Saturday, January 09, 2010

The Top Films of the Decade - #10-1!

10. L’Auberge Espagnole – 2002 – Cedric Klapisch
Romain Duris stars in this wonderful movie as Xavier, a 24 year old Frenchman, who leaves all he knows behind to enter the Erasmus programme in Barcelona, a college prerequisite for a job with the French government. After arriving, Xavier manages to find an apartment with roommates from all around Europe, including England, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Denmark. The international group grows to become good friends and they start to learn a lot about each other, their cultures, and what life in the new millennium is all about. Cedric Kaplisch weaves this film with a magic energy, and a melancholy touch. I was wrapped up in the apartment’s world beat, and I felt like I was their roommate, too. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Audrey Tautou is in the film as the girlfriend Xavier left behind in France… moron. All I know is that no matter how many times I watch it, the film still manages to excite, entertain and teach me something.

9. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – 2000 – Ang Lee
Beautiful, magic, lyrical, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” is in a class by itself. The artistry involved on every level is mind blowing and Yuen Woo-Ping’s choreography is like no other. The word “masterpiece” is bandied about a lot, but I think this film truly deserves to be called one. There are so many things I could say about it, but I will just stop and let the film speak for itself.

8. The New World – 2005 – Terrence Malick
What can I say about this movie? I think Ted said it best, “There are few times when you leave a movie theater thinking you have just witnessed a transcendent work of art.” I will never forget this movie experience, opening day, Christmas day, 2005. I took my Mother to the Arclight Cinemas and we ended up sitting in the second row of one of theatre’s larger blackbox theatres. It was the much longer Director’s cut of the film (only in theatres for that week long run) and from the first frame; I was transfixed on the screen that loomed large in front of me. It was total immersion in this beautiful work, no one else around me even registered. It was something so honest; the quiet purity of love, the essence of who people really are… this film is nothing short of brilliant.

7. Pride and Prejudice – 2005 – Joe Wright
I love Jane Austen, England and Keira Knightly, so the convergence of all three could only have one outcome in my mind, magic. I could write about why I love this film, why I think it is a remarkably tender, and lovely, but I won’t. Instead, I would ask you to watch the film, and when you come to the scene at the 25th minute, specifically 25:08 to 25:24, you will see just why I love it.

6. About a Boy – 2002 – Paul and Chris Weitz

I just watched this again a few weeks ago and it is still something special. Hugh Grant gives the performance of his career in Nick Hornby’s brilliant tale of a man who is his own island. I have to say I was a bit worried that a book like this would be entrusted to the directors of American Pie, but they certainly blew me away. It is a wonderfully crafted film, with a delicate, melancholy tone, which draws you in and doesn’t let go. You constantly feel heartbreak for Marcus, and you cheer for him to find some sort of happiness in his bleak world. Grant’s “Will” is equally heartbreaking and ultimately triumphant. It is a truly wonderful movie and is one of the best English films made in any decade.

5. 24 Hour Party People – 2002 – Michael Winterbottom
“Most of all, I love Manchester. The crumbling warehouses, the railway arches, the cheap abundant drugs. That's what did it in the end. Not the money, not the music, not even the guns. That is my heroic flaw: my excess of civic pride.” This is exactly how I feel and there will never be a time when I don’t. Manchester and Factory records are at the core of who I am and there was no way this film wasn’t going to be one of my favorites. They even give screen time to “A Certain Ration!” It is a brilliant, buoyant portrait of the place I think is nearer to heaven than any on Earth.

4. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy – 2004 – Adam Mckay
Not a day passes that I don’t speak to people in Ron Burgandy’s voice. Just today, I told someone that my apartment smelled of rich mahogany. This is one of the greatest comedies of all time, up there with the likes of “Caddyshack” and “Animal House.” There isn’t a bad performance in it and no matter how much I watch it, I find something new to laugh at. “Hello, Wes Mantooth…”

3. Honey and Clover – 2006 – Masahiro Takada
Based on the Manga by Chika Umino, “Honey and Clover” is a tender, lovely little movie that follows the exploits of a group of friends at a Tokyo art college. I don’t why, but this movie hit me like a ton of bricks when I saw it. It was so lovely, so innocent, so touching, I just felt like I had changed after watching it. It made me want to do things better in life, it made me want to feel, it just filled me with inspiration and love. Yu Aoi is brilliant in the role of Hagu, a wunderkind artist, and Ryo Kase is amazing as Mayama, an architecture student, who has a stalker-esque fascination with the boss at his internship. I just think you need to experience watching it, letting it find its place in your heart as it did mine.

2. Lost in Translation – 2003 – Sofia Coppola
There is a sense of quiet loneliness in this film that speaks to me, that makes me feel at ease. It is hard to explain how personal and affecting it is for me, so my comments on it will be ever so brief. I wish you could just plug into my mind and feel the way I did coming back from Japan, watching it on the plane. The lights in the plane were out while everyone slept, but I was wide-awake and on the verge of tears. I wanted to go back, I wanted to stay there forever. I felt akin to the characters in the film, which seemed to share the same wish to stay in that small window of happiness. I guess that isn’t so brief…

1. Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain – 2001 – Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Audrey Tautou is amazing in this magic movie about life, love, and embracing your dreams. Jean-Pierre Jeunet does a remarkable job creating a film of visual bravado that never ceases to inspire and excite. He is a true master. I just smile incessantly every single time I watch this movie. I especially love the way she asks for Nino at the adult shop, so cute and amazing. You should just watch the film if you haven’t seen it… it will change your world as it did mine.

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