December 24, 2009 the finish line (pt. 3)


Morvern Callar 10. Ripley’s Game (n/a)

Wendigo 9. The Bourne Identity (5)

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind 8. Wendigo (9)

Solaris 7. Solaris (7)

Punch-Drunk Love 6. Morvern Callar (10)

The Bourne Identity 5. Punch-Drunk Love (6)

Spirited Away 4. 25th Hour (n/a)

About Schmidt 3. The Cremaster Cycle (n/a)

adaptation. 2. adaptation. (2)

Trouble Every Day 1. Trouble Every Day (1)

I don’t think Miyazaki holds up all that great – though I’d be interested to watch Spirited Away in sequence with Pan’s Labyrinth, Let the Right One In, and The Host – something about all the whining has gotten to me through the pair of public screenings of it I hosted. But there isn’t a day goes by that I don’t think about Matthew Barney’s Cremaster cycle. I saw Princess Mononoke recently in the theaters and was astonished by its power even still; here’s a vote for that one to be the Miyazaki of real, enduring note. Barney, on the other hand, has produced as Byzantine a piece on the myth of the American West as any Cormac McCarthy or Faulkner. Brilliant. I was flat wrong about Spike Lee’s 25th Hour and wonder if it isn’t his best film now in the rearview; Alexander Payne’s films don’t seem to have any relevance past the first viewing – not even Election; and the screenplay for Confessions… remains incomparably sharp naturally, but I’ve cooled on Clooney’s direction of it. I’m pleased to bump Punch-Drunk Love up one slot as a film that gains in consideration: ditto Wendigo and its clarity of youth. It’s Fessenden’s best picture – only rivaled this year by one he produced: Ti West’s House of the Devil. Ramsay’s awe-inspiring Morvern Callar deserves a little bump, Doug Liman’s Bourne Identity suffers a little for it – and Liliana Cavani’s Ripley’s Game, badly mishandled by New Line, is just frickin’ amazing upon repeated viewings. I’m pleased in 2002 to have been right about the two films that retain their relevance to me 8 years on: adaptation. even better now than then, and Claire Denis, as her body of work grows and deepens, maintains her power over me in her little fable of sex cannibals working through the little details of the day-to-day.

Think Romero married to Ozu – and delight at the offspring.


Jefferson Robbins said...

These lists make nice stocking stuffers. Best of the holiday to all.

corym said...

Good to see Ripley's Game on a list. But it hurts me--even now--to lose About Schmidt and Confessions.

Regarding Confessions, Clooney's direction still feels like greased lightning to me. I think he employed stage trickery in a way that more film directors should consider. Clooney wowed me without resorting to computer effects. It's been a while since that happened. Pile Kaufman's script on top and you've got a classic in my mind. You've rated it low on both lists.

And Schmidt. I agree that Payne's films haven't held up, but Schmidt might be the sole exception. All of Payne's films remind me of a person's memories. The signs seem obvious and no one acts quite the way they should--but, Jesus, that happened. It doesn't stay together, normally, but when you're diagramming the creeping death of middle America, it kinda works.

Justin B-H said...

Interesting list-agree about Mononoke relative to Spirited Away, but would be interested to hear about the whining from the audience at your screenings.

And congrats on the fantastic troika of reviews today-should be enough to silence the Joe Leydons of this world...

Anyway Mele Kalikimaka to all!

DJR said...

I wish I liked Trouble Every Day, rather than merely admiring the hell out of it. I can read the poetry, but I don't feel it.

The Bourne Identity is good, but Supremacy is the only entry in the series that really wowed me (wonder how that holds up after Ultimatum), while Solaris, Wendigo, and Morvern Callar all remain largely underappreciated, so kudos for keeping them on the list. My list would look something like this:

1. Punch-Drunk Love
2. 25th Hour
3. Femme Fatale
4. What Time Is it There?
5. Adaptation
6. Solaris
7. Y Tu Mama Tambien
8. Undisputed
9. Morvern Callar
10. Dark Water

Patrick said...

Never liked Confessions, nor Ripley's Game. My top for 2002 was Punch-Drunk Love, though I admit I haven't seen it since, partially because I fear it wasn't as good as I remember it to be :)

Runner-ups for me this year: Bourne Identity (still the best of the three, to me), and Adaptation. Though from the 13 films up there, I've only seen 4.

Hugh D. said...

Glad to see adaptation. continues to resonate with you, Walter. I still think it's the high point of Kaufman's career. Eternal Sunshine is probably more universal in its appeal but for some reason the Cooper/Streep relationship moved me much more deeply than Carrey/Dunst did. That probably says more about me, though.

I'm glad the Solaris remake is up there. Didn't see it until last year, but it's definitely stayed with me. I love sci-fi that treats the genre as a proving ground for big ideas - one of the reasons 'Moon' was a favourite this year.

As for 2002 films as yet unmentioned... Far from Heaven, anyone? I didn't have a clue about Douglas Sirk when I first saw it, and I loved it even then.

Anonymous said...

*really hoping millennium actress is in your 2003 list*

Anonymous said...

Walter, I disagree with you about Miyazaki completely; Spirited Away holds up just fine for me. But curious, what about it doesn't work as well for you?

Also, what did you think of Fessenden's Last Winter? That one's my personal favourite of his films so far.

- David H.