This has been a real breakthrough year for me as far as film goes and my writing of it. Especially this blog and my contribution to The Concordian. Here's to an ever better 2010 and many thanks to all my readers and followers (nearing 100) that have supported and read the blog. To some who are wondering my ten best list will most likely appear in the coming weeks- as well as a review of Michael Haneke's polarizing The White Ribbon (Which I`m still on the fence about). In fact I might just write it now and make it my final post of the decade, hmmm

Happy New year from Mind Of A Suspicious Kind


This is a movie I was looking forward to in many ways. It is directed by Clint Eastwood -who needs no introduction- & has a giant performance at its core from Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela. Lo and behold my surprise when finding out that it is in fact a movie about rugby and the way sports can unite a nation divided. This can be the kind of stuff Oscar would drool over and -don't get me wrong- Invictus will most probably garner many nominations when nominees are announced next month but it isn't that good.

Eastwood had 2 great movies last year -Gran Torino & Changeling. He brought urgency and power to what were very meaty stories, both of which made my top ten list that very year. The problem with Invictus is the way he handles things way too conventionally and rarely has an original thought or idea at hand. It is NOT a biopic of Mandela and is more about what happened when Mandela's fascination for Rugby led to a sort of unification of South Africa. To call the movie predictable would be hardly the point, it is a sort of statement about how Mandela tried the impossible and made it happen.

I like Matt Damon and he does a good job with his role as captain Francois, a rugby player with heart and -wait for it- an open mind to the ideas Mandela bring forward to him, in a closed door meeting before the Rugby World Cup begins. This isn't the type of movie to be excited writing about, I didn't find much interest or precedences in its formulaic atmosphere. I do agree with critics who say that Freeman is stellar as Mandela but I'm kind of glad this movie has come and gone and not really attained the attention that it so desperately craved.

Almodovar and his 'Broken Embraces'

It's always a welcome treat to catch a new Almodovar movie. He has a cinematic sense that is badly missing with today's maverick directors, he also has a style that is remarkably his and a filmography that is clearly inspired and flamboyant. While many of his movies have a certain -je ne sais pas- joyful and colorful surface to them, there is always substance that comes with his movie's stylistics. I can think of the wonderful Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown which very much had the Almodovar melodrama but had a story that had the substance intended to bring its aspirations to greatness.

Of course, I am not a fan of everything he does. There are some critically lauded movies of his that have left me scratching my head and not totally satisfied with the finished product. Sometimes our friend Pedro goes way beyond the stlye required and forget that there has to be a story told and a mannerism that does not just involve kitschy colors or flamboyant gayness. His new movie is called Broken Embraces (4/5) and its just divine- in fact it is as close to Hitchcock-ian transcendence as he has ever come close to in his career. The story -like many of his movies- is within another story and has a gorgeous Penelope Cruz as an actress obsessed with her director and willing to leave her rich husband for the aforementioned filmmaker.

To say more would be to reveal too many of this richly rewarding movies secrets. Suffice to say I greatly enjoyed the ride that Almodovar gave us this time, especially compared to the overrated fantasy he last bestowed on us with Volver. This is what I expect from a man that has made movies his life and Cruz his beautiful muse. He is a filmmaker to cherish and one that is just starting to mature, even after 3 decades of imaginative storytelling.

Dedicated to Mr. Fox

The reviews you've read are all true, this is a pretty damn good movie & it's actually done the impossible by making me view it twice in theatres. A Wes Anderson movie is always welcome in the film industry, what with a filmography -relatively 10 years old- that reads like an impressive one for any veteran out there: The Royal Tenenbaums, Rushmore & The Darjeeling Limited being the standouts. It makes sense that he would tackle Roald Dahl's classic Fantastic Mr Fox and make it all his own -from what I've heard keeping the spirit of the source. Without a doubt this IS an Anderson movie. The style, characters and narrative we have come to appreciate are all there.

It's made from stop motion animation and has an astounding array of one liners and zingers that cannot be fully taken in during a single viewing. In fact, 2 times isn't even enough to fully GET and grasp everything that is on screen. First off, the animation is beautiful and makes you want to just get inside this incredible world that Anderson has created. Not even the images I'm posting can actually justify the way it is all run. Secondly, I love the voice actors chose, George Clooney -him again- is perfectly cast as the dysfunctional father Mr Fox and Meryl Streep -wonderful in Julie and Julia- is pure class as the Mrs of the fox bunch.

The jokes are limitless. So is this movie's imagination.

There are folks who will take this movie way too seriously being that it is an Anderson picture and it follows the rather somber Darjeeling Limited from 2 years ago but I say go into it to just have a good time, it's his goofiest movie -even more than Bottle Rocket or the disappointing Life Aquatic- & if anything don't be terrified that you're going to a kids movie. This is far more adult than one might think, especially with the cast and director involved with the project.

What Anderson does here is look at the smallest, most intimate of details to give an artfulness that frankly lacks in most animated movies. It's breezy fun and I suggest you go a few times to fully grasp its pleasurable pros (1) The incredibly colorful animation (2) the insanely addictive jokes & (3) the goofy story of a fox that just wanted some damn chickens & -not to forget- Apple cider.

Charles Bronson & The Art Of Violence

In case you never heard of him, Bronson was imprisoned for armed robbery, his original sentence was supposed to be 7 years but because of his absurdly violent behaviour in prison- especially to the staff- he extended that stay to 34 years. All of this without killing a single person and for the majority of that stint being placed in solitary confinement.

I guess calling this movie art would be like calling a movie like 'A Clockwork Orange' art. They are both violent, nihilistic and rebellious- yet they both share an artful side that makes them singular art. Nicholas Winding Refn has made something that cannot help but grab your attention for its fist bloody 92 minutes. & what to make of Tom Hardy's incredible performance as notorious British prisoner Charles Bronson, this is the kind of performance inspired by Daniel Day Lewis' in There Will Be Blood- It's intense and incredibly cinematic in its unblinking harshness.

His performance is a classification of the 'Theatre of The Absurd' which doesn't at all undermine its prowess. Although many critics and bloggers -including myself- will call this movie such names as "intense", "intolerable", "violent" & " bloody", it is first and foremost a goofy -albeit violent- form of theatre -such as it is presented- with centerpiece after centerpiece and a very much episodic structure. In other words, it is the work of a filmmaker that frankly does not give a damn about how the movie translates to the mainstream, just as long as his vision stays intact with the finished product.

Martel's The Headless Woman

Looking at the recently released Film Comment and IndieWire critics polls, notice a movie that you've probably never heard of called The Headless Woman. Its roots reside in Argentina- which is director Lucrecia Martel's home country. His new film demands to be payed attention to, there is attention to detail like not other I've seen in a while.

Maria Onetta plays the titular character & she has just had a car accident. She stops her car for a second, looks back and see far away a dog lying motionless in the street. She continues driving and -at least based on this viewer's assumption- gets a kind of Amnesia that puts us in the same position as herself, not knowing exactly who is who. Not just that but she believes she might have struck a person in that very same accident.

