Sunday, December 27, 2009

YMD and Friends Film Bonanza part 14

This list comes from Rich, who I have now officially wrestled more than the 3 foot tall teddy bear I had when I was 7. Sadly, Vision Quest didn't come out this decade so it can't take up all ten spots on Rich's list and the following movies will just have to do.

10. Team America: World Police dir. Trey Parker (2004)
More than puppet vomiting and a ridiculous sex scene Team America makes this list for its distillation of world politics into three categories: dicks, pussies and assholes. I got through Intro to International Politics with that. Plus, a damn funny movie.

9. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Le scaphandre et le papillon) dir. Julian Schnabel (2007)
Great camera work and beautiful imagery give you a sense of the physical limitations and immense struggle of locked-in syndrome as well as the freedom of imagination and memory. Incredibly frustrating and deeply depressing the film's story is ultimately beautiful and uplifting. 

8. The Dark Knight dir. Christopher Nolan (2008)
This was going to make this list just for the build up and the experience of sitting in an empty theatre for two hours waiting for the premiere.  The joker character, whether crafted by Nolan or improvised by Ledger, is a fantastic re-imagining of a classic villain (drawing from a few lesser known graphic novels). Heath Ledger's performance, for all the hoopla is great and absolutely steals the show from a great action movie (holy shit, remember that truck flipping?!)

7. Pan's Labyrinth (El laberinto del fauno) dir. Guillermo del Toro (2006)
The darkest fairy tale ever.  (Well, that's probably not fair to the brothers Grimm. It's certainly up there) I went to the theatre to expecting something light and magical. Set during the Spanish Civil War, this film is anything but light (second and third viewings still had me cringing at certain parts - sure I'll sew my cheek up) but it is beyond magical. Del Toro creates an alternate world and characters that might as well be the inside of a magician's hat. 

6. City of God (Cidade de deus) dir. Fernando Meirelles, Katia Lund (2002)
This is how I imagine Matt making it big, photographing his life on the mean streets of Hamden, CT. This film is vibrant, fast paced and exciting. An unforgettable look (because there are pictures!) at the drug world of the Rio suburb that lends the film its name. 
5. Love, Actually dir Richard Curtis (2003)
I just finished watching this movie for the gagillionth time. This movie makes this list if only because it's the only rom-com that I unabashedly and unironically love. It captures that wonderful time in the run-up to Christmas taking a peek into the love lives of people around London. I think this film succeeds because it doesn't get bogged down with one storyline that inevitably follows the same pattern (holy shit I never thought they'd get together, but they totally did). Sure there's plenty of that and that makes it satisfying, but other stories are messier and less satisfying, and that's what makes it plausible. Plus: "All I Want for Christmas is You"!  
4. High Fidelity dir. Stephen Frears (2000)
Hated. Hated. Hated this movie when I first saw it. I was young and in love and couldn't fathom heartbreak, let alone so many that I'd have to make a top five list of the worst kinds. On repeated viewings this movie has come to define the world I find myself in - one of music snobbery and "deep" but ultimately superficial introspection. Oh yeah, and list-making! 

3. Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire dir. Lee Daniels (2009)
I'm still trying to unpack this one. This one packs a big old, heavy handed wallop. I don't know where this one would find itself if I did this list next year, but for now it's here mostly because I'm still blown away by performances by Mo'Nique, Mariah Carey and Gabourey Sidibe. Sure the dream sequences are at times odd, but as Precious obviously uses them to get through life, I'm not sure how I'd make it through the movie emotionally intact without something on the lighter side. 
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind dir. Michel Gondry (2004)
Sure, I'd love to wipe out all memories of seeing The Matrix Revolutions - except for when a heavy set woman in the theatre fell down the stairs in the middle of the film, three guys laughed at her and she threw a broom at them (no, please, don't;  just that one memory! erase all the terrible dialogue, heavy handed Messianic references, and the Architect but please not that woman falling down the stairs!) And so it is with love.

1. The Squid and the Whale dir. Noah Baumbach (2004)
This movie hit so close to home it was practically a home invasion. Divorced parents, dad taking it a bit harder than mom,  trying to not let the divorce affect you and having a younger brother taking it harder than anyone. Everyone who sees this movie hates the older brother, Walt, and so do I - but I also identify with him more than any other character in film this decade - because he's a selfish, immature, pseudo know-it-all prick, and at 16, so was I.

Two or three more lists later on today.


Sam said...

what really made the dark knight for ME was watching rich do one of his most perfectly executed fake falls in front of a packed movie theater. now THAT'S art.

shmiggs said...

That slow motion truck flip almost put this in my top ten...

matt said...

The Hamden version of City of God would be pretty dope. I'd watch it.