Watching 186 Movies in 2011: A Year in Review

187 movies for 2011. Not bad, but not good either. Back in 2009, I watched over 300 movies. But I don’t get paid for this shit. I do it pro bono. What do you expect?

If you review my post I wrote with our dear friends at Video Word Made Flesh, then you already know what my favorite movie of 2011 was: Combat Shock. (“…a cynical little human interest feature that falls outside of the standard post-traumatic stress disorder character study. It is Buddy Giovinazzo’s 1986 cult feature, Combat Shock. It’s a low budget, often contrived profile of a Vietnam war vet braving the apocalyptic wastes of Staten Island. Though the film is severely flawed, and often laughable (it is currently distributed by Troma), it is not without heart. It is as if David Lynch and Harmony Korine took downers and tried their collective hand at an interpretation of Apocalypse Now. The filth of 1980s Staten Island seeps out of the screen, spoiled milk and all.”)

I know I’m about two weeks late in writing this, but I can’t help myself. This is pro bono, too.

In the interest of full disclosure, 2011 wasn’t my best year for movies. Much of my time was dedicated to watching movies about which I’ve always heard, but never seen. Those movies my parents wouldn’t let me see when I was a kid, and now that I’m all grow’d up, I can’t really see what the big fuss was all about. L.A. Confidential? More like L.A. BORINGdential, am I right?

I also caught up on some of the peripheral work made by a few of my favorite folks, like Whit Stillman (Last Days of Disco, Barcelona). Nothing really matches up to the wit of Metropolitan, but still, his films are compulsively watchable theatric exercises. I also watched Manderlay by Lars von Trier, who is one of the best working directors, and maybe possibly a part-time Nazi sympathizer? Manderlay was trying to be a Dogville Part II, but all of the points Manderlay played with were already covered in Dogville.

Possibly the most unwatchable movie I endured this ear was a little ego piece made by Sol Tryon, called The Living Wake. The premise is simple: a man knows when he is going to die, so he throws himself a wake. The only reason I watched this movie was because I like Jesse Eisenberg, though in this film he plays a lackey to the film’s primary unendurable subject, K. Roth Binew (played by Mike O’Connell). O’Connell champions a horrible and contrived Mid-Atlantic accent, which has seen a resurgence over the past few years by similarly bachelor’d fellows who confuse contrivance for elocution. I preferred the Garbage Pail Kids movie over this piece of trash.

Speaking of Jesse Eisenberg, there was another winner in 2011: a 2010 flick called Holy Rollers. It was eclipsed by Eisenberg’s primary release of 2010, The Social Network (also a solid movie). In Holy Rollers, Eisenberg plays a Hasidic Jew who gets caught up in the early-90s ecstasy smuggling market. Sexy.

Dogtooth was one of my favorite films in 2011, despite its clearly being Lanthimos’ unabashed homage to the Haneke School of Misanthropy. For some reason, Dogtooth is marketed as a hilarious dark comedy. There’s nothing funny about it. It’s fucked up, and it’s hard to do fucked up well. Lanthimos does it well.

I don’t know why I watched Cable Guy.

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men was a noble but unsuccessful attempt at bringing David Foster Wallace to the screen.

Cannibal Holocaust was actually much more tame than people make it out to be.

Bad Boy Bubby is a dark, Gilliam-like character study from Down Under, and it also has some really interesting sound experimentation.

Bartleby is an excellent adaptation of one of Melville’s best short stories.

Pink Flamingos is exhausting.

Big Trouble in Little China is awesome. So is Hobo With a Shotgun.

Another movie I really liked was The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (the original sans Travolta). It’s often looped in with other 1970s disaster-crisis movies, but it’s much more gritty than – say – The Airport: Concorde ’79. There’s an element of feasibility, and some good characters here. From a critical perspective, there’s nothing exceptional here. It’s just a good story with compelling conflict, and some great shots of NYC in the 1970s.