If you think it's complicated, it's much more than you think. There isn't much story here, it's all about character and the social status of Argentina and The headless woman's guilt and isolation to come to peace with has just happened to her. The smallest details to reveal anything or everything come and go in the blink of an eye and I was awestruck at how such simplicity that can be so engrossing, especially on a tiring night such as when I saw it.

I remember thinking "man there's so much stuff to take here" & that's the kind of feeling this might have of many. Although it is told in such simplified terms, it is far from being simple. It asks -make that demands- for you to pay attention to its serene beauty and Onetta's incredible performance, which suffice to say is so good it will likely get ignored come Oscar time.

I'm about to wholeheartedly recommend this movie but be forewarned it is as artsy as anything around and will definitely not be as adored by everybody. It's a certain kind of film for certain kind of people, I guess I just was one of those certainties.

Brittany Murphy RIP

With the news of Murphy's untimely death, there comes shock but there also comes a kind of bizarre tale of a girl that had so much potential but never had the time to fully achieve it. I'm reminded of her performance as a junkie in Spun-which given the possible circumstances of her death- gives a whole new relevance to an actress' brutalized potential.

I would rather not go into detail and instead say I was sadly struck with the news of her death. Watch her as Eminem's love interest in 8 Mile or in Robert Rodriguez's Sin City or even the misbegotten Spun and you will catch the fearlessness and infitie possiblities that were vanished away today.

An Image- Guess the film?

Coen Brothers take on Jewish eccentricities

EDIT- There was a review but I took it off, I still need to see it again to fully grasp everything and I still think I won't with further viewing. It's a brilliant and funny movie and surely something that will split audience reaction. All the better for it. A more thorough review will get posted I once I fully feel it is necessary. In the time being, watch the movie and debate it with a friend.

'Up In The Air'

George Clooney`s character in Up In The Air fires people for a living.

He doesn`t seen to mind it and has a real charm when doing it, which says a lot about his performance given our hard times with the economic structure and the countless layoffs happening everywhere. Not only does Clooney succeed in capturing his character but he does it in such a loose, Cary Grant like feel.

Jason Reitman -the director of this movie- has made a relevant film for our times, dealing with many themes and emotions. It helps Reitman has a stellar cast including Vera Farmiga -as Clooney`s love interest- & Anna Kendrick as his assistant. This is a screenplay filled with good air and good vibes and looks like it was made by real pros that want to infuse as much heart.

Of course the performances are top notch but the real grabber is Reitman`s screenplay -second best to the Coens`A Serious Man this year- which grabbed my attention from start to finish. There are surprises that completely caught me off guard and will likely do the same to you.

Reitman mixes footage of emotional real life employees that lost their job, with a great montage of a wedding ceremony all the way to an exuberant surprising mix of revelations at its climactic end. It all seems out of place but it works and puts Up In The Air right up there with the best movies I`ve seen this year.

Twenty Best Movies of The Decade

Watts and Harring go crazy love in David Lynch's Mulholland Drive

01. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch)
There is a dreaminess to Mulholland Drive-and come to think of it, to many of the movies on my list. It is a first rate example of what sound and image can convey in a limitless array of hypnotic sequences that -at first- seem out of place to one another but emerge as a togetherness that is quite unseen in some of Lynch's movies (Twin Peaks & Lost Highway). What I got from Mulholland Drive was that movies can be fearless & movies can challenge its audience in -oh my gosh- thinking. Its Heroine -or should I say Anti-Heroine- played by an incredible Naomi Watts gets lost in a nightmarish world filled with Sex and murder, a world only Lynch could come up with in his own brilliant lunacy. A world that is so dreamy, in fact too dreamy, that you can't help but think there is darkness and it is actually a nightmare. It is Lynch's best movie and the one that tops the decade.

02. There Will Be Blood (P.T Anderson) The first time I saw There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson's nearly 3 hour epic on Greed and Religion, I was pummeled by its narrative. One viewing wasn't enough to take in its brilliance and so now with a few viewings under my belt, I still haven't taken in everything. There is the brilliant -almost silent- sequence that opens the movie, there's the amazing oil rig explosion, the church baptism & of course the bowling alley finale. Daniel Day Lewis' -in a performance of incredible depth as Daniel Plainview- is a monster of cinema, a man that would use his own son to get what he wants and he does. The time and place being portrayed are the beginning's of capitalism and the beginning of money hungry greed and religious fanaticism. In other words, it is the end of innocence and the start of a revolution that still rules America.

03. History Of Violence (David Cronenberg)
Of all the nerve. How could Cronenberg make a movie condemning violence in our society and proceed in showing explicit violence? Because he is David Cronenberg and he can do whatever he wants to do. Not just that but -and this is a kicker- he is testing our limitations for violence and wants to piss us off. Viggo Mortensens' Tom Stall is a man that has had a violent past he'd rather forget but the violence inside him - and inside us- cannot let go of the its urges to be aggressive, to be sexual and to be violent. Cronenberg suggests it is in our DNA and always will be. Tom's wife has an itch for it too, she has perversely violent sexuality that turns him on and -oh just admit it- turns us on too. Especially that cheerleader dress. Cronenberg made the almost equally impressive Eastern Promises this decade but A History Of Violence is where he brings it home.

04. No Country For Old Men (Joel Coen) Of all the nerve, to end a movie when you least expect it with no resolution and so abrupt. That is what some people thought of the Coens' masterful No Country For Old Men. Let them talk, but for us it is essential Coen, a dive into humanity as a never better Josh Brolin is chased by evil incarnated in the form of Anton Chigurh (pronounced Sugar) played by Oscar winner Javier Bardem. It is a trip in hell and an unforgettable journey that focuses on evil and its many surprises. It reminded us of early Hitchcock, with its tightly nit suspense and its play on audience. It is storytelling that cannot be matched by anyone and a reminder that the Coens this decade -with O Brother Where Art Thou, The Man Who Wasn't There & A Serious Man- were up to serious business.

05. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy (Peter Jackson) To put all three movies together is to showcase just how imaginative and relentless Peter Jackson's movies were. They sent us back every year to see what would happen next and made us cautious as to not read any spoilers or read any reviews before actually watching it. It is THE best 10 hour movie this decade or any has ever produced. Its sound design, cinematography, music and costumes are first rate but its Jackson -an adventurous poet- that does the impossible by bringing intimacy and heartbreak to a movie with such an epic scale as Frodo and Sam try to put the ring out of evils reach. A movie as relevant for our times -especially in a decade ruled by evil fanaticism in the media. These movies are to be treasured and will be for many decades to come.

