Hello, I Must Be Going

girl on bus decasia small

As the old year fades out, here’s a look at Bill Morrison’s beautiful and provocative “Decasia,” a film entirely assembled out of carefully chosen strips of decaying celluloid. Morrison reminds us, among many other things, that movies are at once glorious illusions situated outside the normal boundaries of time and space and highly fragile physical objects, subjected to a life cycle of their own. The fine new Blu-ray edition of Morrison’s 2002 film from Icarus brings his work into the digital realm, which is of course subject to its own kind of decay, possibly even more devastating in its effects than that which afflicts celluloid. No future Morrisons will be making movies of misaligned 1s and 0s. When a digital file goes, or when the technology to read it slips into obsolescence, it is gone completely and forever. It may well prove that the films of 2012 are more ephemeral than the films of 1912.

As has become custom in these parts at the end of the year, I’d like to invite everyone to submit their ten best lists, be they of new films, newly published DVDs, or older movies you’ve seen for the first time in these last twelve months. My next New York Times column won’t appear until Jan. 7.

177 comments to Hello, I Must Be Going

  • Foster Grimm

    Greetings, again

    Jim G – thanks for the word-up on PHOENIX. Tanaka was entrancing. I seem to remember some time back someone on this forum felt Kinoshita did not get his actresses’ best work in his films. I must respectfully disagree.

    Robert S – thanks for the heads up on MOTORWAY. I’ll be catching it this weekend. Anything with Anthony Wong is worth viewing.

    Alex (and others) – I think what I fear is the Capracorn.
    My story is to much sad to be told. When I was younger, so much younger than today (college years), I was in the first throes of cinema addiction. Since the family subscribed to The New Yorker I was reading a certain P Kael and her influence was very strong. The only newsstand to carry the Voice was downtown (Barry P., you will know the store I’m mentioning being an ex-pat Baltimoron like myself) and I couldn’t get there weekly. So my Sarris reading was sparse. And Kael hated IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (and most of late Capra.) So, like people who have silly phobias about certain things, well this is mine.
    Since then, though, I’ve seen early Capra which I really like. And last year I reread Kael and Sarris and Sarris spoke to me. And if I remember correctly PK hated THE SEARCHERS and I have long since ignored her on that.
    I found the end of LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE to be Capraesque.

    Cheers,
    Foster

  • jsh

    Correction:

    Where Robson’s ‘Ghost Ship’ appears on my list, there should instead be this:

    The Seventh Victim* (Robson, 1943)

    Sorry for the cut-and-paste error.

  • Barry Putterman

    Alex, “Capracorn” (whatever THAT is) most certainly pertains to Frank Capra; being basically an undefined dismissal of his artistic world view. And, in relation to artistic world views, his social commentary was highly prophetic since the post war social changes which alarmed him pretty much led to an audience abandonment of the kinds of films that he and McCarey and La Cava and others had been making up that point.

    Foster, Baltimore without Nat Sherman’s is like Bedford Falls without the Savings and Loan. I went to Woodlawn Senior High School with a relative of his named Lynn Sherman. I often think back to the good times I had with my friends in high school and sometimes wish that the quality of friendships that I had then could be a permanent part of life. And that is why I do not fear IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE but rather participate in its yearnings.

  • Foster Grimm

    I will watch “It’s A Wonderful Life” this weekend.
    Part of my 39 steps get well program.

    Cheers,
    Foster

  • Junko Yasutani

    ‘ “Capracorn” (whatever THAT is) most certainly pertains to Frank Capra; being basically an undefined dismissal of his artistic world view.’

    Yes, Barry. Not fair to Capra to dismiss. From outside view, Capra movie is expressing something true about America even if American critic can say to me ‘No, you are wrong because you do not know about America from inside.’ But looking at all American art, music, painting, literature, there is something of Capra’s artistic world view shared among other American art forms, so I do not think I am wrong completely.

  • Barry Putterman

    Junko, from my viewpoint you are not wrong at all. However, what Capra expresses about America has much to do with small towns, the middle class and intellectual unsophistication; which is at best unsettling and at worst embarrassing to the critical mass who do not see themselves as participating in these aspects of American life.

