25. Bal (Honey, Semih Kaplanoglu, 2010)

Honourable mentions

Kokuhaku (Confessions, Tetsuya Nakashima, 2010), Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Werner Herzog, 2010), Winter in Wartime (Martin Koolhoven, 2008), Cedar Rapids (Miguel Arteta, 2011), Weekend (Andrew Haigh, 2011), The Conspirator (Robert Redford, 2010), La princesse de Montpensier (The Princess of Montpensier, Bertrand Tavernier, 2010), Hell and Back Again (Danfung Dennis, 2011), Nanjing! Nanjing! (City of Life and Death, Lu Chuan, 2009), Jitsuroku rengô sekigun: Asama sansô e no michi (United Red Army, Kôji Wakamatsu, 2007)

 

DANIEL KASMAN

Editor of MUBI and lives in New York.

New/new: premiering films first seen in 2011
4:44 Last Day on Earth (Abel Ferrara, 2011)
ABRACADABRA (Ernie Gehr, 2009)
L’Apollonide (Souvenirs de la maison close) (House of Pleasures, Bertrand Bonello, 2011)
Black Mirror at the National Gallery (Mark Lewis, 2011)
Book chon bang hyang (The Day He Arrives, Hang Sang-soo, 2011)
Century of Birthing (Lav Diaz, 2011)
Conference (Norbert Pfaffenbichler, 2011)
Contagion (Steven Soderbergh, 2011)
Cut
(Amir Naderi, 2011)
Crystal Palace (Ernie Gehr, 2002-11)
Dreileben – Etwas Besseres als den Tod (Beats Being Dead, Christian Petzold, 2011)
Dreileben – Komm mir nicht nach (Don’t Follow Me Around, Dominik Graf, 2011)
Faust (Aleksandr Sokurov, 2011)
Found Cuban Mounts (Adriana Salazar Arroyo, 2011)
Un héritier (Jean-Marie Straub, 2011)
In film nist (This Is Not a Film, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb & Jafar Panahi, 2011)
Kochegar (A Stoker, Aleksey Balabanov, 2010)
Late and Deep (Devin Horan, 2011)
Louyre – This Our Still Life (Andrew Kötting, 2011)
Mishen (Target, Alexander Zeldovich, 2011)
Miss Bala (Gerardo Naranjo, 2011)
Mist (Ernie Gehr, 2010)
The Return (Nathaniel Dorsky, 2011)
Schakale und Araber (Jean-Marie Straub, 2011)
Seeking the Monkey King (Ken Jacobs, 2011)
Slow Action (Ben Rivers, 2010)
Tao jie (A Simple Life, Ann Hui, 2011)
The Tree of Life (Terence Malick, 2011)
The Three Musketeers 3D (Paul W.S. Anderson, 2011)
A Torinói ló (The Turin Horse, Béla Tarr & Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011)
Truce (Svetlana Proskurina, 2011)
Trypps #7 (Badlands) (Ben Russell, 2011)
Two Years at Sea (Ben Rivers, 2011)

New/old: films theatrically opened in the US in 2011

Autobiografia lui Nicolae Ceausescu (The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu, Andrei Ujica, 2010)
Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Werner Herzog, 2010)
Des hommes et des dieux (Of Gods and Men, Xavier Beauvois, 2010)
Film socialisme (Jean-Luc Godard, 2010)
Go Go Tales (Abel Ferrara, 2007)
Gu ling jie shao nian sha ren shi jian (A Brighter Summer Day, Edward Yang, 1991)
Jitsuroku rengô sekigun: Asama sansô e no michi (United Red Army, Kôji Wakamatsu, 2007)
Jûsan-nin no shikaku (13 Assassins, Takashi Miike, 2010)
Kyatapirâ (Caterpillar, Kôji Wakamatsu, 2010)
Loong Boonmee raleuk chat (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2010)
Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt, 2010)
Mistérios de Lisboa (Mysteries of Lisbon, Raúl Ruiz, 2010)
Morrer Como Um Homem (To Die Like a Man, João Pedro Rodrigues, 2009)
Nostalgia de la luz (Nostalgia for the Light, Patricio Guzmán, 2010)
Petition (Zhao Liang, 2009)
Road to Nowhere (Monte Hellman, 2010)
Schastye moe (My Joy, Sergei Loznitsa, 2010)

Old/old: retrospective films theatrically screened in 2011

Niemandsland (No Man’s Land, Victor Trivas, 1931)
Philips-Radio (Industrial Symphony) (Joris Ivens, 1931)
Safe in Hell (William A. Wellman, 1931)
Waterloo Bridge (James Wale, 1931)
Afraid to Talk (Edward L. Cahn, 1932)
Blessed Event (Roy del Ruth, 1932)
Hot Saturday (William A. Seiter, 1932)
Employees’ Entrance (Roy del Ruth, 1933)
Sailor’s Luck (Raoul Walsh, 1933)
Tange Sazen yowa: Hyakuman ryo no tsubo (Tange Sazen and the Pot Worth a Million Ryo, Sadao Yamanaka, 1935)
Tri geroini (Three Heroines, Dziga Vertov, 1938)
Love Affair (Leo McCarey, 1939)
Tsuchi (Earth, Tomu Uchida, 1939)
Tsuchi to heitai (Mud and Soldiers, Tomotaka Tasaka, 1939)
Went the Day Well? (Alberto Cavalcanti, 1942)
Meet Me in St. Louis (Vincente Minnelli, 1944)
Niagara (Henry Hathaway, 1953)
The Sun Shines Bright (John Ford, 1953)
Brigadoon (Vincente Minnelli, 1954)
Carmen Jones (Otto Preminger, 1954)
Suzaki paradise: Akashingo (Suzaki Paradise: Red Light District, Yuzo Kawashima, 1956)
The Reluctant Debutante (Vincente Minnelli, 1958)
Bachelor Flat (Frank Tashlin, 1962)
The Courtship of Eddie’s Father (Vincente Minnelli, 1964)
The Tomb of Ligelia (Roger Corman, 1964)
Dead Birds (Robert Gardner, 1965)
Tres tristes tigres (Raúl Ruiz, 1968)
The Last Run (Richard Fleischer, 1971)
Il potere (Power, Augusto Tretti, 1972)
Pourquoi Israel (Israel, Why, Claude Lanzmann, 1973)
Anna (Alberto Grifi & Massimo Sarchielli, 1975)
Family Plot (Alfred Hitchcock, 1976)
We Can’t Go Home Again (Nicholas Ray, 1976)
Providence (Alain Resnais, 1977)
Akai kami no onna (The Woman with Red Hair, Tatsumi Kumashiro, 1979)
The Human Factor (Otto Preminger, 1979)
Possession (Andrzej Zulawski, 1981)
You Are Not I (Sara Driver, 1981)
Xian si jue (Duel to the Death, Siu-Tung Ching, 1983)
Ein Bild (An Image, Harun Farocki, 1983)
L’homme à la valise (The Man with the Suitcase, Chantal Akerman, 1983)
J’ai faim, j’ai froid (Chantal Akerman, 1984)
Blue Steel (Kathryn Bigelow, 1989)
Ein Tag im Leben der Endverbraucher (A Day in the Life of the Consumer, Harun Farocki, 1993)
Lothringen! (Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub, 1994)
Dao (The Blade, Tsui Hark, 1995)
Sud (Chantal Akerman, 1999)
Demain on déménage (Tomorrow We Move, Chantal Akerman, 2004)
California Company Town (Lee Anne Schmitt, 2008)
En compagnie d’Eric Rohmer (In the Company of Eric Rohmer, Marie Rivière, 2010)

 

CHRISTOPHER KEARNEY

Independent screenwriter who also teaches TV Production and English at George M. Steinbrenner High School in Lutz, Florida.

1. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
2. Copie conforme (Certified Copy, Abbas Kiarostami, 2010)
3. The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)
4. Moneyball (Bennett Miller, 2011)
5. Tomboy (Céline Sciamma, 2011)
6. La doppia ora (The Double Hour, Giuseppe Capotondi, 2009)
7. Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011)
8. Le hérisson (The Hedgehog, Mona Achache, 2009)
9. Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011)
10. War Horse (Steven Spielberg, 2011)

Honorable mentions
Crazy Stupid Love (Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, 2011); Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011); Jûsan-nin no shikaku (13 Assassins, Takashi Miike, 2010); Like Crazy (Drake Doremus, 2011); Take Shelter (Jeff Nichols, 2011); Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011); Win Win (Thomas McCarthy, 2011); X-Men: First Class (Matthew Vaughn, 2011)

 

NELSON KIM

New York–based writer, filmmaker and teacher.

New films seen for the first time in 2011

Three movies towered over everything else I saw this year. Stories that reminded me why we need dramatic narrative to illuminate our lives, films that made me marvel anew at the possibilities of the medium:

Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (A Separation, Asghar Farhadi, 2011)

Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan, 2011)

The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)

Other highlights, in alphabetical order

Bir zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)

Bridesmaids (Paul Feig, 2011)

Copie conforme (Certified Copy, Abbas Kiarostami, 2010)

Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)
Minor work by a major filmmaker, but its use of 3D was the most dazzling I’ve seen yet (apart from Cameron’s Avatar, which was wretched in every other aspect).

In film nist (This is Not a Film, Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, 2011)
Urgently political, profoundly personal and as formally inventive as any movie made this year: it presents itself to the viewer as a straightforward, seemingly artless video diary, but it’s actually a cunningly constructed self-reflexive mind-bender that blurs the boundaries between fiction and documentary and investigates the very nature and purpose of cinema.

In the Family (Patrick Wang, 2011)
In a strong year for US independent film, this feature by a first-time writer/director/star still stood out as something extraordinary.

Loong Boonmee raluek chat (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2010)

Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011)

Mistérios de Lisboa (Mysteries of Lisbon, Raúl Ruiz, 2010)

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Rupert Wyatt, 2011)
Exhilarating action filmmaking: state-of-the-art CGI work seamlessly wedded to storytelling of classical speed, vigour and cleanness of line. If the credits had read “Directed by Steven Spielberg”, people would be calling it a brilliant return to form.

Shi (Poetry, Lee Chang-dong, 2010)

Special mention

Gu ling jie shao nian sha ren shi jian (A Brighter Summer Day, Edward Yang, 1991)
Received its first US theatrical release after a 20-year delay. Twenty years from now, I bet I’ll still remember what it felt like to immerse myself in the world Yang created, or re-created, for four hours.

 

RAINER KNEPPERGES

A filmmaker living in Cologne, Germany.

The 13 best films of 2011

Bridesmaids (Paul Feig, 2011)
Louie / Season 2 (Louis C.K., 2011)
Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011)
Eyyvah Eyvah 2 (Hakan Algül, 2011)
Les petits mouchoirs (Little White Lies, Guillaume Canet, 2010)
Die Stämme von Köln (The Tribes of Cologne, Anja Dreschke, 2011)
Recuerdos de una mañana (Memories of a Morning, José Luis Guerin, 2011)
Schlag auf Schlag (Moritz Vetter, Lukas Laier, 2011)
The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)
Die große Erbschaft (Fosco Dubini and Donatello Dubini, 2011)
Queen of the Lot (Henry Jaglom, 2011)
Endlich Urlaub (Jan Soldat, 2010)
Take Shelter (Jeff Nichols, 2011)

The 39 greatest discoveries in 2011
Regeneration (Raoul Walsh, 1915)
Sadie Thompson (Raoul Walsh, 1928)
Me And My Gal (Raoul Walsh, 1932)
Frisco Jenny (William Wellman, 1932)
Dekigokoro (Passing Fancy, Yasujiro Ozu, 1933)
Ruggles of Red Gap (Leo McCarey, 1934)
Lloyds of London (Henry King, 1936)
In Old Chicago (Henry King, 1937)
Anma to onna (The Masseurs and a Woman, Hiroshi Shimizu, 1938)
The Song of Bernadette (Henry King, 1943)
The Uninvited (Lewis Allen, 1944)
Objective Burma! (Raoul Walsh, 1945)
Woman Who Came Back (Walter Colmes, 1945)
From This Day Forward (John Berry, 1946)
The Big Clock (John Farrow, 1948)
House of Strangers (Joseph Mankiewicz, 1949)
Stars in My Crown (Jacques Tourneur, 1950)
Blowing Wild (Hugo Fregonese, 1951)
Phone Call from a Stranger (Jean Negulesco, 1952)
Saskatchewan (Raoul Walsh, 1954)
Nära Livet (Ingmar Bergman, 1958)
The Haunted Strangler (Robert Day, 1958)
The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (Terence Fisher, 1960)
Nightmare (Freddie Francis, 1964)
Zulu (Cy Endfield, 1964)
Seconds (John Frankenheimer, 1966)
Holy Ghost People (Peter Adair, 1967)
Un choix d’assassins (A Choice of Killers, Phillippe Fourastié, 1967)
True Grit (Henry Hathaway, 1969)
It Ain’t City Music (Tom Davenport, 1973)
The Bad News Bears (Michael Ritchie, 1976)
Saint Jack (Peter Bogdanovich, 1979)
The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces (William H. Whyte, 1979)
The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982)
Innisfree (José Luis Guerin, 1990)
Tout ça … pour ça (Claude Lelouch, 1993)
Hollywood Dreams (Henry Jaglom, 2006)
Kommissar Kresch (Jan Soldat, 2007)
Role Models (David Wain, 2008)

 

KEVYN KNOX

Film historian and critic. His reviews can be read at The Most Beautiful Fraud in the World.

1. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
2. Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011)
3. Super 8 (J.J. Abrams, 2011)
4. Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)
5. Copie conforme (Certified Copy, Abbas Kiarostami, 2010)
6. Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011)
7. Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt, 2010)
8. Moneyball (Bennett Miller, 2011)
9. Kaboom (Gregg Araki 2010)
10. Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011)

Runners-up

Source Code (Duncan Jones, 2011), Loong Boonmee raluek chat (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2010), Hanna (Joe Wright, 2011), The Arbor (Clio Barnard, 2010), A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg, 2011) & Rango (Gore Verbinski, 2011).

 

PETER KRAUSZ

Chair of the Australian Film Critics Association and film critic/film journalist on radio and in print.

1. The Tree Of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
2. Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011)
3. Hævnen (In a Better World, Susanne Bier, 2010)
4. Incendies (Denis Villeneuve, 2011)
5. Des hommes et des dieux (Of Gods and Men, Xavier Beauvois, 2011)
6. We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsay, 2011)
7. Le quattro volte (Michelangelo Frammartino, 2010)
8. Beginners (Mike Mills, 2010)
9. Snowtown (Justin Kurzel, 2011)
10. Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt, 2010)

 

JAY KUEHNER

Writer based in Seattle and regular contributor to Cinema Scope and Fandor.

Nana (Valerie Massadian, 2011)
Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)
Aller au diable (To the Devil, Claire Denis, 2011)
Schlakfrankheit (Sleeping Sickness, Ulrich Kohler)
Two Years At Sea (Ben Rivers, 2011)
Book chon bang hyang (The Day He Arrives, Hong Sang Soo)
É na Terra não é na Lua (It’s The Earth Not The Moon, Gonçalo Tocha, 2011)
Papirosen (Gastón Solnicki, 2011)
Alpis
(Alps, Yorgos Lanthimos)
A Torinói ló (The Turin Horse, Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011)
Hashoter (Policeman, Nadav Lapid, 2011)
Les Acacias (Pablo Giorgelli, 2011)

 

ADAM KUNTAVANISH

Writer of top ten lists for the Toronto-based online publication Next Projection.