06. Memento (Christopher Nolan) This classic thriller directed by Christopher Nolan tells its narrative backwards. That's its grip and that's what makes repeated viewings so rewarding, especially given the fact that Nolan infuses every scene with an urgency that is rare in Hollywood or independent film. What Nolan made with this 2001 movie, is the most audacious and influential movie of the 2000's as Guy Pierce's amnesiac Leonard Shelby roams around looking for his wife's killer not noticing it is his bare hands that might have done the deed. Many directors -including Irreversible Gaspar Noe- tried to rehash the magic of Nolan's leap to original thought, but none have been able to create the thought and feeling of Leonard Shelby's voyage through hell. The Prestige & The Dark Knight were great but Memento is essential Nolan.

07. Cache/Hidden (Michael Haneke) Haneke had a bold vision and he put it up front on the screen for everybody to look at it. Just like almost every movie on my list, Cache plays with your head and rewards repeated viewings (and just like my other movies on this list, it is actually about violence). I love it because it plays with your head and makes you pay attention to every scene, trying to find clues and trying to deconstruct the puzzle. It is not just about violence but about voyeurism -a debated subject this decade. Haneke means to shock you and he does, it's a delicious setup for a finale that -as the American Beauty slogan once stated- demands you to Look Closer. I have looked closer and found things that bear such resemblance to our society and culture, it hurts and this is a great movie.

08. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki)
Having seen Spirited Away numerous times and seeing how it has translated over the years on DVD to its audiences only reinforces the fact that it is an animated classic. Creepier than The Wizard Of Oz & as an awe inspiring as any of Hayao Miyazaki's movies. The story is richly told and layered with enough beautiful hand drawn that animation freaks will giggle in excitement. My take on the movie? forget about the story and get immersed into a world you have never and will likely never adventure to again.

09. Children Of Men (Alfonso Cuarron)

Here's a movie miracle that grows on you and is the definition of great storytelling. Alfonso Cuaron -him again- made a sci fi movie for our times and a movie that can rival almost anything sci fi of the past 3 decades. It is a film that has built up an audience since its release in December 2006 and has become one of the crowning achievements of the decade. With its handheld camera and its long takes, Children Of Men -like many of the movies on the list- was a social message for a better future and a stop to the broken promises of our government and its people. It is about the last child on earth and the first child on earth, the first sign on optimism and the last. Here's to a better decade in society and to the movies that give us reason to think and act.

10. Dancer In The Dark (Lars Von Trier)

Another movie that ticked off a lot of people. Lars Von trier pummeled Bjork with her role as a going-blind steel worker that gets taken advantage of by everybody around her in jolly America. Talk about the American dream, this is what Von Trier thinks of it & it's a brutal, cross cultural nightmare. It is demanding, infuriating and not for the timid minded. Bjork vowed to never act again after this movie, claiming she'd rather please the ears than the eyes. To tell you the truth, watching this movie I understand why. It is a courageous, demanding high wire act that possibly took a lot out of her. It's our loss that she no longer acts but our gain that she at least made Dancer In The Dark. A bold, visionary masterpiece.

11. Y Tu Mama Tambien (Alfonso Cuarron) Two horny teenagers convince a hottie adult to join them on a road trip to an invented beach called "Heaven's Mouth" -love that name- and in the process garner a new perspective on what sex is and what it should be like. The sexiest movie of the decade. Alfonso Cuarron's erotic road trip was the best foreign language movie because -well- it was fun, heartbreaking and thoughtful. The plot is simple and -on paper convulted- but Cuarron infuses movie magic in its every frame, he doesn't put down his characters. This is one of the most honest portrayal's of sex I have ever seen on film, a portrayal that I doubt Hollywood can ever have the guts or rebellious thoughts of producing. For Cuarron (Children Of Men), Y Tu Mama Tambien is where it all started and it all came together.

12. The Departed (Martin Scorsese) Martin Scorsese decided to go back to the gangster genre that made him with classics such as Mean Streets, Goodfellas & Casino. In doing so, he made a movie that was indisputably entertaining and provided some much needed Hollywood relief from the slack indie film was carrying. A never better Leonardo Dicaprio and Matt Damon, face off in a duel that switched identities, kills of almost everybody on screen and features Jack Nicholson holding a dildo at a movie theatre. what more do you want? Scorsese's decade also featured Gangs Of New York -another great movie- but The Departed was his classic as well a deserving Oscar winner for Best picture.

13. The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky)
Mickey Rourke poured heart and soul to his role as The Wrestler. Don't mind the bragging from some people claiming that he was playing himself and it was an easy stretch. the emotions he brings are tantalizing as well as heartbreaking, for the facts given below. Sure he might be playing himself but sometimes it's harder to play yourself than somebody else, are you still with me? It does also help that surrounded bu a great cast, including Marissa Tomei as his stripper love interest and an immensely talents director called Darren Aronofsky, a man so talented I disliked his much overrated Requiem For A Dream this decade but couldn't wait to see his next project. Topping The Wrestler will be a hell of a challenge.

14. City Of God (Fernando Mereilles) Mereilles made this Brazilian Gangster classic on a thin stringed budget, who cares. He makes a crime movie that is as scary as it is a penetrating look inside kid gangsters. A movie influenced by Scorsese but with a style reinvented all its own. To watch a kid shooting another kid on the streets of Rio, is to think of the immense amount of violence happening around us that is unprinted and unheard. It is this kind of movie that brings social relevance to a story and a case that has been denied accessibility by the mainstream media in North America and Europe. There's already been numerous copies of City Of God but none better- as is always the case, first time was the charm.

15. Borat (Larry Charles) This is far and away the funniest movie I have seen the last 10 years. I remember going to an advanced screening and having as much fun hearing people's reaction to it than as watching the movie. Which isn't a bad thing, it's a social satire and hearing a reaction to it is very important. The thing that got me about this movie is how some of the people laughing were actually laughing at themselves and their bigotry without even knowing it. It was a film aimed at bigotry in our society and it came in the form of a Kazakhstani man dressed up in the cheapest suit you can find at the salvation army. It was also the most quoted movie I have witnessed in many years, Yagshemash & chinqwi will forever be ingraved in my head. I like !

16. Sideways (Alexander Payne) Paul Giammati is the best actor around to player a loser or a schlub. To some that would an insult, but I really do mean it as a compliment. The acting Giammati does here is magical and very much in vein French cinema- in its free styled substance and reality. In Alexander Payne's classic, two best friends- one about to get married and the other single- embark on a road trip that to wineries across California and end up going through a series of mishaps that are both hilarious and significant to their steps of growing in a far gone adult world. Payne is a master at these sort of movies, the men in his movies are scarred but real, funny but sad & Sideways is the best example of Payne at his finest. I cannot wait for his next middle aged schlub.

17. Old Boy (Chan Woo Pak) Here's a movie that got better in stature & featured THE best ending of any movie this decade. An ending that gave whiplash to its audience and disgusted them in the process with its main hero's relation to incest. It's another journey through hell that beings in an astonishing manner and ends in an astonishing matter. It's a classic of Asian cinema because of its highly stylized direction and its too cool for school plot that reveals no cartoonish relativity but immense human feeling.

