A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
Message
Author
JakeB
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 5:46 am

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#101 Post by JakeB » Wed Feb 17, 2021 6:55 am

bamwc2 wrote:
Tue Feb 16, 2021 7:20 pm
45 Years (Andrew Haigh, 2015): Geoff (Tom Courtenay) and Kate (Charlotte Rampling) are on the eve of celebrating their sapphire wedding anniversary when he receives a letter in the mail that throws their life together into turmoil. Before he was with Kate, Geoff was in a passionate affair with the German Katya who suddenly went missing fifty years ago. The letter informs Geoff of the discovery of Katya's remains on an Alpine peak. Though he initially tries to hide his feelings, Geoff is shaken to the core, leading Kate to reevaluate the 45 years they've spent together. The leads do a good enough job, but I could never get beyond the unfairness of the emotional jealousy at the core of the film. Is it really that big of a shock that people still pine for lost loves decades later? Thinking that you’re the only person your partner is allowed to have romantic feelings toward is a sign of emotional immaturity, not a healthy relationship. I far prefer Haigh's Weekend to this.
This was a favourite of mine that year. I think I saw it twice at the cinema, and have seen it 4 or 5 times. It's currently on my draft top 50, so I feel I should defend it!

What I saw more was a kind quasi-ghost story, like a dramatic take on Blithe Spirit. Both Geoff and Kate are dealing with Katya re-appearing unchanged after 50 years. Katya re-emerging as if no time has passed. They are both in a 'what could've been' tailspin after reading the letter, especially in the discovery of slides in the attic (a very ghost story-esque trope). I can totally believe that existential crisis they are dragged into! I think it's also just about the passing of time, a nice touch having it being an unusual anniversary the 40th being delayed because of illness I think. The film is overloaded with this imagery of the passing of time or the past coming back to life; the Norfolk Broads tour, Geoff's meetup with his old union buddies, the collection of photos put together for the anniversary, the tour of the old hall they are celebrating in etc. etc.

I also love the contrast between the dramatic mountains of the past, and the flat landscape of Norfolk. It felt like a melodrama to me, very rich in that poetic imagery that possibly feels too fictional for some/needs too much suspension of disbelief.

I agree, Weekend is also very good... a nice contrast to this as that takes place over a very short space of time!

User avatar
dustybooks
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2007 10:52 am
Location: Wilmington, NC

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#102 Post by dustybooks » Wed Feb 17, 2021 10:42 am

bamwc2 wrote:
Tue Feb 16, 2021 7:20 pm
45 Years (Andrew Haigh, 2015): Geoff (Tom Courtenay) and Kate (Charlotte Rampling) are on the eve of celebrating their sapphire wedding anniversary when he receives a letter in the mail that throws their life together into turmoil. Before he was with Kate, Geoff was in a passionate affair with the German Katya who suddenly went missing fifty years ago. The letter informs Geoff of the discovery of Katya's remains on an Alpine peak. Though he initially tries to hide his feelings, Geoff is shaken to the core, leading Kate to reevaluate the 45 years they've spent together. The leads do a good enough job, but I could never get beyond the unfairness of the emotional jealousy at the core of the film. Is it really that big of a shock that people still pine for lost loves decades later? Thinking that you’re the only person your partner is allowed to have romantic feelings toward is a sign of emotional immaturity, not a healthy relationship. I far prefer Haigh's Weekend to this.
I understand where you're coming from about the emotional unfairness, but to me it's a little more complicated than this. Throughout the film it's evidenced that Tom Courtenay's character has always been kind of passive in his relationship to his wife, in a manner that she eventually came to appreciate, but finding out that he was apparently much more passionate in a period just before they met --
SpoilerShow
and that, significantly, he and his deceased ex were going to have a baby whereas children seem to have never been under discussion in their own relationship
-- has throttled her understanding of him and of their marriage in a way I find quite believable, because I think a lot of people have that certain sense of inferiority all the time. Why wasn't I good enough to inspire those same emotional highs, etc.? I think she fully recognizes that she's not being entirely fair, but these events that he registered decades ago and to which he's become mostly numb are new information to her. I find it a well-observed, empathetic account of that kind of emotional cycle, which doesn't have any really easy solution, and also an interesting picture of how a lot of people are in largely successful relationships that don't necessarily inspire starry-eyed, romantic nostalgia, which can put the more tumultuous past in a strange light.

(Plus, I think that in some ways, we all remain emotionally immature when it comes to this stuff. "The heart remains a child," as Tracey Thorn put it.)

bamwc2
Joined: Mon Jun 02, 2008 11:54 am

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#103 Post by bamwc2 » Wed Feb 17, 2021 12:00 pm

Thanks for the other perspectives, JakeB and dustybooks!

bamwc2
Joined: Mon Jun 02, 2008 11:54 am

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#104 Post by bamwc2 » Thu Feb 18, 2021 6:30 pm

Viewing Log:

Actress (Robert Greene, 2014): Best remembered today for her two-season stint as Theresa D'Agostino on HBO's The Wire, actress Brandy Burre gave it all up so that she could start a family with her longtime boyfriend. When the documentary begins we find Burre in suburban Ohio with two young children and a crumbling relationship. She desperately wants to rekindle her career, but with nearly a decade out of the business she may have aged out of the roles she seeks. Greene does an excellent job documenting the self-inflicted collapse of her relationship and self-destructive behavior. It's also an invaluable document of the sacrifices that our society forces women to make in order to have children. Many end their careers to spend vital years at home when they could be climbing the ladder. My only complaint is that many reviewers get this wrong. I've seen several critics describe the film as cinema verite. It's not. At least some of the lines are obviously rehearsed. Indeed, it's unclear how much of the film is staged by Burre to act as a sizzle reel for her attempted career jump start.

