Thursday, December 31, 2009

Favorite Movies: 2000-2009 (10-6)

10. Munich
i never thought that i would the phrase 'severely underrated' and 'steven speilberg' in relation to each other. but yes, this is a steven speilberg movie that is incredibly UNDERrated. i didnt like ET, AI, minority report, war of the worlds--im not really much of a speilberg fan. in fact, i find his films sappy and insipid most of the time. unless the films are about jews apparently. schindler's list didnt pull any punches and that was an unquestionable masterpiece. munich is not alone a great film about jews but also about palestinians. the film, about the secret retaliation of the israeli government of a palestinian planned kidnap-murder of israeli athletes in the 1972 olympics, is a gripping and well executed movie with an even greater morale and lesson. while i was fully expecting speilberg to say 'palestine is bad. israel is good,' he took a more controversial and i think, more relevant stance. that is, he said that both sides are right AND wrong. it was their constant warring that is tearing apart the social dynamic in not just their part of the world but the world in general. this deserved more awards attention than it got and i think because it didnt take the obvious stance that it was perceived as anti-israel by some. frankly, this is just as ridiculous as thinking that dinosaurs exist on an island off the coast of costa rica.

rather than post a clip from the movie, i decided to an interesting interview with spielberg about the film

9. A Tale of Two Sisters
throughout the aughts, we had a lot of horror movies come out all the world. the worldwide popularity of J and K-horror films scared a lot of people and with these brilliant original films came the shitty remakes that besmirched the originals reputations. this film, (called Janghwa, Hongryeon in korean) is not only the best horror movie ive ever seen but among the best ive seen period. even the american remake, the uninvited (with emily browning and elizabeth banks) was pretty good! what made the original so fantastic was a perfect combination of drama, mystery, and horror. there were a few very well planned scary ghost and things pop out moments that were extraordinarily well timed. one of the downfalls with most horror films is that it relies on scary 'things popping out' rather than setting up an aire of mystery that is genuinely frightening. this is a scary stepmother, psychological unrest, and haunted house movie in one and and the trademark horror movie twist was actual a real surprise. for me, this sets the standard for horror movies. it was beautifully shot and perfectly executed and i want everyone to see this. NOW. so i pasted the first part below. WATCH THE WHOLE DAMN THING! (subtitled)

8. Head-On
turkish director (hold on keep reading, ill be talking about porn in a second) faith akin's the edge of heaven (discussed earlier in this list) is one of the most exciting directors to watch for the coming decade. head-on is the story of two social misfits recently out of a mental hospital after attempting suicide and failing. the film is a beautiful story of love developing in very unlikely situations and between two people who would seem unfit for any love in general. however, there is an interesting story behind the film. the performance of sibel kekilli, the female lead, won several major MAJOR acting awards around the world. soon after, it was discovered that she was a major MAJOR adult film star. if you google her name, you will see a hell of a lot of naked pictures of a rather explicit nature. why am i bringing this up? mainly to get you guys to keep reading but just to remind all of you that brilliant actresses are everywhere and that you shouldnt judge. in my opinion of the most interesting actresses around is named erin brown. she used to do soft core porn under the name misty mundae and is now a sort of b-horror movie actress. all she needs is a good role and a great director and she can be the next sibel kekilli. i know i went a bit on a tangent on that one and but i assure all of you that this is one the finest international films of the last 10 years.

7. Garden State
what!? garden state!? 7th best movie of the decade? no. it is not the 7th BEST movie of the decade. it is my 7th FAVORITE movie of the decade. for me garden state is an intensely personal film. the issues that zach branf's character deals with i can relate to very closely. as a former NJ ex-pat, i did have a lot of issues with my family that kept me away from my homestate for years. and while i did became a minor celebrity or work in a posh asian restaurant that sells ketel one vodka drinks, i had brief success and then failure as a musician and was working and cleaning up in a lab to make money. so there were a lot of parallels i saw between the film and me. i saw a few times in theater and while it wasnt the movie that directly caused me to patch up my relationship with my parents, it was a factor. unfortunately, whilst in new jersey i never met a natalie portman epileptic who introduced me to the shins. for the records, i LOVE the shins and i did BEFORE garden state and i was definitely irritated by all the extra attention. so yeah, i loved this movie. its twee and romantic and inspirational and like...nick and nora's infinite playlist + MORE indie. mmm...

6. Kill Bill
yes i am including this as one entry. yes i am a huge tarantino fan. yes i have watched these movies a dozen times. yes the first movie i ever went to see alone was vol 2 at 11 am on a friday. i regret nothing. here is my favorite scene. its the last one but its perfect:

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Favorite Movies: 2000-2009 (20-11)

20. Team America: World Police
the only film on this list done entirely with puppets...unfortunately. its a shame that south park creators trey parker and matt stone only do a movie every decade or so because all of them have been pretty damn funny. though this one is not just funny, its a biting satire on war, terrorism, the media, and i cant recall a second in this movie i didnt love and really think its one of the most perfectly executed comedies of all time. even from the opening shot of a puppet in the backdrop of paris operating a puppet to a cockroach version of kim jong il to playing away in a tiny spacecraft and then back to 'everyone has AIDS,' this is one of the funniest movies of all time much less the decade.

and oh yeah...MATT DAMON

19. Piano Teacher, The/La Pianiste
so now we are going from satirical puppet comedy to a twisted tale of BS&M piano teacher/student relationships. this is the final of four films by director michael haneke on the list and it is the most intriguing of his films. isabelle huppert stars as a firm riged stick up the ass piano teacher living with a controlling verbally abusive elderly mother. she meets a young student who unleashes in her weird sexual obsessions that have just existed in her private life. one of the best examples of class struggle and sexual perversion combined, it is a dark and strange experience and perhaps his most disturbing since funny games (which was remade this decade with naomi watts to some success). below is a very good representative scene towards the beginning of the film

18. Match Point
the aughts will be known as the decade where woody allen found his touch again. after stumbling with a series of films in the mid to late 90s, he made 3 films which many consider to be among his best, melinda and melinda, vicky cristina barcelona, and this film. returning to subject matter and styles closer to interiors than annie hall, this fascinating morality play featured some brilliant performances and an absolutely rivetting and mind bending conclusion. i am a huge woody allen fan and even loved the much criticisized scoop but match point was definitely a deviation from his traditional styles and moods. while i do mention interiors above, there is no hint of scandanavian bergmanesque pretension. it is just a great, well acted drama that is yet another entry into the excellent canon of woody allen.

