I have to say, 2006 was sort of a mushy year in movies. Sure, a lot of great stuff graced the silver screen, but there was nothing that blew my mind in the way, say, a Dogville or Gerry or Irreversible or even Moulin Rouge did. That said, there were some magical movie moments I'd never trade brought to me via the fine cinematic offerings listed here.
These aren't ordered by preference precisely, but I generally dig the top of the list more than the bottom.
Science of Sleep
Very romantic, very playful, very clever. As if Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was distilled into a concentrate of surreal sweetness.
A psychological thriller of sorts, all centered upon a man's upper lip. Lovingly crafted and beautifully acted.
House of Sand
Gorgeously shot, told and acted. Plodding at times, but poignant throughout.
Quiet is the new loud. The most delicately observed buddy movie ever.
I'm sorry, I'm a sucker for Lars' films. While this play-as-movie pales in comparison to its sister film Dogville, there are still soul-shaking truths within it.
The opposite of soul-shaking, but Sofia does delight the eye with her irresistibly indulgent art direction and often delights the heart with her unmistakeable understanding of the female psyche. After all, every girl secretly wants to be a princess...tho' queen will do, too.
I truly only adored the first of this film's three tales of love, but its watercolored, bittersweet stillness is worth a Top 10 mention. It's 30 minutes of pure romantic bliss.
Little Miss Sunshine
Some call it too commercial, but I call it a clever crowd-pleaser with an undercurrent of pathos that perfectly undercuts any predictability.
Thank You for Smoking
Smart-ass and smart. I suspected the gimmick would tire by the second reel, but the story steamed ahead with great energy and guts.
Sharp, snappy, satisfying. Spike Lee is back. (And Clive Owen is friggin' hot.)
An Inconvenient Truth
There wasn't a more important film released in 2006, especially seeing how we need the planet to be liveable if we're going to keep enjoying movies.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
You know who is a really good actor? John C. Reilly. Sure, sure, I'm not the first to notice. There's a reason P.T. Anderson, Brian De Palma and Martin Scorsese all hired him. But it just occured to me this week that he deserves more attention and accolades and awards and VIP party gift bags.
You see, I've been performing (read: singing along to) the Chicago soundtrack in my car on the way to work this week and every time I hear Reilly's performance of "Mister Cellophane," it reminds me of what a great turn he gave in that movie musical as the downtrodden hubby to Roxie Hart. And then there's the terrific, slowly unraveling performance he gave in Criminal. And, less I forget, his unforgettable appearance as the vulnerable cop in Magnolia.
And he does funny surprisingly well, too. One of the most hilarious moments in the mostly lame Talledega Nights for me was a clip in the end credit outtakes when Reilly shares his thoughts about his own favorite Jesus. Throughout the comedy, Reilly quietly held his own with, and even occasionally outshone, Farrell. That really sealed Reilly's awesomeness for me.
Unfortunately, Reilly is Hollywood's Mister Cellophane. The unassuming persona and acting style that make him an amazing character actor also keep him from getting traction and attention in the buzz arena. I predict that John C. Reilly is the next Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I just hope Reilly's Capote comes soon, because I can't wait to see him do his thang. And hopefully he'll take home one of those shiny statuettes in the process.
Monday, December 18, 2006
This weekend I got to check one item off my lifelong "to do" list--watch Woody Allen play his clarinet. I'd always wanted to check out his Monday night residency in New York, but had never gotten the chance. Luckily, he brought his New Orleans Jazz Band to L.A. as part of a nationwide tour.
It felt like a very New York night as I crossed the UCLA campus in my winter coat and scarf, fighting off the biting night air as I walked under the arches of a beautiful old building to see Woody Allen play live.
The band was terrific, playing rousing jazz numbers, spirituals, novelty songs and old standards. Most of the members of the group are veteran studio musicians with impressive resumes of their own.
