Tuesday, February 23, 2010

100 Best of the Decade: 40-59

40. The Sun (2005) Aleksandr Sokurov [Russia]
Read my review here. This film was a long time in getting a theatrical release in the US, but it finally happened last year in NYC and is now making the rounds.
Screened: DVD (MFA will be playing this soon at St Anthony Main.)

41. Ping Pong (2002) Fumihiko Sori [Japan]
I impulsively claimed at one point that this is the best sports movie ever made, and I have yet to be persuaded otherwise. This film has a huge heart but also has some heart pounding action sequences that couldn't be further from the table tennis you used to play in your cousin's garage. More people need to see this film.
Screened: DVD

42. The Time of the Wolf (2003) Michael Haneke [France]
Haneke's dark, disorienting apocalyptic diatribe is subdued slow burn of doom. This was one of the last fictional films MFA screened at the Bell. I remember it well, because it was freezing in there! I felt like I was right there with the transients.
Screened: Bell Auditorium

43. Distance (2001) Hirokazu Koreeda [Japan]
Is there a reason why this quiet, thoughtful, poetic film hasn't been released in the US?
Screened: DVD

44. Moolaadé (2004) Ousmane Sembene [Senegal]
Screened: MSPIFF

45. Dogville (2003) Lars von Trier [Denmark/USA]
Screened: Uptown Theater

46. Bright Future (2003) Kiyoshi Kurosawa [Japan]
Screened: DVD

47. Mulholland Drive (2001) David Lynch [USA]
Screened: Multiplex

48. 35 Shots of Rum (2008) Claire Denis [France]
Screened: Film Forum

49. Wendy and Lucy (2008) Kelly Reichardt [USA]
Screened: Lagoon

50. Mind Game (2004) Masaaki Yuasa [Japan]
Some of the most pulsing, mind blowing animation ever put to celluloid. I would die to see this on the big screen. I will gladly load my R2 DVD to anyone interested.
Screened: DVD

51. Morvern Callar (2002) Lynne Ramsay [UK]
Near the beginning of Morvern Callar, she answers a pay phone and talks to a stranger. "Morvern Callar. This is Morvern Callar." The person on the other end of the line was no doubt asking the same question as the audience: Who is this? The next hour and a half provides Morvern's own inconclusive answer to that question in an unpredictable road trip of discovery and loss with a brilliant soundtrack.
Screened: DVD (This bugger played for one week in the theater and I was out of town. I'm still bitter.)

52. Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005) Park Chan-wook [South Korea]
Screened: Broadway Cinematheque in Hong Kong (twice)

53. Fig Trees (2009) John Greyson [USA]
Screened: Walker Art Center

54. Tears of the Black Tiger (2000) Wisit Sasanatieng [Thailand]
Screened: DVD (Arrived in theaters waaaay after the fact.)

55. Southland Tales (2006) Richard Kelly [USA]
A grand allegory for our celebrity loving society and our corporatized political wasteland that couldn't hit the nail more firmly on the head.
Screened: Multiplex

56. Battle Royale (2000) Kinji Fukasaku [Japan]
Screened: DVD

57. Dancer in the Dark (2000) Lars von Trier [Denmark]
I remember exactly where I saw this film and who I was with simply because I fell for the heartbreaking finale...hard. Trying to keep my emotions under control was impossible, and I had to apologize to my three companions. I hated von Trier for doing that to me, but returning to the film on DVD a few years later I realized I had forgotten about the beautiful musical numbers and amazing performance by Bjork.
Screened: Uptown Theater

58. Workingman’s Death (2005) Michael Glawogger [Austria]
Screened: Bell Auditorium

59. Gerry (2002) Gus Van Sant [USA]
Stripping dramatic film structure to its visual essence, “Gerry” is an amalgamation of 20th century modernist sensibilities that only starts as a so-called homage to Béla Tarr. With reverberations from Samuel Beckett to Michelangelo Antonioni to John Cage, the narrative—two friends hiking in a surrealist desert—is so slight, it dissolves right before your very eyes. Gus Van Sant’s postminimalist masterpiece uses ‘getting lost’ as an emblematic means to a more philosophical than conclusive end. The walking Gerrys, better known as Matt Damon and Casey Affleck, are modern versions of the waiting Vladimir and Estragon. But where Beckett’s characters are entrenched in an absurdist human comedy, Van Sant’s characters are drowning in an absurdist tragedy. Their trip may be metaphorical, but their doom is very real. Their nemesis is the never-ending barren landscape that exudes unearthly power and elegant grandeur. The terrain is an apathetic shape shifter, altering between rocky and mountainous to flat and sandy, challenging the men’s mental and physical delirium. Even language fails them. The sparse script, if you were to string it all together, would resemble spoken work free verse at a poetry slam. The film’s final confrontation is a tender acceptance of the helplessness of man (and in this case, I do mean “man.”) Languid, spare and beautiful, “Gerry” transcends formalism with artful bravado.
Screened: Lagoon

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