Thursday, January 01, 2009

Best films of 2008

10 Best new films, in order of preference

Rachel Getting Married (USA, Jonathan Demme)

A fascinating look at characters in their moments of stress, tension and limited joy.

Happy-Go-Lucky (UK, Mike Leigh)

Poppy (Sally Hawkins) is probably the happiest and most optimist character to be filmed in the last few years. And her character meets her match in the constantly irritable Scott (Eddie Marsan). The interactions between the two give a glimpse into the problems that exist in the world -- the happy people are not trusted while the unhappy ones continue to ruin the world for everyone else. It is too easy to lose one's temper and continue to be unhappy while it is significantly more difficult to stay positive and continue to smile no matter what the situation. While this movie won't change the world, atleast it is great to know that a director is willing to explore such characters.

Wonderful Town (Thailand, Aditya Assarat)

Peaceful and calming. Even when a murder takes place, it feels like a dream and not a nightmare. Just as the river flows, so does life. The tidal waves can come and go but the sun will still rise and a new day will start.

The Fall (India/UK/USA, Tarsem)

Visually stunning and highly imaginative. The abstract story structure is a perfect canvas to paint such a stunning view of the world. And when the story gets darker, so does the outcome.

Oye Lucky Lucky Oye (India, Dibakar Banerjee)

A thief addicted to stealing while longing for love and fatherly acceptance.

Gomorra (Italy, Matteo Garrone)

Darkness everywhere. Garbage piling up and the chemicals seeping into the ground; boys on the lookout for the police and rival gangs; illegal goods being imported. Guns give a false sense of power with a young kid feeling invincible while an older, fat guy in shorts and sandals can feel good about himself.

Silent Light (Mexico, Carlos Reygadas)

A love affair is transcended into a universal tale thanks to Reygadas visual understanding. A slow focus on a sun rise is a cue to start the story and when the sun sets, then the story is over. Until the next day...

Tell No One (France, Guillaume Canet)

There is a precious love story trapped within the confines of a thriller here. Fascinating to watch, especially if one does not read the story in advance. No cheating as the camera ensures we get plenty of clues along the way.

Rock On (India, Abhishek Kapoor)

Friendships and dreams fading away. Love? Does love still have meaning? Life isn't that complicated but it sure feels like it.

WALL·E (USA, Andrew Stanton)

WALL·E..Eve...WALL· cute. No human dialogue until the 40th minute and the first sign of robotic chatter takes place around the 20th minute mark. Yet one does not even notice the lack of words. Pixar has certainly taken animation to a new level, starting with last year's Ratatouille and now with WALL·E. Refreshing to see an animated movie not packed with animals constantly blabbering away with pop culture references.

13 more films that could easily be in the top 10

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (France/USA, Julian Schnabel)

Blink. Blink. Beautiful.

Syndromes and a Century (Thailand, Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

Calm meditation. Although Syndromes.. does not achieve the beauty of Tropical Malady but still makes me clamour for more films from Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

There Will be Blood (USA, Paul Thomas Anderson)

The first hour is pure cinematic excellence. The finale is pretty good as well. A simple dialogue about "drinking your milkshake" underlines the problem with greed. Someone is always carrying a bigger straw.

Alexandra (Russia/France, Aleksandr Sokurov)

What does war achieve? Broken down buildings and more feelings of anger.

Idiots and Angels (USA, Bill Plympton)

Dark animated film about how even the most angry person can change and find a tiny measure of goodness within themselves.

Children , Parents (Iceland, Ragnar Bragason)

Two separate films but joined together in their brilliant improvisational style. And made on a shoe string budget as well.

One Week (Canada, Michael McGowan)

A journey across this wonderful country called Canada. There are tiny charms about small town Canada that one only discovers by hitting the road.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (USA, Nicholas Stoller)

Cute, damn cute. Although if it were not Mila Kunis, I wouldn't have loved this film that much.

The Visitor (USA, Thomas McCarthy)

It is essential to understand people and treat them individually as opposed to treating them with force and authority.

Milk (USA, Gus Van Sant)

In a way, this film is a cousin of Happy-Go-Lucky and shows that happy, positive people are hard to come by.

Used Parts (Mexico, Aarón Fernández)

Ah the promise of crossing the border for a better life. Nicely filmed.

Slumdog Millionaire (UK/USA, Danny Boyle/Loveleen Tandan)

Danny Boyle and his screenwriter Simon Beaufoy take the structure of the game show from Vikas Swarup's novel Q&A, borrow some tips from Fernando Meirelles (boys with guns from City of God & the energy of the Kenyan landscape from The Constant Gardner), add a pinch of a Bollywood love story before garnishing the mix with a checklist of the common Indian symbols of crime, poverty, slums, prostitution, Taj Mahal, Amitabh and call centers. The end result is entertaining all right but still feels like a key ingredient is missing.

Older wonderful films arranged in order of viewing

No End in Sight (2006, USA, Charles Ferguson)
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005, USA, Tommy Lee Jones)
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005, USA, Shane Black)
12:08 East of Bucharest (2006, Romania, Corneliu Porumboiu)
We Own the Night (2007, USA, James Gray)
In the Valley of Elah (2007, USA, Paul Haggis)
Kaala Patthar (1979, India, Yash Chopra)
Torremolinos 73 (2003, Spain, Pablo Berger)
The Russian Dolls (2005, France/UK, Cédric Klapisch)
Valley of Flowers (2006, India co-production, Pan Nalin)
Rififi (1955, France, Jules Dassin)
A Peck on the Cheek (2002, India, Mani Ratnam)
Le Salaire De La Peur (1953, France, Henri - Georges Clouzot)
Elevator to the Gallows (1958, France, Louis Malle)
Late Autumn (1960, Japan, Yasujiro Ozu)
The End of Summer (1961, Japan, Yasujiro Ozu)
Tokyo Story (1953, Japan, Yasujiro Ozu)
Tokyo Twilight (1957, Japan, Yasujiro Ozu)
Equinox Flower (1958, Japan, Yasujiro Ozu)
Climates (2006, Turkey, Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
The Syrian Bride (2006, co-production, Eran Riklis)
Three Crowns of a Sailor (1983, France, Raoul Ruiz)
Play Time (1967, France, Jacques Tati)
Les ordres (1974, Canada, Michel Brault)
OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (2006, France, Michel Hazanavicius)
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976, USA, John Cassavetes)
Opening Night (1977, USA, John Cassavetes)
Battle in Heaven (2005, Mexico, Carlos Reygadas)
Machuca (2004, Chile, Andrés Wood)
Los Muertos (2004, Argentina, Lisandro Alonso)
Bolivia (2001, Argentina, Adrián Caetano)
The Burmese Harp (1956, Japan, Kon Ichikawa)
Away from Her (2006, Canada, Sarah Polley)
The Inheritance (2003, Denmark, Per Fly)
High and Low (1963, Japan, Akira Kurosawa)
Manufacturing Landscapes (2006, Canada, Jennifer Baichwal)
Shut up & Sing (2007, USA, Barbara Kopple/Cecilia Peck)
A Married Couple (1969, Canada, Allan King)
Montreal Main (1977, Canada, Frank Vitale)
Dirty Carnival (2006, South Korea, Ha Yu)
Sátántangó (1994, Hungary, Béla Tarr)

No comments: