Sidney Lumet, on Charlie Rose the other day, suggested that the 2005 films were among the best he had seen for many years. I obviously watched the wrong movies.
Here are some I have seen so far in 2006:
Broken Flowers – fell asleep and snored my way through a totally dreadful movie. Bill Murray plays the same character he played in Lost in Translation and fails here too. Avoid at all costs.
North Country – almost fell asleep, but did manage to write 3,000 words before the film finished. This is Charleze Theron playing a puffed up, angry woman again. Not much drama and a totally predictable film, based on pathos. Watch if you really have to get a job done.
A History of Violence – very strong, focused movie. Excellent production values and a good, compelling story. William Hurt good and deserved his Oscar nomination for best supporting actor (and I really thought Maria Bello did an excellent job as the wife of the main character, played by Viggo Mortensen).
Dear Frankie – a family movie, but a good one about a boy who believes his dad is at sea, when in fact his mum simply left him (and he’s now dying of cancer). She persuades someone to play Frankie’s dad, who then falls in love with the mum. Lead played by Emily Mortimer – daughter of Sir John Mortimer (Rumpole).
Crash - very surprised this won anything, anywhere. Dull movie. Potentially interesting story, lost in translation to the screen. Poor acting generally.
Ladies in Lavender - Judi Dench played a whistful spinster beautifully. Nice little film.
Junebug – disappointing movie, with a pretentious story line and the odd moment of acting. Embeth Davidtz plays the lead female role, but the real star of this film (and nominated for best supporting actress at the Oscars) was Amy Adams. Movie not really worth the energy.
Callas Forever – a Jeremy Irons movie about trying to persuade a fading Maria Callas to revive her career by doing full length feature films lip-sync’ing the words. Fanny Ardant (who learned to speak English for this film – you wouldn’t know) does a magnificent job of playing Callas. It’s a long movie, but well worth the watch. Great music too (if you like Carmen). Some trivia: Fanny was Truffaut’s partner.
Pride and Prejudice - the new version with Donald Sutherland, Keira Kinghtley and others. Stunning cinematography and good story telling (very condensed version of the story). Enjoyable.
Oliver - Polanski's version of this Dicken's classic is powerfully told, with Sir Ben Kingsley as Fagin. Again, story well told and stunning cinematography.
November – When her boyfriend is shot to death in a robbery, LA photographer Sophie Jacobs (Courtney Cox) tries her hardest to put the event behind her. But as she struggles to get over the murder, Sophie's life begins to change, leaving her clueless as to what's coming. But worst of all, the line between reality and fantasy is beginning to shatter. Its an interesting movie, leaving you wondering – a bit like Sixth Sense with grown ups. Its OK.
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill – a charming, effective documentary about San Francisco’s wild parrots. Very nicely made movie, and an Oscar nominated film.
Grizzly Man – film about the couple who loved grizzly bears so much that they got eaten by one. True story – it’s a documentary – of self0indulgent guy. Not very inspiring.
March of the Penguins – terrific documentary film, which deserved the Oscar in the documentary category. Compelling story of what it takes for an Emperor Penguin couple to create, incubate, birth and look after a baby penguin. Morgan Freeman’s narration strong. Highly recommended.
Downfall – A vivid, compelling and powerful version of Hitler’s last days. Very strongly recommended.
Wedding Crashers - came recommended as a funny film, but was not at all funny. The odd smile. Predictable, poor and occassionally pedestrian.
The Last Hour – a grieving widow is allowed to spend one last hour with his wife. In my view, he needn’t have bothered.
Mr and Mrs Smith - well, hope their real love life isnt this predictable and poor. Brad Pitt and Ms Jolie ramp around with guns.
The Great Raid – about getting PoW’s out of a Japanese war camp in the Philippines. Very realistic film, well made. Of specialist interest, but good.
In Good Company – a corporate morality tale with Dennis Quaid and Scarlett Johansson. Quaid plays a middle-aged ad exec faced with a new boss who's nearly half his age ... and who also happens to be sleeping with his daughter and it has some funny moments, an irony.
Constant Gardener – very powerful film, effective acting (Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz – the latter won an Oscar) and a good story. Classic.
Good Night and Good Luck – powerful Clooney written and directed film (he’s also in it and won an Oscar for best supporting actor) about Ed Morrow’s campaign against McCarthy in the 1950’s. Black and white works well.
Almost at the end of the first quarter of the year, the last two films above being the best so far (with Callas).
Movie's I would like to see
The New World
Memoirs of a Geisha
An Unfinished Life (Redford)
Matchpoint (Woody Allen)
Mrs Henderson Presents
The Libertine (Johnny Depp)
Hustle and Flow
Pirates II (and III when it comes out)
- we have a home theatre system, so I guess we'll just have to wait.