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2007 Screening Log - click for reviews, when applicable. Titles of short films listed in bold.

 

January

01. The Man From Planet X (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1951) 64 [Some of Ulmer's oddball choices here still come off as camp, but upon my second viewing, I found the film's spooky atmosphere more enticing. His use of the Scottish moor where the film is set is inspired, and the outside knowledge that the film recycled sets from Preminger's Joan of Arc movie makes one all the more aware of the director's resourcefulness. The striking shadows of the black and white photography during the interior scenes warrants comparison to The Black Cat.]

 

02. The Searchers (John Ford, 1956) 90 [This viewing was a revelation. I've seen The Searchers about five times before, but finally I could appreciate it on more than an academic level. Finally, Ethan Edwards' quest makes emotional sense to me, and that allows me to truly recognize just how beautifully layered and complex a film this is on every level. Ford's inquisitiveness into his past sins as storyteller grafts into the film an urgency that becomes impossible to escape for those familiar with his work. Rare is the genre film that so determinedly confounds audience expectations of morality and character.]

 

03. Gerry (Gus Van Sant, 2002) 45 [Gerry still strikes be as a frustrating, half-formed film. It has several moments of startling beauty, to be sure, but the scenes with dialogue largely kill the experience for me, even though I've come to accept them as part of the experience. Any attempts for me to see meaning or psychological insight in it end in frustration and reduce the impact of the whole. I think it works best for me as a non-narrative work.]

 

06. Out of Sight (Steven Soderbergh, 1998) 92 [As entertaining a film as Hollywood has produced in the last ten years, and the best, by far, from Soderberg, Out of Sight seems to only grow better with time. Soderbergh, as everyone knows by now, seems to work best while under constraint, and here he gets incredible support from his flawless ensemble, Scott Frank's witty screenplay and Anne V. Coates' superior editing. Clooney and Lopez are especially good, each delivering their best performance to date. The chemistry exuded during their infrequent scenes together anchors the caper plot, providing it with far more resonance than is usually found in the genre. Two of their scenes, specifically the ride in the trunk and the magnificent hotel bar / room sequence, are among the most romantic ever committed to celluloid.]

Silent Hill (Christophe Gans, 2006) 46 [If subjectivism had any place in film criticism this would clearly be a "bad" movie, but it manages through its bad CGI and incoherent plotting to achieve the pitch of a nightmare. Throughout, Gans' visual one-upmanship pushes further and further, culminating in a finale that is so visually busy that it seems just shy of mad genius.]

 

07. Kramer vs. Kramer (Robert Benton, 1979) 55 [Clearly not a deserving Best Picture winner, mainly because of its constant deck-stacking audience manipulation, this divorce melodrama nonetheless has its strengths. The performances from Meryl Streep and Jane Alexander are probably paramount among those, but Nestor Almendros' cinematography is not far behind. Benton's direction is clear-minded as ever, though many of his attempted grace notes (e.g. the alterations in routine as Papa Kramer becomes a sufficient parent) are far too unsubtle to work.]

Let's Scare Jessica to Death (John D. Hancock, 1971) 52

Cool Hand Luke (Stuart Rosenberg, 1967) 58

 

09. I Am a Sex Addict (Caveh Zahedi, 2005) 42

 

10. Slither (James Gunn, 2006) 51

 

11. Snakes on a Plane (David R. Ellis, 2006) 23

 

12. Superman Returns (Bryan Singer, 2006) 24

Murmur of the Heart (Louis Malle, 1971) 70

 

13. Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One (William Greaves, 1968) 77

7 Up (Paul Almond, 1964) 56

7 Plus Seven (Paul Almond, 1970) 68

 

14. 21 Up (Michael Apted, 1977) 51

 

15. 28 Up (Michael Apted, 1985) 70

 

16. 35 Up (Michael Apted, 1991) 62

 

17. 42 Up (Michael Apted, 1998) 58

 

19. 49 Up (Michael Apted, 2005) 59

 

20. Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1999) 97

Eraserhead (David Lynch, 1977) 75

 

21. Quinceanera (Richard Glatzer & Wash Westmoreland, 2006) 53

The Hitcher (Robert Harmon, 1986) 58

 

22. Room (Kyle Henry, 2005) 50

 

23. Sherrybaby (Laurie Collyer, 2006) 57

 

25. This Film Is Not Yet Rated (Kirby Dick, 2006) 3

 

26. Interiors (Woody Allen, 1978) 70

 

27. Tribulation 99: Alien Anomalies Under America (Craig Baldwin, 1992) 49

 

28. September (Woody Allen, 1987) 63

 

February

1. That's Entertainment! (Jack Haley, Jr., 1974) 51

 

3. Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968) 67

 

4. The Dark Angel (Sidney Franklin, 1935) 48

Mother Kusters Goes to Heaven (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1975) 61

What Alice Found (A. Dean Bell, 2003) 53

 

6. Alice (Woody Allen, 1990) 69

 

08. The Wicker Man (Neil LaBute, 2006) 8

 

09. Two English Girls (Francois Truffaut, 1971) 61

 

11. Last Exit to Brooklyn (Uli Edel, 1989) 62

 

13. Yankee Doodle Dandy (Michael Curtiz, 1942) 50

 

14. Possessed (Curtis Bernhardt, 1947) 65

 

15. Kiss of Death (Henry Hathaway, 1947) 56

 

16. Idiocracy (Mike Judge, 2006) 72

 

17. Pelts (Dario Argento, 2006) 62

 

18. Testament (Lynne Littmann, 1983) 54

The Last King of Scotland (Kevin MacDonald, 2006) 28

 

19. Trust (Hal Hartley, 1990) 89

 

20. Fatal Attraction (Adrian Lyne, 1987) 56

 

21. The Towering Inferno (John Guillermin, 1974) 38

 

22. Dead Mary (Robert Wilson, 2007) 62

 

