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Thursday, June 30, 2011

No point waxing poetic about what a shitty year it's been. I know it, and you know it. Luckily, not all was lost. These 5 films represent the high points in film in the last 6 months.

5.) Cedar Rapids
As a comedy, it sort of falls flat. But as a character study, Miguel Arteta's latest is surprisingly insightful. Ed Helms and Anne Heche have never been better, but the real star is Isaiah Whitlock, Jr., who steals every single scene he's in as the Wire-loving "Ronimal."

4.) Rango
Like Fantastic Mr. Fox a few years ago, this animated family film might actually be more enjoyable for adults than kids. Though the little ones will undoubtedly have fun, only true cinephiles can appreciate the callbacks to High Noon and Once Upon a Time in the West. The characters are fun, the humor is clever, and the animation is just gorgeous.

3.) X-Men: First Class
The year that's worth a damn, I was surprised how much I enjoyed this one after how abysmal X-Men Origins: Wolverine was. By shifting the focus to Magneto and Professor X, and taking us back in time to the Cold War, director Matthew Vaughn is able to make something unique and genuinely exciting.

2.) Midnight in Paris
I always root for a Woody Allen comeback. Most years, he disappoints me. Last year, he nearly broke my heart (with You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger). This year, however, he's as good as ever with this whimsical delight. It's the most enjoyable film I've seen so far this year, as well as the funniest and most charming.

1.) Certified Copy
Prediction: This tops my favorites list at year's end. It'll take a bold motion picture to take down Abbas Kiarostami's film, which totally floored me when I finally saw it this May. Told in three languages and lacking any clear plot structure, it's an art house movie through and through. But it's also a brilliant mind puzzle, featuring incredible acting and unparalleled skill behind the camera. I can't say enough good things about it. All I can do is encourage you to see this special film for yourself.


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