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|William S. Wilson||
Posted: Mar 3 2009, 06:06 PM
Member No.: 8
Joined: 17-October 04
Well, here they are! The results for the Unofficial Mobius 2008 Poll.
A few thanks first. First, thanks to Erik Nelson for having done this for years and kindly passing the baton (remote?) to me when he couldn't this year. Second, thanks to master moderator Marty McKee for giving me the okay to do this. Finally, thanks to everyone who sent in their votes. In the end, there were 22 individuals who voted, flying past the bar of 20 votes I set in the last few hours. Sure, the Rondos get thousands of votes, but we are all about quality over quantity here at Mobius!
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN – 115
THE DARK KNIGHT – 80
WALL-E – 65
THE BANK JOB – 61
THE WRESTLER – 60
BURN AFTER READING – 57
IRON MAN – 52
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE – 52
RAMBO – 45
MILK – 44
HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY – 41
ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD – 38
MAN ON WIRE – 37
TRANSSIBERIAN – 32
THE VISITOR – 26
TELL NO ONE – 23
THE PUNISHER: WAR ZONE – 21
ROLE MODELS – 20
THE ORPHANAGE – 19
THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE – 19
THE CHASER – 18
VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA – 18
DIARY OF THE DEAD – 17
EDEN – 15
THE FALL – 15
FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL – 15
THE HOME SONG STORIES – 15
GRAN TURINO – 15
REVOLUTIONARY ROAD – 15
SPEED RACER – 15
SUMMER HOURS – 15
WOMAN ON THE BEACH. – 15
APPALOOSA – 14
BIGGER STRONGER FASTER – 14
CHRISTMAS TALE – 14
ELEGY – 14
THE FALL – 14
FIREPROOF – 14
IN BRUGES – 14
PINEAPPLE EXPRESS – 14
THE WAY WE ARE – 14
AUSTRALIA – 13
THE EDGE OF HEAVEN – 13
THE INCREDIBLE HULK – 13
JESUS CHRIST SAVIOUR – 13
JOHN ADAMS – 13
MOTHER OF TEARS – 13
STUCK – 13
WAR, INC. – 13
BE KIND, REWIND – 12
BLINDNESS – 12
CHANGLING – 12
CLOVERFIELD – 12
GENERATION KILL – 12
INDIANA JONES & THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL – 12
THE MIST – 12
SECRET SUNSHINE – 12
CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN – 11
CJ7 – 11
DEAR ZACHARY: A LETTER TO A SON ABOUT HIS FATHER – 11
FINE, TOTALLY FINE – 11
MAMMA MIA – 11
MY WINNEPEG – 11
SPARROW – 11
TIME CRIMES – 11
TROPIC THUNDER – 11
BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD – 10
4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, AND 2 DAYS – 10
A GENTLE BREEZE IN THE VILLAGE – 10
BLIND MOUNTAIN – 10
CHOCOLATE – 10
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE WEIRD – 10
KING OF KONG – 10
MUAY THAI CHAIYA – 10
QUANTUM OF SOLACE – 10
RACHEL GETTING MARRIED – 10
SHOTGUN STORIES – 10
STREET KINGS – 10
BEAST STALKER – 9
BOARDING GATE – 9
FLIGHT OF THE RED BALLOON – 9
HUNGER – 9
LOVE AND HONOR – 9
SON OF RAMBOW – 9
TAXI TO THE DARKSIDE – 9
AFFINITY – 8
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON – 8
DEFINITELY, MAYBE – 8
THE LAST WINTER – 8
MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS – 8
WALTZ WITH BASHIR – 8
FOUR CHRISTMASES – 7
MAD DETECTIVE – 7
PASSAGE – 7
REDBELT – 7
ROGUE – 7
THE STRANGERS – 7
TOWELHEAD – 7
A BLOODY CANVAS – 6
CHOP SHOP – 6
DOOMSDAY – 6
IP MAN – 6
PARANOID PARK – 6
SARKAR RAJ – 6
SOUTHLAND TALES – 6
MUMBAI MERI JAAN – 5
|William S. Wilson||
Posted: Mar 3 2009, 06:07 PM
Member No.: 8
Joined: 17-October 04
2008 DVD RELEASES:
ICONS OF HORROR: HAMMER (Sony) – 72
THE BUDD BOETTICHER COLLECTION (Columbia) – 56
RODAN/WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS (Classic Media) – 39
BEYOND THE DOOR (Code Red) – 38
DIRTY HARRY: ULTIMATE COLLECTION box set (Warner) – 33
WHITE DOG (Criterion) – 33
THE INGLORIOUS BASTARDS (Severin) – 31
THE SKULL (Paramount/Legend) – 31
PIECES (Grindhouse) – 30
TOUCH OF EVIL BOXSET (Universal) – 29
THE DARK KNIGHT (Warner; Blu-Ray) – 26
VAMPYR (Criterion) – 25
THE GODFATHER COLLECTION: THE COPPOLA RESTORATION (Paramount) – 24
BLAST OF SILENCE (Criterion) – 23
LE DEUXIÉME SOUFFLE (Criterion) – 23
ICONS OF ADVENTURE: HAMMER (Sony) – 23
HOW THE WEST WAS WON (Warner) – 23
DRIVE-IN CULT CLASSICS VOL. 1 (BCI/Eclipse) – 22
THE EARRING OF MADAME DE… (Criterion) – 22
THE SCARECROW OF ROMNEY MARSH (Disney) – 22
HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY multi-disc set (Universal) – 21
THE NAKED PREY (Criterion) – 21
THE FRIGHTENED WOMAN (Shameless) – 20
EL CID (Miriam Collection) – 19
42ND STREET FOREVER, VOLUME 3: EXPLOITATION EXPLOSION (Synapse) – 19
THE FURIES (Criterion) – 17
THE BILL DOUGLAS TRILOGY (Facets) – 15
LE FEMME PUBLIQUE (Mondo Vision) – 15
GEORGES MELIES: FIRST WIZARD OF CINEMA (1896-1913) - DVD (Flicker Alley) – 15
THE LAST EMPEROR (Criterion) – 15
MURNAU, BORZAGE AND FOX BOX SET (20th Century Fox) – 15
ROGUE (Dimension Extreme) – 15
THE WARLORDS (Media Asia) – 15
DRIVE-IN CULT CLASSICS VOL. 3 (BCI/Eclipse) – 14
ECLIPSE SERIES 10 - SILENT OZU (Criterion) – 14
JEAN LUC GODARD – 4 FILM COLLECTION (Lionsgate) – 14
LAND OF PROMISE: THE BRITISH DOCUMENTARY MOVEMENT 1930-1950 (BFI Video) – 14
PLANET OF THE APES: 40 YEAR EVOLUTION (Blu-ray) (Fox) – 14
TOWARD THE TERRA Pt. 1 (Vol. 1-2) (Bandai Entertainment) – 14
HELLO! PROJECT 2008 WINTER LIVE DVD BOX (Hachama) – 14
THE THIRD MAN (Criterion; Blu-Ray) – 14
ULTIMATE HITCHCOCK COLLECTION (St. Clair) – 14
ECLIPSE SERIES 8 – LUBITSCH MUSICALS (Criterion) – 13
INFERNAL AFFAIRS (Mega Stars; Blu-ray) – 13
JAMES STEWART – THE WESTERN COLLECTION (Universal) – 13
THE MIST - 2 disc (Genius Products) – 13
PHASE IV (Paramount/Legend) – 13
SAVAGE STREETS (BCI Eclipse/Brentwood) – 13
THE VAL LEWTON HORROR COLLECTION (Warner) – 13
BALLAD OF NARAYAMA (Animeigo) – 12
HIGH AND LOW (Criterion Re-Issue) – 12
IN THE FOLDS OF THE FLESH (Severin) – 12
JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE NEW FRONTIER (Warner) – 12
LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION vol. 6 (Warner) – 12
LA NOTTE (Eureka) – 12
POPEYE, THE SAILOR vol. 2 & 3 (Warner) – 12
WALL-E (Disney) – 12
WORLD WITHOUT END/co-feature (Warner) – 12
BLACK CAT (Fortune Star) – 11
BOTTLE ROCKET (Criterion) – 11
DOCTOR WHO: SERIES FOUR box (BBC Warner) – 11
FISTFUL OF DYNAMITE (United Artists) – 11
MAN OF THE WEST (United Artists) – 11
MANNIX: THE 1ST SEASON (Paramount) – 11
THE SMALL BACK ROOM (Criterion) – 11
SPARROW (Tai Seng) – 11
BATMAN: THE MOVIE (Blu-ray) (Fox) – 10
BOARDING HOUSE (Code Red) – 10
CLASSE TOUS RISQUES (Criterion) – 10
FLASHMAN (Fin de siecle media; Sweden PAL R2) – 10
FOX WESTERN CLASSICS (20th Century Fox) – 10
INSIDE (Dimension Extreme) – 10
LADY WHIRLWIND (Fortune Star) – 10
THE STEVE REEVES COLLECTION (Retromedia) – 10
SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET 2 disc (Dreamworks) – 10
THE UNSEEN (Code Red) – 10
L’ARGENT (Eureka [Masters of Cinema Spine # 40]) – 9
THE FALL (Sony) – 9
MERMAIDS OF TIBURON/co-feature (VCI) – 9
PRIVLEDGE (New Yorker) – 9
SCHOOLGIRL REPORT vol. 8 & 9 (Impulse) – 9
STONE (Severin) – 9
UTA DOKI! POP CLASSICS Vol. 12 (2008) – 9
ZODIAC - The Director's Cut 2 disc set (Paramount) – 9
ALAIN DELON – 5 FILM COLLECTION (Lionsgate) – 8
THE BACKWOODS (Lionsgate) – 8
BRAND UPON THE BRAIN (Criterion) – 8
DOCTOR WHO: THE SEA DEVILS (BBC Warner) – 8
FIVE FILMS BY DARIO ARGENTO (Anchor Bay) – 8
MARCO FERRERI: THE COLLECTION (Koch Lorber) – 8
THE VISITOR (Anchor Bay) – 8
POKEMON MOVIE 10: THE RISE OF DARKRAI (Viz Media) – 8
THE ULTIMATE MATRIX COLLECTION (Warner; Blu-Ray) – 8
BELLE TOUJOURS (New Yorker) – 7
DIGITAL VIDEO ESSENTIALS: HD BASICS (DVD International; Blu-ray) – 7
EASY LIVING (Universal) – 7
JUDEX/NUITS ROUGE (Eureka) – 7
NIGHT GALLERY: SEASON 2 (Universal) – 7
KILLER’S MOON (Redemption) – 6
QUARK: THE COMPLETE SERIES (Sony) – 6
TRAFFIC (Criterion) – 6
This post has been edited by William S. Wilson on Mar 4 2009, 10:42 AM
|William S. Wilson||
Posted: Mar 3 2009, 06:08 PM
Member No.: 8
Joined: 17-October 04
Terry Barhorst, Jr.
