A 2010s List for Those That Couldn't Wait

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
swo17
Bloodthirsty Butcher
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#426 Post by swo17 » Fri Apr 30, 2021 10:14 pm

As promised, here are my favorite experimental films from the decade:

Coming Attractions (Peter Tscherkassky, 2010) full video DVD
Tscherkassky does a bit of his usual found-footage-in-a-blender trick here, but frankly most of the appeal for me comes from the parts that he more or less leaves alone. A lot of this seems to come from discarded B-roll of women performing benign repetitive actions, presumably for commercials of some sort. It's generally just a quick but welcoming flick of the eyes and turn of the head--reset and repeat--but I find it completely hypnotic and want to marry the saxophone girl.

A Primer in Sky Socialism (Ken Jacobs, 2013) full video but in 2D 3D Blu-ray
Towards a Six-Dimensional Cinema (Peter Rose, 2018) excerpt
These movies were not cheap to acquire but oh so worth it. For the Peter Rose film, I started a correspondence with the director late last year by reaching out at the email listed on his website. Nice, humble guy, and I wanted to support him so I paid a fair chunk of change for him to load up a hard drive with a lot of his work. This was necessary because a high-res copy of the full hour-long version of this film takes up around 80GB. You can get a taste for it by watching the 10-minute excerpt that I included in the link, but note that some extra work is required to enjoy it in 3D. The quickest way is to distance yourself far enough from your screen that you can cross your eyes until the two images converge. You can also pay about $10 for a pair of Google Cardboard glasses, slide your smart phone in, and watch it more easily that way. Anyway, for the film itself, I think it's a really novel use of the 3D format. Rose constructs these artificial spaces, often composed from buildings or landscapes, where he'll put one on top of the other, or have them interact with each other from different perspectives. A common approach in experimental film perhaps, but something is added by it being in 3D, particularly when Rose puts his cameras in motion and you get to experience the thrill of moving in two directions at once. It's worth noting that Rose has made several other shorter 3D films since, which tend to pull from this larger work but add different musical accompaniment or narration, to kind of make them each their own thing.

I tie Jacobs' work to Rose's because Rose actually learned the ropes of making films in 3D from Jacobs' daughter Nisi. Anyway, there's a ridiculously expensive (which is why it's still in print despite only 500 copies being pressed) 3D Blu-ray available from Re:voir including three of his 3D works, each around an hour long. I actually just watched it for the first time this week (so the film cited above wasn't on my submitted list) but it's an absolute stunner. It's mostly just a series of still, blurry photographs, the kind you get with a long shutter speed and judicious use of a light pen. I'm not sure it would be all that impressive in 2D, but with the added depth it's really something to behold. This is 3D demo material as far as I'm concerned.

Paul Clipson
Union (2010) excerpt
The Liquid Casket/Wilderness of Mirrors (2014) full video DVD
Feeler (2016) full video DVD
Spectral Ascension (2017) full video

So like I mentioned for Rose above, apparently Clipson did a similar thing, where he would constantly experiment in a live setting with different combinations of the video elements of his films paired with various musical accompaniments. (I say "did" because he sadly died early in 2018, just a little over a decade after he had started making films in earnest.) This means that if you watch all of his films in succession they will likely start to feel pretty repetitive, but also that you can kind of pick your favorites à la carte, as I've done here. Clipson worked with some big names in the ambient music scene, including Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Liz Harris (aka Grouper), Sarah Davachi, and Lawrence English, so you have some good options to choose from. As for the films themselves, well, there's a certain vein of experimental cinema that I suppose can be described as "loads of images at the same time, set to music." That's certainly what you get here, but for me anyway, it's the height of this sort of thing.

Natura obscura (Paolo Gioli, 2013) DVD
As clear and hi-def as we can see nature now in all sorts of documentaries or whatever, it can be refreshing at times to see it from a completely different perspective, on the opposite end of the spectrum, from a place of barely being able to make it out. In place of partially blinding yourself and then going out amongst the flowers, I recommend watching this film, which Gioli shot through a pinhole.

Steve Hates Fish (John Smith, 2015) excerpt
Imagines the world taken over at every level by autocorrect, the effect achieved by tricking a translation app. In trying to track down the full version of this short film, I once again contacted the director at his website. Smith sent me a link to watch the film but asked me not to share, so if you'd like to see it yourself, I'd suggest you just reach out to him like I did.

Un rêve solaire (Patrick Bokanowski, 2016) excerpt Blu-ray
An hour-long portfolio for the director's various talents, all vaguely interested in the celestial.

Storyteller (Nicolas Provost, 2011) excerpt
It's a simple and obvious mirror effect being employed here but hey, if it works it works, transforming the Las Vegas Strip into an ever-morphing alien oasis. Would fit in well alongside other surreal city symphonies like N.Y., N.Y. and Side/Walk/Shuttle.

yoshimori
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 2:03 am
Location: LA CA

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#427 Post by yoshimori » Fri Apr 30, 2021 11:25 pm

swo17 wrote:
Fri Apr 30, 2021 10:14 pm
Paul Clipson
Was thinking about putting his "Morphologies" (2011) on my list. Wonder why that one and "Compound Eyes" (also 2011) are not on the Re:Voir disc.

