Friday, December 25, 2009

YMD and Friends Film Bonanza part 7

We continue with the other half of the Academy's Acting Branch, that being of course PJ Brennan. PJ sounds more like an American soldier than any of our friends and has an upcoming British radio drama to prove it. Here are his picks:

1. Synecdoche, New York dir. Charlie Kaufman (2008)
Basically this movie deals with such obtuse themes that it has to be really messed up. But if you stop trying to figure it out, it is what it is, and that is REALLY GOOD SHIT. I watched this on a plane the first time I saw it and was sobbing, surrounded by strangers.

2. Brokeback Mountain dir. Ang Lee (2005)
Visually bladow. The story is unendurably poignant. Is the acting perfect? No, but it's honest and heartfelt and incredibly watchable.

3. In the Bedroom dir. Todd Field (2001)
Watched this recently again, and it's kind of a masterpiece. Cinematography? Excellent. Directing? Spot on. Acting? Like a fucking freight train.

4. The Bourne Identity dir. Doug Liman (2002)
Changed the whole goddamn genre, and it's a brilliant film in its own right. Didn't sacrifice anything about good film making to produce an "action film".

5. 25th Hour dir. Spike Lee (2002)
Not only includes one of the best scenes in recent film history (read: Ed Norton's mirror monologue), it also has Brian Cox at his best. His voiceover 'imagined new life' for Monty Brogan (Norton) is ear candy, pure and simple.

6. Marie Antoinette dir. Sofia Coppola (2006)
I know lots of people hated this film, but I really fell into it. As the Welsh would say, this film is just 'lush'. And it's true. And to see paint peeling on a wall behind Dunst as she cries, and to realize that this wall is in fact Versailles, that's incredible. A very open film, one that let's you really get involved.

7. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind dir. Michel Gondry (2004)
Again Kaufmann just writes so superbly, it's unreal. And Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet act the shit out of it. Plus to know that all the effects were camera tricks and not CGI, let's this be something you can watch again and again for myriad of reasons.

8. The Libertine dir. Laurence Dunmore (2004)
This is why Johnny Depp is stupendous. Not Pirates. This. And this film really shows the Restoration for what it is, at least the life of the artist. Samantha Morton delivers as well, and the color and texture of the film is special.

9. I heart Huckabees dir. David O. Russell (2004)
Really intelligently written, and the casting is the bomb-diggity. Everyone gives their best in this film, from Dustin Hoffman to Mark Wahlberg to Naomi Watts, etc... there is no weak link. And Jon Brion's score and soundtrack are brilliant. One complaint: Jude Law's american accent.

10. Wit dir. Mike Nichols (2001)
A TV movie for HBO, it's based off of a play by Margaret Edson. It succeeds in the tricky task of adapting a piece for the stage to film. Emma Thompson is probably one of the most engaging actors at present, and she carries this film. The scene at the end where her old friend reads her The Runaway Bunny is something I can't ever forget; unbelievable.

Hope everyone's Christmas is going well. Keep sending in lists if you have them. I'm gonna go drink a beer.

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