Old MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

On the Other Hand: Top 10s Worth a Look

After all the list-bashing of the last couple of days, I guess I would be remiss to point out a few of the truly intriguing year-end lists I spotted in my bleary-eyed travels around the Web. Indeed they are out there, but you have to search–like break out the infrared devices, the night-vision goggles, trained German Shepherds, etc.
Again, you can rarely go wrong with The Onion AV Club, even as a few of its contributors get their pants legs trapped in the abhorrent Take That Critics Poll over at the Voice. But perhaps this year’s Voice poll’s lone bright spot occurred in the form of critic Ed Halter, who kicked out a list of the excellent-yet-underappreciated avant garde and experimental films to have crashed New York (or not, in the case of Visual Music) this year.

Then there are the “Merlies” from the blog Merlot Democrats, in which author Jason Kellett runs down the best 10 films he has not seen. Despite maybe one cutesy strain too many (“Syriana, they say, tells several interlocking stories that exist at the nexus of money, power, politics, and oil. … or, as we say in the United states, the Republican party. Snap!), I found myself oddly endeared to Kellett’s “best” guesses:

3- 2046 – Wong kar-Wai’s epic yet intimate tale of Chinese people writ Chinese. Also spoke Chinese. The cinematography is supposed to be simultaneously intimate and epic. Some may be disappointed with the mysterious ending, but this film is undeniably foreign. …

5- The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada – Tommy Lee Jones’s epic tale of, I assume, Mexican zombies writ western. I haven’t read much about this film yet, but Tommy Lee Jones doesn’t like George Bush, so this movie HAS to be great. Best of luck getting that pesky undead Melquiades back in his grave, Tommy, before he “must eat braaaaains!” Or, in Mexican, “tengo que comer cerrrrrrebro!” …

10- Wedding Crashers – An epic tale of unlawful entry writ hilarious. Allegedly, this massive R-rated comedy smash has it all: the wit of Caddyshack, the boobs of Porky’s, the semen of American Pie, and the heart of Untamed Heart.

Best of all, please refer to Grady Hendrix’s list of Asian film bests of 2005–not a Top 10, not necessarily a Top Anything as much as an abstract collection of moments that brought the year’s greatness into relief.
A few examples from Hendrix’s consistently genius blog Kaiju Shakedown:

BEST MOVIE: Korean Madness. It’s short, it’s funny, it’s like Kamikaze Girls meets Hana & Alice with better choreography than Rent, The Producers and Perhaps Love all put together. You can go watch it here.

BEST WAY TO BORE AN AUDIENCE: Antarctic Journal. “See, in the movie these guys are in the Antarctic and they walk in the snow. They walk and they walk and they walk. Then they find a hut!” Uh, does anything else happen? “Sometimes they’re in a tent.”

BEST ONSCREEN VOMIT: Drink, Drank, Drunk. Derek Yee followed up his harrowing and accomplished One Night in Mongkok with this epic ode to the onscreen hurling of stomach contents. I lost count after the fifth time Daniel Wu tossed his cookies. And speaking of Daniel Wu…

BEST ACTOR: If by “Best Actor” you mean “Guy who’s been in every single movie this year” then that would be Daniel Wu. Aided and abetted by a law requiring every movie producer in Hong Kong to cast him in their film, Daniel Wu was in 5 movies this year, down from last year’s high of 7.

BEST INSPIRATIONAL MOVIE ABOUT THE HANDICAPPED: The Late Bloomer. Just knowing that even people confined to a wheelchair with MS can still get it together and become serial killers offers hope to millions of the differently abled. [ED. NOTE: Not to mention it would probably find its way to my own Top 10 list if I had one; a blistering, brilliant film.]

BEST ACTION SCENE: The Myth. Jackie takes on a pack of Indian cops in a glue trap factory and proves he can still pull out the fun stunts when it counts.

WORST ACTION SCENE: The Myth. The laborious finale was larded with bad CGI the way a stomach-cramping plate of nachos is drowned in processed cheez whiz and cheap hamburger meat.

Enough said. Thank you, kind sirs, for giving the world something to shoot for a year from now.

5 Responses to “On the Other Hand: Top 10s Worth a Look”

  1. Martha says:

    Ah, if only the Voice’s feature truly was a critical examination of the glory of Take That. There’s always next year, I suppose.

  2. Noel Murray says:

    Thanks for the kind words about us A.V. Clubbers. As for the VOICE poll, I enjoy contributing to it every year, but I admit that when it comes time to whip up some comments for the comment sections, I usually try to think of something zingy and political, so as to improve my chances of getting quoted.

  3. jason says:

    Thanks as well for the kind words about the Merlies. (Not for the word “cutesy”, but for all the other words.)

  4. jfigl says:

    “Abhorrent” is a pretty strong word to bandy about without specifying why.
    Did you not get invited?

  5. Anonymous says:

    I don’t see a problem with the Voice poll. It’s usually very interesting, and the final compiled list is also very good. I don’t understand how you can call it “abhorrent”.

Quote Unquotesee all »

“The thought is interrupted by an odd interlude. We are speaking in the side room of Casita, a swish and fairly busy Italian bistro in Aoyama – a district of Tokyo usually so replete with celebrities that they spark minimal fuss. Kojima’s fame, however, exceeds normal limits and adoring staff have worked out who their guest is. He stops mid-sentence and points up towards the speakers, delighted. The soft jazz that had been playing discreetly across the restaurant’s dark, hardwood interior has suddenly been replaced with the theme music from some of Kojima’s hit games. Harry Gregson-Williams’ music is sublime in its context but ‘Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots’ is not, Kojima acknowledges, terribly restauranty. He pauses, adjusting a pair of large, blue-framed glasses of his own design, and returns to the way in which games have not only influenced films, but have also changed the way in which people watch them. “There are stories being told [in cinema] that my generation may find surprising but which the gamer generation doesn’t find weird at all,” he says.
~ Hideo Kojima

“They’re still talking about the ‘cathedral of cinema,’ the ‘communal experience,’ blah blah. The experiences I’ve had recently in the theatre have not been good. There’s commercials, noise, cellphones. I was watching Colette at the Varsity, and halfway through red flashes came up at the bottom of the frame. A woman came out and said, ‘We’re going to have to reboot, so take fifteen minutes and come back.’ Then they rebooted it from the beginning, and she had to ask the audience to tell her how far to go. You tell me, is that a great experience? I generally don’t watch movies in a cinema at all. Netflix is the future. It’s the present. But the whole paradigm of a series, binge-watching, it’s quite different. My first reaction is that it’s more novelistic, because if you have an eight-hour season, you can get into complex, intricate things. You can let it breathe and the audience expectations are such that they will let you, where before they wouldn’t have the patience. I think only the surface has been touched with experimenting with that.”
~ David Cronenberg