23. Paris, je t'aime (Various, 2006) 49 [Specifically, Podalydes 27, Chadha 37, Van Sant 53, Coen Bros. 44, Salles/Thomas 55, Doyle 52, Coixet 41, Suwa 59, Chomet 57, Cuaron 47, Assayas 66, Schmitz 57, LaGravenese 38, Natali 58, Craven 46, Tykwer 64, Depardieu/Auburtin 52, Payne 78]

 

24. Altered (Eduardo Sanchez, 2006) 38

 

25. 3 Women (Robert Altman, 1977) 76

 

26. Interrogation (Rysard Bugajski, 1982) 64

 

27. Dark Woods (Pal Oie, 2003) 10

Crank (Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor, 2006) 35

 

28. The Driver (Walter Hill, 1978) 70

 

March

1. Detective Story (William Wyler, 1951) 62

 

2. Anna Christie (Clarence Brown, 1930) 81

The Haunted Strangler (Robert Day, 1958) 40

 

3. Grave of the Vampire (John Hayes, 1974) 42

 

4. Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007) 82

 

5. Brotherhood of Death (Bill Berry, 1976) 67

Shutter (Banjong Pisanthanakun & Parkpoom Wongpoom, 2004) 34

 

6. Fearless Fighters (Mo Man-Hung, 1971) 38

 

7. Red Road (Andrea Arnold, 2006) 58

 

8. Revenge of the Cheerleaders (Richard Lerner, 1976) 43

Fight for Your Life (Robert A. Endelson, 1977) 66

 

9. Rampo Noir (Suguru Takeuchi, Akio Jissoji, Hisayasu Sato Atsushi Kaneko, 2005) 27

 

10. I Bury the Living (Albert Band, 1958) 39

Raggedy Man (Jack Fisk, 1981) 42

 

11. Final Examination (Fred Olen Ray, 2003) 8

Requiem (Hans-Christian Schmid, 2006) 48

 

12. Flowing (Mikio Naruse, 1956) 87

The French Connection (William Friedkin, 1971) 66

 

13. Man of the West (Anthony Mann, 1958) 83

 

14. Autopsy (Armando Crispino, 1975) 54

Damn Yankees! (George Abbott & Stanley Donen, 1958) 43

 

15. Big Deal on Madonna Street (Mario Monicelli, 1958) 71

 

16. Underworld Beauty (Seijun Suzuki, 1958) 57

Some Came Running (Vincente Minnelli, 1958) 60

Elevator to the Gallows (Louis Malle, 1958) 51

The Vikings (Richard Fleischer, 1958) 45

Ashes and Diamonds (Andrzej Wajda, 1958) 61

 

17. The Revenge of Frankenstein (Terence Fisher, 1958) 73

I Married a Monster From Outer Space (Gene Fowler Jr., 1958) 63

The Last Hurrah (John Ford, 1958) 62

South Pacific (Joshua Logan, 1958) 35

Bonjour Tristesse (Otto Preminger, 1958) 80

 

18. The Long, Hot Summer (Martin Ritt, 1958) 63

The Young Lions (Edward Dmytryk, 1958) 51

The Horse's Mouth (Ronald Neame, 1958) 62

 

19. The Heart of the Game (Ward Serrill, 2005) 38

 

20. Ivan the Terrible, Part I (Sergei Eisenstein, 1944) 92

 

21. Ivan the Terrible, Part II (Sergei Eisenstein, 1958) 90

 

22. The Bravados (Henry King, 1958) 48

 

23. Horror of Dracula (Terence Fisher, 1958) 67

 

24. A Night to Remember (Roy Ward Baker, 1958) 73

Stage Struck (Sidney Lumet, 1958) 69

 

25. The Defiant Ones (Stanley Kramer, 1958) 41

The Tarnished Angels (Douglas Sirk, 1958) 64

The Sheepman (George Marshall, 1958) 52

The Atomic Brain (Joseph Mascelli, 1964) 10

 

27. Roman (Angela Bettis, 2006) 41

 

28. The Left Handed Gun (Arthur Penn, 1958) 68

 

29. Run Silent, Run Deep (Robert Wise, 1958) 68

 

April

2. Teacher's Pet (George Seaton, 1958) 44

Equinox Flower (Yasujiro Ozu, 1958) 74

 

3. The Cat o' Nine Tails (Dario Argento, 1971) 62

 

4. Jigoku (Nobuo Nakagawa, 1960) 65

Taxidermia (Gyorgy Palfi, 2006) 81

 

5. Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things (Bob Clark, 1972) 54

 

6. Grindhouse (Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, 2007) 76

Corridors of Blood (Robert Day, 1958) 57

 

7. Blood Diamond (Edward Zwick, 2006) 54

The Pursuit of Happyness (Gabriele Muccino, 2006) 57

 

8. Come Early Morning (Joey Lauren Adams, 2006) 38

Rambling Rose (Martha Coolidge, 1991) 57

 

9. The Candy Snatchers (Guerdon Trueblood, 1973) 46

 

10. Hands Across the Table (Mitchell Leisen, 1935) 59

Death Proof [Grindhouse cut] (Quentin Tarantino, 2007) 87

 

12. Sombre (Philippe Grandrieux, 1998) 74

 

13. Desire Under the Elms (Delbert Mann, 1958) 58

 

14. Night of the Comet (Thom Eberhardt, 1984) 66

 

15. The Turning Point (Herbert Ross, 1977) 59

Blood Freak (Steve Hawkes & Brad Grinter, 1972) 37

 

16. Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill! (Russ Meyer, 1965) 76

 

17. Intruder (Scott Spiegel, 1989) 46

 

18. Freedom Writers (Richard LaGravenese, 2007) 47

 

21. The History Boys (Nicholas Hytner, 2006) 36

 

22. Killing Zoe (Roger Avary, 1994) 52

 

23. Anna (Yurek Bogayevicz, 1987) 55

 

25. Carandiru (Hector Babenco, 2003) 27

 

26. The Rite (Ingmar Bergman, 1969) 72

 

27. Idiocracy (Mike Judge, 2006) 64

 

28. I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK (Park Chan-wook, 2006) 40

 

29. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (Alex Gibney, 2005) 37

 

30. Anatomy of a Murder (Otto Preminger, 1959) 95

 

