Before I decided to come back to the keyboard to clean this shitstorm of mental cobweb-ery out, I brought out a nice bottle of wine … and this clip. Bissinger vs. Leitch. Watch to get yourself in the mood to rip the old dead world apart.
Throw on that Johnson&Jonson record to bring me back down, and here we are:
There’s a vibe going around right now, this whole big FUCK 08 thing. Sure we lost our economy down a drain more gutter than Amy Winehouse’s breath, but this was a brilliant year if you can look past that, which you might have to, in order to sleep at night. I got to meet people who create stuff I love, and they were all awesome. Hendrik Hertzberg, Matt Taibbi, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Elizabeth Moss, Common, Nas (who gave daps to everyone on the line, including yours truly), Jeremy Piven (briefly, as he had to get back into his SUV to his Nordic looking model girlfriend who must have been treating him for the Mercury Poisoning), and I think I’ve seen Jack McBrayer (30 Rock’s Kenneth The Page) enough on the subways for him to think I’m stalking him.
Oh yeah, and The Giants Won The Superbowl, Crushing Tom Brady & Bill Bellicheat, Ending Their Perfect Season.
Start off where the year jumped off at, the #1 Movie of 2008, pronounced by yours truly Mr. With A Passion:
2008’s Top Ten Movies
1. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days is a movie you probably didn’t see and that’s because it had zero push behind it. The release felt confined to the pitiful location of The IFC Center, which still feels somewhat irrelevant for it’s nabe. 4 Months is the Romanian mindfuck about the odds against anyone in late 80’s Romania who wanted abortion, specifically two college students. The film is as well shot as anything made all year and on a shoestring budget, Cristian Mungiu, the film’s writer and director has produced a time vault level item for a year where the GOP restoked the fires of the pro life culture war army thanks to the fact that Wasillans are as dumb as pissed on dirt.
2. The Dark Knight transcended both the crime and superhero genres, thanks to a stellar cast, most of whom have not received the kudos they deserve, yet that’s still appropriate given the shadow that Heath Ledger’s death, a colossal kick in the jaw to millions, still casts over the first superhero film to possibly reasonably merit, nay demand, an Academy Award (but, fuck, Paul Haggis has a fucking Oscar, so how valuable are they really?). A.O. Scott might have only done this to get someone to carve a smile into his face (I know a pint size powerhouse who will wreak havoc upon voters if this whole Tom Cruise for Supporting Actor in The Five Minutes of Tropic Thunder He Was In Where He Played The All Too Easy Role Of A Fat White Guy Dancing To Rap, and Scott, she’ll find you, too). Eckhart’s Harvey “Two Face” Dent is another villain portrayal that unquestionably made it’s case to be the definition of a decades old character. The older class comes out of this movie even better, as Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Cane all bring their A Game to the franchise, providing a real base for the film, one where characters sometimes get left in the trail to fight scenes, gadgets, and the zigs and zags of a finely tapered plot (not that TDK doesn’t have those three in spades, which it does).
3. Waltz With Bashir snuck in under the wire, on 12/26/08 in limited release. Think Waking Life‘s aesthetic yet less douchey in every regard including characters, the perspective of Full Metal Jacket, but the damn thing is a documentary about The First Lebanon War. The 26 dogs will haunt you as they haunted me, as this is one movie you cannot miss in theaters. It’s probably still over at Cinema Village or something, but you must go out and find it. The power of the images produced deserves more than your tv set, this is not for Netflix, this is why we go to the cinema, to be fucked with by way of our minds expanded.
4. Let The Right One In, is the proof that the Swedes work on levels we can’t even touch. From all the sources I’ve got, it seems that while Twilight is a capable half decent movie, it’s based on a book series of the same quality of Goosebumps. Let The Right One In, on the other hand, is based on a novel, which was adapted for the screen by the actual author of the novel. The result is a brutal depiction of elementary school bullying, and one of the finale fights felt like some sci fi fantasy take on Columbine, and where the blood gets the most perverse laugh out of the audience you will find all year.
5. A Girl Cut in Two, the latest Chabrol film is a great love triangle film, a phrase I don’t find myself saying that often, or ever, really. François Berléand is the kind of actor whose face you’ve known for decades, yet never connected to a name. Here, he plays a renowned author who’s latest fancy is weather girl Gabrielle, played pitch-perfect by Ludivine Sagnier. But their romance isn’t anything to write home about until the nefarious Paul Gardens, a bougie douche who could go toe to toe with the Chuck Bass’s of the world any day, who treats Gabrielle like she’s his birthright. This triangle does not end well, not that they ever do.
6. Wall•E, was possibly the most beloved animated movie since Toy Story, yet this time the adults were more in love with the story than the kids were. This has a lot to do with the film’s (more) mature (than usual) subject matter: We’ve Fucked The Planet Royally & Spend Most Of Our Time As Sedentary Snoozing Schmucks. It was good, but really didn’t grab me as much as the top 5 did.
7. Milk was a great movie. Everything worked, except for the unlikeable character Diego Luna played which felt too close to stereotype. I wonder, though, that if this movie came out at a different time, would it have had the same impact without the election and the passing of prop hate?
8. Frost/Nixon brought Ron Howard to an all too prescient topic and accomplished everything it had to while avoiding the SNL Skit vibe that Oliver Stone’s W. suffered from. Why Mickey Rourke had to make his comeback in the year Frank Langella made an amazingly deserving Oscar performance we won’t know.
9. Synecdoche, New York is for all intensive purposes (Thanks Tavit!) intents and purposes, Charlie Kaufman’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. A film so enamored with itself that the cartoons on tv, which barely have any purpose, point, or use, are also made by the filmmaker. I think it’s good Kaufman got this out of his system so he can move on to make less frustratingly dense films. The last half hour is a bulldozer of mindfuckery that grated all nerves.
10. The Wrestler. I used to watch pro wrestling, and for anyone in a similar predicament, Arronofsky’s small film about the horrors that wrestling inflicts on the human body this is a tough film to watch. Hell, it’s a tough film for anyone to watch, but it wouldn’t have fallen to the 10-er if the Marisa Tomei character had more going for herself plot wise. But I guess that’s why they called it The Wrestler and not The Stripper Who Has An Oscar. Rourke’s performance was so brilliant that he’ll have his own soon enough.
Honorable Mentions: Che, for making 4.5 hours not seem that long; Transporter 3, the best pure action movie I’ve seen in a while; Vicky Cristina Barcelona for giving Woody Allen a reason to give us all a reason to ogle Scarlet and Penelope some more; and Rachel Getting Married, for having Tunde Adebimpe of TVOTR singing at a wedding.
The rest of this closing the books on a year below