18. Mystic River (Clin Eastwood) Of all the great Eastwood's this decade -Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino & Changeling- Mystic River stands above the rest because of its story that is relatable to almost anyone who has lost a loved one. It's a movie that tests the boundaries of friendship and family but also features Sean Penn's greatest performance -as a man overcome with grief by the loss of his daughter- and is a mesmerizing whodunit that had me guessing til the very end. Also memorable for Tim Robbins' turn as a pedophile and Kevin Bacon as a detective.

19. WALL-E (Andrew Stanton)
If there ever was an animated movie that was as socially important as WALL E, I haven't seen it. It's far from just a kiddie movie, its themes are dark and involving. Take for instance its plot, which has Earth practically left behind because of environmental breakdown and all of its population living in Space, binging on food and as overweight as we've ever been. In the middle of all this is a sweet love story between two robots, a love story that has the kind of heartbeat and reality that movies involving two human beings cannot come close to achieving.

20. The 25th Hour (Spike Lee) Just like all of the movies listed above, The 25th Hour is ambitious, messy and drunk on its own daring. It is the perfect example of the 21st century movie this decade and the reason why Spike Lee is still a relevant force in Cinema. Edward Norton's character has one day before he goes to prison -for who knows how long- and he spends it rekindling with friends, lovers and trying to find out who snitched him out to the police. It's a movie that gives you a lump in the throat by and -as Bruce Springsteen's The Fuse plays in the end credits- makes you believe you have seen something memorable and profound. Here's to more of these in the new decade.

21. Gangs Of New York (Martin Scorsese)
Scorsese's decade was of sprawling ambition. Think about Dicaprio's OCD Hughes in The Aviator, or the masterful body count of The Departed. To me, the Scorsese image that will likely last the longest is that of Bill The Butcher -as portrayed by the always reliable Daniel Day Lewis- burning up one of the first few frames of this indelible tribute to New York's past and present, post 9/11. Few saw it and those who did felt underwhelmed, I have a feeling they might change their mind by seeing it again.

22. A.I/ Artificial Intelligence (Steven Spielberg)
Steven Spielberg's wizardry is in full effect with his heartfelt tribute to Stanley Kubrick's intended vision of a robot that just wanted to be a boy. Many felt that the darkness Kubrick wanted never exactly materialized with Kid friendly Steven. Wrong. Look again and you will see a visionary accomplishment from a director that set aside melodrama and made a hypnotically dreamy nightmare.

23. Minority Report (Steven Spielberg)
Another Steven Spielberg nightmare. This time Tom Cruise takes the front seat as a futuristic cop that arrests people before they've even committed murder. sounds relevant? It is and might just be this decade's Blade Runner.

24. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry)
This is a heartbreaking movie with delicate award worthy performances by Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. If anybody has ever gone through a breakup or truly believed that it was a mistake to get into the relationship, this is a movie for you. It has a valid point of how we tend to forget the good times and only focus on the bad. & it also features one of the best scripts of Charlie Kaufman's career. A milestone movie that has clearly stood the test of time for its heart and ingenious originality on display.

25. Lost In Translation (Sofia Coppola)
Coppola came out with an incredible movie about friendship and love in a foreign country. Critics celebrated her vision and -in turn- made expectations for her following films almost unreachable. That's how good this movie is. A never better Bill Murray falls for a beautiful Scarlet in the beautiful wonder of Japanese culture and amicability. Coppola makes us wonder what will happen, right up til its finale frame- which ends with a whisper that is never heard or revealed in the crowd.

26. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee)
Ang Lee brought visual poetry to a movie that was as influential as any other this decade. The poetic martial arts he created had a key impact on the way martial arts was gonna be viewed for the following 10 years. Lee's picture is as much a landmark in that department as The Matrix was 1 year prior. A Classic of foreign cinema.

27. Bowling For Columbine (Michael Moore)
Moore took huis camera and went on a road trip to American manners as he interviewed gun nut after gun nut in this extraordinary documentary -his best- about America's passion about gun control. The result was incendiary as well as a new classic in the form. Moore has made bigger, more expensive docs but none more brave and entertaining than this dynamite movie. A classic that will likely get shown in High School & Colleges for years to come- most because this debate is only peaking and about to blow up even more. 28. Amelie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet) 29. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan) 30. O' Brother Where Art Thou (Joel Coen)

It's hard to imagine but I've seen more than 800 movies this past decade- So you can see my conflicted decision choosing just 20 in my list of the best this decade. Many will argue with this list but isn't that the point? I made it for -above all else- debate, because it is quite clear that we have been showered with great stuff this decade. Possibly the best decade since the 1970's- where stuff like The Godfather & A Clockwork Orange got released and influenced a whole new generation.

I chose the 20 movies with one question at hand, will they stand the test of time? My answer to all of these is a resounding yes, yes & -wait for it- yes. The reasoning was simple. They are rebellious and unlike anything you have seen before. i.e. Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood is a flawed movie but it is perhaps the most ambitious of the bunch & was solidified by its rebellious spirit and its no mercy filmmaking.

This was a decade in which we saw a new breed of filmmaking and -with that- the movies were not afraid to take risks because -more than ever- audiences warmed up to them and wanted to view something more than just a raunchy teen comedy or a past its prime action flick. It was the Decade in which we were introduced to Nolan, Cuaron, Aronofsky, Mereilles, Bird, Greengrass, Gondry, Coppola, Inarittu, Field & Stanton.

It was a hard decision but 20 was the proper number, any more and I'd be delving out of my goal for timelessness. The rankings could change over the next few years but for now this a definitive account of the movies that shaped, influenced and touched me over the past 10 years. It is a list driven by an artistic point of view and I hope you debate it to pieces cause -as you know- that can only be good for my ego. Here are the 30 classics of the decade & be forewarned for the occasional odd title here and there (that only means you got to rent it)

If it's still playing..

Paranormal Activity (B+) is a fun time @ the movies. No need to reveal this cheapie's secrets, just go and see it. Made for a measly 30,000$ budget, it captures the kind of imagination horror movies have been missing in recent years, sure it looks a bit like The Blair Witch Project but just like that former movie it has imagination to spare and doesn't rely on any special effects to creep its audience out. It's a breath of fresh air in an industry polluted by mindless and overdone product. I love how it plays with your imagination til the very end & how the filmmakers had the courage to stick to a non conventional style and go with it til the every end. This is definitely not Hostel or These Hills Have Eyes- It is not at the least bit gory and fries your nerves in eloquent sand surprising ways. That's right, I mentioned Hostel and Eloquent in the same sentence.

"Brothers" & "Bad Lieutenant- Port of Call New Orleans"/ The last few weeks of 2009

There's a stunning scene midway into Jim Sheridan's new opus Brothers (C+) in which a war veteran (Tobey Maguire) comes back from a scarring stint in Afghanistan, shattered and filled with blood in his hands. There is reckless danger in the bags under his eyes and he has lost an immense amount of weight. It all amounts to a breakdown of shattering intensity that ends with his pointing a gun to his wife, brother and -ultimately- to himself. It is THE scene of the movie as well as one of the most truthful and shattering accounts of what it is to come back home after having done bloody sin overseas. Brothers -sadly- cannot live up to the hypnotic intensity of this scene throughout its running time and sometimes feels maudlin & out of sync.

