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.

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)

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)

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)
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.
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.
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
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
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)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Love at First Flight (short film, 2015)

This year, I was a team leader for the 48 Hour Film Project. You are assigned a genre, prop, line of dialogue, and a character. In Los Angeles, we started at 7:30 PM on August 7th and finished by 7:30 PM on August 9th. Here is our project:

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Top Films (July & August 2015)

Polytechnique (2009, Denis Villeneuve)
It blew me away.

Io la conoscevo bene/I Knew Her Well (1965, Antonio Pietrangeli)
A light film that really captures the lightheartedness of the sixties.

The Stanford Prison Experiment (2015, Kyle Patrick Alvarez)
The film was low-budget, but featured great acting from the students who portrayed guards and prisoners in an experiment at Stanford. Based on true story, I wish this movie had been around when I was in college. Instead, we watched videos hosted by Philip Zimbardo (the leader of this experiment). Knowing what Philip Zimbardo looks and sounds like, I was a little bit disappointed by Billy Crudup's portrayal of him. The hair and make-up was authentic, but Crudup did not emulate Zimbardo's accent. But for what it was, it was very entertaining and kept me on the edge of my seat, even though I knew the story. 

Irrational Man (2015, Woody Allen)
The mixed reviews have been pretty unfair. Rarely do you get a choice film from a comedic director that explores a moral dilemma. I could see how someone could be disappointed with it, however, I was not. 

L'Homme à l'imperméable/The Man in the Raincoat (1957,  Julien Duvivier)
Duvivier is a master filmmaker. He creates this mystery beautifully. It's highly recommended.

Short film: Café (1990, Gretchen Somerfeld)

Cafe by Gretchen Somerfeld from gretchen somerfeld on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Top Films (June 2015)
Marie Heurtin/Marie's Story (2014, Jean-Pierre Améris)
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (2003, Judy Irving)
I'll Do Anything (1994, James L. Brooks)
Kobieta w kapeluszu/Woman in a Hat (1985, Stanislaw Rózewicz)

 Open House (2014, Marisha Mukerjee)
'A'  (1965, Jan Lenica)
Hunger (1974, Peter Foldes)
Picknick mit Weismann (1968, Jan Svankmajer)   
The Marina Experiment (2009, Marina Lutz) Video:

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Top Films (May 2015)
La Drôlesse (1979, Jacques Doillon)
Strong, poignant, strange, this film is probably the heir to Les Dimanches de Ville d'Avray/Sundays and Cybèle (1962). I disagree with the English film title "The Hussy". The main character, Madeleine, is more of a victim. She is naive in some ways because of her age, yet completely lucid.
Bessie (2015, Dee Rees) 
Great biopic of blues legend Bessie Smith.
Rue de l'Estrapade (1953, Jacques Becker)
Would have been trite with a lesser director, but Becker excels and creates a glorious ending.
Les Mauvaises rencontres (1955, Alexandre Astruc)
Definitely the best Astruc film I've seen so far.

The Wolfpack (2015, Crystal Moselle)
Definitely worth seeing. I plan on checking it out again.

Honorable mentions:
Eaux profondes/Deep Water (1981, Michel Deville)
Auto Focus (2002, Paul Schrader)
Antoine et Antoinette (1947, Jacques Becker)
La Marie du port (1950, Marcel Carné)
Le Pont des Arts (2004, Eugène Green)
Les doigts dans la tête/Touched in the Head (1974, Jacques Doillon)
Promène-toi donc tout nu! (1999, Emmanuel Mouret)

Friday, May 1, 2015

Top Films (April 2015)
L'homme que l'on aimait trop/In the Name of My Daughter (2014, André Téchiné)
Iris (2014, Albert Maysles)
Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present (2012, Matthew Akers, Jeff Dupre)
The Human Experiment (2013, Don Hardy Jr., Dana Nachman)   
Mon amie Victoria/My Friend Victoria (2014, Jean-Paul Civeyrac)
Bill Cunningham New York (2010, Richard Press)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Top Films (March 2015)
Weapons of the Spirit (1987, Pierre Sauvage)
The Pervert's Guide to Cinema (2006, Sophie Fiennes)
White God/Fehér isten (2014, Kornél Mundruczó)
3 coeurs/3 Hearts (2014, Benoît Jacquot)
Girlfriends (1978, Claudia Weill)
Man from Reno (2014, Dave Boyle)

Elsa la rose (1966, Agnès Varda)
Les Demoiselles ont eu 25 ans/The Young Girls Turn 25 (1993, Agnès Varda)

Honorable Mention:
I Hired a Contract Killer (1990, Aki Kaurismäki)
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (2012, Alison Klayman)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Top Films (February 2015)
La muerte de un burócrata/Death of a Bureaucrat (1966, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea)
Les Maudits/The Damned (1947, René Clément)
Crime Wave (1985, John Paizs)
Les années 80 (1983, Chantal Akerman)

Short Film:
Indochine: College Boy (2013, Xavier Dolan) Video Link

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Top Films (January 2015)
Flicka oct hyacinter/Girl with Hyacinths (1950, Hasse Ekman)
This film wants to be Otto Preminger's Laura sometimes, but this Swedish gem is distinctly its own.
Falkenau, the Impossible (1988, Emil Weiss)
Director Samuel Fuller rants for over an hour about the holocaust and says that people who don't believe the holocaust ever happened should be sent away. Yes, please.

Abschied von gestern - (Anita G.)/Yesterday Girl (1966, Alexander Kluge)
I had heard about Kluge's filmmaking for years, but still wasn't prepared for this breathtakingly vivacious movie.
Viva Cuba (2005, Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti, Iraida Malberti Cabrera)
This is a cute and charming movie about the friendship between a boy and a girl. Even at around nine or ten years old, they are bound by societal restrictions which they seek to overcome.
Household Saints (1993, Nancy Savoca)
It started out quietly, but by the time it ended, I was convinced it was a masterpiece. Spanning three decades and looking into the life of an Italian-American family, Nancy Savoca has created another worthwhile film.

Honorable Mention:
Gaudi Afternoon (2001, Susan Seidelman)
Judy Davis' detective is not unlike Elliott Gould in Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye. However, the setting is Barcelona and she is paired with the wild Marcia Gay Harden, in one of her best performances. How come this movie is so unknown? It is beyond me.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Top Films (December 2014)
Selma (2014, Ava DuVernay)
Kind of strange that there hasn't been a biopic of Martin Luther King, Jr. Amazingly powerful performances and great directing.
Nightcrawler (2014, Dan Gilroy)
 Dan Gilroy's directorial debut is stunning, tight, and features great performances.
Foxcatcher (2014, Bennett Miller)
Please just give Steve Carell an Oscar already.
Wild (2014, Jean-Marc Vallée)
Laura Dern and Reese Witherspoon give great performances.
Three Lives (1971, Louva Irvine, Susan Kleckner)
The 4.3 rating on IMDB is from nearly all males. I wouldn't say don't see this film if you're male, however, be warned that is about three strong feminists. There really is no reason this film should be rated so low on IMDB.