As Sure as the Turning of the Earth

As we stand on the brink of another year of cinematic wonderment, here’s the annual invitation to all readers, contributors and unscrupulous publicists to submit their ten best lists — or any other form of sane, sober, carefully nuanced form of critical reflection over the last twelve months.

159 comments to As Sure as the Turning of the Earth

  • Jim Gerow

    Later this month San Francisco’s Noir City festival is showing two Siodmak films, THE DARK MIRROR and THE STRANGE AFFAIR OF UNCLE HARRY, at the Castro Theatre.

  • jbryant

    And for those who can’t make the Noir City festival, UNCLE HARRY is on Netflix Instant Watch.

  • A 1929 film by Duvivier, MAMAN COLIBRI, has just been released on European Film Treasures. Have a look at: http://www.europafilmtreasures.eu/PY/419/see-the-film-maman_colibri

  • I forgot one very interesting film in my list:

    Just Another Love Story (Ole Bornedal)

    I don’t think it got a theatrical release in the US and went straight to DVD, so it might have slipped under the radar there.

  • Tom Brueggemann

    Yann -

    It was released in the US by Koch Lorber, initially in NY in January 2009. I imagine it got limited playoff, and it did in due course come out on DVD.

  • Happy New Year from me, too – and remembering the best I’ve seen last year 2010 (taking into consideration the Finnish opening night).

    1. A Prophet (Jacques Audiard)

    One of the best and strangest prison films, and manages to work its way around and avoiding clichés. A very strong central performance, which seems to show the whole man, and the limits of that whole.

    2. The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke)

    I usually haven’t “liked” Haneke’s films, but then that word is not really one to use about his cinema. In this he had a wonderful cast of grown ups and children, and there seemed to be compassion alongside the chilling mystery. A very accomplished piece of film.

    3. The Painting Sellers (Juho Kuosmanen)

    - This Finnish one hour film was made for television (first performance this spring), but when it won the young filmmakers’ award at Cannes 2010, Kuosmanen had the chance to get it to a limited showing in the theatres too, in Finland. A wonderful film about an unlucky bunch of people who are trying to sell an artist’s still wet paintings in Lappland during a cold and snowy winter. JP Passi, who wrote the script about his own youthful experiences, and director Kuosmanen succeed in showing the warmth and the comical in this tale of frustrated hopes. The relationship of the young driver and the cancer stricken woman artist speaks of growing friendship and love with looks and glances that tell more than the harshly teasing quality of the spoken lines. I love every 60 minutes of it.

    3. Steam of Life (Joonas Berghäll ja Mika Hotakainen)

    - We Finns have had the sauna for hundreds of years, but only know Mika Hotakainen and Joonas Berghäll got the idea of making a documentary about it. Steam of Life (or Miesten vuoro – Men’s turn) does show differently built sauna – even one inside an old phone booth – but the main idea is to meet men in sauna, naked, in the raw, in a place of retreat, even a holy place, like sauna is for the Finnish people, and to get them open up and tell their story in front of a camera (and in front of a cameraman, the two directors and the soundman, all naked too). And do they have tales to tell!

    5. Bad Lieutenant – Port of call: New Orleans (Werner Herzog)

    - Herzog’s films not made in Germany are fine action pieces, which define genres anew.

    6. The Ghost Writer (Roman Polanski)

    - Nothing revolutionary in this, just plain fine film making, which is a wonder to behold, and very entertaining, too.

    7. The Social Network (David Fincher)

    - The last half of my list lists “only good” films, that weren’t perfect or real eye openers. Like this one. SN is an irresistible piece of film craft starting with its bravura conversation at the café table with the boy and the girl. It rivals even the best of the classic Hollywood in its concentration on spoken word and nuances. Magnificent, but I don’t know if the digitally enhanced rowing boat –scene really was necessary, maybe it was just Fincher showing off? Very contemporary and timeless in its depiction of friendships gone wrong. Touching even in its best moments. An Oscar for Eisenberg!

    8. You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (Woody Allen)

    - Is this the best Allen can do at this time of his career? But it will do nicely, there’s a movie magic, even musical magic, in turning one beautifully done reworking of a running theme after another. Allen’s forte is consistency in the lightness of his touch, and what stamina!

    9. A Single Man (Tom Ford)

    - A film from a fashion guru? I thought I was getting another flashy slow motion show off, but no! Tom Ford brought a fully developed style of his own to this remarkable little film. And he must have Losey’s The Boy With Green Hair as one of his childhood favorites (it is mine!), judging by the similarities of the all different/all the same lecture by Colin Firth’s masterly professor and the school room scene in Losey’s underestimated classic.

