Tuesday, January 02, 2007

BEST OF 2006


**** BEST OF 2006 *****

This is the second year for my “Best Of” year-end review. I hope I’m getting better at it. Counting them up, I saw a total of 205 films last year. If anybody has a idea of how I can better spend my time, I will entertain all suggestions.

FISRT: the disclaimers.

  • These are not necessarily movies that came out in 2006; they are just movies that I saw in 2006.
  • I am not saying that these are the absolute best movies; they are just ones that I liked the best.
  • If you see a movie here that I didn’t feature on my blog, it's probably in my "waiting to be recommended" list.
  • I haven't seen every movie - so if I don't mention your favorite movie in this list, it probably just means that I haven't seen it yet.................................. or that it just sucked.
  • I tried to be really thorough and do a TOP-10 list, but I quit after 5. So that's it - you get 5. Plus some special prizes - just like in Cannes (I've never actually been to Cannes, so I'm just guessing).
  • For the most part, I'm avoiding the wide release movies. Everybody already knows about these.
  • The movies below were ranked by awarding "Frank Points" to each one. After the rating process, The Frank Points were tallied up and the films placed in the proper order. The criteria for which Frank Points are awarded, is confidential and is only known to Frank - sorry.
  • That's it!


SECOND: the movies.

  1. A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT: (French) Set in France during World War I, a young woman moves heaven and earth to find out what happened to her fiancée, amid conflicting reports. Features a terrific performance by Audrey Tautou (Amelie, DaVinci Code). The battle scenes may be a bit gritty, but it is one of the most uplifting movies I saw last year. And yes, that is Jodie Foster!
  2. FITZCARRALDO: (German) (This and the film above are very close – I went in alphabetical order.) This is one of the all time classic movies among film buffs. It’s an epic tale of a man on a quest (elements of “Don Quiote”). He wants to build a grand opera house deep in the Amazon jungle. If you think his idea is crazy, his scheme for carrying it out is even crazier. I can’t tell you much more than this. I can safely say that it will NOT be a waste of time. The legends associated with the making of this film are as amazing as the hero’s quest in the movie.
  3. THE CONSTANT GARDENER: (English) Love, danger, political intrigue, Rachel Weisz – this film has it all. The aims are cut and dried and yet nothing is as it seems. In the center of it all is Justin Quayle, played by Ralph Fiennes, who has to get to the bottom of what’s going on. Does he love his wife enough to trust her? Can he solve the mystery before he is killed?
  4. ALI: FEAR EATS THE SOUL: (German) One of the most unorthodox and heartwarming romances since Harold and Maude. A very proper white German widow in her 60’s, befriends and then maries a black Moroccan man, 20 years younger. The differences in age, race, and ethnicity wreck havoc throughout their family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Can love survive?
  5. INFERNAL AFFAIRS: (Cantonese) The original Chinese version that was later made into The Departed, is still the best. This is s good old-fashioned edge-of-your-seat suspense thriller. The mob has a mole in the police department. The police have a mole in the mob. They each know the existence of the other, but they don’t know their identity. They must each find out who their counterpart is before they themselves are found out, or surely they will be killed.


THIRD: The extras.

HONORABLE MENTION: (no particular order)
Nine Lives: Nine scenes from the lives of nine women.
Last Life in the Universe: Love sure beats killing yourself.
Delicatessen: Love blooms in a strange alternate world.
The Straight Story: Probably the most accessible of all David Lynch movies, a dying man goes on a long journey to visit his estranged brother.
A Scanner Darkly: Based on a novel by Philip K. Dick and filmed in Rotoscope.


FUNNIEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR:

CLERKS II: Kevin Smith & Co. have had 12 years since the original CLERKS to come up with material more profane, more offensive, and more disturbed (this = funny). They did!

Runner up: THE 40YEAR OLD VIRGIN


FAMILY MOVIE OF THE YEAR

MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO: A real workout for the old imagination, as two sisters discover and befriend the woodland spirits near their new house.


ROMANCE MOVIE OF THE YEAR

IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE: Kar Wai Wong’s romantic masterpiece about neighbors whose spouses are having an affair with each other. They find comfort in each other’s friendship, and although they eventually fall in love, vow not to become like their spouses.

Runner up: THE GIRL IN THE CAFE


SCI-FI/FANTASY MOVIE OF THE YEAR
A SCANNER DARKLY: Reality is bent in the drug war world of deceptions and double deceptions. Features a unique visual style, and the same sort of uncertainty you've seen in other Philip K. Dick based films, such as Total Recall, Blade Runner, and Minority Report.

Runner up: MIRRORMASK

STRANGEST DAMN MOVIE OF THE YEAR
UN CHIEN ANDALOU: If you want, with all certainty, to make one damn strange movie, who do you get? You get two of the weirdest dudes in history, Luis Buñuel (the father of cinematic Surrealism and one of the most original directors in the history of film) and the weirdmeister himself, Salvador Dali. 16 minutes of whatever images come to mind. Released in 1929, but I didn’t see it until this past year. Seems I’m getting a little behind in my viewing.

Very close runner up:
COWARDS BEND THE KNEE: I swear that director, Guy Madden, studied from the David Lynch school of film-making. Here’s the plot: In a haunted hockey rink, a has-been player discovers a forgotten wax museum where the ghosts of dead lovers stroll. Throw in a hair salon where a demented doctor, wearing a corset performs abortions. Plus it’s a silent movie and photographed to look like old film.


HIGH MARKS FOR STYLE;

BRICK: Hard boiled high school student tries to solve the hard boiled mystery of who killed his hard-boiled girlfriend in such a hard-boiled manner.


DOCUMENTARY OF THE YEAR

No Direction Home: Bob Dylan: Finally, the veil falls from the iconic singer-songwriter. If you missed this 3 ½ -hour documentary when it aired on PBS, this past year, you can now catch it on DVD.

Runner up:
TRISTRAM SHANDY: A COCK AND BULL STORY: Even though it’s a faux documentary, or maybe because of it, this is one you shouldn’t miss.


BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE YEAR
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN: Can somebody please tell me what was the big deal about this film? After all the hype, I expected much better.


WORST MOVIE OF THE YEAR:

INSPIRACION: I don’t even want to talk about it.

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