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Moneyball (2011) – 96/100
Perhaps the best film of the year, either tied for 1st place with Drive, or an overall winner in my book. Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill are incredible. The dialogue is genuine and funny. This film entangles elements of spiritual type camaraderie with cerebral economics, and with some perfect use of post-rock, it totally absorbs the viewer. Special interest in baseball is not required.
Shame (2011) – 92/100
Fantastic stylized view of a sex addict. It’s surprising, in a way, how such a potentially detestable character becomes so involving and so moving. For me, this film is a very close number 3 for the year.
The Future (2011) – 89/100
It starts off with slightly witty but completely ridiculous humor, and follows with a the dilemma of what to do when there’s nothing to do. If you can’t tell already, this film is totally representative of the current generation (in my eyes). In story and presentation, it is experimental, new, and original. It may seem dissatisfying in that it presents the problem of, but not the solution to contemporary despair, however this does not mean the film is not a unified picture. A very, very close 4th best film for the year.
Melancholia (2011) – 84/100
More disturbing than you might imagine. It is essentially a character study of a severe depressive whose terrible view of the world starts to come true in the events of Melancholia. While everyone breaks down around her at their intense new realizations of illimitable chaos and nonexistent personal agency, the protagonist is unchanged, since this is how she felt about the world in the first place. As everyone’s spirit is pressed down and leveled to a pulp, the protagonist rises above and helps the people around her, comparatively uplifted by the accuracy of her dark perception of the world.
Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011) – 81/100
Subject matter is the draw here. It was a mystery to me when I started watching, and as the story continues, telling the haunting past through intermittent flashbacks from the present, it gets intriguing and horrifying.
50/50 (2011) – 71/100
I had to see this because of my crush on Judd Apatow, and overall, although predictably too unnecessarily crass at times, the film is a funny and appropriate telling of a young man with cancer.
Ides of March (2011) – 68/100
Bad things about this film: annoying recurring inside jokes referring to some massive hidden world of politics (comes across as unconvincing), the only personalization of Gosling’s character is a 5 minute insert about morality (i.e. the protagonist remains totally vacuous of personality), the music, and that the actual specific events in this film are minute and pathetic (only within the shroud of mystery can they function as plot points). Good things: George Clooney appears on screen for very little time appropriately making him seem hidden and powerful, personal manipulation and lack of integrity are shown as the only consistencies of the lonely people in politics, the president to be is portrayed as a figurehead of interest groups rather than an individual decision maker.
Take Shelter (2011) – 68/100
Anything about insane people, I generally like.
Contagion (2011) – 60/100
Just not very exciting. My favorite part was the font, nice spacing.
Adjustment Bureau (2011) – 52/100
The trailer hit hard, made it seem like an emotionally charged story of desperation. However, though I could easily get over the initial plot assumptions, the film doesn’t stay desperate. Although the characters keep running, it feels like it slows down. Ridiculous and not exciting is not a good combo.
The Debt (2011) – 41/100
Terrible. Just terrible. The final climax is laughable while it is taking place. If you want a nationalist film about revenge, specifically for Israel, watch Munich, not this. There are some well directed parts, and some nice fight choreography, but the majority of the story that takes place in present day with the old half of the cast is a boring, slow, and tired version of the 30% of the film with the young half of the cast.
In Time goes down in flames spectacularly. It starts off with some improbable assumptions, though they are not too hard to come to terms with. Time is literally money, once you accept this, the first 20 minutes are pretty pleasing. It turns into an intriguing darkish sci-fi flick. Then, the story picks up, things start going well for the protagonist. The film turns into a fantasy fulfillment, taking on the “if I were a rich man” spiel. It refers to classic fish out of a barrel, poor boy in a rich world, street smarts trump book smarts, type stories. Though cliche, these remixes of the old are always appealing on the level of day-dream fulfillment. Halfway through, low budget scars signal disaster. Immediately after a not so convincing CGI car crash, the story starts to take a serious downturn. Improbable micro-events, the sort of: “wait how did he get there so fast?” and “how does he know that?” plot holes start showing up. Disgustingly cliche shots start appearing, and the whole naive “crime is fun” attitude is overemphasized. The protagonists appear indestructible, and somehow are excellent shots and naturally intimidating to everyone but the audience. Such great success is unwarranted, and the film starts to seem like empowerment propaganda. Then to top it off, morality is brought into the picture: a fight for personal survival turns into a social quest to redistribute wealth, or in this case time. There is also an incredibly pathetic standoff near the end, which is not in the least convincing, and is too easily manipulated and won by the protagonists.
Of course, sprinkled in between is weak dialogue, and inconsistent arguments of why hierarchies exist and why they shouldn’t. The film can be summed up in that it is a dissatisfied rant: it voices distrust in capitalism, and competitive systems, with no coherence and under the guise of a poorly cut action flick. Seriously, the scenes are forced together after the 1st hour, in total parallel to a fragmented argument lacking all unity. In Time is a collage of anti-hierarchy sentiments, as shakily pasted together as the second half of the story. I am very disappointed in the film. The trailer looked too low budget, but then I was impressed by the first hour, and finally the second hour was an ideological train wreck of an overtone tainting a very unconvincing series of events. However, I’d like to see Justin Timberlake in some more films. His role in this film wasn’t too convincing, but he has an amiable screen presence. And, Amanda Seyfried is definitely the best part of the film; so so ridiculously sexy.