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1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

Mensaje  JM el Lun Ene 18, 2010 3:25 pm

971
La meglio gioventú (The best of youth- Marco Tullio Giordana, 2003)



368 minutes of Italian TV miniseries--yes, that is indeed six hours' worth--comes unspooling in The Best of Youth, a stirring and beautiful experience. The film needs its running time to immerse us in the world of the Carati family from 1966 to near the present day. Two brothers are the primary focus: Nicola (Luigi Lo Cascio), a responsible medical student, and Matteo (Alessio Boni), a troubled soldier. After a youthful road trip, their paths diverge, but each is carried along by the changing, sometimes violent, political weather of Italy in the 1970s and '80s. Life issues surge and ebb, with the increasing sense that Matteo is a lost soul, beyond even the help of the luminous woman (unforgettable Maya Sansa) who comes into his life.
Truth be told, The Best of Youth has some of the limitations of made-for-TV fare, from the simplicity of its themes to its cheap-looking makeup. (Those beards are not convincing.) But by the time you've spent a couple of hours with these characters, you're deeply invested in their joys and sorrows. At that point the measured pace begins to feel like the rhythm of life, and the people onscreen a mirror of ourselves. It's probably true that the cultural references and specific historic events will have more resonance for Italians than other viewers, but everything translates. Director Marco Tullo Giordana maintains the tone by allowing details to accumulate, and the location shooting, including a stint at the cinematically rich island of Stromboli, is consistently rich (his sampling of the music from Jules and Jim feels like a shortcut somehow, but who could argue that the music isn't perfectly in key with the melancholy mood?). The final act delivers an emotional coup de grace that has been thoroughly earned. And you'll feel like you earned it, too, having spent six hours with this moving film.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

Mensaje  JM el Lun Ene 18, 2010 3:30 pm

972
Irreversible (Gaspar Noe, 2002)



Irreversible begins with the closing credits running backwards before the film begins (or ends) with Marcus (Vincent Cassell) and Pierre (Albert Dupontel) being escorted out of a gay S&M club by the cops, Marcus with his arm broken and Pierre in handcuffs. The "story" proceeds to unwind in a series of single-take scenes that unfold Memento-style, with each scene giving more context to what we have seen previously. Each scenario depicts actions, dialogue, incident, behavior, and circumstances that the lead characters might have wished didn't happen, ranging from extreme violence through awkward social situations to mild embarrassment. The central character (and possible dreamer of this whole what-if story) emerges as Alex (Monica Bellucci), who suffers the worst in a very hard-to-watch rape sequence in an underpass. Semi-improvised, the scenes all have attack and power as themes, with later/earlier conversational sequences that suggest life isn't all sexual assaults in the dark, showing equal cinematic imagination with the horrors. Arguably, this is not a film most would subject themselves to twice, but it is something that stays in the mind for days after viewing, sparking far more ideas and emotions than most wallow-in-nastiness pictures.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

Mensaje  JM el Lun Ene 18, 2010 3:38 pm

973
Good Bye Lenin (Wolfgang Becker, 2003)



Contemporary comedies rarely stretch themselves beyond a bickering romantic couple or a bickering couple and a bucket of bodily fluids, which makes the ambition and intelligence of Good bye, Lenin! not simply entertaining but downright refreshing. The movie starts in East Germany before the fall of communism; our hero, Alex (Daniel Bruhl), describes how his mother (Katrin Sass), a true believer in the communist cause, has a heart attack when she sees him being clubbed by police at a protest. She falls into a coma for eight months--during which the Berlin Wall comes down. When she awakens, her fragile health must avoid any shocks, so Alex creates an illusive reality around his bedridden mother to convince her that communism is still alive. Good bye, Lenin! delicately balances wry satire with its rich investment in the lives of Alex, his mother, and other characters around them. Funny, moving, and highly recommended.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

Mensaje  JM el Lun Ene 18, 2010 3:44 pm

974
Kill Bill Vol.1 & 2 (Quentin Tarantino, 2003)


Volume One



Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, Vol. 1 is trash for connoisseurs. From his opening gambit (including a "Shaw-Scope" logo and gaudy '70s-vintage "Our Feature Presentation" title card) to his cliffhanger finale (a teasing lead-in to 2004's Vol. 2), Tarantino pays loving tribute to grindhouse cinema, specifically the Hong Kong action flicks and spaghetti Westerns that fill his fervent brain--and this frequently breathtaking movie--with enough cinematic references and cleverly pilfered soundtrack cues to send cinephiles running for their reference books. Everything old is new again in Tarantino's humor-laced vision: he steals from the best while injecting his own oft-copied, never-duplicated style into what is, quite simply, a revenge flick, beginning with the near-murder of the Bride (Uma Thurman), pregnant on her wedding day and left for dead by the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad (or DiVAS)--including Lucy Liu and the unseen David Carradine (as Bill)--who become targets for the Bride's lethal vengeance. Culminating in an ultraviolent, ultra-stylized tour-de-force showdown, Tarantino's fourth film is either brilliantly (and brutally) innovative or one of the most blatant acts of plagiarism ever conceived. Either way, it's hyperkinetic eye-candy from a passionate film-lover who clearly knows what he's doing.




