[Frogs gone wild. From Paprika]
My wife really enjoys watching films. I used to as well but I find less and less time in my life to go out for a show. Money is also a factor. How much is a movie in NYC these days? $12? $13? I also dislike listening to other people’s conversations. Nevertheless I manage to get out once in a while and occasionally watch a dvd at home. What follows is an alphabetical list of ten favorite films/videos/dvds that I watched in 2007 (not necessarily released in 2007).
1) Army of Shadows. Noir/War. Jean-Pierre Melville’s tale of the ambiguities and moral conflicts of French resistance and collaboration during the Nazi occupation. Highly recommended.
2) Everything is Illuminated. Drama. An American Jew’s quest to find the woman who saved his grandfather during the shoah. A nice, heartfelt film. I have not read the book of the same name.
3) Killer of Sheep. Neo-Realism. Charles Burnett classic “examines the black Los Angeles ghetto of Watts in the mid-1970s through the eyes of Stan, a sensitive dreamer who is growing detached and numb from the psychic toll of working at a slaughterhouse.” Definitely bleak but contains some funny moments as well.
Killer of Sheep was shot on location in Watts in a series of weekends on a budget of less than $10,000, most of which was grant money. Finished in 1977 and shown sporadically, its reputation grew and grew until it won a prize at the 1981 Berlin International Film Festival.
Since then, the Library of Congress has declared it a national treasure as one of the first fifty on the National Film Registry and the National Society of Film Critics selected it as one of the “100 Essential Films” of all time. However, due to the expense of the music rights, the film was never shown theatrically or made available on video. It has only been seen on poor quality 16mm prints at few and far between museum and festival showings.
4) The Lives of Others. Political Drama. During the Cold War, artists, writers, and members of the intelligentsia were regularly observed by the East German Secret Police, or, Stassi. This film examines the changing perspective of a Stassi agent and his impact on a group of writers. A bit slow going at first but well worth checking out.
5) My Architect. Documentary. “The story of one man’s search to know the hidden heart of his father, Louis I. Kahn.” Great on so many levels. Kahn designed some amazing buildings, including the National Assembly Building in Bangladesh (below).
But this is also a very personal journey, a son’s struggle to understand the father he barely knew.
6) Pan’s Labyrinth. Fantasy. Visually intriguing fantasy set in the Spanish Civil War.
7) Paprika. Anime. Thriller about psychoanalysis, dreams, and movie-making. Very enjoyable.
8 The Prisoner. UK TV Series, Cult. A secret agent is whisked off to “the island” to uncover why he left the agency. While it probably seems a tad cheesy by today’s standards, this was one of my favorite shows growing up. Time notes, ” You can trace Lost, The X-Files, and every other paranoid show-puzzle in the last few decades to this enigmatic story of Number 6 (Patrick McGoohan) and his attempt to escape a charming little gulag by the seaside.”
9) Volver. Drama. Pedro Almodóvar’s tale of death and life in a working-class suburb of Madrid.
Honorable mentions: soon to come.
Disappointments: American Hardcore. Documentary. Having experienced the hardcore scene firsthand, I wanted something more than what this film had to offer…
[R.I.P.: Bomer, Derrick, Jason]