Since my last post, much has happened but I'm gonna stick to The Movies because I want closure on this issue before I traipse on to the other tangents. While I load up the next reel, go check out this awesome profile piece
that my new BFF Defekto
scribed about me in Baltimore OUTloud.
So I contributed to the City Paper best movies of 2008 list
, but it's a list I can't quite comprehend. Tropic Thunder had no subtlety and will not age well; I'll venture to guess that neither will Harold & Kumar nor Iron Man. My pal Violet Glaze has quite a passion for Speed Racer; she's calling it the best movie of the year, but I personally have to give the film a pass because I'm not sure I'm capable of putting myself at the mercy of those Wachowski brothers again. I've never liked their movies and Speed Racer has no chance of being the movie that's going to win me over. The only filmmaker who shows such promise for me this year is Darren Aronofsky. I loathed The Fountain so much that it deepened my dislike of Requiem For A Dream and cast doubt my on my judgement of Pi but I'm guessing that The Wrestler will win me over.
I know that Batman and Wall-E were sorta gimmes and I admit that I'm a sucker for certain stupid spectacles, the kind of guilt thrill I still intend to get from Australia; but there were so many more satisfying and pertinent pictures available to us this year. After all, who needs a conflicted hero like Batman when you've got the moral clarity of the Man On Wire? And jeez if it's a conflicted hero you want, well, not even Batman could hold a candle to Frozen River's Ray Eddy.
My top ten movies of 2008
1. Man on Wire (James Marsh, UK)
2. Kabluey (Scott Prendergast, USA)
3. Savage Grace (Tom Kalin, Spain)
4. Derek (Isaac Julien, UK)
5. Standard Operating Procedure (Errol Morris, USA)
6. Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, USA)
7. Frozen River (Courtney Hunt, USA)
8. Slumdog Millionaire (Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan, UK)
9. Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, Sweden)
10. Turn the River (Chris Eigeman, USA)
There were a bunch of films I have not yet seen that I anticipate might knock some of my favorite films down a peg or three -- The Wrestler, Vicky Christina Barcelona, The Edge of Heaven, Benjamin Button, Still Life, Trouble The Water, Milk and My Winnipeg. I'm still kicking myself for not getting out of work to see Guest of Cindy Sherman and Falkenberg Farewell. I very much liked Mister Lonely, Paranoid Park, Chop Shop, Funny Games, Snow Angels, and Burn After Reading, but I guess I've talked about most of these already. A pretty great year for movies, all in all. It would be a shame to limit yourself to the perpetual puerility of Hollywood's least common denominators. Wouldn't the world be a better place if you never had to watch Will Ferrell rub his scrotum on a drum kit? Isn't it better to be bothered by the behavior of the riche à vide
as seen in Savage Grace (which, I feel I must mention, is the first film since Pink Flamingos to do what it does)?
Before I go, this was an awesome year for DVD releases as well -- White Dog, Derek Jarman's Glitterbox (including Wittgenstein), the Salo rerelease, Brand Upon The Brain, Ladies & Gentlemen The Fabulous Stains, The Boys In the Band, Lynch (One), The Night They Raided Minsky's, The Delirious Fictions of William Klein and Alex Cox's Walker, to name just a few. Our culture may be in irreversible decline but while we still have electricity, we've got some great documentation to keep us painfully aware of how great things really used to be.
And how about some of the greatest Baltimore film & video events of 2008? Just off the top of my head...
* The outdoor screenings at the Maryland Film Festival, particularly Strait-Jacket
* Thunder's performance after a screening of Song Sung Blue at the the Maryland Film Festival
* The advance screening of Jay Dreams by Catherine Pancake
* Agenda exhbition at Current Gallery
* Microcinefest and Youtube screenings at Wind-Up Space
* The veritable explosion of outdoor screenings on Baltimore summer nights
* Screening of Melvin Van Peebles' new film at the Maryland Film Festival
* Screenings of The Landlord, Falkenberg Farewell, et al at the BMA
* Stephanie Barber screenings at MICA and the Red Room
* Premiere of Proud Flesh by Chiara Giovando and Jenny Graf Sheppard
* Premiere of aminibigcircus' Sorry For The Cold Fusion
* Premiere of Bmore Hacks by Maxie Collier
And one more thing -- if I had it to do over again, my published blurb about Synecdoche NY
would have concluded with the revised sentence: "Put this in a triple-feature with The Savages and Before the Devil Knows You're Dead and you will doubt following Philip Seymour Hoffman down a dark alley again." Curses be to the deadline!