17. Isle, The/Seom
another well respected director on this list is korean auteur ki duk kim. he is one of my favorite directors working today and this early-ish work of his is my favorite one of his films. the plot of this film is a fine representation of his usual themes. this film is quite literally a manifestation of the phrase 'man is an island.' a woman works at a small resort in which men live in tiny houses on a lake to fish. on this resort, her main responsibility is to take prostitutes who arrive out to the men in the lake. she meets one such man who feels a similar type of lonliness and isolation that she feels. like all of kim's works, the emphasis is not on words but on moods and feelings. originally i watched this because i thought it was a horror movie but discovered one of the most intense psychological character dramas i have ever seen. this movie changed my life. i included the trailer but my favorite scene is on youtube. however, its the final shot and without the context of the rest of the movie doesnt make any sense. my apologies to anyone who doesnt speak korean (like me)

16. Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle
dark foreign film. uproarious comedy. i think we have a trend here. harold and kumar. what is there is to say about this film. this film is an instant cult classic and destined to be the beginning of a great and very funny franchise. what i am going to talk about is my favorite scene of the movie--the scene where they finally get to white castle. after 90 minutes of buildup and epic journeys, they finally arrive at white castle. beaten up but no beaten, they order their burgers and fries and they eat. they eat like they never have before. such cinematic gratification i have never seen before and when they were eating those burders, i wanted to get up and applaude. it is felt so good to see people really get exactly what they want. and ive totally serious too. it is was seriously amazing to watch. oh yeah, the battleshits scene was pretty funny too. my favorite sequence begins at 3:19 below

15. Hard Candy
for just about everyone, ellen page is juno, a spunky pregnant teen. but for me, she is hayley stark, one of the most intriguing, mysterious characters of modern film. in hard candy she plays a 14 y/o girl who meets a 32 year old guy on the internet and meets him. said man is played brilliantly by patrick wilson. he is a pedophile but seems like a really cool, nice, good looking guy and she seems like a really mature girl who an older guy who really could fall for. but this movie is all about appearances and who characters appear to be. hayley stark is soon not be revealed to be who she is and neither is wilson's character. what follows is a 2 character play of exacting twisted revenge in the name of those who were taken advantage of. as great as wilson is in this, the film belongs to page whose cool, sophisciated demeanor fades into a cold, calculating femme fatale quickly and ruthlessly. without a doubt, one of the most uniquely played 2 character dramas since Sleuth (michael caine and sir laurence olivier)

14. Nobody Knows/Dare mo shiranai
the 4th most depressing movie ive ever seen and like most of the top 5, it is japanese. they certainly do like depressing the fuck of their people. directed by hirokazu koreeda, whose 2009 film still walking is appearing on many year end best of lists, nobody knows is about a small family (eldest child 12) who is abadoned by their mother and forced to survive on their own. needless to say, things dont go terribly well. someone this did not receive a lot of attention in the west which is absolutely ridiculous. a film this powerful and moving needed to be seen by more people. the film is really about what horrible things parents can do to their child and how selfish one particular parent was. what makes it even more devastating is that this was based on a true story.
13. Chicken Run
away from the sad realm of japanese film (for a bit) and into the wonderful land of nick park. chickenrun was my favorite film of 2000 and it has held up very very well over the last decade. with wallace and gromit (the curse of the wererabbit nearly made the list) still kickin' this delightful tale of chickens overcoming the evil tweedy farm family is still awesome. i love those plucky chickens (pun intended!). well, frankly i dont have a lot to write on this film and im kinda running outta gas on this particular film. its cute, funny, and another reason NOT to hate mel gibson. man, this guy must be talented to have dodged as much crap as he is this decade. dag. alright, two more left. i can do this.

no video clip...but i think you can WATCH THE MOVIE HERE

12. Best of Youth, The
every decade needs an epic italian drama and in the 00's we got this one. huzzah! shown in 2 parts, this incredible work is a typical family generational drama but was especially poignant. like all good films of this nature, there is a relationship between 2 brothers that gets severed by time and interest coupled with tragic deaths and political movements. everything i am saying right now isnt terribly new or original but just particular well done. i havent seen many movies that are this effortlessly six hours. in scope, i would legimately compare this to the godfather I and II or to lesser known italian masterpieces like ermano olmi's tree of wooden clogs. im not really surprised that this one didnt get an oscar nomination as it was produced for italian television. this doesnt mean its not brilliant or a masterpiece. in fact, just put it on the netflix q already.

11. All About Lily Chou-Chou
ok the last of the runners up. after this its all top ten and im really excited because this is taking way longer than i wrote it would. ok, here we go. so of all the obscure foreign films i put on this list, this one is the most obscure from a critical standpoint. this one probably wont end up on the end of critics lists which is a damn shame. all about lily chou chou is about two friends and their obsessive fandom over j-pop star lily chou chou. together, they listen to her, see her concerts, write about her on the interwebs and in messages boards. though the two friends do drift apart, their love of lily keeps them together. the way the film is shot is one of the most interesting aspects of an already excellent film. it is very dark and in the middle, there is a 30 minute sequence filmed entirely on hand held video (like blair witch or paranormal activity found footage kind of thing). its unrelenting and paints a portrait of a desperate and increasingly further isolated youth. despite its relative obscurity, it is ranked as one of the top 50 films about music in the IMDB top genre rankings so there is definitely an audience out there. i seriously recommend it of course. AND you can watch it on youtube for free! i embedded the first part below


i left out IN BRUGES! im not sure how this happened but if i had the chance, i would play it into the 70s. sorry. rest assured that i did love that film.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Favorite Movies: 2000-2009 (30-21)

30. 25th Hour
in the 00's, spike lee's best 2 films were about white people. that isnt to say that his 'when the levees broke' and 'bamboozled' werent excellent (they were) but for me, spike's 25th hour was a masterpiece. it was a pitch combination of post 911 new york representing a broad cross-section of contemporary (white) society. edward norton delivers his upteenth great performance and there are some outstanding turns by barry pepper, phillip c hoffman, brian cox, and anna paquin. bamboozled nearly the cut as did inside man but in terms of subtle, dramatic story-telling, this is the work lee has done. the scene below is one of my favorite scenes of any movies of all time.