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#428 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Apr 30, 2021 11:31 pm

I don’t have time to run through all of these right now, but Spectral Ascension is awesome

User avatar
swo17
Bloodthirsty Butcher
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#429 Post by swo17 » Fri Apr 30, 2021 11:57 pm

yoshimori wrote:
Fri Apr 30, 2021 11:25 pm
swo17 wrote:
Fri Apr 30, 2021 10:14 pm
Paul Clipson
Was thinking about putting his "Morphologies" (2011) on my list. Wonder why that one and "Compound Eyes" (also 2011) are not on the Re:Voir disc.
The booklet accompanying the release does indicate that Clipson himself selected the list of films and their sequence on the DVD. I imagine the length of the two films you cite had something to do with it, as nothing on the DVD is longer than 11 minutes. I've been able to see Compound Eyes but not Morphologies by other means. I've read that when he was alive, Clipson was happy to send out DVDs of his films to inquiring fans. Is anyone performing that service now? I know there was a time when a ton of his films were up on Vimeo, but sadly there are mostly just excerpts up there now

User avatar
swo17
Bloodthirsty Butcher
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#430 Post by swo17 » Sat May 01, 2021 9:39 pm

I've updated this post following submission of another list

User avatar
senseabove
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2015 3:07 am

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#431 Post by senseabove » Sat May 01, 2021 11:50 pm

swo17 wrote:
Sat May 01, 2021 9:39 pm
I've updated this post following submission of another list
Hansen-Løve's Eden appears in both the New Votes section, where I don't think it was before, and the Orphan section, where it has been. Since my vote was the orphan listing, here's hoping the former is correct now, but I can't quite believe that of all my orphans that's the one to be rescued so far.
therewillbeblus wrote:
Fri Apr 30, 2021 2:19 pm
That was pretty great, though I'll have to mull it over for a Musicals list since I'm not sure it operates within the internal logic of musicals in my view. I think I liked last-decade's Yard Work is Hard Work better as a "musical," where two characters are singing out their highs and lows, yet also unexpectedly (and amusingly) their banal superficial responses, to the daily grind through early adult development.
Yard Work is really good, and certainly more classically "musical," but it doesn't have the finesse of the other two. I'm fine stretching the category to include a visual pseudo-rock opera telling the story of the rise and fall of a small business... I'm sure there will be extensive delineation of what is or isn't a musical once that list gets going, though, so I'll hold that thought for now. Re: your question about the music, IIRC from Q&As, she writes most of the songs and lyrics herself, though sometimes with collaborators, and I think Bizarre has a few songs not by her, though the bulk of them are.


Another orphan defense:

Hale County, This Morning This Evening (Ross, 2018) has title cards ranging from descriptive to vernacular to self-mockingly high-falutin' inserted throughout the film. The second one, in the context of a documentary about life in a small, predominantly black town, is an earnestly loaded question: "How do we not frame someone?" It's rare to see a film—documentary or otherwise—that doesn't "frame" the South and its people in a pejorative way. There's almost always an unflattering context, at the very least scribbled in around the edges: corruption, violence, racism, bigotry, poverty. (I always think of a documentary about a woman in a suburb near where I grew up—where I have friends and family, where my aunt just bought a new house—whose every pillow shot was overgrown weeds, faded old signs, potholed asphalt, never the shopping center with manicured planters and big box stores, the newly-paved thruways, the trendy fast food chains.) Most of the time, these choices are well-intentioned: all of those problems are real and severe, and it's important that they be underlined, presented, fought against. Hale County, though, doesn't want to use its subjects to make a statement they already know and that needs to be explained to people who don't. It doesn't dismiss or deny the relevance of those framings—poverty and violence and oppression hover one or the other over nearly every scene—but the film constantly draws our attention away from the people, to their environment, as if doing so were a way to remind us that they are people, not object lessons for socioeconomic theory. It uses a defiant anti-naturalism, jarring cuts and unusual camerawork, to keep us from settling into a sympathetic slump. One of the best shots in the film, an unbroken extended view of a locker room as a dozen or so teenage players wait, is made something more than mundanely observant by a non-diegetic soundtrack that could be lifted from an experimental house album mixed over the locker room hubbub. Another follows one of the main subjects as he practices on a basketball court, clumsily hovering as close behind him as possible as he makes the shoot-retrieve-shoot loop over and over again. Choices like that counter the observational disengagement that we expect from non-fiction film, and end up centering the film in Ross's own subjectivity as an outsider making his place in this community.

