Friday, March 14, 2008

Top 100 of 2007 (Top 10)

Here are the Top 100 Films of 2007 (in my opinion, of course) as well as a brief mention of the films that I saw which failed to crack the top 100.

1. Persepolis
While each year, Disney and Pixar churn out animated film with hi-tech animation featuring the best innovations in animation technology, Persepolis showed that you don't need all of that to tell a truly compelling story and have it look beautiful. Filmed almost exclusively in black and white, much of Persepolis looks like a charcoal drawing come to life. The film is based on Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical novels and details her childhood being brought up amid the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and beyond. Satrapi's life is one we never could have lived, and could hardly imagine, but somehow, it's extremely relatable and it's easy to identify with little Marji through our own experiences. And to top it off, it's incredibly funny too. When it was over, I wished there was another hour more to watch. Simply the best theater-going experience in a long, long time.

2. No Country For Old Men
Oddly enough, while they have their devoted fans, I've never been a very big Coen Brothers fan before this film. Sure, I've liked some, but I've never developed the passion that so many have for their films. But this one was fantastic. Javier Bardem created one of the creepiest characters since Hannibal Lecter, and I'm so happy that he has an Oscar for the role. But beyond just the praise for Bardem, I have to say that this is probably also my favorite performance ever from Tommy Lee Jones. And Josh Brolin gives an excellent performance as well. I can't recommend this one highly enough.

For me, it was easily the most charming film of the year, filled with great songs, not to mention nice performances, from Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. It's one of those films that just sticks with you after you leave, especially if you left the theater and immediately downloaded the soundtrack, which has remained on heavy rotation on the ol' Ipod ever since. It's the story of two musicians: One, an Irishman who plays his lovelorn heart out on his acoustic guitar in the streets of downtown Dublin. The other, a Czech immigrant who left her husband behind to find a better life in Ireland for herself, her mother, and her daughter, but in exchange has had to let go of her musical aspirations and nowsells flowers and magazines in the city. They meet and an instant connection is made, as the two bond, discuss and eventually play music together. It's just a nice, simple story, but one that left me with a big smile on my face after I left. And if "Falling Slowly" doesn't move you, I don't think this movie's for you (... because you're dead inside). Just kidding... kind of.

4. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days
Thank god for the blossoming Romanian film industry. While I've only seen a handful (and I'm sure that these shores are only getting the best of what's being offered), it's exciting to think of yet another culture that is overflowing with ideas, much of which has been so repressed for so long. Even though the iron curtain fell long ago, it seems we are finally getting so many interesting stories from that country. This one takes place in 1987 under the communist regime, and centers around a young college student who is helping her roommate obtain an illegal abortion. I think the strengths in this film lie in its ability to really place you into the characters' heads: hoping for the best, but dreading the worst. But you really feel like you are living the experience alongside the characters. Scarier than anything else to me though is that, in a political climate where so many seem to be hellbent on overturning Roe vs. Wade, this could soon be OUR reality. Yet again, the Cannes Film Festival awarded yet another deserving Palme D'Or. This isn't for everyone, but to those willing to take the journey, it'll ultimately be a rewarding one.

It seems as though this was a big hit, yet somehow along the way a backlash developed against this one, so I'm fortunate enough that I managed to catch this about a month before it went into release, so I was free to just enjoy the film, free from the burden of expectations. And I laughed my ass off. The entire cast does wonders with their roles, and even if Diablo Cody's screenplay gets a little too clever for its own good at times, the cast still pulls it off. But really, it's very rare that a comedy can genuinely make me laugh, and it happened with this one. So backlash be damned, I still love the hell out of it.

This is a documentary that I found absolutely astounding. It's about the great works of art littered throughout Europe and what happened to them in WWII, and many of these stories are just as fascinating as the art themselves. As it turns out, Adolph Hitler fancied himself an artist and a great appreciator of art. Of course, the art had to conform to his standards of what was considered art. He kept long lists of the artwork he wanted to have for the SS, and much of that art was taken from private collectors or from museums in cities they invaded. They catalogued the whereabouts of many of these pieces, and took what they wanted at will, while also destroying many of the works that Hitler deemed trash. Many other works, on the eve of invasion were secretly taken and hidden away at secret, remote locations so as to keep them out of the Nazi's hands, often at great risk. And while much of this artwork has been reclaimed, many more are still unaccounted for, and new works are being discovered everyday at auctions or hanging in the living rooms of the unsuspecting, who didn't realize that the family heirloom that has been hanging on their wall all of their lives was actually looted from a bombed out museum. So there remain many great mysteries about the fate of some of these works, and many battles between the families of Holocaust victims and their respective governments to reclaim possession of their family's art. It's really a meticulously researched and well told documentary told on a grand scale.

