Jason, you’re right. The sounds of The New World are brilliant, beautiful, and they add to the film’s power. I don’t know if you’d get a better or worse experience watching the film silently, it would just be a different experience. I think saying it could work as a silent film is just a testament to how well Malick communicates through images. He’s a master at it. But, I agree, the sound contributes to making the movie hypnotic and I wouldn’t do without it.
Also, thanks for posting the link to your music listening blog. I love music and am always looking for new stuff to get into. Feel free to bring up music anytime on here too.
Speaking of music, John, glad you like New Morning. It’s a really pleasant album that I always equate with spring and usually bust out around this time of year.
To finish my list:
6. Match Point (Allen)
A lot of you probably think this is overrated, and perhaps it is. But, for me, anytime Woody does a movie with this much dexterity I’m thrilled. I love Woody Allen, and probably enjoy more movies by him than anyone ever should. This one is basically a retelling of Crimes and Misdemeanors (a great film in its own right), which was basically a retelling of Crime and Punishment. I love that novel, and certainly Woody does too. I don’t find it tired for him to repeatedly explore its themes. The man is fascinated by its moral conundrums and brilliant psychology, and I can respect him for that because I feel the same way. As much as I love Dostoevsky’s novel, I do also love that Woody takes the punishment aspect away. The guilt is there (perhaps its own punishment), but the punishment descending from some higher authority is absent. It’s crime and the absence of punishment in a potentially godless, unjust, indifferent universe. Say what you will about this movie or Woody Allen, but I will always be there to stick up for it and him as a filmmaker.
7. Capote (Miller)
This a cold, muted film that makes you feel the way it looks. It’s unsettling but effective. It worked on me at least. Biopics can be terrible when they try to do too much. This one works for limiting its scope and obviously for its incredible acting by Hoffman. In Cold Blood is beautifully written and contains some sentences that are so well constructed they made my jaw drop. I love literature and am fascinated by writers. Perhaps that was why I was so interested in this.
8. The Beat that My Heart Skipped (Audiard)
I wish I could play the piano. It’s a beautiful instrument. I’ve tried and failed on several occasions to teach myself. I have promised myself lessons some day when I have the financial stability to afford them. For me, it has an appeal like no other instrument.
This is a remake of a film called Fingers that I haven’t seen. I love the idea of being pulled between a life of crime and a life of piano playing. It seems almost comedic as a premise. But it reveals an important theme about overcoming the way you’ve been taught to be and becoming your own person. It’s something everyone should be encouraged to do. Explore the things you are passionate about and dig them no matter what you’re being told otherwise. This a film that is interested in that idea, but it has this great ambivalent ending that leaves you wondering whether it is truly possible to break out of the way you’ve been molded for so long. Audiard is clearly fascinated by American crime films.
9. A History of Violence (Cronenberg)
This falls a bit low because I don’t remember it well enough. I had it in my original list that I made a few years ago, so I kept it in because I at least remember thinking it was awesome. I’ll have to see again before I give it a proper evaluation. I’m not a huge Cronenberg fan. I wasn’t really interested in him until I saw this and Eastern Promises. I remember being 16 and thinking I had to like him because he was one of those great subversive weirdos like David Lynch. Lynch appealed to me, but it never stuck with Cronenberg. I have a different appreciation for him now. Anyone else excited for his movie about Freud and Jung?
10. Good Night and Good Luck (Clooney)
Dammit, this one falls low for the same reason as AHOV. I really have to see it again. I remember being very impressed and aware of its importance. Clooney made a fine film about a crucial moment in American history. Its themes still resonate today. I seem to bring up All the President’s Men a lot, but seriously it bears favorable comparison. Two exciting movies about standing up to corruption and unbridled political authority. They mean a whole lot in this day and age of media complacency and uniform acquiescence.
These last two could climb; I just need to see ‘em again. I do not doubt there potential to be great when seen by older, hopefully wiser Jeff. I really liked them when I saw them and put them on my list at the time. Is it wrong to keep them on there when I haven’t seen them in so long? I don’t think so. I trust my younger self for some things.