My 14 Favorite Films of 2014
As I said in another list, this year was slightly different, not only in that I wrote a heck of a lot more, but also in that I just saw more, at least as far as new releases went. My journey to making these lists was a fun one. Finals were already happening and I thought, oh, I have a couple of weeks to finish the seven or so lists I had to make, I have plenty of time. And then I realized I had just over a week. So I crammed in as many 2014 films as I could, and voila!
So, here it is, folks, my final, locked in list of my favorite 14 films that I saw in 2014 (I’m not worrying about US release date or anything, just counting what I saw.)
You can also find my ranked 2014 list on Letterboxd, my top 20 performances at Under the Radar, some capsules I contributed to Under the Radar’s best films of 2014, and to Sound on Sight (my individual ballot here), and my favorite musical moments in film from 2014. And, also, my superlative year in film. And also, my complete list of all the new releases I saw in 2014. Yes, I made a lot of lists this year.
Thanks for taking this cinematic journey with me! I hope 2015 to be as fruitful and fun! Have a safe and very Happy New Year, folks! Read the rest of this entry »
My Superlative Year in Film: 2014 Edition
This year was a little different from last year. It was the year I really started writing. I’ve had this blog for, like, eight or so years and maintained it. I’ve written intermittently for VeryAware.com for a while, as well as TheBlackMaria.org. But this is the year that I really pushed my writing, so that my audience grew and I made more friends and engaged with more people than ever. I was fortunate to have my work featured on Movie Mezzanine (of which I am now Assistant Editor), Under the Radar Magazine, Film School Rejects, IndieWire’s /Bent, Sound on Sight, and elsewhere (you can find all of my work here). I got to go to two film festivals for the first time ever, and attend as press for them, which was amazing. I actually got to meet the writers I so much admire in person, in the flesh, and pick the brains and hang out with them. And this time, I actually got to watch a bunch of movies from 2014, which almost never happens. At the time of this writing, on Christmas Eve, I’ve seen 96 new releases, and 423 new to me films in general (a step down from last year, but whatever). So, here was my superlative year in film, 2014 edition. Read the rest of this entry »
Camera as Psychosis: The Cinematography of Black Swan
As she makes her way through the backstage behind the curtain at State University of New York at Purchase, one can tell all is not right with Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman). The camera trails in front her, sycophantically, as she is replete with hypnotic beauty in black and white, still standing out from the grey walls and dark surroundings. Her body quivers powerfully and almost orgasmically. The only thing the audience needs to see is Nina’s eyes to see nothing is right, even as her arms transform, and the camera steps forwards briefly to gaze upon the face that is covered in makeup to reveal that Nina has mutated into something else entirely. But is it real? Who is really seeing this? The cinematography in Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan plays a crucial role in understanding the film’s depiction of psychosis. Nina is one of Aronofsky’s least sane characters, but utilizing various camera tricks and a kind of meta-reflexivity, there is a subtle insanity that works behind each shot to confuse the audience as much as Nina is, while the vérité style with which it is shot allows the film’s foundation to be primarily subjective. Few films play up schlocky horror against dramatic portrayals of mental illness so well, and Black Swan is one of them.