This was spurred by a post on another site, and I’ve decided to weigh in with my own two cents.
As always 🙂 .
As much as it’s popular to bash Hollywood they’ve made some really strong and some really brilliant films in the last few years. So forgive me if some of my list is “Hollywood” obvious. 🙂 .
300- A medium changing film
CHILDREN OF MEN- ditto. I didn’t believe the hype people were giving it, but finally broke down and bought the DVD. Brilliant.
DEPARTED-for me a little Scorsese goes a long way, which means I get tired of his films quickly. That said I do think this is his best film in years.
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN- deserving of its accolades
I AM LEGEND- probably outside of IRON MAN (and EL BENNY) the most fun I’ve had in the theater all year. One of the rare remakes that transcends its predecessors. And that scene in the darkened building… heart-poundingly impressive
RAMBO- people write off Stallone as being stupid, and his films being mindless. I’d argue nothing could be further from the truth. I would say much like the first RAMBO (FIRST BLOOD: which Stallone worked on the screenplay for) this film is a sharp indictment of its audience. It is a mirthless mirror of the audiences own bloodlust, and the fallacy of concepts such as hero… or villain. It’s a mirthless satire painted in broad strokes of blood.
SUPERMAN RETURNS- Had its flaws, but its strengths outweighed them
A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE
PAN’S LABYRINTH- Del Toro’s most personal film, mixes beautiful fantasy and sickening horror, into a stew that is pure cinema.
OPEN RANGE- along with TOMBSTONE and UNFORGIVEN and LONESOME DOVE (yeah I know it was made for tv, it’s still great) one of the best westerns in the last 2 decades. And more than that it’s one of the best westerns… period.
THE DECAY OF FICTION- which had a new screening this year, is an experimental flick, with allusions to film noir and Bunuel. And more than anything… is a love letter to a building. Challenging going, but worth a viewing.
THE DESCENT-I thought Dog Soldiers was amateurish at best, boring and predictable and unoriginal at worst. The same is being said for the director’s DOOMSDAY film. But between those two films, he somehow managed to crank out one of the greatest horror films to hit screens since SEVEN. Unquestionably a work that will stand the test of time.
SLITHER- A throwback to everything great about 80s horror movies
Some lesser known, foreign, and straight to DVD recommendations are:
MEMORIES OF MURDER- Not just my favorite Korean Movie, but one of my favorite movies of all time. Just brilliantly made drama/thriller/cop procedural film.
HOST- follow-up by the director of Memories of Murder, is flawed and overlong, but is still frigging fantastic.
3-IRON- it defies words. Except to say… I loved it. Go buy a copy now. Don’t read anything about it, just buy the DVD pop it in, and prepared to be… entranced.
OLDBOY- While no fan of this director’s earlier SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE, and while I have no intention of sitting through OLDBOY a 2nd time, I cannot deny it is astounding, mind exploding filmmaking.
TAE GUK-Is pretty much a Korean version of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, but I think it is that rare homage that equals and some may even say… surpasses the original. Phenomenal film.
THE BIRD PEOPLE OF CHINA- From a director whose work I generally can’t stand, comes this meditative, funny, brilliant, warm, touching, and utterly human fable. Along with MEMORIES OF MURDER one of my favorite discoveries of the last ten years.
EL BENNY- This bio-pic on Cuba’s greatest and most controversial musician, is done against the backdrop of the Cuban Revolution, and is a sumptuously photographed ode, to an age and a time and a county. Saw it at the 16th annual Pan-African film festival and again… it’s one that goes in that favorite discoveries pile. This is the film I’d urge you to see before anything else on this list. Not necessarily because it is better, it’s a B+ movie and some of the others on this list are As and A+s… but I think it may well be a film that adds something valuable to how you view the world…and as such I weight it a little higher than mere escapism. Plus it is a great film, with some of the world’s most beautiful women.
DARESALAM- Named after the region where blood still flows. Probably you have to go all the way back to BATTLE OF ALGIERS to find a film that is as utterly of and about, the nature of colonialism and what that means to still ongoing wars in distant lands. Yet another of my favorite discoveries of the last ten years. Hollywood needs to reach out to this director
CITY OF GOD- an oldie, but a goodie. nuff said
DIRECT TO DVD
Steven Segal’s return to form comes in URBAN JUSTICE. This action film is smartly written, well directed, and with a movie saving performance by Eddie Griffen. After years of sub par Segal flicks, this one hits the target. Worth a buy.
And last but not least…
Actually not on DVD, and not strictly speaking a movie, the Internet Fan Film in 3 parts STAR TREK: OF GODS AND MEN… is just plain fun. A low budget ode to everything that made the original concept of Star trek so enduring, a concept that Paramount and the suits just don’t get. If you’re sick of bad star trek movies and bad star trek tv shows (the quickly canceled Scott Bakula Enterprise comes to mind) you might want to give this film a look (done by people who aren’t making a dime, for no other reason… than love). I enjoyed it, and you may too.
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