Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 – The Highlights (lionsroar)

Best Films of 2011

In no particular order:

While this is in some ways a novelty: a modern black and white silent film shot in the 1.33 aspect, this is really a very good movie. Set in Hollywood at the time silent films gave way to sound, it tells the story of two stars whose paths cross, as one goes to the top of the heap and the other falls into obscurity.

Based on an award winning book, the film tells the story of an orphaned boy left on his own in a major Parisian railway station, who is obsessed with fixing an automaton that his father had found in a museum. His quest for parts puts him into contact with an old man who owns a toy shop in the station, who happens to be the great French silent film director, George Méliés. A departure from most of the films Martin Scorsese has made, this is a film that both entertains and inspires.

Woody Allen continues his tour of European capitals and this may be one his better efforts of late. In typical Allen fashion, the film has many stars, but none of them outshine the script or the direction. This is a fantasy film like few others and shows that the writer/director still has some magic left.

While I am normally dismissive of summer blockbusters, this is perhaps one of the best comic book based movies ever and certainly the best one since SPIDER-MAN 2. After the mini-disaster of THOR, this film points the way to what should be an exciting series of AVENGER films.

An interesting and beautifully rendered take on the animated film, RANGO is a modern western, starring the voice of Johnny Depp. Clever and funny, the film manages to rise above the normal animated films and aims at a more mature audience than expect from Nickelodeon.

Biggest Film Disappointments of 2011

In no particular order:

It wasn’t so much the film as it was the presentation. This is was the nadir of my 3-D film experiences and was almost a cure. There are a lot of industry insiders that think viewers are idiots for complaining about 3-D, after all we see in 3-D and don’t get headaches. But they never have to sit through too dark to comprehend presentations, either.

I guess we’re supposed to be overly impressed whenever Steven Spielberg works with another director. However, the sum is oftentimes much smaller than the parts. That was true of these two films. SUPER 8 presented yet another can’t kill space alien from J.J. Abrams and TINTIN, Spielberg's teaming with Peter Jackson, makes one wonder why this thin story was made and why it was made as motion capture. What’s the old saying about too many cooks?

This is what you get for blindly supporting Pixar. The little studio that never seems to miss is way off target with this little abomination, designed solely it seems to sell toys. For the first time I’m worried that maybe John Lasseter and his folks have gotten a little too big for their creative britches. They seem to be fully engulfed by Disney consumerism, which of late has been merchandising over storytelling.

While not a bad film per say, one wonders why it was made at all. This is an example of lazy filmmaking. It is sad when Hollywood can’t be more original than making remakes and sequels. Sometimes there is something wrong with the original film that a remake corrects, see last year’s TRUE GRIT. But that wasn’t the case here. At the end of this year there are reports that film attendance was down. Maybe if Hollywood was more original, then the audience would be more willing to come back to the theaters.

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