Revised 2012: Favorites and Wish-List

My favorite movies of 2012, in order, best first:

The Master — All in all, I think, the best film of the year. I find myself thinking about this one more than any other I’ve seen in 2012.

Moonrise Kingdom — Uniquely gorgeous. Probably the most FUN I’ve had in a film all year.

Lincoln — Daniel Day Lewis is superb and Tony Kushner’s screenplay is brilliant.

Silver Linings Playbook — Charming, authentic, with solid acting all-around.

Zero Dark Thirty – Intelligent, riveting, and Chastain is great.

Argo — Solid, enjoyable, suspenseful.  Affleck deserved a Directing nomination from the Academy.

Beasts of the Southern Wild — You’ll see nothing else like it. I never have. You will fall in love with Hush Puppy!

The Cabin in the Woods — The best horror movie send-up ever.

Sessions  — Suprised by Hawkes not getting a nomination, but Helen Hunt was terrific.  I rarely cry in movies; I cried.

The Impossible – Truth can be stranger, and more compelling, than fiction. Well filmed and acted. The older boy was amazing in it.

Ruby Sparks — Paul Dano and  Zoe Kazan  are both great in this and the script is outstanding.

Bernie  — Jack Black is priceless here.

Sleepwalk with Me  — You really care about Mike Birbiglia’s autobiographical stand-up comedian character and Lauren Ambrose is good too.

Safety Not Guaranteed — The Duplass Brothers are quietly making some very watchable films. This is one. And both Mark Duplass and Aubrey Plaza are quite good.

Movies I haven’t seen yet, but want to:

Amour
Promised Land
The Imposter
Compliance
Monsieur Lazhar (I think it played here but I missed it, maybe?)
The Central Park Five
Elena
This is Not a Film
5 Broken Cameras
Rust & Bone

Wuthering Heights (the new Andrea Arnold one)
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence In The House Of God
Farewell, My Queen
The Hunt
Holy Motors
Cosmopolis
Bachelorette
Detropia

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2012: My Favorites and My Wish-List

the masterMy favorite movies of 2012, in order, best first:

The Master — All in all, I think, the best film of the year. I find myself thinking about this one more than any other I’ve seen in 2012.

Moonrise Kingdom — Uniquely gorgeous. Probably the most FUN I’ve had in a film all year.

Lincoln — Daniel Day Lewis is superb and Tony Kushner’s screenplay is brilliant.

Silver Linings Playbook — Charming, authentic, with solid acting all-around.

Argo — Solid, enjoyable, suspenseful.  Affleck deserved a Directing nomination from the Academy.

Beasts of the Southern Wild — You’ll see nothing else like it. I never have. You will fall in love with Hush Puppy!

The Cabin in the Woods — The best horror movie send-up ever.

Sessions  — Suprised by Hawkes not getting a nomination, but Helen Hunt was terrific.  I rarely cry in movies; I cried.

Ruby Sparks — Paul Dano and  Zoe Kazan  are both great in this and the script is outstanding.

Bernie  — Jack Black is priceless here.

Sleepwalk with Me  — You really care about Mike Birbiglia’s autobiographical stand-up comedian character and Lauren Ambrose is good too.

Safety Not Guaranteed — The Duplass Brothers are quietly making some very watchable films. This is one. And both Mark Duplass and Aubrey Plaza are quite good.

Movies I haven’t seen yet, but want to:
The Impossible — going this weekend!
Zero Dark Thirty
Amour
Promised Land
The Imposter
Compliance
Monsieur Lazhar (I think it played here but I missed it, maybe?)
The Central Park Five
Elena
This is Not a Film
5 Broken Cameras
Rust & Bone

Wuthering Heights (the new Andrea Arnold one)
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence In The House Of God
Farewell, My Queen
The Hunt
Holy Motors
Cosmopolis
Bachelorette
Detropia

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La Belle Personne (The Beautiful Person). (2008). French. Subtitles.

Christophe Honore (Beloved; Ma Mere; Love Songs) has directed an intricate, delicate, and beautiful film about the very real pain associated with love.

Louis Garrel (Ma Mere, Love Songs, The Dreamers) plays the cocky, brooding, and attractive Nemours, a popular teacher and lethario who, until this point, has had many secret affairs with his students, and other teachers, usually with the “love’em and leave’em” attitude. In comes Junie, played by the beautiful Lea Seydoux (Inglorious Basterds; Midnight in Paris), and he becomes obsessed with her, “the beautiful person” to the point of forsaking his current lovers. As for Seydoux, I have not seen a young actress with such a luminescence since Juliet Binoche. You really cannot take your eyes off of her.  Following the death of her mother, Junie has transferred mid-year to a new school where her presence stirs up much desire.  Junie is an object of their conjectures, dreams, and desires, and she unwittingly ignites jealousy, and even tragedy.  She does this, however, without any willingness to do so. She is not overly coquettish, promiscuous, or mean. She simply is a passionate 16 year old woman grieving over the death of her mother and trying to make new friends.  When she realizes that Nemours pines for her, she struggles with her own feelings and those of her new, very earnest, sweet boyfriend, Otto (Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet – Stranded; Love Songs).

Nemours and Junie are the central entanglement in the film, but La Belle Personne is much more than a star-crossed lover story.  Each character is dealing with love, love’s loss, adolescent hormones, sex, and many growing pains, and Honore plays this out for the viewer in such an honest, natural fashion that you feel like you are reliving your own high school angst and fervor. The only flaw of the film is that there are perhaps too large of a cast of love-lorn characters to keep straight. It seems that, when it comes to love, everyone has a story to tell.labelle  In the end, Junie must balance sexual desire and the hope of love against her own sense of survival…..   and self.

Trailer

 

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My current running list of my favorite 100 movies.

First of all, these are not based on anyone’s critical acclaim or anyone else’s opinion.  And my list keeps changing. But for discussion’s purposes, here are my current Top 100. Cringe, applaud, and enjoy! And I think you’ll find very little overlap with the newest “Sight and Sound” poll.

 

 

  1. Citizen Kane – Orson Welles
  2. Lawrence of Arabia – David Lean
  3. The Deer Hunter – Michael Cimino
  4. Schindler’s List – Steven Spielberg
  5. Taxi Driver – Martin Scorcese
  6. Godfather Part II – Francis Ford Coppola
  7. North by Northwest – Alfred Hitchcock
  8. Mulholland Drive – David Lynch
  9. Boogie Nights – Paul Thomas Anderson
  10. Metropolitan – Whit Stillman
  11. Pulp Fiction – Quentin Tarantino
  12. Psycho – Alfred Hitchcock
  13. To Kill a Mockingbird – Robert Mulligan
  14. Midnight Cowboy – John Schlesinger
  15. After the Wedding – Susanne Bier
  16. All About My Mother – Pedro Almodovar
  17. Suspiria – Dario Argento
  18. The Last Picture Show – Peter Bogdanovich
  19. A Clockwork Orange – Stanley Kubrick
  20. Touch of Evil – Orson Welles
  21. The Celebration (Festen) – Thomas Vinterberg
  22. The Secret in Their Eyes – Juan José Campanella
  23. Exotica – Atom Egoyan
  24. Dead Ringers – David Cronenberg
  25. On the Waterfront – Elia Kazan
  1. La Ceremonie – Claude Chabrol
  2. Silence of the Lambs – Jonathan Demme
  3. Straw Dogs – Sam Peckinpah
  4. Alien – Ridley Scott
  5. Flirting with Disaster – David O. Russell
  6. The Manchurian Candidate – John Frankenheimer
  7. Raging Bull – Martin Scorsese
  8. 2001: A Space Odyssey – Stanley Kubrick
  9. Miller’s Crossing – The Coen Brothers
  10. The Remains of the Day – James Ivory
  11. Annie Hall – Woody Allen
  12. Dr. Strangelove – Stanley Kubrick
  13. Before Sunrise – Richard Linklater
  14. Star Wars – George Lucas
  15. The Empire Strikes Back – George Lucas
  16. Double Indemnity – Billy Wilder
  17. Casablanca – Michael Curtiz
  18. Time of the Wolf – Michael Haneke
  19. Notorious – Alfred Hitchcock
  20. Jaws – Steven Spielberg
  21. Short Cuts – Robert Altman
  22. The Godfather – Francis Ford Coppola
  23. Blade Runner – Ridley Scott
  24. Do the Right Thing – Spike Lee
  25. The French Connection – William Friedkin
  26. Goodfellas – Martin Scorcese
  27. The Conversation – Francis Ford Coppola
  28. Full Metal Jacket – Stanley Kubrick
  29. Peeping Tom – Michael Powell
  30. Blowup – Michelangelo Antonioni
  31. Network – Sidney Lumet
  32. Chinatown – Roman Polanski
  33. Apocalypse Now – Frances Ford Coppola
  34. Nosferatu – F. W. Murnau
  35. The Sweet Hereafter – Atom Egoyan
  36. The Virgin Suicides – Sofia Coppola
  37. A Man for All Seasons – Fred Zinnemann
  38. East of Eden – Elia Kazan
  39. Dancer in the Dark – Lars von Trier
  40. Harold and Maude – Hal Ashby
  41. Rosemary’s Baby – Roman Polanski
  42. Eve’s Bayou – Kasi Lemmons
  43. In the Company of Men – Neil LaBute
  44. Manhattan – Woody Allen
  45. Black Orpheus – Marcel Camus
  46. Freaks – Tod Browning
  47. Rebecca – Alfred Hitchcock
  48. The Lives of Others – Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
  49. My Left Foot – Jim Sheridan
  50. Paris, Texas – Wim Wenders
  51. Doctor Zhivago – David Lean
  52. Invasion of the Body Snatchers – Don Siegel
  53. The Exorcist – William Friedkin
  54. Brothers – Susanne Bier
  55. Witness – Peter Weir
  56. The Grifters – Stephen Frears
  57. Melancholia – Lars von Trier
  58. The Graduate – Mike Nichols
  59. The Hustler – Robert Rossen
  60. The Collector – William Wyler
  61. In Cold Blood – Richard Brooks
  62. Deliverance – John Boorman
  63. Sideways – Alexander Payne
  64. Requiem for a Dream – Darren Aronofsky
  65. The Social Network – David Fincher
  66. True Romance – Tony Scott
  67. Magnolia – Paul Thomas Anderson
  68. Rushmore – Wes Anderson
  69. Swimming Pool – Francois Ozon
  70. Cache (Hidden) – Michael Haneke
  71. Traffic – Steven Soderbergh
  72. Seven Beauties – Lina Wertmuller
  73. Solaris — Andrey Tarkovskiy
  74. Talk to Her – Pedro Almodovar
  75. Cape Fear – J. Lee Thompson
Posted in Classics, Foreign | 2 Comments

