Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cahiers du Cinéma, New York DIY, James Gray and ‘The Nightingale’

"I'm always happy when good films are received by a public. It's good for everyone, for myself, Darren Aronofsky, James Gray and others. I know James. He is the model. He can make films for little money and with an enormous independence." - Paul Thomas Anderson

The revered French film-magazine Cahiers du Cinéma, since Stéphane Delorme became the chief-editor in 2009, has been producing and emphasizing more their multi-article feature section. Cahiers is still emphasizing their film reviews but they are no longer dedicating the magazine’s cover each month only to a still from a new film (something Positif does) as there has been a shift towards new and different areas.  What is published in these features is some of the more interesting film writing today: cinephile-oriented criticism-infused journalism.

The new February issue's feature is The American Force which includes reviews of the new Spielberg, Tarantino, and Bigelow films and think-pieces about how these American filmmakers are reflecting upon the country’s history (N.686), the January's feature is the most anticipated films of 2013 (cf. more on it below), and December's controversial feature is The Ten Pitfalls of Auteur Cinema (which Richard Brody does a good job of surveying, The Art-House Consensus). The Cahiers features vary in subject, accessibility and relevance. Example: one needs to be interested in France's film schools to gain from their survey of them (N.676), or be familiar with the entire filmography of Hong Sang-soo to really appreciate that dossier (N.682), or have at least seen Sokurov’s Faust (N.679) to want to better understand it philosophically and its art-history visual references. The point is: even if one is not familiar with these topics, it is important writing that is pushing the boundaries of published film-writing. The magazine’s back-issues also make for a valuable asset as references for when the films finally become available to the reader.

One of Cahiers's more interesting features is New York: La Génération "Do It Yourself" (Sept. '11, N.670) where they interview a range of up-and-coming independent New York filmmakers and ask them questions regarding filming, their motivation to create, and what they think about the city (cf. New York and Toronto DIY filmmakers). Highlights from these interviews are when filmmakers talk about some of their influences: Ronald Bronstein, "I guess that Frederick Wiseman is the master." The Safdie brothers on Two Lovers, "a masterpiece of melodrama," and on the “essential” New York filmmakers there is Abel Ferrara and the Woody Allen of Broadway Danny Rose. The Borderline Films guy’s (Antonio Campos, Sean Durkin and Josh Mond) favorite New York filmmakers are Scorsese and the James Gray of Little Odessa ("Gray shows a specific part of New York that you rarely see"). Marie Losier admires the Maysles brothers, D.A. Pennebaker and Jonas Mekas. And according to Carlen Altman from The Color Wheel, "My only cinéphilie comes from Weekend at Bernie's and Scary Movie 3, because I love Anna Faris," and for Alex Ross Perry the New York filmmaker par excellence is the Woody Allen of Husbands and Wives.

If Abel Ferrara is brought up several times in the interviews (he also has a cameo in the Safdie’s Daddy Longlegs) it is no doubt because his films resonate and that he embodies what it means to be an independent New York filmmaker. Ferrara seems to be currently experiencing a renaissance as in France this past year two of his more recent films 4:44 Last Day on Earth and Go Go Tales were finally distributed and both made their way onto Cahiers' Top Ten Films of 2012. Clayton Patterson writes about Ferrara that he is "a true champion of the Lower East Side," Nicole Brenez writes that "he stays the real king of New York," and Jean-Sébastien Chauvin aptly compares him to another master filmmaker: “Godard is like the hero of 4:44 by Ferrara: he doesn’t even need to go outside, as he sees all, and the images from outside come to him.” So if Ferrara is the king of New York then James Gray is the prince of the city.

There is a new book, and the first one, on Gray which is a good starting-point to discuss the director of such great films like Little Odessa, The Yards, We Own the Night, and Two Lovers (cf. Two Lovers and White Nights). Even though Gray is quite generous in his director commentary tracks on the DVDs of his films, Jordan Mintzer’s Conversations with James Gray (Synecdoche books), which is edited by David Frenkel, offers a new and interesting perspective on the director. Mintzer is a Hollywood Reporter film-critic, though he also freelances (his piece on Serge Daney for The Moving Image Source is really good) and he has also produced, and written a couple of screenplays, for Matthew Porterfield (Putty Hill). This industry perspective gives the book an insightful journalistic quality where the interviewer is trying to pry interesting answers from his subject and also that of a peer who wants to better understand the craft and different areas of filmmaking.

Conversations with James Gray opens up with a foreword by Mintzer, an introduction by Jean Douchet, James Gray: The Art of Thought ("The films of James Gray, both in their thought and expression, are classic works which reinvent our conception of classicism. They are, therefore, entirely modern."), and there are a few nice things said by Francis Ford Coppola.

The book is divided by interviews: in Origins, Gray discusses his background growing up in New York, and in The School of Film Gray talks about his love of movies. After this the interviews are film specific: Little Odessa, which also includes interviews with Tim Roth, the producer Paul Webster, and the director of photography Tom Richmond. The Yards, which also includes interviews with Mark Wahlberg, James Caan, the screenwriter Matt Reeves, the director of photography Harris Savides, and composer Howard Shore. We Own the Night, which also includes the story-board for the famous car-chase scene, and interviews with Eva Mendes, Moni Moshonov, the producer Nick Wechsler, the director of photography Joaquin Baca-Asay, and production designer Ford Wheeler. Two Lovers, which also includes interviews with Gwyneth Paltrow, Vinessa Shaw, the producer Anthony Katagas, the editor John Axelrad, and sound designer Douglas Murray. Finally there is Z And Beyond, which is of interest for Gray’s comments about the unrealized The Lost City of Z, a filmography - which begins with Gray’s 1991 student 12-min film Cowboys and Angels - and an index.

In the January issue of Cahiers du Cinéma (N.685), the new month for their regular issue dedicated to the “most anticipated films of the year,” the film that editorially is the most highlighted is James Gray’s The Nightingale. Along with the new Gray film (who is also co-writing another film with Guillaume Canet) Cahiers features Claire Denis’ Les Salauds, Bong Joon-Ho's Le Transperceneige, Arnaud Desplechin's Portrait of Jimmy P., Lisandro Alonso's Viggo Mortensen project, Michel Gondry's L'Écume des jours, Xavier Dolan's Tom à la ferme, Serge Bozon's Tip Top, Quentin Dupieux's Wrong Cops and Réalité, Jean-Luc Godard's Adieu au Language, and Bruno Dumont's Camille Claudel, 1915.

