2011 IN REVIEW: Movies I Promise to Revisit

Most movies, even the bad ones, typically warrant a second look. Whether it is to discover layers and nuances to the story we originally missed, or whether it is even to reaffirm the strong feelings we had upon initial viewings, I am of the opinion that nothing but value can ever come from giving a movie another try.

I saw over 120 films in 2011. Needless to say, a vast majority of those films will never be seen with my two eyes ever again. The films of the year most likely to be revisited by me will be the ones ranked in my top ten list (in addition to my runners-up). Some films that failed to make my short-list, however, do deserve a second glimpse. This can be for many reasons: perhaps I’ve found my opinion on one film straying drastically from conventional opinion. Perhaps I’ve yet to master another film and the message it conveys. Perhaps I came to a movie ill-prepared or in the wrong mind-set, and I simply never gave it a fair chance.

Below is a list of ten films that failed to make my personal top twenty for numerous reasons, yet I promise to revisit one day. Have a read, and let me know which 2011 movies you plan to check out at least one more time:

Beginners

Why I Want to Revisit It: My personal pick for the 2011 “I didn’t get it” award, I didn’t exactly dislike Mike Mills’ Thumbsucker follow-up, but his twee and affected approach to his storytelling – the doggie subtitles, the introduction to the Mélanie Laurent character, the constant use of quick-cut slide-shows to capture whatever mood he was aiming for – left me cold. The film clearly left others more moved than unmoved, so I plan on returning for a second screening to find out what exactly I missed.

When Exactly Will I Revisit It? Honestly, the timing depends on how well it performs later this month when the Oscar Nominations are announced. I am already sold on the Christopher Plummer performance (as Alex suggests, he deserves to win), but should the film garner some love in other categories, I may be compelled to see it sooner than. Otherwise, It might make for a nice date night movie with my boyfriend some day.

The Descendants

Why I Want to Revisit It: If I were asked to pick the most overpraised flick of 2011, this would be the one. While not truly terrible, I feel this movie brings out the worst traits of its writer/director Alexander Payne, a filmmaker I actually happen to like quite a bit. I had tremendous difficulty getting past that awful voice-over in the beginning, and I felt like Payne had written many of his story’s emotional high-points well before he had fully fleshed out his characters (Judy greer’s final scene and the dialog between Clooney and Nick Krause being chief offenders). Still, many others – including critics I admire quite a bit – managed to find something to love about it. Surely, I must be the one who is wrong.

When Exactly Will I Revisit It? Likely sometime before Oscar night, as it is fully expected to kick ass in most of the major categories (nomination-wise, at least). It would be really nice either to go in to the telecast fully supporting a movie I initially dismissed, or to go in with a solid reaffirmation of my initial gripes about the weakest directorial effort yet from Mr. Payne.

Film Socialisme

Why I Want to Revisit It: You expect a Godard movie to elicit a number of adjectives, but “obvious” and “repetitive” aren’t typically among them. Not nearly as impenetrable as Roger Ebert seems to believe, the movie is instead a rather transparent retread of the work that defined the French New Wave legend decades ago. Compared to other works this year like Tree of Life and Certified Copy, Film Socialisme comes off as downright regressive. Still, many were blown away by the movie, and it even cracked the top 20 on Indiewire’s Critics’ List this year. Something this divisive – even if I hated it – invariably deserves a second look.

When Exactly Will I Revisit It? As morbid as it may sound, it will likely be upon the revolutionary director’s passing when I finally give Film Socialisme a second chance (being 80 years young, that can still be a long way off). It will be the best possible chance to revisit it, as I will surely be waxing poetic about Godard’s cinematic contributions, and therefore will be inspired to course through his filmography with all my affection.

The Future

Why I Want to Revisit It: While I didn’t find it overpraised like Beginners, I nonetheless had difficulty bypassing the indie-style affectations of Miranda July’s sophomore effort. The friends who accompanied me to the screening loved it, however, and there were several moments that admittedly touched me (July herself gives the best animal performance of the year as Paw-Paw the cat). Additionally, I really loved Me and You and Everyone We Know, so July’s latest absolutely deserves a second chance.
When Exactly Will I Revisit It? Most likely the day it shows up on Netflix Watch Instant.

Meek’s Cutoff

Why I Want to Revisit It: It’s a movie I merely liked upon first viewing, yet not quite enough to have cracked my top 20 by year’s end. Nonetheless, it has managed to linger in my mind since I saw it this past spring, and what I did love about it – the sense of bleakness and desolation, the Michelle Williams performance, that cart-crash sequence – has only garnered more of my affection.

When Exactly Will I Revisit It? This is the first movie on my list I plan on revisiting. In fact, there is a good chance I am rewatching it even as you read this post.

One Day

Why I Want to Revisit It: I walked in to One Day with an inordinate amount of goodwill, not least of which being my unbridled love for director Lone Scherfig’s terrific film An Education. The romantic drama received fairly terrible reviews across the board (including one from us) and, while I found the structure of its narrative and its ending to be tremendously problematic, I nonetheless managed to find a great deal to appreciate in the lead performances from Jim Sturges and Anne Hathaway (unfairly ridiculed for her admittedly risible accent). Just as I am the minority on The Descendants, I am the minority on this movie. I therefore resolve to revisit it, hopefully to catch what crime against humanity I failed to glimpse.