I think that's why there's so much focus on toddlers with all their wide-eyed, babble-mouthed running, grasping, touching: they're his stand-in, in a way. Ross, not from the South, approaches it with both a willfully innocent wonder and an austere awareness. An ungraceful shot of the smoke from a burning tire against the sun shining through the trees, backed by a conversation with someone puzzled by just what the hell he's doing pointing a camera at some trees, is intercut with outtakes from the oldest known feature film featuring black actors, shortly after a title card asking "What happens when all the cotton is picked?" Which is another way, really, of asking whether and how it's possible to not frame a black person in a viewfinder: is it possible to represent the subjectivity of his subjects without subjecting it, implicitly or explicitly, to some objective purpose? The South is a loaded question. Black people on a screen usually are, too. Ross tries to see around the loaded answers, around respectability politics or poverty porn, and to answer instead by focusing on the mundanely physical, even when it's incongruent with the emotional weight of a scene, from locker-room roughhousing to leaves skittering in a parking lot to bilious black smoke shattering sunlight into daggers. The question isn't why Ross would rapidly shift focus from a woman talking to her grandchild in order to zoom in momentarily on leaves blowing in a parking lot before zooming back to the woman just in time to cut to an entirely different time and place. That's a short answer: they drew his attention. The question is why he would take that moment out of more than 72000 minutes of footage and use it in the 76 minutes culled from it. The answer to that might be that people, these people captured by this camera, are not just the things that we can say about them, the uses we can put them to, because there is always more outside of the frame.

Hale County is streaming free on Prime, on BD from Cinema Guild, and rentable in all the usual places.

User avatar
swo17
Bloodthirsty Butcher
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#432 Post by swo17 » Sat May 01, 2021 11:54 pm

Sorry, I meant to clear it out of the orphans list. Yes, it got rescued.

And Hale County is great!

bamwc2
Joined: Mon Jun 02, 2008 11:54 am

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#433 Post by bamwc2 » Sun May 02, 2021 8:42 am

Sorry, but I've been off in another world this past week. Here are my orphans:

Antiporno (Sion Sono, 2016)
The Babadook (Jennifer Kent, 2014)
Black Mother (Khalik Allah, 2018)
The Color Wheel (Alex Ross Perry, 2011)
The Ditch (Wang Bing, 2010)
Driveways (Andrew Ahn, 2019)
Ex Libris: The New York Public Library (Frederick Wiseman, 2017)
Field Niggas (Khalik Allah, 2015)
Gangs of Wasseypur (Anurag Kashyap, 2012)
Harmonium (Kōji Fukada, 2016)
Hell and Back Again (Danfung Dennis, 2011)
How to Survive a Plague (David France, 2012)
Journey to the Shore (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2015)
Kill List (Ben Wheatley, 2011)
The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg, 2019)
Tikkun (Avishai Sivan, 2015)
Tower (Keith Maitland, 2016)
Waves (Trey Edward Shults, 2019)
Wet Woman in the Wind (Akihiko Shiota, 2016)

I'll start watching other orphans today, and would very much appreciate it if you gave some of mine a try too.

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#434 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun May 02, 2021 11:53 am

The Color Wheel and Waves are excellent films worth saving, and both just escaped my top 50. Kill List is a wild pick, but I personally love its messy road to accumulated insanity and would consider it for a last-slot entry if there wasn’t already a line

User avatar
swo17
Bloodthirsty Butcher
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#435 Post by swo17 » Sun May 02, 2021 12:23 pm

The Babadook is no longer an orphan. And I remember being impressed by Field Niggas but would need to revisit it

User avatar
DarkImbecile
Ask me about my visible cat breasts
Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2013 6:24 pm
Location: Albuquerque, NM

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#436 Post by DarkImbecile » Sun May 02, 2021 12:36 pm

I’m going to try to catch Tower shortly; Waves is also just short of #50 for me, but if I can get a re-evaluation watch in, it certainly stands a chance…

User avatar
swo17
Bloodthirsty Butcher
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#437 Post by swo17 » Sun May 02, 2021 7:30 pm

Image

Austerlitz (Sergei Loznitsa, 2016)

What's the correct way to tour a shuttered concentration camp? Because I'm pretty sure that like 95% of the people here are doing it wrong--wearing disrespectful clothing, carrying on casual conversations, living on their phones, posing for photos like they were at Disneyland--it's disgusting, frankly. Where's the respect for the dead? Are these people even getting anything out of the experience, other than to say that they've been somewhere famous? Are they going to live their lives any differently after having been there? Are any of them self-aware enough to draw parallels with the present, and identify modern trends that echo this haunted past? It's almost like we oughta just close the gates and lock these people in there, amirite? Guys? Er...uh, I guess I got a little carried away there. But what is the appropriate way for a curator to present a hard truth such as this from the past, and how should we as observers or audiences take it in? How would you comport yourself within these hallowed halls? In our heightened times of cancelling things and judging people for, say, reacting to the pandemic differently from us, these 90 minutes of people-watching provide a good opportunity to reflect.


