Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Top 8 in 08: Movies

Since Quinn was born we've gone to an actual movie theater maybe 3 or 4 times. These days we catch all the hip new movies about a year late via Netflix. By the time she is a teenager I imagine we'll have decoupled entirely from pop culture. Anyway, here are my faves:
  1. Dark Knight -- Christopher Nolan's movies keep getting awesomer. In addition to Heath Ledger's trippy performance, I enjoyed the movie's intellectual take on terrorism and how (not) to fight it - plus its literal reenactment of the Prisoner's Dilemma. I prefer it when my supervillains have done some advanced reading in game theory.

  2. The Simpson's Movie -- See here.

  3. Sweeney Todd -- I'm a big Sondheim fan so I was naturally worried that Hollywood might screw this one up somehow. In the end it skips merrily along the fine line between broadway kitsch and horror film dread - grisly, anti-social and highly entertaining. It's nice to have Tim Burton firing on all cylinders again, and hey, Johnny Depp can sing! Someone should file that away for future use.

  4. No Country for Old Men -- It doesn't really need repeating at this point, but the Coen Brothers sure do know how to make them some movies. Javier Bardem's character is so creepy and iconic that he's destined to be a sitcom punchline for decades to come.

  5. Eastern Promises -- David Cronenberg is often obsessed with the messy, fleshy biology of his characters and this movie is no exception: full-body tattoos, corpse disposal, enough slit throats to make Sweeney proud, and some hand-to-hand combat that makes those Bourne movie fight scenes look about as dangerous as beginning judo. Still despite the grimness, the movie has a beating heart and a sharp plot about human trafficking and the London underworld. Viggo Mortensen is terrific in this.

  6. Michael Clayton
  7. Persepolis
  8. There Will Be Blood
Honorable Mention: Gone Baby Gone, Hellboy, Superbad, Iron Man, Into the Wild, Chung King Express, I'm Not There

Oldies/Goodies: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The French Connection


Jackie said...

Chungking Express? Isn't that from 1994? (Although I see there was a Blu-Ray release in 2008.) I've seen 3 of the 8 movies you list (The Simpsons, No Country for Old Men, and Michael Clayton). Not bad for me. Thinking over it, Michael Clayton is kind of like Chungking Express for me. There are moments that are so enjoyable (for different reasons) that it's easy to not care that the movie is in some way essentially superficial.

t said...

Hey Jackie- yeah, its from back in the '90s. Of course, if I restricted myself to movies from the last year only, it would be a shorter list.

And I mostly agree with you that CKE and Michael Clayton are pretty superficial, although with CKE I wonder if superficiality was maybe the point? Like, hey let's make a really pretty, glitzy, hyper-visual movie that doesn't have a much of a plot?

As for Michael Clayton, it's pretty standard plot-wise, but for some reason I really enjoyed it when I watched it - particularly the ending. That's some good righteous comeuppance.

Any others you liked this last year?

Jackie said...

No WALL-E on your list? Also, In Bruges was a fine movie.

And, yes, I think that CKE is about style while Michael Clayton is clearly made by people who have spent their lives figuring out how to make movies and how people watch them. It's designed for the adjective 'slick' (in the best meaning of the word).

t said...

I know! We've been trying to see WALL-E because maybe Quinn will like it and might pay attention for more than a few minutes. Fun for the whole family. But Netflix has it as a "very long wait."

Jessica said...

Have you seen this Prisoner's Dilemma game show?!?!

The comments written below on YouTube are disturbing as well.

t said...

Hey Jess - Wow, that is crazy! I can see that show being a hit actually... =)