May

1. Werckmeister Harmonies (Bela Tarr, 2000) 97

 

4. Spider-Man 3 (Sam Raimi, 2007) 63

 

05. Five (Abbas Kiarostami, 2003) 46

Decasia: The State of Decay (Bill Morrison, 2002) 61

 

06. Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1977) 76

 

07. Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollack? (Harry Moses, 2006) 43

 

08. The 7th Victim (Mark Robson, 1943) 86
 

09. Brand Upon the Brain! (Guy Maddin, 2006) 53

 

10. Vacancy (Nimrod Antal, 2007) 59

Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro, 2006) 82

 

11. 28 Weeks Later (Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, 2007) 52

Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus (Steven Shainberg, 2006) 37

 

12. The Ghost Story of Yotsuya (Nobuo Nakagawa, 1959) 71

The Lion in Winter (Anthony Harvey, 1968) 63

 

13. Because I Said So (Michael Lehmann, 2007) 44

Music and Lyrics (Marc Lawrence, 2007) 31

London to Brighton (Paul Andrew Williams, 2006) 55

 

14. Le Petit lieutenant (Xavier Beauvois, 2005) 75

 

15. Time (Kim Ki-duk, 2006) 70

 

16. Kolobos (Daniel Liatowitsch & David Todd Ocvirk, 1999) 43

 

17. Deliver Us From Evil (Amy Berg, 2006) 44

 

18. Opera No. 1 (Hal Hartley, 1994) 76

The Other Also (Hal Hartley, 1997) 32

The New Math(s) (Hal Hartley, 1999) 31

NYC 3/94 (Hal Hartley, 1994) 28

The Sisters of Mercy (Hal Hartley, 2004) 35

Kimono (Hal Hartley, 2000) 39

 

19. Family (John Landis, 2006) 60

 

20. Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple (Stanley Nelson, 2006) 67

 

21. Violette Noziere (Claude Chabrol, 1978) 73

 

22. The Secret Life of Words (Isabel Coixet, 2005) 49

 

23. The Boss of It All (Lars von Trier, 2006) 60

 

24. The Good German (Steven Soderbergh, 2006) 51

 

25. The Painted Veil (John Curran, 2006) 50

The Trip to Bountiful (Peter Masterson, 1985) 46

 

26. First Man Into Space (Robert Day, 1959) 37

Dutchman (Anthony Harvey, 1967) 71

Destricted (Various, 2006) 36 [Specifically, Abramovic 29, Barney 68, Brambilla 55, Clark, 65, Noe 12, Prince 23, Wood 9]

 

27. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (Gore Verbinski, 2007) 57

Bug (William Friedkin, 2006) 68

Head-On (Fatih Akin, 2004) 53

 

28. The Chocolate War (Keith Gordon, 1988) 56

Dust Devil (Richard Stanley, 1992) 44

Feast (John Gulager, 2005) 49

Sansho the Bailiff (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1954) 62

 

29. My Name Is Joe (Ken Loach, 1998) 64

 

30. The School of Flesh (Benoit Jacquot, 1998) 73

 

31. Art School Confidential (Terry Zwigoff, 2006) 38

 

June

1. The Declaration of Independence (Crane Wilbur, 1938) 52

The Night Watchman (Chuck Jones, 1938) 31

A Slight Case of Murder (Lloyd Bacon, 1938) 61

 

2. Knocked Up (Judd Apatow, 2006) 40

The Racket (John Cromwell, 1951) 36

 

3. Severance (Christopher Smith, 2006) 55

To Each His Own Cinema (Various, 2007) 56 [No individual ratings, but I'd recommend the films by Cronenberg, the Dardennes, the Coens, Hou, Egoyan, and Polanski]

 

4. The Commitments (Alan Parker, 1991) 66

 

5. Shara (Naomi Kawase, 2003) 86

 

6. The Bitter Tea of General Yen (Frank Capra, 1933) 88

 

7. Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright, 2007) 72

 

8. Who Are the DeBolts? And Where Did They Get Nineteen Kids? (John Korty, 1977) 42

 

9. Hostel: Part II (Eli Roth, 2007) 69

The Forest for the Trees (Maren Ade, 2003) 64

 

10. Princess (Anders Morgenthaler, 2006) 36

Peppermint Candy (Lee Chang-dong, 2000) 57

 

11. Imitation of Life (John Stahl, 1934) 70

Over the Edge (Jonathan Kaplan, 1979) 78

 

12. Good Copy, Bad Copy (Andreas Johnsen, Ralf Christensen, & Henrik Moltke, 2007) 53

 

16. Ocean's Thirteen (Steven Soderbergh, 2007) 46

Sicko (Michael Moore, 2007) 26

 

17. Fraulein (Andrea Staka, 2006) 57

 

21. Breach (Billy Ray, 2007) 55

 

23. Bridge to Terabithia (Gabor Csupo, 2007) 28

 

24. Absurda (David Lynch, 2007) 61

 

28. Glen or Glenda? (Edward D. Wood, Jr., 1953) 63

 

29. Black Snake Moan (Craig Brewer, 2006) 60

 

30. A Mighty Heart (Michael Winterbottom, 2007) 77

Live Free or Die Hard (Len Wiseman, 2007) 29

 

July

1. 1408 (Mikael Hafstrom, 2007) 37

Lifted (Gary Rydstrom, 2006) 28

Ratatouille (Brad Bird, 2007) 35

 

2. One Body Too Many (Frank McDonald, 1944) 33

White Zombie (Victor Halperin, 1932) 61

 

3. Invisible Ghost (Joseph H. Lewis, 1941) 54

 

4. Breaking and Entering (Anthony Minghella, 2006) 53

 

5. The Abandoned (Nacho Cerda, 2006) 59

 

6. Ginostra (Manuel Pradal, 2002) 33

 

7. Transformers (Michael Bay, 2007) 58

Prince of the City (Sidney Lumet, 1981) 54

 

8. Murders in the Rue Morgue (Robert Florey, 1932) 48

Sheitan (Kim Chapiron, 2006) 52

 

9. The Raven (Lew Landers, 1935) 66

 

