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Thread: Favorite Films of 2006 (Oscar Jubis)

  1. #1
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    Favorite Films of 2006 (Oscar Jubis)

    *I*
    HALF NELSON (Ryan Fleck/USA)
    THREE TIMES (Hou Hsiao Hsien/Taiwan)

    *II*
    CHILDREN OF MEN (Alfonso Cuaron/UK-USA)
    THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU (Cristi Puiu/Romania)
    4 (Ilya Khrjanovsky/Russia)
    KEANE Alt.Version (Lodge Kerrigan/USA)
    THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS 3D (Tim Burton-Henry Selick/USA)
    PAN'S LABYRINTH (Guillermo del Toro/Mexico-Spain)
    THE WAR TAPES (Deborah Scranton/USA)
    WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE (Spike Lee/USA)

    and two shorts...
    DIN OF CELESTIAL BIRDS (E. Elias Merhige/USA)
    MY DAD IS 100 YEARS OLD (Guy Maddin-Isabella Rossellini/Canada)

    Favorite Documentaries of the Year
    Favorite Undistributed Films of the Year
    Favorite DVDs released in 2006

    Longer lists of favorite theatrical releases in both English and Foreign Language categories will be forthcoming.
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 02-21-2007 at 12:15 PM.

  2. #2
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    I watched very few fiction features in 2006 that reminded me why I fell in love with cinema in the first place. Basically, I think a lot of good films were released in 2006 but only four or five compare favorably with my Top 10 lists from previous years. It's significant to note that two of those are new versions of previously released films (Keane in 2005, and The Nightmare Before Christmas in 1993). Of course this is only my opinion, and there's always the possibility that the three films I list as "Not Seen Yet" might turn out to be as great as their fans claim. Oh, and I think 2006 was an excellent year for American documentaries.


    FAVORITE ENGLISH-LANGUAGE FILMS

    1-HALF NELSON (Ryan Fleck/USA)
    2-CHILDREN OF MEN (Alfonso Cuaron/UK-USA)
    --KEANE alt. version (Lodge Kerrigan/USA)
    --THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS 3D (Burton-Selick/USA)
    5-A SCANNER DARKLY (Richard Linklater/USA)
    6-FAST FOOD NATION (Richard Linklater/USA-UK)
    --MANDERLAY (Lars von Trier/Denmark)
    --QUINCEANERA (Glatzer-Westmoreland/USA)
    --SOMERSAULT (Cate Shortland/Australia)
    10-INLAND EMPIRE (David Lynch/USA)

    Runners Up
    THE ILLUSIONIST
    BORAT
    THE QUEEN
    UNITED 93
    LOOK BOTH WAYS
    FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS
    THANK YOU FOR SMOKING
    BOBBY
    PERFUME
    SHERRYBABY

    Honorable Mention: The Departed, Notes on a Scandal, Sweet Land, The Last King of Scotland, The Wild Blue Yonder, Blood Diamond, The Prestige, Hollywoodland, Venus, Wassup Rockers, A Prairie Home Companion, Tristram Shandy, Mutual Appreciation, Old Joy.
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 01-28-2008 at 05:37 PM.

  3. #3
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    FAVORITE FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILMS

    1-THREE TIMES (Hou Hsiao Hsien/Taiwan)
    2-DEATH OF MR, LAZARESCU (Cristi Puiu/Romania)
    **4 (Ilya Khrjanovsky/Russia)
    **PAN'S LABYRINTH (Guillermo del Toro/Mexico-Spain)
    5-BATTLE IN HEAVEN (Carlos Reygadas/Mexico)
    6-CLIMATES (Nuri Bilge Ceylan/Turkey)
    **KEKEXILI (Lu Chuan/China)
    **LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA (Clint Eastwood/USA)
    **VOLVER (Pedro Almodovar/Spain)
    10FATELESS (Lajos Koltai/Hungary)
    **GABRIELLE (Patrice Chereau/France)
    **LADY VENGEANCE (Chan-wook Park/South Korea)

