02 January 2010

The films of 2009

2009 is gone, and as usual in this time of season people are summarizing the last year, the good things and bad, the achievements and disappointments.
I'll do my modest part as well, listing some of best movies of this year, along with bunch of underrated films, that didn't get the appreciation they deserve, and also few movies that turned out to be great disappointments. Of course there are plenty of films that I haven't seen yet, mostly European and Asian films that I've heard good things about, but I'll post this list for now and maybe add more later.
No particular order.

Best of 2009:

Thirst - Chan Wook Park explores, among other things, the place or religion and morality in the world of secret desires and sexual passions. Vampires, romance and murder.

Watchmen - Philosophical fable, packed with special effects and slow motion action, about sad condition of western civilization that lost the meaning of its existence.

Star Trek - The universe never looked so attractive and full of life. Time travel, speeds faster than light, advanced quantum technology, alternative realities. The most ridiculous and implausible film of the year is also the most entertaining and most inspiring one.

Inglourious Basterds - Tarantino is back with another shocking, yet amusing display of violence and suspense. Great dialogs and small tribute to his first film.

Moon - Quiet and calm movie that pretty much answers the question "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?". A debut film by David Bowie's son marks him as a filmmaker to follow.

Orphan - Some people will go too far to be loved. The movie that will keep you guessing and just shock you in the end. The best thriller of 2009.

Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea - Using naive colors, simple and childish forms and great story without a single drop of cynicism, this fairytale brings up all the warm and sweet associations from your early childhood to the most abstract levels of cognition. Brain-hurricane.

Antichrist - Coming from one of those rare directors, that prefer to explore idea in more abstract ways, instead of dealing with causality and linear storytelling, this extremely complicated exploration of the sexuality, through the twisted interpretation of Oedipal complex is tedious to watch. But the impact from the complete picture, after all the emotions set down, is totally worth it. Playing with cinematic forms and techniques for a long time now, Von Trier manages to achieve what many can only dream of - a vision.

A Prophet - No symbolism, no deep philosophical questions or abstract explorations of human nature. Just powerful and very interesting crime drama.

Most unappreciated of 2009:

Gamer - Our chaotic world of images and reflections cannot offer us anything real and substantial. Some people might think they know the truth and fight to get free, but all they see is just another reflection. There is no escape from the game, the Simulacrum is true.

Year One - Iconic biblical figures from the central and important religious myths are being mocked, insulted and scorned. So much travesty and blasphemy in one movie is a rare sight. Some low humor hides the true meaning behind fart jokes, but viewers, that can see pass that, will find this film both funny and intellectual.

Jennifer's Body - Probably most misunderstood film of the year that just went over people's heads. Not to mention horrible promotional campaign, targeting completely wrong audience. Written, directed and starred by women, this film is clever and amusing allegory about teenage girls discovering the mystery of their sexuality for the first time. Hopeless indeed.

Spread - Shiny and superficial Hollywood has other side, more grim and cruel. What does it take to survive in such bleak reality, what a person would do just to stay close to the dream? Surprisingly mature and wise, and lots of sex scenes too.

Whatever Works - Woody Allen's best film in many years is funny, extremely sarcastic and intellectual. "This is not the feel-good movie of the year" says Larry David in the beginning, but it most certainly is.

The Haunted World of El Superbeasto - The jokes, the songs, the energy, the sexual vibe. Big dumb smile never left my face the entire film, and most importantly, in the end I just wanted more.

Disappointments of 2009:

9 - After all the attention it received, this film finally emerged as weak and ill shadow of its expectations. Cute puppets and cool animation, but where is the story?

Terminator Salvation - So much money and great cast wasted on theatrical settings and insane screaming, there is nothing else here. Is this what the human resistance in the future looks like? Just drop the atom bomb right now.

The Brothers Bloom - Whatever pushed director Rian Johnson, when he was filming his brilliant Brick, has vanished. Confusing and boring drama films we have enough without you, sir. The biggest con in this story is the movie itself.

Inhabited Island - Multi-million Russian production in two parts was as disappointing as it was promising. Based on great sci-fi book, the film just goes nowhere, stuck in between fake settings, theatrical acting and painfully pointless storytelling. Russian director Fyodor Bondarchuk, that right now is working hard on precise plan to butcher another book - The Winter Queen, is better in such line of work as wood cutter, because this is exactly how he directs.

Dead Snow - White snow, red blood, Nazi zombies. How is that not enough for great splatter flick? Feels like standing in line for an hour to ride great roller coaster, and see "Out of order" sign just when you land yourself in the cart.

Blood: The Last Vampire - Repressed daddy issues and boring action (slow motion only makes it worse), is what this movie all about. Intentions were good, big fat fail on the execution.

Friday the 13th - Remake of the classic slasher is as dumb as the blond girls in it, mindlessly running around with their fake tits and clumsily jumping under big phallic machete. Yeah, they show weed smoking dudes in this too.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine - Is it possible to expect from a superhero movie to have attractive action and story that actually makes sense? How about clever dialogs, logical plot and some kind of meaning or substance? Scary faces, loud screaming, clashing male bodies and high levels of testosterone is not what superheros are about.
Remy LeBeau: So what brings you to our fair city, sir?
Logan: Victor Creed.
Remy LeBeau: And who's that?
Logan: The man I'm gonna kill. He works with a man named Stryker on an island. Just need to know where it is.
Remy LeBeau: And why would you think I know that?
Logan: Well, 'cause I know who you are, Gambit. You're the guy who escaped and you're the guy who's gonna take me back there.
Fucking brilliant.

See you in 2010.


  1. I couldn't stand the self-importance that Watchmen imposed on its audience, but I'm glad to see a few other people enjoying Year One. I don't know if you've seen District 9 yet but it was my favorite movie this year.

    And what a waste of money on Terminator and Wolverine.

    By the way, how did you get the cool/not cool and share/save widgets in your blog. I think they're great and was hoping to use them on my own blog. dutchmastersmusic@gmail.com

  2. I did see District 9, it was good movie and I liked it, but I found it hard to be excited about it.
    I really need to watch it again, I think because I saw it in theater with crowd, I didn't get the full range of the experience. I like my movies in more private setting.