Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Road To Somewhere

I don't know if you've noticed but I've updated the website with the full 2007 screenings page, complete with top ten and awards. The only change to the top ten I finalised in June is the addition of Up the Yangtze, which I saw earlier this year and LOVED. I've slipped it into second place (still can't get over the gorgeousness of Once) but it's a definite A. If I were to re-visit my awards I'd also probably include it in the Cinematography and Editing sections; such is its visual beauty, but I may as well wait a couple of years to make any kind of amendment to my six-month-old lists, especially since I've neglected to see Persepolis and Flight of the Red Balloon among others. Oh, and if you're curious, and you saw Yangtze in a cinema a couple of months ago for instance, I count by release date anywhere (this one landed in Canada September '07) and so that's why you'll find films like [REC] and Honeydripper etc. there too.

As well as 2007 I've also managed to do the 1994 and 1995 pages. Note that the mid-80s to mid-90s is the period I've neglected quite a lot, with viewings confined to popular T.V. comedy films like Uncle Buck and Mrs. Doubtfire. Hey, we all loved them at the time, right? Maybe not, but regardless of that Best Picture winners in this period, both that I have seen (Rain Man, Forrest Gump) and those that I haven't (Out of Africa, Platoon) hardly conjure up fond memories or wild lust. And yes I know there is a lot more to cinema than the Oscars, but I sense a lot of negativity about this period in cinema generally. I'll get there, though, I'm sure. But yeah, all of the 96-06 pages are also updated, including three new top five entries in 1998, and an "I still can't bring myself to drop you" ninth place for Joel Schumacher's wickedly OTT version of Lloyd-Webber's camp classic, The Phantom of the Opera, in 2004.

Speaking of nineties and Oscar (yes I do that a lot) I finally managed to get around to watching The Shawshank Redemption on Sunday. "Whaat?!" I hear you cry. Yes, there are most likely people who haven't seen this film (I haven't seen Goodfellas either FYI), and are these people missing out? Largely. But missing out more on spectacle, craft, entertainment, the beauty of storytelling, than any insight into what life was like in mid-century prisons. Not so long ago I watched Caged, a film about this same subject and made in the time when said subject was alive, happening, relevant. Then again, Shawshank doesn't really have the sense of responsibility that Caged did, and in truth that's really not what it's there for. Everything in it feels so matter-of-fact (death, rape, fraud) that it's a wonder the film achieves anything at all. The main reason it does work (to an exent, anyway) is because of Frank Darabont, who I previously had issues with (although I very much appreciate this recent adaptation), and who crafts a film that feels so at ease with itself, shifting phases unrecognisably, memorable without ever really over-exerting itself. The film is remarkably tight, narratively speaking -- even at its most far-fetched -- and it really is a wonder that it feels so majestic, given that much of the first half is dedicated to avoiding any insight into its often serious (and often cartoonish) events, or really any sense of scope as to the effects that prison has on these characters. As you may know, Darabont wasn't nominated for a Directing Oscar, but was for the detestable Green Mile. Figure that one out.

Before Xmas:-
  • Year-end lists for Albums, Singles etc. (Films in February)
  • 1938 & 1958 Actress Specials
  • More awards coverage and predictions
  • And if I can bear it, a review of Changeling

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