Saw these at Fantastic Fest 2008. I think they're all worthy for one reason or another.
MUAY THAI CHAIYA
THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE WEIRD
THE DARK KNIGHT * * * 1/2
IN BRUGES * * * 1/2
THE WRESTLER * * * 1/2
RAMBO * * * 1/2
MAMMA MIA * * * 1/2
THE ORPHANAGE * * *
IRON MAN * * *
DEFINITELY, MAYBE * * *
FOUR CHRISTMASES * * *
My favorite theatrical films of 2008:
CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN
RACHEL GETTING MARRIED
My favorite DVDs:
DRIVE-IN CULT CLASSICS VOL. 1 (BCI/ECLIPSE)
DRIVE-IN CULT CLASSICS VOL. 3 (BCI/ECLIPSE)
ICONS OF HORROR: HAMMER (Sony)
WORLD WITHOUT END/co-feature (Warner)
HOW THE WEST WAS WON (Warner)
THE STEVE REEVES COLLECTION (Retromedia)
MERMAIDS OF TIBURON/co-feature (VCI)
ICONS OF ADVENTURE (Hammer pirate films) (Sony)
THE SCARECROW OF ROMNEY MARSH (Disney)
THE SKULL (Paramount/Legend)
2008 FAVORITE MOVIES
1. Transsiberian – Brad Anderson
2. Ne le dis à personne/Tell No One – Guillaume Canet
3. Burn after Reading – Joel & Ethan Coen
4. Encounters at the End of the World – Werner Herzog
5. My Winnipeg – Guy Maddin
6. Street Kings – David Ayers
7. Boarding Gate – Olivier Assayas
8. The Last Winter – Larry Fessenden
9. Bank Job – Roger Donaldson
10. Southland Tales – Patrick Kelly
Appaloosa – Ed Harris
Mr. Lonely – Harmony Korine
The Dark Knight – Christopher Nolan
Quantum of Solace – Marc Forster
Doomsday – Neil Marshall
Gran Torino – Clint Eastwood
Please be Kind Rewind – Michel Gondry
Mother of Tears – Dario Argento
The Walker – Paul Schrader
Hellboy II: The Golden Army – Guillermo del Toro
Youth without Youth – Francis Ford Coppola
Death Sentence – James Wan
War, Inc. – Joshua Seftel
Mongol – Sergei Bodrov
Sukiyaki Western Django – Takashi Miike
Payback: Straight Up Director’s Cut – Brian Helgeland
El orfanato/The Orphanage – Juan Antonio Bayona
In Bruges – Martin McDonagh
Christmas on Mars – Wayne Coyne, Bradley Beesley, George Salisbury
Diary of the Dead – George Romero
Valkerie – Bryan Singer
Taken - Pierre Morel
Hell Ride – Larry Bishop
I’ve Always Loved you – Phillipe Cludel
DID NOT SEE
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - David Fincher
The Wrestler - Darren Aronofsky
2008 DVD Favorites
1. The Films of Budd Boetticher - Budd Boetticher (Sony)
2. Blast of Silence - Allen Baron (Criterion)
3. Infernal Affairs - Andrew Lau, Alan Mak (Mega Stars - Region A Hong Kong - Blu-ray)
4. In the Folds of the Flesh - Sergio Bergonzelli (Severin)
5. Femina Ridens - Piero Schivazappa (Shameless - UK PAL R2)
6. Flashman - Mina Loy (Fin de siecle media - Sweden PAL R2)
7. The Naked Prey - Cornel Wilde (Criterion)
8. Brand upon the Brain - Guy Maddin (Criterion)
9. White Dog - Sam Fuller (Criterion)
10. The Furies - Anthony Mann (Criterion)
Salo - Piero Paulo Pasolini (Criterion)
Mafioso - Alberto Lattuada (Criterion)
Botttle Rocket - Wes Anderson (Criterion - Blu-ray)
La Deuxieme Souffle - Jean-Pierre Mellevile (Criterion)
The Inglorious Bastards - Enzo G. Castellari (Severin)
Touch of Evil - Orson Welles (Universal)
Red Cliff I - John Woo (Hong Kong Mei Ah Entertainment Blu-ray)
Best films seen in theaters in 2008
THE BANK JOB
Jason Statham leads a caper team. Based on fact, so there’s no cars flying out of ten-story parking garages or Jackie Chan-style leaps from rooftops through windows. Which is fine with me. For a movie like this, I just want to see believable characters faced with a set of problems and applying their skills to solve that set of problems.
A western. Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen are quick-fingered lawmen-for-hire and stand up to a passel of bad hombres, led by the great Jeremy Irons, which grows at some point to include the even greater Lance Henriksen. With these four, you didn’t really need much of a plot, but, fortunately, there happens to be a good one on hand anyway.
PUNISHER: WAR ZONE
Delirious 1970s style gorefest with lots of action, over-the-top violence, completely demented lunatic behavior, and heavy doses of black humor. Enacted by a cast who all look and sound just like they’re supposed to. 2008’s PLANET TERROR.
INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL
Cartoon-style Indy caper that tells me right at the top what kind of film it’s going to be and then sticks to its word. (Cate Blanchett’s excellent Natasha Fatale impression and the hilarious refrigerator-in-a-nuke-test gag send a very clear—and highly intentional—signal.) That’s all I ask.
Stephen Chow’s variation on ET, with a girl playing his son. Chow's first film since KUNG FU HUSTLE. Cute, charming, clever, original, touching, funny. The film SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE tried so hard to be—and failed miserably.
Best DVDs released in 2008 (that I happened to see):
THE WARLORDS (Hong Kong/2007) 2-disc set from Media Asia/Mega Star. Peter Chan’s epic about a Chinese civil war in the 1860s, starring Jet Li and Andy Lau and loosely derived from Chang Cheh’s 1973 kung fu film, BLOOD BROTHERS. See my Amazon review:
TOWARD THE TERRA Pt. 1 (Vol. 1-2) eps. 1-8, Bandai Entertainment. Japanese animated space science fiction TV series that played in Japan in 2007. Based on a classic manga that was made into a wonderful animated movie in 1980. See my Amazon review:
HELLO! PROJECT 2008 WINTER LIVE DVD BOX (Japan/2008/4-disc set/Hachama) All three of Hello! Project’s winter concerts in one box set. Plus an entire disc of backstage footage. Morning Musume is one of the acts. Sheer pop music joy. See my Amazon review:
JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE NEW FRONTIER (2008) –American feature-length animation based on a comic book. Why can’t we see these in theaters? I prefer films like this to all the CGI animation we’re inundated with. (And yes, that means YOU, WALL-E and KUNG FU PANDA!)
BLACK CAT (Hong Kong/1991) – Fortune Star Legendary Collection – the HK action classic (based on Luc Besson’s LA FEMME NIKITA) in a new DVD edition. See my Amazon review:
LADY WHIRLWIND (Hong Kong/1972) - Fortune Star Legendary Collection. Angela Mao kung fu classic in a new legit edition. See my Amazon review: http://www.amazon.com/Lady-Whirlwind-Remas...=cm_cr-mr-title
UTA DOKI! POP CLASSICS Vol. 12 (2008) Some of my favorite J-pop girls (Nacchi, Yuko, Yossi, Risa) sing solos or duets of J-pop oldies. Yossi and Rika (from YO YO GIRL COP) team up to sing TM Network’s “Get Wild,” the anime theme song from “City Hunter.” Does it get better than this? No. Here’s the YouTube link to this song:
POKEMON MOVIE 10: THE RISE OF DARKRAI (Japan/2008) dubbed/Viz Media. The tenth annual Pokemon movie. Not one of the best Pokemon movies, but still head and tail above just about anything else animated for children these days.