Volume Two



"The Bride" (Uma Thurman) gets her satisfaction--and so do we--in Quentin Tarantino's "roaring rampage of revenge," Kill Bill, Vol. 2. Where Vol. 1 was a hyper-kinetic tribute to the Asian chop-socky grindhouse flicks that have been thoroughly cross-referenced in Tarantino's film-loving brain, Vol. 2--not a sequel, but Part Two of a breathtakingly cinematic epic--is Tarantino's contemporary martial-arts Western, fueled by iconic images, music, and themes lifted from any source that Tarantino holds dear, from the action-packed cheapies of William Witney (one of several filmmakers Tarantino gratefully honors in the closing credits) to the spaghetti epics of Sergio Leone. Tarantino doesn't copy so much as elevate the genres he loves, and the entirety of Kill Bill is clearly the product of a singular artistic vision, even as it careens from one influence to another. Violence erupts with dynamic impact, but unlike Vol. 1, this slower grand finale revels in Tarantino's trademark dialogue and loopy longueurs, reviving the career of David Carradine (who plays Bill for what he is: a snake charmer), and giving Thurman's Bride an outlet for maternal love and well-earned happiness. Has any actress endured so much for the sake of a unique collaboration? As the credits remind us, "The Bride" was jointly created by "Q&U," and she's become an unforgettable heroine in a pair of delirious movie-movies (Vol. 3 awaits, some 15 years hence) that Tarantino fans will study and love for decades to come.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

Mensaje  JM el Lun Ene 18, 2010 3:48 pm

975
Oldboy (Chan-Wook Park, 2003)



In the realm of revenge thrillers, you'd be hard pressed to find more ultra-violent vengeance and psycho thrills than in the creepy story of Oldboy. This Korean import made a pop splash at the Cannes Film Festival and during its limited theatrical run thanks to the imprimatur of Quentin Tarantino, who raved about it and its visionary director, Chan-wook Park, to anyone who would listen. It's easy to see why QT fell in love with the grindhouse attitude, fast-paced action, violent imagery, and icy-black humor, but it's a disservice to think of Oldboy as another Tarantino homage or knockoff. The darkly existential undercurrent in the themes that Oldboy traces over its life-long narrative arc is much more complex and deeply disturbing than anything of its kind. The movie's tagline is, "15 years of imprisonment... 5 days of vengeance." The imprisonee is Oh Dae-Su, an ordinary Joe who is snatched off a Seoul street corner and locked away in a dank, windowless fleabag hotel room for the aforementioned 15 years. Just as abruptly he is released, and thus the five days begin. Why did this happen to Oh Dae-Su? Ah, but that would be telling, and in fact we don't know ourselves until the final wrenching scenes.
Oldboy breaks into a classic three-act saga, the first of which details the hallucinatory period of imprisonment in which Oh Dae-Su wades from mild insanity to outright psychosis in the hands of unseen yet attentive captors. Act 2 is the revenge, when an entirely different tone takes over and Oh Dae-Su moves with single-minded purpose and clarity. It's this section that has gained the most notoriety, primarily for the claw-hammer dentistry scene, the one-man-army tracking shot, and the wriggling octopus that Oh Dae-Su consumes in a sushi bar (he's been dead so long he simply needs life back inside him in any way possible). In act 3, answers finally start to emerge and the sinister atmosphere grows even more profound--not without a healthy dose of extra bloodletting, of course. Oldboy is an undeniably poetic masterpiece of tension, fury, and dynamic craft. Ultimately, its epic cycle of tragedy is of the sort that mankind has been inflicting upon itself for all time. Some of the images may be gruesome, but all converge into a kind of beauty. It's in the telling of this lurid tale that these details become one and the memories of pain ultimately heal.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

Mensaje  JM el Lun Ene 18, 2010 3:51 pm

976
Farenheit 9/11 (Michael Moore, 2004)



To anyone who truly understands what it means to be an American, Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 should be seen as a triumph of patriotic freedom. Rarely has the First Amendment been exercised with such fervor and forthrightness of purpose: After subjecting himself to charges of factual errors in his gun-lobby exposé Bowling for Columbine, Moore armed himself with a platoon of reputable fact-checkers, an abundance of indisputable film and video footage, and his own ironically comedic sense of righteous indignation, with the singular intention of toppling the war-ravaged administration of President George W. Bush. It's the Bush presidency that Moore, with his provocative array of facts and figures, blames for corporate corruption, senseless death, unnecessary war, and political favoritism toward Osama Bin Laden's family and Saudi oil partners following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Moore's incendiary film earned Palme d'Or honors at Cannes and a predictable legion of detractors, but do yourself a favor: Ignore those who condemn the film without seeing it, and let the facts speak for themselves. By honoring American soldiers and the victims of 9/11 while condemning Bush's rationale for war in Iraq, Fahrenheit 9/11 may actually succeed in turning the tides of history.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

