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The Dissolve Publishes Big Checklist of 2014 Films, from ‘Interstellar’ to ‘Inherent Vice’

The Dissolve Publishes Big Checklist of 2014 Films, from 'Interstellar' to 'Inherent Vice'

Every major film publication is getting their end-of-the-year wrap-up pieces in before the holidays, from Vulture to Time Out New York. The Dissolve has theirs on the way, but they don’t think this year’s cinephilia conversation should be limited to their list of personal favorites.

Editor Scott Tobias has put together a list of the year’s must-see films from August to December (an list for the first half of the year was published at the end of July), with excerpts from their staff writers’ reviews.. The list is posited as “a helpful tool, but it’s also a conversation-starter, and meant to spark some arguments over what belongs where.” The list starts with The Essentials, any films that got The Dissolve’s “Essential Viewing” designation this year. Here’s Keith Phipps on this week’s Essential Viewing (provided it comes out in your city), Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Inherent Vice”:

“It’s very much a film, with the texture to show it, and choices inspired by the early 1970s, from an Robert Altman-esque party sequence to a cramped conversation between Doc and a client named Tariq (Michael K. Williams) shot like an exploitation film that didn’t have time to get enough coverage.” 

Anything not deemed “essential” falls into one of five categories. The first, “Hollywood,” is made up of a handful of worthwhile big studio films that showed that, as the section’s subtitle suggested, “The System Works!” For a good example, Genevieve Koski reviewed “Big Hero 6” earlier this year:

The thrill of “Big Hero 6” doesn’t lie in guessing what comes next, it comes from being in the moment with great characters in a cool setting full of surprising details. (And color. Lots and lots of color.)” 

Up next: a list of “Auteur Obligations,” or minor works from major filmmakers that nonetheless deserved a look from auteurists. Scott Tobias highlighted a major example with Catherine Breillat’s “Abuse of Weakness:

At times, “Abuse Of Weakness” plays out like a horror movie where the audience screams at the heroine not to open the door, but she does so every time, to find the same ghoul waiting behind it. Frustration with her—reflected in the few scenes Maud has with her family—can make the film an exasperating experience, because there’s nothing to be done to stop this character from slowly self-destructing.”

Documentaries that didn’t make the Essentials list were listed next under “Notable Documentaries,” which included “Happy Valley,” the Penn State-Joe Sandusky scandal documentary from “My Kid Could Paint That” director Amir Bar-lev. Noel Murray wrote:

Bar-Lev doesn’t hold Penn State fans in contempt any more than he vilifies Paterno. He lets them have their say, and what they say, while short-sighted, isn’t entirely unreasonable.”

Next up, “Indie Curiosities,” a collection of smaller movies that might slip through the cracks. Mike D’Angelo wrote about “Pride,” in which British LGBTQ groups and working class miners band together for the 1984 miners’ strike.

No matter how much this story has been streamlined for accessibility’s sake, its import remains potent.”

Finally, “Foreign Imports” highlights smaller foreign films that might be missed now that Oscar season is underway and the critics groups are all awarding “Ida.” Tobias writes about “The Strange Little Cat”:

A beautiful, mysterious, beguiling cinematic doodle, and an absolute master class in mise-en-scène, unfolding in odd, fragmented frames and precisely choreographed movement within those frames.”

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