Best Films of the Decade #4-1
by, 01-06-2010 at 11:44 PM (390 Views)
I just got finished writing my reviews for both Tarantion and Mulholland Drive. Being the genius I am, I saved neither and had only an incomplete version of my long review of the latter. My computer shut off, all was lost.
Now I'm just sighing and saying **** it and move on. I'm far too busy with coursework to re-write those reviews, and the decade will be far too over when I find the time again. Instead I will reveal my top four, with little alternatives for reviews:
4. Mulholland Drive
2001 dir. David Lynch
Lynch's most beautiful and surreal film since Eraserhead is a mystery of identity and a beautiful love story. As a master of transporting his audience, Lynch transports you into his quircky, ultra-weird, sensual world like never before. A truly addicting wonder with a stunning double performance by Naomi Watts. Watch this more than once.
(Here's a link to a more complete review by Roger Ebert http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/...110120304/1023 and a link to the movie online http://www.watch-movies-online.tv/movies/mulholland_dr/)
3. Chop Shop
2008 dir. Ramin Bahrani
City of God
2002 dir. Fernando Meirelles
Here's two reviews that I had posted previously in the "Last moive you saw" thread.
City of God - In a world of merciless violence, a world in which massacares are done merely on an insult, a world in which nine year olds hold guns bigger than their hands, a world in which law and reason are non-existent and one's fate is quite bleak, everything is left to chance. One young man gets a religious epiphany from a dream at the right time and reforms, while one of his friends is shot to death in the streets. A an aspiring photographer finds a chance to fulfill his dream, while a gang of little kids aspire to kill the leading man of the city. The final shot of the film perfectly illustrates this. The world here is more bleak then the mob world of Scorsese's Goodfellas which still had ways out, here you are born into a violent world, and are doomed to die at a young age, rarely will one ever find there way out.
This film is a masterpiece of style. It is infinitely creative and has about a hundred different great moments. It is comparable to Scorsese's Goodfellas and belongs among the greatest of crime films. It takes us through the years of a young man's life, who, could be one of the few to make it out in the world. It is a vision of the underworld, which isn't so underground. It is amazing the amount of characters that we see, and the amount of stories that we hear. Each one fulfills some silent philosophical truth about one of the characters.
The rapid editing and extreme camera angles are incredible. Take the opening sequence in which a chicken runs away from its butcher and is chased through the streets. This then leads to a confrontation between the gang chasing the chicken and the police. It illustrates so vividly the constant tension within the city. A gang of criminals are chasing their dinner through the streets, then, are facing a troop of police with loaded weapons pointed at them.
It is amazing that a film as creative as this, and as abroad as any foreign film, could make it to the Oscars (even though it was unjustly neglected for any Best Picture nomination).
This film has the heart and soul of the streets and is equivalent to the heights of Scorsese. Now coming at the close of the 00s' I can say that without a doubt that along with Ramin Bahrani, Fernando Meirelles is the best new director of this decade and has a lot coming for him in the following years. I hope to see more of him. 10/10
Chop Shop - It's amazing what a simple film this is. It strikes itself to the roots of Italian neo-realism and is shot in an utterly convincing documentary style with almost every shot being hand-held. Its plot concerns the everyday life of a tough street kid and his relationship with his older sister.
Their dream is to open their own food stand and they speak about it with such enthusiasm and hope, that we discover how much this means to them living in a bleak world. The kid is a homeless orphan who works at a chop shop stealing car parts from the parking lot at Yankee Stadium, just outside of his workplace.
The control of emotion in this film is utterly masterful. Ramin Bahrani, an immigrant from Iran, has made three films, all of them concerning unique and hopeful individuals trying to fulfill the American dream. Many of them don't, but if they did, would that be true to life?
Bahrani is respectful of his subjects space and keeps a distance. There are no melodramatic close-ups, no teary eyed moments, only true and honest human moments. Take one heartbreaking scene in which the brother discovers something about his sister. It is truly unbelievable that a scene with such emotional intensity, and yet such silence could be pulled off by such a young actor. The boy is no Makulie Kulkin and is tough and smart.
This film is neither up-beat or down-beat, it is true and totally honest filmmaking. A breathe of fresh air. The best film of 2008 and one of the best of the decade. 10/10
2003 dir. Jonathan Cauoette
One of the closest things to the experience of a lifetime ever captured on celluiod. This documentary, in a decade that has been a reinissance of the genre, is the best of them all. Twenty years in the making it tells a deeply troubling story of its creator and his relationship with his mentally ill mother. This is one of the most tragic and uplifting films I have ever seen and is a true hymn to life. Made for only $200 on a Mac, this film is a masterpiece of editing, done in a strange surreal style, it is unlike anything you've ever seen. Upon finishing it, I felt as if I had learned more about life and its survival more than any other documentary, and probably more than any other movie.
