MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

By Mike Wilmington Wilmington@moviecitynews.com

Wilmington: The Ten Best of 2010

So here’s my list of The Ten Best Movies of 2010, plus Honorable Mentions and a separate list of documentaries. I know it’s customary at this time to write about how awful a year it was, and how I had to struggle to find ten movies worthy of recognition, and how Hollywood is so bankrupt artistically and so bereft intellectually that the mere act of compiling a ten best list has become supremely dubious and morally questionable. But actually, I thought the moves were one of the few good things about 2010. (They’re certainly better than the last election.) And if you couldn’t find ten good ones, you weren’t trying.

So here they are: The ten of 2010. The Coen Brothers. Claire Denis. Pixar, Scorsese. Nolan. Mike Leigh. Alain Resnais. Inarritu. Rob Reiner. Even The Social Network. Science Fiction. A Western. A Horror movie. A Romance. A Cartoon. War. Crime. Noir. Plus lots of Honorable mentions. I can’t promise they’ll win Oscars. But they won my heart, for a while at least.

1. True Grit

U.S.: Ethan and Joel Coen (The Coen Brothers) (Paramount)

Mattie Ross is the 14-year-old heroine of the new Coen Brothers movie, my favorite of 2010, True Grit — the Coens’ remake of the 1969 Henry Hathaway Western movie classic with John Wayne, based on Charles Portis’ highly-praised novel. And Mattie is the kind of spunky, indomitable little kid we’d have all liked to have known, or to have been, or gone on adventures with. She‘s a sort of girl Huck Finn, riding a beautiful, faithful pony through a Western wonderland, sometimes scarily fantastic, sometimes bitterly realistic, filled with real-life monsters and gunslingers who might have frozen Huck’s and Tom’s blood.

Traveling through the Old West of the 1870’s in search of her father‘s ex-employee and murderer, Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), tagging behind a sometimes drunken U S. Marshall named Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), whom she hired, and an exasperated Texas Ranger named LaBeouf (Matt Damon), who wants to get rid if her, Mattie never seems to let anything (except once) faze her. And the actress who plays Mattie, 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld (a newcomer from TV) doesn’t flinch or falter either.

These are superb performances (Bridges, Damon, Brolin and Steinfeld) in superbly written parts, in a great movie — and also, I would insist, in a quintessential Coen Brothers movie (even though it’s been called a departure by some, and I see their point). True Grit is constructed as an old-style revenge western. But, old-fashioned and straight-ahead as it may seem to some, this show, in true Coen fashion, sprawls all over the genre map: dark comedy, light comedy, buried romance (love buried under the revenge), “coming of age“ tale, horror movie, neo-noir, revisionist history. It’s told in a dark, comic vein and set against bleak, moody back grounds, that makes the final revelations of that love — Rooster’s desperate rescue of Mattie from snakebite, and her last “visit” to see him in a Wild West show — all the more touching.

True Grit is pure Western neo-noir, and the Coens, who are in their prime right now, are probably the contemporary kings of neo-noir. They‘re also among the smartest and most literate of contemporary genre cineastes: darkly comic chroniclers of a parched, deadly (mostly Western) American landscape populated with citizens, cops, sharpsters, killers, phonies, monsters, and some innocent people who somehow survive it all. This is one of their most literate language-loving (True lit) movies — an instant classic, pitched in a different key than Hathaway’s “Grit,” but no less memorable. It’s a true little classic, built to last.

2. Inception (Four Stars)

U.S.; Christopher Nolan (Warner Bros.)

It begins with a man washed up on the beach, awaking as if from a dream, waves crashing around him.

What happens next? Dreamland cubed, in a way: a wild, feverish rhapsody of stunning cinematic hallucinations, from another contemporary master, Christopher Nolan.

The M. C. Escher staircase. The Paris street that folds over on itself. The zero gravity hotel corridor. The James Bondian snow battle. The express-train that comes suddenly out of nowhere. The lady Marion (Cotillard) whom Leonard DiCaprio loves, standing on the ledge, about to jump. Edith Piaf. No regrets. The two little children, looking away. A Phil Dick cocktail. A Moebius Strip of the mind. The van full of dreamers that keeps falling, falling, over a bridge and down toward the water below. The delirious survivor washed up on the beach, the waves crashing around him…

Nolan‘s Inception, — with Leonardo DiCaprio as a tortured guy who shoves dreams into your head — may be hard to follow for some. But it’s obviously some kind of masterpiece: a truly mind-bending science fiction movie about the power of dreams, the persistence of memory, the anguish of lost love, the chains of conscience and maybe, as much as anything else, the sheer lunatic joy of making a big, crazy action movie spectacular with no rational limits on either your budget or your imagination.

