Friday, January 28, 2011

The Cinematheque Reviews:
Bong Joon-Ho's Mother

Korean cinema has always seemed like an enigma to me.  Strange and perverse, outweighing all other fellow Asian national cinemas in such regard, but also cozy and warm, again outweighing other cinemas of the so-called Far East.  And Bong Joon-ho's cinema is no different than his fellow compatriots - strange and perverse, yet cozy and warm.  His latest, the simply, yet ominously titled Mother, is the very epitome of these rather contradicting characterizations, and its star, Kim Hye-ja, is the proverbial (appropriately enough) mother to this very aforementioned enigmatic theory of mine.  Oh yeah, and she should have been nominated for a Best Actress Oscar too, but that might be asking for a bit too much.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Cinematheque Reviews:
No Strings Attached

I do wish people would learn how to better interpret the things I say and write.  A simple status update on Facebook, reading "Just saw No Strings Attached. Can I just say 'it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be' and leave it at that?" brought about several comments from people wondering how I could possibly like a movie such as that.  I don't know about you, but my comment in no way claims any kind of liking of the movie in question, only how it was not as bad as one would have assumed (or even hoped for in a way).  Not hating a movie and actually liking it are two completely different horses people, get that through your thick skulls!  But I digress.  Here is a link to my review of the aforementioned movie that I did not hate (but did not like either people!!) and hopefully I come through a bit clearer in said review than I did on that certain social network everyone is a gaga about.  But truthfully, the movie isn't all that bad.  There I go again.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

366 Weird Movies Guest Review:
The Temptation of St. Tony

I am doing some guest reviews for a site called 366 Weird Movies, a site that (obviously) specializes in weird movies.  I have already done pieces on Johnny Guitar (not so weird per se, as kitschy) and Dogtooth (the Greek weirdness that was just nominated for a Foreign Language Oscar) and now my third guest review is for an Estonian film called The Temptation of St. Tony.  I have already posted my (ever-so-slightly alternate) review of said film over at The Cinematheque, but the fine folks are just now posting the review at their site, so here it is.

My Quest To See the 1000 Greatest: Bigger Than Life (1956)

Bigger Than Life is #575 in  
My Quest to watch the 1000 Greatest Films

Screened 09/10/10 on Blu-Ray at Midtown Cinema

Ranked #569 on TSPDT

*this is one in a series of catch-up reviews in my aforementioned quest (which should explain the rather old screening date above).

Based on a 1955 New Yorker article by Berton Roueche, entitled "Ten Feet Tall", Nicholas Ray's fourteenth film as a credited director (in a mere eight years), the story of a man who becomes addicted to Cortisone and loses his mind, had the misfortune of being a box office flop upon its initial release in 1956, as well as stirring up quite a bit of controversy from the so-called, and self-appointed, and quite self-righteous, moral majority of the times.  Seen as an all-out attack on the supposed moral fiber of 1950's, Eisenhower America, and more intimately, an attack on the family itself, Bigger Than Life, was pretty much persona non grata in the small towns of middle America.

Now there is no doubt in my mind that Nick Ray, and star and uncredited co-screenwriter James Mason, meant for this to be an attack on fifties family values, and therefore should have come as no surprise that it did bring out such wrath in so many people at the time.  Also what should have come as no surprise, considering a substantially higher rate of open-mindedness amongst the group, is that the critics of Cahiers du cinema were big fans of the film (and I am sure, the attack on our majority-imposed moral fiber) and Jean-Luc Godard called the film one of the ten best American sound films ever made.  The film today is heralded as a modern masterpiece, and I must say, now that I have finally seen the damned thing, I agree with this hearalding.

This is certainly one of Ray's better films - placed snugly amongst On Dangerous Ground, They Live By Night, In A Lonely Place and Rebel Without A Cause (though Johnny Guitar still stands above them all) - as well as one of his deeper ones, psychologically speaking.  Mason's performance as the titular mental giant (at least in his own drug-induced psyche) is the best this critic has ever seen.  Showing us a psychosis that is both inhuman and monstrous, but at the same time, sadly sympathetic, Mason devours the shadow-laden screen of Ray's cinema and turns the film into his own.  This is a feat that is extremely difficult to do with Ray at the helm.  No offense to the talents of actors such as Farley Granger or Humphrey Bogart or Robert Ryan or Ida Lupino, but such a feat has only happened two other times in Ray's oeuvre - James Dean in Rebel and Joan Crawford in Johnny Guitar.

Still though, Bigger Than Life is no doubt a Nicholas Ray movie, with its ominous camera and succulent colour scheme, as well as the aforementioned shadow-laden sets.  The type of movie that breathes life into the cinema and keeps the pure cinephilia of young turks like myself so deliriously enamoured with the medium for all-time.

The Cinematheque Reviews: Hadewijch

Part Bresson, part Dardennes, part Bunuel, this chillingly stunning work of spiritual provocativeness, with the strange name, from French auteur Bruno Dumont took my totally by surprise.  Just when I thought I did not have enough films to make a proper Best of 2010 List, along comes Hadewijch, and my dreams are answered.  Sure, I am full of prototypically silly hyperbole here, but it is all true.  My review is finally posted over on my site, so see/read for yourself, then search this beautiful film out and watch the damned thing.....pronto.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Film Poll #9: What is Your Oscar Choice?

The nominations have been announced and now you get to throw in your two and a half cents.  You have exactly one month (from nomination day) to choose the film you would vote for for Best Picture.  Just go over to the left-handed sidebar and make your choice.  Results will be posted on the day before the Oscar telecast (which is Feb. 27th btw, well the Oscars are the 27th, the results will be posted Feb. 26th).

Oscar Nominations Announced

I suppose I did relatively well on my predictions.  I went 39 for 45 (or 87%) on the 8 major categories and overall 86 for 120 (or 72%).  I did after all, make predictions in even the dangerous categories of short films - doing the worst in Live Action Short (only 1 out of 5 right).  My percentage is down slightly from last year, where it was at 89% (I only predicted the 6 Majors last year, leaving out the screenplay categories as well as all the tech stuff).

As far as what I did right or wrong, here are my "highlights".  My last minute switch from 127 Hours to The Town in BP and Mila Kunis for Jacki Weaver in Supporting Actress did not pay off very well, but my adding on of Michelle Williams for Best Actress did.  I got perfect scores in Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay.  I got one wrong in Best Supporting Actor, but the fact that John Hawkes got nominated, makes it just all right with me - though I would have expected Jeremy Renner to be the one knocked out instead of Andrew Garfield.