  • “it’s worth considering that as social commentary Capra‘s reverie may have been pure Capracorn while as prophesy –at least of the Stateside ’50s — his”fears” may have been pure ’46 paranoia.”

    As one William Burroughs put it, “Paranoia means having all the facts.”

    Along with Barry and Junko I must take exception to “Capracorn,” a clever put-down but not very descriptive. I think there’s more nuance to Capra’s view of small town American life than you get in a Norman Rockwell painting, and whatever defects or limitations Capra’s world view has, it was a view that many other American artists shared working in all the media that Junko mentioned and coming from the likes of Aaron Copeland, Virgil Thompson, Thomas Hart Benton, Irvin S. Cobb, and Booth Tarkington.

  • Alex

    “Capracorn” doesn’t imply for me (or most users of the term, I’d say) some general dismissal or Capra at all, just an apt characterization of his tendency to lapse into a sentimental view of things (like when the town folks solve things with their baskets of donation at the end of the great IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE.

    Heck, Capra sappy lapses may be less frequent and extreme than Borzage’s.

    Not that I’d say Capra is in any general senseless in tune with the facts than Burroughs.

    Not too sure about comparing Capra’s view of the small town with non-representational artists or as dark an artist as Tarkington at his best; but Ccapra sure passed the Rockwell test.

    Possibly better before the sappiness went way too preachie Mr. Smith.

  • Barry Putterman

    Alex, you may want to spend a bit more time with organizations such as The Red Cross and The Humane Society before characterizing the ending of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE as sentimental. There is a lot of sentimentality at work up here in the wake of Hurricane Sandy while we wait for our wise government agents to come to the rescue.

    And, while Tarkington does very much have his dark side, I doubt that there are as many contemplated suicides in his work as there are in Capra’s. Would anybody like to put in a good word for Thornton Wilder here?

  • Alex

    Barry Putterman,

    Don’t you think it’s a little sappy to expect the unorganized town folks –as opposed, say, to The Red Cross or GRAPES OF WRATH’S FAA camp– to come to the rescue and turn one’s plot suddenbly all sunny> (Capra’s small town folks are the sort that consituted the main *street) mass opposition to the New Deal — believers in Say’s law and — no doubt!– a thousand points of light. (In any case, sdentimentality isn’t meant by as a kiss of death, even if Ford’s chorus of off-to-work miner does evoke Disney’sd 7 dwarfs.)!

    Three cheers for the sublime Thornton Wilder of OUR TOWN and THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH, who no simple sap) said of his EIGHTH DAY that it was LITTLE WOMEN after being mulled over by Dostoyevsky — and wrote SHADOW OF A DOUBT).

  • Barry Putterman

    Alex, every person who contributes to George Bailey’s rescue at the end of the film was shown to have been helped by him earlier in the film. As such, it a question of a community of people being given the opportunity to repay a debt, emotional much more than financial, rather than a “suddenly all sunny” turn in a well thought out plot.

    Now, if you believe that most people would choose not to pay back in such a situation, that is a different issue. But not a question of “sentimental hogwash” as Mr. Potter so eloquently puts it.

  • “it a question of a community of people being given the opportunity to repay a debt, emotional much more than financial, rather than a “suddenly all sunny” turn in a well thought out plot.”

    I think the same dynamic is at work in Kurosawa’s “Ikiru” (or “It’s a Grim Life But a Wonderful Death”)where all the people who benefited from Mr. Watanabe’s persistence in the face of an indifferent bureaucracy come to pay their respects to him at his wake, much to the surprise of his colleagues. (To Junko, if Japanese audiences found this sappy please let us know.)

  • Foster Grimm

    This discussion has me psyched for “It’s A Wonderful Life”.
    Sunday evening is blocked out.
    If any of the NYC crowd want to drop by for point-counterpoint you are welcome.
    No fisticuffs, please.

    Cheers,
    Foster

  • alex

    Barry, I think you’re right to view LIFE ‘ s finale as true to its immediate world and thus emotionally true — up to a point. Judged as art, LIFE’s finale should also be assessed as social metaphor and ideological injunction and as such it seems to me to be overwrought to an extent that limits the film ‘s considerable greatness much as the Potter charicature of a banker does. One might protest that film is popular art, expert at its popular appeals. However, in its time — a pessmistic ’46 when fear of a new Depression was wide spread, Veteran malaise was nationally manifest, and divorce spiked — LIFE flopped. (All this even as Taft ‘s mainstreet Republicanism scored a never equaled House reversal at the polls and NAM–an association of the biggest actual Potters– saw leave to draft Taft – Hartley.)

    Or do I take LIFE too seriously?

  • Alex

    The link between LIFE’s commercial failure and ’45 public life is that that LIFE was Capra’s stab at an elevating Main Street fantasy at a time when Main Street was much caught up in its perenial fantasy of laissez faire as utopia. This is a fantasy that has recurrently adorned itself with the garnish of community “charity.” But by late ’46 the laissez faire mood was stern and Capra’s fancy of spontaeous community altrusim especially idle –as it would remain until LIFE found its sustainable place as a Christmas movie.

  • Barry Putterman

    No Alex, I would say that you do not take LIFE seriously enough; constantly recasting its particulars to conform to your general political biases. I would only repeat what I said to Junko regarding the critical mass response to Capra.

  • Alex

    Either Capra is soft peddling reactionary politics in his famously didactic films of Mr. Deeds on forward or he’s too naive to know what he’s communicating to people with a touch of political savvy (or savvy about Capra). In the former case one dismisses Capra’s politcs to think they don’t matter. I either case, one underestimates Capra for being responsible for what he’s communicating when he’s communicating.

    By way of offering a little independent documenatation, in his analysis of “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town,” in his “Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success” Joseph McBride documents Capra’s durably reactionary politics (and intense 30s Roosevelt hating (masked some though they were by his ability both to accommodate and slant left leaning screen writers). On American altruism, he points out, commenting on the Gary Cooper character in MR.DEEDS, that Deeds was far from being some sort of socialist or New Deal liberal, was, if anything, an “enlightened plutocrat” whose philosophy of “voluntary giving” differed little from that Republican businessman opposition to the New Deal.

    Or should I, perhaps, feel aestheically graced by Capra’s masterly expression of “voluntary giving.” How biased it would be of me not to capitulate to the spell of the carefully designed parables of Capra’s latter years rather then assess them in part for what they say.

  • Alex

    I won’t try to attribute Capra any views suggested by his documented sympathies of one time or an other for Franco, Mussolini or America First types like Lindberg.

  • Junko Yasutani

    ‘if Japanese audiences found this sappy please let us know’

    If sappy is meaning too sentimental, Japanese audience did not think too sentimental. I know that Western commentators think there is Japanese weakness for too cute and too sentimental, but you are asking about Japanese audience response, so not too sentimental.

    It is interesting comparison between IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE and IKIRU. IKIRU was from post WWII context of big change in Japanese society from oppression to freedom but with hierarchy and bureaucracy resisting. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE is also showing post WWII America changing.

    About reactionary Capra, he is not alone to be reactionary person, artist, film maker. Not so unique. There is reactionary population in America, and there is fascist population in Japan. Example of great fascist artist is Mishima Yukio. I hate his political position but I admit he is subtle writer of Japanese language, mastery of different writing style. For that reason I will read his novels again. I will see Capra movie again, because he is making interesting movie with skill even with reactionary view.

  • Barry Putterman

    Alex, I noted that Capra’s films were right-wing populist quite some time ago on this site. The difference between us is that you seem to feel that this is ipso facto evidence of unworthiness. You use terms like Republican and reactionary the way that old time racists used the “n”” word; to suggest that those who are different from you are to some extent not sufficiently human.

  • Barry Lane

    Joseph McBride is neither a philospher king nor an objective observer but rather a left leaning reactionary who sees almost all things through that prism. He is unworthy of quotation.

