The Nation looks back at 2010

Stuart Klawans lists 15 interesting movies that were released in 2010:

  1. Carlos
  2. A Prophet
  3. Wild Grass
  4. Life During Wartime
  5. The Social Network
  6. Inside Job
  7. Last Train Home
  8. The Illusionist
  9. The Kids Are All Right
  10. Lebanon
  11. The Ghost Writer
  12. Winter’s Bone
  13. Never Let Me Go
  14. Alice in Wonderland
  15. Marwencol

The only one of these I’ve seen is The Ghost Writer.  I’d rather not do business with Roman Polanski, but I couldn’t resist a movie that, in Klawans’ words, represents “a wickedly clever revenge fantasy directed against a British prime minister much like Tony Blair.”  The only one I’m adding to our Netflix queue is Marwencol, since Klawans’ description of it is even less resistible:

Finally, in the category of odd, affecting little documentaries, perhaps the best of the year was Jeff Malmberg’s Marwencol. The title is the name of a Belgian town—an imaginary one, where it’s forever World War II—which Mark Hogancamp of Kingston, New York, painstakingly built at scale model using plastic dolls and hobby-shop materials. This project was his self-prescribed occupational and psychological therapy, after a severe beating outside a bar left him with neither memories nor normal motor functions. The film gradually reveals why Hogancamp was beaten, how he changed afterward and what became of his fantasy town; but best of all, Malmberg brings his camera right into the model, to show you a Marwencol as large and vivid as its creator needs it to be.

That sounds like the perfect movie for me; I love documentaries, I’m intrigued by creative miniatures, and a sizable portion of my imagination is permanently billeted in German-occupied Western Europe in 1942.

Klawans opens his column with the fact that Jafar Panahi, one of the world’s great filmmakers, is in prison on purely political charges.  Klawans hopes that some demonstration on behalf of Panahi will be arranged at the Academy Awards, and that this will be helpful.

Elsewhere in the issue, William Greider decides that last year’s events prove that the New Deal and Great Society coalitions are thoroughly dead; Eric Alterman calls for institutional reform in US politics;  Eric Foner points out that Barack Obama is one of a startlingly small number of African Americans in public office; James Ledbetter argues that Dwight Eisenhower was deeply influenced by articles that appeared in The Nation; and Patricia J. Williams outlines how the ostensibly individualistic policies of the American Right are designed to foster the rise of “a controlling class of the economically privileged- to wit, an oligarchy.”

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