Anyway, surprises were not that prevalent (surprise, surprise).  There were a few though.  Along with the aforementioned John Hawkes and Michelle Williams nods (though I did correctly predict Ms. Williams' nod), they include (yet another) snub for Chris Nolan, to be replaced by the Coens (I personally found Inception and True Grit to be about comparable films in my liking, so it is a push as far as I am concerned), a well-deserved nod for Dogtooth in the Foreign category (which I predicted btw) and the snubbing of Waiting For Superman, which I not only thought would get nominated, but was the frontrunner to win Best Doc.  All that and only 4 nominees for Best Song, leaving Cher out in the cold (isn't that what the Oscars song category is all about!?  Obnoxious music?).  But my favourite surprise still is the great John Hawkes finally getting some recognition for his acting.  Way to go Teardrop (perhaps the Academy was afraid he would come after them if he wasn't nominated).
Anyway, I'll leave the Oscars alone for now and get back to watching and reviewing movies (old and new alike), as well as planning the Second Annual Midtown Cinema Oscar Party, and will return with my Oscar predictions the day before the big show (which is February 27th btw).  

Oh yeah, I nearly forgot - congrats Michelle (if you need anyone to celebrate with, you can e-mail me courtesy of this blog).

Monday, January 24, 2011

Oscar Nomination Predix

It is probably a foolish endeavor taken on by fools, and perhaps it is a seen as a lesser-than-respectable thing for a cinephile to do, but here we go anyway.  And remember, I have placed a few surprises amongst my predictions, just to keep everything fresh.

Best Picture
  • Black Swan
  • The Fighter
  • Inception
  • The Kids Are All Right
  • The King's Speech
  • The Social Network
  • The Town
  • Toy Story 3
  • True Grit
  • Winter's Bone
 127 Hours has been on my potential list for a long long time now, but here, at the proverbial last minute, I drop it in place of The Town.  Of course one could conceivably see an even bigger surprise with Another Year sneaking in, in place of True Grit or The Town.  Overall it is pretty much an eleven dog race here (twelve if one still counts Another Year) so if I am wrong I will not be THAT wrong.  Then again, not many people saw The Blind Side coming last year, but there it was anyway.

Best Director
  • Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan)
  • David Fincher (The Social Network)
  • Tom Hooper (The King's Speech)
  • Christopher Nolan (Inception)
  • David O. Russell (The Fighter)
A surprise here could come in the form of either Mike Leigh or Lisa Cholodenko, but these seem to be the final five in pretty much every precursor and/or prediction charts, and I see no reason to disagree.

Best Actor
  • Jeff Bridges (True Grit)
  • Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)
  • Colin Firth (The King's Speech)
  • James Franco (127 Hours)
  • Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter)
The big early buzz was on Robert Duvall for Get Low, but since then, such buzz has pretty much died out, even though most are still predicting his nomination.  I on the other hand think Wahlberg will coast in on a big Fighter wave that will surely get three other acting nominations come Tuesday morning.  That and the fact that I love surprises (sadly not very prevalent any more at The Oscars) make me put Wahlberg up there.  Then again, if Wahlberg can sneak in there it could be in place of Bridges and not Duvall.  Of course we should not count out Javiar Bardem in Biutiful.  It had a tiny window of an opening, but he is well-liked.  Also, I would love to see Ryan Gosling pull off a nod here for Blue Valentine, but he looks to be the eigth man in a five man race.

Best Actress
  • Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right)
  • Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole)
  • Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone)
  • Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
  • Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)
In a last minute switcharoo, I took Lesley Manville off of the list and replace her with my darling Michelle.  This is a pretty daring choice I think, since this has been a five woman race (including Manville) since long ago, but I just do not feel right leaving Ms. Williams off the list.

Best Supporting Actor
  • Christian Bale (The Fighter)
  • Andrew Garfield (The Social Network)
  • Jeremy Renner (The Town)
  • Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right)
  • Geoffrey Rush (The King's Speech)
The most possible spoilers here would be Bill Murray or John Hawks (I would loooove to see that one happen), but one could well imagine a nod for Matt Damon in True Grit as well.  A bigger surprise would be Michael Douglas for Wall Street, but it could happen.  The biggest vulnerables are Renner and/or Ruffalo.

Best Supporting Actress
  • Amy Adams (The Fighter)
  • Helena Bonham Carter (The King's Speech)
  • Mila Kunis (Black Swan)
  • Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
  • Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit)
Jacki Weaver had been an early buzz worthy choice here, but she seems to have fallen to the wayside to be replaced by Kunis.  Dianne Wiest is another early buzzee that may seem out of it now, but either of these actresses could pop back in in place of Kunis or Steinfeld.  Of course, since Steinfeld is actually the lead in True Grit, she could get a surprise nod for the lead category - where she should really be, making room here for Wiest or Weaver, or even perhaps Barbara Hershey.

Best Original Screenplay
  • Another Year
  • The Fighter
  • Inception
  • The Kids Are All Right
  • The King's Speech
The only other real possibility is Black Swan, but it may be perceived more as a "director picture", making room for Mike Leigh to sneak in. Plus, I don't really see a perfect ten for ten correlation between Pic and the two screenplay categories.

Best Adapted Screenplay
  • The Social Network
  • The Town
  • Toy Story 3
  • True Grit
  • Winter's Bone
As I said above, I don't really see a perfect ten for ten correlation between Pic and the two screenplay categories, so a film like The Ghost Writer could pop in here, as could 127 Hours (which may end up being a BP nominee anyway) or even, in a bigger surprise, a film like Barney's Version could really surprise.