    Runners Up
    TAKE MY EYES (Spain)
    LUNACY (Czech Rep-Slovak Rep)
    REQUIEM (Germany)
    L'ENFANT (Belgium/France)
    THE FORSAKEN LAND (Sri Lanka)
    CLEAN (France)
    FUSE (Bosnia-Herzegovina)
    SOPHIE SCHOLL (Germany)
    THE MAGIC GLOVES (Argentina)
    SOMETHING LIKE HAPPINESS (Czech Rep)

    Honorable Mention: Days of Glory (Fra), Cautiva (Arg), Pusher II (Den), The Aura (Arg), Woman is the Future of Man (Kor), Uniform (Chi), Heading South (Fra), Be With Me (Singapore), Linda Linda Linda (Jap), Joyeaux Noel (Fra), Russian Dolls (Fra/UK)

    Not Seen Yet: Broken Sky.
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 02-04-2008 at 04:03 PM.

  4. #4
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    *I debated wether to list David Lynch's Inland Empire as a 2006 or a 2007 release and opted for the former. I had listed only 9 films in my English-language Top 10 and Lynch's latest fits appropriately at number 10 based on two viewings and much subsequent thought. An arresting and inventive piece of work that didn't involve me emotionally as much as Mulholland Drive (one of my favorites of the current decade)].

    *I added one film to my Foreign list: the Argentinean film Cautiva (Captive). It's a political coming-of-age similar to Oscar-winner Official Story but from the point of view of the daughter of murdered rebels rather than from her clueless adoptive mother. It merits an honorable mention.

  5. #5
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    Oscar,

    Can you please explain to me what caused you to list Inland Empire on your list? Not only did I find it incomprehensible and self-indulgent, it also, to me, completely lacked the feeling of dread that I find so delicious in David Lynch films. I wanted so much to like this one but came away numb.

    Which is why I'm glad you liked it. I really need help with this one and you're one of the few writers I can get some rational thought from.

  6. #6
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    Hi Bix. Thanks for your nice comment. Hope what follows is not too long.

    First, I'd like to put my listing IE at #10 in context. With regards to the year it was released: "I watched very few fiction features in 2006 that reminded me why I fell in love with cinema in the first place. Basically, I think a lot of good films were released in 2006 but only four or five compare favorably with my Top 10 lists from previous years." With regards to the opinons of others. I certainly don't think IE is as great as these quotes indicate: "After fifteen years of disappointment with and doubt about DL, it is possible to love his work again."(Knipp), "David Lynch's first digital video is his best and most experimental feature since Eraserhead" (Rosenbaum) or several found in a slew of 4-star reviews the film received.

    I'd have to disagree when you say that the sense of dread is completely lacking. It's there, in spurts, from the beginning, as when Nikki's neighbor played by Grace Zabriskie pays a visit to make some dire predictions. Her face twitches and the close-ups turn her into some sort of monster. There are moments like it throughout, often facilitated by the use of sound. But this dread notes are not sustained as in previous Lynch films. So, my disagreement on this regard is just a matter of degree. You do make a valid point.

    The one thing that separates it from his recent features is that this time the demarcation lines between reality and fiction, conscious and subconscious, awake state and dream state are more nebulous and diffuse. That scene 85 minutes into Mulholland Drive, when Cowboy wakes up Diane, and separates her dream/drug-induced hallucination from "reality" doesn't have an equivalent in IE. My take on the film assumes that the character identified as "Lost Girl", who sits in her apartment watching TV as she waits for her (estranged) husband and son to turn up, is a likely protagonist_ obviously along with one of the Laura Dern's characters (actress Nikki Grace). Two scenes seem to me supremely important: the scene in which Lost Girl and Nikki kiss and the latter fades away, and the scene in which Lost Girl reunites with her husband and son.

