Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Top Films (December 2015 - February 2016)



Top Features

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Mes petites amoureuses  (1974, Jean Eustache) I had seen a bunch of Eustache's other film, but this was a very affecting story of childhood much like Truffaut's The 400 Blows or Maurice Pialat's L'Enfance Nue/Naked Childhood (Pialat was also an actor in this film).
Scent of a Woman (1992, Martin Brest) Normally I avoid remakes like the plague, but Al Pacino's performance really was amazing and inspiring.
Come Back, Little Sheba  (1952, Daniel Mann) Great portrait of a man who suffers from alcoholism (Academy Award nominated).
Advantageous (2015, Jennifer Phang) This was the top new film I viewed for the Spirit Awards. I was underwhelmed by a lot of the other nominees. However, this one had great characters and did a lot with a low budget.
Agantuk   (1991, Satyajit Ray)  Great characters and story.
La madriguera/Honeycomb (1969, Carlos Saura) One of the most strangest and daring films, even for Carlos Saura.
Déjà Vu    (1997, Henry Jaglom) Incredible writing fused with an unbelievable story.
Nothing Personal (2009, Urszula Antoniak) This is such a quiet film with great cinematography.
Passion Fish  (1992, John Sayles) This was the third film I've seen by John Sayles recently. Lianna and Baby's It's You also had great performances, but Mary McDonnell was especially wonderful and received a well-deserved Oscar nomination for this film. Angela Bassett was also great; she definitely made the film interesting to watch.
The Intern (2015, Nancy Meyers) I'm such a sucker for Nancy Meyers' films, plus the acting was so great.     
Twenty Feet from Stardom (2013, Morgan Neville) Great history on background singers who did not receive their due.


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Honorable Mention
The Automatic Hate (2015, Justin Lerner) So many films these days do not have the depth that this one had. The writing was excellent and cognizant, and the story was off-beat but charming.
The Big Kahuna (1999, John Swanbeck) Great dialogue and acting. The title and DVD cover are a bit misleading.
El viaje a ninguna parte/Voyage to Nowhere (1986, Fernando Fernán Gómez) Almost like Underground (but about an actor instead of a politician), this film covers the amazing life of an actor weaving in and out around truth, fantasy, and reality.
¡Cuba Sí! (1961, Chris Marker) I never realized this film inspired Agnes Varda's Salut les Cubains, a short film I've been championing for years.
Kon-Tiki (1950, Thor Heyerdahl)
Run for Cover  (1955, Nicholas Ray)
Gods and Monsters (1998, Bill Condon) A really great look into director James Whale's life.
Joy (2015, David O. Russell) This movie definitely was hit or miss for crowds over the holiday season. I personally found it inspiring with great performances.


Short
Picturing Barbara Kruger (2015, Pippa Bianco)    https://vimeo.com/111582602   
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness    (2015, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy) Won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short. Very important film on honor killings.
A Matter of Loaf and Death (2008, Nick Park) Finally saw this short. It was really well-done and spot on.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Top 25 Films of 2015

Here are my top 25 films of the year, including two ties. Scroll down to see the top short films. There were a lot of good documentaries this year. They deserve to be included in the main list.

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1.     Where to Invade Next (Michael Moore)
2.     Best of Enemies (Robert Gordon, Morgan Neville)
3.     Brooklyn (John Crowley)
4.     Listen to Me Marlon (Stevan Riley)
5.     3 coeurs/Three Hearts (Benoît Jacquot)
6.     Marie Heurtin/Marie's Story (Jean-Pierre Améris)
7.     L'Homme qu'on aimait trop/In the Name of My Daughter (André Téchiné)
8.     He Named Me Malala (Davis Guggenheim)
9.     Une Nouvelle amie/The New Girlfriend (François Ozon)
10.     Phoenix (Christian Petzold)
11.      Le Tout nouveau testament /The Brand New Testament (Jaco Van Dormael)
12.     Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief  (Alex Gibney)
13.     Iris (Albert Maysles)
14.     Irrational Man (Woody Allen)
15.     The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (Stanley Nelson)
16.     Miekkailija/The Fencer (Klaus Härö)
17.     What Happened, Miss Simone? (Liz Garbus) & Janis: Little Girl Blue (Amy J. Berg) [tie]
18.     Far from the Madding Crowd (Thomas Vinterberg)
19.     Sisters (Jason Moore) & Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (J.J. Abrams) [tie]
20.     Freeheld (Peter Sollett)
21.     Meru (Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi)
22.     The Wolfpack (Crystal Moselle)
23.     Amy (Asif Kapadia)
24.     The End of the Tour (James Ponsoldt)
25. The Walk (Robert Zemeckis)

