Electric Sheep, Lists and DVDs

"Bitterness" is the theme of Electric Sheep's new issue, featuring Nicola Woodham on Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani's neo-giallo Amer and John Bleasdale on Dario Argento's straight-up giallo Deep Red (1975), whose "trashiness" is "willed. Marc [David Hemmings] will argue with Carlo [Gabriele Lavia], a friend and comrade in jazz, who accuses him of playing 'bourgeois' jazz, of basically slumming it in contrast to Carlo's bitter, self-destructive and 'proletarian' jazz. The elaborateness of the killings are a case in point, as each one is meticulously set up, scored (both by the killer with a creepy children's song and by the prog-rock group Goblin) and delivered while, at the same time, retaining a primal savagery and bloodiness."

Also: John Berra on Kenji Mizoguchi's Street of Shame (1956), James Evans on F., "Johannes Roberts's best work to date," and Eleanor McKeown's preview of the London Short Film Festival, running through Sunday.

 

LISTS


Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives takes the #1 spot in Cinema Scope's "Top Ten of 2010." PopMatters has now indexed all its lists; their #1: David Fincher's The Social Network. Following their "Best of 2010" and their "11 Offenses of 2010," Reverse Shot throws in another "Two Cents," special awards along the lines of "Most Unexpectedly Moving Finale," the "'We Should Have Reviewed This' Award" and so on.

Dennis Cozzalio has invited Jim Emerson, Sheila O'Malley and Jason Bellamy up to the SLIFR Movie Tree House to talk about the year that was and more.

"I love slobs," writes Steven Boone, introducing his review of the year at the House Next Door. "Movies with their greasy shirttail sticking out. Ol' Dirty Bastard, not Kanye West. We have to stop rewarding slickness and boldness for their own sake. We have to re-learn the visual language and emotional acuity that all these hotshots are too business-adroit to be bothered with. Or else we're doomed."

Maren Ade's Everyone Else is the film of the year for Miriam Bale and Mike D'Angelo, who, commenting on a scene at the AV Club, writes, "I'm reluctant to use one movie as a cudgel against another, but part of what made Blue Valentine ring hollow for me was the gimmicky way that it juxtaposes its couple's idyllic beginning with their miserable end (while, true, finding elements of the latter in the former). What most movies ignore is the lengthy and truly thorny period in between, when the idyllic and the miserable are inextricably commingled. That Everyone Else inhabits that phase of a long-term relationship exclusively sets it apart; that it does so with unstinting honesty and clear-eyed compassion makes it a near-masterpiece."

For Tim Robey, "it was a stellar 12 months for animation, with two wildly different specialised releases inside my final ten [The Illusionist and A Town Called Panic], two mainstream ones (Toy Story 3 and the delightful How to Train Your Dragon) hovering just below, and one belatedly released claymation gem (Mary & Max) justifying everyone's enthusiasm too. It was a pretty weak year for documentaries, with due apologies to Frederick Wiseman's luminous La Danse and a pair of exciting, slippery indie wind-ups in Catfish and Exit Through the Gift Shop. And it really wasn't much of a year for things big and loud from Hollywood, was it? There was a serious lack of basic fun in that department, whatever we extracted from the overambitious Inception; I remember an early summer of Titans, 2012s and Alice in Wonderlands that seemed to go on forever, and the par for even Apatowian comedy and, heaven help us, Katherine Heigl vehicles dipped alarmingly. I still think Tony Scott's Unstoppable might be the most proficient straight action ride I saw this year, but there weren't enough Unstoppables. There weren't even enough Salts." He's got 16 lists in all and follows up with a bonus list of 30 "best films I saw for the first time in repertory, on DVD, Blu-ray or TV last year."

On Ed Howard's list, "a few exceptional 2010 films are placed alongside the older masterpieces that I discovered for the first time this year." At Wonders in the Dark, Sam Juliano's #1 is Jessica Hausner's Lourdes. At FirstShowing, both Ethan Anderton and Marco Cerritos go for The Social Network.





And Twitch has a sudden trio of lists from Sean "The Butcher" Smithson, whose #1 is Jim Mickle's Stake Land, "an episodic road movie taking place amidst the backdrop of a vampire apocalypse"; James Marsh, going for Takashi Miike's 13 Assassins, which 'not only shows a maturity and sense of the classical that his work has never even hinted at in the past, but… the film itself could be declared a classic of the genre and quite possibly the best samurai film since Yamada Yoji's The Twilight Samurai from 2002"; and Eight Rooks, who puts Redline (image above) at the top: "Sometimes style becomes substance, and nowhere is that more true this year than Takeshi Koike's mind-blowing animated epic."

"The Directors Guild of America have announced the nominations for their 63rd annual awards," reports indieWIRE's Peter Knegt. "The lineup consisted of the expected four — The Social Network's David Fincher, Inception's Christopher Nolan, Black Swan's Darren Aronofsky and The King's Speech's Tom Hooper — with The Fighter's David O Russell taking the contested final slot over True Grit's Joel and Ethan Coen, Winter's Bone's Debra Granik, The Town's Ben Affleck and 127 Hours's Danny Boyle, among others."

At FirstShowing, Alex Billington has "this year's nominees in the feature film category of the 25th Annual American Society of Cinematographers Outstanding Achievement Awards. The five nominees are: Black Swan's Matthew Libatique, Inception's Wally Pfister, The King's Speech's Danny Cohen, True Grit's Roger Deakins and The Social Network's Jeff Cronenweth."

Meantime, Nick Davis has been "enjoying the heck out of Tim Brayton's gradual roll-out of what he presently considers to be the 115 best films ever made, roughly timed to the 115th anniversary of those French workers exiting a factory before the witnessing eye of the Lumière Brothers' camera, and giving birth to cinema in the process." And he sets out to revise his own top 100.

 

DVDS


"In the years following the Second World War, Veit Harlan, darling of the Third Reich and director and co-writer of the notorious propaganda film Jew Süss (1940), was twice tried for crimes against humanity and twice acquitted," writes Josef Braun. "Felix Moeller's documentary Harlan: In the Shadow of Jew Süss (2009), now available on DVD from Zeitgeist, is thus less concerned with re-opening the case, so to speak, than enriching our understanding of its consequences by attempting to take measure of that titular shadow, which loomed not only over Harlan's life, which came to a quiet end in Italy in 1964, but which still looms over the lives of his many descendents. Moeller's film is less polemic than family portrait, less investigative report than biographical essay. For the most part its value lies in its narrative density, which only accumulates as it goes."

For Dennis Lim, writing in the Los Angeles Times, "the jaggedness and nagging irresolution of 1978's Germany in Autumn — a collaboration among 11 filmmakers, most of them associated with the German New Wave of the period — points to a desperate sense of urgency about a prevailing mood of confusion." And "it's Fassbinder who most decisively demolishes the lines between drama and reality and between the personal and the political." Out from Facets.

"In the early 1940s, as America prepared for war, Rita Hayworth led a revolution," writes Dave Kehr in the New York Times. "With her co-conspirators Lana Turner (at MGM) and Betty Grable (at 20th Century Fox), Hayworth, who was just emerging as the first star created in-house at budget-minded Columbia Pictures, offered a new shape and shapeliness to Hollywood's feminine ideal… With Hayworth, American culture took its first steps toward separating sex from sinfulness." The Films of Rita Hayworth is out from Sony. Earlier: Sean Axmaker.

DVD roundups. Sean Axmaker, Ed Gonzalez (House Next Door), Mark Kermode (Observer), Harley W Lond and Peter Martin (Cinematical), Noel Murray (LAT) and Michael Tully (Hammer to Nail).

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