Eberts review -http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/.../40921006/1001
Trailer - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLDQL23nutw
Full Movie online - http://www.veoh.com/browse/videos/ca...996523eSJ792tq (get veoh player)
annnnd number one
2000 dir. Bela Tarr
There are some films it seems, which do more than just entertain you, but do something to you, through its images, that after viewing it, you are somehow changed. Bela Tarr's Werckmeister Harmonies is one of those films that become reductive once you try to put it into words. Films like these achieve the greatest effect, because they achieve what very well could be called 'pure cinema'.
It is first important to know that no such film as this could have been made anywhere else in the world except Eastern Europe, an area of the world which has suffered through deep political turmoil. But Werckmeister Harmonies isn't a political film, at least not in the way Battleship Potemkin or even The Bicycle Theif is. It is universal, and in fact is just as much a metaphysical allegory as it is a political one.
Maybe it is best to begin with the film's first shot, which lasts for eleven minutes and is as hypnotic as it is mezmerizing. It takes place in a pub in the early hours of the morning, with the shot begining with a view of a fire-stove, the hand of the bartender opening the hatch and dousing out the fire with a cup of water. The camera then glides to the right where we see a group of drunks, one of them falling to the floor as the bartender announces closing-time. One of the men emerge and demands that Jonas, an amatuer astronomer, will show them the event of a solar eclipse as it plays out. What follows is a mezmerizingly Felliniesque sequence in which Jonas uses the drunks as representations of the sun, the earth and the moon. The camera glides through the dizzying harmony of the choreography as the drunks circle around each other in accordance to the heavenly spheres. Jonas describes the event in detail as he instructs each drunk what to do: "The sky darkens, then goes all dark," Janos says. "The dogs howl, rabbits hunch down, the deer run in panic, run, stampede in fright. And in this awful, incomprehensible dusk, even the birds ... the birds too are confused and go to roost. And then ... complete silence. Everything that lives is still. Are the hills going to march off? Will heaven fall upon us?"
This scene, though seemingly irrelevant, is a precursor to the entire film. It expresses the dread and confusion of seemingly unnatural events, with hope once again being found in the reappearance of the sun. But the world of Weckmeister Harmonies is bleak and cold, with lingering dread everywhere throughout the small Hungarian town, that Jonas's bittersweet innocence seems to run thin upon the progression of events.
The town's own solar eclipse with the arrival of a circus, it's enterance into the town done in one haunting long take as the shadow of an enormous truck encaptulates entire stories of buildings. There is some kind of mysterious tension occuring within the town, families are disappearing, there are riots, hoards of outsiders come to see the main circus attraction which happens to be a gigantic stuffed whale and a engimatic man named "The Prince".
Tarr makes the ingenious decision at remaining engimatic throughout the whole film, giving it a sort of haunting tone to it, which seeps deep into your subconscious. By the end, we realize that we haven't been told a story, but rather have been given an experience. This experience is filled with the metaphysical and political dread of the townspeople and the film's main character Jonas. This dread is something of a lingering fear of inevidible chaos. Is Tarr symbolically expressing the downfall of communism? Of course such an interpritation is more than reasonable, escpecially after his last film Satantango, which was about the downfall of a collective farm. But even more so, it seems to be a collapse of metaphysical order. As we learn in a monolouge-sequence, the films title comes from the musical theorist Andreas Werckmeister (1645-1706) whom one of the major characters György Eszter theorizes that it was his musical theory which brought about all aesthetic and philosophical problems in music since then. Werckmesiter's theory, Eszter propounds, brought about unnatural tuning in music and thus underminded all music hithero as a false illusion. This jargon-filled monolouge on musicology serves as an analogous viewpoint to the events happening in the town. Something unnatural and chaotic is happening and is creating tension in the small and simple universe of the towns people.
Jonas is a kind and innocent young man whom everybody in the town seems to be friendly with, but as things slowly unveil, he discovers contrary to his opening monolouge, not everything is right with the cosmos. Janos is a deeply religuous induvidual who as appose to regarding the arrival of the giagantic whale with suspicsion, he states in wonderment "what beautiful and mysterious things the Lord creates". The Prince is never seen on-screen, though his shadow is reflected and his mechanical voice is heard, coming at a time in the plot in which its effect is most disturbing.
There are images in this film of breath-taking beauty, as well as nightmarishly horrific. Filmmed in high contrast black-and-white, and consisting of only 39 takes, this unlike any film I've ever seen, and in a sense, it surpasses all other films of its time. Bela Tarr is truly the master of the long-take, surpassing even Tarkovsky in lurid pacing. His camera seems to float and glide throughout scenes, sometimes even steadily swooping down from up high to become a tracking shot. This is a film that takes patience when viewing, that is, if you are a viewer that will require patience. The logic of this film goes head on against Hollywood convention. It is uncompromisingly mysterious, almost timeless with its strange and bleak world in which even God has disappeared.