One Way or Another

In regards to the New Year, Benjamin Franklin said, “Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.”

However, good ol’ Ben also tried to tenderize a turkey through electrocution, and ended up electrifying himself, so I can’t say that every one of his plans, suggestions or pieces of wisdom were 100% solid.

I’m more of a fan of the Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde school of thought.  Mark Twain said of New Year’s Day that it was “the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.” And Mr. Wilde? Well, he essentially followed in the same vein and stated plainly, “Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.”

In essence, New Year’s can be looked at in many ways.

I have one way of looking at 2010. It SUCKED. But I have one way of looking at 2011: it’s going to ROCK. HARD.

My personal highlights of 2010, the few that occurred, were all film related. The TCM Film Festival was amazing. The Reel Thing Conference in Hollywood and the AMIA/IASA Conference in Philadephia were unbelievable. In the spirit of that, I will celebrate that with a list of my favorite films of the year. In general, I feel that “top 10/25/etc” lists are slightly on the silly end of things and they almost shout “Look at me! Look what I watch! YOU should watch this stuff too!” And some people’s lists are exactly that. My list is not intended to be so. Maybe you’ll find something you’ll like or want to watch, but if not, no big deal. As I am on the path to trying to become an archivist, this is more for me to remember the films that I enjoyed in a particular year than anything else. So…welcome to my Filmic Forum of 2010.

General Rules:

-There is no order of ones I liked best to least based on numerical value, except for #1-3. Those are self-explanatory. Aside from those, I loved them all equally.

-This list is also based upon the films I’ve seen. I have not yet seen Blue Valentine, Dogtooth, Rabbit Hole, White Material, or I Love You Philip Morris (all films I want very much to see).

-The starred ones at the end are kinda my “special selections.” The ones without stars are the definite ones, without any qualms. The last 2 are quite good films, but not my very favorites.

1) True Grit

2) The Illusionist


3) Kick Ass


Valhalla Rising

The Ghost Writer

Animal Kingdom


Splice

The Fighter


Mother

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo


Social Network*

Black Swan*

All I can say is that with the new Malick film coming out this year, and a few other things that look promising, let’s hope that 2011 is a better year for American film-making than it has been. We used to be good, but I’m losing my faith. This year’s list has quite a large amount of foreign work on it, and it seems like that is where the bravery, creativity and good film-making is going.

In any case, have a great new year, and hope your holidays were great!

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Top 5 Films of 2008…

All right cats & kittens, here we are- end of the year- and I know that AT LEAST one of you would like to know what my top 5 films of 2008 (that I have SEEN) are.

Well, y’know what?
Not only am I going to tell you, but I’m going to SHOW you.

I will post a trailer for each one of my favorite films of this year, with a brief description of why I adore it and think it rocked my socks more than the, well, um, embarrassingly large amount of other films I have seen within the year. Although, that said, truth be told…the large amount of films wasn’t always recent films so I guess that doesn’t really count. BUT THESE DO!!

And these films are EXCELLENT. Seriously. Really really really good. This is the first year I have gone to see new films multiple times in the theater in a VERY long time (many many years…perhaps since Lost Highway or American Beauty) and it is with great passion and cinematic drive that I urge you to partake in these pieces of celluloid. It’s been a shitty shitty year for me in my personal life, but good GOD it’s been a great year for me with movies!

So here’s the way it’s gonna work. I’m gonna post my top 5, but they will NOT, I repeat NOT be in any kind of qualitative order. In other words, there’s just simply no way that I could like one of these over another over another. They are all so different and so amazing in their own ways, and I cannot put one above the other. So, think of ’em on the same scale of Cinema Love, and enjoy.

Lemme know whatcha think, k?

Celluloid kisses and Reel-y big hugs,

Ariel

I don’t play favorites very often, if at all, but if pressed…this was my very favorite film of 2008. The first 45 seconds left me thrilled, stunned, and shocked. This is not your average film. More than anything, this is absolutely nothing at ALL like Waking Life. Don’t even *think* about comparing the two. This film is brutal, gorgeous, and relentless. I think I probably cried through 70% of the film, half because of the sheer magnificence of the art and splendor of the cinematic story before me and half because of content. The animation and the process (of which Folman has several articles/interviews available) are beyond compare.
I can truly truly truly say that I have never seen anything like it.
This film is out now. You will be doing yourself a complete disservice if you do not SEE THIS FILM. The soundtrack, the visuals, the EVERYTHING…perfection. Waltz With Bashir. AMAZING.

If nothing else gets you, the performances ALONE are enough to warrant the ridiculous amount of money theaters are charging for admission these days. However, it’s not just that. This film virtually *drips* with quality. To me, it was like watching the most sensationally intense boxing match I had ever seen in my life. So much so, that at times, it even seemed to be photographed in slightly that manner. Alongside the obviously interesting historical issues and the simply fascinating discussion on the media (including media figures), this film also focuses on the viewer’s own emotional positionality, toying with it a bit, based on the magnificent performances and incredible story in tandem. I dug that part A LOT. Well played, Mr. Howard, one of the best you’ve done!

OK, so aside from my fascination with (read: massive crush on) Robert Downey Jr.for the last 20 years, my absolute adoration for Jeff Bridges and my newfound interest in Terrance Howard (after Hustle & Flow), this movie rocked me. It is a solid and striking film, and I say that not just because I’m a comic book geek, not just because it was fun and exciting, and not just because it was well-written and structured (although it was all of those things and more). What is truly arresting about Iron Man is Favreau’s choice to lay bare the multitude of issues surrounding war as a business and an economic industry, and what that really means, in such an updated, contemporary fashion. Anyone who says that comic book movies are just fluff pieces with no transitive value, needs to experience Iron Man in all its glory. Seriously.

Yeah, I’ve been raving about this left, right & center. FINE. See, I love wrestling. I do. I wouldn’t have written a 35-pg paper about wrestling (that I eventually presented at a international conference) if I didn’t love it. But that’s not the only reason I love this movie. I love this film because it’s accurate as HELL and grips your heart in a choke-hold, refusing to let go. The balls-out emotional intensity is matched only by the wrestling itself, which, I might add, was great. But you DON’T HAVE TO LOVE WRESTLING TO LOVE THE MOVIE. My only criticism was Evan Rachel Wood. She was not good. At all. But the rest of the film was graphic, brutal, and painful in all the right ways. I cried. A lot. Great performances, great characters, and WOW, um, Marisa Tomei? HOT!
On a more personal level, I *finally* feel like a film has been made that will help dispel the myth that wrestling is easy and “fake,” and without any real consequence, something I appreciated beyond measure.

At first, I was just ecstatic about the choice to replace Mrs. Scientologist herself, Katie Holmes, from the first film with…well, anyone. Little did I know it was only going to skyrocket in OMFG HOW AMAZING CAN THIS BE-ness from there. Suffice to say that 2008 was a damn fine year to be a comic book geek who also happens to spend many of her waking hours ‘neath the silvery screen. It’s incredibly difficult to enunciate (at least in a professional or eloquent sense) my feelings about Chris Nolan’s work on The Batman, other than…IT RULES. I kinda turn into a 14-year-old boy. My academic side would like to tell you, however, that this is probably one of the most (if not THE most) faithful comic-to-film adaptations that has been done thus far, both thematically and content-wise. Not only that, but the performances were startlingly good, and the skillful direction and the only-when-needed use of digital effects was gratefully noted and appreciated.