10) Chop Shop. The American Slumdog Millionaire. No, not hardly, but if that gets you to rent it I’ll have done my job and you won’t mind the misinformation. A realistic slice-of-immigrant-life set in the repair shops and garbage dumps of Willets Point, Queens is the second, excellent film from Ramin Bahrani, after Man Push Cart. He makes invisible lives, hidden in plain sight, tangible.
9) The Visitor. The way more commercially successful Gran Torino is like the McCain response to this more nuanced, waiting-for-Obama drama, with Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins suddenly confronting the immigrant underclass, and doing his bit to relieve the war on terror waged upon them.
8) Waltz with Bashir
7) Wall-E. Not top-notch Pixar, but satisfying enough to fill a slot for now. It might have been better as an expanded short (the first half is extremely good, then a certain forgivable slack sets in).
6) The Wrestler. For Mickey. For Marisa. And for a morose New Jersey in winter, bleary tableaus of dead-end dime stores and last-chance strip clubs. (What exit? No exit.) Darren Aronofsky specializes in movies most people only want to see once, but this one I’d revisit. The final image haunts me still.
5) Milk. This may need to be higher on this list, but I can’t get it to work. I have list loathing. But the Oscars weren’t wrong.
4) Hellboy II: The Golden Army. The only fully satisfying fantasy picture of the year, and a surprise, given how lukewarm I was about the first installment. Creating the astonishing Pan’s Labyrinth must have given Guillermo Del Toro greater confidence, and a freer hand. I’d follow him anywhere, and look forward like a squealing fanboy to The Hobbit.
3) Let the Right One In. This Swedish vampire film sinks its teeth in deep and never lets go. It left me drained, and wanting more. The American remake is to be viewed with crosses at the ready.
2) Elegy. A film that Penelope Cruz (and Ben Kingsley) should have been nominated for, a gripping pairing (from a Philip Roth novella) that came in under the radar. Catch it March 17 on DVD.
1) Man on Wire. The Oscar nominee never slips off the tightrope. I was enthralled.
1) The Last Emperor (Criterion)
2) Touch of Evil box set (Universal)
3) Icons of Horror: Hammer (Columbia)
4) The Budd Boetticher Collection (Columbia)
5) The Furies (Criterion)
6) Rodan/War of the Gargantuas (Classic Media)
7) El Cid (Miriam)
8) Rogue (Dimension)
9) The Earrings of Madame De... (Criterion)
10) White Dog (Criterion)
Some modifications from my picks for DVD Beaver's poll:
1. Le Femme Publique BUY from Amazon! (Andrjez Zulawski, 1984) Mondo Vision; R0
2. Jean-Luc Godard - 4 film collection (Jean Luc Godard, various), LionsGate; R1
3. Icons Of Horror: Hammer Films BUY from Amazon! (Terence Fisher, Seth Holt, et al., 2 Discs) Sony; R1
4. The Skull BUY from Amazon! (Freddie Francis, 1965) Legend Films; R1
5. Vampyr (Carl Dreyer, 1932) Criterion R0
6. Beyond the Door BUY from Amazon! (Ovidio G. Assonitis, 1974) Code Red; R1
7. The Frightened Woman BUY from Amazon! (Piero Schivazappa, 1969) Shameless; R2
8. Alain Delon – 5-Film Collection BUY from Amazon! (Various, 1967-1984) Lionsgate; R1
9. Belle Toujours BUY from Amazon! (Manoel de Olivera, 2006) New Yorker; R1
10. Killer’s Moon BUY from Amazon! (Alan Birkinshaw, 1977) Redemption; R0
1. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
Quiet until it roars, reserved until its heart breaks, gentle until it lunges for our throats, Let The Right One In has modestly arrived from Sweden to redefine and conquer the vampire genre. If you haven't caught this one yet, it hits R1 DVD on March 10th. Get a copy, tune out the hype, open a bottle of something red, and let this chilly landscape of the walking wounded sweep over you.
2. SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
A crazy rush of blazing images, breathing new life into age-old themes regarding love, fate, and the triumph of the underdog. I need a whiff of pure oxygen like this once in a while: filmmaking with an almost delirious zealotry towards the possibilities of the medium. Much like Boyle's Trainspotting and 28 Days Later, I think this is going to have a big influence on movies for a number of years.
3. THE WRESTLER
A real surprise, despite the advance hype. Both Randy The Ram and Mickey Rourke simultaneously cut open their hearts, stretching themselves out vulnerable and exposed to their respective audiences. It's almost too painful a meta-performance to bear, but you can't look away. Rourke and the whole cast define everything that's best about modern film acting. Do not miss.
4. THE DARK KNIGHT
What more could I say about this one? The Godfather II of Super-Hero cinema is here to stay. Only time will tell how influential this beast is gonna be. Or if Nolan and Co can ever top it.
5. HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY
The most amazing-looking Hollywood studio film of 2008, gorgeous colors accenting a canvas that's continually dense with wondrous imagery. As I wrote here at Mobius back in July, it's a banquet. In a current climate of shaky camerawork and quick edits, it's a treat to see del Toro's old school craftsmanship in bringing all this to life. All of it backdrop for such a sweet, simple and goofy tale of love and friendship in the face of armageddon. And hell, I'll say it: Perlman is just pure gold in this role. Give him one more round with del Toro.
6. BURN AFTER READING
Not even a year after the bitter pill of No Country For Old Men, the Coens come back to give us dessert with the funniest movie of the year. It's a swirling pit of self-imporant schmucks, always blind in their pursuit of security and significance, colliding and tearing at each other while trapped in this espionage non-adventure. Much like how The Dude saw himself as Philip Marlowe in Big Lebowski, all these fools think they are the Gene Hackman/Michael Caine master spook hero of some Ludlum escapade. Everyone in the cast is on fire here, all hitting home runs. Screw Benjamin Button. This is the Brad Pitt I want to see more often.
7. TELL NO ONE
Film noir steeped in paranoia and the almost helpless desperation of its protagonist. A modern French classic that finally has made its way to the States. Hitchcock woulda been proud.
8. IRON MAN
Alongside Dark Knight, this will be a summer movie template for years to come. A special effects blockbuster that puts its cast and characters before spectacle, earning its laughs and thrills. Here's hoping Marvel doesn't drop the ball on a fantastic start to a franchise.
9. VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA
Woody Allen's meditation on the compromises that keep life and relationships from from ever fully satisfying a passionate heart, coated with a delicious layer of sunshine, skin, and honey. Cruz easily earns her Oscar. Let's hope Woody uses Rebecca Hall again soon. Vicky Christina is going to grow in popularity with DVD, and it's a shame the romantic sex comedy genre won't rise to meet it.
Just when it was safe to go back through your windshield, Amicus returns with a new grindhouse classic from Stuart Gordon. Stephen Rea finds an unlikely career high playing the unluckiest guy in the world, steadfast in his determination not to give up, even when pinned against shredded glass. Haunt your local Blockbuster and see if you can nab a used copy of their Stuck (far more extras than the general retail version). This one's nasty. And I love it.
THE SIGNAL, WALL-E*, VALKYRIE, TRANSSIBERIAN, FEAR(S) OF THE DARK
*Had it not been for that third act, WALL-E might have shot to the top of my list.
Honorable Mention For Best TV Production:
DOCTOR WHO: Silence In The Library / Forest Of The Dead
Imagine a time traveller from your future was the love of your life, only now to find him when he was too young, before he had first travelled to meet you, before he ever knew your face. And you could never tell him how much he meant to you, because such knowledge could have disasterous effect on all the shared moments from your past and his future. Alex Kingston perfectly captures this tortured heartbreak in this two-part sci-fi classic penned by Steven Moffat. His unhinged imagination extends to a deserted planet-wide library haunted by ravenous shadows, contemplation of our final moments of consciousness before death, and even meta-commentary on the effect of editing in television drama. Silence In The Library/Forest Of The Dead is some of the very best television entertainment I've ever come across and rightfully deserves a place over most cinema releases of this year.
1. HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY multi-disc set
Del Toro delivers a gorgeous DVD set with a long buffet of extras to match his visual feast of a sequel. The documentary is a 2 1/2 hour behemoth against which all others should be judged, taking us from the first production meeting (no furniture yet, everyone on the floor) through the many months in Budapest creating all those stunts and effects. Quite appropriately, there are several extra galleries to cover the various levels of production design. Del Toro, as always, gives good commentary, apologizing for invading your home with his nasty voice before launching into a verbose and detailed account of his visual approach to storytelling and how it was achieved.
