Thursday, December 15, 2005

Sach’s Top 15 Films of 2005 – Part 2

Back with part II where we get into the real top 10, the nitty gritty films that had me bugging out in the theaters this year. Let’s get into it shall we?

10. Good Night and Good Luck by George Clooney

The most old fashioned of all the films on this list, Good Night and Good Luck impressed audiences through the sheer power of a well told story. Wisely shot in historic black and white, George Clooney’s second foray into directing proves that Confessions of a Dangerous Mind was no fluke and that he’s actually got quite a vision as a director. Of course, it helps that he continues to surround himself with capable people, but you can’t blame him and his team for doing a good job, now can you? In addition to being a good look at the fall of McCarthyism, the film also undoubtedly acts as an allegory to the current cowardly media situation in the US, making it all the more relevant. At a time where politics should be the least of Hollywood’s concerns, it’s brave to see someone stand up for what he believes in, making a point without bashing people over the head with it Michael Moore style. Probably too small and singular for an Oscar nod compared to the giant monkeys and gay cowboys, Good Night and Good Luck remains an interesting and extremely relevant film and one of the few that accurately capture America’s mood in 2005. Ironically by capturing the mood of the 50’s.

My Full original review

09. The Taste of Tea by Katsuhito Ishii

Sharkskin Man, Peach hip Girl, Ishii’s previous film, had a lot of interesting elements to it but lacked in the pacing and originality department resulting a lot of flash without much substance. The Taste of Tea in contrast, shows remarkable maturity and has an interesting sense of peace about it, flipping it’s odd pace from a liability to an asset. Essentially a psychedelic look at family life, the film continues Katsushiro Ishii’s tendency towards slow paced narratives but stuff like that works a lot better in an observational comedy than a gangster pastiche making it a much better showcase for his work. Featuring some absolutely absurd and hilarious moments including this year’s single greatest musical sequence (YAYAMO!!!!), The Taste of Tea is the perfect film for those who want something new and exciting without a huge influx of rapid fire visual stimulation. Plus it features the stunning Anna Tsuchiya: I’ve already mentioned her twice in this top 10 list so trust me, she’s hot. Incidentally, if Asano’s in it too…wouldn’t it be weird if their American equivalents (say, Johnny Depp and Lindsay Lohan) did a film like this?

My Full original review

08. The World by Jia Zhang Ke

The most ponderous, depressing and heavy film in this list, The World is also among the most important and brutally realistic works of art that you could have seen in 2005. Taking place in a Beijing theme park which recreates the wonders and sights of the world for Chinese tourists (who can’t leave the country incidentally…), the film examines that negative space between communist doctrine and capitalist reality that so many workers fall into and get trapped within. A nihilist film if there ever was one, The World doesn’t really show much faith in anything and no one really ends up all that happy; but for all its gloominess, it’s a great inside look at a country that’s described as a world dynamo, an expanding juggernaut and the next Empire. Proving that things aren’t all good nor bad behind the propaganda, The World is a human look and human beings still trying to figure out where they fit in the world torn between tradition and cell phones, money and idealism and communist dictator ship and capitalist savagery. Definitely one for the DVD shelves, now let’s hope that China keeps letting him make films (this was Jia Zhang Ke’s first legal project).

07. A History of Violence by David Cronenberg

I didn’t like this film that much the first time around but on second look it was definitely a lot better than I first gave it credit for. A deconstructionist look at violence in America, it’s pretty easy to fall into the trap of taking everything Cronenberg throws at you at face value, but the film goes much deeper than that. Digging into that uncomfortably animalistic part of humanity, the Canadian master of horror manages to make a film just as creepy and disturbing as his gore-fests of yore, only without the gross out factor. Sure the scene in the mansion is unsatisfying and over the top but that still doesn’t derail a fine film and proof that Cronenberg’s name deserves to be up there with the big boys. Plus the film features the best all out brawl between teenagers and the best sex scene you’re likely to see this year…you immature jerks.

My Full original review

06. Kung Fu Hustle by Stephen Chow

I saw this film three times, in three different mindstates on two continents and that’s just in theaters. The ultimate pick-me-up film; Kung Fu Hustle takes the audience back to a simpler time where Bruce Lee could defeat evil with the sheer power of his martial arts skills and where the bad guys never win…because they’re the bad guys! But in addition to being a fun old school chop soccky, Kung Fu Hustle is Stephen Chow’s love letter to cinema, layered with so many references to everything from Shaw Brothers flicks to Fred Astaire to Warner Bros cartoons than it’s hard to keep track of everything. The excellent cast of oldschool martial artists looks like they’re having as much fun doing this as we are watching and of course, the comedy is top notch. The heir to Chaplin’s thrown if there ever was one; Stephen Chow easily takes home the prize for most universal humor as I can’t see anyone from any culture not finding this man funny. See it for him stomping on a bald eagle, see it for No more Soccer! See it because it’s the film this year most likely to leave you with a smile on your face by the time it’s over.


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