The Year In Film 2009. Part Two.

In The Loop
“She’s very good. She’s about the funniest thing in these American scenes. Not quite The West Wing. Nope still not laughing. She’s good. Ha! That’s better. Who is she? I feel like I should know her. Must in some US tv show. No, can’t be that. (credits roll) Anna Chlumsky … Chlumsky … My Girl!?!” [full review]

The International
Battling with Duplicity as the best Clive Owen film of the year, it’s quite a surprise that this architectural finance thriller hasn’t turned up on the best of lists of professional critics, despite featuring some of the best action scenes in some time (poor MOMA) and a coherently thematic approach to its use of locations. Perhaps we just don’t like to be reminded that we’re simply part of a machine, and that film simply keeps us distracted from knowing that from time to time.

Let The Right One In
Is it this best film of the year? I expect that plenty of critics have decided it must be simply because it’s such an antidote to the bile and chunder they have to sit through on a weekly basis. It certainly kicked me in the gut, and I was impressed by its texture, intelligence and wilful disregard for the norms of genre storytelling, especially in relation to vampirism. But I didn’t come away thinking it was the best film I’d seen this year. Does that make me ungrateful?

Which feels like it was released about ten years ago, which was probably director Gus Van Sant’s intention. The trick to the film is the telling of what could be for some viewers a controversial narrative and frame it in as conventional terms as possible. Some saw that as a missed opportunity, but many scripts and stories have been ruined by experimental direction and editing. Milk is respectful of its subject and that will be its legacy.

Monsters Vs Aliens
One of the year’s disappointments, this 3D digimation demonstrated that decent character design, voice acting and spectacle mean nothing if your script isn’t up to snuff. What the filmmakers failed to notice in attempting something akin to a Brad Bird post-modern nostalgia fest is that in The Iron Giant and The Incredibles, Bird was using the imagery of the then to chat about the now. Making a film rooted in the past is inherently pointless. Only Insectosaurus made this endurable.

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
A melancholic reminder that I’m not getting any younger. I imagined a teenager version of me being greeted by Nick & Norah and think it the best film of the year and like the similarly structured Adventures in Babysitting when I was the right age, watching it every week, in and out. Instead, I found some of the music a bit irritating, Michael Cera too much of a cipher and felt slightly grubby for fancying punkish pixie dream girl Kat Dennings. Which isn’t to say I haven’t ordered a copy from Amazon.

Rachel Getting Married
Like attending one of those weddings where you don’t know anyone and despite everyone seeming very friendly, inclusive and wanting to have a good time at no point do you feel welcome. But unlike those weddings, you’re not able to take a break and have walk about outside to test if anyone is actually missing you. So you’re simply stuck there, being alienated by the speeches, the horrible music and the general goodwill which seems to be in short supply just a couple of inches away from your skin.

The Reader
Most people would look at The Reader and find it an uncomfortable reminder that when the Nazi’s were defeated the vestiges of its network were still threaded into German society. On the other handed I was reminded that I simply don’t read enough books. I’ve now set myself a target of reading at least fifty pages a day of something. Which explains why the reading box in the far sidebar of this blog is changing on a more regular basis.

Revolutionary Road
Like being punched in the ears repeatedly or spending two hours on purpose with the argumentative couple who always seem to sit near me on long distance train journeys. Why the hell would people want to subject themselves to this as entertainment? It’s not thoughtful. It’s not telling us anything new about marriage in that period (certainly not more that Douglas Sirk). It’s just lots and lots of pain and shouting. About the most depressing film released this year.


  1. Nick and Norah made me want to kill a hipster, and you would think it would be the sort of film I would have been all over. Must be getting old too... ;)

  2. Wow, Stuart, how wrong you are about Revolutionary Road - which I found a stunning portrayal of a marriage suffering from a wife's depression and that era's inability (or unwillingness) to diagnose or treat the condition. It's not a fun film to watch, but in no way is it unthoughtful.