Cold War (Pawel Pawlikowski, 2018): Wiktor (Tomasz Kot), a musicologist is sent to a Polish village to capture the national heritage through recording regional folk songs. There he meets a beautiful young performer named Zula (Joanna Kulig). Before long the two embark on a passionate, but ill-fated love affair that spans many years and much of the European continent. Shot in gorgeous black and white, Pawlikowski showed that he understood how to capture the format's grace in his previous effort, Ida. It works well as a stinging indictment of mid-century Eastern Bloc totalitarianism, but it doesn't exactly break any new grounds on that front. I think that I was a little less invested in the romance than some, but it's still an easy recommendation.

Computer Chess (Andrew Bujalski, 2013): Indy auteur Andrew Bujalski crafts a lighthearted comedy set in the world of an early '80s competition to see which computer programmers could create the best chess programs. Shot without a script using the era appropriate equipment, the film perfectly captures the zeitgeist of the beginning of the decade. I knew nothing of the film going in, and it was so evocative of the early 80s that I initially thought I was watching a documentary. The competition isn't the main focus of the film as the camera is often more interested in the personalities involved. It was a fun, nostalgic diversion, but it lost me when
SpoilerShow
one of the computers achieved sentience.
The Ditch (Bing Wang, 2010): Nearly a decade before Bing Wang would revisit the subject for his epic 495 minute documentary Dead Souls (which I hope to see before voting ends), the director first gave us a fictionalized account of the plight of a dozen Chinese citizens deemed "rightest" under the fervor of the early years of Mao. The men were sent to a "re-education" camp in the middle of a barren dirt filled desert where they are forced to partake in meaningless labor or die. Of course, with food and other provisions a luxury resource, many do just that. There are scenes in this movie that I will never forget,
SpoilerShow
such as the one where one prisoner vomits and another eats the expelled food particles rather than let them go to waste.
The film is as powerful as a gut punch. There have been many attempts to cover the brutality of Mao's programs through cinema, but few are as raw and impactful as this one. I'm shocked that Wang was ever allowed back onto the mainland after this.

The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019): Robert Eggers followed up his critically acclaimed debut, The Witch, with another historical piece completely different in tone and style. Grizzled British emigre Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) has overseen a New England lighthouse for more years than he can count. Now, however, he finds himself with an apprentice named Thomas Howard (Robert Pattinson). The two initially get along in their duties, but the effects of isolation, hunger, and copious alcohol consumption wears away the sanity of both men, leading to shocking results. The film starts off as a straight drama and is rather staid for the first act. However, once things pick up it goes off the rails in a rather interesting way. Effortlessly moving between comedy and drama, fantasy and horror, the film is a highly unique effort that has no stylistic antecedent that I can think of.

Oki's Movie (Sang-soo Hong, 2010): Told in four parts, this Korean dramedy focuses on the love triangle between film school student Oki (Jung Yu-mi), novice filmmaker Jin-Goo Nam (Lee Sun-kyun), and cinema studies professor Song (Seong-kun Mun). The film is breezy, and often feels like a retread of some of Woody Allen's work both with its May-December romance and abuse of power by Professor Song. Indeed, it's that abuse that kept me from enjoying the film. As a former (and hopefully future) university professor, I'm aghast at the idea that the film would portray a relationship between a professor and one of their students as both normal and good. The power differential between the two precludes any meaningful consent. Song is a predator, but is portrayed as a sweet romantic.

Surviving Life (Theory and Practice) (Jan Svankmajer, 2010): Revolutionary Czech animator Jan Svankmajer returns for the first of two features he made in this decade. Using a mixture of life action and cut out paper animation, Svankmajer tells the story of Evzen (Václav Helsus) a meek office worker who's been married to the same woman for 25 years and allowed his life to pass him by instead of living out any of his desires. However, he finds escape in his dreams, where he adopts the persona of Milan and is married to the beautiful Evzenie (Klára Issová). I'm normally not a Svankmejer fan, finding much of his animation off putting at best and grotesque at worst, but for some reason I enjoyed this psycho-sexual comedy far more than his past works. Having recently turned 41 and being with the same partner for 20 years, I saw a lot of myself in Evzen, and easily related to his escape into fantasy.

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#105 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Feb 18, 2021 7:38 pm

bamwc2, I'd keep going with Hong- I didn't love Oki's Movie either but once you consume more of his work, you begin to realize the layers of his self-critique and evaluation, and how this indicates both growth and admitted stagnation. He's one of the most courageously self-conscious filmmakers working today, relentlessly exposing his psychological drives, questionable behaviors, and conflicting feelings on the power and limitations of change. The American equivalent would be Sam Levinson, who's still very much emerging.

Also, I thought The Lighthouse's ending was totally inspired by Lynch's late work, particularly Twin Peaks: The Return

bamwc2
Joined: Mon Jun 02, 2008 11:54 am

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#106 Post by bamwc2 » Sun Feb 21, 2021 3:19 pm

Viewing Log:

The Dead Don't Die (Jim Jarmusch, 2019): Bill Murray stars as Cliff Robertson, the police chief of the rural Pennsylvania town of Centerville, where he's flanked by his two loyal deputies Ronnie (Adam Driver) and Mindy (Chloë Sevigny). Fracking in the Antarctic causes the tilt and rotation of the Earth to go awry, resulting in all sorts of abnormal occurrences. Ronnie warns us that this isn't going to end well, and soon the dead rise from their graves and begin to kill off the town's residents. It kind of seems like it was made as an excuse to gather friends for a good time as Jarmusch regulars like Tom Waits and Sara Driver show up along with new faces (e.g. Danny Glover and Selena Gomez). In this case, I feel like it worked exceptionally well. The film's understated and often self-referential humor proved divisive to both audiences and critics, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It might be my favorite from Jarmusch so far (though I have some blind spots that need to be filled in).