29. High Fidelity
oh high fidelity. this is a predictable choice for anyone that knows me. an obsessive music-phile whose snooty elitism and devotion to his music covers up a brick wall of insecurity and self doubt. i love nick hornby's book but i also love this movie quite a bit, dare i say just as much. there are bits about this movie love such as the springsteen cameo (attached below) or jack black's awesome rendition of walking on sunshine or let's stay together. mostly though, i love the dreary love of music as the healer, the redeemer, the bringer together, and the cause and solution of fights. this is the pinnacle of intelligent comic dramas and a must see for music fans.

28. Morvern Callar
for the most part, this round of 10 films have a great deal widely seen films though this one might not be as well known. morvern callar is name of samantha morton's character, a scottish supermarket clerk whose boyfriend commits suicide leaving behind his unpublished novel. she takes it and gets it published under her name leading to fame and riches. directed by lynne ramsay, arguably the best female UK director working today, this is a bleak (im saying that word a lot arent i) and grainily shot film, firmly entrenched in the realm of the cinema verite. though as much credit as ramsay gets for a brilliantly executed film, it is with equal respect to samantha morton who portrays the title character with bravada, subtlety, and quiet insecurity. all in all, another great performance of the 00's.

27. Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter...and Spring
another director i fell in love with this decade is korean auteur ki duk kim. he has already had a couple films on here and there is still another to come. but this is most certainly his standout film of the decade in terms of critical reception. this is a simple tale of a boy raised by a monk and is corrupted by the arrival of a woman. like many of duk's film, there is hardly any dialogue, big expensive outdoor shots, and the characters are secondary to nature. there is a beauty and artistry to kim's style in which the script is almost unnecessary. in that respect, there is definitely a limited audience for kim but for those who can appreciate films with this sort of artistry, its amazing. i tried to find a certain clip of the young monk writing out passages of a buddhist text using a cat's tail but i cant find im not going to include a clip.

26. 21 Grams
another big international trend of the 00's was the emergence of the big 3 mexican directors. there was alfonso cauron (y tu mama tambien, which i hated), guillermo del toro (pan's labyrinth), and alejandro gonzalez inarritu whose 21 grams changed my life. i think this is one of the first films i saw that made me appreciate this sort of dark, redemptive cinema. all 3 performances (and bonus points for melissa leo) were tremendously good. much like many of the films on this list, it is shot in a style most grainy and full of grit and tenacity. oh how i love this film. here is the trailer and if you havent seen the movie, there are ways to watch it. *wink*

25. There Will Be Blood
paul thomas anderson managed to maintain daniel day lewis crazy urge to hammily overact until the last scene where he really let him go and thereby created one of the greatest scenes in film history. lets all realize paul dano was just as good.

24. Brick
one of the more obscure american films on the list but a fascinatingly unique and original film. the concept seems pretty stupid: film noir in high school but in the hands of director rian johnson, this was straight out of the 40s. large kudos belong to the star of the film joseph gordon levitt. now a star in his own right and largely recognized as one of todays great young actors, when this decade began, he was the kid from third rock from the sun. then he did mysterious skin and the world realized how good this kid was. brick was made a couple years after and those who saw this outstanding crime film continued to be in amazement of levitt. he is basically amazing in everyone hes in but for me this is my favorite performance of his and my favorite movie hes done so far. i put in the red band trailer...because its naughty! its a great trailer nontheless. (btw the trailer isnt naughty. no nudity. sorry)

23. Royal Tenenbaums, The
fasten your seat belts, i have 3 movies in a row that were widely seen, widely loved, and are on my best of decade lists. what can i say about wes andersen that hasnt already been said? ever since bottlerocket, he has been making witty, highly intellectual, black comedies that are equal parts funny, quirky, and sweet. by doing so, he has changed the world of independent film. he is one of the most consistent directors working today and all of his films get criterion releases; what does that say about him? this isnt my favorite film of his (that would be rushmore), but its close. the color schemes alone should be enough to guarantee it a spot in any DVD collection. im not sure i want to be a tanenbaum though, maybe just befriend margo. like all andersen films, the soundtrack is beautifully done and music is perfectly complemented to the visuals. i include a clip which uses elliott smith's needle in the hay, an example of a song reminding me of a movie.

22. Shaun of the Dead
one of the great things about writing about commercially popular films is that i can find all my favorite clips from movies! as for shaun of the dead, im not even going to write about a huge blurb about it. this is the greatest horror comedy of all time and quite possibly the 2nd best zombie of all time (original dawn of the dead. w00t). here is my favorite clip:

FUCK. i cant embed it... but its the one where shaun and ed try to pick records to throw at zombines. WATCH IT HERE

21. Lost in Translation
what can i possibly say about this that hasnt been said before. well, its pretty divisive. i know a lot of people that hated this movie and didnt get it. i know people that watched it again and then loved it. for me, there are so themes and messages that i can relate to. there is of course the obvious themes of lonliness and isolation all brought home by bringing the action to japan. there is parody of hollywood starlets and indie rock snootiness and of course, there is the opening shots of scarlet johannsen's ass. for me, this movie is about having people in your life that you love but still being lonely and not content. as for the last scene in the movie, the esoteric nature of the quiet whisper between bill murray and scarjo is perfect and without question, one of the greatest movie endings of all time. though that isnt my favorite scene in the movie; the honor belongs to the 30 seconds of bill murray singing roxy music's more than this. all of the themes in this movie can be summed up by his sad, mellow yet sometimes forced, occasionally pained delivery of the lyrics as a bewigged scarjo sits in the background looking on as if to say 'i can relate.'