2011 world premiere favourites

1. Jodaie Nader az Simin (A Separation, Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
Densely plotted and ambiguous in the complicated way that life itself is.

2. Le gamin au vélo (The Kid with a Bike, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2011)
Seemingly slight but actually intensely concerned with the kinetic morality of adolescence.

3. Attack the Block (Joe Cornish, 2011)
Lightly coated with social significance, this is simply the most fun I had at the theatre this year.

4. Terri (Azazel Jacobs, 2011)
The characters, incidents and details are realistically embarrassing and touching in equal measure.

5. A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg, 2011)
A thoroughly Cronenbergian examination of the messy birth of the 20th century

6. Dreileben – Etwas Besseres als den Tod (Beats Being Dead, Christian Petzold, 2011)
Towers over its companion films by minutely observing the more personal coming-of-age tale at the main plot’s periphery.

7. Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011)
A gloriously self-conscious genre movie of tight lips, moody color, and sudden violence.

8. Kiseki (I Wish, Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2011)
Some of the best ensemble acting of the year as two separated young brothers try to meet up.

9. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
Overflowing and overreaching with ideas, ambition and sense memory.

10. Take Shelter (Jeff Nichols, 2011)
In its way as cosmic as The Tree of Life, tackling a mental illness/premonition as social and familial stigma.

A few US premiere favourites (the following made their non-festival premieres within the US in 2011)

Cold Weather (Aaron Katz, 2010)
Copie conforme (Certified Copy, Abbas Kiarostami, 2010)
Marti, dupa craciun (Tuesday, After Christmas, Radu Muntean, 2010)
Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt, 2010)
Shi (Poetry, Lee Chang-dong, 2010)

 

EUGENIA LAI

Best (released in New York in 2011)

Hai shang chuan qi (I Wish I Knew, Zhang Ke Jai, 2010)
Vorbitor (Visiting Room, Radu Muntean and Alexandru Baciu, 2011)
Marti, dupa craciun (Tuesday, After Christmas, Radu Muntean, 2010)
Bill Cunningham New York (Richard Press, 2010)
Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki, 2011)
Hi-so (Aditya Assarat, 2010)
Tabloid (Errol Morris, 2010)
Bir zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

Best (retrospective/festival)

Invasión (Invasion, Hugo Santiago, 1967)
Le jouet criminel (Adolfo Arrieta, 1969)
La imitación del ángel (Adolfo Arrieta, 1966)
El crimen de a pirindola (Adolfo Arrieta, 1965)
Le château de Pointilly (Adolfo Arrieta, 1972)
Schatten der Engel (Shadow of Angels, Daniel Schmid, 1975)
Deep End (Jerzy Skolimowski, 1970)
Rysopis (Identification Marks: None, Jerzy Skolimowski, 1965)
Walkover (Jerzy Skolimowski, 1965)
Rece do Gory (Hands Up! from Dialóg, Jerzy Skolimowski, 1967)
Bariera (Barrier, Jerzy Skolimowski, 1966)
Holubice (The White Dove, Frantisek Vlácil, 1960)
Dáblova past (The Devil’s Trap, Frantisek Vlácil, 1962)
Stín kapradiny (Shades of Fern, Frantisek Vlácil, 1984)
Adelheid (Frantisek Vlácil, 1970)
Údolí vcel (Valley of the Bees, Frantisek Vlácil, 1968)
Kong bu fen zi (The Terrorizers, Edward Yang, 1986)
Qing mei zhu ma (Taipei Story, Edward Yang, 1985)

Most over-rated

A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg, 2011)
Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011)
Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011)
Mistérios de Lisboa (Mysteries of Lisbon, Raúl Ruiz, 2010)
Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Werner Herzog, 2011)
J. Edgar (Clint Eastwood, 2011)
Crazy Stupid Love (Dan Fogelman, 2011)
Contagion (Steven Soderbergh, 2011)

 

MARC LAURIA

Wrote the screenplay for Dartworth (Andre Seager, 2011) and bemoans that some of the greatest films don’t seem to get distributed.

Three masterpieces, with a philosophical bent, which expand cinema to its breaking point…

1. A Torinói ló (The Turin Horse, Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011)
Tarr’s final film takes Nietzsche’s theory of “eternal return” to the extreme. Nietzsche’s final madness and isolation finds a collorary in Tarr’s cinema, which, from Kárhozat (Damnation, 1988), Sátántangó (1994) and Werckmeister harmóniák (Werckmeister Harmonies, 2000) all the way to The Turin Horse, shows the relentless Sisyphean repetition, the ultimate surrender to the same environment and the ineffective nature of communication. As in the last shot of Satantango, only nothingness remains.

2. Aurora (Cristi Puiu, 2010)
Speaking of the ineffective nature of communication, Puiu plays a killer whose motive is unknown in this existential reworking of both Camus’ The Outsider and Sartre’s Being and Nothingness. Every bit as demanding as his previous Moartea domnului Lazarescu (The Death of Mr Lazarescu, 2005), this avoids psychological explanations while withholding narrative.

3. Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)
Reminiscent of Corneliu Porumboiu’s Politist, adjectiv (Police, Adjective, 2009), this is a meditation on the nature of truth. Probing the ambiguity of a crime – did a suspected killer actually commit murder? – Ceylan’s analysis of a police investigation is, in every sense, a visionary experience.

… and a dozen terrific runners-up, in alphabetical order

A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg, 2011)
Tropa de Elite (Elite Squad, José Padilha, 2007)
Le gamin au vélo (The Kid with a Bike, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2011)
Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt, 2010)
Mistérios de Lisboa (Mysteries of Lisbon, Raúl Ruiz, 2010)
Post Mortem (Pablo Larraín, 2010)
Policeman (Naday Lapid, 2011)
Le quattro volte (Michelangelo Frammartino, 2010)
In film nist (This is Not a Film, Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, 2011)
Tony Manero (Pablo Larraín, 2008)
The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, U.S.)
Marti, dupa craciun (Tuesday, After Christmas, Radu Muntean, 2010)

 

OLIVIER LUNN

Writer and Programming Manager at Cinémoi, the French Movie Channel.

Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan, 2011)
Weekend (Andrew Haigh, 2011)
Shame (Steve McQueen, 2011)
The Tree of Life (Terence Malick, 2011)
The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)

 

JB MABE

Filmmaker and occasional programmer and critic in Chicago.

1. “Kittens, Biscuits, and Blots: Films by Luther Price” (White Light Cinema screening at the Nightingale Theater, Chicago, 2011)
2. Legend of Parts (Julie Murray, 1988)
3. Elasticity (Chick Strand, 1976)
4. Focus on the Family (Lennon Batchelor, 2011)
5. Bridesmaids (Paul Feig, 2011)
6. “Gate Shock: New and Rare Films by Luther Price” (White Light Cinema screening at the Nightingale Theater, Chicago, 2011)
7. Like (Luis Arnias, 2010)
8. Damage Control (Adam Paradis, 2011)
9. Earth vs The Giant Spider vs The Witches (Brian Frye, 1996)
10. Films I (Pablo Valencia, 2011)

 

MIGUEL MARIAS

Born in Madrid in 1947. Economist and former Director of the Spanish Film Archive (1986-88). Wrote for most Spanish film magazines, now mostly for foreign online ones. Author of books on Manuel Mur Oti and Leo McCarey.

A. Great films seen for the first time, made since 2006

O Estranho Caso de Angélica (Manoel de Oliveira, 2010), Litoral (Raúl Ruiz, 2008), Des hommes et des dieux (Of Gods and Men, Xavier Beauvois, 2010), Nucingen Haus/La Maison Nucingen (Nucingen House, Raúl Ruiz, 2008), Gone Baby Gone (Ben Affleck, 2007), Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011), Jiabiangou (The Ditch, Wang Bing, 2010), Hereafter (Clint Eastwood, 2010), Mistérios de Lisboa (Mysteries of Lisbon, Raúl Ruiz, 2010), Petit tailleur (Little Tailor, Louis Garrel, 2010), Habemus Papam (We Have A Pope, Nanni Moretti, 2011), Lastuja-Taiteilijasuvun Vuosisata (Splinters – A Century of an Artistic Family, Peter von Bagh, 2011), Recuerdos de una mañana (Remembrance of One Morning, José Luis Guerin, 2011), Sorelle Mai (Marco Bellocchio, 2010), Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki, 2011), No (in La Chevelure féminine vue par…, Abbas Kiarostami, 2010), La Folie Almayer (Almayer’s Folly, Chantal Akerman, 2011)

B. Great films seen for the first time, made before 2006

Utajo oboegaki (Notes of an Itinerant Performer, Hiroshi Shimizu, 1941), La merveilleuse vie de Jeanne d’Arc, fille de Lorraine (Jeanne d’Arc the Maid, Marco de Gastyne, 1927-8/9), Tatlong Taóng Walang Diyos (Three Years Without God, Mario O’Hara, 1976), Flame of the Islands (Edward Ludwig, 1955/6), Cuba Libre (Christian Petzold, 1996), Next Time We Love (Edward H. Griffith, 1935/6), Baddegama (Village in the Jungle, Lester James Peries, 1980), La Tête d’un homme (A Man’s Neck, Julien Duvivier, 1932/3), Puccini (Carmine Gallone, 1952), 10 Minuten Mozart (Lotte Reiniger, 1930)

C. Very good films seen for the first time, made since 2006

The Town (Ben Affleck, 2010), L’Illusion comique (Mathieu Amalric, 2010), Dreileben – Etwas Besseres als den Tod (Beats Being Dead, Christian Petzold, 2011), Road To Nowhere (Monte Hellman, 2010), Vénus noire (Black Venus, Abdellatif Kechiche, 2010), Heshang aiqing (Cry Me A River, Jia Zhang-ke, 2008), Napoli Napoli Napoli (Abel Ferrara, 2009), Disengagement (Amos Gitai, 2007), Roses à crédit (Amos Gitai, 2010), Red Road (Andrea Arnold, 2006), Snow Angels (David Gordon Green, 2006), Cleópatra (Júlio Bressane, 2007), Il se peut que la beauté ait renforcé notre résolution – Masao Adachi (It may be that beauty has strengthened our resolve – Masao Adachi, Philippe Grandrieux, 2011), Shekarchi (The Hunter, Rafi Pitts, 2010), Ruínas (Ruins, Manuel Mozos, 2009), Alvorada vermelha (Red Dawn, João Rui Guerra da Mata and João Pedro Rodrigues, 2011), Filmer aujourd’hui (Jean-Louis Comolli, 2010), Winter’s Bone (Debra Granik, 2010), Les Braves (The Brave Ones, Alain Cavalier, 2008), Rigoletto a Mantova (Marco Bellocchio, 2010), Carminho: 1.Escrevi teu nome no vento/ 2.A Bia da Mouraria/ 3.Meu amor marinheiro/ 4.Espelho quebrado (João Botelho, 2008) , Vidas pequeñas (Small Lives, Enrique Gabriel, 2010), La recta provincia (Raúl Ruiz, 2007), How Do You Know (James L. Brooks, 2010), Essential Killing (Jerzy Skolimowski, 2010), Robinson in Ruins (Patrick Keiller, 2010), Le Roman de ma Femme (Djamshed/Jamshed Usmonov, 2009/11), Chantrapas (Otar Ioseliani, 2010), O nosso homem (Our Man, Pedro Costa, 2010), Giallo (Dario Argento, 2008), In film nist (This Is Not A Film, Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, 2011), Terra Madre (Mother Earth, Ermanno Olmi; collab.Franco Piavoli, 2009), The Betrayal/Nerakhoon (Ellen Kuras & Thavisouk Phrasavath, 2008), Boxing Gym (Frederick Wiseman, 2010), WTC haikus (Jonas Mekas, 2010), Il était une fois…Sailor et Lula (Auberi Edler, 2008)

D. Very good films seen for the first time, made before 2006

Die Beischlafdiebin (Christian Petzold, 1998), Kanzen naru shiiku: Akai satsui (Perfect Education 6, Kōji Wakamatsu, 2004), Suzaki Paradise: Akashingo (Suzaki Paradise, Yuzō Kawashima, 1956), The Sound of Fury (Try and Get Me, Cyril R. Endfield, 1950), Mystery Street (John Sturges, 1950), Too Much, Too Soon (Art Napoleon, 1958), The Outcasts of Poker Flat (Joseph M. Newman, 1952), The Walking Hills (John Sturges, 1949), The Underworld Story (Cyril R. Endfield, 1950), Pilotinnen (Pilots, Christian Petzold, 1995), Varastettu kuolema (Den stulna döden, Nyrki Tapiovaara, 1938), Hong se niang zi jun (The Red Detachment of Women, Xie Jin, 1960), Hell Bent for Leather (George Sherman, 1960), Black Bart (George Sherman, 1948), Iskanderiya…New York (El Ghadab) / Iskanderija…New York (Alexandrie…New York, Youssef Chahine; collab. Khaled Youssef, 2004), La vraie vie (dans les bureaux) (Jean-Louis Comolli, 1993), La Faute à Voltaire (Abdellatif Kechiche, 2000), A Queda (The Fall, Ruy Guerra, 1976/8), L’Équipage (The Crew, Anatole Litvak, 1935), Os Deuses e os Mortos (Of Gods and the Undead, Ruy Guerra, 1970), Die Parallelstrasse (Parallel Roads, Fedinand Khittl, 1962), Edge of Darkness (Lewis Milestone, 1943), Ziemlia v plieunií (Land in Captivity, Fiodor A. Otsiep, 1927/8), Amok (Fédor Ozep/Fiodor A. Otsiep, 1934), Cry Wolf (Peter Godfrey, 1947), Manolescu (Victor Tourjansky, 1929), Die singende Stadt (The Singing City, Carmine Gallone, 1930), A Caça (The Hunting Party, Manoel de Oliveira, 1963), Monster on the Campus (Monster in the Night / Stranger on the Campus, Jack Arnold, 1958), Sininen laulu (Suomen taiteiden tarina) (Song of Finland (The Story of the Finnish Arts), Peter von Bagh, 2003), Paolo e Francesca (La storia di Francesca da Rimini, Raffaello Matarazzo, 1950), Di Cavalcanti (Glauber Rocha, 1977), Huosan qingxue (Loving Blood of the Vulcan, Sun Yu, 1932), Ye Meigui (Wild Rose, Sun Yu, 1932), La monaca di Monza (Carmine Gallone, 1962), Balseros (Cuban Rafters, Carles Bosch & Josep Maria Domènech, 1994-2002), Portugal S.A. (Ruy Guerra, 2003/4), Shahib Bibi Aur Gulam (Master, Mistress and Servant, Abrar Alvi ;collab.Guru Dutt, 1962), Young Man of Manhattan (Monta Bell, 1930), Die Frau, nach der Man sich sehnt (The Woman One Longs For, Kurt Bernhardt, 1929), L’Affaire Sofri (Jean-Louis Comolli, 2001), Upstream (John Ford, 1927), Poslednaia noch (The Last Night, Iuli Raízman, 1936), Elvis (John Carpenter, 1979), Le Concerto de Mozart (Jean-Louis Comolli & Francis Marmande, 1997), Naissance d’un hôpital (Jean-Louis Comolli, 1991), La mano dello straniero (The Hand of the Stranger, Mario Soldati, 1953), I Dream Too Much (John Cromwell, 1935), The Company She Keeps (John Cromwell, 1950/1), Tsuma wa kokuhaku suru (A Wife’s Confession, Yasuzo Masumura, 1961), Sappho (Dimitri Buchowetzki, 1921), Uomini e cieli (Francesco De Robertis, 1943/7), Die arme Jenny (Urban Gad, 1912), Ride Clear of Diablo (Jesse Hibbs, 1953/4), Boca de lixo (Eduardo Coutinho, 1993), Jean Moulin: Lettre à un innocent (William Karel, 2003), The Tattered Dress (Jack Arnold, 1957), Twenty Plus Two (It Started in Tokyo, Joseph M. Newman, 1961), Return To Waterloo (Ray Davies, 1984), Der Postmeister (The Stationmaster, Gustav Ucicky, 1940), Rojo no zeikon (Souls on the Road, Minoru Murata, 1921), Riff-Raff (Ted Tetzlaff, 1947), Talking to Strangers (Rob Tregenza, 1988), Cinémafia-Rencontre 1: Jean Rouch parle avec Joris Ivens et Henri Storck (Jean Rouch, 1980), Satin Rouge (Red Satin, Raja Amari, 2001/2), Isto É Noel Rosa (1910-1937) (Rogério Sganzerla, 1990), 13 Tzameti (13, Gela Babluani, 2005), A Knight in London / Eine Nacht in London (Lupu-Pick, 1928), Wasp (Andrea Arnold, 2003), Cofralandes (Raúl Ruiz, 2001/2), Le Film à venir (Raúl Ruiz, 1997), Makwayela (Jean Rouch & Jacques d’Arthuys, 1977), Dancing With The Kinks (Ken O’Neil/Julien Temple, 1986)