Best Cinematography
  • 127 Hours
  • Black Swan
  • Inception
  • The Social Network
  • True Grit

Best Art Direction
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Inception
  • The King's Speech
  • Shutter Island
  • True Grit

Best Film Editing
  • Black Swan
  • The Fighter
  • Inception
  • The Social Network
  • Shutter Island

Best Costume Design
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Black Swan
  • The King's Speech
  • The Tempest
  • True Grit

Best Make-Up
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • The Fighter
  • The Wolfman

Best Sound Mixing
  • Inception
  • Iron Man 2
  • The Town
  • Toy Story 3
  • True Grit

Best Sound Editing
  • 127 Hours
  • Inception
  • Iron Man 2
  • Toy Story 3
  • True Grit

Best Visual Effects
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • Inception 
  • Iron Man 2
  • Tron

Best Original Score
  • The Ghost Writer
  • Inception
  • The King's Speech
  • The Social Network
  • The Tempest

Best Original Song
  • Burlesque
  • Country Strong
  • Tangled
  • Toy Story 3
  • Waiting for Superman

Best Foreign-Language Film
  • Biutiful (Mexico)
  • Dogtooth (Greece)
  • Even the Rain (Spain)
  • Incendies (Canada)
  • In a Better World (Denmark)

Best Animated Feature
  • The Illusionist
  • Tangled
  • Toy Story 3

Best Documentary Feature
  • Exit Through teh Gift Shop
  • Inside Job
  • Precious Life
  • Restrepo
  • Waiting for Superman

Best Documentary Short
  • Born Sweet
  • Killing in the Name
  • Living for 32
  • Strangers No More
  • The Warriors of Qiugang

Best Animated Short
  • The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger
  • Day & Night
  • Gruffalo
  • Let's Pollute
  • The Silence Beneath the Bark

Best Live Action Short
  • Ana's Playground
  • God of Love
  • Little Children, Big Words
  • Seeds of the Fall
  • The Six Dollar Fifty Man
If all goes according to the above plan, then Inception will lead the nominations with 10, followed by The Fighter and True Grit with 9 each and The Social Network with just 8.  Being the frontrunner, one would expect more out of The Social Network.  Ah well, perhaps I am just banging my head against  the wall, as the young Ms. Reynolds is doing with and Oscar itself  (though against walnuts and not the wall) in the screenshot below, courtesy of Frank Tashlin and the fun little film, Susan Slept Here.  We will see Tuesday morning if my head-banging worked.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

William Dieterle's Masterful But Mostly Forgotten The Last Flight

Miriam Bale, in a recent issue of Film Comment, said of William Dieterle's 1931 Lost Generation movie The Last Flight, that it is "the best film version of Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises that never was."

With more than mere similarities to Hemingway's iconic post-WWI novel, Dieterle shows us a group of four pilots, all injured, in both body and soul, from the devastation of war, making their way through the bars and nightclubs of Jazz-age Paris.  "Get tight and stay tight" one character matter-of-factly states when asked what he will do after the war.  Somewhere along this parade of inebriation, these ex-flyer ex-pats, always nattily dressed, and just as nattily sauced, meet a young, near-sighted woman, who just may be even more lost than they.  She is of course taken on as their mascot, and, in this age of pre-code wanton cinematic decadence (though still seeming quite tame by today's anything-goes standards), much more, if only in allusion and/or innuendo.

The film stars Richard Barthelmess, David Manners, Johnny Mack Brown and the strange beauty, Helen Chandler as the effervescent, and quite peculiar Nikki.   "Hey, what kind of girl do you think Nikki is?" Bill (Brown) asks Cary (Barthelmess), to which he replies, "I think she's the kind that sits down on phonograph records."  I am not exactly sure what this means, but it is certainly something that makes both Nikki, and the film's dialogue in general (which is filled with seeming nonsensical, or perhaps even surrealist lines), stand out amongst the more typical fare (in both character and dialogue) of the early talkie era.  And though this is the story of these pilots and their post-war disillusionment (a rather popular subject in both film and literature at the time) it is Chandler's adorably off-kilter Nikki, with those faraway eyes and seeming oblivious nature, that acts as the proverbial glue that holds both these men and this picture together.

Risque and randy, with inevitable tragedy for these lost souls, this Lost Generation, Dieterle's film is a unique combination of both hard-hitting message moviemaking and an hypnotic sentimentalism that digs deep into the heart of this quite sentimental critic.  Dieterle, who was a typical hard-working studio director of the times, would never gain the vaunted auteur status that many of his compatriots would later garner during the 1960's revitalization of filmic history, but then again, his output, but for here or there, is probably not worth such recognition, though he is surely worth getting much more recognition than he is usually afforded - which is pretty much none at all.  

After coming over from Germany (where he worked as an actor/director and whose best known work was the homosexual-themed prison movie, Sex in Chains), in the wave of Hitler-driven emigration that brought Lang, Murnau, Lubitsch and others to the Hollywood fold, Dieterle made a career out of making solid, but rather typical pictures like The Story of Louis Pasteur, The Life of Emile Zola and Juarez.  Dieterle's Pre-Code output had an interesting international flair to it (mainly attributable to the looser artistry of European filmmaking of the 1920's) even if he did often fall flat later on in his career.   

The Last Flight is now considered one of the great forgotten masterpieces of its day (as well as giving Cary Grant the first half of his stage name, after playing the part of Cary on stage) and is easily one of the most smartly written (as well as most cock-eyed written) motion pictures of the Pre-Code era.  Even though it was a tragedy and not a comedy, the screwball ethic that was born around this same time, managed to come through in the film's great dialogue and pacing, as well as, strangely enough, in the film's melancholy dark humour and surrealist mentality.  Now, thanks to Warner Archives, The Last Flight is out on DVD, and hopefully will be able to drop the forgotten part off of that aforementioned moniker of forgotten masterpiece.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

In Defense of Sofia Coppola, And A Link To My Review of Somewhere

There are many who call Sofia Coppola's cinema, the cinema of privilege, the cinema of entitlement, and I suppose, in a manner of speaking, they are correct.  One can also say, and many have said, the same of directors such as Noah Baumbach and Spike Jonze and (of course) Woody Allen, but when this criticism is thrown at the young Coppola, it seems to come off as much more mean-spirited than when it is said of these others.  Perhaps this is a gender thing, who knows.  My point being (and, it seems, I am really doing a bad job of trying to get to said point) that just because Coppola writes and films about those one might consider entitled and/or privileged, does not mean her work is shallow because if it.  Many boo hoo about how we should not feel sorry for the wealthy - they have money and therefore have no real problems like the rest of us - including the two friends I happened to see Somewhere with this past weekend (my wife on the other hand, like me, had none of these qualms) but when all is said and done, anyone and everyone can have problems (the old chestnut of money not being capable of buying happiness, and all that).  

