Thursday, May 26, 2005

Where Have All the Good Films Gone?

I'm getting pretty sick of hearing about the box-office doldrums lasting week after week, because the aesthetic doldrums have been lasting even longer. By this point in 2005, I have seen 23 films in their first U.S. release, and I haven't cracked beyond a B+ on any of them. My Top 5 at this point would be
  1. Off the Map
  2. Palindromes
  3. Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
  4. Downfall
  5. Crash
and only the top two really and truly captured my imagination. Granted, not every year gets a midwinter masterpiece like last year did, but by this point last year, I had also seen Osama, The Return, and Dawn of the Dead, all of which hung on for my Best of Year feature in late December. Off the Map, as shrewd and heartfelt as it is, wouldn't have come close to that list. In fact, it also trails plenty of other Winter and Spring 2004 releases, any of which would be riding the top of my list amid the past few months' competition: Dogville, Kill Bill, Vol. 2, Good bye, Lenin!, Crimson Gold, and Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring.

When's the reprieve? I thought I had a chance tonight, scraping out 2½ hours I can't really afford to catch Hirokazu Kore-eda's Nobody Knows, which only half-deserved its rapturous reviews. There are a few other titles playing downtown which I'm hoping to catch before they jet out of town, but I'll be surprised if Look at Me, Walk on Water, or Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room reinvent the wheel.

Among the urban releases that haven't made the hike up to Ithaca yet, I hold out the greatest hopes for these:
  • Lucrecia Martel's The Holy Girl
  • Arnaud Desplechin's Kings and Queen
  • Marco Tullio Giordana's The Best of Youth
  • Kim Ki-Duk's 3-Iron
  • Nimród Antal's Kontroll
  • Susanne Bier's Brothers
  • Bahman Ghobadi's Turtles Can Fly
  • Park Chan-wook's Oldboy
  • Jonathan Nossiter's Mondovino
I would love to put the Antonioni/Soderbergh/Wong anthology Eros on this list, but I am doubt-plagued. As for the multiplex, I don't hold out the faintest hope for anything until Batman Begins, even though I'm enough of a sucker that I'm sure I'll show up for Cinderella Man and Mr. and Mrs. Smith before then.

Anyone who can write in and convince me that good things come to those who starve will be my new best friend. First-hand evidence is especially welcome.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, not that this will sway you, but my current #1 and #2 are both still on their way to Ithaca (OLDBOY and 3-IRON), so keep hope alive. Also, I think you'll like MYSTERIOUS SKIN more than you's easily Gregg Araki's most mature and complex work.

None of that belies the fact that, as you say, the first half of 2005 has been incredibly weak. (Of the others you've invested hope for, I was disappointed with MONDOVINO, and I'm eagerly awaiting my chance to see KINGS AND QUEEN and THE BEST OF YOUTH.)

10:59 AM, May 26, 2005  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

As though ModFab doesn't sway me. We don't always agree, but I ruminate on your opinions long-term, man...

So the Korean tip is looking pretty good. Glad to know it. And I should have included Mysterious Skin, because I have gotten caught up in the climate of revelatory reviews, and I've been waiting to like a Gregg Araki picture. Thanks, G!

11:10 AM, May 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Best of Youth is good enough to be top 10 material in any year, but since the rest of this year has been below average, it really felt like a gift from heaven.

2:31 PM, May 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

since the blog is the only way to communicate w/ you these days... i will say that i saw star wars last weekend (never been a big fan, but it was ok...), and before that it was last year's sideways (which i loved and it gets better every time i watch it on dvd). this year seems less than inspiring, even for those of us from the less sophisticated movie-watching community:) hang in there buddy - can't wait to hear from you when the big D is done... xoxoxoxoxo

9:27 PM, May 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I gaurantee you a great time at the theater with Susanne Bier's Brothers. If you'd like to see what I thought of this near-masterpiece, you can click on my name above and read it in my rarely-updated blog of occasional rough draft reviews. It should be the first one you see.

11:30 PM, May 26, 2005  

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