Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Let's Get Nuts

I've attached numbers to things I enjoy:
1. The New World; The Intruder (tie)
3. The Best of Youth
4. Kings and Queen
5. The World
6. Oliver Twist
7. Innocence
8. Tropical Malady
9. Good Night, And Good Luck
10. My Mother's Smile

Others that gave me great pleasure were Munich; Cache; Cafe Lumiere; 2046; The White Diamond; Assault on Precinct 13; Good Morning, Night; Wedding Crashers; Turtles Can Fly; Keane; The Weeping Meadow

Unreleased: The Sun, Three Times, Tomorrow We Move (DVD), Clean, The Ister [the first four would have been in the top ten]


The New World. It's beautiful. One needs more than that but it's a good start. Continuing Malick's obsession of contrasting a passive eternalized nature with the scrambling inhumanity of man, it particularizes what in The Thin Red Line was collective, and offers a way out. TRL's (I think it'll catch on) polyvocal voiceover was a choir of disbelief at our finitude as the trees sat there not giving a shit. In The New World we're given only three voices, parceled out one at a time, sketching full individuals in the midst of societal breakdown, until the society fades away and the personal relationships take center stage. Which is what people are pissy about - not getting their full self-righteous rage on about European exploiters. But Malick is a humanist, not a cultural studies nob, he's claiming it's possible to transcend culture, to find truth outside of it, instead of falling back on ideas of relativity (while not denying the culture's formative effects). And there's love. A film that shows that love doesn't start until the swooning ends, that the love-in-separation joint Western culture's been smoking since before Romeo And Juliet is basically BS. Q'orianka Kilcher's radiant, Christian Bale is solid as oak, and Colin Farrell isn't that bad. Really. Plus Malick's cutting it down for national release, so it will be 1/5 less ponderous.

The Intruder. Also beautiful. Also a good start. Images are the thing here. Hands in sand, streamers in sky, heart in snow. All mournful, the body is decaying and there's not a goddamn thing Michel Subor can do about it, despite all his desperation. The new heart is a stranger to him, opening him up to all sorts of unconscious invaders, over the border, into his home, into his head. Escape to paradise won't help, he'll die just like Gauguin, and take his son with him. Also - Best Score of the Year.

Oliver Twist is ugly, which is beautiful in its own way. Dirt seeps through the walls, through the pores, into the speech, until Oliver finds a home with the extraordinary Ben Kingsley, traipsing his skeletal frame around his sodden flat like Nosferatu at a Gwen Stefani concert. Polanski knows how to frame, how to cut. Narrative flows by and you don't notice it, characters fill the space, all personalized, all identifiably human - except for the caricatured owners of the orphanage - looming ogres of decadence who made me laugh. Most Overlooked film of the year.

Action is its own reward. Thank you to: Assault On Precinct 13 and The Cave for unpretentious action sequences that kept people in frame and that proved once again that modesty is the best policy.

Best Blockbuster of the Year: The least modest film of the year was Mr. and Mrs. Smith, agog at it's own star-ness, it winked til it hurt and had the hottest non-sex scene of the year as Pitt and Jolie decimated their designer kitchen with aroused aplomb.


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