December 28, 2009

...to the finish line (pt. 7)

2006

The Descent

Tideland

Miami Vice

The Departed

Superman Returns

Children of Men

United 93

Letters from Iwo Jima

The Fountain

Pan’s Labyrinth

10. United 93 (4)

9. The Departed (7)

8. Letters from Iwo Jima (3)

7. Tideland (9)

6. Perfume (n/a)

5. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (n/a)

4. Children of Men (5)

3. Superman Returns (6)

2. The Fountain (2)

1. Pan’s Labyrinth (1)

I’ll miss the muscularity of Michael Mann’s Miami Vice and the gynecological horror of Neil Marshall’s The Descent , but just had to find room for Tom Tykwer’s impossible adaptation of Perfume and Cristi Puiu amazingly good The Death of Mr. Lazarescu. The only two new additions to the list, also find that Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns has crept up into the top three – a film that never fails to make me cry because, no doubt, I’m a dork – ditto Alfonso Cuaron’s pop-art elegy Children of Men which has my vote for the most “Wasteland” of the current crop of end-of-times flicks. Not the least for its beautiful, awful Modernism. Letters from Iwo Jima remains my favorite Eastwood film of the millennia, Gilliam’s Tideland seems even more novel post-Parnassas and United 93 doesn’t seem to have a shelf life for all its vivid, lean intention. I love that The Fountain and Pan’s Labyrinth retain their power – a recent viewing/seminar of Pan’s Labyrinth, in fact, revealed itself to be even tighter than first thought. A brilliant work, maturing with age.

25 comments:

Tom said...

calling walter's decade top 10:
1. eternal sunshine
2. mulholland drive
3. synecdoche new york
4. royal tenenbaums
5. no country for old men
6. martyrs
7. pan's labyrinth
8. trouble every day
9. inglourious basterds
10. there will be blood

Ian Pugh said...

I'm a little upset that they're rebooting Supes without Singer for The Man of Steel--they want to go the Dark Knight route. 'Course, I had my doubts about Casino Royale, and you can easily argue that Returns didn't really need a sequel--but I'm not sure how you can make Superman any "darker" than Singer had made him without turning him into a pale imitation of some other hero. That's why they axed the Captain Marvel / Shazam! flick, ain't it? Something like "Kingdom Come" might work, but that requires more context than they may be willing to give--and hell, even Frank Miller knew that his detached alien-god was as blind an optimist as they come.

Rick said...

I believe Trouble Every Day would be #1 of the decade for Walter. Didn't he say somewhere it placed high in his top movies of all time?

Also curious to what Alex's favorite film of the decade is, and if Alex has seen Taxidermia yet? ( one of my favorite films of the decade, right behind Punch-Drunk Love)

Ian Pugh said...

Ah, my mistake--Shazam! is still on, though it's certainly seen enough rewrites.

Alex Jackson said...

I think Tom's top 5 is an excellent guess of how Walter's top ten will pan out.

It seems that a great deal of people put Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as their favorite film of the decade. I've heard a lot of people give that as their answer to the point where it's a predictable obvious choice.

Intriguing that Scorsese has finally been lapped in the best of the decade race. Taxi Driver would be a respectable choice for the best film of the 70s. Raging Bull is an obvious one for best of the 80s. Goodfellas is somewhere between respectable and obvious. But picking The Departed or The Aviator as the best would be rather idiosyncratic. Gangs of New York would be foolishly fanboyish. And Shine a Light or No Direction Home would similiarly suggest a blinding affection for the subject matter.

The best film of the decade for me is Dogville though. I knew that the moment I saw it, doubted myself for a while, and have now come back to seeing this as the only choice that makes sense. Everything else kind of pales to it. When Lars Von Trier is on, he is really ON.

I still like Crash. I didn't like Slumdog Millionaire, but I didn't hate it. I may even kind of admire it. I'll still get behind Precious. I like the new 'stigesploitation genre that developed in the Aughties.

Of course, Dogville (and AntiChrist for that matter) encompasses that, improves upon it. It's confrontational and transgressive in a way that I think bears fruit. I think Von Trier has earned the right to disregard storytelling and character as unnecessary obstacles to conveying his message. His films are essays, but he's saying so much that the direct approach is the best approach.

Haven't seen Taxidermia yet. Netflix says it's unavailable.

O'JohnLandis said...

Oh, betting on Walter's eventual Top 10--an exercise I can endorse.

My guess:

1. No Country for Old Men
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
3. Synecdoche, New York
4. Trouble Every Day
5. Mulholland Drive
6. The Dark Knight
7. There Will Be Blood
8. Inglourious Basterds
9. Pan's Labyrinth
10. Kill Bill

O'JohnLandis said...