"Rien n'est plus beau que la pellicule," according to Darius Khondji, which is also the title of the interview with him by Mintzer in Cahiers. Khondji, who most recently shot Woody Allen's To Rome With Love, is the director of photography on The Nightingale and he talks to Mintzer (who also wrote about his experience on the set for Libération) about many interesting things regarding the film. Khondji talks about all the small details regarding the visual references in the film, how they dealt on set with all of the technical details (CinemaScope vs. digital), and what kind of work goes into shooting a period film. On filming with celluloid, "we wanted an image that is more brute, and not so clean." Gray and Khondji made sure to hire John DeBlau as the chief electrician, who Khondji worked with previously on The Interpreter by Sydney Pollack. And Khondji elaborates on some of the visual references for the film that includes Coppola’s The Godfather II, the paintings of the Ashcan School (Bellows and Shinn), the erotic polaroids of the Italien architect Carlo Mollino, and Altman’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller

Monday, January 28, 2013

Two Lovers and White Nights: Perception as Pain

This is a paper that I wrote in 2010 for a Literature and Film class from when I was doing my undergrad at the University of Ottawa. The assignment was to compare a story to its film adaptation. I’m publishing it now to show where my writing has come from as well to accompany another post I’m planning to do on James Gray. – D.D.
James Gray adapted Fyodor Dostoevsky’s short story White Nights (1848) in 2009 as the feature length film Two Lovers.  The original short story spans a few days and progresses through conversations and the thoughts of a first person narrator and it has a novelistic edge that conveys the psychology of the nameless protagonist. The adaptation Two Lovers through the use of narrative, acting, and cinematography conveys the same feelings of perception-as-pain and of yearning and loneliness as the book but transplants them in a contemporary New York City setting instead of Saint Petersburg and the story takes place over an unmentioned period of time as it illustrates a society and world larger than the depictions in the story. Two Lovers fulfills the act of a successful adaptation through the reinterpretation of the classic story and making it relevant for a contemporary audience.
The American film director James Gray’s filmography includes We Own The Night (2007), The Yards (2000) and Little Odessa (1994) and his films share many of the same themes, settings (e.g., New York City) and repertoire of actors. Gray’s protagonists are usually lone male adults who are confronted by a corrupt world and are surrounded by uncontrollable circumstances that are to their disfavor. The protagonists are usually morally noble and have to perform a courageous act even if it is challenging and comes at a personal cost. Gray’s films have a keen textural feel for human body language and gestures. Cinematographically, his films are shot with steadycams – which means the camera is hand wield - giving the mobile images a shaky quality thus bringing the viewer directly into the subjectivity of the characters and the stories. People are shown buried in crowds, a filmic device that further isolates the already alienated protagonist. This technique hints at how these feelings of sadness are a symptom of existence in metropolis cities.
The story becomes a pretext for a repertoire of themes that Gray illustrates effectively in the film.  Where in the start of the book the narrator first sees Nastenka standing against a railing, presumably on a bridge, the film begins with Leonard on a footbridge by Sheepshead Bay creek in Brooklyn. The same setting of a railing hawks back to the original story. Instead of seeing the women crying by the railing and then harassed by a stranger, in the film Leonard meets Michelle in his apartment building hallway. He gets her away from a fight with her father and invites her into his apartment. In both cases She is everything that, he thinks, he wants.
Though White Nights has already been adapted to film by some great filmmakers like Luchino Visconti’s Le Notti Bianche (1957) and Robert Bresson’s Four Nights of a Dreamer (1971), Gray’s adaptation sticks out. This literary adaptation, which is indicated in a pre-credits inter-title, poetically alters the original story. The obstacles of translating a work of literature into film, I think, is being true to the intent of the content and form of the original work. What is so effective of adapting short stories is that they allow for more visual expansion on themes through mise-en-scene than do longer novels that have major themes and longer plots to reproduce. Shorter works can be more fully explored within an hour-and-fifty-minute long film.
The shift in the works title from a rosy description to an ambiguous dyad, Two Lovers, implies now a definite couple and that they are "lovers". A lover is defined as "a person who loves, esp. a person who has or shows a warm and general affectionate regard for others" (Weiner & Simpson 1989). The film Two Lovers incorporates more characters - coincidently more “lovers” - then the original short story. Where in the story the nameless narrator only interacts with the one woman - the object of his desire - and his cleaning lady. In the film there are multiple sets of lovers: Leonard and Michelle, Leonard and Sandra, Michelle and Ronald, Mrs. Kraditor and Mr. Kraditor, and Mr. Cohen and Mrs. Cohen. The title and the social expectation of matrimony are the reasons that Leonard is in the dilemma of having to choose between Michelle and Sandra.
In White Nights the narrator lives with his maid Matrona. In the film, Leonard lives with his mother and father and works at their Brooklyn dry-cleaning storefront. His parents are immigrant Russian-Jews. The Russian heritage is a reference to the original author Fyodor Dostoyevsky’a ethnicity. 
Two Lovers begins with Leonard walking on a footbridge with a bag of dry-cleaning clothes. He perches along the ledge and jumps off. Everything is still. He sees through the water the sun and visions of his ex-fiancée. He changes his mind, rises to the top of the water and yells for help. He is rescued. Then he goes home without thanking his rescuer. His parents are really worried about him, his mother says “he tried it again” and later his father will tell him to not loose any more of the stores clothes. Leonard parents attempt to boost his self-esteem by bringing up his positive qualities. They worry about who he calls at night and about his mental health. When his mother is curious about his late-night activity, she gets down on her knees and peers in to the room through the crack at the bottom of the door. The physicality of someone walking towards a door cannot be translated in the film, so instead what you hear are the creeks of the wood or steps on the carpet. In the film Leonard'a mothers shadow can be seen as she kneels down by the door to spy on him.
The film is emotionally wrenching in its attention to human behavior and gestures. The acting and direction demonstrated through conversations are excruciatingly intimate. In a conversation with Sandra, Leonard reveals to her his healed marks from cut veins on his wrist, scars from past suicide attempts. The notion of perception-as-pain defines Leonard conditions. No matter what he is doing, he does it with raw energy. Whether it is when he is down-looking, holding hands, getting lost in Michelle’s eyes, shying away from family dinners, is giddy and hops, or tells a joke (after being asked what is his secret, “If I told you it would not be a secret!”).
One of the reasons Two Lovers is emotionally astute is due to the painful-lonely-charming character of Leonard who is acted by the Joaquin Phoenix. Coincidently during the promotion of the film Phoenix had a nervous breakdown and was confrontational in an interview on the David Letterman show and retired from acting to pursue his music career. Here you have an actor whose character persona and real-life behavior is blurring together. In the film, Leonard raps for Michelle and her friends in a taxi on their way to a nightclub. It is also interesting that Leonard is a fan of movies (e.g. he talks about them, his wall has a 2001: A Space Odyssey poster) and he is photographer, his mother exclaims "He takes wonderful black and white photographs", as these two qualities are shared by the filmmaker Gray.
To further comment upon the difference in the two works title's: White Nights is a literary title as it conjures an images, a task that involves creativity. To visually imagine a “white night” is difficult as night is typically black and dark. The title itself posits a contradiction. Imagery that comes to mind to describe a “white night” includes nighttime on a snow-filled landscape, a neighborhood of white buildings, or in an obtrusively illuminated environment. In Two Lovers the most true-to-the-book interpretation of a “white night” is one of the films most cathartic scenes and simultaneously a scene that is cut short. Leonard and Michelle talked about their love for one another and their immediate plans to move to San Francisco together. Then they have sex on a hut on their apartment rooftop. Following, in a long establishing shot, there is the white brick hut, which hides them, it is dusk, the sky is white, the surrounding neighborhood is still, it goes off into the distance, church bells are ringing. Pure beauty. Narratively, this scene, this embrace is the heart of the story. Being united for Leonard, and the viewer, represents an ideal that has finally been attained and that later will turn out not to materialize. The scene should have been prolonged.
It is important to examine the two women and what they mean to Leonard. In the story, the narrator explains to Nastenka that he is lonely and shy and would really like to find a woman that accepts him and that she is that woman. She rejects the protagonist after previously and hesitantly deciding to fortify their emotional bond. The protagonist goes from being devastated to be able to find some meaning in existence. This structure is re-iterated in Two Lovers. Now there are two women in competition for his yearning. Sandra represents the safe choice for Leonard, a decision advocated by his parents. She represents a safe and conforming option. Then there is Michelle who represents intense emotions. Leonard loves her and takes care of her. He even picks up her late night calls, tries to take care of her when she is drugged at a nightclub, and also brings her to a hospital where she has a miscarriage of a son from a married man. To quote Leonard, Michelle “is as fucked up as I am.”
Leonard’s father is currently expanding his business with his collaborator Michael Cohen. The two entrepreneurs are planning to open several new dry-cleaning shops in the Brooklyn area. The Cohen's daughter is Sandra. The two families meet for dinner and after a beef roast dinner with pickles, Leonard takes Sandra to his geek-haven room. He turns over a picture of his ex-fiancé.  The parents desire the two Jewish young-adults to start a relationship, for their own sake. Leonard used to be engaged but the marriage was annulled as the two of them had low fecundity levels and they were unable to have kids.
Near the film's end Leonard chooses Michelle. Leonard bought airplane tickets to San Francisco for him and Michelle the previous night on the Internet. His mother, who provides him with unconditional love, stops him on his way out from their new year eve party and tells him to be safe. As Leonard waits outside for Michelle, he notices her room's light is off. She is not down yet, and his surroundings are still. His anxiety leaks out of the frame. Is she even going to come down? If she does not, where is she? Is the love unrequited? Has she committed suicide? Leonard knows she is a depressive. This raw feeling that comes from rendering private moments, accentuated by the suspense of never knowing what is going to happen next, makes Two Lovers so effective and the performances so affective. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Drive: road movie tendencies in Tower and Krivina

