BUCK

Culture Warrior

Usually I’m quite cynical about end-of-year lists, as they demand a forced encapsulation of an arbitrary block of time that is not yet over into something simplified. I typically find end-of-year lists fun, but rarely useful. But 2011 is different. As Scott Tobias pointed out, while “quiet,” this was a surprisingly strong year for interesting and risk-taking films. What’s most interesting has been the variety: barely anything has emerged as a leading contender that tops either critics’ lists or dominates awards buzz. Quite honestly, at the end of 2010 I struggled to find compelling topics, trends, and events to define the year in cinema. The final days of 2011 brought a quite opposite struggle, for this year’s surprising glut of interesting and disparate films spoke to one another in a way that makes it difficult to isolate any of the year’s significant works. Arguments in the critical community actually led to insightful points as they addressed essential questions of what it means to be a filmgoer and a cinephile. Mainstream Hollywood machine-work and limited release arthouse fare defied expectations in several directions. New stars arose. Tired Hollywood rituals and ostensibly reliable technologies both met new breaking points. “2011” hangs over this year in cinema, and the interaction between the films – and the events and conversations that surrounded them – makes this year’s offerings particular to their time and subject to their context. This is what I took away from this surprising year:

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This Week in DVD

Welcome to FSR’s first DVD column for October 2011! There are lots of interesting titles hitting shelves today including two third or fourth generation sequels that surprise by being far more entertaining than anyone expected them to be. In addition to Scream 4 and Fast Five several smaller films are coming out too including the giallo-inspired art film Amer, Zach Braff’s indie drama The High Cost of Living, the sweetly comic UK coming of age film Submarine, and more. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Buck Buck Brannaman has a special appreciation for the equine species that helps him understand and communicate with horses and their owners. He’s been labeled a real life “horse whisperer” and even assisted Robert Redford on his film of the same name, but his life wasn’t always a success story. This documentary takes a man and a subject so purely American and finds real heart, pain, and inspiration in the tale. All of it is engaging, but the bit towards the end about a damaged and violent colt is suspenseful and heartbreaking.

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The Reject Report

In darkened theaters… In brightest lobbies… Yeah, I’m not finishing that. Instead I’m looking forward at what’s in those darkened theaters this weekend. We have Green Lantern. We have Mr. Popper’s Penguins. We also have the returning Super 8 looking to hold onto that nostalgia for one more weekend. One of these is sure to come out on top of the heap. The other two will be submerged into a vat of self-pity. Unless the winner is the penguin movie. Then all three films as well as American audiences should really take a hard look in the mirror and gauge their worth. But I’m not judging. It’s the Reject Report, and no evil shall escape our site. Lame.

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One of the great things about partnering with a leadership sponsor for the 2010 Sundance Film Festival was a bit of access to some of the festival’s official materials…

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