On a music forum I sometimes post on, another poster around my age (mid to late 40’s) made a comment that they were happy with all the music they had heard so far in their life and no longer felt the need to seek out or listen to any new bands.
This statement for me applies to how I feel about movies with the exception of horror movies which is where I feel the innovation is these days. Other than that, the big Hollywood productions have become even more trite and predictable, more narrowed down to what is deemed acceptable by marketing focus groups without anything even remotely challenging thrown in, CGI special effects have also played a negative role here as they often have become the movie themselves, carrying the film, rather than an effect.
Independently made American movies have also gone downhill (This is not necessarily true about films outside the US as this has become the medium for artists in emerging nations). In the US, indie films about human relationships have become precious and overly quirky, Wes Anderson’s oeuvre as template.
So I don’t have a list of the best films of 2011 but I did see one non-horror film this year which I thought was fantastic and that was TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY.
This is one of those films that work separately from the source material. I’m not a fan of spy novels and not a fan of John Le Carre(the author of the TINKER source novel) who with his byzantine plot labyrinths and bureaucratic language is unreadable to me. However, the filmmaker accomplishes the seemingly impossible task of making this long, complicated story fit in a two hour film without any compromises in the narrative.
In addition, he uses the story to pump in a lot of other subtext on topics that only a film could handle – loyalty, inter-office politics, the nature of truth, the loneliness of the life of the superagent George Smiley , the hero of TINKER very much in control, but with a sad personal life.
A big part of the success of this film is the large cast of excellent actors– Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, John Hurt among others turn in first rate performances and I especially liked how everyone got a chance to shine – Everyone is given their moment.
This is the type of cerebral action film Hollywood used to make – The plot of the film revolves around catching a mole or double agent in the highest rungs of the British secret service an organization called The Circus.
So in a year where film ceases to matter, where everything is readily available producing a reaction against spontaneity in film, here is a movie that you can submerge yourself in which is the hallmark of any great film. I can’t wait to see it again!