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Favorite Movies: 2000-2009 (40-31)

40. Dancer in the Dark
let no one say that lars van trier is not an auteur. he is a director but he is most certainly an auteur through and through. his films are not meant to entertain but to invoke, to inspire, and to move and this one does all three. it invoked me to inspire a movement of depression in my self. this is without question one of the darkest movies ive ever seen. the selfless tale of a mother trying to save up money for her son to get eye surgery is devastating and unnecessarily tragic. bjork stars and her soundtrack EP for the album is just as ethereal and dark. plus, any peter stomare is good stomare.

39. Code Unknown/Code inconnu

another michael haneke film...i told you i loved him! this is the 3rd of 4 and while this film is not as confound as cache it is just as rife with poetry and class struggles. this is one of those many people lives intersect sorta films but the intersection is transient and the action all takes place from a walk down a street. in the hands of any other director a film like this would devolve into sappy 'youve got to love everyone' thing but haneke presents his characters as flawed, troubled, and real, not sympathetic. i attached a video on the film and the failure of the multiculturalism in modern society. heavy stuff but a brilliant film

38. In the Mood for Love
many film critics consider kong kar wei's in the mood for love the best film of the last ten years. i agree that its up there. in fact, i think KKW is one of the most interesting directors working today. both this and the follow up 2046 are so other worldly it is strange to place it to a certain era. the fashion and the sets were closer to the 50s then now but the feel of the film is futuristic without a doubt. the plot is obscure and the acting is wonderful with standout performances by tong leung chiu wai and maggie chung. the last time a love affair burned this intensity without anything physical was david lean's brief enounter some 70 years ago. watch the movie below? SURE!

37. Werckmeister Harmonies

part of the watching truly brilliant artistic films is developing patience. i talked about iranian director abbas kiarastomi and the idea of films are art rather than entertainment; a sentiment i have echoed quite a few times on this blog before. werckmeister harmonies is a strikingly beautiful film by hungarian director bela tarr. his 1994 satan's tango is considered a masterpiece of cinema and harmonies, a follow up of sorts is just as brilliant. tarr relies on long unbroken tracking shots that can last upwards of 10 minutes. there are slow pans of farms, scenery, and general activity. shot in B&W harmonies is a stark and bleak tale of peasants who fall under the spell of a travelling carnival and a "whale" he has in his show. the movie is really about the dull monotony and hopelessness of peasant life. the film is only 39 shots long which means that each one lasts about 6 minutes. this is a difficult film to watch if not youre into highly artistic films without much of a plot. if you are into seeing some experimental cinema and some wonderful nuanced methods, then check it out!

36. Best in Show
...and now for something completely different. best in show is my favorite of the christopher guest directed mockumentaries. ive seen this spoof of dog shows and obsessive dog owners over a dozen times and it still cracks me up consistently. there is no weak link in this and everyone holds up their comedy end. my favorite aspect of guest's quirky characters is their secondary obsessions that overshadow the reason they are in the film in the first place. for example, harlan pepper (played by guest) and his love of ventriloquism or cookie (the brilliant catherine o hara)'s slutty past. guest's films are far from overbearing but consistently silly and clever...lets hope he makes another one soon! and btw, what is eugene levy? he needs to stop with the american pie direct to dvd sequels and call guest up.

35. Eye, The/Gin Gwai
NOT THE REMAKE!!!!!!!! i really hope that the US stops remaking asian movies of any genre. anywho, directed the remarkable inconsistent pang brothers, this is probably the prince of all asian horror films behind ringu and ju-on (ring and grudge, resp) and for my dollar is one of the saddest of them. like most good asian horror films, the scary long haired ghost is really just crying out for attention and wants closure she didnt get in life. the story is ingenious too. blind woman gets cornea transplant and develops the ability to see ghosts. its really scary but sad.

34. Sea Inside, The/Mar adentro
the sea inside was a spanish film directed by alejandro amenabar (the others) is about a completely paralyzed author played brilliant by javier bardem and his quest to end his life. the subject matter is comparable to million dollar baby and the barbarian invasions (discussed early in the list) but is the most affective of the movies in the case of right to die. from the amazing opening sequence (pasted below) in which the paralyzed bardem gets up and flies to the touching conclusion, this is a film that is hard to forget. i think that bardem's performance in this is up there on my list of favorite performances this decade. check out this clip:

33. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
now this is a movie that deserved more; a lot than the tag of box office failure. john c reily got a golden globe nomination and for acting and best song and that was about it. this movie didnt just have a spectacular soundtrack but was one the second best music movie comedy ever made (second only to this is spinal tap). the brilliance of dewey cox is that it doesnt just spoof samey music biopics but also the last 50 years of music as a whole. from the film's beginning parodying buddy holly-like pop to beatles to the brian wilson to disco, this is a music lover's dream film. perhaps it didnt catch on because didnt get the subtleties with apt spoof of old bob dylan documentaries, the buddy holly story, and the life of brian wilson. still, every music lover and student should see this movie and purchase the amazing soundtrack. i include the clip below not because its the funniest thing in the movie but because i think of jack white as elvis anytime i see actual elvis.

32. Bubba Ho-tep
aaaaaaaaaaaaand speaking of elvis, bruce campbell (my hero) stars as him in this bizarre cult film from the early 00's. in a nursing home, elvis lives with a black old JFK (played by ossie davis) and battles mummies. though there isnt much action or violence but a lot of existential conversation and generally strange things. this film has a huge following among certain circles and not just the loyal followers of the campbell the bruce (me among them). i havent seen this years and need to give it a rewatch but this has stayed in my head for years. considering i saw this before i discovered the criterion collection and film canons and maintained my love for it, it is impressive.

