Last month, New Zealand’s number one student magazine Salient put out the last issue of the year. Here is the column reviewing the year in film (despite the fact it was only October).
2009. It’s not over yet, but it might as well be considering this is the last issue (the ultimate issue, if you will) of Salient. Hells teeth, where do I begin. Has 2009 been a good year for film? Well, I would say yes. It was certainly a damn sight better than 2008 but still perhaps not as good as the No Country for Old Men-There Will be Blood-Zodiac trifecta that ruled my 2007. I always keep my movie stubs so the following is an attempt to try to make sense of the little torn up pieces of paper, which are the only physical reminders of the things I saw on the silver screen this year.
For starters, Hollywood was up to its worst tricks again. The big Blockbusters came in the stupidly long Transformers 2 and the just plain stupid GI Joe. Once again animated films like Up proved that Pixar is pissing all over everyone else when it comes to good storytelling. A little film called Bruno pulled no punches in making Americans look like fools (again), and managed to fill the screen with a giant talking penis. Michael Mann disappointed me greatly with his sub-par Public Enemies, while Tarantino divided critics with Inglourious Basterds.
At the Oscars, Slumdog Millionaire, a terrible picture that everybody seems to love won way too many awards. I’m sorry, but the ending was nonsense. Its main competition The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was rubbish too, a shame because Fincher’s Zodiac was so unbelievably good. Leonardo DiCaprio was at his best in Revolutionary Road but didn’t even get a nomination (nor did the very solid film for that matter). Instead Sean Penn’s Harvey Milk trumped Mickey Rourke’s stellar comeback in The Wrestler. Kate Winslet hoisted the Oscar for her role in The Reader and Heath Ledger became only the second actor to win posthumously for his superb turn as the Joker.
Some cool people died this year too. Patrick Swayze (above) lost his battle with cancer, as did Farrah Fawcett. English rose Miranda Richardson and old timers Henry Gibson, Dom Deluise and Karl Malden all said their last goodbyes. John Hughes left, taking with him part of my adolescence. David “Kill Bill” Carradine died in bizarre circumstances (Bound for Glory jokes aside). And of course they’re still talking about some small timer named Michael Jackson.
In July the festival came with swag of good pictures. Antichrist was not one of them—I hated it. Ponyo was Miyazaki in fine form. Che was a brave, often fascinating four-hour masterpiece. Palme d’Or winner The White Ribbon was near perfect. Aussie classic Wake in Fright had the most beer and Kangaroo wrestling I’ve seen in any film. I still haven’t made heads or tales of Jarmusch’s The Limits of Control, but Chris Doyles photography was beautiful. Moon was as good a sci-fi as I’ve seen in years.
Writing for Salient has been great because Uther was radical enough to let me scribble about stuff I really like, in the hope that maybe other people will like it too. Hence I blabbed on about my New Hollywood favourites like Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia and Two-Lane Blacktop, mainly because they both star Warren Oates. Go watch them, they are the best. I also got to write on the greatest television show of all time, The Wire, which even proved a hit in the Salient office. If you haven’t seen it yet, sheeeeeit, make sure you do.
So what does 2010 bring? Well, if Avatar lives up to its absurd hype, cinema might ‘never be the same again’. Frankly, I think this is nonsense. Even if the 3D experience is amazing the film looks like a ten-foot blue turkey. Expect Transformers III and GI Joe II. As long as people keep going to these movies, Hollywood will keep making them. Expect all the best movies to come in the festival and expect them to have subtitles. Expect Megan Fox to make her relationship with Nic Sando official. Expect there to be too many movies to watch, and not enough time in the day.
In proper Salient/High Fidelity tradition here are some top fives.
Top 5 films of 2009 (that I saw)
Top 5 films I saw in 2009 (from any old year)
Top 5 films of 1971 (for my loyal readers)
Top 5 movie quotes
1. “If I’m not grounded pretty soon, I’m gonna go into orbit.”
2. “Get the meat.”
3. “If you keep looking at me you’ll see me kill you.”
4. “Pipe dreams Dad, I’m a barber’s son.”
5. “GARBAGE DAY!” or alternatively “CARPET DAY!”
Top 5 other things…
1. The video for ‘Welcome to Heartbreak’ by Kanye West.
2. The trailers for Must Love Jaws, Brokeback to the Future, and Shining.
3. Alexander Skarsgard (above).
5. My blog! therushmorefilmsociety.wordpress.com.