Mensaje  JM el Lun Ene 18, 2010 3:56 pm

977
Sideways (Alexander Payne, 2004)



With Sideways, Paul Giamatti (American Splendor, Storytelling) has become an unlikely but engaging romantic lead. Struggling novelist and wine connoisseur Miles (Giamatti) takes his best friend Jack (Thomas Haden Church, Wings) on a wine-tasting tour of California vineyards for a kind of extended bachelor party. Almost immediately, Jack's insatiable need to sow some wild oats before his marriage leads them in into double-dates with a rambunctious wine pourer (Sandra Oh, Under the Tuscan Sun) and a recently divorce waitress (Virginia Madsen, The Hot Spot)--and Miles discovers a little hope that he hasn't let himself feel in a long time. Sideways is a modest but finely tuned film; with gentle compassion, it explores the failures, struggles, and lowered expectations of mid-life. Giamatti makes regret and self-loathing sympathetic, almost sweet. From the director of Election and About Schmidt.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

Mensaje  JM el Lun Ene 18, 2010 4:01 pm

978
Der Untergang (Downfall- Oliver Hirschbiegel, 2004)



The riveting subject of Downfall is nothing less than the disintegration of Adolf Hitler in mind, body, and soul. A 2005 Academy Award nominee for best foreign language film, this German historical drama stars Bruno Ganz (Wings of Desire) as Hitler, whose psychic meltdown is depicted in sobering detail, suggesting a fallen, pathetic dictator on the verge on insanity, resorting to suicide (along with Eva Braun and Joseph and Magda Goebbels) as his Nazi empire burns amidst chaos in mid-1945. While staging most of the film in the claustrophobic bunker where Hitler spent his final days, director Oliver Hirschbiegel (Das Experiment) dares to show the gentler human side of der Fuehrer, as opposed to the pure embodiment of evil so familiar from many other Nazi-era dramas. This balanced portrayal does not inspire sympathy, however: We simply see the complexity of Hitler's character in the greater context of his inevitable downfall, and a more realistic (and therefore more horrifying) biographical portrait of madness on both epic and intimate scales. By ending with a chilling clip from the 2002 documentary Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary, this unforgettable film gains another dimension of sobering authenticity.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

Mensaje  JM el Lun Ene 18, 2010 4:04 pm

979
Crash (Paul Haggis, 2004)



Movie studios, by and large, avoid controversial subjects like race the way you might avoid a hive of angry bees. So it's remarkable that Crash even got made; that it's a rich, intelligent, and moving exploration of the interlocking lives of a dozen Los Angeles residents--black, white, latino, Asian, and Persian--is downright amazing. A politically nervous district attorney (Brendan Fraser) and his high-strung wife (Sandra Bullock, biting into a welcome change of pace from Miss Congeniality) get car-jacked by an oddly sociological pair of young black men (Larenz Tate and Chris "Ludacris" Bridges); a rich black T.V. director (Terrence Howard) and his wife (Thandie Newton) get pulled over by a white racist cop (Matt Dillon) and his reluctant partner (Ryan Phillipe); a detective (Don Cheadle) and his Latina partner and lover (Jennifer Esposito) investigate a white cop who shot a black cop--these are only three of the interlocking stories that reach up and down class lines. Writer/director Paul Haggis (who wrote the screenplay for Million Dollar Baby) spins every character in unpredictable directions, refusing to let anyone sink into a stereotype. The cast--ranging from the famous names above to lesser-known but just as capable actors like Michael Pena (Buffalo Soldiers) and Loretta Devine (Woman Thou Art Loosed)--meets the strong script head-on, delivering galvanizing performances in short vignettes, brief glimpses that build with gut-wrenching force. This sort of multi-character mosaic is hard to pull off; Crash rivals such classics as Nashville and Short Cuts. A knockout.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