Possibly the strangest film I saw in 2011 was Harmony Korine’s Trash Humpers. I think some of fiction based on this film would make great content for Anobium, but that’s besides the point. It’s filmed with a VHS camcorder, and is mostly composed of decadent vignettes about murder, alcohol, death, and anarchy. I’ve actually come to understand Korine’s more esoteric work as more ‘art’ than ‘film’ (in the ‘proper’ sense). I know Herzog, who is an active opponent of contrivance, is very invested in Korine’s work, which caused me to reconsider my disinterest. Trash Humpers certainly isn’t ‘easy,’ but it’s worth investigating.

Finally, 12 Angry Men? 12 Thumbs up.

– – –

TV in 2011:

Freaks and Geeks (Series)
Curb Your Enthusiasm (Season 8)
Breaking Bad (Season 4)
Wilfred (Season 1)
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Season 7)
Bored to Death (Season 2)
Modern Family (Season 3)
Parks & Recreation (Season 2 & 3)
Louie (Season 1)

Movies in 2011:

True Grit; 2010, Dir. Joel & Ethan Coen, Wri. Joel & Ethan Coen.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure; 1989, Dir. Stephen Herek, Wri. Chris Matheson & Ed Solomon.
Bicentennial Man; 1999, Dir. Chris Columbus, Wri. Robert Silverberg.
Hard Eight; 1996, Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson, Wri. Paul Thomas Anderson.
Hausu (Criterion Collection); 1977, Dir. Nobuhiko Obayashi, Wri. Chiho Katsura.
Black Swan; 2010, Dir. Darren Aronofsky, Wri. Mark Heyman & Andres Heinz.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre; 1948, Dir. John Huston, Wri. John Huston.
I’m Still Here; 2010, Dir. Casey Affleck, Wri. Casey Affleck.
Sizzle Beach, U.S.A.; 1981, Dir. Richard Brander, Wri. Craig Kusaba.
Raising Arizona; 1987, Dir. Joel & Ethan Coen, Wri. Joel & Ethan Coen.
Hellraiser; 1987, Dir. Clive Barker, Wri. Clive Barker.
Event Horizon; 1997, Dir. Paul W.S. Anderson, Wri. Philip Eisner.
The Social Network; 2010, Dir. David Fincher, Wri. Aaron Sorkin.
A Face in the Crowd; 1957, Dir. Elia Kazan, Wri. Budd Schulberg.
Exit Through the Gift Shop; 2010, Dir. Banksy, Wri. Banksy.
Holy Rollers; 2010, Dir. Kevin Asch, Wri. Antonio Macia.
Combat Shock; 1986, Dir. Buddy Giovinazzo, Wri. Buddy Giovinazzo.
Pet Semetary; 1989, Dir. Mary Lambert, Wri. Stephen King.
Heist; 2001, Dir. David Mamet, Wri. David Mamet.
(Untitled); 2009, Dir. Jonathan Parker, Wri. Catherine DiNapoli & Jonathan Parker.
Open Water; 2003, Dir. Chris Kentis, Wri. Chris Kentis.
Garbage Pail Kids; 1987, Dir. Rod Amateau, Wri. Linda Palmer, Rod Amateau.
Marwencol; 2010, Dir. Jeff Malmberg.
(REC); 2007, Dir. Jaume Balaguero & Paco Plaza, Wri. Juame Balaguero & Luis Berdejo.
The Big Puffy Chair; 2005, Dir. Jay Duplass, Wri. Mark Duplass & Jay Duplass.
Solitary Man; 2009, Dir. Brian Koppelman, David Levien, Wri. Brian Koppelman.
Melvin Goes to Dinner; 2003, Dir. Bob Odenkirk, Wri. Michael Bleiden.
Casino Jack and the United States of Money; 2010, Dir. Alex Gibney, Wri. Alex Gibney.