Ford v Ferrari (James Mangold, 2019): After Lee Iacocca’s (Jon Bernthal) attempt to buyout Ferrari ends in a string of insults against Henry Ford, Jr. (Tracy Letts), the Ford Motor Company dedicates its energy to building a race car capable of defeating them at 24 Hours of Le Mans. They quickly bring on Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), the only American to ever win the French competition at that point. Shelby insisted that they hire retired driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) to both help in the design and ultimately man the car in the race. Much of the film focuses on the development of the race car, but the race itself constitutes the film's denouement. I find races in general, and car races in particular, dreadfully boring, but for some reason the film kept my attention throughout its 2.5 hour runtime. Cliches abound in the film, but if we view it as a popcorn movie, it works quite well.

Harriet (Kasi Lemmons, 2019): Cynthia Erivo plays Harriet Tubman (née Minty) in this biopic from co-writer/director Kasi Lemmons. We follow Tubman from her escape from her plantation through her 100-mile trek north. Eventually she makes her way to Philadelphia where she assumes a new identity with the help of free African-American born outside of the slave states, and under the tutelage of the wealthy Marie (Janelle Monáe) settles into a life of domestic labor. However, her love for her husband and desire to reunite with her family leads her to make her way back to her former plantation where she frees them. Soon she becomes known as Moses, and makes multiple arduous journeys leading slaves to freedom. Tubman is undoubtedly an important historical figure deserving a good film made about her life. Unfortunately, this isn't it. The film often feels like a bloated adventure, more interested in portraying Tubman as a modern-day action hero with a gun instead of focusing on the dramatic aspects of her life. Even though this is the first biopic of hers that I know about, much of the material feels hackneyed as if it had been recycled countless times before. Overall, it's a thoroughly mediocre encomium to someone who deserves far better.

A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick, 2019): In early 1943, Austrian farmer and devout Catholic Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl) is conscripted for service in the German army. Leaving behind his wife Fani (Valerie Pachner) and their three daughters, Franz travels to Berlin where he refuses to swear allegiance to Hitler. He's arrested and imprisoned for his role as a contentious objector as Fani becomes a pariah in their village. The film follows both his experience as a political prisoner facing execution and his family's life without Franz in Austria, and proceeds down a linear path to its seemingly inevitable conclusion. Malick brings his distinctive poetic style to another story about faith. I've seen more than a few critics grow tired of his doctrinaire approach to filmmaking over this, his most productive decade. It has, however, not worn thin on me. I absolutely adored this movie. I was moved by Franz's commitment to pacifism and his willingness to accept whatever fate it brought him. Malick will have at least one entry on my list. This might be there as well.

Kate Plays Christine (Robert Greene, 2016): Indie darling Kate Lyn Sheil travels around Sarasota, Florida interviewing those who knew Christine Chubbuck, a professionally and romantically unfulfilled reporter who committed suicide on her live local morning show in 1974. The interviews are real, but the alleged role that Sheil is prepping for is not. Despite the rehearsals we witness, there is no biopic in the works. Instead, Sheil plays a version of herself in an attempt to tell a tale about the viewer's obsession with, as Chubbuck put it, "blood and guts". I thought quite highly of this hybrid piece after viewing it, but the more I read up on it, the cheaper and more exploitative it felt. The interviewees participated in good faith only to have their words used to further this metanarrative that could have been made without the deceit.
SpoilerShow
The film climaxes with Sheil reenacting the suicide while lecturing the audience on how depraved they are felt like a sermon from John Calvin more than an attempt to get us to reflect on our own shortcomings.
I really hate this one.

Life of Riley (Alain Resnais, 2014): Set in Yorkshire, but filmed in French, Alain Renais gathers some of his stock players together again for what would prove to be his final film. Made within a year of the director's own passing, the film is fittingly about death. Kathryn (Sabine Azéma) and Colin (Hippolyte Girardot) are amateur actors busy in rehearsal for the titular play, when they find out that their friend George is dying. The production is thrown into turmoil as the cast attempts to formulate a response to the news. Past secrets are unearthed in this dramedy which threaten to tear their relationships apart. The film is confined to the play's highly stylized set. I greatly enjoyed the aesthetics of it, finding it to be somewhat of a mix between von Trier's Dogville and Rohmer's Perceval. As pretty as the film is to look at, the drama seemed somewhat forced. Ultimately it struck me as a minor entry into Renais's canon. It's a shame that this was his swansong.

Varda by Agnès (Agnès Varda, Didier Rouget, 2019): Speaking of swansongs, 2019's Varda by Agnès proved to be the titular director's final film before dying of breast cancer later that year. The film is a fitting mix of experimentation and reflection for Varda, a director who spent so much of her career exploring both. The documentary mixes footage of her speaking at a career retrospective with clips from her films, photography, and mixed works. She provides reflections on them, some more insightful than others, but they are always entertaining. It's a fitting way to wrap up one's career I suppose. The film is full of Varda's signature style that she developed later in life, and not to be missed by her superfans like myself.

bamwc2
Joined: Mon Jun 02, 2008 11:54 am

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#107 Post by bamwc2 » Tue Feb 23, 2021 3:40 am

Viewing log:

All is Lost (J.C. Chandor, 2013): Robert Redford plays an unnamed protagonist in one of his final performances before retiring from acting. The film begins with some of the only dialogue in the film, when he's adrift in a life raft and writes a farewell note to an unidentified recipient. We then flashback to eight days prior where his sailboat hits a stray shipping container in the middle of the ocean. Redford's character furiously spends the next half an hour repairing the breach in his ship with whatever items were available. For a while it looks like he might be able to make it, but a storm drives him into an increasingly desperate situation. The minimalist and austere style isn't for everyone, but I found it captivating. Redford, who was in his late 70s when he filmed this, gives a physically demanding performance that enthralled me throughout. My only real complaint is that
SpoilerShow
the film inexorably marches to the character's death. Just as we seem to get the culmination of his fate, a deus ex machina comes out of nowhere to save him. It's a forced happy ending that feels very out of place with the preceding material.


American Woman (Jake Scott, 2018): Sienna Miller plays Debra, a down on her luck 31-year-old grandmother who spends her days working dead end jobs and her evenings having an affair with a married man. Debra lives with her teen daughter Bridgette (Sky Ferreira), and Bridgette's year-old son Jesse. One day Bridgette goes missing. After an extensive search fails to turn up any evidence of her daughter's whereabouts, Debra faces the prospects of having to raise her grandson. The film follows her progress over the next decade and a half as she pulls her shit together and provides a loving, if not stable, home to raise Jesse in. The film's cast (which also includes Amy Madigan, Christina Hendricks, Aaron Paul, and Will Sasso) uniformly give excellent performances as a working-class family doing their best to survive through tragedy. Debra's life follows a path of ups and downs that feels highly realistic and natural. Screenwriter Brad Ingelsby delivered and outstanding script, and Jake Scott, a Hollywood scion who's spent the lion's share of his career working on music videos, shows his range by turning in a product that is diametrically opposed to the style he cut his teeth on. It was an emotionally taxing experience that left me in well-earned tears throughout. I really look forward to seeing what else Ingelsby and Scott have to offer.

The Assassin (Hsiao-Hsien Hou, 2015): Hsiao-Hsien Hou returned from an eight-year hiatus to direct the first genre film of his career. Young orphan Nie Yinniang (played as an adult by Qi Shu) is trained by a Buddhist nun to be a deadly assassin in eight-century Tang dynasty China. We see little of Nie's childhood as Hou quickly moves on to her experiences as an efficient, but emotionally conflicted killing machine. When her conscience leads to her failing to fulfill her orders, she's given a seemingly impossible task as punishment. She must now kill rogue general Tian Ji’an (Chang Chen) who has renounced his fealty to the emperor and caused chaos in the countryside. Nie once again faces her own internal drama as Tian is both her cousin and one-time romantic partner. Hou cast actors untrained in combat for the roles, but gets around their lack of expertise with frequent edits and other tricks. He does a good job making Qi look like a skilled warrior, and gives her a chance to demonstrate a far greater acting ability than was on display in her early sexploitation work. With long meditative shots that stand in contrast to the somewhat infrequent combat, and stylized camera placement (how many scenes are filmed behind semi-transparent curtains?) the film is often gorgeous to look at. I really loved this one.

Cosmos (Andrzej Zulawski, 2015): In what turned out to be Polish auteur Andrzej Zulawski's final film before his death in 2016, we follow the journey of failed law student Witold (Jonathan Genet) who, along with his comrade Fuchs (Johan Libéreau), leaves the madness of Paris for what they think will be a quiet country retreat. As Witold makes his way toward the house, he's greeted by a dead sparrow hung from a noose in the middle of the path. It’s the first in a series of odd occurrences that the pair will encounter. The estate is populated with a menagerie of peculiar residents, but none more consequential than Lena (Victória Guerra), the married older daughter of the inn's proprietors. Witold becomes obsessed with Lena and demonstrates his love for her by, um, murdering her cat. Zulawski made one of my favorite films of all time The Third Part of the Night, but the rest of his career is filled with a mixture of highs (That Most Important Thing: Love, On the Silver Globe) and lows (Szamanka). Cosmos lies somewhere in the middle, existing as a thoroughly mediocre farewell to his fans. Like most of his films, it works best when operating on an ethereal level--almost dream like in its freedom from logic and literal meaning. What I can't get around, however, is Genet's ridiculously over-the-top performance that is best described as a more shouty version of Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor. It may have been what the director wanted, but it's so distracting that his facial contortions and inappropriate raspy shouts ruin every scene they're in.

Crimson Peak (Guillermo del Toro, 2015): Co-writer/director Guillermo del Toro gives life to his love for gothic horror in the apotheosis of the genre: the ghost story. The first part of the story is more The Portrait of a Lady than The Turn of the Screw as British nobleman Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) woos aspiring horror author Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), who's love of the genre was inspired by a childhood encounter with the ghastly apparition of her dead mother. Thomas, however, has ulterior motives as he and his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) wish to get Edith's nouveau riche father Carter (Jim Beaver) to invest in his idea of a new kind of mining machine. Carter declines and forces Thomas to break off relations with his daughter, setting up a bloody chain of events with frequent supernatural occurrences. Wasikowska is given little to do other than play the hapless victim too blinded by her romantic feelings for Thomas to realize what's going on, but both Hiddleston and Chastain make the most of their roles. The real star, however, is the gorgeous set design fueled by del Toro's obsessive attention to detail.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014): Speaking of obsessive attention to detail, co-writer/director Wes Anderson crafts a story within a story within a story within a story. Little attention is given to the first two meta-narratives, and we spend sometime in the third where Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham) converses with a writer played by Jude Law, but the majority of the film's runtime takes place at the final level where Moustafa was a young hotel employee in the 1930s going by the name Zero (Tony Revolori) under the tutelage of Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), the hotel's concierge. Gustave spends most of his time running the hotel and bedding the rich widows that frequent it. When one of them dies Gustave inherits an invaluable painting, leading her jealous son Dmitri (Adrien Brody) to frame him for murder. Zero and Gustave must now clear his name while avoiding Dmitri's goon Jopling (Willem Dafoe), and uncover the identity of the real killer. Like all of Anderson's films, the real star (despite a good many famous actors who pop up in the production) is the unparalleled set design where the content of every frame springs from years of a production team's work bringing to life the director's vision. Anderson's humor is as wry as always, making this a sweet and charming tale of murder. It's so good that I truly regret waiting seven years to see it.

