2010 Archives - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
5Jan/200

Forever connected: a comprehensive list of the best and worst films of the decade

I am not a fan of lists, and when I decided to do a list covering the best and worst films of the last decade it became clear that I needed to do the whole thing or none at all.

With that in mind, here it is, a comprehensive list of the best and worst films of the decade. This list covers 2010 to 2019 and, starting from the top, goes from the best on down. Each section is broken up with an image of reviews that reflect my best as a writer or a film that has earned special consideration of some kind.

The exception are my picks for the two best films of the decade, tied at #1, and a brief explanation about why they are at the top. After that, I hope that you'll join me through this decade of writing and growth. I've had stumbles, to say nothing of trying to figure out my voice, and haven't been able to review much recently. But I'm hoping to change and get back on my feet again starting with this overview of the last decade in film.

Let's begin at the top.

Our always-connected age means that we are more directly in contact with one another's feelings than ever before. It's overwhelming. One minute you could be happily watching a puppy play in snow then scroll down to find live camera footage of someone being killed. Scroll further and you'll see someone trying to sell you hair grooming products then further down a friend talking about the crippling pain they live with. It's overwhelming trying to figure out what to do with yourself amidst this never ending deluge of feeling. Good, bad, elated, traumatic - if you want to live in this world there's no way of turning it off anymore.

The best two films of the decade both confront what it's like to live in our always-connected age but take vastly different approaches. Shane Carruth and Amy Seimetz's Upstream Color approaches our connection with experimentation and uncertainty. Zack and Deborah Snyder's Man of Steel mythologizes the open nerve of connection with grandeur and spirituality. Upstream Color is the angrier of the two, seeing those that would profit on our pain as aloof emotional vampires. Man of Steel is the more hopeful, watching the savior we don't deserve experience the worst of humanity while still finding the strength to go on by our ability to sacrifice for one another.

It feels impossible to discuss these two films in some kind of neutral state. In Upstream Color's case, the film has so few that have seen it and those that have struggle to find the words for the pain it so directly confronts. For Man of Steel, passions between what it did or didn't do to the legacy of Superman have become so embedded in neverending cultural and political warfare. Neither benefits from languishing in relative obscurity or being the cultural battleground for online liberals and conservatives alike.

Both have exquisite music that highlight our connection while confounding it. Upstream Color's melodies shying away from catharsis as one of Carruth's messy tracks bleeds into the next. Man of Steel never shies away from hope, finding the note to soar even in the most militant-sounding of Hans Zimmerman's compositions. One might seem sonic years away from the other, but in each I hear the same yearning to be felt and touched. To be reminded that what we feel is not what makes us alone.

The images match their conclusions. In Upstream Color, two people huddled in fear that don't understand their connection grow to accept the mystery, and one another, while they reach beyond species to comfort all living things. In Man of Steel, the scared boy who doesn't understand why his sacrifice frightens others grows to draw strength from that sacrifice as he inspires the best in his fellow humans. We are always connected and, many times, we are scared. But there is hope at the end of that painful connection.

Let their examples guide us. Do not accept the vultures that seek to profit off of your misery. Do not accept those in power who would deny the possibility of a messiah because they weren't born in your homeland. Accept that we are all that we are and, even if it doesn't feel like it, we have the capability of inspiring the best of one another in our darkest moments.

The Best

Great

Good

Zone of Indifference

Bad

Wretched

13Jul/170

Changing Reels Episode 22 – Step Up 3D and Take the Lead

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Time to put on your best footwear as we hit the floor, and the streets, with a dance filled doubled feature. Skipping the short film segment this week, don’t worry it will return in our next episode, we dive into the worlds of Step Up 3D and Take the Lead. While both films did not receive love from the critics, their choreography and diverse casting connected with audiences. We explore the pros and cons of each film and discuss why critics should not be so quick to dismiss modern dance films.

Show notes:

If you like what you hear, or want to offer some constructive criticism, please take a moment to rate our show on iTunes!  If you have a comment on this episode, or want to suggest a film for us to discuss, feel free to contact us via twitter (@ChangingReelsAC), follow us on Facebook and reach out to us by email (Changing.Reels.AC@gmail.com).  You can also hear our show on SoundCloud or Stitcher!

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Filed under: 2000's, 2010, Podcasts No Comments
6Apr/170

Changing Reels Episode 10 – Sita Sings the Blues

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It is often said that nothing in life comes for free.  Well in the case of artist Nina Paley, that is not entirely true. Paley decided to give her animated film Sita Sings the Blues to the masses free of charge.  Using the epic Hindu poem as a catalyst for exploring the crumbling nature of her marriage, the film is both a jaunty musical and a historical tale on downside of unconditional love.  Featuring various animation styles, songs by jazz artist Annette Hanshaw and witty narrating shadow puppets, Sita Sings the Blue is a treat for the senses.  Before diving into the film, we take a moment to discuss our short films picks of the week: Fetch! and Dernier Acte.

