Monday, March 24, 2008

My favorite film from 2007

Add me to the list singing the praises of the Coen Brother’s latest. It is a perfect film. Perfect. The acting, the cast, the pacing is flawless, the locations, the ending (yes, the ending). No Country for Old Men won a bunch of awards this year because sometimes the film that deserves it wins. Sometimes.

There are so many things I loved about this a short review like this can’t cover—check out the long review in the November 2007 archives. The Coen Brothers last couple of films didn’t feel right to me but No Country for Old Men stacks up with anything they’ve ever done—which is mighty high territory to climb to.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

2nd favorite film from 2007

I won’t claim Once is anywhere near the best made or crafted film I saw this year, because it’s not. What Once has is a magical, thrilling, yearning, romantic quality that made me FEEL right down to the marrow. If a movie makes my heart skip, beat faster or ache, well, that usually means one special movie.

Made on the cheap, the very cheap, Once (check out the July 2007 archives for the long review) is full of lots of earnest songs as it tells the story of a Dublin street musician and his new found relationship with a Czech woman is sweet + somber. The ending will knock you back in your seat and leaving you thinking about it for a long time. Great ending and great little movie.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

3rd favorite film from 2007

There Will Be Blood is epic, difficult, not pleasant to watch at time—yet terrific, captivating, ruthlessly crafted and starring the wondrous Daniel Day-Lewis. I’ve spouted off recently now and then about DDL but since he won’t be in a film in at least four years (maintaining his current pace), we should soak it up.

Paul Thomas Anderson solidifies his grasp as contender for “best American director” with this film about greed, religion and hypocrisy in the California oil fields circa 1900. Anderson, bolted to the anchor of DDL’s mesmerizing performance, has made a peculiar, bleak stunning American film not to be missed.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

4th favorite film from 2007

I had a phase when I was very into the Irish nationalist movement and at the heart of that was the I.R.A. The Wind That Shakes the Barley concerns the formation of that group circa 1920 and I found it riveting from start to finish (check out May 2007 archives for long review). I never thought I’d witness something that was so honest, intelligent and sympathetic to the I.R.A. but this film is all of those things.

Ken Loach, a bit of a rabble-rouser as a filmmaker, is the perfect person to tell this story of two brothers who get caught up in the struggles against the English. The film is not only gripping, it is lush as all get out—it is set in Ireland after all. Green everywhere. The Wind That Shakes the Barley is like watching a dream come true for me--damn English!

Monday, March 17, 2008

5th favorite film from 2007

What a surprise this was (go check out the longer review in February archives). I had a feeling I’d like it based on the premise—couple traipsing around Paris, her French, he American, both highly neurotic and in various states of agitation.

2 Days in Paris is kind of like Woody Allen with French bits that is an odd mix of romance/anti-romance while being an ode to Paris and a satire of Paris at the same time. 2 Days in Paris makes me dream of having a Parisian girlfriend so I can go to Paris and argue with her for 2 days!

Written/directed by Julie Delphy, this is a real charmer for bitter romantics.

Flu attack

Long lay off. Blame it on the flu. A particularly nasty strain that knocked me down, put me in bed for a week and sapped all my android strength.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Best of 2007 numbers 10-6

10/ Control (England). Music video director Anton Corbijn’s first feature is a lovingly crafted look at the band Joy Division and their lead singer Ian Curtis. Joy Division created bleak, stark, drowning in gloom music in the late 1970s and early 1980s. What I liked about this is it isn’t just a paint by numbers biopic—it’s arty (shot is some of the most beautiful black and white photography you will see in a modern movie) and looks at things you wouldn’t expect—Curtis stifling home life for example. I love this post-punk era in English rock and felt this was pretty faithful and an interesting document to that era.

9/ Hotel Chevalier/The Darjeeling Limited (USA). This was a pleasant surprise as I haven’t been a member of the Wes Anderson “cult” the last few films of his. Always superbly crafted, Anderson’s films never hit me on an emotional level—lots of style, no substance. This is still a very stylish, obsessed with design movie but I really enjoyed the story about three brothers who meet up to ride a train in India together to connect in some way. Watch the short Hotel Chevalier first if you can—it’s a related piece that will add to your enjoyment of The Darjeeling Limited.

8/ Rescue Dawn (USA). German eccentric (and completely engrossing) Werner Herzog remakes his documentary Little Dieter Needs to Fly as a Hollywood P.O.W. film. Well, it’s as Hollywood as you could expect from a director like Herzog. Rescue Dawn is a raw, intense, thrilling, beautiful war film about American prisoners in a Vietnam prison camp with Christian Bale and Steve Zahn undergoing various deprivations to make the film more authentic. Great stuff from Herzog.

7/ Knocked Up (USA). Judd Apatow had a banner year in American comedy between this and his production/mentoring on Superbad. I preferred Knocked Up of the two because there was a little more character development instead of just a flurry of crude jokes. Sure, Knocked Up has its share of that but it’s also got that sweet, romantic element that Apatow has tapped into.

6/ Eastern Promises (Canada). David Cronenberg’s latest is a dark, gripping drama set around the Russian mafia as Viggo Mortenson plays a street tough with a tender spot for a mid wife despite his dealings with ruthless men around him. This film has one of the all-time fight scenes in movie history as Viggo takes on a couple of guys in the nude in a bathhouse. Brutal. Cronenberg makes these lean, spare, no nonsense films where he’s completely in control of everything on screen and Eastern Promises is another in a long line of good movies from him.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

February movies

The Savages...2007...usa ****
The Valley of Decision...1945...usa ****
Cafe Lumiere...2003...japan ***1/2
Starting Out In the Evening...2007...usa ***1/2
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly...2007...france ****
2 Days In Paris...2007...france ****
King Corn...2007...usa ***
Bruce Goff In the Desert...2003...germany ***1/2
The Walker...2007...usa ***
Definately, Maybe...2008...usa ***
The Beach...2000...england **
This is England...2007...england ****
The Awful Truth...1937...usa *****!
Brown Sugar...2002...usa ***
Be Kind Rewind...2007...usa or france... ***
The Valet...2006...france ***
House Calls...1978...usa ***
Heathers...1989...usa ****