Monday, December 28, 2009

A Year at the Movies, Sometimes

Time for my annual ranking of new movies I saw in the year. I saw an extraordinarily small number this year, due mainly to my comic taking up an unprecedented amount of my time. I didn't even see enough to fill out a proper top ten, and there are several movies I'd really like to see, like Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans and Fantastic Mr. Fox. But here's a ranking of what I did see;

Best Films

1. Gake no Ue no Ponyo (Wikipedia entry, my review)
2. Inglourious Basterds (Wikipedia entry, my review)
3. Sherlock Holmes (Wikipedia entry, my review)
4. Paranormal Activity (Wikipedia entry, my review)
5. Capitalism: A Love Story (Wikipedia entry, my review)
6. Star Trek (Wikipedia entry, my review)
7. Up in the Air (Wikipedia entry, my review)
8. The Uninvited (Wikipedia entry, my review.)

Worst Films

1. Blind Side (Wikipedia entry, my review)
2. Avatar (Wikipedia entry, my review)
3. Watchmen (Wikipedia entry, my review)

Gake no Ue no Ponyo and Inglourious Basterds were neck and neck there--it basically seemed to me a decent Hayao Miyazaki movie up against an especially good Quentin Tarantino movie. But then I remembered the feeling of incredible joy most of Gake no Ue no Ponyo gave me.

If you look at my reviews of worst films, you'll find in each of them I at one point speak with some disparagement against my dislike of the films. Each one of them, I can see I'm not the intended audience for the film and it seems to me there's nothing wrong with people enjoying each of them. But I've decided I probably ought to stick up for myself a little and say, yes, I think these are bad movies.

Blind Side is perfectly innocent, really. But its predictability, flat performances (most notably Tim McGraw) and its simple minded solutions for and characterisations of what in real life are far bigger problems, make it to me a genuinely bad movie.

I don't think people who like Avatar are racists any more than I think fans of 300 are necessarily racist. I don't even think James Cameron's a racist. My favourite musical film is Swing Time, a movie in which Fred Astaire appears in black face to dance a tribute to Bojangles. Astaire meant his dance as a compliment to Bill Robinson, and Cameron meant for his film to be about how he feels native peoples have more of a right to the land than industrialised white cultures. In both cases, we see big, but still innocent mistakes. You could say ignorant, but I kind of think of Cameron as a sort of child. And I do think intentions matter. I read an article once by someone who claimed that if someone says they're sorry for hurting someone's feelings without expressing regret for the actions that caused those feelings, then it's not a legitimate apology. I disagree. If you disregard the fact that someone regrets harm caused by actions they feel are justified, it's only a recipe for perpetual conflict and isolation. But the weak characterisation and moral simplicity make the film dull and depressing.

As for Watchmen, I almost put it on the top list because I still think someone who has no experience with the comic can get a valuable experience out of it. But Zack Snyder's watering down of Rorschach's story, his misogynist handling of The Comedian's story, and his artificial and light weight action sequences are crimes too big to ignore against such a great book.

I intend to come up with rankings of movies of the decade, but I'm not sure when I'm going to have time . . .

Last night's tweets;

The man shaped dark uniforms fear flat walls.
Enough algae have formed to change a pond.
Spiders and flowers are decking the halls.
No sense waiting for someone to respond.

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