Tuesday, January 29, 2008


When you have a grand idea, it is probably best that you jot it down and from there, fill out the ideas and such with insightful and carefully though out observations.

I did not do that with the aforementioned post on the nature of love and their domineering role within the canon of pop songs. Instead, I thought of a long-winded theory whils
t on the train, and just a promptly forgot it. Boo hoo.

So, instead of giving you a new jam to fawn over, I'll (not) compensate by Year-Ending a you with a list of a few films that I enjoyed this year.

(Full disclosure: I have not seen The Diving Bell & the Butterfly, The Savages, Walk hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Lars & The Real Girl, Ratatouille, Persepolis or the second half of I'm Not There. They might have appeared on my list, or not. Who knows?)

(You should know what to do with the links.)

Released in 2007:

1. There Will Be Blood

based on Upton Sinclair's novel
written & directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

This is without question, one of the best film I'll ever have the privilege of being alive for. Everybody is sucking Javier Bardem off for No Country, but I think that the one-two combination of Daniel Day-Lewis' Daniel Plainview and Paul Dano's Eli Sunday are easily amongst the most frightening characters ever presented on celluloid. They embody greed, malice, rage, avarice and most of all, the pure, unadulterated hate for human beings. Misanthropy is not even strong enough of a word for what Plainview has in his cold black heart.

Paul Thomas Anderson has made a masterpiece in the truest sense of the word. There are themes in this work that are very clear, but not super-overtly and never cheaply mined for an audience's sympathy. Look no further than the actions and words of the characters. The consequences are dire and yet make complete sense.

2. Superbad

written by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldbeg

directed by Greg Mottola

I was on the train the other day and heard a guy and girl talk about this movie. The girl said something to effect of, "I liked it OK, but it was such a boy movie. I mean, it was alright and everything but, it was so boy funny."

Fuck that girl. This is everyone funny. I believe that her real problem is that she's never had a best friend. No, not a really good friend or even a "BFF," but a true blue absolute best friend. If you have ever had one of those, then you should be crying a little at the end of this fil
m. The whole thing is essentially about the realization that the crutch that is a best friend is suddenly being pulled out from under you for the crutch that is a girlfriend and how that sort of fucks you up for a while. Think about it, if you have a girl or boyfriend, how do much do you talk to your best friends? And when you don't...? Exactly.

3. Zodiac

written by James Vanderbilt, based on the book by Robert Graysmith

directed by David Fincher

I can't really tell you exactly why I liked this film as much as I did. I mean, I don't really love cop movies more than the next guy, or crime investigation films either for that matter. I think that anybody could have played Jake Gyllenhaal's role and the joint is like thirty minutes longer than it really should be.

Oh, I forgot, it's because David Fincher took what was essentially a crime film about a famous murderer (who we, coincidentally, know for a fact hasn't even been caught in 30+ years) not boring, but fascinating. The period detail, use of music and the fact that the cast is stellar are also why this one works so well.

4. No Country For Old Men

adapted from the novel by Cormac McCarthy
written for the screen & directed by The Cohen Brothers

This is the most thrillingest thriller of the year that (unless you've read the book,) you don't know the ending to. Also, the sound design is marvelous. The direction is filled with tension enough as is, but the aural side is what really gets it to its true edge-of-your-seat heights.

Additionally, Josh Brolin really is the highlight for me here. He perfectly plays a guy who really shouldn't be as smart as he is and in doing so, creates someone that you can really root for.

Blame Cormac McCarthy for then ending if you didn't like it. I personally didn't mind not seeing exactly what happened. All the shooting in the first two thirds terrified me. Having a few less crackling gunshots in my ears was fine by me.

5. Control

adapted from Deborah Cutis' autobiography "Touching From A Distance"
written for the screen Matt Greenhalgh
directed by Anton Corbijn

This is how you make a biopic. Beautifully shot, expertly executed live performances, and a truly compelling lead performance, with spot on work by all supporting actors.

