My Year at the Movies 2011
As I’ve mentioned before on the Chawed Rosin, Rick and I have a tradition of saving the ticket stubs whenever we go to a play or film, ride in a train or plane, or do anything that involves the issuing of tickets. Then on New Year’s Eve we take them out and reminisce about all the tickety things we’ve done over the past year.
It seems we went to a lot of movies in 2011.
The King’s Speech was worth seeing for the sets alone, and had some wonderful performances. I found the scenes of the royal family watching film of Nazi rallies and discussing it with their children very interesting. But the film was marred by an over-glorious ending. The soaring music was particularly grating in the scene of the eponymous speech. It would have been so much better to experience the speech as the British public did, unadorned, important, serious.
I knew I would enjoy The Illusionist, but was hesitant about whether an animated character wouldn’t suffer in comparison to the delightful corporeal reality of the real Jacques Tati. Turns out I needn’t have worried. The film doesn’t make any attempt to do what only Tati in person can do, and instead does what animation does best, creating a fascinating alternate world by hand, a world which is incidentally even more interesting and beautiful than the animators’ Triplets of Belleville, which I also enjoyed.
Source Code. Fun, silly, and entertaining. Jake Gyllenhaal is wonderfully believable in it. More thoughtful than most thrillers, which isn’t saying much, but you do at least have to think while you watch it. Just don’t think too much, or you’ll start thinking it doesn’t actually make any sense.
We made it to only one film at the Seattle International Film Festival this year. It was a goody – the Finnish film Steam of Life. This is the ultimate confessional documentary. The film joins Finnish men, famous for their reticence, as they sit in the sauna, relax, and talk about their deepest feelings and most profound experiences. There were a lot of teary eyes in the theater after watching this film, including my own.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a Werner Herzog movie about the world’s oldest known paintings, filmed in a cave in 3D. It’s like a TV documentary about a truly fascinating subject, only in 3D, and the narrator is Werner Herzog. Turns out, though, that Herzog is not that different from your typical narrator for a film like this. Philosophizing is, after all, de riguer in such films. Best use of 3D I’ve seen so far.
Are you like me, and maybe saw Pillow Talk as a kid on TV, and liked it a lot, but now you assume that it’ll be too sexist and silly to enjoy anymore? Actually, it’s not the sexism so much that struck me when I watched it this summer – after all, Doris Day was the embodiment of the 50s “career girl”, which was a far better gig than most women got in the films of the era – it was the homophobia. Particularly since the film stars Rock Hudson. It was part of a Rock Hudson retrospective at the the Seattle Art Museum.
But the candy-coloured delight of the film, the clean-scrubbed beauty of Doris Day herself (who seems to wear minimal stage make-up to better show off her adorable freckles) and the good fun everyone seems to be having making the film is really fun to watch, particularly on the big screen.
And then there was The Tree of Life. Like many people, I saw the trailer for this film in the theater and thought, That’s the most beautiful, most evocative film trailer I’ve ever seen. If there are no other worthwhile moments in the entire film, it will be worth seeing just to see those images again. There are lots more worthwhile moments in the film. It’s one of those rare films that strives to be a great work of art. And it mostly succeeds. It reminded me very much of Andrei Tarkovsky‘s film The Mirror. I don’t know if I bought into the overtly expressed themes of the film very much, but it hardly seemed to matter. The meaning of the film for me was in its images.
And that, my friends, is only half of the movies we went to see this past year. Tune in tomorrow for more discussion, and let us know about the great films you saw in 2011!