The Interesting in 2008

[In no particular order though I probably liked Che and Waltz with Bashir the most.. as always these lists are ongoing efforts much like my earlier 2006 and 2007 lists (accessible in the sidebar)]

Che
An ambitious biopic which presents the great revolutionary’s life as an exercise in iconography. There is a before and after structure to the work which interestingly never captures Che in his full moment of plenitude or right after his success in Cuba. This intelligently creates a gap in the narrative that works especially well if one has seen the roadshow version at one sitting. Che remains enigmatic through the film and yet completely persuasive as a legend in the making. Splitting the difference would seem to be rather hard but Soderbergh does it admirably well (as does his lead actor). Additionally, he also brings a different palette, differing screen ratios, in general a distinct set of visual cues to contrast the film’s halves.


The Wrestler
This exercise in ‘neo-realism’ seems like a detour for Aronovsky whose last project was the very compelling fantasia of the Fountain but the director is nonetheless in great form here. The work is affecting and the symbol of the ‘wrestler’ injects oxygen into what would have otherwise become more predictable fare. The director creates sharp and surprising edges around the lead character and Rourke is the perfect actor for the part.


Synecdoche New York
A sprawling Proustian work about ‘time present and time past’. Kauffman is perhaps less fluid in handling the films latter portions but the film is still a near masterwork of difficult pleasures.


The Visitor
Possibly the year’s quietest film. Certainly one of the more subtle ones. An immense ethical treatise on the guest and hospitality and on the political ramifications of these seemingly simple terms.


The Reader
Remarkably successful adaptation of the Schlink novel. The story itself is perhaps a little too neat and there is danger in the kind of ‘romanticization’ the film indulges in on more than one level. Yet for all this it is also a very moving story that avoids some political cliches.


Paranoid Park
This terrain of alienation and angst is not new for Gus Van Sant but he makes up for this by fashioning possibly his most hypnotic film yet. This film could also be read as a complement, even correction, to Elephant.


The Dark Knight
One misses the purity of Nolan’s prequel here, one also wonders why the film’s successes had to be achieved at the expense of draining the mythic tone of the story. The director certainly displayed a great understanding of the latter element in Batman Begins but here holds ‘myth’ in suspension till the very last moment. Even so it is hard to imagine a superhero film surpassing this by much if at all.


Hellboy 2
This film was eclipsed by Dark Knight but in many ways it was a much more joyous attempt in the genre and one with very many dazzling sequences. The first film was somewhat edgier, the new one as a blockbuster attempt loses its soul a little.


Wall E
One of the great animated films of all time. Many crucial themes of the current moment abound in it even as testimony is offered to older enduring ones.


Changeling
A bit of a minority view here in nominating this over the director’s other and more obvious Gran Torino. Eastwood fashions an enigmatic film with a nice marriage between pace and ambience. The social commentary in the work is a bit of a red herring for the much darker fairy tale that unfolds.


Man on Wire
The quirkiest work of the year. A film about transcendence, the power of the imagination and its concurrent risks. The visuals make it a singular work.


Slumdog Millionaire
Cutting through the controversies, all the attendant colonization debates, this work is thoroughly seductive. Yesteryear Bombay film glory gets a face change in this very ‘Bollywood-like’ production.


Wendy and Lucy
A minimalist film with Antonioni and that entire school of cinema as the presiding spirit. This independent film, not particularly ‘new’, nevertheless earns these ‘alienated truths’.


I’ve Loved You So Long
A harrowing tale of crime and trauma even if perhaps a bit too neatly resolved, an extraordinary lead performance that is more the film’s ‘atmospherics’ than anything else, and finally superb pacing for this package.


Gomorrah
A thoughtful, deconstructive subversion of an entire history of the American gangster film even if this work is somewhat uneasily balanced between ‘auteurism’ and popular entertainment.


Waltz with Bashir
A stunning work and possibly the one that comes closest to being a truly unique film experience. An unparalleled meditation on violence that combines extraordinary animated visuals with an often haunting soundtrack. This work is easily one of the most profound interventions in the crisis that is its subject.


The Baader-Meinhof Complex
This film though a strong work at very many levels is nonetheless more descriptive than analytic which is a bit of a disappointment given the ambition of the work. It aims to be exhaustive in some ways but the genuine human interest story is perhaps missing and the film therefore for all the fantastic montages that pepper the narrative always operates at a bit of a distance.