Nolan, like the young Orson Welles, is blessed (and cursed) with the moviemaking tools that Welles compared to the world‘s biggest electric toy train set, and he summons up one surreal image or ferocious action blowout after another. Brilliantly, swiftly, he (and editor Lee Smith) cut from year to year, character to character (DiCaprio‘s Dom Cobb, his team, his employer, his target and the tormentors in his memory), from country to country, city to city (Paris, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Tangiers and the soundstages of Cardington, England), with a mix of stylistic chutzpah and loony abandon that perhaps only a moviemaker with a budget in the two hundred million dollar range, and a writer-director (Nolan) married to his producer (Emma Thomas), could muster. Whatever you think of Inception, it’s one of a kind.

3. White Material (Four Stars)

France: Claire Denis (IFC Films)

We are somewhere in West Africa. A slight, pretty Frenchwoman in a thin white sundress with a spray of freckles on her pale face, scurries from place to place as her world shatters and falls apart around her. Government troops are massing or leaving; gangs of boy soldiers roam the woods, the local mayor (William Nadylam) has turned mean and opportunistic, a charismatic rebel leader named the Boxer (Isaac de Bankole) has been found dead and then…

This endlessly energetic woman jogging, walking, running, driving through it all, in seemingly constant restless motion, propelled forward and back by the crises around her and by the non-linear leaps of the story, jumping on busses packed with the frightened citizenry, or whizzing back and forth in a truck from her farm to the town, is Marie Vial (Isabelle Huppert) — whose family owns a coffee plantation in that unnamed African country, a land in the throes of revolution.

That great French actress, Isabelle Huppert, and that superb French filmmaker, Claire Denis (co-writing the script with the Senegalese-French Prix Goncourt winning novelist Marie NDiaye), have made one of the film masterpieces of the year in White Material, a movie experience so moving, frightening and fine, that watching it puts your nerves on edge, your heart and mind on fire. This is probably my favorite Claire Denis film, and I‘ve seen almost all of them (though I’d like to see again Chocolat, her other film on an African coffee plantation). And this is one of my favorite Huppert performances as well. I haven’t seen all of them, of course — one wonders if Huppert has herself — but I‘ve seen dozens. She‘s never bad, often great. Here, she surpasses herself. I will never forge t Maria Vial, her tense, frayed face and her thin summer dress.

White Material has the texture, narrative drive and experimental structure of a fine, offbeat, hallucinatory novel — by a Duras, a Celine, or a Faulkner. Denis, who renders her various worlds like a painter with a keen sense of good and evil, has always been wonderful with people in between, people splintering apart in quiet relentless crisis — such as the African immigrant family in the Paris of 35 Shots of Rum, the Melvillean desert soldiers of Beau Travail, or the white French family and black African servant (played by Bankole) of Chocolat. And these people, trapped in hell, here.

4. Toy Story 3

U. S. Lee Unkrich, 2010 (Walt Disney/Pixar)

Toy Story 3 is just what we’ve come to expect from Pixar: a brilliantly conceived and immaculately animated knockout of a family show: witty and scrumptious, moving and marvelous, and something that parents can enjoy every bit as much as their children undoubtedly will.

Bravo! Again.

Directed and co-written (story) by longtime Pixar hand Lee Unkrich; co-produced and written (story again) by Pixar head John Lasseter, who started it all and directed (or co-directed) the first two “Toy Stories”; with a script by Little Miss Sunshine’s Michael Arndt, another batch of super-nifty songs by Randy Newman, and another unimprovable cast, this movie — one of two great animated features this year (the other was the French The Illusionist by Sylvain Chomet) — deserves every ‘yay” and “hurray” and “kai-yai-yippie“ it can field.

Toy Story 3 ties up the tale of youngster Andy’s faithful toys: that beguiling bunch led by indomitable cowboy Woody (Tom Hanks), and stalwart sidekick-spaceman Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen). It ends the three-part saga in ways that are both powerfully entertaining and eminently, emotionally satisfying. I laughed and smiled all the way through it, and brushed away some tears at the end, and I bid these old friends a fond farewell. Just as the Pixar gang wanted me to.

Woody the cowboy is one of Tom Hanks’ best roles, and one of the parts he should be proudest of. And Buzz is one of Tim Allen’s, and Jessie one of Joan Cusack’s. And ditto for everybody else, especially Ned Beatty, the meanest Goddam teddy bear you‘ll ever see and hear. How much empathy and art does it take to bring all those toys alive — both for the actors and for the brilliant company of technicians and artists who brought them all home? Lots, I bet. Thank you, Pixar.

5. Shutter Island

U.S.; Martin Scorsese, 2010 (Paramount)

Shutter Island, Martin Scorsese’s new film, is a horror movie for aficionados. It‘s for moviegoers who’ve had their fill of the current over-produced psycho-splatter shriek shows, or never wanted to bother with them in the first place. It’s a terrific movie, and it’s also a refreshing furlough from the non-stop massacres or blood-drenched, character-thin remakes that make up today‘s scary-movie norm. Scorsese hasn’t made a real horror movie since his exciting but flawed 1991 Cape Fear remake. But he makes a doozy of a thriller here.

From its first sights and sounds — the crashing Krzysztof Penderecki chords that cue the movie’s classical/modernist borrowed soundtrack (it also has Mahler and Kay Starr), and the first ominous sights of the island itself, looming out of the gray day as a ferry carrying cops Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo slowly approaches it — this movie announces itself as something different, more classic, Kubrickian. (Major reference here: The Shining)

The source is a Dennis Lehane novel (adapted here by Laeta Kalogridis): a good pop book with memorable characters, crisp dialogue and a shocking climax. To me, the movie made from it works on every level it reaches for, and serves Lehane‘s original novel as well as Clint Eastwood‘s taut, grim movie adaptation served Lehane‘s Mystic River. It also gives Scorsese a great showcase for a lot of the things he does best.

While not really skimping on blood and guts, Shutter Island still doesn’t try to bombard you with gore-overkill, so much as play with your head, upset your conception of reality. It’s Hitchcockian in the best sense: an old-fashioned movie done with lots of new-fangled technology and immaculate technique, a smart, quality film that steeps us in mood and suspense and tries to keep us guessing and apprehensive, rather than simply jolt us with escalating massacres.

6. Lebanon
Israel; Samuel Maoz

Lebanon. Spring, 1982. War.

We are inside an armored tank with four Israeli soldiers, in Beirut, in the throes of the Lebanon War. The battle is a raging hellfield punctuated with death, only barely comprehensible to the men or to us. Israelis battle Arabs battle Phalangists (Christian Arabs). The streets pop with gunfire. You can’t tell civilians from killers. The tank is hot and stinking and so small, the four can barely move around — tempers flaring, nerves frayed — as they roll though the streets, and peer through a periscope or gun sight seeking traps to avoid, enemies to kill.

This death-battered tank crew consist of a commander, Assi (Itay Taran), a driver, Yigal (Michael Moshonov), a gun-loader, Hertzel (Oshri Cohen) and a gunner, Shmuel (Yoav Donat). The gunner is young and scared, and when he gets his first targets in his sights, some gunmen in a car, he’s so struck by their humanity, their all-too-vulnerable skins, that he can’t pull the trigger — and his hesitation gets some Israeli soldiers killed. To be a good soldier of a kind, he learns fast, you have to be a killer. Automatic. Don’t think. Don’t feel. Press the trigger.

Shmuel was about 20 when he served in the Lebanese War. 27 years later, that scared young gunner’s real-life model had grown older and become an Israeli filmmaker named Samuel Maoz, the man who wrote and directed Lebanon and saw it win the Golden Lion (Grand Prize) of the Venice Film Festival. So what we are seeing here is mostly what moviemaker Samuel, or what the good soldier Shmuel, remembers of his experiences as a 20 year old gunner in a tank — frightened, inexperienced, screwing up, squabbling with his tank mates, trying to do the right thing, trying to stay alive, trying to figure out what in hell is going on all around them. Trying to keep himself primed so he won’t make another mistake.

As a gunner, he probably did. As a filmmaker he doesn’t. (In Hebrew, with English subtitles.)

7. The Social Network

U.S.; David Fincher, 2010 (Columbia)

The Social Network — David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin‘s high-style, computer-circuit-fast, ultra-hip tale of flashy programs and dirty deeds behind the 500 million-user Internet hookup phenomenon Facebook (or at least their version of it) — is obviously the next hot thing in award-caliber, critic-certified, “must-see” movies. It’s the primo right-now conqueror of critics group votes (New York, L. A., Chicago) and generator of Oscar buzz and of comparisons to Shakespeare and Citizen Kane.

