I had put this off an extra couple days hoping to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and/or The Artist– which I’m pretty sure will end up with a place on this list – but the holidays are a grind and I’ve been sick; couple that with the fact that I have to drive 40 minutes to an hour either way to see either one and it just hasn’t happened yet. So, that being said, here’s the list and, unlike the album list I posted last week, this is in specific order.
5) Martha Marcy May Marlene – almost felt like a holdover from 2007 with it’s quiet, stoic approach to telling a story by laying scenes out like a Tarot reading. Elizabeth Olsen was fantastic as Martha who, after living with a cult in the Catskills for two years manages to make a break from them and run back to live with her sister (Sarah Paulson) and her husband (Hugh Dancy), neither of whom are ready for the psychological traumas that begin to uncoil as Martha seeks to work through her conditioning at the hands of cult leader Patrick (who is BEAUTIFULLY played by John Hawkes).
4) Based on what I know about either film, I’m pretty sure that this is the spot that will either eventually go to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or The Artist, however as of now I’ll weigh in with a substitute – Super 8 gets an expected-to-be-challenged #4 spot not because I loved it; not because I was able to look past little complaints such as how the driver of the truck wasn’t killed when he drove in front of the train, but simply because it was the BEST theatre experience I have had in a looooong time. Now, some of that is the Arclight – their use of sound and tasteful set up and presentation makes a big difference in letting theatre-goers experience a film how the filmmakers intended it to be experienced. However, Super 8 it was – to me – a wonderfully magical fantasy tale that was at times as brutal as it was heartfelt, subtle as it was ostentatious.
And then there was the train crash, which is something to beat in the realm of special effects and timing. Awesome!!!
3) The Muppets – There is no doubt nostalgia plays a part in this, but there is also no doubt it was not just that. I have a Tears for Fears compilation where the author of the linear notes confesses his opinion that ‘The world was a better place when pop music sounded like Tears for Fears”. I tend to agree, and I feel exactly the same way about The Muppets as a brand. I don’t want to pine away for the way things were – Nope. But it can definitely be said that for as much as I enjoy Family Guy, South Park, Aqua Unit What’s It Called Now and many other modern shows that seem like destination points waaaaaaaay down the road stemming from 70’s era puppet/animated entertainment, The Muppets always found a way to be talented, funny, dramatic, educational and even subversive without having to wave the FUCK flag every three minutes or continually pole vault over the ‘Push the envelope line’ just for the sake of pushing the envelope. I found their return to the big screen to be charming and incredibly good spirited, as well as funny as all hell and of course, just plain touching. Also, half the fun was watching Jason Segel, who was clearly having the time of his life and fulfilling a life-long dream the entire runtime of the film. It’s nice to see dreams come true right before your eyes.
2) Attack The Block – I had no idea what this was when one night my wife and I, while shopping at Hollywood’s Amoeba Records, decided to walk next door and catch a flick at THE BEST THEATRE I’ve ever been to, the aforementioned Arclight Hollywood. Attack the Block was the movie my wife suggested and I initially baulked with trepidation – I’d not heard of it and wanted a moment to find out at least a little something, not to question her taste. She promptly assuaged my fears by saying ‘It’s British – that’s all you of all people should need to know”. Being that I am a bit of an Anglophile I nodded my head and commenced to be completely blown away by the following ninety or so minutes, Attack the Block was a much better, more riveting and honest rendition of the story at the heart of Super 8.
And it was British.
1) Drive – So much has been written about this film already I don’t want to prattle on; suffice it to say it had the strongest mission of tone I saw successfully achieved this year, from soundtrack to casting, camera work to costume and location. A perfect film. This coupled with my falling in love with Bronson January last year has put Nicholas Winding Refn on my ‘Must-Follow’ list for good.