Sunday, March 4, 2007

With that in mind...

I don't have the time or the inclination to write about every movie I see (or book I read) and when I do choose to post about one, it's usually because it provoked what for me at least is an interesting question. I'm not sure how clear this is from the posts themselves, but, for instance, these comments on Little Miss Sunshine were inspired by the idea that sometimes an excess of hype can spoil the experience of watching a "little" movie and when I wrote about The Queen I was really interested in the way our own take on a historical event colors our experience of watching a movie based on that event.

This means that I end up seeing quite a few movies that I like and would definitely recommend, but that I don't feel inspired to blog about. (I'm not a reviewer, after all.) Not that I don't have anything to say about these movies or that I wouldn't be happy to engage in a conversation about them: they just didn't spark the kind of internal conservation that turns into one of these posts.

That's one of the reasons I like doing lists like these: I can name off a bunch of movies I like, but I only need to comment about the ones that move me to comment. With that in mind, here's my Top Ten list for last year's movies. Note that like all these lists, it's a work in progress. I haven't had a chance yet to see, for example, Shortbus or Letters from Iwo Jima or Dreamgirls or Inland Empire, but I did end up seeing about half as many movies as my professional film critic friend. I have two purposes in posting this here: (1) these are all movies I'd recommend (with some qualifications and reservations depending on who I was recommending them to) and (2) these are all movies that I'd be interested in chatting about.

1. Neil Young: Heart of Gold

2. Heading South

3. United 93

4. The Proposition

5. The Descent

6. A Prairie Home Companion

7. The Prestige

8. The Science of Sleep

9. Children of Men

10. Something New

And I also liked: A Scanner Darkly, The Great Yokai War, Inside Man, Venus, Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, The Queen, Slither, For Your Consideration, The Departed, and Idiocracy.

My take: There are a few movies here that I do have more to say about (The Science of Sleep, Heading South, and The Descent), so I'll save my comments on them for later.

I kind of wish I did have something to say about The Prestige beyond that it was the best time I've had watching a big budget, Hollywood entertainment all year.

Children of Men would have been up closer to the top of the list, but I docked it a few places because of its incoherence.

My girlfriend didn't think Heart of Gold should have topped the list, because she said that "it was just a Neil Young concert." Well, I guess so. It's a great Neil Young concert and it's produced, staged, and filmed with lots of thought and skill, but if you don't, you know, like Neil Young it might not do all that much for you. I do like Neil Young and I really like his Prairie Wind album (where all the "new" songs in the movie come from). Regardless, it makes a great double bill with A Prairie Home Companion: I can't recommend watching them back-to-back highly enough.

The Great Yokai War is the only Takashi Miike movie I've ever recommended to my relatives.

I already wrote about Idiocracy, but, since I've seen it, my lukewarm response has heated up a little. When I first saw Office Space, in the theater on opening weekend, I didn't think too highly of it. I thought it had some funny parts, but that a lot of it didn't work. Of course, that was back when I was still in college. Since entering into the "real world" and actually working in an office, my appreciation for the film has grown by leaps and bounds. In the case of Idiocracy, the same thing is happening, but more quickly. Just about every morning there's some story on the Today show that makes me turn to my girlfriend and say in a disaster movie hysteric's voice: "Idiocracy is now!!!!"

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