At long last, my top ten of 2007. I'm going to post the list and then defend certain choices, the unlikely ones, as opposed to summing up each pick. For example, in due part to abundant media saturation, most avid movie-goers are familiar with the merits of P.T. Anderson's "There Will Be Blood" (unless you live a life similar to the first stages of Plato's Allegory of the Cave), so I'll refrain from delivering the corresponding accolades. Also, I'm basing my choices on films viewed in theaters that premiered during 2007. (on a sidenote, this issue begets a dillema regarding the selection process. "The T.V. Set" premiering in 2007 would not make the cut even though I thoroughly enjoyed it, because I saw the film well after its theatrical run, on DVD. The same goes for the elimination of "Werckmeister Harmonies" Bela Tarr's 2003, 3 hour plus opus, though it was one of the seminal viewings I had in the theaters within the last year.) Anyway, without further ado:
1. The King of Kong
2. Brand Upon the Brain!
3. Margot at the Wedding
4. I'm Not There
5. There Will Be Blood
6. Quiet City
8. Red Road
9. Hostel Part Two
10. Eastern Promises
So here we go...that's right, "The King of Kong" is number one with a bullet. I don't know how many of you caught this flick, but it's a real gem. With ease the film transcends the genre parameters that confine it, (competition doc, quirky character study) and takes on a far more heartfelt dimension. It's about videogames (Donkey Kong), but in the same breath, the movie is a compassionate appeal to the perseverence of the human spirit. It was a complete pleasure viewing, fun, fast-paced, and filled with moments of struggle, collapse, and ultimately, triumph. The King of muthafuckin' Kong, ladies and gentlemen.
I'll give quick credit to Guy Maddin's "Brand Upon the Brain!," for navigating the unenviable task of merging a tightly plotted, personal meditation on childhood with an homage to German Expressionism and early silent film. Shot on 8mm, it succeeds boldy and along with live orchestration, on-stage foley, and a reading of the narration by Stephen Malkmus, it became for me, one of the most engaging cinematic experiences of the last couple of years.
Skipping over "Margot at the Wedding," we arrive at Todd Haynes's "I'm Not There," which for Dylanologists everywhere, was a reason to unite and take over. Chock full of references, (the Bob Neuwirth character tosses out "See Ya Later, Alan Ginsberg" to the poet, which also happens to be a relic from off the expanded Basement Tapes), the film summons a reason for taking mulitple visits to the theater. It's as complex, as it is smart, handing over a feast for those interested in the enigma of cultural mythmaking. Dig it!
Once again, enough has been written about P.T.'s "There Will Be Blood," so we'll pass over that. "Quiet City" by Portland-born filmmaker, Aaron Katz, lands on this list because of its solemn, unpretentious virtue. The film lives up to its title, depicting 24 hours in the life of two strangers meeting and then wandering through the isolated landscape of early-morning New York city. A hallmark of the burgeoning "mumblecore" scene, (which I'm going to write about in full within a couple of weeks) "Quiet City" captures those amazing, glorious moments when genuine human contact is made, regardless of environment.
I'm ditching "Paprika," another great Satoshi Kon piece, and "Red Road" with its Antonioni-esque nuances to channel the wonderful, "Hostel Part Two." "Hostel Part Two," though a box-office dud, delivered, with all its visceral glory, an expansion on the themes of its predessor, making it a satire of even broader focus. Skewering once again (sometimes literally) the American notion of cultural dominance and complacency, it even manages to become a sly take on various Capitalist perspectives. Well-structured, chock full of violence and hilarious, I'll say it bluntly "Hostel Part Two" rules.
And finally, we have "Eastern Promises." Why "Eastern Promises?" It's Cronenberg, 'nuff said. (you wanna fight me?)
Notably absent are:
-No Country for Old Men
And lastly, caught in the theater, but from prior years, were:
-Massacre at Central High
-Intentions of Murder
-Let's Get Lost
and best of all,
-Full Metal Jacket (quoting every line, drunken)
That about wraps it up, folks. Hope you liked the list, and feel free to respond. I loves me some debatin'. I'll be working on my friends, The Righteous and Harmonious Fists' music video this oncoming week, which I will post upon completion. And I haven't forgotten about my short film, which you'll be viewing shortly.