Thursday, February 14, 2008

Top Ten of 2007

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
7. Paprika
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
-Lust, Caution
-Darjeeling Limited

And lastly, caught in the theater, but from prior years, were:
-Massacre at Central High
-Inland Empire
-Werckmeister Harmonies
-Intentions of Murder
-L'Amour Fou
-Maximum Overdrive
-The Eel
-Vanishing Point
-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.

sayonara, suckaz


Liam said...

I finally watched King of Kong and while thought it was decent, I had a hard time getting through the first half. I can't put my finger on it, but I just was not feeling it like I thought I would. The espionage aspects (e.g. Pink shirt and the other Kong champ making covert calls) were almost too good to be true, not calling shenanigans, but it felt like they were pumping this up. Also, the video tape part did its job serving as a direct punch in the gut which suited that funspot scene prefectly. I will agree with that blogger that I mentioned to you, in that it didn't feel like a documentary at all, it felt like an indie motion picture that was a faux-documentary. Too much editing, let the genius speak for itself. Overall it was decent, I'll give it a B-.

Yours Truly,
Liam "Mr. Awesome" Shlidt

Dave Nuss said...

Thanks for the comment. I see your point (and raise you one) about specific parts of the movie being too good to be true, but I'm surprised that would lead to a dismissal. If anything, it made my appreciate the film even further.
I read the article you sent that places the authenticity of the film into question. I guess if the movie's intent was that of a fact-finding mission about the video game championships then I'd probably be dissapointed. For me, the film is a narrative about the ascension of Steve to the throne of Dong Kong Champion, so I'm not too vexed that certain events were ommitted, like Billy publicly handing over the title in a 2004 ceremony. Docs, by their very nature, are manipulative when they hit the editing stage. It's impossible to maintain an absolute truthfulness when time and place, as caught on tape, are circumvented to form a proper story arc. I guess the question to ask any documentary filmmaker is how much deception occurred.
Anyway, I'd love to hear your response, otherwise I propose we settle this matter the man's way. I challenge you to a round of Ms. Pacman, winner has the final word. Whaddya say?

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