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Film

Missed Movies of 2010, Part 1: 3 Idiots to Lebanon

In part one of our missed movies special feature, the staff looks at a wide variety of titles, from a creepy urban legend, a look at vampires, South African style, and the latest from greats like Mike Leigh and Robert Duvall, to documentaries of such famous (or perhaps, infamous) faces as Joan Rivers and Spalding Gray.

Every year, we put the call out to our staff to pick the year’s best—best films, best DVDs, best TV and performances—and every year, out staff comes up with more selections than we can initially handle. That’s why now, once all the hoopla has subsided and the consensus drawn, we can branch out a with 50 additional efforts our writers felt we overlooked. Call them misjudged (or misguided), but from A to Z, these are the movies we missed for 2010.

* * *

Film: 3 Idiots

Director: Rajkumar Hirani

Cast: Aamir Khan, R. Madhavan, Sharman Joshi, Kareena Kapoor, Boman Irani, Omi Vaidya

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Last year, 3 Idiots became the highest grossing Indian film of all time. Sure, it had a few elaborate and strategically-placed dance numbers (like the catchy “Behti Hawa Sa Tha Woh") and an excellent cast featuring the likes of Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor. But, this wasn’t the typical Hindu-Muslim love story or gangster epic or outsourcing comedy – 3 Idiots instantly endeared itself to the hearts and minds of over a billion Indians because it took a tongue-in-cheek stab at the most vaulted of Indian institutions: higher education. Till recently, no Indian film had managed to tackle several of the most contentious issues facing the country’s youth - the pressures of being born with unrealistic, parental expectations; always feeling like you are a disappointment; the exhaustive atmosphere of Indian colleges and universities whose names evoke vaunted edifices of higher learning, but are in actuality oppressive institutions whose policies lead to mental distress and suicide; and the accepted double standard of the educational system, where rote memorization is favored over critical thinking. That director Rajkumar Hirani was able to tackle all of these issues using a blend of humor and drama is a testament to his vision. Along with My Name is Khan, 3 Idiots is one of the first great Indian films of the 21st century.. Shyam Sriram

 

Film: Amer

Director: Hélène Cattet, Bruno Forzani

Cast: Marie Bos, Delphine Brual, Harry Cleven, Bianca Maria D'Amato, Cassandra Forêt, Charlotte Eugène Guibeaud, Bernard Marbaix

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For all the critical attention showered on Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan few reviewers noted the influence of the giallo, a genre of horror/psychological thriller which often plays fast and loose with conventional storytelling in favor of expressiveness and impact. Given that one of the best known films in this genre, Suspiria, is set in a ballet school, it’s hard to wonder how the connection could have been missed. But help is at hand: you can get up to speed quickly on giallo conventions by watching Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s Amer which not only borrows some of its soundtrack from vintage giallos, but also remains absolutely true to their spirit as well. Lips have never been fuller, blood redder nor sensuality creepier than in this almost wordless film which looks gives us glimpses of the life its heroine, Ana, as a child (Cassandra Foret), adolescent (Charlotte Eugene Buibeaud) and adult (Marie Bos). Sarah Boslaugh

 

Film: And Everything Is Going Fine

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Cast: Spalding Gray

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While it may not be a probing piece of investigative documentation, Steven Soderbergh’s love letter to his old friend and oddball performance artist does do a fine job of celebrating a complicated and creative conundrum. Using stock footage and old interview clip, monologist Spalding Gray’s entire life is analyzed, from his troubled youth to the sudden stardom that came with Swimming to Cambodia. What we learn is that Gray’s purpose was part of an ongoing dialogue, an endless conversation between the man and his mind that almost always bled over into his evocative form of entertainment. Bill Gibron

 

Film: Another Year

Director: Mike Leigh

Cast: Lesley Manville, Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen, Peter Wright, Olive Maltman

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Another Year ponders the point at which people realize that they have found contentment but still must deal with others who haven’t yet and who are far from realizing it. Even worse is that some of them, some of whom we know best and love the most, will never find it. Watching a person unravel can be like watching a train wreck. It can be infuriating. Sometimes it can be riotously funny. The universality of this theme will immediately draw in the viewer, because, hell, we’ve all been there: What do you do when one of your friends is lost, full of regret and wishes? What happens when as the giver, you’ve simply had enough of the takers? How much are we expected to take from those we love, who may be fundamentally damaged? At what point do you pull out of toxic relationships? Another Year is a film full of introspective questions such as these, a lean, delicious cinematic treat for those cinephiles who don’t like to have obvious, cliché answers shoved down their throats. Matt Mazur

 

Film: The Arbor

Director: Clio Barnard

Cast: Christine Bottomley, George Costigan, Monica Dolan, Neil Dudgeon , Andrea Dunbar

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Artist-Filmmaker, Clio Barnard’s debut feature-length theatrical release, co-produced by London-based commissioning agency Artangel is both, the most outstanding fictional narrative of 2010, and the best documentary of 2010. A truly courageous experiment in melding hybrid fact and fiction techniques, Barnard’s bio-doc traces the life of Bradford-born playwright, Andrea Dunbar, who tragically died in 1990 at the young age of 29. It is a grim tale of life on the Buttershaw Estate, where Dunbar grew up, and where she raised three children, all from different fathers. Focusing on her eldest child, the mixed race, Lorraine, The Arbor creates an uncomfortable world, where misery can breed life to show business dreams, only to see them quickly trampled by the brutal racism and bigotry of the characters’ insular world. Seamlessly blending archival footage and interviews with a re-staging of Dunbar’s play, in this case on the estate, Barnard manages to create an epochal picture of the murky Thatcher era. But perhaps the most mesmerising thing about The Arbor is the filmmaker’s practice of having the actors lip-synch the words of the real life interviewees (from Dunbar’s life)—a deliberate distancing device that somehow manages to draw the viewer all the more closely in. Omar Kholeif

 

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