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Coming back to my previous efforts of somehow ranking the films that I have seen… oh my there was a gap, a gap since December 2014… never mind, fortunately the films are documented in the blog, so I can try to assess which ones I really liked, which ones not so much, even if in some cases I do have little recollection about them. Matter-of-fact, doing the ranking with a bit of a distance may be a good idea, perspective changes over time and I am sure this list now looks differently from what I would have written a year ago.

Previous entries were:

Best films of the last two years (Update Dec. 2014)

Best 2011-2012 Releases I have seen

The Movies of the Year, or the previous rather, and a bit of the one before

My top 10 list of good films of 2009 and 2010…

So here are the 2014-2017 releases (incl. the odd 2013 one) that I have seen and documented on the blog since early 2015. I do not remember most films well enough to rank them in detail (and who would want to pretend precise ranking anyway?), so I introduced categories, not necessarily suggesting precision of ranking within the categories.

Will try to update this with more once I get down to writing up some that I have still on the backlog.

Tier 1: The Favourites

  1. Room (Lenny Abrahamson 2015)
  2. Whiplash (Damien Chazelle 2014)
  3. Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan (Norte – The End of History) (Lav Diaz 2013)
  4. The Revenant (Alejandro G. Innaritu 2015)
  5. Ex Machina (Alex Garland 2015)
  6. Foxcatcher (Bennett Miller 2014)
  7. Force Majeure (Ruben Östlund 2014)
  8. Elle (Paul Verhoeven 2016)
  9. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan 2016)
  10. Birdman (Alejandro González Iñárritu 2014)

 

Tier 2: Pretty Good ones

  1. Krigen (A War) (Tobias Lindholm 2015)
  2. The Big Short (Adam McKay 2015)
  3. Arrival (Denis Villeneuve 2016)
  4. Captain Fantastic (Matt Ross 2016)
  5. Anomalisa (Charlie Kaufman 2015)
  6. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade 2016)
  7. What Richard Did (Lenny Abrahamson 2013)
  8. Slow West (John M. Maclean 2015)
  9. The Drop (Michael R. Roskam 2014)
  10. Spotlight (Tom McCarthy 2015)
  11. Inside Out (Pete Docter 2015)
  12. Creed (Ryan Coogler 2015)
  13. Sicario (Denis Villeneuve 2015)
  14. The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos 2016)
  15. 山河故人 (Mountains May Depart) (Jia Zhangke 2015)
  16. 天注定 (A Touch Of Sin) (Jia Zhangke 2013)

 

Tier 3: Was alright

  1. Midnight Special (Jeff Nichols 2015)
  2. The Invitation (Karyn Kusama 2016)
  3. The Martian (Ridley Scott 2015)
  4. 22.63 (Hulu)
  5. Lion (Garth Davis 2016)
  6. The Tunnel (터널) (Kim Seong-hun 2016)
  7. The Girl with all the Gifts (Colm McCarthy 2017)
  8. The Birth of a Nation (Nate Parker 2016)
  9. Train to Busan (부산행, Busanhaeng) (Sang-ho Yeon 2016)
  10. Deadpool (Tim MIller 2016)
  11. Moana (Ron Clements, John Musker, Chris Williams (IX) , Don Hall 2016)
  12. Kong: Skull Island (Jordan Vogt-Roberts 2017)
  13. 10 Cloverfield Lane (Dan Trachtenberg 2016)
  14. It Follows (David Robert Mitchel 2015)
  15. Big Hero 6 (Don Hall, Chris Williams 2014)
  16. American Sniper (Clint Eastwood 2015)
  17. Southpaw (Antoine Fuqua 2015)
  18. John Wick (David Leitch, Chad Stahelski 2015)
  19. Bridge of Spies (Steven Spielberg 2015)
  20. Black Sea (Kevin McDonald 2015)
  21. Straight outta Compton (F. Gary Gray 2015)
  22. Out of the Furnace (Scott Cooper 2013)

 

 

Tier 4: ah well…

  1. Everest (Baltasar Kormákur 2015)
  2. Rogue One (Gareth Edwards 2016)
  3. Split (M. Night Shyamalan 2016)
  4. Doctor Strange (Scott Derrickson 2016)
  5. Jian Bing Man (Da Peng 2015)
  6. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (J.J. Abrams 2015)
  7. Crimson Peak (G. del Toro 2015)
  8. All is Lost (J.C. Chandor 2013)
  9. Selma (Ava DuVernay 2015)
  10. Unbroken (Angelina Jolie 2014)
  11. The Imitation Game (Morten Tyldum 2014)
  12. Big Eyes (Tim Burton 2014)
  13. The Great Wall (Zhang Yimou 2016)

  

Tier 5: Not good, no really, not good

  1. The Mermaid (Stephen Chow 2015)
  2. Poltergeist (Gil Kenan 2015)
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Die Bücher sind geschlossen, Zeit für die Abrechnung des Jahres 2015 an den chinesischen Kinokassen. Fast wäre die erstaunliche Marke von 50% Wachstum geknackt wurden, aber auch die 48,7% auf insgesamt 44 Millarden Yuan bringen China einen  deutlichen Schritt näher an das prestigeträchtige Ziel, bald weltgrößter Kinomarkt zu werden. 61,6% des Umsatzes geht dabei nach Aussage der chinesischen Regulierungsbehörde auf das Konto heimischer Produktionen, Hollywood musste sich mit 45,5% begnügen.