Perhaps if Coppola were to make films about steelworkers or bartenders or the cop on the beat, then she may not get the same criticisms about her work.  But she does not make movies about steelworkers or bartenders or the cop on the beat, she makes films about movie stars and queens and teen beauties.  Hemingway wrote about drinking and bullfighting and Paris after the war because this is what he knew.  Fitzgerald wrote about Jazz parties and flappers because that is what he knew.  Kerouac wrote about Zen Buddhism, being on the road and doing lots of drugs because that is what he knew.  Howard Hawks made films about male comradery and pilots because that is what he knew.  Sofia Coppola makes movies about the absurdities and foibles of privilege because that is what she knows.  Somewhere is probably the writer/director's most autobiographical work to date (just put her in the Elle Fanning role and Francis Ford in the Stephen Dorff role).

Anyway, what I am trying to say is that just beacuse a person writes/directs about things and people that may seem shallow or haughty to the common moviegoer (or even those critics who enjoy badmouthing such things - and you know who you are Mr. White! - someone who incidentally, also managed to dis the girl's father in the same review, as being a boring filmmaker!? - but enough about ole Armond, he is not worth the ire).....back to my point, none of this means this same filmmaker cannot express her particular worldview, admittedly a narrow one (but not necessarily a shallow one), with a certain kind of sublime melancholy that makes her films quite enjoyable.  

There, I said it!  Of course none of this defense of Ms. Coppola changes the fact that I was somewhat disappointed in Somewhere - or at the very least, in the last half hour of Somewhere, when it suddenly became the cliche'd thing I was so happy the rest of the film was most certainly not.  Anyway, I've rambled on long enough - there is actually a review of the film (though it too is encumbered by my seeming need to defend the director to the high heavens) over at my website, The Cinematheque (linked just below), that you might want to peruse at your leisure.  You too Armond, if you're not too busy shoving your head up your own ass.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My Quest To See the 1000 Greatest:
Blood Simple. (1984)

Blood Simple. is #574 in  
My Quest to watch the 1000 Greatest Films 

Screened 09/08/10 on DVD at Midtown Cinema

Ranked #626 on TSPDT

*this is one in a series of catch-up reviews in my aforementioned quest (which should explain the rather old screening date above).

Blood Simple (according to Dashiell Hammett's 1929 novel Red Harvest): a term used to describe the addled, fearful mindset of people after a prolonged immersion in violent situations.  "This damned burg's getting me. If I don't get away soon I'll be going blood-simple like the natives." 

In a sort of reverse mentality, it is not until I have seen numbers two through fourteen of the Coen Brothers oeuvre, that I finally go back and watch number one.  Number one of course, being the neo-noir thriller Blood Simple.  Starring John Getz, Frances McDormand (who would become Joel Coen's wife during filming, and is still such today, some twenty-seven years later) and Dan Hedaya as the requisite love triangle with the equally requisite tragic ending (at least for two of them), the Coens had fashioned a fun, if not quite all that unique, film noir in their first turn out of the gate.  

With obvious nods to such past noir (or noirish films) as Double Indemnity, Out of the Past, Strangers on a Train and The Ladykillers (which the Coens' would eventually remake, albeit poorly so) brothers Joel and Ethan do a (for lack of a better term) bang-up job with this film.  Perhaps it is not in the upper echelon of the brother's aforementioned oeuvre (when compared to the work they would turn in later on in their career - and are still handing in to this day) but is certainly an aspiring directorial debut, full of an obvious love and knowledge of film history, as well the beginning stages of that strange, almost bewildering style (combined with the style of the noir they are imitating) that will become the brothers' hallmark throughout their career.

The movie surely has some great scenes hinged throughout the production, including both an hilarious scene in which a dead man just refuses to stay dead, instead choosing to crawl down an almost empty highway in a stylistic moment that will come to define the Coens' as filmmakers (become, as I stated earlier, their hallmark, if you will), and a phenomenal freak-out finale that should be considered among the very best of its kind, and the movie is definitely one of the better of the neo-noir movement of the eighties, and M. Emmet Walsh gives what is probably the best, and most sinister, performance of his career as the snake-oiled, hired hit-man (another requisite noir factor).

In the annals of film history, Blood Simple. (and yes, the period is supposed to be there) should go down as one of the best examples of neo-noir out there as well as an audacious start to a long (and sometimes uneven) career.  To further illustrate the importance of this directorial debut, one need only look at Zhang Yimou's Chinese remake of the film, the giddily named (but not very good) A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop.  Not only does Zhang do his own game of reversal, by remaking an American film in Asia, but he whole-heartedly announces it as the proudest (and strangest) of remakes right there on the poster.  The film's legacy is assured.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Cinematheque Reviews:
Tiny Furniture

There have been many many (many) complaints about how Lena Dunham's Mumblecorely manufactured Tiny Furniture is nothing more than a D.I.Y. soapbox for a privileged white kid to climb up on and whine about how Goddamned tough life is for her and her fellow Gen Y grouses, and yes, it most certainly is just that (as is pretty much 97.3% of the rather vapid, self-involved Mumblecore movement), but still, for some strange reason (a reason I may never fathom anywhere but in the dark recesses of my brain and a reason that led to my inexplicable enjoyment of past Mumblecore films such as Hannah Takes the Stairs and Beeswax), this self-absorbed whining somehow fascinates me, and therefore I actually quite enjoyed (inexplicably again) Lena Dunham's Tiny Furniture, not in spite of its incessant nagging and whining, but because of its incessant nagging and whining.  Strange, ain't it?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Film Poll #8: Name Your Favourite Darren Aronofsky Film

And the votes are in. Perhaps it has to do with none of us having very long attention spans, but the latest Aronofsky was voted your favourite Aronofsky.  This was my pick as well, so I don't know why I am whining about it.  It was actually a two-dog race from beginning to end, as the first Aronofsky and the latest Aronofsky were neck and neck until the latter took the lead in the final hours of voting.

The results:

Black Swan - 7 votes (36%)
Pi - 6 votes (31%)
The Fountain - 4 votes (21%)
The Wrestler - 2 votes (10%)
Requiem for a Dream - 0 votes (0%)

This victory for Black Swan comes on the day that Natalie Portman takes home the Golden Globe for her stellar performance in the film.  Now onto the Oscar...

My personal picks, in case you care, are (in descending order, though I have thoroughly enjoyed all five of the mustachio'd auteur's films) Black Swan, The Fountain, The Wrestler, Requiem and Pi.

I will be back in a few weeks with a brand new poll (which will probably have something to do with the Oscars).

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Golden Globe Predictions

And awaaaaay we go...

Best Motion Picture, Drama - The King's Speech 

The Social Network has been the critical darling all awards season long and one would surely think it would and will win here, but that is not necessarily the case.  The Globes awarded Atonement over No Country For Old Men (a film similarly lauded by critics, myself included) a few years back and I think this year will follow suit with The King's Speech taking top honours.  I still think The Social Network will win the Oscar though.  But then again, the year end awards no longer have much of the surprise factor as they once did, so perhaps picking a surprise to win this one is a somewhat poor idea.

Best Motion Picture, Comedy/Musical - Alice in Wonderland 

The race here is between the good, though not great Kids and the horrible, and nothing but Alice.   There is no doubt in my mind that The Kids Are All Right should take home this award.  Though it wasn't a great film (many claim it was) it is certainly heads and shoulders (as they say) above the competition here.  Why far superior comedies such as Easy A or City Island or Greenberg or even The Other Guys were not nominated in place of the other dreck or semi-dreck, we may never know.  In the end though, I think the Globes are going to go populist over credibility here and give the award to Alice in Wonderland

Best Director - David Fincher for The Social Network

Even though I think the man's film is going to get beaten out for the top award, Fincher will still probably win the Director award, especially considering King's director Tom Hooper is a virtual unknown.  We could see a surprise in Aronofsky (I would love that) but I think this is Fincher's award to win.

Best Actor, Drama - Colin Firth in The King's Speech

Last year, Jeff Bridges lesser work in Crazy Heart beat out Firth's far superior work in A Single Man, so this should be Firth's award this time around - and his performance as the stammering King George VI is indeed worthy in its own right, even without the make-up votes.  Of course James Franco could give him a bit of competition since he holds his picture together pretty much single-handedly.

Best Actress, Drama - Natalie Portman in Black Swan

Although personally I would give this award to Michelle Williams (I would pretty much give any award or anything for that matter, to Michelle Williams) I cannot see anyone but Natalie accepting the Globe here.

Best Actor, Comedy/Musical - Kevin Spacey in Casino Jack

Two nominations for Johnny Depp?   And in two of his worst roles/performances!?  Where is Ben Stiller in Greenberg?  Andy Garcia in City Island?  Even Michael Cera in Scott Pilgrim.  Anyway, I don't think any of these nominees are even in the Oscar race, so this is a total free-for-all.  I suppose Depp winning for Alice isn't out of the question though - people do love the guy, even in lesser work.

Best Actress, Comedy/Musical - Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right

This should cement the whole Natalie vs. Annette Oscar showdown that is surely coming in a month.  I would love to see Emma Stone steal this away from La Bening but it ain't gonna happen.

Best Supporting Actor - Christian Bale in The Fighter

Probably the one and only true lock in any of the acting categories.  It would be a huge huge huge surprise to hear any name other than Christian Bale called.   Not much more to say on this one.

Best Supporting Actress - Amy Adams in The Fighter

As much of a lock that Supporting Actor is, that's how up in the air this one is.  I would not be surprised at hearing any of these names called out.  I think Adams will prevail though since she jumps out of her normal comfort zone with this role and that always impresses.

Best Screenplay - Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network

I don't really see this one going any other way (a fantastic screenplay and already an Oscar shoo-in) but we probably shouldn't count out Kids or even King's, but it should be Sorkin all the way.

Best Animated Feature - Toy Story 3

Though I would love to see The Illusionist win this one, but Pixar has NEVER lost this award and they are not about to do so with what may very well be their most popular movie ever.

Best Foreign Language Film - Biutiful

This is a race between Biutiful and I Am Love and I have gone back and forth between the two several times and decided to just flip a coin (I didn't really flip a coin, I just thought that sounded better).  Seriously though, the Globes are much better at this category than the Oscars usually are, awarding such things as The White Ribbon and Waltz With Bashir, so perhaps I should go back to I Am Love instead.

Best Original Score - Alexandre Desplat for The King's Speech 

I would love love love to see The Social Network take this one.  That way Trent Reznor would be a Golden Globe winner.  Alas, though, the award will probably go to the safer (but still rather good in many ways) King's Speech score.  Of course they could always toss a bone to Inception and give it to Hans Zimmer.

Best Original Song - You Haven't Seen the Last of Me from Burlesque
I really have no idea about this one (the Oscar equivalent is the same) so I just decided to pick the one sung by Cher.  Who knows? 

See ya Sunday night...  

*addendum (post show recap):

And I only got 8 right (and 6 wrong!?).  Granted, I went out on a limb predicting The King's Speech to beat The Social Network (I didn't think the HFPA would get it right) and who would have thought they would hand an award to Trent Reznor (!?).  Anyway, not a great prediction rate, but my Oscar predix will be better, since I probably won't go out on any more limbs.

Friday, January 14, 2011

My Quest To See the 1000 Greatest:
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly (1966)

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly is #573 in  

Screened 09/04/10 on Blu-Ray at Midtown Cinema

Ranked #165 on TSPDT

*this is one in a series of catch-up reviews in my aforementioned quest (which should explain the rather old screening date above).

Quentin Tarantino, one of my favourite directors working in modern Hollywood, claims The Good, the Bad & the Ugly as his all-time favourite movie, proving so by "stealing" several scenes for both his Kill Bill, Volume II and Inglourious Basterds.  Sergio Leone, the director of the same, is one of the greatest visual filmmakers of all-time.  The score of the film, by Ennio Morricone, is one of the most vividly rousing works of filmic music I have ever heard (I even have the main theme as my ringtone).  The Western, as a standard-bearer is one of my favourite genres, and the revisionist and/or Spaghetti style just adds to the revelry.  All this and still it took me until well after my forty-third birthday to finally sit down and watch the damned thing.  But it was well worth the wait, as they say.

Long and weaving, Leone takes his camera everywhere, even right into the sun-beaten faces of Eastwood, Van Cleef and Wallach, and then takes it even further.  I believe this surpasses what Leone would eventually do a few years later in the still fantastic Once Upon a Time in the West, even if many consider the latter to be the better film (except for me and QT).  From the opening credits, Morricone's score blaring behind, beside, in front of and all around them (supposedly designed in places to mimic the sound of crying hyenas), to the once excised, now put back where it belongs Civil War battle scene, torpedoing his camera and his cast through the trenches of warfare (even if perhaps there was never any actual trench warfare in said war), to the seemingly endless three-way shot out finale, with Tuco's frantic penultimate race around the cemetery, The Good, the Bad & the Ugly is a true blue masterpiece of cinema.  And masterpiece is not a word I toss around all willy-nilly like many others - it means something where I come from. 

