Sunday, January 29, 2012

Best of 2011: The Top 5

#5 How to Die in Oregon (dir. Peter Richardson):

A brave, even-handed look at Oregon's Death with Dignity act.  Rather than dwell on the law itself, Richardson goes directly to those who are affected by its provisions.

Hit the link to read what I had to say about it back in February.

#4 The Tree of Life (dir. Terrence Malick):

Terrence Malick's newest vision split audiences wildly, some lapping it up while other viewers chose to turn their backs on it entirely. To be sure, this isn't your average, run of the mill entertainment, reduced to explainable phenomena and wrapped up with a tidy, little moralistic bow at its close; Malick is grappling with large philosophical issues, the answers to which are unreachable by any artistic medium.

Religion, science, special effects, personal mythology and the mysteries of connectivity are all employed but meaning is left to the viewer to discern. To some, this puzzle felt like homework. To others, a visually rich gift.

#3 Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul):

A farmer dying of kidney failure is visited by long departed family members and a series of memories/visions reaching back to before he was born. Weerasethakul breathes new life into the cinema with this trance-inducing, experiential work that defies literal explanations.

One of the few films I've seen in recent years that bears an excessive amount of repeated viewings. Just thinking about it now makes me want to watch it again.

Hit the link to see what I had to say about it in February.

#2 Le Quattro Volte (dir. Michelangelo Frammartino):

My favorite narrative film of the year was also the biggest surprise at the 2011 edition of the Portland International Film Festival, arriving with little to no advanced hype from other festivals.

Hit the link to read my thoughts about it in February (when it was billed locally as The Four Times).

#1 Nostalgia for the Light (dir. Patricio Guzman):

A documentary that blends parallel facts, concepts and viewpoints into a personal and historically-based meditation on time, memory and loss. Despite the dire truths being dealt with here, Guzmán infuses the film with a tactile sense of hope, refusing to give up on his native soil. A remarkable film that pushes boundaries without flash or pomp.

Hit the link to read what I wrote about it back in March.

Thanks for reading.  If you missed the previous "best of 2011" posts, they can be quickly reached here:

Best of 2011: #6-10 
Best of 2011: #11-15 
Best of 2011: #16-20
Best of 2011: The Runners Up

And remember, the press screenings for the 35th annual Portland International Film Festival begin tomorrow.  I'll be at those screenings and actively posting about them on the blog.  So keep an eye out for updates this week and throughout the festival!

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