100 Movies in 2011

Scott has created a 100 Movies to Watch in 2011 list and wants me to do the same. Ok, I’ll bite. I’d love to be a little more careful in my movie choices, but mostly I’m interested in having the list as a counterbalance to Scott’s list so we don’t end up watching whatever he wants all the time. My life is mostly centered around competition and getting exactly what I want, so this works really well for me.

I’m switching it up a little. I’ve noticed lately that I only have vague recollections of important movies I watched once 5-10 years ago, so 50 of my films to watch in 2011 will be rewatches and 50 will be new films.

50 ReViewings:

The Last Temptation of Christ
Apocalypse Now
Aguirre, Wrath of God
City Lights
Sunset Blvd.
Asphalt Jungle
The Thin Red Line
Days of Heaven
The Seventh Seal
Raging Bull
Full Metal Jacket
The Big Sleep
On the Waterfront
Cool Hand Luke
The Thing (1982)
The Killing (1956)
La Ceremonie
Three Colors: Blue
Forbidden Games
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
The Secret of Roan Inish
Blow Up
Grand Illusion
Samurai I
George Washington
3 Women
Eyes Without a Face
Short Cuts
My Own Private Idaho
An Angel at my Table
Paris, Texas
Ride with the Devil
The Darjeeling Limited
Eyes Wide Shut
Blue Velvet
Where the Wild Things Are
In a Lonely Place
The Piano
Dressed to Kill
Written on the Wind
Forbidden Planet
The Long Goodbye
Rescue Dawn

50 New Movies:

It’s a Wonderful Life
Scenes from a Marriage
The Decalogue
Stalag 17
The Best Years of Our Lives
The Man Who Would be King
King Kong (1933)
Last Tango in Paris
The Leopard (Italian Version)
Grey Gardens
Orphic Trilogy: The Blood of a Poet
Orphic Trilogy: Orpheus
Orphic Trilogy: Testament of Orpheus
Robinson Crusoe on Mars
The Grapes of Wrath
Jason and the Argonauts
Captain Blood
The Spirit of the Beehive
Cleo from 5 to 7
Stella Dallas
The Shootist
I Saw What You Did
Samurai II
Samurai III
Flesh for Frankenstein
The Scarlet Empress
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
Le Cercle Rouge
Touchez Pas au Grisbi
La Commare Secca
The Tales of Hoffman
A Canterbury Tale
49th Parallel
Sansho the Bailiff
Pierrot le Fou
The Furies
The Earrings of Madame de…
Magnificent Obsession
The Friends of Eddie Coyle
Broadcast News


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Black Swan Obsession

It seems like the only thing I care about anymore is Black Swan. Ever since I saw it on Sunday morning I haven’t been able to get the film out of my head.

We’ll be talking about the movie in the next Frankly My Dear Podcast, so you should definitely listen to that if you have any interest in my review. We’ll talk about the perfect levels of campiness the film embodies. The swerving, swooping often handheld cinematography that perfectly complements the fantastic notions at play. I’m sure we’ll talk about the hot Natalie Portman, the hot Mila Kunis, and the uber-hot lesbian sex scene. Along with the performances, we might discuss the quality of production that must go into a ballet film featuring non-ballet dancers.

Most importantly, I’d like to go over female hysteria and why it always seems to accompany ballet/dance films. Everyone is reminded of The Red Shoes when they watch Black Swan – an enormous complement, I think – and it does seem like the sentiments in both are identical. I’m not sure how to put it all together yet, though. I’ll have to watch The Red Shoes again (Alright!).

But even though we’ll discuss all that at length on the podcast and I don’t want to spoil it here, I did want to get it out there that Black Swan is amazing. Amazing. And let’s open that up for discussion…


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Susanne Bier is a Lady

I haven’t been watching very many movies lately. But of the movies I have been watching, Susanne Bier is standing out more than anyone else.

She’s this awesome director from my hometown, (Hjemland, if you will) Denmark. And she makes movies about mostly good – but flawed – people making mostly good – but sometimes regrettable – choices. All of her films are character-driven, slow-moving, microscopic looks at relationships. And even when parts of the film don’t work (usually the soundtrack choices), the performances she gets out of her actors are always incredible.