Mensaje  JM el Lun Ene 18, 2010 4:07 pm

980
The Passion of Christ (Mel Gibson, 2004)



After all the controversy and rigorous debate has subsided, Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ will remain a force to be reckoned with. In the final analysis, "Gibson's Folly" is an act of personal bravery and commitment on the part of its director, who self-financed this $25-30 million production to preserve his artistic goal of creating the Passion of Christ ("Passion" in this context meaning "suffering") as a quite literal, in-your-face interpretation of the final 12 hours in the life of Jesus, scripted almost directly from the gospels (and spoken in Aramaic and Latin with a relative minimum of subtitles) and presented as a relentless, 126-minute ordeal of torture and crucifixion. For Christians and non-Christians alike, this film does not "entertain," and it's not a film that one can "like" or "dislike" in any conventional sense. (It is also emphatically not a film for children or the weak of heart.) Rather, The Passion is a cinematic experience that serves an almost singular purpose: to show the scourging and death of Jesus Christ in such horrifically graphic detail (with Gibson's own hand pounding the nails in the cross) that even non-believers may feel a twinge of sorrow and culpability in witnessing the final moments of the Son of God, played by Jim Caviezel in a performance that's not so much acting as a willful act of submission, so intense that some will weep not only for Christ, but for Caviezel's unparalleled test of endurance.
Leave it to the intelligentsia to debate the film's alleged anti-Semitic slant; if one judges what is on the screen (so gloriously served by John Debney's score and Caleb Deschanel's cinematography), there is fuel for debate but no obvious malice aforethought; the Jews under Caiaphas are just as guilty as the barbaric Romans who carry out the execution, especially after Gibson excised (from the subtitles, if not the soundtrack) the film's most controversial line of dialogue. If one accepts that Gibson's intentions are sincere, The Passion can be accepted for what it is: a grueling, straightforward (some might say unimaginative) and extremely violent depiction of the Passion, guaranteed to render devout Christians speechless while it intensifies their faith. Non-believers are likely to take a more dispassionate view, and some may resort to ridicule. But one thing remains undebatable: with The Passion of the Christ, Gibson put his money where his mouth is. You can praise or damn him all you want, but you've got to admire his chutzpah.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

Mensaje  JM el Lun Ene 18, 2010 4:14 pm

981
Gegen die Wand (Head On- Fatih Akin, 2004)



Head-On, Fatih Akin's gritty drama, is like a great punk-rock song-- rough around the edges, but filled with heart. Cahit (Birol Ünel) is a middle-aged drunk whose apartment looks like the toilet in Trainspotting. Sibel (Sibel Kekilli) is a suicidal woman half his age, stuck at home with repressive relatives. They're two troubled Turks, adrift in Germany. A chance encounter at a psychiatric hospital represents a way out. If Cahit will marry her, Sibel can flee her family. They'll accept him, because he's Turkish. As for Cahit, he won't be alone anymore, left to mourn his dead wife and drink his life away. At first, things go as planned. Sibel moves into Cahit's dump and spiffs it up. The two live, eat, and party together, while continuing to see other people. Gradually, their marriage of convenience starts to resemble the real thing--until Cahit's violent tendencies get the best of him.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

Mensaje  JM el Lun Ene 18, 2010 4:17 pm

982
Bin-Jip (3-Iron- Kim Ki-Duk,2004)



Words really do get in the way in 3-Iron, a strange, poignant South Korean film from director Kim Ki-Duk (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring) in which the central character doesn't utter a single word. It's not explained why the puck never speaks, but it adds an element of mysticism to this love story that's at once humorous and disturbing. In this case, the knight in shining armor, Tae-Suk (Hee Jae) is a vagabond who supports himself by breaking into people's homes when they're on vacation. But rather than steal possessions, he cooks himself a meal, carefully washes the dishes, takes a bath, does their laundry, fixes anything broken, sleeps in their pajamas, and leaves each home spic and span. One day he trespasses on the home of a battered wife (Seung-yon Lee) who's still home. Fascinated, she leaves her husband and joins in his adventures, until one of their random break-ins gets them in trouble and the couple is forced apart.
Adding in a reliance on some stunning visuals, 3-Iron does a good job filling itself out in a non-implicit way. In this case, compliments and banter aren't needed to tell you that the pair has found a bond that no one can wrest away from them. The ending may tickle suspended reality (it's either becoming supernatural or someone's a lot more nimble than we thought), but it's still a poetic conclusion to this twisted fairy tale.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

Mensaje  JM el Lun Ene 18, 2010 4:20 pm

983
Tsotsi (Gavin Hood, 2005)



In Gavin Hood's South African drama (an Oscar winner for best foreign film), the nonactor Presley Chweneyagae plays Tsotsi, a hooded, toughened gang leader in a Johannesburg shantytown who kills for money and beats his friend for challenging his dignity. When Tsotsi shoots a woman for her car and finds that he has unwittingly absconded with her baby, he is struck with a dilemma: what to do with the baby? This would be interesting if Tsotsi's choice were not immediately clear. In a film depicting a seemingly lawless society, where women are decent and men are helpless or derelict without them, Tsotsi's painful attempts to care for an infant seem not revelatory but calculated. Curiously styled, with rap-video camera moves giving way to sensitive closeups, this reductive story of redemption milks the sentimentality, rather than the profundity, born of an extreme change of heart. In Zulu, Xhosa, and Afrikaans.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