31. R Point
it is taking longer and longer to do these film synopsis and why they deserve to be here. this is another obscure film im slappin on here for y'all to enjoy. r point is the tale of soldiers in the vietnam who are on a mission to rescue a lost brigade. they end up at the mysterious r point and begin to have conversations with ghosts of deceased soldiers from the past over their radios. the film is INTENSELY spooky and might be the best war/horror film ever made granted there arent many of those type of films made. the war isnt just the backdrop but an equal focus to the horror. this is a perfect of scary ghosts and war is hell. i just discovered that the whole film is on youtube to watch. i put in the first part of it and i really recommend it if you like horror or war films.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Favorite Movies: 2000-2009 (50-41)

thats right people...we are now going 10 at a time. im going to include things as well like clips.

50. The Prestige

when this movie came out, it was first known as the other magician movie as the illusionist was garnering rave reviews and this one almost seemed like an afterthought. turns out though it jumped into the IMDB top 250 movies and firmly stayed entranced in the top 100. its garnering some impressive cult status and gave david bowie his juiciest film role in years. this is an incredible sci fi drama. it was noirish, dark, twisty, and truly a mindbending film. i wouldnt be surprised if this joins the echelons of top films of all time in the future

49. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
it says something when a movie made from alternate plots and outtakes is funnier than most comedies. thats right, Anchorman spawned an alternate film called 'Wake Up Ron Burgundy.' It's not nearly as good as Anchorman proper but its still a pretty funny watch. that is the greatness of anchorman, easily one of the funniest and most quotable films of all time. anyone who doesnt think the news anchor gang fight its incredibly hilarious has no sense of humor. why does brick have a grenade? who knows!?

48. Ratatouille
this round of movies is pretty conventional and dare i say...mainstream so far! the trends continues with the 2nd of 4 pixar films in the top 125. ratatouille was probably the one i was looking forward to the least but saw simply based on the pixar name. as usual, i was blown away by the heart, humanity, and honesty of the simple story of a rat who wants to be a chef. not as funny as some of the other ones but a great story nontheless and a great voice acting turn from patton oswalt.

47. Ten
RIGHT! here is where the conventional stuff ends. another iranian movie and the only showing from LEGENDARY iranian director abbas kiarostomi. roger ebert has said that his films dont exist for public consumption but for film festivals and classes. while i would like to disagree i cant. his films are so raw and experimental that it makes godard seem like speilberg. ten is simply ten conversations in a car set between the woman driving and the various passengers. there are only 2 camera shots and the film is obviously claustrophobic but the dialogue is amazing and fantastically real. few directors have captured the feel of a changing nation as well as kiarostomi.


46. Frailty
here is a rare example on my list. an american release. not independent. a box office disappointment. not remembered by many people. and starring ... matthew mcconaughey? no i didnt go crazy for his crazy abs. this is a rare non-stupid romcom or lame action adventure. frailty is a flashback film of mcconaughey's character talking about his father, a man who thinks god is communicating to him to kill certain people who are evil, to a stranger. things happen. twists. turns. and by the end, this is one of the greatest sleeper films ever made.

45. Dirty Pretty Things
this movie didnt get a lot of attention in this country but in its native england (bet you thought i was gonna say somethin' move exotic!), it won a lot of awards. the story is that unlikely relationship forms between a turkish illegal immigrant (audrey tattou) and a nigerian illegal immigrant (Chiwetel Ejiofor). directed by the great stephen frears, the film is gripping, intense, private, and of course, depressing. there have been a lot of touching and sad illegal immigrant movies (the visitor, etc.) but this one is particularly sad given the subtlety of the production and the acting of the two leads.

44. Kung Pow: Enter the Fist!
ok. there is no other list in the world that has dirty pretty things and kung pow next to each other, especially in a best of list. this redubbed spoof on 60s chop sockey kung fu cinema is incredibly divisive and has a very love-it-or-hate-it vibe and a cult following. done by the mostly awful steve oedekerk (of um...barnyard fame), this is one of the funniest movies ive ever seen in my life and i continue to quote it today. there has been a rumored sequel long in the works but i doubt that will ever get made. on the upside, it did made twice its budget in its theatrical run ($16 mil. not bad eh?)

41. Talk to Her
and we are back to more accepted top of the decade films. pedro almodovar's storied career began more than 30 years ago and some might say he is making his best work now. for me, my favorite of his films was this. the plot is pretty standard. boy barely meets girl. girl gets injured ends up in a coma. boy that barely knows comagirl stalks her whilst under. other boy falls into a similar situation with a matador. both men bond over the relationships they have with comatose. cue B&W dream sequence of small shrunken man walking into life size vagina. yup. standard almodovar.

42. Moulin Rouge!

who doesnt love this scene? seriously!

thats it.

41. Hidden/Cache
the second of 4 films by master german filmmaker michael haneke. this one took me a while to get into which was probably due to it being more confounding than haneke's usual esoteric style. the story is simple enough. a television personality is terrorized by a series of increasingly personal videotapes. he seeks out to find them and revisits sordid details of his past that he wanted to forget. what makes this film especially infuriating is that there is no real ending to the film...if you werent paying very close attention to the final scene which reveals all. problem is that the final scene is a 4 minute crowd shot in which the real action of the film takes place buried in the background. its "hidden" -- OOOOOH THATS WHAT THE TITLE MEANS!!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Favorite Movies: 2000-2009 (75-51)

75. Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist

this is probably one of the more controversial choices on here and i honestly cant tell you why i love this sweet, often cheesy, movie about adolescent love and music. perhaps its due to the extent to which i can relate to being young and in love with music and the night in new york shut it everyone

74. Letters from Iwo Jima

im in the minority of people who preferred this to flags of our fathers but there was something very kurosawa-esque of eastwood's depiction of the desperate of the japanese troops during iwo jima. i found the entire film to be very moving and beautifully shot

73. Finding Nemo

if you didnt like this movie, youre not human. pixar is pretty much perfect and ive made it no secret that i love them. all of their films are excellent (except cars) and this is one of the most human. also, the voice acting was spectacular

