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Journal sielwolf's Journal: Best Movies of 2006 8

I probably should have waited on this list and started with my music in 2006 one instead. Movies are a tough thing to categorize at the end of the year just because of the demands of the medium. Not only is there a good chance that your hometown won't even get many of the best movies of the year (at all, let alone within the calendar year) but you just can't throw on a movie in the background and use it as your commute soundtrack for a few days. Film requires active effort to find, attend and then pay attention to. And so much film is dependent on mood. No comedy is funny if your legs got chopped off. But I think I see a good amount of movies. I read a bit about them. I own a few. And since this is the internet and we are just generating reams of bits no one is ever going to read, there's no reason for me not throwing together my lists. All the above reasons are taken into account so that means I don't have a "Best of" list. Also I think "Best of" lists are incredibly bullshit: they are usually favorites lists (i.e. subjective) under the guise of impartiality or they are completely self-deluted bias dressed up as impartiality. I'll try to be "fair" but I leave it up to you to take whatever I write as reasonable. Of course the whole point is to evangelize about movies and get folks out there to just maybe consider some stuff they wouldn't have normally gone out of their way to see ('cause I'm a dick like that):
  • Favorite Movies of 2006
    • The Departed You might have already read this. I'm a big Scorsese advocate. I really just decided that I gotta stand up for a man who will dork out about his favorite B movies from the 50s. All the acting is on fire in this movie. The movie plays balls out. No Pants. This is the sort of movie that is infinitely rewatchable, infinitely quotable and will age with every passing year. It'll be up there with the other cult/cable TV rerun staples of Scarface and Shawshank. Yeah, "I'm the guy who does his job."
    • A Scanner Darkly Going into this movie had me at war with myself. I love Philip K Dick. I hate Richard Linklater. I don't care if he's the unsung first of the 90's indie filmmakers. He is just an unending avalanche of bullshit sliding into your face that the filministas think you should welcome with an open mouth. They don't care he has no directoral flair, his concepts are overripe crap that would get a resounding 'D- Get Over Yourself' in any Freshman level creative writing course, that he can produce almost nothing with good actors and that he craps out three movies a year. But he's also a big PKD fan and by staying canonical to the source he's created a fantastic film about paranoia and notion of self... wait, let's just say that PKD created it and Linklater put it into action (like the apes in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes: "DO!") The only issue is having Keanu Reeves as the lead and surrounding him with Robert Downey Jr and Woody Harrelson acting their skins off. Luckily he spends half the time in his camo suit and someone else is doing his voice and we don't have to look at his dead eyes. That just lets us look at Winona a little more (still a superfox. It's a generational thing but it's absolutely true. She's our Brigette Bardot).
    • Half Nelson Hollywood has completely eaten up and turned indie film into the same cookie cutter formula that the RIAA did to DIY music in the mid 90's. Now the Motley Group of Counterculture Characters Form a Functioning Family Unit while Indie Music Plays is one of the genres bourgies go to on Saturdays at one of their chain indie theaters and make themselves feel ever so smart. Half Nelson wasn't one of those movies. Along with the just shown (genius) Season Four of The Wire, this movie is one of the most piercing looks into public primary education. And don't let the groan-inducing concept of "White crack-smoking teacher tries to reach his students" make you get visions of Dangerous Minds. There is no Coolio in sight. And credit for that goes to the leads of Ryan Gosling, Anthony Mackie and Shareeka Epps who create characters of pathos while letting them fill them out with the all too human traits of stupidity, farce, and adolescent want. There are no moral heights in this movie. Everyone is allowed to be judged on their own choices. And the central question of who and what we let educate our lives runs through it all.
    • Wassup Rockers Larry Clark finally made an accessible movie. Too bad his good karma from Bully didn't last six years and no one came out and saw it. This was the first fictional skater movie that was good. This was the first fictional movie about punk rockers that was good. Anyone who knows even the littlist about LA Hardcore knows how LA held it down and how the Latino youth there where a part of that. The genius of this movie is casting the authentic article and letting them skate and jam in the crazy fucked up world that is LA. If Hollywood did this movie it would be Heath Ledger playing Salvador Fernando or something and you would only see Latino faces and White faces. Wassup Rockers has the whole city rubbing shoulders with each other: Beverly Hills, the police, the squadrons of other neighborhood youth battling on little more than ethnic identity. Wassup Rockers is The Warriors of the skaters. The boys odyssey is a litmus test of the state of the American Western city and all the worlds that compose it.