Before the aforementioned scene there is an abundance of by the books storytelling that only results in -for the most part- predictability and a sense of deja vu. Jake Gylennhall plays the brother of the war vet, who falls for his wife -Natalie Portman- while everybody believes the former has died. Are you still with me? Brothers was called the best movie of the past 20 years by David Letterman this week on Late Night- Hell, its not even the best movie released this week. Its cliches are too plenty to be accoladed on any sort of best of list & although there are powerful moments, it cannot fulfill the expectations that came before it and the starry cast and director involved in an ultimately forgettable project.

Nicolas Cage raises hell as a corrupt, drug using lieutenant in Werner Herzog's remake (B+) of the 1992 Abel Ferera masterpiece. I'd call it a slight remake, because apart from the title there aren't many similarities. Although just like its predecessor, its a hell dream made in the fiery furnaces- with a knockout performance by Cage (So good and risky, he won't get nominated for an Oscar at year's end). Watch Cage Rape a girl he stops for heroine possession, watch him hallucinate about Iguana's, watch him randomly blurt out obscenities & watch him -above all- give a hell raising performance in a movie that has plot as a secondary intention & over the top lunacy as its foremost.

Cage's Lieutenant is seen injuring his back at the movie's start- which leads to a hard addiction to painkillers, which eventually leads to other pills. The Lieutenant goes into a trip from hell there on in and becomes out of control with his actions & limitless assault on society. It's a comedy, one in which Cage walks around a torn down New Orleans in search of a soul and taking care of his hooker/girlfriend. This is not for everybody and be forewarned of the non linearity of Herzog's manners with the screenplay at his disposal. This the kind of stuff that rattle the most timid of souls but for the rest of us, it is a film worth seeking- as fiery, dangerous & rebellious as any out there right now.

'00-'09: Ten Performances (Actress)

Naomi Watts (Mulholland Drive)
Naomi Watts (21 Grams)
Halle Berry (Monster's Ball)
Bjork (Dancer In The Dark)

Laura Linney (You Can Count On Me)
Diane Lane (Unfaithful)
Kate Winslet (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind)
Maria Bello (History Of Violence)
Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone)
Sally Hawkins (Happy Go Lucky)

Continuing with my recap of the decade is another list. This time Actresses are featured and there wasn't an abundance to choose from. Once more-women were limited in original, exciting roles & instead were overshadowed by male leads. The fact that this is happening in Hollywood, especially to women over 40 is disturbing, especially given the fact that most great actresses seem to disappear from the overall consensus once they reach that age. That is a crying shame considering Laura Linney, Diane Lane, Maria Bello and Amy Ryan -all featured on my list- hit 40 this decade, yet still gave immensly powerful performances that will likely stand the test of time.

Actress of the decade? Naomi Watts- with two knockout performances in two drastically different movies. One playing a suicidal dreamer & the other playing a mother succumbed to grief. The most surprising performance would be Bjork with Dancer In The Dark- in which her blinded character is taken advantage of her livelihood at every turn and given a true perspective of the demonized side of America. Bjork & Naomi Watts had roles that most actresses could not find this decade- filled with rage, originality & sheer boldness.

'00-'09: Ten Performances (Actor)

Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)
Daniel Day Lewis (Gangs Of New York)

Javier Bardem
(No Country For Old Men)
Heath Ledger
(Brokeback Mountain)
Paul Gamatti
Sean Penn (
Mystic River)
Steve Buscemi (Ghost World)
Daniel Day Lewis (There Will Be Blood)
Adrien Brody (The Pianist)
Ben Kingsley (Sexy Beast)

Here's a list I was looking forward to making and in deciding which of the ten I would choose, I knew I wouldn't be able to rank them in any way shape or form. So here -immensely thought out might I add- is the ten best Male performances I have seen this decade. Notice the omission of Heath Ledger's Joker and instead the inclusion of his gay cowboy in Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain (overrated by the way). That's right, I chose the cowboy over the clown -which should not discount just how good he was in The Dark Knight- I prefered the risk & heartbreak he brought to the former rather than the latter. Chances are you might not have seen some of these acting landmarks, I reccomend you seek them out. Sometimes a performance is worth the watch alone. Notice Daniel Day Lewis occupying two spots on the list & they are very well merited if you've seen his performances as Bill The Butcher & Daniel Plainview. He IS the actor of the decade and has achieved the impossible by topping his incredible performances of the 90's (In The Name Of The Father, The Crucible). Notable Omissions that I hate leaving out; Jack Nicholson in About Schmidt, Forest Whitaker in The Last King Of Scotland & Thomas Haden Church in Sideways.

"Where The Wild Things Are"

And while I admit my disappointment with Spike Jonze's latest, I find that quite a few people are mixed on this movie also. It's a love/hate relationship that Where The Wild Things Are should be having with its audience (and critics too). Me? I was bored and disappointed by the talents behind this movie and the thinness that came out of it. I think it all comes down to why would Jonze-a directorial wizard if there ever was one- take a 12 sentence children's book and turn it into a 9 million dollar 90 minute movie? I was reminded numerous times as to no matter how talented Jonze might be, he needs a good script & in his first 2 movies (Being John Malkovich & Adaptation) he had a gimme with Charlie Kaufman scribing them both.

There are good intentions here and ambition that will likely not be seen in any other kids movie this year but its attempt to get into the psych of an 8 year old is far harder to achieve than Jonze might have initially thought. The scenes involving the 'Monsters' are hardly dramatic and more atmospheric in content- which to some is a great thing but what's the point? If there isn't much story here, how can you get dragged into the film's execution? I know maybe I'm stretching it a little bit and should think a little less of its context and let myself get swept away by the majesty that is supposed to happen on screen but even if I do that, I will likely still be utterly bored out of my bloody mind. For Jonze, this is a step back but don't count him out- he's still a genius to me.

McCarthy's universe in "The Road"

Author Cormac McCarthy has always had a very bleak view of our society. Yes Jordan, Please say something I don't know & multiply it by 100. I'm not sure what that means but suffice to say his novel -The Road- was hailed when released a few years back as one of the great American Novels and has garnered a wide following. If you don't know McCarthy, he's the brains behind No Country For Old Men, which in turn became a masterful Coen Brothers movie 2 years ago.

The Road (3.5/5) can only be described as Apocalyptic. Its subject is so vast and ambitious but its resonance is that of the love between father and son. The world has reached an Apocalyptic state and not many are left- Food is in very short supply, animals are completely extinct & those that are alive have become Cannibals, in search of next prey.