Image

Life After Life (Zhang Hanyi, 2016)

I'm just noticing that all the feature-length films I've been highlighting happened to come out in 2016. Weird. Anyway, this one just recently became available on backchannels with English subs and I hope people will give it a chance. (Will it help if I tell you that Jia Zhangke produced it, and that it feels like one of his films in some respects?) Although the film that first comes to mind as a comparison point is Eugène Green's Le Monde vivant, where a budget restriction is similarly turned into an endearing strength. In this case, the cast need is greatly reduced by a fantasy element in which characters' spirits can inhabit other bodies, a rock or tree, or just any random animal that wanders on screen. This lays a rich framework on the everyday world that you could easily transplant to your own without the need for CGI or even other people. But lest you think the film is just a low-rent thought exercise, it's also a showcase for some stunning landscape photography, with some of the most memorable moments involving said rocks or trees.

User avatar
zedz
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#438 Post by zedz » Sun May 02, 2021 9:44 pm

Great posts, swo. Austerlitz would have made my list if I'd felt I could stretch to three films by the same director. It's a sober and complicated film with a great use of off-screen space, as the viewer is essentially taken on the standard guided tour of the camp in a really oblique way, so that we're mostly looking at the tourists rather than the site. The disconnect makes the horror somehow more horrible, and Loznitsa layers on this post-modern anxiety about how to deal with the historical events we feel like we're not getting the full measure of.

My Loznitsa orphan is the excoriating A Gentle Creature, a horrific, horrified state of the nation address that feels like a particularly nightmarish Kira Muratova film.

Life After Life figures high on my list. It's a largely absurdist modern supernatural folk tale in which the spirit of the protagonist's mother inhabits the body of his son so that she can accomplish a rather arbitrary task, but it ends on a note of pure existential dread that I wasn't expecting at all.
SpoilerShow
Having completed her quixotic mission, the pair return to the woods where the mother's spirit initially dislodged the son's, and she graciously returns to the afterlife, allowing the son's spirit to reoccupy his body . . .

But the spirit isn't there.

User avatar
TMDaines
Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2009 1:01 pm
Location: Stretford, Manchester

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#439 Post by TMDaines » Wed May 05, 2021 5:13 am

I completely overlooked the initial round of submissions. Should be joining for the final round.

How was La grande bellezza an orphan though?!

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#440 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri May 07, 2021 1:49 pm

Some revisits of orphans:

Meek's Cutoff: This was my first Reichardt and remains my least favorite outside of her debut, so unfortunately I can't share senseabove's enthusiasm. For me it's the least effective of these thematic intersections in social and environmental, and some of the conflicts feel uncharacteristically overstated for her typically introspective and humble dramatics. I also find Night Moves to be her most interesting fusion of these themes, as I've written about in her dedicated thread, so it seems we're misaligned on this one.

Columbus: I still love this film and it's definitely a list-contender that I probably can't rescue, only because there are just too many great movies this decade already struggling to make it on the list. At first glance it seems like a typical indie flick about an existential vacuum and the power of connection to give life meaning. However, board-favorite Kogonada deliberately frames each scene with the same equity of interest without intruding his perspective on what we should be paying attention to- he grants expressions of human emotion, encounters, spaces, inanimate objects, nature, and all the details within an equal opportunity to elicit meaning. This strategy is fitting with the themes, initiated by Culkin's intellectual hypothesis about our societal problem being one of "interest" rather than "attention." Casey and Jin's relationship doesn't need to be romantic because it's sourced in a mutual charge of inspiration, the kind we get from interactions even with people different than us if we go in with an open mind. Jin asks "what moves you," and the film is humbly interested in exploring subjective interest, the need to be interested, the value of interest, and the gratitude of how anything- from a building to a friendship- can give us meaning and inspire us to pay attention. And within that, the social can inspire us to pay attention to the material we've ignored, or the material of architecture can bring two people together.

It's a deeply transcendental exhibition of the opportunities are all around us, and while I think plenty of indie films following this blueprint attempt to hit this beautiful fusion of the philosophical and the emotional within the accessible mundane, none actually arrive at this intersection with the same height of maturity and humility. I know this is incredibly ironic coming from Kogonada, but I implore the haters to check it out. Outside of those themes, there's also a depth in sharing pain that we didn't sign up for but bear nonetheless- a tone that doesn't wallow in self-pity but frames all of us as survivors from the inherent pain of developing against the friction of life. Whether we're survivors in relation to others' addictions or growing up in a household with a vacuous parental relationship or some other significant experience, we all have voids left from mild traumas. Kogonada isn't interested in hyping up the melodrama by necessitating or supposing that these are violently-inflicted onto us as victims, but instead issues a gentle reminder that we all have crosses we bear, and that this is part of living. It's also not a sugared-up dynamic- there's resentment, poor advice, selfishness, self-imposed responsibility, apathy and ennui, all given respect to exist by the director sans judgment. Shared credit must go to Haley Lu Richardson and John Cho for their dialed-down performances as authentic, lived-in characters to sell the modesty of the film's aura in a palpable attitude.