    • Cocaine Cowboys Like Wassup Rockers this documentary covers history that passes both invisibly while forceably through our lives. Covering the Miami Cocaine era of the late 70's and early 80's, this movie brings to light a fascinating and powerful narrative of American culture and one that is often untold. What do most people think of when they think Miami and drugs? Scarface and Miami Vice. But what about the real world? If you asked someone to tell you who Mo Green in The Godfather was modelled after, they could tell you (Tony Soprano, right?) But the history of America's cocaine wars walks in the shadows mostly because it is composed of Latin and Carribean stories that the mainstream media has never beenable to see as anything other than ethnic "color". This documentary opens this world up to you: how they did it, how it rose and fell, the people involved. You'll go into hysterics, you'll be shot down by tragedy, you'll think. Like the best documentaries you'll be inserted into events that no screenwriter could conceive. Murderous hits, gutting guys with bayonents, bodies in boxes, coke dropped from airplanes into the sea in waterproof containers. I actually think the marketing campaign hurt this one: ads done up like Grand Theft Auto and music by Jan Hammer? All unnecessary for this riveting story.
    • Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny I've made this Top 5 a Top 6 because I guess me and my buddies where the only ones to see this movie. Didn't You People Know that Tenacious D ROCKED?!? The first 5 minutes of this movie are a laugh riot: a young Jack Black stand-in (creepily good) sings the most outrageous song while Meatloaf (as Jack's father) and Ronny James Dio (from a bedroom poster) join in Andrew Llyod Webber style. It only gets better. Ben Stiller and Tim Robbins in great cameos, the Breaking In song, rocking out Beethoven on the beach and the "Little Devil in All of Us" speech at the end. Completely hilarious. But this movie dying a painful box office death just reaffirms my lack of faith in humanity.
  • Also Pretty Damn Good in 2006
    • Stranger than Fiction I like me a good Romantic Comedy: one that's more than just about costume changes for the female lead. A strong concept, no meet cutes, no fake crises. Why is that so hard to find? Too often RomComs are about quirks instead of character, about dumb sub-Sex in the City gags than actual comedy. This movie isn't really about bellylaughs but has a lot of strong performances and sympathetic characters. It has some great sequences and a real heart. Most of all it doesn't play you for a fool and that's a rare commodity.
    • Casino Royale Steve Who Shot Himself and I agreed that this was a real enjoyable Bond. It shares a lot of the zest with the first Brosnan Goldeneye. Craig as Bond feels fresh. I could have gone without the "So how did he get his car" bit and I thought the first Bond Girl was disposed of a bit too quickly. It all feels like a rush trying to get everything in (esp Felix Leiter. How many lines did Jeffrey Wright have? Three? And he got fifth billing? I expect there to be a lot of metaarc then... which is good). Like a good Bond it attacks the screen. I'm perfectly fine with a redux or the whole canon. The more good movies in the world, the better.
    • Pirates of the Carribean: DMC Your Boy's history with the first PotC: kind of excited to see it, heard it was dumb, went to it with low expectations, loved it. Same with this one. Sure, it was kind of long and it felt cheap bringing back every major character from the first... but this movie was fun and clever. The action was top notch and everyone seems to be having a good time (call it the Oceans 12 Effect). Cute babes popping out of corsets. Always a good time.
    • Talladega Nights This is probably one of the weakest Frat Pack movies, but that's just because the core is so strong. And it is far from being the worst or even bad. A little robotic but still a good time. Some great lines and sequences. What theater didn't go wild when Ricky Bobby stuck the scalpel into his leg?
    • The Queen A pleasent little Masterpiece Theater film. All we needed was Damian Lewis being a scoundrel (maybe have a 30 minute sequence of him as James Hewitt hopping from one manor to the next ravishing young contessas? I didn't say it had to make any sense to the plot as a whole). Enjoyable but it's no Ether either. Maybe in this year lacking any explosive female roles it stands out but folks won't remember this movie in five years.
    • American Hardcore *Cranks up "Pay to Cum" on the speakers* Ok- wait a minute *turns down speakers to an appropriate level* Based off of the book and covering a vital yet painfully neglected part of American music. SST belongs in the conversation with Motown and Atlantic. Yes, it's that important. Basically if you listen to music with guitars now you need to doff your cap to the bands in this movie... too bad this film doesn't give you any of the greater narrative of Hardcore's place in music. This film starts and stops. You don't even get told what these talking heads went on to do after 85? A neophyte might look at the bald heads of Moby and Ian MacKaye and not realize that one went on to whore out every song on his crossover album for commercial use while the other is out still killing crowds, resisting commercial pressures, issuing discs for 10 bucks and keeping alive the burning flame of independent spirit. What we really wanted here was Our Band Could Be Your Life. But that would be a twelve part series... and probably would need to be expanded. That's the problem: the dirth of quality music artifacts makes even something passibly good feel deeply inadequate.