Am Bemühen hat es nicht gelegen: alle Kassenschlager des US-Marktes waren auch in China am Start. Die Verschiebung des Star Wars-Startes auf einen Januartermin hat sicher ein wenig geholfen, ebenso wie kreative Buchführung beim Jahressieger „Monster Hunt“, die üblichen Moratorien für ausländische Filme während wichtiger Ferien und die simultane Terminierung einiger Hollywood-Filme. Am Ende steht aber der Stolz der chinesischen Produzenten, es den Amerikanern wieder einmal ein bisschen gezeigt zu haben.

Das Potential für Wachstum liegt zudem weiter bei den heimischen Produktionen. Die durchschnittlich nur 0,8 Filmtheaterbesuche pro Kopf (USA: 3,22) haben vor allem mit der weiterhin dünnen Versorgung in den kleineren Städten abseits der Ostküstenmetropolen zu tun. Zwar kamen 2015 etwa 8000 neue Leinwände dazu, aber das ist noch bei weitem nicht das Ende des Wachstums. Das Wachstum wird vor allem abseits der Ballungszentren weitergehen, und dort ist das Publikum traditionell stärker an heimischen Stoffen als an internationalen Franchise-Produktionen interessiert.

Wang Jianling ist nun Filmproduzent. Nachdem der meist reichste Chinese die von ihm als Immobilienfirma gegründete und geleitete Dalian Wanda Group schon vor drei Jahren durch den Kauf der US-amerikanischen AMC-Filmtheater als internationalen Akteur im Filmmarkt etablierte, gehört nun bald auch eine bedeutende Hollywood-Produktionsfirma zur Gruppe. Bis zu 3,5 Milliarden Dollar wird Wanda für Legendary Entertainment zahlen, die größte internationale Übernahme durch ein chinesisches Unternehmen in der Unterhaltungsbranche. Zuvor hatte Wanda mit Investments in einzelne Produktionen („Southpaw“) bereits Ambitionen anklingen lassen, sich von der reinen Distribution zu entfernen.

Das Investment erscheint passend: Legendary produziert genau jene Filme, die chinesische Säle füllen, Special-Effects-lastige Blockbuster wie „Pacfic Rim“, „Jurassic World“ oder „Godzilla“ treffen den Geschmack der neuen chinesischen Mittelschicht und sind maßgeblich am enormen Umsatzwachstum an den Kinokassen beteiligt.

Während die von Wang initiierten Wanda Studios in Qingdao noch im Bau sind, dürfte sich das Unternehmen damit mittelfristig auch eine solide Auslastung der 400 Hektar großen Anlage und einen Wissenstransfer durch die in Qingdao arbeitenden Filmemacher versprechen. Das neue Unternehmen kann durch den Status als heimische chinesische Produktionsfirma auch deutliche Vorteile bei der Genehmigung neuer Produktionen und der Erlösanteile beim Verleih erwarten.

Legendary-Gründer Thomas Tull soll weiterhin das kreative Ruder in der Hand halten, eine Einmischung in Stoffentwicklung und Produktion sei explizit nicht vorgehesen. Wang Jianling ließ anklingen, auch ein Börsengang sei denkbar.

I steal this idea from Salon.com‘s movie section (even though they abandoned it in the meantime). I immediately liked the concept: a list of the films I watched and commented on here, in the order of how I like them. A ranking! I also like Salon’s Andrew O’Heir’s liberty to not keep the ranking constant. When you look weeks or months later at a list that is based on your subjective impression right after watching a film, you can have a new impression – some films you imminently liked, but each time you see the list they end up a bit further down or have since disappeared from your memory. Others you found hard to access, but they lingered and worked their way through your guts and brain:

So from now on, my effort to maintain such a list, including mostly new films that have been released not too long ago. Next January I can then just pick the best picture winner from this list, and save the Academy the boring nomination and award procedures. “Winter’s Bone” should win next year, as well. And the year after that. But it won’t … dropped out of the list for old age reasons, unfortunately..

 

Update December 2014: As I have failed to update this list in many months, here is a new one for the 2013 and 2014 films I have seen over the last months:

  1. Under The Skin (2014)
  2. Paradise – Faith (2013)
  3. American Hustle (2013)
  4. Calvary (2014)
  5. Boyhood (2014)
  6. Locke (2014)
  7. The Lego Movie (2014)
  8. Blue Ruin (2013)
  9. Snowpiercer (2014)
  10. Interstellar (2014)
  11. Paradise – Hope (2013)
  12. The Armstrong Lie (2013)
  13. Philomena (2013)
  14. Gone Girl (2014)
  15. Nymphomaniac (2013)
  16. The Monuments Men (2013)
  17. The Congress (2014)
  18. Maleficent (2014)
  19. The Zero Theorem (2013)
  20. The Hobbit – The Battle of The Five Armies (2014)
  21. Sein letztes Rennen / Back On Track (2013)
  22. Godzilla (2014)
  23. Saving Mr Banks (2013)
  24. Chef (2014)
  25. Transcendence (2014)
  26. Big Hero 6 (2014)
  27. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
  28. Robocop (2014)
  29. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014)
  30. Fury (2014)
  31. The Raid 2 (2014)
  32. Escape Plan (2013)
  33. 3 Days to Kill (2014)
  34. Wolf Creek II (2014)
  35. Thor – The Dark World (2014)
  36. Ender’s Game (2013)
  37. Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)
  38. Pompeii (2014)
  39. Transformers – Age of Extinction (2014)

 

Last Update Febr. 8, 2014:

With broken heart, I got rid of the 2011 movies. Because so many of them were so good, I could not quite do it, however, so I decided to create a historic list for 2011-2012, and won’t touch that anymore. The list below is the one where I will keep updating the 2012-2013 releases.

Finally managed to update the list for plenty of 2013 releases. And it allows me to make an interim assessment of my 2013 favourites:

  1. Jagten / The Hunt (2013)
  2. 12 Years A Slave (2013)
  3. Pieta (2013)
  4. Mud (2013)
  5. Drug War (2013)
  6. Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
  7. Inside Llewyn Davies (2013)
  8. Her (2013)
  9. Side Effects (2013)
  10. Ain’t Them Bodies Saint (2013)

This is the list for the 2012-2013 films: 

  1. Jagten / The Hunt (2013)
  2. Paradies: Liebe (2012)
  3. Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
  4. Magic Mike (2012)
  5. Holy Motors (2012)
  6. The Gatekeepers (2012)
  7. Barbara (2012)
  8. The Master (2012)
  9. Kapringen (A Hijacking) (2012)
  10. 12 Years A Slave (2013)
  11. Looper (2012)
  12. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
  13. Pieta (2013)
  14. End of Watch (2012)
  15. Mud (2013)
  16. Drug War (2013)
  17. Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
  18. Inside Llewyn Davies (2013)
  19. Rampart (2012)
  20. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
  21. Lincoln (2012)
  22. Lore (2012)
  23. Her (2013)
  24. En Kongelig Affaere (A Royal Affair) (2012)
  25. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
  26. Argo (2012)
  27. Side Effects (2013)
  28. Ain’t Them Bodies Saint (2013)
  29. Django Unchained (2012)
  30. The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)
  31. Blue Jasmine (2013)
  32. Prisoners (2013)
  33. Killer Joe (2012)
  34. Killing them Softly (2012)
  35. The Raid: Redemption (2012)
  36. Before Midnight (2013)
  37. Only God Forgives (2013)
  38. The Impossible (2012)
  39. Arbitrage (2012)
  40. Stoker (2013)
  41. Gravity (2013)
  42. The Iceman (2013)
  43. Captain Phillips (2013)
  44. Enough Said… (2013)
  45. Flight (2012)
  46. Sightseers (2012)
  47. Rush (2013)
  48. The Angel’s Share (2012)
  49. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
  50. The World According to Dick Cheney (2013)
  51. A Field In England (2013)
  52. Prometheus (2012)
  53. Everyday (2012)
  54. Pacific Rim (2013)
  55. Lawless (2012)
  56. The World’s End (2013)
  57. Blackfish (2013)
  58. Back to 1942 (2012)
  59. Iron Man 3 (2013)
  60. Jack Reacher (2012)
  61. Total Recall (2012)
  62. The Hole (2012)
  63. Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)
  64. We Steal Secrets (2013)
  65. Mea Maxima Culpa – Silence in the House of Gods (2012)
  66. Pitch Perfect (2012)
  67. Brave (2012)
  68. Skyfall (2012)
  69. Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)
  70. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
  71. The Avengers (2012)
  72. The Last Gladiators (2013)
  73. Les Miserables (2012)
  74. Jeff, Who Lives At Home (2012)
  75. Life of Pi (2012)
  76. The Dictator (2012)
  77. World War Z (2013)
  78. Spring Breakers (2013)
  79. Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
  80. This is the End (2013)
  81. Elysium (2013)
  82. Oblivion (2013)
  83. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
  84. White House Down (2013)
  85. Sunshine on Leith (2013)
  86. Man of Steel (2013)
  87. Hunger Games – Catching Fire (2013)
  88. Mama (2013)
  89. Men in Black III (2012)
  90. The Bay (2012)
  91. Hunger Games (2012)
  92. Cloud Atlas (2012)
  93. The Bourne Legacy (2012)
  94. Piper Alpha – Fire in the Night (2013)
  95. The Amazing Spiderman (2012)
  96. Frozen Ground (2013)
  97. Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2012)
  98. Ender’s Game (2013)
  99. The Conjuring (2013)
  100. Olympus Has Fallen (2013)
  101. The Expatriate (2013)
  102. Lockout (2012)
  103. Battleship (2012)
  104. The Hobbit (2012)
  105. Ice Age 4 (2012)
  106. Monster University (2013)
  107. Searching for Sugarman (2012)
  108. Journey to the West (2013)
  109. Bullet to the Head (2013)
  110. Maniac (2013)
  111. Sinister (2012)
  112. Citadel (2012)
  113. After Earth (2013)
  114. Abraham Lincoln – Vampire Hunter (2012)
  115. Wrath of the Titans (2012)
  116. Lone Ranger (2013)
  117. CZ12 (2012)
  118. Chernobyl Diaries (2012)
  119. Switch (2013)
  120. The Last Stand (2013)