There is a key image in two recent films of that of two people - not necessarily friends but not strangers, either - in a car driving on a highway talking to each other and trying to communicate something, which turns out to be difficult to say. Since both of these films, Kazik Radwanski’s Tower and Igor Drljača’s Krivina, are set in Toronto one could propose to place these scenes in the road movie tradition set forth by the seminal Canadian film Goin' Down the Road. In a spread out country, where there are many opportunities (or the perception of such) offered elsewhere, sometimes the best option is to get in a car and drive. It is this simple impulse, the feeling to get away and start anew, and to share one's stories with whoever they are with, which empowers some of the more powerful scenes in Tower and Krivina.

In Tower there is a scene where Derek (Derek Bogart) is with his coworker and they are in a car, stuck in traffic on their way to a construction site. The man reveals to Derek a lot about himself: how he moved to Toronto from the countryside of Ireland and how he likes woodwork. Derek, on the other hand, spends his nights going out to clubs, getting drunk, and trying to pick up girls (usually unsuccessfully). Derek has been seeing this nice and compassionate woman Nicole but which he breaks up with for no rational or explained reason. When he's in the car with his peer, Derek relates to him this story of Nicole who he "started dating" and how he is committed to her and how he was thinking of maybe settling down. Even though what he's saying is a lie, Derek in this moment is opening up and explaining not what is actually the reality but what would make him happy.
Drljača has worked with the lead actor of Krivina, Goran Slavkovic, since the beginning of his film-making career. In Drljača’s films, from his years as a student in the Film Production program at York University, the two of them collaborated together on The Wound (’05), The Battery-Powered Duckling (’06) and On a Lonely Drive (’09). It’s a great coup of casting, in a filmography full of great actors and performances, as Slavkovic is a versatile and layered actor. In his roles Slavkovic has a Sylvester Stallone-like quality. Like Rambo, Slavkovic is able to embody the harsh realities of wartime experiences and the tough outer-shell that it creates while also being able to express a buried sensitivity. Which he embodies in his roles as a brooding sniper in The Wound, the truck-driver in Duckling, a father who just had a fight with his wife in Lonely Drive, and the humble wanderer in Krivina.

In Drljača’s films the main character carries around with him an object that he uses as a safety blanket, which is something that they hold onto to make life easier and less frightening. In The Fuse, a young Igor has the memory of the art-class assignment of a spring-time painting, in Battery-Powered Duckling (one of Drljača’s most ambitious short-films) the teenager continuously listens to the radio that is commenting about the status of people in the various zones, in On a Lonely Drive the child listens to his iPod to drown out his parents fighting, and in Woman in Purple the boy has his basketball. This is less applicable to Mobile Dreams, which is an atypical film for Drljača, as it is about seniors while he usually focuses more on childhood and youth.

Drljača’s other short-films, which were not in the recent retrospective Between Boundaries at The Royal, weren’t included as they are described to be “school assignments” and “work exercises.” Even though these other short-films are not as elaborate and polished as the films on Drljača’s 'official' directing credits, there is still a thematic continuity that travels across Drljača’s other short-films: The Wound (probably the strongest of the group), Juxtaposing the Electoral Spectacle, and the footage of the York University CUPE 3903 student protest. These videos can be fond on Drljača’s YouTube channel, igordrlj.

Krivina has many road movie scenes. In Miro’s search for his old friend Dado there are scenes where Miro is in a car or as a passenger on a bus. Miro is driven by his friend Drago (Jasmin Geljo) on their way to work at a construction site. In these car-rides they share many personal thoughts and vent their frustrations. At an ambiguous moment in the film, Drago is talking about having to put down his dog when he first arrived to a refugee center in Canada and how in an indirect way the officials told him that he couldn’t keep his pet. Drago keeps talking and we are no longer sure if Miro is still there. And in an abrupt change of tone there is loud rock music that takes over the soundtrack.

So what is the safety blanket in Krivina? Is it the photograph that Miro carries around with him of his lost friend, who he is desperately trying to find? Maybe. But I think that it is more the dialogue Drago has with Miro and himself as he is driving in his car. The only way for Drago and others to better understand their situation is by talking about their experiences and to try to make sense of the absurdity. It is this discussion of hopes and regrets and the fact that he can voice his needs and wants, which allows Drago to continue living. The story of Drago needs to be further elaborated, which is Drljača’s idea for his following feature-length film.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Local Listings: Igor Drljača’s short Films, College Street Pictures, Jonas Mekas, Media Mondays, Superimposition

In preparation for the theatrical release of Igor Drljača’s masterful Krivina (cf. the Tarkovsky influence on Krivina) on January 25th at The Royal and to coincide with its international premiere at Rotterdam, The Royal is presenting Between Boundaries: A Collection of Short Films by Igor Drljača on Thursday January 17th at 7PM. Drljača’s acclaimed and award-winning shorts will play together for the first time, and the list includes: The Battery-Powered Duckling ('06), Mobile Dreams ('08), On a Lonely Drive ('09), Woman in Purple ('10), and The Fuse: or How I Burned Simon Bolivar ('11). [the latter two I previously reviewed].

