Thursday, April 14, 2011

Good Ol' 2008

Welcome back, Jason. I love seeing new posts from everyone. Film club is always an exciting spark in my otherwise uneventful day.

The title is the absolute hardest part of film club. And for anything else either. I can never think of good song titles, or good story titles, or good poem titles, and so on.

I wish I owned Twin Peaks on DVD. S
uch a great show. Ben and Lisa, what do you think of the prequel film? I remember not liking it at all when I saw it and was disappointed (like a lot of people). A friend of mine recently watched the series and then the movie for the first time and she said she loved the movie. But she’s also a bigger hipster than I am and considers David Lynch above reproach.

Ben, I study English at BU, though you probably wouldn’t know it by the slapdash way I write my posts.

I can’t think of any good top 10 lists. But off the top of my head, you could always do top 10 films you really like but feel like you shouldn’t like (guilty pleasures). Or top 10 underrated films (maybe you’ve already done this). Or top 10 movies set in space. Or top 10 haunted house movies.

For me, I thought I should really try to finish posting my top 10 lists for the 2000s. Now, I am up to 2008, which was a pretty great year for movies. I think ‘07-’08 was a terrific two-year span for cinema in general. It’s hard to believe some of these flicks came out three years ago now. It’s almost nauseating. Soon enough three will turn into thirty.

1. Synecdoche, NY (Charlie Kaufman)- One of my favorites of the last decade at the very least. I rank it just behind There Will Be Blood as the best of the decade. I think Roger Ebert and I are the only people who regard it as highly as we do (though my brother Chris is also an enormous fan). I’ll do a longer write up post on this because I have a lot to say on it. It truly is a masterpiece, and a culmination of Charlie Kaufman’s career. And it’s his directorial debut! John, I know from your debate with Brandon that you are not a fan of Kaufman. I can understand your dislike, but I earnestly think he is brilliant and deserves all the accolades and interest he receives.

2. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan) - I think it’s a miracle that this movie even exists. As a Batman fan, I always dreamed of someone making a movie that had a Long Halloween feel to it. And I always dreamed that someone would put a truly definitive Joker on screen. With The Dark Knight, I got both and it’s still seems like a miracle to me. As a Batman tale, I think this thing is awesome. But it also works as a great crime film. It’s extremely ambitious. Sometimes it falters under its own weight, but mostly it soars. I can look past some of the problems I have with it and just appreciate the fact that it exists. Bring on part three!

3. Tell No One (Guillaume Canet)- I know this came out in 2006 elsewhere, but we didn’t get it in America until 2008, so I’m going by that (I will never have consistency with my release years). This is an awesome thriller. It just works so well and is tremendously exciting. I watched it with an ex-girlfriend and her roommate and we were all floored by it. Brilliantly executed movie that absorbs you completely.

4. The Class (Laurent Cantet) - A must for any teachers out there. When I lived in Brooklyn for a brief time, I was initially going to school to become a high school English teacher. I observed in tons of schools around Brooklyn, and most of my teaching was centered around working with inner city children with incredibly diverse backgrounds. You always have that sort of Stand and Deliver or Freedom Writers idealistic attitude about teaching in inner city schools. You really think you can make a difference. But sometimes your dreams hit cold, hard reality and you realize that that isn’t always the case. This film is a brilliant look at the difficulty of teaching in an inner city school (Half Nelson is another great example). It is incredibly realistic and without a shred of schmaltz or idealization. It’s fascinating, exciting, and absolutely frustrating. The teacher isn’t a hero changing lives; at times he is downright idiotic. You watch him and can almost visualize how you would try to do differently. It’s a great lesson in teaching. And an engrossing film.

5. WALL-E (Andrew Stanton) - What a beautiful, little movie. It makes me so happy to watch. The slap-sticky montage when WALL-E is trying to get EVE to notice him is one of my favorite things in recent film history. This film has a big heart, and it’s incredibly intelligent and creative. Can't wait to show this to my kids some day.

6. The Fall (Tarsem)- Absolutely astonishing to look at. Just straight up dazzling and almost bewildering. Ebert said you should see it just for the simple fact that it exists. I agree (2008 must have been the year of love between me and Roger). I personally like the story itself. I think the film is magical, whimsical, and sad at times, but it is consistently beautiful to watch. The visuals carry the film on their own. The mapping of Father Augustine’s face onto the landscape is one of the most beautiful and amazing jump cuts I’ve ever seen.

7. Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson) - haha Sorry John. No need to mine the debate between you and Brandon. I pretty much agree with everything Brandon said. It’s a awesome movie. I haven’t seen the remake and have no desire to.

8. Milk (Gus van Sant)- A really good movie featuring Sean Penn at the peak of his powers. He’s so committed to being Harvey Milk it’s almost uncanny. Insanely charming and charismatic. And the movie is well done. Everything works in it. It’s still an important film considering the pervasive homophobic sentiment plaguing this country. It should be seen.

Revolutionary Road (Sam Mendes)- As an acting spectacle, this is about as good as it gets. Leo and Kate are tremendous, almost exhaustively good. And Michael Shannon kills it every scene he’s in. This would make a great and depressing double date feature with Blue Valentine.

10. Ballast (Lance Hammer) - A quiet, meditative film with a latent power that sort of creeps up on you. Double feature this with Winter’s Bone for a nice, bleak look into South Mid-Western poverty.

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