10. The Black Cat (Edgar G. Ullmer, 1934) 79

 

11. The Invisible Ray (Lambert Hillyer, 1936) 42

 

12. Desperate Living (John Waters, 1977) 85

 

13. Black Friday (Arthur Lubin, 1940) 49

 

14. Captivity (Roland Joffe, 2007) 59

Needful Things (Fraser Clarke Heston, 1993) 47

 

15. Hot Rods to Hell (John Brahm & James Curtis Havens, 1967) 52

 

16. The Testament of Doctor Cordelier (Jean Renoir, 1959) 76

 

17. The Hills Have Eyes II (Martin Weisz, 2007) 54

 

18. Pump Up the Volume (Allan Moyle, 1990) 76

 

19. Hairspray (John Waters, 1988) 72

 

20. New Waterford Girl (Allan Moyle, 1999) 53

 

21. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (David Yates, 2007) 36

Times Square (Allan Moyle, 1980) 64

 

22. Hairspray (Adam Shankman, 2007) 49

Sunshine (Danny Boyle, 2007) 73

El Dorado (Howard Hawks, 1966) 76

 

24. XChange (Allan Moyle, 2000) 40

 

25. Schindler's Houses (Heinz Emigholz, 2007) 55

 

26. Them (David Moreau and Xavier Palud, 2006) 41

 

27. Bellissima (Luchino Visconti, 1951) 73

 

28. Comedy of Power (Claude Chabrol, 2006) 74

 

29. The Simpsons Movie (David Silverman, 2007) 64

Dead Silence (James Wan, 2007) 27

Baxter (Jerome Boivin, 1989) 69

 

30. The Life of Jesus (Bruno Dumont, 1997) 82

 

August

5. Happy Feet (George Miller, 2006) 33

 

6. Premonition (Mennan Yapo, 2007) 65

 

7. Renaissance (Christian Volckman, 2006) 53

 

9. Death Wish (Michael Winner, 1974) 61

 

10. The Inglorious Bastards (Enzo G. Castellari, 1978) 54

 

11. You, Me, and Dupree (Anthony & Joe Russo, 2006) 26

 

12. Intolerance (Phil Mulloy, 2000) 55

Intolerance II: The Invasion (Phil Mulloy, 2001) 48

Intolerance III: The Final Solution (Phil Mulloy, 2004) 44

 

13. Cathy Come Home (Ken Loach, 1966) 67

 

14. Inland Empire (David Lynch, 2006) 84

 

16. Inferno (Dario Argento, 1980) 33

 

17. Everything's Gone Green (Paul Fox, 2006) 67

 

18. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (Seth Gordon, 2007) 71

The Invasion (Oliver Hirschbiegel, 2007) 62

Inland Empire (David Lynch, 2006) 84

 

19. Inland Empire (David Lynch, 2006) 84

The Bourne Ultimatum (Paul Greengrass, 2007) 52

 

20. Flash Point (Wilson Yip, 2007) 49

 

21. Slasher (John Landis, 2004) 60

 

22. California Dreamin' (Endless) (Cristian Nemescu, 2007) 58

 

23. My Father is 100 Years Old (Guy Maddin, 2005) 68

Man Push Cart (Ramin Bahrani, 2005) 53

 

24. Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film (Jeff McQueen, 2006) 55

 

25. Disturbia (D.J. Caruso, 2007) 32

 

26. Right at Your Door (Chris Gorak, 2006) 59

Away From Her (Sarah Polley, 2006) 54

 

27. Broken English (Zoe Cassavetes, 2007) 20

 

September

1. Halloween (Rob Zombie, 2007) 57

Death Proof [Standalone cut] (Quentin Tarantino, 2007) 89

 

2. Bobby (Emilio Estevez, 2006) 15

 

3. Beyond the Years (Im Kwon-taek, 2006) 42

The Year of the Dog (Mike White, 2007) 22

 

5. Wind Chill (Gregory Jacobs, 2007) 41

2007 TIFF Blog Now Live

 

6. Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg, 2007) 74

Starting Out in the Evening (Andrew Wagner, 2007) 38

Mother of Tears: The Third Mother (Dario Argento, 2007) 64



7. You, the Living (Roy Andersson, 2007) 55

The Banishment (Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2006) 29

One Hundred Nails (Ermanno Olmi, 2007) 43

Disengagement (Amos Gitai, 2007) 49

The Visitor (Thomas McCarthy, 2007) 28

Frontier(s) (Xavier Gens, 2007) 34

8. The Mourning Forest (Naomi Kawase, 2007) 56

Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy, 2007) 51

The Edge of Heaven (Fatih Akin, 2007) 62

Erik Nietzsche - The Early Years (Jacob Thuesen, 2007) 29

Nothing is Private (Alan Ball, 2007) 7

Diary of the Dead (George A. Romero, 2007) 71



9. Lust, Caution (Ang Lee, 2007) 66

Ex Drummer (Koen Mortier, 2007) 46

Love Songs (Christophe Honore, 2007) 43

Nightwatching (Peter Greenaway, 2007) 64

Chaotic Ana (Julio Medem, 2007) 39



10. No Country for Old Men (Coen Brothers, 2007) 68

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik, 2007) 54

Juno (Jason Reitman, 2007) 48

Unfinished Stories (Pourya Azarbayjani, 2007) 24

The Savages (Tamara Jenkins, 2007) 73

Forever Never Anywhere (Antonin Svoboda, 2007) 61

Stuck (Stuart Gordon) 76



11. Across the Universe (Julie Taymour, 2007) 59

Jellyfish (Shira Geffen & Etgar Keret, 2007) 51

The Band's Visit (Eran Kolirin, 2007) 60

Dr. Plonk (Rolf de Heer, 2007) 61

Happy New Life (Arpad Bogdan, 2007) 47

Water Lilies (Celine Sciamma, 2007) 67

Sukiyaki Western Django (Takashi Miike, 2007) 64



12. Cassandra's Dream (Woody Allen, 2007) 78

Encounters at the End of the World (Werner Herzog, 2007) 64

Eat, For This is My Body (Michelange Quay, 2007) 17

Iska's Journey (Csaba Bollok, 2007) 28

Christopher Columbus, The Enigma (Manoel de Oliveira, 2007) 68

Munyurangabo (Lee Isaac Chung, 2007) 36

The Devil's Chair (Adam Mason, 2006) 27



13. Margot at the Wedding (Noah Baumbach, 2007) 74

Help Me Eros (Lee Kang-sheng, 2007) 66

Before I Forget (Jacques Nolot, 2007) 44

The Girl in the Park (David Auburn, 2007) 39



14. Glory to the Filmmaker! (Takeshi Kitano, 2007) 57

Encarnacion (Anahi Berneri, 2007) 37

Corroboree (Ben Hackworth, 2007) 50

Import Export (Ulrich Seidl, 2006) 69

Son of Rambow (Garth Jennings, 2007) 14

Weirdsville (Allan Moyle, 2007) 55
 


15. Good Riddance (Francis Mankiewicz, 1980) 69

Smiley Face (Gregg Araki, 2007) 72

Hidden Love (Alessandro Capone, 2007) 20

Mutum (Sandra Kogut, 2007) 59

XXY (Lucia Puenzo, 2007) 41

It's a Free World... (Ken Loach, 2007) 56

Inside (Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury, 2007) 62
 


20. Stephanie Daley (Hilary Brougher, 2006) 38 [A week later, Iím actually a bit baffled that this thing managed a 38Ö Itís fairly implausible from the get-go, uncomfortably trying to dovetail the emotional journeys of its two female leads, doing neither plot strand a favor with the comparisons. Neither of the performances is especially convincing, either, which only underlines the fact that the suspense generated by the script hinges on the laziest kind of ambiguity. One could compliment Brougherís general restraint, I suppose, but even that feels a bit pretentious. For all of its somber posturing, it doesnít present an especially persuasive portrait of teen depression.]

 

21. Into the Wild (Sean Penn, 2007) 67 [One young manís grand journey to find out what everyone else kinda already knew. Instead of a revelatory experience, this film offers a portrait of a very specific brand of deluded adolescent angst. Much line Penn's other films as a director, it examines an obsessive, destructive personality, but unlike Penn's previous work, it spares the audience from most of it's protagonist's pain (which I actually feel a tad ambivalent aboutÖ Christopherís self-denial is so convincing that many viewers complain that the movie actually endorses his behavior wholeheartedly). The Jena Malone voiceover casts a reflective tone over the proceedings, but it simultaneously, unnecessarily absolves Christopher of much of his complexity and contradiction. I can't help but wonder if it was added to appease the real-life McCandless family. Despite the audience-friendly tone intruding where Pennís typically punishing approach would have been preferable, the film works, mostly because itís structured to present a series of interesting characters, each of them smartly constructed by the fine ensemble of actors.]

 

22. The Brave One (Neil Jordan, 2007) 19 [Seemingly conceived by people who havenít been to New York City in the last twenty-five years, this astonishingly wrongheaded misfire most amazes because it actually manages to be significantly less complexly realized than Michael Winnerís Death Wish (its obvious jumping off point). An exercise in xenophobia, it seems to exist only to allow Foster to chew scenery, but she never delivers a convincing rationale behind her characterís actions. The script condescends toward the audience at every turn, pointing out that the victims of Fosterís vigilante justice have rap sheets longer than Nicky Kattís dick and excusing the ďheroineĒ with suggestions that sheís mentally imbalanced. I donít mind cynicism in films at all, but this kind of unchecked stupidity sets me off every time.]

3:10 to Yuma (James Mangold, 2007) 42 [Obviously not every film needs to be important, but itís tough to understand the justification behind this particular remakeís existence. The no-nonsense original was hardly one of my favorite westerns, but Mangold further simplifies things here, enlarging the role of the protagonistís son, making the thematic underpinnings thuddingly obvious. Is there a director today who is less interested in subtext than Mangold? For a while it looks like Christian Bale might manage to find something interesting here, but even an actor that talented canít do much when the script leaves no psychological corner unexplored. Thereís a certain proficiency in the plotting and concept of the original that transfers over intact here, but thatís about the best that can be said.]

Caged (John Cromwell, 1950) 72 [Even though it suffers pretty greatly in comparison, itís awfully tempting to consider this as a gender-reversed take on 1950ís other great prison drama, Jean Genetís Un chant díamour. Being a Hollywood production, itís obviously more conventional and puritanical, but itís got a great feel for the way that prisons corrupt, and it uses its supposed social conscious to present a lot of pleasingly salacious material. Hope Emersonís presence here is pretty indelible. Her imposing swagger goes a long way toward making the setting feel genuinely dangerous. The kiss off of the ending is almost as much of a gut punch as the ďI stealĒ line at the end of I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang.]

 

23. In the Valley of Elah (Paul Haggis, 2007) 65 [Haggis never goes for subtlety when a chance to underline important themes for his audience presents itself. This is a pretty big liability when he's attempting a comparatively restrained tone, as he is here. Obviously flawed in many ways, the endeavor is largely salvaged by a superb Tommy Lee Jones performance, which is so finely modulated that the practice of watching his tiny modulations in attitude largely overwhelms any plot concerns. Co-star Charlize Theorn fares less well, through no fault of her own. She has to do so much heavy lifting for the plot, the symbolism, the crowd-pleasing elements of the movie that there's barely a character left for her to play. That she manages to be believable at all is a massive credit to her as an actress.]

 

24. This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2006) 58 [Significantly better in its first half, before it takes on the evils of racism, this passable coming-of-age tale at least manages a convincing period feel. The last fifteen minutes or so are especially disappointing parade of art house clichťs. Inarguably, it pales in comparison to films by the likes of Alan Clarke and Mike Leigh, but Meadows brings more heart to the table than either of those guys. This pays off mostly in Joe Gilgun's superlative turn as the good-natured Woody, easily one the best supporting performances I've seen this year.]