I just found a lot I could identify with in this story about a brother and sister who aren't particularly close and between whom lies some unresolved conflicts as they are forced to come together to deal with their estranged father who is now slipping into the throes of dementia. It's not without a sense of humor along the way, but I could identify with a lot from being a child and watching my parents deal with a similar situation with my maternal grandparents, and what my siblings and I may face to deal with as our parents get older. Phillip Seymour Hoffman does a great job, in what I think was the best of his many roles this year, and while Laura Linney could play this role in her sleep by now, there's a reason why she is the go-to actress for this type of role, and the writing here is sharp but very firmly grounded in reality.

This is the story of a young military officer who got out of the service and joined a peace keeping mission in the Sudan, only to watch the beginnings of what became the crisis in Darfur unfold before his eyes. And this documentary is about his experiences and the photos he took in an attempt to return to the United States to show people what was truly happening over in that region. I'll warn you - just as the picture above his pretty shocking, this documentary is filled with images like this that sear into your brain and aren't easily forgotten. but really that's the point. To make you sit up and take notice about what is happening. And this one certainly got my attention. And while I think most people are aware by now that there is a genocide going on in Darfur, this one does a pretty respectable job at explaining it: it's beginnings, the reasons, what is perpetuating it, and sadly, what the results have been so far and what they'll continue to be until more people sit up and take notice.

Another documentary about the art world lands in my top 10, but this is a vastly different story than The Rape of Europa. This one instead focuses on little Marla Olmstead, a 4-year old girl who may be one of the most well known figures in contemporary modern art. She's sold many paintings, had gallery showings, but then the question gets raised: Did Marla really paint these? The documentarian also has some doubts that he needs to put to rest, and what you see does make you a bit skeptical, while also testing your cynicism a bit. But beyond just Marla and her paintings, it looks at modern art in a broader sense as well: Is this legitimate art or all just a big ruse?

This is an ambitious film, and one that on paper, surely isn't an easy sell: a nearly three hour movie about an oilman who is driven to extremes to crush his competition at all costs. But Paul Thomas Anderson is a very gifted filmmaker, and he makes it all work somehow. Daniel Day-Lewis does a great job here, but what was really fascinating to me here though was the Day-Lewis is an actor who loves to chew on scenery, sometimes to the point of distraction (see: Gangs of New York), but somehow the role of Daniel Plainview was tailored for him to play to his strengths without making it seem hopelessly over the top. He meets his nemesis in a young preacher, played by Paul Dano, who becomes a thorn in Plainview's side and stands in the way of everything he hopes to accomplish. I know some people are more passionate about the film than I, while many others detest it to its core. I suppose I can see why people love the film so much to have ranked it so high, and mostly agree with them, while I also see the faults that keep me from thinking of it as the great American masterpiece others view it to be. A great film, but one I don't think I could ever sit through again.

Top 100 of 2007 (11-20)

11. Talk To Me
Were there "better" films this year? Yes, absolutely. I even recognize the fact that it isn't without it's significant flaws. Yet, I've somehow managed to catch it several times since my initial viewing in theaters this summer, and you know what? It hold up extremely well, and it's extremely rewatchable, and in having seen it upon multiple viewings and still finding enjoyment, I've learned to let go of my critical quibbles and just embrace it. And a lot of that is because of the wonderful lead performances from Chiwetel Ejiofor, one of the most reliable actors who rarely gets his due, Don Cheadle, who manages to mix drama and comedy like he never has before, and from the phenomenal Taraji P. Henson who busts your gut with the comedy and breaks your heart with the drama without ever becoming a caricature. So, all the explanation this one needs is that it's one hell of an enjoyable movie.

12. Ratatouille
I'll admit to not always giving animated films their fair shake, but this was an absolute joy to watch. The animation is spectacular, the story was original and interesting, and perhaps it's simply the foodie and Francophile in me that loved the setting - A French restaurant. But, whatever the reason, I just enjoyed the hell out of myself.

13. Offside
Here is one of those great slice-of-life films about a culture that I will never come to understand through experience - only through film. This is the story of a group of girls who are caught when they dress up as boys to attend an Iranian soccer game as Iran is poised to enter the World Cup. Women are forbidden from attending sporting events in Iran, so they are forced to dress as boys to make it into the arena. The girls wait just outside of the arena in a holding pen as the guards reluctantly narrate the game for them. But this also serves as a fascinating microcosm to show Iranian views of women in the society at large as well.

