Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My 100+ Favorite Films of the Aughts: 90-81 [Fanboy Edition]

90.) CITY OF GOD (dir. Fernando Meirelles)

fernando meirelles’ hand grenade of a debut still feels to me as if it’s a little bit too involved in its own myth-making, and the very end still feels like more of a fizzle than anything else… but after the stuff that came before it, i guess the anti-climax was unavoidable. the morbid lingering success of the film is the speed and completeness of how its wanton violence (with a higher and more undiscriminating death toll than most holocaust films) becomes utterly numbing… the viewer finds themselves valuing life about as much as any of the slumlords seen therein, and by achieving that indifference like no other film i can think of, City of God overcomes itself to put the viewer in the center of the action.

89.) BATTLE ROYALE (dir. Kinji Fukasaku)

a touching story about friendship. this should probably just be grouped with City of God.

88.) PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE (dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)

an adam sandler movie for people who don’t like adam sandler and a love story for people who like smashing glass… the lunacy of love as shared between loons, or just regular people who want to fly to hawaii for free, p.t.a.’s take on the romantic comedy (and despite sandler’s presence it is a comedy, mostly due to one of philip seymour hoffman’s finest performances as the “shut, shut, shut, shut, shut, shut up” guy) is fluid, kinetic, and brimming with the nervous energy of its awkward heroes. the least ridiculous rom-com of the decade.

87.) ONCE (dir. John Carney)

i can’t shake the feeling that Once should have been better… there’s just something i find a little irritating or unbelievable about marketa irglova’s character, and it’s definitely not her refusal to acquiesce to the obvious beats of such a love story. but this little movie that could… earnest-to-a-fault… really spins some heartfelt gold from the most most inauspicious of threads, and the songs… ballads where glen hansard’s heart heart isn’t so much on his sleeve so much as it’s bleeding all over his tightly clenched hand… are big and broad and totally effective. it wasn’t with the empty bloat of Chicago and its ilk, but with Once that the movie musical truly entered the 21st century.

86.) GOODBYE SOLO (dir. Ramin Bahrani)

my thoughts here. but let me take this opportunity to reiterate that EVERYONE will love this movie.

85.) TURNING GATE (dir. Hong Sang-Soo)

among Hong’s earlier films but easily as structurally playful as anything that followed, Turning Gate is one of the last of the new korean master’s films that doesn’t get lost down its own rabbit hole (for better or worse). the purity of the plot here is unusual, but the ways his characters beget his characters and their stories regurgitate one another… this is the film where i feel Hong is at his most natural, and what might be a natural predilection to be sweet actually edges its way into the action.

84.) THIRST (dir. Park Chan-Wook)

here’s what i had to say about that matzah ball

83.) KISS KISS BANG BANG (dir. Shane Black)

a post-modern raymond chandler story that hilariously revels in the same genres it’s picking apart, told with a droll wit befitting my favorite robert downey jr. performance… i didn’t much care for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang when i first saw it. but thanks to the power of cable, the genius of shane black’s return was finally made clear to me. hyper-aware and stuffed with quotable dialogue (“harmony: she’s been fucked more times than she’s had a hot meal. harry: yeah, i heard about that, it was neck and neck and then she skipped lunch”), not a moment of this feels tossed off. the fact that it also takes the piss, shit, liver, and throat out of L.A. is just icing on the cake. if Californication had half the wit of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang i’d watch it for more than the… well, i’d watch it for more than whatever it is that i watch it for.

82.) MARIE ANTOINETTE (dir. Sofia Coppola)

an immensely rich biopic that humanizes an historical figure to a degree few films have ever attempted , distilling a notorious but seldom understood life into the story of a teenage girl coming into her own and accepting the first shackles of responsibility… you know, a sofia coppola movie. the anachronistic tunes expose the timelessness of the other facets of Marie Antoinette’s life… her moods and interests all rendered highly relatable. how coppola manages to stay on task and eke out a subtly harrowing emotional trajectory for her subject amidst the luminous pastel’s of lance acord’s cinematography is a mystery, but the final moments ring most true.

81.) THE BEAT THAT MY HEART SKIPPED (dir. Jacques Audiard)

an impregnably taut thriller about the tensions between dreams and the shitty (often criminal) inertia of daily life, few films this decade were so absorbing, or left such a mark without any brazen attempts to transcend their modest genre origins. a thug with a heart-of-gold story set in the real world, this criminally under-seen gem outclasses hyped trash like Tell No One in every way, and paved the way to the tsunami of critical success in which his new film, A Prophet, has been swept away. also, romain duris… who the more vocal ladies in my life all seem to love… finally (if temporarily) freed from the talentless clutches of cedric klapisch, gets to utterly slaughter a juicy lead role, here, and shows why he’s more than a… vaguely neanderthalish face.

Cross-posted from The Ecstatic Truth.

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