Not Coming to a Theater Near You Two-Thousand Eleven In Review

November Twenty-First Two-Thousand Eleven

by Michael Nordine At around this time last year, Not Coming to a Theater Near You hosted a feature called Blind Spots. The intention was for contributors to see a “classic” of one variety or another – The Godfather, Blade Runner, and Pulp Fiction all made appearances – and write about the film itself as well as the experience of catching up on something that seemingly everybody else has already seen. I’ve since watched 500-plus films (many of them fitting the above description) and still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. To be a cinephile, critic, or simply a casual moviegoer is a fluid, ongoing process that neither ends nor peaks. Though it becomes increasingly rare as time passes, the act of discovering a a truly special movie is a revitalizing experience that makes all the bad ones more than worth it. Here, then, are just a few of the films I watched in 2011 that moved, humbled, or otherwise affected me:


I watched about twenty of Kurosawa’s films between August and December of last year, none of which stood out to me in the same way that Dersu Uzala did. It isn’t quite his best – I still reserve that title for Seven Samurai – but it’s certainly his most unique. This is clear enough from the fact that it’s entirely in Russian and was financed by Mosfilm, but likely has even more to do with the fact that it was Kurosawa’s first directorial effort after attempting suicide some four years earlier. How exactly this affected his mindset is not known to me, but there’s an innocent playfulness to Dersu himself that easily makes him the most memorable Kurosawa character not portrayed by Toshiro Mifune. Where other, unimpeachably great films like High and Low, Red Beard, and Throne of Blood feel like variations on a theme, Dersu Uzala comes across as an outlier that’s never quite gotten its due.


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