I can think of few movies in my life where I have stayed so caught up in a film when I hated the main character. I felt no sympathy or empathy toward Christopher McCandless, yet, I've known people like him: self-righteous, above everyone and everything else, and clings steadfastly to this notion of noble idealism even at their own expense. And I really enjoyed his encounters with people along the way. I think what helped me get through it too was the stunning visuals and the excellent soundtrack from Eddie Vedder. At every turn when it was almost getting too tedious to bear, I'd see or hear something that would take me right back into the film. I wish I loved it as much as some others do, but this seems to be the right place for it for me.

For as long as I can remember, action movies have always been a dime a dozen. They're the same formulaic bullshit you've seen countless times before it. It has almost become a dead genre for me - if you water something down enough times, it just becomes water. So, it's so refreshing to me that The Bourne series, especially under Greengrass' direction, break that mold. They're fresh, their fun, and they're exciting. The thrills are earned genuinely. I'm not so sure about the recently greenlighted fourth installment, since The Bourne Ultimatum wrapped up the trilogy with a logical, satisfying ending. But with Greengrass involved, I'm willing to see what they'll do.

Admit it... when you hear "Lady Chatterley," your mind instantly conjures up images of late night, soft-core Skinemax movies, doesn't it? It certainly did for me. But I checked out the film anyway, despite the off-putting 2:45 running time. But you know what? It was actually pretty damn amazing, both in terms of direction and acting. Marina Hands is stunning in the title role, and you have to hand it to Pascale Ferran for making a film like this last for almost 3 hours and never making it feel like 3 hours.

This black-and-white biopic of the late Ian Curtis, the lead singer of Joy Division was an astonishing feat of firsts: Anton Corbijn, who directed his first feature film after ages of giving us so many essential music videos. Sam Riley in the title role nails the part so convincingly. And then add the always amazing Samantha Morton as Debra Curtis, the put upon young wife, and you have the best musical biopic in ages.

A fascinating documentary about the conflicting roles homosexuality and religion play in various peoples lives. You hear voices from all over the spectrum: gays and lesbians who've come out despite the heavy religious influence in their lives and found acceptance, and those who haven't. And in the case of one family, a mother who spurned her daughter over her religious beliefs, lost her daughter to suicide as a direct result of that rejection, questions her previously held beliefs and lives a life of shame and regret, and spends the rest of her days trying to atone for her actions. It's a really remarkable documentary.

Lasse Hallstrom hasn't made an interesting film in almost 15 years since becoming a whore for Miramax. Richard Gere is one of the most uninteresting actors ever to grace the screen. So how did THIS happen? if you've seen the Orson Welles film F For Fake, you'll have a passing familiarity of the story of Clifford Irving, who fakes his way into millions of dollars by claiming that he is writing the biography of the then-reclusive Howard Hughes with full cooperation from him. Of course, his whole story is complete bullshit, and the film is about how he orchestrated the whole thing. Trust me... I hate Richard Gere, and outside of What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Hallstrom hasn't directed an interesting film. Interesting how two negatives somehow equalled a positive in this case.

This one didn't get the best reviews, but it's kind of a shame. I found it fascinating. It's based on a Dutch film by Theo Van Gogh, who was set to direct the American adaptation (that was, of course, until he was murdered in broad daylight in Amsterdam by a Muslim extremist). Co-star Steve Buscemi took over the helm as the director, and the film came to light. It's a film about a journalist out of his environment, set to do a puff piece on a high profile, tabloid target actress. He views the assignment as beneath him, she instantly reads that. The two mix like oil and water. But through circumstance, they end up back at her apartment for a night of brutal revelations where we learn that he's not quite as superior as he likes to project, and she's not the dimwitted idiot she may be dismissed as. The big story here though is Sienna Miller. A tabloid target herself, she proves that she does have the acting chops. She's not Paris or Britney. She, like her character, is deceptively a hell of a lot better at her game than you'd be inclined to give her credit for.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Top 100 of 2007 (21-30)

21. Sicko
Along the way, I've somewhat cooled on this film, but I still appreciate its aims. The healthcare system in this country is undeniably fucked up. And Michael Moore does a great job at delving into the issue. I guess I'm simply growing tired of Moore's schtick and letting himself overshadow the issue at hand. It's still a good movie, and I like that he provokes. It would have been a lot higher had it not been for him, but rather, based on the information.Because in that regard, it's stellar. But Moore ends up being the film's undoing to a degree. I guess I wish he'd let his work speak for itself, and not have to constantly interrupt.