How nice it is to have fleeting connections with another person, exchanging energies and reciprocally influencing and receiving the gifts of influence, based on our own stories, using our hardships and strengths and resilience to help another and help ourselves- whether to find or to heal. And how nice it is to have passions, the capacity to see and interpret and make meaning, as we peel back the onion layers of our perceptions with newfound willingness to discover more in life, to develop our interests. How nice it is that the road of experience doesn't have a finite endpoint when we remain curious, inviting, teachable. And interested.

Although, as formally reserved and meditative as this film is in naturalist static imagery, there's one scene between Cho and Posey talking outside towards the end that feels right out of a Hal Hartley film, but one of his scenes of honest reflection buried under monotonous rushed-artificial exchange. It's somewhat strange against the rest of the film, but also serves as a reminder that this is indeed a indie composite of contained narrative that we can resist escaping into and use to muse on our own lives.

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#441 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri May 07, 2021 5:47 pm

I am probably going to rescue Good Time though, a heart-attack of a movie that is just as good the second time and superior to its still-great follow-up, Uncut Gems. Pattinson is pure resilience, a character we might despise morally but who is so familiar to me both from personal experience during formative years when everyone I knew including myself lived in self-delusion, and in my current sober life in practice working with clients who cope with trauma and personality disorders. He has created his own form of truth, and literally believes what he is saying and doing in the moment, not as a lie but as a skill, instinctually self-preserving via the manipulation of realism. The synth score stays in tune with the actual sound design, the spaces are populated with real people reacting to events in real time, and time itself functions as a heart where forward momentum in movement is a necessity to keep the blood pumping and Pattinson not only alive but distracted from any chance of self-reflection, which just might kill him. It all adds up to this piercingly raw experience that still retains the lyricism of cinema's possibilities to elicit intimate engagement with these worlds. Heaven Knows What is still the most realistic depiction of the filthy world of heroin addicts in urban spaces, but Good Time retains the same authenticity in atmosphere under a more exhilarating and energetic tone. There's no time for this film to depress you, it's full steam ahead. I also find it compelling that the Safdies validate that a narcissistic person can still feel and act on love, even if his toxic actions are not morally justified outside of a vacuum.

bamwc2
Joined: Mon Jun 02, 2008 11:54 am

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#442 Post by bamwc2 » Mon May 10, 2021 8:21 pm

Viewing Log:

I've been pretty busy this last week, but I still managed to choose seven orphans at random.

Dracula 3D (Dario Argento, 2012): Dario Argento made some of the most thrilling and effective horror films of the 1970s. He would go on to a minor drop off in quality in the 1980s while still making some fine contributions in the genre. By the next decade he released his first couple of stinkers alongside some decent work, but by the start of the new millennium he was regularly turning out garbage. I didn't think that his films could get much worse, but now that I've seen Dracula 3D (streamed in glorious 2D!), I'm not sure if there is a bottom to his work anymore. Argento finds a way to be faithful to the general outline of Bram Stoker's novel, and somehow still feel like a complete bastardization of it. Yes, we get Jonathan Harker falling under the spell of the undead count at his Transylvanian estate, who then becomes enamored with Harker's fiancée in England. Upon returning to his homeland, Jonathan teams up with Belgian vampire hunter Van Helsing (Rutger Hauer) to stop Dracula from claiming his bride. But that's where the fidelity ends, as Argento's co-authored screenplay makes innumerable changes to the source material, every one of which is to the story's detriment. There is so much here to hate that it's almost impossible to know where to start? Should I point out the z-grade special effects that would have looked bad for a SyFy film of the same era? Maybe the attempts to shoehorn ridiculous levels of gore into 3D shots like he was William Castle on uppers? The profoundly unsexy sexy scenes that utterly misfired in their attempts to titillate? I guess I would choose the atrocious acting and tin eared dialogue that consume the film from beginning to end. Some might say that I haven't seen the real film because I saw it in 2D, to which I ask how much better would a craptacular CGI giant praying mantis look in the third dimension? Truly awful. As a side note, does anyone else find it more than a little bit skeevy that Dario Argento has featured his daughter nude in every one of her appearances in his films?

The Fencer (Klaus Härö, 2015): When Klaus Härö's The Fencer begins, it informs us that under the direction of Stalin, the countries absorbed into the Soviet Bloc at the end of WWII began hunting down its citizens who were forcefully conscripted by Nazis a few years prior. The movie centers on the true story of one such person, Endel Nelis (Märt Avandi), an Estonian professional fencer who flees the USSR to return to his homeland and take a nondescript job as a P.E. teacher in a region where nobody recognizes him. The film is based on Nelis's own life, but it's unclear how much of it is real given that what follows fits into a Hollywood cookie-cutter narrative of inspirational sport movies as it piles on cliche after cliche. Of course, Endel forms a fencing club with his students. There's the girl who everyone thinks is too little to complete, the bad boy with the troubled home life, and every other stereotype these movies require. He gets a love interest played by the gorgeous Ursula Ratasepp, who helps him to
SpoilerShow
lead his team to victory even though it means sacrificing himself to the soldiers that are closing in on him.
Ultimately, the film amounts to a retelling of the The Mighty Ducks or Bad News Bears formula set against the backdrop of the Stalinist purges. If that sounds appealing, then more power to you. However, I recommend everyone else to take a pass.

