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Monthly Archives: December 2009

fave films of the 00s

“We have a limit, a very discouraging, humiliating limit: death. That’s why we like all the things that we assume have no limits and, therefore, no end. It’s a way of escaping thoughts about death. We like lists because we don’t want to die.” — Umberto Eco


Twenty slots, twenty-five films. How did I do it? Simple, I cheated.

  1. cytotec for sale without prescription No Country for Old Men (2007). About halfway through my first viewing, I knew this was one of the best movies I’d ever seen, technically and thematically. Three or four rewatchings later, I still find new things to admire and think about. Dammit, I want to watch it again right now!
  2. Cowards Bend the Knee (2003), Brand Upon the Brain (2006) and My Winnipeg (2008). I don’t think individually any of these three Guy Maddin films would place this high (though My Winnipeg would make the top ten — it’s a straight-up masterpiece), but as a group, they make up a kind of alternate-universe cinema that branched off from our timeline circa 1928 but kept developing for another 80 years, and became something strange and pretty damn entertaining.
  3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). Funny, original and endlessly clever, this film reaches for emotions no other film has, and succeeds. I love the holy living fuck out of this movie.
  4. Grizzly Man (2005). Werner Herzog uses the vast amount of footage shot by Timothy Treadwell to tell not only the story of Treadwell’s life and death, but to give the most clear and profound presentation of his own ideas about nature, folly and filmmaking to date. The end result is a kind of conversation between two slightly-unhinged philosopher filmmakers, one living and one dead.
  5. Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007). Easily my two favourite straight-up comedies of the decade. Also marks the strongest big-screen debuts of the decade, by writer/director Edgar Wright and writer/actor Simon Pegg, who wring humour and pathos out of the most unexpected places.
  6. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) Eli: “I always wanted to be a Tenenbaum.” Royal: “Me, too. Me, too.” Yeah. Me, too.
  7. Oldboy (2003). I can’t argue that it’s a perfect film, but it packs so many brilliant scenes and ideas into its running time that really, who cares? This would make my list for the hammer fight alone. Or the squid-eating scene. Or the rooftop freedom-in-a-suitcase scene.
  8. Inglourious Basterds (2009). I truly do not understand why the critical response was only mildly positive instead of enthusiastic. I predict that in ten years, conventional wisdom will place this alongside Pulp Fiction, and nobody except a few contrarians and haters will bat an eyelid.
  9. 3-Iron (2004). South Korean movie about two lovers who never speak, not to each other and not to anyone else. Probably the gentlest, most joyful film imaginable about loneliness and nihilism.
  10. WALL·E (2008). Aside from Cars, every Pixar film has been either great or a masterpiece, but I give WALL·E mad props for it’s silent first half : the cinematic equivalent setting the bar even higher than usual and then vaulting over the mofo blindfolded just to show they could.
  11. The Dark Knight (2008). The first real “graphic novel” movie, as opposed to a “comic book” movie gets right everything I still enjoy about superhero funnybooks — an utter unwillingness to condescend, a deep love and respect for the mythology, and a good half-dozen Crowning Moments of Awesome, all built on a framework of black-and-grey morality.
  12. Mulholland Dr. (2001)
  13. Zodiac (2007)
  14. Children of Men (2006). The politics are so heavy-handed it could have been a Red Dawn for liberals, but it’s so goddamn passionate and articulate that it never devolves into eyerolling territory.
  15. American Psycho (2000)
  16. The Fountain (2006). Even liking this movie seems to set me apart from pretty much everyone else, and I’m not sure how well it will stand up to repeat viewings, but I walked out of the theatre absolutely loving it, and thinking it is possibly the most beautiful movie I’d ever seen. Since then, it has only grown in my mind.
  17. Battle Royale (2000). “So a classroom full of Japanese schoolkids are put on an island and forced to fight until only one is left alive. But it’s way better than it sounds!” Trying to convince people to watch this ends up being either a really, really hard sell, or a disturbingly easy one.
  18. Donnie Darko (2001). Richard Kelly’s embarrassing commentary tracks, “director’s cut” and subsequent work have convinced me this is a kind of accidental masterpiece, more subtle, mysterious and poignant than he ever intended. But hey, that’s art for ya.
  19. Spirited Away (2001)
  20. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003). The eleven purest hours of cinema I ever expect to see.
  21. thefountain

    And thirty more! You lucky, lucky people!

  22. Encounters at the End of the World (2007)
  23. Ghost World (2001)
  24. Lost in Translation (2003)
  25. The New World (2005)
  26. The Incredibles (2004)
  27. Capturing The Friedmans (2003)
  28. Songs from the Second Floor (2000)
  29. The Departed (2006)
  30. Primer (2004)
  31. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… And Spring (2003)
  32. Adaptation (2002)
  33. City of God (2002)
  34. Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) and Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004)
  35. Synecdoche, New York (2008)
  36. Fog of War (2003)
  37. Let the Right One In (2008)
  38. Man on Wire (2008)
  39. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
  40. The Proposition (2005)
  41. A History of Violence (2005)
  42. Clerks II (2006)
  43. The Hurt Locker (2009)
  44. Together (2000)
  45. Twilight Samurai (2002)
  46. Wendy and Lucy (2008)
  47. Collateral (2004)
  48. A Serious Man (2009)
  49. Serenity (2005)
  50. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
  51. Last Life in the Universe (2003)


And a few more I considered, but ultimately cut from the top 50. I really spent an embarrassing amount of time on this whole thing.

4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days (2007)
The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)
American Splendor (2003)
Amélie (2001)
Apocalypto (2006)
Atanarjuat, The Fast Runner (2001)
Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans (2009)
Before Sunset (2004)
Brick (2005)
Caché (2005)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
The Death of Mr Lazarescu (2005)
The Descent (2005)
The Fall (2006)
Ghost Dog (2000)
Ichi the Killer (2001)
In The Mood For Love (2000)
Into the Wild (2007)
Iron Man (2008)
Juno (2007)
The King of Kong (2007)
Knocked Up (2007)
Kung Fu Hustle (2004)
The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)
Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005)
Memento (2000)
Miami Vice (2006)
Moulin Rouge! (2001)
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
Once (2006)
The Orphanage (2007)
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
Rescue Dawn (2006)
School of Rock (2003)
There Will Be Blood (2007)
Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (2005)
Werckmeister Harmonies (2000)
The Wrestler (2008)
Yi Yi (2000)

fave books of the 00s

Unlike movies, which I follow pretty closely, and the token effort I make to follow what happens in the realms of TV and music, I don’t really pay attention to what’s new in books. I do read a fair bit, but I get most of my books in second-hand bookstores, picked from a lengthy, half-remembered mental list of things I vaguely think I’d like to read. So basically, there are a lot of gaps, even among books that I’m pretty sure I’ll really enjoy when I read them. But hey, maybe in 10 or 15 years, I’ll be able to put together a proper list. Until then, what we got is what we got, and here’s what we got. Feel free to tell me what else I should have read by now.

  1. Nixonland, Rick Perlstein. Covering the rise of the the brilliant and amoral Richard Nixon and the not-unrelated fracturing of American politics and society, this is one of the most fascinating history books I’ve ever read.
  2. Herzog on Herzog, Paul Cronin and Werner Herzog. A series of long interviews with German auteur/professional daydreamer Werner Herzog, in which he talks about his life, films and idiosyncratic philosophy. And chickens.
  3. Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth, Chris Ware. Incredibly dense and painfully sad, even as a lifelong comics reader, this was a real revelation about what a graphic novel could be.
  4. 2666, Roberto Bolaño. A degree in English literature has left me with a distinct distaste for the explicitly “literary”, something this massive novel flirts with, but ultimately leaves behind in favour of pulpy mystery. It’s like walking the streets of a strange city alone late at night.
  5. The Terror, Dan Simmons. Chilling historical horror novel about the doomed 1845 Franklin expedition, which sailed into the arctic aboard the aptly-named HMS Terror and met an ignoble end of madness, starvation and cannibalism. Impossible to read unless buried under warm blankets with a hot mug of tea in hand.
  6. All-Star Superman, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. After a lost decade of continuity obsession and “darker-and-edgier” wanking, superhero comics have been making steps toward readability again, as writers like Morrison, Millar and Bendis have been rebuilding the stories and characters that made superheroes appealing to begin with. This is the best of what I’ve read, a stripped-down and poignant new myth of Superman.
  7. Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, Jon Krakauer. Krakauer juxtaposes the story of modern fundamentalist offshoots of Mormonism with the bloody history of the LDS to look at the dark side of religion in America.
  8. Scott Pilgrim, Bryan Lee O’Malley. O’Malley’s brilliant ongoing series of graphic novels uses his obsessions with videogames, manga and Canadian indie pop to inform this unexpectedly moving and original story of a Toronto slacker who must defeat his new girlfriend’s seven evil exes.
  9. Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, Suketu Mehta. An Indian-American writer revisited Mumbai after a decades-long absence and sought out the entrepreneurs, gangsters and transvestite dancers that have made the city, and recorded their stories.
  10. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers. Definitely attracted its share of detractors, and a lot of the criticisms are valid, but I still enjoy this book immensely for its wit, humanity and way with language.


Do we have honourable mentions? Yes, we have honourable mentions!

World War Z, Max Brooks.
Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography, Chester Brown
A Brief History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon.
JPod, Douglas Coupland
American Gods, Neil Gaiman.
The Elegant Universe, Brian Greene.
On Intelligence, Jeff Hawkins
Areas of my Expertise, John Hodgman.
Born Standing Up, Steve Martin
Asterios Polyp, David Mazzucchelli
Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami.
The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan
Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser.
Y: The Last Man, Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra
Fables, Bill Willingham et al