 

27. Unholy (Daryl Goldberg, 2007) 54 [I can safely say that I've never seen anything quite like this promising debut. Insanely ambitious as far as direct-to-DVD, shot-on-video horror films go, it prompts comparisons to works by David Lynch, Chris Marker and Alain Resnais, even though it's distinctly its own animal. The bizarre, awkward mixture of family drama, government conspiracy and supernatural overtones builds throughout, and even though the seams of the production show, atmosphere is nonetheless created, culminating with an effective climax that does an impressive job of tying together the assorted strands. If the filmmakers don't quite have the talent, budget, or cast to realize the screenplay's ambitions, it's still quite impressive that they get as far as they do.]

 

28. Hotel Chevalier (Wes Anderson, 2007) 53 [Oh, so that's why everyone's expected to watch this on iTunes...]

The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson, 2007) 35 [More like The Anderson Limited, the trend of diminishing returns resulting from this director's increasingly oppressive style continues here unabated. Things start out with a pleasing amount of dramatic urgency, but pretty quickly devolve into a series of quasi-comedic squabbles that say less about any plausible family dynamics than the obsessive primness of the script's construction. The phoniest thing about this picture is the sense that anything here is serendipitous. Each of the epiphanies and meaningful glances feels as shrewdly calculated as the whip pans and suffocating set design.]

 

29. Chinese Whispers (Oliver Rauch, 2007) 43

The Romance of Astree and Celadon (Eric Rohmer, 2007) 60 [It seems like everyoneís happy to describe this as ďminorĒ, simply because Rohmer is adapting the screenplay. Even though I share some of the commonly held reservations (e.g. the acting isnít very good, and the lazy eye to period detail is distracting), Iím not sure that I agree. It clearly works as a summation of Rohmerís work, telling as moral a tale as anything thatís come before. The film grapples with the meaning of love, devoting long scenes to debate about whether or not one can love more than one person, constantly weighing of devotion against reason. When the characters stumble across a book listing ďthe 12 rules of loveĒ, youíre definitely in Rohmer territory. Without a hint of irony, his cast, clearly chosen for their looks, plows through this stuff, until somewhere along the way the didactic tone goes out the window and the movie becomes something of a crowd-pleaser.]

4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu, 2007) 59 [This particular brand of drama, which rubs your nose in its recreated realism, is one of my least favorite genres. Anyone without such an aversion will find plenty to love here, but thereís a distinction between how tough a film is and how good it is.  For me, the focus on procedure, scarcely filtered through the audience surrogate lead, isnít really enough. One or two effective sequences here (e.g. the encounter with the man in the hotel room) stand out, but the overall impression left is how difficult it is to make this sort of material engaging on a deeper level. A few of these dramas (such as La Promesse) manage to do so effortlessly enough as to make the bulk of them look comparatively unimpressive. Here, the moments of direct commentary, such as the ticking clock in the opening shot, are too blunt to help much. Again, not much of a disappointment, given my tastes, but Iím not really surprised by the consensus.]

Married Life (Ira Sachs, 2007) 33 [I found this comedic skewering of marital mores to be rather excruciating, mostly because it holds its characters up as objects of folly, unfairly flattering the audience. The large problem here is that no matter how much self-importance Sachs ascribes to the goings-on of these people, the fundamental moral itís clearly heading toward (i.e. that marriage often requires complicit lies to function) is so trite that itís tough to engage with them. Furthermore, it hardly serves as much of a rebuttal to the work of  talented genre smugglers like Lewin, Ray, or Sirk. The script here is so diagrammatic that not even the usually-talented cast can turn these archetypes into interesting screen presences. Lacking the complexity of the very genre of films itís deconstructing, it comes off with egg on its face.]

The Orphanage (Juan Antonio Bayona, 2007) 52 [Major credit here has to go to lead actress Belen Rueda, who sells this thing (as much as it can be sold). The expository, sentimental first hour is incredibly dire, and it's amazing that the film manages to recover to any degree after it. Director Bayona is a bit too fond of loud noises, and not quite adept enough at creating atmosphere, despite high production values. Clearly, this gothic haunted house film isn't a patch on recent triumphs like The Others or Pan's Labyrinth... heck, it can't even compare with middling fare like The Abandoned, but it does eventually get around to fulfilling its genre requirements, and grows a tiny bit eerie.]

 

30. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Julian Schnabel, 2007) 70 [Two elements here are obvious stand-outs: Marie-Josee Croze's empathetic performance and Janus Kaminsky's career-best cinematography. The latter makes the first half-hour, shot from a claustrophobic first-person perspective, feel less like a gimmick than a true approximation of a horrific situation. It's curious, too, how Bauby is not given a free pass due to his handicap: take, for example, how he never really reconciles with the mother of his children, yet readily forgives his absent girlfriend or the suggestion of vanity in the film's suggestion that his last act on earth is having his reviews read to him. There are a half-dozen scenes here I could have done without, and Almaric's audience-pleasing voiceover was sometimes a bit much, but I remained involved throughout, which was the last thing I expected given the subject matter and director.]

The Man From London (Bela Tarr, 2007) 75 [Mostly a change in pace for the director in the way that long shots are used not to emphasize community, but instead internal psychology. The film noir feel and the inescapable atmosphere recall Tarr's Damnation, but here the style dial is cranked to 11. Within a few shots (there are maybe 30 in the film's 2 1/2 hours), it becomes patently obvious that the director is using genre only insofar as it allows him to flex his technical mastery, which he certainly does. After Tarr's last two masterworks, it's a disappointment, to be sure, but it still moves with such authority that it's a disappointment of the highest order.]

