Monday, February 6, 2012

Mallory's Best and Worst Films of 2011

These are my favourite films of 2011.

10. Blank City (2010) United States / Hesher (2010) United States
Celine Danheir did an amazing job depicting the downtown 1970s New York city art scene. Interviews with like minded DYI artists such as Amos Poe, Deborah Harry, Nick Zedd, Lydia Lunch, Richard Kern and John Waters. This doc was extremely inspiring with it's sludgy style, raw archival footage and refreshing take on important New York city no wave history.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Natalie Portman did not fail in this genuine comedy drama about a young boy dealing with the loss of his mother and an unlikely new friend. Hesher is hilarious in all of the right vulgar and distasteful ways.

9. Marécages (2011) Canada
Set in rural Quebec, Marécages tells the story of a poor farm family struggling to keep their farm from bankruptcy. When an unlikely tragedy occurs, the main character Marie falls into a downward spiral that is both depressing and fascinating to watch. It is definitely in my opinion, the most overlooked film of 2011.

8. Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010) France
The genuine and talented director Werner Herzog brings together an incomprehensible documentary about the mysterious cave paintings that have been found in Southern France. These paintings have been preserved for over 20,000 years and are the earliest human paintings known to date. A beguiling and mysterious combination of philosophy, art and metaphor.

7. Bill Cunningham New York (2010) United States
A documentary showing a fascinating and charming New York-er obsessed with chronicling fashion; Bill Cunningham is a legend in the New York fashion community. The director Richard Press does a fantastic job in showing Bill's charm and ardent career as a fashion photographer.

6. Septien (2011) United States
Director Michael Tully (who also plays a bizarre and talented athlete in the film) gives an impressive mixture of comedy and originality in this Southern Gothic monument. Initially I was intrigued to see Septien because of Rachel Korine (wife of the talented director Harmony Korine) having a role in the film. I was extremely impressed with her performance as well as the rest of the cast.

5. Attenberg (2010) Greece
Greek director's such as Attenberg director Athena Rachel Tsangari and Dogtooth director Goirgos Lanthimos are really breaking into the art house cinema crowd these days. Dogtooth being one of my favourite films of 2010, I wasn't surprised to find Attenberg in my top five of 2011. Attenberg tells the story of Marina, a socially inexperienced young woman, who goes through life with a soundtrack consisting of no wave bands such as Suicide and an influence of Sir David Attenborough wildlife documentaries. Perfect.

4. Into the Abyss (2011) Germany/United States
Werner Herzog, being one of my favourite directors, comes through again on my list with the documentary Into the Abyss. This documentary tells the story of death row inmate Michael Perry and those affected by his killings. It asks the question of why human beings - both the criminals and the state - find the need to kill.

3. The Hagstone Demon (2011) United States
I had been waiting to see this film since I had heard it was being made in 2009.  The film's leading role being filled in by Mark Borchardt was the reason. A totally inspirational character, Borchardt is the star of the documentary film American Movie and the director of the short film Coven. Both Borchardt's acting and the director's originality blew me away. Everything from a hairless cat eating raw fish heads, to a mysterious homeless woman and her toilet troubles, to a beautifully done Satanic mass - this film has all of these things and much more.

2. Melancholia (2011) Denmark
Lars von Trier, one of the most controversial directors to date, brings forth another painful and nostalgic film with Melancholia. Though much less graphic than his previous work Antichrist, the themes portrayed in Melancholia are just as disturbing yet much more subtle. Trier himself being challenged with clinical depression really brings this through in the film. Kirsten Dunst having the lead role as Justine, an extremely depressed character, seems to become calmer as the rogue planet melancholia comes closer to colliding with earth.

1. The Skin I Live In (2011) Spain
The Skin I Live In happens to be the most recent film that I've seen and also my number one of 2011. It completely restored by faith that Antonio Banderas is a good actor. Banderas plays a skillful yet damaged plastic surgeon that perfects a type of synthetic skin that can withstand burns. He creates this skin by using a mysterious woman as his test subject. The director Pedro Almodóvar does a brilliant job in initially confusing the viewer and then slowly seeping bits of intriguing information to keep viewers locked in. This is a film that I'll be daydreaming about for quite a while.

