Monday, January 03, 2005

Favorite Movies of 2004

I’ve got a couple of screwdrivers poured in me (courtesy of my friend TO who wanted to compensate me for taking care of his dog while he was out of town), so I’m going to take the easy way out with this blog entry and just list my favorite movies of 2004. At the moment I’m not capable of writing anything more analytical than a list. (Am I ever?)

In No Particular Order:
  • Metallica: Some Kind of Monster Watch Metallica implode: James Hetfield stomps off in disgust—for about a year; Lars Ulrich collects art and drinks; Kirk Hammett dons a cowboy outfit and pretends the band isn’t self-destructing; and Lars’s Danish gnome of a father tells them he thinks they suck. Worth the price of admission just to see Lars’s utter helplessness when, gloating too exuberantly about his wealth, he drunkenly drops a flute of champagne on an art gallery floor.
  • Supersize Me A documentary filmmaker decides to see what will happen if he eats nothing but McDonalds food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a full month. His vegan chef girlfriend watches in horror. (Me too.)
  • Mayor of the Sunset Strip A guy with a weird name--George Hickenlooper--makes a documentary about a guy with an even weirder name--Rodney Bingenheimer. Mild-mannered dweeb extraordinaire Rodney Bingenheimer has been inexplicably at the center of the music scene since the ‘60s--helping propel some of the biggest names in pop music to the top of the charts, but never reaping any of the rewards himself.
  • Incident at Loch Ness Werner Herzog (director of such classics as Aguirre: Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo) decides to film a documentary about the Loch Ness monster. Or does he? A hilarious mockumentary featuring Zak Penn, a guy who should win the Oscar for Most Despicable and Unprincipled Producer.
  • Bright Leaves Independent filmmaker Ross McElwee’s documentary takes a rather unfocused look at North Carolina, the tobacco industry, his great-grandfather (founder of the Bull Durham brand of cigarette), and tries to figure out how it is that his family failed to become heirs to a humongous tobacco fortune.
  • Sideways Alexander Payne’s road trip movie about a depressed middle-aged English teacher and wannabe wine snob and his washed-up TV actor friend who blunder through California Wine Country acting like jerks.
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Not as good as Charlie Kaufmann’s earlier efforts, Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, but still vastly more original than most of the schlock pumped out by Hollywood.
  • Vanity Fair Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding) directs a version of Thackeray’s classic novel, deftly infusing some fun Bollywoody effects into it. Reese Witherspoon does a great job as social climber Becky Sharpe.
  • Fahrenheit 911 Michael Moore’s critique of the Bush administration.
  • The Return A father returns home after many years’ absence and takes his two young sons on a trip to a remote and desolate part of Russia. Can't say more without spoiling it, but, trust me, it's worth renting.
  • Touching the Void Unbelievably gripping documentary/re-creation of a mountaineering disaster in which one climber cuts the rope that connects him to his partner, leaving the badly injured partner hanging helplessly in a crevasse. I was on the edge of my seat from start to finish.
  • Vera Drake Another depressing, but extremely well-done film by one of my favorite directors, Mike Leigh. This one is about a working class woman who performs abortions for woman who, as she puts it, "can't manage." Set in Britain just after World War II, when abortion was illegal, it seemed to me to authentically capture the post-war exhaustion of Britain's working classes and the mood of the times. Excellent performances by the entire cast.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've only seen 2 on your list. Can they all be rented at my nearest Hollywood Vid, do you know?
~K!
(Kismet)

9:02 AM  
Blogger Cagey said...

Ditto your comments on Sideways and Super Size Me!. Will definitely check out the others, based on your recs. Thanks!

9:25 AM  
Blogger Rozanne said...

Kismet,
I haven't set foot in Hollywood Video (or Blockbuster) in years. I kinda doubt they'd have most of the movies on the list. Maybe a few, though.

Do you live in Multnomah County? If so, the library has a tremendous collection of DVDs and videos. B and I have gotten tons of great movies from the libe--for free! Other local (Portland) places that would probably carry the movies on my list: Videorama, Video Verite (I think that's its name--on Mississippi), Movie Madness, and that place over in NW. Also, I really recommend Netflix--they seem to have everything.

Cagey,
Yeah, Sideways and Supersize Me were both great. Can't wait for the next movies by those filmmakers.

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm ashamed to say that I haven't seen ANY of the films on your list! I'll have to remedy that as soon as possible.

- Jane
www.averagejane.com

1:02 PM  
Blogger Rusty said...

Loved Supersize Me.

Eternal Sunshine was alright.

Absolutely loved the Anchorman and Dodgeball. Guess that's just a sign of who you're dealing with.

Kizmet: Most anything is available through Netflix...

9:43 AM  
Blogger Rozanne said...

Jane,
None? You haven't even seen Incident at Loch Ness? Kidding. That's probably one of the more obscure ones. Sideways is probably still playing somewhere if you look. It's worth seeing on the big screen.

Pieman,
I liked Anchorman, too, but it just didn't quite make the cut.

10:57 AM  
Blogger Rusty said...

Did you ever check out Dodgeball and Old School? Still curious for your opinion...

1:14 PM  
Blogger Rozanne said...

Pieman,

No we haven't. I may be able to get B to queue up Old School at Netflix; Dodgeball I doubt. I'll keep you posted.

7:31 PM  
Blogger Rusty said...

If I was a woman and in your current pain-addled icky state, I'd exert unholy control over Netflix and threaten death to anyone who got in my way. Honestly, we males fear those "surfing the crimson wave" (thanks to Clueless for that line) that much...

12:22 PM  

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