Friday, February 3, 2012

200 Movies // One to Ten

No. 1 // The Iron Lady
Dir. Phyllida Lloyd

A biopic of Margaret 
Thatcher, the woman who 
changed British politics,
told in flashbacks.

I wasn't watching Meryl Streep play Thatcher. I was watching Thatcher. Unfortunately, the film doesn't quite support this stellar performance as well as it should. The entire structure of the film was annoying, the way it moves back and forth felt too jittery and restless for me. The ending is ridiculous and left a sour sentimental aftertaste instead of the complex piquancy that a biopic of a controversial political figure should inspire.

No. 2 // Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
Dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul

A dream-like journey
into the heart, soul
and mind of Thailand

Imagine yourself taking a nap on a hammock in the middle of the quiet, Thai countryside. As you enter your mid-afternoon dream you realise you're still in the same place. There are monkey ghosts in the distance with red eyes and you follow them. You're tour guide is Haruki Murakami and he narrates your journey as you follow these strange creatures and you discover the mysteries of life and beyond, of myths and local fables, and of ghosts and strange entities. When you decide to see this film, don't expect a story but instead, expect to fall into a hypnotic dream. One that will leave you scratching your head once the credits roll.

No. 3 // Meek's Cutoff
Dir. Kelly Reichardt

Set in Oregon in 1845,
a group of settlers find
themselves stranded in
the middle of the desert

This is one of those films I did not enjoy watching but I take full responsibility for my lack of pleasure. This is a well-made, well-acted, well-thought out film. Maybe I was just not in the right mood or I was not in the right mindset. It felt like I was watching a classic I couldn't decrypt just yet. This is going on my re-watch pile.

No. 4 // Badlands
Dir. Terrence Malick

A story of two people
on a killing spree seen
 through the beautiful gaze
of Malick

Kit and Holly are confusing people. What they say and do does not make any sense but somehow Malick makes us fall in love with them all the same. It might be the golden hour light that they are constantly bathed in or it may be because despite the unforgivable crimes they commit together they both project a sense of childishness. One half the innocence, the other half the rebellion. 

No. 5 // Waiting...
Dir. Rob McKittrick

Multiple coming-of-age
stories from the young
employees of a restaurant

A chance to turn off the brain after those first four films. The ensemble worked well together and I like anything with Anna Faris in it. If you have ever worked at a restaurant or anywhere customer service is involved a lot of the things here, though at times may feel cliched, will still feel hilariously familiar. Additionally, this film gives a very valuable lesson: don't mess with the people who handle your food.

No. 6 // Page One: Inside The New York Times
Dir. Andrew Rossi

Documentary about the New 
York Time's response
to the 'death of the

When I told people I was studying journalism their first response is always: why? Newspapers are dying. Newspapers aren't dying. The physical object maybe but journalism and news reporting will always exist. It's just at a moment of transition right now. Page One is a timely documentary about this moment of transition. The conflict between traditional and new media. It was interesting but there wasn't all that much I got from it. The people they followed around and interviewed weren't very interesting either and I think that's the biggest downfall of a documentary.

No. 7 // Snowtown
Dir. Justin Kurzel

Australian film about the
real life 'bodies in the 
barrel' murders

This Australian film felt like a slightly less intelligent Animal Kingdom. Snowtown is based on the real life 'bodies in the barrel' murders that occurred in Adelaide. While the scenes were clearly designed to shock and provoke, I felt nothing. Probably because the film felt unkind, like it was just there to make me feel bad. 

No. 8 // Kramer vs Kramer
Dir. Robert Benton

A just divorced man must learn 
to care for his son on his own, 
and then must fight in court 
to keep custody of him

The french toast scene at the end of the film broke my heart a little bit. It was like watching the end of a lovely ritual between two people. It was only one out of many beautifully rendered scenes in the film. It's amazing how the writers, actors and director were able to create subtle nuances in dialogue to show little details about their characters and how that offers us a glimpse into the gradations of their relationships.

No. 9 // The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Dir. David Fincher

A young hacker and a
journalist solve a 40-
year old murder mystery

I love what Ignatiy from Ebert Presents says about David Fincher's films. That he's interested in process and how one thing leads to another and leads to another. Think of the process of Facebook's creation in The Social Network and how that leads to lawsuits and broken friendships. How in Zodiac the processes of crime investigation and news reporting culminate to one man's obsession with finding the truth. Here in Dragon Tattoo we get a glimpse into the process of research and uncovering secrets. This may all sound boring but Fincher who is  well-known for his style he makes all these processes: programming, investigations, news reporting, and researching, seem really cool and cinematic. 

No. 10 // The Descendants
Dir. Alexander Payne

A father struggles to
look after his family
after his wife goes into
a coma

At the beginning of the film I felt most of the characters were portrayed in a stereotypical, banal way but each one of them have this really beautiful transformation and it was like someone turned on a light. They all became real. George Clooney was great but Shailene Woodley was a standout. I am still holding a grudge towards the Academy for not nominating her. 


About the 200 Movies Challenge

Films I've seen so far

Images edited by me from screenshots of the film

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