' ' Cinema Romantico: The 2nd Annual Prigge's (Top 5 Movies of 2006)

Friday, February 02, 2007

The 2nd Annual Prigge's (Top 5 Movies of 2006)

Each year it is imperative that I see a new movie (or movies) that stir my soul. Without that soul-stirring I may lose faith in the movies and if I lose that faith in the movies I may lose faith in the ridiculous dreams and aspirations I have for my life and if that happens, well, let's just not go there.

Suffice it to say, the movies have never let me down. Never. As much crap I'm forced to endure there is always at least one cinematic treasure every single year that fulfills this requirement. It's interesting to note when and how these soul-stirring moments occur. In some cases they are movies I was anticipating a great deal ("Almost Famous", "Kill Bill") while in other cases they are movies that swoop in from left field ("Black Hawk Down", "Million Dollar Baby" - the Great Barrier Reef of the soul-stirrers).

So if you were to ask me "did cinema of 2006 contain that magical element which you constantly seek" I would point to the movies below and respond, "Oh yes. Absolutely."

1. A Prairie Home Companion. A gentle, poetic film that gives center stage to its characters and shoves nothing down your throat. It says more about the most intimate mysteries of life and death in five seconds of footage than "Babel" says in its entire bloated running time. There are enough great performances for a half-dozen movies and it is packed to the brim with wonderful music, and not just music for the sake of music but music for characters that specifically need it to survive. It would have only been appropriate for legendary director Robert Altman (who passed away in November) to end his career with a stone-cold classic. I'm glad he did.

2. 10 Items or Less. Tragically, it seems one of the best cinema had to offer this past year went criminally underseen. Perhaps this was because of an apparently non-existent marketing campaign. Or perhaps because it only seems to have been released in Chicago, New York and L.A. (though "X Men 3" turned up on 275 movie screens at the bare minimum in every city in America). But this does not hamper its immense quality in any way. Writer/director Brad Silberling presents a nameless actor doing research for a role bonding with a checkout clerk at a rundown grocery store and spending the rest of the day with her. That's it. Oh, some will drag out the tired, old phrase "nothing happens". And some will say it's "slight". But I ask you - what's "slight" about two people making a true connection?

3. United 93. There will be people who may be unable to ever watch this movie. I understand such a sentiment. Watching it is indeed an emotionally intense experience, but it is also an emotionally rich and rewarding experience. Perhaps it seems strange to discuss such things with a movie of this subject matter but the pacing is extraordinary. The tension builds and builds and builds, until the conclusion which will overpower you in a way I could never think to sum up. It waves no flags. It never tells you what to think. It doesn't "say" anything. It is simply a story of the people who perished aboard that plane. And that's why it's the perfect memorial to everyone who died on September 11, 2001.

4. Miami Vice. This is summertime entertainment at its purest and best, strictly an action movie but not in any way filler. If someone were to ask me where they can find a movie containing "style", this is the one to which I would point them. How writer/director Michael Mann can make nothing but three people standing in the middle of a club with hardened looks the coolest thing ever is beyond me but I'm certainly glad he can. Plus, the scene in the trailer park was probably cinema's #1 stand-up-and-cheer moment of the year. "That's not what happens. What will happen is.......", but then you just need to rent it and watch it. Film snobs could debate forever regarding who is cinema's pre-eminent living genius. Scorcese? Almodovar? Lynch? But if Cinema Romantico has a vote, it goes to Michael Mann.

5. The Departed. In addition to being on the Top 5 list this film also earns Cinema Romantico's rather prestigous Funniest Movie of the Year. Many would term this movie violent. Or intense. Or operatic. And any of those adjectives would also be correct. But whether it's Jack Nicholson wandering out of a back room with blood all over himself, or Matt Damon displaying his flirting skills, or Mark Wahlberg swearing more than any movie character (or actual human being) in history, or Alec Baldwin doing or saying just about anything, this movie is downright hilarious. Director Martin Scorcese's last two films, "The Aviator" and "Gangs of New York", lacked that certain kind of energy and storytelling confidence which permeates every bit of the screen. But "The Departed" has it. Welcome back, Mr. Scorcese. And say hello to that elusive Oscar.


Wretched Genius said...

1. The Departed
2. Brick
3. Miami Vice
4. The Descent
5. Idiocracy

It should be noted that while I currently possess the following movies, I have yet to watch them:

Children of Men
Pan's Labyrinth
Little Miss Sunshine
United 93

So my list may change.

Anonymous said...

I've finally just decided I have no taste. No one likes what I like. Not in movies, not in books, not in music. It's fine; I guess I just suck. But I saw "Miami Vice." And if that's a top-5 movie, then it turns out I'm not such a bad film maker after all. Because what that movie lacked in quality, it more than made up for in being long. It was passable as an action piece, but as a big-budget, critically-acclaimed movie.... Let's just say that one time I rented a Dolph Lungren movie based solely on the fact that he played a priest from a secret part of the Catholic Church that fights demons. It was bad. But I actually felt better about my movie experience at the end of that.

So, I guess I better go now. I mean, I AM at work and all.

Anonymous said...

"Miami Vice" is everything you want in a summer movie! High-octane thrills, adrenaline-pumping action, and gorgeous scenery! This is the "Miami Vice" for the next generation! Four stars!