If You Liked…. Halle Berry and Hugh Grant

If You Liked…. Halle Berry in “Cloud Atlas” or “Things We Lost in in the Fire,” or “Monster’s Ball,” try watching her star-making performance in the HBO film, “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” (1999). Sure, Berry had some memorable roles prior to Dandridge, but nothing that showcased her acting talent to this extent. Prior to Dandridge, you may have seen Berry in “Losing Isaiah,” or “The Rich Man’s Wife.”  But “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” is an emotionally touching biopic, and definitely worth your time.  It takes the viewer through the early days of Dandridge’s career on the club circuit, highlighting the racism of the times, through her success (Dandridge was the first black woman to be nominated for an academy award as actress), to her drug addiction and abusive relationships, to her final days. It is heartbreaking, and Berry’s performance is very visceral and moving.  And, yes; she is stunningly beautiful, as was Dandridge. Brent Spiner (Star Trek: The Next Generation) also gives a solid performance as Earl Mills as does Klaus Maria Brandauer as Otto Preminger.

Trailer

Speaking of “Cloud Atlas,” Hugh Grant shows up in that film in multiple roles (usually to comedic effect). So why not talk about a Hugh Grant film you may have missed, “Impromptu” (1991) in which Grant portrays Fredric Chopin, opposite Judy Davis as George Sand, who doggedly pursues Chopin. Davis’s performance is quite noteable here. Grant as Chopin is less noteworthy, but he sure looks pretty. It also stars Julian Sands, Mandy Patinkin, and Bernadette Peters.  And if you really want something different from Grant, try Ken Russell’s ( “Altered States,” “The Devils,” “Whore”) “Lair of the White Worm”(1988).  Campy and tongue in cheek, this is one scary, crazy, wild romp through an Scottish folk myth come true about a giant, carnivorous worm.  Grant plays wide-eyed archaeologist Angus Flint who discovers the scull of what they believe to be the mythic D’Ampton Worm. In comes the beautiful and mysterious Lady Sylvia Marsh, deliciously played by Amanda Dohahoe. Apparently, Marsh worships the worm and will do anything to keep it alive.  The climax includes Donahoe in an outlandish getup complete with a strap-on appendage that must be seen to believed.  Folks… this movie is not for everyone, but I sure got a kick out of it. If you know anything about Ken Russell, he pushes the envelope.

