With the holidays behind us, most have now settled into the the start of a new year, and film lovers are watching a never-ending flow of award groups bestow their “best” on movies and performers. This week at Wonders, yours truly posted his ‘year-end’ ten best list (actually 12 with a three-way tie for #10) as well as titles and screen caps of my top 50 films of the decade that just concluded. Both posts have attracted massive responses, and the latter will serve as an advanced look at the site’s own polling of the 2000s bets films, which will include Allan’s final countdown and readers’s own choices. Meanwhile, Allan’s incomparable silent poll countdown continues with this week’s blend of the well-known and the obscure.
I managed to see three films theatrically: one documentary at the IFC, and two commercially released “multiplex” features. As can be expected, the documentary was the most interesting of the three, and had the added bonus of having the film’s young female director, Mai Iskander, in attendance to host an engaging Q & A session.
I attended the two ‘commercial releases’ with the family, and the documentary with Lucille and Broadway Bob:
Garbage Dreams *** 1/2 (Saturday night) IFC Film Center
Youth in Revolt ** (Friday afternoon) Secaucus multiplex
The Day Breakers ** (Saturday afternoon) Edgewater multiplex
GARBAGE DREAMS, set in Cairo, centers around the “Zaballeen,” an Egyptian lower-class group of Christian denomination who recycle nearly 80% of the city’s waste, in the absence of an official city-wide garbage collection program. The Zaballeen are paid a pittance for for their services. The film centers around three teenage boys who support their families collecting trash and one young woman (the latter of whom serves as a social worker who tries to keep people in her neighborhood healthy. The director’s sentiments in this film are obvious, and Garbage Dreams is rather capitalist in its approach, emphasizing the work Laila and the Zabballeens do to learn how garbage is handled in other parts of the world and improve their service through education and modernization rather than any kind of protest or attempts to endure on anything but hard-earned merit. The teenagers are survivors, who uphold with dignity a long cultural tradition. The film runs only 79 minutes, and it doesn’t really scratch the surface of this lifestyle, but it certainly a modesty engaging and inspirational story of those who make what they can with what little they have.
YOUTH IN REVOLT is director Miguel Arteta’s take on C.D. Payne’s mischievious teenage novel, whose hero is a nerdy teen named Nick Twisp, who’s crazy for a beautiful girl Sheeni Saunders. But the girl isn’t interested in a virgin, and the boy, played by Michael Sera, everybody’s favorite nerdy romantic, adapts and alter ego named Francois who sets fires, smokes, and hits on the girls. The film has no real sense of focus, and the narrative is mainly a lot of surface quirks with nothing examined deeper. After a while it becomes redundant, and typically, Sera’s rang eis narrow.
THE DAYBREAKERS is set in a near-future dystopia where vampires rule the world, and a relatively tiny band of humans are hunted for blood. Ethan Hawke plays a vampire who joins Willem Dafoe’s human otlaw gang. This is a train wreck of a film, with are narrative strands in disarray and the bloodletting and violence has no limits. The directors, the brothers Michael and Peter Spierig present some interesting metaphysical ideas and the set design is quite striking, but it’s all in the service of a plot that never develops any cohesive forward movement.
I will be having a seemingly routine kidney stone procedure on Wednesday, where I will be sedated and “knocked out” for maybe a half hour or so. It’s basically an ultrasound maneuver that smashes the stones, enabling one to ‘pass’ the particles. Still, I am hoping to be fine for Wednesday evening.
There’s quite a bit of serious activity in the blogosphere this week so let’s take a look:
FILM NOIR FANS HAVE REASON TO CELEBRATE!
