erik lundegaard

Saturday December 20, 2014

Film Critics Wrap 2014: Consensus at the Frye

Patricia and I went to the Frye Art Museum's “Critics Wrap 2014” (film version), hosted by critic Robert Horton for the 10th and apparently last time. He and his wife are moving to Scotland in February. 

For the brunt of the evening, before we all repaired to the alcove for champagne, toasts, and a tidbit of conversation, we watched the four on stage debate the best movies of the year. Except, per Seattle, there wasn't much debate. There was mostly agreement. Except from me in the audience. I kept disagreeing with what they were saying. 

Here are the top 5 movies from each critic (Andrew Wright wasn't in attendance):

Robert Horton

  1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  2. Deux jours, une nuit
  3. Only Lovers Left Alive
  4. Boyhood
  5. Under the Skin

Kathleen Murphy

  1. Under the Skin
  2. Only Lovers Left Alive
  3. The Homesman
  4. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  5. Ida

Jim Emerson

  1. Under the Skin
  2. Only Lovers Left Alive
  3. Ida
  4. Calvary
  5. The Homesman

Andew Wright

  1. Snowpiercer
  2. Under the Skin
  3. The Babadook
  4. Only Lovers Left Alive
  5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The two movies at the top of each list are “Under the Skin” and “Only Lovers Left Alive,” and I wasn't a fan of either—although I predicted, in the first graf of my review back in April, that “Skin” would be a topic of critical conversation at the end of the year. I'm actually willing to revisit “Skin,” to be honest. You never know. One critic, Kathleen Murphy, says she didn't like the movie the first time she saw it, but after the second time it became her favorite movie of the year. Quite a leap. Woody Allen once talked about his first screening of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and how disappointed he was with it, and how after two more viewings over the years he realized what a sensational movie it was. So maybe that'll happen with me and “Skin.” 

But “Only Lovers Left Alive” has a big problem that none of the four people on stage mentioned. It's a very nostalgic film but its nostalgia is writer-director Jim Jarmusch's, not the characters'. The leads, Adam and Eve, are vampires who have lived for centuries, maybe millennia, and are well-versed in the arts and sciences; but their nostalgia is particular to, say, 60-year-old hipsters. They play 45s, read Shakespeare's Sonnet CXVI, lament the death of culture. The heroes on Adam's walls are the heroes of a college student in the late 1960s, not a vampire who was born in, say, 838 A.D. It's a good movie, but ... top 5? For everyone? That's a bit much. 

There was a bit much consensus on stage, too. No one really disagreed on a movie until a kid in the audience asked about “Gone Girl,” which Emerson liked and the others didn't. But that was after more than an hour of scenery chewing. 

Is this a danger? This consensus? Does it demonstrate that these are in fact “the best” or does it demonstrate that Horton and his friends, two of whom were his teachers, have similar backgrounds, tastes, experiences, predilections, conversations?

I'm looking forward to “The Homesman” anyway. And my own top 10 list. About which even I don't have much consensus.

Posted at 08:45 AM on Saturday December 20, 2014 in category Movies - Lists  
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Twitter: @ErikLundegaard