07 January 2010

Something Resembling a 2009 Wrap-Up

I'm still of the mind that it's little use for me to create any sort of "Best Of" list for 2009 when it comes to film. More than most years, the 2009 release calendar in the US was difficult, as so many of the notable releases came from years past (a lot of which I'd already seen thanks to importing DVDs when the films' future in the US looked grim). So instead of mulling over a list of official '09 releases, most of which I didn't see, I singled out the films released theatrically in the US within the past twelve months that made the Decade List; or in the case of Fish Tank, premiering internationally... or in the case of Love Exposure, making its festival debut in the US. I will be writing more about both Fish Tank and The White Ribbon once I get a chance to see them again.

1. The Headless Woman [La mujer sin cabeza] / Lucrecia Martel / Strand Releasing
2. Summer Hours [L’heure d’été] / Olivier Assayas / IFC Films
3. Fish Tank / Andrea Arnold / IFC Films
4. Love Exposure / Sion Sono
5. The White Ribbon [Das weiße Band] / Michael Haneke / Sony Pictures Classics
6. 35 Shots of Rum [35 rhums] / Claire Denis / Cinema Guild
7. Liverpool / Lisandro Alonso
8. Taxidermia / György Pálfi / Here! Films
9. Julia / Erick Zonca / Magnolia
10. Tony Manero / Pablo Larraín / Lorber Films
11. Drag Me to Hell / Sam Raimi / Universal

And, following those 11, here's a supplemental list of films that impressed me on some level (alphabetically). Antichrist resonated in ways I didn't expect... Nancy Kissam's Drool balanced its dark humor and self-discovery perfectly, with two hilarious performances from Laura Harring and Jill Marie Jones... The Girlfriend Experience is pretty fantastic and easily the best offering from Soderbergh over the past 10 years... Goodbye Solo defied its Driving Miss Daisy set-up to reveal a painfully sad portrait of two fascinatingly different men... while wholly unnecessary, Halloween 2 was Rob Zombie's love letter to Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, Rocky Horror Picture Show and Irrèversible, tied with a nasty, tattered bow and a big fuck-you to the original's tedious sequel... like The Seventh Continent minus its misanthropy, Home introduced a new voice in European cinema, Ursula Meier, as well as showcasing a pair of great performances from Isabelle Huppert (in high heel boots!) and Olivier Gourmet... while more of a series pilot than a film, In the Loop was unquestionably the funniest film of '09... a bad idea on nearly every level, Gregor Jordan's adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' The Informers benefited from working from his weakest book and became the most successful film translation of Ellis' writing... it's always refreshing to see a film, like The Maid, that thwarts every single one of your notions of where you think the narrative is headed... unsettling doesn't begin to describe Martyrs... Silent Light is another radiant film from Mexico's finest auteur, Carlos Reygadas... David Lowery's Malick-esque St. Nick was certainly the best feature directorial debut by an American filmmaker I saw all year... improving upon Boxing Helena isn't hard, but Jennifer Chambers Lynch's second film Surveillance, fifteen years later, is a really enjoyable piece of trash and has the year's most delectably perverse fuck scene (well, aside from Antichrist)...

Antichrist / Lars von Trier / IFC Films
Beeswax / Andrew Bujalski / Cinema Guild
Drool / Nancy Kissam / Strand Releasing
The Girlfriend Experience / Steven Soderbergh / Magnolia
Goodbye Solo / Ramin Bahrani / Roadside Attractions
Halloween 2 / Rob Zombie / The Weinstein Company
Home / Ursula Meier / Lorber Films
In the Loop / Armando Iannucci / IFC Films
Import/Export / Ulrich Seidl / Palisades Tartan
The Informers / Gregor Jordan / Senator
The Limits of Control / Jim Jarmusch / Focus Features
The Maid [La nana] / Sebastián Silva / Elephant Eye Films
Martyrs / Pascal Laugier / The Weinstein Company
Revanche / Götz Spielmann / Janus Films
Silent Light [Stellet licht] / Carlos Reygadas / Palisades Tartan
St. Nick / David Lowery
Surveillance / Jennifer Chambers Lynch / Magnolia
Tetro / Francis Ford Coppola / American Zoetrope
Vinyan / Fabrice Du Welz / Sony Pictures
You, the Living [Du levande] / Roy Andersson / Palisades Tartan
You Wont Miss Me / Ry Russo-Young

...and the lousiest films of the year. Some were dreadfully mediocre (Youth in Revolt), some hilariously inept (Watercolors), some excruciating in every way (Between Love & Goodbye), some were ruined by their incompetent directors (Precious, Jennifer's Body), some were douche parades (Bronson, Donkey Punch), some were chores to get through (Adam, Humpday)... and all were fucking baaaaad.