Moment of Death; National Geographic Documentary.
The Warriors; 1979, Dir. Walter Hill, Wri. David Shaber.
Lenny; 1974, Dir. Bob Fosse, Wri. Julian Barry.
Miller’s Crossing; 1990, Dir. Joel & Ethan Coen, Wri. Joel & Ethan Coen.
Terribly Happy; 2008, Dir. Henrik Ruben Genz, Wri. Henrik Ruben Genz.
Hannah and Her Sisters; 1986, Dir. Woody Allen, Wri. Woody Allen.
Metropolitan; 1990, Dri. Whit Stillman, Wri. Whit Stillman.
Death to Smoochy; 2002, Dir. Danny DeVito, Wri. Adam Resnick.
Machete; 2010, Dir. Ethan Manquis & Robert Rodriguez, Wri. Robert & Alvaro Rodriguez.
The Extra Man; 2010, Dir. Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini, Wri. Robert Pulcini & Jonathan Ames.
William S. Burroughs: A Man Within; 2010, Dir. Yony Leyser, Wri. Yony Leyser.
The Living Wake; 2007, Dir. Sol Tyron, Wri. Peter Kline, Mike O’Connell.
Eyes Without a Face (Criterion Collection); 1960, Dir. Georges Franju, Wri. Peirre Boileau.
The Parking Lot Movie; 2010, Dir. Meghan Eckman.
Manderlay; 2005, Dir. Lars von Trier, Wri. Lars van Trier.
Act of Vengeance; 1974, Dir. Bob Kelljan, Wri. David Kidd & H.R. Christian.
State and Main; 2000, Dir. David Mamet, Wri. David Mamet.
October Country; 2009, Dir. Michael Palmieri & Daniel Mosher; Wri. Donal Mosher & Michael Palmieri.
The Promotion; 2008, Dir. Steve Conrad, Wri. Steve Conrad.
How to Get Ahead in Advertising; 1989, Dir. Bruce Robinson, Wri. Bruce Robinson.
A State of Mind; 2004, Dir. Daniel Gordon, Wri. Daniel Gordon.
Dogtooth; 2009, Dir. Giorgos Lanthimos, Wri. Giorgos Lanthimos & Efthymis Filippou.
Please Give; 2010, Dir. Nicole Holofcener, Wri. Nicole Holofcener.
The Jimmy Show; 2001, Dir. Frank Whaley, Wri. Frank Whaley.
Lonesome Jim; 2005, Dir. Steve Buscemi, Wri. James Strouse.
Gangs of New York; 2002, Dir. Martin Scorcese, Wri. Jay Cocks.
The Cable Guy; 1996, Dir. Ben Stiller, Wri. Lou Holtz Jr.
subUrbia; 1996, Dir. Richard Linklater, Wri. Eric Bogosian.
Wedding Daze; 2006; Dir. Michael Ian Black, Wri. Michael Ian Black.
A Boy and His Dog; 1975, Dir. L.Q. Jones, Wri. L.Q. Jones.
The Parallax View; 1974, Dir. Alan J. Pakula, Wri. David Giler & Lorenzo Semple Jr.
After Hours; 1985, Dir. Martin Scorsese, Wri. Joseph Minion.
Gerry; 2002, Dir. Gus Van Sant, Wri. Casey Affleck, Matt Damon.
Win Win; 2011, Dir. Thomas McCarthy, Wri. Thomas McCarthy.
This is Spinal Tap; 1984, Dir. Rob Reiner, Wri. Christopher Guest.
All American Orgy; 2009, Dir. Andrew Drazek, Wri. Ted Beck.
Morvern Callar; 2002, Dir. Lynn Ramsay, Wri. Liana Diani Dognini & Lynne Ramsay.
Time Out; 2001, Dir. Laurent Cantet, Wri. Robin Campillo & Laurent Cantet.
Blues Brothers; 1980, Dir. John Landis, Wri. Dan Aykroyd & John Landis.
25th Hour; 2002, Dir. Spike Lee, Wri. David Benioff.
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three; 1974, Dir. Joseph Sargent, Wri. Peter Stone.
Shadows (Criterion Collection); 1959, Dir. John Cassavetes, Wri. John Cassavetes.
