Usually around this time of year I am making my "Top Ten" list of the best films of the year. I have been doing this online since 2000. For the past nine years I have been writing film reviews online. First on amazon.com and for nearly the past two years on this blog. Well my dear readers, this year marks the first time I am unable to compile a list of ten films which truly touched me and moved me. There were not ten films to be found which I felt I should honor. In total I saw 77 films this year. This is not to say every movie I saw I hated. Actually on the whole I saw more movies I liked than I didn't. I only disliked 23 and like 54 but more than 30 of those 54 films I gave three stars. By itself that is not a bad thing. A three star rating is a recommendation. But many times those three star films felt mediocre. And that, to me, describes the films of 2009; mediocre.
I haven't been pleased with contemporary cinema since 2006 onwards. The movie industry I feel has been going through a long slump. But it has been these past two years in particular that I have simply found disgusting. Last year I made a "Top Ten" list despite not giving 10 movies four stars. Reflecting on that list I wish I could change some things but, what's done is done. This year I don't even want to bother. I only gave 8 movies four stars and one of those movies has not been theatrically released in the U.S. yet (I saw it at the Chicago International Film Fest).
But all of this has lead to something further. Dear readers, as of today my feelings are this blog will no longer continue. Contemporary cinema has been my downfall. I simply don't want to bother with it any longer. It has sucked all the joy of cinema right out of me. I don't feel like writing about movies any longer. At the start of this blog I made a deal with myself. Once this blog stopped being fun I would quit. There have been months keeping this blog going have been a challenge for me, but, I usually had a desire to write. That desire has left me. It may not be a permanent thing. It may only last a month or two. Though if this blog returned it would undergo major changes. The format must change. As you know I write a "Masterpiece Film Series". This is where I write my four star reviews, where I like to put a spotlight on what I feel are the best films. I usually write one every tenth review. The proceeding nine are three star reviews where I like to introduce a director or actor whom I haven't written about yet. I don't like to write too many four star reviews in a row. Otherwise what is the point of the "Masterpiece Film Series"? Unless of course it is a contemporary film then I don't mind having a few four star reviews in a row as those films are not eligible in my "Series". The cut off date in 1980. If the blog returned I would scrap the "Masterpiece Film Series" and just write about all the movies I enjoy and not care if I have a row of four star reviews. Contemporary movies would be given less treatment than I give it now. Either it would be completely abandon or I would only highlight smaller independent or foreign films which I feel are worthwhile. But we shall see.
I have other plans however. I have been giving serious thought to starting another blog which showcases my own work. No matter what I do, I will inform readers of this blog one way or another.
Back to the pathetic films of 2009. So what did we see in this lackluster year? We saw movies hit on a lot of current themes. The economy; "Up in the Air", "Capitalism", war; "The Hurt Locker", "The Messenger", religious tension; "Adoration", "The Girl on the Train". Even some of the big blockbusters had political tones to them; "Transformers", "Avatar" and "The Watchmen". Some of these films you heard of, some you didn't. The most successful movie of the year was "Transformers" grossing nearly a half a billion dollars in the U.S. alone. This is what the people want to see?
I'm sure there will be some who might get mad at me for criticizing the year. You'll say things like well did you see such and such film? Let me put your mind at rest. I saw the big blockbusters; "Bruno", "New Moon", "The Watchmen", "Inglourious Basterds", "Up!", and "Avatar". I also saw the smaller films and some of the international films; "Paris", "Gomorrah", "An Education", "Invictus", "In the Loop", "Cheri", "The Headless Woman", and "The Limits of Control". Some of these movies I liked but the majority of them I found simply average. They weren't good enough to make a "Ten Best" list.
But I'm afraid this all sounds too mean spirited and angry. And if this is going to be my last blog entry I don't want to seem angry. Yes, contemporary cinema sucks. So what? The films of 2009 were disappointing. Big deal! There is more to life than movies. There is spending time with your friends, family, sports, reading, drinking, love, money! When I think of all the time and money I spend on movies this year I wish I would have engaged in these other activities instead of sitting in a dark and sometimes empty theatre. Still I wanted to be nice. We have just celebrated Christmas, a time which is suppose to bring out the best in people and now we are getting ready for the New Year. A time of optimism and hope. A time for looking forward. So I have decided to give a list of all the movies I have given four stars to and another list of the movies I gave 3.5 stars to. It is not a "Top Ten" list so don't read it as such. Still, I felt it was the least I can do. The films will be listed in alphabetical order.
4 STAR FILMS
1. ADORATION (Dir. Atom Egoyan; Canada)
2. CAPITALISM (Dir. Michael Moore; U.S.)
3. A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Dir. Robert Zemeckis; U.S.)
4. THE CLASS (Dir. Laurent Cantet; France)
5. THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN (Dir. Andre Techine; France)
6. JUST ANOTHER LOVE STORY (Dir. Ole Bornedal; Denmark)
7. ME & ORSON WELLES (Dir. Richard Linklater; U.S.)
8. WALTZ WITH BASHIR (Dir. Ari Folman; Israel)
3.5. STAR FILMS
1. BROKEN EMBRACES (Dir. Pedro Almodovar; Spain)
2. THE INTERNATIONAL (Dir. Tom Tyker; U.S.)
3. JULIA (Dir. Erick Zonca; U.S./Mexico)
4. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (Dir. Oren Peli; U.S.)
5. PARIS (Dir. Cedric Klapisch; France)
6. RED CLIFF (Dir. John Woo; China)
7. TAKEN (Dir. Pierre Morel; U.S./France)
8. TWO LOVERS (Dir. James Gray; U.S.)
9. UP! (Dir. Peter Docter/Bob Peterson; U.S.)
10. UP IN THE AIR (Dir. Jason Reitman; U.S.)
11. A WOMAN IN BERLIN (Dir. Max Farberbock; Germany)
So there you have it. And if this is to be my last review I would just like to thank those whom have taken the time to read my blog. I hope I have been able to introduce some readers to movies and/or directors they never heard of before. That was the whole point of the blog. If one person found out about a movie through this blog that they otherwise would have never seen than I consider this blog a success. And I would just like to wish my readers a HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope whatever good fortune you had in 2009 may it double in this New Year.