Son of Saul (László Nemes, 2015): Saul Ausländer (Géza Röhrig) is a Hungarian Jew surrounded by death in Auschwitz. Saul prolongs his own existence by operating as a Sonderkommando, a concentration camp prisoner who guides his fellow Jews into the gas chambers before disposing of both their clothes and their corpses. When a preteen boy clings to life after one such gassing the shell-shocked Saul clings to the delusion that he's the boy's father. After an SS guard murders the unnamed youth, Saul becomes preoccupied with the compulsion to give him a proper burial--a luxury that no Jew gets there. Deluded, but rational enough to preserve his own existence, Saul constantly walks a tightrope between his desire to get a rabbi to give the boy a funeral and the constant labor that he must perform to stay alive. Championed by Claude Lanzman himself, Son of Saul does an admirable job of telling the story of a man broken by the inhumanity that enveloped him. Having previously seen Nemes's just okay follow up Sunset, I wasn't expecting much out of this historical drama. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the brutal matter of fact approach that the director took as well as the recreation of the horror that was Auschwitz.

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#108 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Feb 26, 2021 12:02 pm

As we near the anniversary of COVID's lockdown in the U.S. and many other territories, I've noticed that nearly everyone (clients, colleagues, friends, family, myself) is feeling a bit more dysregulated lately, which makes sense because anniversaries often affect us, even if on a subconscious level. So I've found myself trying to turn to comedies lately, revisiting shows like The Critic, Ed, and other favorites (Veronica Mars isn't a comedy but its pleasures are diverse and plentiful). I could have posted this in the mental health thread, but I was particularly curious about mining for comedies from this last decade, since (and this is probably just my jaded experience), I don't feel like most pure 'comedies' have been very funny for a while- really since the Frat Pack/Apatow gross-out boom hit in the early aughts (which could be said to have started in the 90s with American Pie, etc. but who wants to track the cause-effect).

This was a decade where the average drama had more laughs than the average comedy (I’d wager Manchester By the Sea’s tragedy gassed out most comedies in the laugh department) but there are still some gems hidden in there, and probably many I haven’t seen or heard about. I’m going to post a few that come to mind, including some dramedies that felt comedy-heavy enough to qualify (and yes, I do think that the von Trier is overwhelmingly comedic). Hopefully others can share comedies that are underseen, underappreciated, or even just their favorites, so we can all just laugh a little more often in a pandemic winter.

Accidental Love (aka Nailed!)
The Artist
Caprice
Celeste and Jesse Forever
Ceremony
Chambre 212 (On a Magical Night)
The Color Wheel
Le daim (Deerskin)
Damsels in Distress
Dark Horse
Detention
Don’t Think Twice
En liberté!
Everybody Wants Some!!
The Favorite
Game Night
Grand Budapest Hotel
The Guard
The House That Jack Built
How Do You Know
Inherent Vice
In Fabric
Inside Out
Isle of Dogs
Laggies
Li’l Quinquin
The Lobster
Logan Lucky
Love & Friendship
MacGruber
Magic in the Moonlight
Midnight in Paris
Moonrise Kingdom
Perdrix (The Bare Necessity)
A Rainy Day in New York
Le Redoutable
Le retour du héros
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
Sorry to Bother You
Thoroughbreds
Tout le monde a raison
Tu dors Nicole
Under the SIlver Lake
The Wolf of Wall Street
World of Tomorrow (Episodes 1 and 2)

User avatar
Red Screamer
Joined: Tue Jul 16, 2013 12:34 pm
Location: Tativille, IA

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#109 Post by Red Screamer » Fri Feb 26, 2021 3:16 pm

Good point, blus. I know I've watched wayyy more comedies and musicals the past year than I normally do.

Phantom Thread and Magic Mike XXL are two of the 2010s films that make me laugh the most. But if I'm looking to put myself in stitches, I'm more likely to throw on an episode of Nathan for You. If its feature-length series finale Finding Frances is eligible (I did see it at a film festival...), it'll place high on my list. It's one of the most uncomfortable films ever made, the kind of documentary that makes my jaw drop at what the filmmakers were able to capture and how painfully revealing the people in it are. There are few movies more incisive on aging, "love," and the foundational lies we tell ourselves, often invisible to everyone else around us. The scene where Bill models an actress after his high school girlfriend to rehearse a reunion with her plays like a slapstick Vertigo, but real. And maybe more disturbing.

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#110 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Feb 26, 2021 4:06 pm

Agreed wholeheartedly, and I'm pretty sure none other than Errol Morris praised that episode/film as some of the most optimal documentary filmmaking he's seen in years. I think Nathan for You is the funniest show on a laugh-to-laugh basis maybe ever, but I've seen it so many times that I've found myself going down the YT rabbit hole of his seemingly-infinite On Your Side videos, all of which are barely under 3 minutes in length and just hilarious. Plus you find some random gems from Fielder unaffiliated with his main programs like this or this

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#111 Post by domino harvey » Fri Feb 26, 2021 4:13 pm

I’d add in Bachelorette, Victoria, Barely Lethal, and Le prenom

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#112 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Feb 26, 2021 4:20 pm

I haven't seen Le prenom yet but it is in my queue, and the others are all good additions. I would have definitely listed Bachelorette on my list, but it's strangely missing from my word doc chronicling favorite films by year that I pulled this from, so thanks, that's been remedied.

