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Daily Archives: June 30, 2014

The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. A Letter to Three Wives (Mankiewicz)
2. Me and Orson Welles (Linklater)
3. The Rover (Michod)
4. Jersey Boys (Eastwood)
5. Metropolis (Lang)
6. Duck Soup (McCarey)
7. Vampyr (Dreyer)
8. Citizen Kane (Welles)
9. The End of St. Petersburg (Pudovkin)
10. The Phantom Carriage (Sjostrom)

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The Best Films of 2014: A Midyear Report

2014 has been an uncommonly good year for the movies. Let me rephrase that: 2014 has been an uncommonly good year to live in Chicago and see the local premieres of great films from around the globe (some of which premiered elsewhere last year). Now that the year is exactly half-way over, I thought it might be interesting to post a mid-year movie report card — taking stock of my favorite films of 2014 thus far. This list of my top 10 favorite new movies from the past six months is more impressive than a lot of the lists I’ve made of my 10 favorite films from entire calendar years in the recent past (and keep in mind that I’m disqualifying films that recently received their first theatrical run here — like Stranger By the Lake and The Immigrant — that I caught at festivals last year). Each title is accompanied by a still and a quote from my original review, as well as a link to said review where applicable. Enjoy!

10. Pretty Butterflies (Mereu, Italy) – European Union Film Festival. Rating: 8.3

pretty

“By focusing on pre-adolescent characters who have had to grow up too fast, Mereu illustrates how the world can be a terrible and scary place; and yet, because the friendship between Cate and Luna is so tight, and because they seem so indomitable as characters, this movie is also gratifyingly full of unexpected humor and warmth”: https://whitecitycinema.com/2014/03/10/2014-european-union-film-festival-pt-2/

9. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Anderson, USA/Germany) – Wide Release. Rating: 8.4

budapest

“This moral-clarity-in-the-midst-of-screwball-chaos is finally what makes The Grand Budapest Hotel a worthy heir to the films of the great Ernst Lubitsch, its most important cinematic precedents”: https://whitecitycinema.com/2014/04/07/odds-and-ends-the-grand-budapest-hotel-and-chicago-to-conjure-a-lost-neighborhood/

8. Gloria (Lelio, Chile) – Landmark. Rating: 8.5

gloria2

“Like Cassavetes, Lelio trains a patient camera eye on his lead character and audaciously resists taking easy emotional shortcuts”: https://whitecitycinema.com/2014/02/24/now-playing-gloria-2/

7. Journey to the West (Tsai, France/Taiwan) – Streaming. Rating: 8.6

journey

“Regardless of how you interpret it, what’s not in dispute is the film’s extreme formal beauty (the shot of the monk, surrounded by what looks like a red halo created by his robe, walking down a flight of subway stairs is astonishing), as well as its unexpected, ineffable sense of humor”: https://whitecitycinema.com/2014/03/21/odds-and-ends-journey-to-the-west-and-the-men-of-dodge-city/

6. Jimmy P. (Desplechin, France/USA) – Facets. Rating: 8.7

jimmyp

Jimmy P. is a genuinely optimistic movie that never resorts to sentimentality and that’s a very rare thing indeed”: https://michaelgloversmith.wordpress.com/?p=20006&preview=true

5./4. Nymphomaniac Vol. 1/Vol. 2 (Von Trier, Denmark/Germany/UK) – Landmark. Rating: 9.0

nympho

“Among its many virtues, intellectual as well as visceral, Nymphomaniac is frequently hilarious”: https://whitecitycinema.com/2014/04/14/now-playing-nymphomaniac-volumes-one-and-two/

3. A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness (Rivers/Russell, Estonia) – European Union Film Festival. Rating: 9.1

spell

“The viewer’s immersion in the music during this climactic scene is total — to witness it is to feel that one has jumped into the abyss”: https://whitecitycinema.com/2014/03/10/2014-european-union-film-festival-pt-2/

2. The Strange Little Cat (Zurcher, Germany) – European Union Film Festival. Rating: 9.4

strange

“Like a miniature version of Jacques Tati’s Playtime, however, this movie is really about space and time, order and chaos, images and sounds, and the relationships between people and objects:” https://whitecitycinema.com/2014/03/10/2014-european-union-film-festival-pt-1/

1. Under the Skin (Glazer, UK) – Landmark. Rating: 9.6

undertheskin2

“It’s a visionary work of art in its own right that doesn’t look or sound like anything other than a ‘Jonathan Glazer movie,’ and that should be higher praise than comparing it to motion pictures by great directors from the past”: https://whitecitycinema.com/2014/04/21/now-playing-under-the-skin/

Runners-up:

11. The Rover (Michod, Australia, 2014) – Century 12. Rating: 8.2
12. Metalhead (Bragason, Iceland, 2013) – Chicago International Movies and Music Fest. Rating: 8.0
13. The Longest Distance (Pinto, Venezuela, 2013) – 8.0
14. The World of Goopi and Bagha (Ranade, India, 2013) – 7.9
15. Anina (Soderguit, Uruguay, 2013) – Chicago Latino Film Festival. Rating: 7.9
16. All the Women (Barrioso, Spain) – Chicago Latino Film Festival. Rating: 7.8
17. Only Lovers Left Alive (Jarmusch, USA, 2013) – Century 12. Rating: 7.7
18. Beneath the Harvest Sky (Gaudet/Pullapilly, USA, 2013) Rating: 7.6
19. What Now? Remind Me (Pinto, Portugal) – European Union Film Festival. Rating: 7.5
20. Those Happy Years (Luchetti, Italy) – European Union Film Festival. Rating: 7.5

Special mention for a short: Kevin B. Lee’s Transformers: The Premake, a pounding and vibrant 25-minute essay film, is available to watch in its entirety here.


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