Mensaje  JM el Mar Ene 19, 2010 2:11 pm

984
Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005)



A sad, melancholy ache pervades Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee's haunting, moving film that, like his other movies, explores societal constraints and the passions that lurk underneath. This time, however, instead of taking on ancient China, 19th-century England, or '70s suburbia, Lee uses the tableau of the American West in the early '60s to show how two lovers are bound by their expected roles, how they rebel against them, and the repercussions for each of doing so--but the romance here is between two men. Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) are two itinerant ranchers looking for work in Wyoming when they meet and embark on a summer sheepherding job in the shadow of titular Brokeback Mountain. The taciturn Ennis, uncommunicative in the extreme, finds himself opening up around the gregarious Jack, and the two form a bond that surprisingly catches fire one cold night out in the wilderness. Separating at the end of the summer, each goes on to marry and have children, but a reunion years later proves that, if anything, their passion for each other has grown significantly. And while Jack harbors dreams of a life together, the tight-lipped Ennis is unable to bring himself to even consider something so revolutionary.

Its open, unforced depiction of love between two men made Brokeback an instant cultural touchstone, for both good and bad, as it was tagged derisively as the "gay cowboy movie," but also heralded as a breakthrough for mainstream cinema. Amidst all the hoopla of various agendas, though, was a quiet, heartbreaking love story that was both of its time and universal--it was the quintessential tale of star-crossed lovers, but grounded in an ever-changing America that promised both hope and despair. Adapted by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana from Annie Proulx's short story, the movie echoes the sparse bleakness of McMurtry's The Last Picture Show with its fading of the once-glorious West; but with Lee at the helm, it also resembles The Ice Storm, as it showed the ripple effects of a singular event over a number of people. As always, Lee's work with actors is unparalleled, as he elicits graceful, nuanced performances from Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway as the wives affected overtly and subliminally by their husbands' affair, and Gyllenhaal brings surprising dimensions to a character that could have easily just been a puppy dog of a boy. It's Ledger, however, who's the breakthrough in the film, and his portrait of an emotionally repressed man both undone and liberated by his feelings is mesmerizing and devastating. Spare in style but rich with emotion, Brokeback Mountain earns its place as a classic modern love story.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

Mensaje  JM el Mar Ene 19, 2010 2:13 pm

985
Paradise Now (Hany Abu-Assad, 2005)



Two men, best friends from childhood, are summoned to fulfill their agreement to be suicide bombers for the Palestinian cause. Khaled and Said (Ali Suliman and Kais Nashef, both making striking film debuts) believe fervently in their cause, but having a bomb strapped to your waist would raise doubts in anyone--and once doubts have arisen, they respond in very different ways. Paradise Now is gripping enough while the men are preparing for their mission, but when the set-up goes awry and Khaled and Said are separated, it becomes almost excruciatingly tense. The movie passes no judgment on these men; impassioned arguments are made for both sides of the conflict. This is a work of remarkable compassion and insight, given the shape and sharpness of a skillful thriller. Its psychological portrait goes beyond the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and resonates with fanaticism and oppression throughout the world, be it related to a religious, nationalist, or tribal cause. A stunning film from writer/director Hany Abu-Assad.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

Mensaje  JM el Mar Ene 19, 2010 2:18 pm

986
Live and become (Va, vis et deviens- Radu Mihaileanu, 2005)



Live and Become or Va, Vis et Deviens is a 2005 film about an Ethiopian Christian boy who disguises himself as an Ethiopian Jew in order to escape famine and emigrates to Israel. It was directed by Romanian-born Radu Mihăileanu. It won Most Popular International Film at the 2005 Vancouver International Film Festival.
Shlomo, an Ethiopian boy, is placed by his mother with an Ethiopian Jewish woman whose child has died. This woman, who will become his adoptive mother, is about to be airlifted from a Sudanese refugee camp to Israel during Operation Moses in 1984. His birth mother, who hopes for a better life for him tells him “go, live, and become” as he leaves her to board the plane. The film tells of his growing up in Israel and how he deals with the secrets he carries, not being Jewish and having left his birth mother.


JM

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Mensaje  JM el Mar Ene 19, 2010 2:22 pm

987
Gwoemul (The Host- Bong Joon-Ho, 2006)



Aficionados of movie monsters will find things in The Host that they have been waiting to see all their lives: a monster lazily unfurling itself from the girders beneath a bridge, for instance, or a view from a moving elevated train that frames the monster as it gallops lustily across a park filled with scattering locals. If the realization of a creature were all this movie had going for it, director Bong Joon-ho would have enough to be proud of, but The Host offers more food for thought, and plenty of food for the monster. Bong creates both a deeply eccentric comedy about family and a cheeky gloss on political currents. The monster is created when a U.S. military doctor (Scott Wilson in an unnerving cameo) orders a South Korean soldier to discard chemicals into the Han River in Seoul. Sure enough, a toxic monster is born, as we see in an opening reel that is surely the most exhilarating monster intro in years. Our central figure--of the human variety, that is--is played by Song Kang-ho (who also starred in Bong's Memories of Murder), as a hilariously lazy slob who must fight to discover what happened to his daughter after she was snatched up by the creature. Along the way, the film makes some pointed cracks at the ease with which governments can exploit public fear for their own purposes, and there's some satire aimed at U.S. intervention in global affairs. The film has some serious lulls, and would have been a tighter, crazier head-rush if it were 90 minutes long instead of two hours. But in general this is a much smarter Godzilla movie than Godzilla movies ever were.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

Mensaje  JM el Mar Ene 19, 2010 2:24 pm

988
The Queen (Stephen Frears, 2006)



Helen Mirren reigns supreme in The Queen, a witty and ingenious look at a moment that rocked the house of Windsor: the week that followed the sudden death of Princess Diana in 1997. Diana's death came at just the same time that Prime Minister Tony Blair (played by the bright Michael Sheen) was settling into his new government--and trying to figure out the delicate relationship between 10 Downing Street and Queen Elizabeth II (Mirren). A large portion of the British population was trying to figure out the Windsors that week, as Elizabeth remained stiff-upper-lip and largely mum about the death of the beloved princess. In Peter Morgan's skillful script, we watch as Blair grows increasingly impatient with the Royals, who are sequestered in their Scottish estate while the public demands some show of grief. Prince Philip (James Cromwell, in good form) clumsily decides to take Diana's sons hunting, while a sympathetically-treated Prince Charles (Alex Jennings) displays some frustration with his mother's eerie calm.
None of this conveys how funny the film is, or how deftly it flows from one scene to the next. Director Stephen Frears (Dirty Pretty Things) deserves great credit for that, and for the performances, and for the movie's marvelous sense of well-roundedness; you could see this movie and groan at the cluelessness of the Royals and their outmoded existence, or you might just sympathize with showing reserve in a world that values gross public displays of emotion. But either way, you'll marvel at Mirren, who makes the Queen far more alert and human than one might ever have imagined.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

Mensaje  JM el Mar Ene 19, 2010 2:27 pm

989
Once (John Carney, 2006)



Winner of the World Audience Award at Sundance, Once starts out as a small-scale romance, like Before Sunrise, before arriving somewhere unexpected. An Irish busker (Glen Hansard, the Frames and The Commitments) meets a Czech flower seller (Markéta Irglová) while singing on the streets of Dublin. (In the credits, they're listed as Guy and Girl.) She likes what she hears and lets him know. Turns out she's a musician, too. They work on a few songs together and a friendship is forged. She lives with her widowed mother, who doesn't speak English. He lives with his widowed father, who owns a repair shop. Since he broke up with his girlfriend, the guy has been drifting, unable and unwilling to get his life in order. The girl encourages him to pursue a record deal, and the guy emerges from his funk. Then he makes a move on the girl, who rejects his advances. He's confused, but as he comes to find, there's a reason she’s keeping her distance. Though Once is filled with appealing folk-pop by Hansard and Irglová (released on CD as The Swell Season), the movie isn't a traditional musical, but rather a more optimistic Brief Encounter. Filmmaker John Carney, Hansard's former bandmate, captures the real city--in all its affluence and poverty--rather than the picture postcard version. His beautifully shot film serves as a heartfelt ballad about all the underclass Guys and Girls swept aside amidst Ireland's economic miracle.


JM

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Mensaje  JM el Mar Ene 19, 2010 2:30 pm

990
Das Leben der Anderen
(The lives of others- Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006)



Nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, this is a first-rate thriller that, like Bertolucci's The Conformist and Coppola's The Conversation, opts for character development over car chases. The place is East Berlin, the year is 1984, and it all begins with a simple surveillance assignment: Capt. Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe in a restrained, yet deeply felt performance), a Stasi officer and a specialist in this kind of thing, has been assigned to keep an eye on Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch, Black Book), a respected playwright, and his actress girlfriend, Christa-Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck, Mostly Martha). Though Dreyman is known to associate with the occasional dissident, like blacklisted director Albert Jerska (Volkmar Kleinert), his record is spotless. Everything changes when Wiesler discovers that Minister Hempf (Thomas Thieme) has an ulterior motive in spying on this seemingly upright citizen. In other words, it's personal, and Wiesler's sympathies shift from the government to its people--or at least to this one particular person. That would be risky enough, but then Wiesler uses his privileged position to affect a change in Dreyman's life. The God-like move he makes may be minor and untraceable, but it will have major consequences for all concerned, including Wiesler himself. Writer/director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck starts with a simple premise that becomes more complicated and emotionally involving as his assured debut unfolds. Though three epilogues is, arguably, two too many, The Lives of Others is always elegant, never confusing. It's class with feeling.