The Class
A fascinating conversation is brought about here concerning the ‘post-immigration’ fabric of the contemporary Western nation-state. The film opens onto larger questions of difference and hospitality. The title is regrettably misleading in the English translation. The French is ‘between the walls’ which is appropriate to a film where the nation-state’s founding fictions are increasingly vulnerable and the easy certainties of a noun like ‘the class’ are not available.


Goodbye Solo
Bahrani delivers his best film to date in this extraordinary dialog staged between the immigrant and the native that is also a stunning monologue on the part of the former always awaiting the response of the latter. Not the least of this work’s many impressive gestures is the avoidance of an easy denouement.


The Last Homecoming
A heart-aching little gem whose little ‘liminal’ universe with a moving love triangle at its heart opens onto larger questions of fractured political identity. This is a film about loss and memory and the film’s mythic conceits are all too appropriate for both.


Adoration
Another mysterious film from Egoyan that in keeping with the director’s recent work engages with different modes of the ‘fictional’ as he re-treads the space of the national and religious other and the question of the ‘border’. This work seems to be most immediately a companion piece to his earlier Ararat but here the director takes a step forward in his interrogations by introducing the other not only as the familiar neighbor but also as an unnerving specter.

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90 Responses to “The Interesting in 2008”

  1. Thank You. I have seen only three but plan to catch rest. Paranoid Park,The Dark Knight and Hellboy-2.

  2. I have been waiting since January 1 for this list…good stuff, hopefully I will end up seeing more than five out of the twelve when all is said and done…

    Have you seen The Class?

  3. Was waiting for the list! Thanks a lot. Have seen most of of the movies except Che and Man on Wire. Shall get back to the post later.

  4. Excellent list, Satyam. I haven’t seen Changeling and, most unfortunately, Synecdoche.

    • Thanks..
      I hope to see Waltz with Bashir and Gomorrah within the week. So possible additions to the list. The Class is playing nearby as well but somehow I am less motivated about this one. By the way check this out (another gangster epic among others):

      February 27, 2009
      Film
      Reality and Charm in a Feast for Cineastes
      By STEPHEN HOLDEN
      When the César awards (the French Oscars) are presented Friday night at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, “Mesrine” and “Séraphine,” two films going head to head with 19 nominations between them, will represent the visceral and cerebral extremes of Gallic cinema. The good news for American audiences is that both contenders — the two-part, four-hour gangster epic “Mesrine,” which has 10 nominations, and “Séraphine,” a portrait of the early-20th-century painter Séraphine de Senlis, with 9 — are included in the 14th edition of the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Rendez-Vous With French Cinema series, which begins next week.

      Screenings of the series’s 18 films (if you count Parts 1 and 2 of “Mesrine” as two selections, since they will be released separately this summer) begin Thursday at Alice Tully Hall with the nostalgic period piece “Paris 36.” A self-conscious homage to the Depression-era French music hall, made with traditional sets and costumes, Christophe Barratier’s film swirls 1930s politics (both left and right wing) with song and dance into a cinematic bouillabaisse that doesn’t taste quite right. Let’s just say that the movie, which wants to be an answer to Marcel Carné’s 1945 classic, “Children of Paradise,” but comes across more as a Parisian “Mrs. Henderson Presents,” lards in the sentimentality as only the French can.

      The happy news about the 2009 series, whose remaining screenings take place at the Walter Reade Theater and the IFC Center, is that overall it is the best in years: a heartening development after a precipitous falloff last year. In addition to “Mesrine” and “Séraphine,” it includes major new films by Claire Denis (“35 Shots of Rum”), Agnès Varda (“The Beaches of Agnès”) and Benoît Jacquot (“Villa Amalia”) and a diabolically witty homage to the mystery writer Georges Simenon by Claude Chabrol (“Bellamy”) in which Gérard Depardieu plays a Maigret-like police investigator. Mr. Chabrol’s first movie with Mr. Depardieu, “Bellamy” also marks his 50th year as a director

      “Mesrine” stars Vincent Cassel, the French Robert Mitchum (without Mitchum’s bass-baritone growl), as Jacques Mesrine, a Jesse James figure who was shot down by police in 1979 following a prolonged bank-robbing rampage. After fighting in the Algerian war, Mesrine, nicknamed “the man of a thousand faces” because of his facility for disguises, reinvented himself as a glamorous outlaw and captured the public imagination with a series of prison escapes worthy of Houdini, or Steve McQueen, until his Clyde Barrow-like fall in a hail of bullets with a beautiful woman at his side.

