Frontier Psychiatrist

Posts Tagged ‘Best of 2011

In anticipation of next week’s Academy Awards, FP film critic Franklin Laviola shares his final thoughts on film in 2011 over the next few days.  Today, he gives us his favorite films of 2011. (Read the rest of Laviola’s work for Frontier Psychiatrist here.)

10. Essential Killing, directed by Jerzy Skolimowski & Aurora, directed by Cristi Puiu (tie)

Skolimowski’s previous film, Four Nights with Anna (2008), a masterpiece, still has not been picked up for any kind of distribution in the US. His latest was relegated to a poorly-advertised VOD release, beginning last summer. Vincent Gallo plays Mohammed, a suspected Taliban member, who is captured by American special forces in Afghanistan and transported to a secret detention center in Eastern Europe, where he is tortured. Mohammed manages to escape and soon finds himself pursued by an entire army, through harsh, unfamiliar terrain. Clocking in at only 80 minutes, this is a lean and brutal survivalist action film with some of the year’s most hallucinatory imagery. From the barren canyons and caves of Afghanistan to the frozen, snow-covered forests of Eastern Europe, Skolimowski demonstrates his painter’s eye for natural landscapes. As you would expect from the director of the classic Deep End (1970), surreal humor also abounds here — perhaps best represented by a scene, in which a famished Gallo holds a breastfeeding woman at gunpoint to steal a helping of milk! Gallo’s expressive and amazingly physical work, as Mohammed, is the real silent film performance of the year.

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In anticipation of next week’s Academy Awards, FP film critic Franklin Laviola shares his final thoughts on film in 2011 over the next few days.  Today, he begins with his least favorite films of 2011. Come back Monday for his best films of 2011.  (Read the rest of Laviola’s work for Frontier Psychiatrist here.)

10. Bridesmaids, directed by Paul Feig 

Clocking in at an unbearable 125 minutes, this drab-looking gag fest seems to exist for no other reason, than to hit filmgoers over the head with the idea that girls can be just as obnoxious and vulgar as guys, when it comes to big screen comedies. Just like in the worst sketch comedy, scenes are stretched to interminable length, basic comic timing is rendered irrelevant, and broad scatology rules the day. The pop exuberance of Wedding Crashers is nowhere to be found here. Melissa McCarthy deserves a Razzie for defecating in that sink — not an Oscar nomination.

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Specifically: dead bodies.  What, you were expecting something else?

If you live in New York City and you have not yet visited Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, make it your New Year’s resolution to do so.  A mixture of bucolic beauty, historical interest, and general anachronistic oddity, the grounds were first laid out in 1838 and it remains an active cemetery.  Green-Wood has served as the inspiration for countless public green spaces, including Central Park, and was, at one time, one of the most-visited tourist attractions in the nation, along with Niagara Falls.

In the spirit of year-end list making, here are the top ten permanent residents of Green-Wood, each with a cocktail to their name.  To render this exercise more timely, each cocktail is taken from The PDT Cocktail Guide.  This book is the game changer for 2011.  Jim Meehan serves up every recipe for every cocktail served at his famous East Village cocktail den, including both classics from a variety of sources and all of PDT’s homegrown creations (a Benton’s Old-Fashioned anyone?).

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Live Music_FP_13

As we’ve reported over the last few weeks, 2011 saw the release of plenty of great music. Luckily, in a year with so many great releases, we also had the opportunity to see plenty of great shows. From arena blow outs to dive bar ragers, the following are the 13 best live performances I saw over the last 12 months.

1/15: Punch Brothers @ Bowery Ballroom (NYC)

Punch Brothers are arguably the most talented touring band today, and their mid-January Bowery Ballroom performance did not dissapoint. Billed as one of their famed “P-Bingo” Nights, Punch Brothers ripped through the high points of their two albums (three, if you count How to Grow a Woman from the Ground) and tackled over 10 pristine (and at times raucus) covers from “Paperback Writer” to Sufjan Stevens’ “Concerning the UFO Sighting” and The Strokes’ “Heart In a Cage.” This show also held my number one music moment of the year, when Chris Thile solo-performed an unplugged Bach concierto on mandolin for an awestruck Lower East Side.

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Here are the top films of the New York Film Festival from FP film critic Franklin Laviola.  (Read the rest of his work for Frontier Psychiatrist here.)

Forget about the Oscar-baiting The Artist and The Descendants, or the over-hyped and vacuous Shame.  The following films were the real gems of this fall’s New York Film Festival:

8.  Goodbye First Love, directed by Mia Hansen-Love   

Mia Hansen-Love’s semi-autobiographical follow-up to her excellent Father Of My Children is further proof of her already very mature talent (she is only 30) and more evidence that the French continue to be the best, in today’s international cinema, at handling this type of subtle, character-driven drama. Another entry in the tempestuous teenage romance genre, Hansen-Love’s film bears some resemblance to her companion Olivier Assayas’ greatest work, Cold Water, albeit with a decidedly less poetic and more emotionally detached approach to its young lovers’ dilemma. Perhaps most interestingly, Hansen-Love posits passionate young love as a (potentially crippling) condition and state of mind that one must leave behind, move beyond, even forget, if he or she is to grow and become a stable, successful adult, on any level. A tad overlong, but rewarding, nonetheless, thanks, in large part to Stephane Fontaine’s seasonally-attuned cinematography and the performances by both the very promising female lead, Lola Creton (Catherine Breillat’s Bluebeard), and, as her older lover in the film’s second half, Magne-Havard Brekke, currently one of Europe’s most underrated and underused actors.

Opens in New York Spring 2012      

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The Weeknd - Echoes of Silence

Click on the image to download.

The Weeknd – Montreal


(All week we’re counting down the top albums of 2011.  For previous entries on the list, click here.  We hope you enjoy the music.)

10. Balam Acab – Wander/Wonder

In 2010, with critically acclaimed releases from young artists like James Blake and How To Dress Well, the re-purposing of classic R&B became all the rage.  Of course, in 2011 the enthusiasm faded, replaced by excitement over the creation of new R&B (more on this later).  It may be for this reason that Balam Acab’s debut LP Wander/Wonder fell largely on deaf ears.  It’s a shame that critical opinion is so heavily dictated by musical trends, because you are unlikely to find a more beautiful collection of 8 songs this  year.  There is much to be said about the aquatic production and judicious use of samples on this record, and it has all been said elsewhere.  Most importantly, though, this record is an encapsulation of the power of music to move and enchant.  A power that is, after all, impervious to trends.    -LVL

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Sons of Dionysus

A Transmedia Novel of Myth, Mirth, and the Magical Excess of Youth.