E. Great films rediscovered or re-evaluated by a new vision

Musashino fujin (Lady of Musashino, Kenji Mizoguchi, 1951), Bakushū (Mugi-aki) (Early Summer, Yasujirō Ozu, 1951), Holiday (George Cukor, 1938), Mahanagar (The Big City, Satyajit Ray, 1963), La Fille du puisatier (The Well-Digger’s Daughter, Marcel Pagnol, 1940), The Crimson Kimono (Samuel Fuller, 1959), Two Weeks in Another Town (Vincente Minnelli, 1962), Niezábivamoie (The Unforgettable, Iuliia Solntseva, 1967), Povést plaménnikh liet (The Story of the Flaming Years, Iuliia Solntseva, 1960), The Big Mouth (Jerry Lewis, 1967), The Clock (Under the Clock, Vincente Minnelli, 1945), Sonnenstrahl (Ray of Sunshine, Pál Fejös, 1933), Park Row (Samuel Fuller, 1952), Poema o Morie (The Poem of the Sea, Iuliia Solntseva, 1958), Die Büchse der Pandora (Pandora’s Box, Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1928), The Docks of New York (Josef von Sternberg, 1928), Beggars of Life (William A. Wellman, 1928), The Wedding March (Erich von Stroheim, 1928), Glomdalsbruden (The Bride of Glomdalen, Carl Th. Dreyer, 1925), The Salvation Hunters (Josef von Sternberg, 1925), The White Rose (David W. Griffith, 1923), Les Amants du Pont-Neuf (The Lovers on the Bridge, Leos Carax, 1991), The Adventures of Hajji Baba (Don Weis, 1954), Manon des Sources-Ugolin (Marcel Pagnol, 1952), La Femme et le pantin (Jacques de Baroncelli, 1928/9), The Last Command (Josef von Sternberg, 1928), No Man of Her Own (Mitchell Leisen, 1950), Madame Bovary (Jean Renoir, 1933), Madame de… (The Earrings of Madame de…, Max Ophuls, 1953), Italiani brava gente (Giuseppe De Santis, 1964), The Mating Season (Mitchell Leisen, 1950), Traviata 53 (Fille d’Amour, Vittorio Cottafavi, 1953), They Flew Alone (Wings and the Women, Herbert Wilcox, 1941), King Lear (Jean-Luc Godard, 1987), Sammy Going South (Alexander Mackendrick, 1963), U.S. Go Home (from Tous les garçons et les filles de leur âge: Le Milieu des années 60, Claire Denis, 1994), Polustanok (Whistle Stop, Boris Barnet, 1963), Act of Violence (Fred Zinnemann, 1948), The Search / Die Gezeichneten (Fred Zinnemann, 1948), Le Combat dans l’île (Fire and Ice, Alain Cavalier, 1962), Letter of Introduction (John M. Stahl, 1938), Love Letters (William Dieterle, 1945), Le Pont du Nord (Jacques Rivette, 1981), Bajō (A Mother’s Love, Hiroshi Shimizu, 1950), Way Of A Gaucho (Jacques Tourneur, 1952), Stars In My Crown (Jacques Tourneur, 1950), The Halliday Brand (Joseph H. Lewis, 1957), The Horn Blows at Midnight (Raoul Walsh, 1945), Benilde ou A Virgem Mãe (Benilde or The Virgin Mother, Manoel de Oliveira, 1974), The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (Paul Newman, 1972), Piccadilly Incident (Herbert Wilcox, 1946), The Seventh Cross (Fred Zinnemann, 1944), L’Amour, l’après-midi (Chloé in the Afternoon, Éric Rohmer, 1972) , The Sins of Rachel Cade (Rachel Cade, Gordon Douglas, 1960/1), El mundo sigue (The World Goes On, Fernando Fernán-Gómez, 1963), La vida en un hilo (Life on a String, Edgar Neville, 1945), Plymouth Adventure (Clarence L. Brown, 1952), L’Oeil qui ment (Dark at Noon / Eyes and Lies) (Raúl Ruiz, 1992), Les trois couronnes du matelot (The Three Crowns of the Sailor, Raúl Ruiz, 1983), L’Hypothèse du tableau volé (The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting, Raúl Ruiz, 1978), Tanoshiki kana jinsei (This Happy Life, Mikio Narusē, 1944), Rien que les heures (Nothing But Time, Alberto Cavalcanti, 1926), Song of Love (Clarence L. Brown, 1947), Death Takes a Holiday (Mitchell Leisen, 1934), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Max Reinhardt & William Dieterle, 1935), Walk Softly, Stranger (Robert Stevenson, 1948/9/50), A Life Of Her Own (George Cukor, 1950), Pola X (Leos Carax, 1999), Intruder in the Dust (Clarence L. Brown, 1949), Les Voleurs de la nuit (Thieves After Dark, Samuel Fuller, 1983/4), Night has a Thousand Eyes (John V. Farrow, 1947/8), Strange Illusion (Out of the Night, Edgar G. Ulmer, 1945), Shiinomi Gakuen (The Shiinomi School, Hiroshi Shimizu, 1955), The Burglar (Paul Wendkos, 1955//7), Murder Is My Beat (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1955), Une simple histoire (A Simple Story, Marcel Hanoun, 1958/9), La vida por delante (Life Before Us, Fernando Fernán-Gómez, 1958), Malombra (Mario Soldati, 1942), The Jealous Lover (in The Story of Three Loves, Gottfried Reinhardt, 1952), Die Augen der Mumie Ma (The Eyes of the Mummy, Ernst Lubitsch, 1918), Fedra (Phaedra, Manuel Mur Oti, 1956), The Prowler (Cost of Loving, Joseph Losey, 1950), La Ville des Pirates (Rusticatio Civitatis Piratarum / City of Pirates, Raúl Ruiz, 1983), The Passionate Friends (One Woman’s Story, David Lean, 1948), The Reluctant Debutante (Vincente Minnelli, 1958), Yellowstone Kelly (Gordon Douglas, 1959), Smörgasbord / Cracking Up (Jerry Lewis, 1982), Made in Heaven (Alan Rudolph, 1987), Lumière d’Été (Summer Light, Jean Grémillon, 1943), 7th Cavalry (Joseph H. Lewis, 1956), Flashing Spikes (in Fred Astaire’s Premiere Theatre) (John Ford, 1962)

F. Very good pictures rediscovered or re-evaluated (not always for the best) by a new vision

4 Aventures de Reinette et Mirabelle (Éric Rohmer, 1986), The Treasure of Pancho Villa (George Sherman, 1955), I Died A Thousand Times (Stuart R. Heisler, 1955), Wundkanal (Gun Wound, Thomas Harlan, 1984), Tiyu huanghou (Queen of Sports, Sun Yu, 1934), L’Étranger / Lo straniero (The Stranger, Luchino Visconti, 1967), Joy of Living (Tay Garnett, 1938), Dossier secret (Mr. Arkadin) (French version of Confidential Report, Orson Welles, 1955), Os Fuzis (The Guns, Ruy Guerra, 1964), Rings on Her Fingers (Rouben Mamoulian, 1942), An American Dream (See You in Hell, Darling) (Robert Gist, 1966), The Smiling Lieutenant (Ernst Lubitsch, 1931), Mercado de futuros (formerly Demasiado futuro, Mercedes Álvarez, 2011), Casa Ricordi (Carmine Gallone, 1954), Born to Kill (Robert Wise, 1947), Généalogies d’un crime (Genealogies of a Crime, Raúl Ruiz, 1996), Comédie de l’innocence (Comedy of Innocence, Raúl Ruiz, 2000), Trois vies et une seule mort (Three Lives and Only One Death, Raúl Ruiz, 1995), Eskandarai, kaman we kaman (Iskanderiya, kaman we kaman/Iskanderija, kaman oue kaman) / Alexandrie, encore et toujours (Alexandria, Again and Forever, Youssef Chahine, 1990), Partiínií bilet (The Party Card, Ivan Píríev, 1936), The Lost Moment (Martin Gabel, 1947), The Farmer’s Daughter (H.C. Potter, 1947), The Unsuspected (Michael Curtiz, 1947), Thomas Graals bästa barn (Thomas Graal’s Best Child, Mauritz Stiller, 1918), La tragedia di un uomo ridicolo (The Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man, Bernardo Bertolucci, 1981), La Rupture (The Hitch, Claude Chabrol, 1970), In Name Only (John Cromwell, 1939), Juste avant la nuit (Just Before Nightfall, Claude Chabrol, 1971), One Hour With You (Ernst Lubitsch & George Cukor, 1932), Carson City (Andre de Toth, 1951), Sangaree (Edward Ludwig, 1953), Equilibrium (in The Story of Three Loves, Gottfried Reinhardt, 1952), Manhatta (Charles Sheeler & Paul Strand, 1921), Hardly Working (Jerry Lewis, 1979), Le Jeu de l’oie (Une fiction didactique à propos de la cartographie) (in Zig-Zag, Raúl Ruiz, 1980), Back Street (Robert Stevenson, 1941), Broadway Melody of 1940 (Norman Taurog, 1940), Bloodbrothers (Love of a Father, Robert Mulligan, 1978), Fighter Squadron (Raoul Walsh, 1948), Der lebende Leichnam (Das Ehegesetz) / Zhivoí trup (The Living Corpse, Fedor Ozep, 1929), Green Fire (Andrew Marton, 1954), Flesh (John Ford, 1932), The Big Country (William Wyler, 1958), Bresson ni vu ni connu (François Weyergans, 1965//94), Treasure of the Golden Condor (Delmer Daves, 1953), Champagne (Alfred Hitchcock, 1928), La Vocation suspendue (The Suspended Vocation, Raúl Ruiz, 1977), Nana (Jean Renoir, 1926), Sylvia (Gordon Douglas, 1964/5), L’Espion / The Defector (Raoul J. Lévy, 1966), Jeanne la Pucelle (Joan the Maid, Jacques Rivette, 1993), Justine (George Cukor, 1969), The Silver Cord (John Cromwell, 1933), Elvis: That’s the Way It Is – Special Edition (R. Denis Sanders, 1970//2000), Reigen (Rain, Joris Ivens & Mannus H.K. Franken, 1929), The Brink’s Job (William Friedkin, 1978), The Song of Songs (Rouben Mamoulian, 1932/3), Tod und Teufel (Death and Devil, Peter Nestler, 2009), Cover Girl (Charles Vidor, 1944), Damon Runyon’s “The Big Street” / The Big Street (Irving Reis, 1942), Sånt händer inte här (This Can’t Happen Here, Ingmar Bergman, 1950)

 

DAVID MELVILLE

Writer and lecturer, Edinburgh, UK.

Perhaps it’s no accident that the first two of my Top 5 were made originally for TV, while the last got next to no distribution and has taken two years to reach me. Yes, great artists do still make great films. But just try finding them at your local multiplex!

Mistérios de Lisboa (Mysteries of Lisbon, Raúl Ruiz, 2010)
As rich and subtle as an epic 19th century novel, this ranks with the greatest films of Carné (Les enfants du paradis) or Visconti (Il gattopardo/The Leopard). And that’s just the short version released to cinemas!

Mildred Pierce (Todd Haynes, 2011)
Movie melodrama in the grand tradition, this has a career-best performance from Kate Winslet and a star-making role for Evan Rachel Wood. One suspects even Joan Crawford might approve.

La piel que hábito (The Skin I Live In, Pedro Almodóvar, 2011)
The film to remind you why you once loved Almodóvar – a dark and dazzling blend of psychedelic horror, androgynous sex and Pop Art style. His best in years!

Black Swan (Darren Aronofsy, 2010)
At once profoundly erotic, darkly terrifying and swooningly beautiful, this is the greatest dance film since The Red Shoes and the greatest ‘girlie’ horror flick since Carrie. What is ballet but an aesthetically exquisite form of self-harm?

Visage (Face, Tsai Ming-liang, 2009)
A high fashion, high camp musical fantasia on the myth of Salomé (with gowns by Christian Lacroix) this rivals Matthew Barney’s Cremaster cycle as the most prodigally inventive film of the century so far. So why has almost nobody seen it?

Most overrated films

The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011) / Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011)
Two fragile and intimate stories – grotesquely overblown, absurdly over-hyped and swamped in bogus cosmic significance.
Off screen, the deaths of Elizabeth Taylor and Ken Russell made it that much harder to keep the forces of dullness at bay. If only they could have worked together!

 

OLAF MÖLLER

Cinephile, writer, translator and curator based in Cologne, Germany.

I turned 40 this May, during the Oberhausen International Short Film Festival, surrounded by people I love (with whom I could share that huge chocolate-donkey-topped cake I got from my selection committee sisters and brothers!). That was nice, and comforting, and soothing, even if it became quite a task to get all the presents grand and petite home safely. I’ve been wearing the tiny donkey pendant I got from my fellow Oberhausen fighteress Madeleine ever since, together with my silver cross; Christiane of the Fürchterlich sisters was the only one who instinctively understood that I’m a flower-guy; while my fellow members of the Ferroni Brigade’s Central Committee, TO1…, comrade Wurm (Politruk) and TO1…, comrade Huber (Minister of Humour), showed that very, very few know me as well as they do – thanks to their generosity, I can now always watch an AV-piece by John Pilger whenever I’m truly down to lighten up, and when even that doesn’t work, well, then a Jacques Demy film does, always, without fail, which they knew as well. I’m not sure what I did in some earlier existence to deserve them. Maybe I was an Egyptian Plover and picked their teeth clean when they were crocodiles, or something like that.