The good doctors at the BBC5live Kermode and Mayo film show have started a debate about dubbing films, and I can’t contain myself. Having grown up in the in the disapora of German media (basically everything gets dubbed), I am getting more and more angry by this debate. I am not quite yet on a crusade against it, but getting there…

People say things like “oh, wasn’t Brad Pitt so great in Inglorious Basterds?!” to which I reply curtly (and rudely, I know): “How the hell would you know, not having heard a single word of what he said, and how he said it?” Is acting all about the looks of actors? Rough guess: at least 50 per cent of an actor’s performance is about how (s)he speaks the lines. Without that, all talk of good versus bad acting is futile. How can you ever laugh about Russel Crowe when you have never heard him try an accent?

As there are not very many skilled voice actors who can do dubbing, the same voices appear all the time. Case example: the same German voice actor dubs Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dan Aykroyd and John Cleese … this may be funny, but it has nothing to do with trying to represent the skills of a specific actor in the dubbed version. It’s lazy.

Dubbed versions completely destroy the cultural atmosphere of a film, there is no way of immersion when you see a bar fight in a Glaswegian pub while hearing the actors insult each other in perfect high-German. I have recently seen a version of the terrific “A Separation”, dubbed in Chinese. No sense of the frantic and chaotic atmosphere at court, no feeling of life in Iran. Just people talking to each other in Chinese, and not looking as if they would want to do that, being in Tehran and all…

Dubbed versions get dialogue dubbing on top of the original version, they never get the sound mixing right. The dialogues appear dominant, the background disappears. It’s like people talking in a sound booth while the film plays in the background… oh right, because that’s exactly what it is.

There has been a handful of examples in the history of film and television where the writing and performance of the dubbing was superior to the original. The British show “The Persuaders” is hilarious and a cult classic in the German version (“Die Zwei”), because the dubbing authors decided the show was rubbish and needed completely different dialogues. But you know what? I would much rather occasionally slack off a film or show for its being rubbish rather than systematically be denied the ability to assess its true quality.

Dubbing is for people who don’t care about the quality of a movie. Here, now you have it!

#472: Top 10 Films of 2013 | Filmspotting.

One of my favourite start-of-year activities: working my way through the filmspotting list of films of the year. Some terrific choices to catch up on!

When writing about Jackie Chan’s recent “CZ12”, I almost started with writing “Where to begin?… sigh…”. Then I realised that this is exactly what I had thought (and written) when I started writing about the recent “Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons”. I see a pattern emerging … popular Chinese films often leave me flabbergasted, making me wonder about this and that. In particular, they make my wonder why there are so few good ones. And why the not-so-good-ones still attract such large audiences. There are plenty of things to be considered (censorship eradicating any challenging material; professional training institutions not up to snuff; differences in general pop culture, of course  … ) and maybe there will be time some day to write them down.

Not now. Now I engage in a different adventure. A perilous one. I have recently written (for a German film industry magazine) about the perceivable trend of Chinese movie audiences to turn their backs on average Hollywood superhero franchise output, and hand their rising middle-class income over to the cashier to see domestic films instead. Some odd and unexpected candidates stormed the box office charts over the last year, the astonishing success of the low budget screwball comedy “Lost in Thailand” marking the turn of tides (now most successful Chinese film ever, and most definitely most profitable one).

When looking at the list of the 10 most successful Chinese films at the Chinese box office over the last year that I compiled for that article, I realised that almost nobody outside China has ever heard of these films, more certainly nobody has seen them. So what about going through this list one by one and writing short comments about them, to share the pleasure, if there is any to be found. And forcing myself into exposure to cutting edge Chinese pop culture while I am at it.