Viggo Mortenson is the father and newcomer Kodi-Smith Mcphee plays the son. Their bond is what sustains the movie and gives it its heart, without that bond this might as well be 2012. Not to even compare it to that film, this is a whole different monster and is the opposite of what a disaster movie usually brings in typical mainstream Hollywood. Not much goes on but everything does. It might as well have been divided into chapters, considering the numerous encounters Father and Son encounter while trying to survive, heck even Robert Duval shows up as a 90 year old wise man that comes in peace.

Although this is powerful and moving stuff, it never reaches the peak of its landmark novel. The hopeful ending doesn't feel right- especially after all the darkness that has come before it. But that's just the ending, the resonance Viggo brings is stellar and if there ever was an actor that could pull of a Tour De Force performance such as this one, it's him.

Precious: Based On The Novel "Push" By Sapphire

Sidibe as Precious Jones with Lenny Kravitz?

This movie will likely get nominated for many Oscars and possibly win a few in the process but is it that good? My answer would be no. Sometimes expectations rattle a movie before you watch it and this is a good case of it. No matter what people say, Precious is not worth the advance hype it is getting. Don't get me wrong, there are powerful scenes in it and an incredibly intense & scary performance by Monique -that's right Monique- but I'm not about to warm up to a movie that likes to push your buttons and demand you to immediately love it. That's what Precious is to me- A film so full of itself that it demands, no make that begs, for you to fall in its shocking traps.

Its story is that of immense trauma. Clarice 'Precious' is an obese black girl that gets verbally abused by her mother and raped by her father, in turn she ends up mothering his two kids & tries to get out of the place she most hates, home. There's a cameo by Mariah Carey- as a social worker- that cannot get passed the fact that you are watching Mariah try to act & there's also a kind of unusual focus on 'Higher Learning' as precious tries to cope with education and the hard knock life. It's staggering stuff & -at times- very powerful and real. The scenes of abuse are hypnotic because of how well staged they are by newcomer Lee Daniels, who's a natural with the camera and invokes flashbacks that have Precious dreaming of walking the runway one day as a beauty queen.

I can think of numerous critics participating in the backlash of the film- most notably Glenn Kenny, who's refusal to even see it, is a clear indicator of the intense debate that will likely rage on once Awards time comes along this January. Gabourey "Gabby" Sidibe plays Precious and don't be surprised if she becomes the front runner for this year's Best Actress race -along with An Education's Carey Mulligan. It's her first movie role and -as much as it sounds cliched and repetitive- she was born to be Precious Jones. It's one thing to be on camera and expose yourself and all your flaws but what Sidibe does is play a role that is so demanding and crucial to the heart of this preciously flawed and relentlessly assaulting film.

Coffee & Cigarettes

I know, I know- smoking is terrible for you and can cause major damage to your health, but it's oh so awesome and cool, especially when seen on screen. Some would say that celluloid and smoke were a match made in heaven, especially for photographers who love to have it in the background as they shoot a scene.

David Stairharn in George Clooney's Good Night And Good Luck

No kidding then, that whenever a said cinematographer or director has a chance to shoot in black and white, they make sure smoke is in the air & is clearly seen. B &W goes along great with smoke, thus it is a rare sight to have a film noir from the 40's with no smoke whatsoever. Have you ever seen one without it? Name it and I shall pull my claim. Especially THE film noir of all film noirs Double Indemnity, which climax's with a wounded character getting one last smoke from a partner he betrayed.

One last smoke in Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity

Even more extreme is Jim Jarmusch's rather ill fated Coffee & Cigarettes- which was an experimental pleasure when it appeared 5 years ago in theatres. The premise was simple- short stories, told in Black and White, which involve characters smoking and drinking coffee on screen, while having oddly uninvolved conversations about philosophy and life in general. Did it work? I don't think it did, in fact it was a real bore but it was rather beautifully shot and had scene after scene of glowing smoke mixed with the rust of drinking of a cup of coffee.

Renee French in Jim Jarmusch's Coffee And Cigarettes

What's the point of this post? Well, it's definitely not gonna win a Nobel Prize, nor will it live on as one of my better exercises in Film but look at at those pretty pictures with all the smoke in glorious Black and White- doesn't it make you want to grab one and just read a book with a nice cup of coffee? If the answer is yes, I rest my case. If the answer s no, you are very strong willed. Now on with the show.

Billy Bob Thornton in the Joel Coen's The Man Who Wasn't There

Best Of The Decade: 2000-2009: Foreign Film

Maribel Vardu in Alfonso Cuaron's mesmerizing Y Tu Mama Tambien

Not only was it a premiere decade for Foreign Language film but it also produced some of the best most exciting movies around. I'm thinking of Alfonso Cuarron who's Y Tu Mama Tambien -which tops my list- and Fernando Mereilles, an eagerly wanted director in Hollywood, who started off with a microscopic budget to make the gangster classic City Of God. Want More? Guillermo Del Toro -director of the upcoming Hobbit- bursting out his imagination to create visual miracles in -the miraculous- Pan's Labyrinth. Every single director on my list has been sought out by Hollywood to direct- most have agreed some have declined the offer and decided to stay in the independent system to fully enhance their own vision. Forget starting from the bottom and heading up to the top- here's the ten best Foreign Language movies from 1-20. A decade which was the best for Foreign cinema in close to three decades and featured the further education of Mainstream audiences to these fine films by building solid fan fare for art house cinema.

1) Y Tu Mama Tambien
2) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
3) Cache/Hidden
4) City Of God
5) Spirited Away
6) Amelie
7) Old Boy
8) Maria Full Of Grace
9) Pan's Labyrinth
10) Downfall & Un Conte De Noel
11) The Diving Bell And The Butterfly
12) Atanarjuat/The Fast Runner
13) L'Emplois Du Temps
14) Apocalypto
15) The Barbarian Invasions
16) Swimming Pool
17) Les Triplettes De Belleville
18) The Motorcycle Diaries
19) Tell No One
20) 4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days

Anvil & its Oscar snub

Every year comes a time to bitch about the Oscars and their idiocies- this year bitching has started early with the announcement of the viably selected documentaries up for this year's Best Doc award. What's Missing? Anvil, a rock doc -about a down and out band- so good it is bound to end up on my ten best list by year's end. The fact that they have snubbed it proves how irrelevant their methods are and how unlikely they will actually honor the right movies when nomination time comes in January. Another unjustifiable snub is James Toback's Tyson-which just like Anvil, has the kind of rebellious spirit the Academy pussies out on.

Best Of The Decade 2000-2009: Animation

Robot love in Andrew Stanton's WALL E (2008)
Although this list will be updated if the critically acclaimed Fantastic Mr Fox is as good as some critics/audiences claim it is. This is THE list for now, which contains 5 Pixars and goes to show the dominance it has sustained throughout the decade in Animation. Only two -Monster Inc. & Up- do not make list & they are both highly recommended on my part. Although Pixar has had an amazing run, they did not produce the best animated movie I've witnessed in a theatre this decade- that honor goes to Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away, which brought dark, original wit to an almost simply conventional story on paper. Notice I say on paper, because Miyazaki's masterpiece is far from simple- in fact it represents no conventionality shape or form to its competitors.

