Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Crackpot Chronicles presents its pick for the top nine movies of 2009. There are other list-worthy films this year but these are the only ones that I saw. I don't recall seeing as many as nine movies theatrically in a year since 2000, and that was only because I went to a lot of WGA screenings that year. Here, in no particular order, are my picks. I would recommend every one of them, each for diverse and particular elements of expertise, ingenuity and kicks.
Low budget independent film, short on pretension, long on message, serrated bite, well written, bemusedly acted and uproariously funny, even though the joke is a shiv in the side.
OK, I was predisposed to love this and saw it in Bangkok on opening day, creating quite a memory. Great casting, faster paced and way sexier than most Trek fare, exuding an abundance of attitude. A standalone story with lots of bellylaughs, elbow-nudging homage and moments of pure interstellar thrill.
And more than that: It has an indelible, unexpected charm, reasserting uniquely American iconography.
What more can I add to the praise that has been unanimously piled on this awe inspiring, throbbing creature-tryst? No IMAX or 3-D in our little Art Deco triplex, so I saw Avatar in "2rue-D." It is nothing short of majestic. Avatar romps along, explosive, sensuous, indignant and extravagant. Expensive? Oh, what's a few hundred million? Thanks due to Fox for investing a king's ransom in this holiday antidote to the recession. Imagination is worth everything. Everything. In the end, it may be the only renewable resource we really have.
Julie and Julia
A clever model of how slight a story you can base a movie on, if the idea is original. It's a movie you don't have to work hard to enjoy, nicely shot in salad-days neighborhoods of New York and the culinary snoot-chambers of Paris. A delicious performance by La Streep doesn't hurt either. It is deeply invigorating to see an actor inhabit a role with such authenticity and vigor. Warning: Don't see this hungry; make dinner reservations.
Savagely, darkly, brilliantly funny a la Tarrantino. Definitely not for the faint of heart. There were a few scenes I had to look away from. Reimagining how WWII could have gone if a certain lovely in the French Underground had her twisted little way. But oh, the humanity!
Angels and Demons
This one's on nobody else's list because it was considered a sequel to the DaVinci Code and you can't top that film's revelation. Nonetheless it is a damn good story. Worth seeing for its action, Hanks, religious cynacism and fabulous panaramas. Exquisite editing presents the grandeur of Roma you won't see for yourself any more.
You have to see a Pixar film at least once a year unless you are truly insufferable. This one, a commentary on aging and redemption made everyone's list. It's poignant, much deeper than you might expect, and uncovers verity in the preposterous, which is the holy grail of comedy. You feel like you either are or you know each principal character. And if you have and/or love dogs, some thigh-slapping moments just for you.
Wow! What.a.ride. Much to mock (which is always worthwhile when there are redeeming VFX) but altogether one effing tour de force, where without the Chinese, no one makes it out of the end of the world alive.
An adorable, engaging sidebar to the pre-poduction fiascos of the storied 1969 Woodstock festival. Among other things, a coming out story.