Lola (Criterion Collection); 1981, Dir. R.W. Fassbinder, Wri. R.W. Fassbinder & Pea Frohlich.
Thrashin’; 1986, Dir. David Winters, Wri. Paul Brown & Alan Sacks.
Godfather; 1972, Dir. Francis Ford Coppola, Wri. Mario Puzo.
Godfather II; 1974, Dir. Francis Ford Coppola, Wri. Mario Puzo.
Blow; 2001, Dir. Ted Demme, Wri. David McKenna.
Public Enemies; 2009, Dir. Michael Mann, Wri. Ronan Bennett & Michael Mann.
The Chumscrubber; 2005, Dir. Arie Posin, Wri. Zac Stanford.
Red Zone Cuba (MST3K); 1966, Dir. Coleman Francis, Wri. Coleman Francis.
The Hangover II; 2011, Dir. Todd Phillips, Wri. Craig Mazin & Scot Armstrong.
Howl; 2010, Dir. Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman, Wri. Rob Epstein & JEffrey Friedman.
Commando; 1985, Dir. Mark Lester, Wri. Jeph Loeb.
O Brother Where Art Thou; 2002, Dir. Joel & Ethan Coen, Wri. Joel & Ethan Coen.
Bulletproof; 1988, Dir. Steve Carver, Wri. T.L. Lankford.
The Thing; 1982, Dir. John Carpenter, Wri. John W. Campbell.
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men; 2009, Dir. John Krasinski, Wri. John Krasinski.
Sting of Death; 1965, Dir. William Grefe, Wri. Al Dempsey.
Dog Soldiers; 2002, Dir. Neil Marshall, Wri. Neil Marshall.
The Other; 1972, Dir. Robert Mulligan, Wri. Tom Tyron.
Summer of ’42; 1971, Dir. Robert Mulligan, Wri. Herman Maucher.
Cujo; 1983, Dir. Lewis Teague, Wri. Don Carlos Dunaway.
Tree of Life; 2011, Dir. Terrence Malick, Wri. Terrence Malick.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams; 2010, Dir. Werner Herzog, Wri. Werner Herzog.
The Descent; 2005, Dir. Neil Marshall, Wri. Neil Marshall.
Barbarella; 1968, Dir. Roger Vadim, Wri. Jean-Claude Forest.
My Dinner With Andre; 1981, Dir. Louis Malle, Wri. Wallace Shawn & Andre Gregory.
Aguirre: The Wrath of God; 1972, Dir. Werner Herzog, Wri. Werner Herzog.
Santa Sangre; 1989, Dir. Alejandra Jodorowsky, Wri. Alejandra Jodorowsky.
Drowning Mona; 2000, Dir. Nick Gomez, Wri. Peter Steinfeld.
Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies (MST3K); 1964, Dir. Ray Dennis Steckler, Wri. Gene Pollock & Robert Silliphant.
The Untouchables; 1987, Dir. Brian De Palma, Wri. David Mamet.
Thief; 1981, Dir. Michael Mann, Wri. Michael Mann.
You Don’t Know Jack; 2010, Dir. Barry Levinson, Wri. Adam Mazer.
Keep the River on Your Right; 2000, Dir. David Shapiro & Laurie Shapiro, Wri. David Shapiro & Laurie Shapiro.
Battle Royale; 2000, Dir. Kinji Fukasku, Wri. Kenta Fukasaku.
Gentleman Broncos; 2009, Dir. Jared Hess, Wri. Jared Hess.
Cannibal Holocaust; 1980, Dir. Ruggero Deodato, Wri. Gianfranco Clerici.
Lilya 4-Ever; 2002, Dir. Lukas Moodysson, Wri. Lukas Moodysson.
Bad Boy Bubby; 1993, Dir. Rolf de Heer, Wri. Rolf de Heer.
Horrible Bosses; 2011, Dir. Seth Gordon, Wri. Michael Markowitz.
And This is Free; 2008, Documentary.
Come and See; 1985, Dir. Elem Klimov, Wri. Ales Adamovich.
