Drama: Melancholia

Ever since I was knocked off my feet and dumbfounded by Lars Von Trier’s 2009 psychological mindfuck, Antichrist, I’ve been fascinated with the director and awestruck with his capabilities to tap into subjects and imagery that only human nightmares seem to concoct. My most reoccurring nightmare? Apocalypse and disaster. Fitting, as his 2011 release, Melancholia, tackles just that. The movie is broken up into two parts: part one spotlighting Kirsten Dunst’s character as she painfully and awkwardly drudges through her own wedding in a cringe-worthy fashion; part two follows Dunst, along with her sister (played by Charlotte Gainsbourg), and her sister’s husband and son as they await the approaching doom that is Melancholia, a rouge planet —and a thinly veiled metaphor— with a crash course for earth.

Dunst gives the best performance of her career, hands down —she did, afterall, win Best Actress at this year’s Cannes; Gainsbourg won the same award for Antichrist— and Von Trier delivers his most accessible movie to date. Sure, it’s no Annie Hall or any other indie-to-Hollywood crossover film, but it’s a great step in the right direction, as he maintains his artistic integrity while streamlining the total movie experience.

Comedy: Midnight in Paris

Despite rave reviews across the board and a personal fondness for all things Woody Allen, I dragged my heals getting around to this one. What I discovered was not only unexpected, but simply magical. Though the pairing of Rachel McAdams and Owen Wilson was a cinematic chemistry-less mismatch (part of me is hoping that was the point), that fact can be forgotten and forgiven by the time the clock hits midnight and we’re transfered into a romanticized alternate reality of Wilson’s character. 

The movie followed the basic Woody Allen formula for duos, one character being a head-in-the-clouds romantic dreamer, the other a down-to-earth, within-the-box thinker whose cynicism overpowers their romantic intentions. Wilson played the wide-eyed, sometimes bumbling man-child he always does, but —like Woody’s formula— it didn’t come off as worn-out, even after the handfuls of incarnations we’ve experienced over the years. Marion Cotillard played his alternate universe love interest, who delivers a seductively charming performance that may have even outcharmed Wilson. To say the least, I was crushin’ on Cotillard hard by the end of the film.

The movie isn’t Allen’s best work, but the everything about the film was pure perfection and a satisfying feast for die hard dreamers and romantics alike.