Woody was demure throughout the show, gazing downwards whether he was playing his instrument or not. He was wearing wheat-colored corduroy pants and dabbed his nose occasionally with a kerchief from his pocket. Evidently he had a head cold, because he sounded congested the few times he walked up to the microphone to talk to the audience.
With self-deprecating charm, he explained that his ensemble plays for fun and hopes their musical offerings are passable entertainment. His best line of the evening, though, was when he was giving a final sign-off and said: "Now you can judge for yourself which is worse, my clarinet playing or my movies."
Oh, Woody. You had me at Take the Money and Run.
Monday, December 11, 2006
There are certain movie stars I cannot stand. Not necessarily because of anything they've done in "real life" or the quality of their cinematic performances. There's just something about them that rubs me the wrong way.
People on my ick list include Leonardo DiCrapio, Jennifer Connelly (so guess who's not seeing Blood Diamond?!), Charlize Theron and Lindsay Lohan. To punish them for icking me out, I avoid their movies and refuse to buy any magazine that features them on the cover. I also make a face whenever I see their countenances on-screen or in print.
Go ahead. You can say it. "Gee, what a hardass." I'll give you that.
Despite my hardassedness, today I'm making an exception and allowing one of my most loathed to share a web page with moi. Just because she's hilarious in spite of herself.
The following text is made up of excerpts from a BlackBerry wireless transmission from rail-thin LL as she rails against negative tabloid talk and threatens to pull a Jerry Maguire and get all real issue-y. Pretty impressive she's dropping Al Gore's name as well as quoting Howard Hughes (somebody saw The Aviator!)
Found via the delightful P and B.
(Note to self: remember to start signing off all your electronic transmissions with "Your Entertainer,")
Subject: The way of the future-Howard Hughes once said.
"I am willing to release a politically/morally correct, fully adequite letter to the press if any of you are willing to help.
Simply to state my oppinions on how our society should be educated on for the better of our country. Our people.
Also because I have such an impact on our younger generations, as well as generations older than me. Which we all know and can obviously see.
People are just mean.
But to make false accusations to one girl is unjust in my oppinion."
"Al Gore will help me he came up to me last night and said he would be very happy to have a conversation with me. If he is willing to help me, let's find out.
Hilary Clinton, Bill Clinton, and Evan metroplis, and John Daur who works with them would be willing, if we just ask.
If we just ASK.
I'd really like to fix things and refuse to stop on any account for these unintelligent, vulgar people who like to hurt other people. Not just me, but everyone.
I'm willing to hold a press conference and I will do anything necessary to do so. In putting an end to 'these people' trying to put an end to me and belittle me as well as try to be the demise of me after all I've gone through and done at such a young and tender age in a womans life."
"Just ask them, it doesn't hurt to ask.
So let's start now, rather than waste time. Do you agree? Because I'm doing it either way. The way of the future.
Thank you for your time."
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Random note #1
Casino Royale was a fun romp, as they say. After seeing Daniel Craig in action as the new Bond, I finally understand the appeal. He's quite the hunk. Hmm...oh, where was I?
Random note #2
"Claro" is currently my favorite Spanish word (translated in English as "of course"). Having seen a few Spanish-language films of late, I've noticed "claro" is used frequentally in quite a range of tones (condescendingly, reassuringly, flirtatiously, flippantly) and it always sounds snappy. I like saying it to myself. Claro, claro, claro!
Random note #3
I've grown tired of the cliched quip, "If you looked up (blank) in the dictionary, you'd see a photo of (person's name)." So I've come up with an alternate: "If you Google'd (blank), (person's name.com) would come up as the most relevant link." Use it, don't use it.
Random note #4
Doesn't the casting for the upcoming film The Holiday look like the cinematic equivalent of wrapping up a bad tie? I mean, really, pairing Kate Winslet and Jack Black and boob jokes? Seems like a titanic mistake to me. And Cameron Diaz matched with Jude Law? She's more masculine than that bonny lad!
Let's just say if you Google'd the casting of The Holiday, badideajeans.com would be the most relevant link.