My lists always reflect my personal preference. I do a combination of what I feel is the best and what is my favorite, but usually just go with my favorite. For instance, I have strong personal preference for The Motorcycle Diaries due to my interest in the subject matter, but is it the third best film of 2004? I have no idea. I’d say go with what you like the best. It’s honest that way.
Brandon, I thought you said great things about all the movies on your list and don’t have much too add or challenge. I’ll do my best though.
You should see Dig! It’s a lot of fun. As a musician and member of a band, you would probably enjoy it. And The Brian Jonestown Massacre is an awesome/fucked up/fascinating band.
Kill Bill Vol. 2 - I guess you’re right that it can stand on its own and proudly so. It is the better half. However, I really would like it to be one film. It was written and initially intended as such. I like the idea of a good old fashioned 3+ hour epic revenge western/samurai/action film. I think the epicness (yep that's a word) and boldness of it being one film would have knocked my socks off. Anyway, that’s my lousy reasoning. I don’t think you are wrong to have it at number 1. Looking at your old list in the archives, you had it much lower. Perhaps I need to revisit it too and see if it rises for me as well. I’m all for changing lists at any point and for any reason.
The Motorcycle Diaries - This is a coming of age story, but one that doesn’t make you feel the loss of childhood as much as it makes you appreciate the type of consciousness that can come with adulthood. It’s a little like Kerouac’s On the Road in that it begins with the wildness of youth as a foundation for adventure and travel. On the Road as a manifesto for youth tries to resist the idea of adulthood, for with adulthood comes the idea of settling down somewhere and embracing a conventional, stable life. It’s a nomadic book that celebrates youth as much as it pines for its loss. On the Road is tinged with a sadness for the passing of time and the idea of having to come of age. I’d say that TMD does not resist maturity or express much of a sadness for the loss of youth. Young Ernesto, basically a poet at heart, goes on a youthful adventure and develops a conscience for the existence of others. He is coming of age in that he is beginning to imagine the existence other people as subjects, which is even beyond just empathasizing. The ability to imagine other people as being subjects just like yourself is the saving grace of maturity and I think of humanity. The problem is that so many people, many adults included, have never actually realized that other people exist in the same way that they do. That’s why we have evil people who massacre kids at a summer camp. It’s a failure to imagine the existence of subjects beyond your own personal fucked up self–the othering of the world, the tyranny of solipsism. Guevara’s coming of age is the type of awareness of others that makes maturity worthwhile and humanity worthwhile. I often get down on humanity for being a disgusting, deleterious plague on the earth (especially when I hear about mass killings or think about factory farming). But only because I know it could be better. TMD is all about realizing your own potential to imagine and be conscious. It celebrates adulthood by redefining what it means to be an adult. Adulthood isn’t about settling down with kids and dressing poorly, but about this newfound awareness. But at the same time the film still appreciates that which is beautifully wild and youthful–the spirit of adventure. I really couldn’t give a fuck less how critics attacked this film. I love the book and thought this was a very fine adaptation and stand alone film in its own right.
Okay, rant over. On to more stuff.
I really love Eastwood as an actor, but am mostly uninterested in him as a director. I like his westerns (Outlaw Josey Wales, High Plains Drifter, Unforgiven, etc.) because he was raised on classic westerns, and it shows in them. Beyond that, I don’t get much out of his films, and I don’t think he has much of a style (sorry). Not that he’s a bad director by any means. He’s perfectly capable as a director, but I wouldn’t consider him a master my any means (now there’s some debate fodder). I would still be interested in seeing Million Dollar Baby though and maybe someday I will. I trust your opinion on this one.
I really would love to see House of Flying Daggers again. I guarantee it would rise on my list. You say it is worthy of Kurosawa or Mizoguchi. I haven’t seen it recently enough to agree or disagree with that statement However, if you believe this is so, why is it only at 7 on your list? I think that should make it skyrocket.
I like The Life Aquatic the best because I think it’s his funniest film. It’s so deadpan and dry, and Bill Murray is given ample space to flaunt his terrific aloof persona. I am interested in Wes Anderson as a comedic writer/director first and foremost. The visual detail and general quirkiness is just a bonus for me.
I loved getting pulled back and forth by Bad Education because I always felt that Almodovar was in complete control. The complexity of the storyline and the complexity of the characters make it pretty dazzling, I’d say. It’s Almodovar digging deep into his love for cinema, particularly film noir here, and being unabashed about it. There’s not a lot to pick my brain about here. I am a big fan of complex mysteries and throwbacks to older noirs. I appreciate gritty filmmaking that isn’t afraid to handle big issues, and I dig the hell out of Gael Garcia Bernal. I should really watch this film again. It would probably rise in my list as well, and I’d have more specific points to make about it.
I haven’t seen Crimson Gold or The Dreamers. I know of Bertolucci’s film, and was interested in seeing it at one point, especially due to the presence of the great Michael Pitt. But it never panned out. I’ll try to see it in the future.
I spent the entirety of Collateral making out with a band groupie in a theater in Corning. I actually wanted to see it. I like Michael Mann. Oh well.
Okay, Brandon, The Brown Bunny was heavily shit upon by critics, so I hate to join in with them. I remember wanting to see it and wanting to like it for the reason that it was so hated. I even saw it at a time when I was interested in anything strange or rebellious (a la Gaspar Noe). However, I found it to be dreadful bullshit wankery even at 16.
I had no real problem with the blowjob or the unconventional style of the film. But I thought it had a dubious sense of artistic merit. I should see it again though. Perhaps I’d feel differently and more rebellious now? I’m curious for your defense of this one. I think Vincent Gallo’s gonna find this post and come after me.
I do like A Very Long Engagment. Give me Audrey Tautou eye candy any day.
I do think Anchorman is funny. Will Ferell’s shtick wasn’t that old then.
Garden state is probably cool to hate. I liked it at the time, but feel mostly indifferent towards it now.
I didn’t see We Don’t Live Here Anymore, but am a fan of all its actors. I should see it.
Primer is pretty okay. I wanted to really like it, but I don’t think it did much for me. I appreciate its insistence on actual science/math reasoning, but would have liked some real actors. Sorry, my bias against indie films is shining through here. I’d like to see Carruth’s next film though, if it gets made.
Crash premiered at the TIFF in 2004 but didn’t receive an actual release in the US until May 2005. When it won an Oscar it won it for 2005, so I would consider it a 2005 film. With that being said, Crash is really cool to hate and really easy to hate. It’s garbage. It makes The Brown Bunny look like Citizen Kane haha.
I'm feeling pretty damn cool right about now. I'm gonna go re-read the entire Harry Potter series dressed up as my favorite character–Justin Finch-Fletchley.