With 2009 having just passed the six-month mark, here are HE’s Standouts of the Year in order of preference. Let’s restrict it to the Best and Worst features (foreign included), Best Docs, Most Over-Rated, ranks of the Decent and Entirely Decent, and the Most Underwhelming and Over-Rated. Let’s put aside the best performances for now. I’m doing this in haste so any and all additions or scoldings are welcome.
Best-So-Far Features of the Year (in order of preference): The Hurt Locker, An Education (Sundance ’09, opening in fall), In The Loop, Humpday, Public Enemies, Up, Sin Nombre, Adventureland, Three Monkeys, The Girlfriend Experience, Il Divo.
Best-So-Far Docs of the Year: The Cove, Tyson, Anvil! The Story of Anvil, Food, Inc, Of Time and the City.
Rousing, Perfectly Pleasing Popcorn: Star Trek.
Worst-So-Far Features of the Year: The Brothers Bloom, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Year One, Knowing, The Girl From Monaco, The Answer Man, I Hate Valentine’s Day, Land of the Lost, Bride Wars, Ghost of Girlfiends Past, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Lymelife, Mysteries of Pittsurgh, Sunshine Cleaning.
Entirely Decent: (500) Days of Summer, State of Play, The Taking of Pelham 123, Whatever Works, Coraline, A Woman in Berlin, Sleep Dealer.
Decent: The Stoning of Soraya M., Bruno, The International, Terminator Salvation, The Proposal, Killshot, Every Little Step, Taken.
Entirely Decent & First-Rate But Finally Too Intelligent, Tricky and Clever for B-Student Types Like Myself: Duplicity
Half Decent: The Soloist, Crossing Over, I Love You Man.
Integrity Award (for Sticking to Tough Material Without Kowtowing to Conventional Tastes): Watchmen.
Most Over-Rated Features of the Year: The Hangover, Observe and Report, Departures, Drag Me to Hell, Moon, Cheri.
Unseen: It Might Get Loud, The Cake Eaters, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Dead Snow, Goodbye Solo, Afghan Star, Tony Manero, My Sister’s Keeper.
Worst Unseen Movie of the Year (based on repellent trailer): I Love You, Beth Cooper.
Best Black-and-White Cinematography of the Year: Tetro.
Most Underwhelming Smart/Good Film of the Year: Away We Go.
Second Most Underwhelming Smart/Clever Film of the Year: Inglourious Basterds (seen in Cannes).
Those opening eight minutes from The Hurt Locker were legitimately posted on Hulu today. The clip was apparently stolen out of Hulu’s server and immediately posted by Trailer Addict two or three days ago. I said at the time that offering the clip was an astute marketing move by Summit. The reason is that people don’t trust trailers. Or rather they trust them only so far. A straight eight-minute segment from a film has no “slick sell” or bullshit in it. It is what it is, it gives you an honest taste. Marketers should sell other films this way.
Criterion has done a brilliant job of obscuring the fact their just-released Last Year at Marienbad release is a Bluray as well as a standard definition DVD. To me, at least. I was inspecting the new Bluray releases in Kim’s last night and didn’t even see Marienbad in this section. (Although the SD version was easy to spot.) If it was there my eyes glazed over. Credit goes to Criterion’s played-down, round-blue-sticker strategy of packaging their Blurays in jackets that reflect Criterion’s Peter Greenaway-ish marketing mentality.
The CC folks are clearly open to the concept of getting the attention of Joe Popcorn film buffs, but they’re obviously just as concerned with maintaining that immaculate foo-foo Criterion decorum. Criterion isn’t “selling” the fact that they’re issuing certain films in Bluray as much as letting consumers know this.
Brief descriptions of the 10 Greatest Sci-Fi Films Never Made — Vincent Ward‘s Alien 3, Wolfgang Petersen, Andrew Kevin Walker and JJ Abrams‘ Superman vs. Batman, Steven Spielberg‘s Night Skies, Edgar Rice Burroughs‘ John Carter of Mars, Phil Kaufman‘s Star Trek: Planet of the Titans, Arthur C. Clarke‘s Childhood’s End, Alfred Bester‘s The Stars My Destination, Alejandro Jodorowsky‘s Dune, Ridley Scott‘s I Am Legend and The Outer Limits — comprise a forthcoming (7.15) Times Online article.
A vivid and well-written Woodstock recollection from Martin Scorsese, excerpted from a foreword to Mike Evans and Paul Kingsbury’s “Woodstock: Three Days That Rocked the World,” appeared in last Sunday’s Times Online. “I was to be one of the Woodstock film’s editors,” Scorsese writes. But he doesn’t mention what I was told a few weeks ago by Woodstock director Michael Wadleigh, which is that Scorsese was let go from the editing team when the operation moved from New York to Los Angeles.
“Todd and me are in our cool fishing bibs. Piper’s helping out on the boat. It’s an amazing day that shows how our Creator favored my beloved Alaska, gatekeeper of the continent, and makes a great shot for all the network reporters up here to milk. This progresses me away from my image as some kind of flaky ‘rogue diva’ and back to my image as a tough huntin’ and fishin’ gal.
“But Andrea Mitchell makes such a darn big deal about how I’m quitting in the middle of my term.
“‘You’re not listening to me!’ I snap.
“She says maybe I didn’t want to go back to the nitty-gritty of Alaska politics after the bright lights of the national campaign.
“‘The nitty-gritty, like, you mean, the fish slime and the dirt under the fingernails and stuff that’s me?’ I said. Awesome response, huh?!!” — from “Sarah’s Secret Diary,” a Maureen Dowd column appearing in today’s (7.8) N.Y. Times.
As I walked last night along West 3rd Street (on the southern end of Washington Square) I walked by a young woman wearing a “McCain for President” T-shirt. A blonde, of course, with a Lynn Cheney cut. Maybe 20 or 21, walking her dog, buying an ice-cream cone. “Hey Jett…a Republican,” I whispered to my son, gesturing discreetly. This town is full of eccentrics and that’s what I love about it, but to walk through the West Village proclaiming your allegiance to John McCain…?