Friday, December 29, 2006

2006 Top Ten: R. Emmet Sweeney

It's been a year since we started this heartfelt publication. Thanks for reading, but you should be reading Manny Farber instead. He's much better than us.

On to the goods. After some quick and dirty soul searching, I decided "Out 1" (1971)and "Army of Shadows" (1969) would be ineligible for my boffo year end list despite both premiering this year in the US, since, you know, they were made over 30 years ago. But rest assured, they hold a special place in my heart - "Out 1"'s slow descent into madness (post '68 style) and "Army of Darkness"'s unblinking violence (and flinty blue hues) are masterpieces of a high order. I don't think I'll ever shake the gooey remnants of "Out 1"'s conspiracy theories out of my head.

But yes, new stuff:

1. Inland Empire, directed by David Lynch
2. Children of Men, directed by Alfonso Cuaron
3. Private Fears in Public Places, directed by Alain Resnais
4. Climates, directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
5. L'Enfant, directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
6. Pan's Labyrinth, directed by Guillermo Del Toro
7. Letters From Iwo Jima, direced by Clint Eastwood
8. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, directed by Cristi Puiu
9. The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, directed by Tommy Lee Jones
10. Brand Upon the Brain!, directed by Guy Maddin

Honorable Mentions: A Journey That Wasn't, Breaking News, Clean, Inside Man, La Moustache, Stick It, Three Times, Man Push Cart, The Proposition, The Hidden Blade, Syndromes and a Century, Running Scared, Dave Chappelle's Block Party, Miami Vice, Old Joy, Borat, Bamako, A Prairie Home Companion, Mutual Appreciation, 4, Battle in Heaven, The Matador, United 93, Art School Confidential, Gabrielle, The Bridesmaid, Half Nelson, Click, Strangers With Candy, Talladega Nights, Tenacious D: The Movie, Crossing the Bridge: The Music of Istanbul.

Film Event of the Year: "Out 1" at the Museum of the Moving Image
Male Performance of the Year: Pierce Brosnan, The Matador
Female Performance of the Year: Laura Dern, Inland Empire

Random Thoughts

1. No film affected me as viscerally as "Inland Empire." It scared me. It was the sound design that did it, those screeching, feedback laden squeals that accompanied Dern's descent into Hollywood's and her own unconscious. It all made perfect sense to me on a base emotional level - Dern suffers, frees herself from her suffering, and gains peace and a sort of redemption sitting on the couch next to Nastassja Kinski. It touches on the transformative power of performance, the destruction of actresses in the Hollywood system, and tells any number of riveting stories, none of which get resolved. It finds joy in the digression - from the homeless woman's bizzarely affecting tale of her model friend with the pet monkey to the Polish folk tale that sets everything in motion. Stories blur into stories - and they're all fascinating.

2. I am now convinced no one can play rumpled like Clive Owen. No one. Combine this with a fully realized vision of the near future and numerous delicious long takes and I'm sold. The movie's close to two hours and I thought it was halfway through when it ended. This thing moves. I don't know how since there's at least 5 credited screenwriters, but it expertly dispenses backstory in the middle of shots (like the rapid fire montage on the TV in the bus of every other city burning) while constantly advancing the plot. Not only that, but it trumps "Little Miss Sunshine" in the "pushing a stalled car" department. Not only is Children of Men's scene done in one (1!) take, but it's funnier and has Clive Owen running around in flip flops. Point to Children of Men and my new man crush Alfonso Cuaron and his cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki.

to be continued... (and be sure to check out Fourteen Seconds, Seen, and Tativille for their take on the year that was.)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, Rob this is more than brilliant--if only for the Clive break-down. I loved Children of Men so much too, my goodness. It was shots like the one you mentioned on the bus (of other cities' destruction) that hit home for me as well. There was hardly a moment for Clive (or the rest of the characters) to sit still--I have that image of the guy with long dreads chasing them down the hill, a la Terminator 2, though this time it ain't a computer moving that guy along so fast. Then the car stalling, yes, this is indeed fluid and great. The movie completely terrified me.

There is a production still of Dern on Inland, and based on it alone I think I am in love with this movie. I'll email it to you. It might be post-worthy....

11:26 PM  

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