Sunday, January 15, 2012

Best Ones I Finally Saw in 2011: Short & Sweet

1. The Red Shoes (1948), dir. Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
Eat your heart out Black Swan. (Which I have not seen; let me be judgmental.)
Swan Lake, 'The Red Shoes' 

2. Elevator to the Gallows (1958), dir. Louis Malle
The Miles Davis score doesn't hurt a bit.

3. My Life as a Dog (1985), dir. Lasse Hallström
This movie broke my heart. In the most beautiful possible way.

4. Lady on a Train (1945), dir. Charles David
I had no idea what to expect of the Castro-screened "Christmas noir" but I haven't enjoyed a genuinely fun movie like this one in a long time. The hats alone...

5. Reservoir Dogs (1992), dir. Quentin Tarantino
Gross, but incredible. Disturbing, but mesmerizing. DISGUSTING, but pretty great.

6. Party Girl (1995), dir. Daisy von Scherler Mayer
Best librarian movie ever.

7. 99 River Street (1953), dir. Phil Karlson
Impressive B-noir that's finally getting the attention it deserves.

8. Among the Living (1941), dir. Stuart Heisler
He's way too good at crazzzyyy.

9. Melancholia (2011), dir. Lars von Trier
Deserving of all the hype, in my opinion.

10. Birds of America (2008), dir. Craig Lucas
I don't know how this one came and went so quietly. A friend popped it in last month and I ended up falling in love with every character.

11. The Great Lie (1941), dir. Edmund Goulding
Bette Davis nervously pacing the floor in pants and boots as Mary Astor gives birth. Love the ahead-of-its-time role substitution. And, sorry Bette, but Mary knocks the socks off you in this one. I would even go so far as to say Astor's performance in this movie, also very ahead of its time, is not only one of the best of its era but could easily stand up to any of the better female performances we see today. It's damn good.

12. The Outsiders (1983), dir. Francis Ford Coppola
I think I loved everything about this movie. Even the dirt.

13. The Passionate Friends (1949), dir. David Lean
Almost as perfect as Brief Encounter.

14. William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet (1996), dir. Baz Luhrmann
I never thought this could work but I was very wrong.

15. Days of Being Wild (1990), dir. Wong Kar Wai
I really couldn't tell you what this movie is about, but Wong disrupts his usual favor for the lethargic with Yuddy's inner violence and torments, and the effect is anxiously dreamy. Worth it alone for Cheung's random cha-cha-cha dance in briefs.

16. The Lusty Men (1952), dir. Nicholas Ray
This film remains one of the more under-appreciated in Ray's catalog but I loved the honest simplicity and rawness of it. The plot is hardly a hidden agenda and some call the ending one of those early Hollywood cop-outs, but neither really matter (I found the ending quite perfect, actually). Mitchum and Hayward are completely in sync, always staying true and genuine to their characters, and the realistic rodeo footage makes it stand the test of time very nicely. I never thought I'd love a rodeo movie, but there it is. It's just great.

Mitchum: Hey, you're real little with your shoes off.
Hayward: (ad-libbed) You're real little with your shoes on.