Well lookee here! My first post of 2008. I know most of you have probably been dreaming about this moment; waiting, wondering, gazing at the Heavens shouting "When, God, when?!?!?!? When will he post? Doesn't he know that I base my entire value structure upon his musings? My moral compass cannot find magnetic north without him! Make him write, dammit!" Fear not, gentle readers, I am alive and well. And my New Year's Day hangover didn't even last more than 22 hours. I know; I must be slipping.
So what's it going to be, you wonder? What shape will this First Post of 2008 take? Will it be perspicacious social commentary? Scathing observations about the peccadilloes of the 14-18 demographic? His trademark elitist prick snobbery given the veneer of erudition in order to make it sound "cultured" and less like, well, elitist prick snobbery?
Or will it be something weighty and profound?
Actually, I'm going to do something that most people who know me are probably wondering why I haven't done before. It's time for me to discuss what I believe were...wait for it...
The Best Films of 2007!
Yep, your stalwart English Teacher Extraordinaire is going to throw himself out there and list his favorite films of the past year. I was going to do one of those "Year in Review: 2007" sort of posts, but then I realized that I drink far too much and there's no fucking way I'd be able to remember anything from last January. Don't gimme that look. Only cops and stevedores drink more than teachers.
I must preface this by saying that this list is, obviously, limited to the films I have seen. I haven't seen There Will Be Blood yet because it hasn't been released in this area, so don't freak if that isn't on my list. And I missed Into the Wild too. Sorry! So here, IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER are my favorite films of 2007:
300 -- THIS! IS! SPARTA! 'Nuff said. Hyperkinetic, homoerotic and over the top in every way that works, this endlessly quotable film was one of the best times I've had at the movies. You wanna stick political allegory into it? Fine. Me, I'm there for the glory.
Atonement -- The words "heart-wrenching" and "tragic" don't even begin to describe this film. Wonderfully acted, beautifully filmed and quite possibly the saddest movie I have ever seen. If anyone thinks the ending of The Notebook is a tear-jerker, go see this film. I don't believe I have ever been so devastated as the credits rolled. Ever.
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead -- Isn't Sydney Lumet a wonder? The man's older than dirt and he turns out this masterwork? A dark, nasty, pressure-cooker of a film, full of unpleasant people doing unpleasant things to one another--and WHAT an ending.
Eastern Promises -- I don't know if there's anyone working who can explore the question of identity better than Cronenberg. Here, he reunites with Mortensen in a sort of companion piece to the brilliant A History of Violence. See it.
Juno -- A sweet, heartfelt ode to self-discovery and growing up, with a (hopefully) star-making turn by Ellen Page. When Bleeker spoons Juno after the birth--I don't think I've ever seen a sweeter image of innocent teenage affection.
Michael Clayton -- This is a serious film, with some serious performances. It's always nice to see an adult drama not afraid to be an adult drama. And to be reminded why George Clooney is a movie star.
No Country For Old Men -- What a return to form for the Coen brothers, and what a stunning motion picture. Bardem gives one of the most frightening performances I've seen in ages and I've never heard silence so deafening in a movie. It creeps in, gets under your skin and just...unsettles you. Amazing film. Strangely, everyone I know under the age of 25 doesn't like it. They're probably still confusing "enjoyment" with "good art". Fucking kids. What do they know, right? ADDENDUM--OK, so a few have risen above. Thank God. I guess a few "get it". Huzzah! My work is not wasted! Spread the word, my faithful, spread the word.
No End in Sight -- Yeah, how often does a documentary make a "10 Best" list? Alright, fine. Fairly often. You want to be enlightened and enraged? Look no further than Ferguson's devastating expose.
Superbad -- Huh? Toilet comedy makes your Top 10 list? Sorry boys and girls, but it sure does. Not because of the humor or the sex or the neverending series of penis drawings--but because of the real deal behind this film. It isn't about getting laid or getting drunk; it's about kids being scared of life after high school, about not knowing if your friendships can stand the test of time or distance. Where I go to work every day, that shit matters. And if you look past the "dirty" comedy, you'll see a real sweetness to it.
Zodiac -- What? Did anyone even see this movie? I sure did. It may have been two hours and thirty-eight minutes of dialogue but DAMN was it riveting! My wife even managed to stay awake through it. Part police procedural, part period piece, part exploration of the nature of obsession, it's a shame more people didn't get to see this film.
Honorable Mention -- For sheer adrenaline you can't beat The Bourne Ultimatum; I had a wonderful time seeing Enchanted and Stardust; Transformers allowed me to have that pre-teen wet dream I've been holding on to since age 9; Bug is one of the most troubling films I've seen in some time with a couple of dynamite performances; and Waitress parlays a luminous turn by Keri Russell into a great feel-good film.
So there you go, kids. Here's a great time to leave comments and tell me how much of a crack-pot I am!
Have a great 2008 everyone!