Best Viewed in 2011

Over at Video Word Made Flesh, we did a recent post about contributors’ favorite movies of the year. The idea is that we watch movies from all eras, so choosing one released in 2011 is assuming that movies in 2011 were good. (Although, maybe some of them were.) For that post, I ultimately chose Rosemary’s Baby, but there are so many other good movies that I’ve seen this year! So, in no particular order, here are the best movies I saw in 2011.

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Rosemary discovers marks from inception.

It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly it was about Rosemary’s Baby that stuck with me so much. This is the first (and at this point, the only) film I’ve seen by Roman Polanski and I went into the film thinking it would be another classic horror tale. Now, having seen it, I wouldn’t even really describe it as “horror.” It’s frightening because there’s very little, if anything, in the film you can trust as a viewer.

There’s something very primal about Rosemary’s fear. It’s natural that she would feel protective of her child, and also that she would feel threatened by shadowy forces. Mia Farrow’s performance is understated, to the point of almost feeling like a beautiful blank slate, which makes it easy for the audience to empathize with her. Ruth Gordon (of Harold and Maude fame) won Best Supporting Actress for her role as the intrusive, endearing, but ultimately evil neighbor. She plays up Polanski’s subtle, bleak humor, at the same time providing a powerful personality for Rosemary’s “blank slate” to shine against.

For the rest of this post, head over to Video Word Made Flesh and check it out!

Annie Hall (1977

If you have watched movies with me, you probably know that I’m not too into comedies. And when I am, it’s usually something really cerebral. Like anything Woody Allen makes.

Say what you want about the man, but his art … fantastic. I watched this a while ago, so there’s not much to say as far as analysis goes, but the script is brilliant, Diane Keaton is fantastic, and the fashion is wonderful. I don’t talk about enjoying comedies very often, but I loved “Annie Hall.”

I actually watched this a really long time ago, and it’s been a while, so I don’t have too much more to say, other than that I loved it.

Blue Velvet (1986)

“I don’t know whether you’re a detective or a pervert.” “That’s for me to know and you to find out.”

The 2011 HD/re-release trailer claims that this is “one of the most disturbing movies of all time.” I’m … not quite sure I would say that, but it is pretty disturbing and not in any way for the faint-of-heart. The quote I used to caption this screenshot summarizes nicely the main theme of the film: voyeurism.

The movie starts out in a perfectly ordinary, even picturesque small town. The setting of the film seems to be a vague “some time in the past”, somewhere between the fifties and the eighties. The plot is kicked off when a young college student returns to his home town, goes on a walk, and finds a severed ear in the field. He talks to the local detective, but his curiosity is insatiable and he must continue the search for the killer. He leaps head-first into the dark side of the town, and soon gets in over his head with the local gang.

The young man (Jeffrey, I believe) determines that he must save this local night club singer Dorothy Vallens (played by Isabella Rosselini) from almost certain doom. Her husband has been captured, and to appease her husband’s captor, she must have graphic, kinky sex with him.

What I really loved about this film is the pseudo-nostalgia and the very dark humor. This movie is definitely making fun of the hard-boiled detective of film noir, turning questions of justice and righteousness back to the motive. I’ll be writing a much longer post about “Blue Velvet” for Video Word Made Flesh later this month, so I’ll refrain from writing too much here.

The X Files (seasons 1-2)

Scully and Mulder first meet!

I can’t believe it took me so long to start watching The X Files! I love this show – both the understated and the ridiculous aspects of it are done very well. I’m not sure whether to actually believe Mulder that things are as bad as they are, or to just enjoy watching Scully reign him in.

It’s difficult to sum up a tv show, especially one that aired for as long as this one did. I think the writers do a very good job of balancing the show being episodic with a sort of overall plot. They also make the show accessible to people that aren’t all that into UFOs. As a matter of fact, I think this is the first thing involving aliens that I liked. (At least, that I watched … I think there might have been a book involving aliens somewhere in there …)

**

This is just a sampling of the amazing movies/tv shows that I watched in 2011! Thank you all for bearing with me until the end of this post.

I do have some work planned for 2012. Specifically, I want to spend a lot of time reading books that Stanley Kubrick based movies on, watching the movies, and comparing the two. Should be fuuuuun … Anyway, there will be many more posts to come in the new year. Be excited!

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