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives; 2010, Dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Wri. Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
The American; 2010, Dir. Anton Corbijn, Wri. Rowan Joffe.
Stalker; 1979, Dir. Andrey Tarkovsky, Wri. Andrey Tarkovsky.
Cloverfield; 2008, Dir. Matt Reeves, Wri. Drew Goddard.
Adaptation; 2002, Dir. Spike Jonze, Wri. Charlie Kaufman.
The Sea Inside; 2004, Dir. Alejandro Amenabar, Wri. Alejandro Amenabar & Mateo Gil.
The Winslow Boy; 1999, Dir. David Mamet, Wri. Terence Rattigan & David Mamet.
12 Angry Men; 1957, Dir. Sidney Lumet, Wri. Reginald Rose.
Winter’s Bone; 2010, Dir. Debra Granik, Wri. Debra Granik.
Bartleby; 2001, Dir. Jonathan Parker, Wri. Jonathan Parker.
Human Nature; 2001, Dir. Michel Gondry, Wri. Charlie Kaufman.
Mary and Max; 2009, Dir. Adam Elliot, Wri. Adam Elliot.
Roger Dodger; 2002, Dir. Dylan Kidd, Wri. Dylan Kidd.
L.A. Confidential; 1997, Dir. Curtis Hanson, Wri. Brian Helgeland.
Midnight in Paris; 2011, Dir. Woody Allen, Wri. Woody Allen.
The Stepfather; 1987, Dir. Joseph Ruben, Wri. Carolyn Lefcourt.
The Killing; 1956, Dir. Stanley Kubrick, Wri. Stanley Kubrick.
Our Idiot Brother; 2011, Dir. Jesse Peretz, Wri. David Schisgall & Evgenia Peretz.
Up in the Air; 2009, Dir. Jason Reitman, Wri. Jason Reitman.
The Last Days of Disco (Criterion Collection); 1998, Dir. Whit Stilman, Wri. Whit Stilman.
Contagion; 2011, Dir. Steven Soderbergh, Wri. Scott Z. Burns.
Pink Flamingos; 1972, Dir. John Waters, Wri. John Waters.
I Love You, Man; 2009, Dir. John Hamburg, Wri. John Hamburg.
Bill Cunningham New York; 2010, Dir. Richard Press.
Affliction; 1997, Dir. Paul Schrader, Wri. Paul Schrader.
Where the Green Ants Dream; 1984, Dri. Werner Herzog, Wri. Werner Herzog.
The Chosen; 1981, Dir. Jeremy Kagan, Wri. Edwin Gordon.
The Fighter; 2010, Dir. David Russell, Wri. Scott Silver.
Touch of Satan (MST3K); 1971, Dir. Don Henderson, Wri. James McLarty.
Cobra Verde; 1987, Dir. Werner Herzog, Wri. Werner Herzog.
Big Trouble in Little China; 1986, Dir. John Carpenter, Wri. Gary Goldman & David Weinstein.
Analyze This; 1999, Dir. Harold Ramis, Wri. Kenneth Lonergan.
Curious Case of Benjamin Button; 2008, Dir. David Fincher, Wri. Eric Roth.
Red; 2010, Dir. Robert Schwentke, Wri. Jon Hoeber.
The Fugitive; 1993, Dir. Andrew Davis, Wri. Jeb Stuart & David Twohy.
Nosferatu; 1979, Dir. Werner Herzog, Wri. Werner Herzog
Rescue Dawn; 2006, Dir. Werner Herzog, Wri. Werner Herzog.
Somewhere; 2010, Dir. Sofia Coppola, Wri. Sofia Coppola.
Godfather III; 1990, Dir. Francis Ford Coppola, Wri. Mario Puzo & Francis Ford Coppola.
Trees Lounge; 1996, Dir. Steve Buscemi, Wri. Steve Buscemi.
Hobo With A Shotgun; 2011, Dir. Jason Eisener, Wri. John Davies.
Boogie Nights; 1997, Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson, Wri. Paul Thomas Anderson.
Walk Hard; 2007, Dir. Jake Kasdan, Wri. Judd Apatow & Jake Kasdan.
In Bruges; 2008, Dir. Martin McDonagh, Wri. Martin McDonagh.
