The Year In Film 2009. Part Three.



Religulous
Bill Maher might score a few points in demonstrating the disingenuousness of religion, but his approach negates the benefits some people find in devotion and that simply telling someone they’re stupid does little more than strengthen their faith. Also, having gone mercilessly after Christian fundamentalism, Maher pulls punches when approaching the other monotheistic religions. What’s the point if you’re not going to be even handed about it?

Slumdog Millionaire

Well deserved Best Picture Oscar which in its own way, was, in symbolic terms, the filmic equivalent of the Rage Against The Machine song becoming the Christmas number one. Running in the face of received wisdom that independent cinema set in somewhere other than the US or Britain cannot find a mainstream audience, Slumdog managed to be harrowing and sweet, experimental and conventional and just a damn good piece of cinema.

Star Trek
Did for Roddenberry ’s franchise what the Doctor Who reboot managed in 2005, to be respectful of the past reminding fans about everything they liked about the core concepts whilst simultaneously bringing in an audience that might not necessarily have been too interested before, especially women. It’s just a pity that Paramount have dropped the ball in solidly announcing when the next instalment will be and do we really need to have Khan back again, as rumoured? [full review]

Synecdoche, New York
Has a “debt to the great auteurs, giants like Tarkovsky, Bunuel, Resnais, Fellini and Tati, directors who treated their audience with intelligence and respect with work in which ideas took precedence over explaining the plot and offered a visual contract that asked us to use our own imagination and personal experience to explain the order of events and character motivations. Like Kaufman, they’ve also been accused of self-indulgence which isn’t necessarily incorrect; but everyone with a personal vision is self-indulgent and more often than not the really interesting, surprising work comes when that vision hasn’t been compromised.” [full review]

Vicky Christina Barcelona
“It’s all here, the trademark opening titles (that white on black font over jazz music he’s used since Annie Hall), the abrupt editing, the wordy dialogue laced with poetry and psychological self discovery, a clinical narration sharply revealing the thoughts and feelings of the characters, counter-pointing the apparent reality. It is closer to the art-house style, and nothing like the rather bland Hollywood experience that the blurb suggests. No wonder a couple of teenagers stalked out of the screening part way through.” [full review]

Wendy and Lucy
Spiritually similar to Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne Rosetta and Agn├Ęs Varda’s Vagabond, this story of another homeless girl lost to the landscape demonstrating the fragility of life and how, if one of the pieces is removed or doesn’t quite slot into place in the morning everything can fall apart. Though she’ll likely continue to be defined by Jen Lindley, Michelle Williams still continues to work producing heartbreaking little performances like this. When she shouts for her dog, it’s ten times more emotionally authentic and shattering than all two hours of Revolutionary Road.

The Wrestler
Ouch.

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