by Steve Dollar
If you added up all the allegedly great movies I didn't happen to see this year, there would be enough for three or four Top 10 lists. More if you include the yet-to-be distributed gems and oddities that flourish on the film festival circuit. But don't worry, I'm not going to open up a can of Uncle Boonmee on your ass. There's no need to come off as some savvy super-insider. I'm still coasting on my breakthrough cameo as a backgrounder in Greenberg. With a couple of exceptions in the postscript, these are all movies that had at least a one-week theatrical run in New York.
Carlos - A sloppy if brutal terrorist, cock artist and irresistible '70s icon, Carlos Ramirez could have been the best Bond villain ever. Oliver Assayas avoids the bio-pic blues until the third act, but Edgar Ramirez's full-bodied performance as "The Jackal" keeps this 5-1/2 hour drama compulsively watchable.
Dogtooth - A perverted sit-com about an incestuous, brainwashed family locked away from the outside world by its patriarch inside a hermetic compound, the second flm from Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos was bracing in its deadpan banality and surreal rewiring of the everyday world. It's a metaphor, though for what exactly? The Coming Palin Presidency?
Enter the Void - A really amazing visionary film about some of the stupidest people you've ever seen, Gaspar Noe's oscillating neon headtrip was Avatar gone Tokyo decadent. … and the most original thing to (briefly) meet American screens this year. The full 160-minute cut will be out on DVD next month. Meet you in the K-Hole!
Amer - A magnificent, sexy, haunting and near-wordless evocation of giallo tropes in three movements.
Black Swan - Natalie Portman loses her mind but finds her spine in Darren Aronofsky's hallucinatory freakout.
The Red Chapel - Kim Jong-il, you've been punk'd! [More here.]
Inside Job - America, you've been punk'd!
Audrey the Trainwreck - My favorite among the year's micro-budget films. And not just because of that silly, schoolboy crush on female lead Alexi Wasser and her goosebumps. Director Frank V. Ross's cockeyed rom-com figured out how to turn that uniquitous indie albatross - the handheld shaky-zoomy-cam - into a clever narrative device, and made brilliant use of the crisp, comic ellipsis to keep things playfully off-balance.
NY Export: Opus Jazz - This 45-minute revival of Jerome Robbins's 1958 street ballet, shot by Henry Joost and Jody Lee Lipes, was the best valentine to NYC since Jay-Z's “Empire State of Mind.”
Marwencol - In a year when so many documentaries were possible fictions, here's a story no one could have made up: The redemption of a middle-aged alcoholic whose recovery from brain damage after an assault unlocked a strange creative reserve. Better just see it for yourself. Two words: Inglourious Barbies.
DUDS (VS. BUZZ): Inception, I Am Love, Cyrus.
UNDERRATED/MISAPPRECIATED: Down Terrace, Splice You Wont Miss Me, Shutter Island, Vincere.
FAVORITE SHORTS: The Legend of Beaver Dam (Jerome Sable). Tightrope (Wendy Morgan video of Janelle Monae's hit single).
BEST DIRECT TO DVD: RoboGeisha.
DYING TO SEE: The Last Circus (Alex de la Iglesia), The Wolf Knife (Laurel Nakadate).
Bookmark/Search this post with: