movies, music and everything else

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

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Friday, January 11, 2008

BEST FILMS of 2007: 11 - 20

Ken Loach’s film is a disarmingly personal and tragic story of brothers torn apart by the guerilla war between the IRA and the British. It is a beautiful film that slowly develops into a heart wrenching one about politics, freedom, values and family. Having won the Palme d’Or at the 2006 Cannes film festival, I would have thought more attention would have been paid upon its release, but unfortunately it came and went with little fan fare. Please take the time to rent it on DVD… it is a true treasure of 2007.

This balanced look at the abortion debate is the most compelling, thought provoking and disturbing documentary of the year. Made with extreme skill and an artful eye, Tony Kaye’s film is one that should be seen by everyone even though it is incredibly difficult to watch at times. This is not a film designed to answer questions or to pass judgment, but to make the viewer think and it succeeds tremendously.

click for full review of LAKE OF FIRE

Ang Lee followed up his Oscar winning BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN with this sexual spy thriller set in WW 2 era Shanghai during its occupation by Japan. It is one of the most visually stunning movies of the year and really takes its time developing complex characters and their intertwining relationships. It is tense, gives the world and the characters the time to breathe. Much has been made of the sexuality, but it serves the movie dramatically, drawing you in to the lives and emotions of the people that you are watching.

Tim Burton has come out and made his most skillful film in 13 years. The look, the shot selection, the performances and the songs are all top notch and while the plot is thin, SWEENEY TODD is a very enjoyable ride. Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter shine throughout in this very dark and morbid tale seemingly tailor-made for mister Burton’s sensibilities.

In many ways Todd Haynes film based on the many faces of Bob Dylan is a masterpiece and the fact that it is number 16 on my list of the year is a testament to the quality of films released. This is an examination of a musical icon by casting different actors to play him at different stages of his life. While this is not a direct biopic, it captures the spirit of Dylan. It is an art film, but true to itself and becomes an amazing experience as you let a masterful filmmaker take you on a ride.

This is a movie that succeeds on pretty much every level imaginable. It is one of the funniest movies of the year. It is fantastically clever in its parody of the action genre, while also succeeding to be an effective action film in its own right. The style pays homage (parodies) with skill, but also maintains a style of its own. This is not only maybe the most fun movie of the year, but it is made with precision and care.

At last year’s Oscars when THE LIVES OF OTHERS beat PAN’S LABYRINTH for best foreign language film, I almost screamed, but then I saw it. While not as good as PAN’S (little is in my eyes), this is a smart, well-crafted, beautifully acted film about a man that listens. Compelling and engaging, the less you know, the better so just see it.

The power of a word and the consequences of a misunderstanding. These are just two of the many themes explored in ATONEMENT. This is another film that is best seen knowing as little about the plot as possible. What I do want to comment on is the skill behind the camera in every way in this film. This is an amazingly well crafted story that will engage you from the opening sound cue. I will get more into details when I make my list of technical achievements of the year, but this is a fine film that will grab you and take you on a journey.

Writer/director Sarah Polley is best known from her acting work, but the beautiful and heartbreaking simplicity of AWAY FROM HER is the crowning achievement in her already impressing career. Julie Christie is amazing here as a woman that is having her life ripped away from her by Alzheimer’s. She captures the pain, confusion, sadness and loss with near perfection.

11. JUNO
JUNO is one of the most charming films of the year. While the first fifteen minutes are over written and too precious, the rest of the film more than makes up for it. Ellen Page is amazing here as a sixteen year old girl who finds out that she is pregnant and decides to not only go through with the pregnancy, but to give up the baby for adoption to an upper-class couple played wonderfully by Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner. The dialogue is clever and sometimes very intentional and director Jason Reitman maintains the tricky balance of tone as to never lose the viewer on an entertainment level or an emotional one. This is a sweet, funny, well-acted and charming film. Check it out and you will not be disappointed.


Anonymous free movies said...

I've always told friends for me the mark of a good movie is the character actors and their performances. They all deliver in the movie Juno. I'm not going to go overboard and say its the best movie this year but it is one that I would recommend. Its rare I go to a preview and actually want to go see it again.

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