That’s fine with me. This is the kind of movie they actually should be spending 50 million dollars to make in Hollywood. It’s a brainy, jazzy, cool, impudent, contemporary, super-savvy, wired-in, high velocity show that races you through the beginnings of Facebook — hatched in a Harvard dorm by an angry, just-jilted sophomore named Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), through its mushroom-like growth on the web and resulting big-bucks corporatization, through all the human eggs you had to break to make this computer-hit omelet, and finally (via actual court and hearing transcripts), into the flurry of law suits, Rashomon-ish multiple viewpoints and bitter litigations and recriminations that almost inevitably exploded when its net worth hit the billions, and there was loot to be grabbed, and lawyers to pay.

The Social Network is almost wickedly entertaining, and it does something most movies don‘t these days. It celebrates smartness, gives us protagonists who are phenoms and prodigies of brain power rather than of sexiness, guts or toughness. (That’s part of why so many critics like it so much.) The Mark Zuckerberg of the movie — whose real-life model apparently, and understandably, doesn’t like what he saw here — is a perpetually frowning, utterly irreverent, empathy-challenged, smart-ass, hoodie-clad techno-geek of nearly non-existent social skills and a nearly bankrupt couth account — a low-conscience, unrepentantly mean number-cruncher and people-user who arrogantly believes he’s smarter than almost everyone else around him, and whose only saving grace may be that he’s actually, maybe, sort-of right.

I hated the guy (the movie version of the guy, that is), thought he deserved a fist through his face book. But, in the top fillip of The Social Network’s” many, many ironies, we see that maybe Mark and his fellow web movers and shakers — and the whole new social-communal wrinkle that they‘ve been chosen to dramatically represent — don’t really “need” things like empathy, sympathy, what we’d call humanity. This guy’s got something more tangible: a dynamite idea, a way to hook up 500 million Facebook “friends,” and get advertisers to cough up truckloads of cash.

Ironically (of course), all this is accomplished by a guy who alienates everybody in person, including his steady date (Rooney Mara) and his best friend (Andrew Garfield). With Sorkin’s dialogue and transcripts crackling like a “His Girl Friday” on fire, and the revelations (true or made-up) popping like a private eye’s uncensored notes, and with every scene steeped in director Fincher‘s trademark fancy menacing noir moodiness, the rest of Social Network proves definitively that you don’t have to pull a gun to thrill an audience.

8. Another Year

U.K.: Mike Leigh (Sony)

Mike Leigh, the master of the seemingly improvised movie, of the Chekhovian ensemble, and of the prime realistic contemporary British social drama, once again gives us a sometimes funny-often sad masterpiece of sympathetic observation and tough but compassionate truth. Leigh and his marvelous actors create a little world of working class-born people sliding from middle toward old age — some of them happily, some miserably — but all of them chained in a way by the eternal British class system (ruled sometimes by money or aristocracy, but here, probably, by educational opportunity), systems which relentlessly and unfairly divide people into haves and have-nots.

Leigh takes us from Spring to Winter, in four increasingly bleak acts, and with another top-notch Leigh acting ensemble piece. The unimprovable cast includes Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen as the blissfully content, supremely well-ordered suburban couple geologist Tom and counselor Gerri, with an upwardly mobile son (Oliver Maltman). The couple, center of this little universe, remain loyal (if sometimes condescending) to two old friends now fallen on booze and hard emotional times, who keep popping in: chubby bachelor Ken (Peter Wight), and fading single one-time sexpot Mary (Lesley Manville). Also around: David Bradley as Tom’s quiet and melancholy old brother Ronnie, bereaved and still trapped in the class Tom left behind.

They’re all excellent, but Manville is extraordinary, the last shot of her absolutely withering. Equally withering is the movie’s first scene, which undermines the seeming later contentment of Tom and Gerri, by starting us off with one of Gerri‘s clients: the great Imelda Staunton (Leigh’s Vera Drake) as an unsmiling, bottomlessly sad woman trapped in such a merciless vise of circumstance, that she cannot imagine any improvement on her life — except a different life.

9. Flipped

U. S.; Rob Reiner

One of my favorites of the year: a little gem. Yet, though producer-director Rob Reiner‘s puppy love chronicle about a grade school crush in the ’50s and ’60s — told by the smitten girl and the reluctant boy in alternate chapters — has received some positive or even ecstatic reviews, and fully deserves them, it’s also gotten almost as many mixed notices or witty, acid-tongued knocks.

