The National Film Board of Ivanlandia has no way to see all the films released in a given year, so does not even bother to try and join in the usual end of year list-o-mania.
Instead, we’d rather list the best films we saw for the first time in 2010— and this could be flicks seen in a theater, on DVD, on-line, or projected on a bathroom wall.
Before we go to the list, this comment must be made: I don’t have guilty pleasures— to quote Hedonismbot, “I regret nothing!”
But I acknowledge that I have faves that get me looks when I say I love ’em. Instead of “Guilty Pleasures,” I call these films my “Societally Unacceptable Favorites.” (Which means it’s your problem, not mine.) And there are quite a few on this list…But I am not revealing which ones…that would be TELLING….
The Best Films Seen for the First Time in 2010 by The National Film Board of Ivanlandia— Top Ten, no order
Mademoiselle (1966) An effin’ excellent fever dream of twisted/repressed/warped sexuality—a woman driven sociopathic by chastity! Sick sense of humor, but the script is credited to Jean Genet, so what do you expect? Great use of sound, and director Tony Richardson and cinematography David Watkins’ B&W footage delivers some really top-notch, almost surrealistic images. And Jeanne Moreau? A goddess.
Patti Smith on this incredible, over-the-top cinemadness HERE.
The Siege of Firebase Gloria (1989) Sometimes Tarantino’s right—go figure. Good Vietnam movie, no bullshit, lots of gore and killing and action. Death, death, death. (Not available on DVD (that I know of), but available as a Nutsax InstaVue.
Young @ Heart (2007) This movie is really about bravery and truth in the face of impending death.
Young @ Heartgoes from beautiful and joyous to heartbreaking and back again (often within one song), as we watch this chorus of seniors deliver interpretations of songs that are full of soul and meaning, with often a level of dark irony that cuts very deep. I dare you not to be moved when Fred Knittle sings (and improves) Coldplay’s “Fix You.”
Wow, I hope I’m half as fired up as these oldsters when I’m in my 80s.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (2009) I haven’t had a chance to rant about this, one of my new fave animated flicks(I liked it more than Wall-Eyed and Rat-a-tooey)—in addition to some wild, Tex Avery-like insanimation, this is a great example of the Faust Tale: Inventor makes deal with “the devil” (a food machine), and things get WAY out of control. This film also has the best use of the song “Sunshine & Lollipops” in a film EVER!
Speedo: POV (2003) I fell in love with this documentary: a little guy following his dream—to be a demolition derby driver— not helped by anybody really. But he sticks with it, and in the end, he wins! Speedo: POV also has the happiest last two minutes of a movie I’ve ever seen.
Salvage (2006) Thank you! Come back! Stick with Salvage until the end and you will be rewarded!
Without giving too much away, Salvage is a no-budget($25K?!? Holy moly!) tribute to John Carpenter and J-Horror that mashes Carnival of Souls with Angel Heart. Salvage is very heavy on mood, but really reminded me of early Wes Craven movies, as well, with an undercurrent of nastiness and/or savagery.
It also has my new fave twist ending---that explains everything perfectly, and was very gratifying to me as Bad Catholic.
The flick's not flawless--I hated that unceasing piano in the music score--but worth a look if you're interested in truly independent ($25K?!?) genre filmmaking. These folks gave 110% and it shows.
Additionally, the directors' commentaryis full of great low-budget movie-making tips, almost a lesson in quasi-guerilla cinema. ($25K?!? Holy moly!)
Freebie and the Bean (1974) I love that a violent, completely un-PC cop movie (and perhaps the first “contemporary” cop-buddy movie) was one of Stanley Kubrick’s faves. That’s KEE-RAY-Zee!
The Fountainhead (1949) This film’s art direction, cinematography and old-school special effects when combined with the very ANTI-naturalistic acting and frankly obsessively verbose script (love your philosophies, Ms. Rand, hate your writing style) make The Fountainhead a quasi-favein Ivanlandia.
The Princess & the Frog (2009) I’m a sucker for decent animation with some singing & dancing, and Keith David as Mr. Voodoo steals the show. This movie made me feel good, and it takes a lot to melt the lump of ice in my chest that calls itself my heart.
Kapo (1961) Finally on DVD after all these years; hooray! Perhaps a bit more "Hollywood" when compared to director Gillo Pontecorvo's other films, Kapo is a very strong entry into the concentration camp genre, plunging into far darker and murkier philosophical waters than such self-righteously-noble pap like Schindler's List.
Kapo is as tough and/or melodramatic as any good Sam Fuller movie. Susan Strasberg is great (especially in her early, more showy scenes) as the teenager who does anything to survive after being sent to the Nazi camps, even becoming the SS officers' sexual plaything. I think the fact that she is of the bourgeois is more important to director Pontecorvo than her Jewishness--she had no choice in the religion she was born into, but after that, all of Strasberg's choices seem to be made to give her comfort, they all seem selfish.
