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The Best Films of 2002

by Christopher Beaubien • April 22, 2008 • 1 Comment

Adaptation. (dir. Spike Jonze)
Punch-Drunk Love (dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)
Spirited Away (dir. Hayao Miyazaki)
Lovely and Amazing (dir. Nicole Holofcener)
Invincible (dir. Werner Herzog)
13 Conversations About One Thing (dir. Jill Sprecher)
The Grey Zone (dir. Tim Blake Nelson)
Talk To Her (dir. Pedro Almodóvar)
Songs From The Second Floor (dir. Roy Andersson)
The Quiet American | Rabbit-Proof Fence (dir. Phillip Noyce)
Frailty (dir. Bill Paxton)
Auto Focus (dir. Paul Schrader)
Y Tu Mamá También (dir. Alfonso Cuarón)
One Hour Photo (dir. Mark Romanek)
Bowling for Columbine (dir. Michael Moore)
Last Orders (dir. Fred Schepisi)
All or Nothing (dir. Mike Leigh)
Tully (dir. Hilary Birmingham)
The Man from Elysian Fields (dir. George Hickenlooper)
25th Hour (dir. Spike Lee)
About Schmidt (dir. Alexander Payne)
Minority Report (dir. Steven Spielberg)
Frida (dir. Julie Taymore)
Changing Lanes (dir. Roger Michell)
The Kid Stays in the Pictures (dir. Nanette Burstein)
In America (dir. Jim Sheridan)
Solaris (dir. Steven Soderbergh)
Ivansxtc. (dir. Bernard Rose)
Dirty Pretty Things (dir. Stephen Frears)
About a Boy (dir. Chris Weitz)
The Pianist (dir. Roman Polanski)
Charlotte Sometimes (dir. Eric Byler)
Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself (dir. Lone Scherfig)
Raising Victor Vargas (dir. Peter Sollett)
Far From Heaven (dir. Todd Haynes)
Femme Fatale (dir. Brian DePalma)
The Good Girl (dir. Miguel Arteta)
He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not (dir. Laetitia Colombani)
Irreversible (dir. Gaspar Noé)
The Hours (dir. Stephen Daldry)
Better Luck Tomorrow (dir. Justin Lin)
Stevie (dir. Steve James)
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (dir. George Clooney)
Blue Car (dir. Karen Moncrieff)
Signs (dir. M. Night Shyamalan)
Insomnia (dir. Christopher Nolan)
Metropolis (dir. Rintaro)
24 Hour Party People (dir. Michael Winterbottom)
The Cat Returns (dir. Hiroyuki Morita)
Secretary (dir. Steven Shainberg)
Personal Velocity: Three Portraits (dir. Rebecca Miller)
Sunshine State (dir. John Sayles)
Catch Me If You Can (dir. Steven Spielberg)
Gangs of New York (dir. Martin Scorsese)
Pumpkin (dir. Anthony Abrams and Adam Larson Broder)
8 Women (dir. François Ozon)
Oasis (dir. Chang-dong Lee)
Morvern Callar (dir. Lynn Ramsay)
Hero (dir. Yimou Zhang)
Manito (dir. Eric Eason)
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (dir. Peter Jackson)
The Bourne Identity (dir. Doug Liman)
Bend It Like Beckham (dir. Gurinder Chadha)
Secret Things (dir. Jean-Claude Brisseau)
Unfaithful (dir. Adrian Lyne)
Eight Legged Freaks (dir. Ellory Elkayem)
XX/XY (dir. Austin Chick)
Naqoyqatsi (dir. Godfrey Reggio and Philip Glass)
Panic Room (dir. David Fincher)
Red Dragon (dir. Brett Ratner)
Lost in La Mancha (dir. Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe)
Spider (dir. David Cronenberg)
Love Liza (dir. Todd Louiso)
Chicago (dir. Rob Marshall)
Real Women Have Curves (dir. Patricia Cardoso)
Biggie and Tupac (dir. Nick Broomfield)
In My Skin (dir. Marina de Van)
People I Know (dir. Daniel Algrant)
Gerry (dir. Gus Van Sant)
Spiderman (dir. Sam Raimi)
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (dir. Chan-wook Park)
Blood Work (dir. Clint Eastwood)
Hukkle (dir. György Pálfi)

The Best Films of 2001

by Christopher Beaubien • April 21, 2008 • Start the Discussion!

