Sunday, February 17, 2008

I Drink Your Milkshake

Brian and I pulled one of our classic triple-features at the theater yesterday. I've been paying for it all day today by doing an ungodly amount of homework, but it was well worth it. We started off the day with There Will Be Blood... and was there. But I'll get back to that. After that we saw the Academy Award-nominated short films, both live-action and animated. The live-action flicks were all so-so, begging us to utter the question, "This is the creme de la creme of twenty-five minute movies?" It's not that any were bad. In fact, they were all very well done. A couple were even very funny, but there just wasn't much energy. No spark. Call me an ugly American, but my favorite was the only English-language work--a western entitled "The Tonto Woman." Could have used some editing to make it tighter. However, when it comes to Oscar, my money's on "The Mozart of Pickpockets," a cute little French film about a cute little French thief... and two larger, older, bumbling ones.

Fueled by popcorn and smuggled Jimmy Johns sandwiches (frantically acquired two blocks away between shows), we made it to the animated shorts. These were much more entertaining and artfully rendered. Brian and I agreed on a Russian film created to look like a moving Impressionistic painting entitled Moya lyubov (the first part is linked below), but I wouldn't be surprised if a new rendition of "Peter and the Wolf" were the winner. Honestly, I could sleep fine knowing any of these won, especially since the Academy Awards don't matter that much anyway. I enjoy watching them and playing along at home, but we all like what we like, non? Oh, and keep on the lookout for the French short "Even Pidgeons Go to Heaven." It's like watching one of those Disney/Pixar shorts before Finding Nemo or Cars, except that the ending is akin to Nemo getting eaten in front of his father. Very funny.

2007 has been a banner year for film. I've truly loved a lot of movies to come out in the previous 12 months (plus a little, since it's February and all), and what's best is that I've enjoyed a range of genres more than in the past. I consider my appreciation of films to be varied in nature, and although I ultimately side with the critics when it comes to my absolute favorites, I have a secondary list of an additional 10 films (that's Top 15, people) from 2007 which really struck me, and they cover action, family flicks, and straight up comedy.

Top 5 Movies of 2007

1. There Will Be Blood
Just when I thought there was no more room in the great films list for last year, I finally managed to see this one. It blew me away. Not only is Daniel Day-Lewis undoubtedly a better actor than cobbler, little Paul Dano manages to stand up to him just fine. I think he should have been nominated for best supporting actor, but none of those Hollywood types seem to care what I think. Brian and I left the theater with completely different themes in our heads. He saw it as a statement about where the industrialization of oil has taken us since the turn of the last century, and I saw it as a character study on the Devil. When I got home, I looked up some other opinions, and I quite like the comparisons to Citizen Kane. I think we're all right. This film truly works on so many levels, I'm willing to use a cliche like that to explain. Paul Thomas Anderson's inspiration in Kubrick is both obvious and respectfully beautiful (this coming from a true Stanley fan), and Jonny Greenwood's score is finely integrated into the story. All hail the genius that is Radiohead (again, always, forever and ever). By the way, the great new way of letting someone know you own them (the title of this post) was taken from transcripts PTA read on the Teapot Dome scandal. Those crazy pundits of the past. On Friday I had a clear idea in my mind of my favorite movies of the year and then this one stole the number one spot, with a bullet. The rest are in no particular order.

2. No Country for Old Men
The Coen brothers can do no wrong in my book. They are more prolific than any other writer-director-producer team that I can think of, though I can't think of any. They're certainly more agreeable to work with than most siblings I know. No offense to my personal kin, but I'm pretty sure we'd kill each other if we worked this closely together, and there's no way that murder scene would be nearly as cool and clean as those found in this flick. Oh, and the ending IS appropriate. For those who weren't big fans in the first place, give it a second chance some time, keeping in mind who's narrating the story. Or, read the book, because Cormac McCarthy ain't so bad, either. This was my top pick until TWBB stole its place.

3. Atonement
Absolutely beautiful. I haven't read the book yet, but writing students should be forced to read it or watch the movie in order to truly understand the power of point of view. To tell someone what this film is about would be to give it away, but suffice it to say that it's not always a lie just because you didn't tell the truth. This one should win best cinematography, hands down, and little Saoirse Ronan is the only one who could come close to giving Cate Blanchett a run for her money in the best supporting actress category.

4. Juno
Jason Bateman and Michael Cera. It's like a little piece of Arrested Development lives on in independent film land. Yay for another Minnesotan influence at the Oscars this year, as Diablo Cody truly understands what high school was like for the people who weren't any of those other people everyone remembers. I took it as a compliment when my brother said, "Not that Meaghan would ever get herself into a situation like that, but if she did, she'd be just like Juno." I'd like to think I act a little older than a 17 year-old at this point in my life, but I'm not putting any bets down. It's one of those movies that just makes you feel happy afterward, even with a few dialogical missteps. Honest to blog.

5. The Darjeeling Limited
I hold a special place in my heart for Wes Anderson. After what I consider a minor slip with The Life Aquatic (though I would adopt Willem Defoe), he's right back in full force with another dysfunctional family film. Anyone who can pull off three brothers carrying their emotional baggage in the form of chic Louis Vuitton matching luggage is okay by me. My theory about Anderson is that people with families who really are happy in their Christmas cards just don't connect in the same way as the rest of us. And come on, the Kinks, man.

The next 10 are my other top movies of the year. Numbers 6 and 7 barely missed the Top 5 cut-off and the rest are in no particular order.