When Exactly Will I Revisit It? One Day is most likely to get a second look from me just prior to the release of whatever Scherfig’s next project ends up becoming. At that point, I imagine I will be compelled to revisit her entire filmography, and not just One Day.

Senna

Why I Want to Revisit It: It was one of the best-received documentaries of the year, but this story of the rise and untimely death of the Brazilian Formula One Racing Champion simply never outstepped the shadow of what I found to be more revelatory nonfiction works in 2011 like Into the Abyss, Project Nim and Tabloid. I’m going to chalk that up to my general lack of enthusiasm toward many sports films (an admittedly unfair bias), and attempt to give Asif Kapadia’s doc the fair shake it obviously deserves.

When Exactly Will I Revisit It? My family is teeming with NASCAR/Formula One racing fans, and I have no doubt they would find the movie – as well as Aytron Senna’s story – to be inherently compelling. Perhaps I should invite them to my place one evening to watch the film, which I imagine we’d all enjoy for very different reasons.

Tucker & Dave vs. Evil

Why I Want to Revisit It: The delightfulness behind the very concept of Tucker & Dale – the perverse implementation of the most banal horror movie tropes into a comedy of errors – was certainly not lost on me. As amusing as this movie is conceptually, I don’t think the jokes were really as clever as the filmmakers thought they were. Additionally, for a movie so tremendously self-aware in many respects, the uncritical handling of its unlikely romantic subplot felt absurdly out of place. Still, this is another case of a movie that garnered far more affection than disdain, therefore leaving my convictions in doubt.

When Exactly Will I Revisit It? Late one night, preferably with a lot of friends and with several drinks in hand, which I believe are ideal circumstances in which to give Tucker & Dale the second shot it deserves.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

Why I Want to Revisit It: Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Palme d’Or winner came terribly close to cracking my top twenty films of the year, and possibly even my top ten. Ultimately, I decided against its inclusion for a simple reason: I still have no clue what the hell it is about. That is not to say that I did not like the movie; it is in fact one of the more pleasantly beguiling and confounding experiences I’ve had at the movies this side of Synecdoche NY. I simply feel that, in order to acknowledge with sincerity whatever greatness it is capable of, I need something insightful to say about it first. But hell, I still can’t say anything remotely intelligent about Mulholland Drive after multiple viewings, and that remains one of my favorite films of the last fifteen years. So what do I know?

When Exactly Will I Revisit It? As you watch Uncle Boonmee, you get the sense that a great deal of its themes are culled from a very specific cultural sensibility; one that is lost on an ugly American such as myself. I really ought to visit some of Weerasethakul’s previous work first, like Blissfully Yours and Tropical Malady, and read up on what much smarter people have to say both about Weerasethakul’s work and the texts his work invokes. Then might I finally have a fighting chance against this movie.

War Horse

Why I Want to Revisit It: As of today, War Horse stands as minor Spielberg. A lot of people – including myself – have criticized the Beard’s new WWI epic for its shameless sentimentality and syrupy-sweet melodrama. That is probably fair, but I have a theory to present: I believe that one day – be it ten years from now, twenty, or even a century – the anachronism of the film’s relentlessly old-fashioned nature (in addition, perhaps, to our post-9/11 cynicism) will rust away, putting it on the same level as War of the Worlds and A.I., Spielberg’s other tremendously underappreciated works. History might even go on to call it one of the definitive films on WWI. Like I said, this is only a theory, and I should usually know better than to trust my gut instincts. But I really have to give War Horse another shot to see if I’m on to something.

When Exactly Will I Revisit It? As my hogwash theory suggests, it will probably be years from now, though I may give it another chance in theaters before it disappears completely. In the mean time, I will likely seize the opportunity while waiting to improve my classic movie lexicon, studying the works of John Ford, the Selznick productions of yesteryear and the other films that inspired Spielberg to make War Horse.

Those are ten movies from 2011 I plan on revisiting someday. What 2011 films are you willing to give a second chance? Do you think my War Horse theory holds any water?

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  • Jose

    Drive, Tree of Life, and The Muppets.
    Because I thought those were among the three biggest overrated films of 2011 and everyone is telling me to give them a second chance.

  • I agree about Uncle Boonmee, War Horse, and Meek’s Cutoff. I also think that Contagion, Melancholia, and Hugo deserve another look.

    And I applaud your willingness to sit through One Day again.

  • Eric M

    My 10 cents about Beginners:

    I like the movie – as far as to put it in my top 10 – but I don’t see it as a complete film. The biggest roadblock it faces it that everything is portrayed to have very little at stake. Both of Ewan’s McGregor’s struggles in the movie (a break-up and his father’s death) never change the tone of the movie, to fit with the underlying theme of living in the present without regrets.

    When I first saw the movie in theaters, it happened to be a particularly good day for me. Things with my then-girlfriend were healthy, textbooks weren’t burying me at my desk, and I was basically high off life. I smiled ear to ear for nearly the whole movie. Then I rented the movie and watched with a very indifferent attitude about everything, and I noticed how simplistic the whole movie is. I still appreciate what Mills was doing, but you shouldn’t watch it with the expectations that contains heavily dramatic sequences or enough to keep you thinking after the credits roll

  • i really want to see THE FUTURE again because to be honest i wasn’t in mood for that movie and i don’t even understood what it was all about ….. other movies i want to revisit are:

    Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
    The Tree Of Life
    Certified Copy
    Beginners
    Win Win

    reasons for them aren’t because i didn’t liked it or something but i just want to experience them one more time or i forgot about them specially the last 2.

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