‘Voluptuous Sleep’ Makes New York Times Best Films of 2011 List

A still from Betzy Bromberg's 'Voluptuous Sleep.'

Last week Manohla Dargis, co-chief film critic for The New York Times, announced her 2011 film favorites. Among the 22 films selected were more mainstream choices like Bridesmaids, Hugo and Moneyball, along with alternative titles Ken Jacob’s Seeking the Monkey King or Lars von Trier’s Melancholia.

One CalArtian filmmaker—School of Film/Video faculty member Betzy Bromberg—captured a spot on Dargis’s short list with her film Voluptuous Sleep, which screened at both REDCAT and at CalArts earlier this year. The film is a “meditation on the nuances of light, sound and feeling evoked through the poetic artifices of cinema.”

Dargis wrote about the film in October, when it screened at the New York Film Festival’s Views from the Avant-Garde:

Betzy Bromberg’s hypnotic “Voluptuous Sleep” demands similarly liberated viewing. Shot in 16 millimeter, divided into two separate if complementary sections and wonderfully scored, it is composed of abstracted, often blurred images that verge on the very edge of the recognizable if not graspable. The film opens with dancing squiggles and ribbons of white light that give way to a column of rushing water and, still later, blurred patches of green, blue and red that suggest an immersive, glorious natural world (a trajectory that evokes the beginning of Genesis). Time and again Ms. Bromberg folds light flares (from light shining into the lens) into the image, a poetic affirmation that film isn’t only about the world as we see it through our eyes but also as it’s revealed through a camera.

Here’s Manohla Dargis’s complete Best of 2011 film list (in alphabetical order):

  • Abracadabra (Ernie Gehr)
  • Aurora (Cristi Puiu)
  • The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu (Andrei Ujica)
  • Bridesmaids (Paul Feig)
  • Contagion (Steven Soderbergh)
  • A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg)
  • J. Edgar (Clint Eastwood)
  • Le Havre (Aki Kaurismaki)
  • Hugo (Martin Scorsese)
  • Melancholia (Lars von Trier)
  • Moneyball (Bennett Miller)
  • My Joy (Sergei Loznitsa);
  • Mysteries of Lisbon (Raúl Ruiz);
  • Of Gods and Men (Xavier Beauvois)
  • Poetry (Lee Chang-dong)
  • Le Quattro Volte (Michelangelo Frammartino)
  • The Return (Nathaniel Dorsky);
  • Seeking the Monkey King (Ken Jacobs)
  • The Skin I Live In (Pedro Almodóvar);
  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Tomas Alfredson)
  • Voluptuous Sleep (Betzy Bromberg)
  • Warrior (Gavin O’Connor)

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