Drljača was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1983 and he left the country on May 1st 1992 to relocate to Canada where he has since completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s in Film Production from York University. Much of the subject of Drljača work blends the personal with the political, mixing a child-like pleasantness with serious subjects and his approach to filmmaking blends the traditional with the avant-garde and documentary. Because his independent films are set in Bosnia and Herzegovina and are also set in Toronto this qualified him to be only filmmaker to be included in both emerging film movements: First Generation filmmakers and Toronto DIY filmmakers.

This one-night program, and the first retrospective of Drljača’s short films, will surely enrich people's understanding of his work, elaborating on reoccurring themes and show where his work has come from.
At the public relations website GAT they recently posted an entry, College Street Pictures presents upcoming screenings at The Royal in Toronto, where in it there is more information about the newly created Toronto distribution company College Street Pictures and the listing and synopsis of the first three films that they will be distributing: Christy Garland’s The Bastard Sings The Sweetest Song (which opens January 18th), Igor Drljača’s Krivina (which opens on January 25th), and Kazik Radwanski’s Tower (which opens on February 22nd). These are exciting films to look forward to in the upcoming months.
Bonne fête Mr. Mekas! To celebrate the revered experimental filmmaker and Anthology Film Archive figure-head Jonas Mekas’ 90th birthday, Early Monthly Segments on Monday January 21st at 8PM will be projecting Rhapsody on a Theme From A House Movie (1972) by Lorne Marin and Diaries, Notes and Sketches (Lost Lost Lost, reels 1-2) by Jonas Mekas (1975), which is a diary film about Mekas’ and his brother Adolfas early experiences as Lithuanian immigrants in Brooklyn circa 1949.

There is also a note-worthy program, later on in April, at The Free Screen that of a career overview of the work of the pioneering experimental filmmaker and lesbian activist Barbara Hammer.
After the fall class Intelligent Art and Meticulous Craft: The Social Cinema of Sidney Lumet Lumet, The Miles Nadal JCC film-class series Media Mondays have an interesting line up of new classes for the winter/spring 2013 season. From January 14th to February 11th, Kevin Courrier (who taught the great Reflections In The Hall Of Mirrors: American Movies And The Politics Of Idealism) returns to teach Woody Allen: Past and Present. The classes are on Mondays and start at 7PM.

Following this, the local and great film-critic Adam Nayman (Cinema Scope, Reverse Shot) has a class on the Coen brothers (February 25th – April 29th) where he will be giving classes on their seminal films that include Raising Arizona, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, and A Serious Man. And then Nayman will also be returning for the popular series Love 'Em or Hate 'Em: Controversial Directors in Nayman's Terms (May 6 – June 3) which is “an in-depth look at the careers of four of the most accomplished and polarizing film directors of the past thirty years”: David Cronenberg, Roman Polanski, and more importantly Paul Verhoeven (whose Showgirls Nayman is also writing a book on for ECW Press).
At the I.M.A. Gallery there is an exhibition Superimposition by Stephen Broomer and Dan Browne, (Jan 9th – Feb 2nd). The show by the two members of the Loop Collective experimental film group “emphasizes an aesthetic characteristic their work shares: the superimposition of diverse images within a single pictorial plane.”

Monday, January 14, 2013

"The Patron Saints" by Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky

"We have sought to use the reality in front of us as a catalyst for a different kind of cinematic portrait. We were not interested in commenting on the current state of nursing homes or elder care, and we harbor no journalistic aspirations. Instead, our aim has been to make a film that could transcend its specific time and place, while at the same time reflecting our own visions of human fragility [...] We offer up The Patron Saints as a kind of dirge, or an elegy for the changing nature of bodies and minds." " - Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky

Why the title "The Patron Saints" for Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky's re-telling of Allan King's Dying at Grace as a Beckettian tale? Is it exploitative to film these elderly patients as they live out their last days? Can the paralyzed and the schizophrenic really give their consent? How were they even able to get this close to these people and capture this footage? What do the family members think about it?

These are just a few questions that one could ask oneself as one watches the powerful and disturbing The Patron Saints.

The patrons of the title are residents of an American nursing home (where the directors spent five years filming) and the Christian saint reference implies a certain exceptional holiness about them. But instead of any divine acts or inspiration what we see is frailty, illness and what might be dementia. These play out in a series of vignettes: an old lady kisses the hand of a doll and sings “I got you baby,” people's voices that wouldn't even sound right even if they were spoken by CGI monsters, a man that yells "No Good" in Hungarian throughout the night, the film's narrator Jim who makes wisecracks about the others, and finally even a corpse that is brought out to go to a mortuary.

What we see is less in the King or Wiseman fly-on-the-wall territory of documentary but instead in realm of the experimental social-documentary of a Donigan Cumming with its shared black humor or the world of the marginal like Denis Côté's Carcasses. What we are seeing are people in a state of crisis and how the hospice medical institution is trying to improve their condition. There are people with troubled personal backgrounds and others going through physical and mental trauma. What Cassidy and Shatzky are doing is not only trying to document these people (honor their memory etc), but through close-ups and portraiture of the grotesque patients the film aims for a more surrealistic tone that is even elevated by the films sporadic use of opera and classical music. Which all contributes to the films uncomfortable and challenging tone.

The Patron Saints also shares many thematic similarities with other recent Canadian films. There is a funny conversation between two people, a man and a white-haired older woman. “What am I doing here?” she asks. "I don’t know," they both answer. This scene is at first comic as one assume it has a staged quality but as it goes on it slowly becomes troubling when you realize it is not staged. The older woman could be seen as the logical conclusion of what would happen to main character of Kazik Radwanski's Princess Margaret Blvd. While the medicinal scenes of a doctor going around visiting the different patients and distributing medicine is similar to the subject of Antoine Bourges' East Hastings Pharmacy. And finally where in Ashley McKenzie's most recent short-film When You Sleep she continues her exploration of people experiencing emotional crises (dealing with a fighting, young couple in Nova Scotia), one must return to her previous short Rhonda's Party of a failed birthday party. If in both films, Patron Saints and Rhonda's Party, there is a party in a nursing home with music, balloons and a band; this suggest that the fact that people are this old is worth celebrating, and that life and people are incredibly important. But this point remains bittersweet as we know that it doesn't last long.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Top Films of 2012 According to Some Toronto Cinephiles

