Amoeblog

Best 11 Films of 2011

Posted by Charles Reece, January 8, 2012 11:25pm | Post a Comment
Last year wasn't too good for movies, but it was great for scores. I can't remember a year where I listened and re-listened to so much music from films: Cliff Martinez electronic-based Drive, Contagion and The Lincoln Lawyer; Alexandre Desplat's The Tree of Life and The Ides of March; Alberto Iglesias' The Skin I Live In and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy;  and, probably my favorite of the year, The Chemical Brothers' Hanna (much better than Daft Punk's overrated TRON: Legacy). I'll be surprised if any but Desplat gets nominated for an Oscar, though. Another likely Oscar candidate is Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor's The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, which I really liked, but haven't yet had a chance to listen to it independently of the film. And Jeremy Schmidt's analog sound designs for Beyond the Black Rainbow are amazing (somewhere in the territory of Wendy Carlos' The Shining), but I'm not quite sure what's diegetic and extra-diegetic until an album is released.

As for my list of best films: most of these I enjoyed some parts of, while not exactly the whole. I'd say the overall best of the bunch are Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Meek's Cutoff and Super, but my favorite sequences of the year came from Hanna, Drive and Beyond the Black Rainbow.

13 assassins poster kevin graham poster
13 Assassins - Takashi Miike

I never seem to tire of action films questioning when it's appropriate or moral to use violence. As I previously discussed, 13 Assassins does a good job of critiquing the aestheticization of violence while aestheticizing the violence. 

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Some People Should Die: 13 Assassins (2011)

Posted by Charles Reece, May 8, 2011 10:05pm | Post a Comment
13 assassins poster

 
We want to glorify war -- the only cure for the world -- militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of the anarchists, the beautiful ideas which kill, and contempt for woman.
-- Filippo T. Marinetti, from The Futurist Manifesto

Takashi Miike
's 13 Assassins is a remake of Eiichi Kodo's 1963 jidaigeki of the same name, and bears the same relation to real people and events that The Exorcist does. I haven't seen the earlier version, but in addition to Miike's style, the previous work of scenarist Daisuke Tengan (e.g., Audition for Miike and Dr. Akagi for Shôhei Imamura, the writer's father) suggests that the film probably has its own unique qualities to offer. The story is simple, perfectly rendered and universal. At the tail end of the Edo period, when peace more or less prevailed and the samurai didn't have much to do, Lord Naritsugu, the despotic younger brother of the Shogun, is about to be promoted to a higher position that sets a path to his eventual rule. Not wishing to undermine the shogunate and bring chaos to the land by openly challenging the selection of Naritsugu, Sir Doi brings examples of the Lord's malevolent nature to the samurai Shinzaemon to convince him of the necessity of assassination.

Depicting evil as erotic brutality is where Miike really shines: An emaciated woman, missing all of her limbs after being kept as Naritsugu's play thing, explains what happened to her family by writing with a pen in her mouth -- for he removed her tongue, too. Miike shows her writhing and humming in pain while she cries blood and mucus just to get two words down, "total massacre." The other example is told in flashback by a man who's lost his son and daughter-in-law due to the Lord beheading the former in front of the latter just after he's raped her, which results in her slitting her own throat in anguish. Shinzaemon is convinced, trembling with the possibility of facing a noble death that he thought would be denied him. With eleven other cohorts (the titular thirteenth will join them on the road), he plans their suicide mission to stop Naritsugu from returning home to assume his new position.

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