Saturday, January 2, 2010

Favorite Movies: 2000-2009 (5-2)

5. 3-Iron
the next 4 films in the top 5 are all foreign and have all debuted to some acclaim. however, these movies from here on in affected me more than any other films this decade and they all fall within my top 20 favorite movies of all time. 3 Iron is a Korean film directed by Ki Duk Kim who i have written about quite a bit on this list. this film is about a man who breaks into people's houses when they are on vacation and live there. he doesnt steal or wreck anything. in fact, he just moves in and cleans or organizes their things before he moves out. along the way he meets a girl who joins him in this quest. the girl is in an unhappy marriage and forms a strange codependent relationship with this this other guy. so, the description of the film only gets stranger from here on in. it is mostly silent and the two leads never talk save for one important line at the film spoken by the girl. throughout the course of the film, the man learns how to make himself invisible not in the literal sense but to live in the natural world without being seen. there is nothing supernatural just the ability to avoid being seen by using quiet and speed. in the 90 minutes movie, you encounter one of the most unique love stories ever produced on film. the themes of lonliness, isolation, and in the end, redemption are common to all ki duk kim films but in this one the stately silent and claustrophobic modern world appear more beautiful than usual. ive seen this about 5 or 6 times and each time i discover new things to admire with this film. Here is the trailer...

and here is the full film...

4. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
this movie absolutely should have won the best foreign film oscar in 2007. in fact, this probably should have won best picture overall. it won the cannes palm d'or which is a pretty big award. so, what is this about? it is about a romanian woman trying to help her friend get an abortion in 1987. problem is that abortion is illegal in romania and they have to do it on the black market. i think its obvious what that the title refers to. directed by christian mungui, this is a tragic tale and one that gets increasingly more tragic as the film goes on. throughout the film it becomes clear that the abortion is one of the simpler parts of their story. what continues is a dark tale of abuse, lies, and a movie that is too painful to watch twice. why do i put myself through these experiences? i could have watched transformers and everything could have been better. i never would have had to sit through this incredibly depressing film that left me too broken to cry by the end of the film. but then i wouldnt get to experience this amazing tell of human drama. this is a topic that i would never have to deal with otherwise and that is exactly why i watched this. with film, it is possible to experience life as you could never. a true life drama most likely happened to people, quite a few of them and films like allow someone like me, living a comfortable life close to boston to watch the struggles of romanian women in the 80s do something that just about any american could do without having to watch the compromises they made. here is the trailer:

and here is the full movie!

3. Kairo (Pulse)
this is in my top 10 favorite films of all time and though its considered a horror film, i consider one of the most intense and well done psychologically dramas ever made. directed masterfully by kiyoshi kurosawa, this movie is about the dead returning to on earth through computers. as the dead continue to re-enter the world, people begin to disappear into the void between worlds. like 3 iron, this is a study on alienation in the modern world. the message of the film is that is as the world gets closer throughout computers, people can become increasingly segregated into their own cyber worlds. in this respect, it is logical to think that the dead can still exist in a cyber world. this film came out in 2001 which was before a lot of the social networks and iphones and the constant connectivity which is now considered normal in society. in the film people who were once living become completely immersed in their computers and quite literally disappear in a fuzz. pulse was remade in the US and like most US remakes, completely missed the point. instead of an existential rumination of society and isolation due to increased false connections of interwebbing, it was a horror film about the dead walking the earth. the original pulse is scary but is so much more than your standard horror film. its a mindfuck and an experience. this is almost necessary to watch twice to fully appreciate what is going on in the film. im not sure if you can see kairo as a warning or a promise as to what the future will bring but its an intense and thought provoking film. here is the trailer that does sell it as a scary ass horror film. here is the trailer:

i cant find a link for the whole film :( sorry!

2. Lilja-4-Ever
a few years ago the Onion made THIS LIST featuring 24 movies that are too painful to watch twice. on this list were many of my favorite movies i have seen more than once (bergman's winter light? pssshaw ive seen that 4 times. audition? kids stuff.) but #23 is the subject of this blog entry. Lilja-4-Ever is a Russian film made by the brilliant swedish director lukas moodysson (who helmed the excellent together and fucking amal). it is about a russian teen who accidently ends up sold into forced prostitution. in short, this is the second most depressing movie ive ever seen and the most intimate and tragic film ever made on the subject of human trafficking. in the film, moodysson condemns those prey on the girls, the countries that support it, and the western world in general for not doing enough. the heroin, lilja is championed as a martyr and the ultimate victim. i dont want to talk about this movie too much because i want you all to watch this movie. its a masterpiece and it does not shove its message down your throat and if you it did, it wouldnt be nearly as effective. the most heartbreaking aspect of the film is its gritty reality and the sense of further impending doom. watching this movie you know that things arent going to get better. after all, even before she is sold into prostitution, she has a close not entirely sexual friendship with a local boy who commits suicide after she leaves and becomes her guardian angel. his best though sad is unfortunately one of the more redeeming aspects of the film. i watch this film and loved it for the same reasons as 4 months 3 weeks 2 days; for the unflinching view of someone else's reality. the magic of film allows us all to experience legitimate problems of the world. this sort of thing happens and though these are fictionalized accounts, the stories could be typical to most tales of human traffic and other violations of basic human rights.

here is the trailer

and here is the whole movie!