72. Time of the Wolf

german director michael haneke has 4 films in the top 100 so its pretty safe to assume that he is my favorite director working today. this post apocalyptic nightmare of a film is so confined and esoteric that its intentionally virtually impossible to understand why humanity was doomed. this is also one of the many great films legendary french actress isabelle huppert made in this decade

71. Saraband

and with this film, the great ingmar bergman said goodbye to films. this sequel of sorts to his legendary miniseries scenes of a marriage is really the perfect way to end his storied film career. loose ends are sort of tied up and two of his most memorable characters find a bit of closure with their lives. this really is a fine way to cap off his career

70. The Others
the first half of the decade was great for nicole kidman. there was this excellent atmospheric horror film, directed with expertise by alejandro amanebar, her oscar for the hours...and then came a bunch of shitty movies. is amanebar up for doing a sequel to this? i think it might be the only way to get her mojo magic

69. Small Time Crooks
woody allen will be more remembered this decade for match point and vicky cristina barcelona but this delightful throwback to his early years picture needs more attention. in terms of straight up comedies, this is his best since the 80s (no disrespect to scoop...that was pretty funny as well).

68. No Man's Land
this movie is vastly different from small time crooks. it won the best foreign film oscar in 2001. the plot is pretty simple: trapped in the middle ground between warring sides (no man's land) in bosnia and herzegovinia are two soldiers on opposite sides with another soldier passed out on a landmine. its a remarkable, sometimes darkly comic, morality tale that is as affecting as it is memorable

67. Lost Skeleton of Cadavra
...and now for something different. this is a spoof of 1950s b horror sci fi movies. its one of the funniest movies ive ever seen. director larry blamaire's follow up 'the trail of the screaming forehead' is almost as good.

66. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
im allowed to put one harry potter in here, right? this was my favorite and it was most likely due to the dark direction of alfonso cuaron.

65. Downfall
we are goin all over the place. downfall was another best foreign film oscar winner and rightfully so. this movie depicted hitlers last few months in the bunkers in the waning days of WWII. some say that this movie made hitler a more sympathetic character whereas i think it made look even crazier. also this movie gave us the numerous 'hitler reaction videos' on youtube. check out the avatar one.

64. Death of Mr. Lazarescu
one of two really really really depressing romanian movies on this list that will make you feel much much much better about the american healthcare system. the movie is about the title character's attempts to get a doctor to see him about a stomach problem. he gets bumped around every hospital in the city and eventually dies. happy stuff.

63. Saddest Music in the World
the director of this film guy maddin is one of the more well known experimental directors working today. his films brand up on the brain and my winnipeg made it onto a bunch of best of lists. this film is one of his most accessible films and is about a beer baroness's contest to find the saddest music in the world. simply beautiful.

62. Broadway: The Golden Age
my favorite documentary of the 00's is a simple tale of the way broadway used to be. since i often dream of being in the 1930-40s watching and starring in broadway shows this was right up my alley. combined with lots of great interviews and first hand stories, it was an awesome to broadway fans of all ages

61. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
shut up. this ruled. all of you. shut up and let me enjoy my star war with my depressing european movies

60. Battle Royale
not only is this a great movie but also a great idea. take a bunch of high school kids...put chips in their head and make them fight to the death. the last surviving kid gets to live. leave it to the japanese to bravely blaze a trail of unique education.

59. Wet Hot American Summer
warning! cult movie alert! this comedy stars a bunch of people from MTV's last funny thing that ever produced (intentionally funny that is) including david, michael showalter, michael ian black, ken marino and others. what resulted is one of the great summer spoof comedies of the last decade. bonus points go to law and order star chris meloni for truly bringing the funny

58. Station Agent
no one humps in this movie like in our last choice but what we do have is a subtle and very sweet film about trains and isolation. peter dinklage is wonderful as the protege of a deceased model train builder who forms unlikely friendships with other loners, including the always excellent patricia clarkson.

57. Noriko's Dinner Table
this might be the most obscure choice on the list. its japanese and its hard to describe what its really about. it is a pseudo sequel to the suicide club, directed by the same guy. in a nutshell, its a 2 1/2 hour about a group of japanese teens who people rent to give them a family or girlfriend experience though without anything sexual. honestly, its a remarkably strange and often moving picture. here is a link to the trailer:

56. Mulholland Dr.
there is a reason this david lynch mindfuck of a film is on every critics top of the decade list. it is because it is an amazing movie. naomi watts and laura harris were both remarkable and im still wondering about aspects about this. interesting that i put 2 mindfuck movies in a row

55. Punch-Drunk Love
paul thomas anderson is definitely one of my favorite directors working today. and in this film he made me briefly really like adam sandler. one of the greatest reveals of twisted love in films ever, this understated tale mixes black comedy and sincere romantic drama at almost perfect ratios

54. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
i loved the trailer to this movie. it used mr blue sky extraordinarily well but overall, the entire thing was just about perfect. jim carrey was truly robbed of an oscar nod and im sad that this is destined to cultdom rather than recognition of its outright cinematic brilliance.

53. Drag Me to Hell
speaking of being ignored, this is the best american horror film of the decade by a longshot. when it released last summer to almost nothing, i really felt like horror fans were missing out. this film is quinessential sam raimi and the film horror buffs have been waiting for him to make since evil dead II. all we needed was more bruce campbell and this would have perfect.

