Friday, March 03, 2006
Top (and Flop) 10s, 2005
I posted this on the Mobius Home Video Forum a while back, but figured I would "repurpose" it here, for whatever praise (and scorn) it might generate. For the record, I might swap out WAR OF THE WORLDS for LAND OF THE DEAD on my Top 10 list (questionable ending aside, WAR is a powerful summer movie experience, which I am not immune to) and would definitely add FLIGHTPLAN, a sad self-betrayal of Jodie Foster's strongly humanist roles, to my Flop 10s. And did I really like SAHARA enough to include it in my "worth noting" section? But I'm not going to second-guess myself, while reserving the right to adjust my thinking over time. [It's not as if I saw every film to come out last year; a stray something or other might force me to make a few changes.]
BEST: [From No. 10 to No. 1]: LAND OF THE DEAD, KING KONG, HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE, MEMORIES OF MURDER, THE SQUID AND THE WHALE, NOBODY KNOWS, GRIZZLY MAN, LOOK AT ME, MYSTERIOUS SKIN, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
WORST [Alphabetical]: ASYLUM, THE BROTHERS GRIMM, DEAR WENDY, DOMINION: A PREQUEL TO THE EXORCIST, HAPPY ENDINGS, HIDE AND SEEK, LAST DAYS, MELINDA AND MELINDA, MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS, WHERE THE TRUTH LIES
UN CERTAIN REGARD [Alphabetical]: THE ARISTOCRATS, BATMAN BEGINS, BALLET RUSSES, BROKEN FLOWERS, CAPOTE, ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM, EROS (Wong Kar-wai segment, "The Hand"), THE 40 YEAR-OLD VIRGIN, GODZILLA: FINAL WARS, GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK., A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, HOSTAGE, HUSTLE & FLOW, THE ICE HARVEST, JUNEBUG, KUNG FU HUSTLE, MATCH POINT, THE MEMORY OF A KILLER, MY SUMMER OF LOVE, NINE LIVES, 9 SONGS, PARADISE NOW, THE PASSENGER (re-release), THE PRESIDENT'S LAST BANG, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, THE PRODUCERS, SAHARA, SARABAND, SAVE THE GREEN PLANET, SHOPGIRL, SKY HIGH, STAR WARS: EPISODE III--REVENGE OF THE SITH, THE THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA, THREE...EXTREMES (pretty much for Park Chan-Wook and Fruit Chan segments, "Cut" and "Dumplings")*, TONY TAKITANI, TROPICAL MALADY, 2046, WALK THE LINE, WAR OF THE WORLDS, THE WHITE DIAMOND.
BAFFLERS (Movies I just didn't get, or couldn't warm to or embrace, despite favorable critical and/or audience reception): CACHE (HIDDEN), THE CONSTANT GARDENER, CRASH, LAYER CAKE, MAJOR DUNDEE: THE EXTENDED VERSION, ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW, MUNICH, THE NEW WORLD, OLDBOY, SIN CITY, SYRIANA, WEDDING CRASHERS.
TOP DVDS (I didn't have any time, or patience, to sit down and actually watch a bad one):
TOP 10 [From No. 10 to No. 1]: PRIVATE PARTS (1972), MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO: SE, KING KONG VS. GODZILLA/KING KONG ESCAPES, THE HAROLD LLOYD COLLECTION, THE VAL LEWTON COLLECTION, LE SAMOURAI, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (New Series), SAMURAI REBELLION, SCTV VOLs. 3 and 4, KING KONG (1933)
UN CERTAIN REGARD: THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY, THE BELA LUGOSI COLLECTION, THE BEST OF EVERYTHING, THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE: SE, CARRIE (1952), THE COMPLETE JAMES DEAN COLLECTION, THE DEER HUNTER: SE, THE FLESH EATERS, THE FLY (1986): SE, THE FREAKMAKER, THE HAMMER HORROR SERIES (Universal), MATANGO, OVER THE EDGE, POINT BLANK, TITANIC (1997): SE, THE WAGES OF FEAR, WARLOCK (1959), WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953): SE.
I didn't prepare a top/flop 10 theater list, but I did send this bit over to the New York Theater Newsletter:
"Easily the best show of the Broadway season, IN MY LIFE...just wanted to see if you were paying attention (in fact, that ego-driven curio wasn’t even the worst production of the year, a dishonor I divide equally among LENNON, GOOD VIBRATIONS, ON GOLDEN POND, and THE COLOR PURPLE). Truly the best, THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA was musical theater at its most heart-rending and DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS the form at its fizziest. The best play was DOUBT (boy, I really went out on a limb there) and, keeping the British end up, THE PILLOWMAN, with a nod to Antony Sher’s agonizing solo turn in PRIMO. The choicest revival was HURLYBURLY, a real blast from the past; otherwise off Broadway, SEE WHAT I WANNA SEE proved the most galvanizing musical, and I enjoyed being caught in the crossfire of ORSON'S SHADOW's star wars. In the category of Bravest Self-Sacrifice Endured for New York Theater News readers, I selfishly vote myself, for taking the bullet to the chest that was IN THE WINGS."
Dreadful play, that last one. Never let producers write. Sad to think that its co-star, Peter Scolari, was signing autographs and merchandise (for a price) at last weekend's New York Comic-Con expo. My career is in better shape than that. But if someone wants to drop a few bucks in my PayPal account...
*THREE...EXTREMES is a superior horror omnibus film from Asia, now out on DVD. [Lions Gate released it to theaters for about three days, or one for each extreme]. To my surprise, it's available as a reasonably priced two-disc Special Edition; the second disc contains a full-length (91m) minute version of the first story, Fruit Chan's highly unsettling Hong Kong/China tale "Dumplings"--believe me, once you know what the special ingredient is you'll never look at dumplings the same way again. With two versions of "Dumplings," Takashi Miike's strangely dreamlike "Box" from Japan, and the hair-raising Korean segment, "Cut" (director Park Chan-Wook told me it's his favorite film) that's four extremes for the price of one, a baleful bargain for horror fans.