Monday, January 5, 2009

The Films of 2008

Looking over the year of films several trends seem to surface. One of the most prominent (though offered in different forms) was the theme of globalization and its potentially disastrous effects on contemporary society (as in Wall-E or 24 City), nature (The Unforeseen), business (Boarding Gate), economics (Slumdog Millionaire), or even the family (Summer Hours).

One other trend I noticed looking over the year in films was re-imagining. Some films re-imagined genres (Let the Right One In, Pineapple Express, Boarding Gate), others re-imagined films (Flight of the Red Balloon, Love Songs) and some filmmakers re-imagined other filmmakers (Rachel Getting Married) while some did so while also re-imagining themselves (Summer Hours, Tokyo Sonata, Happy-Go-Lucky, Gran Torino, Go Go Tales).

It was an especially great year for female performances (notably Anne Hathaway, Sally Hawkins, Asia Argento, Penelope Cruz, Riko Narumi, Kristen Scott Thomas, Patricia Clarkson, Juliette Binoche, Keira Knightley, Meryl Streep, Rosemary DeWitt, etc) and we saw two great “swan-song” performances by legendary actors of separate generations (Clint Eastwood and Heath Ledger).

2008 may not have had as many great or “masterpiece” films as recent years, but there were plenty to enjoy, and I don’t know if I’ve seen a better French film this decade then Olivier Assayas’ perfect Summer Hours, my favorite film of 2008.

Of course we also saw the refreshing return of Jonathan Demme’s hopeful humanity (Rachel Getting Married), a poetic and touching vampire love story (Let the Right One In), a Zen-like high school film (How To Become Myself), an unforgettable character living life “in the moment” (Sally Hawkins’ Poppy in Happy-Go-Lucky), a meditative journey through America via trains (RR), an irresistible sci-fi love story with robots (Wall-E), a screwball comedy in a strip club (Go Go Tales), another film from the worlds greatest living master (Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Flight of the Red Balloon), more fierce intensity from Asia Argento (in The Last Mistress, Boarding Gate and Go Go Tales), an imaginative celebration of togetherness and creativity (Be Kind Rewind), among many other wonderful joys from another great year in films!!



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