Just for the sake of my own sanity and desperate need to have these written somewhere, I give you my favourite forty-two films of the past decade. There are at least fifty-six other films I would like to put onto a list, but I think I need to forcefully prevent any more decade-based listmaking as quickly as possible. So beneath is the top ten list, along with a sentence or two on each film and then thirty-two, out-of-list-order, films which I had to include.
So, in the wake of Transformers revenging the fallen all over our minds, we were in need of cooling down from the sheer anger and exhaustion felt in the studio. Though Sunshine Cleaning should have been a great example of an indie to bring us back onto home turf, it ended up an underwhelming experience. The eminently crushworthy pairing of Amy Adams and Emily Blunt, along with the solid Alan Arkin and roles for Steve Zahn and Clifton Collins Jr, just couldn’t quite drive us into anything beyond a tepid lack of satisfaction. Ideas involved were strong, but the execution was half-hearted, even if all of the above tried really hard to elevate the material. Continue reading →
Terrence Malick, the reclusive and less-than-prolific director, is reportedly currently at work on two IMAX pictures; one his meditative Tree of Life work, starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, the other an “ambitious documentary” which, according to The Playlist, is a natural history IMAX piece depicting “the birth and death of the universe”.
Much more is known about Tree of Life, his wildly ambitious project which has drawn comparisons in scope and greater sense of madness to Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain. SlashFilm gleaned some factual information on the projects from Wikipedia, stating: “We trace the evolution of an eleven-year-old boy in the Midwest, Jack, one of three brothers. At first all seems marvelous to the child. He sees as his mother does, with the eyes of his soul. She represents the way of love and mercy, where the father tries to teach his son the world’s way, of putting oneself first. Each parent contends for his allegiance, and Jack must reconcile their claims. The picture darkens as he has his first glimpses of sickness, suffering and death. The world, once a thing of glory, becomes a labyrinth.”
Malick has been renowned for the lack of work he has given to the world but, by his standards, is proving comparatively prolific in the past ten years. His last two, The Thin Red Line and The New World, are both epic in scope and scale but both hugely rewarding to those willing to invest time in their theses. If nothing else, this is the man who gave the world Badlands and Days of Heaven, works of mastery in blending character, landscape and myth, and Tree of Life should prove a challenge to savour for a filmmaker with his gifts.
Tree of Life is seemingly still at least a year away yet but this seems like something to get really excited about, as any project involving the great man should be.
Sunshine Cleaning enjoyed a startlingly successful per-theater average on its opening weekend, defying all expectations to be easily the year’s most successful on that measurement.
Garret Dillahunt. Somedays there are times when Devin doesn’t need to play advocate to speak the truth.
Brad Pitt’s Plan B company is to produce an adaptation of John Le Carre’s The Night Manager for Paramount.
Sony has picked up the US rights for Coco Before Chanel, the biopic of the fashion industry icon starring Audrey Tautou.
By now, all and sundry will have seen the trailer for Quentin Tarantino’s much delayed, heavily anticipated new film, Inglourious Basterds. A very loose remake of a late-70s warploitation picture directed by Enzo Castellari, this has been circulating for some time now but has really kicked into gear in the past six months, first garnering much attention for its idiosyncratic casting and now starting to attract mixed-anticipation from forever apologists on his work and some scorn for certain aspects of what we can see.
Most of the problem I would have with the film is the casting of Brad Pitt in that lead role. Pitt recently won a deeply undeserved Oscar nomination for his performance in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and seems to have been elevated to a sort of untouchable status in Hollywood where his performances are never really watched with any critical eye by audiences. He seems able to walk into the most coveted roles in the industry without having to display anything beyond basic human charisma. He is a very watchable actor but, as brutally evidenced in this trailer, this is not the film for him. He has to play a grizzled veteran, a man entirely at home with violence and a skewed sense of patriotism. What we get here sounds more like Ben Button getting cranky.
Outside of that, the casting itself seems entirely strange, not only because he cast the hideous, execrable, annoying, talentless Eli Roth in a prominent acting role, but he has also hired the likes of BJ Novak (Ryan on the US version of The Office) and Samm Levine (Freaks & Geeks) to make up the assembled team of Nazi killers. To the Tarantino mega-fan, this will seem like another of his casting masterstrokes, but to me this reeks of constructed eccentricity. There can be nothing worse than creative decisions which seem to have been designed specifically to hit the quirk buttons and this seems very much that way.
Whether this film will be good or not, I cannot tell you at this point, but this looks like another of Tarantino’s films which will veer too far into over-clever pastiche in a way that Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction never did. I’m beginning to strongly desire just a straight film, nothing that recalls or pastiches anything from the past, nothing that’s a generic piece from a genre which only the hipster snoberati will regail in. Please, Quentin, just make something that showcases your talent rather than your ability to recall your past of watching movies all day and night.
Inglourious Basterds Trailer