Monday, December 26, 2005

Best Film of the Year?

I am a little surprised to see David Cronenberg's A History of Violence as the year's best film on so many top 10 lists of the year. It is a comprehensive winner in the Village Voice annual poll of critics (which is very comprehensive) far ahead of 2046 which is a distant number 2. Cronenberg also scores big as the best director of the year. I saw the film when it came out in general release a few months ago and I was thrilled and disappointed at the same time after watching the film.


The film starts off brilliantly with a shockingly violent scene. One child is shot (point blank, though off screen) and another wakes up screaming from her nightmares to be told by her dad, "there are no such things as monsters"! There are a few brilliantly staged, and unlike that opening scene, strangely cathartic scenes of violence. Cathartic perhaps because they are enacted by the hero and his son against cold-blooded killers, evil mobsters and school bullies. There are two sex scenes which are terrifically well done and which fit brilliantly into the thematic patterns that the film explores. Then there are the sensational perfomances by Viggo Mortensen (where was he all this time?) and Mario Bello as the lead couple and a terrifying cameo by Ed Harris.

After all this the final half hour of the film, when Cronenberg takes the cliched hollywood line with cardboard character of an evil mobster boss delivering one quip after the another lightens the tone of the film which nearly destroyed the experience of the watching the film for me. (There were even a few in the audience who laughed at some of the scenes which irritated the hell out of me.) The silent dinner scene in the end somewhat redeems the whole affair but I wish Cronenberg would have stuck to the Michael Haneke line by keeping the film cold and humourless throughout. I don't think it was a mainstream box office success anyway.

Here is another meta-list of year's best films. History scores big here too.

7 comments:

Renegade Eye said...

I found this blog surfing.

I'm real high on Pride and Prejudice.

Regards.

Anonymous said...

i have been a regular visitor to your blog.You definitely possess a good understanding of what you read and see , but the most disappointing and probably ironical part which i have found here is that although you are an Indian but there is hardly any mention of an Indian film or Hindi literature here. I understand there are very few art of works from our country in these areas but its extremely difficult for anyone to ignore people like Satyajit Ray etc.
Although i understand that most of the people of your age and techie mindset are a little bit more inclined and attracted towards foreign things and culture , and wear a shroud of hypocrisy and snobbishness when they display there intellectual hobbies , but i am sure some day you might be able to appreciate the richness in Indian literature and movies.
All the best !!!

Alok said...

Renegade Eye: Yet to see the latest pride and prejudice although I am a little bored with all the adaptations of the book which come almost every year.

thanks for visiting and leaving the comment.

Alok said...

Anonymous: I am actually quite aware of this fact but I can assure you I don't do this because of any malice towards every thing Indian or any snobbish attitude.

This blog is more like a personal journal to record what I have been reading or watching (two hobbies I really enjoy) and for some time now I have not read anything in Hindi or watched any Indian film, at least not any which would provoke me enough to jot down my thoughts here. That's the simple reason why you don't find anything "Indian" here !

mattmaniac said...

hello, i'm new to blogging and I'm trying to figure out how the hell people read each others blogs_is there a network or something? not sure, but i found you by looking up Michael Haneke. My favorite living director, who i recently met at the NYFF closing night party in his honor. I'm writing you because I agree with you about History of Violence. Everybody is giving this film number 1, but i can't even fit it in my top ten. It's o.k. but by no means number 1. I saw him speak with the cast at the walter reade theater in NY and it was apparent he was a gun for hire on this gig. He was chosen to direct_studio style. He never even looked at the graphic novel while making the film. That is fine, not pissed about that, but his emotionally attachment to the film is lacking and it shows in the film. For me the problem with the film starts when his son kills everyone on the lawn. O.k. so viggo is hero for killing 2 dudes in his diner but no news about the 3 slain on the front yard. o.k. so now the film can choose to go into his life_deal with the family he lied to for 13 or 14 years, but instead it goes to this cartoon character , "let me put an end to this past life" direction which was so escapist and cheap. I'm not putting this into words so clear because, I'm at work right now and distracted but i feel it would have been a better film if it tried to deal with the aftermath of family life after all this crazy shit that happened. he leaves his family at night, COP OUT, and then comes back. there all at the table_this is interesting but then the cheap , closure efect happens when the little girl puts the plate on the table. "see dad we except that you lied to us for years and are a brutal murderer. cheap. cheap. cheap. Where's broken flowers on peoples lists_that was great! Cache best film of year_no question. I liked Tristian Shandy a lot, also the sun by sokurov. Good night and good luck is up there. Many more, but History is not even in my top ten and 2046 is below that too. well hopefully you can get at me somehow_i really have no clue how this works. i like the layout of your blog and i like how you have break downs of films you review. I'd like to do that myself sometime. get at me_with what you think about what i have written

Richard Gibson said...

Alok: I enjoyed this post and put up a list of the films from Time Out (London). I just watched a BBC1 programme 'Film 2005' that had a round up of the films too. 'Sin City' which I hated came up pretty high, number one was 'Serenity' which I haven't seen.

Matt Maniac: www.bloglines.com is a good programme for keeping track of blogs. I find it very useful and subscribe to the ones I come across that I like.

Alok said...

thanks matt for the long comment. I understand what you say and agree with you totally. I haven't seen Cache yet but eagerly waiting for it. It will open in a few weeks here.

Richard:I can't believe what people like in Sin City. It was dumb and empty. Strictly for adolescents and their adult manifestations I would say :)