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December 14, 2007

CAAF: To The Film Industry In Crisis

Earlier this week Terry asked OGIC and me to put together lists of ten films released since the fall of 2005 for he and Mrs. Teachout to watch. The one caveat: "No spinach, please: I'm out for pleasure, very broadly construed, so don't send me to anything I 'ought' to see (whatever that means) unless it's also something that you loved."

It has been fun to deliberate; and I've tried to be true to the no-spinach rule ("In times of crisis, we must all decide again and again whom we love."). Here are my first five, listed in no particular order, with the rest to follow next week. I note with some chagrin that Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle came out a year too early to make the 2005 cutoff, otherwise it would have a spot here. Which is a roundabout way of saying that I think you should see it too, if you haven't already.

1. Casino Royale: I'm a big Bond fan, so this movie was a great treat -- and a relief after the franchise's sad last installments, which were like watching video games. Lots of explosions, no feeling. This one seemed to return Bond to the physical realm. A lot of this is thanks to Daniel Craig, who plays the role rougher and with a lower center of gravity than anyone since Connery. Early on there's a fantastic chase sequence on foot -- showcasing freerunning star Sébastien Foucan -- that's so witty and exhilarating that I went back to see the movie twice. So much fun. And j'aime Eva Green.

2. Inside Man: A fresh, intelligent thriller that uses New York the way Collateral used L.A. Its bank robbery plot doesn't quite hang together but I love this movie for the life in it: There's a lot of delight in it for how everyday people talk and act. Plus, it's beautifully shot. The bit where a woman brought in to translate negotiates to get her parking tickets fixed is one of my favorite film scenes of recent years: I wish more movies used their bit characters so well and shined so much around the edges.

3. Pan's Labyrinth: Gorgeously conceived and wrought. I had to hide out for portions of it, though: It'll wring you out.

4. Serenity: Joss Whedon presents Cowboys In Space! Rethinks and improves on the Firefly TV series. The script's a little klunky with exposition in places but it's a nice little ride all the same.

5. The Devil Wears Prada: I liked this comedy: It's bitchy and tart, and there are some lovely clothes to look at (which I know matters a great deal to you, Terry). I also find it amusing to think of this film as a sort of Her Girl Friday, with Streep in the Cary Grant role. Lately, so many love stories on screen seem so neutered -- all hugs and sweaters and understanding gazes (it's like the heroines aren't searching for love so much as a good therapist) -- it's nice to see a romance with some pepper even if it's not, strictly speaking, a romance.

Posted December 14, 2007 2:48 PM

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