The Best Independent / International Films of 2010

by PopMatters Staff

2 January 2011

 

20 - 16


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I Love You, Phillip Morris

Director: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Cast: Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro

(Roadhouse Pictures)

20

I Love You, Phillip Morris


It’s 2010. Should this really be a topic anymore? For the last two years, Hollywood has fretted over what to do with this subversive Jim Carrey comedy. Wary of the film’s frank depiction of love and sex between two consenting men (one who just happens to be a borderline psychotic con artist) the movie has been shuffled around, looking for a potential distributor. Luckily, a brave studio stepped up to take the genial effort’s cause, giving it a high profile push… and for that, they should be applauded. For how this winning farce meets tender love story has been treated otherwise, all others deserve to be ashamed. The only offensive thing here is how a wonderful, witty dark comedy was mistreated by a narrow-minded industry.  Bill Gibron

 

 


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Family Affair

Director: Chico Colvard
Cast: Pauline, Chiquita, Angelika, Elijah, Chico

(C-LineFilms)

Review [14.Apr.2010]

19

Family Affair


In general, home videos record the present, as it becomes the past, to create a document for the future. What we see in family films, and how we see it, transforms with time and experience. Chico Colvard’s Family Affair is not the product of a fondly remembered youth or a time capsule of any sort. The film is instead an attempt to understand how time and perspective can absorb and shape the impact of unthinkable trauma. The film is a fact-finding mission concerning the personal history of a family and the complexity of forgiveness. Made for, and about Colvard’s sisters, Family Affair confronts the women’s memories of abuse by their father, who is also in the film. There is a villain, but no confession, no satisfying comeuppance. There are open wounds, but no prescription for healing. No film could totally resolve the troubles lived and discussed here. Colvard knows this, and he finds within his sisters’ voices the means to investigate the nature and necessity of remembrance and moving onward. Thomas Britt

 

 


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The Oath

Director: Laura Poitras
Cast: Abu Jandal, Salim Hamdan

(Zeitgeist Films)

18

The Oath


The intelligence failures of America’s so-called War on Terror are nicely encapsulated in Laura Poitras’ documentary The Oath which contrasts the fates of two brothers-in-law, Salim Hamdan and Abu Jandal. Both worked for Osama bin Laden but while one was a true believer in the cause who became bin Laden’s personal bodyguard and helped train new recruits, the other simply took a job as bin Laden’s driver because he needed the salary. After 9/11 Salim Hamdan (the driver) is arrested, imprisoned, and ultimately becomes the first man to face trial under the military tribunal established by the U.S., while Abu Jandal (the bodyguard and true believer) is a free man driving a cab in Yemen and appearing on Al Jazeera. Oops, I think we arrested the wrong brother-in-law. Sarah Boslaugh

 

 


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White Material

Director: Claire Denis
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Christopher Lambert , Nicolas Duvauchelle, Isaach de Bankolé, Adèle Ado

(Wild Bunch Distribution)

17

White Material


Claire Denis’s newest stunner is an expatriate kind of horror film where the unspoken privileges of the post-colonial classes are ruthlessly stripped away and all their lazy hypocrisies exposed. Isabelle Huppert plays Maria, the boss of a coffee plantation in an unnamed African country that was once a French colony. For unknown reasons, the countryside is falling into chaos, with rebels on the move and Maria’s workers melting away. The last remaining French troops are pulling out, and chaos is closing in, though Maria – dangerously secure in her notion that she’s a thoughtful and open-minded white person, and so will be safe from the collapse – persists in avoiding the obvious. The bright, hard-edged cinematography dazzles the eye with its sun-baked fields and haunted woods, while Huppert’s performance is like that of a walking ghost who doesn’t yet know she’s dead. Chris Barsanti

 

 


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The Trotsky

Director: Jacob Tierney
Cast: Jay Baruchel, Emily Hampshire, Colm Feore, Saul Rubinek, Michael Murphy

(Alliance Films)

16

The Trotsky


The Trotsky is an unsubtle broadside to educational systems, an attempt at rehabilitating revolutionary thinking, and a cinematic love letter to bohemian academic Montreal. Jay Baruchel is Leon Bronstein, a high-schooler who believes that he shares not only a name with the Bolshevik revolutionary who called himself Trotsky, but a reincarnated self as well. Not content (or just not hard-wired) to let destiny unspool its own gossamer thread, Leon has studied his Marxist avatar at length and imitates the original Trotsky’s ideology, dress, mannerisms, and rhetorical flourishes obsessively, all while training an eagle-eye on prospective revolutionary circumstances and comrades. That Leon wins over most of the doubters and defeats the stubborn remainder should come as little surprise, but the resulting film’s ideas are as plentiful as its laughs, which is rare enough in comedies of any type, and worth a nod of recognition at least. Ross Langager

 

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