Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Leopard List: 2011 Movies

Rooney Mara in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
As The Leopard has written in other installments, I don't believe in "best of" lists. Being an artist myself, I have always disliked competition when it comes to art. It all comes down to aesthetics.

Still, I enjoy sharing films that I really liked. So this is not to say the following movies were the "best" of 2011, but certainly the ones I personally recommend.  For aesthetic reasons.

Directed by Wim Wenders
The only 3D movie I've seen that seems worthy of the format (and yes, that includes "Avatar"). Wenders' masterful documentary portrays modern dance in a new vital way-- the closest experience I've had to experiencing live performance. What's more, Pina Bausch's (1940-2009), choreography can be sexy,  violent, and most of all funny. The dancers themselves function like great actors, capable of intense emotion and humor in tiny dramas. Mesmerizing and memorable.

The Woman 
Directed by Lucky McKee
At the base of it, a pretty straightforward horror film complete with scares in all the right (and wrong) places that also has an intriguing subtext on contemporary American life. Not for the faint of heart, but if you can stomach a bit of gore, worth the effort.
Dancer from Pina

Martha Marcy May Marlene 
Directed by Sean Durkin
Incredibly subtle and elegant examination of a young woman seduced by a cult. Elizabeth Olsen, nearly unrecognizable, is excellent in the title role.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo  
Directed by David Fincher
Despite the superb star making turn by Noomi Rapace in the original Swedish Dragon Tattoo films, Rooney Mara makes the character her own, in part by creating a more sympathetic, tragic character. David Fincher is completely in his element.

Midnight In Paris 
Directed by Woody Allen
A pleasant surprise. The romantic atmosphere in the city of lights seemed to energize the director to make something that feels more inspired, creative and funny than what we've come to expect in recent years.

A Separation 
Directed by Asghar Farhadi
One of the most complex films about divorce I've seen. Despite an Iranian setting, the film feels spontaneous and alive, and easy to relate to. It's strength is the wealth of detail, and before long, you feel involved in the story in a way that is rare in movies.

The Descendants
Directed by Alexander Payne
I am a huge fan of Payne's last film, Sideways. But nothing could have prepared me for this film starring a slightly rumpled, pitch perfect George Clooney. Set in modern Hawaii, this funny/sad story about a man having just lost his wife while facing as series of life-changing events has more than its share of truly touching moments.

Other films I saw & recommend:
Melancholia Directed by Lars Von Trier 
Contagion Directed by Steven Soderbergh 
Kill List Directed by Ben Wheatley
A Dangerous Method Directed by David Cronenberg
Warrior Directed by Gavin O'Connor
We Need To Talk About Kevin
 Directed Lynne Ramsay

Carnage Directed by Roman Polanski
The Future Directed by Miranda July
Drive Directed by Nicholas Winding Refn
Bridesmaids Directed by Paul Feig


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