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Wit (dir. Mike Nichols)
Mulholland Drive (dir. David Lynch)
Ghost World (dir. Terry Zwigoff)
Innocence (dir. Paul Cox)
Waking Life (dir. Richard Linklater)
In The Bedroom (dir. Todd Field)
Gosford Park (dir. Robert Altman)
Storytelling (dir. Todd Solondz)
Read My Lips (dir. Jacques Audiard)
The Piano Teacher (dir. Michael Haneke)
A Beautiful Mind (dir. Ron Howard)
The Royal Tenenbaums (dir. Wes Anderson)
Monsoon Wedding (dir. Mira Nair)
Monster’s Ball (dir. Marc Forster)
Fat Girl (dir. Catherine Breillat)
Millenium Actress (dir. Satoshi Kon)
Donnie Darko (dir. Richard Kelly)
The Majestic (dir. Frank Darabont)
Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (dir. Zacharias Kunuk)
Moulin Rouge! (dir. Baz Luhrmann)
Bully (dir. Larry Clark)
The Son’s Room (dir. Nanni Moretti)
How I Killed My Father (dir. Anne Fontaine)
Lost and Delirious (dir. Léa Pool)
Nowhere in Africa (dir. Caroline Link)
Metropolis (dir. Rintaro)
Amelie (dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet)
The Deep End (dir. Scott McGehee and David Siegel)
Kandahar (dir. Mohsen Makhmalbaf)
L.I.E. (dir. Michael Cuesta)
The Pledge (dir. Sean Penn)
What Time Is It Over There? (dir. Ming-liang Tsai)
Black Hawk Down (dir. Ridley Scott)
Artificial Intelligence: AI (dir. Steven Spielberg)
Monsters Inc. (dir. Pete Docter)
Joy Ride (dir. John Dahl)
The Man Who Wasn’t There (dir. Joel and Ethan Coen)
Spy Kids (dir. Robert Rodriguez)
From Hell (dir. Albert and Allen Hughes)
The Anniversary Party (dir. Alan Cumming and Jennifer Jason Leigh)
Me Without You (dir. Sandra Goldbacher)
Shrek (dir. Andrew Adamson)
Intimacy (dir. Patrice Chéreau)
Human Nature (dir. Michel Gondry)
Startup.com (dir. Chris Hegedus and Jehane Noujaim)
The Cat’s Meow (dir. Peter Bogdanovich)
Psycho Beach Party (dir. Robert Lee King)
Winged Migration (dir. Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud)
The Score (dir. Frank Oz)
The Others (dir. Alejandro Amenábar)
Millennium Mambo (dir. Hsiao-hsien Hou)
Ocean’s Eleven (dir. Steven Soderbergh)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (dir. Peter Jackson)

The Best Films of 2000

by Christopher Beaubien • April 20, 2008 • Start the Discussion!

American Psycho (dir. Mary Harron)
You Can Count On Me (dir. Kenneth Lonergan)
Werckmeister Harmonies (dir. Béla Tarr)
Panic (dir. Henry Bromell)
The Terrorist (dir. Santosh Sivan)
Yi Yi (dir. Edward Yang)
Shadow of the Vampire (dir. E. Elias Merhige)
Quills (dir. Philip Kaufman)
Girl on the Bridge (dir. Patrice Leconte)
Requiem for a Dream (dir. Darren Aronofsky)
Almost Famous (dir. Cameron Crowe)
Traffic (dir. Steven Soderbergh)
Sexy Beast (dir. Jonathan Glazer)
George Washington (dir. David Gordon Green)
Wonder Boys (dir. Curtis Hanson)
Code Unknown (dir. Michael Haneke)
Memento (dir. Christopher Nolan)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (dir. Ang Lee)
Unbreakable (dir. M. Night Shyamalan)
Chicken Run (dir. Nick Park)
Dinner Rush (dir. Bob Giraldi)
The Claim (dir. Michael Winterbottom)
My Dog Skip (dir. Jay Russell)
Amores Perros (dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu)
Diamond Men (dir. Dan Cohen)
The Gleaners & I (dir. Agnès Varda)
Maelström (dir. Denis Villeneuve)
Dancer in the Dark (dir. Lars von Trier)
The Cell (dir. Tarsem)
Under the Sand (dir. François Ozon)
High Fidelity (dir. Stephen Frears)
The Contender (dir. Rob Lurie)
Best in Show (dir. Christopher Guest)
Pollock (dir. Ed Harris)
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (dir. Joel Coen)
Faithless (dir. Liv Ullmann)
In the Mood for Love (dir. Kar Wai Wong)
The Emperor’s New Groove (dir. Mark Dindal)
The Dish (dir. Rob Sitch)
The Widow of Saint-Pierre (dir. Patrice Leconte)
Ginger Snaps (dir. John Fawcett)
The Crimson Rivers (dir. Mathieu Kassovitz)
Everything Put Together (dir. Marc Forster)
Tigerland (dir. Joel Schumacher)
The Isle (dir. Ki-duk Kim)
Cast Away (dir. Robert Zemeckis)
Space Cowboys (dir. Clint Eastwood)
Dr. T & the Women (dir. Robert Altman)
Gladiator (dir. Ridley Scott)
Chuck & Buck (dir. Miguel Arteta)

Movie Review: IN BRUGES (2008)

by Christopher Beaubien • April 20, 2008 • 2 Comments

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Murderers… Twisting and Turning… in a “Fairy Tale Place”…

In early February 2008, the debut of writer-director John McDonagh floored me. In Bruges started a trend following David Fincher’s Zodiac in 2007 that at least one movie released in February was a masterpiece. What surprised me most about this gutsy film was how elegantly it focused on two Irish hit men from London. The youngest is Raymond (Colin Farrell), a cocky bloke who comes across as curt to others (“You’re a bunch of fucking elephants!”), but he isn’t mean-spirited, just thoughtless. Ken (Brendan Gleeson), a jovial soul masking a deep sadness, accompanies Raymond as his mentor in their line work and acts in some ways like a surrogate father figure. In a moment of great duress, Ken breaks the silence by reassuring Raymond, “You look good.”

