Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Everyone Else (2009, Maren Ade)

A subtler take on a prickly, Cassavetes-style relationship drama, Everyone Else examines the friction-filled love affair between Gitti (Birgit Minichmayr) and Chris (Lars Eidinger). As the film begins, the two are left on their own in sun-drenched Sardinia, where Chris, an architect, has been hired to do some improvements on a rich man’s vacation home. But while Chris makes a few stabs at work, most of his time is spent with Gitti as they try to enjoy some time on their own.

Soon, however, their personalities get in the way of their enjoyment. To begin with, Chris discovers via phone that he’s lost a prestigious competition, then hides the bad news from Gitti for several days, allowing his unexplained disappointment to cast a pall over their holiday. Then an encounter with one of Chris’ colleagues and his wife leads to a pair of awkward dinner parties in which Chris and Gitti’s issues come to the fore.

Ade, to her credit, never puts too fine a point on the frictions that exist within the relationship. Based on their actions in Everyone Else, it’s clear that Chris takes his artistic principles very seriously, but is somewhat spineless and eternally conscious of his self-image. On the other hand, Gitti is more impulse-driven, which gives her a kind of honesty that’s bracing in some circumstances but a hindrance in social situations, in which her inability to shrug off something she finds disagreeable leads to difficulties that might otherwise have been averted.

I won’t delve too deeply into the plot of Everyone Else, which is best experienced with as little advance knowledge as possible. However, it’s fascinating to see how Ade, ably assisted by Eidinger and Minichmayr, portray in detail the relationship between Chris and Gitti. We’ve all known couples like Chris and Gitti, in which their outward affections barely mask the hostility they feel deep down. There’s some truth to the old saying that opposites attract, but at the end of the day those opposites need to be compatible, personality-wise.

In most movies about relationships, love is depicted as the end result, and they all live happily every after. But even the happiest of couples- hi, honey!- knows that it’s nowhere near that simple, and for all couples who think in the long term, the make-or-break issue becomes not whether love is shared but rather whether the partners can make the relationship work. Everyone Else is about a borderline case- two people who may like (or even love) each other, but aren’t sure whether that’s enough, or should be. On that basis alone, it’s more realistic than most movies of its kind, and better to boot.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Inception (2010, Christopher Nolan)

There’s a certain paradox to the notion of Christopher Nolan making a “dream-film.” Nolan’s work has always been distinguished by a Swiss-watch precision and intricacy, and this springs from his writer’s need to focus on those aspects of the film that are relevant to the story. But dreams, as most anyone can tell you, aren’t so coherent. Often, the content of dreams is born less out of specific situations in one’s life than from deep-seated desires and anxieties which manifest themselves in strange ways. As a result, Nolan’s multi-level dream narrative doesn’t come off as a dive into the unconscious so much as a complex multi-player video game, in which the participants join in with an ostensibly unified purpose but are at the mercy of their own skill sets, personalities, and limitations.

But if Inception isn’t really convincing as an according-to-Hoyle dream film, it thrills on just about every other front. To begin with, Inception is a marvel of screenwriting structure, as Nolan uses the device of dreams-within-dreams-within-dreams to craft the cinematic equivalent of Russian nesting dolls. Even if the concrete goals of the story are fairly clear- the cranial crooks need to implant an idea, while team leader Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) has to come to grips with his wife’s death and find a way home to his kids- Nolan’s story is complex, as Cobb’s team must burrow deeper in their mark’s mind while fending off his built-in defenses.

That the film is never confusing is fairly amazing, and a testament to Nolan’s skill as a filmmaker. Rather than rushing through to the job itself, Nolan takes plenty of time to explain the rules of the game and to establish the different dream-worlds they will inhabit. So once he has to cross-cut between the different dream levels, we’re always sure where everyone is- no mean feat when you’ve got four or more levels to deal with at once. Additionally, Nolan’s screenplay employs a device in which time expands with every further level the characters visit- ten seconds of “real world” time equating to three minutes in the first level of dreaming, an hour in the second level, and so on. This leads to a riveting use of cross-cutting in which the team must wrap up its mission while, in the highest dream level, the team’s van ever-so-slowly plunges off a bridge into a river. If they don’t finish up before they hit the water, the mission will fail.