Technically, Kapo is nearly perfect. It could have been trimmed by 10 minutes, and lost some of its heavy-handed music score, but it is another strong combination of politics and entertainment by the hardly prolific Pontecorvo (he only made five movies from 1959 to 1979).
Interestingly, if you watch the actors' lips, for the most part, they are speaking English, but the whole film is dubbed into Italian. It's distracting, but I'm just glad this excellent film is available to be seen. Now when is Pontecorvo's 1979 film The Ogre (about Spain under Franco) coming to DVD?
Dragnet ’68: The Big Prophet (1968) Ivanlandia review HERE
The Top 12 That I Had Seen as a Kid, But When I Saw It This Year As an Adult, It Was Like A Completely New, Different and BETTER Film! [The films’ titles are links to learn more—including some links to previous Ivanlandia posts, ha-hah!]
AT ANOTHER TIME, THESE FLICKS BELOW WOULD’VE BEEN WINNERS (but they’re still great, and worth a look) (and many of these will be written about further in future entries)
The Great Waldo Pepper (1975) Ivanlandia review HERE
The Core (2003) Yep, I really enjoyed this nonsensical disaster movie.
Mega-Piranha (2010) This Sci-fi Channel (or however it’s spelled) flick was a great James Bond spoof, with killer fish that were more awesome than the ones in Alexander Aja’s remake/snoozefest.
The Best Man (1964) Director Franklin J. Schaffner just doesn’t get the love he deserves.
The Deadly Spawn (1983) Home-made horror gore classic—which I finally managed to see from start to finish.
Outlander (2008)/Valhalla Rising (2009) These two flicks make a perfect double-feature of post-modern Viking flicks; one’s an art flick, one’s a B-movie monster movie—you decide which is which!
Facing Ali (2009) Fascinating documentary of the surviving boxerswho all faced The Greatest in the ring. Moving, profound and must-see for all fans of “The Sweet Science.” If only they could have gotten an interview with Sonny Liston’s ghost…
Smoke 'Em if Ya Got 'Em (1988) Nuclear war is happening, and a gaggle of punked-out Australian stoners and wastoids are having a party at ground zero. This short would be a perfect co-feature with either the classic Repo Man or else with another fine Australian short, “I Love Sarah Jane” (about teen love during the zombie apocalypse).
Planet Hulk (2010) No bullshit daddy issues, no teary-eyed human lameness, just 90-plus minutes of HULK SMASH-ing the living shit out of a bunch of aliens. Beta-Ray Bill’s cameo (filling in for the Silver Surfer) is fabulous. A must-see for all past, present and future comic geeks.
Toy Story 3 (2010) Yeah, once in a while Ivanlandia jumps on a popular bandwagon. So?
A Town Called Panic (2009) Yep, we like animation, especially stuff that’s as fast-paced and retarded as this. Mr. Horse, you’re my hero!
Le Petomane (1979) We like farting, yes we do! Directed by former Monty Python producer Ian MacNaughton, this available-only-as-a-bootleg TV moviestars Kubrick regular and “Reginald Perrin” star Leonard Rossiter as the infamous Joseph Pujol, or “Le Petomane” (which is French for "fartomaniac”), the world-renowned vaudevillian who could play music…out of his ass.
The Music Lovers (1970) Ken Russell’s beautiful and mad biography pulls no punches: Composer Tchaikovsky is very gay, his wife is a nympho, their relationship is dreadful. But the music is exquisite. Of course this flick was a flop when it was first released—it just took the world 40 years to catch up with it.
All Night Long (1962) A Jazz “Othello” with the fab Patrick McGoohanas Iago, with performances by Charles Mingus and Dave Brubeck. Cooler than cool, with McGoohan’s reefer-puffing Cousin Johnny stealing the show—just as Iago should!
The Formula (1980) Imperfect but fun, The Formula is a sleazy, B-movie conspiracy thriller (with an A-list cast) about oil companies ruling the world that was way too far ahead of its time for 1980--but absolutely perfect for today, especially if you imagine that Brando is playing Dick Cheney. And there's a Nazi strip club scene that will blow your mind!
Superjail: Season One (2007) As much as it might owe to a variety of the new-breed mutant kids shows, like Venture Bros. and Wonder Showzen, Superjail! reminded me more of Willy Wonka or The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, but with a mega-dose of madcap psychedelic ultra-violence.
There’s never any real plot, just a brilliantly-designed never-ending apocalypse. And although there is often a nugget of sweetness and humanity on the show (see the episode with Cancer, pronounced “San-Ser”), Superjail’s sick, sick, sick sense of humor will prevent it from ever being family-friendly. Thank god.
This cartoon is very punk rock! For fans of pure weirdness, Superjail! will be a joy.
That was my original idea for the title of this blog, a sort of summation of nearly everything I'd ever wanted cinematically: regularly playing on the ABC Channel 7 4:30 movie--or on WOR-TV Channel 9's 4 O'Clock Movie--the greatest monster movie in the universe, and incredible combo of miniatures, men in suits and stop motion, with entire continents destroyed!
But then there was a coup d'etat, and Tzar Ivan I of Ivanlandia took charge.