Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Top Films of the Decade - #45-41...

45. Tellement Proches – 2009 – Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano
One of the things I look forward to every year is the COLCOA film festival held at the DGA in Los Angeles. This yearly celebration of French cinema has screened some of the best films I’ve seen and I really have my friend, Ted, to thank for showing me the way. A few years back we attended an incredible film that will be discussed later in this list and it was my first exposure to the work of directing team Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano. Well, this year’s festival saw them return with a film of true inspiration. It is a warm, hilarious tale of a modern family and the length people are willing to go to in order to find any form of happiness. The saddest part for me is that this, like their earlier work, will never find a release in America. All I can say is thank you to modern technology for Amazon Canada and France.

44. Gladiator – 2000 – Ridley Scott
Sword and Sandal fans rejoiced as “Gladiator” ushered in a new age of epic filmmaking at the cinema. I think Ridley Scott rejoiced, too, seeing as how this film put him back on top and gave him his first Best Picture OSCAR®. Russell Crowe is brilliant in the role of Maximus, the heroic and tragic Roman (though he was playing Spanish) General turned slave and gladiator. I really think this might be the most influential film of the decade, changing the way most modern action films are shot, scored and marketed. “What we do in life echoes in eternity!” It is one of cinema’s most memorable lines and will live on into eternity.

43. Ma Vie en L’air (My Life in the Air) – 2005 – Remi Bezancon
This is yet another gem unearthed from a memorable day at the COLCOA festival in 2006. It is a brilliant, tender, and funny film featuring standout performances from Marion Cotillard and Vincent Elbaz. I can’t say much more about this movie other than it features Marion Cotillard in a Chinese dress. Lucky for all of us it is available on DVD with English subtitles on Amazon Canada.

42. There Will Be Blood – 2008 – Paul Thomas Anderson
Daniel Day Lewis’ mesmerizing performance is what defines this movie and makes it a true classic. I sat in awe from the opening scene of the film, sucked completely into the world of Daniel Plainview, a man so driven, he crawled with a broken leg from the middle of nowhere to a town just to cash in a deposit of gold. I think it is the best performance of the decade and deserving of all the plaudits it received.

41. Downfall (Der Untergang) – 2004 – Oliver Hirschbiegel
It is a tough thing depicting Adolf Hitler as a man, but “Downfall” somehow manages to do it. Exploring the final ten days of Hitler’s life in his bunker, the film is powerful, harrowing and utterly gripping. Bruno Ganz is staggering in his portrayal of the world’s worst person, giving him dimensionality rarely seen before. You don’t sympathize with Hitler (something critics of the film were worried about), but rather you see him as a deeply psychotic man who would be sweet and caring to a pretty, young nurse or a dog, and then turn around to order the murder of millions in the name of purity. It is an unforgettable film and one of the finest of the WWII genre.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Top Films of the Decade - #50-46...

Here is a look into my choices of what I think are the fifty best films of a 00's.

50. Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift – 2006 – Justin Lin
I know what you are thinking, really, Tokyo Drift?! Well, I guess this is what makes this my list. For all of the bad acting, generic (and fantastic) plotting, crazy car stunts, fake Tokyo locations and horrible rap songs, Tokyo Drift is pure escapist entertainment. I think I watched it over thirty times on cable TV and would gladly watch it thirty more! This line of dialog sums up the whole film, “Drift? What’s drift mean?” Now apply a Tennessee accent over that and we are in business!

49. The Departed – 2006 – Martin Scorsese
“NO TICKY, NO LAUNDRY!“ This film has it all, Boston accents, Alec Baldwin’s underarm sweat, a love scene with one of cinema’s most hideous leading ladies… what a movie. Like “Tokyo Drift,” I have watched this a million times on cable and it never gets dull. I think it is easily one of the decade’s most quotable films, “…lace curtain mother fucker.”

48. Don’t Laugh At My Romance (Hito no sekkusu o warauna) – 2008 – Nami Iguchi
This little comic gem is just the kind of treasure that the Japanese cinema produced this last decade. It is a funny and tender tale of a 19-year-old college student (Misrume) who falls in love with his 40-year-old professor (Yuri) only to find that she is already married and leading another life. There are wonderful, personal performances in the film, none being better than that of Aoi Yu’s “En-Chan.” She is amazing and continues to solidify her place as Japan’s most promising young actress. I highly recommend the film if you can find it on DVD.

47. Election (Hak se Wui) – 2005 – Johnnie To
Johnny To’s taught, cerebral thriller was just the shot in the arm the Hong Kong film industry needed. In 1997, Britain returned Hong Kong to Chinese rule and the fallout heralded the death of the HK film industry. Gone were the bullet happy, action centric opuses of pioneers like Tsui Hark and John Woo, many of them coming to America to ply their trade and escape the Chinese censors. Then suddenly, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the middle of the decade saw the birth of a new era in HK cinema with this film among those at the forefront. Officially selected at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005, Election tells the tale of Chinese Triad members as they jockey for position once it is decided that a new leader will be elected. It is both cerebral and thrilling, and is truly original.

46. Sunshine – 2007 – Danny Boyle
Rarely would I put a movie with such a calamitous final third into the top 50 of anything, but this film deserves it for so many other things. It is such a brilliantly crafted film with outstanding effects, soundtrack, photography, production design, and acting. Everything is so good in the first 2/3 of the film, you can’t help, but wonder how much higher it would have placed on this list had the ending been better. That being said, I hope you check it out on DVD or Blu Ray.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Top Movies of 2009 - #10 - The Shonen Merikensack

Coming in at #10 this year is Japanese director Kankuro Kudo's comedy, "The Shonen Merikensack" which Roughly translated means, "The Brass Knuckle Kids."

It is the story of a record company office worker named Kanna (Aoi Miyazaki) who discovers a punk rock band called Shonen Meriken Sakku (Brass Knuckle Boys) through the internet and subsequently decides to represent them on behalf of her company. What Kanna did not know was that the Brass Knuckle Boys consists of all middle aged men.

This film is yet to be released in America, but the DVD and region free Blu Ray can be found on websites like Amazon JP, and CDJapan.

Top Ten Movies of the Year!

Being that it is the end of the year, and I love to make lists, I thought I would start off with counting down my favorite films and records for 2009. Each number will be presented leading up to the #1 choices. I will also be doing a deluxe best of the decade list for film and music as well, so be on the lookout over the next few weeks.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Christmas Carol

Today is the anniversary of the first pressing of A Christmas Carol...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

On This Day In 1653...

Oliver Cromwell became the Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland.

Monday, December 14, 2009

iLL - Kiss

Japanese band "iLL" returned for their third studio album this summer and produced what I think is the video of the year. This single, the first from the new LP, "Force", is one continuous shot, and just a wee bit naughty.

A New Beginning!

My blog has returned and will not rise like the phoenix from the ashes.