1) Spirited Away
2) Wall E
3) Ratatouille
4) The Fantastic Mr. Fox
5) Les Triplettes De Belleville
6) Waking Life
7) The Incredibles
8) Finding Nemo
9) Shrek
10) Chicken Run

'Badgers ? We don't want no stinkin' badgers'

As horribly as some blinded folks might think John Huston's Treasure Of The Sierra Madre has aged- there is one scene that is a real hoot but very creepy. It's a almost fancifully campy -notice I say almost- & establishes the fact that serious drama made in the 40's and 50's still had the kind of humor that completely lacks in the modern era of cinema. Case in point, the following clip- which features a fearless & paranoid Humphrey Bogart negotiating for his life with a dirty mexican (played with comic wit by Alfonso Bedoya)

Best Of The Decade 2000-2009: Non-Fiction

Here's the first of what will likely be a weekly segment as a sort of 'wrap up' to the past decade of cinema. I'm starting it off with documentaries & I probably wouldn't have done it if it were the 90's, mostly because Doc's came out booming this decade and made many Hollywood movies feel shameless and meaningless. Their bravura and rebellious spirit brought back a kind of rule breaking intensity that many movies have been missing and looking for.

Of course, THE prime boomer of this movement is Michael Moore -Whose Bowling For Columbine tops my list & whose first two movies this decade showcased what would be an influential take on the genre. I also cannot ever forget an extraordinary achievement called Capturing The Friedman's, which has not been seen by many, but those who have were left shaken by Andrew Jarecki's camera and instinctive drama. Ive suggested Capturing The Friedman's to a bunch of friends and they all had the same reaction afterwards- That of awe inspiring anger.

1) Bowling For Columbine
2) Capturing The Friedman's

3) Etre Et Avoir
4) Fahrenheit 9/11
5) Spellbound 

6) The Cove
7) Anvil: The Story Of Anvil
8) Grizzly Man
9) The Kid Stays In The Picture

10) Super Size Me

There ya go, 10 movies with 10 very different subject matters and all as relevant today as they were the week they got released. I'll be back next week with The best in Animation & boy was it an amazing decade for that also with some marvelous, original & incendiary stuff coming out from -of all places- Hollywood.

The Concordian- 'Antichrist'

Although I already wrote about it a few weeks back, here's my published review or Lars Von Trier's latest, a movie that i have mixed feelings for and that tries to push boundaries in all the wrong ways. The Concordian is published on a weekly basis and is the official paper for Concordia University. I'll be posting more stuff I've written in the weeks to come REVIEW

Rosebud this & Rosebud that

...And although it is the center image and theme of this fascinating & original movie- which I just finished watching on glorious Blu Ray in a paramount theatre- One image is as powerful and immensely moving as the image above. It is that of Charles Kane standing isolated, rejected and near the end of his sad/epic life. His eyes watered and ready to explode with tears that he's been keeping for 60 years of his life.

In which I half ass an assignment & come up with something genuine/ my first -and last- compliment to fox news

People’s dependence on newspapers is shrinking & there is the overall attitude that it is becoming less and less relevant to actually sit down and read a newspaper. What with the high influence of Online media -including blogging- that’s taking over & those very same newspapers going into this fad by opening up their very own website where you can -oh gosh- read the paper for free, online at the comfort of your own home. Not only are newspapers giving us free readings online, they are also going into the trend of blogging which gives their writers more independence to voice their opinions and share their thoughts on a breaking news story. The ifs and buts of the whole idea of online news seem to be shrinking and the attitude amongst our generation is that ‘hey if I can get it for free online’ why should I pay for it outside? - ahhh purists must be mad as hell and can't take it anymore.

Forget about what I just said for a moment and look at how closely but surely Contemporary News Media is starting to get shaped in the 21st century as an online induced hot bed of information. It's not just that independent news outlets -such as bloggers & alternative media sources- are gaining a bit more recognition because of people’s disgust towards biased information being perpetrated in mainstream outlets such as Fox News or -hell- the New York Post. Fact of the matter is at the end of the day people will want a different source of news and not just the biased, corporate based info they are getting through mainstream outlets. Furthermore, the rise of blogging has -more than ever- given people their own voice to shout out they ain't gonna take it anymore, it is a reassembling of cultures and ideas that come together to give a new perspective on what one might and should think in any given circumstance.

It is a refreshing perspective on where we have come from and the shambles that have angered many while watching a news program that -shall I say- never gives all the details necessary in spite of what has actually happened. Hey listen, it happens to the best of us- we are so concerned these days with getting the defining truth of an event that we sometimes forget that there never really is one truth to an argument & that an opinionated debate is always the way to go, of course a media source such as The New York Times or any other newspaper cannot really rely on debate and -sometimes- just have to give the news in a ‘straightforward’ fashion to us but that’s where the blogging comes and the infinite astonishment that ‘hey there’s someone out there that has opinion ! & there’s someone out there that sees this situation in a differentlight’ that’s where it all comes together and you start to realize why blogging is a universal and conceptually real argument for contemporary news media.

From all I have stated so far it is clear that I am wagging my finger at the media for its own downfall and I will not refrain from mentioning it again that I truly believe this to be the case, especially when you take all the arguments I have pointed out in here & when you look at the way news is reported. It is their own demise and their own falling traps that have given them a sort of wake up call to liven up and start being more relevant- or at least they are trying to do that. Compare what is happening now to 10 years ago when the internet wasn’t half the force it is today- it is a powerful medium that has changed our courses of actions, awaken us to the temptation that there actually is a lively voice out there for news and it’s not just the usual bullshit that has turned the medium into a zombie like force.

It turns out that that voice is the people and the people’s voice is a powerful thing, full of ideas and writings actually conceived by human hands- compared to the controlled hands of what we call the man -err- should I say the Mainstream. Blogging is -and has- always been an alternative to our own universe of simplified and dull information. It is a lively concept that has scared the be Jesus out of every media imaginable and in doing so has rewritten what we perceive as Contemporary news media. Because it is a person writing and because that person is writing about something that might have been deemed to harsh or risky by the contemporary mainstream media, makes it all the more relevant, no matter how biased the article might be- because listen I won’t lie, when you’re dealing with a blogger there will be a bias because it is his or her opinion.

Which will make me conclude in a -how shall I say this- risky manner & state that although it is biased and although it is a preposterous account of what the media should be like, the reason why a successful media outlet such as fox news is -shock- successful might be because of the opinions and alternative universe it gives to its viewers compared to the stale and utterly by the numbers one of something like CNN or MSNBC. Fox has been deemed biased, been deemed loud and has had controversy lying all over it because of its right wing and thoroughly controversial agenda. Know what? That’s how blogging is and for all of its flaws and all of its nihilistic points of view at least its got style & has something that most news outlets out there don’t have- Balls.

