In which V attempts to whittle down an entire year's worth of excellent cinema into a mere five absolute best films.
Here we go again, it's the annual Top Five Films list. I had a tough time paring this down to only five. It's been an unusually good year for films. Meanwhile there's a Twilight Zone marathon on TV which I am presently missing out on, so let's get this party started. Trailers included this year because trailers are fun.
Note: some of these films may technically have had a limited release in 2006, or were released last year in other countries. I'm counting them this year, as this year is when they finally arrived at a cinema near me. Also, these are in no particular order, as I loved them all equally.
5. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer This film is based on my most favorite book of all time, so maybe I'm slightly biased in choosing it. But hey, my list = my rules. Y'all know how some books just seem unfilmable? I always wondered what a film version of Perfume would look like, but just couldn't figure out how it could possibly be done and retain the feel of the novel, particularly a controversial (and potentially very graphic) scene towards the end. So when I heard there was to finally be a movie, I had mixed feelings. When you love a book as much as I love Perfume, there's a mixture of excitement (Yes! Finally the world will know the genius of my favorite book!) and unease (No! They're going to totally eff this up and ruin it!). My unease ebbed considerably when I heard it was being directed by Tom Tykwer (of Run Lola Run fame), and when I finally saw the film in January (driving to another city for the privilege) I was not disappointed. It's visually stunning, beautifully told, and very very strange. If you've not already seen the film, please do watch the trailer - I guarantee you'll be intrigued.
4. Sunshine I think maybe I was more impressed by this than a lot of other people were. As was the case for 3/5 of this year's films, Sunshine required a short drive out of town, as my own town gets skipped over for most arty or foreign films. Despite a somewhat dodgy plot twist towards the end, I found this to be a profoundly beautiful and moving film. I'm especially glad I had the chance to see it on the big screen, as the sun itself is a major character in the film, and at times as a viewer I felt almost consumed by it myself. The premise here is that in the near future, the sun is dying. A group of selfless, brave people go on what is essentially a suicide mission to jump-start the sun and save the human race. I found it to be a powerful statement on sacrifice and honor. Also, for probably the first time in my life, I was made aware that the sun, while amazing and fascinating and beautiful and necessary for life, is also COMPLETELY TERRIFYING. Stars Cillian Murphy, of whom I am especially fond, and directed by Danny Boyle who is IMHO a true cinematic genius.
3. The Prestige One of the most unique stories I've seen in quite a while. Stellar acting from Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale (am also especially fond of Christian Bale, and would be even if he weren't Batman). The plot is convoluted and defies summarizing, but you'll be drawn right in and mesmerized by it. Much of the story centers around a seemingly impossible magic trick, and when the trick's secret is finally revealed, you will just about pee your pants. I saw this with my mom in a full cinema, and I kid you not, there was a collective gasp of utter shock. I love this film because it caught me off guard. It surprised me, it kept me guessing. That doesn't happen a lot with modern popular cinema. Modern popular cinema is usually crap (see also: Knocked Up, Delta Farce, Baby Geniuses). The Prestige is a 100% Quality Experience.
2. 300 If you had told me a few years ago that there was going to be a film of Sin City, and that not only would they NOT totally eff it up, but that it would actually look like Frank Miller's comics had come to life, and that it would be completely awesome and kick the whole world's ass, I would have said "yeah okay, whatever." Because speaking of books that are supposedly unfilmable, I would have to say that most everything ever created by Frank Miller would have to be unfilmable by nature. He has a particular visual style, and when it comes to adaptations of comics, it is absolutely crucial that you retain the visual atmosphere of the source material. Frank Miller? Can't be done. Impossible. And yet, they made a film of Sin City, and it kicked the whole world's ass. Flash forward a couple of years. If you told me they were going to make a film of 300, and not only would they NOT totally eff it up, but it would be even better than Sin City, I would have been more than a little incredulous. But they made that film, and it was even better than Sin City. It's epic, y'all. It's ultra-violent and lurid and visually stunning.
I was talking to my friend and fellow comics maniac B last week, and posed this question: why is it that Frank Miller's comics are utterly unfilmable, yet the films based on his work are 100% Quality and awesome and kick the whole world's ass? And on the flip side of the coin, you have Alan Moore, who writes flawless stories and via his graphic novels pretty much hands you a storyboard, and it would be damn near impossible to eff that up, and yet all the films based on his comics are generally shit? Feel free to discuss this amongst yourselves, it is a riddle for the ages.
1. Pan's Labyrinth This definitely ranks up there among the most tragic, heartwrenching things I've ever seen. Essentially, it's the experience of war through a child's eyes. She has a special adventure. Did it really happen? Or was it just a child's way of coping with events that no child should ever endure? I've seen this three times now, and every time I wind up crying buckets. Emotionally, this film is a hard punch to the stomach. I'd consider this a must-see for the entire world.
Merry Christmas to all three people who read this blog! I hope you've enjoyed the (often bizarre) musical offerings over the past few weeks. I had hoped to do this consistently every day up until Christmas, but things are getting busy and I don't think I can realistically commit to a Christmas Eve post. So this is going to be the last video, unless M has some more songs that he wants to put up.
I genuinely hope everyone reading this has a wonderful holiday, regardless of who you worship or what you celebrate. If you have more than you need, consider spreading some of it around, whether it's time, resources, or just plain old happiness.
Posting will be probably be light through the end of the year, but y'all should be out having fun anyway. Merry Christmas!!