      The first part of the movie follows Mesrine’s ascendance, with the help of a sinister “Godfather”-like mentor played by Mr. Depardieu, into an international crook who is incarcerated and brutally tortured in a Canadian prison.

      Part 2 examines the gangster-as-star phase of his career, in which Mesrine, relishing his designation as public enemy No. 1, fancied himself invincible and demonstrated an egomania to rival Al Pacino’s Tony Montana in “Scarface” (but without the cocaine).

      The movie, based partly on Mesrine’s autobiography “L’Instinct de Mort” (“Death Instinct”) and directed by Jean-François Richet, quotes from so many of its American-made forerunners, especially “Bonnie and Clyde,” that it is a virtual compendium of gangster-movie allusions. But they are woven so confidently into a popular epic built around a charismatic star performance that even the most obvious references don’t seem bothersome.

      “Séraphine,” also a biography, follows the life of Séraphine Louis, better known as Séraphine de Senlis, an untutored French painter of primitive floral canvases who was discovered and nurtured by Wilhelm Uhde, a German art collector for whom she worked as a housekeeper in Senlis, outside Paris. Directed by Martin Provost, the movie stars Yolande Moreau, an actress for whom there is no American equivalent. Ms. Moreau, who turns 56 on Friday, is a Belgian mime and comedian whose indelible performance in “When the Sea Rises” in 2004 won her a César for best actress; she is nominated again this year.

      Like many serious clowns Ms. Moreau invests the tragedy and humor of the human condition with a spiritual luminosity. The elements of Séraphine’s character are indivisible: she is a devout Catholic, ardent pantheist (she literally hugs trees), artistic genius and insane megalomaniac whose groveling humility conceals a streak of psychotic willfulness. Her belated rise was interrupted when the outbreak of World War I forced Mr. Uhde to flee France, and, after his return, by the withering of the art market in the Great Depression. She died in an insane asylum in 1942.

      In Mr. Jacquot’s “Villa Amalia,” the great Isabelle Huppert turns in a star performance to match any by Jeanne Moreau, playing a classical pianist and composer who abandons her unfaithful partner, her career and her homeland to disappear to the hills of Ischia, an island off Naples, where she takes up residence in an abandoned house. Enigmatic, fascinating, alternately bitter and defiant, she commands the screen at every moment.

      The Denis, Varda and Jacquot films have a spellbinding visual beauty that reminds you of the transporting power of pure cinema, in which images alone convey the ineffable. Ms. Denis’s “35 Shots of Rum,” made with her regular cinematographer, Agnès Godard, is a movie of few words and little psychology that relies mostly on the physical vocabulary of faces and bodies to convey feelings too complex to be verbalized. The main characters are a middle-aged Parisian train driver (Alex Descas) and his daughter (Mati Diop), with whom he lives, and their circle of neighbors and co-workers, most of whom are of African descent. The Parisian landscape of railroad tracks and trains rumbling at all hours of the day and night is poetically photographed, as if to illustrate the adage that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

      “The Beaches of Agnès,” Ms. Varda’s autobiographical scrapbook shot in high-definition video, commemorates her 80th birthday (last May). It attests to the undiminished creativity of a woman who has led a charmed life surrounded by art and artists, including Jacques Demy, her husband and sometime collaborator who died of AIDS in 1990. A sequel of sorts to her autobiographical documentary “The Gleaners and I,” the film is built around her memories of seaside locations that shaped her sensibility, especially the town of Sète on France’s southern coast, the site of her first feature, “La Pointe Courte.” An attitude of surreal playfulness informs the visuals as Ms. Varda recalls her life in a matter-of-fact tone, offering up random memories, which she compares to flies buzzing around her head.

      This year’s Rendez-Vous series also pays more attention than usual to the ethnic tensions in a country coping with the strains of immigration. The Costa-Gravas film “Eden Is West” follows the misadventures of Elias (Riccardo Scamarcio), a handsome young illegal immigrant from an unidentified country (he speaks an invented language for the movie) who dives off a freighter and is washed up on the nude beach of a fancy seaside resort.