22. Ten Canoes

This Australian import is definitely worth the time. First, not many Aboriginal films exist, so it's a fantastic way to get a glimpse into that culture. It's a story based on Aboriginal legend, set "a long time ago" and "a very long time ago." It's essentially a film about ancient folklore being passed down from one generation to the next. It's remarkably beautiful, and the story is more captivating than you might expect, vaguely a tale of adventure with humor mixed in, it's a nice, but different way to spend an evening.

23. My Best Friend

This was one of those unexpected films that, while light, managed to stay with me. I really enjoyed the hell out of this one, and Daniel Auteuil and Dany Boon are just a pleasure to watch together. The film is deceptively touching while maintaining the humor and avoiding the maudlin. After watching this one, I left the theater wanting to call all of my close friends and let them know how much I appreciate them.

A nice debut from director Scott Frank, and yet another strong performance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Who'd have thunk that the kid from "Third Rock From The Sun" would end up being one of the most interesting up-and-coming actors of his generation? Between this, Brick, Mysterious Skin, and the upcoming "seems-promising" Stop-Loss, I'm convinced that he's one of our best and brightest. Clever little heist film that deserves a look.

I was glad to see that Viggo Mortensen got a nomination for his performance here - very deserved. (Not to mention all of his performances where he wasn't nominated, and perhaps should've been). The film doesn't always work, but damn, it has some really fascinating parts. But, I'd say it was a huge step up after A History of Violence, the previous Cronenberg/Mortensen collaboration, which was 2/3rds of a great movie and a shitty ending.

Michael Winterbottom is an interesting director to me. He's so on with one film, and then the next one's a complete mess. For me, this was one of the better ones. And as much as many people I know hated Jolie in this performance, quite frankly, it's the performance I've been waiting to see from her. She's undeniably a charismatic actress, but she always seemed typecasted to me, and every role she played seemed to cash in on her "wild child" public persona. And, I include her performance in "Girl, Interrupted" in that. In such a remarkably strong field of nominees that year, I can't believe they gave her the Oscar over Toni Collette, Samantha Morton, Chloe Sevigny, and Catherine Keener, all four of whom were amazing. But this time out, I adored the performance because Winterbottom was able to harness that charisma into quiet, dignified intensity, that felt not only befitting for Marianne Pearl, but for the actress Jolie had inside but was never able to display until now.

An interesting film about a gay Israeli soldier and a gay Palestinean who develop a relationship, despite the cultural divide that surrounds them. As with The Band's Visit, I love that it did it's best to eschew the politics for as long as possible. It depicts a life in the Middle East that isn't what we see on the news. However, the politics and cultural tensions inevitably come into play, despite every effort to avoid that. The ending is troublesome for many, and I'm still not quite sure what I think of it myself yet, but it keeps me thinking about it, which is what a good film, for me, is all about.

28. Red Road

This Scottish import is rather obscure, but I learned about it from a movie site I frequent, and the premise sounded interesting, and I think it's a classic case of my feeling that you need to seek the good films out, you can't sit around and wait for them to be marketed to you. First time director Andrea Arnold does a remarkable job in letting tension slowly escalate, and it doesn't give you the set up - you only know that there is something from the past that will build into something later, and that you'll find out what out what that past involves when the time is right. I love films that don't spell everything out for you, but hook you in by your curiosity of wanting to know. A far better film than most anything I heard of through mainstream marketing.

This Spanish film is a coming-of-age story told without the usual cliches, and touches upon some interesting issues. To try and encapsulate everything that happens in the film and to do the various storylines justice in a short blurb would end up being rather frustrating to do and not ruin anything. So rather than try to synopsize the film, I'll just say that it was a very genuine and honest collection of interweaving stories about love, divided loyalties, sexual exploration, and friendship that I really enjoyed.