Onto the next part of my blog post which are my least favourite films of 2011.

10. The Tree of Life (2011) United States
I'm sure I'll get put down for including this one on my list but honestly I don't give a fuck. I was extremely disappointed with this film, especially being a Terrence Malick fan. His other films such as Badlands and Days of Heaven were brilliant. This films is one of the most over rated films of 2011. With its existential bullshit and foreseeable metaphors, I felt like taking a big greasy shit on the floor.

9. The Trip (2010) UK
This movie is about a pathetic couple of men who go touring across the country to review Britain's finest restaurants. Maybe it's just not my thing, but the humor was absolutely terrible. This is another film that most people did end up liking. The best describing word for this movie is dull.

8.  Stake Land (2010) United States
Stake Land follows the story of a teenage boy who is suffering the effects of a world that has gone into shambles over a vampire epidemic. Him and a rebel vampire hunter embark on an adventure to escape into Canada which is the new Eden. I saw this film at this years Dark Bridges film festival and upon reading the summary didn't have very high hopes for it anyways. But it ended up being unbearable to sit through. Eye rolling lines such as this one - "I've seen things you wouldn't believe. Things a boy shouldn't see." As well as an embarrassing performance of Leadbelly's Where Did You Sleep Last Night? 

7. Iron Lady (2011) UK
Meryl Streep won best performance by an actress at the Golden Globe awards for her role as Margret Thatcher in Iron Lady. Although the flashbacks that tell Thatcher's story are intriguing, I thought that this was an exploitative role in order to win awards. Even though I'm not a fan of Thatcher's politics, the feminist in me is proud of her for making way for women in an extremely male dominant house of commons. I thought that Thatcher's dementia was portrayed quite insensitively.

6. Insidious (2010) United States
I honestly don't know why I went to see this film in the first place. I ended up being embarrassed for myself that I was actually sitting here alone in a theater full of people watching this silly film. It's pretty much as tacky and foreseeable as most current blockbuster horror movies can get.

5. In Time (2011) United States
Watch Logan's Run instead.

4. Horrible Bosses (2011) United States
Blockbuster comedy is complete shit, mostly. Horrible bosses is about a group of dingbats who have shitty bosses so they decide to take revenge. Not only is this movie total bullshit but it's also totally sexist. Like, way more sexist than The Taint (which wasn't actually sexist at all by the way).

3. Priest 3D (2011) United States
Basically, there was nothing else new opening that week and I needed something to review. Priest is about a rebel priest who disobeys church authority so that he can go and hunt vampires.  Bela Lugosi's dead.

2. Cowboys & Aliens (2011) United States
In the year 1873 a spaceship arrives in Arizona with aliens that plan to take over the earth. The aliens have decided to start with the wild west and a nit witted group of cowboys and Indians are ready to defend themselves. The idea, plot and acting were way too over the top for anyone to really care what happened. Boring action and totally nonsensical subplots.

1. Dead Hooker in a Trunk (2009) Canada
I was sort of excited to see this film - especially because it spun so much controversy (because of its title) along with the film The Taint.  I could not have been more disappointed though. There was absolutely no artistic merit put into this film. Awful acting, cheesy everything, lame story line and poorly developed characters. Just a total piece of shit.

All written contents copyright 2012 Mallory May


  1. Mmmm bookmarked Mally pall!
    I agree with your faves that I've seen on that list, most I haven't and I'll have to fix that. You should also have on that list: My Week with Marilyn, Hugo, Midnight in Paris.
    I heard the tree of life was good, but I haven't seen it yet. Horrible bosses was a little bit funny but it sent off a bad message. Sort of pointless.

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  2. I know "Drive" is probably way too popular for this list, but I submit it as an unofficial number 11 in the "good (?)" category. Thematically rich, without appearing so, beautifully scored (valerie baby!) and cleverly directed. Drive is not art house cinema, but it feels like a fresh haircut - breezy and sleek.. Yes I am still single.

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