52. Donnie Darko
there was a magical time where everyone loved jack gyllenhaal (sp?) and i think it was mostly due to this film. another film unfairly ignored in cinematic release, it found an audience through midnight showings and DVD. its rare that a film combined time travel, existentialism, and bunny costumes so well. its a shame that the unofficial sequel to the film (S Darko) was better than Richard Kelly's follow up films

51. Barbarian Invasions
another best foreign film oscar winner; this quebecoise film is one of the 3 big right to die movies of the decade (others being million dollar baby and the sea inside [that comes later]). directed by denys arcand (the most quebecoise and one of the best north american directors as a whole), it was a whipsmart, very talk-ey movie but a very affecting and memorable one.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Favorite Movies: 2000-2009 (100-76)

here we go! the top 100 favorite films of mine this weekend. im going to post links or youtube videos just the name and a brief few words about why they belong on here. if they look interesting look em up

100. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
one of the ingenious comedy action films of the decade. for a brief moment we remembered that val kilmer is funny and were reminded that robert downey jr (the 90s were not his decade) is a force to be reckoned with

99. Inglorious Basterds
definitely one of the standard films of 2009 and continues tarantino's streak of perfection. between hans lambda and the amazing opening scene, this is definitely going to stand the test of time

98. The Edge of Heaven
turkish director faith akin's follow to head on was almost as good. the sparse gentle and subtle social drama hinged on non traditional relationships and dysfunction. akin is one to watch in the years to come

97. Russian Ark
alexander sukurov's russian masterpiece is one continuous shot. that means the 87 minutes of the movie was done in 1 take. challenging every convention of cinema and logic, he pulls it off and creates a grand world of his own that transcends time

96. Spirited Away
a surprise best animated film winner (that is, if you didnt see it) from the mid 00's. this film was one of the highest japanese films ever and continues director hiyao miyazaki's string of masterpieces though this still wasnt as good as princess mononoke

95. Master and Commander: The Far Side of The World
im really disappointed that this was a box office bust as it really had a potential to be a great series. russell crowe and paul bettany were both excellent and while director peter weir saved the seafaring genre, it didnt make very much money

94. Scotland, PA
im going to have a bunch of obscure movies on here you wont see on critics list and this is one of them. a forgotten adaption of macbeth set in the 1970s with the beginning of fast food drive thru restaurants. maura tierney was a perfect lady macbeth and this entire thing needs to be seen by more people

93. You Can Count on Me
and so we received mark ruffalo, who was supposed to be the next great actor...and then he made some really bad decisions (view from the top? in the cut?) but i will still remember him for his excellent performance here (and in eternal sunshine)

92. The Descent
the british could make horror movies? who knew? this decade will not be remembered for good horror movies. in fact, there are remarkably few good ones but this is a keeper. caves, darkness, monsters, suspense. done.

91. Once
everyone knows that the british isles know music and this irish production is a simple, sweet, earnhest and wholesome film with some of the most memorable songs of the decade. um... the british isles is the UK ireland and surrounding islands, right?

90. Before Sunset
im putting my romantic dramas back to back i guess. i did enjoy before sunrise but found it a bit syrupy to be taken truly seriously. sunset though is a more mature and appropriately bleak follow up with one of my favorite endings of the 00's

89. Winged Migration/The Travelling Birds
hey look! its birds and theyre flying! i saw this documentary and wanted to become a bird or at least ride in contraptions that make me look like i was flying (they use these crazy ass bird mimic things to film! its crazy!)

88. Story of the Weeping Camel
and apparently im putting animal documentaries back to back. this is a mongolian doc from 2003 about a camel who rejects her calf and villagers attempts to get the mother to take it back. its incredibly sad for most of it and incredibly sweet by the end.

87. Good Bye, Lenin!
a hit film from germany, this really deserved to win best foreign film at the oscars. it was everything a good movie should be - well acted, directed, with a great story. this farce is about a son trying to prevent his 'recent recovered from a heart attack' mother from finding out about the fall of communism

86. Man Without a Past
its time for another OBSCURE foreign film. finnish director aki kaurismaki is known only in HARDCORE film circles. he directs very short feature length fims (75-80) with very little dialogue and dry as a bone comedy. if you can appreciate his style then most of his films are wonderful little tales. man without a past is among his best

85. Brokeback Mountain

84. Turtles Can Fly
one of many iranian movies on my list, a country i am continually impressed with in terms of filmmaking. this is about a boy who installs satellite dishes to small towns so that can receive news about the recent US invasion of Iraq.

83. Abnormal Beauty
OBSCURE psychological horror film from japan directed by the pang brothers (the eye). starring 2 japanese pop stars in the lead, this is a dark and twisted film about photographing the beauty of the perverse and violent...including DEATH!

82. No Country for Old Men
a divisive film. everyone i know either loves it (majority) or hated it. clearly, i am in the first one and given my love for the coen brothers, its not surprising. also, this movie gave us anton chigurh, one of the most memorable villians of all time

81. Signs
theres a monster in my room can i have a glass of water? -- one of my favorite opening lines of all time. im not sure if anyone loved this film as much as i did but i found it unique and often pretty damn terrifying. i really hope m night shyalaman makes more movies like this and not about things like killer wind

80. Requiem for a Dream
did anyone see this and feel completely hollow and empty afterward? i did. even thinking about the horrific last few scenes, i want to cuddle my cats and not let go. so affective and so devastating

79. Blackboards
another iranian movie AND one of only 2 films directed by women on this list! samira akhmalbaf (daughter of legendary iranian director mohsen) made this simple and movie film about roving teachers trying to teach illiterate boys in villages how to read, write, and do math. they travel with blackboards on their back and continue despite not having very much luck.

78. May
one of my favorite horror directors to pop up this decade is lucky mckee. he did the woods, sick girl, and this, a film i consider a modern horror masterpiece. this shows on IFC a lot if you get tha channel, i just recommend watching it.

77. Lives of Others
the best foreign film oscar winner of a couple years ago, this beat pan's labyrinth and rightfully so. this film is epic in many ways. im getting sick of writing so ill just sum it up by saying, its german, about the east/west divide and ends happily

76. Capturing the Friedmans
wrapping up this set of bests is one of my favorite documentaries of the last 10 years. about a seemingly normal family, the doc investigates the father for strange sexually perverse crimes that may or may not have happened. one of the most interesting examples of non biased filmmaking ive seen in recent years, it gets my hearty nod for filmmaking in a real and not exploitative ways

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My Favorite Movies from 2000-2009 - Part 1 or 5

i havent written a blog solid entry for a bit now and though im compiling a recent watching entry, i have been diligently putting together a list of my favorite films of the last decade. ok, as my stupid wife pointed out, there is still a year left in the decade and that the year 2000 was in the 90s. to her and all you other poindexterish jerks, i say suck it-decades over.

before launching face first in to the list here are 25 movies that ALMOST made it. a bunch of 2009 films are on here and maybe with some more time they would move up the list but freshness does not always mean long term viability.

