Best of 2011

The 11 Best Films of 2011

by Alan Rapp on December 30, 2011

in Top Tens & Lists

2011 was a year centered firmly on both endings and beginnings, returns to greatness, nostalgic looks back, and terrifying looks forward. The year gave us stories centered on stars and filmakers of the past, the first silent film of the new millennium, and treatises on life, death, mental illness, and the end of the world.

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The Artist

by Alan Rapp on December 23, 2011

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Artist
  • IMDB: link

the-artist-posterFame is a fickle thing. The largest star in the world can fall into relative obscurity almost overnight, and an extra can go from chorus girl to center stage almost as quickly. Hollywood films have played on these themes for decades, but none in more than 80 years have done so quite like The Artist.

Set to a Vertigo-esque score by Ludovic Bource The Artist is a marvel in itself. In an age where CGI is king this little independent film takes us back nearly a century by embracing the era of Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks.

In 2011 it’s not every day you get a black and white silent film. The action alone carries the story, with title cards (rather than subtitles) to fill in any necessary exposition.

Our story begins with the introduction of George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), the world’s biggest silent movie star, and Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), a young extra just starting out on one of George’s films. As Peppy’s career begins to take off George finds himself obsolete almost overnight as silent films are replaced by talkies.

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Young Adult

by Alan Rapp on December 16, 2011

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Young Adult
  • IMDB: link

young-adult-posterReuniting with writer Diablo Cody, director Jason Reitman‘s latest is a darkly humorous character study of a woman who has never grown up. In fact, she may be incapable of doing so. We’ve seen stories like this before where a shallow lead character gets his/her comeuppance and has a last minute change of heart. Thankfully, Young Adult is not that movie.

Cody and Reitman are for more interested in showcasing how people don’t change over time than how a singular reality-smashing awakening can transform a character and cause real change. Mavis is a pretty reprehensible self-entitled bitch at the beginning of the film, and a couple of days spent in her hometown doesn’t do much to change that fact. Even if she is a bit humbled by events, she’s still the same person she’s always been.

On learning that her high school boyfriend (Patrick Wilson) and his wife (Elizabeth Reaser) have just had a baby boy, Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) leaves Minneapolis and travels home to the small suburb of her birth. Sadly, she doesn’t make the trip for the purpose she was invited, to attend the family’s baby shower.

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Beginners

by Alan Rapp on December 1, 2011

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Beginners
  • IMDB: link

beginners-dvd"In a story about a man surrounded by death we get a tale about life, love, leading with your heart, and beginnings. Only a couple of years after burying his mother (Mary Page Keller), and just two months after the death of his father (Christopher Plummer), Oliver (Ewan McGregor) is dragged to a party by two friends (Kai LennoxChina Shavers) where he meets Anna (Mélanie Laurent).

The two immediately hit it off despite the fact that Anna is suffering from an acute case of laryngitis and Oliver is still reeling from the latest emotional blow to his life. Anna brings her own baggage to the table as a constantly on-the-move actress who is known for leaving those she’s fallen in love with. This is a concept Oliver understands completely as he remarks that you don’t have to move away to leave people.

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My Week with Marilyn

by Alan Rapp on November 25, 2011

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: My Week with Marilyn
  • IMDB: link

my-week-with-marilyn-posterIt’s almost as shame Michelle Williams is so good as Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn because her performance could easily overshadow what is one of the year’s best films.

There have been plenty of films I’ve enjoyed and appreciated in 2011, but I’ve waited a 11-and-a-half months to walk out of a theater and say I love a film. That streak is now over.

My Week with Marilyn based on Colin Clark’s memoir, recounts the young man’s first experience working on a film as the third assistant director of The Prince and the Showgirl directed and starring renown British actor Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) and American sensation Marilyn Monroe (Williams).

My Week with Marilyn isn’t only a love story to the troubled actress, but also this age of filmmaking and celebrity when one of England’s greatest actors took a chance on an increasingly hard to work with actress who the camera loved. The experiment went so well Olivier would essentially give up directing and return to the stage.

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