First Cousin Once Removed (Alan Berliner, 2012): We see many faces of Edwin Honig throughout this documentary shot by his relative (who bears the titular relation) Alan Berliner. Once an esteemed poet, professor, and translator, Berliner begins periodic recordings of Honig in the final five years of his life. They start when Honig has just received a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. He's still rather lucid in his thinking at the time and, as we're told, gives his consent to the project which is ostensibly about uncovering the nature of memory. Over the course of the next hour Berliner mixes footage from several different interviews (apparently conducted at about one a year) in asynchronous order. In some scenes Honig can still carry on a conversation while accidentally dropping pseudo-profound bromides. In other scenes he moans out long strings of constants without formulating any actual words. We learn a lot about Honig's history here, and not all of it is good. While he earned professional accolades in the literary world, he was an abusive father to his two adopted sons. Both appear on camera though neither care to visit their dying dad. Early on one of Honig's relatives raises the question of the moral status of the project. Berliner dismisses it by saying that his subject consented. Even with consent--and it’s not so clear that the consent is still morally transformative as Honig's mental state declines--it can still be exploitative. I have to admit that the film felt like it walked the border of exploitation throughout, going out of its way to show its subject at his worst under the pretense of exploring the nature of memory. I don't know if it was the right reaction, but I felt a little icky after watching it.

Ilo Ilo (Anthony Chen, 2013): Director Anthony Chen made his big screen debut with this story of a late-90s Singaporean couple who hire a Filipino maid to watched their nine-year-old son Jiale (Koh Jia Ler). Father Teck (Tian Wen Chen) lies about his employment and his finances to his wealth obsessed wife Hwee Leng (Yann Yann Yeo), but neither of them have time for their troublemaker son. It's not that Jiale is a bad kid, but he is certainly more mischievous than the majority of his peers, and obsesses over coming up with a surefire way to win the lottery when he's not wreaking havoc. The family brings Terry (Angeli Bayani) into their house to watch over Jiale. Hwee Leng treats her with utter contempt on their introduction, and her son picks up on this as well. Though he initially mistreats his nanny, as the film progresses Jiale and Terry form a tight and nurturing bond where she acts as a surrogate mother for the latchkey boy. The film is reminiscent of many of the Asian family dramas that proceeded it, most notably Edward Yang's Yi Yi. While it doesn't exactly break any new ground, it does what it sets out to do in a competent fashion. Not great, but good enough.

Pain & Gain (Michael Bay, 2013): Even though I was a 90s teen who loved me some action movies, I didn't get around to seeing The Rock or Armageddon until I purchased their Criterion editions in the early '00s. I kind of low key dug the former, but hated Armageddon with the fiery intensity of a thousand suns. It was enough to turn me off to Michael Bay until I watched 13 Hours out of morbid curiosity. Still, I stayed away from the rest of his work, including Pain & Gain despite its reputation for being the one film of his even Bay's critics can get behind. And...I kind of liked this one too. Loosely based on true life events (the trio committed a pair of previous abductions/murders that were omitted from the movie), the film stars Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Mackie as Daniel Lugo and Adrian Doorbal, a pair of juiced out Miami lunkheads who recruit ex-con fellow bodybuilder Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson)--now a born again Christian with addiction issues--to help them kidnap restaurant magnate and all around miserable human being Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub). Despite the fact that all three men are complete idiots, they manage to get Kershaw to sign everything over to them before they botch his murder. While they think they're free to live the high life, their own ineptitude comes up to bite them on the ass. Despite the grim nature of the story, it's a pretty fun ride. Bay sometimes gets in his own way with the usual garbage--gay panic and misogyny being the most egregious of them--but I'm not sure that there was a more enjoyable moment in 2013 than seeing The Rock try to escape from a botched armored car job. Was it fun? Absolutely. Good? I guess. Is Bay still an ass? For sure.

The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears (Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani, 2013): I've seen some ridiculously over the top neo-giallos this decade, but nothing nearly as far out there as The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears by husband and wife team Bruno Forzani and Hélène Cattet. The Belgium based duo take every trope, every visual flourish, and every aesthetic convention of the genre, inject them with steroids and constantly fire them at the screen out of a blunderbuss. We're nearly forty minutes into the film before we begin to discern anything like a plot. Dan Kristensen's (Klaus Tange) wife has gone missing. He frantically seeks to uncover what's happened to her, but is hounded by nocturnal premonitions of his own violent murder. At the same time, he believes that there's someone else in his apartment, but can never quite find them. But none of that is really important, as the film is a case study in mood/atmosphere/visuals over plot. With long sequences of closeups any number of subjects human and inhuman, the film rejoices in bathing them in alternating lights that were borrowed from the genre's 70s origins. Cattet and Forzani play with the visuals so much that it almost felt like watching a work by an avant garde filmmaker that just so happens to be horror themed. I often find it difficult to judge the merit of experimental films, and this one is no exception. Formally, it's quite interesting as a work of abstract art. I'm still not sure how I feel about it on any other levels though. Those interested in having their senses overwhelmed should definitely check it out.