Even Halle Berry and David Duchovny! Now, you know I love me some Fox Mulder, but Duchovny’s somewhat of a one-track actor. He always plays a kind of obsessive ladies man with a quick wit. Not so in Things We Lost in the Fire. Do you remember seeing the trailers for this one? It was awful. They were packaging it as a drug fueled thriller, but there’s really nothing thrilling about it. Instead, like many of Bier’s films, it’s a movie about death and how you deal with death of loved ones. Looking past some of the cheesy lines, I think this is definitely the best film of both Berry and Duchovny’s careers. And may be the best of Benicio del Toro’s.

Most recently I watched her Dogme 95 film Open Hearts. It’s a really painful story, but she approaches the subject with so much honesty. You’d think that would be a staple of dogme 95 films, but that hasn’t really been my experience. I feel like many directors who work in the genre want to use the natural lighting and sets as a way to shock and disorient you. They use the human body as something ugly and greasy, ready to be injected with drugs that will bruise and disfigure it. Open Hearts takes the opposite approach, taking a realist approach to what could be an overly dramatic situation. There are affairs, car accidents, screaming matches, door slamming, and paralyzation, and yet the film is very quiet.

Susanne Bier. Check her out.


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today, the public image prevails over the public space

jurassic park: it was a book before it was a movie before it was merchandise

(dear) jesus indeed . . .

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some movies of bubsy berkeley

the movies of bubsy berkeley

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restless style(s)

it’s not just me who’s into the young and the restless, but most everyone over at killerbuds.net. in fact, my brother started his own y and r themed blog: restless style


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notes on the young and the restless: august 2, 2010 (a.c.e.)

“it’s exhausting . . . but that’s what you get for living in a fairy tale.”

the music at the beginning of this episode is amazing.  dark partial objects, thunder.

sharon (whispered): i shot him.  i shot him.  oh god, what have i done.

to be fair: sharon was in a cabin alone and someone starts jiggling the door handle.  she pulls out a gun.  “tell me who it is or i’ll shoot.”  no answer.  the door opens.  she shuts her eyes and pulls the trigger shooting adam in the arm.  her eyes were closed; she can’t be held responsible.

“you’re the victim in this case: the babe . . . left on a door step.”

and i thought he was hitting on her.

(side note: ever seen that maybe carry grant movie about this single women gets a baby (or babe) on her doorstep?  she tries to take it to the orphanage, but everyone is convinced she’s abandoning it.)

(another side note: even clorox is into electronic music.)

some back-story: so adam framed patty for murdering hightower.  she’s waiting for trial in the mental hospital.  but last week, adam broke into the mental hospital, pretending to be the devil, and convinced patty to become a nun and head to canada because she was about to recant on her testimony that she killed hightower and most likely implicate adam in the murder.  now emily, her doppelganger and therapist (who, earlier, patty managed to switch places with so that emily was locked up in the mental hospital trying to convince everyone that she wasn’t crazy), is trying to locate patty.

but is emily a workaholic?  her husband thinks so, but his maybe ex-girlfriend or wife just showed up at their house.  sharon is waiting at the hospital and adam’s wife, sky lockhart, shows up pissed.  understandably, since sharon shot sky’s husband.  but worse, the entire confrontation is playing out on the local tv news (there’s a camera and reporter and everything).

vincent kicks the camera crew out.  but luckily, there’s another event for the tv to cover: jill is going to give a press conference at a cemetery announcing that she’s a fenmore.  she only recently learned that this dead fenmore was her real father.  lauren fenmore shows up: “i’m here to make sure they (the television crew and, i guess, the audience) hear the truth.  they’re having a hard time coming to terms that they’re sisters.  jill, “you won’t even show me photographs of our father”; lauren, “cold, hard cash is all the fenmore name means to you” (jill is suing the fenmore family for more than her portion of the estate).  jill, “ i just want to feel closer to daddy”; lauren, “you want to be closer to daddy”,   shoving jill into an open grave, “is that close enough for you?”  and it all happened live on tv.