Inception is most successful as pure spectacle. Even if they don’t feel like dreams, there are images in the film that are astonishing, some of which appear in the trailers, others of which I won’t spoil here. Inception’s effects are always convincing and often transcendent, all the more so because they’re so perfectly integrated into the worlds of the characters. And if the so-called “human interest” comes up short here- wait, Nolan’s using the dead-wife plot again?- perhaps that’s because Nolan intends them not as fully functioning characters but as someone’s “projections.” Ah, yes- but whose? (That said, Tom Hardy rules, which is something I never imagined myself saying after his performance in Star Trek: Nemesis.)

One thing is clear, Inception is a movie that I’ll need to see more than once so I can watch it freed from my initial expectations. Now that I have a better idea of what Inception is and what it isn’t, I should be able to judge it more on its considerable merits. And now that I know what to expect, perhaps now I’ll be able to better determine what exactly Nolan’s game is. Because if my experiences with his work have taught me anything, it’s that there’s always more going on than Nolan lets on the first time around. Even if there’s not- well, it’s still pretty doggone awesome. And isn’t that enough?

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Winter's Bone (2010, Debra Granik)

In many ways, the Ozarks world of Winter’s Bone harbors a way of life that seems to have changed little since the Great Depression. Oh sure, the cars and clothes are newer, and the local underground industry has switched from moonshine to crystal meth. But the mentality feels mostly the same- fierce territoriality, a strained-at-best relationship to the Law, and tenuous blood ties that only hold up to the point where they stop being useful. It’s a pocket of America that feels like a distant planet compared to the contemporary suburban sprawl, to say nothing of the big city, and it’s the kind of place where those who hail from elsewhere thank the heavens that they weren’t born, and where those who were born there rarely manage to escape.

Under the circumstances, it’s sort of amazing that Ree Dolly (played by Jennifer Lawrence) turned out so well. The offspring of a largely absent, ne’er-do-well father and a mostly catatonic mother, 17-year-old Ree is shouldering the responsibility for keeping her family going. She has dropped out of school to raise her younger brother and sister, but she motivates them to do their homework and quizzes them on their math and spelling. She assembles the meals primarily from what’s on hand and what can be hunted in the nearby forest. Money being tight, she could go around asking for charity, but she lives by the wisdom, “never ask for what ought to be offered.” It would be easy for her to fall in with the meth cookers in order to earn a living, but like the Dardenne brothers’ Rosetta before her, she won’t fall into the rut. And when she discovers that her family could get kicked out of their house after her dad has skipped bail, she’s not about to sit around and wait for the inevitable.

One of the wonders of Winter’s Bone, based on a novel by Daniel Woodrell, is how much it reveals about both its heroine and its setting not through tiresome exposition but through action. Granik and co-screenwriter Anne Rossellini don’t toss in so much as a throwaway line about Ree’s upbringing, but judging by her resourcefulness it’s clear that she had to figure most of life out for herself. In her hardscrabble way, Ree is the most heroic character I’ve seen at the movies all year, and Lawrence is a dynamo, less an up-and-comer angling for a career boost than a young performer with serious chops that were just waiting for be revealed. Lawrence isn’t playing a Hollywood hillbilly- Ree is a clever young woman whose circumstances have made her wise beyond her years, and she knows how to navigate a world that spits out weaker souls.

It’s a world that Granik portrays in such depth that Winter’s Bone never simply feels like a vehicle for its young star. The visual style of the film never falls into Southern Gothic clichés, but finely straddles the line between naturalism and noir. She then fills this world with a vivid gallery of supporting players, from the great John Hawkes as Ree’s uncle Teardrop, who reluctantly aids her on her quest, to Dale Dickey as Ree’s most intimidating obstacle, a local crime queen who has her fingers in lots of pies, all of them rotten. And throughout the film, Granik fills the frame with detail after vivid detail, from the crowds at the local cattle auction to the way a birthday party turns into a sing-along. It rang particularly true that the only option for young adults aside from crime is the military, which reels in many of its enlistees with the promise of money, travel, and the allure of potential heroism.

