2011 TOP TEN
By: jordaan mason
my list is kind of unconventional and doesn’t really follow any of the “rules” of a year-end list.
some of these i saw at festivals here in toronto but they have not recieved theatrical release yet; some played at the festival in 2009 and 2010 (i didn’t catch them then, unfortunately) and didn’t make it to theatres here until this year, even though many of them opened theatrically elsewhere by 2010. there is also a film from 1987 on here, “three bewildered people in the night,” which has been unavailable for many years; i saw a brand new, cleaned-up print at a retrospective and it was one of my favourite nights at the cinema this year, and therefore i’m including it.
1. weekend (andrew haigh) – i saw this at the toronto inside out queer film festival on its opening night gala and canadian premiere in may. it’s not perfect, by any means (i don’t think any on this list are), but it was the most relatable and moving piece of queer cinema i’ve seen in a long time.
2. to die like a man (joao pedro rodriguez) – this played at TIFF in 2009, but i missed it, and it finally was given a very brief run of about two weeks here in june (amongst a brief retrospective of his previous two films and two shorts). this is cinema that lives and breathes.
3. three bewildered people in the night (gregg araki) – i saw kaboom at the festival last year, which is partly why it’s not present on this list (though it would be lower, i think, despite how much fun it is). i really wish this film was available, because i saw something really special in this; it really struck a chord in a very different way than his other films have.
4. meek’s cutoff (kelly reichardt) – michelle williams. shirley henderson. oregon. the desert. bonnets. what else more is there to say? i missed this at the 2010 festival, but caught it when it came to theatres. i had to sit with this one for a while; that ending is a tough one, but i’m looking forward to seeing the film again now.
5. dogtooth (giorgos lanthimos) – another TIFF 2009 film that didn’t come back to toronto until this year. i saw this one twice in the theatre; the second time, i decided for some reason to bring my mother, which maybe wasn’t my best idea, but it did start an interesting dialogue. regardless of whether the film is “original” or not (which seemed to be an ongoing debate?), it has such a perfect tone kept throughout, and having already watched it again twice at home, too, i think it’s safe to say i’m sticking with this one.
6. the tree of life (terrence malick) – this june, on my birthday, several of my friends congregated with me to the theatre and we all watched “the tree of life.” afterwards, we were supposed to go to karaoke, but many of us needed to take a long breather in between. amongst the group, there were of course those who thought it was themostbeautifulthingintheworld and themostpretentiousfilmofalltime, and i sat somewhere in the middle. i saw it again a few weeks later with my brother, and i think that bonding experience really brought me around to the “i love it” side.
7. low life (nicolas klotz, élisabeth perceval) – a genuinely nice surprise at this year’s festival. was given tickets to this one by a friend and went in knowing nothing; it ended up being my favourite thing that i saw in those 10 days. ended up having a wonderful and strange conversation with the directors and the girl i’d just met who had sat beside me outside afterwards, which had to be fasciliated by a translator. i hope this one gets some wider attention.
8. snowtown (justin kurzel) – i was afraid to walk home after this one. i don’t necessarily even know still that i “liked” this film, but it certainly shook me the fuck up, and will stand in my memory for a long time to come. it’s shocking without always trying to be “shocking,” which is good. i don’t recommend watching it alone.
9. keyhole (guy maddin) – everyone else i’ve spoken to about this had mixed reactions; a lot of the reviews around the time of the festival were accusing maddin for making “the same film” again. i felt like this was a very different work for him, even if it “looked” and “felt” like a maddin film in every way. maybe i’m just losing it, but it seemed more cohesive and less “ridiculously surreal” that a lot of his other films; more personal, even.
10. cave of forgotten dreams (werner herzog) – i didn’t love this film completely, but herzog did some of the most beautiful stuff with 3D i’ve ever seen, and as a theatre experience at this least this had to make the list.
02João Pedro Rodrigues