It is that time of the year. Everyone gets to make their list. Far be it for me not to jump on the bandwagon. (Why is "jumping on the bandwagon" a bad thing? One, and band that travels in a wagon can use all the friends they can get. Two, they probably know where the party is. More the merrier!) Sadly this year I feel that I was super lax about seeing some of the best things out there. But I will just go with it.
Films I saw that I loved (in no real order):
The Science of Sleep
If there is one director working right now that seems to tap directly into my brain stem, my dreams, my way of seeing the world, it is Michel Gondry. The childlike wonder and aching sadness that only exists because of an even stronger sense of hope. And his use of practical special effects constantly amaze me with their simplicity and beauty. And his stories of love-that-doesn't-happen... sigh. Watch Sleep back to back with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and who'll get a glimpse of what's like in my head.
I have always been a Bond fan by for so long I've walked out of them feeling empty. They've been feasts of cotton candy. I am also a fan of revisioning (which is not a real word) things. The reason I love the book Wicked. Casino Royale was EXACTLY was Bond needed. Daniel Craig captured a tortured soul of a cold hearted killer. And they managed to call out Bond misogyny and still make it hot. And thank you for making Bond fallible. For too long he had been to able to walk out of anything with is mood, body and tuxedo untouched. When Craig's Bond is washing off blood to get back to the poker game... that was the moment I knew this was a Bond I gave a shit about.
I am not a huge Martin Scorsese fan. I am definitely NOT a Leonard DiCaprio fan. He's fine actor, but too often I just feel the weight of is performance and there is nothing natural about it. Not that he over acts, it's just something about him. But The Departed was such an exquisite dance of storytelling, performances and editing. Two men, trapped in their paths, knowing they were on the way to self-destruction, hurtling towards each other. I have yet to see the original, Internal Affairs, but it is now high on my list.
Not enough people have seen this movie, but hopefully with the Oscar buzz that will change. On the other hand, it is a movie that you should see when you feel you are ready to see it. It is raw and simple with out a single touch of melodrama. It is a call to not forget. Not to not forget that we are "at war" or whatever the hell it is we are at, but to not forget the emotion and feeling of that day. I wrote pretty extensively about my feeling right after seeing it here.
Yes, the ending gets a little preachy. Yes, it is just a goofy little film about penguins, which are so 2005. But it is also a film so infused with joy. I was absolutely expecting to hate it but was so surprised. The music is used in wonderful witty ways, the animation is mind blowing, and it manages to shoot tap dancing the way tap dancing should be shot.
Here is movie that I can't quite shake. It is far from a perfect movie but it is also a movie that strives to something that may be unachievable. It is a glorious tone poem of a film, a rumination of love and life. Perhaps it's imagery can be over the top, but if you can let the film wash over you and filter into the corners of your brain, you will find yourself finding bits and pieces of it in your thoughts for weeks after.
Here are some that I really like for different reasons:
Again, not perfect. But Bryan Singer managed to reboot the series, remove much of the campyness AND play homage to the first to Superman films all at the same time. Heck, it is in many ways a remake of the first film. Superman is an incredibly difficult character to deal with. He is basically a god. But Returns taps into his feelings of always being the outsider. I'm just happy when comic book characters get treated with respect (especially after the disaster of X-Men 3). One can only keep their fingers crossed that the Powers That Be look towards this and Batman Begins as how to do things right.
All the sex stuff aside, this is an almost cuddly love fable to New York and it's lost souls. If you analyze the film and it's characters it all begins to fall apart, but if you just let it be it will bring a grin to your face.
Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Yes. I said it. I really really liked Dead Man's Chest. I know this is not the common feeling. What I think everyone feels missing is that sense of surprise and discovery that came from seeing Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow for the first time. But for me they managed to play the story and the characters in smart and intelligent ways... well, as smart as one can expect in a film like this. I know many people were turned off by the heightened fantasy aspects but I dug it. Maybe that is just a matter of taste. And the action set pieces... come on, people! They were Rube Goldberg-esque gems!
Dave Chappelle's Block Party
Just fun. It is not music I tend to listen to but it carried me right along. I felt just included in the party. (Also directed by Michel Gondry by the way.)
Movies I still needed to see that I somehow missed or have yet to come out:
Victorian illusionists. Tesla. Dark sense of foreboding. Not sure why I didn't make it to this one.
I heard so many good things about this one and I tried to see it numerous times. Noir is my big ol' cup o' tea.
Children of Men
This opens tomorrow I believe and sounds like just the sci-fi that I like. It is also tearing up all of the other top 10 lists out there.
Mike Judge's sci-fi comedy that was abandoned by the studio. Pray to go it makes it to DVD or this might turn into a lost treasure.
Again, I tried to see it a few times. I don't know why I am still fascinated by Princess D.'s death since it had no effect on me at the time. There was a band in Minneapolis called Iron Lung with a song about it. I forget what the song was called. If anyone knows where I could find it, I would be grateful.
Looks great. Reminds me that I need to return my DVD of Labyrinth that never worked.
Was recommended to me so many times by people I respect that I feel I have to see it now. It almost feels like a chore at this point.
Russia's The Dead Hand
8 years ago