User avatar
swo17
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#113 Post by swo17 » Fri Feb 26, 2021 5:10 pm

Red Screamer wrote:
Fri Feb 26, 2021 3:16 pm
But if I'm looking to put myself in stitches, I'm more likely to throw on an episode of Nathan for You. If its feature-length series finale Finding Frances is eligible (I did see it at a film festival...), it'll place high on my list.
Sure

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#114 Post by knives » Fri Feb 26, 2021 6:05 pm

I thought the First Name was awful, but will heartedly co-sign Barely Lethal as the last great ‘90s film.

bamwc2
Joined: Mon Jun 02, 2008 11:54 am

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#115 Post by bamwc2 » Sat Feb 27, 2021 1:35 am

Viewing log:

Amazing Grace (Alan Elliott and Sydney Pollack, 2018): In 1972 Warner Bros. hired director Sydney Pollack to document the recording of Aretha Franklin's live gospel album Amazing Grace. Performed over two days in 1972 at New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles with her father in the front row of the audience, Franklin gives a tour de force at the height of her ability resulting in more than 20 hours of footage shot. Unfortunately, sound synchronization issues kept the film from editing until Alan Elliot purchased the raw footage from the studio. Working on it for four years, Elliot trimmed the material down to a lean 87 minutes of fully synchronized material, but Franklin fought to keep him from releasing it for the remainder of her life. After her passing Elliot reached an agreement with her estate and the film played limited engagements later that year. The end result is a fantastic performance showcasing her unparalleled talent, but one that doesn't reach any cinematic heights. Like most concert films, Pollock alternates between focusing on the performer and cutting to crowd reactions. Unlike the recording of festivals like Woodstock, Altamont, and Monterey Pop, there was nothing else going on to add to the footage. The music is spectacular, but the limitations of the recording make the end result visually underwhelming.

Domino (Brian De Palma, 2019): 70s auteur Brian De Palma returns with his second film of the nascent century inspired by the war on terror. Instead of following the sociopath servicemen of 2007's Redacted, this time he focuses on Copenhagen cops Christian Toft (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Lars Hansen (Søren Malling) as they deal with the crime in the city's increasing Muslim population. After catching Ezra Tarzi (Eriq Enouaney) at the scene of a murder, the killer breaks free of his restraints and stabs Hansen in the neck. Toft pursues him, but both men become incapacitated after a rooftop chase. Interference from Guy Pearce's CIA agent Smith reveals that Tarzi is on a warpath against the ISIS agents that are responsible for his father's death, and the agency sets him loose to track down a former Guantanamo Bay inmate who resumed operating a terror cell upon release. With multiple split-screen shots, numerous suspenseful interludes, and subplot of sexual intrigue, the film is unmistakably a De Palma vehicle. Unfortunately, it also reinforces some of his worst instincts, none less forgivable than the time that his camera lingers on Toft's forgotten gun, highlighting it for the audience instead of letting the them notice it for themselves. Even worse, the script trades on the xenophobia of the European right that Muslim immigrants bring crime and terror with them from their native lands. The film suffered from financial difficulties that nearly ended production halfway through. It pains me to say it, but we might have been better off if it had.

Harmonium (Kôji Fukada, 2016): The unassuming Toshio (Kanji Furutachi) splits his time between the successful sheet metal company he runs out of his garage, and his domestic life with his wife Akié (Mariko Tsutsui) and their tween daughter Hotaru (Momone Shinokawa). They live a rather banal life full of routine punctuated only by Hotaru's time practicing the titular instrument. One day Toshio's old acquaintance Yasaka (Tadanobu Asano) comes to visit after spending eleven years in prison for a murder that our protagonist may have played a part in. Without a second thought, Toshiro welcomes the man into their home. Yasaka wastes no time ingratiating himself to Hotaru and forming an adulterous relationship Akié. The film plays almost like a thriller, causing the audience to wait for the other shoe to drop. We're surprised, however, when the film suddenly flash forwards eight years, revealing the tragic events that occurred in the interlude. Going into the film I was expecting a traditional Japanese family drama based on the MoC box description. I'm normally not a fan of the genre since it all too often spends most of its energy paying its fealty to the species's progenitors. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find a genre bending story that masterfully spins a yarn about the collapse of the family dynamic. Tsutsui, who gave an incredible performance in Antiporno in the very same year does an equally impressive job here as she plays essentially two different characters between the first and second half. This was my first time viewing a film by Fukada, but I look forward to seeing anything else by him in the future.

Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie, 2016): Tanner (Ben Foster) and Toby Howard (Chris Pine) inherited their Texas family ranch as well as the crushing debt that their parents racked up with an all-too-eager to foreclose bank. The Howard boys resort to bank robbery in order to keep the bank at bay. Their bumbling approach belies a knowledgeable approach to the robberies, as they target small branches, only take loose cash from the registers, and launder their plunder through a local casino. As they hit more banks, U.S. Marshals Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham) take to their trail, leading to an inevitable showdown between the two parties. Foster is electric as the reckless ex-con who seemingly yearns for the no drama robberies to turn sideways, but it was Bridges hackneyed performance as the cool lawman on the verge of retirement that won an Oscar nomination. I was surprised to find out that the film had actually been nominated for Best Picture when it came out. I spent most of 2016 working on writing instead of seeing movies, and don't even remember hearing of this film until I researched films from the last decade. Like a lot of Oscar nominees, it has its high points, but I didn't find it terrible special overall.

Honeyland (Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov, 2019): As Honeyland opens, a pair of Turkish documentarians follow Macedonian Hatidze Muratova as she makes a trek up a mountain that would appear difficult for an able-bodied person in their prime. Given that Hatidze is in her mid-60s, the journey to gather honeycombs from a beehive built into the side of its peak seems like an impossible task. This is but one of the many arduous routines that she has to endure, living a rustic life with her 85-year-old mother in the countryside. What could easily descend into poverty porn or a harangue against the industrialized world they reject, instead humanizes Hatzidze's small community as they struggle for survival. Recalling the travelogues of the early years of cinema, with often astonishing shots, Honeyland is one of the best documentaries of the decade.