I disagree, strongly. It’s been a long time since I‘ve felt about a Rob Reiner movie the way I feel about this one, but when I left the screening room, thoroughly entertained, after “Flipped,” I was also both elated and weeping.

Flipped though risks critical contempt, just as its little heart-on-sleeve heroine, Juli Baker, keeps risking rejection by throwing herself on the line repeatedly for her leaden-footed, scaredy-cat big crush, Bryce Loski. But not only has Reiner completely regained his form here (if he ever lost it), I actually prefer Flipped (slightly) to Stand By Me.

Flipped comes from the 2001 novel by Wendelin Van Draanen, a longtime school teacher and mother, and someone who obviously understands kids from ground zero, with effortless depth and sympathy. She‘s arranged the novel, ingeniously, as the two-sided story of a longtime schoolgirl crush. We get the saga of Juli and Bryce from two sides — in alternating chapters, one told by the seemingly exasperated Bryce, the next by the seemingly indefatigable Juli. In the movie, the kids are played as eighth graders and maybe a little before by two splendid young actors, Callan McAuliffe and Madeline Carroll (Swing Vote). These two are both so good, so wonderfully unaffected and so completely into their roles, that one can unhesitatingly pay them the ultimate actor compliment: You never see or feel them as separate from their characters. Anyway, give this movie a break. It’s a sweetie.

10. (Tie) Wild Grass

France: Alain Resnais

Alain Resnais’ latest film Wild Grass, premiered at last years’ Cannes Film Festival, and helped win Resnais the fest’s Life Achievement Award. It’s an achievement too: the most exuberant and visually inventive picture that the auteur of Last Year at Marienbad and Le Guerre est Finie has made in years.

Not that Resnais’ recent films, like Private Fears in Public Places have been staid or tired. Now 88, Resnais has remained a master. But there’s a special liveliness and creative spark that makes Wild Grass really glow. Adapted from a very dark romantic comedy called L’Incident by novelist Christian Bailly (But is it romantic? Is it comic?), Wild Grass is a paradoxical delight: the work of a cinematic sensibility fully mature and wise, but also joyously, youthfully stylish and playful. It’s a film by an artist who, like the older Alfred Hitchcock (the filmmaker Wild Grass most recalls), still loves making movies and relishes the chance to share that love.

Wild Grass stars two of Resnais’ favorite actors and constant collaborators — his wife Sabine Azema and his friend Andre Dussollier — both of whom have been regularly appearing in Resnais’ movies since his great Henri Bernstein play adaptation Melo in 1986. As always, Azema is entrancing, radiant and outgoing; Dussollier is subtle, inward and perfectly controlled. They’re an ideal mis-match, especially in this tale of a maniacal love affair, in which unmarried dentist and aviatrix Marguerite (Azema) has her purse stolen by a skateboarder, then recovered and returned by the mysterious bourgeois family man Georges (Dussollier), who promptly becomes obsessed with her, driving them both into darker, more dangerous waters.

There’s a great supporting cast, including three major current French stars: Anne Consigny as Georges’ too-tolerant wife, Emanuelle Devos as Marguerite‘s fellow dentist/pal, and Mathieu Amalric as a kindly, nosy cop. Eric Gautier’s brilliantly hyper-active cinematography is packed with Hithcockian pans, cranes, tracking shots, a feet-only opening sequence straight out of Strangers on a Train, and dreamlike overhead shots straight out of Resnais‘ personal all-timer Hitchcock favorite Vertigo. Mark Snow’s jazz-and-Bernard Herrmannesque score is lyrical and hip. The witty script is by newcomers Alex Reval and Laurent Herbiet. The film is superb. In fact I’m not sure that my three favorite Resnais films right now aren’t Hiroshima, Mon Amour, Night and Fog, and this one.

10. (Tie) Biutiful

Mexico: Alejandro Gonzales Inarittu (LD/Roadside Attractions)

An incredible lead performance by Javier Bardem, as a dying man in an evil world trying desperately to grab some scrap of redemption before the darkness swallows him, is the heart of this superb lower depths Mexican drama by Inarittu (Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel) — who can plunge us below, into those depths, in our modern infernos (especially in Mexico City), like few contemporary filmmakers. Of all my 2010 favorites, this film packed the biggest emotional wallop. (In English and Spanish, with English subtitles.