The experiment will not have dimensions as described in A.J. Jacob’s heroic task of reading the Encyclopedia Britannica cover to cover, or his equally astonishing project to live one year in full compliance with the Old Testament. Still, I am already quite scared of having to make sense of the success of the likes of “Tiny Times” (which sounds like a dumbed-down and sexed-down version of “Sex in the City” – if thinking about that concept does not blow your mind already…). And I am truly terrified of exposing myself to the subtle humour and elaborate character development I am used to from previous Jackie Chan movies –  there’s one on the list, whether I like it or not. Others are more interesting, with a drama about 1942 Hebei during the Chinese-Japanese war, or… well, that’s the one I am looking forward to. Maybe Andy Lau’s Oriental James Bond effort “Switch” will feature some eye candy (even though I read he already apologised to his fans for starring in it, but hey –  what does he know? He’s just a pretty boy!). And one of them I have already written about, said umpteenth screen version of “Journey to the West”, so only nine to go! And the good news is: not a single historic costume drama about the adventures of some rotten or heroic Qing, Ming or Tang emperor on the list (with the exception of “Journey…”, but let’s do the right thing and ignore that, especially I’ve gone through that experience already and kind of survived). May it be that the Chinese audience has finally had it with the funny hats and Gong Li’s swelling cleavage? Let’s not celebrate too early…

Here we go: starting today, in loose sequence, the most successful domestic Chinese movies of the last year. Buckle up… The list based on the total domestic (i.e. mainland China) box office revenue goes like this:

  1. Lost in Thailand
  2. Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons
  3. CZ12 – Chinese Zodiac
  4. Painted Skin: The Resurrection
  5. So Young
  6. American Dreams in China
  7. Finding Mr. Right
  8. Tiny Times
  9. Back to 1942
  10. Switch

I steal this idea from Salon.com‘s movie section (even though they abandoned it in the meantime). I immediately liked the concept: a list of the films I watched and commented on here, in the order of how I like them. A ranking! I also like Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir’s liberty to not keep the ranking constant. When you look weeks or months later at a list that is based on your subjective impression right after watching a film, you can have a new impression – some films you imminently liked, but each time you see the list they end up a bit further down or have since disappeared from your memory. Others you found hard to access, but they lingered and worked their way through your guts and brain:

So from now on, my effort to maintain such a list, including mostly new films that have been released not too long ago. Next January I can then just pick the best picture winner from this list, and save the Academy the boring nomination and award procedures. “Winter’s Bone” should win next year, as well. And the year after that. But it won’t … dropped out of the list for old age reasons, unfortunately..

Last Update July 14, 2013. With broken heart, I got rid of the 2011 movies. Because so many of them were so good, I could not quite do it, however, so I decided to create a historic list for 2011-2012, and won’t touch that anymore this one below), while I keep updating the 2012-2013 list from now on:

This is the list for the 2011-2012 films. For the list that will get updated, klick here

