Archive for December 2009

The Annual Box-Office Lament

December 15, 2009

We live in a country where:

  • Paul Blart: Mall Cop made more than Inglourious Basterds
  • Ghosts of Girlfriends Past made more than Funny People
  • Pink Panther 2 made more than The Informant
  • Dance Flick made more than Observe and Report
  • Imagine That made more than Ponyo
  • Fired Up made more than The Box
  • I Love You Beth Cooper made more than The Hurt Locker
  • 12 Rounds made more than Sunshine Cleaning
  • All About Steve made more in its first three days than A Serious Man has made in 73 days
  • The Boondock Saints II has made more in 45 days than Moon has in 161 days
  • The top-ten list so far consists of six sequels, two kids’ films, and a reboot of a 43-year-old franchise. Only three (Up, The Hangover and Monsters Vs. Aliens) are “original concepts” not based on or sequelizing any pre-existing media
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen made more money than anything.

Now, Avatar might rewrite this somewhat; it might turn out to be as awesome as advance critics are saying it is, and it might even challenge Transformers Part Deux for the throne. Still, the year-end box-office tally bespeaks, as always, wretched taste on the part of the masses and cowardice and idiocy on the part of studios that greenlight and aggressively market puerile crap to the exclusion of anything remotely adult.


December 14, 2009

Recently written and posted reviews of not-so-recent movies:

A Serious Man • Joel and Ethan Coen, 2009

The Truck • Marguerite Duras, 1977

“I haven’t done anything.”

50 Best Films of the Decade: An Explanation

December 12, 2009

Benjamin, one of the few who actually comment here, had this to say about my list:

The great thing about this list is that it is marvelously untouched by pop culture. Would Ebert or A.O. Scott put The Devil’s Rejects in their list? Doubtful. At the same time, I have to wonder why movies such as Cache and There Will Be Blood didn’t make it over Block Party and May and Southland Tales. Even so, the wonderful thing about top lists is that nobody’s list is going to be the same; especially with such a massive gamut as a decade.

I think the “marvelously untouched by pop culture” may be tongue-in-cheek, since my list has stuff like Shoot ‘Em Up and Crank on there. What to do with a list that has room for The Devil’s Rejects and not, say, There Will Be Blood? It is, I think, a woefully inadequate list, but it’s mine.

I’ve acknowledged the near-absence of foreign films. I regret this. I live in an area that doesn’t get the few foreign-language films that manage to make it to America anymore. Sure there’s Netflix, but I tend to use it more for filling in gaps in my classic-film “I suck for not having reviewed this yet” list as well as indulging in guilty pleasures. If it’s any consolation, I just finished programming a six-month horror series at the local library, and all but one of the films were foreign.

Cache isn’t on the list because I haven’t gotten around to seeing it yet. I know, I know, I should. I would probably dig it the most, daddy-o. There Will Be Blood … outstanding achievement, but my deal with this list was to take the top five of each year. There Will Be Blood probably came in at number six. These are the 2007 films, in alphabetical order, that rang my bell louder:

Across the Universe
No Country for Old Men
Shoot ‘Em Up
Southland Tales

…Yup. Shoot ‘Em Up, Rob? Really? This is what you prefer to Paul Thomas Anderson’s crowning glory? I will exhume Pauline Kael: “Movies are so rarely great art, that if we cannot appreciate great trash, we have very little reason to be interested in them.” Besides, Shoot ‘Em Up — if the title itself didn’t tip you off — is a comment on trash. I will now quote I-K, who left this comment on the review in response to the people who found the movie brainless: “What is wrong with you people? It’s a pisstake. Isn’t it obvious?” Yes, and it’s a glorious pisstake that uses the medium hilariously and bountifully.

I realize I’m mounting a defense that Benjamin hasn’t really called for. Still, when one draws up something as purportedly definitive as a best-of-the-decade list, one has to be willing to stand behind it. Block Party is there because it’s a shot of pure joy, something in rare supply at the movies these days. May and Southland Tales are there because they took me someplace I hadn’t been before. That’s one of the few things I ask of a movie. Show me something I haven’t seen before, make me feel or think something I haven’t before.

50 Best Films of the Decade, Part V

December 10, 2009

The final ten. (more…)

50 Best Films of the Decade, Part IV

December 10, 2009

Almost on the home stretch. Next ten: (more…)

50 Best Films of the Decade, Part III

December 9, 2009

Continuing with the next ten: (more…)

50 Best Films of the Decade, Part II

December 9, 2009

Continuing with the next ten, again in alphabetical order. (more…)