My Year In Film

Top Five favorites from the year. Not necessarily released this year, but they were new to me for whatever reason.

Color Me Obsessed. Growing up in Minnesota was an experience that gave me many odd gifts, including an imperviousness to near-arctic-levels of cold and an across-the-century kinship with Our Lady of the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder. And then we had The Replacements. I was fourteen when “Pleased to Meet Me” was released. Fourteen! Do you know how much a song like “Can’t Hardly Wait” resonates with a fourteen-year-old girl? The gutsy, raw, sloppy gusto on the radio was like nothing else, most certainly nothing like Duran Duran, which was my actual favorite band at the time, and shook me up almost violently. I had to physically stop whatever else I was doing and listen when that song played, and it made me want to fly, it was that adrenaline-rush-inducing. “They were a glorious mess,” as they say in the movie. I was a mess when I was fourteen. Hell, I am still a mess. This documentary is a joy and a celebration and now quite easy to see online, thank goodness.

Moonrise Kingdom. What kind of bird are you? I love anything Wes Anderson does, but this one warmed my heart more than most. It helps that I saw it with my young teenage friend, and she was as enchanted and delighted as you’d expect, but it was also her first Anderson film. “I want to live in this movie!” she said. And so do I, which is something I say for every one of his films.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Absolutely mesmerizing, and I so regret not seeing it as intended, in 3D on a big screen. It’s an amazing technical feat, filmed with very limited gear in hardly any time at all. And it’s also poignant and bemusing in a way that only a Werner Herzog film can be. “In a forbidden recess of the cave, there’s a footprint of an eight-year-old boy next to the footprint of a wolf. Did a hungry wolf stalk the boy? Or did they walk together as friends? Or were their tracks made thousands of years apart? We’ll never know.”

Casa Di Mi Padre. I know. What? I don’t even know if this was ever in my local theater. We watched this on Pay-Per-View on a night when I needed to see something silly, and my expectations were low, to say the least. So to end up weeping with laughter, having to rewind bits because I was crying laughing so hard that my eyes were squinched shut and I couldn’t read the subtitles, was a pleasant surprise indeed. Will Ferrell commits himself 100% to this farce, and it wouldn’t have worked any other way.

Magical Mystery Tour. I’m over forty years late to this particular party, though it’s not for lack of trying. I grew up obsessed with The Beatles and while of course I had the album (on vinyl, and then on cd) it was never really released in the U.S. and my knowledge of it was limited to the withering commentary about it, along with the tantalizing proto-music-video bits, in The Compleat Beatles. I suppose if I’d tried harder I could have found a bootleg VHS copy at some point, but as it turns out, it was for the best, I think, that I saw the restored version, along with a documentary, on PBS’ Great Performances. I expected a mess, and it was a mess, but it was also so beautiful, in a melancholic, manic kind of way. Really astonished me, and I’m in the odd position now of wanting to watch it over and over again… but also being a little afraid to spoil the wonder of seeing it for the first time.

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