  • dm494

    Barry, where exactly did Alex suggest that Capra’s right-wing populism “is ipso facto evidence of unworthiness”, and where do his usages of “reactionary” and “Republican” have the implications of subhumanness that racist words do? It seems to me that everyone commenting here about him is agreed that Capra is a greatly talented filmmaker–Alex even refers to LIFE’s “considerable greatness”, and it’s hard to see how he could believe Republicans and reactionaries are “not sufficiently human” if he criticizes LIFE on the grounds that it caricatures Mr. Potter. All Alex seems to be arguing for is that the right-wing populism which you agree is in them detracts from the excellence of Capra’s most famous films. That sounds like a very reasonable criticism to me.

  • Barry Putterman

    dm, if right-wing populism is what detracts from the excellence of Capra’s most famous films, then right-wing populism is ipso facto a bad thing. The reasonable criticism would be to indicate how Capra uses it in a didactic way; which is something that Alex occasionally states but does not examine in his posts.

  • Junko Yasutani

    That is too harsh to say about Joseph McBride. Unnecessary.

  • Barry Lane

    In Searching For John Ford, which is admittedly the product of extensive research, Joe succeeds at the conclusion of 720 pages of failing to present a single sympathetic individual. I found him diligent but dull. Opinionated, but without the warmth, wit, insight or intelligence of either James Agee or Pauline Kael, a pair with some serous opinions that were at least fun to examine. Sometines an even-handed brevity works. In any case, siting McBride to justify a position goes dangerously near straw man territory.

  • Brian Dauth

    My belated 10 best viewing experiences this year (caveat: posted without seeing AMOUR; BARBARA; TABU). As I wrote, they started to pair off.

    White Car Movies:

    COSMOPOLIS: A great adaptation which inflects and changes the DeLillo original all for the better. Cronenberg’s images have Packer in the frame, but disconnected from whatever he is sharing the screen with. The scene in the coffee shop is ravishing.

    HOLY MOTORS: More ravishing digital images and melancholy fun – an Almodovar movie in the key of wistfulness rather than queerness. I love the ending where Carax adapts Wilder’s discarded opening for SUNSET BLVD and substitutes cars for corpses.

    A Person with a Camera:

    DEPARTURES: watching Ernie Gehr’s latest, I experienced most of the emotions that crop up in an average week in less than an hour. A filmic symphony in three movements, the movie is amazing, delightful and profound.

    ROMNEY AND HIS SUPPORTERS: THE 47% MIX: The cellphone movie comes of age.

    Old School

    CAESAR MUST DIE: The Taviani’s passion for images that capture the complexity and contradictions of life remains undimmed.

    YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN’ YET: Resnais’ movie is as disciplined, generous and forgiving as that of the Taviani’s.

    Genre

    LOOPER: A great sci-fi movie (full disclosure: movies with time travel narratives make me weak – especially when they are this good). No wasted images or action.

    DJANGO UNCHAINED: the first Tarantino movie I have liked and wanted to see again. At last, a movie about more than other movies, Tarantino also loosened up the stultifying over-determined precision that drained life from his previous efforts.

    Long-Form Pleasures:

    BORGEN (Season Two): First Female Danish Prime Minister (fictional when series premiered, then a reality) – the series has the speed, energy and topicality of 1930’s Warner Bros. movies – a quality it shares with . . .

    VEEP (Season One) First Female American Vice President (still fictional). Cinema verite style perfectly executed in terms of editing, movement, writing and acting (what Bigelow seems to be trying for in ZERO DARK THIRTY but fails to achieve – her San Francisco Art Institute training keeps getting in the way).

  • Brian Dauth

    I second Junko’s comment. No need for McBride bashing — I have learned from him. And if Pauline Kael’s writings — which include some of the more homophobic critiques this queer guy has ever read — are an example of warmth and intelligence, then maybe I am also wrong about Michael Bay movies.

