Sunday, January 3, 2010

2009 Manhattan One-Week Theatrical Premieres

Here are my favorite films that received their first one-week theatrical run in Manhattan during 2009. (I exclude films that were made too long ago to feel contemporary.)

1. Night and Day (Hong Sang-soo)
2. Sita Sings the Blues (Nina Paley)
3. C.R.A.Z.Y. (Jean-Marc Vallée)
4. Desert Dream (Zhang Lu)
5. Gomorrah (Matteo Garrone)
6. Broken Embraces (Pedro Almodovar)
7. Me and Orson Welles (Richard Linklater)
8. Chelsea on the Rocks (Abel Ferrara)
9. Paradise (Michael Almereyda)
10. Medicine for Melancholy (Barry Jenkins)

More than half of these films received no national distribution, barely squeaking out one-week runs at NYC specialty venues. Which underlines the arbitrariness of a Manhattan premiere list...but whatever. (I keep a running list of my favorite films by date of international release.)

Honorable mentions (in alphabetical order): Beeswax (Andrew Bujalski); I'm Gonna Explode (Gerardo Naranjo); Liverpool (Lisandro Alonso); Lorna's Silence (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne); Tokyo: "Merde" (Leos Carax); Two Lovers (James Gray); The Vanished Empire (Karen Shakhnazarov).

Films with a lot going for them: California Dreamin' (Cristian Nemescu); Extract (Mike Judge); Frontier of Dawn (Philippe Garrel); The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow); Il Divo (Paolo Sorrentino); Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino); The International (Tom Tykwer); The Merry Gentleman (Michael Keaton); Perestroika (Slava Tsukerman); Pontypool (Bruce McDonald); Revanche (Gotz Spielmann); A Single Man (Tom Ford); Tokyo Sonata (Kiyoshi Kurosawa); Treeless Mountain (So Yong Kim); Tulpan (Sergey Dvortsevoy); The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke); You, the Living (Roy Andersson).

Films with something going for them: Adoration (Atom Egoyan); The Brothers Bloom (Rian Johnson); Cargo 200 (Alexei Balabanov); Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson); Flower in the Pocket (Liew Seng Tat); Goodbye Solo (Ramin Bahrani); The Headless Woman (Lucrecia Martel); Serbis (Brilliante Mendoza); A Serious Man (Joel Coen & Ethan Coen); Somers Town (Shane Meadows); Summer Hours (Olivier Assayas); The Sun (Alexander Sokurov); 24 City (Jia Zhang-ke); Up in the Air (Jason Reitman); Ward No. 6 (Karen Shakhnazarov & Aleksandr Gornovsky).

Among the films I couldn't get into: Adventureland (Greg Mottola); Afterschool (Antonio Campos); Avatar (James Cameron); Birdsong (Albert Serra); The Box (Richard Kelly); Cheri (Stephen Frears); Duplicity (Tony Gilroy); The Girlfriend Experience (Steven Soderbergh); Home (Ursula Meier); Hunger (Steve McQueen); Import Export (Ulrich Seidl); Jerichow (Christian Petzold); Lake Tahoe (Fernando Eimbcke); The Limits of Control (Jim Jarmusch); Loren Cass (Chris Fuller); Megane (Naoko Ogigami); Moon (Duncan Jones); Munyurangabo (Lee Isaac Chung); My Dear Enemy (Lee Yoon-ki); My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (Werner Herzog); Paris (Cedric Klapisch); The Pope's Toilet (Cesar Charlone & Enrique Fernandez); Public Enemies (Michael Mann); Shall We Kiss? (Emmanuel Mouret); Taxidermia (Gyorgy Palfi); 35 Shots of Rum (Claire Denis); Tony Manero (Pablo Larrain); Tyson (James Toback); Unmade Beds (Alexis Dos Santos); The Young Victoria (Jean-Marc Vallée).


Christopher Bourne said...

I must say I'm a bit shocked by what ended up in your bottom list. You didn't like 35 Shots of Rum or My Dear Enemy?!?!?! Oh Dan, say it ain't so.

Dan Sallitt said...

Denis is a confusing filmmaker for me: whatever is important or expressive about her tends to go over my head. I found L'Intrus interesting; but most of the time I need someone else's word for it that she's a major director.

Eric M said...


A few films from the year that I really like, not here,that I wonder where they would stand.

Big Fan, Cold Souls, O'Horten, Police Adjective, and Julia. The Messsenger, and In the Loop.

Eric M. said...

Also, what is so special about The International. I missed it when it came out, and just added it to my netflix. But when it came out it looked like an average run of the mill thriller.

Dan Sallitt said...

Eric - the only one of the films you name that I've seen is Police, Adjective, which I mistakenly left off my "films with a lot going for them" list.

The International is definitely a genre thriller with some mediocre aspects. But I like Tykwer's visual lucidity and stability, and some of the action scenes were nicely laid out. The story was a bit more understated than it had to be, the characters had some coherence in their obsessional pursuit, and the absence of romance was a plus. I wouldn't make huge claims for it.