It's Such a Beautiful Day (Don Hertzfeldt, 2012): I only learned of Don Hertzfeldt's work a few months ago, but his World of Tomorrow trilogy of shorts had such a profound impact on me that I feel like I can aptly divide my life before and after viewing the first entry. That's why I leaped with joy when I learned he had released a feature length film prior to those. It turns out that this feature is actually three of his other shorts strung together to make a (somewhat) linear narrative about a misbegotten sadsack named Bill. When we first meet Bill, we laugh at his misplaced angst over worries about people's crotches accidentally rubbing against produce at the supermarket, as well as awkward encounters on the street. But eventually we learn that Bill suffers from an unnamed degenerative illness that slowly, then quickly, reduces his capacities. The film's final act is a work of pure existential reflection that's as poignant and insightful as anything ever committed to celluloid. The animation may be crude, but the ideas are anything but. This is one of the most intellectually satisfying works I've ever come across in film. I can't sing its--or Hertfeldt's--praise high enough.

Killer Joe (William Friedkin, 2011): Screenwriter Tracy Letts adapts her own play for the big screen with 70s powerhouse William Friedkin behind the camera. Chris Smith (Emile Hirsch) is deeply in debt to loan sharks, so he enlists the help of his sister Dottie (Juno Temple), father Ansel (Thomas Haden Church), and stepmother Sharla (Gina Gershon) in a murder for hire plot against his abusive biological mother. Believing that she has an insurance policy that will pay out to Dottie, the family hires local police detective Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) to do the dirty work. When the family is unable to pay Joe's retainer, they offer him Dottie instead. The two begin a controlling sexual relationship that culminates in several intense acts of violence. The film is an apt portrayal of miserable people living miserable lives. Without any hope of bettering themselves they give in to their own vices, and willing engage in increasing acts of immorality. Letts's screenplay is as dark and raw as they come, and Friedkin does a good job of translating it to film in its disturbing acts of violence and degradation. As a vegetarian, it wasn't the easiest film to sit through, but I can still recommend to for those who can stomach it.

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#116 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Feb 27, 2021 2:09 am

Letts wrote Killer Joe at the tail end of his active addiction and got sober within weeks of its premiere. It’s a great movie, but it’s an even better regurgitation of a troubled psyche shamelessly painting the walls with his anger, pain, and sickness

bamwc2
Joined: Mon Jun 02, 2008 11:54 am

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#117 Post by bamwc2 » Sat Feb 27, 2021 2:17 am

Oh wow. I didn't know that. That kind of colors the way I'll think about Bug from now on.

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#118 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Feb 27, 2021 2:21 am

Yeah that one’s more the insanity of early sobriety sitting with your own thoughts and feelings for the first time without the magic serum to cope via escape, and another terrific film

User avatar
DarkImbecile
Ask me about my visible cat breasts
Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2013 6:24 pm
Location: Albuquerque, NM

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#119 Post by DarkImbecile » Sat Feb 27, 2021 8:01 am

therewillbeblus wrote:
Fri Feb 26, 2021 12:02 pm
Hopefully others can share comedies that are underseen, underappreciated, or even just their favorites, so we can all just laugh a little more often in a pandemic winter.
I’ll throw in a quick plug for Ruben Östlund’s terrific The Square, with which I believe swo17 is also quite enamored with as well. It’ll definitely make my top 50, along with — in keeping with the twbb-patented stretching of genres — Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse, maybe the title on my list with the most quotable comedic lines.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#120 Post by domino harvey » Sat Feb 27, 2021 3:44 pm

Tracy Letts is male. You might remember him from his acting work as the dad in Lady Bird

bamwc2
Joined: Mon Jun 02, 2008 11:54 am

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#121 Post by bamwc2 » Sat Feb 27, 2021 7:21 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Sat Feb 27, 2021 3:44 pm
Tracy Letts is male. You might remember him from his acting work as the dad in Lady Bird
I noticed that once I looked up his imdb page, but forgot to change it. Sorry. I honestly didn't know he was an actor either until that moment.

bamwc2
Joined: Mon Jun 02, 2008 11:54 am

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#122 Post by bamwc2 » Mon Mar 01, 2021 12:23 am

Viewing Log:

At Berkeley (Frederick Wiseman, 2013): Frederick Wiseman studied philosophy more than sixty years ago before embarking on his career as a documentarian. Late in his journey as a filmmaker he made his first return to academia. The subject of the piece is Berkeley, the largest public university in the state of California, and one of the most prestigious in the world. The camera, which if he carried on his tradition was operated by the octogenarian director himself, captures all aspects of the college experience, from corny a cappella songs about Facebook to earnest discussions about race. Wiseman highlights the cutting-edge research carried out by the school's scientists, but he seems particularly concerned with California's diminished investment in their state school system and the resulting budget cuts. I've been involved in academia in some form or another since '98, and this has been the main problem facing the schools of been at the entire time. As a former professor, I couldn't help but feel elegiac at the experience of watching this. If a once great school like Berkeley is withering on the vine because of ever decreasing funding, then what chance do the rest of us have?

De Palma (Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow, 2015): There are few directors working today as admired in the industry as Brian De Palma. Directors Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow give us an encomium in the form of a career retrospective that covers everything from his early life through his entry into filmmaking, and ultimately into his highs and lows as a director often working on the outskirts of Hollywood. I've seen all of De Palma's work aside from a few lesser-known early features and the little seen Wise Guys, so much of this was a retread for me. That's not to say that I didn't learn anything from it (he almost directed Flashdance!), but even the familiar material was told with such bravado and charm that it never felt boring. Ultimately De Palma is a fascinating subject for an analysis as he rose from independent cinema to Hollywood auteur to his eventual downfall after a string of flops. De Palma's charm shines through in every segment, making this one a real winner.

