Saturday, July 3, 2010

2009 - A Look Back at 24 Frames per Second

10) Let the Right One In – A Swedish vampire film that has all of the venom to conquer the recent invasion of bloodsuckers into pop-culture. The film is an antidote for those of us who cannot run from the Twilight series fast enough. The gorgeous cinematography takes a lesson from Bergman while the film’s two child protagonists find a haunting connection in a world full of ice and darkness.

9) Food, Inc. - Another must see documentary that explores the contemporary American diet, the evils of corporate agriculture, and the inhumane and unsanitary practices of food production nationwide. After seeing this film you’ll immediately plant your own garden for organic food…just don’t purchase your seeds from Monsanto.

8) Antichrist – director Lars von Trier has always been considered a provocateur. As a forefather of the Dogma 95 movement, he is a master of creatively thriving under self-imposed constraints. Here, in what is clearly the most controversial picture of the year, Von Trier refuses imposing any limitations to re-imagine the story of Adam and Eve as inhabited by a couple grieving over the recent loss of their child. The film’s graphic violence will unsettle many, the actions of unspeakable evil that drive plot machinations will unsettle even more. Still, this challenging piece, written by von Trier as he battled his own bout with depression, simply cannot be ignored.

7) Collapse – This startling documentary consists of a lengthy dialogue with radical thinker Michael Ruppert as he rails against our government’s handling of energy consumption, war, and espionage. This man successfully predicted our recent economic collapse a decade ago. Learn about “Peak Oil.” We can only pray that he is wrong about what lies ahead in America’s near future.

6) Tie: Where the Wild Things Are & Fantastic Mr. Fox – 2009 was a great year for family films and two of independent cinema’s biggest auteurs, Spike Jonze and Wes Anderson, each offered their own respective interpretations of classic children’s books. The former is a raw, animalistic film that wonderfully plays with the weighty emotions of Sendak’s limited prose whereas the latter employs all of the wit and whimsy of Roald Dahl’s book through stop-motion animation.

5) The Hurt Locker – Kathryn Bigelow’s visceral war picture follows a select group of bomb diffusing specialists enduring war time conditions and constant threats of insurgency. It is a very powerful glimpse of war that will stay with you long after the credits roll.

4) An Education – This British coming-of-age film chronicles the life of a young woman, played brilliantly by Carey Mulligan as she explore life in the 1960s and relationships with the opposite sex. The movie was written, in a killer script, by novelist Nick Hornby.

3) A Serious Man – Two years ago the Coen Brothers won the coveted Best Picture Oscar for their work adapting Cormac McCarthy’s blistering prose in No Country for Old Men. Now they turn their adept screenwriting abilities on themselves for what has been called the most auto-biographical film the Coen Brothers have ever made.

2) Up in the Air – Jason Reitman’s third film, following the wonderful Thank You for Smoking (2005) and Juno (2007) chronicles an ax-man as he crisscrosses the country firing corporate employees and facing his own impenetrable facade. George Clooney gives the best performance of his career in this subtle and very effective film.

1) Inglourious Basterds – Tarantino plays fast and loose with history in this B-movie inspired action-epic but it is his gift with words that situates gorgeous set pieces with dialogue that slowly builds in ways far more effective than most poets can conjure. The opening scene alone, set in a quaint farm village, is the best thing committed to celluloid this year.


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