For perhaps the first time in Raymond’s life, he is affected by gnawing guilt over an unforgivable accident he caused. His manic depression has made him suicidal. Their relationship is a fascinating because Farrell and Gleeson work so effortlessly together. A comradery of wit, pain and compassion. Killing for hire to Ken is surmised simply, “It’s what I do.”

Their boss Harry Waters (Ralph Fiennes) sends them away to hide in Bruges (“It’s in Belgium.”) after the last job got botched. With his nose in the guide book, Ken explains that “Bruges is the most well preserved medieval town of all of Belgium apparently.” On a wintry canal ride, Ken marvels at the old buildings and churches while Raymond sits with his shoulders hunched, bored out of his mind. Here Bruges is a setting closest to one can ever get to purgatory on Earth. It’s a perfect stage for these killers to reflect and act upon their trespasses. At one point in the Basilica of the Holy Blood, Ken accuses Raymond of “Throwing a fucking moody like a five-year-old who’s dropped all his sweets!”

While standing before Hieronymus Bosch’s oil painting The Garden of Earthly Delights, Raymond is compelled to ask Ken about his views of the afterlife. Ken is at a loss of words at first. A lesser movie would have moved on from there. Instead, we go outside where Ken honestly tries to answer Raymond’s questions. It is a perfect scene. Note how Raymond demonstrates his self-interest when he speculates about a boy never able to go to Bruges and says “I don’t know why.” These characters are so well-written that their own point-of-view is always evident.

CONTINUE READING ►

The Best Films of 1999

by Christopher Beaubien • April 19, 2008 • Start the Discussion!

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Being John Malkovich (dir. Spike Jonze)
The Iron Giant (dir. Brad Bird)
Magnolia (dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)
After Life (dir. Hirokazu Koreeda)
Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A Leuchter Jr. (dir. Errol Morris)
The War Zone (dir. Tim Roth)
Election (dir. Alexander Payne)
Boys Don’t Cry (dir. Kimberly Peirce)
Titus (dir. Julie Taymor)
Three Kings (dir. David O. Russell)
Eyes Wide Shut (dir. Stanley Kubrick)
American Beauty (dir. Sam Mendes)
All About My Mother (dir. Pedro Almodóvar)
Summer of Sam (dir. Spike Lee)
Sleepy Hollow (dir. Tim Burton)
Limbo (dir. John Sayles)
Fight Club (dir. David Fincher)
The Straight Story (dir. David Lynch)
The Virgin Suicides (dir. Sofia Coppola)
Ravenous (dir. Antonia Bird)
The Talented Mr. Ripley (dir. Anthony Minghella)
Twin Falls Idaho (dir. Michael and Mark Polish)
Ratcatcher (dir. Lynne Ramsay)
Topsy-Turvy (dir. Mike Leigh)
Bringing Out the Dead (dir. Martin Scorsese)
Dogma (dir. Kevin Smith)
Man on the Moon (dir. Milos Forman)
Wonderland (dir. Michael Winterbottom)
The Green Mile (dir. Frank Darabont)
South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (dir. Trey Parker)
American Movie (dir. Chis Smith)
eXistenZ (dir. David Cronenberg)
The Sixth Sense (dir. M. Night Shyamalan)
Jesus’ Son (dir. Alison Maclean)
The Blair Witch Project (dir. Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez)
Rosetta (dir. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
Guinevere (dir. Audrey Wells)
October Sky (dir. Joe Johnston)
The Cider House Rules (dir. Lasse Hallström)
House on Haunted Hill (dir. William Malone)
Rollercoaster (dir. Scott Smith)
Croupier (dir. Mike Hodges)
The General’s Daughter (dir. Simon West)
8½ Women (dir. Peter Greenaway)
The Big Kahuna (dir. John Swanbeck)
Arlington Road (dir. Mark Pellington)
The Matrix (dir. Andy and Larry Wachowski)
Bowfinger (dir. Frank Oz)
Office Space (dir. Mike Judge)
Cruel Intentions (dir. Roger Jumble)
Romance (dir. Catherine Breillat)
The Hurricane (dir. Norman Jewison)
Dick (dir. Andrew Fleming)
Mystery Men (dir. Kinka Usher)
Julien Donkey-Boy (dir. Harmony Korine)