sky, with a scowl: “you [sharon] cared so much that you put a bullet in him [adam].”

adam is coming too . . . everything is in tunnel vision . . . “you are waking up” . . . adam starts to look around (still with tunnel vision) . . . “in the room is your dad, your wife, your ex-wife and her husband” . . . “who shot you?” . . . “sharon” . . . now they’re gonna arrest her . . . but adam flashes-back to his true feelings . . . “wait, i take full responsibility.  she didn’t know it was me.  it’s all my fault.”

sky lockhart isn’t gonna like this.


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“this film is dedicated to the gallant people of afghanistan”

this is one of two quotes found at the end of rambo 3.  (the other is “i am like a bullet, filled with lead and made to kill”, which i think refers to rambo’s internalization of both his militaristic and zen-buddhist training, like how it’s not the solider that kills but rather the enemy appears and finds himself on the end of the sword without any conscious recognition or action by the solider, but rather something that happens automatically.)

i’m sure you’ve heard about all the new wikileaks on the afghanistan war.  browsing the so-called paper-of-record, i came across something that referred specifically back to the third rambo movie:

the taliban have used portable heat-seeking missiles against allied aircraft, a fact that has not been publicly disclosed by the military. this type of weapon helped the afghan mujahedeen defeat the soviet occupation in the 1980s.

rambo was recruited by col trautman specifically to ensure the successful delivery of these kinds of anti-aircraft weapons (stinger missiles) to the mujahedeen.  there were somewhere between 500 and 2000 of these missiles provided by the cia to the mujahedeen during the soviet invasion, but the cia only recovered about 300 or so after the war.  while there is some doubt that stinger missiles this old could still be functional, there is some evidence that some were reversed engineered to create even more effective stinger missiles.


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glitchin’: i-frames or key-frames of a temporally compressed video are removed, causing frames from different video sequences to bleed together

in other words, computers do the (artistic) work for us.  here’s my favorite example:

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the anarchist (in the usual beard)

some days, thankfully, i can forget that there ever where oscars.  other days, like yesterday, i end up watching part of the hurt locker.  and then i start wondering . . . have any good movies ever won best picture?  turns out we (or rather the academy) have only called them best picture for only the last 42 years.  from 44 to 68 is was known as best motion picture (as opposed, i guess, to ex-motion pictures); before that (41 to 43), outstanding motion picture; from 29/30 to 40, outstanding production; and from 27/28 to 29/29, outstanding picture.  so let’s forget about best picture awards, they’re all a waste (except maybe annie hall, silence of the lambs and rocky (even though rocky 4 is better)).  during the best motion picture period, we find some gems.  specifically, west side story, marty and, of course, all about eve.

but who cares about awards anyway?  they’re just marketing gimmicks.

back to the hurt locker.  in the beginning, perspectives change rapidly.  each of these perspective change (the long-shot of the bomb defusing squad, the close-up of the soldiers, the viewpoint peeking around the corner to view the action of the street, the long-shot of the rubble, etc) implies a camera filming the perspective.  but there are no cameras in the shots except for the camera mounted on the bomb-defusing robot.  so: cut to pov of the bomb-defusing robot.  at this point i realized how i would have loved this movie: if, instead of focusing on actual human soldiers, the film followed the view-point of robotic soldiers.  this, of course wouldn’t need to be limited to bomb-defusing robots but could also include remote piloted drones.  the best part is the camera used to record the footage would already be physically linked to the robot-soldiers.  the movie gets better.   it turns out the taliban, as a way of combating all these robot-soldiers, starts training terrorist monkeys.  which audio-visual recording devices attached to both the robot-soldiers and the monkey-terrorists, humans can now sit back and watch the televised battle.

this training of monkeys reminds me of this early silent film titled the anarchist and his dog.  in this classic, an anarchists makes a grenade to get back at some reactionary for thwarting his attempts to pick up this woman.  he throws the grenade near the target, but his dog ends up retrieving the grenade for him.  you can guess how the movie ends.


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