Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 9:46 pm 
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2007: THE YEAR'S BEST by Chris Knipp

I don't want to take up too much space with repeating my opinions about the films on my list, which will be found elsewhere.* I just hope people will trust me, as one who sees many, that they're worth watching and deciding about for yourselves. Here are just a few thoughts.

2007 gave us above all two great stunning westerns about American moral depravity--There Will Be Blood, a milestone in the career of the extravagantly talented P.T. Anderson—and No Country for Old Men by the Coen brothers. These are both going to stand as classics. David Fincher's Zodiac is another 2007 film people will want to go on watching for a good while to come, I think. This was a year for powerful movies about extremes and extremists. Zodiac is the police procedural carried to the extreme of endless obsession. Into the Wild, by far Sean Penn's best directing to date, is about idealism and adventure pushed to tragic excess; Todd Haynes' I'm Not There is a wildly experimental depiction of the extremes of Bob Dylan's personality. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly depicts an extreme experience and is a tribute to the enormous courage of a paralyzed man—and also to the daring of the Brooklyn-born, Texas-raised painter Julian Schnabel, ready to make a movie all in French. If genius is 99% perspiration, directing is often 99% chutzpah.

I think those six films are going to be remembered; and they're all from American directors, so that's pretty good. (The rest are also fine, but fall under various and different headings.) Likewise to be long remembered, it's my bet, are some of the foreign ones. Once, from Ireland, is a simple, minimal, and perfect little film. Philippe Garrel's Regular Lovers is a sublime long mournful poem about 1968 in Paris and its aftermath. Pascale Ferran's Lady Chatterley is bold, beautiful, and strange. Dumont's Flanders is harsh and yet sweet. Marion Cotillard's over-the-top Edith Piaf impersonation in La Vie en Rose is the performance of a lifetime. I don't know if all the others I have listed will be long remembered but they are wonderfully made, and moved me. There continue to be more and more important new documentaries. We surely remember, from last year, An Inconvenient Truth, which helped get Al Gore a Nobel Prize. Personal favorites from this year are Nanking, Billy the Kid, and Kurt Cobain About a Son. Many more seem obligatory, if sometimes rough viewing. I've indicated where DVD's are already available and also where the original releases were earlier; all others were 2007. Some additional titles and categories are listed on my website. This was another good year for movies in English. Early 2008 has brought the tragic loss of Heath Ledger--an event that has made even Daniel Day-Lewis weep. The young Ledger was only just beginning to become clearly an important actor. His unforgettable and deeply moving performance in Brokeback Mountain will be his lasting monument.

BEST LISTS FOR 2007

BEST U.S.
There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson)
No Country for Old Men (Joel, Ethan Coen) DVD (3/12/2008)
Zodiac (David Fincher) DVD
Into the Wild (Sean Penn) DVD
I’m Not There (Todd Haynes)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Julian Schnabel) DVD ( 4/1/2008)
Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy) DVD
The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson) DVD
The Namesake (Mira Nair) DVD
The Savages (Tamara Jenkins)
Lars and the Real Girl (Craig Gillespie)
The Lookout (Scott Frank) DVD

BEST FOREIGN
Once (John Carney 2006) DVD
Regular Lovers (Philippe Garrel 2005) DVD
Lady Chatterley (Pascale Ferran 2006) DVD
The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck 2006) DVD
Bamako (Abderrahmane Sissako 2006) DVD
Flanders (Bruno Dumont 2005) DVD
Offside (Jafar Panahi) DVD
Control (Anton Corbijn)
Dans Paris (Christophe Honoré 2006) DVD
This Is England (David MacDonald 2006) DVD
La Vie en Rose (La Mome, Olivier Dahan) DVD

BEST DOCUMENTARIES
Sicko (Michael Moore) DVD
No End in Sight (Charles Ferguson) DVD
Nanking (Bill Guttentag, Dan Sturman) DVD (4/29/2008)
Into Great Silence (Philip Gröning 2005) DVD
An Unreasonable Man (Henriette Mantel, Steve Skrovan 2006) DVD
Billy the Kid (Jennifer Venditti)
Kurt Cobain About a Son (AJ Schnack 2006) DVD
Murch (Edie, David Ichioka)

(See my complete list here.)

*Just Google "Chris Knipp" + the film title.

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©Chris Knipp. Blog: http://chrisknipp.blogspot.com/.


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