Highgate

Thursday

Okay, so it's a little late, but let me tell you all right now, i have been agonizing over the prose for my best movies of 2007 list. And i still think it's tripe. I mean, how many times can i say a film brilliantly acted or masterfully directed or, oh no, touching? A lot apparently. But nevertheless, the list was constructed and you all should read it, if only to break up the Aether Everywhere set lists. (I am proud of you though babe, despite the jab!)

Tanner said i sound like Leonard Maltin. I hope that some of you disagree, but alas, it may just be true. Regardless of my feelings about the posts, i do hope you enjoy reading the installments about my "adventure at the pictures" last year.

What's that, they didn't all come out in 2007? Well you're right! You can find those lists all over this great big internet, what i'm offering you is a genuine random selection of excellent films that span the decades, but affected me profoundly in 2007.

Thanks to Tanner are due: for his patience, and the space. (and his washboard like abs. -ed)

10.) Suddenly Last Summer (1959)

This Joseph L. Mankiewicz film, with a Gore Vidal screenplay based upon Tennessee's Williams' decadently veiled stage play, may be nearly fifty years old, but I believe it's every bit as disturbing and intoxicating today as it must have been upon its original release. The film centers around a wealthy widow, played to perfection by an eerie and solemn Katherine Hepburn, coping with the mysterious death of her son, suddenly . . . last summer. She is deeply troubled by her niece Catherine's deteriorating mental health and employs the expertise of experimental lobotomy specialist Dr. Curkowicz (Montgomery Clift). Catherine, played by a young, mesmerizing Elizabeth Taylor, was the only witness to her cousin's death and is tormented by the details surrounding the event. Her deranged Catherine is intelligent, provocative, and sensual, but simultaneously gentle and naive, an absolute treat of a performance really. You can just bet ol' Mama Hepburn wants to keep this smart, sexy southerner quiet so as not to expose . . . what? Sexual intrigue, in a Tennesee Williams play, you don't say! . . . perhaps you have some ideas, but even if you guess the result (which I, to my pleasure, did not), Mankiewicz's skillful direction creates an atmosphere of sheer creepy as the film draws to a close. Its a bit dated, but well worth a watch.

9.) Buffalo '66 (1998)

So I hear what some of you may be saying, I'm so late to hop on this train that the station been's closed since Vincent Gallo made a movie worth watching! And I hear you, having now seen the film I can tell you that I reprimanded myself for not seeing it sooner (I partly blame a New York Times review of Brown Bunny and an intense dislike for Chloe Sevingy). Gallo very adeptly exposes the grotesque and touching in a way that makes the viewer sit back and wonder how, when you really get down to it, your life is much different. His Billy Brown is both moving and digusting, much like the film itself, one moment repulsing the viewer, the next demanding genuine concern. Christina Ricci (with a very voluptuous frame and virtually no airs), Angelica Houston (the consummate professional, in, what I find to be a very disturbing role), and Ben Gazzara round out the perfectly cast ensemble. See this movie, but don't expect a big smile at the end. Well I take that back. If you enjoy the power of pictures to constantly reinvent the true-to-life genre, this one may have you grinning ear to ear.

8.) El Espinazo del Diablo (The Devil's Backbone) (2001)

Five years before becoming Mexico's little sweetheart in the eyes of American film junkies with Pan's Labyrinth (which I'm smitten with by the way), Guillermo del Toro directed another true blue masterpiece about children and their fantastic visions in 1939 Franco war-torn Spain. The story centers around a little boy named Carlos. After his father's death, Carlos is sent to live in a remote orphanage thats other residents include an abandoned, functioning bomb in the courtyard and the ghost of a murdered boy. The ghost Santi, visits Carlos almost nightly, endlessly repeating the message "many of you will die." del Toro's film continues much as Pan's does, in the realm of the supernatural (relating to children) and the gritty reality of war, lust, fear, and violence (us pesky adults). I shouldn't be too glib, this is a decidedly dark film, scarier and creepier than Pan's (just ask Tanner about my nail marks in his arm); it is violent and angry, but it's central character's sweetness, and the gentle nature of all the boys, those that live, those that have died, and those that will die by the film's end, give El Espinazo del Diablo an unmistakable depth upon which I will heap endless amounts of praise. Like Hans Christian Anderson on acid, with subtitles.

5 comments:

josh said...

thank goodness. i was get sick of those retarded aether everywhere posts! seriously, though, i'm glad you posted this, jenny! i haven't watched the devil's backbone, and now i don't have to stand there going, "ummmm..." during my next visit to the video store.

Jenny said...

oh i'm glad you're happy. i mean, i if had to click on highgatecenter one more time to see that setlist . . . :) enjoy the devil's backbone, but be warned, put those girls to sleep, it's definitely NOT one for the kiddies!

Casey said...

For my money, Devil's Backbone is a far superior picture to Pan's Labyrinth.

Can't wait for del Toro's crack at At the Mountains of Madness, tho.

jay said...

Excellent post Jenny--when does the rest of the list be released?

I need to watch Buffalo '66 again soon. I remember being really impressed when I saw it a few years ago and for some reason I never rewatched it.

I don't know how I've managed to never see "Suddenly Last Summer"--what a collection of talent for cast and crew.

Jennifer said...

thanks jay! nice of you to say considering i think it's a load of what's horse's do after eating hay . . .

anywho . . . we have Buffalo '66 on vhs if you have a player and i'd be happy to lend it to you. i also think i'm about to embark on an elizabeth taylor kick, you're welcome to join me!