listen up philip

My Top Ten Films of 2014

Apologies to David Mackenzie’s excellent Starred Up getting excised from this edit

10. NIGHTCRAWLER (dir. Dan Gilroy)

One of my favorite vampire movies in recent memory

9. LISTEN UP PHILIP (dir. Alex Ross Perry)

All films should go on an Elisabeth Moss close-ups galore detour. A brutal deconstruction of the cult of literary figures and their admirers and imitators, who prefer the lifestyle than the heavy lifting. Great nod to Faces, too.


SNOWPIERCER (dir. Bong Joon-ho)

Much has been said in the critical and viewer divide of Snowpiercer’s politics, its take on dystopian sci-fi, general weirdness- slipping on fish in a major action scene!- and, its ending. But frankly, I cannot think of another film where its ending matched my feelings in wanting 2014 to kiss-off like this one. Thank you, Bong Joon-ho. Thank you for directing this movie like John Carpenter tripping off of Aldous Huxley’s drug stash.

7. JOHN WICK (dir. Chad Stahelski)

Like Snowpiercer, John Wick is in its own special, weird world and wave length- the hotel of assassins is practically a missing boxcar to Snowpiercer’s perpetual engine motion set.  Stahelski’s eye for action and care in showing the choreography is much appreciated, but it is the moment of Michael Nyqvist’s line-reading of, ’… Oh’, that signaled to me that I was watching something special from a clearly gifted first-time director. Great to have you back, Keanu. Do more films with Chad, please.

6. NYMPHOMANIAC (dir. Lars von Trier)

If Lars von Trier is serious about no longer making any films in order to control his substance abuse*, then this novelistic saga of a film will be the most perfect, accidental, testament of an artist in their final film since Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Querelle.

*-I will bet money this is not his last film.  The follow-up is likely a G-rated kids film.   

5. GONE GIRL (dir. David Fincher)

David Fincher’s love letter to his favorite subject: psychopaths.  A love letter written with fluffy, clicky pens shows that the cold, clinical director is not above, in fact, rather reveling in, letting his freak flag fly.  A trashy masterpiece (trashterpiece???) that cries out more of John Waters than whatever self-seriousness you could have accused Fincher of prior. Who knew?  Good for him.

4. THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (dir. Wes Anderson)

When you hear about people declaring cinema dead or television surpassing film as an art form, dear reader, remember, there are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity. Indeed that’s what Wes Anderson provides viewers in his own modest, humble, insignificant… oh, fuck it. This was just fucking great.

3. STRANGER BY THE LAKE (dir. Alain Guiraudie)

When one change of the routine for an entire ecosystem becomes sinister.  The AIDS analogy is tempting and has caused folks to deem this a throwback or even too much of a relic.  But this is a fable of a world that is much aware and lived in of its surroundings than to be going that deep into self-seriousness. The film’s moments of humor and curiosities of its characters and setting are what give its thrills and kills impact.

2. UNDER THE SKIN (dir. Jonathan Glazer)

Shattering in going from a seductive, yet oppressive, prism of an eerily plausible point of a view of an alien looking at humanity and destroying it to then have that very alien finding humanity beautiful and wanting to be of its essence.  Then the harsh reminder that we, ourselves, inhabit a cruel world long before those aliens touched down in a van. I covered my face for approximately 10 minutes while still sitting in my seat after this film was over.  

(tie) 1. INHERENT VICE (dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)

Sad, wistful look at California in 1970 at the time where you could rub elbows with all sub-cultures who could be the ultimate outsiders or insiders, or they could just playing to both sides without you knowing it.  Paul Thomas Anderson’s grainy 70mm full of double-exposures and cross-dissolves as told in Joanna Newsom’s doper ESP narration feels like a ghost story in understanding that the counter-culture lost and was being displaced and used in ways for the benefit of ‘the man’.  Could PTA be opining about lost loves and his own place in Hollywood in 2014?  I think so.  Fresh off of seeing this and not to be presented in haste, but this film might be my new favorite of his. I never simultaneously cried and giggled this much about dope smokers.

(tie) 1. ADIEU AU LANGAGE/GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE 3D (dir. Jean Luc Godard)

The Dog Gaze or, Dog sees Godard. Roxy Miéville, congratulations. You won 2014.