***At FilmsNoir.net, Tony d’Ambra has a quite a noir backlog that he’s promising to review in 2010:
***Dave Hicks will be launching his eager-anticipated Top 100 Noir Countdown at his GoodFellas blogsite on Monday Morning:
Meanwhile, at our other most venerated places……
***Troy Olson has stellar reviews up on Coraline and In the Loop at his hallowed halls:
*** The ever-resilient and wonderful Dee Dee has one of her greatest posts ever up at Darkness Into Light, and it’s a consideration of silent cinema, capped by a terrific review by Andrew Katsis on Chaplin’s The Kid:
***That incredible writer, “JAFB” who ranks with the very best writers on-line, bar none, is at it again with a brand new post on the 1986 film, Landscape Suicide at “The Seventh Art.” I just read it myself, and I must say it’s a keeper:
***The Garden State’s finest, David Schleicher, has one of this week’s greatest posts at any site up and gathering comments. It’s David’s annual “Davies Awards” and as always it contains many off-kilter categories as well as the war horses, which are still fascinating to navigate. Here’s the Davies:
John Greco, ever-versatile, and always ultra-engagaing, has a new post, a review of Woody Allen’s Manhattan Murder Mystery up at “Twenty Four Frames.” It’s another great one by John:
***Judy at “Movie Classics” has a fabulous pre-code review up on Night Nurse. which continues her string of excellent pieces:
***Craig Kennedy’s wildly popular Watercooler post is up and running at LIC:
***Jon Lanthier has a killer post up on the ‘Best DVDs and Blu-Rays” of 2009 at “Aspiring Sell-Out” where he includes some of the past year’s true gems:
***One of the net’s most delightfully abstract places is the home of the eternally-effervescent “Coffee Messiah,” and whether it’s montages, stmaps, parchments, collages, or coffee history, it’s a place that will always bring a smile and a thought:
Two revered network film scholars, Ed Howard and Jason Bellamy, are back again for their monthly meeting, and are engaged in some stimulating and exhaustive discourse on David Cronenberg’s controversial Crash. at The House Next Door. It’s a place you need to be prepared for:
Samuel Wilson, after a brief respite to move into some other genres, is back in silent mode with a stellarreview of Lon Chaney’s 1920 The Penalty:
At Marilyn Ferdinand’s hallowed halls, Roderick Heath is headlining with an exquisite essay on Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock:
At The Aspect Ratio, Ari and Bob Clark’s movie lists are still headlining, with Bob’s Top Ten also posting this week at Wonders:
J. D. at Radiator Heaven is still topping with his terrific post on his Top 25 Films of the Decade:
Lovely Dorothy Porker has the DGA Nominnes post up at Inside the Gold:
Kevin Olson has what appears to be a painstaking post up on his 20 Favorite ‘Things’ of the Decade, which I need to access myself ASAP:
Daniel Getahun is also in ‘decade’ mode, as he has posted a most diverse and interesting list of the ten films he presently believes are worth talking about. And he has some great caps up too:
Andrew Wyatt, who is taking a well-deserved short break, still has his magnificent ‘Best of 2009′ post up at Gateway Cinephiles. It’s one of teh best posts of its kind on this net, and I urge all WitR to check it out if you haven’t yet:
Film Doctor’s most venerated post, his ‘Notable film and media links’ is up, and he among other citations he salutes Joel Bocko:
T.S. at Screen Savour has his second superlative round up of 2009 films at his place, which he promises he will soon add to in preparation for a final list:
The master of the capsule review, Shaubhajit, is headlining with a review of a Bengali film titled Hose of Memories at “Cinemascope.” Shaubhajit has quite a back log of excellent pieces, including one recent one on The Assassination of Jesse James:
Pat at Doodad Kind of Town is still headling with her baker’s dozen decade list:
R. D. Finch, at The Movie Projector, has quite an essay up this week, the fifth part of 1962, which he considers Hollywood’s ‘Second Greatest Year.':
The Irish Longman Oz, one of our newest friends and associates is apparently a “theater critic” too, and this is wonderful news. Here is his latest piece on a Dublin production:
Stephen at Checking the Sausages, has an absolutely beautiful video collection of some indellible romantic moments in film at his place:
Rick Olson, at Coosa Creek Cinema, has an excellent blu-ray assessment of The Godfather Films:
Tony Dayoub has some thing sto really be proud of at his “Cinema Viewfinder” home:
and of course my good friend Kaleem Hasan, continues to maintain the best Indian Culture and Film blog out there:
So what did you see, hear, experience, read, watch, eat or accomplish?