  1. Once Upon A Time in Anatolia (2011)
  2. Paradies: Liebe (2012)
  3. We Need to Talk about Kevin (2011)
  4. Le Quattro Volte (2011)
  5. Beginners (2011)
  6. Tyrannosaur (2011)
  7. A Separation (2011)
  8. Meek’s Cutoff (2011)
  9. Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
  10. Hodejegerne (Headhunters) (2011)
  11. The Tree of Life (2011)
  12. Oslo 31. August (2011)
  13. Magic Mike (2012)
  14. Barbara (2012)
  15. End of Watch (2012)
  16. The Master (2012)
  17. Looper (2012)
  18. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
  19. Melancholia (2011)
  20. Rampart (2012)
  21. La Piel Que Habito (2011)
  22. The Muppets (2011)
  23. Lincoln (2012)
  24. Bernie (2011)
  25. The Ides of March (2011)
  26. Contagion (2011)
  27. Lore (2012)
  28. Argo (2012)
  29. Django Unchained (2012)
  30. Killer Joe (2012)
  31. Killing them Softly (2012)
  32. Hanna (2011)
  33. Trollhunter (2011)
  34. Chico and Rita (2011)
  35. Real Steel (2011)
  36. The Raid: Redemption (2012)
  37. Sightseers (2012)
  38. Jane Eyre (2011)
  39. Moneyball (2011)
  40. The Impossible (2012)
  41. Margin Call (2011)
  42. Kill List (2011)
  43. Arbitrage (2012)
  44. Halt auf freier Strecke / Stopped on Track (2011)
  45. Tabloid (2011)
  46. Source Code (2011)
  47. Prometheus (2012)
  48. Bridesmaids (2011)
  49. The Descendants (2011)
  50. Warrior (2011)
  51. Flight (2012)
  52. The Angel’s Share (2012)
  53. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
  54. Yellow Sea (2011)
  55. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
  56. Everyday (2012)
  57. Lawless (2012)
  58. Jack Reacher (2012)
  59. Total Recall (2012)
  60. The Hole (2012)
  61. Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)
  62. Brave (2012)
  63. Skyfall (2012)
  64. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
  65. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
  66. Piranha 3D (2011)
  67. The Avengers (2012)
  68. Les Miserables (2012)
  69. Senna (Doc. 2011)
  70. Jeff, Who Lives At Home (2012)
  71. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2010-11)
  72. Red State (2011)
  73. Life of Pi (2012)
  74. The Dictator (2012)
  75. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
  76. Men in Black III (2012)
  77. The Bay (2012)
  78. Hunger Games (2012)
  79. POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (2011)
  80. The Artist (2011)
  81. Water for Elephants (2011)
  82. Cloud Atlas (2012)
  83. Tinker Tailor Solider Spy (2011)
  84. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
  85. La Casa Muda  (2011)
  86. The Bourne Legacy (2012)
  87. The Amazing Spiderman (2012)
  88. The Innkeepers (2011)
  89. Attack The Block (2011)
  90. The Interrupters (2011)
  91. Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2012)
  92. The Adjustment Bureau (2011)
  93. Pina (Doc. 2011)
  94. Rio (2011)
  95. Lockout (2012)
  96. Battleship (2012)
  97. War Horse (2011)
  98. The Hobbit (2012)
  99. Super 8 (2011)
  100. Stake Land (2011)
  101. Ice Age 4 (2012)
  102. Anonymous (2011)
  103. Searching for Sugarman (2012)
  104. Conan O’Brian Can’t stop (Doc. 2011)
  105. Hysteria (2011)
  106. 13 Assassins (2011)
  107. Unknown (2011)
  108. Cars 2 (2011)
  109. Cowboys and Aliens (2011)
  110. The Mechanic (2011)
  111. Midnight in Paris (2011)
  112. The Ward (2011)
  113. Priest (2011)
  114. Killer Elite (2011)
  115. The Thing (2011)
  116. Battle: Los Angeles (2011)
  117. Sinister (2012)
  118. Abraham Lincoln – Vampire Hunter (2012)
  119. Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark (2011)
  120. Wrath of the Titans (2012)
  121. Sucker Punch (2011)
  122. Chernobyl Diaries (2012)

A Look At Chinese Cinema: Too Much Capital, Too Few Quality Films.

I like Mr Ng’s comments, because he agrees with my key thesis that most of the Chinese film quality calamity comes down to the lack of an age verification system. Or in other words: the lack of willingness to treat the adult part of the audience as adults. The absence of such a system is the most powerful censorship instruments, limiting mature storytelling to the films made for the international festival markets – or not at all.

Keyframe republication of Scott Smith’s seminal book, The Film 100, in other words: 100 short portraits of 100 outstanding film individuals:

via Reintroducing The Film 100 – Keyframe – Explore the world of film..

Art Attack: Jia Zhangke Treats You to Art Movies, Plus More Art, Books and Music | the Beijinger Blog | 2 Kolegas | Mar 16, 2012 | thebeijinger.com.

There is no point in doing a film of the year 2011 list, because most of the 2011 films reach me way too late – I can do a list if the best films that I saw and that were originally released in 2011 maybe early 2013… but anyway, as I keep updating my “ranking” of the films that I have actually seen, why not praise those that were the best and were actually released AND seen by me in 2011.

The best film I have seen over the last two years is still the same that topped that ranking last year (and that would have kicked “White Ribbon” off that list two years ago, had the list existed then). Nothing has nearly been as impressive as  “Winter’s Bone”, and how could anything top this masterpiece? But there is Le Quattro Volte (2011), the silent goat-herding experiment, I have only this year seen Fish Tank (2010) (another Dameselle in Distress movie – it was pointed out to me that “Winter’s Bone” and “Fish Tank” topping my list tells a lot about me… I suppose the lost goat baby was also technically a goat girl teenager) and I stumbled across Certified Copy (2010) as the most unlikely of my favourite films. I would never see that film intentionally, the same way I only saw “Before Sunset” by accident because I happened to have a ticket for the Berlin Festival premiere – and not only are both films my most surprising favourites, but of course also strongly related in how they take you on a strange ride, a talkative one.

The year was a disaster for disaster movies and busted all the blockbusters. I checked what the best-ranked action / adventure movie was I saw, and I find a bit of Hanna (2011), and my most fun movie of the year Real Steel (2011) (not as good on second viewing, especially if the second viewing is not in a movie theatre – but man, when Twin Cities gets it, it is still time to throw the doughnuts at the screen and cheer!). A bit behind these is Duncan Jones’ surprising follow-up to “Moon”, Source Code (2011), which had its flaws and suffered from the “Run Lola Run” syndrome (knowing that you have to have all these repetitions, but not really having the perfect solution for keeping the tension up). There was one film that I saw in 2D and wished it had been 3D (Piranha 3D), and at least one case where I wished I had found a 2D screening Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2010-11).