 

October

1. Hold My Scissors (Usama Alshaibi, 2004) 44

Amor Peligrosa (Michelle Silva, 2002) 46

 Opus 5 (Lloyd M. Williams, 1961) 51

 The Early 70s Horror Trailer (Damon Packard, 1999) 36

 She Sank on Shallow Bank (Clifton Childree & Nikki Rollason, 2006) 43

 Between 2 Deaths (Wago Kreider, 2006) 43

 The Fear (Angel Nieves, 2001) 47

 Psych-Burn (J.X. Williams, 1968) 39

The Mesmerist (Bill Morrison, 2003) 68

  

2. The Circus [1969 version] (Charles Chaplin, 1928) 81 [A parade of inspired comic set pieces with just enough pathos to provide a bittersweet outlook, this might not be Chaplin in absolute peak form, but it deserves a better reputation than it seems to have (although it was apparently his most popular movie in its initial release). Endlessly inventive, it skitters through its scant running time never once staggering on its tonal high-wire. Many of the sequences here are classics, although Merna Kennedy is less beguiling than the average Chaplin heroine. Beyond that,  I'd be hard pressed to find quibbles beyond the fact that many of the director's films are substantially better.]

  

3. Silent Light (Carlos Reygadas, 2007) 62 [Reygadas still shows that he's an inventive and dazzling visual stylist here, but I'm becoming increasingly frustrated with what seems to be the arbitrary nature of some of his directorial choices. The shots in this curiously cold melodrama are almost uniformly impressive from a photographic standpoint, yet they often lack coherence from one sequence to the next, segueing from static shots to handheld, from Reygadas' trademark 360-degree pans to distinctly Antonioniesque framing. A few of the seemingly unmotivated, digressive camera movements in his last two films worked because those films were sprawling and seriocomic, taking place in a world aware of life beyond the protagonist's point of view. Here, with Reygadas clearly aspiring for greatness -- and seriousness -- the stakes are much higher, and his lack of control is less acceptable.]

  

4. Alexandra (Alexander Sokurov, 2007) 44 [Positive reactions here seem to rely upon the degree to which you find the mere physical presence of Galina Vishnevskaya to be captivating. She's present in nearly every frame of the film, prompting comparisons to the Dardennes, but suffering from any such comparison. Sokurov isn't half as rigorous as those guys, either in his editing rhythms or his moral inquiry. The resulting message, which ignores national ties, turning its anti-war statement into a mere battle of the sexes, seems a great reduction of this conflict. The solid sense of place helps to fill in some of the gaps, speaking more about the unpleasantness of the war than anything else, but it's all too easy to ignore the larger implications of this grandma's journey and let the most mundane aspects speak the loudest.]

I'm Not There (Todd Haynes, 2007) 92 [Even though reason dictated that it would never be pulled off, Haynes delivers here the film that Velvet Goldmine suggested he had in him. An incredibly dense and controlled work, it almost boggles the mind that someone was able to conceive of this thing. It would be almost exhausting to experience were it not continually rewarding your attention with implicit connections that resonate throughout its parallel threads and its innate sense of self-aware playfulness. It works on too many levels to reduce down to a single theme, but I find its notion that individual change is constant and ideal, and how uncomfortable that notion makes the world, especially insightful.]

 

5. Lake of Fire (Tony Kaye, 2006) 51 [First of all, it must be said that a parade of talking heads that tend to voice extremist opinions on either side of an issue does not somehow magically equate to a fair and balanced perspective on said issue (not that the film needs to be balanced, but that seems to be Kaye's intent). Secondly, it should be noted that a long duration does not equate to an epic, comprehensive take on an issue. The time period covered in this film seems somewhat arbitrarily chosen, and the religious fundamentalists never get to make much of a cogent response. Instead, Kaye seems to present them as spectacle, enhancing the impact of his images with a variety of cheap music video techniques.]

Death to the Tin Man (Ray Tintori, 2007) 48

Go Go Tales (Abel Ferrara, 2007) 77 [Ferrara creates a kind of scuzzy screwball here that has few precedents, somehow managing to infuse it with an elegiac tone. I'd be tempted to say that the net effect feels like the unlikely offspring of Boogie Nights and A Prairie Home Companion, but Ferrara's unique presence is too deeply felt in the gauzy, neon-infused images and the histrionic performances. The pulse running throughout this movie can be felt everywhere. Each scene simmers with a kind of manic erotic anxiety, which makes its final statement of self-justification a seeming manifesto for Ferrara's tense style.]

 

6. The Heartbreak Kid (Peter & Bobby Farrelly, 2007) 53 [The Farrellys spend the first reel here detailing their protagonist's initial courtship, with allows this remake to develop its own tone before diving into material better covered by Elaine May's film. Largely ditching the original's profound examination of American one-upmanship, the Farrellys predictably turn this into an outwardly good-natured, inwardly subversive tale in which a mentally unstable man courts an idealized woman. Things work well during the funny (if sloppy) first half, largely thanks to a superb comic turn from Malin Akerman. Once she's out of the picture, interest quickly disappates. Michelle Monaghan becomes the focal point, and she's conceived only as an idealized woman, which isn't very funny at all. Stiller does a reasonable job throughout, but he can't compete with Grodin, who delivered one of cinema's defining comic performances.] 

Resident Evil: Extinction (Russell Mulcahy, 2007) 42 [Photographing Milla Jovovich's body still remains the central inspiration for this horror series. An improvement over its bombastic predecessor, this entry thankfully brings a new director (Aussie-born Mulcahy) to the table, resulting in a more finely controlled tone and a series of images (e.g. the ditch full of clones) that would seem especially dazzling if one could divorce them from the shopworn plot. Writer Anderson explicitly invokes Romero's Day of the Dead, but does nothing of interest with the conceit.]

In the City of Sylvia (Jose Luis Guerin, 2007) 54 [Clearly a work of "pure cinema", although that kind of touting suggests a film even more spare than this. Indeed, as in many minimalist works, the tiny, too-overt missteps (e.g. the scrawled declarations of love, the woman with the scar, the recurrence of the lighter salesman) take a great toll on the overall experience. What's left is recognizably a work that sees spectatorship as something that's two-way in nature. It's a solid basis for a film, but comes off as rather creepy in execution, with the protagonist feeling like more of a stalker than a dreamer.]

 

7. Secret Sunshine (Lee Chang-dong, 2007) 80 [Dramatically, this movie seems dependent on only one scene (although it's a corker). Thinking about things from a different perspective, however, one sees the other bits not as expository or resolutive with regard to that one key scene, but as a sustained comedy of manners in which our heroine's sinful pride is repeatedly punished. Lee's ability to mastermind this all is impressive. As he shifts the film from its naturalistic beginnings to its more melodramatic later sections, he makes apparent a guiding, unseen force that's controlling it all.]

