Monday, 12 March 2012

Encore Awards (2011 in Review): Endings

Yes, but how does it end?
How many times have you been asked that one? People are caught up in movie ending, perhaps too much, but endings are important. Sure, you can’t make a second first-impression (my favourite openings of 2011) but you only have one chance to make that final impression. How are we to remember you? Will you try to go all out and spoil the fabric of the film, will it be placid and organic, thrilling, disappointing? Last year the jarring playfulness of The Ghost Writer and the calm sweetness of Rabbit Hole in their respective endings had me most moved (2011 ballot here). This year, we’ve got some more great endings I’d call “iconic”.

Potential spoilers ahead, sort of, maybe.

(Pictures take you movie reviews.)


Certified Copy directed by Abbas Kiarostami with Juliette Binoche and William Shimmell; writer, Abbas Kiarostami
The entirety of Certified Copy and the issues which Kiarostami brings up in the film and encourage us to ponder on when it comes to art, its representation and the way we accept it are all such excellent food for thought. And the playfulness of the film diverting along as if it’s a puzzle for us to fix might suggest that eventually we will find the “answer” (are they? Aren’t they?) and be done with it. The fact that he doesn’t tell us – definitively – and leaves us, closing the film after that emotional wallop is the finest way this dissertation could have ended. Organic and beautiful.

Contagion directed by Steve Soderbergh with Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Kate Winslet; writer, Scott Z. Burns
It’s understandable if the end of Contagion plays out like an “aha” moment from Soderbergh and company. We never saw day 1 of the virus and it’s the speculation which has been driving so much of the fear in the movie. But, it works – it should be an “aha” moment and the way that it is at the same time so innocuous and yet do chillingly frightening. It’s what hits home the scariness and danger of the real world for people who are neurotically clean, and on a larger scale shows how seemingly trite occurrences can change the world –for better, for worse.

Melancholia directed by Lars von Trier with Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Keifer Sutherland, Charlotte Rampling; writer, Lars von Trier
We knew we were heading there, right? The destruction of the world is what the film was hurtling towards. There are so many bits that I’d extoll. First off, the photography is as lovely as can be in this beautifully photographed film, but it’s the growth (well, relatively) of the characters which is so pleasing. Justine allows herself to be roped into the circle, for her nephew, Claire allows herself to remain stolid and not become a mess. And, for a film about melancholy and insularity it’s a nice concession that they could end things together, those two sisters and the child.

A Separation directed by Asghar Farhadi with Leila Hatami, Peyman Moaadi, Shahab Hoseeini, Sareh Bayet; writer, Asghar Farhadi
A friend and I got into a discussion on we think Termeh chooses to stay with it, and the beauty of it is that in keeping the multi-layered nature of the story’s issue there are points for both sides and regardless of whether we get who she chooses “right” it hits home the sad reality that sadness will pervade no matter who she goes with. Tears will stream and the family will become irrevocably separated and the continuous “separation” of Simin and Nader would have reached its end. And, that’s a powerful thing. Powerful and devastating.

Take Shelter directed by Jeff Nichols with Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Shea Whigham, Kathy Baker; writer, Jeff Nichols
In a way you might say that it’s the ultimate fuck you to the movie audience, but to do so would miss all the potential for nuance which the ending provides. Or, at least, it’d rob you any chance of discussing the film without feeling unfulfilled. Has Curtis been right along? Is that final scene merely a dream? Has Sam decided to pretend to keep him “sane” has she gone crazy? For me they’re all subsidiary questions when I take note of the film’s most significant theme. Regardless of what comes they’re doing it together.

FINALISTS: even if the ending of The Artist works against itself a little by essentially tossing off the silent, it’s effervescence is irresistible and I accept it “with pleasure” ; apparently Brighton Rock keeps the ending of the original text, and it’s brilliant. Having Rose remain deluded just hits home the sadness of their existence; sure, Insidious decided to go for the typical horror madness, but it damn well works; and Rampart so organically has Dave driving but this time a bit wiser, a bit sadder – and that music!; Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy with everything back in its place, Bill at the Christmas party, the music – it just packs a wallop

SEMI-FINALISTS: Beginners; Hanna; The Ides of March; Like Crazy; Warrior

And, I have essentially finished with 2011 - at least, officially. I shall post my top 10 films tomorrow.

Encore Awards: Openings / Forgotten Characters / Sound and Music / Actress / Audacious Cinema / Ensemble Acting / Visuals (Editing, Photography, Editing, Costumes, Choreography, Art Direction, Makeup) / Actor / Writing / Supporting Actor / Supporting Actress / Director 

Which ending left you pleased with the way their films left you? Which do you remember most? Which impressed you most?


Anonymous said...

The endings for "Martha Marcy May Marlene" and "Miss Bala" were great too.

Nick Prigge said...

Yeah, the ending for Take Shelter is just tough to beat. So open to interpretation and yet I also feel like in that moment when it happens each viewer - if you could somehow look inside their brain - knows just what they think it means.

My #1 ending of the year, far and away, no contest, is the end to Cold Weather. Even if I'm eventually going to get into a street brawl with someone over it.

Also, I keep having to skip the Certified Copy entries in your lists until I can finally see it! When?! WHEN?!

Ryan T. said...

Wasn't such a big fan of TAKE SHELTER but I did really like its ending. Though I second Anonymous' MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE shout out.

Other than MELANCHOLIA (which I haven't seen yet), I love your choices especially A SEPARATION. THE ARTIST really did make you leave the theater with a smile.

As for movies you didn't cite... the ending of INCENDIES hit me in the gut while the ending of WEEKEND hit me in the heart and all over really.

Castor said...

I would add Another Earth to the list of memorable ending. Take Shelter certainly is up there but it makes you wonder what happens next and how it was all in vain, since they are so far away from their shelter lol

Paolo said...

Contagion's my favourite out of the five. It was like a punchline to a joke too funny to be offensive.

And I'm probably one of those people who believe that Take Shelter's ending is real and that Sam has reached Curtis' mind state. Whatever all of that means.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

anon good call on mmmm. the ending felt the slightest bit "gotcha" for me to love, but it's a memorable close.

nick i want everyone i know to see certified copy, there's so much about it that's discussion worthy. i'd love to here your thoughts whenever.

ryan the ending of a separation is a true punch to the gut, right?

castor i really have no solid reason for continuously avoiding another earth.

paolo but if the ending is real it means neither is crazy, wouldn't it? whatever the true meaning of the ending, though, it's profound, i think.