David Davidson (Blogger: Toronto Film Review)
    Many a Swan (Blake Williams)
    Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino)
3. Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg)
    Holy Motors (Leos Carax)
    The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)
4. Far From Afghanistan (John Gianvito, Travis Wilkerson, Jon Jost, Minda Martin, Soon-Mi Yoo)
    Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor & Véréna Paravel)
    Tabu (Miguel Gomes)
5. Greatest Hits (Nicolás Pereda)
    Bestiaire (Denis Côté)
6. Lawrence Anyways (Xavier Dolan)
    Keep the Lights On (Ira Sachs)
    The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye (Marie Losier)
7. Lincoln (Steven Spielberg)
    Promised Land (Gus Van Sant)
    Trouble with the Curve (Robert Lorenz)
8. John Carter (Andrew Stanton)
    Prometheus (Ridley Scott)
9. The Three Stooges (Farrelly Brothers)
    Dark Horse (Todd Solondz)
    From Rome with Love (Woody Allen)
   This Is 40 (Judd Apatow)
10. La Guerre est déclarée (Valérie Donzelli)
11. Savages (Oliver Stone)
12. The We and I (Michel Gondry)
      Girls (Lena Dunhan)
     The Black Balloon (Safdie brothers)
      When You Sleep (Ashley McKenzie)
Arielle Gavin (Tumblr: Dragonaut. Contributed: Honesty Competitions (Part 3))
  1. Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg)
  2. In Another Country (Hong Sang-soo)
  3. Greatest Hits (Nicolás Pereda)
  4. Post Tenebras Lux (Carlos Reygadas)
  5. Passion (Brian de Palma)
  6. From Rome with Love (Woody Allen)
  7. Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor & Véréna Paravel)
  8. Magic Mike (Steven Soderbergh)
  9. Alps (Giorgos Lanthimos)
  10. Damsels in Distress (Whit Stillman)
  11. Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan)
Nicholas Little
15 titles in alphabetical order.
- End of Watch (David Ayer)
- The Dark Knight Rises (Christopher Nolan)
- Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino)
- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Peter Jackson)
- Lincoln (Steven Spielberg)
- Looper (Rian Johnson)
- Magic Mike (Steven Soderbergh)
- The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)
- Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson)
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky)
- Prometheus (Ridley Scott)
- Ruby Sparks (Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris)
- Skyfall (Sam Mendes)
- Sound Of My Voice (Zal Batmanglij)
- Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow)
Megan Widawski
My Top Ten films of 2012 in no particular order.
-       Argo (Ben Affleck)
-       Ruby Sparks (Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris)
-       Pitch Perfect (Jason Moore)
-       The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky)
-       ParaNorman (Chris Butler & Sam Fell)
-       Frankenweenie (Tim Burton)
-       The Hobbit (Peter Jackson)
-       Dark Shadows (Tim Burton)
-       Magic Mike (Steven Soderbergh)
-       Savages (Oliver Stone)
Blake Williams (Film Critic: Ioncinema, R, and G,and B, Cinema Scope. Filmmaker: Many a Swan)
1. Holy Motors (Leos Carax)
2. Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor & Véréna Paravel)
3. Like Someone in Love (Abbas Kiarostami)
4. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)
5. Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu)
6. Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg)
7. Viola (Matías Piñeiro)
8. You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet (Alain Resnais)
9. To the Wonder (Terrence Malick)
10. Tchoupitoulas (Bill & Turner Ross)

Honorable mentions: Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine), Life of Pi (Ang Lee), It's Such a Beautiful Day (Don Hertzfeldt).

Best avant-garde of the year
1. August and After & April (Nathaniel Dorsky)
These two films viewed back-to-back, as they are meant to be, may well be a candidate for my Favourite Films of All Time list. At the very least, it's the closest I've come to tears via cinema (still hasn't happened yet folks).
2. Bloom (Scott Stark)
3. Orpheus (Outtakes) (Mary Helena Clark)
4. Reconnaissance (Johann Lurf)
5. The Extravagant Shadows (David Gatten)
6. the war (James Benning)

Favourite Performances: Denis Lavant (Holy Motors), Robert Pattinson (Cosmopolis), Seann William Scott (Goon), Frédéric Bourdin (The Imposter), James Gandolfini (Killing Them Softly), Yu Junsang (lifeguard in In Another Country), Tadashi Okuno (the professor in Like Someone in Love), Nicole Kidman (The Paperboy).
Marco G.
[Unranked] Amour (Michael Haneke)
1. Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg)
2. The Turin Horse (Béla Tarr)
3. Passion (Brian De Palma)
4. Laurence Anyways (Xavier Dolan)
5. Gebo and the Shadow (Manoel de Oliveira)
6. Elena (Andrei Zvyagintsev)
7. Stemple Pass (James Benning)
8. Post Tenebras Lux (Carlos Reygadas)
9. differently, Molussia (Nicolas Rey)
10. Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor & Véréna Paravel)
11. Attenberg (Athina Rachel Tsangari)
12. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
13. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)
Ryan Krahn [read Ryan’s capsule reviews of all of the films on his list website, Aufhebung]
1. Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor & Véréna Paravel)
2. The Clock (Christian Marclay)*
3. Amour (Michael Haneke)
4. The Hunt (Thomas Vinterberg)
5. Paradise: Love (Ulrich Siedl)
6. In the Fog (Sergei Loznitsa)
7. The Last Time I Saw Macao (João Rui Guerra da Mata & João Pedro Rodrigues)
8. Passion (Brian De Palma)
9. Post Tenebras Lux (Carlos Reygadas)
10. Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine)

Honourable Mentions: Tower (Kazik Radwanski), Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino), Magic Mike (Steven Soderbergh), Berberian Sound Studio (Peter Strickland), Clip (Maja Miloš).

*all films based on first Canadian (festival or theatrical) release
David Balzer (Assistant Editor at Canadian Art magazine. Author: Contrivances)
Museum Hours (Jem Cohen)
Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell)
Holy Motors (Leos Carax)
To Rome With Love (Woody Allen)
Barbara (Christian Petzold)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky)
Tabu (Miguel Gomes)
Videos for "National Anthem" and "Ride" (Anthony Mandler / Lana Del Rey)
Keep the Lights On (Ira Sachs)
Gerhard Richter – Painting (Corrina Belz)