Adam / Max Mayer / Fox Searchlight
Between Love & Goodbye / Casper Andreas / TLA Releasing
Bronson / Nicolas Winding Refn / Magnolia
Donkey Punch / Oliver Blackburn / Magnolia
Humpday / Lynn Shelton / Magnolia
Jennifer’s Body / Karen Kusama / 20th Century Fox
Make the Yule Tide Gay / Rob Williams / TLA Releasing
Mammoth / Lukas Moodysson / IFC Films
Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire / Lee Daniels / Lionsgate
Watercolors / David Oliveras / Here! Films
Youth in Revolt / Miguel Arteta / The Weinstein Company

Spending most of the year focusing on the 2000s, I did a lousy job of keeping up with any film released before 1999, but of those I did see (most of them queer and/or French), these were the stand-outs.

Les corps ouverts / Sébastien Lifshitz
L’eau froide [Cold Water] / Olivier Assayas
L’important c’est d’aimer / Andrzej Żuławski
Loads / Curt McDowell
Made in USA / Jean-Luc Godard
Possession / Andrzej Żuławski
Salomè / Camelo Bene
Le sexe des anges / Lionel Soukaz

And... in a perfect world, I would have seen all of these as well. A wish-list of viewings, from festival premieres to belated US releases. Alas...

24 City / Jia Zhang-ke / Cinema Guild
About Elly / Asghar Farhadi / Here! Films
Accident / Cheang Pou-Soi / Palisades Tartan
Air Doll / Hirokazu Kor-eeda
Ander / Roberto Castón
The Ape [Apan] / Jesper Ganslandt
Around a Small Mountain [36 vues du Pic Saint-Loup] / Jacques Rivette / Cinema Guild
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans / Werner Herzog / First Look
The Beaches of Agnès [Les plages d’Agnès] / Agnès Varda / Cinema Guild
Bluebeard [Barbe Bleue] / Catherine Breillat / Strand Releasing

Bright Star / Jane Campion / Apparition
Brotherhood [Broderskab] / Nicolo Donato
Can Go Through Skin [Kan door huid heen] / Esther Rots
City of Life and Death / Lu Chuan / National Geographic Films
The Cove / Louie Psihoyos / Roadside Attractions
Cracks / Jordan Scott / IFC Films
La danse, le ballet de l’Opéra de Paris / Frederick Wiseman / Zipporah Films
Desert Flower / Sherry Horman
The Dirty Saints [Los santos sucios] / Luis Ortega
Dogtooth / Giorgos Lanthimos / Kino

Don’t Look Back [Ne te retourne pas] / Marina de Van
Due South [Plein sud] / Sébastien Lifshitz
Duplicity / Tony Gilroy / Universal
Enter the Void / Gaspar Noé
Everyone Else [Alle Anderen] / Maren Ade / Cinema Guild
Eyes Wide Open / Haim Tabakman
Face [Visage] / Tsai Ming-liang
Fantastic Mr. Fox / Wes Anderson / 20th Century Fox
Father of My Children [Le père de mes enfants] / Mia Hansen-Løve / IFC Films
Freedom [Liberté] / Tony Gatlif

The Girl on the Train [La fille du RER] / André Téchiné / Strand Releasing
Go Get Some Rosemary [Daddy Longlegs] / Ben Safdie, Joshua Safdie
Hadewijch / Bruno Dumont / IFC Films
Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno [L’enfer d’Henri-Georges Clouzot] / Serge Bromberg, Ruxandra Medrea
Hipsters / Valeriy Todorovskiy
Honeymoons [Medeni mesec] / Goran Paskaljević
The House of the Devil / Ti West / Dark Sky Films/Magnolia
I Am Love [Io sono l’amore] / Luca Guadagnino / Magnolia
I Am Not Your Friend [Nem vagyok a barátod] / György Pálfi
I Killed My Mother [J’ai tué ma mère] / Xavier Dolan / Here! Films

