It's that time of year again, so it's out with all my ticket stubs for the year to do my semi-annual cinema round-up for the year.
Although it was, again, a pretty bad year for cinema attendence on my part - only 26 films over the course of the year. There were some great films in there though. However, I did exhibit over 150 short films over the course of the year, so I think that lets me off the hook a little.
The highlight of all the films I saw this year was without a doubt the heartwarming & hilarious "Little Miss Sunshine" (directed by Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris). It’s one of those films that I think needs to be seen in a cinema to fully appreciate the offbeat feelgood factor the film evokes. The film is wonderfully acted throughout, and hugely entertaining. I highly recommend it.
Iranian film "Offside" by Jafar Panahi comes in a very close second, for my film of the year. The film exposes the plight of Iranian women’s suppression very cleverly, by looking at how something that is quite normal and unquestioned in Western culture (female soccer fans attending a soccer match) is a serious political and social struggle for women in Iran. But the film is also clever in showing that teenage girls are the same all over the world, in spite of their religious, political or social beliefs/situations, they share the same passions, disappointments, mischieviousness and dreams universally. The rebellious spirit in which the film is shot and the wonderful interaction particularly between the young soccer fans & the guards is a joy to watch.
Also well worthy of note this year were:
The compelling new film by French veteran Francois Ozon, “A Time to Leave . ". Another slightly offbeat, but also excellent film about family disintegration was Noah Baumbach’s “The Squid and the Whale”.
My most unexpected cinematic pleasure this year was a festival film, an extraordinary documentary about cinematographer, political activist & & director of "Medium Cool " Haskell Wexler, made by his son, fellow cinematographer Mark Wexler entitled "Tell Them Who You Are". Being a cinematographer myself, I am always interested in seeing how the great cinematographers work, what has influenced them, and the unique way in which they view the world. “Tell Them Who You Are” is as much a documentary about the relationship between a father and a son, as it is a documentary about an ageing Hollywood filmmaker. It is very amusing to watch as the man behind the camera finally has the camera turned upon himself. Highly recommended to anyone who has an interest in film.
Of the cinema of 2006, I also really enjoyed "Children of Men" (Alfonso Cuarón) , "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" (Tommy Lee Jones), and was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed "Casino Royale", (Martin Campbell) (being quite anti-Bond in the past).
Oh, and I have to also mention An Inconvenient Truth, Davis Guggenheim, which actually made me cry, which is damn impressive! As a former student of climatology I was impressed with Gore's clear & concise explanation of climate change and of how our carbon footprints are effecting climate change and the future of our planet. Well worth swallowing your skepticism, and taking a harsh look at our short-sightedness & irresponsibility.
Turkey of the year was the interminable offering from Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughan "The Break-Up". With "Dumplings" (Gaau ji) by Fruit Chan winning my award for being the sickest film of 2006, in spite of Chris Doyle's sumptuous cinematography! I was never so glad to be a vegetarian in all my life!