Sure, the title may be something of a misnomer - there really is no good person involved here. Eastwood's "good" man-with-no-name is only good in comparison to Van Cleef and Wallach's Bad and Ugly respectively.  Still, that aside, Leone's film is a remarkable thing to watch - especially up on the big screen and in hi-def, with the sound system at screaming capacity, and me in the front row, sitting beside my lovely wife (also seeing the film for the first time).  It was a glourious (sic) time had by all.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My 35 (or 36) Most Anticipated Films of 2011

We are going to do this countdown style (just because I feel like it) so let us begin, as it were, at the end, and work our way up to number one.

35) Captain America: The First Avenger - Being a comic book geek from way back and a rabid cinephile from nearly as long ago, the sudden boom of cinematic superhero adaptations has been both a welcome sight and a harbinger of doom.  Though I love seeing my old friends from those halcyon days of yore, projected twenty feet tall on the big screen, the ability to create great cinema out of such is a thing of great difficulty.  Sure, Chris Nolan can do it, but can anyone else?  Joe Johnston, who practically killed The Wolfman with his horrendously dull adaptation, is probably not the guy for the job, and the casting of Chris Evans as the man to don the stars and stripes could be construed as a travesty, but Cap still squeaks onto the list due to him being one of my childhood faves (along with his socio-political nemesis and Avenger teammate Hawkeye) and my having at least some semblance of hope - faint as it may be.

34) Your Highness - Natalie Portman, James Franco and Zooey Deschanel in Medieval times - what more can you ask for.  In all actuality I am not really expecting much from this film.  Director David Gordon Green has done some good work (All the Real Girls and Snow Angels were both subtly sublime without anyone really noticing) but he seems to be going the Judd Apatow road these days, and that is never a good thing (unless you are looking for frat boy humour that is) and the film also stars the rather annoying Danny McBride as well.  But then we do get Natalie and Zooey in Medieval garb - what more can one ask for.

33) Red Riding Hood - Yeah yeah, I know, there's the whole Twilight connection, but Catherine Hardwicke does have an interesting visual style which lends itself to this iconic story and Amanda Seyfried is a good call for the titular wolf-lover/slayer and Julie Christie as Red's Grandma could be fun and Gary Oldman looks to be his old sinister self, all of which could bode well for the film.  Of course, Hardwicke will have to go beyond the typically tweeny mentality she was forced to play with in Twilight when it comes to the sexuality of the movie (the carnality even) for it to succeed on anything but a superficial level.  It has potential indeed, now let's just hope it can live up to it.

32) The Green Hornet - I must admit right off the bat that I am not a fan of Seth Rogen.  I enjoyed him in the long lost TV show Freaks & Geeks (the first and last time I actually liked something created by Judd Apatow also) but other than that, he just gets on my nerves.  No real reason, he just gets on my nerves, simple as that.  Of course one must wonder why a film starring the aforementioned Mr. Rogen makes this list at all - not to mention (though I am mentioning it!) a film done in that ever-annoying, cinematography-killing 3D craze that is sweeping multiplexes across the world.  The answer to that wonderment is simply put - un film de Michel Gondry.  Though to be honest, even that is probably not enough.

31) Paul - Two sci-fi geeks find an alien outside of Area 51 and all proverbial Hell breaks loose.  This is not what one looks for in a good movie necessarily but the film does have something worth noting - well, two somethings.  The two things that put this one on the map are Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as the aforementioned sci-fi/alien adopters.  Otherwise it could fall flat on its face (and again Seth Rogen is on board, albeit in voice only).

30) Thor - Again with the superhero movies and my inner cinephile battling my inner comic book geek.  Yeah, I know, one should not look for great cinema in such a genre (except when Chris Nolan is involved), but instead how much fun that inner comic book geeks is having watching the screen.  The reason this one makes the list, other than a nostalgia for my childhood and the Marvel Comics of the nineteen-seventies (before the industry lost its soul and went corporate), is the palpable excitement at seeing just how Asgard, home of the Gods, looks on the big screen.  Again, like with Captain America, there is probably just disappointment in my future, but one must have a little hope. 

29) Rise of the Apes - Starring James Franco, the busiest man in show biz (seriously, check out the guy's bio, he is working on about a dozen projects right now with another bunch in the wings) this origin story of The Planet of the Apes may have disaster written all over it, but my love for the original movies (and TV show) force my hand, so here it is at number 29.  At least it cannot be as bad as the Tim Burton version, right?  Right?  Right?

28) X-Men: First Class - And here we go again.  The first X-Men movie was well done (all things considered) and the second was one of the better films of the genre, but the third was just an unnecessary mess of a movie (as was the Wolverine prequel) so now here we are with a hopeful reboot of sorts, placing the story in the nineteen-sixties and showing the rise of the mutants.  My main attraction to this one is the cast.  James McAvoy as Xavier, Michael Fassbender as Magneto, Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert and Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw.  Of course, the highlight of the film may very well be January Jones in full Emma Frost costume (those fellow comic book geeks know what I'm talkin' 'bout).

27) Take This Waltz - For not being a fan of Seth Rogen, the guy is involved in quite a few films on this list, but I suppose when you star in just about everything out there, that is bound to happen.  Anyway, the inclusion on this list is not for Mr. Rogen, but for the director, Sarah Polley (well, and costar Michelle 'My Belle' Williams).  I have been a fan of the lovely miss Polley since first seeing her in The Sweet Hereafter (technically Terry Gilliam's Baron Munchausen was the first time I saw her, but it was in The Sweet Hereafter that she first blew me away) but here she acts as writer/director.  Her previous directorial feature, Away We Go, had a moodiness to it that can best be described as Canadian (although on a lesser scale, she shares a certain unique moodiness in her directing style with fellow Canucks, Atom Egoyan and David Cronenberg). This moodiness is why her film makes the list - that and Michelle Williams (Rogen be damned!).

26) We Bought a Zoo - Though the auteur has never made a great film, Cameron Crowe has created some great scenes inside those not so great (but some very good) movies.  He does have a bad habit of going overboard on the sap and sentimentality (and this is coming from the admitted sentimentalist this critic is) but he has still managed to gather together some pretty good moments throughout his career - many of them involving the director's seeming sixth sense at musical inclusion.  All that being said, Crowe's latest film, starring Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson and Elle Fanning, should, even if not a great film, at the very least, have some rather enjoyable moments throughout.