JM

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Mensaje  JM el Mar Ene 19, 2010 2:36 pm

991
Borat - Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
(Larry Charles, 2006)



It takes a certain kind of comic genius to create a character who is, to quote the classic Sondheim lyric, appealing and appalling. But be forewarned: Borat is not "something for everyone." It arrives as advertised as one of the most outrageous, most offensive, and funniest films in years. Kazakhstan journalist Borat Sagdiyev (Sacha Baron Cohen reprising the popular character from his Da Ali G Show), leaves his humble village to come to "U.S. and A" to film a documentary. After catching an episode of Baywatch in his New York hotel room, he impulsively scuttles his plans and, accompanied by his fat, hirsute producer (Hardy to his Laurel), proceeds to California to pursue the object of his obsession, Pamela Anderson. Borat is not about how he finds America; it's about how America finds him in a series of increasingly cringe-worthy scenes. Borat, with his '70s mustache, well-worn grey suit, and outrageously backwards attitudes (especially where Jews are concerned) interacts with a cross-section of the populace, catching them, a la Alan Funt on Candid Camera, in the act of being themselves. Early on, an unwitting humor coach advises Borat about various types of jokes. Borat asks if his brother's retardation is a ripe subject for comedy. The coach patiently replies, "That would not be funny in America." NOT! Borat is subversively, bracingly funny. When it comes to exploring uncharted territory of what is and is not appropriate or politically correct, Borat knows no boundaries, as when he brings a fancy dinner with the southern gentry to a halt after returning from the bathroom with a bag of his feces ("The cultural differences are vast," his hostess graciously/patronizingly offers), or turns cheers to boos at a rodeo when he calls for bloodlust against the Iraqis and mangles "The Star Spangled Banner."
Success, John F. Kennedy once said, has a thousand fathers. A paternity test on Borat might reveal traces of Bill Dana's Jose Jimenez, Andy Kaufman, Michael Moore, The Jamie Kennedy Xperiment, and Jackass. Some scenes seem to have been staged (a game Anderson, whom Borat confronts at a book signing, was reportedly in on the setup), but others, as the growing litany of lawsuits attests, were not. All too real is Borat's encounter with loutish Southern frat boys who reveal their sexism and racism, and the disturbing moment when he asks a gun store owner what gun he would recommend to "kill a Jew" (a Glock automatic is the matter-of-fact reply). Comedy is not pretty, and in Borat it can get downright ugly, as when Borat and his producer get jiggly with it during a nude fight that spills out from their hotel room into the hallway, elevator, lobby and finally, a mortgage brokers association banquet. High-five!


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

Mensaje  JM el Mar Ene 19, 2010 2:39 pm

992
El Laberinto del Fauno (Pan's Labyrinth- Guillermo del Toro, 2006)



Inspired by the Brothers Grimm, Jorge Luis Borges, and Guillermo del Toro's own unlimited imagination, Pan's Labyrinth is a fairytale for adults. Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) may only be 12, but the worlds she inhabits, both above and below ground, are dark as anything del Toro has conjured. Set in rural Spain, circa 1944, Ofelia and her widowed mother, Carmen (Ariadna Gil, Belle Epoque), have just moved into an abandoned mill with Carmen's new husband, Captain Vidal (Sergi López, With a Friend like Harry). Carmen is pregnant with his son. Other than her sickly mother and kindly housekeeper Mercedes (Maribel Verdú, Y Tu Mamá También), the dreamy Ofelia is on her own. Vidal, an exceedingly cruel man, couldn't be bothered. He has informers to torture. Ofelia soon finds that an entire universe exists below the mill. Her guide is the persuasive Faun (Doug Jones, Mimic). As her mother grows weaker, Ofelia spends more and more time in the satyr's labyrinth. He offers to help her out of her predicament if she'll complete three treacherous tasks. Ofelia is willing to try, but does this alternate reality really exist or is it all in her head? Del Toro leaves that up to the viewer to decide in a beautiful, yet brutal twin to The Devil's Backbone, which was also haunted by the ghost of Franco. Though it lacks the humor of Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth represents Guillermo Del Toro at the top of his considerable game.