    10. Kick-Ass (Matthew Vaughn)

    - I’m scraping at the bottom of the barrel here! Half of the film was fascinating and real fun – any film with a Sparks song can’t be all that bad – but in the end it degenerated into celebrating just the same old continuing story of superman franchises and graphic violence, by kids, even!

    But some of my best film experiences during 2010 apart and over some of the afore mentioned, were old films seen first the first time (or first time in their proper picture format), like Losey’s The Damned, the first Finnish dvd of Bresson’s films, many classic Lang-films on dvd in Finland for the first time (and of course the Master Class of Big Heat by Eisenchitz and The General by David Robinson in Sodankylä Midnight Sun Film Festival), the dvd-publication of Blomberg’s The White Reindeer (Valkoinen peura), a Finnish vampire version, unfortunately cut by 10 minutes of its original length (the restored pring was shown at Sodankylä), the wonderful Ruthless by Ulmer shown for the first time on Finnish tv before Christmas (and does anyone know, now that Ruthless has been restored and registered, is there any possibility of its being published on a decent dvd/Blu-ray?). But perhaps the biggest surprise and Christmas present was the Criterion double-dvd (American Blu-ray’s don’t play on European Blu-ray players – a shame!) of my favorite childhood film (alongside Green hair, of course), The Night of the Hunter in its original 1.66:1 glory and the wonderful second disc with Laughton directing the actors! First read in Preston Neal Jones’s Making of book and now, at last, on view for everybody to see, the genius filmmaking of Charles Laughton. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Brian Dauth

    Forgive my tardiness, but life intervened. Here is my belated list of top ten movie experiences divided into three groups.

    Gold

    WORLD ON A WIRE (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
    Dead for decades and his movies still run circles around everyone else’s. Wow.

    Silver

    ALICE IN WONDERLAND (Tim Burton)
    A wondrous postmodern pastiche (in the fullest Hutcheon sense). Allusive enough to set a spectator’s thoughts and emotions flying without ever sinking into the mire of modernist essentialism.

    CARLOS (Olivier Assayas)
    I always read about Orson Welles keeping the pieces of OTHELLO in his head as he shot over time and space. Assayas displays similar legerdemain as he creates an expressive/coherent/developing mise en scene over the course of five hours. An amazing aesthetic experience.

    FILM SOCIALISME (Jean-Luc Godard)
    I have never before been so moved by a Godard film. I saw both screenings at the New York Film Festival, and each time I was buoyed by the robust intelligence, melancholy, and hopefulness of the film.

    HEREAFTER (Clint Eastwood)
    Eastwood continues to demonstrate the beauty and necessity of the prosaic in a world clamoring for, besotted with (and often duped by) the poetic.

    POST MORTEM (Pablo Larrain)
    Larrain hooked me with TONY MANERO in 2008. He tightens his grip on my imagination with this new film. He is creating a new idiom for cinema.

    UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL PAST LIVES (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
    His best film yet; one that evinces an openness to chance that can emanate only from serene assurance. The movie’s shifts/transformations/doublings exhilarate without becoming cloying.

    Bronze

    THE GHOST WRITER (Roman Polanski)
    Crisp, sly, and enjoyable. I saw the movie projected digitally, and while I do not know if it was shot in digital, the resultant image fabulously conveys the pungent Polanski flavor.

    I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS (Glen Ficarra & John Requa)
    The best romantic comedy of the year. I’ll take rutting fags over chaste lesbians any day.

    SHUTTER ISLAND (Martin Scorsese)
    Hated when first seen, I returned and liked it much more (the first of Scorsese’s “larger” productions to hold my interest through a second viewing). While still in the realm of the misunderstood male, Scorsese seems to have allowed his analysis to go beyond its usual confines which I found refreshing.

  • Hi Dave, and Happy New Year. As always, am enjoying your site and reviews, even though distressed by the passing of Chabrol this past year. Here’s my 10 Best list for 2010. Follow this link to the full feature, http://www.eastbayexpress.com/ebx/the-ten-best-movies-of-2010/Content?oid=2360720

    In no special order:

    1) The Square directed by Nash Edgerton
    2) Animal Kingdom directed by David Michôd
    3) The Social Network directed by David Fincher
    4) The Lisbeth Salander Trilogy, comprising The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, directed by Niels Arden Oplev and Daniel Alfredson
    5) Carlos directed by Olivier Assayas
    6) 14-18: The Noise and the Fury directed by Jean-François Delassus
    7) Mother directed by Bong Joon-ho
    8) Winter’s Bone directed by Debra Granik
    9) The Kids Are All Right directed by Lisa Cholodenko
    10) True Grit directed by Ethan and Joel Coen