Broken Flowers (Jim Jarmusch)
I remember first seeing Stranger Than Paradise, with its long elipses between scenes and open-ended sensibility and thinking “why can’t all movies be like this?” Jarmusch’s latest had a much deeper more permanent sadness at its core, but also an easily roused sense of humour. Could also have been called Dead Ends.
Memories of Murder (Joon-ho Bong)
It’s always interesting to watch the process of cultural exchange. Conventions are mangled, clichés are reconfigured and insight into what passes for a national character emerges in how story arcs are shaded. The serial killer who haunted Korea in the 80s thrust a mostly sheltered rural nation lurching into a cold industrialized future.
March of the Penguins (Luc Jaquet)
Dear alternative film writers, I too would have preferred less of Morgan Freeman’s at times desperately anthropomorphizing narration, but really, the fact that you were unmoved by this middle-brow treat leads me to believe you’ve forgotten how to love.
Mysterious Skin (Greg Araki)
This maker of trashy half-baked lowbudget indie films actually has a nuanced hand. Who knew? Araki’s story of two little league buddies spiraling into themselves is equal parts domestic horror movie and reverse coming of age flick. Shame about Michelle Trachtenberg though.
Downfall (Oliver Hirschbiegel)
I would never be able to answer for the implications of claiming “Nazi fatigue” at the sheer volume of films about Holocaust victims and escapees. But setting aside the very real debate about empathy, Bruno Ganz gives flesh and blood to the man who haunts Germany — and judging from its unadulterated approach, it is the country for whom it was made.
Kings and Queen (Arnaud Desplechin)
If we were ranking these I’d have a hard time placing anything above this masterpiece which continually surpasses its ever-growing ambitions. The dynamics of identity prove fertile, fascinating ground for an artist at his zenith.
Sin City (Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez et al)
It took awhile for me to get used to the computerized approximation of comic books, but the sadistically hued stories were an unlikely combination of Dick Tracy morality and X-Box thrills. Forgettable. Entertaining. Hollywood.
Shake Hands With the Devil (Yvon Simoneau)
Partly a sentimental choice, I’ll admit, as it deals with a fellow Canadian. UN Peacekeeper Romeo Dallaire (portrayed by Nick Nolte in Hotel Rwanda) witnessed the atrocity firsthand, and unraveled as the world around him hid from a genocide. Tough viewing.
Far Side of the Moon (Robert Lepage)
Men once watched the moon and pondered its significance. Some still do, while many others watch the weather channel. This concerns Robert lepage, who has composed a love letter to childhood imagination and an elegy for the kind of curiosity that perhaps died with cosmonaut dog Laika.
Kamikaze Girls (Tetsuya Nakashima)
Everyone’s had a male friend who’s started to date a cute Asian girl to the eyerolling consternation of those around him. But when it turns out she’s also smart and talented and actually quite self-aware, don’t you feel a bit judgemental?