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My Top Ten For 2005
1. Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog): Herzog's most breathtaking film in years (since Lessons of Darkness, perhaps?), and one that makes excellent use of Timothy Treadwell's footage of living in the wild with bears. It's less a documentary than a working poem, full of such odd and mysterious details as the coroner that's really a hyperactive storyteller, the girlfriend with the bear earrings and those flies. Discontent with civilization? I'm with you, guy.
2. Howl's Moving Castle (Hayao Miyazaki): I can't believe the drubbing this got by some of my favorite critics (oh, and Ebert, too). What's wrong with you people? The little flame itself has more personality than most movies I've seen this year, and it's a fucking drawing.
3. 3-Iron (Kim Ki-Duk): Another odd-ball poem, this time from manic-depressive Ki-Duk (he makes sweet, he makes violent, he makes sweet, etc.). I've always heard that behind the man a woman marries there's always the spectre of the other men she loved and lost, but since I have yet to ruin my life with a spouse and our horrible children spitting up formula on my Alexander McQueen shirt, I'll settle for that knowledge second hand.
4. Good Night, and Good Luck. (George Clooney): You mean to tell me that one of the most mature, intelligent and important movies of the year was made by George Clooney, whose directorial debut actually made me want to storm out of the theater and lash him and Charlie Kaufman and Chuck Barris (on principal alone)? Hold me. I am scared.
5. Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul): Every time I re-watch this movie, I come up with a different interpretation - the second and third times, I was taking notes on paper and typing them up in Microsoft Word to compare. So before I turn into John Nash and start analyzing every cut and camera tilt for deeper meaning, I'm going to take a deep breath and hide the DVD. But it's good, I swear.
6. The Wayward Cloud (Tsai Ming-Liang): I love this guy's movies so much. Tsai's a romantic in a time when romanticism seems to be the last thing on people's minds (but I'm still not giving up my porn collection).
7. Munich (Steven Spielberg): Flawed, yes, and Steven S. has plenty of haters, but honestly: the man's one of the best working filmmakers, bazillionaire or not.
8. Into Great Silence (Philip Gröning): Apparently great silence also means great spirit-making. Keep those lips sealed, brothers.
9. A hole in my heart (Lukas Moodysson): I don't even want to go into how this movie got to me - let's just say that for days after watching it, I couldn't stop thinking about it. It's depressing, it's horrifying and it's also the most scalding critique of reality TV since Man Bites Dog.
10. Match Point (Woody Allen): Indulgent, yes, but wasn't Cassavetes indulgent as well? Applaud the British for letting our jazz-loving Senior Citizen Auteurs make movies in their country!
Features: Land of the Dead (Romero), Nobody Knows (Kore-eda), Tim Burton's Corpse Bride (Johnson and Burton), The Beat That My Heart Skipped (Audiard), The 40-Year-Old Virgin (Apatow), The Squid and the Whale (Baumbach), The Aristocrats (Provenza), Citizen Shane (Tibbett)
Shorts: Grizzly Bear Man (Travis and Jonathan; this is pure genius), A Christmas Caper (Gary Trousdale), Rubber Johnny (Chris Cunningham), Lazy Sunday (Narnia Rap) (The Lonely Island)
The Worst Films of the Year
In no real order.
The Upside of Anger (Binder): This movie has more ups and downs than Courtney Love playing the stock market.
The Fantastic Four (Whoever): You mean they aren't the Missionary, the Cowgirl, the Reverse Cowgirl and the Hoover Maneuver? Stupid Indian book.
Be Cool (Gray): "American Idol" is actually considered a serious litmus test for musical talent. Who wants to drink some Kool-Aid with me in Guyana?
War of the Worlds (Spielberg): Dakota Fanning is lucky she's not in any of my classes, because if she were she'd have so many detentions the custodians would give her the keys to lock up.
The Girl From Monday (Hartley): Hal, the reason the Girl From Monday doesn't know how to eat isn't because she's from another planet, but because she's from Eastern Europe.
The Constant Gardener (Meirelles): One of the most frequented message boards for this on the IMDb has the subject line "Why did she clean her ass with a towel?" That's pretty much what I thought of it.
Fever Pitch (Farrelly and Farrelly): I'm a Phillies fan, so I too know pain. And the only thing more painful than watching the Phillies - or baseball in general - on TV is watching this crapstorm. Further, Nick Hornby is the John Grisham of the It-Lit crowd and needs to cease sucking immediately.
A History of Violence (Cronenberg): Viggo Mortensen is ... The Perfect Weapon.
Ma Mère (Honoré): I asked my Mom to loan me $20 the other day and it was like asking C. Montgomery Burns for a raise and getting a lecture instead. Now imagine if I asked her to convince a certain attractive thirty-year-old girlfriend of hers to sit on my face. Moral of the story: Read the Bataille, never see the Bataille.
Last Days (Van Sant): And I liked "In Utero," dude.
Funny Ha Ha (Bujalski): I want everyone who calls this greasy-haired moron the voice of my generation to choke on their own collective vomit - if it has to be Miranda July, fine, at least she has cute eyes and the poo going back and forth. This movie is an abortion on the scale of The Doom Generation. And who wants to stand up and tell me that's a great movie? (Robin Wood, sit down.)
Havoc (Kopple): Warning Rich White America: If you have a hot daughter, she is probably doing drugs and having sex with Latino gang members. If she has a friend that reminds you of - or actually happens to be - Bijou Phillips, send her to a nunnery.
Hey, what about....
Box Sets I Got/Saw & Love?: Aqua Teen Hunger Force Vol. 4, The Thin Man Collection (Thanks, J!), Fruits Basket (I know it's for girls. I like it anyway.)
My Favorite E-mail?: I got it over the summer and it simply read, "You don't know what in the hell you are talking about." I'm not even sure it was referring to a single review or all the reviews (I'm guessing the latter just to be safe). When I responded with "DUH" the e-mail bounced back.
My Favorite Song of the Year?: That would be !!!'s dreamy cover of the Magnetic Fields' "Take Ecstasy With Me."
My Favorite Winter Drink?: Glenlivet on the rocks or maybe just a gin martini, straight up, four olives.
My Second Open Letter to Keira Knightley?: "Dear Keira, It's me again. Because of your wonderful visage and vixen body, I cannot stop watching your movies [King Arthur, The Jacket, Pride & Prejudice, Domino]. Sure, they're awful and every time I see you try to act or emote or do anything except pout or undress (didn't I just see a nipple in one of those spreads?) I want to slit my wrists, but you carry the same allure as the Sirens in that book you never read who tried to dispatch poor, poor Odysseus. For the love of the Almighty God, please cease this glorified modeling and come live with me at my pad. No, it's not the Playboy Mansion and Damon Dash wouldn't take a shit here, but the backyard is nice. I make a mean Southern Comfort and OJ, there aren't too many people passed out in kitchen this time of year and there's always a movie playing somewhere ... and for once, thankfully, that movie will not be featuring you. Regards, Matt. P.S. You are not a bounty hunter."
© Copyright 2017 Matthew Lotti.