I accidentally posted this when V has done so already, but Xmas is the time for repeats and this belongs in the top 5 anyway! With this classic not only do you get a great Xmas song but some of the most bizzare chat ever. "I'm Bing!". "Where's Hudson?"-"I guess he's changing"-"Yeah he does that a lot!". "Do you like contemporary music?" - "Yeah, some of it's really fine!". "Sir Percival lets me play his piano, he's not around is he?"... Enjoy it for yourself!
You can count the days left on one hand, y'all! I hope you're all as happy and excited as I am.
Today's video is a genuine classic. I'm a retro kind of girl, so this clip encompasses a lot of things that make me smile. Now I'm in the mood to stay up all night watching old movies. I just might do it!
This was always my favourite Xmas song. When I was a kid I just liked the sound of it. When I got older I appreciated the words. Either way, it doesn't feel like Xmas until it's played, so let Xmas commence!
There are only 9 days until Christmas, people. Can you believe it? Understandably, I am getting busier and busier. So to make up for forgetting to post a song for y'all yesterday, today I'm posting a double shot of Love Actually. Have I mentioned that it's my favorite Christmas film? I watched it Friday afternoon and cried like a girl.
First up we have Billy Mack's horrible Christmas #1 song, Christmas Is All Around. Remember kids, don't buy drugs. Become a pop star, and people will give them to you for free!
And then here's the finale from the world's most bizarre nativity play. I know, I know... it's a singing kid, which usually carries a pretty high cringe factor. But she's good, and it's a good song anyway. I even like Mariah Carey's version, and that's saying a lot. I like how that drummer kid gets all pissed off at the end. Could there be anything worse than the total agony of love?
Incidentally, M is toying with the idea of posting one of his favorite Christmas songs. If he doesn't do it in the next day or two, I'll do it FOR him. It's your blog too, M!!
Watch this one quick, before Viacom gets it yanked from YouTube again.
There are 13 days until Christmas. Love Actually still wasn't on television, so I showed some initiative today and rented it. I don't often show initiative. Usually I'm all "Initiative? Huh? What's for dinner?"
He's also rocking a porn-star mustache. I usually spell moustache with an "o", but blogger is helpfully underlining that with spellcheck. It also just underlined spellcheck. And it's always telling me I've mis-spelled the word "dialogue", but Dictionary.com has my back on that one. And on "moustache" too, apparently. Screw you, blogger spellcheck.
Here we have Hall and Oates being deliberately cheesy. At least I hope it's deliberate. It's hard not to smile over this one. And my bad weekend mood has lifted, so this seems like a fitting choice.
There are 14 days until Christmas. I wish Love Actually would come on television. That's my favorite holiday film.
You may have noticed that no delightful holiday music was posted yesterday. I needed a break. I rather doubt anyone noticed anyway, as I can count my readers on one hand.
Today's song is "Let It Snow" by Michael Buble. It's set to scenes from the Narnia film, and maybe I'm just in a strange mood, but I found it kind of unintentionally funny. I was visiting England a few years ago at the time that Michael Buble was just starting to become known. There were all these TV ads for his CD, and at the end they'd always say "remember - that's BOOB-lay." I must say, I do really like Michael Buble. He's taken Harry Connick Jr's throne. Remember when Harry Connick Jr. was ultra-handsome and made all the ladies swoon? And these days he has a face like a bag of nails. Not aging well, that one.
But I'm rambling. Here's your music. There are 15 days until Christmas. I think? I've kind of lost count. Remember - that's BOOB-lay.
No snark today, kids. My day has been all kinds of crap, and I just don't have it in me. I'm not even gonna try.
There are 17 days until Christmas. Here is the worst Christmas song ever. Just thinking about it pisses me off, so I guess I might as well post it while I'm already in a bad mood. And you know what, the video makes it worse. This song is marginally better when I don't have to look at these fools.
I guess it was only a matter of time before Pee Wee found his way into the Christmas Countdown. Once again, I am without words. There is no way I can ever top this. It even makes RuPaul's skanky evil twin look normal.
There are 19 days until Christmas... I apologize for any nightmares the following video clip might cause.
On the heels of yesterday's rare moment of actual Quality, we have another snowman-related video. Inspired by yesterday's clip, Eli sent me this and asked if it would be Christmas-related enough to use. Technically I guess it's not. But it is a very festive wintertime kind of song. And it's brilliant. And honestly, I'm just pleased that the Christmas Countdown has been at all inspirational to someone.
There are now 20 days left until Christmas. There's something under the tree for me!
I thought it was about time we had something genuinely good on the Christmas Countdown. Here's another cartoon I watch every year. It makes me cry. Not just, like, I'm wiping away a single bittersweet tear. No. I cry buckets. This is EMOTIONAL DISTRESS, Y'ALL.
There are 21 days until Christmas. I need a tissue. Dang, I'm gonna need the whole box.
Here we have the Trans-Siberian Orchestra with a holiday song set to the tune of Pachelbel's Canon and played in the style of Wyld Stallyns. They even have those awesome 1980s guitars that are shaped like triangles. This is completely rad. That's right, people, I said RAD.
There are 22 days left until Christmas. Party on, dudes.
I begin to realize that it's a lot easier to find screwed up stuff on YouTube than it is to find "normal" holiday music. Thankfully there's a lot of it out there, because there are still 23 days left before Christmas, and we're just getting warmed up here.
Make of this what you will. After yesterday's RuPaul display, I have given up trying to make sense of the world.