6. Zodiac
Most disturbing murder scene ever.

7. The Lookout
Joseph Gordon-Levitt just can't seem to stay away from crime.

8. Bridge to Terabithia
Don't be fooled by the poor marketing--if you liked the book, you'll like the movie.

9. 300
Say what you want, this was just too cool to watch.

10. Waitress
There is life after cruddy prime time spots for Nathan Fillion and Keri Russell.

11. Knocked Up
Wow, is one of those things never coming out of me.

12. Ratatoille
Brian says: It's about finding out who you really are. Brett says: It's about a mouse.

13. The Bourne Ultimatum
In my opinion, this trilogy = perfect action moviemaking.

14. Superbad
Judd Apatow can do no wrong. Only Michael Cera can do the Guess Who justice... and I mean that.

15. Lars and the Real Girl
You'd think a movie with a blow-up doll as a prominent character would be awful, but you'd be wrong.

There they be. I await your responses.

P.S. Lisa, the larger print is for you.


Maggie said...

Well this is just unfair. You know I don't see movies when they're new much. How dare you do a post that I can't respond to?!?! Anyway, I will just put the top 5 movies I have seen recently, I'm not sure if they were done this year. Too bad.

1.Crash--The opening line is incredibly moving. Awesome, awesome. While I may not have agreed with everything, it did a good job of taking a rather "neutral" stance on race in America.

2. Hairspray--Laugh if you want. Normally I wouldn't put a musical at this level of recognition. But it was so well done. It's just so happy, and serious, but happy. It was absolutely impossible to watch this film and not become involved. I also liked the message of acceptance.

3. Across the Universe--Once again, normally I'm not that big on musicals...and well, the story is kind of crap. But still, the music is awesome. The beatles are awesome. The imagery with the music: beyond belief awesome. If you like the Beatles somewhat, you would like the movie. If you know a ton of useless facts about the Beatles, like I do, then you would love this movie if for no other reason but to feel like a snob for getting every reference they make to the band.

4. My Beautiful Girl Mari--I have stepped into, with both feet, nerdom. This is an anime about a lonely boy. Only an hour long and rather vague at times, but it is beautifully done. You feel for the boy so much because you are left feeling just as confused and lost as he is.

5. Little Miss Sunshine-- I didn't think I'd like it, but I did. I don't have much else to say about it.

bjkail said...

Jeff and I went to see There Will Be Blood without knowing anything about it other than that it was getting good reviews on IMDB. We both thought it was good. The ending was hilarious. All 7 of us in the theatre were laughing out loud.

Interesting that your brother said you'd be just like Juno. Jeff said the same thing after we watched it.

As for Ratatouille, I read our blog, so I'm going to have to insist that you qualify references to "Brett". Or did I really get a mention?

Thanks for the list. Like Brian's television list, I'll probably use it as inspiration for filtering my viewing of the movies I haven't seen yet.

Lisa said...

The variety of films in your top 15 is pretty impressive. It's very cool when someone can put "Superbad" and "Atonement" on the same list of highlighted films. Although, I must admit that my own viewpoint is extremely limited; I have seen exactly 3 movies on your list. Juno was absolutely amazing. I didn't immediately put you and Juno in the same category of people, but now I can definitely see it. Oh, and I'm sure I spelled "definitely" wrong; that word throws me off every time. But, I digress...

I concur about that the Bourne series is a perfect action series. Plus, Matt Damon is hot. Period. And, I really think it says something about where I am in life when I am even more attracted to a man who is a good husband and father, such as Matt Damon (or at least the Matt Damon-Dad-Husband that I imagine).

And then there is Bridge to Terebithia, which I only watched because you recommended it. Sorry, but I am going to have to disagree about the merits of that film. I LOVED the book, but Tim and I agree that the fantastical parts are a little too...cheesy for the plot.

As always, I am amazed and impressed by your movie knowledge. You are super cool. Will you be my friend?

Lisa said...

p.s. thanks for the font. I love it :)

Maggie said...

What's the deal? It's been like....a month since you've posted? And, no, I don't want to hear about all the stuff you've had to do for school. It's not like you have a life. Or a husband. Or pets that need your attention. You made a commitment to this blog!!! Anyway, laaaaaammmee.

PS No, Lisa, Meaghan cannot be your friend; she's already mine.

Shmaylor said...

I know this is late - but I just saw There Will Be Blood.

Holy Jesus. PT Anderson was awesome, NOW he's the new Altman, Kubrik & Scorsese combined. Never have I felt so respected as an audience member - there were no easy answers, nothing that was simple and clear cut, nothing that forced you to draw the "correct" conclusion. Just when you thought you understood this strange, slow and calculating world that Day-Lewis, Greenwood & Anderson have brought you into, they turn it on its head and make you rethink the whole film! In fact, after pacing around my apartment for a few hours, I had to put it right back in and watch it again - I agree, Meg - layer upon layer upon layer. I STILL haven't felt the full impact. But let me just mention three of the greatest moments in movies EVER:

- The LOOK that Plainview gives Eli the second time he makes him say "I've abandoned my son". Oh my GOD - it's not hatred, it's not anger, not even as simple as "F*&K YOU"... it's so much more diabolical and deep - it comes from the same place as the oil - in those deep, dark places of the earth. Where Kurtz went in Heart of Darkness. WHEW!

- The smile, the pause, the laughter with "these... people." Oh MAN

- The guteral, primal, elongated "Draaaaaainage"