Favourite repertory discovery: Promised Lands (1974, Susan Sontag) at Early Monthly Segments.
Chris Kennedy (Programmer: The Free Screen, Early Monthly Segments. Filmmaker: Towards a Vanishing Point, Phantoms)
1. autrement, molussie (Nicolas Rey)
I was able to see this three times in three different settings, which meant—since the sequence of the nine reels is determined before each showing—that I saw three different versions. The second, at Media City in Windsor, was ecstatic (partly due to the stunning projection team that the festival pulls together). The order was “perfect” and the graininess of the film-stock came through particularly beautifully then, amplifying Gunter Anders’ moving parables of underground resistance.
 2. Sounding Glass (Sylvia Schedelbauer)
Sylvia got a handful of awards and a lot of well-deserved recognition for this piece, a very bracing merging of found-footage and flicker, with a stunning soundtrack by Thomas Carnacki . This was also a blast to see in multiple settings, as watching each cinema vibrate from the light from the screen was almost half the fun.
 3. Songs About Nothing (Jason Lescalleet)
Not a movie, but an album. Lescalleet, who I also managed to see three times this year (the best seem to come in threes), creates music out of field recordings, tape loops and assorted dying electronics. The results, both live and on record, are cinematic mood swings akin to the most associative free-form poetry of many diary filmmakers-albeit a lot noisier.
 4. Movements of an Impossible Time (Flatform)
A very simple crane shot across a ruined chateau—moving between small microclimates created by rain, wind, snow and fog machines—served as a lucid reaffirmation of the emotional power of the artifice of cinema.
 5. The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn & anonymous)
A chilling documentary about the Indonesia genocide of the 1960s. The directors rely on the murderer’s own vanity to recreate the killings. There’s shockingly little remorse, although various murderers react to guilt in different ways (including a scene which implies that the body may expulse guilt even if the mind isn’t quite there yet). The final credits are an extremely moving testimony about the continued reality of this horror—most of the crew are listed as “anonymous”.
 6. Il se peut que la beauté ait renforcé notre résolution (Masao Adachi & Philippe Grandrieux)
The first time I saw this I was extremely jetlagged, so I scrambled to get my hands on a screener to reaffirm what I thought I saw. The night-drenched images worked into my half asleep self-conscious and Adachi’s rich thoughts on filmmaking and revolution – that you can make the plans but never predict the results – were a refreshing corrective against orthodox dogmatism.
 7. Game Plan (Alighiero e Boetti)
An exhibition at the MoMA. Maybe it’s the Italian thing, but Boetti’s work has resonated with me over the last five years in the same way that Pasolini’s work did when I was a film student. Arte povera, the poor man’s conceptualism, seem to match similar threads in Pasolini’s early films. And then you can try and pair up their later orientalisms … Anyway, great to see so much of Boetti’s work in one place.
 8. Mekong Hotel (Apichatpong Weerasethakul) & The Strawberry Tree (Simone Rapisarda Casanova)
I feel like these two films deserve to share a spot, partly due to their effortless and humble reflexivity, especially during a year where other films got so meta on the “meaning-of-movie-making” train (or should I say “limo”).
 9. Friendly Witness (Warren Sonbert, 1989)
It turned out that the Warren Sonbert retrospective that our Early Monthly Segments group were able to put on was a really lovely way to study Sonbert’s dense montages and the cross-referencing of life that his full oeuvre unfolds into. However, nothing had the full gut-punch of his film Friendly Witness, which feels like a pure gift in the face of Sonbert’s then newfound awareness of his diagnosis of AIDS, of which he would succumb to six years later.
10. The In-Person Screening
This was a good year for filmmakers traveling in to introduce their work, providing context to their art. The most notable that I saw may have been Phil Solomon’s screening at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, which happened immediately after he got off an extremely turbulent foul-weather commuter flight from Montréal, on which he was sure he would die. The rejuvenated Solomon gave a generous (despite projection difficulties) and funny walk through an evening’s retrospective of his film work. Events like that prove how valuable the in-person is to personal filmmaking, even at the risk of leaving some skin on the tarmac.

Honorable mentions: Nearly a year later, I’m reminded about the emotional power of Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation and Philippe Falardeau’s Monsieur Lazhar. They started 2012 well, modeling how a well-written script, rich yet subtle characters and economic and thoughtful direction can create a beautiful, moving experience. That’s a simple thing to ask for in 2013.
Scott Miller Berry (Programmer: Early Monthly Segments, Images Festival. Tumblr: cineparlour)
Twelve short films first seen in 2012 that I cannot wait to see again on the big screen! (in chronological order with links!!)
- Portrait de la Place Ville Marie (2012) by Alexandre Larose @ LIFT 30th Anniversary programs, Jackman Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario
- Depuis que je me souviens (Since I Can Remember) (2005) by Milena Gierke @ The 8 Fest Small Gauge Film Festival, Trash Palace, Toronto
- Qualia Diaries (2009) by Emily Mode, February 12 @ Tate Modern, Barbara Hammer retrospective, London, UK
- Tree Dance (1971) by Gordon Matta-Clark, March 19 @ Early Monthly Segments, Gladstone Hotel, Toronto
- February (2011) by Cho In-Han, May 26 @ Media City, Capitol Cinema, Windsor, Ontario
- Gésine et Dagie vont en bateau (2011) by Dagie Brundert, May 26 @ Media City, Phog Lounge, Windsor, Ontario
- Condensation (2012) by Cha Mi-Hye, September @ EXiS Festival, Seoul
- stillness of the garden (2012) by Lee Jangwook, September @ EXiS Festival, Seoul
- Jalan Tak Ada Ujung (2006) by Maulana Muhammad Pasha, September @ EXiS Festival, Seoul
- Remains (2011) by Louise Bourque @ Planet in Focus Film Festival, Toronto
- The Tuxedo Theatre (1968) by Warren Sonbert, November 15 @ Early Monthly Segments, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
- Un film inédit (1948? / restored 2012) by Gordon Webber, November @ Cinémathèque Québécoise, Montréal
Sean Rogers
My year-end list, despite there being so much I still need to see [Moonrise Kingdom, Bernie, Liz and Dick, Vamps, The Loneliest Planet, 4:44 Last Day on Earth].
Many of the best films I saw on Toronto screens in 2012 have not yet opened commercially (and probably, sadly, won't):
A1. Florentina Hubaldo, CTE (Lav Diaz)
A gut-punch of a movie, beautifully shot, elliptically told. The most hypnotic six hours of my movie-going year.
A2. Two Years at Sea (Ben Rivers)
A3. The Last Time I Saw Macao (João Rui Guerra da Mata & João Pedro Rodrigues)
A4. autrement, la Molussie (Nicolas Rey)
A5. Three Sisters (Wang Bing)

As for films that actually received theatrical release in Toronto: praise be!
1. Bestiaire (Denis Côté)
2. Holy Motors (Leos Carax)
3. Tabu (Miguel Gomes)
4. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
5. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)
6. Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg)
7. The Deep Blue Sea (Terence Davies)
8. Beyond the Black Rainbow (Panos Cosmatos)
9. The Clock (Christian Marclay)
Or what I saw of it, anyway.
10. Barbara (Christian Petzold)

A placeholder for so many films I've yet to watch: at the least, I imagine 56 Up (Michael Apted) will sneak on to this list when I finally catch up with it.
It's worth keeping in mind, too, all the "2012" movies that didn't actually open in Toronto, chief among which is The Turin Horse -- the best film of this or any other year. Also conspicuous in their absence: Le gamin au vélo, L'Apollonide, La folie Almayer, Elena, Kill List, The Comedy.
Andrew Parker (Film Critic: Dork Shelf)
1. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)
2. Life of Pi (Ang Lee)
3. Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow)
4. Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson)
5. Holy Motors (Leos Carax)
6. Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley)
7. Skyfall (Sam Mendes)
8. Killer Joe (William Friedkin)
9. Tabu (Miguel Gomes)
10. Lincoln (Steven Spielberg)
11. Oslo, August 31st (Joachim Trier)
12. Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino)
13. Keep the Lights On (Ira Sachs)
14. Barbara (Christian Petzold)
15. Bernie (Richard Linklater)
16. The Imposter (Bart Layton)
17. Compliance (Craig Zobel)
18. Ruby Sparks (Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris)
19. Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell)
20. In the Family (Patrick Wang)
21. Goon (Michael Dowse)
22. ParaNorman (Chris Butler & Sam Fell)
23. Premium Rush (David Koepp) & The Raid Redemption (Gareth Evans) & Detention (Joseph Kahn)
24. Magic Mike (Steven Soderbergh)
25. Chronicle (Josh Trank)

Honourable Mentions: Amour (Michael Haneke), Argo (Ben Affleck), Fat Kid Rules the World (Matthew Lillard), Miss Bala (Gerardo Naranjo), Looper (Rian Johnson), Bestiaire (Denis Cote), Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg), Les Miserables (Tom Hooper), 21 Jump Street (Phil Lord & Chris Miller).