Trailer – Impromptu

Trailer – Lair of the White Worm

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If You Liked…. Denzel Washington…. Julianne Moore

If you liked Denzel Washington in “Training Day,” “American Gangster”  (or the previews for his upcoming movie, “Flight”), give “Devil in a Blue Dress” (1995) a try.  Set in 1948 Los Angeles, Washington plays Ezekial “Easy” Rawlins, a former soldier turned private eye, who is hired to find a woman (Daphne Monet, played, sexily, by Jennifer Beals) and gets mixed up in a dangerous political scandal. In a Rolling Stone review (1995), Peter Travers compares the film to a Black version of Chinatown.  I wouldn’t go that far, but this is one sultry, bluesy, well-paced, and smart film directed by Carl Franklin (“One False Move,” “One True Thing”).  Franklin conveys the feel of the time period very well, and Washington is near perfect as Easy Rawlins. It also stars Tom Sizemore and Don Cheadle. The film is based upon a popular Walter Mosley book, part of the The Easy Rawlins Mysteries series.
Trailer

If you liked Julianne Moore in “The Kids are Alright” or “The Big Lebowski,” try this earlier, quirky and smart Moore performance in “Short Cuts,” Robert Altman’s 1993 brilliant adaptation and knitting together of several Raymond Carver stories, all set in Suburban Los Angeles. “Short Cuts” is one of my favorite Altman films. It also stars Tom Waits, Matthew Modine, Andie McDowell, Fred Ward, Tim Robbins and many more.  Julianne Moore’s segment involves her playing Marian Wyman, wife to Dr. Ralph Wyman (Matthew Modine). The most famous scene involves preparing for a party and her argument with her husband over his potentially kissing a man. It’s brilliant filmmaking.  And Moore is quite unabashedly nude in this film (and beautiful). The entire film is a gem.
Trailer

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I’m back! Four for Halloween: “Funhouse,” “Magic,” “The Mephisto Waltz,” and “Suspiria.”

First, apologies for the hiatus. In the real world I’m a Dean, Library Director, and a planner of things social, and life just got in the way of blogging. I will try to be more diligent in the future.  This time, I would like to give a few suggestions if you are looking to have a spooky Halloween film weekend.  These are films that, once seen, they will haunt you, bwahahaha!

1. Fun House (1981)

Campy, sexy, funny, with some genuine scares.  The plot is — two couples decide to spend the night in the carnival funhouse, and get fear and murder, not much fun…. (for them). Elizabeth Berridge (Amadeus, Hidalgo) stands out in this low-budget cult classic from Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre).  It’s recently been playing as part of AMC’s Halloween FearFest.

Trailer

2. Magic (1978)

Anthony Hopkins, Ann-Marget, and Burgess Meredith star in this Richard Attenborough directed, William Goldman penned film about a ventriloquist and his evil dummy.  The film is billed as a “terrifying love story,” and if you give it a chance, you won’t be sorry. It does start out slow, so for today’s short attention span viewer, it may not suit. Still, it’s the kind of psychological creepy that I like, and you may too.

By the way, the trailers for this were particularly good.

Trailer #1

Trailer #2

3. The Mephisto Waltz (1971)

Alan Alda plays music journalist, Myles Clarkson, who takes some drastic steps down the path of demonic evil in order to be successful as a concert pianist.   His stylish wife is played by Jacqueline Bisset. Directed by Paul Wendkos (better known for television movies and miniseries back when network television, and viewers took those seriously, such as Blind Faith and The Legend of Lizzie Borden), this film has a foreboding sense of evil that pervades it to the last moment.  This film does have something. And a big part of that something is Barbara Parkins as a possible satanist who may or may not transplant a brilliant pianist’s soul into  Myles. The tagline says, “Is it possible?… It is possible.”

Trailer

4. Suspiria (1977)

And I save the best for last. One of my favorite films, and my absolute favorite in the horror genre, the brilliant giallo director Dario Argento (Profundo Rosso aka Deep Red, Inferno, Tenebre, Trauma) directs a masterpiece, with English dubbing over Italian and all.  And I hate dubbed movies, but this one works! The music (by Goblin), the cinematography, the creepy Italian people. A young Jessica Harper (Minority Report, Phantom of the Paradise, Stardust Memories) is perfectly cast as the ballet ingenue who ends up at a ballet academy for the damned — that is, it is run by a coven of witches up to murder and mayhem.  I could write a doctoral dissertation on this film, but for today’s recommending purposes, it may suffice to say that this film will scare you; it will appeal to you aesthetically; and you will not be bored. And that music…. you’ll never forget it.

“The only thing more terrifying than the last 12 minutes of Suspiria, are the first 93.” (tagline)

Trailer

Trailer 2 (Italian)

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