In Our Opinion


By • Jan 6th, 2010 • Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

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BEST OF THE DECADE By FIR’s Editor Roy Frumkes

I chose twenty. Sorry. Couldn’t help myself. But as you’ll see, some come from diverse new media.

JENIFER – Dario Argento paves new ground on cable TV, where you thought filmmakers had already gotten away with just about everything, and on the DVD release he seems genuinely confused that two major cuts were made in his treatise on men’s fatal obsession with female flesh over all rational thought. The two scenes exist on the DVD, and you can splice them in (though with sound problems) via computer.

THE KITE RUNNER – An insightful, novelistic, deftly directed study of cause and effect. Provides an understanding of international rifts and mistrust where compassion and trust are needed.

TAKEN – A great exploiter, partially from the guy who gave us LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL. Unfortunately the girl in the story doesn’t generate much excitement, either as a performer or as an teenage sexpot (a la Natalie Portman), and the final car/boat chase should have been trimmed. But Liam Neeson is marvelous, and the script has some terrific payoffs. As you can see, I have mixed feelings about it, but I’ve had mixed feelings about every film I’ve seen since NOTORIOUS.

RAMBO/ROCKY BALBOA – A profound nostalgic experiences. Stallone triumphs in both, and the third act of RAMBO, CGI’d by STREET TRASH alumnus Scott Coulter, delivers possibly the largest amount of unmitigated, cathartic gore in a non-horror film since THE WILD BUNCH. (One could clump GRAN TORINO into Cinema-Nostalgia as well; it’s not as directly obvious, but certainly resonates with Eastwood’s career. Differences here are that a) Eastwood has not had to make a comeback, which greatly empowers the Stallone films, and b) GRAN TORINO closely emulates THE SHOOTIST, which was John Wayne’s fantasy-persona cinematic-immortality-wish, whereas Eastwood’s would have been HONKYTONK MAN.)

THE MELTDOWN MEMOIRS – I know. I know. It’s my film. Well, if you saw it, I’m sure you would agree. (And please do: on the STREET TRASH double-disc release)

BUSH VS. ZOMBIES – An internet parody of a Bush White House lawn press conference, in which the topic of zombies comes up, and the President expresses great concern about this ever-present threat to humanity.

THE PIANIST – Polanski’s best film. And exactly the right balance of story (someone else’s) and memory (his).

SHREK – It changed everything in the animation biz, as much or more than the introduction of Pixar, because it was a shift in the realm of ideas rather than technology.

DEADWOOD – The profane, addictive cable series took us back to a time in our history when the new West was operating on the level of The Decameron or The Canterbury Tales. I enjoy wondering how Pasolini would have done helming an episode or two…

Episode 10 of The Sopranos, 5/5/01. Directed by Steve Buscemi.

OUR LADY OF THE ASSASSINS – The first feature shot in Hi Def, according to director Barbet Shroeder, who told me that if he hadn’t had the mobility and reduced presence of that camera, without question both he and the crew would have been killed.

(TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE – I have to see this again, but as I recall, it was one of a few films to challenge STREET TRASH’s democratic offensiveness, and like ST, all in the service of good, not necessarily wholesome, entertainment. The DVD has a prime moment restored, which pushes it merrily over the edge, where it belongs.)

PARANOID PARK – The new millennium’s REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE. Important in exactly the same way, and this time with realistic age-casting.

JAR CITY – A noir from Sweden, dripping with mise-en-scene, that tells us much about that country’s damaged psyche.

IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH – The best use of applied research since 1974’s THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123.

THE LIVES OF OTHERS – A beautiful study of political paranoia and the human tragedy in its wake.

AMERICAN DREAMER – The best main-stream experimental film of the decade.

A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE – Compare it to near-miss EASTERN PROMISES to see just how right Cronenberg got this one.

MY VOYAGE TO ITALY – Scorsese’s wonderful and personal 3-hr. documentary enlightens us about Italy and Italian cinema.

BAD EDUCATION – Almodovar is my pick for the best director of the 00s. TALK TO HER equally deserved to be on the list. I tossed a coin. Mark Gross picked the other.

Continue to Guglielmo Anthony’s Choices…

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