25) The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn - I am one of the last people to anticipate a Spielberg film, but here I am doing it.  Technically speaking, Spielberg is a talented filmmaker, I just find the guy rather soulless, yet here I am looking forward to his latest film.  I have never read any of the Tintin comics of yore, but from what I have seen, it seems rather interesting visually speaking (seeming to be more unique than your typical modern day animation) - and it has Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in their strange motion-capture selves.

24) The Raven - John Cusack is Edgar Allen Poe and he is solving crimes.  What the !!???  The absurdity alone, of changing Poe into a Sherlock Holmesian character hellbent on tracking down a serial killer using Poe's fiction as his M.O., is well worth any anticipation I may have for this film.

23) The Cabin in the Woods - A self-proclaimed "twist" on the usual formula, this Joss Whedon written horror movie is co-written and directed by Drew Goddard, one of the writers of Lost, so we should possibly expect something that perhaps makes no sense at all.  The Joss Whedon connection makes it an interesting-looking movie though.  I am not one of these Whedon fanatics (he is not God folks!), but I do have respect for the guy's work.

22) The Descendants - Alexander Payne has been one of those filmmakers who have sort of flown just below the radar of the hypemongers and general public both.  With an albeit small array of quality work behind him - Citizen Ruth, Election, About Schmidt and Sideways - Payne has been quietly amassing an impressively esoteric, yet quite defining oeuvre.  Perhaps Payne has yet to give us his masterpiece (some directors, even the better ones, sometimes just do not have such in them) though Sideways has come closest in a classical kind of way, and perhaps this new film is not it either (who knows) but hopefully it will help him to keep amassing that impressively esoteric, yet quite defining oeuvre - quietly or not.

21) Bernie - When it comes to Richard Linklater films, one cannot help but be impressed by such works as Dazed & Confused, Waking Life and Before Sunrise and Sunset both, but as of late, the once promising auteur seems to be slipping with such films as School of Rock and The Bad News BearsMe & Orson Welles is an enjoyable film, though still not up to the Linklater of past days).  There is still hope though, even if Jack Black is involved, but I still do not rank this one in the top twenty because of a slipping of artistic genius in its director. (granted, his most recent film,

20) Midnight in Paris - Woody Allen is back, and this time his traveling show is moving onto the city of lights.  After a serious drop in quality, Allen left his beloved New York and moved his wares to the UK (Match Point) and Spain (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) and now, ever forward, onto Paris.  His post NYC films have been a mixed blessing (I still long for the Woody of the late seventies thru the early nineties - his golden period if you will) so you never know quite what you are going to get.  Here's hoping we get a Match Point or another Vicky, and not something more akin to last year's You Will Meet a Tall Dark Yada Yada Yada.

19) My Week With Marilyn - It comes with an untested director (having only Brit TV under his belt) and is one of those dreaded biopics, but seeing Kenneth Branagh as Sir Lawrence Olivier, Julia Ormond as Vivian Leigh and (the capper to them all) Michelle Williams as the titular blonde bombshell herself - and from what I can tell, she (of course) looks gorgeous - is well worth the anticipation (at least I hope so).

18) Source Code - When I first saw the trailer for this film, I thought it had some interesting ideas, sort of Inception meets The Matrix, but when I saw that Duncan Jones' name was attached as the director (a thing I completely missed when I first watched the trailer!) I got much more excited.  If it has the moody qualities of Jones' Moon, it should be a winner.

17) Shame - A film directed by Hunger director Steve McQueen (no relation!) and starring Michael Fassbender (also of Hunger fame, as well as Fish Tank and Inglourious Basterds) as a sexual compulsive and Carey Mulligan as his little sister would of course make this list. That's all I have to say about that - for now.

16) Super 8 - J.J. Abrams has been keeping the film's premise under tight wraps (under lock and key is probably a bit more apt) but judging from the unique, though unfulfilling in the end Cloverfield and me being one of those Trekkers from long ago who just loved Abrams' Star Trek reboot, I do have some rather hopeful high hopes for this one - at least enough to place it at number sixteen.

15) Cowboys & Aliens - Han Solo and James Bond fighting aliens in the old west - how could this not be the coolest fucking movie of all-time!?  Seriously though, we get Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig in an old west-set sci-fi adventure film, directed by the guy who gave us the first Iron Man movie (and the second one, but let's not mention that).  This is one of several films based on comics and/or graphic novels to make this list, which once again, shows my inner geek coming through with glaring audacity.

14) The Skin That I Inhabit - Pedro Almodovar is back with a rape and revenge scenario starring Antonio Banderas as a plastic surgeon hunting down the men who raped his daughter, and with Almodovar being one of the most visually enigmatic directors working today (think Nick Ray crossed with The Archers and then covered with a rich gooey topping of a vividly homosexual Hitchcock), I am sure we are in for quite the colourful film.  Quite indeed.

13) A Dangerous Method - Here is what we get with A Dangerous Method - Viggo Mortensen as Sigmund Freud and Michael Fassbender as Carl Jung.  What more could one ask for?  How about David Cronenberg as director?  Hells yeah!  I have not seen the play the film is based on, but judging from what I know of Cronenberg, I envision something akin to Chris Nolan's The Prestige, but darker and more disturbing in that way that only Cronenberg can disturb us.  Whether we will see another all-nude knife fight as Viggo gave us in Cronenberg's Eastern Promises, I do not know though.

12) Hanna - Saoirse Ronan as a lean mean fourteen-year-old killing machine.  This looks like a very interesting film (visually I know it will succeed considering Joe Wright's weaving, panoramic directorial style) and the creepily lovely little Ms. Ronan just adds to the strange interest I have in said film.

11) The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - The only reason this film (and I am assuming the sequels as well) is because American audiences refuse to watch subtitled films.  There is nothing wrong with the original Swedish version (though I did not go all gaga like many, and I think the sequels were considerably lesser, comparatively speaking) but since the Swedish films only did lackluster business in the multiplexes (though they did fantastic biz at arthouses) Hollywood thinks it needs to redo the foreign film (along with pretty much every other well-received foreign film out there) for audiences who cannot read a movie.  Then again, unnecessary or not, David Fincher is at the helm so that does give us something to hope for, even if there is no way Hollywood producers will allow the brutality necessary to make the film(s) properly.

