2008 Good Movies on Video

[in no order]

zardoz.jpg1. In A Lonely Place, Nicholas Ray, 1950.
The writer victimized by his own pulp tropes and his own pugnacious romantic past, in Hollywood, Bogart's Dixon Steele scours his deepest Author's hyperfaculties, to prove himself to the Law, the Movies and his Lady Laurel Gray to whom he has already proven, and inspires a most ardent faith while seeming to lack any precedent for it. He burns, Nich Ray style.

2. All of Me, Carl Reiner, 1984.
Martin & Tomlin's mime caper. And who isn't a sucker for swami gags? "Back in bowl, back in bowl."

3. The Power of Nightmares, Adam Curtis, 2004.
Video essay ideogram on the multoid-cameral mind of the 20th Century human.

4. State & Main, David Mamet, 2000.
In light of the playwright-director's conversion to right-wingery (the cerebral timing as bad as Mamet's dialogue in the mouths of the wrong actors - not this movie tho!), State & Main is his rendering of U.S. bi-partisans, and masterfully so.

5. The 39 Steps, Alfred Hitchcock, 1935.
Begins in vaudeville, ends in vaudeville.

6. Artists and Models, Frank Tashlin, 1955.
A translateral Martin & Lewis musical romp about painters struggling in a cartoon world. And vintage Shirley MacClaine.

7. Trouble in Paradise, Ernst Lubitsch, 1932.
Magicianess Miriam and magisterial Herbert romance the grand confidence game.

8. The Thing, John Carpenter, 1982.
The shapeshifter that pits the trust of man against the trust of man, that makes a man seem not who he is, nefariously. A paranoid philosophical psychodrama premised at an Arctic outpost as if the first humans who find that they cannot identify each other and it leads to flamethrowers and psychic breakdowns and a monster made visible in the form of the familiar. Murky, sleek, icy atmospherics and lots of gored and gnarled mutating bodies.

9. Mr. Warmth, John Landis, 2007.
The ole showbiz now in its twilight years as personified by Harry Dean Stanton's opening harmonica riff. Don Rickles, a lifetime piety to The Act. . . Scorsese giggle-choked.

10. 25th Hour, Spike Lee, 2002.
The first great New York movie of the new century.

11. All That Jazz, Bob Fosse, 1979.
Does another film exist like it? No. An ecstatically troubling movie experiences ever, along the way Fosse innovates 80s music vid dance stylings in the cinematography of 70s New Hollywood histrionics by way of the beboppitybump of 50s musicals to the tune of 60s pop eschatology. And a revelatory Knnillssonn song to cap Joe Gideon's Perfect Day.

12. Wild Things, John McNaughton, 1998.
Film soleil mind-fuck grifter flick, director John McNaughton one of the shills. Dillon and Bacon in this movie as Pacino and DeNiro in Heat (then making Neve Campbell's Suzie character the comparable stand-in for L.A, Matt Dillon recitation of a "motherfucker" second-best all-time in movies to DeNiro's diner remark to Wangrove). Ripping thumping score, everything an giddy invidious stand-in for something else. . .

13. The Last Detail, Hal Ashby, 1973.
Robert Towne does On The Town.

14. Bug, William Friedkin, 2006.
Bug is what happens when the wrong man meets the right woman. Begins as a minimalist roadside soap opera evolving into a hypnogogic extravaganza of naked self-mutilation. The aphid trope is straight from 50s/60s Atomic Age, MK-Ultra grinders, but the ramifications play out like a James Purdy short story.

15. The Saddest Music in the World, Guy Maddin, 2003.
The world is sadder that movies are not more often made as the music of this spectronifying archivalist's fetish moto-collage.

16. Mad Men seasons 1-2, 2007-08.

17. The Last Days of Disco, Whit Stillman, 1998.
The Studio 54 disco mythos always had something of Teddy Roosevelt's "Rough Riders" about it, each a motley crosscurrent of sociological types and American classes (Navajos, Yalies, trannies). And so the USS Maine statue at Merchant's Gate in Central Park becomes a figure of frivolous existentialism for the college-buddy IRS spy - and Chloe is evermore disengaged by the guy's soliloquy. Plus all the subway dancing!

18. The Wire seasons 1-3, Ed Burns & David Simon, 2002-04.
Whipcrack-wound opus of action & reaction, of system & anti-system, the void & the hard fact. Some grand profanity is spewed by these characters, like Sgt. Rawls, who has it in for McNulty the way an old Irish cop hates a young Irish cop. "McNulty, you are a gaping asshole..." Nothing is ever played for its own sake and because the show is slyly patient then evolves the spectacle of drama.

19. Zardoz, John Boorman, 1974.
Visionary, hyper-informed, edited according to a translateral, kaleidoscopic logic and unduly ridiculed by modern film history. A precedent in the evolution of film cast in the myth of the New Man.

20. The Short & Curlies, Mike Leigh, 1987.
The giddy gravity of human interaction when other things are also being said, in that snappy, infatuatable British accent.

21. The Proposition, John Hillcoat, 2005.
Communion with the fourth dimension on cliffs above the bloody desert. As if Cormac McCarthy, Conrad and Kipling together went backpacking in Australia. The Brits and the Irish carry their epic conflict into the frontier nightmare outland, the evolving sinews of civilization; its methods, of folk lore and mystic teachings.

22. California Suite, Herbert Ross, 1978.
Neil Simon does 70s LA, Richard Pryor and Michael Caine and Jane Fonda do Neil Simon.

23. Baron of Arizona, Samuel Fuller, 1950.
The Baron invents a property for himself, and an identity for Sofia, 'The Baroness' de Peralta, they are both orphans on the edge of the southwest US, the nation still recognizing Spanish control of the territory. The Baron, an interloper of old documents and land grants, and John Griff, a dashing bibliographic debunker working for the government. The Baron sports the monk's robe, the tchotchke-laden costume of the gypsy, and the black wide-brimmed hats and capes of an outdated royalty transposed to the hot American frontier. At last, the love of Sofia and The Baron prevails, in that old tradition of older men marrying much younger girls. As crisp as a movie can be.

24. Serial, Bill Persky, 1980.
Martin Mull the straight guy as his life comes homeopathically crumbling down at the cusp of the 80s Me Decade aftermath in Marin County. Lalo Schifrin cheeseball lite FM theme song. Spot-on Catskills zinger scenarios and ultra-of-its-time satire, which may have caused the movie's unfortunate "dated" out-of-print, out-of-discourse status.

25. Impostor,’ Jim Carrey, In Living Color, 1990s.
Evidence of everything that is genius about Jim Carrey.

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