Year in Review: Films
Written by Bwog Staff
Merry Christmas and happy holidays from all of us at Bwog! Were your presents not intellectually-stimulating enough? No worries! As our gift to you, we give you Bwog film connoisseur Christian Kamongi’s cinematic picks of 2007, just a little something something to casually reference in 2008.
10. The Wayward Cloud
Tsai-Ming Liang’s visceral sing-along porno was not just a moralistic polemic against a sex-ravaged culture, but also a lustrously beautiful collage of post-modern romance.
Harris Savides’ camerawork and David Fincher’s showmanship combine to illustrate an era and provide a narrative that perfectly mirrors the film’s incapacitation of traditional filmic indexicality in favor of digital analog. Unarguably the most important and influential film of the year.
8. The Boss of It All
On the outside Lars von Trier produces an office comedy filled with peculiar and off-putting Scandinavian humor. However, a closer analysis reveals a stunning testament to subjectivity even in the unfriendly realms of genre, predatory capitalism, and automatic digital editing.
7. There Will Be Blood
In a sweeping tale of American ethos, P.T. Anderson reveals–with unforeseen radicalism–the dubious if not incompatible relationship between capitalism and religious zealotry. There Will Be Blood proves to be both a stunning classic historical epic and somber commentary on the fate of contemporary America.
6. Death Proof
Quentin Tarantino subdues and brilliantly refines his structualist bombast to weave one of the most entertaining films of the year. With Death Proof Tarantino has transcended his Hawksian heroines and created something all his own. This film continues to affirm his status as possibly the finest active screenwriter in the English language.
At this point one can almost measure the correlation between the brilliance of a Brian De Palma film and its negative critical reception. Yet those who felt unenthused (or more appropriately, uncomfortable) were conditioned for a piece with a modicum of respectful national sentiment. Instead they received an enraged meditation on occupation that was fearless in its condemnation of it’s subjects and viewers.
An orphan seeks revenge only to discover a spiritual proximity to his target. Ali Barkai and Youssouf Djaoro’s heartbreaking performances only increase the allure and darkness of this bizarre relationship. Daratt is the finest work to come out of the African continent this year. From one of the decade’s foremost new directorial talents, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, Daratt is a sublime narrative woven with the mythical restraint expected of a master storyteller.
3. The Wind That Shakes the Barley
The loathsomely inadequate praise for Ken Loach’s latest achievement only legitimizes his mastery, which is designated by a lack of effort and easy access to achievement. Without a remote ounce of effort or aesthetic adventurism, Loach created the most comprehensive historical tale of the year. Scooping deep into the nature of hegemony, the film uncompromisingly explored resistance with detail paid to every issue, from prosecution to humiliation (and most courageously) to economic liberation.
2. No Country for Old Men
Viewing No Country for Old Men felt like a traumatic aging experience. Its sweat-drenched pace and haunting performances are carried out with breathtaking stamina on the part of the Coen Brothers. McCarthy’s famed terse prose finds its companion in Roger Deakin’s bare yet ravishing camerawork; while Bardem and Brolin have better chemistry than a Hollywood Golden Era couple, without their characters ever meeting.
With the general violent impetus unrevealed, the film’s difficulty reflects its uncanny ability to tap into contemporary horror. And it is the same horrific unease that allows the film to transcend ambiguity and reach metaphysical heights.
1. I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone
No other film this year or possibly this decade has so ingeniously coupled carefree ardor with impending doom. Tsai-Ming Liang’s silence fulfills an otherworldly purpose as the film propels towards a minimalist ground zero that the filmmaker’s oeuvre has been desperately trying to reach.
Liang’s ability to convey ritualistic connotations in everyday moments provides the film with a peculiar profundity. The plotline is juggled with a subplot of a mysterious haze that starts to take over Kuala Lumpur with smoke infiltrating every urban nook and cranny. And yet the subplot fails to exert the disastrous climate we’ve expected from the movies, instead Liang utilizes it as a context to evoke the insolubility of the need for affection even in the face of disaster. The final image of the film’s characters floating on a bed fixated not on their perplexing surroundings, but each other, is easily the finest scene of the year.
Top Five Honorable Mentions: Flanders, I’m Not There, Offside, Planet Terror, and The Postmodern Life of My Aunt
Director of the Year: Tsai Ming-Liang for I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone and The Wayward Cloud
Cast of the Year: Year of the Dog featuring Molly Shannon, Regina King, Josh Pais, Laura Dern, Thomas McCarthy, John C. Reilly, and Peter Sarsgaard
Female Performer: Patrice van Houten for Black Book
Male Performer: Daniel Day-Lewis for There Will Be Blood
Screenplay: Paul Laverty for The Wind That Shakes the Barley
Cinematography: Harry Savides for Zodiac
Documentary: Lake of Fire