For long stretches of the year, we hastened through the days together, and if I still haven’t collapsed from too much of everything save life more ordinary, it’s due to them not letting that happen, taking care of me. Yet, probably the most pleasant days of 2011 I spend without them, in Finland, in mid-June, in Helsinki and Sodankylä. Peter von Bagh had invited me to come to the Midnight Sun Film Festival, to hold a mestariluokka about Soviet films from 1967 that celebrated The Revolution’s 50th Anniversary – which, of course, was just a “reason”. Finally I could visit Finland, something I’d been dreaming about since watching the ferries leave northwards from Travemünde harbour when I was a child. It certainly felt strange to finally embark on one of those ferries, same way that it was most special to finally have coffee at Fazer and see piles of their house brand’s sweets, which my parents always got on those Baltic Sea boat trips out into international waters where you could buy all kinds of goodies duty-free – the kind of stuff you do on holidays (my dad comes from the FR German north which is why we spend most summers there in a small town called Plön, where Veit Harlan shot parts of his 1943 colour masterpiece Immensee, as I later found out; also, some years ago, I met an extremely cute girl in Oberhausen whose family, it turned out, had owned Plön’s cinema back then, if I remember correctly). So, I got some real sights and smells and sounds to my movie-literature-music-derived ideas and visions and dreams of Finland. I got to spend serious time with Mika Taanila and his family even if we didn’t manage to go and see HJK play – next summer, I hope; Peter von Bagh made time on the day of my arrival for lunch and a visit to an excellent Aho & Soldan-exhibition, never looking nervous although the Midnight Sun Film Festival would start the next day and Il cinema ritrovato in another ten or so – admirable, definitely a man in command; in Sodankylä, I got to meet Anssi Mänttäri, discuss Spede Pasanen with Jukka Virtanen, play football with the one and only Atik Ismail, listen to Raimo Niemi’s reminiscences from his time as assistant director to Viktor Tregubovič (and not Edwin Laine) on the making of Luottamus (1975), and stroll through the woods with the ever-quizzically amused Terhi; I could bow to Jouko Aaltonen in honour of his Kenen joukoissa seisot (2006); I immensely enjoyed the company of my fellow Sodankylä-invitees Nick James and Veiko Õunpuu, was delighted as always by Athina Rachel Tsangari, and more than a little happy about Solomani Sise’s presence at some of the Sov-67-screenings (the master did some time travelling there: the films brought him back to the days when he studied at VGIK). And those weren’t by far all the wonderful people I got to meet and spend time with in Sodankylä and Helsinki. And mind: in-between all this, I also had to run a few errands and do some meetings for Oberhausen (one of which unexpectedly turned into a splendid project for the 2012 edition); and I had the honour and pleasure to prepare in sito the Ferroni Brigade Carte Blanche to which the good people of the Ljubljana International Film Festival had invited us (something we hope they didn’t regret – we certainly didn’t!). So much… so, so much. Still, in the end, those were the quiet days. And as if you hadn’t guessed: I’ll try to be back in 2012, this time with the sadly missed two-third of the Central Committee; we’ll certainly try.

As for the rest of the year: I wonder for how long we’ll ask ourselves how Jafar Panahi is doing, how Ài Wèiwèi is doing, how Japan will manage. I wonder about this vis-à-vis a culture that has shown itself to be capable of fêting itself for being sooooooo critical of authoritarian behaviour while indulging itself in authoritarian behaviour, seemingly without noticing, or simply without caring too much, if at all, as my man Gabe pointed out most poignantly in the Sight & Sound 2011 round up apropos the Cannes-Panahi-von Trier-paradox. While we’re at it: 2011 will probably go down in history as a disaster year for international festivaldom: Fremaux and Koslick got their contracts extended while Müller was replaced by a Fremaux-buddy who had nothing better to do than declare in his first interviews as the new Mostra-director that Venice should try to become more like Cannes, with certain Berlinale-aspects… Although I don’t want to be unjust: Program-wise, Venice did pretty okay under Barbera – back then; and not as way okay as under Müller. We will see. We certainly will.

Olaf Möller’s eleven friends 2011

Team manager team (films of the year)

anders, Molussien (Nicolas Rey, 2011)
Mišen (Target, Aleksandr Zel’dovič, 2011)

First team line-up (in strictly alphabetical order)

Alpis (Alps, Yorgos Lanthimos, 2011)
Anhey ghorhey de daan (Alms of the Blind Horse, Gurvinder Singh, 2011)
Brownian Movement (Nanouk Leopold, 2010)
A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg, 2011)
Die Falten des Königs (The Folds of the King, Matthias van Baaren, 2011)
Führung (Guided Tour, René Frölke, 2011)
Die Herde des Herren (The Flock of the Lord, Romuald Karmakar, 2011)
Lastuja – Taiteilijasuvun vuosisata (Splinters – A Century of an Artistic Family, Peter von Bagh, 2011)
Schakale und Araber (Jean-Marie Straub, 2011)
The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
Whores’ Glory (Michael Glawogger, 2011)

Substitutes

Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011); Eine Serie von Gedanken (A Series of Thoughts, Heinz Emigholz, 2011); Il se peut que la beauté ait renforcé notre résolution – Masao Adachi (It may be that beauty has strengthened our resolve – Masao Adachi, Philippe Grandrieux, 2011); Iz Tōkyō (From Tōkyō; Aleksej Aleksejevič German, 2011); J. Edgar (Clint Eastwood, 2011); Joule 3D (David Zamagni & Nadia Ranocchi, 2010); Notes on Film 05 Conference (Norbert Pfaffenbichler, 2011); Pa negre (Black Bread, Agustí Villaronga, 2010); HaShoter (Policeman, Nadav Lapid, 2011); Siglo ng Pagluluwal (Century of Birthing, Lav Diaz, 2011); The Sweetness of Mother’s Hair (Jana Debus, 2011); Unter Kontrolle (Under Control; Volker Sattel, 2011); Il villagio di cartone (The Cardboard Village, Ermanno Olmi, 2011)

Extended team

O Barão (The Baron, Edgar Pêra, 2011); Birmingham Ornament [Venice Version] (Andrej Sil’vestrov & Jurij Lejderman, 2011); The Color Wheel (Alex Ross Perry, 2011); Dyut meng gam (Life Without Principle, Johnnie To, 2011); Evolution (Megaplex) (Marco Brambilla, 2010); Faces (James Benning, 2011); La Folie Almayer (Almayer’s Folly, Chantal Akerman, 2011); Headshots (Lawrence Tooley, 2010); Heaven’s Story (Zeze Takahisa, 2010); Kalevet (Rabies, Aharon Keshales & Navot Popushado, 2010); Liknelsen om sådden – En berättelse ur Bibeln (Zoltán Nestler, 2011); The Lincoln Lawyer (Brad Furman, 2011); Macherovgaltis (Knifer, Iannis Ikonomidis, 2010); Marian ilmestys (The Annunciation, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, 2011); The Muppets (James Bobin, 2011); Ninifuni (Mariko Tetsuya, 2011); Notes Voyages en Russie 1989-90 (Notes about our Travels in Russia 1989-90, Yervant Gianikian & Angela Ricci-Lucchi, 2011); Peremirije (Truce, Svetlana Proskurina, 2010); Persona Beach (Georg Tiller, 2011); Schlafkrankheit (Sleeping Sickness; Ulrich Köhler, 2011); Sonchidi (The Golden Bird, Amit Dutta, 2011); Totem (Jessica Krummacher, 2011); Tao jie (A Simple Life, Ann Hui, 2011); Traduire (Translating, Nurith Aviv, 2010); War Planes (William E. Jones, 2011); Zamach (Assassination, Yael Bartana, 2011)

Olaf Möller’s eleven veterans 2011

Team manager team (revelations of the year)

Homo sapiens (Fiorella Mariani, 1978)
Naš marš (Our March, Aleksandr Šejn & Aleksandr Svetlov, 1970)

First team (line-up in strictly alphabetical order)

L’età del ferro (The Iron Age, Renzo Rossellini, Jr [& Roberto Rossellini], 1965)
Film n.13 (Luigi Veronesi, 1985)
IWF E 2105. !ko-Buschmänner. Südafrika, Kalahari – Wettstreit “Jäger und Tier” (Gestenspiel) (IWF E 2105. !ko Bushmen. South Africa, Kalahari – Contest “Hunter and Animal” (Game of Gestures), Dieter Heunemann, Hans-Joachim Heinz, 1974)
Kirkastettu sydän (The Translucent Heart, Ilmari Unho, 1943)
Kōjin kōjitsu (A Good Man, a Good Day, Minoru Shibuya, 1961)
Lidice (Pavel Háša, 1965)
Loviisa, Niskavuoren nuori emäntä (Louisa, Valentin Vaala, 1947)
Průzkumná skupina Otava (Václav Hapl, 1958)
Shoes (Lois Weber, 1916)
Le Six juin à l’aube (Sixth of June at Dawn, Jean Grémillon, 1945)
Tiānxià dìyī quán (King Boxer, Jeong Chang-hwa, 1972)

Substitutes

Alenka (Alyonka, Boris Barnet, 1961); Buffalo Bill in 27 Forms (Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd, 1958); La Danseuse orchidée (Woman of Destiny, Leonce Perret, 1928); Drak se vrací (The Dragon’s Return, Eduard Grečner, 1967); L’eclissi parziale di sole del 17 aprile 1912 (Luca Comerio, 1912); Es muß ein Stück vom Hitler sein (Walter Krüttner, 1962); Film n.2 – Caratteri (Luigi Veronesi, 1939); La follia di Almayer (Almayer’s Folly, Vittorio Cottafavi, 1972); Gabriel Over the White House (Gregory La Cava, 1933); Gingakei (The Galaxy, Masao Adachi, 1967); Le Japon pittoresque (Picturesque Japan, Société Pathé Frères, 1907); Kaberu no uma (Horse of Kaberu, Minao Kitamura, 1969); Męźczyźni (Men, Grzegorz Królikiewicz, 1969); Noi vivi & Addio Kira! (We the Living, Goffredo Alessandrini, 1942); Priključenija Sherlocka Holmsa i doktora Watsona. Dvadcatyj vek načinaetsja (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. The Twentieth Century Begins, Igor Maslennikov, 1986); Renate (Recha Jungmann, 1968); Ritorno a Khodorciur, Diario armeno (Return to Khodorciur, Armenian Diary, Yervant Gianikian & Angela Ricci Lucchi, 1986); Saang sei kyut (Duel to the Death, CingSiu Dung,1983); Tob & Lia (Michele Sambin, 1969); Tyttö kuunsillalta (The Girl from the Moon Bridge, Matti Kassila, 1953); Zichronot misphat Eichmann (Memories of the Eichmann Trial, David Perlov, 1979)

Extended team

A Charlie Parker (Leo de Berardinis & Perla Peragallo, 1970); Akujo no kisetsu (Season of Evil Women, Minoru Shibuya, 1958); Alye maki Issyk-Kulja (The Red Poppies of Issyk-Kul, Bolotbek Šamšiev, 1972); Bisturi, La mafia biancha (Secrets of a Nurse, Luigi Zampa, 1973); Black is (Aldo Tambelini, 1965); Black out (Aldo Tambelini, 1965); [Bobina circo] ([Togni Family], ~1940s); Il canto d’amore di Alfred Prufrock (Nico D’Alessandria, 1967); Il caso Valdemar (Ubaldo Magnaghi & Gianni Hoepli, 1936); Cercasi Gesù (Looking for Jesus, Luigi Comencini, 1982); The City (Axel Rupp, 1961); Concerto grosso (Václav Hapl, 1966); Cour de Grand-Duc de Schwerin de Mecklembourg – Son Altesse à la chasse au faisan (Court of the Grand Duc of Mecklenburg-Schwerin – His Highness Going Pheasant Hunting, Société Pathé Frères, 1914); Daleká cesta (Distant Journey, Alfred Radok, 1948); Dialóg 20 – 40 – 60 (Dialogue, Jerzy Skolimowski, Peter Solan, Zbyněk Brynych, 1968); Dirt (Piero Heliczer, 1965); Fantasmi del mare (Francesco De Robertis [& Vittorio Cottafavi], 1947); Film a strisce (la petit mort) (Michele Sambin, 1976); Film n.4 (Luigi Veronesi, 1940); Film n.9 (Luigi Veronesi, 1940); Film sans caméra F.S.C. No.1 (Giovanni Martedi, 1974); Gvozd’ v sapoge (Nail in the Boot, Michail Kalatozov, 1931); Humanic Varese (Hans Albala, 1959); IN/CONTRO/LUCE (Giovanna Puggioni, 1976); IWF D 1484. Jagd mit Pfeil und Bogen auf Beutelmäuse – Fa (West-Neugiunea, Zentrales Hochland) (IWF D 1484. Hunting for Dasyures with Bow and Arrow – Fa (Western New Guinea, Central Highlands), Wolfgang Nelke, 1976); Kolberg – Der letzte „Film der Nation“ (1964; Raimond Ruehl); Le Lancement du “Roma” par le Roi d’Italie (Launching of the Battle Cruiser “Roma” by the Italian King, Société Pathé Frères, 1907); La maestrina (The Schoolmarm, Giorgio Bianchi, 1942); Máo Zhǔxí dìbācì jiējiàn hóngweìbīng (Zhōngyāng xīnwén jìlù diànyǐngzhìpiànchǎng, 1967); Il mistero della Sindone (Salvatore Cerra, 1979); La Musicomanie (Émile Cohl, 1911); Nikdo nic neví (Nobody Knows Anything, Josef Mach, 1947); Njama ništo po-hubavo ot lošoto vreme (There Is Nothing Finer Than Bad Weather, Metodi Andonov, 1971); Noční host (The Night Time Guest, Otakar Vávra, 1961); Pähkähullu Suomi (Stir-Crazy Finland, Jukka Virtanen, 1967); Paolo e Francesca (La storia di Francesca da Rimini) (Legend of Love, Raffaello Matarazzo, 1950); La Parole perdue (Marc Scialom, 1969); Le Pécheur de perles (The Pearl Fisher, Ferdinand Zecca, 1907); Pirkus (Convulsion, Chen Sheinberg, 1998); The President Vanishes (William A. Wellman, 1934); Il prigioniero del re (The King’s Prisoner, Giorgio Rivalta & Richard Pottier, 1954); Prometheus (Vlado Kristl, 1966); Quattro stagioni (Giovanna Puggioni, 1999); Reise nach Ostende (Journey to Ostende, Klaus Wildenhahn, 1989); Schwarzbäuchige Fruchtfliege #1, first tests (Black Bellied Fruit Fly #1, first tests, Hannes Rickli, 2009); Scioperi a Torino (Carla & Paolo Gobetti, 1962); Seigiha (Righteousness, Minoru Shibuya, 1957); Sellaisena kuin sinä minut halusit (The Way You Wanted Me, Teuvo Tulio, 1944); SF-paraati (SF-Parade, Yrjö Norta, 1940); Spatiodynamisme (Tinto Brass & Nicolas Schöffer, 1958); Staryj Naezdnik (The Old Jockey, Boris Barnet, 1940); La tierra de los toros (Musidora, 1924); La Traversée de Paris (Pig Across Paris, Claude Autant-Lara, 1956); Triptih Agate Schwarzkobler (The Triptych of Agate Schwarzkobler, Matjaž Klopčič, 1997); Twist Parade (Jean Herman, 1962); Vakratunda Swaha (Ashish Avikunthak, 2010); Valkoiset ruusut (White Roses, Hannu Leminen, 1943); Verwirrung der Liebe (Love’s Confusion, Slatan Dudow, 1959); Vlast vítá (The Homeland Salutes, Jan Alfréd Holman, Otakar Vávra, 1945); Vzpomínka (Remembrance, František Vláčil, 1953); Wierność (Faith, Grzegorz Królikiewicz, 1969); Životopis (Curriculum vitae, Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1975)

 

BILL MOUSOULIS

Bill Mousoulis is the founding editor of Senses of Cinema. He is an Australian independent filmmaker now based in Europe.

1.  A Torinói ló (The Turin Horse, Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011)
2.  The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
3.  Hors Satan (Outside Satan, Bruno Dumont, 2011)
4.  Bir zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)
5.  Proti ili (Raw Material, Christos Karakepelis, 2011)
6.  Shut Down (Nicholas Nedelkopoulos, 2011)
7.  Le gamin au vélo (The Kid with a Bike, Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, 2011)
8.  Treis Meres Eftihias (Three Days Happiness, Dimitri Athanitis, 2011)
9.  The Silent Mangoes (George Goularas, 2011)
10. We Need to talk about Kevin (Lynne Ramsay, 2011)

 

PETER NAGELS

Melbourne-based cinephile, librarian and dream researcher.

You are Here (Daniel Cockburn, 2010)
Mistérios de Lisboa (Mysteries of Lisbon, Raúl Ruiz, 2010)
Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011)
Source Code (Duncan Jones, 2011)
Somewhere (Sofia Coppola, 2010)
The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011)
The Guard (John Michael McDonagh, 2011)

DVDs

Savage Messiah (Ken Russell, 1972)

Mistérios de Lisboa (Mysteries of Lisbon, Raúl Ruiz, 2010)
Six DVD edition including the six-episode television series version.

 

JAMES L. NEIBAUR

Film historian and educator whose latest books include Early Charlie Chaplin: The Artist as Apprentice at Keystone Studios (Scarecrow Press) and Stan Without Ollie: The Stan Laurel Solo Films (McFarland). He is currently writing a book on the silent films of Harry Langdon

History seemed to be a recurring theme in most of the better films of 2011. Here are ten that I found particularly interesting:

The Artist (Michel Hazanvicius, 2011)
The idea of producing a black and white, silent film during an era where the most sought after box office demographic may likely have no idea there ever was such a thing is a rather courageous endeavour. Simply revisiting another era of filmmaking would not be enough. The story, set in 1927, deals with a silent movie star who fears his career will soon end with the advent of talking pictures. Thus, writer-director Hazanvicius explains the process as he presents it. That such a film enjoys critical acclaim and mainstream attention gives one hope for the future of cinema.

Horrible Bosses (Seth Gordon, 2011)
Tossing together a team of disparate characters with the same surreal quest – to murder their respective employers – allows director Gordon to provide a consistent zaniness that is contagious enough. The performers chew the scenery with gusto and seem to be enjoying what they’re doing.

Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)
An affectionate, accurate homage to cinema’s beginnings with a youngster discovering that the old man who shares his connection to gadgetry is actually magician-cum-filmmaker Georges Mélies, whose early experimental cinema had far reaching influence. While providing the necessarily rousing 3D entertainment, Scorsese manages to convey his obvious interest in the subject to inspire the viewer. A perfect world would have younger moviegoers subsequently investigating Mélies’ work on YouTube and create a necessary frame of historical reference

J. Edgar (Clint Eastwood, 2011)
Eastwood’s status as one of the veteran directors whose career dates back to the American studio system permeates even his most recent films with a discernible and welcome old school perspective. His decidedly overlong look at FBI director Hoover benefits from this presentation by showing the title character as formidable, complicated and sometimes disturbing, while never extending beyond conventional narrative ideas. As a result, the story is more informative and interesting, benefiting further from a bravura performance by Leonardo Di Caprio in the title role

Martha Marcy May Marlene (Sean Durkin, 2011)
Psychological study of a woman’s attempt to separate herself from her past, where her immersion in a suppressive cult resulted in a host of emotional problems. This could easily have toppled into shallow TV Movie fare, but writer-director Durkin manages to tap into a dynamic star-making performance by Elizabeth Olsen (kid sister of the Mary Kate and Ashley cottage industry), and never settles for pat solutions.

Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011)
Allen’s affection for 1920s Paris, populated by a gaggle of Lost Generation writing icons, is visited by a modern day novelist (Owen Wilson playing the Woody prototype). Allen chooses to present characters like Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and Pablo Picasso by relying on stereotypes, and without any irony, but somehow manages to make it all palatable. It is arguably the filmmaker’s best work since 1989′s Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Moneyball (Bennett Miller, 2011)
Often films about baseball relegate themselves to sappy sentimentality (Pride of the Yankees, Bang the Drum Slowly, Field of Dreams) or wry comedy (Kill the Umpire, Bull Durham, Major League). With Moneyball, the idea to present the area of business and promotion behind the game is offbeat and interesting. Based on a true story.

Road to Nowhere (Monte Hellman, 2010)
The separation of the realistic and the formalistic is investigated in this dark look at independent filmmaking as a young man attempts to create a movie version of a famous crime, and casts a woman whose resemblance to her femme fatale role is more than a bit unsettling. The filmmaker, extending beyond his project and becoming involved in true-life crime, shows us in tight, suspenseful terms, how illusions can invade reality. Replaces Two Lane Blacktop (1971) as director Hellman’s masterpiece.

Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
It is something of a challenge for any filmmaker, even one as formidable as Malick, to create something interesting out of a central character’s soul searching attempt to understand his life’s true meaning. With a strong performance by Sean Penn, Malick is able to draw even the most skeptical viewer into this story of filial anguish and disillusionment.

Win Win (Thomas McCarthy, 2011)
Usually films about high school athletics are tired, sentimental affairs about maverick coaches leading a ramshackle team to victory. This is a character study about an idealistic wrestling coach who doubles as a small-time lawyer, and his attempt to understand the concept of what is right or wrong in regard to what is best for himself and his family. Clichés involving rebellious students with family issues, neglect of the elderly, and the frustration of hard work netting limited success are each given a fresh and interesting interpretation.

And, as with any year, there is a wealth of misfires. Here are my candidates for the worst of 2011:

50/50 (Jonathan Levine, 2011)
Writer Will Reiser’s decision to recall his triumph over a cancer diagnosis by applying equal parts comedy and drama is commendable, but, sadly, these elements clash. The central character’s bemused denial and angry acceptance is overshadowed by a best friend character that does little more than maintain a running commentary of one-liners that are supposed to be edgy and daring, but come off as self absorbed and cruel. Uneven and dull, this viewer’s inability to embrace, or identify with, the central character destroyed the film’s attempted impact.

Bridesmaids (Paul Feig, 2011)
The massive popularity of this perfectly awful film is less bothersome than the critical reaction to it, with unnerving proclamations like “Women can be funny too” – something that had been proven as far back as Keystone comedienne Mabel Normand in 1914. That a food poisoning sequence complete with vomiting and explosive diarrhea appears to be the film’s most fondly remembered highlight speaks volumes as to its significance or projected longevity.

Captain America, the First Avenger (Joe Johnston, 2011)
If we remove all sense of narrative structure, capability of performance, and understanding of history, but leave in an abundance of razzle-dazzle special effects, the result is this leaden example of form over substance. As with many super hero extravaganzas, this is just a lot of expensive gadgetry that amounts to precisely nothing.

The Dilemma (Ron Howard, 2011)
Vince Vaughn catches Wynona Ryder cheating on his buddy Kevin James, but doesn’t know how to deal with the situation. Meanwhile, he maintains a commitment phobia toward Jennifer Connelly. The women are attractive and shallow, the men are immature fools, the situations are convenient and predictable, and an Oscar winning director offers a supremely mindless comedy where his kid brother Clint (of Gentle Ben fame) turns in the best performance.

Notable DVD releases of 2011

Buster Keaton on blu-ray (Kino)
The finest work from cinema’s most creative comedy filmmaker has been remastered from the best existing source material, including, in some cases, the original camera negative. A disc containing all 19 of Keaton’s two reel comedies, as well as discs offering his features The General, Steamboat Bill, Jr., Sherlock Jr., Battling Butler, Seven Chances, Go West and The Three Ages have all been updated in this manner. The restorations are consistently impressive, while some are especially remarkable. Keaton’s masterpiece The General is beautifully remastered from the original camera negative. The colour opening sequence of Seven Chances has been enhanced to the fullness of its original beauty.

DW Griffith on blu-ray (Kino)
Kino continues its impressive remastering of the American cinema’s richest and most rewarding productions by releasing two of pioneer director Griffith’s most significant films, including the controversial Birth of a Nation and his quintessential melodrama Way Down East. Despite its uncomfortable post-reconstruction southern racism, Birth of a Nation should be assessed for its enormous historical and aesthetic importance to the developing language of the motion picture. Way Down East, with the iconic image of frightened Lillian Gish trapped on a river’s ice floe in the middle of a snowstorm, shows Griffith at his most inspired and indulgent. Each film contains the seeds of what cinema was, is, and may forseeably become.

 

ANDY NORTON

George Harrison: Living in the Material World (Martin Scorsese, 2011)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Thomas Alfredson, 2011)
Hawaiian Vacation (Gary Rydstrom, 2011)
Real Steel (Shawn Levy, 2011)
Rango (Gore Verbinski, 2011)

 

DARRAGH O’DONOGHUE

Archivist working in Dublin.

Top five

The Deep Blue Sea (Terence Davies, 2011)
Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries) (Kiran Rao, 2010)
Forbrydelsen (The Killing, Kristoffer Nyholm et al, 2007)
Whereas silent serials and Rivette’s epics warped time and space by addition and repetition, this 20-hour detective drama subjected them to relentless focus. Made The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011) look like the glorified, homophobic TV episode it is.
Jûsan-nin no shikaku (13 Assassins, Miike Takashi, 2010)
La piel que habito (The Skin I Live in, Pedro Almodóvar, 2011)

With respect to

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (Adam Curtis, 2011)
Beginners (Mike Mills, 2010)
Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Werner Herzog, 2010)
From the Opposite Side (Clemens von Wedemeyer, 2007)
Kaboom (Gregg Araki, 2010)
Mildred Pierce (Todd Haynes, 2011)
Le quattro volte (Michelangelo Flammartino, 2010)
Jodaie Nader az Simin (A Separation, Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
Submarine (Richard Ayaode, 2010)
True Grit (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2010)

Problematic “masterpieces”

Underwater Noise of Rain (Lane Hall and Lisa Moline, 2008)

Shtikat Haarchion (Warsaw Ghetto: The Unfinished Film / A Film Unfinished, Yael Hersonski, 2010)

In both cases the viewer has to mentally extract the astonishing original films – footage from the archive of marine biologist Rudi Strickler, and rushes from an unfinished Nazi propaganda movie respectively – from art-installation/documentary frames inadequate to them. Incidentally, for the year’s best film writing see Stuart Liebman’s article on Hersonski’s film in Cineaste vol. 36, no. 3, Summer 2011, pp. 15-19.

Duds and disappointments

Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)
Noruwei no mori (Norwegian Wood, Anh Hung Tran, 2010)
Elle s’appelait Sarah (Sarah’s Key, Gilles Paquet-Brenner, 2011)
A film so crass even Kristin Scott Thomas looks bad.
The Story of Film: An Odyssey (2011, Mark Cousins)
Cousins had seven years to correct and rethink the problems with and errors in his book, but this 15-part series compounds them – films and people misidentified and misinterpreted, the sanctimonious “global” scope undermined by its Western filter (e.g. Guru Dutt as the “Hindi Minnelli” etc) – and made worse by that insufferable, patronising narration.
The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2010)
The worst excesses of Stan Brakhage, Stanley Kubrick, Andrei Tarkovsky, and Vincent Ward poured into a blender, and supped eagerly by fawning exegetes. Even the grit of Brad Pitt – so memorable in Moneyball (Bennett Miller, 2011) – can’t make this slush stick.

Best DVD

Silent Naruse, Eclipse, 2011.

Worst DVD

Histoire(s) du cinéma (1989-1998, Jean-Luc Godard), Olive Films, 2011
Shoddy treatment of the most important work in the medium: inept and ignorant subtitles (font, placement, translation and identification of citations), weak sound and image, no extras.

Best actor

Brendan Gleeson in The Guard (John Michael McDonagh, 2011)
Like the great monstres sacres of cinema (Michel Simon, Marlon Brando, Günter Lamprecht, latter-day Daniel Day Lewis), Gleeson uses his voice like a limb of his body, and plays that body like a musical instrument, with film and supporting cast providing unobtrusive orchestral setting. (A brief mention for Liam Neeson’s turn in the under-rated and misunderstood Life’s Too Short [Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, 2011]. Who knew he was so funny?)

Best actress

Rachel Weisz in The Deep Blue Sea
The most rapturous suicide attempt in movies; a much-derided playwright re-imagined, re-staged, and recited as oratorio; the viewer’s head barely staying on with the swooning. The whole uncompromising vision impossible without Weisz’s selfless generosity.

 

SVEN ERIK OLSEN

Artist and critic residing in Minneapolis.

1. The Mill and the Cross (Lech Majewski, 2011)
2. Melancholia
(Lars von Trier, 2011)
3. The Tree of Life
(Terrence Malick, 2011)
4. Des homes et des dieux (Of Gods and Men, 
Xavier Beauvoir, 2010)
5. La piel que habito (The Skin I Live In, Pedro Almodóvar, 2011)
6. Coriolanus(Ralph Fiennes, 2011)
7. Margaret
(Kenneth Lonergan, 2011)
8. We Need to Talk About Kevin
(Lynne Ramsay, 2011)
9. A Dangerous Method
(David Cronenberg, 2011)
10. Martha Marcy May Marlene
(Sean Durkin, 2011)

 

GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS

General Manager of film distributor Accent Film Entertainment, based in Melbourne, Australia.

1. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
2. Jodaie Nader Az Simin (A Separation, Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
3. The Descendants (Alexander Payne, 2011)
4. Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011)
5. Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011)
6. Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)
7. Martha Marcy May Marlene (Sean Durkin, 2011)
8. A Torinói ló (The Turin Horse, Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011)
9. The Innkeepers (Ti West, 2011)
10. Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt, 2010)

 

ANTONI PERIS

Writes for Miradas de Cine and Transit online sites.

1. Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki, 2011)
2. Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (A Separation, Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
3. Los pasos dobles (Isaki Lacuesta, 2011)
4. 4:44 Last Day On Earth (Abel Ferrara, 2011)
5. Himizu (Sion Sono, 2011))
6. Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011)
7. Cold Fish (Sion Sono, 2010)
8. Bookchong Banghyang (The Day He Arrives, Hong Sang Soo, 2011)
9. O stranho caso de Angélica (The Strange Case of Angelica, Manoel de Oliveira, 2010)
10. Good-bye Mr. Christie (Phil Mulloy, 2010)
11. Le quattro volte (The Four Times, Michelangelo Frammartino, 2010)
12. The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (Steven Spielberg, 2011)
13. L’illusion comique (Screen Illusion, Mathieu Amalric, 2010)

Overrated
A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg, 2011)

 

JIT PHOKAEW

A Bangkok-based cinéphile.