      As he makes his way to Paris, hitchhiking and stealing food, clothing and money when he must, he is abused, exploited and sometimes helped by a cross-section of French society and of legal visitors. Almost everywhere he goes, the police seem to scent his illegal status and give chase. The gripping film gives you a double vision; it puts you in the shoes of a fugitive outsider chasing a dream that is thwarted at every turn, and forces you to imagine your own reaction when faced with such desperation.

      French social problems are addressed directly in François Dupeyron’s mordant low-budget comedy “With a Little Help From Myself,” set in a public housing project in which all the usual urban problems are epidemic. Similar tensions are touched on obliquely in André Téchiné’s factually inspired “Girl on the Train,” in which a young woman, dumped by her drug-dealing boyfriend, sets off a national uproar by cutting her face, painting swastikas on her body and claiming to have been assaulted by anti-Semitic skinheads. (She is not Jewish.) Mr. Téchiné shows his special empathy for the ways youthful impatience can trigger impulsively self-destructive behavior.

      Pierre Schoeller’s “Versailles,” whose star, Guillaume Depardieu (son of Gérard), is nominated for a César, explores the lives of homeless scavengers who live on the outskirts of Versailles and resist socialization. It is one of two Rendez-Vous films to feature Guillaume Depardieu, who died in October at 37 after a history of drug problems. He has a smaller role in “Stella,” Sylvie Verheyde’s wonderfully observed portrait of a restless, observant 11-year-old girl (Léora Barbara) struggling to stay in school while witnessing the marital implosion of her parents, who own a working-class Parisian cafe.

      The series makes a detour into farm country in Samuel Collardey’s austere film “The Apprentice,” which observes a 15-year-old boy’s agricultural education as an apprentice on a dairy farm. Rigorous and unsentimental, this semi-documentary might be described as a rural answer to Laurent Cantet’s recent film “The Class.”

      The series includes the usual quotient of sophisticated Gallic froth. In Anne Fontaine’s mildly kinky sex comedy, “The Girl From Monaco,” a promiscuous television airhead campaigns to snare an older, uptight lawyer whose loyal bodyguard tries to protect his employer. The garrulous comedy “Change of Plans,” directed by Danièle Thompson (“Avenue Montaigne”), imagines the urban bourgeois dinner party from hell.

      Rife with nudity and titillation, Ilan Duran Cohen’s comedy “The Joy of Singing” focuses on terrorists (uranium smugglers) and spies, many comically afflicted with sexual dysfunction and obsessive fears of aging, who converge in the salon of a voice teacher. Sexual obsession also fuels the series’s most problematic movie, “The Other One,” directed by Patrick Mario Bernard and Pierre Trividic, a portrait of female jealousy run amok in which Dominique Blanc plays a toxic control freak with Bette Davis eyes.

      Take it as high praise that there is not a single film in this year’s series that is a must to avoid.

      Rendez-Vous With French Cinema opens Thursday with “Paris 36” at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, and continues through March 15 at the Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street, Lincoln Center, (212) 875-5600, filmlinc.com;

  5. Interesting…thanks for posting that article.

    Incidentally, I just discovered that Synecdoche and Che are still playing (not the roadhouse version for the latter, but I won’t get picky at this late stage!) So I’m going to be quite busy this weekend….

  6. wow i’m always impressed to see how you guys are into french cinema (because unfortunately i leave in France but i’m not lol), but it’s true that you can find some little gems like “All About Actresses” released this year, “Spies” with a very talented guy called Guillaume Canet (remember his name), or Mesrine with the god almithy V Cassel.
    When french directors have some guts to get out of their confort zone (the eternal comedy about Paris and parisians), they can make real cool stuff unless they try to imitate US films.

    About Che, i haven’t seen it but critics here said it was borring and very predictable. Nothing is happenning that we don’t know, like an overlong Walkyrie. So even if i found on the net, i’haven’t watch it. I liked Wall E a lot, Slumdog too. TDK was dark, interesting, but a bit too long and lacks the fun and punched (only Heath Ledger combines both in the film).
    I missed the challenging in theater, and my next is Grand Torino for sure :-)

    • Che did split critics down the middle here as well.