2. HAMMER FILMS: ICONS OF HORROR COLLECTION
Ahh, my lovely little yellow Hammer Horror set! You've rescued a Gorgon who's waited over 40 years in a vault to scare the crap out of me in luscious Technicolor. You bring me Susan Strasberg, a midnight brunette angel of licorice blacks and peppermint whites. You even make bad Mummy movies look good. Damn you! Let me alone! You're too amazing to tear my eyes away.
3. THE MIST 2 disc
The new boogeyman of my collection. The one I have to steel myself to watch. The one I warn friends about before showing. Now even more frightening and classic in the new black and white transfer. Backed up with enough tasty extras to keep me coming back to this nest of cobras.
4. Akira Kurosawa's HIGH AND LOW (Criterion Re-Issue)
Finally! After waiting for years for Criterion to replace the murky first release, High And Low has returned in the gorgeous, extras-laden version it always deserved. Kurosawa's at the peak of his abilities here, delivering one of cinema's greatest police/crime thrillers... and a personal all-time fave.
5. DOCTOR WHO: SERIES FOUR box
The first TV Season in years that was just irresistible for me on DVD. It's a handsome package that welcomes repeat dips into the adventures of The Doctor and Donna Noble. A somewhat smaller than usual portion of extras (and a tedious commentary track or two) can't dim the charge one gets from the creative team's enthusiasm, expressed in nearly 3 hours of bonus documentaries.
6. SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET 2 disc
This film is so brilliantly realized, it gets this fan foolishly wishing Hammer studios had mounted gothic horror musicals like this back in the day. Images to die for and a powerfully orchestrated score that rumbles impressively out of your speakers, with more extras than you can slash a razor at.
7. ZODIAC - The Director's Cut 2 disc set
One of the best Hollywood productions in ages just got a little bit better. An ambitious two-disc set tries to cover a lot of bases involving both the film and the true case, only hobbled by some truly batty editing choices in the documentaries. One of those DVDs you're bound to see in most film geek collections for the next 5-10 years.
8. DOCTOR WHO: THE SEA DEVILS
Also available as part of the Beneath The Surface box set, this is quite an impressive package. Just about every aspect of the production is covered in the extras, supporting an all-time classic Pertwee-era adventure. And what a time capsule! Between the bizarro electronic score and Katy Manning's fashion ensemble, were the early 70s ever more hilariously out there?
9. THE SKULL
This year's Mobius-endorsed classic horror blind buy was instantly addictive eye candy. Well worth getting for those thundery nights, when you're hiding in the dark in front of the tube, and wanting nothing more perfectly satisfying than shivering along with Cushing's drift through The Skull's nightmare landscape.
10. (A TIE)
HAMMER FILMS: ICONS OF ADVENTURE COLLECTION
Bodice-tearing Adventure! Starring ladies' man Michael Ripper! Oh, and that Chris Lee guy is pretty good too. Despite some lackluster extras and what was easily the worst DVD cover from a major company last year, this set is a lot of fun. Hopefully, gorgeous vault negative transfers like these are a taste of what's to come from Sony.
RODAN/WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS
Twin monsters each in two different versions of two kaiju flicks on a two disc set, a great package that is compromised by cramming two lame duck transfers in with the good stuff. Oh well. I still love this set, a testament to kaiju special effects at their finest. That entertaining documentary alone makes me hesitate to complain too much.
DVD STINKER OF THE YEAR: Warner's Standard-Def transfer of THE DARK KNIGHT
Gee, guys. It's only the most popular movie in years and your biggest earner for '08. Would it hurt to not make it look like some 1997 ass-tacular artifact zone?
THEATRICAL TOP TEN
The number of films I've missed this year is astonishing; first I missed my annual indulgence at the NZ Film Festival due to travel, then after so many years of keeping up, I looked at this year's Oscarbait, let out a meh, and decided I'd rather stay home and catch up on THE SHIELD. It doesn't help that NZ often only gets some films in crappy digital presentations (why I missed MAN ON WIRE), or that I've been in Dunedin for four months and some films only play Auckland (why I missed LET THE RIGHT ONE IN), or that films like RACHEL GETTING MARRIED and THE WRESTLER still haven't opened here. Anyway, enough kvetching.
(I based this on movies that had their theatrical screening in the US in 2008, even though I'm based in NZ. I saw 2 of these films in 2007 as a result, but that's the only way I could get a list I'd stand behind.)
1. WOMAN ON THE BEACH. I can't argue that Hong Sang-Soo is the best filmmaker working - though I'm tempted to - but of all the modern-day masters, he's the one I relate to most. His exquisitely framed wide shots and intricate structures elevate what sound like basic social comedies in a thumbnail description to a completely unexpected level. Saw this in October 2007 at a Korean Film Festival, and left a more indelible mark than anything I saw this year.
2. THE FALL. Cursed with a pretentious-looking poster and marketing scheme, I was in no way prepared for how immediate, glorious, and wonderful this film was. If I saw this when I was a teenager, it could have been my favorite film ever; as it was, it was a glorious world to get lost in, and if Blu-Ray ever drops their onerous region coding (and/or someone makes an affordable all region player), it'll be the first title I buy.
3. WALL-E. Not much to say, other than that on a second viewing the antics on the ship really dragged. But the first half of this film is still one of the most daring and glorious big-budget experiments I've ever seen.
4. ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD. I'm sure MAN ON WIRE is as good as everyone says, but I'm still bitter Herzog didn't get to speak at the Oscars. To be fair, though, I don't esteem this as highly as WILD BLUE YONDER or GRIZZLY MAN; nonetheless, I'm happy to follow him to the end of the world and back, and after the misfire of RESCUE DAWN (imo) it's nice to see him back in documentary-land.
5. BURN AFTER READING. Why this has got the short end of the stick completely and utterly baffles me. So many great performances, lines, and moments, in a perpetually funny and surprising script. And hopefully John Malkovich returns for another Coen Brothers film; they're a perfect match.
6. 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, AND 2 DAYS. Possibly the best scene of the year: sitting at the table at the dinner party for a long, long time. Also possibly the greatest closing line of the year, which I won't ruin for anyone who hasn't seen this. Put aside your preconceptions if you think this is an issue film (I think it's even better seen if you have no idea what the issue is); this is at heart a suspense film, and an artful stunner of one.
7. FLIGHT OF THE RED BALLOON. I wish I deeply loved Hou Hsiao-Hsien's films. Even my favorites (this and THREE TIMES) leave me a little outside of them, recognizing their beauty and genius from afar. But the stunning craft on display here is too impeccably beautiful to ignore, at least for me.
8. ROLE MODELS. So I like laughing. Anything wrong with that?
9. THE STRANGERS. Worried this will fall apart on a second viewing, but on a first viewing it was one legitimately scary piece of filmmaking. That hallway scene, skipping Gillian Welch, the pantry ... nice use of wideshots. It has its problems and I won't deny them, but would that more horror films worked in this register.
10. PARANOID PARK. Saw this back in 2007 and was unsure about the unruly mix of music cues and the acting styles; over time, the many moments of visual poetry have remained burned in my head, and now I wonder if it's the zenith of Van Sant's achievement. Most likely to rise on a second viewing.
This was an odd year for movies. More than half of the movies I expected to make this list either didn't quite measure up once I saw them or they were pushed off by films I knew nothing about beforehand or didn't expect would make it. While I got to see a lot of what I really wanted to last year, there were a couple I just wasn't able to make it to that had a good chance at being on this list.
1) THE FALL - I loved this movie and saw it a couple of times in the theater. Beautifully shot and imagined and the film that I think was the absolute best of last year. I thought it wasn't eligible for the Academy Awards since it was made in 2006 but when I saw that it was actually on the official eligibility list, I was surprised that there wasn't even one nomination for this film. The art direction, design, and cinematography were phenomenal.
2) WALL-E - Pixar has always been at the top of their game and this film is no exception. The animation was incredible and it was hard at times to not "see" certain parts as filmed models even though I knew they weren't. Wall-E is one of the cutest and sweetest characters to come along in a while and there were such great little moments with him and Eve. This film is a prime example of how a story can be told with few words and it truly stands out above other animated, and even many live-action, films. Pixar is unlike any other company around.
3) LET THE RIGHT ONE IN - This is a film I went to with very little knowledge of what it was going to be about. I'd read a bit of a review and was hooked enough to give it a shot. It was one of those films that just blew me away and I left the theater thinking to myself over and over "What a great fucking movie." I immediately got the score and kept thinking about the film for days. It was such a refreshing change in what I hate to call the "vampire" genre.
4) SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE - This was one of those movies that I loved every aspect of. Cinematography, Editing, Acting, Writing, etc... -- it really just all came together so well.
5) DEAR ZACHARY: A LETTER TO A SON ABOUT HIS FATHER - This movie crushed me. Holy crap, I don't think there's been a film or documentary that has moved me so much. This was such a tragic topic to begin with and some of the turns it takes throughout are just heartbreaking. I know this would have moved me heavily before I had my son, but having a three-year-old and seeing this just makes it much more emotional. If you see this film, you will be saddened and angered by what happens in ways that you probably haven't felt in a long time, if ever.
