Li’l Fatass’s Top 5 of 2011: Michel Hazanavicius’s The Artist

#1: The top fifteen grossing films of 2011 were all fairy tales. This makes sense as life has become so utterly complicated so as to be considered magical. Everywhere we operate machines that are powered by invisible forces. The Interwebs – invisible. Satellites and televisions – invisible. Cell phones – invisible. Air travel – invisible. Vending machines? I mean, how does the food get in there? Fucking magical.

Also we’ve never been in proximity (temporally or geographically) to more undeniably villainous creatures than right now. Serial killers. Priestly child molesters. Osama bin Laden. Bernie Madoff stole eighteen billion dollars. Eighteen billion. Can you even fathom what that means? It means that if he stole that amount in $100 bills he’d have thrown his back out trying to lift the three hundred and ninety-six thousand pounds of cash (a hundred and ninety-eight tons) into his getaway van. Supervillainous forces are upon us. It is a reasonable response for us to become desperate for superheroes.

The obsession with fairly tales also makes sense since we now live in a godless America. I do not judge Americans for denouncing their various gods. The church has lost so much footing given that 2.6 billion dollars they’ve spent in molestation-related costs. But now our trust has gone out aimlessly. Our spiritual energy has gone out in search of magic, omniscience, predetermination, and moral authority. And it has apparently found Harry Potter and Edward and the Pirates of the Caribbean.

I believe magic can exist at the cinema – but in general I believe it does not exist at the top of the American box office. For me, one of the best markers for good art is surprise. Unforeseen delight. The least surprising artistic pieces are oddly the most profitable and accessible – those showing at your local movie theater. And probably involving Shia LeBeouf. There is an incredible tolerance by American audiences to be consistently disappointed by the movies they go see. I’m not sure if this is courageous or borderline-retarded behavior.

How many films can you list that didn’t waste a single opportunity? I thought so. Michel Hazanavicius created the only truly ingenious picture of the year. He made ten times the film of the any other and he did it using one-tenth the money, one-tenth the technology. Still, the magic got in there  . . . $14

If you heart The Artist:

Recommendations by Li’l Fatass:
Campbell Scott’s & Stanley Tucci’s Big Night
Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights
Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler

Nicolas Winding Refn’s & Hossein Amini’s Drive

Drive is about perfection. Which is to say PERFECTION is what Drive IS DOING. Ryan Gosling for example has no pores. Pores for him would be a marker of defeat. There is no defeat in Ryan Gosling’s complexion. His complexion is a flawless ecosystem of radiance and coincidental lubrications. Ryan Gosling’s face is in fact an epiphyte. An epiphyte collecting its radiance from the moisture and nutrients in the air and rain and other coincidental detritus.

There is something perfect about watching a cat chase a mouse. Especially when the cat is deranged Albert Brooks armed with many shivs and abalone-encrusted razorblades.

People who saw Anton Corbijn’s The American know it was not perfect. The American did not contain Ryan Gosling for one thing. Well, Ryan Gosling could never be CONTAINED. But The American did not make an attempt to touch Ryan Gosling, did not attempt to CORRAL him, which was its primary mistake. In other ways The American was allowed to share some characteristics of Drive’s perfection. Its sparseness. Its assiduous attention to the movement and pacing of THE SCENE. Its desire to connect lonely souls for momentary alleviations of sufferings. Its desire to tear loved ones apart so as to intensify the sensation of longing. Its longing. Its willingness to produce longing. A longing to break from unsalvageable situations.

Sofia Coppola should sue Drive. For one thing Drive has stolen HER MOVIE from her. They have stolen HER MOVIE and made it better than she could have made it. That is the most painful form of stealing. As when a thief steals your lemons and makes his lemonade. As when a thief steals your girlfriend and puts her on a diet. Drive gives the illusion the narrative is meandering when the opposite is true. Each deviation adds up to the tightly-wound contraption of their narrative.

No Country for Old Men was perfect but not because of Javier Bardem’s haircut. Or was it? Maybe aesthetic perfection can be achieved by making a handsome man very, very ugly.

Oscar Isaac does something ingenious with his role. He saves his role from being easily forgettable. He is his own savior. That is sort of like being Jesus Christ if Jesus only saved one person. And that person was a role in a movie.

Violence – too much? A lot of spurting involved. A lot of spurting and Ryan Gosling stomping his boot through skulls. Skulls are like pumpkins to this guy.

Music. David Lynch thinks music should be very intrusive upon the spell the movie is making. David Lynch also thinks the Transcendental Meditation technique is going to help him levitate. The soundtrack of Drive does seem to levitate and speak above our conscious desires. When I put the Drive soundtrack in my own car I did think I was levitating for a moment, but it turned out I was only driving very slowly up a hill. Then I felt disappointed in the car I was driving. Conversely my car felt even more disappointed I was not Ryan Gosling.

Carey Mulligan is looking good as a blonde.

Slow motion. No one uses slow motion anymore. That is because nothing is perfect anymore except for brevity. But Drive is not afraid of slow motion. So as to prolong brevity. So as to prolong the only scrap of perfection that is offered to us.

