Sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. If any of the films reviewed are available on Netflix Instant Watch (US or Canada) or HuluPlus (US only), we’ll note that by putting a direct link below the capsule.
Everything Must Go
2010 USA. Director: Dan Rush. Starring: Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Christopher Jordan Wallace, Michael Pena, Laura Dern.
This is Will Ferrell reminding us that he can do more than his usual loud comedy schtick – which gets tiresome quite quickly – and proving he’s a more than decent dramatic actor (he did the same thing with the underrated Stranger Than Fiction a few years back). Ferrell plays a recovering alcoholic whose wife leaves him, and as a result leaves all of his belongings on the lawn. With nowhere to go and pressure from the law to move on, he decides to hold a yard sale to buy himself some time. Nice supporting performances from Rebecca Hall and relative newcomer Christopher Jordan Wallace and a script that walks the comedy-drama line pretty well. Altogether a little too slight to leave much of a lasting impression but a pleasant, enjoyable watch nonetheless. -ROSS
1959 France. Director: Robert Bresson. Starring: Martin LaSalle, Marika Green, Jean Pélégri, Dolly Scal, Pierre Leymarie.
The film postulates that humanity cannot find salvation without first making a lot of dumb and irrational mistakes. I do not disagree with this assessment. Salvation for our eponymous compulsive thief comes from a woman who, at the time it is safe to assume, was the most attractive woman on the planet (Malika Green, who apparently is Eva Green’s aunt). Three things struck out at me visually while watching this brand spankin’ new 35mm print of the film: First, the director favours his actors constantly walking at the camera from the long distance in a single unbroken shot. It happens often enough that it has to be intentional. I’m not sure what that means in terms of story, but it has the effect that the thief is coming for you, or your wallet, or your to await your judgement. It’s a pretty swell visual strategy. Second, there is a wallet-theft montage which takes place in a train-station and on a train in the latter third of the film that is pure joyous art. Really wonderfully done. Third, the splicing right before fade out transitions is so obvious such that you can perceive the cut every single time by a brightness shift. I wonder how often this was the case for films of that era, because never was it more obvious here. I know we should leave these things intact, but really, someone should fix that, it’s distracting and pulls you out of the film. -KURT
At least until the inevitable point where Bob and Harvey Weinstein buy back the name of their previous endeavor (an amalgam of their parents Miriam and Max) which was founded in the late 1970s, but really kicked into high gear after the success of Sex Lies and Videotap, The Piano and Pulp Fiction. Watching ‘indie’ film in the late 1980s and pretty much the bulk of the 1990s, Miramax was always the elephant in the room. The Brothers W. even managed to make the company work (and the skirmishes were legendary, if even one quarter of Peter Biskind‘s book is accurate) for more than decade under Disney. Many Oscar winning films and cult favourites were sent into the multiplex under that familiar “M” banner. Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith and Anthony Minghella were three (of many) names to emerge (and stay loyal) to the company. Heck, Miramax somehow sold The Crying Game into a mega-hit. Of course the company was also infamous for cutting, burying, and falsely advertising many a picture (especially Asian films which they had a very strange relationship indeed!) After the boisterous Moguls left their own creation as a subsidiary of huge corporation, things were pretty quiet in terms of headlines, but they kept distributing notably good cinema: Their last notable pictures (in my book) were No Country For Old Men, There Will Be Blood, Adventureland, Blindness, Doubt and Happy-Go-Lucky. Not a bad way to go out, really.
Recently, everyone at the company was been sacked, and the doors are shuttered. I imagine the name and the company will linger on for some time in memories of cinephiles who became cinephiles in part from Miramax pushing the arthouse into the mainstream for a spell.
Seeing as how everyone else at Row Three is posting theirs, I may as well include my own top films of the past decade, previously posted at my blog, Subtitle Literate.
10) No Country for Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007)
There’s no doubt that the Coens’ Cormac McCarthy adaptation is an eloquent, handsomely crafted exploration of corruption and the unstoppable force of human evil. But I found this film to be a little too tidy, its messages a little too clearly decipherable within the tale – almost as if the finished film came with a little tag that read, “Shelve under M for Masterpiece.” This sense of cold calculation is the reason why it’s only number 10 here, but the excellent performances from Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, Kelly Macdonald, Woody Harrelson and, yes, Javier Bardem and its dark, powerful vision at least guaranteed it a spot here somewhere.
Since everyone else is doing it and I always fall victim to peer pressure, I’ve decided to grace the public with my favorite films of the decade. Knowing the influence that my voice has in the world and on the elite film critic circles, I took this endeavor with the utmost seriousness. In the past months, I quit my job and retreated into complete solitude in order to spend countless hours watching films, scientifically analyzing them, and drinking copious amounts of alcohol to come up with this highly desired list. It is by no means flawless – on any given day, I could produce a much different list depending on my mood – but after careful consideration, I have come up with what I consider to be the definitive eleven films of the past decade. Some may be surprising, some not so surprising, but they are all movies that have stayed with me long after I’ve watched them and movies that after numerous viewings have had the same (if not more) impact on me as the very first time that I watched them. Enjoy.
How to narrow down an entire decade of films down to just ten? It’s pretty much an impossible task. I made a short list of fifty, and even that left off loads I wanted to include. And now that making that list is already a few weeks in the past I’m starting to second guess how I ordered them. But I chose to let stand what’s here – so let’s just say here are ten films from the past ten years that blew me away, stuck with me, and that I love dearly. Too many of them are obvious choices, but I’ve made my peace with that.
10) 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007; dir: Cristian Mungiu)
T this is one of those twitter things. Rope of Silicon by way of Anne Thompson by way of Scanners Blog via filmmaker Baris Azman who posted the link to the Coen Brothers’ contribution to the short film anthology Chacun son cinéma made specifically for Cannes a couple of years ago which is now up on Youtube. Curiously, this short (along with the David Lynch one, here) was left off the eventual DVD release. But it is freely available for the time being. Joy!
It’s only a couple minutes long, and essentially Llewelyn Moss (although he is named Dan here) walking randomly into a repertory cinema and deciding whether or not to watch Jean Renoir‘s Rules of the Game or Nuri Bilge Ceylan‘s Climates (FYI, my review of Climates here).