Oh, and of course I agree that this conversation about the best of the decade is a year premature.

1-10, not 0-9! 1-10, not 0-9!

Plus, for every film decade I can think of, the year ending XXX0 seems to belong more with the previous nine years than the next nine years. That's not scientific (even though it's true), and I'd certainly support neither for any recognition as I think they're both pretty mediocre, but I'd like to think that both Taxi Driver and Raging Bull are competing for Best of the 70s.

Alex Jackson said...

Plus, for every film decade I can think of, the year ending XXX0 seems to belong more with the previous nine years than the next nine years.

I don't know. Possibly. Oscars might be a good index.

1939: Gone with the Wind
1940: Rebecca
1941: How Green Was My Valley
1949: All The Kings Men
1950: All About Eve
1951: An American in Paris
1959: Ben Hur
1960: The Apartment
1961: West Side Story
1969: Midnight Cowboy
1970: Patton
1971: The French Connection
1979: Kramer vs. Kramer
1980: Ordinary People
1981: Chariots of Fire
1989: Driving Miss Daisy
1990: Dances with Wolves
1991: Silence of the Lambs
1999: American Beauty
2000: Gladiator
2001: A Beautiful Mind
2008: Slumdog Millionaire

So we're saying that All About Eve has more in common with How Green is my Valley than it does with Ben Hur. Sure.

The Apartment has more in common with An American in Paris than Midnight Cowboy. Obviously, though the 60s might be an outlier.

Patton has more in common with West Side Story than with Kramer vs. Kramer. Hey, that's coming along nicely.

Ordinary People has more in common with The French Connection than with Driving Miss Daisy. Actually, like it or not, I think that it does.

Dances with Wolves has more in common with Chariots of Fire than with American Beauty. Very interesting.

And though we're fudging a little bit, Gladiator has more in common with Silence of the Lambs than it does with Slumdog Millionaire.

There's always the possibility that we're finding whatever it is we're looking for, and of course the distance between the x0 and the x1 in each case is pretty gradual, but I think you are on to something here John.

maximilian said...

Was Perfume ever reviewed on the site, or do I have to buy another annual to read FFC's take on that dazzling display of cinema?

Ditto Lazarescu.

2006 was a damn fine year for films; one could say that there were a cuntgaggle of quality releases that year.
Yes O'John, if that term was your invention, consider it appropriated.

Patrick said...

My favorites from 2006 were The Departed, Pan's Labyrinth, Children of Men, Letters from Iwo Jima and United 93. I haven't revisited United 93, so maybe it does lose its power with time. For Letters, I find it interesting that a big part of its allure is how Eastwood basically made a normal war movie only from the "other" side, and that that is such a rare thing.

The Departed has grown on me, I must say, and I think I now like it better than the original. Children of Men and Pan's Labyrinth don't really need much comment, do they?

KayKay said...

With regards to Ian's comments that he's "a little upset that they're rebooting Supes without Singer for The Man of Steel"....

There was so much that was jarring in tone about Singer's Superman Returns that NOT bringing him back may not be a bad idea.

The problem with Superman Returns, for me personally, was that it tethers itself to the Chris Reeve movies and positions itself as a logical sequel to Superman 2, complete with a hook to John Williams' anthemic score, Fortress of Solitude crystals and Brando's visage, then proceeds to fuck up the narrative that preceded it rather than honour it:

The Man of Steel is willing to turn back time and relinquish his powers for his lady love, but then neglects to inform her he'll be Out of Planet for the next 5 years?

Superman as a Peeping Tom?

Prepubescent-looking Kate Bosworth as a...ahem..veteran Pulitzer prize-winning reporter?

Superman Returns is one terrific cock tease, a movie filled with individual scenes of power and promise( The revelation of who Lois' kid's father really is, Supes' sadistic beating at the hands of Luthor and goons, a bullet pulverised on contact with an Eyeball of Steel, Supes hovering above Earth picking up terrestrial chatter ) with no real pay off or follow up.

I'm not sure humanising the Man Of Steel is the way to go. He's probably the only superhero that deserves the Epic, God-Like Treatment a la Richard Donner's take.

A re-boot is the way to go (Krypton re-imagined? Ian McKellan as Jor-El? Brian Cox as Pa Kent? Ah....)

Tom said...

while we're making predictions, i'm also betting on 4, 3, 2 to be 3rd for 2007

Bill C said...

Oh, and of course I agree that this conversation about the best of the decade is a year premature.

Of course.

@maximilian: LAZARESCU, yes. PERFUME never got reviewed, period.

Bill C said...

Also, if we're calling this best of the '00s (which I am), then 10, a number that begins with a 1, does not qualify. There was no year zero, fine, but guess what: there was a year 2000.

