They Don't Know


Ten-plus years ago, I posted a long roundup here of all the films Iíd seen that year--37 of them, ranked in order, with a comment and a rating for each one. A lot of the comments were brief, but there were some longer ones, too, at both the top and near the bottom of the list. (The Gangs of New York got a long comment--just hated it, and still havenít gone back for a second look.) The ratings were rather severe. I gave my favourite film that year--Pornstar: The Legend of Ron Jeremy--a 7.5. Iím down to 6.0 for my #5 film, Donnie Darko, and a 5.5 still got you inside the top ten. I think I still compared every film to Nashville back then, and I remember expressing perplexity at Aaron Aradillas a couple of years later (in another year- end piece, a three-way e-mail exchange with Aaron and Brian Abrams for rockcritics.com) for not expecting, or at least hoping for, a masterpiece every time he went to the movies: Aaron...well, I don't know if we'll be co-hosting any film festivals anytime soon; we disagree about a lot. You actually set the bar at "competently made" when you go to see a film? You don't expect anything more, because you know you'd just be foolishly setting yourself up for disappointment? Wow--that's such a strange mindset to me. I basically want--maybe not expect, but sometimes that too--every film I see to be some combination of The Godfather, Sweet Smell of Success, and Nashville. I'm exaggerating, obviously, but I don't see the point of seeing something if you don't hold out some degree of hope that you're going to get a lot more than just competency. Do I still feel the same way? I think I do, but I donít know. Either Iíve become more attuned to the smaller virtues of less-than-perfect films, or my standards have gone down--either way, Iím a little less harsh in my appraisal of newer films. (ďGone down,Ē I should clarify, only as judged against my standards in 2002--someone else would look at that list and say they were never that high in the first place.) I saw a fair number of films this year, and liked enough of them to draw up a Top 20 list. If I were rating them, even my #20, Ginger and Rosa, would get a 6.0 or a 6.5. Iíve commented on all these films over at ILX, usually quick first impressions right after Iíve seen them. I thought about cutting-and-pasting those comments here, but between looking lazy or looking lazy and somewhat creepy, Iím going to opt for plain old lazy and just go with the list. The first two stand a little bit apart from everything else. 1. Room 237 2. Nothing Can Hurt Me 3. At Berkeley 4. Enough Said 5. I Am Divine 6. Nebraska 7. Frances Ha 8. Good Olí Freda 9. Our Nixon 10. Everybody Street 11. Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia 12. Fruitvale Station 13. American Hustle 14. Inside Llewyn Davis 15. The Trials of Muhammad Ali 16. Continental 17. Greenwich Village: Music That Defined a Generation 18. Mud 19. Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's 20. Ginger and Rosa Twentyís a Nice Round Number, Else Iíd List These Too: Anita, History of the Eagles Varying Degrees of Okay: Side Effects, The Bling Ring, This Is the End, Berberian Sound Studio, Casting By, Teenage, Terms and Conditions May Apply, Filthy Gorgeous: The Bob Guccione Story, Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp, Something in the Air, Bert Stern: Original Mad Man, Watermark Didnít Care For: Computer Chess, Behind the Candelabra Transgressively Silly: Spring Breakers Dreadful: The Wolf of Wall Street Too Tired That Night: Design Is One: Lella & Massimo Vignelli Still Plan to See: Blue Is the Warmest Color (today), Her, Dallas Buyerís Club, Gravity, Like Someone in Love, a bunch of documentaries I didnít get around to (thereís one on Gene Clark?) Donít Really Want to See: Before Midnight, 12 Years a Slave, An Act of Killing

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