December 15, 2007

Best and Worst Films of 2007

Good year for film if you ask me. Once you navigate through the fetid pile of horse shit that represents the decline of intelligent film viewing, that is. The great and the wretched...in order.

1)No Country For Old Men: The Cohen brothers' stark landscapes, minimal dialog, and unflinching moral questions paint Cormac McCarthy's Texan novel onto the screen with care. Horrifying at times, but not gratuitous. And no wasted "filler" scenes. Raises interesting questions of fate and consequence, without spoon-feeding the audience with some bumper sticker explanation. And the ending, my God the ending. Flawless. Number one for me this year.

2) Eastern Promises: After the fatally flawed A History of Violence, Cronenberg redeems himself with this gutter ballet. The violence is not the focal point, even though it is a touch overly choreographed. A great cast of characters, all with their own story. And Viggo is pure menace.

3) Michael Clayton: The opening rant by Tom Wilkinson is worth the entire price of admission. The story has been told before, but never in a manner as fierce as this. Outstanding acting by all involved, but never over the top, and thankfully void of melodrama.

4) Sicko: You don't have to agree with everything Michael Moore says to appreciate his championing of the underdog. Sure, some of his scenes are staged, but he brings to light the everyday social injustices that most people either completely ignore or justify with a pathetic rationale of "every man for himself". This is by far Moore's most focused film and hopefully some of the stories will affect even the staunchest of capitalist hearts.

5) Zodiac: David Fincher's directorial abilities have improved greatly. This story is so well-crafted, the tension being built from organic character responses to circumstances. And character is what this film is really about, the flaws, the obsessions. I was surprised this movie didn't stay in the theaters very long. Truly worth watching.

6) Waitress: Lovely, small budget film. Loved the idea of using various pie recipes as metaphor for the protagonist's life. Keri Russel is outstanding. The film manages to avoid so many of the potential cliché disasters that go along with these kinds of stories. Clever, human, funny, and genuine.

Wretched viewing:
1) 300: Absolute garbage. Made in 2006, but not released until 2007, this film is nothing more than an example of marketing. Tedious, witless, and insulting. The only value this film could have would be as an academic exercise in dissecting homo-erotic subtext. Horrible dialog. How many times do men in leather speedos have to bellow out where they're from? I left with ten minutes remaining, wishing I had stayed home and read a good book.

2) Smokin' Aces: Another film made in '06 but released in '07. Scattered story line, flat characters, and Jeremy Piven typecasted as an annoying, self-righteous degenerate. Not even worth elaborating further.

3) 28 Weeks Later: A perfect example of studios capitalizing on a great film by making a stagnant and sub par sequal. Whereas the original (28 Days Later) created a post-apocalyptic environment that lulled the viewer into a false sense of security, this film replaces most of the suspense with gore, and the ever-present, ever-nauseating "America saves the day" rhetoric. The few genuine frights that did occur were hardly worth sitting through the film for.

4) Music and Lyrics: I'm usually a sucker for Hugh Grant comedies. Not sure why. This film is wretched, though. Probably has something to do with Drew Barrymore being in it. All the humor is flat (pun intended) and overused. Dull.

5) Oceans Thirteen: What a strange film. It banks on the reputation of the characters from the previous two. Funny banter is only hinted at, replaced instead with celebrity closeups and the constant suggestion that something really good may happen at some point. It never does. Over the top plot with holes a mile wide.

Those I Regrettably Haven't Been Able to See Yet:
1)There Will Be Blood:>Lord knows this would be at the top of my list, but I can't rightly put it there until I've viewed it. Stupid local theaters.


2) Into The Wild: I have not seen a poor directorial effort by Sean Penn yet. And this looks to be even better than his other works. Eddie Vedder's soundtrack is outstanding as well.

3) Before The Devil Knows You're Dead: Great director with what looks to be a grand achievement. Mind you, Ethan Hawke does not quite do it for me.

4) Juno: One look at any trailer and you know this film will be spectacular. Sharp vernacular and affectionate, effective characters. I'm pissed I haven't seen it yet.

4 comments:

Nima said...

You are awesome. That is to say, the films you hated and the films you regretted not seeing are the exact same as mine, and I am awesome.

It's the transitive property at work.

Harry Tournemille said...

And modest --you forgot modest. Do you mean transitive in the binary sense? Who gets to be A, B, and moreover C? Thanks for the comment. Always nice to collide with other great minds.

Jason said...

I'd Like to say, Harry, that I too am a great mind, but we both know this isn't true. But you do suffer me so kindly, so I shall go on.
I love talking movies with you because
a) we agree on a great deal and that makes me happy.
b) on some things we disagree like a mongoose and a cobra, and that in itself is great fun.

This list of yours... I agree. There is obviously nothing weighing too terribly heavy on my concurrence, but I think we're all looking for a little acceptance, so there it is.
I will say it again, and this time without the three pints filtering through my system: I loved 300. I can't say why - well, I can, I suppose, but then you'd just call me Gayson again. I'd like to think in some small part you know where I stand in general with movies - I'm not a brain dead lemming off to the cinema to piss my pants over the next big money gobbling extravaganza... but I do so love them despite how awful they are. And back to 300...
Lots of greazy man-flesh and slo-mo and fake beards and lopped heads and sweeping gun metal cine, but I love to get sucked into that. Some of those films, funny enough, are repellent for the very same reasons, but other I find myself accepting and enjoying. Transformers? As far as "good" movies go, I say 'bah'. Horrible. And yet, I will happily watch it over and over because of where it takes me, back to the 4th grade, wishing and yearning for Optimus to be real.

Anyway, I concur. And I know this doesn't fall on completely repulsed ears, Mr. Hugh-Grant-Comedies. I look forward to more of your healthy, honest reviews...

Harry Tournemille said...

Indeed. I share your comments on Transformers. Terrible film, but I still got goosebumps when Optimus Prime first introduces himself. In fact, upon hearing his voice I leaped from my seat and hollered, "yes you are, mo fo". With 300, there was no nostalgia to return to for me. But I won't beat that horse into the ground. There are enough films to go around for everyone, I imagine.