Saturday, August 15, 2009

2009 so far

As the summer movie season winds down (although some anticipated films remain this month, mainly Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds, Miyazaki's Ponyo and Chan Wook Park's Thist) and the more serious fall season begins, I figured it was time to look back at the year in film so far. This will also sort of make up for how lazy I've been with this thing all summer. I haven't seen as many films as I would have liked so far this year (somewhere around 25), and I still haven't gotten to many highly regarded releases, including Tetro and The Hurt Locker, but here's what I have seen.
Top 10 (yes, some of these, including the top two, are technically 2008 releases, but they weren't released anywhere near me until 2009 and I don't really care about that sort of thing
1. Hunger
A masterpiece where every motion is absolutely necessary and every little tic says something new about the characters and their situation. The long conversation in the middle is a stunning centerpiece and acts as the highlight of Michael Fassbender's masterful performance, but Steve McQueen's stunning debut has no weak moments.
2. Revanche
Gotz Spielmann's immaculately shot noirish drama features great performances from it's entire cast as the tension continues to rise until the properly ambiguous ending.
3. In The Loop
Simply put, this is the funniest film of the year and one of the funniest of the decade.
4. Tokyo
I think somewhat higher of this one now than I did at first, especially the section directed by Leos Carax. It seems funnier and more poignant having actually seen one of his features (the great Lovers On The Bridge). The other segments are also very strong.
5. 500 Days Of Summer
I normally hate romantic comedies and I have it this high. That should mean something to you.
6. The Limits Of Control
Jim Jarmusch's stunningly beautiful (courtesy of the great cinematographer Christopher Doyle), critically misunderstood film may go down as one of his finest.
7. Star Trek
Sure the plot is nonsense and the villain is weak, but I don't think I've had more fun at a movie this year
8. Watchmen (Directors Cut Only)
The theatrical cut of the film wasn't necessarily bad, but the characters really weren't as developed as they could have been and the editing seemed off. The director's cut, which adds 24 minutes of footage, almost entirely in early character moments, fixes a lot of this. Malin Akerman and Mathew Goode are still pretty bad, the music choices are still laughable and Snyder still can't create a good action sequences, but more of the comic is here, and that is necessary.
9. Moon
Duncan Jones' debut may try a bit too hard to emulate 2001 and Solaris, but this leads to some great visuals and a morally interesting tale anchored by Sam Rockwell's great performance.
10. District 9
The sudden and unexplained shift away from the documentary style of the first half is a problem, as the second half becomes more of a simple action movie (I understand that it was necessary for plot reasons, but if the first half was written that way, they should have kept it going), but it is a damn good action movie, so for now it makes the list.
HM: Adventureland, Brothers Bloom, Up, Bruno, Sin Nombre

Bottom 5
5. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
While it is not the worst film in the series, David Yates' second entry takes one of the better books and turns it into something that is, ultimately, too dull to work on its own.
4. Taken
I know that this sleeper hit isn't exactly the type of film designed for me, but I find it somewhat depressing that this type of film is designed for anyone.
3. Public Enemies
I have to give Mann credit for trying something different, but I just don't think it succeeds. The script tries too hard to both romanticize and humanize Dillinger, never giving us anything resembling a full character. Like Heat, he tries to create a full criminal world, but, for one reason or another, it just doesn't work this time (the lack of De Niro and Pacino in the main roles of course being one of those reasons). The photo-realist, docudrama style also prevents it from reaching the stylistic level of his best film shot in digital, Collateral.
2. Angels and Demons
I don't like Ron Howard. I don't like Dan Brown. If I had paid for this one (the projector in the movie I meant to see was broken, so we got free tickets to this one), I would have been even angrier.
1. Wolverine
My original opinion still stands. This film is completely worthless. It provides nothing new about the character except a series of shockingly dull action set pieces.
There were a lot of simply mediocre films I've seen this year, but none that really deserved to be here

1 comment:

doctordocumentary said...

I like your list, gave me a few good ideas of things to track down, like Revanche. I wonder what you would think of "Dai-Nihonjin" (aka Big Man Japan) - it kinds of fits the superhero/bizarro theme yet anchored by a slow/hilarious character development... "Special" was surprisingly good, too. Cheers!