  • Barry Lane

    William C. Carter’s life of Marcel Proust is more like my idea of an even handed apolitical and scholarly approach that informs as it entertains. And all this without an axe to grind. Obviously different in locale and subject matter many of the issues in the John Ford book are covered in the Proust. Opinion and speculation though is not information it is arrogance. Does not mean McBride’s work is without value. Don’t like Kael…? Not so crazy about her either but I thought it was cute Christian women she harbored distate for. Could be she was even handed in her dislikes. Yes? Simply moody and eager for attention.

  • Jeremy White

    I wish I could find a way to write Dave Kehr directly but this will have to do. I never heard of you until I was looking at reviews of older films and came across your review for blockbuster film JAWS. You were the only negative review for one of the most epic and everlasting films in cinema history. So I started to became curious and found more of your reviews. You gave bad reviews to films like Scarface and The Thing. Talking about NO HUMOR…it’s a horror movie sir, they don’t have to have humor, horror isn’t suppose to be funny. Texas Chainsaw Massacre a film I’m sure you hate, has no humor and yet is listed along with Gone with the Wind as a film classic. You have to be one of the world’s worst film critics. You were the only person to give Raiders of the Lost Ark a bad review. Every blockbuster that stands the test of time has been poorly reviewed by you. How do you stay employed? I thought I had seen the worst film critics in the world but you sir, you sir are proof that you can have no eye for film and still get a job as a critic. I would love to see a film you made because I can imagine it, a horrible, long, boring film, that would be in theaters for a day and removed as no one bought a ticket to see it. I think I am going to move to Chicago and get a film critic job, clearly they hire anyone, even someone who couldn’t tell an instant classic from a bag of poop.

  • Joseph McBride has in his biographies discussed extremely complex artists with the respect they deserve. The mystery remains and we realize it’s even more profound than we would have expected.

    The personal political views of artists: I love Leo McCarey although I don’t necessarily share his political opinions.

  • Barry Lane, your remarks about Joe McBride definitely violate the rules of civility we struggle to maintain around here. Any more of that and I’ll be forced to banish you to the outer darkness.

  • Barry Putterman

    There. You see what happens when we allow criticism of Frank Capra’s personal politics? It opens the floodgates to indictments of Joseph McBride and even our beloved Fearless Leader!

    Jeremy White, if Dave Kehr’s negative assessments of such certified poop bags as JAWS and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK are the only ones you have encountered, you have been living a very sheltered critical life and need to expand your reading list post haste. And, if you believe that humor and horror have no connection, then you most certainly need a crash course in Sam Raimi, John Landis, John Carpenter and, for that matter, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE.

  • Junko Yasutani

    ‘I never heard of you until I was looking at reviews of older films and came across your review for blockbuster film JAWS. You were the only negative review for one of the most epic and everlasting films in cinema history.’

    Not true. There is many negative review of JAWS and other movies you mention. Cinema history is not over, so there will be re-evaluation as long as movies is still discussed. We cannot say what is everlasting. Example, VERTIGO did not appear on Sight and Sound all time best list for many years, now number one movie.

    Dave has written much helpful criticism to explain movie that I did not appreciate until reading his insight. He is good critic. (And Joseph McBride also good critic.)

    Barry, not just those film makers you mention, but James Whale, Hitchcock, Tod Browning and many Japanese horror movie have humour. Also true of horror literature from West and Japan. There is black humour in much horror genre.

  • Barry Lane

    Dave K:

    In what way…? Please advise.

  • Brian Dauth

    Is this “Be Nasty to Accomplished Film Critics” Weekend? Was there a memo?

    Jeremy: among the many things that are valuable about Dave Kehr (though he would never say so himself) is that not only can he tell the difference between an instant classic and a bag of poop, he also knows when an instant classic is a bag of poop and is unafraid to do so.

    As for RAIDERS and JAWS: they have stood the test of time — which today amounts to achieving a blu-ray iteration — an indicator of marketability rather than aesthetic worth. (I will now stop channeling George Phipps, not a role I ever expected to play)

  • jbryant

    It’s highly unlikely that Jeremy is out of his teens or early 20s. At least his comment tracks that way (“you sir, you sir” strikes me as the dead giveaway). So instead of raking him over the coals too much for his ill-reasoned “argument,” I’ll commend him for seeking out older films (even if they are only certified genre classics). I suspect many of us started out scratching our heads over the clueless fogies who dared to find fault with our favorites, only to develop some grudging respect once our horizons broadened.

