movies, music and everything else

This blog is about pretty much what the title implies... movies, music and everything else.

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I like movies, music and everything esle... ; ) oh... and i can't spell, so, please, no comments

Saturday, January 12, 2008

BEST FILMS of 2007: 1 - 10

Ridley Scott has been on a roll in this decade making some of the best films of his career (BLACK HAWK DOWN, KINGDOM OF HEAVEN) and he continues with the stellar AMERICAN GANGSTER. This is the true story of an American entrepreneur Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) who went from nothing to become the heroine kingpin of New York and is being pursued by Jersey detective Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe). TO call a drug lord an entrepreneur might sound odd, but Lucas treated the drug world like a corporation and built an empire, eliminating the middleman to maximize his profits. The portrayal of these two men is perhaps the most interesting aspect of this film. Lucas, while being a cold blooded drug dealer that will shoot a man in the head without second thought if it helps his cause, is on the surface a family man and one that looks out for his community. He turns his organization into a family business and takes care of the people that are close to him. Roberts, while he is a cop, is a mess in his own personal life. His family is falling apart and you see him as a mess of a person and a bad father. This creates an interesting examination of the real world of right and wrong. AMERICAN GANGSTER is extremely well made with the sharp attention to detail by a legendary filmmaker and a truly special collaboration with one of the best cinematographers in the business (Harris Savides). This is a beautiful film and a well crafted story with great performances by two of our very best actors.

This is a plot that on paper should simply not work. Lars is a damaged and lonely young man that separates himself from the world around him and orders a “real doll” online and seems to think she is his actual girlfriend. What makes this movie rise above the pitfalls that this premise threatens is the delicate skill with which it is made and the fantastic performances throughout. Ryan Gosling delivers maybe the best performance of his career as Lars. He is sweet, charming and awkward without ever being creepy. He makes you root for him throughout and after a time, I started to see Bianca (his real doll) as a real person. In many ways, this is a magical film and I found myself transported by it.

Pixar has done it again… When it comes to Pixar there are good movies, great movies and then there are instant classics. RATATOUILLE is a borderline instant classic. This movie is so well made, well crafted and has a stunning visual look. It takes no time at all to look beyond the fact that the lead character is a rat (something that is by definition pretty disgusting) and see him as a personality. We are not only not bothered with the idea of him cooking and handling food, we want him to, having complete faith in his ability. This is a fun and sweet movie and one that I have watched again and again and am still drawn into.


Aside from being the longest title of the year, it is also one of the best made, beautiful, captivating and fascinating films of 2007. Brad Pitt as Jesse James is note perfect as the outlaw in the last few months of his life, but this movie belongs to Casey Affleck. Affleck plays Robert Ford as a shy and disturbed man who not only idolizes James; he is obsessed with him and with what makes him. James was one of the most famous people in the country and Ford is his stalker. JESSEE JAMES takes its time unfolding the stories and examining the lives of the people involved, but it is done with such skill that time simply doesn’t matter. The photography by Roger Deakins is some of the best work of his career, not only complimenting the story, but also in many cases dictating it. This is a bold film and one that never got a chance to find an audience in the theater. Please take the time to check this one out when it hits DVD (or Blu-Ray if you can get access to one). In years to come, I believe that people will look back at this one as a classic.

Jean-Dominique Bauby was the editor-in-chief of French Elle magazine and a man that embraced life and lived it to the fullest. When he suffered a massive stroke and loses all motor functions with the exception of his left eye, he finds himself trapped in his own body. This is a true story and one of the most amazing films of the year. While in this state, Bauby managed to write a book about his experience through blinking his left eye. It is a wonderful story about hope and never taking anything for granted. He never gives up and uses his imagination and his memory to keep him going and to keep up his spirits. That combined with the support of his friends and family, lifts Bauby up from a crushing incident and allows his to continue to embrace life and all that it has to offer. There is one scene with Max von Sydow towards the end that will break your heart and is one of the best scenes I have seen all year.

For the story that it is telling and the themes that it explores, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is pretty much a perfect film. I watch this film and wonder why every movie is not made with the skill that this one is. Every frame and every shot is meticulously placed together to tell this story. The use of sound and the sparse use of music create an environment that grabs you and just doesn’t let go. Brolin and Bardem are amazing here creating fully realized characters involved in a cat and mouse game that will be remembered for years to come. This is the film that will bring the Coen’s their much deserved Oscar for director and probably for picture. It is their best film since FARGO. So why in the hell is it my number 5 film of the year??? To answer that I will say that any of my top five could be my number one of this year. In my eyes, there were five classic films made this year and made it a phenomenal year for film and the lovers of film. I’ve seen all of these at least three times and look forward to seeing them again and again.

David Fincher might have made his masterpiece with this one. This is his first film that takes an amazing story and lets the story dictate the style. He shows here that he is not only a master of visuals, but he has become a master storyteller. This is not just a movie that takes place in the seventies, by watching this, you actually feel transported to the seventies. There is so much effort put into the smallest details it comes across as effortless at times. I loved this movie when I saw it back in March, but I just picked up the HD disc and watched it with the commentary, the documentaries and the gorgeous transfer and I was reminded of the highest quality in every aspect of filmmaking. I love this movie and urge everyone that has not had the opportunity to check it out to do so. You will not be disappointed.

full review of ZODIAC

When I read the Jon Krakauer, I was deeply affected by the talk of the 2 year journey of Christopher McCandless and its tragic outcome in the Alaskan wilderness. One of the many reasons was that when I read it, I was the same age as McCandless and found that I could really relate to him and what he was going through. When I saw Sean Penn’s film based on the book I was similarly affected. This is a wonderful film that captures the pure spirit of the book and the lead character. Many have complained that McCandless was stupid in his actions and his blind naivety of the world around him. Penn did not glorify the actions of his lead character nor did he judge them. He simply presented this fascinating person who at times I greatly admire and at others I cringe, knowing where his actions are going to lead him in the end.

One of the many things that really struck me about INTO THE WILD was the way that the country that I have lived in and traveled my entire life was portrayed in a visual and more so in an emotional way. I walked out of this film inspired and with my eyes opened to the world and more aware of the little things that surround us all that make life worth living.

full review of INTO THE WILD

ONCE is the most magical film that I have seen this year and for all intensive purposes, it is my “favorite” film that I saw in 2007. It is so simple, so real and so emotional that it transported me into the lives of these two characters as they spent a small amount of time together recording music. What lifts ONCE above other small films is the music that was created for the film and performed by the film’s stars, Glen Hansard and Maketa Irglova. Music is such a big part of the story and of the film that it is and should be considered a musical. One example and it still might be my favorite single scene of the year is in which they play together for the first time. The song is “Falling Slowly” and should win the Oscar. This is such a tender and real moment.

I have never played in a band or written a song, but after watching ONCE, I felt like I was apart of the recording of these beautiful songs and I was emotionally invested with the characters and what they were creating. These feelings led to my reaction to a moment in the film when, after recording the album, the band heads to the beach to unwind. There is nothing that happens of note in this scene. It is a car ride followed by hanging on the beach, playing Frisbee and just fooling around. It is the emotional release that comes with that scene that makes it remarkable. I have had moments like this in my life and this film captured that feeling like I have never seen. This is an amazing film and one that was never released in theaters in most of the country. It is now out on DVD and I urge everyone to rent or buy it and experience on of the most personal and heartwarming films of the last few years.

full review of ONCE

“I have a competition in me. I want no one else to succeed. I hate most people. There are times when I look at people and I see nothing worth liking” - Daniel Plainview

There was no other movie that I was more excited for this year than THERE WILL BE BLOOD. There was also no other film that I had higher expectations for. Paul Thomas Anderson is my favorite working filmmaker and he has made a film that will stand as a benchmark in his career. This is an epic film about an amazing time in our country; focusing on one of the most dynamic and at time despicable characters I have even seen in a movie. THERE WILL BE BLOOD is the best film of the year.

I could spend hours dissecting this movie and all of the things that I love about it. Instead I will focus on a few key moments. The first is the first act of this film chronicling the rise of oil tycoon Daniel Plainview. There is not a word spoken for about fifteen minutes, but we get to know not only who Daniel is, but also the passion and drive that fills his every being. This is pure filmmaking. By the time that we hear the first words of the film (a speech to land owners by Daniel) we are with him for the long haul. He has sacrificed everything to get here and there is nothing that will stop him from going further. This is the basis for the downfall of a human being that we witness for the next two and a half hours.
The second moment that I will discuss is one when Daniel sits by the fire with his apparent brother Henry who has just entered his life. This is where the quote above is taken from. For those people that think that Daniel is just a monster I ask them to pay attention to all of the demons and layers that are in this scene. He is a fatally flawed man who attributes that make him successful and magnetic are exactly the things that eat away at him and destroy the man that he is, leaving an empty shell. He is aware of the direction that he is going, but his fierce competition is such that he cannot stop the train that was started years ago. This is the most emotionally revealing scene in the film in many ways and one that I point to reveal the man behind the legend that is Daniel Plainview.

There is the filmmaking in this film and I cannot put it on this list without mentioning it. This is a wonderfully accomplished movie and shows a deep maturity by director P.T. Anderson that he has not shown before. Every aspect of the film is done with extreme attention to detail and character and the story that it serves. The photography is stunning. The sounds range from loud and jarring to subtle but all are mixed to an effective result. The music is phenomenal in the way that it uses a variety of unique sounds blended with classical score to create an environment of tone that permeates the film. The editing is amazing, balancing the tone and the methodical pace of the film resulting in a symphony of emotions.
There is much that has been talked about regarding the end of this film and all that I will say that, for me, it is the only way to end this incredible story of a complex and damaged man. He is a giant in this film. Daniel Day-Lewis delivers perhaps the best performance in his career. THERE WILL BE BLOOD is an amazing film and one that not only met my unrealistically high expectations, but exceeded them.


Anonymous Watch Movies said...

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10:35 PM  

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