Thursday, 10 December 2009

2009 Best Ofs [Film]

Films that floated the Ramon boat. And a few that didn't.

The Class (Entre Les Murs) [dir. Larent Cantet] - Anatomisations of the work-place are one of the (many) things that contemporary French cinema does so well. Through realistic and detailed real-time sequences, Cantet produced the best depiction of classroom dynamics ever seen onscreen. A classic. Waterloo Road fans should be made to watch this.

Rage [dir. Sally Potter] - Beautiful, angry and stylistically innovative, Sally Potter’s critique of marketing, corporatism, celeb culture (and much more besides) was a singular experience. Jude Law preens; Judi Dench lights a joint. A fascinating movie. At age 60, Potter’s sheer bloody inventiveness puts most directors to shame.

Wendy & Lucy [dir. Kelly Reichardt] - One woman and her dog: a compelling performance from Michelle Williams and attention to the corners of America that we don’t usually get to see.

35 Shots of Rum (35 Rhums) [dir. Claire Denis] - On the Nightshift.

The White Ribbon [dir. Michael Haneke] - Eerie, haunting, and quite wonderful. It’s almost reassuring now, the way things are never all well in Haneke-land.

Mid-August Lunch (Pranzo di Ferragosto) [dir. Gianni Di Gregorio] - Italian neo-realism + Ealing comedy = joy.

Broken Embraces [Los Abrazos Rotos] [dir. Pedro Almodóvar] - Just enough bravura sequences to keep this out of the “Disappointments” category. But only just.

Seraphine - [dir. Martin Provost] - Absorbing, moving. "C'est beau" indeed.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus [dir. Terry Gilliam] - “A bit of fantasticality”: not always coherent (it’s a Gilliam film after all) but there are unforgettable sequences here.

The Hurt Locker [dir. Kathryn Bigelow]- Partial in its perspective, and problematically gung-ho in tone. But Kathryn Bigelow’ s tense and engrossing movie still feels like the most authentic depiction of Iraq War experience (from one side…) yet to make it to the US screen.

Vicky Christina Barcelona [dir. Woody Allen] - It’s trivial but it’s fun.

Disappointments of the Year

Antichrist [dir. Lars von Trier] - In which Torture Porn masquerades as High Art.

Chloe [dir. Atom Egoyan] - In which Atom Egoyan masquerades as Paul Verhoeven.

Let The Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in) [dir. Tomas Alfredson] - For me the year's most flagrantly overrated movie. Teen romance + vampire flick = hell.

Che [dir. Steven Soderbergh] - Great moments, especially in the final stretches of Part Two, and a committed del Toro. But Steven Soderbergh’s uneven opus felt oddly unsatisfying overall. Seldom has starting revolutions seemed a duller prospect.

Bright Star [dir. Jane Campion] - Lovely images, but I expected more idiosyncrasy in Campion's treatment of the material.


  1. The class ( class act)
    Wendy & Lucy (sob fest)

    I so agree

  2. Thanks, John. Enjoy Mid-August Lunch! A delight.

  3. I'd add SUMMER HOURS and TWO LOVERS, but agree with most of the list :)

  4. Thanks, Michal! SUMMER HOURS came out in 08 here, so it went in last year's list. Only just saw TWO LOVERS, which I liked very much.