Wednesday, December 23, 2009

YMD and Friends Film Bonanza part 1

It's just about time to kick off our first decennial compendium of film wisdom. If you don't have your picks in yet, don't you worry (just keep on writing). Again, I'll be revealing our friends' lists slowly throughout the next few days, giving them each a chance to shine at the top of the page.

We start with the first person to send in his ballot, frequent (relative to people not named Maciej) YMD contributor and cat enthusiast Matt McDonough. You can find Matty in various bars throughout the city and you can find his wonderful photography here. Anyways, take it away Matt:

10. 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days (4 luni, 3 saptamâni si 2 zile) dir. Cristian Mungiu (2008)
It's an old photographic technique to obscure your subject, only photographing someone from the eyes up, or the ankles down, throwing something out of focus, or focusing on something that is of little relevance to the subject, with the subject slightly behind or askew, falling out of focal range. That's why I was so surprised after seeing this Romanian movie about an abortion that no one had ever employed this trick for an entire movie. It doubles the suspense of this already incredibly tense film, making watching it an exercise in holding your breath. 

9. Gosford Park dir. Robert Altman (2001)
To the person who stole this from me in Hughes Hall during my freshman year of college: YOU ARE THE SECOND WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD (next to, of course, the asshole who stole my "Save Mary Kate" shirt out of the laundry room sophomore year). Did you enjoy Maggie Smith and Helen Mirren? Do you even know who they are? Something makes me think that people who steal shit out of other peoples dorm rooms don't normally enjoy ensemble period piece mystery comedies by Robert Altman. But maybe you did, in which case you are a thief with good taste. That being said, I hope you get cancer.

8. American Psycho dir. Mary Harron (2000)
It was on a beach in Cape Cod where I had a major realization about life. "I don't have to finish a book if I really don't like it." I then put down American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis for seven years. I finished it eventually, but truth be told, I like the movie a lot more.

7. Bloody Sunday dir. Paul Greengrass (2002)
United 93 might actually be Greengrass' better film, I'm not sure, but Bloody Sunday made me cry. And there are only a few movies that have, I assure you. The "This watch! This Car!" scene in Schindler's List, Julianne Moore in Boogie Nights, when Rosie O'Donnell stops being Michelle Trachtenberg's nanny in Harriet the Spy, and the end of this movie, that's pretty much it. 

6. Capturing the Friedmans dir. Andrew Jarecki (2003)
I'm a huge Errol Morris Geek, so putting this up instead of The Fog of War or Standard Operating Procedure was hard, to say the least. But documentary filmmaking too often panders to people who wouldn't ordinarily see documentaries (fuck you, penguins!), and what ends up suffering is the storytelling. Capturing the Friedmans is documentary filmmaking in the classic tradition, with the most perfect narrative arc I've ever seen in a film of its kind.

5. Pan's Labyrinth (El laberinto del fauno) dir. Guillermo del Toro (2006)
DUHHHHHH. (Note: I wrote my thesis on this, I'm done talking about it). 

4. The Royal Tenenbaums dir. Wes Anderson (2001)
A friend recently said this film was "comfort food." That is a perfect description of how happy it makes me feel.

3. Talk To Her (Hable con ella) dir. Pedro Almodóvar (2002)
Picking my favorite Almodovar movie of the decade is definitely harder than picking a favorite child (there's always one, be serious…says the only child). Volver was close, Bad Education was closer, but I think I'm going to have to go with this semi-necrophiliac love story about bullfighting and sponge-baths. 

2. The Piano Teacher (La pianiste) dir. Michael Haneke (2002)
I keep seeing Cache on these lists, and while it would certainly be included in my top 50, I have to wonder where the love for this movie has gone. Isabelle Huppert gives arguably the best performance of the 00s in a role that no actress in her right mind would ever agree to, never mind someone of Ms. Huppert's esteem. She plays an uptight, middle-aged piano teacher who lives with her mother, and engages in sadomasochistic activities with her students. Somehow this is director Michael Haneke's most relatable character ever, which not only says something about Huppert's performance, but of Haneke's filmmaking (although I'm a fan). 

1. Mulholland Drive dir. David Lynch (2001)
As I'm want to do, let me include a little story with my number one choice. The time is Fall, 2001. The place: Arlington, Virginia. I'm a 17 year old Matty (same dude, no beard), living on my own for the first time for an exciting job with the Teamsters. My dad comes down from Connecticut to drive me to my SATs and as it would happen, mapquest hasn't taken into account the events of September 11th a few weeks prior, and wouldn't you know, roads around the Pentagon have changed. Well. Fuck me. So, to calm my frantic nerves ("THANKS, MAPQUEST AND TERRORISTS, I WILL HAVE TO WORK FOR THE TEAMSTERS UNTIL I DIE.") my loving father decides to take me to see the new David Lynch movie. Two and a half hours go by and we leave, in a daze. "Did you like it?" he asks me. "NO, BECAUSE I WILL HATE EVERYTHING TODAY" (paraphrased) I reply. We then the next four (no exaggeration) hours discussing the movie we had just seen, both realizing during that time, that we absolutely loved every minute of it.  This movie requires no explanation, it should only encourage discussion. 

Thank you, Matty. I will post the next list tomorrow morning. Whoever will it be?

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