Favorite New Movies on Video, 2014

1. The Dance of Reality (Alejandro Jodorowsky)
2. To the Wonder (Terrence Malick)
3. Room 237 (Rodney Ascher)
4. Alan Partridge (Declan Lowney)
5. The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears (Cattet & Forzani)
6. Hard to be a God (Aleksei German)
7. The Strange Little Cat (Ramon Zurcher)
8. Journey to the West (Tsai Ming-liang)
9. Upstream Color (Shane Carruth)
10. Computer Chess (Andrew Bujalski)


Eight more, to match the theater list:

11. The Babadook (Jennifer Kent)
12. Viola (Matias Piñeiro)
13. Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley)
14. Watermark (Jennifer Baichwal)
15. John Dies at the End (Don Coscarelli)
16. Passion (Brian De Palma)
17. Breadcrumb Trail (Lance Bangs)
18. Coherence (James Ward Byrkit)

Favorite New Movies in Theaters, 2014

1. Boyhood (Richard Linklater)
2. Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer)
3. Citizenfour (Laura Poitras)

Keith Uhlich’s short review of The Duke of Burgundy reads “This ended before I was ready. And grew in my mind as a result.” I would say the same about these three.

4. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson)
5. Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch)
6. Inside Llewyn Davis (Coen Bros.)

Three great works by longtime favorite filmmakers.

7. Interstellar (Christopher Nolan)
8. Gone Girl (David Fincher)
9. The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)

Three big multiplex movies by major directors.

10. The Boxtrolls (Laika)

And one bit of fun.


Ten’s not enough – here are the other great movies I watched:

11. Dear White People (Justin Simien)
12. Nymphomaniac (Lars Von Trier)
13. Natan (David Cairns & Paul Duane)
14. Guardians of the Galaxy (James Gunn)
15. The Past (Asghar Farhadi)
16. Birdman (Alejandro González Iñárritu)
17. The Wind Rises (Hayao Miyazaki)
18. Ida (Pawel Pawlikowski)

Favorite Older Movies on Video, 2014

1. Four by Ingmar Bergman
I watched Winter Light and The Silence, then moved forward to Autumn Sonata and back to The Seventh Seal, also checking out a documentary about Bergman. Spacing these out every few months ensured that his cinema was always on my mind this year.

2. Roman Polanski’s apartment trilogy: Repulsion, Rosemary’s Baby and The Tenant
Took the opposite approach of the Bergmans, watching all these in one month. Whether this was intended as a trilogy or not, they’re all really interesting together, and each is terrific on its own.

3. Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (Jaromil Jires)

4. Yoyo (Pierre Etaix)

5. Possession (Andrzej Zulawski)
This had similarities to The Tenant, and both Zulawski and Polanski worked with Wajda. It was a good year for movies by Polish directors with hidden connections.

6. House of Tolerance (Bertrand Bonello)

7. Kanal (Andrzej Wajda)

8. Deseret (James Benning)

9. Red Desert (Michelangelo Antonioni)

10. A Foreign Affair (Billy Wilder)

11. D’est (Chantal Akerman)
It is a weird thing to watch this on a laptop in 2014.

12. Spectre (Jacques Rivette)
I think watching this at home with interruptions, versus seeing Out 1 in theaters, was detrimental to the experience. Watching it felt more like an academic exercise than an immersive feature film. That might be the reason why I didn’t know what to do with L’Amour Fou a few years ago.

Some 2014 Movies I Missed

I’ve already identified 100+ must-see 2014 movies and am adding ‘em to my master movie list, so not gonna repeat all those here. But here are a few I’ve been reading about on other lists (some people publish year-end lists before the year’s even over, would you believe it?) that I am especially anxious to watch.

Obvious Must-Sees:

Life of Riley
Winter Sleep
Maps to the Stars
Edge of Tomorrow
Timbuktu
Mr. Turner
Inherent Vice

Critically-Acclaimed Films that I suppose I oughtta see although they don’t look that interesting:

Listen Up Philip
Nightcrawler
Whiplash
Calvary
Selma
Two Days, One Night

Festival and Limited Release Films I haven’t had a chance to see yet:

Adieu to Language 3D
Duke of Burgundy
Jauja
The Trip to Italy
20,000 Days on Earth
Leviathan
Lil Quinquin
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
White God
Horse Money
The Look of Silence
Clouds of Sils Maria

Movies Nobody Loved but I am determined that I will love them:

Burying the Ex
Willow Creek
They Came Together
The Congress
Sin City 2
The Zero Theorem

Additions from The Dissolve:

John Wick
Last Days in Vietnam
Wild
Lucy
The Overnighters
Song of the Sea
The Guest
The Rover

Additions from individual critics lists in Sight & Sound:

Taprobana – Jason Anderson
Heli – Michael Atkinson
Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy – Anton Bitel
LFO The Movie – Anton Bitel
Obvious Child – Catherine Bray
The Kindergarten Teacher – Michel Ciment
Frank – Mark Cousins
Dos Disparos / Two Shots Fired – Maria Delgado
La Sapienza – Suzy Gillett
Love Is All – Sophie Mayer
Ow / Maru – Tony Rayns
Nuoc / 2030 – Tony Rayns
Hwayi, A Monster Boy – Tony Rayns
Hipopotamy – Chris Robinson
Wonder – Chris Robinson
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos – Chris Robinson
Unity – Chris Robinson
The Pride of Strathmoor – Chris Robinson
The Tribe – Jonathan Romney
Locke – Jonathan Rosenbaum
The Owners – Jonathan Rosenbaum
Lettres du Voyant – Sukhdev Sandhu
Closer to God – Jasper Sharp
Tu dors Nicole – Thirza Wakefield
Psychic Driving – Neil Young
Sun Stop / Sonne Halt – Neil Young

The Lieutenant Wore Skirts (1956, Frank Tashlin)

A pretty dire Tashlin movie. Sure you’ve got the color widescreen (ruined by the low-res letterboxed-SD presentation on our wide-HD monitor) and the humorous attacks on television, but the overall concept isn’t as shocking as it used to be, there aren’t enough actual jokes to keep things light and amusing, pacing is too slow and the lead actors didn’t have the skill or charisma to elevate it.

Who Were They, Anyway: Tom Ewell was actually the lead in The Girl Can’t Help It, but that movie had Jayne Mansfield and the music performances to distract from him. Sheree North (a Marilyn Monroe double, as I suspected and her IMDB trivia supports) was in Madigan and Charley Varrick, later mother-figure of the Maniac Cop. Special/sexy appearance by Rita Moreno of West Side Story, Tom’s agent/buddy is Les Tremayne (most often credited as a narrator, also in The Monolith Monsters and I Love Melvin) and the soldier who’s blantantly trying to steal Sheree is Rick Jason (in The Wayward Bus with Mansfield).

Based on lies and misunderstandings and gifts of the magi, as are most comedies. Sheree signs up for the air force after hearing her husband is being recalled to duty, but he’s dismissed for medical reasons and ends up following her to the base and living in the army-wife suites (see also: Cary Grant in the much better I Was a Male War Bride) to protect her from Rick. “Just get her pregnant,” said Katy repeatedly, advice the movie finally takes at the end, but too late, as Tom has spent the previous hour acting like a psychopath. At least the movie seemed edgy for the first few minutes, and at least it’s about a happily married couple who are still happily married at the end, a rare thing.

Citizenfour (2014, Laura Poitras)

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The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology (2012, Sophie Fiennes)

Great sequel to The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema. I liked this one better – less psychoanalysis and more social/political discussion. Again we’ve got clips from films and new stories and music performances, with Zizek talking for the entire runtime, having been placed inside the sets from some of the films (“feel-ums”). Would be worth watching this a few times, a la the Adam Curtis movies, in order to grasp it all, but it’s simply less enjoyable than an Adam Curtis movie. Maybe if they got Craig Baldwin to edit the visuals and Mark Cousins to re-record the voiceover… but I digress.

Some Things:

Good idea to open with They Live. Besides the obvious bit with the clear text commands beneath billboards and magazines (“consume”) he discusses why the fight scene has to be so long and difficult.

Zizek speaks from inside They Live, The Sound of Music, a Coke commercial, A Clockwork Orange (I think), Jaws, Triumph of the Will (heh), The Fall of Berlin, one real location (an airplane graveyard), Taxi Driver, Full Metal Jacket, Brief Encounter, Seconds (good one) and Titanic (including a great post-credits stinger where he plays Dead Leo DiCaprio)

“The basic insight of psychoanalysis is to distinguish between enjoyment and simple pleasures. They are not the same. Enjoyment is precisely enjoyment in disturbed pleasure, even enjoyment in pain, and this excessive factor disturbs the apparently simple relationship between duty and pleasures.”

He uses Kinder Eggs (“a quite astonishing commodity”) as a metaphor about layers of enjoyment. I think by his logic that Edgar Wright movies are Kinder Eggs.

He defends Rammstein, showing concert footage that has been likened to nazi imagery. Actually, nazis come up a lot in this movie, and there’s a long section about Beethoven’s 9th, Ode to Joy (also feat. A Clockwork Orange).

Seconds:

How to properly mock communism: in Loves of a Blonde and The Fireman’s Ball, Milos Forman “mocks precisely the ordinary people in their daily conformism, stupidity, egotism, lust, and so on. It may appear that this is something very arrogant, but no, I think that this is the way to undermine the entire structure of the Stalinist universe, to demonstrate not that leaders are not leaders – they’re always ready to say ‘oh but we are just ordinary people like you’ – no, that there is no mythic people which serves as the ultimate legitimization.”

“How come it is easier for us to imagine the end of all life on earth, an asteroid hitting the planet, than a modest change in our economic order? Perhaps the time has come to set our priorities straight and to become realists by way of demanding what appears as impossible in the economic domain.” Seems that Zizek is advocating for revolution.