Saturday, December 31, 2011

My top films of 2011

Studying the 2011 top ten lists of the major international film magazines I realize again that most of the best quality films no longer get cinema distribution in Finland. From 1896 until the 1980s Helsinki was an excellent cinema city, but now the first-run cinema supply has hit an all-time historical low. I have to find a solution to this dilemma since I often suffer in screenings of difficult films in a festival atmosphere (because they would need more space), and watching a dvd can only be a substitute for the real thing. Our programming team at Cinema Orion seems to agree that it will become our task to screen more modern quality cinema than before. Cinema Orion is ideal for the reflection and contemplation required by difficult films. I plan to see later all the movies top-listed in Cahiers du Cinéma, Sight & Sound, and Film Comment. Here are some favourites of mine of the year's crop.

NEW RELEASES: FEATURE FILMS

NUMBER ONE:
Nader and Simin: A Separation, D: Asghar Farhadi.

I ALSO LIKED:
The King's Speech, D: Tom Hooper.
Des hommes et des dieux, D: Xavier Beauvois.
Another Year, D: Mike Leigh.
Miral, D: Julian Schnabel.

MY FINNISH FAVOURITES:
Le Havre, D: Aki Kaurismäki.
Pussikaljaelokuva [Bag Beer Movie], D: Ville Jankeri.
Varasto [The Storeroom], D: Taru Mäkelä.
Ella & Aleksi - yllätyssynttärit [Ella & Aleksi - a Surprise Birthday Party], D: Juuso Syrjä.
Matka Edeniin [Journey to Eden], D: Rax Rinnekangas.

FINNISH SHORTS:
Ilmianto [The Informers], D: Milla Pelkonen.
Miten marjoja poimitaan [How to Pick Berries], D: Elina Talvensaari.
Erään hyönteisen tuho [The Death of an Insect], D: Hannes Vartiainen, Pekka Veikkolainen.

I UNDERSTAND WHY THESE ARE HIGHLY REGARDED:
The Tree of Life, D: Terrence Malick (my favourite Malick, I got the Stan Brakhage connection, although this is slick and polished movie in comparison).
Melancholia, D: Lars von Trier (although he always reminds me of Andersen's tale of the emperor's new clothes).
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, D: Nuri Bilge Ceylan (but this form of slow cinema I feel I have already experienced once too often).
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, D: Apichatpong Weerasethakul (I get the point but I need to see more of his work).
Drive, D: Nicolas Winding Refn (very well made, but perhaps I'm overfamiliar with the tradition behind this).

VERY REWARDING BUT NO MASTERPIECES:
The Skin I Live In, D: Pedro Almodóvar.
Midnight in Paris, D: Woody Allen.

A CONTENDER FOR THE MOST SCARY HORROR MOVIE OF ALL TIME:
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1, directed by Bill Condon with a chilly assurance. (The more you think what it means the scarier it grows. There are many strange parallels with the two-part movie finale of the Harry Potter saga. The protagonists in the most popular contemporary fiction are strangers in their own lives, or worse. Or maybe I have misunderstood utterly.)

THE GREATEST DISCOVERIES AT CINEMA ORION:
The Ukrainian retrospective curated by the Finnish conductor Dalia Stasevska with three films we'd never screened before: A Spring for the Thirsty / Krinitsja dlja spraglih (1965), D: Yuri Ilyenko. - The Stone Cross / Kaminni hrest (1968), D: Leonid Osyka. - Famine-33 / Holod-33 (1991), D: Oles Jantchuk.
...
The Ilyich Gate / Zastava Ilyicha (1962), D: Marlen Khutsiev, the 197 min 1988-1990 reconstruction from Gosfilmofond.

Abbas Kiarostami's intriguing Copie conforme I had seen the year before. I started to see movies by Jia Zhang-ke and need to go deeper into them. Clint Eastwood gave yet another surprise with J. Edgar.

1 comment:

Hannu Björkbacka said...

Great list, Antti! Nader and Simin was my favourite, too! Happy new year 2012!