    • This Film Is Not Yet Rated How is change affected? Especially in the case of naive neglect (that is the case where we tolerate something because we are ignorant of it)? Usually it comes from a steady feed of information where you slowly begin to realize there is no war and no Emmanuel Goldstein. This Film Is Not Yet Rated is the same. Did you ever wonder how a movie gets rated differently than another? It happens at least once a year: "How is that PG-13?" Did you know Red Dawn was the first PG-13 movie? How many 'shits' are allowed in a PG film? And all of the implications this has: how NC-17 rated movies can't be advertised on television and won't be stocked at Blockbuster and Wal-Mart (although in this Netflix/streaming age that's becoming less of a barrier). This movie explores the MPAA's self-regulation and how in fact it is negligent, hypocritical and biased. How we so easily accept ignorance as strength.
    • Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story Now this was a creepy ass movie. Everything you fear about the North Koreans turns out to be true. The genius is keeping the North Koreans out of the picture. You get the sense they are everywhere, in everything. As the story unfolds the conspiracy deepens: a 13 year old girl disappears in the late 70's and then a decade later it is revealed she was kidnapped by the North Koreans to train their special force operatives. Then it turns out at least dozens and maybe hundreds of Japanese where kidnapped. Her parents seek at all costs to find out what happened to her. Oh and it's a documentary (in case you thought otherwise). Enough humor to keep you from wanting to kill yourself.
  • M-O-O-N Spells Dumb in 2006
    • Factotum Everything is wrong with Jim Emerson's review of this movie: it isn't good, it doesn't capture Bukowski, Bukowski is the bees knees and Emerson doesn't have a functioning brain. I hope this burnt Matt Dillon's undeserved credit for Crash. Sadly it probably won't and we'll have to live with more poor attempts. I really wonder what people see in Bukowski's work if this is the sort of product they turn out. They never appear to grasp the smile of the desperate beaten.
    • History Boys It's Dead Poets Society basically... oh, but some of the characters are gay. SHOCKER. Gay is now just one of the quirks crap writers give to characters in absence of actual writing. You can easily tell if this is the case by switching the genders of one of the characters. If this now heterosexual story is absolutely cliche then you have a worthless movie. It used to be switching the male/female roles from dominant/submissive was the risque thing. Then making the ages extreme was en vogue. Now its 'gay'. How 'zzzzzz'. What's next? "Oh upside-down chair leg! How I BURN for you! But- it's forbidden!! No- no!!! I can't give into temptation! You- bastard! [pause] Ravish me! [jumps assfirst at chair leg]" Without that this film would fall into that Motley Group of Counterculture Characters Form a Functioning Family Unit while Indie Music Plays I described above. But even those movies don't stoop to the hilariously stupid oncoming headlights/squealing tires/funeral ending. LAME!
    • Lady Vengeance We need to start keeping records. It'll be like a little High School yearbook. We'll break out people's inkbukkake years later to embarrass how totally they overrated certain fads. J-Horror, and Chan-wook Park. DID YOU KNOW THAT CHAN-WOOK PARK IS HARRY KNOWLEZ FAVOREIT DIRENATOR EVAR!!!??? People who will buy that Oldboy tinbox are idiots. Confusing well made films with vision that have dumb dialogue and lazy plotting with actual good movies is the path to getting clowned mercilessly. It also keeps directors from growing and actually becoming something to really get excited about.
    • Fastfood Nation Exhibit Q as to why Richard Linklater is dumb. Ethan Hawke getting self-righteous, stupid plot that doesn't go anywhere, an unshocking shock ending, wasted talent, Avril Lavigne. An 19 year old would have written this. And it didn't even register a blip on the consciousness. GET OFF THE STAGE!
    • All them Grindhouse/Torture Horror films out there Turistas, The New Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Saw 3, Hostel, Yawn, Whatever. We are not obsessed, we are not consumed. It's cheaper and more thrilling to buy a stun gun and stick it in your face. People don't do it to shock themselves. It's visual alcohol; they do it to feel numb. All the dread of the 21st century and they think this will cure them or make them any less afraid. A thousand little deaths of who cares.
    • The Science of Sleep IT'S SO FANCIFUL! IT'S SO MARVELOUS! IT'S THE CINEMA EQUIVALENT OF A HOWIE MANDEL STANDUP! If Gondry got Bjork to squawk for 90 minutes of the visuals this would have been better. This isn't anything more than a video installation. Don't pretend this is a movie. Just because you can eat it doesn't make the turd cooking in my bowels a meal.