    IE can be enjoyed without attempting to piece together a narrative, devise a chronology of events, or organize the visual and aural information using a variety of systems. But for me, half the fun stems from trying to make sense of it, and attempt to wrestle meaning out of it. At times, IE indeed seem fractured beyond comprehension and a tad indulgent. However, Lynch's observations about the Hollywood system and how it affects people, the desintegration of self-identity, and the representations of reality via various media are resonant themes. He broaches them with evocative power. On IE, he seems to be riffing on the merging of an actor's true identity and the roles she's cast to play, as well as said roles as filtered and interpreted by the viewer (represented by Lost Girl, seen in the opening scene crying while watching something on her TV set). Lynch seems to me particularly compassionate towards women, especially young, vulnerable ones.

    Formally, what caught my attention more than ever was the frequent use of extreme close-ups that distort facial features and create abstract images out of commonplace objects. Whereas most "portals" in MD were bottomless boxes, here Lynch resorts to the use of doors as thresholds between worlds and states of being. The audio dynamic range is extremely wide, with some of barely audible effects (the wind that opens the film) and some extremely loud, ear-piercing sounds.

    Inland Empire, grand as it is, didn't have quite the emotional impact on me as Mulholland Drive. In the same manner that the sense of dread or impending danger comes and goes, the feeling of pathos is not sustained or conveyed satisfactorily.

  7. #7
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    Oscar,

    Sorry that I have taken this long to respond to the thoughts on Inland Empirethat I requested of you.

    Actually, your thoughts have caused me to go back and reconsider the film and while I still can't honestly recommend it to anyone, I do feel as if my confusion about it has been allieviated somewhat. In fact, your comments have caused me to think another viewing of Mulholland Drive may be in order.

    I guess your comment that "IE can be enjoyed without attempting to piece together a narrative" is what makes me feel better. I kept expecting certain thing, in their repetition, to become clarified and images that made no structural sense to be part of a resolution and the lack of one only intensified my frustration. The fact that Inland Empire can be construed as nothing more than a fever dream gives me a little peace of mind.

    I still feel, though, that the dread I was looking/hoping for didn't materialize and your pointing to Grace Zabriskie as a case in point didn't do it for me. I found that scene silly and overlong and typical of the film in general--just too long. I seem to recall Dave Kehr on his blog noting that the film was three hours of Laura Dern's reaction shots and that pretty much sums it up for me. While I understand the reaction shots were probably needed to provide the audience with at least some semblance of identification, there were far too many of them and, after a while ending up signifying less and less.

    I guess I should be giving credit to David Lynch for his unstinting ambition and devotion to the avant-garde. I mean, no one, but no one, is even attempting to make these movies in mainstream Hollywood and Lynch has earned the right to make a movie like this if he wants. I just wish he had an interest in letting his audience in on his thoughts.

  8. #8
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    By the way, Dave Kehr says Mary Steenburgen's in Inland Empire as an "agitated informer". I don't remember her (nor do I recall Julia Ormand, Michael Park or Nastassja Kinski). Do you recall her?

  9. #9
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    Makes me happy to read you'll be re-watching Mulholland.
    Yes, too many Laura Dern reaction shots.
    Steenburgen shows up briefly as a strung-out, indeed agitated woman who asks Nikki/Sue: "Do you know the man who lives here"?
    Julia Ormond plays Doris "Chick with a screwdriver in her gut" Side.
    Kinski shows up at the over-the-final-credits, end-of-film party scene.
    Who is Michael Park?

  10. #10
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    Michael Parks was an actor in the '60s who had a short-lived but fondly remembered television show called "Then Came Bronson". But the IMDB shows no record of him being in Inland Empire so I guess the answer to "Who is Michael Park?" is...I don't know.

  11. #11
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    Michael Parks! yes, he was Jean Renault in David Lynch's Twin Peaks. I know exactly what he looks like. He was in Tarantino's Kill Bill and Grindhouse too. He has a small apart in my beloved The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford!

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