Valley of Love (Guillaume Nicloux, 2015): Isabelle Huppert and Gérard Depardieu play versions of themselves--even named Isabelle and Gérard--as a pair of aging French film icons who once had a child in a marriage that ended many decades ago. We never meet that son, Michael, in the film, as we learn that he had committed suicide for unknown reasons four years prior. Then, as if by magic, each parent receives a letter in the mail telling them to go to a Death Valley motel. When they get there, they receive another missive apparently written by their dead son, promising them that if they both go to a landmark in the desert at a certain time, then they will see him again. They are initially skeptical, but strange events keep occurring at the small motel where they're staying, leading them unsure what to believe. As would be expected, both actors do magnificent jobs in their roles, but Depardieu gets the showiest part for himself when
SpoilerShow
he wordlessly conveys his encounter with Michael's apparition to Isabelle who didn't see it.
As much as I liked the movie, it was a little uncomfortable to see Depardieu after his recent arrest. I imagine it'll be even worse if I catch up with Ferrara's Welcome to New York during this round….

User avatar
senseabove
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2015 3:07 am

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#443 Post by senseabove » Mon May 10, 2021 10:21 pm

Some revisits, rescues, and gap-filling:

Journey to the Shore (Kurosawa, 2015) I loved this during its initial festival run, but it was early in my full-blown cinephile days, and Kurosawa has since been very hit or very miss for me, even on revisits of movies I previously liked, so I was nervous about revisiting it. It was a very late cull from my list, though, and it being an orphan persuaded me to finally give it another go. Happily, I found it just as good, maybe even better as I think on it more, and I'll likely make a space for it. It's interesting to think about as a languid picaresque of sorts, using the various settings and the co-leads' physical journeys to hold the complex relationship between desire and memory and grief up to see how the light hits it at different angles. Kurosawa's horror chops help him escalate the eeriness of mundane grief, and the film's peculiar inversion of horror tropes lets him bring them into a dramatic setting for a more patient, open-ended exploration.

The Immigrant (Gray, 2013) Sadly, on my third of his, I think Gray is fading in my estimation as a writer even as I admire his direction more and more. (If only all Oscar-bait prestige picture filmmaking was half as well-made as this...) It's admirable for pushing some tired figures into novel situations, with a strong set-up and an interesting finale, but in the middle, once the status quo is established, the written dynamics don't give any of the good actors here anything particularly interesting to do. Once Phoenix has manipulated and Cotillard has resigned herself, they're just slight variations on the gold-hearted hooker, the rascal who wants to save her, and the pimp who maybe loves her. Renner is also at the tippy top of my "oh, Britta's in this?" list, so that probably doesn't help much.

We Need to Talk About Kevin (Ramsey, 2011) I can't help but feel like Ramsay's complexity is all in the presentation, not in the ideas. The style is astonishing, tactile and overwhelming, the emotional heft is profound—there are shots here that will stick with me for a long time—but the result is just bleh. The way it establishes the setup of a woman who does not particularly like her child and the large-scale transference of guilt by association is fascinating, but the heavily foreshadowed twist tosses everything interesting out the window thanks to a flat performance by Miller and a resolution that leaves all the interesting questions posted by the powerfully subjective first third unanswered. Even the possibility that everything is filtered from Swinton's distorted, perverse viewpoint is undermined by the shift from that subjective experience to a banal fascination with an unmitigated, cartoonish evil. In the end, its failures made me long for Denis' refreshingly revolting complexity, so this movie inadvertently bumped Bastards to the top of the rewatch pile.

Magic Mike XXL (Jacobs, 2015) Revisited both the Magic Mike films this month, and while Magic Mike is fun, it tries far too hard to have a Message and loses all its steam as it tanks to the right, using an extremely tired Just Say No storyline as Mike's off-ramp from the apparently now disreputable *clutches pearls* sex work it found so amusing for the first half. Luckily, XXL realizes that exploring the interface between perfomance, pleasure, self-awareness, and sex is a much more interesting thing to do. The abrupt non-ending is almost a triumph in that regard: no need to tie anything up, since that's not what anyone's here for (ahem). This time around it struck me as the closest thing to a modern pre-Code, in the spirit of genre as much as the content, as I could imagine being made today, and for that alone I might have to make space for it. It's mainstream in its viewpoint, but aware that there is life outside of that, and, unlike the first movie, also aware that being outside of that is not inherently a thing to be pitied, and might even be enviable.

