Monday, April 11, 2016

100 Must-See Films! -- Invasion

I see the Middle Kingdom between Heaven and Earth
Like the Chinese call the country of their birth
We all figure that our homes are set above
Other people than the ones we know and love
In every place with a name
They play the same territorial game
Hiding behind the lines
Sending up warning signs

The whole wide world
An endless universe
Yet we keep looking through
The eyeglass in reverse
Don't feed the people
But we feed the machines
Can't really feel
What international means
In different circles, we keep holding our ground
Indifferent circles, we keep spinning round and round

We see so many tribes overrun and undermined
While their invaders dream of lands they've left behind
Better people...better food...and better beer...
Why move around the world when Eden was so near?
The bosses get talking so tough
And if that wasn't evil enough
We get the drunken and passionate pride
Of the citizens along for the ride

They shoot without shame
In the name of a piece of dirt
For a change of accent
Or the color of your shirt
Better the pride that resides
In a citizen of the world
Than the pride that divides
When a colorful rag is unfurled

-Neil Peart, Rush

32. Avatar (2009, USA, UK)
Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Giovanni Ribisi, Stephen Lang

James Cameron sat on this project for years waiting for technology to catch up with his needs, then sunk a quarter billion dollars into an epic sci-fi fantasy chock full of struggle, injustice, slightly weird inter-species love, gorgeous artificial scenery and a number of special effects innovations.

The result had audiences cheering madly for the alien indigenous good guys and then, possibly not gleaning the hugely obvious allegory, left the theatres and undoubtedly have devoted every moment of their lives since then supporting the real-life bad guys.

Oh well.

This first installment of the first known planned film tetralogy grossed billions and took Oscars for Visual Effects, Art Direction and Cinematography and received nods for six others. The follow-ups are due out in Decembers of 2017, 2018 and 2019. Avatar is definitely a one-time must-see movie but I doubt all the bells and whistles will be enough to entertain me for another three rounds. I expect the sequels will be soulless money-grabs but who knows! Here’s hoping...

Jake Sully: She said all energy is only borrowed, and one day you have to give it back.

Writer/Director: James Cameron (The Terminator)
Budget: $237,000,000
IMDB rating: 7.9

33. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011, USA)
Thomas Horn, Max von Sydow, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock

Oh boy. The problem with best-of lists in the realm of the arts: it is the honeymoon effect. It was some time ago I prepared this list and I had just watched  Extremely Loud and was still in the throes of emotional response. I had the same problem with Twelve Years a Slave but managed to swap it out just in time! At this moment the list is committed!

Now that I look back on Extremely Loud I am missing any urge to see it again. In hindsight I recall little sense of depth other than a very earnest performance by young Thomas Horn in his first professional gig after winning thousands on Jeopardy game show’s kids week, which is perfect! Just the sort of thing his character Oskar Schell might do. I think the supporting cast performed very well also but the tone was just kind of light. I think the immense real-life heaviness of the 9/11 topic got in the way of an otherwise excellent film. And I’ll confess to finding the plot just slightly awkward, The late surprise twist felt like a last-minute band-aid, which I presume came right from the novel. I don’t know.

I’m going to save myself though and whole-heartedly call this a must-watch film for kids (tweens and early teens) and a fine recommendation for the whole family.

Writers:  Jonathan S. Foer (Everything is Illuminated), Eric Roth (Forrest Gump)
Director: Stephen Daldry (The Reader)
Budget: $ 40,000,000
IMDB rating: 6.9

In 2002, a young cab driver picked up a few passengers near his home in Afghanistan... He never returned.

34. Taxi to the Dark Side (2007, USA)
Documentary with Alex Gibney, Brian Keith Allen, Moazzam Begg

Emboldened by the solidest direct evidence, this is an utterly convincing Oscar-winning exposition of U.S. military terror tactics double-thinked as “war on terror”, focusing on torture, murder and egregious human rights atrocities in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, created, written and directed by celebrated American patriot, Gibney who views his nation’s values tragically undermined by the corruption of the few; essentially within the Bush administration.

Yet more fall-out from the global catastrophe that is North American oil greed, which will be eagerly avoided by the 90% of us who have no wish whatsoever to step foot in the real world or the capacity to deal with it.

If you are the exception and not too faint of heart, this movie is definitely for you! Deeply riveting, essential and not for dinnertime viewing.

Sgt. Ken Davis: People were told to rough up Iraqis that wouldn't cooperate. We were also told they're nothing but dogs. And all of a sudden you start looking at these people as less than human, and you start doing things to them you would never dream of. And that's where it got scary.

US Army Colonel: You've always got people in the military who are just this side of the Marquis de Sade.

Writer/Director:  Alex Gibney (We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks)
Budget: $1,000,000
IMDB rating: 7.7

Short List:
Green Zone (2010, France/USA/Spain/UK) Matt Damon, Jason Isaacs
No End in Sight (2007, USA) Documentary by Charles Ferguson
Three Kings (1999, USA/Australia) Mark Wahlberg, George Clooney


Natasha Duncan-Drake said...

I love Avatar - it's the only film I have ever seen in 3D that actually did the medium justice - every other film I have seen has either gone for gimics or hasn't needed it.
Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

Joy said...

Avatar was one epic visual feast!

Joy @ The Joyous Living

betty said...

Avatar was great, but I'm surprised it is taking so long to get a sequel out for it!