JM

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Mensaje  JM el Mar Ene 19, 2010 2:43 pm

993
The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006)



Martin Scorsese makes a welcome return to the mean streets (of Boston, in this case) with The Departed, hailed by many as Scorsese's best film since Casino. Since this crackling crime thriller is essentially a Scorsese-stamped remake of the acclaimed 2002 Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs, the film was intensely scrutinized by devoted critics and cinephiles, and while Scorsese's intense filmmaking and all-star cast deserve ample acclaim, The Departed is also worthy of serious re-assessment, especially with regard to what some attentive viewers described as sloppy craftsmanship (!), notably in terms of mismatched shots and jagged continuity. But no matter where you fall on the Scorsese appreciation scale, there's no denying that The Departed is a signature piece of work from one of America's finest directors, designed for maximum impact with a breathtaking series of twists, turns, and violent surprises. It's an intricate cat-and-mouse game, but this time the cat and mouse are both moles: Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) is an ambitious cop on the rise, planted in the Boston police force by criminal kingpin Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a hot-tempered police cadet who's been artificially disgraced and then planted into Costello's crime operation as a seemingly trustworthy soldier. As the multilayered plot unfolds (courtesy of a scorching adaptation by Kingdom of Heaven screenwriter William Monahan), Costigan and Sullivan conduct a volatile search for each other (they're essentially looking for "themselves") while simultaneously wooing the psychiatrist (Vera Farmiga) assigned to treat their crime-driven anxieties.
Such convenient coincidences might sink a lesser film, but The Departed is so electrifying that you barely notice the plot-holes. And while Nicholson's profane swagger is too much "Jack" and not enough "Costello," he's still a joy to watch, especially in a film that's additionally energized by memorable (and frequently hilarious) supporting roles for Alec Baldwin, Mark Wahlberg, and a host of other big-name performers. The Departed also makes clever and plot-dependent use of cell-phones, to the extent that it couldn't exist without them. Powered by Scorsese's trademark use of well-chosen soundtrack songs (from vintage rock to Puccini's operas), The Departed may not be perfect, but it's one helluva ride for moviegoers, proving popular enough to become the biggest box-office hit of Scorsese's commercially rocky career.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

Mensaje  JM el Mar Ene 19, 2010 2:50 pm

994
Apocalypto (Mel Gibson, 2006)



Forget any off-screen impressions you may have of Mel Gibson, and experience Apocalypto as the mad, bloody runaway train that it is. The story is set in the pre-Columbian Maya population: one village is brutally overrun, its residents either slaughtered or abducted, by a ruling tribe that needs slaves and human sacrifices. We focus on the capable warrior Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood), although Gibson skillfully sketches a whole population of characters--many of whom don't survive the early reels. Most of the film is set in the dense jungle, but the middle section, in a grand Mayan city, is a dazzling triumph of design, costuming, and sheer decadent terror. The movie itself is a triumph of brutality, as Gibson lets loose his well-established fascination with bodily mortification in a litany of assaults including impalement, evisceration, snakebite, and bee stings. It's a dark, disgusted vision, but Gibson doesn't forget to apply some very canny moviemaking instincts to the violence--including the creation of a tremendous pair of villains (strikingly played by Raoul Trujillo and Rodolfo Palacias). The film is in a Maya dialect, subtitled in English, and shot on digital video (which occasionally betrays itself in some blurry quick pans). Amidst all the mayhem, nothing in the film is more devastating than a final wordless exchange of looks between captured villager Blunted (Jonathan Brewer) and his wife's mother (Maria Isabel Diaz), a superb change in tone from their early relationship. Yes, this is an obsessive, crazed movie, but Gibson knows what he's doing.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

Mensaje  JM el Mar Ene 19, 2010 2:55 pm

995
Little Miss Sunshine (Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris, 2006)



Pile together a blue-ribbon cast, a screenplay high in quirkiness, and the Sundance stamp of approval, and you've got yourself a crossover indie hit. That formula worked for Little Miss Sunshine, a frequently hilarious study of family dysfunction. Meet the Hoovers, an Albuquerque clan riddled with depression, hostility, and the tattered remnants of the American Dream; despite their flakiness, they manage to pile into a VW van for a weekend trek to L.A. in order to get moppet daughter Olive (Abigail Breslin) into the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. Much of the pleasure of this journey comes from watching some skillful comic actors doing their thing: Greg Kinnear and Toni Collette as the parents (he's hoping to become a self-help authority), Alan Arkin as a grandfather all too willing to give uproariously inappropriate advice to a sullen teenage grandson (Paul Dano), and a subdued Steve Carell as a jilted gay professor on the verge of suicide. The film is a crowd-pleaser, and if anything is a little too eager to bend itself in the direction of quirk-loving Sundance audiences; it can feel forced. But the breezy momentum and the ingenious actors help push the material over any bumps in the road.


JM

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Re: 1001 films you must see before you die Part XVI: 2000-2007

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