Rightwing Film Geek

Gratuitous lists-2

Via Ryan, I saw the New Republic post with the best title ever: “Gratuitous Coen Brothers Argument Starter.”

Any time the Coen Brothers come up among cinephiles or even moderately-conversant moviegoers, there seems to come over everyone a need to rank their films in order of preference.

More than any other film-makers, the Coen Brothers really offer a Rohrshach test for one’s own personality, because (and I’m indebted to Scott Tobias for this point) they nearly always make movies that are “perfect” with respect to their conceptions. And so one is primarily reacting to the film’s conception as an individual and not its execution as a critic. So … and keeping in mind I’ve seen all their movies except the latest BURN AFTER READING, here’s my list. And so, here’s my list updated to reflect BURN AFTER READING, which stunned me with how good it was.

  1. Fargo
  2. No Country for Old Men
  3. Blood Simple
  4. Burn After Reading
  5. Miller’s Crossing
  6. The Man Who Wasn’t There
  7. The Big Lebowski
  8. The Ladykillers
  9. Intolerable Cruelty
  10. Barton Fink
  11. The Hudsucker Proxy
  12. Raising Arizona
  13. O Brother, Where Art Thou?

The big gaps here are between 3 and 4, which has a big dropoff from “masterpiece” to “pretty good,” and then between 5 and 6, 6 and 7, which separates “pretty good” and “wildly uneven,” and 8 and 9, 9 and 10, which drops off from “uneven” to “don’t like even a little.”

Looking over this list, I’m pretty confident I will not care for BURN AFTER READING because I love the Coens’ crime movies and dislike (the point of detesting in some cases) their comedies, which I mostly consider to be too-clever-for-their-own-good snarkfests and too hit-and-miss (in LEBOWSKI: John Goodman and the funeral scene, great; Julianne Moore and JAY-zoos, no). Though I absolutely WILL see BURN, because I know that no matter how much I hated their last one (though I thought their last one was last year’s best film), the next one could always be a corker.

September 18, 2008 Posted by | Coen brothers | 3 Comments

Gratuitous lists-1

First of all … I have finished below the Day 8 capsules with CLOUD 9 and I will do the Day 9 and 10 capsules over the next few days, though frankly there’s no “holy crap, dude” films in that mix (only two as high as 7 and none higher … though now that I think, CHOCOLATE actually IS a “holy crap, dude” film, albeit in a more literal sense than the sense of a great film).

So here’s the best films I saw over the fest, the 9s and 8s, ranked in order of preference.

  1. HUNGER (Steve McQueen, Britain) — 9
  2. REVANCHE (Gotz Spielmann, Austria) — 9
  3. THE SILENCE OF LORNA (the Dardenne brothers, Belgium) — 9
  4. DETROIT METAL CITY (Toshio Lee, Japan) — 9
  5. HAPPY GO-LUCKY (Mike Leigh, Britain) — 8
  6. GOODBYE SOLO (Ramin Bahrani, USA) — 8
  7. STILL WALKING (Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan) — 8
  8. A CHRISTMAS TALE (Arnaud Desplechin, France) — 8
  9. LAST STOP 174 (Bruno Barreto, Brazil) — 8
  10. SOUL POWER (Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, USA) — 8

So I saw 10 “definite keeper” films this year, though some of the 7s are also quite excellent and better than the 8s in some ways but had flaws too great to overlook — THE BROTHERS BLOOM, ASHES OF TIME, e.g.. That 10 was down from last year’s 13, but still quite impressive compared to the low expectations that the year’s earlier festivals had produced. (Though it was made quite clear to me by Noel, Mike and others that I may be alone in thinking DETROIT METAL CITY is a great movie.)

What’s also encouraging is that four of the top six films are by directors new to my popped-out eyeballs. The top two are clearly by great directors, in command of the medium and it’s only McQueen’s first film (it’s also Lee’s first film, though I wouldn’t credit him so much). Bahrani and Spielmann also have some body of work behind them — at least Bahrani’s two previous films have been spoken well of, and Spielmann has a substantial credit list at the IMDb, though I don’t know how much of it is significant (Herr Huber?).

September 18, 2008 Posted by | TIFF 2008 | 4 Comments