User avatar
swo17
Bloodthirsty Butcher
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#444 Post by swo17 » Tue May 11, 2021 11:23 am

I've updated this post to reflect the current list of orphans, with some titles removed but also some added. As a reminder, you have a little under two weeks now to send me a list, revised or otherwise, and you can revise your list as many times as you like, up until the deadline

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#445 Post by domino harvey » Tue May 11, 2021 12:09 pm

Can we see a list of only the orphans for films that were listed in the submitter's top 10?

User avatar
swo17
Bloodthirsty Butcher
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#446 Post by swo17 » Tue May 11, 2021 12:14 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Tue May 11, 2021 12:09 pm
Can we see a list of only the orphans for films that were listed in the submitter's top 10?
À bout portant (Fred Cavayé, 2010) 1
La academia de las musas (José Luis Guerín, 2015) 2
All Is Lost (J.C. Chandor, 2013) 2
Anna Karenina (Joe Wright, 2012) 9
Antiporno (Sion Sono, 2016) 8
Assassination Nation (Sam Levinson, 2018) 10
Black Coal, Thin Ice (Diao Yinan, 2014) 5
The Cabin in the Woods (Drew Goddard, 2011) 6
Coincoin et les z'inhumains (Bruno Dumont, 2018) 8
Cold War (Pawel Pawlikowski, 2018) 4
Coming Attractions (Peter Tscherkassky, 2010) 7
Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017) 7
The Descendants (Alexander Payne, 2011) 10
Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino, 2012) 7
Donbass (Sergei Loznitsa, 2018) 3
După dealuri (Cristian Mungiu, 2012) 10
La Fille inconnue (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, 2016) 4
Finding Frances (Nathan Fielder, 2017) 9
Gangs of Wasseypur (Anurag Kashyap, 2012) 3
God's Own Country (Francis Lee, 2017) 5
The Grand Bizarre (Jodie Mack, 2018) 3
The Grey (Joe Carnahan, 2011) 5
The Hunter (Rafi Pitts, 2010) 9
I Wish (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2011) 1
Jauja (Lisandro Alonso, 2014) 5
Journey to the West (Tsai Ming-liang, 2014) 10
Kater (Klaus Händl, 2016) 5
The Kirishima Thing (Daihachi Yoshida, 2012) 1
The Lunchbox (Ritesh Batra, 2013) 6
Macbeth (Justin Kurzel, 2015) 3
The Mule (Clint Eastwood, 2018) 2
Les Neiges du Kilimandjaro (Robert Guédiguian, 2011) 8
Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello, 2016) 6
P-047 (Kongdej Jaturanrasamee, 2011) 9
A Perfect Day (Fernando León de Aranoa, 2015) 3
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Roy Andersson, 2014) 1
A Primer in Sky Socialism (Ken Jacobs, 2013) 8
Robinson in Ruins (Patrick Keiller, 2010) 9
The Salesman (Asghar Farhadi, 2016) 7
Sleep Has Her House (Scott Barley, 2017) 7
The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg, 2019) 10
The Tale of Princess Kaguya (Isao Takahata, 2013) 1
Tikkun (Avishai Sivan, 2015) 7
Toutes nos envies (Philippe Lioret, 2011) 5
Tower (Keith Maitland, 2016) 5
Wasteland No. 2: Hardy, Hearty (Jodie Mack, 2019) 6
White Night (Leesong Hee-il, 2012) 7
The World's End (Edgar Wright, 2013) 5
X-Men: First Class (Matthew Vaughn, 2011) 10
Zulu (Jérôme Salle, 2013) 7

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#447 Post by domino harvey » Tue May 11, 2021 12:23 pm

Interesting. I'm unlikely to rescue any of those I've seen, though I can give a hearty recommendation for Jauja, which is a rare modern art house movie that works for me almost solely on the strengths of what happens when you cast a real and talented actor like Viggo Mortensen in a movie like this. I like Darkest Hour more than most here, but clearly my title has been dethroned by whoever placed in at number 7! The Descendants has two great performances in Clooney and Woodley (who was robbed of an Oscar nom, though it still made her a star), but not a film I feel too passionate about otherwise. I don't care for Django Unchained and Cabin in the Woods much. Anna Karenina was interesting at the outset but then it chickens out and drops the only really novel thing about it. I figure everyone's already seen Cold War, but it is the best of those I've seen from this, a real masterpiece of elision and conciseness. Maybe if I had another fifteen slots or so I'd have room for it, though

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#448 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue May 11, 2021 12:35 pm

Every time someone neglects Assassination Nation, a person gets canceled

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#449 Post by domino harvey » Tue May 11, 2021 12:36 pm

Maybe one day. But that day is not today nor any day between now and when this list commences

User avatar
swo17
Bloodthirsty Butcher
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#450 Post by swo17 » Tue May 11, 2021 12:41 pm

domino, I feel like you might appreciate The Kirishima Thing (not my orphan). It's set in a high school, concerns movie making, and gets a little crazy at times

Post Reply