30. The Betrayal (no trailer available)

Unfortunately, this film has been languishing without distribution since it premiered at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival, and it's unfortunate, because it was really quite a good film. Franco-Algerian tensions are nothing new in international cinema: From 1964's The Battle of Algiers (favorite film of all time, for those keeping track), to more recent stories such as 2005's Cache (one of the best films of this decade) or 2006's Days of Glory (meh), it's a topic to which many films are seemingly devoted, yet, I feel like I'm getting a different story each time. And while this one is probably more closely aligned with Days of Glory in terms of it's story, this one is by leaps and bounds better. While it lack the visual flair of that film (hell, it lacks visual flair, period) the story is another fascinating exploration of the internal conflicts that befell many Algerians fighting on the side of the French during WWII. But unlike Days of Glory, this one makes you think.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Top 100 of 2007 (31-40)

31. No End In Sight
While there has certainly been no shortage of documentaries on the Iraq war in the past few years, this one stands apart from so many of the others. Rather than pointing the finger at the Bush administration yet again for lying to the nation and getting ourselves involved in Iraq when they had nothing to do with 9/11 (by now, I think we're all well aware, and director Charles Ferguson avoids that - but the Bush administration doesn't get off easy here either). Instead, No End In Sight looks at everything since our invasion. It takes a very harsh view of how we've let the country go to shit through taking careful planning and throwing it out the window with utter disregard. It pinpoints exactly what was planned, what should have been done, and how we not only failed to execute it, but how we just flagrantly disregarded all of it and flew by the seat of our pants through one misguided decision after the next. And while some may be tempted to disregard this as another piece of "liberal propaganda," you have people who are very powerful and who were very much in the know speaking quite matter-of-factly about it: Folks like Richard Armitage speaking, as well as archive footage showing folks from the top down speaking about what should be done, and showing how it failed to be implemented. Now... after such glowing praise, why do I rank it so seemingly low? My biggest issue with the film is that hindsight is 20/20, and while these people all speak with a high degree of authority -- they'll know more that we ever will -- I only wish that they would speak about what we should do from here. What steps do we need to take to get out of the mess we're in now? What does the future hold? In a year with an election right around the corner, I would like to know so I could listen to the campaign speeches with a little more insight to judge the effectiveness of the suggested plans each candidate has on getting ourselves out of this quagmire. Even if they weren't definite answers, just to hear what these people thought the next step might be would have been helpful, especially going into the upcoming primaries and elections. But as it was, it ended up being a lot of talking about what we should have done, and not where we should go from here. And that's what I want to hear from people so knowledgeable on the state of affairs in the Middle East.

32. Lust, Caution
Ang Lee's lush, beautiful epic was unfortunately branded with an NC-17 by the MPAA, and it's just one more reason that organization is among the most useless entities on the face of the planet. By being branded with a commercial death, audiences were deprived of a truly wonderful film. It's an espionage story about a young Chinese girl who infiltrates the Japanese occupation forces in the late 1930's/40's, but gets a little too close to the enemy. It's a long film, but one that never had me squirming in my seat. And while the sex scenes are highly erotic, they aren't overly graphic. So I'm only left scratching my head at the MPAA's decision, especially after I watched a man's penis be severed and fed to a dog in the R-rated Hostel Part II.

I love me some Sarah Polley like no one's business. As an actress, she's the best actress going in the under-30 set, and I think there's very few people who bring so much integrity to the types of films they make. Her name attached to a project means I'll check it out, unconditionally. So, for her feature film debut as a srceenwriter and director, it makes sense that someone of Julie Christie's caliber (who is of a similar mindset when it comes to the projects she chooses), would be attached. And it's a wonderful debut for Polley behind the camera. She clearly has a gift, and while it's a flawed film, if this is her starting point, I can't wait to see her career behind the camera develop. And while most of the attention went to Christie's performance, I think Gordon Pinsent, who plays her husband, gave the strongest male lead performance of the year. He's incredible, and his omission from pretty much every award or nomination in the States was pretty inconceivable to me.

Jean Dominique Bauby, the French editor of Elle Magazine, suffered a terribly debilitating stoke leaving only his left eyelid mobile, and managed to blink out his memoirs. And while this sounds ripe for an overly sentimental and precious biopic du jour (you know, like 99% of them), Julian Schnabel is too good for that, and thankfully, isn't concerned with trying to pull the same tired tearjerking antics. Instead, his film is a beautifully crafted meditation on a mind trapped inside a body that doesn't work. Like most of Schnabel's films, it tends to get a little too cerebral for it's own good, but it's a damn fine film.

This is another example where taking risks and having the balls to try affords the film a lot of goodwill. There are any number of criticisms you could make about the film, and chances are I'd agree with you on a lot of it: the story is thin, some of the musical numbers don't work, it's a little style over substance... all true. Yet, bizarrely enough, it worked for me. I think Julie Taymor is a gifted visualist and I'm pretty much up for anything she's willing to put out there. I really liked how a lot (not all) of the Beatles songs were reimagined and also how she incorporated the band's transformation from bubble gum to political and fashioned a story around it that follows the same path. Not for everyone, but I really enjoyed it. However, I warn you that it's divisive as hell, you'll either like it or completely hate it.