    • Dual Turn of the Century Stage Magician Movies set in Old Europe Who thought America wanted this? "Finally, a stage magician movie for My Generation!"
    • Marie Antoinette Sophia Coppola makes the same movie: white girl alienated with cool music in the background. Sadly there is no Bill Murray or Anna Faris to rescue this one. Dumb dumb dumb. Oh, and ask mekkab: the drink named after her is as crappy as it sounds. Someone get this girl an album made after '95.
  • Unseen in 2006
    • Beerfest Smart dumb comedies I love. So they made a beer drinking championship movie set in Germany that involves a lot of Das Boat references? How'd I miss this? This should be up on Encore On Demand.
    • 49 Up Fascinating but I haven't seen the other six films in the series. Since this is part seven and it follows the interesting tragectories of these people and their lives... starting here seemed like a bad choice.
    • L'Enfant Incredible reviews... bland premise that kept me from going to the theater. It sounds like hard realist fiction. And I hate hard realist fiction.
    • Inland Empire I have an admire-despise relationship with David Lynch. But I always give his movies one chance. I just don't see a 3 hour Lynch movie making it out to many theaters for long
    • Jackass 2 I love Jackass. But I was never really in a comedy watching mood this Fall. I'll probably see it on TV and die laughing. It's one of those odd things of loving something but not becoming obsessive.
    • United 93 Great reviews, I love Bloody Sunday it's just that I've seen like a dozen 9-11 docs and I decided "You know, all of these get me really really depressed. I think I'll stop watching these." It's like watching video of your parents die in a car wreck over and over again.
    • Flags of our Fathers/Letters from Iwo Jima They all seem to be getting props... but Eastwood is WAAAYYY overrated as a director. Million Dollar Baby was trite self-righteous crap. A part of me thinks that there was probably no need to fictionalize this and a documentary would be far more powerful. I'll wait to watch it on HBO and will be glad to be proven wrong.
    • The Good Shepherd It isn't out yet. Bobby D returns to direct. Joe P back in movies for the first time in eight years. I have a mancrush on Team America Voice>MATT DAMON</Team America Voice> This could be really good.
    • Le Petit Lieutenant French cop movies are highly underrated. But it was out for a total of two weeks here. It's coming out again... when I'm back in Ohio for the holidays. Shitty fucking luck.
    • Pan's Labyrinth Not out yet. Del Toro is always worth a look. Don't hold Hellboy against him. At least see its finer points.
    • Children of Men Not out yet. The Onion AV Club had it as their best movie. I dig Clive Owen. Creepy Post-apocalyptic movies rock.
    • The Fountain Haven't found anyone to go see it. I'm afraid I'll probably miss it like Jackass 2. Again maybe low expectations will save it for me.
    • Jonestown: Life and Death of the People's Temple Jim Jones fascinates me. Cults fascinate me. The psychology and sociology and spirit of the times. There is something great and dreadful walking over the earth. Too bad it didn't come out here.
    • Idiocracy This was in and out of theaters in 5 minutes. Mike Judge got the same treatment he got for Office Space. Average man gets unfrozen in the future and finds out he's the smartest guy in the world. What sounds better?
    • The Good German Not out yet. I dunno about this. So often an homage often means "boring and forgettable". Still, it's Soderbergh. He's in good with me. Plus it has Toby McGuire playing an asshole.
    • Borat Same as Jackass 2, I just couldn't get myself to comedies this Fall. Add onto it most people saying it had three funny scenes. I think South Park might be ruining me. My expectations for comedy are so high. I want layers and layers of satire and parody. It's hard to live up to.
    • The Bridge Didn't come out here and I can see why: it's about one year of suicides from the Golden Gate Bridge. It's a topic that is both fascinating and repellant to all people. I doubt there will ever be a showing of it though. So now I play Wait For the DVD.
  • Actually Came Out Before 2006
    • The Proposition Best Western in 15 years and it's set in Australia? Nick Cave wrote it and did the music. It's a complete concept. It reminds me of J.M. Coetzee (Dusklands, Waiting for the Barbarians). It's a Western but intangled with the racial and historical politics that make Australia what it is. It's about the compromise on ones soul when you ask to have civilization. At what costs?
    • Overlord Abstract WW2 movie about Normandy that used a lot of real archival footage you never saw (mostly because it's British). Wild shit like the rocket powered wheels the UK used to blow up beach defenses. Exceptional and weird.
    • Army of Shadows Not one of the best Melvilles but a great film about the French Resistance. Again it's cool and existential. Kind of drags in some parts but has a real sense of itself.
  • Excitement in 2007 And let's not forget that there's a lot of cool stuff coming out next year. Sadly all the low level indie stuff is hard to spot until after Sundance and them start making noise. Still I leave you with the following list:
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Best Movies of 2006

