2008

And so it begins.. Chlotrudis Members Pick Their Top Movies of 2008!

As the calendar page turns we look back at the previous year's films to pick our favorites. Now unlike the critics, Chlotrudis members usually report on their Top films of the previous year several weeks into the new year in order to see as many eligible films as possible. However the first entries of the year come from TC Kirckham and Kim Brown aka Popcorn 'n Roses have their own podcast called Subject:Cinema, and they're sent in their Top lists for 2008 already! They were the first Chlotrudis members to do so!

TC Kirkham, Co-Host
Subject:CINEMA
Baker's Dozen of 2008 (in alphabetical order):

Charlie Bartlett
Cloverfield
Crawford
The Dark Knight
The Forbidden Kingdom
Frost/Nixon
Iron Man
Milk
My Winnipeg
Nick And Norah's Infinite Playlist
Paranoid Park (pictured right)
Speed Racer
WALL-E

Kim Brown, Co-host
Subject:CINEMA
Top 10 of 2008 (in alphabetical order):

Charlie Bartlett
The Dark Knight
In Bruges
Iron Man
Mamma Mia
My Winnipeg (pictured right)
Nick And Norah's Infinite Playlist
Paranoid Park
Speed Racer
Tropic Thunder

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE the Best Movie of 2008?

The National Board of Review announced their choice for the best film of 2008: Danny Boyle's SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. Now those who know me well, or those who simply read my reviews on this site, must know that this genuinely shocked me, and I pretty actively disliked SLUMDOG. Even more shocking to me than the best movie award is the acknowledgement to Simon Beaufoy script, for Best Adapted Screenplay as I find the screenplay particularly reprehensible. Now I realize that I'm not going to agree with every honor bestowed by critics groups around the world, but I'm always a bit surprised when a movie I dislike fairly seriously garners enough support from other film buffs to win such honors. I'm sure Beth Caldwell is feeling the same way about all the honors being bestowed on FROZEN RIVER.

Anyway, upon reading this I immediately wanted to find out more about the NBR, to see how authoritative they might be. This is what I discovered on their website:

"The screening membership comprises knowledgeable film buffs, academics, young film professionals, and students in the New York metropolitan area."

Hmmm... I guess this must just be a highly divisive film. I know there are Chlotrudis members whose opinions I respect who love SLUMDOG as well.

The NBR's other honors follow:

Film: "Slumdog Millionaire"
Director: David Fincher, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Actor: Clint Eastwood, "Gran Torino"
Actress: Anne Hathaway, "Rachel Getting Married"
Supporting Actor: Josh Brolin, "Milk"
Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
Foreign Language Film: "Mongol"
Documentary: "Man On Wire"
Animated Feature: "Wall-E"
Ensemble Cast: "Doubt"
Breakthrough Performance by an Actor: Dev Patel, "Slumdog Millionaire"
Breakthrough Performance by an Actress: Viola Davis, "Doubt"
Directorial Debut: Courtney Hunt, "Frozen River"
Original Screenplay: Nick Schenk, "Gran Torino"
Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, "Slumdog Millionaire"
Eric Roth, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Spotlight Award: Melissa Leo, "Frozen River"
Richard Jenkins, "The Visitor"
The BVLGARI Award for NBR Freedom of Expression: "Trumbo"

TOP TEN FILMS

* "Burn After Reading"
* "Changeling"
* "The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button"
* "The Dark Knight"
* "Defiance"
* "Frost/Nixon"
* "Gran Torino"
* "Milk"
* "Wall-E"
* "The Wrestler"

TOP FIVE FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILMS

* Edge Of Heaven
* Let The Right One In
* Roman De Guerre
* A Secret
* Waltz With Bashir

TOP FIVE DOCUMENTARY FILMS

* American Teen
* The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)
* Dear Zachary
* Encounters At The End Of The World
* Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired

2008 Oscar Documentary Shortlist

Chlotrudis Advisory Board member AJ Schnack has posted this year's Oscar shortlist for documentaries; it looks uncommonly strong, finding room for usual suspect Errol Morris, but also Werner Herzog and the excellent AT THE DEATH HOUSE DOOR, which screened the festival circuit (including IFF Boston) before airing on IFC.

As for omissions, the most glaring one is CHRIS AND DON: A LOVE STORY; I would've also liked to see UNIVERSE OF KEITH HARING and SECRECY on there. What other films (apart from those AJ mentions in his post) do you think got overlooked?

Ten Fall Indies

With the prestigious fall movie season almost underway, here are but ten (and in a few cases, relatively) independent films I’m looking forward to. Release dates are New York ones (so we might not see a few of the December releases in Boston until Jan. or beyond) and as always, subject to change.

BALLAST
Since I’ve missed it at two local film festivals, will some daring programmer in Boston please book a run of Lance Hammer’s acclaimed, purportedly visually stunning, self-distributed debut feature? If not, I’ll attempt to make a one-off screening with the director in person on September 29 at the Harvard Film Archive. (Oct. 1)

RACHEL GETTING MARRIED
The plot sounds like a retread of last year’s MARGOT AT THE WEDDING, but great reviews from Toronto say otherwise—a long awaited return-to-form (and return to relatively low-budget filmmaking) from Jonathan Demme? A great role for Anne Hathaway? The triumphant return of Debra Winger? (Oct. 3)

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY
Mike Leigh’s last two features haven’t exactly been a barrel of laughs, so I anticipate his upbeat tale of a relentlessly optimistic London schoolteacher (Sally Hawkins), and also approach it with a little caution, for Leigh’s sharpest work has only the faintest rays of hope struggling through all the gloom and dysfunction. (Oct. 10)

