Best of the 2010s: My Favorite Films of 2010
14.The Last Circus (directed by Alex de la Iglesia)
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From my review:
If Michael Bay made films that have substance he would be Alex de la Iglesia. In this pic, a man is haunted by his father’s destruction at the hands of the fascist Franco government and attempts to honor his pop’s memory by continuing the family tradition of clowning. He ends up the “sad clown” to a masochist “happy clown,” and both vie for the affections of a beautiful acrobat. The violence gets pretty bad in this one as both men grow increasingly insane. One of the most fun, and still intellectually rich movies I’ve seen in a while. There’s also a lot of classic film references, particularly in the big finale which reminded me a lot of Tim Burton’s Batman work visually.
Black Swan (2010)
Written by Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz, and John J. McLaughlin
Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Nina is a ballerina working in a New York ballet company with aspirations of maybe becoming the lead dancer one day. Her chances arrive sooner than she realizes when prima ballerina Beth, aging and bitter about what the director has made her do over the years, is pushed aside for Nina in the lead role of Swan Lake. Thomas, the company’s director, is growing increasingly frustrated with what he says is Nina’s constraining inhibitions. While technically perfect she lacks the passion he wants to see and uses new company member Lily as an example of real emotion in the work. Nina’s mother doesn’t help things by creating a perpetual childhood in their apartment, treating the young woman the same as she did when Nina was a girl. All of this pressure begins to show the cracks in Nina’s psyche as she glimpses a shadow-self, a doppelganger wandering the streets living a life parallel to our protagonist. What is real and what is in the life of the mind begin to blur and dissolve.
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Certified Copy (2011)
Written & Directed by Abbas Kiarostami
James Miller, a British writer, travels to Tuscany to give a talk about his book “Certified Copy” wherein he argues that reproductions and forgeries of art are just as relevant to conversations of art as the originals. This is based on his idea that even the original is a reproduction of a model or an idea and therefore all art is a reproduction of something. He meets up with an unnamed French antique dealer who is incredibly enthusiastic about his book, and they discuss his ideas on art while on a drive to a village in the countryside. Miller excuses himself during a stop to get coffee and a barista mistakes Miller and the woman for a couple, and the woman plays along telling a whole story about her husband being so distant and never spending time with their son. Things take a turn for the strange because after the woman tells Miller about the employee’s assumption, they appear to take on the personas of a real husband and wife, devolving into an argument about long-simmering tensions. So what is the reality? Do we see a roleplay or are they a couple? Alternatively, does it even matter? Are two people who are feeling the genuine emotions associated with this type of relationship just as valid a real married couple?
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Another Year (2010)
Written & Directed by Mike Leigh
Tom and Gerrie (yes, that is their names) are a couple nearing retirement. He’s a geological engineer, and she’s a counselor, but both of them have a great passion for nature and working in their garden allotment. Over the course of a single year, we follow them as they spend time with friends and family. We’re introduced to Mary, a receptionist at the health center where Gerri works. Mary is divorced, and her last meaningful relationship turned out to be with a married man. Tom’s childhood friend Ken is overweight and eats & drinks non-stop. Ken complains about how he’s being aged out of his position at work and that he hadn’t stopped to realize he was old now. Tom and Gerrie’s son Joe is in his thirties and still single which becomes a point of conversation during many dinners. There’s no mystery or deep conflict here; this is just life played out over another year.
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Four Lions (2010)
Written by Chris Morris, Sam Bain, Jesse Armstrong, & Simon Blackwell
Directed by Chris Morris
Nine years after the events of 9/11, with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq raging on, as ISIS was growing in power, four radicalized British Muslims want in on the jihad. They aspire to be suicide bombers but want to do it legit so that they end up as kick-ass martyrs. Two of the men, Omar and Waj, fly to Pakistan to train with al-Qaeda but end up using a rocket launcher the wrong way round and blow up part of the training camp. Meanwhile, Anglo convert to Islam Barry recruits Hassan, a young Arabic rapper who wants to create a “jihad of the mind.” When Omar returns the group devolves into arguments about what exactly to bomb: a mosque and pretend they were Jews, a pharmacy because they sell birth control or some as to be determined target.
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Written by Denis Villeneuve, Wajdi Mouawad, and Valerie Beaugrand-Champagne
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Nawal Marwan has died, suddenly and unexpectedly. She was a professor of languages in Quebec, a refugee from the religious wars Lebanon in the 1970s. Her twin children survive her, Jeanne and Simon who are tasked by a notary friend of the family with two envelopes: one for their father and one for their brother. The problem is that they have never known their father, having been told he died in the wars. Additionally, they have no brother that they know of. Jeanne begins the journey, flying to Lebanon and retracing her mother’s steps. Meanwhile, the audience is privy to flashbacks to what happened to Nawal, following her from the days of forbidden love to her eventually involvement against the Nationalist movement in the country. The ultimate truth that is uncovered by Jeanne and Simon will forever shake the foundations of their world and cause them to rethink their entire lives.
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Blue Valentine (2010)
Written by Derek Cianfrance & Joey Curtis, and Cami Delavigne
Directed by Derek Cianfrance
The beginning and the ending, happiness becomes misery. Dean and Cynthia have been married for six years, and something has just gone wrong. The love has been sapped out of their lives, but only one of them seems aware of what has happened, and the other is oblivious. Years earlier, Dean and Cynthia meet through chance, and he pursues her while she is shaking off a bad relationship. They find something in each other that they both need, a playful joy about life. In the present day, Dean is trying to keep something alive that is dead. This is a story that closes with a happy beginning and a heartbreaking ending.
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