Top 10 of 2012 – Adelaide’s Picks
3. The Browning Version (1951)
This movie sat on my TiVo for about a year before I finally watched it, and I can’t believe it took me so long. It tells the story of Andrew Crocker-Harris (Michael Redgrave), an aging English public school master who is being forced to retire. He hasn’t been a very good teacher, his wife is cheating on him with one of his co-workers, and pretty much everybody dislikes him. How he reconciles the failure of his life and moves forward to something more meaningful is the point of this film. Redgrave is wonderful as a man who has settled for mediocrity and meaninglessness over passion and exploration. There is some debate about if the ending is justified or not. I think it is sentimental without being cloying, and I wept more than a few tears.
2. Senna (2010)
I don’t know crap about Formula One racing. Never thought I would; never thought I would care. Who knew this documentary about the life of Formula One racer Ayrton Senna would be so engrossing? This guy came to the sport at a time when technology allowed everything to be filmed, and he was so charismatic that everything was. The film works so well not only because the guy was crazy interesting, but because there was so much footage available to the filmmakers. They were able to create a fascinating narrative without having to rely on after-the-fact-interviews or the fading memories of his contemporaries. There is a definite point of view here, but the filmmakers manage to get it across without relying on talking heads telling you what to think. Even though I knew how this was going to end, I cried my eyes out.
1. The Devils (1971)
This is Ken Russell’s masterpiece, and it is a crime that it has never been released in its original version. It is also deeply frustrating that it is not in print in the United States. (I had to get my copy shipped over from the U.K.) I had seen clips from it, but they do not do it justice. The set design is by Derek Jarman and it is mind-blowingly amazing. Not only the most beautiful movie I have ever viewed, but the best told, acted, written—whatever. Yeah, it just may be the best movie I have ever seen. It’s about an oversexed priest trying to protect his city from losing its defenses against a corrupt church. Does that sound boring? It is not. It’s got crazy nun orgies, illegal priest marriages, hallucinations, evil machinations, and freaking Vanessa Redgrave and Oliver Reed. If you can get your hands on a copy, watch it!