HOME



Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405



Twitter:
@digby56
@DavidOAtkins @Gaius_Publius

emails:
Digby:
thedigbyblog at gmail
David:
isnospoon at gmail
Dennis:
satniteflix at gmail
Gaius:
publius.gaius at gmail.com








Infomania

Salon
Buzzflash
Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Slate
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic
Common Dreams
AmericanPoliticsJournal
Smirking Chimp
CJR Daily
consortium news

Blog-o-rama

Eschaton
BagNewsNotes
Daily Kos
Political Animal
Driftglass
Firedoglake
Taylor Marsh
Spocko's Brain
Talk Left
Suburban Guerrilla
Scoobie Davis
Echidne
Electrolite
Americablog
Tom Tomorrow
Left Coaster
Angry Bear
oilprice.com
Seeing the Forest
Cathie From Canada
Frontier River Guides
Brad DeLong
The Sideshow
Liberal Oasis
BartCop
Juan Cole
Rising Hegemon
alicublog
Unqualified Offerings
Alas, A Blog
RogerAiles
Lean Left
Oliver Willis
skippy the bush kangaroo
uggabugga
Crooked Timber
discourse.net
Amygdala
the talking dog
David E's Fablog
The Agonist


Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

01/01/2003 - 02/01/2003 02/01/2003 - 03/01/2003 03/01/2003 - 04/01/2003 04/01/2003 - 05/01/2003 05/01/2003 - 06/01/2003 06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003 07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003 08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003 09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003 10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003 11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003 12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004 01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006 07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006 08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006 09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006 10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006 12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007 01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007 02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007 03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007 04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007 05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007 06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007 07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007 08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007 09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007 10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007 11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007 12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008 01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008 02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008 03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008 04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008 05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008 06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008 07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008 08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008 09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008 10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008 11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008 12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009 01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009 02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009 03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009 04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009 05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009 06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009 07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009 08/01/2009 - 09/01/2009 09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009 10/01/2009 - 11/01/2009 11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009 12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010 01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010 02/01/2010 - 03/01/2010 03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010 04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010 05/01/2010 - 06/01/2010 06/01/2010 - 07/01/2010 07/01/2010 - 08/01/2010 08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010 09/01/2010 - 10/01/2010 10/01/2010 - 11/01/2010 11/01/2010 - 12/01/2010 12/01/2010 - 01/01/2011 01/01/2011 - 02/01/2011 02/01/2011 - 03/01/2011 03/01/2011 - 04/01/2011 04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011 05/01/2011 - 06/01/2011 06/01/2011 - 07/01/2011 07/01/2011 - 08/01/2011 08/01/2011 - 09/01/2011 09/01/2011 - 10/01/2011 10/01/2011 - 11/01/2011 11/01/2011 - 12/01/2011 12/01/2011 - 01/01/2012 01/01/2012 - 02/01/2012 02/01/2012 - 03/01/2012 03/01/2012 - 04/01/2012 04/01/2012 - 05/01/2012 05/01/2012 - 06/01/2012 06/01/2012 - 07/01/2012 07/01/2012 - 08/01/2012 08/01/2012 - 09/01/2012 09/01/2012 - 10/01/2012 10/01/2012 - 11/01/2012 11/01/2012 - 12/01/2012 12/01/2012 - 01/01/2013 01/01/2013 - 02/01/2013 02/01/2013 - 03/01/2013 03/01/2013 - 04/01/2013 04/01/2013 - 05/01/2013 05/01/2013 - 06/01/2013 06/01/2013 - 07/01/2013 07/01/2013 - 08/01/2013 08/01/2013 - 09/01/2013 09/01/2013 - 10/01/2013 10/01/2013 - 11/01/2013 11/01/2013 - 12/01/2013 12/01/2013 - 01/01/2014 01/01/2014 - 02/01/2014 02/01/2014 - 03/01/2014 03/01/2014 - 04/01/2014 04/01/2014 - 05/01/2014 05/01/2014 - 06/01/2014 06/01/2014 - 07/01/2014 07/01/2014 - 08/01/2014 08/01/2014 - 09/01/2014 09/01/2014 - 10/01/2014 10/01/2014 - 11/01/2014 11/01/2014 - 12/01/2014 12/01/2014 - 01/01/2015


 

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Hullabaloo


Saturday, December 27, 2008

 
Saturday Night At The Movies

You put THAT one on your list? No. Seriously?

