  • Foster Grimm

    Jeremy White strikes me as the young, brash kid come to challenge the established gunfighter.

    Foster

  • Barry Putterman

    jbryant, I believe you are right in your assessment of Jeremy’s background. And Junko, since he looks upon JAWS and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK as “older” films, it did not seem worthwhile to mention Whale or Browning in response

    Yes, we all have to start somewhere. And there isn’t one among us who still doesn’t have more to learn. However Barry Lane, I believe it is the name calling in yours and Jeremy’s posts that upsets rather than the viewpoint expressed.

  • Barry Lane

    Barry Putterman:

    I always appreciate your comments, but what name did I call McBride…? I expressed an opinion, and in the course of various conversations similar thoughts have been enunciated, I believe, relative films and filmmakers of the past. So, if I am off base I stand corrected. But truthfully, I don’t entirely get the offense.

  • Barry Putterman

    Barry Lane, I really shouldn’t have to point this out, but being critical of somebody’s artistic sensibility is one thing and attributing those things as personal characteristics is quite another. There is also a huge difference between audience members addressing an artist and his work and one colleague addressing another who is conceivably directly experiencing the remarks.

    Where I come from, “left leaning reactionary” and “opinionated…without warmth, wit, insight or intelligence” are considered to be insults when expressed person to person.

    But that’s just an opinion.

  • Barry Lane

    Barry Putterman:

    Fair enough. I will stand by the left leaning… but withdraw and apologize for the other comment re without warmth…etc.

  • Junko Yasutani

    ‘ since he looks upon JAWS and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK as “older” films, it did not seem worthwhile to mention Whale or Browning in response.’

    I did not think of that.

    Feeling from Jeremy White’s post reminding me of arrogant Japanese men who post make attack on person and not answer criticism, and it is why I do not like Japanese board. Especially arrogant to women. It is my difficulty, bad habit learned from arguing with Japanese men. I will be patient and think more before answering. Still, bad manners to attack host of this site.

  • Even as an eleven-year-old I found the abrupt devolution of Karen Allen’s character in Raiders of the Lost Ark, from feisty and independent to damsel in distress out-screaming Fay Wray, both narratively unnecessary and deeply obnoxious. As for the ‘shoot-the-Arab’ scene, let’s just say I agree with Robert Phillip Kolker’s words on the matter (not that I was aware of them at the time).

    There, now can I have total strangers address me with rambling, self-righteous petulance as well?

  • Barry Lane

    Barry Putterman:

    You are quite right. You should not have had to point this out. But, thank you for doing so. I had not considered either circumstance or context. And for that my apologies to all on board.

  • Junko Yasutani

    ‘my apologies to all on board.’

    To say that, you are gentleman. Very much gratitude.

  • Here are the nine new films of 2012 that I liked the most. Some are rich, audacious, dazzling, some are just extraordinary likeable and affectionate.

    In Another Country (Hong Sang-soo)
    Like Somebody in Love (Abbas Kiarostami)
    Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson)
    Nameless Gangster (Yoon Jong-bin)
    Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
    Prometheus (Ridley Scott)
    Skyfall (Sam Mendes)
    The Oranges (Julian Farino)
    We Bought a Zoo (Cameron Crowe)

    Some discoveries: SHERIFF OF FRACTURED JAW (Raoul Walsh), THE KILLER IS LOOSE (Budd Boetticher), LAST NIGHT (Massy Tadjedin), MILLENNIUM MAMBO (Hou Hsiao-hsien), UNSTOPPABLE (Tony Scott).

    THE MOON IS BLUE is not great Preminger, but it is playful and witty and I rather like it. A shame nothing came of Maggie McNamara, she had great potential. I like JAWS too, it has many moments of greatness. But I like Dave’s critical writings more than either of these films.