Winter’s Bone won the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this past year. But while this award’s pedigree often suggests bland off-Hollywood fare that’s low on legitimate entertainment value (i.e. Quinceañera and Personal Velocity), Winter’s Bone is never less than riveting. A tense thriller, a study of an unforgettable character, and as lived-in a portrait of the South than any film I’ve seen since The Apostle, Granik’s film is a major achievement, and one that will, I hope, kick off long and fruitful careers for both its director and leading lady.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010, Banksy)

At a time when some documentaries can’t even manage one compelling through-line, Exit Through the Gift Shop has three. The first and most obvious is its documenting of the vital but necessarily secretive world of street artists. For that, we mostly have Thierry Guetta to thank. Guetta, a Frenchman by birth and compulsive videographer by nature, fell into the orbit of the Los Angeles street art scene through a relative and proceeded to film many of the movement’s most prominent figures at work, including Shepard Fairey, creator of the iconic “Obama/Hope” graphic, and eventually Banksy, generally thought to be the world’s foremost street artist. If Exit Through the Gift Shop had no other redeeming qualities, it would be invaluable for the footage of these artists at work and as a demonstration of the surprising amount of effort, artistry, and risk they face to bring their work to the world, even if it will inevitably disappear within a day or so.

It’s Guetta’s efforts to film street art in action that led to his relationship with Banksy, which form’s the film’s second fascinating thread. Guetta, a genuine eccentric whose most obvious characteristic is his undying enthusiasm, fell in with Banksy and his crew and filmed a number of their works, from the “murder” of a London phone box to an anti-Guantanamo Bay piece he hung at Disneyland. But while Guetta won Banksy’s respect for failing to rat out his friend to Disneyland security, Guetta’s attempt to assemble his footage into a documentary was a disaster, and Banksy more or less hijacked the project by encouraging Guetta to go out and make art on his own.

It was this turn of events that finally led to the film’s third and perhaps most thought-provoking thread, in which Banksy uses both Guetta’s previously existing footage and footage taken of Guetta readying his art-world debut to ponder the nature of street art itself. Throughout Exit Through the Gift Shop, we are shown examples of how “street art” can contain artistry and ideas (as compared to old-school graffiti artists with their hasty aerosol scribblings). However, when Guetta is given a chance to make art of his own, he mostly just steals ideas from the artists he once followed. A kind of street-art Eve to Banksy’s Margo, Guetta fobs off his works on art fans primed for something new and edgy (but not informed enough to recognize that his art is derivative and uninspired), selling works for a total of more than a million dollars at his first public exhibition. Given the secondhand way Guetta achieved success by riding the coattails of his more established betters, it somehow seems fitting that he ended up getting commissioned by Madonna to design the cover of her latest greatest-hits album.

By the end of the film, Exit Through the Gift Shop has metamorphosed almost imperceptibly from a street-art primer to an often hilarious poisoned-pen letter to the man who gave this project its start. Some might argue that, by re-appropriating Guetta’s footage to his own ends, Banksy is no better than Guetta, but I’d say that the difference is that while Guetta is selling his secondhand goods to the world as his own vision, Banksy has basically given Guetta the latitude to hang himself by his own rope. Furthermore, Banksy’s efforts have turned Guetta’s formless video into something akin to a street art manifesto, reclaiming it from those pretenders who buy expensive photocopying equipment and employ dozens in their efforts to sell millions of dollars of “edgy” works in galleries, and returning it to the artists in the streets, who haunt Kinko’s by day and climb out on roofs and evade police by night for almost no monetary gain. True “street art” may not technically be legal, but thanks to Banksy- and to some extent, Guetta- it’s never looked nobler. And even if, as some have claimed, Exit Through the Gift Shop is a hoax, I’d say the points it makes stand either way.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Father of My Children (2009, Mia Hansen-Løve)

When we first meet Grégoire Canvel, the protagonist of Father of My Children, he’s juggling two cell phones in an attempt to resolve the problems of the day. Grégoire (played by Louis-Do de Lencquesaing) is a film producer who specializes in backing brilliant but prickly filmmakers most producers wouldn’t touch- a figure inspired by the late Humbert Balsan, who backed difficult projects by Lars Von Trier, Bela Tarr, Clare Denis, and others. Why does Grégoire do this? It’s partly because he cares more deeply about cinema than his colleagues, and partly because he sees himself as an underdog, fighting the good fight for art over the bottom line. But because of the nature of the job, virtually every day brings a new crisis, and when this is the case the only reasonable response is to deal with the immediate crisis, lest one go nuts from fear of what’s going to appear on the horizon.