Favourite foreign films

1. Zoetrope (Rouzbeh Rashidi, 2011)
2. Out 1, noli me tangere (Jacques Rivette, 1971)
3. Crainquebille (TV film from the series Au siècle de Maupassant: Contes et nouvelles de XIXème siècle, Philippe Monnier, 2010)
4. Incendies (Denis Villeneuve, 2010)
5. Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011)
6. Lourdes (Jessica Hausner, 2009)
7. Ying chun ge zhi Fengbo (The Fate of Lee Khan, King Hu, 1973)
8. Porndogs: The Adventures of Sadie (Greg Blatman, 2009)
9. L’insurgée (Restless, Laurent Perreau, 2009)
10. Un Borghese piccolo piccolo (An Average Little Man, Mario Monicelli, 1977)
11. Une exécution ordinaire (An Ordinary Execution, Marc Dugain, 2009)
12. Je ne dis pas non (Can’t Say No, Iliana Lolic, 2009)
13. Fais-moi plaisir! (Please, Please Me!, Emmanuel Mouret, 2009)
14. Une femme pas comme les autres (A Woman Like No Other, Abdulaye Dao, 2008)
15. Écoute voir… (See Here My Love, Hugo Santiago, 1978)
16. Sleeping Beauty (Julia Leigh, 2011)
17. Dyut meng gam (Life Without Principle, Johnnie To, 2011)
18. Weekend cu mama (Weekend with my Mother, Stere Gulea, 2009)
19. Love for Sale (segment in Camellia, Jang Joon-hwan, 2010)
20. Husk (Brett Simmons, 2011)

Favourite Thai films

1. Yang noi / Yang klang / Yang mak (Leastways / Moderate Ways / Extreme Ways, Tritos Termarbsri, 2011)
2. Nakorn asajarn Trilogy: Collapse, Might, Nightmare (Wachara Kanha, 2011)
3. Tee rak (Eternity, Sivaroj Kongsakul, 2010)
4. Mother (unfinished version) (Vorakorn Ruetaivanichkul, 2011)
5. Puen (Friends, Pichanund Laohapornsvan, 2010)
6. Sing-nai (Distance, Chonlasit Upanigkit, 2010)
7. Rug jud nug (Love, Not Yet, Pairach Khumwan, Pass Patthanakumjon, Anuchit Muanprom, Intira Charoenpura, Chakorn Chaiprecha, 2011)
8. Hi-so (Aditya Assarat, 2011)
9. Chaeki-Chaeue (Buncha Muhae, 2011)
10. Bang-kerd-kloaw (Kamontorn Eakwattanakij, 2011)
11. Panya Renu (Bin Banloerit, 2011)
12. Kwam fung kong jakrawal (The Fancifulness of the Universe, Krit Twinwawit, 2010)
13. Pai dang (Red Bamboo, Permpol Cheyaroon, 1979)
14. Hug na Sarakam (Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, 2011)
15. Bangkok Kung Fu (Yuthlert Sippapak, 2011)

Favourite foreign short films

1. Mittelwerk Express (Jean-Baptiste Alazard, 2010)
2. CD (Campanilla, 1997)
3. Lovers & Enemies (Dilmana Yordanova, Mihaela Kavdanska, 2010)
4. Esto pasa mucho (This Happens a Lot, Estibaliz Sabada, 2000)
5. Puerta beta (Beta Door, Chus Domínguez, 2009)
6. Bow (Rannvá Káradóttir, 2010)
7. More Zhelaniy (Sea of Desires, Shota Gamisonia, 2010)
8. L’année de l’Algérie (The Year of Algeria, May Bouhada, 2009)
9. Split (Kitty Green, 2008)
10. T’embrasser une dernière fois (To Kiss You One Last Time, Olivier Jahan, 2010)

Favourite Thai short films

1. Pli ruk…mai roo roy (Forget Me Not, Naphat Chaithiangthum, 2010)
2. Dod (Why Do You Jump?, Korn Kanogkekarin, 2011)
3. Saita rubfung (Gaze and Hear, Nontawat Numbenchapol, 2010)
4. Pipitapun hang sang (Employees Leaving the Lumière Factory, Chaloemkiat Saeyong, 2010)
5. Let’s Eat (Wasunan Hutawach, 2011)
6. Erotic Fragments No. 1, 2, 3 (Anucha Boonyawatana, 2011)
7. Home Computer (Teeranit Siangsanoh, 2011)
8. Ngarn nakkattarerk kong pootprai (The Festival of Demon Spirit, Sittiporn Racha, 2011)
9. Rajprasong (Nok Paksnavin, 2011)
10. This House Have Ghost (Eakarach Monwat, 2011)
11. Passing Through the Night (Wattanapume Laisuwanchai, 2011)
12. Gone rug ja glai pen kwam pookpun (Blue Love, It Khaena, 2011)
13. Tribhumikhata (Imperial Earths, Phatthi Buntuwanit, 2011)
14. Pithee perd (Opening Ceremony, Palakorn Kleungfak, 2010)
15. Sing (Sa Sakawee, 2011)
16. Spider (Tossapol Boonsinsukh, 2011)
17. Chingcha (Swing, Weerapong Wimuktalop, 2011)
18. Dining Table (Wararak Thienkunakorn, 2011)
19. Klai (Distinction, Tulapop Saenjaroen, 2011)
20. Na Ohm yark mee pua (Flush Tank, Tossaphon Riantong, 2011)
21. Parp muen krueng tua kong Crazy C (A Portrait of Crazy C, Eakalak Maleetipawan, 2010)
22. Cyber chimplee (Utopia Cyber, Pakawat Panmanee, 2011)
23. Planking (Chulayarnnon Siriphol, 2011)
24. The Room (Pesang Sangsuwan, 2011)
25. Plagyag (Akkapon Ritjitpian, 2011)
26. Walay tog palueg (Crystallization Time, Krisda Phongphaew, 2011)
27. Barn pee pob (The Pob’s House, Ukrit Sa-nguanhai, 2010)
28. The Mission 2: Diamond Battle of the Underground (Sompong Soda, 2011)
29. Essence de Femme (Chama Lekpla, 2011)
30. Jin ta (Imagination, Somsak Tepmalai, 2010)

Favourite documentaries

1. V Monument (Hamer Salvala, 2009)
2. I Covered My Eyes (Paul Turano, 2008)
3. Them (Artur Zmijewski, 2007)
4. 6 PM (Sinjai Piraisangjun, Palakorn Jiamtiranat, 2011)
5. Les Arrivants (Claudine Bories, Patrice Chagnard
6. Disorder (Huang Weikai, 2009)
7. The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu (Andrei Ujica, 2010)
8. Me and My Video Diary (Tani Thitiprawat, 2010)
9. Kamkuen sudtai (Our Last Night Together, Wachara Kanha, 2010)
10. Le soleil et la mort (Sun and Death, Bernard Debord, 2006)
11. Matoom (Benjamas Rattanaphech, 2011)
12. Sunday (Siwapond Cheejedreiw, 2010)
13. Nénette (Nicolas Philibert, 2010)
14. Nam tuam krungtep pee 2485 (Bangkok Flood in 1942, Tae Prakartwuttisarn, 1942)
15. Rian churn tan pratarn glao rai ngarn wattooprasong kong kronggarn (And Now the President Will Talk About the Objectives of the Project, Sitthichai Pleantongdee, 2011)
16. Sarn rueng sang (Fluorescent, Chaiwat Wiansantia, 2011)
17. Hong kong chun lae rueng kong pom (My Room and I, Ka-nes Boonyapanachoti, 2010)
18. Bangkok: Fried Insects at any Hour of the Day (Matthias Heeder, Monika Hielscher, 2007, TV film)
19. Interviewing Objects #2 (Eulalia Valldosera, 2008)
20. Undo (Cierlito Tabay, Moreno Benigno, 2011)

Favourite animations

1. The External World (David O’Reilly, 2010)
2. Something Red Hairy Unfocused (Laura Victoria Delgado, 2010)
3. Kongko Happy Kitchen (Euakwan Komolmanus, 2011)
4. Five Centimeters per Second (Makoto Shinkai, 2007)
5. The Trembling Veil of Bones (Matthew Talbot-Kelly, 2010)
6. Mary and Max (Adam Elliot, 2009)
7. Pleng pra artit (Sunset Love Song, Rutt Jumpamule, 2010)
8. Spain Loves You (Isabel Herguera, 1988)
9. Lascars (Round Da Way, Albert Pereira-Lazaro, Emmanuel Klotz, 2009)
10. Kuky se vrací (Kooky, Jan Sverák, 2010)

Favourite video installations

1. Anthem (Proxy, 2011, shown in an exhibition curated by Josef Ng at WTF Gallery)
2. Non-Zero-Sum (Mattia Sedda, 2011)
3. Someone Is Watching You (Chalisa Charttrakulchai, 2011, multimedia installations with moving images from CCTV)
4. A Dedicated Machine (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2009)
5. Merging of Painting and Video (Vichaya Mukdamanee, 2011)
6. Harmony (Yu Xingze, 2003)
7. Happiness (Zhang Peili, 2006)
8. I Want to Be Famous (Kunlapak Chintanakorn, 2011)
9. Welcome to the World of Happiness (Ronarong Butthongkaew, 2010)
10. Artemisia Gentileschi’s Judith Beheading Holofernes, Jeff Koons’ Untitled, and Thai Villagers (Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, 2011)

Favourite TV series/mini-series

1. Marion Mazzano (Marc Angelo, 2009)
2. Yann (from the TV series Le Tuteur, Jean Sagols, 2007)
3. Tipping the Velvet (Geoffrey Sax, 2002)
4. Quand vient la peur (When Fear Strikes, Élisabeth Rappeneau, 2010)
5. Signature (Hervé Hadmar, 2011)

 

FIDEL JESUS QUIROS

Havana-based translator and editor.

To list the best films of the year in Cuba is a hard task, since, even when the exhibition network consists of a few movie theatres, a lot of recent films are exhibited on DVD. In addition the film year is split like a triptych hinged by the previous year’s Havana Films Festival (each December), so in this case 2010 and the 2011 festival, which exhibit films from the festival circuit, with most films not yet commercially released, and the Cuban films being theatrically released the following year. So here I comment on films that are to be released, seen and discussed through 2011 and into 2012.

From the 2010 festival was Gaspar Noé’s Enter the Void, an electrifying cinematic experience, totally out of the ordinary; Karim Ainouz’s Viajo porque preciso, volto porque te amo (Travel Because I Have to, I Come Back Because I Love You) which surprised with his poetic mixture of subjective narrative and documentary film-like visuals; Marco Bellocchio’s Vincere, proof of the against-all-crisis capacity of the Italian cinema to create masterpieces.

Among national films to be released were Memorias del Desarrollo, Miguel Coyula’s new view of Tomás Gutierrez Alea`s classic Memories of Underdevelopment, and Esteban Insausti’s Larga distancia, a creative look at the issue of the emigration in Cuba and one of the most challenging works of today’s young Cuban filmmakers

Just after the 2010 festival came Javier Fuentes León’s Contracorriente, a Colombian-Peruvian coproduction, a crowd- and critics-pleaser that balances all aspect in its careful narrative and visuals presentation of a long-misrepresented topic, homosexuality.

Among 2010’s surprise of the tangle of films on DVD released by the Cuban movie theatre I could single out Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone, a gorgeous naturalist independent that risks its female initiation narrative to the edge of suspense. And we are all equally tempted to include in our list Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech, superb in all quarters as the British filmmakers stops to be critical about themselves for the first time.

Yet before 2011 ended, the Havana Festival struck back again with an invasion of brand-new Latin American films and a bunch of films from international film festivals, some not even ever screened, for example, the press screening of Siete dias en La Habana, a glance at Havana today by seven directors – Benicio Del Toro, Julio Medem, Gaspar Noé, Elia Suleiman, Juan Carlos Tabío, Pablo Trapero, Laurent Cantet – which will surely have its world premiere at a relevant 2012 international film festival; Polish filmmaker Feliks Falk’s Joanna, simply a great film that remembers the humanist mission of art amid the discredit of the cult of violence in the contemporary audiovisual environment; on the opposite site there was the “narrative for narrative” of another Polish film, Pawel Sala’s Matka Teresa od Kototów (Mother Teresa of the Cats), presenting many topics of resonance. I close my selection with the committed Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s Howl, screened on a rainy night, while many spectators left the theatre appalled at the aesthetic freedom of its narrative, I went home with the certitude that the cinematic year was over at least in Havana.

So here is my 2011 best films list, a list they are in for many reasons beyond being strictly, of course, the best films of the year.

Screened at the 2010 Havana Film Festival
Enter the Void (Gaspar Noé, 2009)
Memorias del Desarrollo (Memories of Overdevelopment, Miguel Coyula, 2010)
Larga distancia (Long Distance, Esteban Insausti, 2011)
Viajo porque preciso, volto porque te amo (Travel Because I Have to, I Come Back Because I Love You, Karim Ainouz, 2010)
Vincere (Marco Bellocchio, 2009)

Just at the end of 2010
Contracorriente (Javier Fuentes León, 2010)

Theatrically released on DVD during 2011
Winter’s Bone (Debra Granik, 2010)
The King’s Speech (Tom Hooper, 2010)

Screened at the 2011 Havana Film Festival
Siete dias en La Habana (Benicio Del Toro, Julio Medem, Gaspar Noé, Elia Suleiman, Juan Carlos Tabío, Pablo Trapero, Laurent Cantet, 2012)
Joanna (Feliks Falk, 2011)
Matka Teresa od Kototów (Mother Teresa of Cats, Pawel Sala, 2010)
Howl (Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, 2010)

 

MARCOS RIBAS DE FARIA

Brazilian critic who writes for the website web4fun. He also wrote for the magazines Filme e Cultura and Guia de Filmes, where he was assistant editor, and was the film critic for the magazines Opinião, Jornal do Brasil, O Jornal and Última Hora, and for the website No.com.

I would like to register that I just mentioned movies commercially shown in Rio during this year:

1. Loong Boonmee raleuk chat (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2010)
2. Io sono L’amore (I Am Love, Luca Guadagnino, 2009)
3. Somewhere (Sofia Coppola, 2010)
4. Le gamin au vélo (The Kid with a Bike, Jean Pierre e Luc Dardenne, 2011)
5. Never Let Me Go (Mark Romanek, 2010)
6. Super 8 (J.J. Abrams, 2011)
7. Restless (Gus Van Sant, 2011)
8. Les amours imaginaires (Heartbeats, Xavier Dolan, 2010)
9. Source Code (Duncan Jones, 2011)
10. Des hommes et des dieux (Of Gods and Men, Xavier Beauvois, 2010)

 

PETER RIST

Teaches at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and contributes regularly to the online film journal Offscreen.

