Friday, December 28, 2007

The Best and Worst of 2007: #10

I'm paring down the year-end lists to bare essentials here. 10 of the good, 10 of the not, side by side. Even if no single film I've seen has been quite as addictive or satisfying as Season 3 of HBO's The Wire, I think this has been a really strong year -- maybe the second strongest this decade, after 2004 with all its Eternal Sunshines, Before Sunsets, Spring, Summers, Incredibles and Supremacies. Selection-wise, I'm going by the only list I can live with, which is what I've seen in cinemas in the 12 months since the last top ten; by "seen in cinemas" I include festival screenings and press screenings, but not repertory ones. As a result, some of these films have yet to come out in the UK, and this first pick came and went in the US some years ago. It's true that this doesn't exactly make for a level playing field for comparison with other lists, but I find the release-date approach frustrating and no less arbitrary: it means deliberately leaving stuff off that you're itching to evangelise. Which won't do. This is what I came up with:

10th best -- Funny Ha Ha

This was my introduction to the vivid, dorky, and emotionally astute moviemaking of Andrew Bujalski, pioneer of the movement now annoyingly dubbed "mumblecore" by the kind of folks who strike me as frustrated minor characters in his movies. Narrowly better than Bujalski's follow-up Mutual Appreciation, it was the sweetest relationship comedy I saw this year, full of painful conversational circling around the point -- the point usually being "I like you, and want to hang out with you, and hope that would be OK. Would that be OK?". It's anchored shyly and beautifully by leading lady Kate Dollenmayer.

10th worst -- Hannibal Rising

Probably the most unwelcome sequel or prequel of the year, which is saying quite a lot in a 12 months which brought us Rush Hour 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Day Watch, Elizabeth: The Golden AgeHostel: Part II and Gordon Brown's premiership. Just re-typing those titles sends me into a renewed fug of depression and resentment at how little creativity any one of them expended on already dog-tired concepts, but this one was bad beyond all need or comprehension, with its kindergarten Freudianism and across-the-board hopeless acting doing full justice to an egregious "Nazis ate my sister" backstory. Thomas Harris is not escaping blame. Neither is Girl With a Pearl Earring director Peter Webber for taking a terrible gig and making it visually revolting to boot. 

1 comment:

Nick Davis said...

I love this 10 Best/Worst structure and can't wait to see the rest of the picks. I haven't seen either of these, which I guess comes out to a 50/50 split of good and bad fortune that I can live with.