Monday, February 08, 2010

9/10ths Full of Movies Part Two. D to F

Welcome back to my entirely subjective reflection on a decade in cinematic expoits. Click here to see Part Two. Please do chip in with any obvious omissions or disagreements.

D is for Daffodil
Richard Kelly is a unusual director who makes unusual and on occasion totally incomprehensible movies. He kicked the decade off with the wonderfully weird Donnie Darko in 2001 which was notable for it's combination of twisted time travel/teenage angst and great performances particularly Patrick Swayze's dodgy motivational speaker. Robin Williams is guilty of many cinematic crimes, however, he did redeem himself slightly by taking on some very dark straight roles in the Noughties. One of which was the underrated black comedy Death to Smoochy in 2002. Horror slunk into the Ds in the genuinely terrifying The Descent(2006) and the surprisingly decent remake of Dawn of the Dead in 04. While we're on the topic of horror in 2004, Bruno Ganz gave a stunning performance in Downfall's portrayal of Hitler's last days. Forget the zombies, Ganz's Hitler was a genuine human monster, flipping between kindly old man and raving hateful killer. 2006 saw Da Vinci Code madness sweep the globe. Sadly, the movie of the hopeless book was possibly the most ludicrously boring film of the decade. On the upside, Martin Scorsese finally won his richly deserved Oscar with The Departed. Science fiction boggled our eyes and brains with the gravelly Dark Knight (2008) and the gooey District 9 (2009) rounding the decade off quite nicely.

E is for Elephant
In 2000 Julia Roberts showed that she could still act quite well thank you very much as the crusading Erin Brockovich. The following year, two very contrasting war movies jostled for space in the multiplexes. The achingly British Enigma provided a who's who of UK actors while Enemy at the Gates featured a brilliantly tense duel between two top WW2 snipers in the ruins of Eastern Europe. In 2004 we fell hopelessly in love with Kate Winslet after her marvellous performance in the really quite weird Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. If our politicians had listened to the impassioned voices behind Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room in 2005, perhaps we may have avoided sinking into the financial catastrophes we currently wallow in. Viggo Mortensen made us forget the noblility of Aragorn as the brutal Russian mob enforcer in David Cronenbourg's savage Eastern Promises (2007). Speaking of brutal, Brian Cox took time out from playing crooked CIA agents to make the criminally underviewed prison break drama The Escapist in 2008. Watch out for the twist, its a real kick in the guts...

F is for Flan
It's hard to remember now, but before 2001 the best adaptation of JRR Tolkien's works was an odd and unfinished Ralph Bakshi cartoon from 1978. It's easy to forget how much of a risk New Line took in giving Peter Jackson (best known for very gory low budget horror movies) millions of dollars and a free creative hand. Luckily for them (and us) Jackson created something rather special and it all started 2001 with The Fellowship of the Ring. In 2003 Pixar continued their unfeasibly long hot streak and took the story of a lost fish and made us all laugh like drains and cry like babies in Finding Nemo. Forget pesky things like facts, documentary maker Michael Moore knows exactly how to pitch righteous rage. Fahrenheit 9/11 released in 2004 savaged George Bush and the policies that led to the Iraq war. While Bush won the next election many people think that Fahrenheit 9/11 helped start laying the groundworks for Barack Obama's massive landslide victory in 2008. On an altogether lower key note, Johnny Depp cast aside his eye patch and pirate swagger to play JM Barrie in the beautifully crafted Finding Neverland (2004). And finally, the award for most confusing and bizarre mainstream film of the decade goes to Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain (2006). Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz searched for the Tree of Life and mused on death, life, religion, time and many other things in a gorgeously shot piece of sci-fi.

Tune in soon for G to I!

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