R.I.P. film (not “cinema”): 2011

The year 2011 will surely go down in history as the last year where we could expect to go to the cinema in North America and regularly watch a 35mm (or 16mm) print. In the fall, we learned that the largest downtown multiplex in Montreal was switching over completely and permanently to digital projection. (Only the IMAX theatre would occasionally show film prints.) Thus, it was nice that December would see the release of two works paying homage to the history of celluloid film, Michel Haznavicius’ silent feature The Artist, which was shot on black-and-white 35mm film stock, and Martin Scorsese’s 3D (but two-colour) Hugo, based on a children’s book, that, in its last hour, beautifully evokes the magical early cinema of Georges Méliès. I like to think that Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky’s black-and-white, The Turin Horse deliberately evokes the end-of-the-world as the end of film – it was also shot on 35mm, and he says will make no more films – and, even though Lars von Trier shot his similarly apocalyptic Melancholia with digital cameras, he may also be evoking the end of the Earth as the end of film.

Indeed, there was an unusually cosmic shape to serious “art films” in 2011, most notably with the divisive The Tree of Life, which, I for one, admired as a genuinely experimental film that remains ideologically ambiguous despite many claiming its director Malick to be revealing himself here as a “born again Christian”. It was another good year for Latin American cinema, with a few 2010 films obtaining a limited release locally – including Pablo Trapero’s Carancho (Argentina), Patricio Guzmán’s Nostalgia de la luz (on my “best list” last year), Daniel and Diego Vera’s Octubre (Peru), and José Padilha’s Brazilian blockbuster Tropa de Elite 2 – O Inimigo Agora É Outro (Elite Squad 2 – The Enemy Within) – and numerous other very good films that I saw for the first time in 2011, including: Heddy Honigmann’s 2008 documentary El olvido, filmed in Lima, Peru; Cristián Jiménez’s Bonsái (2011, Chile); Milagros Mumenthaler’s Abrir puertas y ventanas (Back to Stay, 2011, Argentina); Gerardo Naranjo’s Miss Bala (Mexico, 2011); Marité Ugás’ El chico que miente (The Kid Who Lies, 2011, Venezuela); and, yet another black-and-white homage, this time to the Uruguayan film archive, La vida útil (A Useful Life, Federico Veiroj, 2010).

I should also mention Paz Fabrega’s Agua fría de mar (Cold Water of the Sea, 2010), which shared the Best Film prize at the FCLM (Latin American film festival) in Montreal, and congratulate the Cinémathèque Québécoise (CQ) on mounting a major retrospective of Brazilian documentarist Eduardo Coutinho’s work (as well as for their Jean Epstein and Edward Yang series and the truly amazing September of Japanese cinema, when 60 different film screenings were programmed). One wonders how archives and film preservationists will manage if (or, rather “when”) Kodak declares bankruptcy, and, I’m very sympathetic to the British cineastes who are increasingly determined to keep filming on 16mm even though there is no longer any 16mm processing lab working in the United Kingdom. One such filmmaker is Ben Rivers, whose work impressed me in 2011. I was horrified, though, to have to watch one of his 16mm color films, Slow Action, squeezed into the 1.33:1 “flat” aspect ratio because the screening facility where it was showing no longer had access to a 16mm anamorphic lens!! [If you are reading this Ben, I can say that we would love to invite you to Concordia University one of these days, where we are equipped to show your wonderful films the way they are supposed to be shown!] I should also note that the most beautiful film I saw in 2011 was a 35mm print of Tee rak, directed by Sivaroj Kongsakul from Thailand, while the most emotionally moving new film I saw was from China, Li Yu’s Guan yin, also made on 35mm, and viewed in the same format.

Best 12 films of the year (in the order in which I saw them)

Copie conforme (Certified Copy, Abbas Kiarostami, 2010)
The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
Shi (Poetry, Lee Chang-dong, 2010)
In film nist (This is Not a Film, Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, 2011)
El chico que miente (The Kid Who Lies, Marité Ugás, 2011)
Amin (Shahin Parhami, 2011)
Winner of the Best Asian Film at the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, this is my choice of Best Canadian Film and Best Documentary.
Shura (Demons, Toshio Matsumoto, 1971) – shown at the CQ – and Matsumoto’s 13 minute, three-screen 16mm film work Tsuburekakatta migime no tame ni (For My Crushed Right Eye, Matsumoto Toshio, 1969) – shown at Concordia University (thanks to the programming of Yuriko Furuhata) – are my choices for Best Rediscovery and Best Short Film of the year.
Tee rak (Eternity, Sivaroj Kongsakul, 2011)
Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)
A Torinói ló (The Turin Horse, Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011)
Guan yin shan (Buddha Mountain, Li Yu, 2010)

… and

A day to look forward to: 20 March 2012, when Mikhail Kalatozov’s legendary 1959 film, Neotpravlennoye pismo (Letter Never Sent) will be released by the Criterion Collection on Blu-ray. Here’s also hoping that Alexei German’s long awaited feature will finally show up at Cannes.

 

DAN SALLITT

A filmmaker and film writer living in New York.

1. Book chon bang hyang (The Day He Arrives, Hong Sang-soo, 2011)
2. Uncle Kent (Joe Swanberg, 2011)
3. Sleeping Beauty (Julia Leigh, 2011)
4. Le gamin au vélo (The Kid with the Bike, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2011)
5. Portret v sumerkakh (Twilight Portrait, Angelina Nikonova, 2011)
6. Generation P (Victor Ginsburg, 2011)
7. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
8. Silver Bullets (Joe Swanberg, 2011)
9. The Loneliest Planet (Julia Loktev, 2011)
10. Un mundo misterioso (A Mysterious World, Rodrigo Moreno, 2011)
11. Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (A Separation, Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
12. En compagnie d’Eric Rohmer (In the Company of Eric Rohmer, Marie Rivière, 2011)
13. Caitlin Plays Herself (Joe Swanberg, 2011)
14. The Descendants (Alexander Payne, 2011)
15. Abrir puertas y ventanas (Back to Stay, Milagros Mumenthaler, 2011)

All the above films received their world premieres in 2011. This list will most likely change quite a lot as 2011 films make their way to New York over the course of the next few years.

 

HOWARD SCHUMANN

Howard Schumann is a freelance writer living in Vancouver, BC.

1. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
In The Tree of Life, director Terence Malick has opened our vision to the untranslatable miracle of life in all its aspects. It is a beautiful, multi-layered, and deeply spiritual film that asks the hard questions about our place in the universe and who we really are.

2. Hadikduk HaPnimi (Intimate Grammar, Nir Bergman, 2010) *
Intimate Grammar is the heartbreaking story of a boy stuck in an endless childhood, so devoid of the things that nurture our soul, that, to survive, he must escape into a world of dreams, surviving only by being a spectator to his own life. It is a film of rare beauty.

3. Drive (Nicholas Winding Refn, 2011)
A film of style and mood that has a European feel to it, in the tradition of Melville’s Le Samourai. Featuring an outstanding performance by Ryan Gosling, Drive is quiet but filled with palpable tension that can erupt into violence.

4. Café de Flore (Jean-Marc Vallée, 2011)
The best Canadian film of the year, Café de Flore is a haunting experience that is daringly original, passionately performed, and spiritually resonant, Built along two parallel lines, the enigmatic connection between the two stories will keep you awake long into the night.

5. Moneyball (Bennett Miller, 2011)
Using authentic recreations as well as archival footage, Moneyball is an entertaining and often moving film about the General Manager of the Oakland Athletics in 1998, who may have changed the game forever.

6. Anonymous (Roland Emmerich, 2011)
Supporting the premise that Edward de Vere was the true author of the works of William Shakespeare, Anonymous delivers with style, spectacle, and authenticity, offering a plausible explanation of the issues surrounding the Shakespeare authorship question.

7. Las Acacias (Pablo Giorgelli, 2011)
Winner of the Camera d’Or for the best first feature in Cannes, Argentine director Pablo Giorgelli’s Las Acacias is a work of deceptive simplicity, a film of emotional richness that has no extraneous conversation, enigmatic symbolism, or background music but is a work of deep and abiding humanity.

8. The Help (Tate Taylor, 2011)
The Help depicts the patience, loyalty and courage of black maids who cooked, cleaned and raised the children of white employers and who were often subject to abuse and humiliation. The film is carried by the brilliant work of Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, whose performances are at the core of the film’s ability to access deep human emotion.

9. Copy Conforme (Certified Copy, Abbas Kiarostami, 2010) *
Questions about the nature of reality, the purpose of existence, and whether a copy is as good as the original are raised in Abbas Kiarostami’s Certified Copy, a beautiful and mesmerising film that can take its place among the director’s finest work.

10. The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)
The Artist is a charming recreation of the silent film era of the late 1920s that focuses on how the advent of talking pictures spelled the end of the careers for those silent film stars who could not or would not make the transition. Shot in colour, then transferred to black and white, the film’s combination of form and style captures a time of simplicity in which movies reflected creativity and imagination.

11. Margin Call (J. C. Chandor, 2011)
Margin Call examines the motives and morality of people in positions of power in a shaky financial institution and how they react in a career-threatening crisis. The film’s message is directed not only at the ninety-nine percent of the population but also at the one percent, urging them to begin connecting with their humanity and conscience.

12. Terri (Azazel Jacobs, 2011)
Terri is a film of unusual freshness, a sweet, tender, and very observant work about a heavily oversized parentless teenager coming to terms with the reality of being different. It is not a cruel film in the slightest but one that conveys a sincere affection for its troubled characters, and its natural performances make it a film to remember.

13. The Descendants (Alexander Payne, 2011)
The Descendants is marked by a superb performance by George Clooney, exceptional cinematography, and a feeling of authenticity. On the surface, it is a film about the grieving process but underneath it is about connection and responsibility to the planet we inhabit and to those who are on this journey with us.

14. War Horse (Steven Spielberg, 2011)
War Horse is the compelling story of one boy’s incredible bonding with a high-spirited half-thoroughbred who becomes trapped in the nightmare of the First World War. Based on the 1982 children’s novel by Michael Morpurgo, it is a film that connects us to our essential humanity, evoking a simpler time when values were more important than box office and where entire families could watch a film together.

15. Another Earth (Mike Cahill, 2011)
A quietly beautiful meditation on guilt, redemption, and second chances, Another Earth is a quietly powerful work of art that suggests that truth lies more in inner than in outer space, and that the biggest world to conquer is the one that is right before our eyes.

16. Play (Ruben Ostlund, 2011)
Taken from actual incidents in which a group of black teens carried out a series of thefts of other children’s personal belongings for two years, Swedish director Ruben Ostlund’s Play is a compelling study of how our lives are often run by stereotypes, racial or otherwise, and how the line between victim and victimiser can be a thin one.

17. Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Werner Herzog, 2010) *

A fascinating journey 32,000 years in the past to discover a unique collection of cave art situated in the Chauvet-Pont-d Arc Cave in Southern France, the film not only captures the immense power of art that dates to the dawn of man’s history, but infuses it with a profound spiritual presence.

18. Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt, 2010) *
A haunting tale of the struggle for survival of three pioneer families in Oregon Territory in 1845 and their issues of trust with an unnamed Indian that they have captured, Meek’s Cutoff is not a story of “progress” or “manifest destiny”, but a depiction of the difficult options that the real settlers were faced with that were never clear cut.

19. Submarine (Richard Ayoade, 2010) *
Submarine is a sweet and funny film that, unlike many Hollywood teen comedies, is not afraid to mix genuine emotion with its humour. We identify with the characters, not because they are without flaws, but because we can recognise in them, our own halting steps towards maturity.

20. Jane Eyre (Cary Joji Fukanaga, 2011)
Featuring a breakthrough performance by Mia Wasikowska, the latest film version of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel resonates with a powerful depiction of free will and class distinctions, delivering an important message about transcending limitations and being willing to find one’s own way in life.

* Released in Canada in 2011

Honorable mentions

The Ides of March (George Clooney, 2011), Hævnen (In a Better World, Susanne Bier, 2010), Le quattro volte (The Four Times, Michelangelo Frammartino, 2010), The Conspirator (Robert Redford, 2010), Winter in Wartime (Martin Koolhoven, 2008), Life, Above All (Oliver Schmitz, 2010), Alamar (To the Sea, Pedro González-Rubio, 2009), Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune (Kenneth Bowser, 2010), In film nist (This Is Not a Film, Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, 2011)

Most disappointing

Martha Marcy May Marlene (Sean Durkin, 2011), Like Crazy (Drake Doremus, 2011), Win Win (Thomas McCarthy, 2011), Beginners (Mike Mills, 2010), Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki, 2011), Super 8 (J. J. Abrams, 2011), Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011), Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011), Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan, 2011)

 

NICK SHIMMIN

A few nominations for film of the year…

A Torinói ló (The Turin Horse, Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011)
Dreileben – Etwas Besseres als den Tod (Beats Being Dead, Christian Petzold, 2011)
Dreileben – Komm mir nicht nach (Don’t Follow Me Around, Dominik Graf, 2011)
Dreileben – Eine Minute Dunkel (One Minute of Darkness, Christoph Hochhäusler, 2011)

…and I also feel obliged to give a dishonourable mention to Sleeping Beauty (Julia Leigh, 2011) as worst film of the year, possibly the decade.

 

MARK SPRATT

Melbourne-based independent film distributor.

A “top ten” in no particular order

The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)
Mistérios de Lisboa (Mysteries of Lisbon, Raúl Ruiz, 2010)
Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)
Noruwei no mori (Norwegian Wood, Anh Hung Tran, 2010)
Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011)
Jodaie Nader az Simin (A Separation, Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
Post Mortem (Pablo Larraín, 2010)
Michael (Markus Schleinzer, 2011)
La piel que habito (The Skin I Live in, Pedro Almodóvar, 2011)
The Mill and the Cross (Lech Majewski, 2011)

A few more

We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsay, 2011)

Bridesmaids (Paul Feig, 2011)
A remarkable mainstream comedy for both its ability to anger and confuse many a reviewer unsure of how to categorise it in relation to “political correctness” as well as a reminder by Kristen Wiig that good screen acting does not necessarily involve turning yourself into an animated waxwork of a famous person.

Page Eight (David Hare 2011)
A terrific cast including Judy Davis in a lucidly directed, violence-free politics vs. espionage thriller as chilling and exciting as one could hope.

Pina (Wim Wenders, 2011) and Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Werner Herzog, 2010)
Two outstanding documentary essays proving the value of 3D may lay outside animation and CGI spectacles.

Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011)
Semi-sublime and semi-self-destructive with the director’s decision to counterpoint the beauty of half the film with the ugliness of the badly framed, handheld camerawork in the wedding sequence.

True Grit (Ethan and Joel Coen, 2010)

Take Shelter (Jeff Nichols, 2011)

Best new discovery

The films of Kazak director Dareshan Omirbayev: Kairat (1992), Kardiogramma (1995), Tueur àgages (1998), Jol (The Road, 2001), Shuga (2007).

 

BRAD STEVENS

Author of Monte Hellman: His Life and Films (McFarland, 2003) and Abel Ferrara: The Moral Vision (FAB Press, 2004). He contributes regularly to Sight and Sound and Video Watchdog.

1. Film Socialisme (Jean-Luc Godard, 2010)
2. 36 vues du Pic Saint Loup (Around a Small Mountain, Jacques Rivette, 2009)
3. Hereafter (Clint Eastwood, 2010)
4. You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (Woody Allen, 2010)
5. Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (A Separation, Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
6. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
7. The Hunter (Rafi Pitts, 2010)
8. “Cattivi Guagliuni” (99 Posse video by Abel Ferrara, 2011)
9. The Conspirator (Robert Redford, 2010)
10. Burke and Hare (John Landis, 2010)

Retrospective discoveries

Ana y los Lobos (Carlos Saura, 1972)
Arrebato (Ivan Zulueta, 1979)
Cover Me Babe (Noel Black, 1969)
Il Futuro e Donna (Marco Ferreri, 1984)
Le Bled (Jean Renoir, 1929)
Trois Chambres à Manhattan (Marcel Carne, 1965)

2011′s cinematic highlight was BFI Southbank’s Edward Yang retrospective. Why masterpieces such as That Day, on the Beach and Taipei Story are unavailable on DVD remains a mystery.