      Gran Torino is enjoyable though I didn’t think it was as extraordinary as many of the critics. The ending is truly surprising though and of course Eastwood can still make anything engaging. The film has done amazingly well in box office terms. It will do better than the Departed which is saying something!

  7. oops something bad happened here, i’m sorry. Is it possible to delete mys first post ?

    • Deleted the duplicate comment. Thanks for those recommendations. I am most interested in Mesrine at this point. Have you seen Bouchareb’s latest? Based on his first two films I’m a fan of his work, especially Days of Glory.

  8. “It will do better than the Departed which is saying something!”

    Yeah, this is really no small acheivement. It’s amazing and pleasing to see the old master outgross a kinetic thriller with DiCaprio, Damon, Wahlberg and Nicholson!

    But I have to disagree on Gran Torino. Found it Eastwood’s best work this decade.

  9. Made an addition here..

  10. Made an addition..

  11. Agreed, agreed, agreed Satyam. Che (both parts) is the best film I’ve seen released in ’08. Just amazing. I had a particular interest in the energetic first portion of the work, (particularly the arresting black and white footage of Guevara at the UN) but the second forms an epic coda that has a contrasted, highly moving meditative tone.

  12. Well, I won’t ever forget that trip to see CHE (both parts in the same sitting) but I must admit my position on the film is mixed, and it won’t and didn’t get anywhere near my best list. But I respect your enthuasiasm for the film, as many critics I respect greatly are in agreement. For me CHE has tedious sections, (yes as the commenter above said, it is somewhat of an endurance test. The idea is far better than the execution for me anyway and redundancy, and teh idea, though noble and auspicious just didn’t quite come off as a film. I love the use of maps and the set design.

    But again, just a difference in taste. The other choices you name are all magnificent, and I heartily concur with the Kaufman, the Daldry, WALL-E (my own Number 1) THE VISITOR, PARANOID PARK, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, MAN ON WIRE, and more. Yes, it’s good you gave some attention to stuff like WENDY AND LUCY too.

    Two films on this list that were absent and deserved to be there were THE POOL (but I know Satyam has not seen this yet) and a French title, THE LAST MISTRESS. But we agree on so much, and there are bound to be a few divergences either way.

    Magisterial piece and list and wonderful pictures

    • Thanks for that extended comment Sam.. yes that roadshow version was quite an experience.. but again as always you’ve been much too kind..

  13. BTW, I heard this year’s French film festival at Lincoln Center was way better than last year’s — in particular, has anyone seen the Chabrol film with Depardieu (the first collaboration between the two if I remember correctly)…alas I was on vacation and missed the whole festival…

  14. Sam: I haven’t much cared for the Catherine Breillat films that I have seen — is “The Last Mistress” along those lines or is it a departure from her other work? Some of the reviews seemed to suggest the latter…would be interested in hearing the thoughts of anyone here who has seen it…

  15. Saw Vicky Christina Barcelona today. I would at best term it decent and would watch it on DVD only. I found the story contrived.

    Saw Milk also and liked it very much. It is documentry style film but director was able to hold attention.

  16. Satyam.

    The Doubt is missing here. Would be a worthy addition to the list. Also what do you think of Revolutionary Road?

  17. Although I found the play to be riveting on Broadway, I somehow haven’t worked up the will to see the screen adaptation of “Doubt”…

  18. added an entry here..

  19. Ashamed to say I still have not seen Waltz with Bashir…I’ll have to give it priority here.

  20. Saw Frost/Nixon and loved it. What a performance by Frank Langella. Sean Penn was good in Milk but I liked Frank’s performance more. I aslo liked Kevin Bacon’s role.

    BTW saw Twilight also, apart from some occasional humor just a below average movie.

    • The moving was engaging enough but I didn’t care much for it. do agree on the performance. The thing with the movie is that if you watch the original interviews there’s all the drama in the world right there! This is true for so much of Nixon’s life specially in the 70s where it’s hard to beat the documentary footage.

      Haven’t seen Twilight. I though this was for a certain age group/gender (not to knock your eclectic tastes in this regard!) until I read this piece on LRB:

      http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n06/turn03_.html

      still haven’t found the will to watch this..

