Monday, January 08, 2007

Films of 2006

My top three in order:
Andrea Arnold's debut is a stark feature set on the poverty line in Glasgow as seen through the modern phenomenon of the CCTV world. A bold and novel film played with engaging realism by all involved. The film follows CCTV operator Jackie's identification of a face from her past and her slow coming-to-terms with a terrible tradegy. I was hooked from beginning to end and sympathetic for all involved. I found myself musing on this film for weeks afterwards. Simply flawless.

2) Pan's Labyrinth
An intelligent and darkly refreshing take for the fantasy genre. Guillermo del Toro's beautiful film is set to the backdrop of the end of the civil war in 1944 Spain. 12-year-old Ofelia's despairing real-life prospects are supplanted by her discovery of a ruined world, to which she may be the saviour. This is a powerful work with some important messages with regard to the vitality of ideals and the imagination, but for me, two small points ensured that Red Road wasn't challenged for the top peg. The first is that towards the end there is a point-of-view shot from one of the adults seeing Ofelia talking to one of the characters from her fantasy world, except that the character isn't there in this P-o-V shot. To me, this took away the choice that the audience had in whether to fully believe Ofelia's version of events or not. It felt insulting to me, as for the rest of the film this choice was maintained, and I believe it reduced the effect of the end of the film. The second, much more minor point, is to do with the editing. Midway through the film, a fantasy character and Ofelia have an argument and it's threatened that Ofelia will have no further access to the world. There then proceeds, I felt, an excessively lengthy 'real-world' section of the film, which made me start to question whether the fantasy involvement had indeed ended. Small points both, and still a highly recomended film!

A very funny and warm film. Here is September's review:
Went to see the excellent Little Miss Sunshine last night and it made me laugh out loud more freely than any film in a while has been able to. The film follows little Olive Hoover and her family as they travel to California so that she can compete in the hideous Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant (for 6-7 year olds!). Each cast member gives in a fantastic performance as their respective member of this fractured family and together with a pretty tight script and wonderful cinematography, it is on the whole a delight to watch, and needless to say I recommend you to do so.
However, it isn't flawless. Sometime about midway through I had to tell myself not to get caught up on some stretches of the premise (no police action by the hospital/car pool people? Horn mysteriously stopping during the emotional bit and whilst parked outside the hotel? Security not taking over in that end scene). Also, the family seems so fractured at the beginning you wonder why their together at all, but then again I know first hand at times that this can be true! It's all minor stuff in any case, as you really are having so much fun (sometimes in the so-painful-but-nice way), and the film nicely avoids any over-the-top emotional sugary end. There you go then, a well-managed and very funny film and one that doesn't make you feel that you're being used in a some boardroom formula. Beautiful.

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Blogger J.J said...

Little Miss Sunshine is a wonderful film. I missed the other two I am afraid. Will resort to hiring the DVD's I expect.

9 January 2007 at 08:34  
Blogger George Walks said...

They are both fantastic, but I would say that! Be prepared for a very realistic sex scene in the middle of Red Road however! I think it needed to be that way to match the realism of the film as a whole, but some more wholesome people have protested on the odd message board...

9 January 2007 at 17:17  
Blogger Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Pah. I missed Red Road, despite EineKleineRob's positive review and Little Miss Sunshine also missed being seen. So DVDs for those two for me. On what I saw (as opposed to what I wanted to see) I would have to say that "The Three Burials..." would have to be in my top three for the year.

10 January 2007 at 09:33  
Blogger George Walks said...

Aye, The Three Burials is top notch. I especially like the scene in the mexican bar, beautifully shot. However, these lists are tough, and the podium was just one step too far for it.

10 January 2007 at 17:13  
Blogger Ash said...

I missed both Little Miss sunshine and Red Road but as you already know i did see the excellent Pan's Labyrinth. Your criticism of the film is spot on but it still doesn't diminish how rare and special the film really is.

happy blogging.

21 January 2007 at 16:59  
Blogger George Walks said...

Glad to see Little Miss Sunshine getting some recognition at all these awards. Hopefully, it will give it a deserved second wind!

PS - saw Venus and loved it, saw Babel and loathed it!!

12 February 2007 at 20:50  

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