Tuesday, January 5, 2010

AVATAR's Source Material

I think you guys should check this out but ONLY if you have seen AVATAR. It's a funny little comparison but contains a lot of spoilers.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Not quite a "Best of the Decade" list Part 2 - Top 15

The 15 films here are all so good in my books that at any day of the week I could of easily reversed the order and still be happy with the result. On my list the top four films were all at one point number one during the construction of this list. As I stated earlier, every film on this list is here based on my own personal experience and enjoyment I had during each time I view these films.

Also if you are curious about the lack of foreign film's on this list I'd suggest you look at the post before this which explains why none are included as well as many other warnings for reading this list.

The 5 that almost made the Top 10

15: Where the Wild Things Are
dir: Spike Jones
It's a much darker version then many expected and it is in no way a children's movie. One of the most haunting and realistic tales of childhood created in film. Max is in no ways a nice child and Spike Jones shows that, by making all of the wild things their own distinct characters with there own faults and attributes Jones makes them relatable and allows the viewer to emotionally connect with them. Spike Jones's film is a perfect mix of style and substance and is one of the finest from this past decade. Will it stay this high after repeat viewings? All I can do is hope so.

14: Gladiator
dir: Ridley Scott
Gladiator is not just an epic film, but an artistic one at the same time. Ridley Scott crafted with Gladiator, not just a regular summer blockbuster but a film that properly combines artistic style, epic action and great storytelling. The action sequences are brilliantly crafted, and Russel Crowe gives a great heartbreaking performance. Besides Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix gives a horrifying performance that reminds us of how talented he once was and how he should give up on this joke he's pulling and return to real acting.

13: Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
dir: Andrew Dominik
Assassination is a poetic film, brilliantly crafted like a Terence Malick feature. The film perfectly portrays the final years of the Mid-West and provides great performances and beautiful photography. The brilliance in this film is that while you expect it to end with the obvious forthcoming assassination, instead the film just gets better, getting deeper and deeper into the characters.

12: Revolutionary Road
dir: Sam Mendes
The most brilliant portrait of a crumbling relationship since Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet both give career best performances and Sam Mendes manages to explore deeply into the characters, understanding their dreams and aspirations as well as allowing us to understand why they feel trapped in their own lifestyle.

11: Letters from Iwo Jima
dir: Clint Eastwood
I don't really know whether I'm allowed to include this on my list since it's not in the English language but it is an american production. This film is not just a war story, but it is a character study, a horror movie and a horrific yet brilliant depiction of one of the most brutal slaughters in history. Just for the scene when all the men are informed they must commit suicide, the look in their eyes and the undeniable fear they are experiencing. These men are all aware that their chances of survival are slim to none. Eastwood deals with the subject subtly and beautifully.

The Final 10

10: Brokeback Mountain
dir: Ang Lee
Heath Ledger gives two of the best performances of the decade as the Joker in the Dark Knight and as Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback. Ang Lee crafts one of the finest films I've ever seen, one both beautiful and haunting. The dilemmas these characters face is heartbreaking and the love story in the centre is the most beautiful homosexual romance ever captured on film.

9: 25th Hour
dir: Spike Lee
This is possibly Spike Lee's best film since Do the Right Thing. Edward Norton is brilliant in this film, as are the rest of this incredible cast. This film uses the post 9/11 New York atmosphere brilliantly referring to the attacks but never over doing it. Spike Lee crafts one of the best monologues in recent films as well a brilliant ending that doesn't exactly tell you how this film really ends, I would actually go as far as calling this the best ending in a film this decade.

8: Pixar Films (If I have to choose then UP)
dir: too many to name
This includes (in order of preference from worst to best) The Incredibles, Monsters Inc., Ratatouille, Wall-E, Finding Nemo and Up (Cars is there only film not good enough to make this list.) Every one of these films are great on their own, with their own great message, though I find they all kind of follow the same general structure. My favourite of these films is Up because I believe it is their most mature one yet, and even just the first fifteen minutes deserve it a spot on this list (the rest of the movie doesn't hurt). Up is such a great movie because I believe it is the most emotional animation film yet, and the only one to bring me to tears.

7: Requiem for a Dream
dir: Darren Aronofsky
Aronofsky's masterpiece is a perfect mixture of style and substance with superb performances from the whole cast, including one of the decades finest female performances from Ellen Burstyn. Requiem is one of the hardest films to sit through and has the most painful endings of the decade. The intervening story lines work perfectly together, the score fits the filmperfectly and the message against drugs and addiction is both affecting and horrifying.

6: Mystic River
dir: Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood is the only director with two films on this list and that doesn't suit me to well, especially since his last two films were terrible in my mind. I find that Mystic River works so well not solely based upon his direction but more because of the brilliant story and the oscar worthy performances from Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon, as well as the rest of the talented cast. Mystic River is likely the greatest classic mystery style movie from this past decade and by all likelihood it will, along with Tim Robbins haunting performance, stick with me for many years to come.