125. 2046
another sequel, this time to kong war wei's brilliant in the mood for love. atmospheric and ethereal and fascinating

124. X2/X-Men 2
i promise this list is more than just sequels. this x men was far superior to the 1st and 3rd

123. Jarhead
this film struck me immediately and im disappointed it never caught on. a more fitting realistic modern war movie is hard to find

122. Frost/Nixon
easily one of the finest, well crafted, and superbly acted dramas for adults of the decade

121. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The
the best of the lot. deserves accolades if only for the battle of helm's deep

120. 24 Hour Party People
an honest, funny, and often sad film about the rise, death, and rise of brit pop

119. Moon
a true sci fi mindfuck, which is becoming excessively rare in the era of cgi and blowing things up

118 Wonder Boys
curtis hanson's finest film and michael douglas best acting of the 00's. the script was very clever and entertaining

117. My Summer of Love
the little known british drama that gave us emily blunt also features a fine turn from paddie considine

116. Hotel Rwanda
it says something when an unflinching, bold, and shocking is criticized for being too flinch-ey

115. Yi Yi
edward yang's chinese family drama is long (3 hours) but is always interesting and heartfelt

114. Touching the Void
this documentary about climbing mt everest has dramatizations that were done so well, i forgot it was staged!

113. The Girlfriend Experience
for me, the standout independent film of 2009; a bleak statement on the economy and the increasingly blur line of commercialization of sex, love, and companionship

112. Children of Men
another great mindfuck of a movie. never before has a vision of the future been so realistic and frightening

111. Up
what other studio can introduce to characters, a love story, a marriage, and a death resulting in tears all within the first minutes of a movie? just pixar.

110. American Splendor
without question, this biopic on harvey pekar is the mixed documentary and shot film ever. paul giamatti was robbed of the oscar.

109. Hot Fuzz
how do you follow shaun of the dead, the greatest horror comedy of all time? by making the greatest action comedy spoof of all time.

108. Secretary
so dark. so twisted. so erotic. at the end of this, its hard to know what to feel aside from dirty and sexy at the same time

107. Rabbit-Proof Fence
this australian film about the horrific mistreatment of aboriginal peoples should be mandatory watching in all history classes. it manages to be sad and shocking without being overdramatic

106. Ginger Snaps
if there is a better analogy for a teen's sexual adolescence than turning into a werewolf once a movie, i havent seen it. great horror film (hmm...actually Teeth comes pretty close)

105. The Ring
though i prefer the original japanese version, the american remake is still of the scariest horror films ive ever seen and it still keeps it bite after all these years

104. Frida [2002]
salma hayak can act. who knew? ive always been interesting in frida kahlo but appreciated her even more after seeing this biopic

103. Lost in La Mancha
poor poor terry gilliam. all he wanted to do was adapt 'Don Quixote.' luckily, this doc about the unraveling of the production is a masterwork in itself

102. Time for Drunken Horses, A
the first of many iranian films on my list. extraordinarily subtle and real, this tale of the poor trying to survive is a tremendous eye opener as to how the other side of the world lives.

101. Adaption
i really wanted to put this in the top 100 but i couldnt justify taking anything out. its a shame because i loved this movie and forgot for a minute how awful nicholas cage is

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Poem

a major digression from the normal blog entries:

The Internet is Lonely Without You
Dedicated to Sian and hoping that she gets a new phone soon

an anime portrait was absent this morning
upon my computer screen
i frowned and moved to work in my lab
knowing you werent here
well you are somewhere but sadly left phoneless
cuz your android decided to break

youre filing papers and possibly receipts
from farmers who buy pigs and sheep
for there werent drawings or even bad jokes
and lolcats cant match your style

you will appear again at 3 oclock my time
but by then the day is done
and time slows to a crawl as the day slightly draws

because the internet is lonely without you

Sunday, December 6, 2009

what happens when i get to talk about godard

on friday, my friend melissa called and asked me to give her a crash lecture on the french new wave and jean luc godard. she needed some quick talking points and of course she came to me because i know everything about film especially regarding the great godard.

i never actually got to talk about him in any length before and only gave a few sentences about him whenever situations called for it. i usually said something like 'he is a master though not all of his films are masterpieces.' thats true, i didnt care for many of his films but would happily watch a bad godard over and over again. but given the opportunity to talk about him, i realized how amazing i actually do find him even when his movies arent that great.

i dont love him on the same level as bergman, kurosawa, chaplin, or kubrick but in terms of intriguing directors, he is top. the upper echolon; a GOD(ard) even among enigmatic talents.

what i admire about godard the most dawned on me--he never sold out. his goal in creating films is exactly the same as it was when he first started. he set out to change film and the conventions of film. a former critic, he wanted to change the rules and some 50 years later, his films are still incredibly unique and fascinating though not always intensely watchable. this isnt a bad thing though. watching something recent like notre musique or forever mozart, ones realizes that they are hard to follow and difficult to comprehend but this was always his MO.

when he made breathless and changed cinema forever, he dropped the viewer into the middle of a movie in a seemingly already in progress scene and made the viewer catch up throughout the first half of the film. for a 1950s viewer, this must have been infuriating as viewers werent challenged like this before. now his most recent films are sometime loosely plotted, have involved music overpowering the dialogue which itself contains intense, long monologues on politics and religion often with the camera not focused on the person who is talking.

he is a recluse, doesnt give interviews now, and doesnt show up to accept awards much to the chagrin of good friend wim wenders. in short, he never gave up his artistic vision and reputation as a rebel and even his most commercially acceptable film, le mepris, is a challenging and reference filmed piece that is watchable but also exceedingly artistic.

few directors have been this confounding for their entire career.

i wish i got to talk about filmmakers i loved more and in greater detail but most people just dont want to hear a guy without formal film education ramble on about the love of a director or a movie they never heard of. regardless, if you need any refreshes on anything, let me know. ill be happy to send you into a state of information overload