Open thread: Films you've watched this year and loved, or hated.

I’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to watch pretty much any film I want whilst living here in the UK. And if you, like me, love watching films, you would agree that there’s no place better than where there is little to no form of censorship. In the last few years, I have been an intense cinema-goer, renter of DVDs, and analyst of human behaviour. There’s no doubting that film is a medium of change. And if the power of cinema cannot change reality, it can certainly alter its perception. In this post, I’d like to look back and share the list of films I’ve had the great fortune/misfortune to watch this year, and ask you, my readers:

What was your film experience like this year?

Films I watched and loved, in no particular order:

  1. Two Days in Paris (France, 2007)
  2. Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (Czechoslovakia, 1970)
  3. Metropolis (Germany, 1927)
  4. Brick Lane (UK, 2007)
  5. Little Otik (Czechoslovakia, 2000)
  6. La Antena (Argentina, 2007)
  7. Bandit Queen (India, 1994)
  8. The Virgin Spring (Sweden, 1960)
  9. Paprika (Japan, 2006)
  10. Caramel (Lebanon, 2007)
  11. Mooladé (Senegal, 2006)
  12. City of God (Brazil, 2002)
  13. Re-Animator (US, 1985)
  14. Kandahar (Iran, 2001)

Hated and wished I had never watched:

  1. I Am Legend (US, 2007)
  2. The Happening (US, 2008)
  3. Girl on the Bridge (France, 1999)

And if there was a favourite film scene, it’s got to be in the video below.

13 thoughts on “Open thread: Films you've watched this year and loved, or hated.

  1. I loved Bandit Queen and Caramel, too!😀

    They made a movie out of Brick Lane? I didn’t even know that!! I need to see it!

    I forgot all the movies I have seen this year immediately after watching them. The last movie I watched was Rendition, which was okay. I just got NetFlix, so now I can fill my inbox with lots of foreign movies! YAY!

  2. Ohhh, it’s because the DVD won’t be released until Jan. 2009 in the U.S. You know what was a good movie that Brick Lane reminds me of? The Namesake. Good, good, good. Love Mira Nair!

  3. Brick Lane is pretty good for a mainstream, fairly big-budget film. Without giving too much way, I like it because it’s quite unconventional, and there isn’t a stereotypical heroic white character to rescue anyone in sight.

  4. I really enjoyed watching Metropolis again, especially with live piano accompaniment. La Antena evokes something of the same style, being a modern silent film. Both are very political, being about power and control, and the value of the individual.

    I also loved Paprika with its seamless blend of crime thriller, fantasy, cybernetics and a superhero. The main character surprisingly breaks a few female stereotypes too.

    I enjoyed Couscous, with reservations about the necessity of the belly-dancing scene. It is the archetypal French social film set around dinner tables, yet the people and their aspirations are those of North Africans living in France. Similar in style, yet far more up beat was Caramel. Can I add The Beat My Heart Skipped here too?

    The films I hated were The Happening, Vantage Point and Cloverfield. The first two I found morally repugnant: the first misuses mass suicide for shock factor and mixes in a schlocky script with mindless fear-mongering, the second conjures up ‘foreign terrorists’ who are beaten by good-old American conviction but neither fictions are believable. At least Cloverfield is just bad. The other film that should be added to the bad list is 21. I watched it on the aeroplane back from Malaysia, and it was enjoyable fluff, until I found out that the original story was about a group of mainly Asian MIT students. The Hollywood makeover gave us a White male-female romantic lead, White male rival, and just two minor Asian characters negatively portrayed (a Korean kleptomaniac and a Filipina drunk) — a real shame of a sham.

  5. Rewatched with my daughter one my early childhood favorite animations, Watership Down. It’s based on the novel of the same name that I read about 4 times over a few years in the 10-13 yr old period. Very political and quite disturbing, but I appreciated that it didn’t talk down to me as kid. No nightmares for my daughter either.
    It was the movie that introduced me to the world of animation outside the bombastic American style. The artwork was frankly beautiful. It put me on the path to Myizaki whose movies my daughter and I share an appreciation for.

  6. Salaam,

    Aw, ‘Watership Down’ is about bunnies! And i have to agree, the more disturbing scenes are quite subtle and imaginatively done, won’t cause nightmares. All hail to the non-American/Disney/Bluth/Pixar animated films!

    I watched halfway through ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ by Isao Takahata, not because it was rubbish, but because it was playing so late at night on TV. It is brilliant, and like ‘Watership’, it’s a sad story and is not afraid to depict death. In fact, the main theme is about death and futile survival. But I highly recommend it.

  7. Where did you get the opportunity to watch Caramel and Kandahar? Selected theaters in the UK? I’ve been wanting to watch those, particularly Kandahar. I also want to watch other movies by the Makhmalbaf family, particularly ‘The Day I Became a Woman’, ‘Blackboards’ and ‘Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame’.

  8. Malaysianfeminism,

    I was lucky enough to have a friend who had ‘Caramel’ on DVD, and I saw ‘Kandahar’ on really late night British TV, at something like 3 in the morning when it started. Caramel is a gorgeous, sensuous film – you have to watch it. Kandahar is a little on the arty side, like most internationally-acclaimed Iranian films I’ve seen (I love, love, love ‘Taste of Cherry’, by the way – so simple, yet so powerful).

    I’m not sure how much non-Hollywood films you can watch in Malaysia these days, perhaps you might know. The last time I smuggled into the country my sexy, but pirated, French films and Almodovars from Malaysia was more than three years ago. Piracy has been effectively clamped down I hear. How on earth do Malaysians get to watch non-mainstream (and uncensored) movies then?!

    You can purchase DVDs from the oft-reliable Amazon of course, but if you’re in Malaysia, you have to wait more than a month and get your packaged goods violated by the custom inspectors before it gets to you.

  9. Ah yes, I’m all too aware of the limited choices of foreign films here in Malaysia. I have to resort to downloading illegally, or waiting for my friend from the UK to bring back DVDs. I couldn’t even find Indochine in the shops here. What are your fave French movies? I love stuff by Andre Techine, especially My Favorite Season and Wild Reeds. Good stuff🙂

    I will try to continue hunting down Caramel (sigh), and a bunch of other foreign flicks. It’s so hard to be worldly and cultured (ahem) in Malaysia! :p

    By the way, do check out http://www.youtube.com/user/FirouzanFilms – there are excerpts from a bunch of Iranian movies. Speaking of Iranian movies, Malaysia didn’t even bring Persepolis in. The shame.

  10. My favourite French film of all time is ‘Betty Blue’. It’s one of the most beautiful films on love and madness that I know. It comes close to pathologising love (good examples of this theme include Zhang Zimou’s Long Road Home and the Audrey Tautou film À la folie… pas du tout, but I’m digressing). I also like ‘Mississippi Mermaid’ by Truffaut, his ‘Jules et Jim’ is okay – nice to look at, not sure about the story. Should I also add French films that I didn’t like? It’s got to be ‘The Piano Teacher’ starring Isabelle Huppert – it has a beautiful soundtrack, but it’s SO BLOODY DIFFICULT TO WATCH. I don’t want to give anything away here, so you might have to watch it yourself to find out.

    I HAVE seen Persepolis! I liked it a lot, but I still prefer the graphic novels.

  11. The Long Road Home didn’t leave such a lasting impression on me, but I saw it years ago and can’t remember it much.

    I’ve heard a lot about The Piano Teacher – apparently it’s sexual and violent? Hmm.

    Speaking of Truffaut, I’ve just seen The Last Metro (another of his movie with Deneuve). Love it.

    I’ve also downloaded a copy of La Vie devant soi (alt. title??: Madame Rosa) but have yet to find the subs.

    Hahaha, I came here specifically to read your stuff about feminism, but got sidetracked into discussing movies instead.

  12. That’s okay. This was meant to be an open thread – sidetracking allowed.

    The Piano Teacher is about sexual repression and domination, all gone seriously wrong. It’s like torture porn; I had to cover my eyes in some scenes but that’s because I’m just a little sensitive like that.

  13. I am like that too. I can’t bring myself to sit through Belle De Jour. I know it’s art and therefore it’s open to many interpretations, but to me violence on screen remind me of the painful reality of violence, particularly violence against women.

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