By Dennis Hartley

It’s that time of year- for the obligatory Top 10 lists. Recently, I took a look back at what I thought were some of the best DVD reissues of 2008. Tonight, I don my Kevlar vest once again, to humbly offer up my picks for the best films that opened in 2008. I should qualify that. These would be the “top ten” movies out of the 40 or so first-run features I have selected to review on Hullabaloo since January. Since I am (literally) a “weekend movie critic”, I obviously don’t have the time (or the bucks, frankly, with admission prices these days) to screen every new release (especially with that pesky, soul-sucking 9 to 5 gig that takes up my weekdays-y’know, the one that pays the rent and junk).

And yes, I am aware that 2008 isn’t officially “over” yet, and we all know that the movie studios like to save their big guns (read: Oscar bait) for late December. There are a handful of such releases I still haven’t had the time or energy to catch (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Doubt and The Reader) and the one I am most anticipating (The Wrestler) isn’t even slated to open in Seattle until January 9th (DAMME you, sirs!).

A gentle reminder, dear reader, that I’m just one of the ordinary motion pitcher watchin’ folks, plopping down my hard-earned kopeks at the box office like everyone else, and not a high-falootin’ critic who is comped into advance screenings or receives DVD screeners in the mail (OK…sometimes) or feted at Cannes (never!). I have resigned myself to the fact that, on the evolutionary scale of film criticism, I will never be held in the same esteem as a Roger Ebert, Pauline Kael or even a Jeffrey Lyons (although I would sincerely hope that I am taken more seriously than, let’s say, a Ben Lyons). So, with no asses to kiss and no promises to keep, may I present The List, in alphabetical order:

Burn After Reading- A welcome return to the type of dark, absurdist cringe comedy that the Coen brothers truly excel at. Leave it to the Coens to mash up the elements of screwball comedy, door-slamming bedroom farce, spy spoof, political satire, social commentary and self-parody into a perfect cinematic cocktail. The breezy script (penned by the brothers) is tighter than a one-act play, and capped off with a great zinger. It’s a rarity in film these days: an expedient, highly satisfying denouement. In other words, the film neither overstays its welcome nor feels rushed; it wraps up just when it needs to. With George Clooney, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt. Full review.

The Dark Knight- There was one part of the considerable hype surrounding this film that didn’t blow smoke; the late Heath Ledger is mesmerizing in every single frame that he inhabits, and his performance alone makes this one a must-see. He plays his Joker to Christian Bale’s Batman like John Wayne Gacy, coming for your children with a paring knife (and in the clown costume). I don’t know what war-torn region of the human soul Ledger went to in order to find his character, but I don’t think I’d ever want to go there, even just to snap a few pictures. Stylishly directed by Christopher Nolan. Full review.

The Gits- In the summer of 1993, Seattle musician Mia Zapata, lead singer of The Gits, was beaten, raped and killed, her body unceremoniously dumped in a vacant lot. Her murder remained unsolved until an astounding break in the case in 2003 helped bring her killer to justice. This random, brutal act not only had a profoundly disheartening and long-lasting effect on Seattle’s incestuous music community, but symbolically represented the beginning of the end for the city’s burgeoning music renaissance. Super-fans and first time filmmakers Kerri O’Kane and Jessica Bender have constructed an engrossing, genuinely moving portrait of Zapata’s legacy in a rockumentary that admirably avoids sensationalizing the tragedy; it instead gives us an inspiring portrait of four close friends truly committed to each other, their music and their fans. Full review.

Happy Go Lucky- Concerning a young Londoner named Poppy, whose improbably infectious giddiness is brought to life with amazing verisimilitude by Sally Hawkins, in one of the best performances by an actress this year. I venture to say that British director Mike Leigh is making a somewhat revolutionary political statement for this cynical, post-ironic age of rampant smugness and self-absorption; suggesting that Poppy’s brand of bubbly, unflagging enthusiasm for wishing nothing but happiness unto others defines not just the root of true compassion, but could be the antidote to societal ills like xenophobia, child abuse and homelessness. Then again, I could just be dreaming. Full review.