RUNNERS-UP

12. The Illusionist

France: Sylvain Chomet (Sony Classics)

13. Alice in Wonderland

U.S.; Tim Burton, 2010 (Walt Disney)

14. The King’s Speech
U.K.: Tom Hooper (Weinstein)

15. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
U.S.; Oliver Stone, 2010 (20th Century Fox)

16. The Red Riding Trilogy (Four Stars)

U.K.; Julian Jarrold/James Marsh/Anand Tucker, 2009 (IFC Films)

17. Carlos

France: Olivier Assayas (IFC Films)

18. 127 Hours

U.S.: Danny Boyle

19. Unstoppable

U.S.: Tony Scott

20. The Ghost Writer
U.K.: Roman Polanski

Documentaries: Casino Jack and the United States of Money (U.S.: Alex Gibney); Oceans (France: Jacques Perrin); Restrepo (U.S.: Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger); Sweetgrass; Boxing Gym (U.S.: Frederick Wiseman); Inside Job (U.S.: Charles Ferguson); Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy); Waiting for Superman (U.S.: Davis Guggenheim).

Be Sociable, Share!

One Response to “Wilmington: The Ten Best of 2010”

  1. Robert Hamer says:

    You *liked* Alice in Wonderland? Probably the worst film of the year for me.

    Can’t say I was a fan of Inception or Shutter Island, either, but good call on White Material. Damn, what an experience that was…

Wilmington

awesome stuff. OK I would like to contribute as well by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some amazing and easy to modify. check it out at scarab13.com. All custom premade files, many of them totally free to get. Also, check out Dow on: Wilmington on DVDs: How to Train Your Dragon, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Darjeeling Limited, The Films of Nikita Mikhalkov, The Hangover, The Human Centipede and more ...

cool post. OK I would like to contribute too by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some amazing and easy to customize. check it out at scarab13.com. All custom templates, many of them dirt cheap or free to get. Also, check out Downlo on: Wilmington on Movies: I'm Still Here, Soul Kitchen and Bran Nue Dae

awesome post. Now I would like to contribute too by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some beautiful and easy to modify. take a look at scarab13.com. All custom premade files, many of them free to get. Also, check out DownloadSoho.c on: MW on Movies: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Paranormal Activity 2, and CIFF Wrap-Up

Carrie Mulligan on: Wilmington on DVDs: The Great Gatsby

isa50 on: Wilmington on DVDs: Gladiator; Hell's Half Acre; The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Rory on: Wilmington on Movies: Snow White and the Huntsman

Andrew Coyle on: Wilmington On Movies: Paterson

tamzap on: Wilmington on DVDs: The Magnificent Seven, Date Night, Little Women, Chicago and more …

rdecker5 on: Wilmington on DVDs: Ivan's Childhood

Ray Pride on: Wilmington on Movies: The Purge: Election Year

Quote Unquotesee all »

“But okay, I promise you now that if I ever retire again, I’m going to ensure that I can’t walk it back. I’ll post a series of the most disgusting, offensive, outrageous statements you can ever imagine. That way it will be impossible for me to ever be employed again. No one is going to take my calls. No one is going to want to be seen with me. Oh, it will be scorched earth. I will have torched everything. I’m going to flame out in the most legendary fashion.”
~ Steven Soderbergh

I feel strongly connected to young cinephile culture. The thing about filmmaking—and cinephilia—is that you can’t keep hanging out with your own age group as you get older. They drop off, move somewhere. You can’t put together a crew of sixty-somethings. It’s the same for cinephilia: my original set of cinephile friends are watching DVDs at home or delving into 1958 episodes of ‘Gunsmoke,’ something like that. The people who are out there tend to be young, and I happen to be doing the same thing still, so it’s natural that I move in their circles.

In terms of the filmmaking, there was a gear shift: my first movies focused on people around my age, and I followed them for three films. Until The Unspeakable Act, I was using the same actors, not because of an affinity for people at a specific age, but because of my affinity for the actors. I like to work with actors a second time, especially if I don’t feel confident casting a new film. But The Unspeakable Act was a different script, and I had to cast all new people. Even for the older roles, I couldn’t get the people I’d worked with before. But when it was over, the same thing happened: I wanted to work with Tallie again in the worst way, and I started the process all over again.

I think Rohmer did something similar around the time of Perceval and Catherine de HeilbronnHe developed new groups of people that he liked to work with. These gear shifts are natural. Even if you want to follow certain actors to the end of their life (which I kind of do) the variety of ideas that you generate makes it necessary to change. And once you’ve made the change, you’ve got all these new people around.”
~ Dan Sallitt