One More Time

A striking image from Lupu Pick’s cautionary New Year’s Eve tale of 1924, “Sylvester: Tragödie einer Nacht,” reminds us that the hour is upon us to compile our ten best lists for 2011. My ten best is more like a two best — I don’t think I saw anything better than Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia” and (to my own astonishment) Jason Reitman’s caustic and courageously unlikable “Young Adult.” But I missed a lot in the last twelve months and I’m open to suggestions, which I hope you folks will submit in great profusion.

308 comments to One More Time

  • mark gross

    “One of the refreshing emotional exceptions in movies is Feathers (Angie Dickinson) in RIO BRAVO. It is unprofessional, ridiculous and childish conduct for the deputy sheriff Andy to cry on duty, yet there is something affectingly truthful in his reaction.”

    Antti: Thank you for bringing in RIO BRAVO again. I watched it the other night, not as beautiful on DVD as it was in 35mm, but nonetheless saw so many things I had forgotten, certainly Angie Dickinson & her authentic sense of being that kind of illuminated the entire film.

    Also, I had forgotten the parallel tracks of John Wayne & Dean Martin walking through the town on opposite sides of the street after dark, very subtly done so that it seems completely natural, and yet there is this gap that opens up between those shots, as well as between Martin & Wayne, bringing in a whole category of different feeling and attitude between the two characters, differences in the way they move though the camera movements never falter, a difference between certainty & uncertainty, not to mention differences of time and space.

    The next day I watched a bit of THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY, and wouldn’t you know but those same parallel tracks were there with exactly the same rhythm between Clint Eastwood & Eli Wallach when they are walking through the bombed-out town in search of Lee Van Cleef.

  • mark gross

    “There is a dusky cast over the entire film, which only makes sense for how ostensible reality can make a connection to the shaded and dimly known world of visions, demons etc. Any harsh, bright colors are heavily attenuated by the film’s overall “smokey” veil.”

    Peter: I’m sure you are correct; after all, I haven’t seen FIRE WALK WITH ME in 20 years, and certainly your description of the shadowy visual cast of the film makes sense in terms of the subject matter, but nonetheless what I most recall about the film are these bright shades of orange, pink and red. Yes, there were also dusky shadows that gave a hellish cast to things, but mostly I remember what to me seemed like garish color. Maybe I saw a different film and somehow confused it with FIRE WALK WITH ME. I’m certainly not going to argue with you about it. It’s possible that the DVD as well as screen grabs are “dustier” and murkier than it was in a first run theatre, but I’m betting that you saw it first run as well. So I really don’t know what to say, except the color really impressed me, and if the color isn’t there, then I guess I saw a different movie, though I find that very hard to believe.

  • mark gross

    Peter:

    I think this difference we are having between my memory of “garish” color & your description of a dusty cast over the entire film of FIRE WALK WITH ME, as well as Brad’s feeling that Lynch is making fun of the policeman Andy in the pilot, while everyone else (myself included) disagrees, might be a perfect illustration that we all somehow manage to create a different David Lynch film in our minds.

    I’m sure those colors were there in FIRE WALK WITH ME, albeit partially obscured by shadow(since that is how you describe it, and I’m sure you’re correct). In my process of viewing and later my memory of the film, I ignored the “dusty cast” & phantasmal vision to focus on those colors, while you did the opposite.

  • Peter Henne

    Mark, I already indicated in my January 11, 4:15pm post that I saw FIRE WALK WITH ME in first run. In fact, I saw it twice at that time. Over the years, I’ve re-watched it on laser disc, cable broadcast, etc.

    All I can do at this point is reiterate that I’ve set out a position about color’s context in the film. I’ve provided not just my memories but objective pieces of evidence, and fitted them into a unified account of the film. I already commented on how to take the degree of accuracy of the evidence of available images on the internet, not once but at several points. Thus, you have overlooked not only what I first disclosed about my viewing history, but this part of my argument, as well.

    When watching the film, or even looking at any fair sampling of images, it is evident that what would have been in certain instances sharp bolts of color are restrained from becoming so by an overall gray which is used similarly to a filter over the lens (perhaps some shooting was done with gray filters, though I need not rely on any such assumption). Putting aside artistic interpretations, I don’t think this effect is up for grabs.

  • Brian Dauth

    Peter: it was not Brad talking about a caluclated cut made me think he was talking about Lynch’a intentions. It was when he wrote: “What I objected to was being invited to laugh by the filmmaker.” In a general sense, I think we can say that a filmmaker is trying to elicit responses to her work. But saying that the filmmaker has proferred an invitation to laugh seems to me to go beyond general intentions to specific ones — as if laughter were Lynch’s preferred response and, therefore, the goal of the invitation he extended. Laughter may be one of the possible responses to that sequence; I am just not sure we can say that it is Lynch’s optimal response.

  • mark gross

    Peter, thank you so much for taking the time to write so articulately about FIRE WALK WITH ME and David Lynch’s work in general. Based on what you say, I’m certain that if I saw FIRE WALK WITH ME again, it would be a very different film from the one that I remember.

  • Peter Henne

    Thanks, Mark. Got it, Brian. I think that “invite” in a case like this can be re-written to say “encourages,” and the sentence you’ve quoted could read without changing the sense, “The film’s style and dialogue encourage the audience to laugh,” dropping out what you called the director’s specific intentions. Or “lead the audience,” etc. I agree, too, that a margin of ambiguity is allowed in the scene and said so in my January 12, 2:32pm post. I just don’t think that any reading goes.

    Thanks to Antti, Gregg, and jbryant. Whoa, I’m ready to move on to the next thread, and it’s already Friday…

  • Alex

    The Bests of 2011

    1. Mysteries of Lisbon
    2. La Havre
    3. Tinker, Tailor…
    4. Adventures of Tin Tin
    5. Shame
    6. Hugo
    7. Margin Call
    8. Another Earth
    9. Limitless
    10. Young Adult
    Honorable Mention: Malick and von Trier’s Melancholy Tree