6. The Darjeeling Limited

written by Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola & Jason Schwartzman
directed by Wes Anderson

This is Wes being Wes. That is absolutely fine by me. Although it felt more compact than anything else he's done, there is a lot to chew on in this funny, sad and ultimately touching film.

Think about the tiger and then get back to me.

7. Knocked Up

written & directed by Judd Apatow

This film is hilarious because of everybody but Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl. Not that they are bad by any means, it's just that the roommates, Paul Rudd, the little girls, the bouncer and most importantly Leslie Mann are just that much funnier. The relationship stuff is pretty well executed too. Almost too truly for a Hollywood film.

8. Michael Clayton

written & directed by Tony Gilroy

Ever since Dogville I've been sort of obsessed by films that end in a satisfying manner. There Will Be Blood and Michael Clayton are this years dual winners of the Lars Von Trier Prize for Incredible Endings.

The performances in this film are all great, but the writer/director Tony Gilroy is the real show-off in this one, dispaying his apt sense of mood and suspense, he has created a phenomenal directorial debut. And once again, that ending showdown between George Clooney and Tilda Swinton's characters is one for the ages.

9. Eastern Promises

written by Steven Knight
directed by David Cronenberg

Viggo is incredible and all, but almost no love is being shown for the scene/film stealer Vincent Cassel.
His work here is great. The character that he shapes is despicable, yet you feel pity for him. He is a misogynist male chauvinist with obvious homosexual tendencies and a charmingly deplorable human being.

The twist in the last third is actually surprising and well done. Cronenberg doing fine work here. I think that he should do another one with Viggo and this character, interesting things could come of that.

10. Before The Devil Knows You're Dead

written by Kelly Masterson
directed by Sidney Lumet

This is another fine crime/heist film. Another one that gets it right. I agree with my friend Bob about the out-of-sequence bit being a bit lame, but nonetheless, the acting and script really helped me see past the gimmick.

Phillip Seymour-Hoffman and Albert Finney doing exceptional work here. They both seem to be in pain or discomfort the entire time, which I find interesting to no end.

The Rest (2007):


Yes, I know exactly what is wrong with this film, (the extreme abundance of quirk and "hip" references, the oh so precious music, the glibness of just about every single adult character, Michael Cera being in it for only like 5 minutes, etc.) yet somehow I can honestly say that I sort of liked it. Enough to put it on this list. Not the other one though. Should this be nominated for Academy Awards against There Will Be Blood or No Country For Old Men? No way? But Atonement shouldn't be either, so whatever. At least I cared enough about Juno being with Michael Cera's character enough to be glad at the end. Keira Knightly and whats-his-face? Oh fuck off.

-The King Of Kong: A Fistful Of Quarters

Best frivolous documentary of the year, hands down.


Best serious documentary of the year. I fully support our troops and all, and I want them all to came home and I fell truly awful for the ones who have been slain or wounded.

That said, I will probably never step foot in Iraq, I know that it's all Bush's fault that they were sent there and the plight of the Iraqi people is nowhere near important to me (and millions of others) as not having to pay for health care. Michael Moore made a bipartisan film that shows how we are all fucked. That counts for something.

-Blades Of Glory

Hi-la-ri-ous. Everything out of Will Ferrell's mouth is gold in this one. Pure gold. Also, the chase between he and Will Arnett is genius.

Best old stuff/not released in 2007:

-Holy Mountain

Holy shit. Fucking incredible.

-Morvern Callar

Marvelous in every way. Best music usage ever? Top 3 easily.

-Paranoid Park

Go see it when it comes out. Gus is on a roll.


asia said...

holy mountain is that the shit that was playing over thanksgiving at the apartment. fuck that crazy ass movie. no... no..... no.

Brian said...


lee said...

Ahhhhhh. sentient intelligence. nice. if u like holy mountain, have you seen greaser's palace? or a verrry hard to find ''the legend of hillbilly john''. you like.