Wednesday, January 02, 2008

2007 Movies On My Radar.

I'm stormstayed today. It is chucking down snow today. We got about 30cm on New Year's Eve (party chez moi, bed by 10:30pm, covered in headcold snot)(WOOO!!!), and there's another 30cm forecast for today. It is quite pretty, I must admit, but I'm glad I'm not flying back to Toronto today. My sister was trapped in Halifax last night for hours but finally did get back to Ottawa.

I wish I had bought some more DVDs for my constant stormstayed state, but how is one to know?

I didn't see as many movies as usual this year, mostly owing to my busyness in the autumn as a new teacher, and the rural nature of my summer digs in Minden. (The local movie house in that town was condemned for mould and the formidable Kinmount cinema was about a 20 minute drive away.)

I had some big movie disappointments of the year.

Exhibit A: Knocked Up (2007). Smut does not funny make, Mr. Apatow. Seth Rogan did it better with Superbad (2007), a teen comedy that didn't seem as sad or crass. There were fewer weed jokes, though, which is always a sign of quality. =cough=

Exhibit B: Hot Fuzz(2007). I still heart Simon Pegg, and I still heart him and Nick Frost together, but I think my blind devotion to Shaun of the Dead (2004) tainted Fuzz. Plus, my old compliant of "too long!" haunts me. I haven't seen it a second time yet, but I would like to see the DVD's special features, since Shaun's were stellar.

Exhibit C: This one didn't really surprise me, but it was shit enough to repeat myself: Transformers (2007). What a sack of shit this one was. Shia, you're still on the husband list, but this is a dark point in your otherwise reputable cv. Fingers crossed for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Easy Money (2008).

On to the great stuff:

Juno (2007). Oh, Juno. This movie is as sweet as they say, without being cloying. It is as quirky as they say, without ODing on quirk. The performances were as great as the script. Oh, and don't get your hopes up, "Arrested Development" fans: Bateman and Cera are never in a scene together. It's probably for the best. I've had too many naughty dreams about the two of them since AD went off the air. My head would probably explode.

Ratatouille (2007). Wow was all I could say after this one. It was sweet, and funny, and sophisticated, and a real treat. It's out on video now. Take my word for it and see it.

No Country For Old Men(2007). Holy crapper, this one was good. I left the theatre thinking every person I passed was a homicidal sociopath. (I was in Toronto, so chances were good, I guess.) Gritty (visually and emotionally), well paced, and well cast, it deserves all the buzz it gets. (Unlike Charlie Wilson's War (2007), which I think was a solid "meh.") I was pleased at how simple this story was - an everyman with good tracking skills stumbles across a drug deal which ended in a bloodbath, and becomes the hunted when he makes off with a case of money. I also liked that I wasn't sure who the protagonist was - the hunter, the hunted, or the pleasant sheriff, of course played by Tommy Lee Jones.

The Darjeeling Limited(2007). Wes Anderson gets a crap deal. His movies are
so visually distinctive and his dialogue so unique and poignant, it's easy to fall into the trap of comparing each movie to the other because there's simply nothing else out there like them. The problem is, each of his movies can't stand on their own as a singular work. Even my favourite movie reviewer (yes, I have a favourite movie reviewer) went into too much detail about Anderson's other films when reviewing Darjeeling. Perhaps in the future, I'll write a post about how much I love Anderson's movies, but not now: this is all Darjeeling.

Darjeeling follows the Whitman brothers on an ill-advised Indian train journey. The three abuse narcotics, each other, and a poor train steward in an almost-slapstick family-under-the-microscope film. It was raw and funny and visually smacked me in the head.

Darjeeling started with a short. Not a bullshit animated short, but a short film called The Hotel Chevalier (2007). It was released on iTunes before Darjeeling was released to the big screen as a teaser, but the theatre where I saw the feature was wise enough to include the short beforehand. I'm glad it did, because it made Jason Schwartzman's character much richer. [Sidebar: Schwartzman - potential husband list member?] And, boys (the few straight boys I know), you get to see Natalie Portman starkers, as much of a bony treat that is...

Schwartzman's Jack is sexual and sad (and has great hair), Adrien Brody makes a great foray into comedy as brother Peter, and Owen Wilson 's Francis is not the frat pack jackass we've been subjected to over the last few years. After Wilson's real-life suicide attempt of this year, there are some scenes of Darjeeling that are especially breath-catching.

As for 2008, there's not a lot I'm really looking forward to. There is a new X-Files movie due out in July, and a Clooney/Krasinski effort due in April, but other than anything involving members of the Husband List, I'll take movies as they come.

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