Animated movies were not very good this year:  “Cars 2” was even more boring than “Cars”, “Rio” was nicely coloured and that was that, and “Rango” was a bit more edgy, but also not fully satisfactory. I will need to catch up on the smaller productions, I look forward to “Chico and Rita”, and have only seen a little bit of “When Sita got the Blues”, plus “The Illusionist” and “My Dog Tulip” waiting in the wings. It can only get better.

Hors Category, as they say in the Tour de France, are some films I particularly enjoyed, for various reasons:  Trollhunter (2011), Red State (2011) or Beginners (2011) all contributed one way or the other to an interesting movie experience.

Slate Spoiler Specials — This one has a great concept: The spoiler-filled podcast is only meant to be heard after you see the movie. It includes all the spoilers, remarks, etc. that would never fit in a review, and the commentary is insightful and might inspire one to watch the film a second time.

via Pop Podcast Primer: My top 10 film podcasts – Pop Candy: Unwrapping pop culture’s hip and hidden treasures.

I started listening to some of the podcasts, and I think that is a great addition to the general review shows and podcasts, that are usually confined by their efforts not to spoil. This (as the Filmspotting Spoiler editions, which are also great) is for grown-up people who have seen the movie. The full-frontal nudity version of film reviews, well hosted, sometimes with interesting guests (after my first testing, the guests  might be the weak point sometimes).

Oddly, the podcast does not seem to have a homepage on Slate.com, but you have to go to the regular reviews and then see whether they offer one on the film you are interested in. Or do they do a spoiler podcast on each movie they review? Will find out…

In any case, you can subscribe to the spoilercasts here directly.

Best Christmas Movies to be chosen for a long Christmas evening movie marathon? Took a bit of reflection, but the playlist for December 24 looks like this (suggestions welcome, there is still time):

Woodland Critter Christmas, South Park, Season 8 Episode 14 (Trey Parker 2004)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodland_Critter_Christmas
As I do not like the Christmas Specials involving Mr Hankey, the Christmas Poo, I was very grateful to discover that here, it is replaced with a bunch of diabolic wood creatures trying to breed the antichrist. The finale involving the mountain lion cups who just in time return from their internship in the abortion clinic is terrific, and brings the concept of “Happy Ending” to a new level (and everybody lived happily ever after, except… but I do not want to spoil).

Die Hard
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_Hard_%28film%29
Bruce Willis looks best barefoot and only in his undershirt, lying on the side and firing out of at least two handguns. John McClane does exactly that for the better part of this film, and has a worthy opponent in the Sheriff of Nottingham. Now he has a gun, hohoho! How do you write „yippieyaeyeah“?

Scrooged (Richard Donner 1998)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrooged
Bill Murray at his prime, a film written around his cool demeanour (“I am afraid I will have to kill you all”), a bunch of awesome ghosts (“A TOASTER!”) – and all that with a script that never betrays the Dickens tale. Heartwarming and terribly funny!

Robot Chicken Christmas Special
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robot_Chicken_Christmas_Special
I am sometimes a fan of some scenes of the Robot Chicken episodes, so sometimes I watch and occasionally enjoy it. The Christmas Special is like that: 20 per cent hilarious, the rest to be understood as transition period. Just like life, right?

The Nightmare before Christmas (Henry Selick 1993)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Nightmare_Before_Christmas
If I was a teacher, I would have bloody hands from writing comments into Tim Burton’s assignment books along the lines of “Did not live up to its potential. Try Again!” But still: the puppets and the production design and the graveyard and … whatever has to do with looks is well kept in Burton’s hands.

The Muppet Christmas Carol (Brian Henson 1992)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Muppet_Christmas_Carol
you should not see this one too often, as it ages a bit in its humour. Michael Caine, Kermit and the Tiny Tim frog, however, perform for their lives, and wasn’t even the music bearable?

Honourable Mention / Backup List:

A Christmas Story (Bob Clark 1983)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_christmas_story
I learned the other day that this has become something like the official Christmas film on US network tv. I had never heard of it, watched it yesterday and really liked it. Nice kid actors, good story with a bit a sugar coating that manages to stay under the puking level because of the good humour in action.

A Charlie Brown Christmas (Bill Melendez 1965)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Charlie_Brown_Christmas
Don’t we all have the Christmas blues now and again? Charlie Brown certainly does, but his friends help him through it and make his Christmas school play an uplifting and enlightening experience. However… Charlie Brown does not age well, I am afraid to say, and especially towards the end, the all-American Christmas grease drowns all humour that would have been able to save the damn thing. Even Snoopy is tame.

It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra 1946)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It%27s_a_wonderful_life
It’s a must, isn’t it? Good to have as backup. Unfortunately… I have never seen it… will catch up this year, really!

