First things first: let's play catch-up.
I didn't see many films in the time that I was away, but I did catch a good number. I've managed to boil down the best and the worst of what I've seen to five films each. I saw a good amount of great things, so it's going to be difficult, but I'll try!
The Tree of Life
I have been excited to see Terrence Malick's new film for just as long as any other cinephile, and when I sat down to see it this past Wednesday I don't think my heart could've been beating any faster! Two hours and twenty minutes later I walked out having no idea what to think of what I'd just experienced. All I knew is that it was just that: an experience. It's both the most universal and personal of his films, and it's that juxtaposition which has left many an audience member perplexed. I found the entire portion of the film dedicated to the Texan family to be one of the best things I've ever seen. Ever. I find everything outside of that portion to be interesting and thought-provoking, but I believe it will take many more viewings before I can firmly place my feelings towards the film. In the meantime it gets #5 for the portion of the film I loved, it's absolutely stunning visuals, and for being something difficult, mesmerizing, and fresh all at the same time.
Gods and Monsters
I'm not quite sure why but I'd seen many scenes of Gods and Monsters prior to watching the film. Apparently it'd been on my radar for a good long while but I finally caught up with it in early April and absolutely adored it. Not only is Brendan Fraser ridiculously HOT in it, but the story is a cinephile's dream and McKellen is fantastic. It's a painful portrait of a man who has seen better days and is now alone and reminiscing on a life once better. Much like Sunset Boulevard but without the crazy dramatics and murder, Gods and Monsters is a tender portrait of how fleeting fame can be. What makes the film really effecting is its portrayal of a man waylaid by his sexuality and his need to be himself all the time. The James Whale of this film had Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" swag before even her parents were born. That is ultimately what led to his ostracization and downfall. A haunting film, and a must-see.
Mike Mills' Beginners I knew I'd like. A good friend of mine and I had been patiently waiting for this film's release for quite awhile, and we caught up with it last night. The story of a man, Oliver (Ewan MacGregor) whose dad Hal (Christopher Plummer) comes out of the closet after his mother's death and finally find the lifestyle he's always knew he belonged for is a perfect little film. Oliver also starts a romance with a French actress he meets at a party, Anna (Mélanie Laurent), but this film is really about Oliver and Hal. It's funny, sweet, breezy, and deeply felt without ever being heavy. The story is apparently based on director Mike Mills' real relationship with his father and that makes it so much more emotional. If Christopher Plummer isn't Oscar-nominated for this role come January I'll be devastated. He's absolutely fantastic and is the beating heart and soul of this story.
Bridesmaids is hands-down the funniest film I have ever seen in my entire life. That is no hyperbole, folks. I went in to the film knowing I'd enjoy it but having no idea just how much I'd pee my pants. I laughed from beginning to end, and even got a tad bit werklempt. Kristen Wiig is amazing, Rose Byrne is a talent that everyone should be on the watch for, and the other rag-tag comics in the film are just as great. I know much is being said about a female-dominated comedy (and not wholly ROMANTIC comedy, too) being fantastic and successful, but I am just so appreciative that this film exists and that soon I'll be able to watch it over and over on Blu-ray. I'm head-over-heels in love with this film, and my friends will tell you that I am a self-proclaimed comedy hater. I dislike almost every comedy I've seen in the past 10 years (yes, even you The Hangover), so my abject joy and ecstasy towards this film is not something to take lightly!
The New World
The Museum of Moving Image here in NYC was doing a Terrence Malick retrospective back in May, and I was lucky enough to be asked to accompany a really adorable/intelligent guy to the screening of The New World. It's the only Malick I had never seen, and I was in the height of my Tree of Life anticipation, so expectations were extremely high. After the first 30 minutes, though, I don't think I could've been more enraptured. The New World is a masterpiece. It's easily one of the best films I've ever seen, and it may be the best of Malick's films. It's a showcase of cinematography. It has absolutely incredible performances from all involved. The story is deeply moving (in particular the ending, which shook me to my core), and it's all because of Malick's hand. If you have not seen this film, you must. It's shot right up into my favorite films of all time, and I plan on buying it immediately in order to re-live it again and again.
So that's the best from my hiatus! Stay tuned for the worst (and there's some terrible shiite I've been watching).