I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians (Radu Jude, 2018): Recalling the best of the revolutionary cinema that emerged in the latter half of the century in the Eastern Bloc countries, Radu Jude's I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians is a groundbreaking attempt to come to terms with Romania's response to fascism. Taking its title from words uttered by the country's Nazi collaborating government before massacring Romania's Jewish population, the film follows the exploits of Mariana (Ioana Iacob) as she attempts to stage a reenactment of these events. Despite chronicling a raw, painful period of Romania's history, the film is an experimental comedy that doesn't hesitate to skewer the national mythos that's arisen to protect its pride. Iacob gives a wonderful performance as the crusading director in this biting satire.

The Image Book (Jean-Luc Godard, 2018): With a career spanning seven decades, director Jean-Luc Godard is still productive while pushing 90. His latest, another abstract video essay in the style of Histoire(s) du cinéma, is a purposely frustrating (long sections of French narration are unsubtitled) splicing of film clips ranging from the silent era up through the '00s. If pressed to give a synopsis of Godard's purpose here, I would be unable to respond. Instead of trying to make some coherent point with his narration, Godard happily dispenses often nonsensical bromides that left me scratching my head. Of course, it fits in well with the non-narrative provocations he's used to push the boundaries of cinema since the the '70s. I'm not sure that a critical analysis of the film is possible. Indeed, I gave up on trying to understand it early on and instead began playing a game of "hey I recognize that film" when various clips popped up.

Li'l Quinquin (Bruno Dumont, 2014): Originally airing on French television as a four-part miniseries, Bruno Dumont's work marked his initial foray into absurdist comedy in a career known for works of existential dread. A murder occurs in a Northern French village with portions of the victim inserted into a cow's rectum. Bumbling detectives in the form of Commandant Van der Weyden (Bernard Pruvost) and Lieutenant Carpentier (Philippe Jore) are assigned to work the case, but are so bad at their jobs that the killer can sleep easy at night. At the same time Dumont's script follows Quinquin (Alane Delhaye), a youthful leader of a gang of trouble makers that spend their days tormenting Van der Weyden, and abusing local Muslim kids with racist and homophobic taunts. It seems like Dumont wants us to identify with Quinquin and his cohorts as young rapscallions in the mode of someone like Bart Simpson, but they're such little shits that I didn't want to have anything to do with them. The scenes between the two investigators worked better for me as Pruvost gives a performance with the mannerism and facial ticks of a late Jack Nance. In fact, this comparison penetrates deeper than physical similarities as their investigation feels positively Lynchian at times. Proving that he has talents that extend beyond the violent dramas he cut his teeth on, Dumont shows that he's a gifted humorist as well.

Nymphomaniac: Vol. I (Lars von Trier, 2013): Appearing at a Cannes press conference to promote Melancholia, Danish provocateur told his audience that his next project would be a porno starring Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg. While most took this as a prank from someone with the reputation of a cinematic shitposter, von Trier took the joke far enough to produce a massive script about the confessions of a self-proclaimed nymphomaniac that had to be split up into two films. As part one opens Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård) finds Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) lying bloody in an alleyway. Refusing an ambulance, Joe agrees to accompany him back to his flat where she recounts the events that led her there. With the majority of the story taking place in her early 20s, Stacy Martin takes over as young Joe as she loses her virginity, takes part in sexual competitions with her girlfriends, and eventually finds herself working in an office for the frustratingly unobtainable Jerôme (Shia LaBeouf). I viewed the director's cut from Artificial Eye, infamous for its graphic depictions of actual sex (sorry, pervs, the sex was performed by body doubles with the actor's faces digitally imposed on the bodies) that are rote and unpleasant to reveal the deep psychological damage of Joe's compulsion. While the sex scenes are the antithesis of sexy, the remainder of the director's cut is so ponderous that scenes seem to stretch on for miles and the film's 2.5 hour runtime feels about three times as long. I suppose that there could be a better movie hidden in the theatrical cut, but I was so turned off by part I that I'm debating whether or not to give part II a chance.

Tragedy Girls (Tyler MacIntyre, 2017): Beginning as a tongue-in-cheek parody of slashers films, Sadie (Brianna Hildebrand) and a throwaway boy toy make out in a car at a secluded spot in the woods. After a masked killer dispatches her date, Sadie flees putting on the facade of a damsel in distress. The tables are soon turned, however, when Sadie's BFF McKayla (Alexandra Shipp), springs a trap knocking out her pursuer. With the killer, who we learn is a middle-aged doofus named Lloyd (Kevin Durand), firmly secured at their secret headquarters, the pair plan to use him to start a killing spree in their town to promote their true crime blog. The sociopathic girls then embark on a killing spree, offing those that irk them in minor ways while racking up their online views. The film works well as a pitch black, even darker retread of Heathers, but began to lose me when
SpoilerShow
McKayla becomes jealous of Sadie and conspires with Lloyd to kill her.
Thankfully movie recovers from this stumble and ends on a note that makes it one of the most nihilistic comedies I've ever seen.

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: A 2010s List for Those That Can't Wait

#123 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Mar 01, 2021 12:41 am

bamwc2 wrote:
Mon Mar 01, 2021 12:23 am
Nymphomaniac: Vol. I (Lars von Trier, 2013): I suppose that there could be a better movie hidden in the theatrical cut, but I was so turned off by part I that I'm debating whether or not to give part II a chance.
If you were turned off by vol 1, you will almost certainly hate vol 2

Post Reply