 

Mark Gatiss

 

A BBC Four overview over the history of classical horror movies, presented by British screen and tv writer Mark Gatiss. Nowhere near comprehensive, also not presented in a formally interesting way, burdened with too many not very interesting interviews with some survivors of the good old days, on topics sometimes not much above gossip level. However, there are some gems: John Carpenter sits down and talks a bit, there are some nice snippets of very early classics and an interesting bias towards Hammer movies, of which I have basically only seen the Dracula ones, I think. So worth checking out if you like the genre. If you like it a lot, not too much news here, only a bit of nostalgia and a gaping black whole between 1979 and 2010. “Three episodes are not nearly enough to offer even a cursory survey of movie horror”, as the reviewer for the Irish Times correctly wrote.
See also
http://www.suite101.com/content/a-history-of-horror-with-mark-gatiss-on-bbc-four-a295778
http://www.irishtimes.com/blogs/screenwriter/2010/11/02/mark-gatisss-history-of-horror/

A History of Horror with Mark Gatiss on BBC Four.

I do have a soft spot for John Carpenter movies, a very soft one. And I find it stunning how utterly re-watchable his films are. “They Live” I probably watched half a dozen times, and it’s still fun, even though it is utterly stupid and silly. And now there is a shot-by-shot analysis. Go for it! 

 

“They Live”: Jonathan Lethem explains a cult classic – Slide Shows – Salon.com.

oh dear, so much looking forward to Scorsese’s new adventure… this could shame the Godfather …

Boardwalk Empire: An Interview with Martin Scorsese and Others – The Daily Beast.

On the Filmspotting site, they are currently having a poll on who should be cast for the role of the female lead in the US remake of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. When I just read that, I had to gulp and felt sad and and and… here is what I thought:
“why the hell would anybody in his right mind want to remake this beautiful film in the first place?”

I know it’s a different story altogether (and maybe an idea for a marathon on “successful remakes”? should be half-marathon at most), but: is it the European insde me or just somebody who likes good movies who CRINGES whenever he hears the word “remake” (or worse: “US remake”…)? I now sit down for one minute and try to come up with a single US film that was remade from a non-English original and that was good. … still thinking … ok, scale it down, that was “acceptable”? … still nothing…  Shall we bet that “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” will become an honourable member of the League of Boring Remakes, joining the likes of “Solaris”, “Funny Games”, “[rec]”, “Ringu”, … and will soon be joined by “Let the Right One In”?
Language is such an important factor in any movie. Depriving the Swedish-conceived and Swedish-written Swedish characters driven by a Swedish conflict of all its local colour and just wrapping it in an American warm-up meal tinfoil box.. I really would like to understand WHY WHY WHY this happens so frequently, even though those not only are not good, I cannot even remember one that has been moderately successful. The audience does not want to get fooled. What it wants is to get trained to watch stories from other regions and other language zones, to take in great stories from all over the world. Language is only a barrier if the film is rubbish. You can savour any Kurosawa, Tarkowksi or Bergman film without understanding the language, because film language and substitles work together very well if the movie is a good movie.

Need to get back to re-watch “Dogtooth” now. Next to “The Prophet” the most interesting film I have seen all year, hope Michael Bay won’t remake either of them.

Sasha Grey sparks bush backlash – Entourage – Salon.com.

At last: I remember what the internet was invented for … and I actually caught me thinking while watching the episode “oh?!”, but the rest of those Internet people are much more articulate about it. By the way: I really like her, watch the “Girlfriend Experience”!

See what the friends at Filmspotting came up with for the best films of the year so far. Some catching up to do…

If you want to participate in their poll, go to their homepage at http://www.filmspotting.net/

Adam:
A Prophet –> About time I catch up with this one, it is on the shelf for a while
Cyrus –> never heard of it before, description does not sound too appealing
Winter’s Bone –> never heard of it before, but sounds like worth checking out
Toy Story 3 –> yes, not too bad, must be “The best Movie Trilogy ever” (Kermode)
Inception –> cannot wait to get near an IMAX with Inception playing

Matty:
A Prophet –> About time I catch up with this one, it is on the shelf for a while
Restrepo –> I am eager, heard an interview with one of the directors
The White Ribbon –> my best film of the last… don’t know, three years, I guess
The Kids Are All Right –> hmm… will probably skip this one
Please Give –> never heard of it before, description does not sound too appealing

Scott Tobias:
Dogtooth –> yes, I love that kind of thing. Weird, Haneke meets von Trier chamber play. Gret film!
Winter’s Bone –> never heard of it before, but sounds like worth checking out
Shutter Island –> I was a bit disappointed, but I was also very tired
Everyone Else –> that sounds like the kind of German film I do not like…
Exit Through the Gift Shop –> sounds interesting, but will prbably not check out anyway, as the scene it portraits is very much beyond my scope of interest

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