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Darrel Manson

2009 - Good year so far?

As June comes to an end, what grade do you give 2009 movies overall?  

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Well, how has the first half of the year been in terms of movies. Seems pretty dismal to be so far. The only films I have strongly liked are Departures and The Class (the winner and favorite of the Foreign Language Oscar race). In the second tier that could be considered for year end listing:The Song of Sparrows, Coraline, Phoebe in Wonderland and Up.

Edited by Darrel Manson

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Hmmm, I always thought Waltzing with Bashir was the "favorite" to win the Oscar for foreign-language film, though The Class was a close second.

At any rate, my moviegoing has really, really suffered this year, since I am now not only a full-time parent (a condition that afflicted me for several months two years ago as well), but I now also live an hour's commute from downtown Vancouver (across a river or two, a train-ride away, etc., etc.), which means I now have to really, really go out of my way to see the more arthouse-y flicks. And, quite frankly, arthouse-y flicks are a mixed bag and not often worth the stress of putting in so much travel time (let alone getting a babysitter, etc.), so I'd rather wait 'til I can see those movies via my Videomatica DVD subscription.

I think I can say quite safely that Summer Hours is my favorite of the movies that have had regular theatrical releases in Vancouver this year, but I actually saw that movie at the local film festival back in October of last year, when I wasn't doing the full-time parent thing.

Apart from that ... Hunger (which also played at last year's festival, but went into "release" this year) was interesting ... the 1999 quasi-restoration of Erich von Stroheim's Greed (1924) had its local premiere this year ... and I'm honestly not sure that anything else stands out, really. (For Canadian content, I might mention The Necessities of Life.)

I've really been enjoying some of the older TV shows that I'm finally catching up on, via DVD, though: Freaks & Geeks, Rome, etc.

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I've only seen a handful of 2009 releases and I've liked most of them. My favorites thus far have been Star Trek, Up, Coraline and The Brothers Bloom.

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BTW, as a footnote to my earlier post, the only one of Darrel's films that I have seven SEEN is the Pixar one. That is just how impoverished my moviegoing has become.

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Top 10 at this point, alphabetical...

  • The Class (Such a thrilling project. So much to think about and discuss. So entirely convincing for me.)
  • Coraline (Just brilliant. Best Gaiman adaptation since Mirrormask, and in some ways more successful.)
  • Departures (One of those rare foreign-language films that's so engaging and funny and sweet, it might win the hearts of Americans who "don't like foreign films.")
  • Lake Tahoe (I love this quiet little movie.)
  • Moon (An impressive display of concentrated sci fi storytelling.)
  • Munyurangabo (The most affecting, inspiring film... and the most affecting, inspiring "making of" story... I've seen this year.)
  • The Song of Sparrows (Majid Majidi is still the most accessible of the Iranian filmmakers, but he's also a fine artist.)
  • Sparrow (One of the most enjoyable celebrations of cinematic style since Pulp Fiction.)
  • Summer Hours (One of those rare, great films about art. And other things, yes, but I think the film is strongest in its exploration of the purpose and value of art)
  • Up (One of my favorite Pixar films that still, week to week, inspires interesting new interpretations as well as near-unanimous giddiness for its visual splendor.)

Honorable Mention:

  • Star Trek (It was fun and perfectly cast; but I doubt it'll be in the top 20 by the end of the year. The plot holes expanded into black holes.)
  • Eldorado (Especially for the first act, which is funny in the best Coen Brothers kind of way.)

Favorite first-time viewings of older films:

  • Psycho
  • Heartbeat Detector (still contemplating whether this is my #1, #2, or #3 favorite for 2008)
  • The Edge of Heaven
  • Revolutionary Road
  • Times and Winds (still contemplating where in my top ten of 2008 this one goes)
  • Waltz with Bashir
  • Happy-Go-Lucky
  • The Long Day Closes (One of the most beautiful films I
Edited by Overstreet

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Summer Hours and Hunger are 1-2. I haven't seen Up but hope to catch up with it this week.

My favorite performance: Rinko Kikuchi in The Brothers Bloom.

I also have to say that, although I'll be reviewing it negatively because its Christian caricatures are appalling, Woody Allen's Whatever Works is funnier than the last 8 Woody Allen movies combined. The first half was a hoot.

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So far I have enjoyed: Hunger, Summer Hours, Gomorrah, Of Time and the City, O'er the Land, Lorna's Silence, Canary, The Class, the first scenes of Up.

But if Cannes is going to be any indication of the fall festivals, then this will be another stellar year. Not to mention Lovely Bones and Time Traveler's Wife, both having the potential to be really good or really bad.

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Jeffrey said

: Favorite first-time viewings of older films: * Psycho

Did you catch that in a cinema or just on DVD?

Having caught Notorious at the cinema last month, I'm getting to see Psycho at the same place this month.

(and that's just days after seeing all those early silent Bible Films.

Best. Cinema. Week. Ever.

Matt

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I'd give it a B.

Up was sublime. Star Trek was a blast. Wolverine was...watchable.

But there has been little else to pique my interest. The year's movie slate causes no excitement either for good or bad- it's just "meh". I look forward to Public Enemies, and I might fork over a few bucks to see Harry Potter since I saw the other 5, but I can't see myself attending the theater again until some of the big late-year releases pour in.

(Mind you, I loved Gran Torino, but I count that as 2008. And I still have not seen Slumdog Millionaire.)

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Sadly, I'm not seeing any mention of a film I really enjoyed: Soderbergh's THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE. It's a relatively minor film due to the narrowness of its scope, but it's a fine one, nonetheless.

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Honestly, other than Up, I haven't seen another great film this year. I found many things to love about Watchmen but not everything worked. I enjoyed Star Trek quite a bit, but I wouldn't consider it great. District 9 was good as well, but not great. Harry Potter 6 was a nice addition to the franchise.

On DVD, I've seen a few films that captured my attention. The Class being one of those.

But this year has seen some really terrible films as well with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen taking the top prize in that category. That film alone drops the entire year a letter grade. I haven't felt that insulted and annoyed with a film in a long time.

Edited by Phill Lytle

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