Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Of '08

Yesterday, my Mac crashed and burned. Hard Drive dead. I'm taking it to the Genius Bar today in hopes that something can be done. I don't have the money yet to start making monthly payments on a new one, but come hell or highwater I'll have things back to normal. So, posting on a Dell Laptop that hangs around the house from my mom's school makes me madder than a posse of neglected lady lemurs.

No, No I don't want to go up. I want you to stay here, on this part of the page. Yes, Yes I unplugged my external drive, and I'm glad we both shared that moment, computer.

Anyway, here's my top ten:

10. Rachel Getting Married

09. Standard Operating Procedure

08. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days

07. Happy-Go-Lucky

06. Iron Man

05. In Bruges

04. Milk

03. Wall-E

02. Synecdoche, NY

01. The Dark Knight

Yeah. The Dark Knight. Sometimes popular means better or maybe even the best. It's been a good year for that. All I know is, Movie danced in my brain. Occupied an unusual, cosmic place in me. Permeated my brain to the point that I almost unknowingly engaged in 'joker-voiced' pillowtalk.

Everyone unfairly compares this year with the last. Last year was a year for despair and decline. Moral cloudiness and the absurdity of making moral choices dominated last year in a dark and moody palate. We dug the hell out of it, all of it, all the blood, all the nihilism. Look what won best picture. Great films, many of them.

This year is the year of a flickering conscience. All of these films are about choices. Moral choices are possible, however damned hard the world makes them for us. A year for hope indeed.

Acceptance (#10) Hope (#4) Aging Gracefully (#2) Love Love Love (#3) I can fly (#6) Be excellent to each other (#7) challenge of transmutable facts (#9) Stick to your guns (#5) You may be on your own (#8)your code may or may not save you (#1) But the world can change for the better (All of the above)

2007 Outliers: Every year there are films I can't see before the new year, and, most certainly, last year a few of them could've made the list. I would've knocked off something for There Will Be Blood, and made some mention of Zodiac and Gone Baby Gone. As it stands, there are a few things I haven't seen, but will evangelize, meh, or deflate by Oscar time. I'm looking forward to Che, and will be entertained no doubt by Doubt, Frost/Nixon, The Reader, Revolutionary Road, etc. But look back at my top ten. Were they designed to win awards? Were they designed to make us better people? No. They're all living organisms that have bigger things on their minds.

With all its narcissism, Synecdoche, NY doesn't 'say' an honest, open, or humanitarian statement. Instead, it makes big, mighty, fearless gestures of the kind, gets inside your body and your soul, and penetrates to the edge of more truths than ten Don Cheadles could amidst any refashioned ravaged cities as a backdrop. For that, Kaufman deserves an Oscar, if only so it's seen. You, whoever you are, if you read this, you have an interest in film, and you are hereby behooved to see the American 8 1/2, end of story, I don't care if you loathe it.

Sean Penn, for his selfless and magical work, merciless Oscar coveter though he is, deserves one too.

I could write a lot about the whole list. Almost all of them were predominantly hopeful, not obsessed with moral decline and untenable quandary, as per last year. This is an observation of difference, not quality.

Bafflement: Appaloosa is a film that gets special recognition for being off its rocker and apparently proud of that fact. I've spoken to no one who's gotten it (fewer even still who have actually seen it), no one who really loves it, and yet, something has happened here, and I daresay we will all remember it. It's got moments of incredible interest. Beyond that, I'm still stammering through it in my head. I suppose that might indicate that its characters influenced me to behave as they generally did onscreen.

Abortion of the year: No, not The Happening, it's something much, much worse, for not being for one second remotely funny. Zack and Miri Make a Porno is the worst film of 2008, and perhaps deserves that distinction because it was made by someone who should be doing much better work than this. Kevin Smith at least made Clerks 2 funny. What the goddamn hell on earth was this? I don't care about dirty words and truck nutz on an R2 Unit. I'm not offended. I'm unamused. That's the crime. I love Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and that movie may even be dirtier than this one. So. Umm. What the fuck, Silent Bob?

Unfortunate and Continuous Downfall: M Night Shyamalan's cult in Pennsylvania is still making movies. Did you know? Go ahead, buddy. I can do this as long as you can. I don't mind. It's more fun every year. Seriously. After Avatar, make something about, I don't know, a balloon animal that fills your shoes with thumbtacks and then floats away and laughs at you while you bleed from your feet holes. To death. Tak Fujimoto gets paid whether you suck or not.

Ahem. To end on a positive note. If you've ever been in love, lost love, or found a soulmate you could never have but would sing with and to forever, if you could, then Once is for you. It was the first movie I saw this year, and perhaps the best, certainly the most beautiful. It is a reminder that we are capable of unstoppable, almost inerrant sweetness, kindness, grace, art, but most of all music that could restart your heart and make you consider where you began, and how you'll feel when the sirens call you home. Steven Spielberg was amazed by this film. No wonder. It's all there.

No comments: