Monday, January 2, 2012

DB's Finds of 2011

What do I mean by finds? These are`the small joys of the year. Some are almost the best films; Some are no where near that; all have something special about them that made them stand out from all the other films. To me they are just really cool films worth revisiting and sharing.

I'm going to start by pointing out two films that come from people who have become friends of Unseen Films. These were films by filmmakers that I spoke with and who have made great things. Both are on the Best of the Year list but the discovery of their existence makes them top of the heap of real finds.

BRAID- Chun-Yi Hsieh's award winning short film about a desperate dad and his daughter is one of the best films of the year. I'm putting it here under finds because the real news is Chun-Yi Hsieh a filmmaker of amazing ability. I've seen several of his films and I can not believe at how good they are and how much better he gets with each film. As I reported back in November Braid continues to win awards and Hsieh is wading through numerous projects. Trust me, this is a talent that is going to dazzle us for years to come.

SCRAPPERS- Stephan Wassmann's film is a fantastic movie. Stephan Wassmann is a fantastic director. He's made a deceptively simple story about picking up scrap metal and turned it into something more. I can't say enough good about the film. It's been a while since I spoke to Mr Wassmann but when last I left he was trying to work on several projects relating to Scrappers. I can't wait to see what he does next.

Other finds of the year are:

VILLON'S WIFE- A non-cliched love story about an a drunk and the woman who will do anything for him. Best of all is the ending, which is as perfect as they come.

MIDNIGHT TAXI- Great Brian Donlevy crime film.

STORY TELLING SHOW-Fun and funny animated film about the power of parents telling stories. Wow.

BUKOWSKI- A perfectly told short trifle.

MARCEL THE SHELL- a grin and a smile and five minutes of pure joy (and I got to see the voice behind Marcel do a Q&A as Marcel)

DRIVE- The Sabu metaphysical masterpiece about life and Karma and existence, not the Ryan Gosling film. It will either drive you mad or make you smile from ear to ear at the wonder of it all. Me I still remember the Punk Rock scene and the talk of Karma with great delight

NINJA KIDS- Oh what fun this film is. Its Takashi Miike at his most wonderfully goofy. Watch it and become six again.

THE TROUBLESHOOTER- A pure slam bang popcorn film. Deep its not but damn its a great deal of fun.

UNJUST-Mean Nasty and ugly story of corruption from Korea. Who said we can't have great films like Sydney Lumet used to make because Lumet has died?

HEAVENS STORY- If this wasn't five hours long it would be one of the best films of the year. as it is it's still a haunting film about the wreckage left by senseless murders.

SWORD OF DESPERATION- Great samurai film... with almost no action.

Buzz Aldrin in the Transformers 3 made me smile. Something about that one moment sold the whole thing for me.

THE GUARD- An Irish Western with a great hero and a wicked sense of humor. One of the Joys of Tribeca

WINNIE THE POOH- a remake that nails the original source material perfectly. If only it wasn't just 65 minutes long.

A COLT IS MY PASSPORT- Spaghetti western yakuza film

MONTE CRISTO (1929) Talk about epic filmmaking. A French silent version of the Count of Monte Cristo is film making on the most majestic scale. I saw a short version- oh to get the full version in English (A review is coming in February)

THE SHRINE- a scary film transcends cliche

GOLGOTHA- A wonderful retelling of the life of Christ that is one of the most human you'll ever see.

444 LAST DAY- The world ends with a whimper and leaves us pondering everyone and everything. I suspect this will get better with each new viewing.

TIME OF EVE- Wonderful animated film who's only flaw is it doesn't end (damn TV series source)

INCIDENT AT TOWER 33- Possibly a perfect science fiction film about an alien and a water storage plant.

GNARR- A funny hopeful film that misses being on the best of the year list because it has no sense of who what where.... Please add titles for the VOD release in early February and I'll add it to the Best of the year list

LIAR AND THE BROKEN GIRL- What the hell was that? Cage rattling movie about kidnapping, its aftermath and true love. I'm still rattled six months later.

PUNISHED- Its great but it managed to get lost and just misses the best of the year list. Still Its Anthony Wong giving one of the best performances of the year in a film by one of the world's greatest directors.

THE GANTZ FILMS- Action Science fiction from the managa. If you view them as one super film it;s a masterpiece that just misses being on the best of the year because its got a few sequences that stop the film...and blow your mind (a twenty minute fight on a moving subway for example)

IF YOU MEET SARTANA PRAY FOR YOUR DEATH - First of the 4 or 5 official Sartana films is the introduction of a great character who truly kicks ass. I'll be running a review in March as a series of Spaghetti Westerns on the weekends.

These were all truly great films but the best and my favorites remain and I'll get to them tomorrow.

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