End-of-year movie list


2011: Movies seen

Some new, some quite old… I indulged in a lot of film viewing in 2011. As with most things in my life, it went in waves, experiencing phases in which I could easily have watched ten movies in a row while at other times, long stretches would pass without watching anything. I have placed an asterisk next to the films I recommend (and made some random comments if I felt it warranted). Just because I did not mark something does not mean it was bad or not worthwhile, but the stars indicate favorites.

De helaasheid der dingen*
The Black Swan
127 Hours
Winter's Bone*
Gunner Palace
Dogtooth* (Extremely bizarre Greek movie but an interesting study indeed)
Mother and Child (This film was all right, but went on too long. Unfortunately I felt that the characters embodied too much abrasiveness to make them likeable, and even if that was probably part of the point (illustrating how damaged, angry and closed off they were), it made it hard to relate to. Besides which, I can never decide whether I like Annette Bening or not.)
Cairo Time*
Copie conforme
Blue Valentine (I really felt that this was overrated. While it does depict the phases of a relationship with some extremely bittersweet storytelling, the characters made it hard to like.)
The Fighter
The King's Speech
Another Year (I still have mixed feelings about this. Widely praised, the film and many Mike Leigh pictures on the whole, I find the characters grating on the nerves, even if they have sympathetic moments. Lesley Manville’s Mary is just such a character. Most of the time she is infuriatingly annoying, but you cannot help but pity her.)
Somewhere (Huge waste of time)
The Tillman Story
Inside Job*
The Company Men
Kings of Pastry
In a Better World (Haevnen)*
Fados (documentary)
The Secret in their Eyes*
Mesrine: Part 1: Killer Instinct*
Good Evening, Mr Wallenberg
Public Enemy #1: Mesrine, part 2*
The Last Station
I Am Love
Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer*
Casino Jack and the United States of Money
The Art of the Steal
Countdown to Zero
Please Give
A Woman Under the Influence
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Madness of King George
The Young Victoria
Bright Star
The Wedding Song*
The Walker
Never Forever
Body Heat
Hannah Takes the Stairs
I'm Still Here
The Secret Life of Words
Bi the Way (documentary)
The Five Obstructions* (I enjoyed what the filmmaker had to go through)
The Sicilian Girl
Exit through the Gift Shop* (Not at all what I expected)
Terribly Happy
The Other Man
The Eyes of Tammy Faye*
The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg
Prague (Danish)
S21 The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine
Eight Men Out
Frontline: God in America How Religious Liberty Shaped America
John Rabe
One Day You'll Understand (Plus tard, tu comprendras)
Hideaway (Le Refuge)
Nights and Weekends
For your Consideration
Obscene (docu)
Crossing the Line (docu – about an American military guy who was a defector to North Korea)
Sin nombre*
The Milk of Sorrow
The Lou and Eleanor Gehrig Story
The Basketball Diaries
Or, My Treasure*
Easy A
The Trials of Henry Kissinger
The One Percent
My Architect: A Son's Journey
God Grew Tired of Us (docu)
Close to Home
The War on Democracy (docu — US intervention in South America)
Mr Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A Leuchter Jr* (really weird documentary about some guy who invented some various methods used for capital punishment in the US despite having absolutely no qualifications to do so)
The Fall of Fujimori
Full Frontal
Shutter Island
The Way I Spent the End of the World
The Corporation
Sacco and Vanzetti* (stuff like this – true stories about miscarriage of justice – deeply bothers me)
The Big Buy: How Tom Delay Stole Congress
Babies* (I was surprised to find that I enjoyed this documentary. I am NOT a fan of babies, but the comparative way these stories were told was visually arresting and fascinating)
The Business of Being Born
Mugabe and the White African* (This story really disturbed me a lot.)
The Listening Project (Americans overseas asking people how they feel about Americans)
Manufacturing Dissent (docu about Michael Moore)
Maxed Out
Bush Family Fortunes
Independent Intervention
Imaginary Witness (docu – Hollywood depictions of Holocaust)
National Geographic: Guns, Germs and Steel series
After Innocence
Escape from Suburbia
Triage: Dr James Orbinski's Humanitarian Dilemma
Broken Limbs (docu)
Worse than War
Time of Fear (Japanese internment)
All in this Tea
The Runaways
Postcards from the Edge
South of the Border (Hugo Chavez docu)
When We Were Kings*
A Crude Awakening: the Oil Crash (docu)
Arizona Dream
Radio Bikini (docu)
Iousa (docu)
Under Our Skin (docu)
Panama Deception (docu)
America: The Story of US (This was such a cheesy, ultra-patriotic and not at all serious – and long – documentary. My big gripe is mostly that they asked people like Sheryl Crow things about America and American history. I would rather listen to historians, personally. Who cares what Sheryl Crow thinks? Likewise, and much more perplexing, is that Liev Schreiber provided narration for the US version of this, but a British narrator provided narration for the versions released worldwide. I cannot imagine that the intro narration remained the same, “We are patriots. We are fighters” kind of stuff… a British narrator could not seriously read those lines!?)
Prisoner of Paradise (documentary)
Zizek: The Reality of the Virtual
Ulee's Gold
Not Angels but Angels (docu, young boy prostitutes in Czech)
Masterpiece Contemporary: Endgame
Flow: For Love of Water
Constantine's Sword (docu: antiSemitism in Catholic church)
Naked Ambition: A Look at the X-Rated Industry
Gainsbourg: Vie heroique*
Meek's Cutoff (I enjoyed this, even if I would not recommend it. It moved like molasses, but I appreciated the long scenes that just showed this party of wagons traveling through a desolate desert. Somehow the sound of the wagons moving along slowly lulled me to sleep so often that I had to restart this movie more than once.)
The Ides of March (This was strange because it started well but then tried to become a mystery/thriller with a lot of ominous scenes and foreshadowing music… but it seemed like major overkill.)
The Ghost Writer
Melancholia* (I think this movie missed out on a lot of potential. It was beautiful in some sense, and Charlotte Gainsbourg gave a powerful performance (I think she made a lot more sense than Kirsten Dunst’s character). There are so many threads that seemed misplaced or ill-conceived, such as… why was this wedding happening at all? Clearly the groom had some clue into the bride’s major depression problems but then decides after going through with this elaborate wedding to just walk away. Did he think she would magically transform into someone happy by getting married? And while Dunst had a few moments in which she conveyed the listlessness of depression beautifully, there are other times when her character just feels tremendously mercurial and bitchy rather than depressed. The way she is written does not make a lot of sense. But I still think it is worthwhile to watch.)
True Grit
The Devil's Double
Bhutto (docu)*
High Art
The Kid Stays in the Picture(docu)
Kabul Transit (docu)
Carnal Knowledge
Mary and Max*
Orgasm Inc (docu)
Page One: Inside the NY Times (docu)
Welcome to the Rileys
Mammoth (Really annoying. I felt a tremendous amount of sadness for the minor characters – the main couple’s Filipina nanny and the Thai girl that the main guy in the story sleeps with. I am sure I was meant to feel something for all the people, but I have a lot of trouble feeling anything for the main characters and their privileged life and the way they express their ennui and seem to take things for granted.
Trinity and Beyond (docu atomic bomb devel)
Pearl Jam 20
Withnail and I (So annoying, feel that this wasted my time. I like Paul McGann but most of this just felt… wasted.)
The Trip

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