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Top Short Films of the Year:
Picturing Barbara Kruger (Pippa Bianco) Vimeo link
The List (Michael Brueggemeyer)
World of Tomorrow (Don Hertzfeldt)
I Remember Nothing (Zia Anger)
Timeless (Arnold Aldridge, Ricky Rhodes)
Ghost Stories (Sean Keller)
My Lunch (Rommel Andaya)
Bro Night (Lane Smith Jr.)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Top Films (October & November 2015)



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Brooklyn (2015, John Crowley) pictured above Great performances, especially from Saoirse Ronan.
Listen to Me Marlon (2015, Stevan Riley) Amazing documentary on Marlon Brando.
Inequality for All (2013, Jacob Kornbluth) Top marks for the documentary that explains the economic collapse well.
Cast a Dark Shadow (1955, Lewis Gilbert) Under the radar noir that more than met my expectations.
Where to Invade Next (2015, Michael Moore) Definitely don't miss this film when it comes out. It is really one of Moore's strongest works. He goes all over the world to find out what countries are doing things better than the United States, so we can learn from them.

Lots of Honorable Mentions:

Anomalisa (2015, Duke Johnson, Charlie Kaufman)
Janis: Little Girl Blue (2015, Amy J. Berg)
Le Tout nouveau testament/The Brand New Testament (2015, Jaco Van Dormael)
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (2015, Stanley Nelson)    
Klopka/The Trap (2007, Srdan Golubovic)
The Walk (2015, Robert Zemeckis)
Juliette ou La clef des songes (1951, Marcel Carné)
All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records (2015, Colin Hanks)
What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015, Liz Garbus)
The Men Who Made the Movies: Howard Hawks (1973, Richard Schickel)
Love & Mercy (2014, Bill Pohlad)       

Short Films:
La Vague (1891, Étienne-Jules Marey)       
Majorité opprimée/Oppressed Majority (2010, Eleonore Pourriat)               
Blok/Blocks (1982, Hieronim Neumann)   

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Top Films (September 2015)

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Phoenix (2014, Christian Petzold)
There is another movie this year about a women with bandages covering her face trying to establish her identity. However, I found Phoenix to be the far stronger movie with a far more satisfying ending.

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Hikinige/Hit & Run (1966, Mikio Naruse)
Like Akira Kurosawa's High and Low, Naruse directed a tight thriller that thoroughly entertains. Although a departure, it is one of his strongest films.

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Une Nouvelle amie/The New Girlfriend (2014, François Ozon)
Like some of his more recent films like In the House and Young & Beautiful, The New Girlfriend has the same vibe. Entertaining, yet suspenseful. Also 

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Freeheld (2015, Peter Sollett)
I read a recent article on Indiewire that claimed this film was safe and dull. Writer Jessica Kiang also criticized such classics as Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Philadelphia, and Gentleman's Agreement, because, "These films are frequently cited as agents of attitudinal, if not actual change." These films seem to be a reflection of social change in America. Freeheld features great performances and shows 

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Sauvage innocence (2001, Philippe Garrel)
Garrel thrives when he's creating ultra-personal films.

Honorable mention:
99 Homes (2014, Ramin Bahrani)
She's Funny That Way (2014, Peter Bogdanovich)