Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Closing the books on '11

2011 was a kind of spectacular movie year. From middlebrow, awards-bait movies to foreign dramas, obscure indies to highly ambitious visual epics, small-scale documentaries to big-budget blockbusters, the past year had a treasure of riches that ran the gamut of styles and tastes. And we are now getting to a point where the availability of these vast array of titles is rapidly growing. Yes, you can see the latest $200 million action flick or buddy comedy at your local megaplex. But you can also discover any number of smaller, more obscure movies or even rediscover those Hollywood blockbusters at your own leisure in the comfort of your own home with the growing access to streaming titles online and on demand. As I endeavored to narrow down my favorite movies of the past year, I began to notice how this access affected what I chose. And because of it, my top 10 has maybe the widest variety it has had since I started making these year-end lists.

Monday, February 13, 2012

"Earthly matters never cease to surprise."

In Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, the titular character suspects to his sister-in-law Jen that his terminal kidney illness is karma for past deeds. Deeds that aren't necessarily wrong or immoral given the context. Except of course, in this film, we aren't really given the context. In an earlier scene, the apparition of Boonmee's late wife, Huay, sits down at the outdoor dinner table. Moments later a monkey ghost--an invented mythological creature to us, a thought-to-be mythological creature in the world of the movie--creeps up the stairs. Somehow, Boonmee and Jen intuit that the creature is actually half monkey ghost and half human and is Boonmee's long lost son, Boonsong.

Everyday People

A Separation--from Iranian director Asghar Farhadi--begins and ends with a two-shot, each with the same two characters. But while the first has them facing the same direction, side-by-side, it serves as a harbinger of the rupture that will eventually befall two separate families. They are directly facing the camera and, despite their opposing desires, are active and adamant in their stances. By that final shot though, they're simply waiting, the wear of the baggage accumulated through the course of the movie pushing them to either ends of the frame that might as well be a mile long.