The Voyage of the Red Balloon (Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 2007) 83 [Deceptively simple in its portrayal of the rhythms of relatively uneventful daily life, this becomes somewhere along the way a profound commentary on our state of affairs. As the movie carries on, Hou begins systematically dissolving lines between young and old, art and life, analog and digital, public and private, past and present, happy and sad, national identities, and so on, presenting a world in which such distinctions are too limiting to be applicable. Even though it plays like a mood piece, it's an ambitious film, made disarming because of the supreme effortlessness behind the camera.]

The Last Mistress (Catherine Breillat, 2007) 75

 

8. No Part of the Pig is Wasted (Emma Perret, 2006) 34

Paranoid Park (Gus Van Sant, 2007) 66

 

9. Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak on a Plane (Scott Thomas, 2007) 58

 

10. Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (Joe Lynch, 2007) 40

 

11. Tales From Earthsea (Goro Miyazaki, 2006) 65

 

12. Georgia Rule (Garry Marshall, 2007) 35

 

13. Useless (Jia Zhang Ke, 2007) 38

 

14. We Own the Night (James Gray, 2007) 83

 

15. A Patch of Blue (Guy Green, 1965) 58

 

16. The Collector (William Wyler, 1965) 73

 

21. Gone Baby Gone (Ben Affleck, 2007) 81

The Kingdom (Peter Berg, 2007) 33

 

22. A Devilish Murder (Yongmin Lee, 1965) 69

 

23. Moonlighting (Jerzy Skolimowski, 1982) 86

 

24. The Devil Rides Out (Terence Fisher, 1968) 83

 

25. From Beyond (Stuart Gordon, 1986) 74

 

26. Saw IV (Darren Lynn Bousman, 2007) 30

 

27. Dan in Real Life (Peter Hedges, 2007) 60

 

28. Things We Lost in the Fire (Susanne Bier, 2007) 35

 

29. Teenage Strangler (Ben Parker, 1964) 8

 

30. The Tripper (David Arquette, 2006) 27

 

November

3. Who Could Kill a Child? (Narciso Ibanez Serrador, 1976) 78

 

5. The Devil Came on Horseback (Ricki Stern & Anne Sundberg, 2007) 70

 

6. Creature With the Atom Brain (Edward L. Cahn, 1955) 28

 

7. A Woman's Face (Gustaf Molander, 1938) 70

 

8. Messiah of Evil (Willard Hyuck, 1973) 39

 

9. The Devil's Nightmare (Jean Brismee, 1971) 31

 

10. The Great Dictator (Charles Chaplin, 1940) 52

 

11. Manhattan Murder Mystery (Woody Allen, 1993) 63

 

12. P2 (Franck Khalfoun, 2007) 48

 

15. Hannah and Her Sisters (Woody Allen, 1986) 86

 

16. Southland Tales (Richard Kelly, 2006) 80

 

17. Beowulf (Robert Zemeckis, 2007) 63

 

18. Once (John Carney, 2006) 31

 

19. The Giant Claw (Fred F. Sears, 1957) 56

 

20. The Leech Woman (Edward Dein, 1960) 62

 

21. The Orphanage (Juan Antonio Bayona, 2007) 55

 

22. High Tension (Alexandre Aja, 2003) 50

 

23. The Mist (Frank Darabont, 2007) 38

 

24. The Incredible Shrinking Man (Jack Arnold, 1957) 65

Waitress (Adrienne Shelly, 2007) 37

 

25. Lions for Lambs (Robert Redford, 2007) 58

 

26. Reservation Road (Terry George, 2007) 29

 

27. I Like Killing Flies (Matt Mahurin, 2004) 40

 

28.  Margot at the Wedding (Noah Baumbach, 2007) 76

 

29. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007) 97

 

December

03. The Kite Runner (Marc Forster, 2007) 11

 

04. The Savages (Tamara Jenkins, 2007) 72

 

06. Atonement (Joe Wright, 2007) 58

 

08. Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg, 2007) 75

 

09. Superbad (Greg Mottola, 2007) 54

 

10. Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg, 2007) 75

 

12. The Rebel Set (Gene Fowler Jr., 1959) 27

 

13. Redacted (Brian De Palma, 2007) 56

 

14. Feast of Love (Robert Benton, 2007) 59

 

15. I Am Legend (Francis Lawrence, 2007) 57

 

16. The Golden Compass (Chris Weitz, 2007) 26

 

17. Southland Tales (Richard Kelly, 2006) 84

 

18. The Baron of Arizona (Samuel Fuller, 1950) 56

 

19. The Bucket List (Rob Reiner, 2007) 21

 

20. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Tim Burton, 2007) 63

 

21. The Great Debaters (Denzel Washington, 2007) 47

 

22. Control (Anton Corbijn, 2007) 55

 

23. Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters (Matt Maiellaro & Dave Willis, 2007) 32

 

24. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (Sidney Lumet, 2007) 45

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (Seth Gordon, 2007) 70

 

25. No Country for Old Men (Coen Brothers, 2007) 64

Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright, 2007) 71

Hairspray (Adam Shankman, 2007) 45

 

26. White Palms (Szabolcs Hajdu, 2006) 74

Private Property (Joachim Lafosse, 2006) 69

 

27. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Julian Schnabel, 2007) 70

Hostel: Part II (Eli Roth, 2007) 72

 

28. A Mighty Heart (Michael Winterbottom, 2007) 77

The Panic in Needle Park (Jerry Schatzberg, 1971) 53

Gone Baby Gone (Ben Affleck, 2007) 83

For the Boys (Mark Rydell, 1991) 32

 

29. Into the Wild (Sean Penn, 2007) 66

Straight Time (Ulu Grosbard, 1978) 65

Maxed Out (James D. Scurlock, 2006) 42

 

30. Juno (Jason Reitman, 2007) 33

 

31. American Gangster (Ridley Scott, 2007) 41