Best undistributed films: This is Not a Film (Jafar Panahi), The Color Wheel (Alex Ross Perry), The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr), Only the Young (Elizabeth Mims & Jason Tipett), Tchoupitoulas (Bill and Turner Ross), Wuthering Heights (Andrea Arnold), The Kid with a Bike (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne).
Marc Saint-Cyr (Blogger: Subtitle Literate. Contributed: Marc's Reads. Read comments about the films at the Senses of Cinema 2012 Poll)
-       Casting Blossoms to the Sky (Nobuhiko Obayashi)
-       Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino)
-       The Egoists (Ryuichi Hiroki)
-       Holy Motors (Léos Carax)
-       In Another Country (Hong Sang-soo)
-       Kotoko (Shinya Tsukamoto)
-       Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson)
-       Our Homeland (Yonghi Yang)
-       Skyfall (Sam Mendes)
-       Something in the Air (Olivier Assayas)
Christopher Heron (Film Critic: The Seventh Art)
I only included films that played in Toronto this year outside of TIFF and two TIFF films I am skeptical will get a wider release next year.
1. Tabu (Miguel Gomes)
2. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)
3. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
(Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
4. Holy Motors (Leos Carax)
5. The Last Time I Saw Macao
(João Pedro Rodrigues & João Rui Guerra da Mata)
Assuming this will not have a theatrical release in 2013.
6. Sleeping Sickness
(Ulrich Köhler)
7. The Deep Blue Sea (Terence Davies)
8. Barbara (Christian Petzold)
9. Viola (Matías Piñeiro)
Assuming this will not have a theatrical release in 2013.
10. Bestiare
(Denis Côté)
Eastern Yoo 
1. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)
2. Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg)
3. Killer Joe (william friedkin)
4. Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino)
5. Damsels in Distress (Whit Stillman)
6. Killing Them Softly (Andrew Dominik)
7. Prometheus (Ridley Scott)
8. Flight (Robert Zemeckis)
9. Magic Mike (Steven Soderbergh)
10. The Hobbit (Peter Jackson)
Adam Nayman (Film Critic: Cinema Scope, Reverse Shot, The Grid, The Globe and Mail. Teacher: Coen brothers at the JCC - Spring 2013)
-       Alps (Giorgos Lanthimos)
-       Barbara (Christian Petzold)
-       Bernie (Richard Linklater)
-       Bestiaire (Denis Côté)
-       The Capsule (Athina Rachel Tsangari)
-       Chronicle (Josh Trank)
-       The Color Wheel (Alex Ross Perry)
-       Compliance (Craig Zobel)
-       The Deep Blue Sea (Terence Davies)
-       Goodbye First Love (Mia Hansen-Løve)
-       Goon (Michael Dowse)
-       Greatest Hits (Nicolás Pereda)
-       Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters (Ben Shapiro)
-       Haywire (Steven Soderbergh)
-       Holy Motors (Leos Carax)
-       In the Family (Patrick Wang)
-       The Innkeepers (Ti West)
-       It's the Earth Not the Moon (Gonçalo Tocha)
-       Keep the Lights On (Ira Sachs)
-       Killer Joe (William Friedkin)
-       Krivina (Igor Drljaca)
-       Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor & Véréna Paravel)
-       Lincoln (Steven Spielberg)
-       The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)
-       Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson)
-       Once Upon a Time in Anatolia  (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
-       Oslo, August 31st (Joachim Trier)
-       The Raid: Redemption (Gareth Evans)
-       Room 237 (Rodney Ascher)
-       Sightseers (Ben Wheatley)
-       Sleeping Sickness (Ulrich Köhler)
-       Something in the Air (Olivier Assayas)
-       Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine),
-       Starlet (Sean Baker)
-       Tabu (Miguel Gomes)
-       Tower (Kazik Radwanski)
-       Two Years at Sea (Ben Rivers)
-       Viola (Matías Piñeiro)
-       Wanderlust (David Wain)
-       Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow)

Favorite performances: Malin Ackerman (Wanderlust), Carlen Altman (The Color Wheel), Javier Bardem (Skyfall), Jack Black (Bernie), Derek Bogard (Tower), Gina Carano (Haywire), Anders Danielson Lie (Oslo, August 31st), Ann Dowd (Compliance), James Franco (Spring Breakers), Gina Gershon (Killer Joe), Kara Hayward (Moonrise Kingdom), Dree Hemingway (Starlet), Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master), Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables), Nina Hoss (Barbara), Samuel L. Jackson (Django Unchained), Bedseka Johnson (Starlet), Denis Lavant (Holy Motors), Thure Lindhart (Keep the Lights On), Alice Lowe (Sightseers), Ken Marino (Wanderlust), Matthew McConaughey (Killer Joe, Magic Mike), Robert Pattinson (Cosmopolis), Sara Paxton (The Innkeepers), Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), James Ransone (Sinister), Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), Yayan Ruhian (The Raid: Redemption), Simon Russell Beale (The Deep Blue Sea), Will Sasso (The Three Stooges), Liev Schreiber (Goon), Laura Soveral (Tabu), James Spader (Lincoln), Channing Tatum (21 Jump Street), Seann William Scott (Goon), Jean-Louis Trintignant (Amour), Maria Villar (Viola), Dreama Walker (Compliance), Rachel Weisz (The Deep Blue Sea)
John Semley (Film Critic: Cinema Scope, Slant, The Walrus, Now Toronto)
1. Tabu (Miguel Gomes)
2. The Color Wheel (Alex Ross Perry)
3. Kill List (Ben Wheatley)
4. This Is Not a Film (Jafar Panahi)
5. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)
6. Bernie (Richard Linklater)
7. Killer Joe (William Friedkin)
8. Skyfall (Sam Mendes)
9. Goon (Michael Dowse)
10. The Comedy (Rick Alversen)
Kiva Reardon (Film Critic: The Loop, Cinema Scope)
1. Tabu (Miguel Gomes)
2. Compliance (Craig Zobel)
3. Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow)
4. Alps (Giorgos Lanthimos)
5. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)
6. Bestiaire (Denis Côté)
7. Bernie (Richard Linklater)
8. Killer Joe (William Friedkin)
9. The Deep Blue Sea (Terence Davies)
10. This Is 40 (Judd Apatow)

Honorable mentions: Pitch Perfect (Jason Moore), Haywire (Steven Soderbergh), Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson), Skyfall (Sam Mendes), The Grey (Joe Carnahan).
Lev Lewis (composer: Amy George. twitter: @levlewis)
I haven't seen Zero Dark Thirty and I haven't seen Starlet.  
10. Hope Springs  (David Frankel)
Meryl plays a woman again. For adults.  
9. That’s My Boy (Sean Anders)
8. Looper (Rian Johnson)
Blending genres like 1980something.  
7. Kill List (Ben Wheatley)
Killed it. 
 6. Magic Mike (Steven Soderbergh)
Heaven is a place on Multiplexes.  
5. Elena  (Andrey Zvyagintsev)
I liked it.  
4. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)
Americana revisited.  
3. Wuthering Heights (Andrea Arnold)
Think about it.  
2. Holy Motors (Leos Carax)
The limo’s talk.  
1. The Turin Horse (Béla Tarr)
Béla’s the horse.
Angelo Muredda
1. Tabu (Miguel Gomes)
2. This Is Not a Film (Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb)
3. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)
4. Holy Motors (Leos Carax)
5. Killer Joe (William Friedkin)
6. Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson)
7. The Deep Blue Sea (Terence Davies)
8. Bestiaire (Denis Côté)
9. The Loneliest Planet (Julia Loktev)
10. In the Family (Patrick Wang)
11. Bernie (Richard Linklater)
12. Barbara (Christian Petzold)
13. Alps (Giorgos Lanthimos)
14. Goodbye First Love (Mia Hansen-Løve)
15. Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow)
16. Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley)
17. Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg)
18. Goon (Michael Dowse)
19. Beyond the Black Rainbow (Panos Cosmatos)
20. Oslo, August 31st (Joachim Trier)
Calum Marsh (Film Critic: Slant)
1. The Color Wheel (Alex Ross Perry)
2. Neighbouring Sounds (Kleber Mendoca Filho)
3. The Day He Arrives (Hong Song-soo)
4. Tabu (Miguel Gomes)
5. The Deep Blue Sea (Terence Davies)
6. Holy Motors (Leos Carax)
7. The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr)
8. Oslo, August 31st (Joachim Trier)
9. This Is Not A Film (Jafar Panahi)
10. Once Upon A Time In Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
11. Kill List (Ben Wheatley)
12. The Miners' Hymns (Bill Morrison)
13. Barbara (Christian Petzold)
14. Goodbye First Love (Mia Hansen-Love)
15. Elena (Andrey Zvyagintsev)
16. The Comedy (Rick Alversen)
17. Sleepless Night (Frederic Jardin)
18. Attenberg (Athina Rachel Tsangari)
19. Sinister (Scott Derrickson)
20. Green (Sophia Takal)
1. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
2. Your brother. Remember? (Zachary Oberzan)
3. Bestiaire (Denis Côté)
4. Tabu (Miguel Gomes)
5. Damsels in Distress (Whit Stillman)
6. This Is Not A Film  (Jafar Panahi)
7. Neighboring Sounds (Kleber Mendoca Filho)
8. The Color Wheel (Alex Ross Perry)
9. The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr)
10. The Kid with a Bike (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
11. Holy Motors (Leos Carax)
12. The Miners' Hymns (Bill Morrison)
13. The Day He Arrives  (Hong Song-soo)
14. Barbara (Christian Petzold)
15. Sleepless Night (Frédéric Jardin)
16. Oslo, August 31st (Joachim Trier)
17. Attenberg (Athina Rachel Tsangari)
18. Las Acacias (Pablo Giorgelli)
19. Goodbye First Love (Mia Hansen-Love)
20. Vamps (Amy Heckerling)
Julian Carrington (Film Critic: Torontoist)
1. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)
2. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
3. Holy Motors (Leos Carax)
4. Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson)
5. Amour (Michael Haneke)
6. Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine)
7. Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino)
8. Tabu (Miguel Gomes)
9. Lincoln (Steven Spielberg)
10. The Queen of Versailles (Lauren Greenfield)
Film/Non-film I'm most disappointed not to have seen in 2012: This Is Not a Film.
Alex Huls (Twitter: @alhuls)
1. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)
2. Holy Motors (Leos Carax)
3. Oslo, August 31st (Joachim Trier)
4. The Kid with a Bike (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne).
5. Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson)
6. This Is Not a Film (Jafar Panahi)
7. Amour (Michael Haneke)
8. Killer Joe (William Friedkin)
9. Bernie (Richard Linklater)
10. Skyfall (Sam Mendes)
Thomas Loree
1. The Clock (Christian Marclay)
2. The Last Time I Saw Macao (João Pedro Rodrigues & João Rui Guerra da Mata)
3. Holy Motors (Leos Carax)
4. Like Someone in Love (Abbas Kiarostami)
5. Life of Pi (Ang Lee)
6. Passion (Brian De Palma)
7. Student (Darezhan Omirbaev)
8. Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson)
9. Night Across the Street (Raúl Ruíz)
10. In Another Country (Hong Sang-soo)

Honorable mentions: Thy Womb (Brillante Mendoza), Gebbo et l'ombre (Manoel de Oliveira), Penance (Kiyoshi Kurosawa).

Favourite Performances: Denis Lavant (Holy Motors), Noomi Rapace (Passion), Yu Junsang (the lifeguard in In Another Country), Irfan Khan (the adult Pi in Life of Pi), Ryo Kase (the psychotic boyfriend in Like Someone in Love), Tadashi Okuno (the professor in Like Someone in Love), the four friends of the victim in Penance, Nurlan Baitasov (Student), Jack Black (Bernie), Nora Aunor (the infertile wife in Thy Womb, Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man), Eddie Redmayne & Clémence Poésy (Birdsong), Laura Soveral & Isabel Cardoso (Tabu), Alba Rohrwacher (Maria in Bella adormentata), Maya Sansa (the suicidal methadone addict in Bella adormentata), Lee Kang-sheng (The Walker), the fox (Deux), “Richard Parker” (Life of Pi), Bruce Willis (Moonrise Kingdom).
David Acacia
  1. Skyfall (Sam Mendes)
  2. Holy Motors (Leos Carax)
  3. The Kid with a Bike (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
  4. The Deep Blue Sea (Terence Davies)
  5. In Another Country (Hong Sang-soo)
  6. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
  7. Life of Pi (Ang Lee)
  8. Katy Perry: Part of Me (Dan Cutforth & Jane Lipsitz)
  9. John Carter (Andrew Stanton)
  10. Damsels in Distress (Whit Stillman)
Andrew Proczek
1. Like Someone in Love (Abbas Kiarostami)
2. Holy Motors (Leos Carax)
3. Amour (Michael Haneke)
4. The Last Time I Saw Macao (João Pedro Rodrigues & João Rui Guerra da Mata)
5. Florentina Hubaldo, CTE (Lav Diaz)
6. Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu)
7. Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan)
8. Bestiaire (Denis Côté)
9. Barbara (Christian Petzold)
10. Thy Womb (Brillante Mendoza) & Many a Swan (Blake Williams)
11. Io e Te (Bernardo Bertolucci)
12. Chrashkurs (Anika Wangard)
13. The End of Time (Peter Metler)
14. Tabu (Miguel Gomes)
15. Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson)
16. Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present (Matthew Akers)
Ronald Walther
  1. Ruby Sparks (Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris)
  2. Extra Man (Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini)
  3. Being Flynn (Paul Weitz)
  4. Goodbye First Love (Mia Hansen-Love)
  5. Beautiful Boy (Shawn Ku)
  6. Take Shelter (Jeff Nichols)
  7. Martha Marcy May Marlene (Sean Durkin)
  8. A One-Way Trip to Antibes (Richard Hobert)
  9. Byzantium (Neil Jordan)
  10.  Edwin Boyd (Nathan Morlando)
Scott C.