6) MAN ON WIRE - This was just such a fun documentary. Philippe Petit is great to watch just by himself but to see the scope of his plan and the way it was carried out is just incredible. The director uses recreations of the events in an extremely effective way to really help you understand the way things were at that time for Petit and his crew without it feeling like those cheesy "dramatizations" you see on Dateline. The whole thing flows extremely well between the actual people involved telling the story, the recreations, and real footage/photos from it all. I highly recommend it to anyone.
7) SON OF RAMBOW - Wow, what an unexpected surprise. This came to our Indy theater during its tiny limited release last year and I was so glad to have caught it. I knew practically nothing about it and walked out loving it. It reminded me of MILLIONS with the imagination, heart, and the two great child actors it had in it place. Very well done all-around.
8) THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON - This is one I had to think about for a while. There were a lot of wonderful moments and the film was extremely well done but there was something about it that just kinda kept me from loving it. I work quality assurance for a studio at a handful of theaters and so in downtimes, I'll peek into a movie I've seen and rewatch parts of it. It was in doing so with this film that I was able to appreciate certain moments by themselves. It reminded me of the sections of the movie that worked so well and took the focus off of the parts that didn't. In thinking back to the film as a whole, it's not something that I was telling people they HAD to go see in a theater RIGHT NOW as I did with LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, The FALL, and WALL-E. But when I think of moments along the way and various pieces of this long life that was shown, there were some striking and poignant parts and the movie was very worth seeing.
9) THE VISITOR - I finally caught this one recently and it makes the list, though there are a couple of others I could have substituted here and almost did. Richard Jenkins does a fantastic job and uses the whole length of the movie to slowly grow out of the lonely and disconnected man we see him start off as. It's a very subtle change that happens over the course of the events that transpire and his performance really makes the film so much better. The rest of the cast is great and the pacing and music of the film work really well.
10) FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL/ROLE MODELS - I'm including these two in a tie because I couldn't decide which to use. If it messes up the numbers, I'd be fine with either being chosen. Both are hilarious, well-cast, and touch on emotions that lead to some very nice moments. I wish there were more comedies of this nature and a lot less of the EPIC MOVIES and the like.
Honorable Mention that almost made it: THE WRESTLER. Also great were MILK and ROCKNROLLA.
This post has been edited by William S. Wilson on Mar 3 2009, 07:31 PM
|William S. Wilson||
Posted: Mar 3 2009, 06:09 PM
Member No.: 8
Joined: 17-October 04
1 Summer Hours
2 Christmas Tale
3. War, Inc.
4. Be Kind, Rewind
5. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
6. Quantum of Solace
7. The Bank Job
8. My Blueberry Nights
10. Mother of Tears
1. Touch of Evil
2. Ultimate Hitchcock Collection
3. James Stewart Western Collection
4. How the West was Won - restored
5. Bottle Rocket (Criterion)
6. El Cid
7. Icons of Horror (Sony Hammer Collection)
8. Five by Dario Argento set
9. Easy Living
10. Dirty Harry Collection
Anyway, what follows is my top ten cinema for 2008 - a DVD list will follow later if I can find the time.
10 A BLOODY CANVAS
Fascinating documentary about an incredible boxing match that took place in Dublin on St Patrick's Day while the civil war raged in the streets outside.
Canadian/Scottish documentary which uses a truly inventive mash-up of documentary and drama to suggest that the accepted story of who discovered the North West Passage (and how) is rather less than true.
I don't often go to the cinema to see family flicks, or indeed watch them much at all, but I'm glad I did here.
Dramatisation of the IRA hunger strikes. Not pleasant to watch but breathtaking all the same, especially for the now-famous conversation scene showcasing the talents of Fassbender and Cunningham.
6 KING OF KONG
Excellent documentary showcasing the battle of good versus evil in the cut-throat world of arcade games.
Mindbending Spanish time-travel sci-fi/horror which is just as delightful on repeat viewings.
4 MAN ON WIRE
It won the Oscar, so I didn't have to kill anyone, but really this should have been a Best Picture nomination.
3 JESUS CHRIST SAVIOUR
Documentary about Kinski's evangelical tour in the 70s. Nothing flashy, but Kinski alone keeps you glued to the screen.
I couldn't pick between them, so I'm declaring it a tie this year. Joint top spot goes to THE DARK KNIGHT and EDEN. Couldn't be more opposite really - a blockbusting, multi-million dollar, record-breaking, Oscar-nominated, star-studded, two-and-a-half-hour superhero comic book adaptation versus a low budget 80-minute Irish drama about a failing marriage based on a stage play, which as yet hasn't even been released in this country. But they both left me leaving the cinema knowing exactly why I love watching films.
(I should also say that when I did this for my blog I had numbers 3 & 4 taken up by the short films ATLANTIC and JANEY MARY, but I figured that's getting a bit obscure even by Mobius standards - but I wanted to give them an honorable mention anyway!)
It almost isn't worth compiling a DVD list since I've scaled back my purchasing so much over the last year or so, but I had to send a top two(!) anyway, just because these are worth shouting about!
2) LAND OF PROMISE: THE BRITISH DOCUMENTARY MOVEMENT 1930-1950
Four discs of old documentaries from famous and less than famous British documentaries courtesy of the BFI. I never realised that an old black and white documentary piece about tenement slums could be so engaging!
1) THE BILL DOUGLAS TRILOGY
BFI release again, featuring the three incredible films about a boy growing up in a poor post-war mining village outside Edinburgh. The career (or lack of it) of Bill Douglas is one of cinema's big what-ifs but this is probably the single greatest piece of Scottish cinema ever.
Top 10 DVDs of 2008 (in alphabetical order):
1. DIRTY HARRY ULTIMATE COLLECTOR’S EDITION (Blu-ray) (Warner Bros.)
For a Clint Eastwood fan like me, this box set is as good as it gets. All five of Clint’s Dirty Harry features—DIRTY HARRY, MAGNUM FORCE, THE ENFORCER, SUDDEN IMPACT, and THE DEAD POOL—collected in luscious 1080p prints and accompanied by extras. The downside is that Eastwood doesn’t appear to have been at all involved in the set, leaving it up to various screenwriters, directors, critics, and producers to provide interviews and audio commentaries. Richard Schickel’s DIRTY HARRY and James Fargo’s ENFORCER tracks are of particular interest. The box also includes reproduced lobby cards, a neat hardcover book, and other knickknacks; my favorite may be the reproduction of Harry’s SFPD badge inside a leather wallet!
2. PLANET OF THE APES: 40 YEAR EVOLUTION (Blu-ray) (Fox)
This is one incredibly handsome box set with some of the best DVD packaging I’ve ever seen—a hardback cover that folds open to find the discs and a nice 200-page hardcover book about the film franchise. All five original PLANET OF THE APES are included in terrific 1080p prints, along with isolated musical scores for each film and many other bonus features. Also included is the essential 126-minute (!) BEHIND THE PLANET OF THE APES documentary, previously released on DVD, that covers everything Ape, including the shortlived TV series and Saturday morning cartoon. The packaging is longer than most DVDs and may not fit perfectly on your shelf, but this set deserves a unique place of honor in your home anyway.
3. SAVAGE STREETS (BCI Eclipse/Brentwood)
Who would have ever believed SAVAGE STREETS would receive a remastered DVD release, a 2-disc special edition, no less, with three commentary tracks? BCI certainly deserves a lot of thanks for this project, which demonstrates class and care right down to the packaging, which includes various poster art and different stills on the box and on the slipcover. Something of a Holy Grail among trash film fans is the commentary with director Danny Steinmann, something of a mysterious cult figure, based on his relatively small output (just four genre films, one of a pornographic nature) and the fact that he seemed to have disappeared for a long time. Steinmann is candid and often funny watching SAVAGE STREETS for the first time, since he left the picture during post-production and was not involved in the scoring or even some reshoots. The best of Linda Blair's '80s exploitation movies, the sick and brutal revenge drama stars the 25-year-old Oscar-nominated actress as a juvenile delinquent who gets back at the vile gang that raped her deaf-mute sister. It’s sleazy, but made with some thought and care.
4. THE NAKED PREY (Criterion)
I waited thirty years to see this thrilling Africa-lensed adventure in its original aspect ratio, and Criterion’s meticulous DVD made it well worth the wait. I have loved this film, which stars its director, Cornel Wilde, in a brutal, vivid take on THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME, since the first time I saw it on TV as a kid. Through numerous TV airings and VHS rentals, I grew to appreciate the film more and more, but never thought I would ever get to see it looking and sounding so marvelous.
5. MANNIX: THE 1ST SEASON (Paramount)
One of TV’s all-time best private-eye shows gets a very nice treatment on DVD. What’s really great about this MANNIX collection is that the first season has rarely—if ever—been seen in syndication since it first aired in 1967-1968. Although this series, which stars Mike Connors as a tough-talking, two-fisted P.I., really hit its stride a few years later, these episodes really crackle with snappy dialogue, smart camerawork, jazzy music, good mysteries, and a great performance by Connors. It is also great to see Connors and co-star (for this season only) Joe Campanella reunited for the bonus features, which include an audio commentary, an interview, and audio introductions by Mannix himself. Season 2 has been already announced, and I expect to pick up the entire series, as long as Paramount puts ‘em out.