Trouble is, Grégoire’s in-the-moment fixes are beginning to catch up with him. He’s running out of money, favors, and goodwill. Filmmakers still seek him out because they don’t know where else to turn, but how will he fund their work with no money? His dream is die, a massive crisis for with no available solution that doesn’t leave him hanging out to dry. A man whose livelihood has depended on his ability to find quick resolutions, Grégoire can only contemplate one possible way out. It’s often said that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, but in light of the decisions Grégoire has made throughout the film, it’s more or less inevitable that he’d end up that way.

Father of My Children would be pretty grim indeed if all it was was the story of one man’s downward spiral. However, Hansen-Løve has more on her mind than Grégoire Canvel’s demise. Instead, Canvel dies roughly halfway through the story, with the remaining duration devoted to his family’s behavior in the way of tragedy. Suicide may remove Grégoire’s need to deal with his problems, but the problems themselves remain, and his widow Sylvia (Chiara Caselli) does her best to manage the crises he left behind and resolve them in a way that honors his memory. Meanwhile, daughter Clemence (played by de Lencquesaing’s own daughter Alice) finds herself making discoveries both about her father and herself. Tragedy places both Sylvia and Clemence in a position where they must reveal parts of themselves they wouldn’t have needed to otherwise, and while they don’t always succeed in their new goals, they forge on in a way that Grégoire could not, and Hansen-Løve clearly admires their efforts. Father of My Children doesn’t exactly tell a new story, but it tells its story gracefully and great subtlety, which is just as rare a commodity as originality.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Despicable Me (2010, Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud)

One of the most enduring moviegoing grips is the old saw that Hollywood is running out of fresh ideas. And considering the lucrative kids’ market, it’s little wonder that most studios play it safe by rehashing hit properties for family audiences. So it’s admirable to see Universal, not usually known for animated fare, releasing a more or less original property like Despicable Me, especially at the height of the summer season. However, one of the disadvantages to starting up a potential franchise is that it requires a kind of media carpet-bombing to build awareness that isn’t necessary for stuff that has been around for years. Thus, while Disney and Pixar can get away with a few Toy Story 3 trailers that show everyone that, hey, Buzz and Woody are back in a new adventure, the folks behind Despicable Me have to work harder to get the word out. Anticipating this need, Universal released their first teaser last summer, and since then they’ve rolled out several other spots to play in theatres and on television. Consequently, much of the movie’s highlights have been spoiled by the advertising campaign. Sure, the studio has successfully marketed their movie into a family blockbuster, but it already feels like I’ve seen most of the good stuff after a single viewing.

Is this unfair? I suppose, especially since I usually try to confine my thoughts on a movie to what happens between the studio logo and the final MPAA rating card. But it’s also sort of inevitable, seeing as how I can’t exactly hook myself up to Dr. Mierzwiak’s memory-expunging machine before watching a movie (if I could, I’d use it to experience some of my favorites again for the first time). And strangely enough, going into the movie with most of the money moments pre-spoiled for me had a side effect of allowing me to better-appreciate the smaller sight gags, especially the background architectural stuff that otherwise might be lost. Additionally, the story’s inevitable turn toward the maudlin was far less grating to me here than in many other cases where it spoils the fresh hilarity. Nonetheless, Despicable Me isn’t good enough to overcome that feeling of déjà vu that was caused by its advertising campaign. Perhaps now that everyone is familiar with this movie, its large grosses will allow Universal to be more confident in what it has that they’ll be able to surprise us a little with the inevitable sequel.

Rating: 5 out of 10.

Cyrus (2010, Jay and Mark Duplass)

Watching Cyrus, the latest from indie-world favorites the Duplass brothers, I was reminded of George Ratliff’s awesome Joshua, one of my favorite films of 2007. Not that the two movies were similar in look or feel, mind you, but both movies use popular genres to address anxieties that are fairly common. In Joshua, Ratliff tackled the worry faced by many fathers that the apple may fall disconcertingly far from the tree, while here the Duplasses take as their premise the anxiety faced by would-be stepfathers that they might not blend into their future families quite so smoothly as they had hoped. But the differences stop there, since Joshua is a sure-footed work from a filmmaker in full control, while Cyrus has been made by a pair of directing brothers who don’t seem to know where to progress from their promising idea.

