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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Jesse P's Top 10 of '09



79-year old French film-maker Claude Chabrol stays sharp with this teasing and felicitous thriller. But ah, Mon Dieu! 61-year old Gerard Depardieu has been hitting the foie gras so hard lately, one could perhaps re-title this "Belly".


Mike Leigh really seems to have a handle on how people relate to each other, and how they relate to a film. Therein lies the stratagem of this film: The protagonist is just so preternaturally poppy and optimistic, that it makes the supporting characters seem vampiric in their need to drag her down to their "pragmatic" pessimism. In Fact, it made me feel like I was too analytical, too defensive and cynical, and not likely to change that anytime soon. Thus, the feel-good movie of the era is, through an oblique strategy, also enjoyed as the feel-bad movie of the era.


Shot with an artist's eye for subjective, and aesthetic story-telling. Although set during the Thatcher-era, its premise of a Democratic country's denial of human rights resonates with a topicality that's ear-shattering. Stylistically, it's the angry step-brother of last-year's "Diving-Bell and the Butterfly".

Criterion Re-releases the 1960's

The iron-clad Criterion Collection continues to astound me with their output. Homogenizing corporate monopoly over a lucrative niche market? Our lips are sealed when such delectable diversions as these are served up: Costa-Gavra's incendiary "Z."; the once almost mythical, narrationally experimental "Last Year at Marienbad"; Luis Bunuel's mordant study in bourgeois torpor, "The Exterminating Angel"; the box-set of Dusan Makavejev's enthralling early films, which give one a sense of what it would be like to be Yugoslavian in the sixties... AND the one which knocked my socks off the most - Shonien Imamura's "Pigs and Battleships", which is anthropologically bleak, but also very entertaining, and is something like an early Fellini film meets "Last Exit to Brooklyn."

"Zombie Dearest"

Locally made and pleasingly well put together, this odd and tender Living Dead tale is a jaunty take on a genre most saunter through.


Other notable DVDS that my estimable colleagues have already commented on are: "Anvil", "Coraline", and "Friends of Eddie Coyle",

"Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus"

Last, and most certainly least, this movie is notable for having probably the only screenplay to plagiarize a wikipedia page word for word, and present it as dialogue. Elsewhere, Mister Shark showcases his range by changing several hundred feet in size at different points during the film. The same 8 seconds of computer graphics is used in about ten minutes of film-time, and the rest of it is shot in places you wouldn't require a permit to film in.

Stay Tuned...

As the best of 2009 comes out to Have You Seen... Last year's festival films, this year's award contenders, trickle out on DVD over the next couple of months. Such as: Kathryn Bigelow's nearly universally acclaimed "The Hurt Locker"; Palme D'Or winner "The White Ribbon"; the exotic and enticing "Headless Woman", and "Lion's Den"; and Criterion re-releases of Max Ophuls' "Lola Montes", and Nicholas Ray's "Bigger than Life."

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