Matt's Top 5 Films of 2011

by Matthew Hammett Knott
December 21, 2011 11:32 AM
6 Comments
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This is part of a series of year end lists here on The Lost Boys this week... Check back for more, and enjoy Matt's 5 best films of 2011 below:


1. THE TREE OF LIFE
Derek Malcolm described this as “a brilliant little film about family relationships encased in otiose pretension”. I tend to agree - but don’t let that little film’s transcendental brilliance of observation and insight get lost in all the discussion of dinosaurs and Armani perfume ads. In truth, I lapped up those parts too, much as I found the ending a failure. Throw in the added resonance of having grown up the middle child of three brothers in a semi-rural setting, and there was no way this was not going to be my film of the year.



2. THE SKIN I LIVE IN
“Sometimes, swear to God, I thought I was playing Shakespeare. And sometimes this cheap Mexican soap opera”. The feeling is mutual, Antonio Banderas, but that didn’t stop this from being the most entertainingly spun narrative of the year - an art that is sometimes afforded lesser status by critics, but has no greater current master than Almodovar.



3. ALPS
Dogtooth was perhaps my favourite film of the past decade behind Synecdoche, New York. I had high hopes for this follow up from Giorgos Lanthimos, but they weren’t so much met as thrown wildly off-kilter by this profoundly strange and constantly surprising study of a group of misfits who moonlight as substitute loved-ones-for-hire for the recently bereaved. Possibly more excited about this man’s career than any other current filmmaker.



4. MARGARET
Believe the hype - Kenneth Lonergan’s self-styled “teen epic” was another film that spun off in directions one could not possibly have anticipated. There should be more teen epics - and more great films about teenage girlhood - but they would be hard-pressed to beat this film’s unnerving, captivating and - by the way - non-eponymous heroine.



5. WEEKEND
Because it is better than all but one entry in the “gay cinema” pantheon of the past twenty years, and quite frankly “gay cinema” is grateful.

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6 Comments

  • Dylan Bradford | December 29, 2011 5:39 PMReply

    The Sundance Film Festival's 6 head programmers have acknowledged that they do not in fact watch the over 10,000 film submissions, and that they hire "someone" else, ( 30 to 40) other people to screen them before they are passed along ( in their own words) so why don't they divulge the information as to the qualifications of these people? Why would any serious filmmaker feel comfortable about the fairness and spend 65.00 or 75.00 to simply let anyone look at their film? Would you "pay someone from craigslist" for instance and say, I will give you money to let you look at my film and tell me what you think.
    This is about as ludicrous as stupidity can get, but Sundance operates as do other film festivals off of desperation, and John Cooper doesn't care about watching these films, he is out and about traveling the globe looking at films from other festivals, he does NOT watch the films.
    Sundance films are not independent, its who you know, not what you know or what you have made, they could care less and there is proof of that being made into a film that reveals the corporate corruption including interviews with those who worked at Sundance and behind the scenes. The movie is called "Scam Fest" and this film will open filmmakers eyes to what really happens to their films, and money. John Cooper, Shari Frilot, Jill Miller, Keri Putnam and all the rest of them are sold out and corrupt people, they have no talent, never made a film, have no qualifications other then to sit in a chair and push around paper and distribute money, and all the while Robert Redford does nothing, he simply states his usual rhetoric, "We support filmmakers" he is like a wind up doll.
    Well known film reps bring in 4 to 10 films and have private screenings and pay nothing, while your film sits in a box waiting to be watched by some college nit wits busy on their text phones forwarding through submissions, that wouldn't have the time, patience or intelligence to know what a really great film is, and know what? Who gets duped in the end? You the people, the arts, movie goers, and so we have the same old cliches only boxed up "independently" and the real gems go to the garbage. The only people that have the nerve, and the integrity to stand up to Cooper and all his cohorts in their money making scams is the Yeager's whose film Jesus of Malibu was never given the chance, the film trailer, e-mails, and info all reveal specifically how corrupt Sundance is and has been for over 25 years. It is only a matter of time when the states attorney shuts them down from ripping the general public off of millions of dollars each year, millions do the math, and has every filmmaker agree to their terms which is a contractual agreement, if this were any other institution, these people would be behind bars in prison, but the same old show goes on and on, smoke and mirrors, and the on-line publications encourage it, and they don't write about it either, Filmmaker Magazine, Film Threat, Indie Wire, all of them don't want you to know either because they are all making money in this, if not why don't they tell you some really important information like Sundance is corrupt? Why don't they get down to the question and interview; "Dear programmers tell us, who watch's the 10,000 films and can we speak with these "people" please? That won't happen, and so in the meantime I not only tip my hat to the dear filmmakers William and Anais Yeager who have in my mind made the greatest film the world my ever have had a chance to see, but has brought all this to our attention, and it is quite obvious when you look at the film trailers for Jesus of Malibu, that this could be the most creative and solely true independent film ever made, way ahead of it's time, and when you consider that Sundance had no interest in simply answering the Yeager's e-mail or phone call regarding their film trilogy, it is obvious that it is about who you know, and Kevin Smith will always get in line before you or I ever do.
    Lets call this what it is for once and for all, its a big party, its about money, not about art, and it is about ripping people off, real indy filmmakers who keep submitting for years and years what a sad thing this has become, and shame to all those who don't tell you about it, shame on them and you filmmakers who keep feeding this "beast".

  • MHK | December 22, 2011 4:26 AMReply

    Yeah, Brokeback Mountain... which is not to rank them above every other film with LGBT characters or themes, just that certain films do seem to get elevated to this slightly dubious "state of the gays" pantheon, and I appreciate it when those films are actually good.

  • MHK | January 17, 2012 7:01 PM

    It was a flippant comment which I didn't elaborate on. It's more these specific films which critics afford prestige and tell you have "universal resonance", i.e. "straight people can watch this too". I found that happened with Milk and Brokeback and Weekend and The Kids are Alright. There's tons of Almodovar, and Hedwig, and much else, that I'd rate above Weekend. Not Beautiful Thing - re-watched it recently and found it appalling.

  • F.P. | January 17, 2012 6:21 PM

    Agreed that 'gay cinema' needs better entries, but it is interesting that you claim WEEKEND is only 2nd best to BROKEBACK over the last 20 years when the two films are actually quite similar. They end in a similar way (minus the blood in one of them), they possess similar character types (the reticent lead, the bolder supporting character), even the shots look similar (Glen's caress of Russell's ear during the computer diary scene immediately called out Jack's caress at the campfire after Ennis' "you gotta stand it" speech, among other shots). In a way, it sounds like you like WEEKEND because it reminds you of BROKEBACK. I'd also argue you're forgetting films like VELVET GOLDMINE, BEAUTIFUL THING, HIGH ART, CHASING AMY, BOYS DON'T CRY, MILK, HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH, PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT, MYSTERIOUS SKIN, should I continue? WEEKEND's good, even great, but let time decide if it's the greatest of 'gay cinema'...

  • kevin | December 21, 2011 7:41 PMReply

    Also curious about which gay cinema entry trumps Weekend.

  • James T | December 21, 2011 7:20 PMReply

    Great list! I've watched only two of them (Tree and Alps) but dying to see Weekend and Margaret. And the Almodovar sure seems special and I guess I'll see it someday.

    Do you imply that only Brokeback Mountain is better?

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