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
I missed this supposedly sweet, Swedish, coming-of-age vampire film when it played Provincetown this year, and I don’t intend to do so if it plays here again—after all the lurid, sexed-up stuff we’ve seen on the subject, this alternative take sounds refreshing. (Oct. 24)

SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK
In his directorial debut (and first film since ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND), Charlie Kaufman gives us Philip Seymour Hoffman as a theatre director building a life-sized replica of New York City inside a warehouse. Sounds like it’ll be either mind-blowing or completely inscrutable, but not boring. (Oct. 24)

A CHRISTMAS TALE
Arnaud Despelchin follows KINGS AND QUEEN with this holiday-set ensemble piece that received more than a few raves when it premiered in Cannes last May. Promisingly, the cast reprises a few faces from the earlier film, including Mathieu Almaric, Emmanuelle Devos and Catherine Deneuve. (Nov. 14)

MILK
High expectations for this biopic to be the next BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN—it just might work if Sean Penn (as slain gay elected official Harvey Milk) proves his mettle while not overacting, and if director Gus Van Sant transforms the instinctual feel of his last few films into a more approachable (but not too conventional) narrative. (Nov. 26)

WENDY AND LUCY
Kelly Reichardt’s OLD JOY suggested a lot of potential I hope her new film fulfills. It sounds like another deceptively simple but carefully constructed story, involving a woman (Michelle Williams), her dog and an impoverished economic milieu most American movies overlook or ignore. (Dec. 10)

THE CLASS
Winning the top prize at Cannes doesn’t necessarily equate a great film. Laurent Cantet’s (HEADING SOUTH) French classroom drama will hopefully be a worthy successor to last year’s winner. (Dec. 12)

WALTZ WITH BASHIR
Unusual, innovative animated features that manage to find an audience always intrigue me. This Israeli film, which straddles the line between fiction and documentary and looks like a cross between WAKING LIFE and PERSEPOLIS, may be the next. (Dec. 26)

Bruce's First Report from Toronto!

Just spent my first full day in Toronto after arriving in time to see only one film last night. Tickets seem harder to get this year and we REALLY miss Michael and Scot's morning trek to the box office which made things ever so easy for the rest of us. A computer glitch caused many people to get tickets for overlapping times and I talked to many who were frantically trying to reschedule their films in wholesale fashion. Sadly the Cumberland is gone. Work was supposed to have begun turning the wonderful art house into luxury condos but I hear some glitch has stopped all that, alas too late to save the cinema. The Varsity is almost exclusively used now for press/industry screenings. This year there is a new venue - AMC - at Dundas and Yonge, diagonally across from the northern most part of the Eaton Centre. The College Park Box Office has been moved there. All lines for the Festival Box Office and films are formed outside which is messy and uncomfortable considering AMC is on the third floor and the Box Office is on the second.

Thursday night I began with a less than so-so Italian film THE REST OF THE NIGHT (2.5 cats) which belongs on TV, not in a major film festival. The acting was decent but the film was decidedly uncinematic. Furthermore it was filmed in winter giving it a bleak feeling that I suspect was unintentional. Friday started off with a bang. Brent Hamer's O'HORTEN (5 cats) was over-the-top fabulous. It is a bittersweet tale of a man coming to grips with his retirement and his past concurrently. O'HORTEN is a wonderful companion piece to his earlier KITCHEN STORIES. Hamer is definitely maturing as an artist. Later today I saw PANDORA'S BOX (4 cats) a Turkish film about three adult children who are forced to face their personal demons when their aged mother disappears, a victim of Alzheimer's. The mother is played beautifully by French actress Tsilla Chelton who some may remember in the delicious title role of TATIE DANIELLE. Finally I saw FEAR ME NOT a film from Danish director Kristian Levring. FEAR ME NOT (3.5 cats) is a pharmaceutical horror story inspired by none other than the venerable Jean Renoir's version of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." Ulrich Thomsen (FESTEN, ADAM'S APPLES) is a knock-out as the average man who innocently signs up for testing a new drug. The strong supporting cast includes the wonderful duo of Paprika Steen and Lars Brygmann. So far on Saturday I have seen SERBIS (4.5 cats) from the Philippine director Brillante Mendoza and a documentary on Senegalese Grammy-winning musician Youssou Ndour, YOUSSOU NDOUR: I BRING WHAT I LOVE (4.5 Cats).

Bruce Kingsley (posted by M Colford)

The Top 10's are starting already!

Over at eugonline, indieWIRE's Eugene Hernandez has posted his Top 10 of 2008 so far. Since we are over halfway through the year, and in a few short months, Chlotrudis members will be pondering nominations, Top 10 lists and what not, I thought I'd follow suit and share my own Top 10 of 2008 so far. Of course, given the nature of Chlotrudis, this is never a simple operation, so I'm going to post two Top 10 lists. The first will be my ten best movies that I've seen in 2008 so far, the other will be my ten best Chlotrudis-eligible films of 2008 so far. What are you favorites of the year so far?


My 10 Best Movies seen in 2008 so far! (in alphabetical order)

4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, 2 DAYS

THE AXE IN THE ATTIC
THE BAND'S VISIT
BLIND
CHRIS & DON: A LOVE STORY

THE EDGE OF HEAVEN
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (pictured right)
POSTCARDS FROM LENINGRAD
THEATER OF WAR
WATER LILIES

My 10 Best Chlotrudis-eligible Movies for 2008 so far! (in alphabetical order)

4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, 2 DAYS

THE AXE IN THE ATTIC
BLIND
CHRIS & DON: A LOVE STORY

JELLYFISH (pictured right)
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
MONKEY WARFARE
MY WINNIPEG
THE TRACEY FRAGMENTS
THE VISITOR