Of recent films, I would say Drive. As far as a few older films, I would say Leningrad Cowboys Go America, How to Get Ahead in Advertising and most definitely The Celebration.
Last night I watched Gaspar Noe’s I Stand Alone. It is such a great film.
The last movie that totally blew me away was Without You I’m Nothing (1990) starring Sandra Bernhard, directed by John Boskovich, and executive produced by Nicolas Roeg. (Yes, that Nicolas Roeg.)
This movie is an incredible post-modern dark comedy. I’ve never seen anything like it before. I got chills, and that doesn’t happen very often with me. I’m going to leave a professional review of it here that can tell you about it better than I can.
‘Without You, I’m Nothing’
By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
June 29, 1990
Sandra Bernhard’s punch lines pack the wallop of a prizefighter’s jabs. Mike Tyson-toothsome, she is a real bruiser, a raunchy knockout in “Without You I’m Nothing.” Adapted from her off-Broadway success, this impudent one-woman showdown with herself is as exposed as a plucked chicken.
Bernhard, satirical, smart and extraordinarily plain, knows how to make an audience squirm. At once the bitter geek and the beautiful dreamer, she is her own ideal of what isn’t acceptable. “Glad you can see how truly beautiful I am right now,” she says, admiring herself in her makeup mirror à la Harvey Fierstein in “Torch Song Trilogy.” Like Fierstein, she plays a camp chanteuse with a quirky larynx and a closet full of secret longings and flashy clothes.
A series of monologues, faux interviews and musical spoofs, “Without You” all takes place in the Parisian Room, “an upscale Los Angeles nightclub” where an all-black audience reacts apathetically to Bernhard in her various personas. These icons, drawn from the American pop culture of the past three decades, straight and gay, white and black, got up in Chanel and polyester, can’t seem to get no satisfaction.
Dressed in outsized African attire, Bernhard performs “Four Women” in a preposterous tribute to Nina Simone. The club’s emcee says, “There she is, ladies and gentleman, Sarah Bernhardt, let’s get behind her for coming down here this evening.” The silence is deafening and we empathize with the bony vamp, reliving our own unapplauded moments, the slights of life.
Upstaged by a Madonnaesque stripper and haunted by a beautiful young black woman who is her own alter ego, Bernhard brings out additional personalities. Turning autobiographical, she becomes a Jewish kid in Flint, Mich., with fantasies of a gentile Christmas, then a tacky lounge singer with a taste for Remy Martin, a Cosmo girl who marries her boss, a Chanel-suited New Yorker at Andy’s auction. Warren, Liza, the gang at Studio 54, the Tinseltowners, all things bright and shiny attract Bernhard’s contemptuous idolatry. “Nobody ever said being a celebrity communist was going to be easy,” says Bernhard’s Diana Ross to Warren Beatty.
Backed up by boy Harlettes and rhinestone cowboys, the act is less a cabaret than psychotherapy. Bernhard, who cowrote the material with John Boskovich, ascribes a litany of brand names to her various characters, but none of them emerges with his or her own identity as they might in the hands of Lily Tomlin, Whoopi Goldberg or even Bette Midler. They’re all Bernhard, the odd little girl, playing dress-up before a cracked attic mirror.
“Without You I’m Nothing” is ultimately about rejection, absolute and terrible. It is about being on the outside with the wrong color skin or the wrong face, or for that matter, simply for not liking the whole Southwestern trend. Bernhard is the ignored brat screaming for attention, an exhibitionist wearing nothing but gold tassels and an Old Glorious G-string. Dancing to Prince’s “Little Red Corvette,” she bares just about all for her art, but the audience isn’t there anymore. They’re at home watching “The Simpsons.” “Without you I’m nothing,” she says — a bald admission, plaintive as a clown painting. Doing it for laughs hurts.
Copyright The Washington Post
“Shame” is a must-see. As a New Yorker, it totally captures the very modern brand of loneliness the city breeds, and it deals with some very sensitive topics with an appropriate objectivity and, um, sensitivity.
The Wishing Tree – Tenghiz Abuladze, 1976.
Has just about everything – poetry, comedy, mystery, cinematography. So good.
Shame and Take Shelter
Threat Level: Midnight
have been meaning to watch this for several years, finally did and it rocked the socks off..
The Trials of Darryl Hunt
Les Amours Imaginaires
Chabrol’s Les Cousins
Kurahara’s The Warped Ones
A recent film I think is great: Pater ( A. Chevalier)
The Tree of Life
NOSTALGIA FOR THE LIGHT
Either The River (Tsai) or Tren de Sombras.
Vincente Minnelli’s “Bells Are Ringing”!!
The Turin Horse
er, no, excuse the juvenile humour-
i really enjoyed Hugo, a little charmer (when i was happy to have something warm in the dark winter), but i have plenty of contenders from 2011 still to see, from round the globe
From before this year Gamperaliya was a magnificent discovery, by Sri Lankan director Lester James Peries, and Berta’s Motives is a beautiful Spanish film
so i guess these 3 may be my films of the year
The tree of life
IL POSTO by ermanno olmi. picked it up randomly from the library because criterion labels stand out. a week later or so watched it cos it was late and i didn’t want a long movie. ended up being my #8 fav. totally unexpected
Tree of Life
Breaking Bad is stupendous television, really like that series, glad I finally decided to see it.
The Mitchell and Kenyon collection was a serious discovery, so thankful to the BFI for restoring this trove of lost reels documenting Edwardian life. We Need To Talk About Kevin might have been anachronistic in narrative but it’s a clever succession for Lynne Ramsay, if rumours are correct, can’t wait for her to go into space for her next feature.
An older film; I found Jean Epstein’s Coeur Fidele an impressive medley of melodrama and experimental techniques and I think an important part of the French canon. The Turin Horse was also so wonderful in it’s philosophy, just adding to my anticipation of The Mill and The Cross.
Errol Morris has also been on fire this year with his shorts on the JFK asassination and El Wingador.
Shame, because its one of the few films I’ve seen in the cinema where I was practically speechless for about an hour to follow. I became quiet & withdrawn after watching it, I found it so unpleasant and truthful.
Also had a kitchen sink double-bill not long ago with Tyrannosaur and Down Terrace, which is funny I guess because they’re both debut films by British directors, and I found both brutal and claustrophobic and really well-written.