 

RICHARD SUCHENSKI

Assistant Professor of Film and Electronic Arts at Bard College.

1. Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011)
2. A Torinói ló (The Turin Horse, Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011)
3. Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)
4. A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg, 2011)
5. Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)
6. Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki, 2011)
7. Le quattro volte (Michelangelo Frammartino, 2010)
8. Le gamin au vélo (The Kid with a Bike, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2011)
9. Un homme qui crie (A Screaming Man, Mahamet-Saleh Haroun, 2010)
10. Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Werner Herzog, 2010)

 

RUDIGER TOMCZAK

Publishes from Berlin the film magazine shomingeki. The name of the magazine is an homage to the Japanese realism movement “shomingeki” and especially to one of its masters, Yasujiro Ozu.

1. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
More than a film, a real cinematic miracle, an ambitious epic, and at the same time one of the most personal, even intimate films ever made in the western world.
2. Iti ‘Mrinalini’: An Unfinished Letter… (Aparna Sen, 2010)
Another masterpiece by my favourite narrative female director.
3. Sur la traces de Marguerite Yourcenar (On the Traces of Marguerite Yourcenar, Marilú Mallet, 2011)
4. Nostalgia de la luz (Nostalgia for the Light, Patricio Guzman, 2010)
5. Kagoyer Bou (Paper Wife, Bappaditya Bandhopadhyay, 2011)
6. Kashmakash (Ship Wrecked, Rituparno Ghosh, 2011)
7. Source Code (Duncan Jones, 2011)
8. Contagion (Steven Soderbergh, 2011)
9. Bengali Detective, (Philip Cox, 2011)
10. Rise of The Planet of the Apes (Rupert Wyatt, 2011)

Quite an uneven list and I have to admit for almost half of this year there was only one film in my mind: Terrence Malick’s wonderful film. My passion for this film involved me in often very emotional discussions in and outside of my film magazine. Can’t say all of these discussions made me happy. After having seen this film ten times, my admiration is still growing.

 

ROBERT VON DASSANOWSKY

Writer on film, literature and culture, indie producer, and director of Film Studies at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. His recent books include New Austrian Film (co-edited with Oliver C. Speck) and the forthcoming Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds: Manipulations of Metacinema.

In no particular order, my preeminent group for 2011

Atmen (Breathing, Karl Markovics, 2011)
The Tree of Life
(Terrence Malick, 2011)
The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)
Contagion (Steven Soderbergh, 2011)
Margin Call (J. C. Chandor, 2011)
Copie conforme (Certified Copy, Abbas Kiarostami, 2011)
Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011)
Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Werner Herzog, 2011)
Michael (Markus Schleinzer and Katrin Resetarits, 2011)
Des hommes et des dieux (Of Gods and Men, Xavier Beauvois, 2010)

Other diverse pleasures of the year

Mildred Pierce (HBO miniseries, Todd Haynes, 2011)
The Art of the Steal (Don Argott, 2010)
Film composers: Alexandre Desplat, Rachel Portman
Film Blogs: “The Seventh Art” by Srikanth Srinivasan, “Commonplace Book” by Christian Thorne
Actors: Christopher Plummer, Thomas Schubert, Eddie Redmayne, Derek Jacobi, Jeffrey Wright, Ursula Strauss, Michael Fassbender, Romola Garai, Christopher Lee, Michelle Yeoh, Michael Lonsdale

 

NICHOLAS VROMAN

Freelance film writer and staff writer for J-Film Pow-Wow and Hot Splice.

Living in Tokyo, my list is necessarily Japan-centric. Many of the most critically lauded international films of 2011 have yet to even open in Japan. Between some very great films by some Japanese masters (Kore-eda and Matsumoto), a few newcomers (Yoshida, and Okutani), indie stalwart Tesuaki and a handful of obscure and less obscure productions from around the world I present the films that moved me most this year.

Correspondencia Jonas Mekas – J.L. Guerin (Correspondence Jonas Mekas – J.L Guerin, Jonas Mekas and Jose Luis Guerin, 2011)
Bachelor Mountain (Yu Guanji, 2011)
Saya Zamurai (Scabbard Samurai, Hitoshi Matsumoto, 2011)
Kiseki (I Wish, Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2011)
Kazoku X (Household X, Koki Yoshida, 2011)
Khyi Rgan (Old Dog, Pema Tseden, 2011)
In Film Nist (This Is Not a Film, Jafar Panahi, 2011)
Nostalgia de la luz (Nostalgia for the Light, Patricio Guzman, 2010)
Children of Soleil (Yoichiro Okutani, 2011)
Tokyo Drifter (Matsue Tetsuaki, 2011)

 

DAVID WALSH

Arts editor of the World Socialist Web Site.

If anything, the gap between social life and its artistic representation widened in 2011. Three years into the worst economic crisis in more than half a century, with social misery afflicting ever broader layers of the global population, and the beginnings of a mass social response, in Egypt and the Middle East, as well as Greece and the US, filmmakers largely remain insulated from – or perhaps overwhelmed by – these realities.

The wealth and complacency of portions of the film industry no doubt account for some of the problems. Total compensation paid to Disney CEO Robert Iger, for example, increased 24 percent in fiscal year 2010, to $29.6 million. Time Warner’s Jeff Bewkes took in $26.3 million in 2010, “up more than 34 percent from the $19.6 million recorded for 2009” (Hollywood Reporter).

Vanity Fair estimates producer-director James Cameron’s 2010 income, primarily for Avatar, at $257 million. Steven Spielberg made only $80 million last year, based on his work on War Horse, theme park royalties and older film revenue.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that North American movie ticket sales are down $500 million from a year ago, a 4.5 percent decline. “The real picture is worse than the raw revenue numbers suggest,” because of steadily increasing ticket prices. “Attendance for 2011 is expected to drop 5.3 percent, to 1.27 billion, continuing a slide. Attendance declined 6 percent in 2010.”

Depressed economic conditions are a major factor. But a spate of films that have failed to ignite the public’s imagination undoubtedly plays a role. Doubly tedious sequels of tedious originals, bombastic 3D spectacles, superhero cartoons and thoroughly predictable “action” movies make up a large portion of the film industry’s menu.

At the same time, it would be mistaken to imagine that the economic crisis and growing political radicalisation have had no impact on filmmakers and others in the entertainment industry. Public statements of support from actors, singers and musicians for the Occupy movement were not in short supply, and there is no reason to doubt their sincerity.

The translation of social concerns into serious works, within an ideologically ossified, market-driven, profit-mad industry, remains a challenge. After decades of intellectual and artistic stagnation, the creation of rich and complicated pictures of life is no small undertaking. Such efforts will require knowledge, sensitivity and courage. However, the production of these works, which will electrify audiences with their social truth and dramatic force, is not so far off. The widening and deepening of the popular radicalisation, both encouraging artists and reassuring them of support, is critical in this process.

That being said, it was no easy matter to come up with 10 “best” films that showed in a movie theatre in the US in 2011. It required all too much marking on the curve. Nonetheless, here is a list of such films (only a handful of them made by American studios), followed by a list of works that are as yet undistributed in the US.

Best films that showed at a movie theatre in the US in 2011

También la lluvia (Even the Rain, Icíar Bollaín, 2010)
The Time That Remains (Elia Suleiman, 2009)
Hanyo (The Housemaid, Im Sang-soo, 2010)
Miral (Julian Schnabel, 2010)
Margin Call (J. C. Chandor, 2011)
Win Win (Thomas McCarthy, 2011)
Take Shelter (Jeff Nichols, 2011)
Pina (Wim Wenders, 2011)
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky, 2011)
Un homme qui crie (A Screaming Man, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, 2010)

Best undistributed films

Omar m’a tuer (Omar Killed Me, Roschdy Zem, 2011)
Think of Me (Bryan Wizemann, 2011)
L’ordre et la morale (Rebellion, Mathieu Kassovitz, 2011)
Gelecek Uzun Sürer (Future Lasts Forever, Özcan Alper, 2011)
Habibi Rasak Kharban (Habibi, Susan Youssef, 2010)
The Tall Man (Tony Krawitz, 2011)
Wo 11 (11 Flowers, Xiaoshuai Wang, 2011)
Les hommes libres (Free Men, Ismaël Ferroukhi, 2011)
Skoonheid (Beauty, Oliver Hermanus, 2011)
Edwin Boyd (Nathan Morlando, 2011)

Best performances in a leading role

Luis Tosar, También la lluvia (Even the Rain)
Brad Pitt, Moneyball
Michael Shannon, Take Shelter
Freida Pinto, Miral
Demián Bichir, A Better Life

Best performances in a supporting role

Jeremy Irons, Margin Call
Amy Ryan, Win Win
Yoon Yeo-jeong, Hanyo (The Housemaid)
Helen Mirren, Brighton Rock
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants

Best director
Icíar Bollaín, También la lluvia (Even the Rain)

Best first feature
J. C. Chandor, Margin Call

Best screenplay
Paul Laverty, También la lluvia (Even the Rain)

Best cinematography
Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)

 

SARAH WARD

Freelance film critic, writer and contributor to Arts Hub, Trespass Magazine, At the Cinema and Play/Pause.

Top 10 cinema releases

1. Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011)
2. Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011)
3. The Tree Of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
4. Senna (Asif Kapadia, 2010)
5. La piel que habito (The Skin I Live in, Pedro Almodóvar, 2011)
6. We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsay, 2011)
7. Take Shelter (Jeff Nichols, 2011)
8. Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky, 2010)
9. Midnight In Paris (Woody Allen, 2011)
10. Never Let Me Go (Mark Romanek, 2010)

Honourable mentions

1. I Love You Phillip Morris (Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, 2009)
2. Jane Eyre (Cary Fukunaga, 2011)
3. L’illusionniste (The Illusionist, Sylvain Chomet, 2010)
4. Hanna (Joe Wright, 2011)
5. The Guard (John Michael McDonagh, 2011)
6. The Hunter (Daniel Nettheim, 2011)
7. Burning Man (Jonathan Teplitzky, 2011)
8. The Ides of March (George Clooney, 2011)
9. Griff the Invisible (Leon Ford, 2010)
10. Beginners (Mike Mills, 2010)

Top 10 festival films

1. Martha Marcy May Marlene (Sean Durkin, 2011)
2. A Torinói ló (The Turin Horse, Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011)
3. Tyrannosaur (Paddy Considine, 2011)
4. Jodaie Nader az Simin (A Separation, Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
5. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)
6. Hwanghae (The Yellow Sea, Hong-jin Na, 2010)
7. Tomboy (Céline Sciamma, 2011)
8. Kongen av Bastøy (King of Devil’s Island, Marius Holst, 2010)
9. Le gamin au vélo (The Kid with a Bike, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2011)
10. Mirokurôze (Milocrorze: A Love Story, Yoshimasa Ishibashi, 2011)

 

HENRY WELSH

My best films from Quebec for the year

Le vendeur (The Salesman, Sébastien Pilote, 2011)
Côteau rouge (André Forcier, 2011)
Nuit #1 (Anne Émond, 2011)
Monsieur Lazhar (Philippe Falardeau, 2011)
Marécages (Wetlands, Guy Édoin, 2011)
Trou Story (The Hole Story, Richard Desjardins and Robert Monderie, 2011)

 

VIRGINIA WRIGHT WEXMAN

Professor Emerita of English and Art History at the University of Illinois, Chicago and author of A History of Film (now in its seventh edition) and other books on cinema.

Best of the fests 2011

In 2011 I took in the following festivals: Palm Springs, Sundance, Berlin, Guadalajara, TCM (Los Angeles), Wisconsin (Madison), Cinema Ritrovato (Bologna), Wood’s Hole, CineCon (Los Angeles), Vancouver, Chicago, and AFI Fest (Los Angeles). Here are some of the highlights:

Best new international cinema

1. Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011) (Chicago)
2. A Torinói ló (The Turin Horse, Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011) (Berlin)
3. Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (A Separation, Asghar Farhadi, 2011) (Vancouver)
4. We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lynn Ramsay, 2011) (Chicago)
5. Dyut meng gam (Life without Principle, Johnnie To, 2011) (Vancouver)
6. Kak ya provel etim letom (How I Ended This Summer, Alexei Popogrebsky, 2011) (Wisconsin)
7. Pina (Wim Wenders, 2011) (AFI Fest)
8. Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki, 2011) (Vancouver)
9. Starbuck (Ken Scott, 2011) (Vancouver)
10. Amador (Fernando León de Aranoa, 2010) (Guadalajara)

Best vintage titles

1. French Cancan (Jean Renoir, 1954) (Bologna)
2. Le cercle rouge (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1970) (AFI Fest)
3. Scarface (Howard Hawks, 1931) (Bologna)
4. Devuska s korobkoy (The Girl with the Hatbox, Boris Barnett, 1927) (Bologna)
5. L’arte di arrangiarsi (The Art of Getting Along, Luigi Zampa, 1954) (Bologna)
6. Chronique d’un été (Chronicle of a Summer, Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin, 1961) (Bologna)
7. Royal Wedding (Stanley Donen, 1951) (TCM)
8. Practically Yours (Mitchell Leisen, 1944) (CineCon)
9. Le bonheur (Marcel L’Herbier, 1934) (CineCon)

Best retrospectives

Early Howard Hawks, Luigi Zampa, and Boris Barnet (all Bologna)
Ingmar Bergman (Berlin)

Festival awards

Best filmmaker turnout (at screenings I attended): AFI Fest
Best fest venue: The Egyptian (CineCon, AFI Fest)
Best program notes: Bologna
Best fest promo reels: Guadalajara, Bologna, TCM

Best live musical accompaniment

Gunther Buchwald’s plaintive piano and violin performance during the screening of Lois Weber’s 1916 production Shoes.
Most disorganised: Guadalajara, Chicago
Most beautiful surroundings: Vancouver
Most difficult-to-find screening venue: Guadalajara (four stories underground in the middle of a parking garage)
Shock and awe: Illegible white on white subtitles (I encountered these at Guadalajara and Vancouver)

 

NEIL YOUNG

Neil Young is a film critic and Co-Director of the Bradford International Film Festival.

663114 (Hirabayashi Isamu, 2011) short
Człowiek na torze (The Man on the Track, Andrzej Munk, 1956)
David Holzman’s Diary (Jim McBride, 1967)
Elena (Andrei Zvyagintsev, 2011)
Finisterrae (Sergio Caballero, 2010)
Humilhados e ofendidos (Humiliated and Offended, Salvador Palma & Dany Ferreira Horiuchi, 2010) short
Modern No.2 (Mirai Mizue, 2011) short
Ora et Labora (Aaron Arens, 2011)
Rango (Gore Verbinski, 2011)
Some Came Running (Vincente Minnelli, 1958)
Throbs (Fred Worden, 1972) short
V Subbotu (Innocent Saturday, Aleksandr Mindadze, 2011)

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