6. BATMAN: THE MOVIE (Blu-ray) (Fox)
I really don’t plan on upgrading often to Blu-ray on titles I already own on DVD, but I had to make the effort with BATMAN, the 1966 feature film version of the short-lived smash hit TV series. It’s amazing the way some films made a decade ago look like crap on DVD, and something like BATMAN looks as though it could have been filmed yesterday. I thought the DVD was outstanding, but the colors and detail on Fox’s Blu-ray disc are Pow Sock Wham out of this world. It carries over the cool extras for the DVD, and adds several more in 1080p, including an audio commentary by writer Lorenzo Semple Jr to accompany the Adam West/Burt Ward track from the DVD. I’d rather watch this dopey, vivid campfest than a Chris Nolan Batman movie anytime.
7. ICONS OF ADVENTURE (Sony)
Sony’s similar ICONS OF HORROR collection would have made this list, I imagine, if I had picked it up. This 2-disc set contains four of Hammer Films’ more obscure action movies, all but one starring Christopher Lee. Most impressive are the two color pirate movies, THE PIRATES OF BLOOD RIVER and THE DEVIL-SHIP PIRATES, which are great fun, despite their landlocked (low-budget) nature. The lurid THE STRANGLERS OF BOMBAY and the pulpy TERROR OF THE TONGS are almost as good. Sony deserves extra credit for putting way more work into this set than could have been expected with the addition of commentary tracks for each film and many other bonus features. I’d love to see this much effort going into presenting other Hammer movies.
8. 42ND STREET FOREVER, VOLUME 3: EXPLOITATION EXPLOSION (Synapse)
I love old drive-in trailers so much that I have compiled a couple dozen of them for my own entertainment, mixing remastered trailers on the latest DVDs to crackly full-frame spots that began old VHS tapes. Don May and his team of experts have put together this mix of horror, sci-fi, crime, comedy, thriller, and other genre previews on a single disc, all remastered and in their original aspect ratios, that is a must-have. If you need to know how distributors lured paying customers to see Andy Sidaris, Corman, Cannon, and kung fu flicks, among others, check this disc out. Volume 4 was released earlier this year; it and Volume 3 have an entertaining, informative audio commentary to complement the trailers.
9. INGLORIOUS BASTARDS (Severin)
No doubt in anticipation of Quentin Tarantino’s loose upcoming remake, Severin gave this Italian WWII flick the deluxe treatment, lavishing three discs on the set, including a soundtrack CD. The film is not great and certainly not among the best offerings of its director or stars, but it’s good, violent fun. I enjoyed the making-of documentary, which finds Bo Svenson and Fred Williamson in good humor. QT’s interview with director Enzo Castellari is probably the highlight, even if the interviewer does more talking than the interviewee does.
10. QUARK: THE COMPLETE SERIES (Sony)
Only eight episodes of this 1977 sitcom were filmed, and whoever thought they’d someday be available for you to own on DVD? Buck Henry created this STAR WARS spoof in a GET SMART vein, and filled it with wry humor, silly wordplay, and smarmy sex gags that mostly hold up thirty years later. Richard Benjamin stars as the captain of a garbage scow that travels through outer space getting into goofy adventures that nearly always parody a specific sci-fi film or TV series. No bonus features, but the opportunity to revisit this critically acclaimed blast from the past is enough.
My Top Ten Feature Films of 2008:
1. IRON MAN
2. PINEAPPLE EXPRESS
4. THE VISITOR
5. THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE
6. HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY
7. FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL
10. ROLE MODELS
My Bottom Five of 2008:
1. KILL SWITCH
3. RETURN TO SLEEPAWAY CAMP
4. INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL
5. THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR
Didn’t see enough good films in the theatre to make a proper list, so my DVD listing will have to do.
1. The Earrings of Madame De…: The single best film I saw all year.
2. Le Deuxieme Souffle: Consider me a Melville fiend and this a serious fix!
3. The Dark Knight: Seeing it on DVD reveals some of the faults that were submerged within the spectacle of the theatrical viewing experience, but its still one of the year’s best and a watershed film for comic adaptations.
4. Wall - E
5. Sparrow: A welcome change of pace from Johnnie To’s typical output, not that I mind the usual fare, I hasten to add. Beautifully shot with a lovely (and whimsical) score, its no masterpiece, but it is seriously entertaining.
6. Hammer Films Icons of Horror Collection (The Two Faces of Dr. Jeckyll, The Gorgon, Scream of Fear, The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb)
7. The Fall
8. The Visitor: Some have criticized this as being a glorified made-for-tv movie and I can’t say that I disagree. However, the subject matter hit close to home for me, as a co-worker’s husband was deported in much the same fashion. A few months later, she died of pancreatic cancer. This stuff really happens. Excellent work by Richard Jenkins.
9. Night Gallery Season Two: Loads of fun. Much better than Season one. Its comforting that old school fare can still summon up a few scares among the younger members of my family.
10. Hellboy 2
Honorable mentions: Iron Man, In Bruges, Fox Western Classics (Rawhide, The Gunfighter, Garden of Evil), Pineapple Express, The Detective, Burn After Reading, Om Shanti Om, Dark City: Director’s Cut, Vicky Christina Barcelona
1. Let the Right One In
4. Burn After Reading
5. The Bank Job
7. The Orphanage
8. Diary of the Dead
1. Borzage/Murnau box
2. Boetticher box
3. Val Lewton box
4. La Notte (R2 restored)
5. Fistful of Dynamite
6. Classe Tous Risques
8. Ferreri box
9. Judex/Nuits Rouges
10. Godfather restoration
|William S. Wilson||
Posted: Mar 3 2009, 06:10 PM
Member No.: 8
Joined: 17-October 04
Brandon Crawford Smith:
I saw more movies at the cinema than I have been able to do over the past few years – and many of my favorite new films/works of cinema for the year never played in a theater near me. I offer a top nine instead of a top ten and the titles presented in order of preference (top #1 to bottom#9):
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN – In a good year for the vampire mythos (TRUE BLOOD and TWILIGHT both re-invigorated interest in the subject), I would never have imagined that a vampire film centering on pathos and pre-teens would be the best damn vampire film I've ever seen.
ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD – Another one of Herzog's windows into another world. This world happens to be populated by interesting people, bizarre underwater creatures, and a delusional penguin.
JOHN ADAMS (miniseries) – This one was made for (and by) American history buffs and presents a fairly balanced portrayal of the least glamorous founding father and his family. The attention to detail in its presentation of colonial life and the historical accuracy of the storytelling is inspiring.
GENERATION KILL (miniseries)- HBO strikes again – anyone familiar with THE WIRE should know the layers of obscenity, honesty, brutality, and complexity that producers David Simon and Ed Burns can bring to screen; fans of THE WIRE will not be disappointed in their adaptation of Evan Wright's experience as an embedded reporter during the opening of the war in Iraq in 2003.
THE DARK KNIGHT – Top notch entertainment. (Enough said.)
BLIND MOUNTAIN – Thanks to a recommendation by Wade Sower's on the Asian board – I caught Li Yang's BLIND SHAFT (the story of a couple of dangerous con men operating in the Chinese coal mining industry) and was blown away. BLIND MOUNTAIN is another great expose of the “New China” and explores how the “One Child” policy has led one rural village to “import” (kidnap) brides for the young men living in the village. The film follows one such bride who attempts to find a way out of her bondage. It is hard to believe that the Chinese government allowed this film to see the light of day – and apparently there were many cuts imposed on the film and a different ending was filmed for domestic release.
TRANSSIBERIAN – A (not-completely) solid thriller that Hitchcock would probably have considered as a guilty pleasure – a couple of glaring plot holes and a completely unnecessary final scene definitely spoil the Americans in-over-their-heads on a Beijing to Moscow train ride. This is the best “dork” that Woody Harrelson has put on the screen since CHEERS – I'd almost forgotten how well he can play gullible...
WALL-E – Quite an achievement in storytelling; however, I don't think it holds up on repeated viewings (at least is has not for me). The novelty of the first viewing disappears when I began to notice just how drab and dingy Pixar made planet Earth appear – couldn't they have picked some better shades of brown? How about raw umber or maybe a nice red tinted rust?
TOWELHEAD – A complex portrayal of the sexual awakening and exploitation of a fifteen year old girl – and her ensuing refusal to remain a victim. Strong performances by Summer Bishil, Chris Messina, Aaron Eckhart, and Toni Collette lift this film far above its movie of the week premise and Alan Ball does an admirable job of telling this story without exploitation. Not a great film, but definitely not the typical Hollywood approach to this subject matter.
For the record, I was not impressed with PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, QUANTUM OF SOLACE, SNOW ANGELS, MISTER LONELY, and MOTHER OF TEARS.
DVD (and Blu-Ray) Releases
BUDD BOETTICHER COLLECTION – I've been pining for this collection since I saw a demonstration of the restoration of THE TALL T and COMANCHE STATION in 2001. (A new process had been developed to digitally “restore” those horrible CRI optical transitions that plague many color films of the fifties and sixties.) The bonus materials are excellent and three out of five of the films are bona fide classics of the western genre.