Show Notes:

  • 4:36 – Fetch! by Nina Paley
  • 12:50 – Dernier Acte by Daphné Chabrier, Laura Hottot, and Cécile Peyron
  • 20:41 – Sita Sings the Blues by Nina Paley

If you like what you hear, or want to offer some constructive criticism, please take a moment to rate our show on iTunes!  If you have a comment on this episode, or want to suggest a film for us to discuss, feel free to contact us via twitter (@ChangingReelsAC) or by email (Changing.Reels.AC@gmail.com).  You can also hear our show on SoundCloud or Stitcher!

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Filed under: 2010, Podcasts No Comments
21Jun/150

If God Is Willing and da Creek Don’t Rise (2010)

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Returning to New Orleans years after the levees broke, Spike Lee revisits familiar faces and introduces new facts as he focuses on the reconstruction efforts in If God Is Willing and da Creek Don't Rise.

Still not helping usIt's not unusual for an artist to pick back up with their creations and see where they would be in their lives.  Directors do this too, usually to diminishing results.  I think of Godfather 3, a gorgeous if not altogether worthy sequel to the previous two installments, or of The Barbarian Invasions, which shared the structure and characters of The Decline of the American Empire if not necessarily the same spirit.  Rarely do the follow-up efforts match the originals, even Prometheus, which I feel is just as worth as Alien, will inspire intense debate on whether it is or isn't worthy.

Spike Lee's follow-up to When the Levees Broke, If God Is Willing and da Creek Don't Rise, is not only a worthy follow-up, I think it was absolutely essential.  I wish he would be able to return to New Orleans every few years and catch up with the people he focused on in the first film, because the two movies combined have become an essential sociological and economic document of the United States.  More history is introduced which is crucial to understanding how the resident's of New Orleans were in the prime position to get screwed, and this history goes right back to the darker consequences of the progressive legislation of F.D.R.'s New Deal.  Spike even goes right up to criticizing Obama's cautious approach to domestic issues where race is a factor, with many of the talking heads discussing how his efforts and statements were certainly appreciated, but need to be stronger.

Now five years after and it's disappointingly clear Obama will not present that strength, and in this was If God Is Willing continues along the path of When the Levees Broke in how thoroughly the system fails its lower class people.  Part of what's so impressive as a follow-up is the way Spike continues to keep his approach balanced so they aren't "seen as whining".  I think of an ironic juxtaposition between the drum solo which sounded the arrival of a helpful General in When the Levees Broke being reused for the cowardly "I just want my life back" CEO of Tony Hayward.  I also like the symmetry of the celebration of life after the Saints won the Superbowl with their marches in this film and the citizens walking down the dead neighborhoods in the last.

Much like When the Levees Broke, I don't know if we'll be able to really scratch at everything If God Is Willing has to offer, but let's give it our level-best shot.‏

14Jun/150

Spike Lee: Kobe Doin’ Work (2009)

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Kobe Bryant, partnering with Spike Lee, let cameras on the floor and in the gym to capture a day of leadership and basketball.  This is Kobe Doin' Work.

Planning the attackI'm not a big sports fan, so Kobe Doin' Work didn't hold any immediate appeal for me. I'd be curious to hear what someone who is really into basketball thinks, because what I found to be the most interesting parts are probably pretty obvious and self-evident to someone who knows how the game works at a professional level. This isn't really a documentary about Kobe Bryant so much as what it means to be a leading player on a professional basketball team—and not “what it means” in a sappy how-can-we-use-this-athlete-to-evoke-personal-myths-of-success sort of way (the way sports is typically made to function), but literally what that work looks like before, during, and after games.

That was pretty interesting to me—to see the type of constant strategy and communication that goes into this level of play.  Spike Lee gets dialogue and sound between the player on-court while the game is going, and this works to demystify the way sports (and great players) are often presented as just possessing great intuitive abilities. The point is obviously to show Bryant as not just a player of enormous talent, but also as a leader and decision maker on the court having just as much say and influence as coach Phil Jackson.

There are some other mildly interesting things going on here formally, but this is primarily Spike's attempt to deconstruct what makes a basketball player one of “the greats.” While his approach is an effective one, I'm always going to be a biased audience here. It's engaging for a time to learn what really goes into playing a game at a professional level, but more engaging would be a look at how those expectations of greatness form and translate off the court. We see a few representations of Bryant as a cultural and media symbol—and one quick scene of him seeing himself in that way on a TV broadcast before the game—but Spike isn't interested in following that idea any further. (And doing so would necessarily complicate the image of Bryant as simply “one of the most driven, passionate athletes playing today.”) On one hand, I can't fault Spike for not wanting to make a totally different movie, but on the other, the movie he chose to make tops out at a lower level.‏