Honeydripper- Writer-director John Sayles transports us back to the deep south of the early 1950s, evoking the earthy blues poetry of the Delta, outfitting it in shades of August Wilson and transferring it to the screen. Essentially a languidly paced folktale, set in an Alabama backwater called Harmony, Honeydripper rolls along, slow and steady, like a glass bottle sliding up a steel string, and is easily his most engaging ensemble piece since Lone Star. With Danny Glover, Charles Dutton and Mary Steenbergen. Full review.

Man on Wire- On the surface, this may appear to be a straightforward documentary about an eccentric high wire artist who is either incredibly brave, or incredibly stupid. But if you look closer, you might discover one of the best suspense thrillers/heist movies of 2008, although no guns are drawn and nothing gets stolen. It is also one of the most romantic films I’ve seen this year, although it is not a traditional love story. Existential and even a tad surreal at times, it is ultimately a deeply profound treatise on following your bliss. Directed by James Marsh, featuring music by Michael Nyman. Full review.

Milk-Gus Van Sant’s stirring (and very timely) biopic about San Francisco politician and gay activist Harvey Milk (assassinated in 1978) is one of the most straightforward efforts from the frequently abstract and self-consciously arty filmmaker since his surprise mainstream hit Good Will Hunting in 1997, yet it arguably stands as his most important work to date. The excellent script (by Dustin Lance Black) is richly engaging, yet never strays too far from Milk’s own words and deeds. And most crucial to the success of this film is the powerhouse performance that lies at its heart from Oscar shoo-in Sean Penn, who never falls into exaggerated caricature, opting instead to ostensibly channel the wit, passion and genuine humanity of this remarkable individual. A must-see. Full review.

Slumdog Millionaire- Leave it to Danny Boyle, who somehow managed to transmogrify the horrors of heroin addiction into an exuberant romp (Trainspotting), to reach into the black hole of Mumbai slum life and pull out the most exhilarating love story of 2008. Slumdog Millionaire defies category; think Oliver Twist meets Quiz Show in Bollywood. Just like the best Bollywood offerings, Boyle’s most epic tale to date (co-directed by Loveleen Tandan with a script by Simon Beaufoy, adapted from Vikas Swarup’s novel) is equal parts melodrama, comedy, action, romance and kismet. It’s a perfect masala for people who love pure cinema, infused by colorful costume and set design, informed by fluid, hyperkinetic camera work (from cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle) and accompanied by the type of rousing, pumping, eclectic music soundtrack that you’ll want to download into your MP3 player immediately after leaving the theatre. Full review.

Vicky Christina Barcelona- Dare I say it? Woody Allen’s latest is his wisest, sexiest and most engaging romantic comedy in, um, years. Okay…truth? To rate it on a sliding scale: as far as his own particular brand of genial bedroom farces go, it may not be in quite the same league as, let’s say, Hannah and Her Sisters, but it still handily blows the boudoir doors off of any other romantic “comedies” one suffers through at the multiplex these days. Penelope Cruz deserves any awards she may receive for this performance; she’s a real force of nature here. A museum-worthy rarity: a comedy for grown-ups. Full review.

The Visitor- If Richard Jenkins doesn’t get an Oscar nod for his amazing performance in Thomas McCarthy’s culture-clash comedy-drama, I will personally picket the Academy. Writer-director-actor McCarthy’s previous effort was the critical favorite The Station Agent, and once again he draws us into an extended family of very believable, warm-blooded characters, generously giving all of his actors plenty of room to breathe. The “strange bedfellows” setup of the plot may resemble The Goodbye Girl or The Odd Couple on paper, but this not a glib Neil Simon play, where characters throw perfectly timed zingers at each other; these people feel, and interact, like real human beings. There is plenty of humor, but there is also genuine heartbreak and bittersweet melancholy. The important thing is that it is all perfectly nuanced, and a joy to behold. Full review.

And just for giggles, a special nomination for The Most Fun I Had Trashing a Film in 2008: My review of the (unintentionally) pre-hysterical 10,000 B.C., which many of Digby’s readers appeared to enjoy (just in case you missed it). Happy New Year!


.

Search Digby!