  • “I won’t try to attribute Capra any views suggested by his documented sympathies of one time or an other for Franco, Mussolini or America First types like Lindberg.”

    I don’t see evidence of a one-to-one correspondence between Capra’s rightist personal politics and his films. The films are mediated in a variety of ways that allow for some latitude in interpretation by viewers, even ultra left viewers like myself.

    McBride’s reading of “Mr. Deeds Goes To Town” is credible, but so is the view that sees the intrusion of the Depression into what has been up to that point escape entertainment as subversive, and that the bankers and lawyers engineer an insanity trial is a critique of their class; Deeds is not giving away just part of his wealth but all of it so that he ends up status quo ante except that now he gets the girl.

    Finally three cheers for Dave Kehr and Joe McBride, and Barry Lane you’re a mensch for apologizing.

  • pat graham

    hmm, DECASIA … it’s somewhere on my best list for the year it came out, though i can’t remember when exactly * but 2012 is obviously another sort of year, though a couple of the films i’ve listed are retreads from 2011: obviously we don’t get everything in a timely manner out here in the midwestern boonies, though for what it’s worth i did actually get out of the house to see every film i’ve listed * and in an age of DVDs at your every beck and call, that has to count for something!

    in any case, my tops for 2012 * happy new year to all!

    1. HORS SATAN, Bruno Dumont, France,
    2. THE MASTER. Paul Thomas Anderson, USA
    3. MOONRISE KINGDOM, Wes Anderson, USA
    4. POST TENEBRAS LUX, Carlos Reygadas, Mexico/France
    5. AITA, José Maria de Orbe, Spain
    6. PINA, Wim Wenders, Germany/France
    7. RAMPART, Oren Moverman, USA
    8. CRAZY HORSE, Frederick Wiseman, USA/France
    9. WUTHERING HEIGHTS, Andrea Arnold, UK
    10. RUST AND BONE, Jacques Audiard, France

    11. ALPS, Yorgos Lanthimos, Greece
    12. OUTRAGE, Takeshi Kitano, Japan
    13. MEKONG HOTEL, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand/UK
    14. HOLY MOTORS, Leox Carax, France/Germany
    15. I WISH, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan
    16. THE DEEP BLUE SEA, Terence Davies, UK
    17. FLIGHT, Robert Zemeckis, USA
    18. DETROPIA, Heidi Ewings and Rachel Gray, USA
    19. MAGIC MIKE, Steven Soderbergh, USA
    20. DJANGO UNCHAINED, Quentin Tarantino, USA
    LIFE OF PI, Ang Lee, USA

  • Alex

    Barry,

    As I recall, I first engaged you here by defending my use of Capracorn and saying that Capra occasionally lapsed into sappiness, in particular with reference to LIFE and its finale. To this you responded that the altruism of the end of LIFE was consistent with the concrete elements of the story, the backgrounds of the finale’s gift givers in particular. I agreed — “up to a point”– but added that the finale –however well set ip by the film’s plot–was expressing an ideologiocal point of view that shaped particulars rather than simply emerging from particulars. You took this quite irrelvantly as a case of ME stressing an ideologiocal objection. (If I’d been making an anti-conservative point I don’t thinkl I’d have also noted the sentimental charicaturing of banker via Potter.) I responded by documenting the specific ideological character of Capra’s conclusion in terms Capra’s “voluntaristic giving” (drawn from McBride but consistent with my impressions). You persist in seeing my discounting of Capra and LIFE — both to very much to my liking though not beyond reservations– as ideological objection on my part rather than aesthetic dislike for Capra’s … sometime sappiness, something all the more unconvincing, I think, for being asubstantially ideological expression. (So, it is true that I don’t think spontaneous local expressions of Charity hold out utopian hopes — or arise from sets of charcaters not already arising from an overall ideologicall directed design.)

    On an other npte, though I’m no expert on McBride, I’s surprise to hear him termed leftist. I’d always had the impression he was rather more right than left leaning.

  • “I’d always had the impression he was rather more right than left leaning.”

    McBride left “Variety” because his pro IRA sympathies and can be found from time to time at the World Socialist Website.