The most obvious manifestation of the Duplasses’ tentativeness is their complete lack of facility with the camera. In their three films to date, the Duplass brothers have employed a handheld camera to underline their films’ ramshackle, lo-fi nature, but particularly in Cyrus, it seems they’ve confused this scruffiness with an honest-to-goodness aesthetic. Unfortunately, waving a digital camcorder around like a semi-distracted dad at his kids’ soccer game does not a style make. The Duplass brothers are convinced that nearly every moment that’s even remotely significant (and many that aren’t) needs to be punctuated by a quick zoom, but after one or two instances in the first couple of minutes this is merely annoying. There’s just no evidence that there’s an assured hand on the camera at any point during Cyrus, and the Duplasses would do well to consult the films of the Dardenne brothers or, more appropriately, Lukas Moodysson’s Together for tips on how to do it right.

This unease behind the camera wouldn’t be such an issue if the script was better- after all, last year’s Humpday, which starred one of the Duplass brothers, was no great shakes cinematically but was distinguished by its sharp screenplay. Unfortunately, once it lays down its premise, Cyrus isn’t thought through very well. Once the film has established the relationship between John (John C. Reilly) and Molly (Marisa Tomei) and introduced Cyrus (Jonah Hill), Molly son and semi-covert disrupter of their relationship, the Duplasses seem content to hit the obvious beats. There are many directions the Duplasses could have taken this premise, such as by steering it somewhere truly dark, or by making the rivalry between John and Cyrus subtle so that Molly couldn’t even detect it. Instead, the movie’s trajectory feels pretty formulaic, with the conflict coming to a boil, followed by a misunderstanding that briefly tears apart the couple, then some final-act redemption for Cyrus. It all feels too easy, as if in spite of the Duplasses’ ongoing commitment to grungy moviemaking is a mask for their desire to be comfortably Hollywood in their storytelling.

Trouble is, by aiming to bridge the gap between a no-budget Sundance favorite and a big-budget crowd-pleaser, Cyrus ends up scratching neither itch. It’s a shame, really, since the movie begins with a great deal of promise. The Duplasses wisely realized when making Cyrus that the movie wouldn’t have a prayer unless we were rooting for John and Molly’s relationship, and the movie’s opening does a fine job of making their courtship not only believable but highly sympathetic. Reilly has made a cottage industry of playing endearing schlubs, and just because he’s the obvious choice for this part doesn’t mean he’s not awesome at playing it. And Tomei is just as good in the role of a woman who’s finally dipping her toe back into the dating pool after spending most of her adult life raising her son (also, is it just me or is she getting hotter as she ages?). Even Hill is fine as Cyrus- the role is written more as a plot device than an actual character, but Hill’s performance goes beyond placid stillness and a thousand-yard stare to suggest some tumultuous goings-on below the surface. There’s so much that’s good in Cyrus that it’s a shame that the Duplass brothers don’t know what to do with it. Shame, really.

Rating: 5 out of 10.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010, David Slade)

Who is Bella Swan, really? I’m not talking about the role she plays in the Twilight saga. What I’m asking is who she is when she’s alone. Does she have any hobbies? Does she keep a journal, or doodle in a sketch pad, or enjoy going to hear live music? I only ask because there doesn’t seem to be much to her, at least not in the movies (I haven’t read the books, so I couldn’t make a judgment on that front). Hell, even the memorably antisocial Travis Bickle watched TV and went to porn theatres. To these eyes, Twilight heroine and lip-biting enthusiast Bella is perhaps the least compelling protagonist in a Hollywood blockbuster in many a moon.

This isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, of course- I mean, Keanu Reeves’ Neo didn’t have a whole lot going on in his life either. But despite being boring as ass, it seems like nearly everyone Bella meets in the Twilight series thinks that she’s totally awesome. Her gaggle of human friends seem to be constantly seeking approval from her even though she doesn’t really hang out with them outside of school, and not one but two supernatural hotties are practically at each others’ throats (literally) to win her heart. Almost the entire Cullen family falls for her instantly, and the one who doesn’t (Nikki Reed’s Rosalie) resents her because of her own personal issues. Similarly, the Quileute tribe practically takes her as one of their own, even making her the first outsider to attend a tribal council meeting. Hell, she’s the reason for the climactic battle in Eclipse. Yet Bella herself hardly seems worth the trouble, and this makes much of Eclipse, and the franchise as a whole, pretty hard for me to swallow.

Of course, this wouldn’t bother me so much if Eclipse gave me a little more to think about. Has anyone else noticed that this movie just kind of sits there, story-wise? I’m not talking about incident, since I suppose plenty of stuff happens in Eclipse. I’m talking about plot. As any decent writing teacher will tell you, plot doesn’t simply mean incident, but rather a series of incidents leading to change. At the end of the day, what changes occur in Eclipse? Not many. Sure, Bella finally says yes to Edward’s proposals of marriage, and Victoria gets killed in the final battle, but for the most part Eclipse is prolonged buildup to Breaking Dawn. It’s pretty much all setup, with almost no surprises. And did this really need to be two-plus hours long? Not remotely.

It doesn’t help that it’s not especially well-made. Say what you will about New Moon, but at least it’s a good-looking movie, with interesting camera angles (I dig the overhead shots in the forest chase scene) and some well-deployed uses of color, particularly once the gang heads to Italy. By contrast, Eclipse is cinematic cold oatmeal- not offensive by any means, but just kind of blah. I’m not even talking about making things pretty, but director David Slade can’t even manage a single shot that intrigued me enough to want to know more. He’s so eager to shoot the onscreen action in closeup that it’s difficult to tell where the characters are in relation to each other, especially during the action scenes. He even botches the scene in which the army of “newborns” emerges from the water by not being patient enough to keep his camera on the surface of the water for a few seconds before the first head pops out.

Listen, I don’t want it to seem like I’m piling on a movie that’s not my cup of tea. There’s nothing in Eclipse that angered me or made me want to hurt myself like I did during Beverly Hills Chihuahua. Heck, there are even a few things I like, such as Billy Burke’s performance as Bella’s bachelor dad, who reacts to the endless drama in his daughter’s life with a sort of irritated resignation that’s always good for a chuckle. All in all, it’s a fairly inoffensive time-waster of a movie, one that’s of interest primarily to the legions of fans who clamor to see their favorite characters and scenes play out on the big screen. I certainly don’t begrudge them their love for Twilight- I have my soft spots too, and hey, at least they’re reading something. I might not be that keen on Eclipse, but then, I don’t really matter compared to all the people who are already counting down to Breaking Dawn next year, which will bring the hotly anticipated wedding of Bella and Edward. And I suppose I’ll watch that one too, not least because I’m genuinely curious what Edward will have to say to Bella now that he no longer has the option of proposing marriage ten times per day.

Rating: 4 out of 10.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Ratings for 2010 releases

Here is my list of ratings for 2010 Muriel-eligible films I’ve seen thusfar. Click on the underlined titles for more detailed thoughts on them. The ratings scale is explained at right.

10 ratings
Dogtooth (Giorgos Lanthimos)

9 ratings
Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy)
The Social Network (David Fincher)
Winter’s Bone (Debra Granik)

8 ratings
Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky)
Carlos (Olivier Assayas)
Everyone Else (Maren Ade)
Father of My Children (Mia Hansen-Løve)
The Ghost Writer (Roman Polanski)
How Do You Know (James L. Brooks)
Inception (Christopher Nolan)
Never Let Me Go (Mark Romanek)
October Country (Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher)
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Edgar Wright)
Somewhere (Sofia Coppola)
Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich)
True Grit (Joel and Ethan Coen)

7 ratings
Around a Small Mountain (Jacques Rivette)
The Fighter (David O. Russell)
Get Low (Aaron Schneider)
Hadewjich (Bruno Dumont)
Jackass 3D (Jeff Tremaine)
Let Me In (Matt Reeves)
Lourdes (Jessica Hausner)
Mother (Bong Joon-ho)
The Oath (Laura Poitras)
A Prophet (Jacques Audiard)
The Secret of Kells (Tomm Moore)
Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese)
Sweetgrass (Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor)
The Strange Case of Angelica (Manoel De Oliveira)
The Tillman Story (Amir Bar-Lev)
Valhalla Rising (Nicolas Winding Refn)
Vincere (Marco Bellocchio)
White Material (Claire Denis)
Wild Grass (Alain Resnais)

6 ratings
127 Hours (Danny Boyle)
And Everything Is Going Fine (Steven Soderbergh)
Animal Kingdom (David Michod)
Bluebeard (Catherine Breillat)
Blue Valentine (Derek Cianfrance)
Buried (Rodrigo Cortes)
Catfish (Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost)
Eccentricities of a Blond-Haired Girl (Manoel De Oliveira)
Enter the Void (Gaspar Noé)
Get Him to the Greek (Nicholas Stoller)
Greenberg (Noah Baumbach)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (David Yates)
How to Train Your Dragon (Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders)
I Love You Phillip Morris (Glenn Ficarra and John Requa) {3}
Inside Job (Charles Ferguson)
Inspector Bellamy (Claude Chabrol)
The Karate Kid (Harald Zwart)
The Kids Are All Right (Lisa Cholodenko)
The King’s Speech (Tom Hooper)
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hoole (Zack Snyder)
Ondine (Neil Jordan)
Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1980 (James Marsh)
Restrepo (Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger)
Smash His Camera (Leon Gast)
Soul Kitchen (Fatih Akin)
The Square (Nash Edgerton)
Tron: Legacy (Joseph Kosinski)
Vengeance (Johnnie To)

5 ratings
Alice in Wonderland (Tim Burton)
Amer (Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani) {2}
The American (Anton Corbijn)
Cyrus (Jay and Mark Duplass)
Despicable Me (Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud)
I Am Love (Luca Guadagnino)
I’m Still Here (Casey Affleck)
Iron Man 2 (Jon Favreau)
Marwencol (Jeff Malmberg)
Micmacs (Jean-Pierre Jeunet)
Please Give (Nicole Holofcener)
The Secret in Their Eyes (Juan Jose Campanella)
Splice (Vincenzo Natali)
Stone (John Curran) {3}
The Town (Ben Affleck)

4 ratings
Chloe (Atom Egoyan)
The Killer Inside Me (Michael Winterbottom) {3}
Life During Wartime (Todd Solondz)
RED (Robert Schwentke)
Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974 (James Marsh)
Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1983 (Anand Tucker)
Tiny Furniture (Lena Dunham)
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (David Slade)

3 ratings

2 ratings
The Spy Next Door (Brian Levant)

1 ratings

0 ratings

Additionally, here’s a list of movies I’d like to see before filling out my Muriels ballot this year. Naturally, some are more urgent than others, though ideally I want to see them all if I have time (ha ha). So if anyone should happen to have a copy of one or more of these on DVD that he or she would be willing to let me borrow, I would be most appreciative.

Also, the number in braces {like so} represents my level of anticipation for this particular film. The number corresponds to my post about the movies I still “need to see” before I feel confident filling out this year’s Muriels ballot. Basically, {1} is for my most highly anticipated movies, and so on.

(30 Nov: In the interest of making this list rather less intimidating for me, I’ve pared it down somewhat. As always, if there’s anything you think I should add, let me know.)

Scheduled to come to Columbus:
Ne change rien (Pedro Costa) [Feb 11 @ Wex] {2}
The Illusionist (Sylvain Chomet) [Feb 11 @ Gateway] {2}

In town this week:
Another Year (Mike Leigh) [Feb 4 @ Drexel] {1}
Rabbit Hole (John Cameron Mitchell) [TBA @ Gateway] {3}

DVD release TBA:
Boxing Gym (Frederick Wiseman) {2}
The Concert (Radu Mihaileanu) {3}
Four Lions (Chris Morris) {3}
Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno (Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea) {3}
Hideaway (Francois Ozon) {3}
Monsters (Gareth Edwards) {3}
My Dog Tulip (Paul and Sandra Forefinger) {3}
Neil Young Trunk Show (Jonathan Demme) {3}
Tamara Drewe (Stephen Frears) {3}
Unstoppable (Tony Scott) {3}