Sunday, February 15, 2015

Movies for Music Lovers: 2014 Edition

Conner Chapman in The Selfish Giant.
Click here 
for the 2012 

This list is a work in progress.
I began compiling it several months ago, but then the draft disappeared without a trace, so I started to recreate it last week (the original post disappeared while I was working on a new one). Links lead to my reviews for The Stranger, Slog, and SIFFBlog.

The Tops
1. The Selfish Giant (Clio Barnard)
2. Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer)
3. Miss Zombie (Sabu)
4. Boyhood (Richard Linklater)
5. Snowpiercer (Bong Joon-ho)
6. Ida (Pawel Pawlikowski)
7. Whiplash (Damien Chazelle)
8. The Babadook (Jennifer Kent)
9. A Field in England (Ben Wheatley)
10. Selma (Ava DuVernay) 


11. Dear White People (Justin Simien)
12. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson)
13. Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch)
14. Love Is Strange (Ira Sachs)
15. Tracks (John Curran)
16. Edge of Tomorrow (Doug Liman)
17. White Bird in a Blizzard (Gregg Araki)
18. Obvious Child (Gillian Robespierre)
19. Frank (Lenny Abrahamson)
20. Low Down (Jeff Preiss)

Second Runners-up
1. The Past (Asghar Farhadi)
2. Wild (Jean-Marc Vallée)
3. The Skeleton Twins (Craig Johnson)
4. Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh)
5. Diplomacy (Volker Schlondorff)
6. Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy)
7. Top Five (Chris Rock)
8. Pride (Matthew Warchus)
9. Wetlands (David Wnendt)
10. Abuse of Weakness (Catherine Breillat)

Here's my review of The Past, the last one I ever wrote for Amazon as all film freelancers were let go in 2014. It was a great gig for 15 years, and I miss it. To add insult to injury: this piece was never posted. 


Asghar Farhadi’s follow-up to his Oscar-winning film, The Separation, takes the procedural approach to two interlocking relationships. When Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa, who learned French for the role) travels from Tehran to Paris, he expects to finalize his divorce from Marie (The Artist’s Bérénice Bejo), so that she can marry Samir (The Prophet’s Tahar Rahim), but he finds a chaotic domestic scenario: Samir’s wife, Céline, is in a coma after a failed suicide attempt; their young son, Fouad (Elyes Aguis), has become difficult; and Marie’s teenage daughter, Lucie (Pauline Burlet), won’t speak to her. She assumes it’s because Lucie can’t stand Samir, but she’s actually keeping a secret that’s eating her up inside. With Samir’s help, Marie has also been repainting the walls of her dilapidated house, which represent the havoc within. 

Like a cross between a counselor and a detective, Ahmad starts putting the pieces together by trying to get Lucie to open up. He may not be her birth father, but she feels more comfortable talking to him than anyone else. As he discovers, most everyone has been withholding information about the day Céline attempted to take her life. 

By the conclusion, an undocumented worker and a restaurant owner get caught up in this absorbing, unpredictable drama, but if Mosaffa and Burlet are particularly good, Bejo and Tahar play more exasperating characters--Marie is high-strung and Samir is moody--though it’s to the director’s credit that he would prefer to create characters that are more intriguing than loveable. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Top Documentaries
1. Jodorowsky's Dune (Frank Pavich)
2. No No - A Dockumentary (Jeff Radice)
3. The Dog (Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren)
4. Actress (Robert Greene)
5. Regarding Susan Sontag (Nancy Kates)
6. 20,000 Days on Earth (Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard)
7. Elena (Petra Costa)
8. PULP - A Film About Supermarkets (Florian Habicht)
9. The Case Against 8 (Ben Cotner and Ryan White)  
10. The Great Flood of 1927 (Bill Morrison)

Reissues: Careful, He Might Hear You (Carl Schultz), Je t'aime, je t'aime (Alain Resnais), Level Five (Chris Marker), A Summer's Tale (Eric Rohmer), and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Tobe Hooper).

Worthy of note (includes video debuts): Alien Boy, An-
tarctica - A Year on Ice
, Bad Hair, Birdman, Cannibal, Cold in July, The Dance of Reality, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, The Drop, The Double, The Dune, Enemy, Filth, Finding Fela, Follow Me Down - Portraits of Louisiana Prison Musicians, For a Woman, Foxcatcher, Get on Up, Gone Girl, Goodbye to Language, Grand Central, Grisgris, Guardians of the Galaxy, How I Live Now, The Imitation Game, Inherent Vice, The Invisible Woman, Jobriath A.D., Life after Beth, Life Feels Good, Lilting, Locke, Lucy, The Master Builder, Medeas, Moebius, Muscle Shoals, My Last Year with the Nuns, Night Moves, Non-Stop, Nuit #1, Pacific Aggression, Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer, Red Knot, The Rover, Run and Jump, Sister, The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears, Suitcase of Love and Shame, Tanaquil Le Clercq - Afternoon of a Faun, Teenage, The Theory of Everything, To Be Takei, The Two Faces of January, Very Extremely Dangerous, A Walk Among the Tombstones, When I Walk, Willow Creek, Young Ones, and The Zero Theorem.

Missed or Haven't Seen Yet: American Sniper, Beyond the Lights, Bird People, Citizenfour, Elaine Stritch - Shoot Me, Finding Vivian Maier, Force Majeure, Gloria, The Hobbit - The Battle of the Five Armies, The Hunger Games - Mockingjay, Part 1, Interstellar, Keep on Keepin' On, Land Ho!, Last Days in Vietnam, Leviathan, Life Itself, Listen Up, Philip*, Manakamana, A Most Violent Year, National Gallery, Red Army, Stand Clear of the Closing Doors, St. Vincent, 2 Days, 1 Night, Violette, Virunga, We Are the Best!, and Wild Tales.

* I caught up with Listen Up, Philip in March. I liked it.  

Endnote: The Selfish Giant image from IFC Films.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

February Reviews

Ariel Pink, née Ariel Rosenberg.
These are 
 the reviews  
and other  
pieces I'm  
working on  
this month.

The Stranger Film Op-
enings: The Duke of Burgun-
: Let's Play 
Master and Servant, Monk with a Camera: A Documentary Had
to Be [Made] About a White Man Who Gives Up His Riches for a Spiritual Life
, Hard to Be a God: A Science-Fiction Film Set in the Middle Ages, A Fuller Life: The Life of Filmmaker Sam Fuller, and Song of the Sea: Rock Fairies, Owl Witches, Celtic Mythology.

Slog/Film Opening count: 588 posts/reviews since 2011. 

The Stranger Up & Comings: Ariel Pink and Jack Name,
Jessica Lea Mayfield, Howlin Rain and the Blank Tapes,
and Michael Rault, Globelamp, and Guests

Video Librarian: Come Worry With Us!, Hitmakers - Changing
Face of the Music Business, Whole Gritty City, Girlhood, Traitors.

Endnote: Ariel Pink image from Pretty Much Amazing.