      • Saw The Curious case of Benjamin Button and Reader. I found both the movies underwhelming.

        **Spoiler**
        In CCBB, I found it illogical (Pitt’s character towards end losing height etc) and movie was just sequence of events. Reader was decent. I found intriguing that Winslet’s character ashamed of proclaiming illiterate and ready to face the ignominy of being called murderer. It could be due the fact she was convinced that she didn’t do anything wrong.

        ps: My liking of Frost/Nixon could be due to the fact that I like drama and there is mix of politics; a deadly combination for me :) .

        • yeah I found Benjamin Button quite tedious myself.. liked Reader quite a bit on a first viewing but for some reason have little desire to revisit it.

          • Saw Visitor, and completely agree with your views. Slow but engaging. Leads actors were very good especially who plays Mouna.

  21. Added Baader-Meinhof Complex to the list. I think this in some ways a film Michael Mann could have made.

  22. Few thoughts on recent movies.
    Saw Doubt – Acting was good by lead actors but there was very little story.
    Slumdog Millionaire – Decent but not Oscar worthy.
    Wrestler – Just OK.
    Wall-E – Liked it immensely and it has deeper meaning for us.

    Saw couple of Korean movies – Memories of murder (Highly recommended), Joint security area (Good). Also saw Majidi’s Baran – Good but little underwhelmed. Tell No one – A nice French thriller.

    • You’ve been on a roll Munna! Baran is a film I love. Very much liked the Wrestler as well. Found Slumdog intoxicating on the big screen but yeah I wasn’t bowled over by it. Wall-E is I think once of the great animated movies. on Tell No One I share Qalandar’s opinion. Memories of Murder was a good one. Haven’t seen Joint security Area.

  23. I didn’t like Tell No One at all: really taut beginning, but then the film fell apart IMO…

    Loved Wall-E, thought it was one of the best animated films I’ve ever seen, and one of the best films I saw last year…

    Re: Slumdog: I think it is better than some other Oscar winners (e.g. Gladiator won 10 Oscars)…

  24. I have weakness for drama. Gladiator – liked it and see it whenever it comes on TV but yes, there were other worthy competitor at Oscar that year.

  25. Che releasing end of the month in the UK:

    no sign of a US DVD yet..

    Similarly the restored Lola Montes again releasing a week after Che in the UK but no word on the US release:

  26. iffrononfire Says:

    nice and comprehensive list :

    again a personal opinion

    there was to much nudity on reader and sometime emotions looked fake

    talking about korean movies another inspiration from it my sassy girl has released in india just now but we have allready seen its bollywood adaption in the form of ugly or pugli

    bollywood is beating hollywood now even in inspiration

  27. iffrononfire Says:

    apart from ur list there are some more my recommendation :

    kung fu panda( bollywood tried a lame attempt of this in the form of chandni chowk to china )

    in bruges( one of the best thriller i watched last year)

    burn after reading ( nice fun filled enjoyable flick)

    max paynev( another decent action cum thriller)

    • Liked Burn after Reading. In Bruges not as much. Kung Fu Panda I’ve heard good things about but haven’t seen. Don’t believe I’ve seen Max Payne either.

  28. I must say I found “Gran Torino” quite disappointing: it was a very tame film, in that I found it difficult to believe that given where this country seems to be in 2008/09, this film was being offered up as a serious statement on race relations, immigration, etc…

  29. Saw Gran Torino. Liked it but I thought some of the things were forced and cliched. For example Walt’s initiation in Hmong house was very easy.

    Scenes with Barber were hilarious and the movie has wry humor at many places. I liked some of the exchanges between father and Walt.

  30. made a couple of additions here..

  31. Marvelous summaries here: I think this list is a notable advance on the previous ones in terms of how much you’ve managed to compress into so few words…

  32. Saw the Informant! and it is hilarious.

  33. Manohla Dargis on the new Resnais:

    “The 17-day festival gets off to a glorious start on Friday with “Wild Grass,” the latest from Alain Resnais. Jean-Luc Godard once said of Mr. Resnais, now 87, he, “more than anyone else, gives the impression that he started completely from zero.” That certainly feels true of this film, a later-life love story steeped in kaleidoscopic color and emotion.