The Ides of March; 2011, Dir. George Clooney, Wri. George Clooney.
A Short Film About Killing; 1988, Dir. Krzysztof Kieslowski, Wri. Krzysztof Kieslowski.
Mister Lonely; 2007, Dir. Harmony Korine, Wri. Harmony Korine.
Trash Humpers; 2009, Dir. Harmony Korine, Wri. Harmony Korine.
Moneyball; 2011, Dir. Bennett Miller, Wri. Steve Zaillian.
Be Kind, Rewind; 2008, Dir. Michel Gondry, Wri. Michel Gondry.
Airplane; 1980, Dir. Jim Abrahams & David Zucker, Wri. Jim Abrahams & David Zucker.
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox; 2006, Dir. Sara Lamm.
This Film is Not Yet Rated; 2006, Dir. Kirby Dick.
The Brown Bunny; 2003, Dir. Vincent Gallo, Wri. Vincent Gallo.
Yeah Right!; 2003, Dir. Spike Jonze.
Melancholia; 2011, Dir. Lars von Trier, Wri. Lars von Trier.
Cape Fear; 1991, Dir. Martin Scorcese, Wri. James R. Webb.
God’s Country (Criterion Collection); 1986, Dir. Louis Malle.
Porcile; 1969, Dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini, Wri. Pier Paolo Pasolini.
Love Affair: Or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator (Criterion Collection); 1967, Dir. Dusa Makavejev, Wri. Dusan Makavejev.
Sombre; 1998, Dir. Philippe Grandrieux, Wri. Sophie Fillières & Philippe Grandrieux.
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind; 2002, Dir. George Clooney, Wri. Chuck Barris & Charlie Kaufman.
Lord of War; 2005, Dir. Andrew Niccol, Wri. Andrew Niccol.
Eden Lake; 2008, Dir. James Watkins, Wri. James Watkins.
Crazy Stupid Love; 2011, Dir. Glenn Ficarra & John Requa, Wri. Dan Fogelman.
Tiny Furniture; 2010, Dir. Lena Dunham, Wri. Lena Dunham.
Jack Goes Boating; 2010, Dir. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Wri. Robert Glaudini.
Barcelona; 1994, Dir. Whit Stillman, Wri. Whit Stillman.
Miracle on 34th Street; 1947, Dir. George Seaton, Wri. George Seaton.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows; 2011, Dir. Guy Ritchie, Wri. Michele Mulroney & Kieran Mulroney.
The Pawnbroker; 1964, Dir. Sidney Lumet, Wri. Morton S. Fine.
I Think We’re Alone Now; 2008, Dir. Sean Donnelly, Wri. Sean Donnelly.
Sweetgrass; 2009
The Descendants; 2011, Dir. Alexander Payne, Wri. Alexander Payne.

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One Comment on “Watching 186 Movies in 2011: A Year in Review”

  1. VideoWordMadeFlesh
    January 8 2012 at 8:32 pm #

    Manderlay was (like Dogville) very interesting in terms of its experimentation, but not too much else. Still, a mild von Trier is more interesting than most other films. Dogtooth was almost my film of the year, and comes part of a strange new little sub-genre I see popping up of films about people raised in isolation (Bad Boy Bubby and Martha Marcy May Marlene being great examples). Long live this new sub-genre, in my books. Cannibal Holocaust was uncomfortable only for the turtle scene. Everything else was basically on the cover.
    — Britta

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