Monday, 31 December 2012

A film that could be my favourite film

I've decided to start each month with a little notion on a film that "could be" my all time favourite film. This avoids the excruciating process of choosing a top 10 or top 100, and leaves open the possibilities of seeing new films that could join this upper echelon as well as changes/maturing of personal taste.

So... let's do this:

The Red Shoes (dir. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (The Archers), 1948).

"Why do you want to dance?"
"Why do you want to live?"
"Well I don't know exactly why... but I must."
"That's my answer too." 

This visual masterpiece is generally my default answer to questions regarding my favourite film of all time (heck it's the backdrop of the blog) so it seems only right to start with it.
The most beautiful of films; pure in emotion and intellect. Its depiction of the artistic process - the obsession for perfection, the desire to shine - is unparalleled in both its universalism (there are composers, directors, designers, dancers) and its intimacy - Victoria Page (Moira Shearer), Julian Craster (Marius Goring), and Boris Lermontov (Anton Wolbrook) are three of the most complete, human, wholly realised characters of all time.
Often when dance is filmed directors only manage to highlight EITHER the wonder of the dancing or the wonder of filmmaking (and sometimes neither). Powell and Pressburger on the other hand, found a way to capture the magic that both ballet and film can wield over their audiences and utilised it in tandem, showing us the wonder of BOTH.

I could go on and on, but nothing I can say will ever be close to capturing how much I love this film, and how much I wish you all to see it. I'll close with one final thought: Anton Walbrook gives one of the great performances captured on film - he, like this film, is a wonder to behold and cherish; magnificent, graceful, powerful, striving for perfection.

It could quite easily be my favourite film.  


Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Top 10 of 2011

Not that I want these notions to simply be a collection of lists; but I thought this could be a good starting point. Because this way you can discount everything I have to say when you disagree violently with the order of my list.

So the 10 best films of 2011.

10. Midnight in Paris (dir. Woody Allen) -- A delightful, though slight, romp with many of my literary idols. A superb counter to many of Allen's critics which, in turn, becomes a comment on this generations not-as-harmless-as-first-thought obsession with nostalgia.

9. The Artist (dir. Michel Hazanavicius) -- A 21st century film, about the 1920s, that looks like it was made in the 1940s revels in a wonder and humanism that feels at home in all three.

8. Shame (dir. Steve McQueen) -- A clinical study of a man as much tormented by society as his own mind. Led by two outstanding performances; Fassbender proves what FishTank had hinted at - he is exceptional.

7. A Separation (dir. Asghar Farhadi) -- A rarity: a film about truth that actually rings true (Julien if I stole that line from you I apologise). With an outstanding ensemble and a heartbreaking authenticity it circles the mind for days.

6. Young Adult (dir. Jason Reitman) -- If one more person refers to this as the dark cousin of Juno I'm going to pull my hair out. Because it's a slap in the face to one of the best anti-heroes of the decade (and know this, she'll slap back). Theron shines in a film about the mundanely horrible things people inflict on each other.

5. Martha Marcy May Marlene (dir. Sean Durkin) -- This film treats its audience like they're members of a cult, withholding information with the one hand, rewarding our attention to detail (and ability to see through the fog) with the other. The most tension filled film of the year (an incredible feat for a debutant director) exemplified and incarnated by Hawkes and Olsen.

4. Moneyball (dir. Bennett Miller) -- A topsy-turvy sports movie which makes us cheer math and jeer 'old-fahioned gut thinking'; yet at the same time remains a warm, funny, and moving experience. Pitt leads a truly supportive cast in a film that asks us to look afresh at systems long accepted.

3. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (dir. Tomas Alfredson) -- An adult thriller that pits smart men (and exceptional actors) in a battle of intellect and influence. A completely satisfactory and methodical film, that encourages and rewards multiple viewings. 

2. Margaret (dir. Kenneth Lonergan) -- A sprawling, messy, operatic masterpiece (especially if one can find the 3hr version). A New York teen on the verge of womanhood (upon witnessing a tragedy) learns that nothing in this world is unbroken, untouched, or un-compromised -- it joins 25th Hour and United 93 as the 9/11 films to watch. Lonergan pulls off a film that straddles a line of "overheard" naturalism and "operatic" melodrama. Paquin works as hard as anyone in a crushing performance and Smith-Cameron remains a underrated favourite of mine.   

1. The Tree of Life (dir. Terrence Malick) -- The first time I saw this movie I sat, leaning forward, struggling to breath, my hands clasped, almost in prayer, throughout. I was told before entering the cinema that Malick was trying to reinvent the form, what I did not expect to see was a work of art that not only raised my expectations of film, but of life! Such an unparalleled exploration of human experience and feeling it is; that it encourages me to live and experience more and more, just so I can gain greater insight into this graceful epic! Pitt gives the performance of the year.  


Monday, 24 December 2012

The Why


Several people, though one in particular (Julien Faddoul) have been, over the past few years contributing to my filmic education. Thus I have decided to, with whatever modest knowledge and expertise I have, contribute - in a pay it sideways manner - to the world of film (and the criticism of), with this little blog called a filmic notion.

The exact how of all this, the style, the je ne sais quoi is yet to be discovered - but I look forward to engaging with you, the reader, as it is.

Because in the words of Joe Gideon:
"Oh boy do I hate show business"
"Joey, you love show business"
"That's right, I love show business - I'll go either way."