THE THIRD MAN (Blu-ray) – The first 1.33:1, and black and white I've watched on Blu-ray – color me impressed. I now know that I will be double dipping on many black and white films that I already own on dvd – at least all of the Criterions (come on WAGES OF FEAR and SEVEN SAMURAI).
THE DARK KNIGHT (Blu-ray) – I only noticed the shifting aspect ratios on my second home video viewing! Great looking disc and – again – a damn fine film.
BALLAD OF NARAYAMA – Fascinating glimpse into the village life of rural, medieval Japan – and a really great film. The otherworldliness of the culture presented here makes Kurosawa's films (the ones set during the same era) seem like they were American productions.
THE SMALL BACK ROOM – included here for the final – extremely taught – ten minutes. Great filmmaking.
FOX WESTERN CLASSICS – Primarily included in the list for the great GARDEN OF EVIL with Richard Widmark, Gary Cooper, Cameron Mitchell, and Susan Hayward rambling through the rough county inland from Vera Cruz. However, THE GUNFIGHTER with Gregory Peck is a good film as well. (I must admit that I have yet to see RAWHIDE).
LE DEUXIÉME SOUFFLE – From the great opening prison escape to preparing a rendezvous point for an ambush – Melville delivers one of the great French noir films. One of the things that I most enjoy about Melville's crime films is that the cops usually much bigger bastards than the criminals.
WHITE DOG – not a great film, but I have been wanting to see it for many years and I've been listening to the soundtrack for a few. I do think it would have been a better film with Jodie Foster, Billy Dee Williams, and Lee Marvin...
DIGITAL VIDEO ESSENTIALS: HD BASICS (Blu-ray) – The disc that keeps giving.
10 Favorite Films of 2008!
10. THE INCREDIBLE HULK
9. THE MOTHER OF TEARS
8. THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE
7. GEORGE A. ROMERO'S DIARY OF THE DEAD
5. BURN AFTER READING
3. IRON MAN
2. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
1. SPEED RACER
10 Favorite DVDs & Blu-Rays!
DAVID LYNCH - THE LIME GREEN SET (Absurda) - What would otherwise have been the clear winner here is shot in the foot by requiring purchase of a hundred dollars worth of DVDs that Lynch obsessives already own, to get one's hands on the single most fascinating disc of the year.
10. TRAFIC - DVD (Criterion)
9. The GODFATHER Collection - The Coppola Restoration - Blu-Ray (Paramount)
8. The Ultimate MATRIX Collection - Blu-Ray (Warner)
7. SCHOOLGIRL REPORT Vol. 3/4 - DVD (Impulse)
6. BOARDING HOUSE (Code Red)
5. 42nd STREET FOREVER, VOL. 3: EXPLOITATION EXPLOSION - DVD (Synapse)
4. LOONEY TUNES Golden Collection, Vol. 6 - DVD (Warner)
3. RODAN/ WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS - DVD (Classic Media)
2. VAMPYR -DVD (Criterion)
1. GEORGES MELIES: FIRST WIZARD OF CINEMA (1986-1913) - DVD (Flicker Alley)
1) THE HOME SONG STORIES (Australia, 2007)
Chinese-Australian filmmaker Tony Ayres’ poignant drama about a troubled woman and her two children (who, for all the trauma in their childhood, managed to turn out okay) is a semi-autobiographical work that feels so very painfully personal as well as true that it’s the kind of movie I'd consider a masterpiece and am very glad to have viewed, yet probably won't want to watch again. Part family drama, part immigrant story, it is seriously compelling – thanks in large part to its possessing a bravura performance by Joan Chen (who won the Golden Horse Best Actress award over LUST, CAUTION’s Tang Wei for it) along with good work by all else involved.
2) THE WAY WE ARE (Hong Kong, 2008)
A small budget work whose only big names are directing doyen Ann Hui and prize-winning cinematographer Charlie Lam (and whose lead actress, Bau Hei-Jing, is better known for being Oscar winning cinematographer Peter Pau's sister), this “slice of life” offering is a drama that never gets overly dramatic -- and is all the better for this being so yet also yields some wonderfully amusing moments. As Ann Hui proceeds to methodically paint richly detailed portraits of the kind of individuals -- a middle-aged grocery store worker, her quiet teenage son and a lonely grandmother -- who don't often get spotlighted, in real as well as reel life, what results is a film infused with a sense of great humanity as well as humility; one that may sound boring but actually is never mundane and, in fact, turns out to be immensely watchable.
3) THE EDGE OF HEAVEN (Germany-Turkey, 2007)
German-Turkish director-scriptwriter Fatih Akin comes up with yet another involving, interesting drama that’s full of humanity, and peopled with characters that felt oh so very real. To read more of my thoughts on this film, follow the following link to a review that begins with the following paragraph:-
It’s not often the majority of a Hong Kong cinema’s audience stay seated as a film’s end credits roll but that really was the case at the screening of The Edge of Heaven I attended. And while it’s true enough that this probably was in part because we were waiting – in vain, as it turned out – to see one final scene that would bring this thoroughly absorbing drama to a conventional close, I was also reluctant to say goodbye to movie characters who had come across as so real and, more often than not, likeable…
4) THE MIST (USA, 2007)
I’m not usually a fan of horror. And I’m often the kind of person who prefers to wait and watch horror movies – if I do at all – in the comfortable environs of home rather in a place where I feel less able to escape like a cinema. But I made an exception with this Frank Darabont scripted and helmed work, and I’m glad I did so – even though the film about a small town that comes under threat from various terrifying beings most definitely had me squirming in my seat more than once. A horror work which shows that people can be as horrifying as the supposed monsters, it has a great (i.e., appropriate, thought-provoking, etc.) ending that stays with you long after you exit the theatre back into “reality”.
5) FINE, TOTALLY FINE (Japan, 2008)
On the surface, this quirky first feature offering from Yosuke Fujita is a piffle of a movie -- with hardly any major dramatics and, also, no bad guys, no scenes involving sex or eye-catching violence, etc. And its three main characters (a trio of 20-something-year-olds) are neither major achievers nor majorly delinquent folk as well. But in this film, the seemingly trivial and mundane can become very interesting, and individual eccentricities provide the grist for absolutely hilarious storylines and guffaw-inducing visual gags. Utterly good natured and without a mean bone in its body, this is the kind of movie that gives Japanese cinema -- and, I'd even venture to say -- Japanese culture a truly good name.
6) BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD (USA, 2007)
As the proverbial ‘they’ say, the devil is in the details. With every detail feeling ever so authentic, veteran filmmaker Sidney Lumet shows what a masterfully directed film looks like – one whose devilishly intriguing story about two brothers who plan a robbery of their parents' literally mom and pop jewellery store unfolds in a manner that is thoroughly involving and gripping; which is why even when you want to look away at times from the emotional and physical carnage that gets wrought, you can’t but stay all the way to the bitter end.
7) BEAST STALKER (Hong Kong, 2008)
Packed with stunning action scenes but also interesting characters and a more than solid cast, Dante Lam’s movie about a cop, a kid and a kidnapper who fate brings together on more than one occasion is enjoyably tight, taut and tension-filled. What truly seals my sense of this crime drama as an excellent piece of cinema though is its possession of a really good script (by director Lam and Jack Ng), one that comes complete with an end coda that ties together the movie's many narrative strands in a way that sent shivers down my spine.
8) THE CHASER (South Korea, 2008)
Remember when South Korean cinema was supposed to be the next big thing in world cinema? Those days are gone but every once in a while, a gem still pops up from that part of the world; only this time with much less hype and general publicity. A runaway hit in its native land, I really do think that it’d be a crying shame if this gritty crime drama about a cop turned pimp who runs into a serial killer goes unnoticed by viewers elsewhere. With fine acting (particularly from its lead, Kim Yun-seok), many unexpected yet believable twists in a superficially conventional tale, this first feature film from director-scriptwriter Na Hong-jin really is a super work whose multiple coda successfully takes the story to an enthrallingly emotional climax.
9) THE INCREDIBLE HULK (USA, 2008)
For many people, BATMAN RETURNS and IRON MAN were the superhero movies of 2008. I’m not truly out to be a contrarian but, what can I say other than THE INCREDIBLE HULK was the Hollywood superhero movie of 2008 for me. An immensely enjoyable adaptation of a comic series that turned out to be infused with heart and humanity, it had me bouncing with joy as I exited the theatre post my viewing it.
And for any interested party, here’s more from me re this film at the following:-
10) IP MAN (Hong Kong-Mainland China-Japan, 2008)
This Wilson Yip period actioner about the wing chun master hitherto best known as Bruce Lee's sifu seems bent on making him out to be a legendary individual akin to another real life martial arts master, Huo Yuanjia (FEARLESS), and the latter's student, Chen Zhen (portrayed by Bruce Lee in FIST OF FURY, then Jet Li in FIST OF LEGEND) rather than tell a truer story of the man. It also has the kind of one-dimensional characters that would be laughable if they weren't so negative. So why, then, is it on my top ten movies list? Because, purely and simply, the action on display in it really rocks! Inventively choreographed by Sammo Hung and confidently executed by the likes of Donnie Yen, Fan Siu Wong and Chen Zihui, the scenes also look to have been masterfully shot and edited. Consequently, the fierce beauty of the martial arts comes through in an adrenaline pumping way that I found thoroughly satisfying as well as fabulously exciting!
