I Understand Completely

I got into a debate online this week about whether or not this has been a good year for movies so far. Apparently a lot of people think it’s one of the best in a long time (one guy even said it was the best since 2005, which is just plain not true, since 2007 is far-and-away the best since 1999 [which, itself, is, in many people’s opinions {mine included} the best year in cinema history]). I think it’s been decidedly lackluster, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t liked a fair number of movies. I have. But I haven’t out-and-out loved any movie released in 2011.

Usually by early-mid September, there are five or six that could find themselves in my top ten list at the end of the year. Right now I have…zero. There’s usually one or two summer movies I just have to see again. This year, none. I was underwhelmed by the final “Harry Potter,” and the laundry list of sequels. Even movies I’ve enjoyed, like “Bridesmaids,” and “X-Men: First Class” and “Captain America” – or movies that took me by surprise: “Fast Five,” “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” – just haven’t compelled me to see them again. Neither did my favorite movie of the year so far, “Super 8.” I really liked it, but there’s been something missing.

And it’s not just the big studio movies. I saw and liked both Terrence Malick’s “Tree of Life” and Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris.” Both films have a lot to offer, and they stand out against the backdrop of the majority of films this year (as does, for that matter – though on a substantially less level – Kevin Smith’s “Red State) simply by virtue of their uniqueness. But neither film inspired the fervent love in me that they seemed to for so many.

Overall, the movies have been mostly fine, fluctuating from decent to mildly impressive, but I can’t think of a time this year when I felt like I was seeing something truly brilliant. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, you don’t have to say something no one’s ever said before. What I do require, though (and what I’m going to be writing about as well), is that there be some true storytelling going on that emerges from the characters, not just from someone trying to fit all of the standard pieces into the plot-driven puzzle.

Aside from “Super 8,” which spent lots of time with its characters, the two movies that have come closest for me have been two late-summer sci-fi disease-driven thrillers: “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and “Contagion.”

Come on, Get Happy

I’m trying to catch up on the stuff I haven’t seen, now. I’m going to go see “The Help,” and “Horrible Bosses,” renting “Win/Win” and “Hanna” and “Certified Copy” and, maybe if I’m feeling like watching something I’m not interested in at all, “Uncle Boonmee…” (as well as the handful of documentaries).

Hammer Time

I do have pretty high hopes for some upcoming films, like “Drive,” “Moneyball,” and “Melancholia,” and as we get into the end of the year, there are more and more movies I’m interested in seeing. Between all of these, it could end up being a very good year at the movies. But at the moment, I can’t do much more than throw up my hands to those who think it’s a banner year. I just don’t see it.


2 Responses to “Cine(ma)laise”

  1. 1 Robert September 17, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    Nowhere have a heard the argument better presented that this was not a good year for film than in your single phrase: “my favorite movie of the year so far, Super 8.”

  2. 2 Jason September 18, 2011 at 1:55 am

    In a way, you’re right. Not because it’s a bad movie (don’t scream!), but because it just doesn’t belong on a year-end best-of list.

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It Has Come to This

September 2011
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