Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top Ten Films of the Decade

Top Ten Films of the Decade

Well, the decade is coming to an end. And, with that, everyone is doing top ten lists of the decade. I guess it fills some kind of need we have to wrap everything up into tidy little packages. Anyway, here is my obligatory, TOP TEN FILMS OF THE DECADE list.

1. Mulholland Dr. (2001) - Dark, enigmatic, and a complete mindfuck, Mulholland Dr. David Lynch's best work since Blue Velvet. I get a lot of flack for praising Lynch, and particularly this film, so much, but for some reason I find it to be the most engrossing movie I've ever seen. Lynch is back to the same tricks that he used in Lost Highway to give us a new puzzle to construct (and deconstruct) in our minds, but Mulholland Dr. resonates a lot more than Lost Highway to me - it feels much more intriguing on every level than that film did. Figuring out the Diane/Betty characters is an exciting puzzle that may or may not end in a eureka! moment. Don't be fooled, there is a lot of thinking required when you view this one. So bring your thinking hats with you.

2. No Country for Old Men (2007) - My second favorite Coen Brothers flick (right after Barton Fink), No Country is a serious film (possibly their most serious film, short of Blood Simple) with pulp aspects. The reinvention of Josh Brolin is great to see, but obviously Javier Bardem steals the show as one of the greatest bad guys in the history of film, Anton Chigurh. I'm sure that everyone has seen it, there was a lot of hubub when the film came out (Oscar nods and what-not), and rightly so. But, and this kind of surprised me, there is a lot of rewatchability built in to this movie. Go ahead, check it out again next time it's on cable - you'll be hooked again.

3. Inglourious Basterds (2009) - Absolutely the best film of 2009, Inglourious Basterds is a superb film that works on many levels. All of the praise for Tarantino as the new wunderkind, and also the cries from the wild accusing him of plagiarism have levelled off (though I still think they are merited, considering his early work) and he's able to work unfettered. With Inglourious Basterds, he elevates himself - going from excellent retro craftsman of fanboy favorite homage films to a stand-on-his-own filmmaker.

4. The Departed (2006) - Likely Marty's best film since Goodfellas, The Departed takes the remake phenomenon of the last few years and really makes you rethink your stance on it. Could there actually be some good coming out of the seemingly uncreative cespool that is the Hollywood remake machine? Scorsese shows us that it is possible, though still incredibly rare. Perhaps it just takes someone as skilled as Scorsese (who claims to have not seen Infernal Affairs before filming his version) behind the camera. Regardless, the intricate story of treachery, intrigue, and deceit is one of the best cops and robbers films since the seventies and put Scorsese back on the financial map as a viable filmmaker.

5. Unbreakable (2000) - Who knew that my favorite comic book flick would be one that wasn't licensed from a comic book company? Bruno gives us the performance of his life as the unwitting superhuman David Dunn in this story about an everyman who one day realizes that his life is something more than ordinary. I really believe we were seeing lightning in a bottle from Shyamalan in 2000 with this one, as he's never been able to reach these heights again. I don't know how the film did financially, but it seems that for some reason or another M. Night turned his back on this type of filmmaking (with the possible exception of The Happening - which I actually liked, by the by).

6. Knocked Up (2007) - The Apatow crew was such a wonderful breath of fresh air to me. It kicked off with The 40 Year Old Virgin, but really grabbed hold of me with Knocked Up. Seth Rogen comes into his own as a leading comic actor that may be one dimensional, but is still captivating. The best thing about Knocked Up? It's the antedote to silly, over the top star-driven comedies that rely on gimmicks (read: Adam Sandler comedies). Or maybe I just like it so much because the guys in it remind me a little bit of me and my friends. There is definitely something to be said about relatability in movies that really makes them stick out to you. Maybe that's what Knocked Up does better than any other movie - it captures the paradigm of my generation and makes it really fucking funny.

7. Oldboy (2003) - Chan Wook-Park's violent master work has been able to draw me back several times, and that's really saying something for a movie based around a twist ending. I saw it once in the theater, and multiple times on DVD and it just gets better with every spin. A classic tale of vengeance (slotted neatly in the middle of Park's Vengeance trilogy), Oldboy works on you in a way that few movies do. It's a tense, funny, violent, exhillirating mystery movie that keeps you glued to the screen trying, barely even realizing that there is a puzzle to put together right in front of you.

8. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) - This movie is getting a lot more play recently, and really gaining some steam to become a bonadfide cult classic. If you haven't seen it, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a twist on that staple, the buddy cop movie (and written/directed by Shane Black of Lethal Weapon fame, no less!) only minus the cops. It pairs up a gay private eye and a bumbling thief to solve a murder. Only it's funny. Really funny. The film stars Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer in some of the quirkiest roles they've ever had to play. Sidenote: Kilmer's career is so intriguing - I think I kind of love the direction he is going in.

9. Downfall (2004) - Bruno Ganz performance as Adolf Hitler is nothing short of amazing. In this German film, we follow Hitler during his last days in the bunker. I know that the movie has been parodied to death on YouTube, but if you have not seen it, please do yourself a favor and watch this thing. It is one of the best World War II movies you will ever see. Hey, what are the odds that I would have two WWII movies on my list? Ah, but I digress, it really is one of the better character pieces I've ever seen, and Ganz completely drives the film.

10. Let the Right One In (2008) - Earlier this year, I ranked The Wrestler as the best film of last year. On rewatch, I would have to swap it and LTROI as number one and two. This movie is absolutely the single best vampire movie I've ever seen. It is a wonderful little Swedish masterpiece, full of all the things horror movies never contain. The movie is rather sweet, has endearing characters, features young romance, and all of the things you never knew you wanted in a horror movie. Luckily, the craftsmanship behind this cold beauty carries everything, it's an absolutely breathtaking film, the cinematography is spectacular, and the direction is sometimes inspired, and always good.

RIP Dan O'Bannon

RIP Dan O'Bannon:

I had no idea that Dan O'Bannon passed away on December 17th. Saddening news, to be sure. This post is in memorium to him.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Now That's Art!

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians - 1964
(watch it here)

Jason Lytle - Merry X-Mas 2009

Former lead singer of the band Grandaddy has put out a free downloadable album called Merry X-Mas 2009. It's 7 tracks of improvisational piano that Jason recorded at his house.

Go to his website and download it now!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Clip of the Week

Charlotte Gainsbourg & Beck - Heaven Can Wait

Monday, December 14, 2009

Films from the Crypt: Episode 10 - Elves (1989)

Films from the Crypt: Episode Ten - Elves (1989)

Director: Jeffery Mandel

Tagline: "They Don't Work for Santa Anymore!"

View a CLIP

Starring: Dan Haggerty


Tis the season, so let's take a look at a holiday-oriented horror flick. Elves is pretty much a clusterfuck from the very beginning. The plot is a mess that's really hard to decipher, but I'll try.

Our young heroine Kristin and her friends hold a ceremony in the woods (using her grandfather's ancient book!) and unwittingly awaken a long dormant elf from his slumber. Of course, the elf isn't one of Santa's helpers, but instead it's some kind of retarded, pint-sized troglodyte bent on killin'!

From there, the elf (yes, there's just one in the whole picture - even though the damn title is ELVES) begins his shitty bloodbath beginning with a department store Santa. Somewhere after that we become privy to the exceptionally ludicrous plot that has something to do with Nazis creating the elf in order to breed with a pure virgin in order to kick start the Aryan nation. There's also an odd revelation when we realize that Kristin's grandfather is also her father! I swear to God.

And, we can't forget about the chain-smoking, tough-as-nails, do-gooder Mike (played by mountain man, Dan Haggerty). He takes over as the mall Santa after the original one is mauled by the elf. When Kristin and her friends decide to sleep over at the local mall, and some old Nazis and the elf show up, Mike jumps at the opportunity to be her knight in woolly armor.

Anyway, from there it gets sillier and sillier until finally it ends in true shitty movie, anticlimactic fashion. There's more that could be said about the plot, convoluted mess that it is, but I'm going to keep this one short. The bottom line is that you need to get your hands on a copy of this flick this Christmas season. A word to the wise, however, you may want to have some punched-up egg nog around while you do.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009

Upcoming Film Preview: Until The Light Takes Us

Upcoming Film Preview: Until the Light Takes Us
Directed By: Aaron Aites/Audrey Ewell
Starring: Harmony Korine, Varg Vikernes, Hellhammer
Country: USA
Release Date: Winter 2009
View the TRAILER

Plot Synopsis: Documentary "chronicling the history, ideology and aesthetic of Norwegian black metal". It looks like a better, Norwegian-focused version of Metal: A Headbanger's Journey. Hopefully someone from Gorgoroth shows up to make it a real party! In all honesty, this should be a really good picture because there is a great story built-in from the start. From church burnings, to murder, the black metal scene is pretty notorious for being insanely violent and just a little on the crazy side. Looking forward to it.

Friday, December 4, 2009

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