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Thursday, 8 April 2010

Films of the Decade - Part Two: 2001

10. The Believer - Featuring an intense performance from Ryan Gosling as a young Jewish man who secretly harbours an anti-Semitic view of the world, The Believer is an unrelenting character study that grabs you from the start and doesn’t let go. Similar in tone to the more well known films American History X and This is England, The Believer would appeal to fans of either with its stark portrayal of the disturbing effects that racism can have on confused young adults.

9. Mullholland Drive - David Lynch is the king of absurdly fascinating films, his mind-bending plot lines and crazy methods of storytelling are enough to dissuade most casual filmgoers from sitting through his abstract creations. However, in the case of Mullholland Drive they would be missing out on a beautifully crafted movie involving a struggling actress and her warped perceptions of reality that confuses the hell out of you but still manages to be enthralling throughout! Featuring a few genuinely unsettling moments and creating more questions for the viewer than your average episode of Lost, Mullholland Drive is a tough movie to sit through but is definitely worth your time.

8. Black Hawk Down - A horrifically visceral take on the carnage and destruction of war, Black Hawk Down places the viewer in the heart of the action with some of the most realistic battle scenes ever committed to celluloid. Equally as powerful of other modern war greats such as Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line, this harrowing story is based on real events making the storyline all the more poignant. When a team of elite U.S. soldiers drop into Somalia to capture two lieutenants of a renegade warlord they find themselves caught up in a destructive onslaught of firepower. This is not a film to be enjoyed but it is certainly one that you need to experience.

7. Ghost World - Bizarre but brilliant, Ghost World is a fascinating insight into the life of two adolescent girls who just don’t fit in with their peers. Based on a comic book, the story develops when the girls inadvertently play a prank on an unsuspecting victim only for Enid, played by Thora Birch, to fall for the guy she so cruelly mocked. Steve Buscemi is ever watchable as the hapless victim and the zany comedy only gets better with repeat viewings. Very under-rated.

6. The Man Who Wasn’t There - There’s no doubt that the Coen brothers are excellent film-makers, and despite being one of their less popular films, The Man who wasn’t there is a visually stunning black comedy focussing on the mundane existence of a village barber as his life begins to spiral out of control. Featuring excellent performances from Billy Bob Thornton and Frances McDormand as the couple whose lives are about to be drastically altered, this film is spectacular to look at and funny in that twisted kind of way that the Coen’s do so well. If you like The Big Lebowski and Barton Fink, you need this film in your life.

5. Amelie - The most successful of Jeunet and Caro’s collaborations is a charming romantic comedy that tugs on the heart strings and amuses in equal delights. Amelie is a very innocent young lady, who assists those around her in various ways whilst simultaneously falling in love with a mysterious stranger. I am usually unconvinced by romantic comedies due to their overly whimsical nature but Amelie left me spellbound with Audrey Tautou’s delicate portrayal of a hopelessly romantic young woman, desperate to meet the man of her dreams.

4. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - This wasn’t the first attempt to bring Tolkien’s supposedly unfilmable stories to the big screen, the initial attempt in 1978 failed to succeed financially and it sadly remains without a sequel to this day. Thankfully with Peter Jackson at the helm, the enormous task of bringing Middle Earth to life was accomplished in a breathtakingly good fashion. A perfect amalgamation of fantastic visual effects and compelling storyline, Jackson’s labour of love turned audiences on to fantasy films in a big way, whilst still appealing to devout fans of the book.

3. No Man’s Land - In a brave but wise decision by the Academy, No Man’s Land beat Amelie to the best foreign Oscar in 2002. Despite this successful result, No Man’s Land is still far less well known than Amelie, which is a great shame as it set a new benchmark for films that focus on the small scale effects of war. When two opposing soldiers in the Bosnia and Serbia conflict become trapped in a trench between the two sides, the horrors of war strike home as they struggle to put aside their differences and make it out alive. Deeply disturbing, wholly original and utterly compelling, this could easily turn you into a pacifist after a single viewing.

2. Donnie Darko
- The cult sleeper that surreptitiously became an iconic film for angst ridden teenagers all across the world is still as absorbing as the first time I watched it. Who would have thought a movie about time travel, giant rabbits and a moody teenager would be such a success? It is a shame that the brilliant storyline has been slightly tarnished with the abysmal cash-in that was S. Darko, but Donnie Darko still holds its own as a very unique and compelling vision.

1. Waking Life - Repeat viewings are essential to the enjoyment of Waking Life - that’s not a problem though - you will want to watch it again and again. Richard Linklater has been creating unconventional films for two decades and Waking Life is no exception. The use of a mind-blowing animation technique called rotoscoping that combines live action with animation in a style never seen before paved the way for other adult-orientated animations such as Waltz with Bashir and A Scanner Darkly. Some criticized the film for its hazy plot but that’s essential to the storyline and reflects the main character’s dreamlike state of consciousness. Complete with incredibly absorbing ideas and fascinating insights into the world of philosophy, this is a journey you’ll want to take all too frequently.

It was an extremely difficult task to decide which ten films defined the year 2001 - here are my choices that didn't quite make the list:

Blow
Y Tu Mama Tambien
The Royal Tenenbaums
The Devil’s Backbone
Enemy At The Gates
The Hole
Das Experiment
Session 9
Lantana
The Others

Any films I missed? Let me know! 

1 comment:

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