This Palme D'Or winning film from Ken Loach shows the emerging conflicts in Northern Ireland that led up to the formation of the IRA, and does a commendable job of showing its impact on scales both large and small. It's beautifully filmed and wonderfully acted.

A whole host of directors and actors collaborated on this one to create 18 short stories, each set in a specific arrondissement in Paris. The stories don't mesh or intertwine and each short film skips between genres. And while not all of them work, so much of it works, that it is a worthy experience. I can't recall a collaboration between directors and actors on this magnitude, and I really appreciated something like this that can show you just how wonderful short format films can be.

While most comedies are quick to settle for the dick-and-fart joke and that's it, Knocked Up gives you that through the filter of something genuine, adult, and a realistic depiction of many relationships and the growth you make when life throws you a curveball. And that's why Knocked Up is one of those films that will still be remembered five years from now, while the rest fade off to the discount bins at WalMart.

Although this one is slowly rolling out in theaters now, it did officially open in Los Angeles for a limited qualifying run in December, so it gets included here. This Israeli import was just such a charming, sweetly written, superbly acted little film. It makes no great statements, nor does it politicize Arabic/Israeli tensions. It puts it all aside for a sweet and genuine little story that I really admired a good deal.

The funny thing with Todd Haynes' films is that even when I don't really love him, I have to admire his chutzpah for trying, which is more than can be said for most filmmakers. This time out, I think it was a successful film even if it doesn't work completely. And while much has been made of Cate Blanchett's gender-bending portrayal, the real star of the film was Marcus Carl Franklin (above). This kid is someone to watch.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Top 100 of 2007 (41-50)

41. In The Valley of Elah
Few people were more in need of redemption in my eyes, at least from a cinematic standpoint, was Paul Haggis. After directing the preposterous Crash, Haggis may have landed himself on the A-list, but he also catapulted onto my shitlist. I'll refrain from getting into that one... suffice it to say that it would land in the bottom 20 films seen this decade. But here he almost makes up for it. He's still got a ways to go, but this was significantly better, and Tommy Lee Jones was impeccable in this one.

42. Atonement
This one has a lot of great things going for it: Some nice performances, wonderful cinematography, and a good story. But something didn't seem to translate from the page to the screen, particularly during the midsection during the war scenes. The story itself is quite strong though, and while the film could have been great, it settles for just being good.

43. Exiled
Even though it gets mired in hokiness at times, this was still a really fun little action movie that I could see getting remade for an American audience (the studios seem to love to steal from the foreigners and make a lesser version). Some fantastic action sequences and beautifully filmed. Just a lot of fun.

Split up in two parts: The first half, Planet Terror by Robert Rodriguez, is a fun, gory zombie action/thriller. The second half, Death Proof by Quentin Tarantino, is more of an action movie with Kurt Russell as a stuntman who chases people with his "death proof" car. I preferred the Rodriguez film: it seems to capture what they were going for a little more. Tarantino's is a bit too talky, but it's a good time once it gets going.

Just one of the many incredible documentaries about Darfur that have come out in recent years. It's a horrific portrait of the genocide in Sudan and the political entanglements that are preventing anything from raising a finger. It's a good doc to catch, although its availability is limited.

A fairly taut little thriller about a dirty bomb going off in downtown Los Angeles. After deciding he can no longer wait for his wife to return, he seals off the house to prevent exposure to radioactivity, only to have her return to the house after it's too late. It's a great little "what would you do?" sort of story. It loses it's footing in the midsection a bit, but redeems itself nicely at the end.

47. Deep Water
A semi-interesting documentary about a boat race around the world and one man's doomed voyage. Some interesting developments come about while recounting the story, and it's a solid documentary. but in a year with so many good ones, this was a bit lost in the shuffle.

Stephen King adaptations on the big screen are usually sort of a mixed bag. And considering the source material isn't usually all that thrilling or original to begin with, it's rare for me to really think too highly of them. Yet, this is one that worked. It's sufficiently creepy and delivers some interesting twists.

An interesting tale of a young English boy who doesn't really fit in until he finds a group that accepts him and falls in with their crowd, much to his mother's dismay. I sort of liked how they show how easy it is to associate with a prescribed identity and all that comes with that.

A visually stunning and surrealistic (if somewhat incomprehensible) anime film. Not really a preferred genre of mine, but it's hard not to be stimulated by the visuals on display.