10) Sucker Punch - Blend the visual audacity of Zack Snyder's 300 (and ugly-sexy middle finger to the audience, but in the most alluring way) with the school-girl fetish of the average male and combine these things into some sort of kick-ass battle royale in an alternate dream reality full of sword-wielding, scantily clad asylum girls with names like Rocket, Blondie, Amber, Sweet Pea and Baby Doll, and you get Sucker Punch.  This will have to be seen to be sure - it could go either way (the good of the wrongly oft-maligned Watchmen or the bad of the inexplicably bad-for-bad's-sake 300) - but at this point it cracks the top ten.

9) Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - Thomas Alfredson, the director of the sublime Swedish vampire movie Let the Right One In, is coming to English speaking cinema with this UK-funded new version of the John le Carre espionage novel.  Why Hollywood didn't get him to remake his own film instead of having Matt Reeves do it and (for the most part - actors aside) give it a lesser mirror image, I do not know (well, I do know, but for the sake of argument, yada yada yada) but this could be a good way to introduce this filmmaker to the so-called West.

8) On the Road - How many years has one director or another, one producer or another, been trying to adapt Kerouac's Beat classic for the big screen?  A Lot, that's how many.  Now finally it comes to said big screen under the kino-eye helmsmanship of Brazilian auteur Walter Salles, the man who gave us Che before Soderbergh took him over in more epic scale.  A pair of relative unknowns headline the cast (the man who played Ian Curtis in Control is playing Jack's alter-ego Sal Paradise) and we also get Viggo Mortensen as Old Bull Lee, the man based on Old Bill Burroughs.  Now let's hope all these many years have been worth the wait to see this iconic Benzedrine-fueled novel on the big screen.

7) Haywire & Contagion - a pair of films from the ever-prolific Steven Soderbergh (and the reasoning behind the parenthetical 36 in the blog post title), one an action-thriller involving the CDC (a sort of Outbreak redux, but hopefully much much much better) and the other a straight-up Black-Ops action movie.  Soderbergh has always been a director who could straddle the fence between indie arthouse fare and star-studded Hollywood blockbustery type things.  Here, Contagion seems to be the latter, starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow and the lovely Marion Cotillard and Haywire, though seeming kinda Hollywoody in its own way, stars the "lesser" star power of Ewan MacGregor, Michael Douglas and Michael Fassbender (again!!!) and is therefore the more arthouse pick - if there even is one here.  Actually, the Soderbergh I am most looking forward to is his upcoming Liberace biopic (I know, biopic...ughhh) starring the aforementioned Mr. Douglas in the title role - but alas, that is a movie for my 2012 list.

6) Meek's Cutoff - My love of Kelly Reichardt's slow, meandering sublime cinema (Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy), the Western genre, of which this seems to be part of, and of anything whatsoever involving the sublime Michelle Williams (if I had such a thing as a cinematic dreamgirl, and who doesn't, it would most surely be Ms. Williams) puts this film pretty high on my list.  I unfortunately missed this film at the NYFF, and am still beating myself up over it.

5) The Turin Horse - Bela Tarr has always been an auteur of great procrastination, not only in the slow slow slow moving of his camera and characters both, but also in his production and distribution of his usually epic-length films, which means this film may not see US screens (or any screens for that matter) in 2011.  Nevertheless, here it is in the top five.  The plot, you ask?  From IMDb, one can glean this synopsis: 1889. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche witnessed the whipping of a horse while traveling in Turin, Italy. He tossed his arms around the horse's neck to protect it then collapsed to the ground. In less than one month, Nietzsche would be diagnosed with a serious mental illness that would make him bed-ridden and speechless for the next eleven years until his death. But whatever did happen to the horse? This film follows up this question in a fictionalized story of what occurred.  Does anything else need be said?  Well, I suppose one can mention that Tarr claims this is his final film as a director, but the man says a lot of shit, so who knows.

4) Hugo Cabret - Martin Scorsese's latest is based on a graphic novel (again!) set in 1930's Paris, and shot in 3D (Scorsese does like to use every possible cinematic contraption he can get his hands on and three dimensional photography is his latest dalliance) and stars Jude Law, Emily Mortimer, Christopher Lee, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen and the cute but dangerous teen spitfire Chloe Moretz (her creepy adult-like demeanor, hidden away in the crooked smile of a thirteen year old makes one assume her one of the successors of Dakota Fanning).  I am guessing this film will not live up to the majority of Scorsese's oeuvre, which is a shame considering Shutter Island took him back nearer the top than he had been in a while, but a unique 3D experience I am sure it will be.

3) The Tree of Life - Five films in a thirty-eight year career doesn't exactly make Terrence Malick the most prolific of filmmakers, but it does make it all that more important that we get everything we can out of each of his five (so far) films, because one is never quite sure when another might come along.  This one, from what I can tell, has the distinction of having Sean Penn playing the child of Brad Pitt.  From the trailer it doesn't seem your typical Malick (if a man with five films in nearly forty years can have a typical anything) but it does look gorgeous, if nothing more - but I do think there will be much much more.

2) Melancholia - The provocateur is back (my wife and I have a love/hate relationship with the acidic auteur - she hates him and I love him) and he's bringing Charlotte Gainsbourg back with him.  Danish bad boy Lars von Trier hands us a film nobody seems to know anything whatsoever about.  Trier is keeping quite the tight lip on this one, but he has pronounced no more happy endings.  Yeah, because he is so well known for his happy endings that he needs to say he won't do any more!?  I can't remember one at all.  For Christ's sake, the man hanged poor Bjork at the end of Dancer in the Dark, and that is probably his most upbeat ending of them all.

1) The Grandmasters - And the number one spot rightfully, and quite inevitably, belongs to my favourite working director.  Wong Kar Wai's latest film is the story of the man who taught Bruce Lee everything he ever knew, which means it is a martial arts movie from the man who can paint the most luscious of designs on the canvas of the big screen (I know, I am spilling over with hyperbole, but I just cannot help it when it comes to Wong and his cinema).  Whether this film makes it to US screens in 2011 is probably a pretty valid question, but until it does, it is number one - with a bullet.

As I more than alluded to in several paragraphs above, several of these films may not actually make their way to US movie screens in the next calendar year (Lars von Trier, Bela Tarr and Wong Kar Wai are all quite notorious for delays in their production and/or distribution schedules) but here is hoping.

I would also like to mention one other very very highly anticipated movie coming out in 2011.  Actually it is a mini-series on HBO.  It is the Todd Haynes directed version of Mildred Pierce, starring Kate Winslet in the role originally made famous by Joan Crawford.  I leave it off the list since it is a TV, not a theatrical release, but I suppose one could say it is the 37th on the list.