Alex Jackson said...

I think John is still technically right, but strangely enough technically right is never going to catch on because '10 just looks like it belongs with the teens.

And I think there is also a more profound psychological reason. I think for most people time decelerates as they get older. I know we're all pretty young, but still I believe most people can say that their 2009 self is closer to their 2000 self than their 200 self was to their 1991 self.

John seems to be looking at this as though he is existing outside of the space time continuum.

Perfume with Lazarescu is a welcome substitution for Miami Vice and The Descent. For the most part, I think the new lists have been much better than the old ones.

Meant to ask though, whatever happened to Code 46 or Wonder Boys.

DJR said...

Best from 2006 not yet mentioned:

Brick
The Proposition
The Science of Sleep
Inside Man
Kekexili: Mountain Patrol
A Prairie Home Companion
Crank
Clean
Dance Party, USA
The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things
Running Scared

prowler said...

i thought Perfume was just horrible. carry on :)

Bill C said...

John seems to be looking at this as though he is existing outside of the space time continuum.

First guffaw of the day.

But seriously, 1-10 is arcane, pedantic, what have you. When 1990 came, I don't recall thinking, "One more year 'til the '90s start!"

Alex Jackson said...

Best from 2006 not yet mentioned:

Brick
The Proposition
The Science of Sleep
Inside Man
Kekexili: Mountain Patrol
A Prairie Home Companion
Crank
Clean
Dance Party, USA
The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things
Running Scared


I like you DJR. You ain't right, but you're weird in a good way. A DJR programmed film festival would be worth attending.

Rick said...

Perfume with Lazarescu is a welcome substitution for Miami Vice and The Descent. For the most part, I think the new lists have been much better than the old ones.

Thought you said that Lazarescu was a joyless, canonized peice of shit.

DJR said...

The inexplicably overrated:

L'Enfant
Little Miss Sunshine
Inland Empire
Shortbus
Thank You For Smoking
Three Time
Iraq in Fragments

And anyone see Zhang Yimou's rightly ignored Driving Alone for Thousands of Miles? It was awful.

Miscellaneous observations:

The Return starring Sarah Michelle Gellar was one of the best directed bad movies of the year.

Kurt Wimmer's Ultraviolet deserves to be a cult classic of bad cinema in a similar vein as Renny Harlin's shamelessly retarded/enjoyable Mindhunters.

Takashi Shimizu's Reincarnation is his best movie, and even his Hollywood Grudge sequel is superior to the original remake.

Apocalypto is kinda awful while at the same time being the best jungle-set action movie since Predator.

Jessica Bendinger's Stick It and (as a writing credit) Aquamarine are two of the best movies made for tweens in recent years.

Saw III is the only entry in that largely awful series that approaches being a good movie.

Battle in Heaven, Imprint, and 4 are difficult to like, but remain indelible viewing experiences.

Alex Jackson said...

Thought you said that Lazarescu was a joyless, canonized peice of shit.

That it was. Perfume is very good though. Miami Vice and The Descent were mediocre.

A terrible movie and a very good one is an improvement over two mediocre ones. Replacing a movie I don't like with one that I really like also increases my trust in the listmaker so that I'll be more likely to re-examine the entrees that I didn't like (now only two instead of three, I'm not behind Tideland).


For the record, here's what my top ten would look like today (not considering Destricted any more just because it never got a region 1 release).

10. Jackass Number Two (10)
9. Pan's Labyrinth (N/A)
8. A Scanner Darkly
7. Apocalypto (3)
6. Battle in Heaven (N/A)
5. The Fountain (7)
4. Into Great Silence (4)
3. The Departed (6)
2. Children of Men (N/A)
1. Marie Antoinette (2)

Sympathy for Lady Vengence and
United 93 would no longer make the cut.

Alex Jackson said...

Scanner Darkly originally had ninth place on my original list.

maximilian said...

Thanks Bill, and after reading the 2009 annual, I'll certainly be picking up the others.

Fun to read about the growing fanclub Perfume is gathering. I pimped the heck out of it on a Forum I used to mod, then went scouring the web for other raves, and came across one of Matt Zoller Seitz's typically great reviews.

http://www.thehousenextdooronline.com/2007/01/killer-art-perfume-story-of-murderer.html

While I suppose that could be the definitive review, would love to read what one of you guys have to say about it.

He's too qweird looking for major stardom, but along with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Whishaw is a young actor to watch.

Patrick said...

Hear hear on Thank you For Smoking being overrated, but then again, I also think A Scanner Darkly and Miami Vice are pretty awful.

Apocalypto, however, is a film that basically breathes insanity, and very entertaining for it. It's a film that can only have been conceived and shot by a Madman.