Best movie out right now . . . $11

If you heart Drive:

Recommendations by Day Gun Sho
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
Wild at Heart
Punch-Drunk Love

Paul Feig & Kristen Wiig’s Bridesmaids

If you like wasting your money and your life and your brain particles and your soul then you should probably go watch Thor or Priest or the newest iteration in the Pirates franchise. Most adult Americans are severely impaired which is why fairy tale movies are the highest grossing at the box office. Foreigners who keep abreast of our film statistics visit American theaters expecting to see droves of full-grown men and women wearing helmets and diapers and attended by “helpers” – the “helper’s” main duty being to dab drool from an American’s spastic limbs.

But the problem with most Americans is not that they are retarded. The problem is they are misinformed and sometimes Redneck (there are always going to be a few Rednecks to anchor down our curve – that cannot be helped and therefore we shouldn’t apologize for it). A lot of money – billions of dollars in fact – have been spent trying to convince you that Thor and Pirates will satisfy all your entertainment and spiritual needs. But I fail to see how that is even remotely possible. How does the average American, especially one that is fat, unemployed, uneducated, impotent, etc. relate to a viking from outer space who dresses like he is going to Halloween party where he bought both the Tron and Power Rangers costumes? Why do Americans love the idea of pirates? And why is our most beloved interpretation of a pirate a hobo Johnny Depp decked-out in garb from the Renaissance Fair and a bandana he stole from a Mexican basketball player? Real pirates look like Ethiopian rapists because they are. If an Ethiopian rapist and Captain Jack Sparrow ever came face to face I’m pretty sure we know who is taking a walk on the brown side.

This is a ridiculously long tangent to get to why Bridesmaids is the best movie this year so far. Not only because it is the most entertaining film – but because a tremendous sincerity is paid to the treatment of friendship and sex and romance and frankly – the socioeconomic divide. Now I know what some of you are thinking – how can sincerity be paid to the topic of female friendship when we all know attractive women are incapable of maintaining genuine friendships, especially with other women?

First of all – the women in Bridesmaids are not so attractive. I mean they are pretty in that slightly overripe, white-girl way. But now you are thinking – well I even know ugly women who can’t hold down a single true friend. Forget that myth. Forget the trite, unrealistic portrayals of female friendships (i.e. Sex in the City – portrayals probably written by gay guys and women who don’t have any friends) that came before.

Bridesmaids is wholly original in its focus on a competitive but ultimately enduring female camaraderie. And if your friends were as funny or as winning or as fiercely loyal as the ladies here – you would never doubt female friendship again. Kristen Wiig is also the best thing in panties on the big or small screen today . . . $13

If you heart Bridesmaids:

Recommendations by Quispy
Lovely and Amazing
Adventureland
Whip It


Inside Job

Begs the question – where is Jesus during all this? Millions of jobs evaporated. Thousands made homeless overnight. Pensions stolen. The highest order of academia infiltrated by self-interested consultants. Global financial Armageddon. Only the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have seen it fit to rain down billions of dollars in bonuses to the highest paid 1% on their way to scour the powerless and the meek with fire, brimstone, unemployment, depression, homelessness, no insurance, no health care, and a double-dose of voicelessness. If there is a Jesus it would be excruciatingly difficult for him to comprehend the complexity of today’s financial system. You would have to get him up to speed on a lot of things. Such as what a computer is and why there are no more slaves.

Inside Job does an admirable job (for myself, the layman with literally no money possessed to be at stake) mapping out the failings of the Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush pt II, and Obama administrations to understand or regulate the financial system. It becomes quickly clear finance in the US is one roided-out bully that effectively pushes government around. When massive companies such as Goldman Sachs or AIG aren’t telling government to shut up – they’re telling government to pay up.

But one problem with Inside Job – after identifying a slew of problems – why do you offer no solutions? What am I supposed to do with all my anger? Should I march on Washington? Should I be robbing these CEOs and distributing their wealth in tent cities across America? With a problem as deep-seeded and wide-spread occurs, the best solution may be to move to Canada. Jesus seems like an immobile choice for rescue . . . $8

Babies

BABIES!!!  who doesn’t love babies?  Obviously everyone loves babies.  So pretty smart move focusing on just babies and nothing else.   Thomas Balmes takes us to four different countries to follow the first year of four incredibly cute babies Bayar, Hattie, Mari, and Ponijao.  Bayar is the only boy of the bunch.  There are a few interesting things to note about babies through this study, 1) that although the babies are really small, can’t talk to really gesture, you can see how different their personalities are, and you can actually like (or like not as much) one baby over another.  and yes, I compared, and yes, I came out with favorites; 2) how much the babies adopted what they saw around them as things they would do themselves; and 3) how similar and how different each one of them was based on their environment.  Nothing ground-breakingly new, but still is interesting to view these development of the brand new humans first hand, in an accelerated journey through their first year of life.

I also found myself worried over the safety of some of the babies, but they all turned out fine!  When Bayar looked like he was about to get crushed by a horse‘s hoof, the horse evaded him and he crawled through the horses legs, happy as a plum.

This is a movie focuses on the adorable-ness of the protagonists, but in the context of  the lush scenary and beautiful backgrounds of BayanchandmaniMongolia (Bayar), OpuwaNamibia (Ponijao), San Francisco, US (Hattie), and Japan, Tokyo (Mari).  Best of all, this is currently available on streaming at netflix, if you have a subscription.  An enjoyable film with minimal dialog but plenty of ooh-ing and ahhh-ing…$8

If you heart Babies:

Recommendations from …:

Mad Hot Ballroom
Hero (visually beautiful)
March of the Penguins

%d bloggers like this: