December 27, 2009 the finish line (pt. 6)


Forty Shades of Blue

A History of Violence

Last Days


Grizzly Man

Nobody Knows


The New World



10. Tropical Malady (n/a)

9. Grizzly Man (6)

8. Cache (2)

7. Oldboy (n/a)

6. 3-Iron (4)

5. Nobody Knows (5)

4. Head-On (7)

3. A History of Violence (9)

2. Keane (1)

1. The New World (3)

I still love Ira Sachs’ Forty Shades of Blue but needed space for both the wondrous, sensuous, rich Tropical Malady and Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy and while it was easy to relocate Van Sant’s Last Days to runner-up-ville as without the weight of immediacy, it was considerably tougher to lose Sachs’ flick and Dina Korzun’s performance therein. Fuel to the fire of our decade-end conversation, consider that Oldboy was released in its native South Korea a full two years before finding footing on North American shores. I confess that I was completely ignorant of its charms, and those of director Park, until that time as well causing one to wonder how many gems are never brought to the United States at all. There’s something irretrievably broken about a system that has Slumdog Millionaire playing on thousands of screens while 800 native-made Indian films aren’t granted any kind of North American distribution whatsoever. Easy to say just stream it on the Internet – but without subtitles…

And into that conversation comes sideways a chat about films like Precious and The Blind Side where one says that sure this might represent one facet of Black life in the United States – but where are the other 359 degrees? Without them, you’d be left thinking that all our own industry cares to do with this minority is create the same kind of poverty porn as Slumdog. Drop trou, lotion up the palm, and let’s sit in the dark with our socio-economic brethren before the cavitation of the lower classes. We used to call it feeding Christians to lions – way to turn the tables, ruling class.

Grizzly Man loses ground though it loses nothing in delight upon repeat viewings and Haneke’s Cache slides a few slots as I become more familiar with the auteur’s tricks. Cronenberg’s A History of Violence gains several slots as it grows in my estimation and the remarkable Keane, remarkable still, is nonetheless less remarkable than Malick’s incandescently brilliant The New World. Fatih Akin’s visceral Head-On is just so cool from start to finish it had to move up and the list as it is at this moment begins to take on this real sense of perverse, romantic ennui.

Another great year, another tough list.


Patrick said...

My favorite was a fanboy choice: Serenity. And I won't say there's nothing wrong with it, but I love it still.

Head-on is runner-up, though. Fatih Akin is singlehandedly trying to save German film, and man am I grateful for it. None of that Donnersmarck shit. You should try to see his other films, too.

Kyle Puetz said...

I'm so happy to see Tropical Malady and Oldboy enter the list. Those two are treasures, no doubt about it. I'm still kind of cold on A History of Violence, as I think its companion piece Eastern Promises accomplishes about the same thing with a bit more subtlety. Here's hoping that one's increased in your estimation as well.

Between Tropical Malady, 3-Iron, Head-On and The New World, 2005 appears to be catering to my sense of perverse romance, to basically borrow from your own assessment.

Only film I haven't seen is Nobody Knows, but that one's actually sitting on my bookshelf at the moment. Here's hoping I like it as much as the rest of your list.

Bill C said...

I do wonder if I'd have the patience to sit through NOBODY KNOWS a second time. There were several movies that year I appreciated simply for their narcotizing effect in the wake of my dad's death, and that was one of 'em.

HEAD-ON seems to be a real polarizer these days. I loved it, yet can't seem to remember a thing about it. The afterimage is of a caveman lunging at a woman with Depeche Mode on the soundtrack.

Somebody asked me the other day what OLDBOY is about. They meant it rhetorically. Does a primal scream really need to be about anything, though?

Anonymous said...

How does the newly released extended version of New World hold up to the theatrical version?