4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days

There's a mesmerizing scene midway through 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (4/5). An illegal abortion is about to be done but there is cringing and paranoiac disillusionment among the three people in the hotel room. You're on the edge of panic as you see 3 characters on the brink of killing a fetus and taking a chance for the sake of not having a kid. This is clearly not Juno, nor is it the Hollywood world of Knocked Up. It's real life and never has an abortion been this real and hard to watch on screen. Kudos to Romanian director Cristian Mungiu, working with handheld camera and giving his unflinching movie -winner of last year's Palme D'or at Cannes- an unforgettable feel. Talking about Juno and Knocked Up, I wasn't a big fan of their quirky melodramatic worlds, that had cartoon fabrications instead of real people and took the topic of female pregnancy as a kind of joke -mistakenly perceived by critics and audiences as mature portraits of the female psych. Mungiu's film doesn't fall inside that trap and instead of putting some light humor in his film, suffocates it with pulse pounding tension and seriousness.

Set in 1987 Romania, where Abortions are illegal to the communist regime. A friendship is tested as a 5 month pregnant girl wants an abortion and gets it through the help of a loyal friend that would almost do anything to assist her. The abortionist is a sleazy fella that gets paranoid by almost any movement or word said. the scene is as tense and revelatory as any in the film and is in fact the whole centerpiece that bring A and B together. Mungiu comes out as a singular director operating with no strings attached and evolving a master at his craft in more ways than one. You'd think that what is actually being watch is a documentary and not a fictitious movie. Mungiu pursues the virtues of what it is to live- love, happiness, death & panic, sheer and utter panic. That panic is the unsettling truth that reigns among this compulsively watchable movie's running time.

There is however one scene that is so absurd and so overdone that it almost ruins the film- but doesn't. It's a scene that has the main character sitting on a dinner table silently as the people around her jabber along and in the process annoy the viewer. It's a sort of experimental scene to try and convey a time and place and -suffice to say- suffocate the viewer with cringing suspense of what is the aftermath of a girl that is sitting alone in a hotel room, after having had a stressful abortion. It is almost impossible to describe Mungiu's film and its affects in a movie review, it is best to be watched and carefully constructed in a way that it lingers in your head long after its final scene has finished and you are left completely stunned and needing air, because you have just witnessed 100 minutes of pure and utter life on the screen. This is art.

My infamous editor- Part Deux

It's been a while I haven't written about him and now is I guess the best time, considering he's edited my new reviews for this week's The Concordian, which can be read HERE & HERE. First things first, this is a bit less enraging than what he did a month ago in a post I will refrain from posting again, due to my highly hidden anger. The only unholy edit I can think of this time around is putting the word Masterfully in my review of L'affaire Farewell, which is far from Masterful filmmaking and -in fact quite conventional in its storytelling. Given the tone of my review it is however solid stuff. Anywho, you can read my stuff in the links above- two interesting french movies that I reccomend if they every play in your area and that should be coming out in Montreal in the following week. Both featuring solid central performances and both quite different from each other- One slapstick/ One political thriller.

"Fish Tank"

Adolescence is at the heart of Andrea Arnold's Mesmerizing Fish Tank (4/5) - a British film that justly won the Jury Prize at Cannes this year and has been flooded with praise in the British Press since its release there in September. A release date is planned in early 2010 for the U.S and Canada and I suggest that despite its frankly original & curiously vague nature, you seek it out. At the heart of the movie is a central performance of incredible magnitude by newcomer Katie Jarvis, who plays Mia, a troubled & isolated teen in the slums of British property that everything and anything she touches turns into trouble. Mia lives with her already improper little sister and her sexually open mother. Their relationship is sparse and troubled in ways that I would call this family dysfunctional with a capital D. Trouble keeps coming when mom brings in a guy that Mia ends up having the hots for and -in turn- oh never mind, watch the movie.

The reason why such a simple movie is getting all its high praise -deservedly btw- is due to director Arnold springing surprises that keep you on interested for the movies whole 100 minutes, there are no missteps and every scene in perfectly fit in as to advance the characters and storyline. I was reminded of early Truffault with Antoine Doinel replaced by a female version of his and the mother as repulsive and real as that very movie. High props go to the entire cast for a movie that -as simple as it is- brought it in ways no other mainstream movie can. This is an original work of art, simple yet very refreshing. Fish Tank has been nominated for 8 British film awards- among the other nominess for Best Picture include Dunccan Jones' great Moon, Lone Scherfig's An Education & Armando Lanucci's satiric In The Loop.

Mais Oui..

..Only the french. Ever heard that expression? I'm sure you have & I'll add that only they can make stuff, that is far beyond hollywood's reach look so -How should I say zees- 'artistique'. I'm gonna watch two french movies tomorrow and have the reviews published in next week's The Concordian. I'm expecting lots of nudity, overdone mannerisms & -How can I forget this- a slice of ze baguette with lots of fromage and vin. To say this post is ridiculous would be an understatement but I couldn't help myself in what is essentially a slow moving day that had me rewatch Orson Welles' 1958 classic Touch Of Evil- which includes Charlton Heston in a thin mexican moustache, what's not to love?

A look at mainstream infamy

I am so used to watching one ambitious film after the next that I never really stumble upon stuff from the mainstream or from Hollywood. On Friday I went with my Girlfriend to see Love Happens- which was just plain bad. I didn't know Hollywood had it this bad in making a simple Rom com that tries to tug @ the heartstrings. I had no idea that such a lazy script could exist and that such inessential direction was out there. Then I came to the horrible thought that maybe -just maybe- there are more movies out there such as this one & that I am just not seeing them for the sole reason that I am not interested & would rather check out strange, non mainstream fare. To tell you the truth I saw a movie called Love Actually 6 years ago that was actually -shock- a decent romantic comedy from the Hollywood machine & one that made money because word of mouth spread out that it was actually good.

All this is in some shape or form relates to this year's (500) Days Of Summer, which -unlike Love Happens- was fresh air & portrayed a relationship in a truer, more realistic way than anything else out there. Take everything I have just said and put into account that the two best movies I`ve seen so far this year -The Hurt Locker & An Education- you have likely never heard of them or even read about them anywhere or seen a movie commercial. Such is the sad state of film today. Take into consideration a scene from Love Happens- which finds Jennifer Aniston falling for a widowed man played by Aaron Eckhart, as a form of self theraphy Eckhart decides to release caged doves that he and his wife had through many yers of marriage. The scene is so clumsy and infuriatingly bad that you cannot believe it actually happening & you wonder who wrote this stuff.

I`m actually quite happy that I went through this entire post without uttering a single swear word or angry grammar mistake. If anything, it`s shown you that -yes- I do give chances to Hollywood stuff that`s out in the multiplex and that -no- I am not yet impressed and will furthermore concentrate on scattered more unfindable fare that`s out there at the moment. Just my 2 cents of course.