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It’s not exactly a top ten list (I’m always a little uneasy about doing those), but here are some favorite films and film-related stuff from 2011.
MELANCHOLIA — Probably my favorite film of the year. Though I don’t think it entirely works, no other film had this kind of cosmic ambition (well, I suppose TREE OF LIFE did, which also didn’t entirely work). An overwhelming experience, MELANCHOLIA is more than a movie.
My "Smut Capital of America" film series — I am proud as hell of this, yes, groundbreaking historical program held last summer, which examined sex culture in San Francisco from 1969 to 1974. And I must acknowledge the huge help and inspiration from Michael Stabile and Joe Rubin.
"Girlvert" — And speaking of smut, adult film performer Ashley Blue (Oriana Small) published this harrowing memoir in 2011. Most porn autobiographies are very dishonest, but not this one. Super intense, it’s a good thing Ashley had pretty much retired before the torture-chamber-minds over at kink.com really kicked into high gear. I shudder to think of Ashley performing in one of their nightmare productions.
THE DREAM OF ELEUTERIA — A virtuoso example of the tradition of “real time” Filipino cinema, especially because it takes place in actual real time.
FINAL DESTINATION 5 — This smart, clever horror series is put to bed in grand style. Even the 3D wasn’t annoying.
FORTUNE TELLER — For me the highlight of our “China Underground” documentary series. I’m looking forward to revisiting the characters in the director’s new film SHATTERED, which I’ll be seeing in Rotterdam in a few weeks.
POETRY — Though I think this actually came out two years ago, I finally caught up with Lee Chang-dong’s heartbreaking and inspiring masterpiece, a story of finding your voice while losing your mind. See this film, it’s available on dvd and streaming now.
123 — I served on the short films jury at Cinemanila this year. We were unanimous in our decision to give the prize to this tough 7-minute effort by Carlo Obispo. Coming soon to YBCA.
SILENT SOULS — Also finally caught up with this extraordinary Russian film at SFFS’s excellent new theater in Japantown. I hope they can keep this program going, they’ve entered the field of daily art film exhibition at an extremely difficult and precarious moment.
LE QUATTRO VOLTE — This calm and beautiful portrait of time, space and place was quite unlike any film released this, or any other, year. Very special.
The little devil on my shoulder wants me to spray some poison on the most overrated stuff last year (MIDNIGHT IN PARIS,”Portlandia,” THE ARTIST, to name three), but I’ll be a good boy and let it pass… (Actually, I won’t. Check out Michael Sicinski’s brutal, brilliant essay on THE ARTIST here).
All in all, 2011 was a great year in film. Movies are alive and well, but they won’t stay that way without you showing up and seeing them properly shown. Support independent film exhibition!