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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What else happened...

Anybody want to read another review of the events of 2008? I didn't think so. Instead, let me tell you about some of the best films of the past year. Between traveling, biking, and surgery, I fell slightly below my usual average of 12-15 movies a month, but some great art was produced in 2008. The most remarkable fact is that, while many films aimed to be topical, only two were convincingly so. I'll talk about those two last. The Coen's Burn after Reading, Maher's Religulous, and Nachmanoff's Traitor tried too hard to address issues in contemporary culture and managed only to be opinionated. Anderson's There Will Be Blood was more subtle and featured an extraordinary performance by Daniel Day Lewis, but was limited by the Sinclair novel that was its source. Marjane Satrapy's Persepolis is a highlight, at least for non-Persians, for its rendition of Iranian life. My vocabulary is strained by the effort to praise the brilliant composite of 18 short movies that make up Paris, je t'aime. Released in France in 2006, it came out on DVD in the U.S. this year. You must see Margo Martindale's performance in the last segment, Alexander Payne's 14th Arrondisment. Shanley's Doubt is an affecting movie featuring some of the finest acting you will ever see by Philip Seymour Hoffmann and Meryl Streep. Which brings us to the best of 2008: Sidney Lumet's Before the Devil Knows You're Dead and Tom McCarthy's The Visitor. These two films don't make the error of telling you what's been done wrong, they show you. Lumet's story exposes the self-serving and criminal behavior that has been encouraged for years, only to produce the current economic failure. Even more perfectly, The Visitor dramatizes the equally criminal policies instituted since 9/11.  I won't give you a long review. You have to see it. I do want to make one point, though. The acting of Richard Jenkins and Haaz Sleiman, playing the professor and the immigrant, perfectly embodies the affection and understanding that will eventually redeem us. The political change that the majority of us have contributed to creating can begin, in 2009, to restore integrity to our nation and our lives. Not to mention our economy. I look forward to that, and to our friendship for another year...


Blogger Susie Bright said...

I loved loved loved "The Visitor" too, just saw it. Isn't Richard Jenkins incredible?

I will break down and get Paris je t'aime now, too.

7:56 PM  

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