Sunday, December 27, 2009

YMD and Friends Film Bonanza part 12

Starting off Sunday a little late, I'm gonna go ahead and post Ben Jones' list and relieve him of the stress of thinking about changing it. For those of you not familiar with Ben's work, he looks unforgettable in gold lamé. This will, I hope, be the first of his many film-related (and otherwise) contributions to this site. Take it away, Benny.

These are ten of my favorite movies from the 2000s. This was really hard to do and, no, I haven’t even seen City of God, Gladiator, or anything from the Dardenne Brothers.  Or Walking Tall.

10.  Secretary dir. Steven Shainberg (2002)
"Assume the position"

Distilled to a moment, Secretary isn't much more than a "Love is..." panel from the Sunday funnies.  And, sure, we're talking about "Love is never having to cut yourself anymore because you've found someone special who will spank you," but the doe-eyed sincerity and universal application is no doubt the same.  RomComs fought nobly to get on this list, but most of them just fall short, panicking to smooth out sharp wrinkles for a happy ending and ever patronizing strange love for laughs.  Secretary is the only that goes all the way though.  It is honest, un-P.C., and never treats character's decisions with anything less than respect and dignity, even when harnesses, paddles, and pee get introduced.  Climaxing with a sit-down strike for love, this is the perspective that Love, Actually is missing.

9. Grizzly Man dir. Werner Herzog (2005)
“In nature there are boundaries.  One man spent the last 13 years of his life crossing them.”

Grizzly Man is the most commercial of Herzog’s (human) nature docs and also his most personal.  Per usual, the director walks the Inferno, soldiering on out of respect for his kindred spirit subject and cinema itself. 

8.  Casino Royale dir. Martin Campbell (2006)
“The bitch is dead.”

The first ten minutes of this movie grabbed me by the nuts and made me love Bond again.  And then they actually grabbed Bond’s nuts with a rusty chain.  And I was like, “whoa”. 

7. United 93 dir. Paul Greengrass (2007)
“The war on terror begins with 40 ordinary people.”

Somehow this is a movie without politics or agenda.  Rather than the slam-bang superglory saccharine that could’ve been, Paul Greengrass focuses on the private rituals of horror that accompany the acknowledgement of ones own death.  I only needed to see it once (a very hung over morning-after at Maciej’s, totally by myself and broken by the loss of a wallet the night prior), but United 93 hijacked my heart.

6.  Kill Bill (parts 1 and 2) dir. Quentin Tarantino (2003, 2004)
“Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

QT gets symmetrical and writes a love letter to Uma.  Ethan Hawke loses.  We win. 

5. Adaptation dir. Charlie Kaufman (2002)
“Screenplay by Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman.”

Nic Cage looking like a lesbian.  Meryl Streep snorting psychedelics.  Chris Cooper vs. The Alligator.  Synecdoche, NY might be the more important and more ambitious “artist-in-crisis” movie, but Adaptation is just too much fun.

4.  Battle Royale dir. Kinji Fukasaku (2001)
“Could you kill your best friend?”

I hosted a high school sleepover when Battle Royale came out and I still have the same impulse every time I meet someone who hasn’t seen it.  It is a simple movie full of incongruities, with an aesthetic that dares you to weep in amazement rather than sob from disgust.  Oh, and there is this epic score and tons of dead Japanese kids in school uniforms.

3. There Will Be Blood dir. Paul Thomas Anderson (2007)
“When ambition meets faith.”

Spent eight-and-a-half hours watching this one in theaters.  Doesn’t matter if you consider it an opera, a political allegory, or a horror film; just get ready to see the worst in people. 

2. The Royal Tenenbaums dir. Wes Anderson (2001)
“Family isn’t a word… it’s a sentence.”

Wes Anderson set out to make the great American movie that Orson Welles couldn’t finish and almost succeeded.  A textbook storybook that will be studied someday, and the only movie I let get away with stomach cancer jokes. 

1. Mulholland Drive dir. David Lynch (2001)
“A love story in the city of dreams.” 

Possibly the best mystery since Chinatown, with spank scenes to boot.  Silencio.

Fine choices all. I am very hungover. More to come in a matter of hours.

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