Top ten movies of 2008:
THE DARK KNIGHT
THE BANK JOB
THE PUNISHER: WAR ZONE
Top 10 DVD releases of 2008:
BEYOND THE DOOR (Code Red)
THE INGLORIOUS BASTARDS (Severin)
DIRTY HARRY: ULTIMATE COLLECTION box set (Warner)
THE GODFATHER COLLECTION: THE COPPOLA RESTORATION (Paramount)
INSIDE (Dimension Extreme)
BLAST OF SILENCE (Criterion)
THE BACKWOODS (Lionsgate)
ROGUE (Dimension Extreme)
THE SKULL (Legend Films)
my top picks
Disney Treasures: Dr. Syn alias The Scarecrow
Eclipse: Silent Ozu
Eclipse: Lubitsche musicals
Warners: Fleischer Popeye vol 2 & 3
Warners/MGM: Man Of The West
Classic Media: Rodan/War of the Gargantuas
Eureka: L'Argent (MoC 40)
Guess that's all I can come up with now.
1. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
2. BIGGER STRONGER FASTER
3. THE DARK KNIGHT
4. SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
5. THE WRESTLER
6. THE BANK JOB
7. TAXI TO THE DARKSIDE
8. HELLBOY II
2. BEYOND THE DOOR
3. PHASE IV
4. WHITE DOG
5. THE INGLORIOUS BASTARDS
6. THE UNSEEN
8. DRIVE-IN CULT CLASSICS VOL. 1
1. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
2. SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
4. SECRET SUNSHINE
6. A GENTLE BREEZE IN THE VILLAGE
7. LOVE AND HONOR
9. MAD DETECTIVE
10. SARKAR RAJ
11. MUMBAI MERI JAAN
|William S. Wilson||
Posted: Mar 3 2009, 06:17 PM
Member No.: 8
Joined: 17-October 04
Some quick personal thoughts. I was honestly shocked to see LET THE RIGHT ONE IN hit the no. 1 spot as I thought THE DARK KNIGHT had it locked for sure. I believe anyone who voted for it had it in their top three. It marks the first time since 2006 when a subtitled film took the top spot (KUNG FU HUSTLE) and is the first time a film released by an independent studio has topped the list.
Also pleasantly surprising was the performance of THE BANK JOB. And if you need any further example of why I love Mobius, check out John Rambo and Harvey Milk hanging out together ("My name is John Rambo and I'm here to recruit yooooou.") You won't see that on a professional critics top ten.
The DVD selections were more varied and it came right down to the last few votes. For the longest time, the top spot was held by BEYOND THE DOOR, which probably would have made Marty's head spin. But then the HAMMER HORROR box set took over and there was no looking back.
Thanks again to everyone who voted. Not only was it fun to tally the votes and read your thoughts, but now I have tons of stuff I need to see!
This post has been edited by William S. Wilson on Mar 3 2009, 07:02 PM
|Terry Barhorst, Jr.||
Posted: Mar 3 2009, 06:24 PM
Member No.: 66
Joined: 18-October 04
You never got my second pm did you? Ah well....
|William S. Wilson||
Posted: Mar 3 2009, 06:37 PM
Member No.: 8
Joined: 17-October 04
Never got a second one from you Terry and I did wonder because you said it would be coming in a bit. If you want to send it again, I can adjust the DVD list accordingly.
Posted: Mar 3 2009, 06:58 PM
Member No.: 776
Joined: 30-April 06
Awesome. It's always great to see what people enjoy and how much things can vary here. Thanks for taking the time to put this together, William.
Posted: Mar 3 2009, 07:37 PM
Member No.: 687
Joined: 20-March 05
Very interesting results. Thanks for taking the time to compile all of this, Will.
I probably would've included the Hammer ICONS OF HORROR set if I'd thought about it. There were a lot of great DVDs released in 2008...hard to narrow it down to just ten. Any year that sees deluxe DVD editions of PIECES and BEYOND THE DOOR is a great one. If Code Red gets their long-completed THE VISITOR (1979) released at some point, all will be right in my world.
Thanks again, Will.
Posted: Mar 3 2009, 08:00 PM
Member No.: 165
Joined: 23-October 04
Thanks very much to William for undertaking this. I hope the work was offset by the pleasure of seeing the various lists come in - that was always a kick for me. The two lists are the best I've seen anywhere, knocking out my previous favorites Kim Morgan's list on the Sunset Gun blog and the Video Watchblog lists.
Posted: Mar 3 2009, 08:39 PM
Member No.: 111
Joined: 20-October 04
William, thanks so much for taking this on and keeping the tradition going. And also for being so gracious in dealing with all the last minute errors and hiccups that are bound to happen with this process.
I wasn't too surprised by the top picks. I figured it would be Let The Right One In, The Dark Knight, and/or Slumdog Millionaire, based on the amount of talk they generated around here. Same goes for the Hammer Films: Icons Of Horror set. Much like with Casino Royale a couple years back, I knew that not everyone would vote #1, but just about everyone would vote for 'em. The Bank Job was surprising and I will definitely have to rent that one. Also, I think The Mist and Zodiac: Director's Cut were both hurt by coming out so early in '08, especially the latter being released in January. Will this January's Michael Powell double feature set also be forgotten? Hope not!
Thanks to all Mobians who contributed. This was a lot of fun.
|Terry Barhorst, Jr.||
Posted: Mar 3 2009, 09:45 PM
Member No.: 66
Joined: 18-October 04
Thanks, but that ship has sailed...I'll be more careful next year.
Posted: Mar 4 2009, 04:11 AM
Member No.: 194
Joined: 26-October 04
William great job!
I really missed the boat on my DVD picks, when I look at all the great ones other folks selected, but which failed to make my list. That's what I get trying to make my DVD list late Sunday night.
I also, unfortunately, didn't have an opportunity to see LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, but have pre-ordered th Blu-ray disc.
FYI, William, FEMINA RIDENS and THE FRIGHTENED WOMAN are the same film, so the Shamelss DVD should have 20 points.
Thanks, again, GREAT JOB!
"Don't ever tell anybody that they're not free, 'cause then they're gonna get real busy killin' and maimin' to prove to you that they are. Oh, yeah, they're gonna talk to you, and talk to you, and talk to you about individual freedom. But they see a free individual, it's gonna scare 'em."
|William S. Wilson||
Posted: Mar 4 2009, 10:41 AM
Member No.: 8
Joined: 17-October 04
Damn you movies with foreign titles! Don't they know English is the only good language? Thanks for the info; it is updated.
Posted: Mar 4 2009, 01:09 PM
Member No.: 361
Joined: 4-November 04
Thanks again for your efforts William, once again a fascinating list. You know, if time and money were no object, trying to watch every film on the Mobius end-of-year poll would certainly make for an interesting film experience.
My only thoughts on reading the list are first of all, I can't believe I forgot to include The Naked Prey, specifically after raving about discovering it and closing my opening post in the thread I started about it with "I think I can start compiling my "best DVDs of 2008" list already."
And it also makes me really annoyed that I have now managed to fail to see Let the Right One In on at least four separate festival trips now. I'm planning on seeing it in the cinema next week though, so hopefully that will be sorted soon. Interestingly the latest festival that I missed it at (Dublin) saw it pick up the critics' prize for best film of the festival, beating Il Divo, In the Loop and The Class.
Posted: Mar 4 2009, 02:33 PM
Member No.: 14
Joined: 17-October 04
Excerpted from Marty's ballot:
I am making my way through this one right now, and really enjoying it. You'll also want to check out the original soundtrack from Collector's Choice, if you haven't already done so.
The second season is actually already out - it was released at the beginning of the year. I really hope Paramount keeps releasing further seasons, but I'm afraid the slumping economy may have a chilling effect on the perceived viability of season sets of older, less well-known series.
Posted: Mar 6 2009, 09:47 AM
Member No.: 107
Joined: 20-October 04
Wow, William, didn't expect you to have the Mobius Poll 2008 results compiled and up so soon! Thanks again for doing this job.
And thanks to the people who wrote up lists. Have quickly read through them but definitely will be returning to read them more slowly and often to get movie viewing ideas and thoughts.
|William S. Wilson||
Posted: Mar 18 2009, 02:19 PM
Member No.: 8
Joined: 17-October 04
Just bumping this up to see if any of the moderators might be able to pin it up at the top with the other UNOFFICIAL results. Thanks in advance!
Posted: Mar 18 2009, 02:37 PM
Mobian Rock Star
Member No.: 88
Joined: 19-October 04
Great job. I'd fit GOMORRAH onto my Top Ten list, too. The best thing about all this are the reminders of those DVDs I need to put into my queue.
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