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  • Yeah, I know Tenacious D rocks. But what they were showing in all the trailers was all the stuff I've already seen in the sketches that they did for Showtime(?) that were in the bonus materials on their Masterworks DVD.

    So yeah, I'm a fanboi (w/ XX chromosomes), but getting to the THEEayter is too much trouble to risk seeing what may very well turn out to be a weakly cobbled collection of rehashed material that was only vaguely entertaining the first time around.

    I got the album to listen to, and that doe
    • HBO... the D was on HBO (I was into Jack Black before the rest of the world, and I'm uppity about it) ;)

      And Siel... nice usage of 'The Stand', there. I caught it! :D
  • by Tet ( 2721 )
    [sentence redacted as Herminone is still waaayy to illegal to write this sort of stuff]

    Not so, my friend. I don't know about where you live, but Emma Watson is 16 now, which makes her legal here in the UK...

  • Looks like I have a few movies to watch next year. Ocean's Thirteen, Grindhouse, Spiderman 3, National Treasure 2: The Book of Secrets, Next, The Bourne Ultimatum and Sin City 2 are all on my must see list.

    Damn you for taunting me like that! :)
    • And that second Transformers trailer looked pretty cool too... It's always important to plan out the year. The worst is to find out you missed something when it came out :(
      • by Talinom ( 243100 ) *
        Crap. Forgot about the Transformers. Add that one to the list.

        It scares me, though, as it has the potential to suck mightily.
  • by elmegil ( 12001 ) *
    What did Little Miss Sunshine do to offend you? Not even making ANY mention seems a bit surprising....

    BTW, is anyone else totally incensed by the way the DVD ad totally gives away the end? Yah, we all knew that granpa had something salacious up his sleeve, but I sure didn't expect quite THAT.

    • It did nothing to me, either good or bad, and that's why it didn't get a mention. I really don't have much to say about it. I'd shrug and say "it's ok". I guess the worst opinion is not having one :P

Adding features does not necessarily increase functionality -- it just makes the manuals thicker.