    André Dussollier and Sabine Azéma play strangers who inch toward each other through swirls of suspicion, fascination, regret, intrigue and desire. A disquisition could be written on Mr. Resnais’s use of red (stop), yellow (warning) and green (go), colors that speak to the characters’ vertiginous states of mind. Another chapter would have to be reserved for blue. (Try to count how many different moments in time Mr. Resnais tucks into one seemingly unbroken moving shot of a dinner.) Sony Pictures Classics will release the film next spring. ”

    more on the festival here:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/25/movies/25festival.html?hpw=&pagewanted=print

  34. I’ve updated this piece…

  35. I just saw Goodbye Solo which is really a gem of a film….

    • absolutely.. I think it’s probably the director’s best work also..

    • Saw it yesterday. Liked the two lead characters in the movie. There is not much to story and it is slow for many people but I liked the pace of movie which is similar to “The visitor”. It probably is a good character study with people from different backgrounds and how they react to situations. I could not get the aim of of director but I guess different people can interpret different things!

      Saw Sophie Scholl’s the final days..based on internal resistance during Nazi rule of Germany. The lead actress was fabulous and her discourse with investigator was excellent. It is story of courage but at same time I could see foolishness of young people who haven’t thought of consequences.

  36. Saw a quirky Japanese movie, Man, Woman and the Wall. Quite enjoyable, dealing with subject of voyeurism. Please be warned it has good amount of nudity.

  37. Saw the Baader-Meinhof Complex and agree with your assessment about the film. There were too many incidents to show in a movie. Probably movie has more coherence when the leads were jailed. I liked what I saw in other side (People who were trying to catch RAF).

  38. I practically flogged myself for not watching Waltz with Bashir for quite a while now. I finally (FINALLY) caught up with it and I deserve an actual beating. It is not only my favorite movie of the year of its release but it’s going to rank as one of the greats of this decade in my book. An absolute masterwork and haunting is precisely the word for the soundtrack. Even the pop music choices here are superb. The animation is stunning, but more than any of this, the film is a moral, ethical act of tremendous significance. An exploration of guilt and the cost of violence not only for those it is inflicted upon but for those who inflict it and those who witness it. This is as emotionally resonant as it is technically wondrous.

  39. I can’t get this out of my head (starting around :50)

  40. rented the Baader Meinhof complex. Satyam now it is time for the 2009 list. really looking forward to it.

  41. My recommendations for 2009:
    Hurt Locker
    Up in the air
    Informant
    Inglorious Basterds
    Hangover
    500 days of summer
    serious man
    Precious
    watchmen
    vicious kind
    last station
    up
    duplicity
    havent seen Blind side and The road and the messenger

  42. before anybody kills me left out District 9 and Avatar for a reason.

  43. What was interesting in 2009?

    Saw “The Ghost Writer” and liked it as a thriller. Probably “A prohphet” today.

  44. Pranav Rawal Says:

    Saw 3 movies recently. A Prophet, The girl with the dragon tatoo and Zift. Liked all three. Dragon tatoo the best.

  45. Pranav Rawal Says:

    Satyam, eagerly awaiting your 2009 list!

    • I have been very late on this.. just didn’t have the chance to make a list of all the films I’d seen and liked… hopefully in the near future.

  46. I just realized you have not come up with 2009 list. I had thought you would have. Since I have literally watched nothing in 2009 and 2010, would like to have few recommendation.

  47. iffrononfire Says:

    my recommendation for 2010(genrewise):

    toy story and alice in wonderland

    inception and shutter island (easily the 2 most gripping movie of recent times )

    salt and green zone

    inside job

    avatar

  48. Satyam,
    Have you seen Samuel Jackson starer “Unthinkable” (@Netflix Instant)?

  49. Saw “In time” and liked the general idea of the movie..where “time to live” is currency for everything you do. The mirroring with today’s world was good. It could have been more serious but overall I would recommend it just for theme.

  50. Have you stopped coming up with your yearly favorites, Satyam?! Those have always been very informative and enlightening. These days when other priorities exhaust most of one’s time and energy, it is not a bad idea to be selective when it comes to films. So it is only when people like you come up with recommendations, our job becomes easier. :)

    • Thanks for asking Som though regrettably I haven’t drawn up one of those in a number of years. Partly because I have myself not been as comprehensive in tracking down some of this stuff as I used to be in the past.

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