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October 10, 2011 | by  | in Arts Film |
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Top 5 of 2011

If you were looking for quality cinema in 2011, the multiplexes weren’t the place to look. A smattering of offerings (Source Code, Rango, True Grit, Black Swan) staved off cinephilic starvation during a year of pervasive tentpole flicks (Harry Potter 7.2, Thor, Transformers 3), aggressively ugly American comedies (The Hangover Part 2, The Change-Up) and sad disappointments (Sucker Punch, The Adjustment Bureau). Thankfully, where Readings has let us down, the film festivals that punctuate every Wellington cinema year have delivered, their selection taking up the majority of the places for the Salient Film Section’s Top 5 of 2011.


5= Submarine (Richard Ayoade); Sleeping Beauty (Julia Leigh)
4. Melancholia (Lars von Trier)
3. The Forgiveness of Blood (Joshua Marston)
2. Rango (Gore Verbinski)
1. I Saw the Devil (Kim Ji-woon)
Horrifically violent and relentlessly stylish, Kim Ji-woon’s big farewell to South Korea (for now) is a visceral journey into the darkest and stormiest night ever put to film. Powerhouse performances from Lee Byung-hun and Choi Min-sik bring an ebbing humanity to the grotesquely beautiful production design and the ruthless, ever-escalating story.


5. And Everything is Going Fine (Steven Soderbergh)
4. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick)
3. Rubber (Quentin Dupieux)
2. Medianeras (Gustavo Taretto)
1. Mysteries of Lisbon (Raoul Ruiz)
If Kubrick had decided to use 18th Century dioramas instead of paintings as the inspiration for Barry Lyndon’s cinematography then he would have ended up with something similar to Mysteries of Lisbon. Ballsy, methodical and innovatively framed camerawork contributes to the most sumptuous, compelling and self-aware five-hour period piece ever.


5. I Saw the Devil (Kim Ji-woon)
4. A Separation (Asghar Farhadi)
3. Melancholia (Lars von Trier)
2. Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn)
1. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick)
A movie to polarise audiences—probably because it’s hard to define as a ‘movie’ in the traditional sense— The Tree of Life is more a meditation of ideas, set to gorgeous spells of sight and sound and the most deeply personal and profound experience I have had all year.


5. X-Men: First Class (Matthew Vaughn)
4. True Grit (Joel & Ethan Coen)
3. Take Shelter (Jeff Nichols)
2. Melancholia (Lars von Trier)
1. Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky)
Black Swan is quite simply a visceral tour de force, complemented by a stunning performance by Natalie Portman. Darren Aronofsky does not intend to merely please or comfort his audience; instead he astounds them with an unsettling waking nightmare that forms the most truly cinematic film of this year. 


5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (David Yates)
4. The Future (Miranda July)
3. Certified Copy (Abbas Kiarostami)
2. Love Story (Florian Habicht)
1. The Lion King 3D (Roger Allers & Rob Minkoff)
Asante Sana! Squash banana! We we nuga! Mi mi apana—It means you are a baboon and I’m not!


5. Rango (Gore Verbinski)
4. Melancholia (Lars von Trier)
3. Hanna (Joe Wright)
2. Gantz (Shinsuke Sato)
1. Arrietty (Hiromasa Yonebayashi)
If you appreciate earnest escapism and detailed antique animation, this is for you. Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi and produced by Japan’s pre-eminent Studio Ghibli, the film is beautifully drawn and an easy favourite for the year. Arrietty is based on Mary Norton’s 1950s Borrowers novels and touches upon important environmental issues while depicting a true fairytale. Arrietty offers all that we’ve come to expect of a Ghibli film—magic, awe, escapism and beauty.

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Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

Comments (2)

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  1. Electrum Greenstone says:

    The Lion King 3D > Jane King’s Arrietty: […]

  2. Bella says:

    How neat! Is it really this silmpe? You make it look easy.

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