5: I'm not There
dir: Todd Haynes
I'm not There is both a bio pic on Bob Dylan and the farthest thing from one. It's saying that Dylan's life can't be told as one person but instead as a mixture of personalities that all describe a part of himself or a period in his life. The whole cast is extraordinary, especially Cate Blanchett and the soundtrack is brilliant. Todd Haynes focuses on style over substance but in result provides a masterwork of storytelling and one of the best most original bio pics ever made.

4: Minority Report
dir: Steven Spielberg
I remember first seeing Minority Report when I was just eight years old and being utterly confused by the storyline and everything that was going on. Just at the beginning of last month I decided I might as well give the film a second chance, and after renting the film the next day I went to HMV and bought it, within those next two weeks I saw the film another three times and enjoyed it more and more each viewing. The film poses a strong philosophical question as well as has some top class acting from both Tom Cruise and Samantha Morten. The film is an intense drama, an involving character study and a heart pounding action film.

3: The Departed
dir: Martin Scorsese
I've called this film one of my favourite's of all time for so long that it even surprises me that it didn't top this list. I may have earlier claimed that Revolutionary Road was DiCaprio's career best performance but to be honest it's actually a tie with the Departed, in which DiCaprio get's so deep into his troubled character. It's funny how both these performances were snubbed by the Academy Awards, at least The Aviator and Who's Eating Gilbert Grape got him nominations since they're almost as great. I think the Departed mean's so much to me since it was the winner of the first Oscar's I actually started paying attention to and was the first film that year that I actually fell in love with, when it won the Oscar I couldn't of been happier.

2: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
dir: Michel Gondry
I can watch this film a million times and be affected the same way each time. In my opinion this is the best film about a relationship I've ever seen. it is touching, comedic, romantic, depressing, heartfelt, beautiful and many more things as well. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet give outstanding performances as three dimensional characters with their own distinct personalities. Charlie Kaufman's script is layered and original and Michel Gondry directs this film like a piece of art.

1: Children of Men
dir: Alfonso Cuaron
This film nearly missed this list completely and oddly enough it is the only film in my top four I don't own. It was only yesterday when I convinced my self to re-watch this film. I remembered a few years ago seeing this film and enjoying it quite a bit, but only recently did I realize how brilliant it is, when my friend kept convincing me to re-watch it based on how much he loved it, I took his advice and obviously I was pleasantly surprised. The film is pure brilliance, it is a believable vision of what the world might actually look like if everyone was infertile. It is depressing beyond belief but at the same time leaves us with hope. A film so well made, strong and affecting, based solely on it's affect on myself I find it incredibly difficult to put it any lower then number 1.

That's my personal opinion on the matter, whether you agree or disagree thats your own opinion and if you care to share I'd love to hear it.

Not quite a "Best of the Decade" list Part 1 - The Set Up

This isn't a list of the best films of the decade. First off I feel as if I have no right to declare anything the best of the decade. Instead, I feel I can only go as far as calling something a personal favorite. Also I feel this would be an unfair title because based on my viewing experiences I don't believe I can fairly judge the whole decade in film.

One of my limitations in creating this list is that I only started viewing films, big time in the past two years. It would seam than that most my choices would have been of films released in those years, but that isn't the case. Instead my favorite films tend to be either ones that my parents showed me before I was a film nut, or ones that have been recommended to me since I started focusing more towards artistic and non blockbuster filmmaking.

As well, as a sixteen years old Canadian, I've seen a little number of foreign and documentary films and therefore I find it unfair to include any on this list. This is not saying that I haven't seen any foreign films that are good enough to make my list. For example, a film like The Diving Bell and the Butterfly would most likely come near the top of this list.

So it seems as if a more fair title for this list would be something along the lines of "my top ten favourite American/ British narrative film's I've seen from the last decade," but that seems a bit long and unnecessary, doesn't it?

As a final notice before I state my favorite films, I'd like to inform you that as soon as I view any films that I believe should of been on this list, I will do my best to post my beliefs and notify you of them as soon as I can.

Here's a list of a bunch of my favourite films that just missed this list.

  • A Beautiful Mind (just because of the first time I saw it and the effect it had on me)
  • Almost Famous
  • Anchor Man
  • Catch Me if You Can
  • Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Far From Heaven
  • Gangs of New York
  • Garden State
  • Gone Baby Gone
  • Hustle and Flow
  • In Bruges
  • Juno/ Up in the Air (Jason Reitman is a director to watch for)
  • King Kong (you may think it's too long, I like every moment of it just how it is)
  • Knocked Up
  • Little Children/ In the Bedroom (Todd Field is a director to keep an eye on)
  • Lord of the Rings franchise
  • Lost in Translation
  • Mulholland Dr.
  • No Country for Old Men
  • O' Brother Where art Thou?
  • Precious
  • Shaun of the Dead
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • Super Bad
  • The 40 Year Old Virgin
  • The Aviator
  • The Constant Gardener (I always preferred it to City of God for several reasons)
  • The Hours
  • The new Batman franchise
  • Training Day
  • Walk the Line
  • Zoolander

For my Top 15 films tune in Tomorrow