Independencia / Raya Martin
Inglourious Basterds / Quentin Tarantino / Universal
Ivul / Andrew Kötting
Jaffa / Keren Yedaya
Jerichow / Christian Petzold / Cinema Guild
Katalin Varga / Peter Strickland
Kill Daddy Goodnight [Das Vaterspiel] / Michael Glawogger
Kinatay / Brillante Mendoza
The King of Escape [Le roi de l’évasion] / Alain Guiraudie
Like You Know It All / Hong Sang-soo

Me and Orson Welles / Richard Linklater / Freestyle Releasing
The Milk of Sorrow [La teta asustada] / Claudia Llosa
The Misfortunates [De helaasheid der dingen] / Felix Van Groeningen / NeoClassics Films
Mother / Bong Joon-ho / Magnolia
Napoli, Napoli, Napoli / Abel Ferrara
Navidad / Sebastián Campos
Ne change rien / Pedro Costa
Life During Wartime / Todd Solondz
Lourdes / Jessica Hausner / Palisades Tartan
Making Plans for Lena [Non ma fille, tu n'iras pas danser] / Christophe Honoré

My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? / Werner Herzog
Night and Day / Hong Sang-soo / IFC Films
No puedo vivir sin ti / Leon Dai
Of Time and the City / Terrence Davies / Strand Releasing
Passing Strange / Spike Lee / IFC Films
Persécution / Patrice Chéreau
Plan B / Marco Berger
Police, Adjective [Poliţist, adj.] / Corneliu Porumboiu / IFC Films
Polytechnique / Denis Villeneuve
A Prophet [Un prophète] / Jacqued Audiard / Sony Pictures Classics

The Refuge [Le refuge] / François Ozon
Ricky / François Ozon / IFC Films
Serbis / Brillante Mendoza / Here! Films
A Serious Man / Joel Coen, Ethan Coen / Focus Features
She, a Chinese / Guo Xiaolu
A Single Man / Tom Ford / The Weinstein Company
Soul Kitchen / Fatih Akin
Spring Fever / Lou Ye / Strand Releasing
Strella [A Woman’s Way] / Panos H. Koutras
Still Walking / Hirokazu Kor-eeda / IFC Films

The Sun / Aleksandr Sokurov / Lorber Films
Sweet Rush [Tatarak] / Andrzej Wajda
Sweetgrass / Ilisa Barbash, Lucien Castaing-Taylor
Tales from the Golden Age [Aminitiri din epoca de aur] / Hanno Höfer, Razvan Marculescu, Cristian Mungiu, Constantin Popescu, Ioana Uricaru / IFC Films
Thirst / Park Chan-wook / Focus Features
This Is Love / Matthias Glasner
Three Monkeys [Üç maymun] / Nuri Bilge Ceylan / Zeitgeist
To Die Like a Man [Morrer Como Un Homem] / João Pedro Rodrigues
Triage / Danis Tanović
Tsar / Pavel Lungin

Unmade Beds / Alexis Dos Santos / IFC Films
Vengeance / Johnnie To / IFC Films
Villa Amalia / Benoît Jacquot
Vincere / Marco Bellocchio / IFC Films
Weaving Girl / Wang Quanan
Where the Wild Things Are / Spike Jonze / Warner
Whip It / Drew Barrymore / 20th Century Fox
White Material / Claire Denis
Wild Grass [Les herbes folles] / Alain Resnais / Sony Pictures Classics
Zombieland / Ruben Fleischer / Sony Pictures

6 comments:

Bunched Undies said...

Great wish list indeed. I am especially looking forward to The Girl on the Train.

Joe said...

Yes. Strand should be releasing it sometime this year, and I'm really looking forward to it.

I think right now To Die Like a Man is the most pressing of the wish list, followed by White Material. While a lot of the titles, I certainly could have seen but didn't get around to 'em.

Ricky Blue said...

Dunno if you have Netflix but Jerichow, Still Walking, and Of Time and the City are available for instant viewing right now.

Joe said...

I have copies of Jerichow and Of Time and the City (just haven't watched them yet), but thanks for letting me know about Still Walking. It played for a week here, and I must have missed it.

I didn't realize the Netflix/IFC deal was including titles not yet available on DVD. Very exciting.

Ricky Blue said...

I didn't even know there was a deal. I was wondering about these movies being available for streaming but not on discs. It looks like Three Monkeys is on there too.

Joe said...

Yeah, Netflix and IFC made a deal for streaming titles when their silly pact with Blockbuster came to an end. You can read about it here.