Twelve Years a Slave boasts one of the most impressive casts of any upcoming feature and Steve McQueen seems content adding even more big names. Or big names are just happy to join the acclaimed director’s third film. Either way, Benedict Cumberbatch is the newest star to board the adaptation that already features Michael Fassbender (McQueen’s Hunger and Shame muse), Chiwetel Ejiofor and Brad Pitt.
To be perfectly honest, these lists are kind of arbitrary. Actually, they are most definitely arbitrary and yet, people always get butt-hurt over other people’s choices or rules. I like to do them because they are just a good bit of fun and it’s also nice to take a few moments to reflect on films I found very special each year. Since this is my top ten of 2011, we’ll be playing by my rules. They are simple. Any film released theatrically (or on VOD) in 2011 is fair game. Pretty standard and straightforward yeah?
There are most definitely many great films I missed that may have made this list as well as many more that easily could have taken a spot from one of the ten below – 50/50, Take Shelter, Young Adult, MI:4 Ghotocol, Warrior, Kung Fu Panda 2, The Adventures of Tintin, Captain America, Senna and Rango. However, I can’t see everything and not every great film can make the final ten. I don’t know about you but I think this year offered a pretty solid slate of flicker shows. And on that note, here are the films I’m calling the top ten of 2011…
There’s an ever common phrase in cultural discourse that goes something like ‘such-and-such is a work of art that defies description.’ Or classification. Or definition. Or any number of vague excuses that tell you more about the critic’s lack of understanding (or engagement) with the material than it does about the actual piece of work. That being said, Kill List is a film that defies description. It is not only extremely difficult to pin down or label but it also it nearly impossible to go into any detail as to not spoil the, uh, fun. Therefore, I don’t fault others for relying on the safety of cliche crutches and/or ambiguous classifications. Let’s just start with this, you should definitely go see it but only if you’ve got a few days after to think about it [by think, read: obsess].
Sports movies are treated like any other genre fare. It’s as though by definition they are automatically of a lower quality. Not art. Not worthy. You know, they often get the suffix ‘just a’ thrown in from of them. It’s just a sport movie. And you know what, most of the time they’d be right. There must be a thousand sports flicks out there, the question is, how many transcend the genre?
How do you make a film that feels vintage yet completely fresh at the same time? And not only that but make it one of the year’s most interesting films from what will be a major new presence on the Hollywood film scene. Yes, an exciting new artist who is interested in making mainstream movies… but with a catch, Nicolas Winding Refn will be delivering ‘Hollywood’ in a whole new package. Drive is bravura filmmaking is ever there was cause for that word and I knew it the moment the hot-pink letters hit the screen after the insanely gripping opening sequence. The hot-pink not only announced the film had arrived but also the filmmaker.
About the only law that I think relates to the genre
is that you should not try to explain, to find neat
explanations for what happens, and that the object of
the thing is to produce a sense of the uncanny. Freud
in his essay on the uncanny wrote that the sense of
the uncanny is the only emotion which is more powerfully
expressed in art than in life, which I found very
illuminating; it didn't help writing the screen-play,
but I think it's an interesting insight into the genre.
And I read an essay by the great master H.P. Lovecraft
where he said that you should never attempt to explain
what happens, as long as what happens stimulates people's
imagination, their sense of the uncanny, their sense of
anxiety and fear. And as long as it doesn't, within itself,
have any obvious inner contradictions, it is just a matter
of, as it were, building on the imagination (imaginary
ideas, surprises, etc.), working in this area of feeling.
Stanley Kubrick, "El Pais Artes" (1980)
Posted in Critical Analysis
Tagged blade runner, bram stoker, dracula, ETA Hoffman, francis ford coppola, Ridley Scott, Sigmund Freud, stanley kubrick, steven king, The Sandman, the shining, Uncanniness, Uncanny
Whoever said (whomever said… who… pretty sure whoever) that girls (yes, I know I used girls and not women, it was a conscious choice) aren’t funny has not yet seen Bridesmaids. But don’t get me wrong, as much as the film is a ‘female’ comedy, it’s not only female comedy… it’s just a comedy and a pretty damn funny one at that.