Film 2010 #11 – Gomorrah

Gomorrah (2008, dir. Mateo Garrone)

In Southern Italy there is a disease that infects the lives of many people living below the poverty line. This disease is a crime cartel known as the Camorra. The mafiosa organization has interwoven itself into the workings of both black market operations and legitimate enterprise, including investing in the construction of the rebuilding at Ground Zero in NYC. Such a concept seems too large to be real, but as director Garrone chronicles in this film, it is all too true.

Gomorrah, based on the nonfiction book by Roberto Saviano, takes an interesting direction in telling this story. The film is divided up into five separate plot strands that occasionally interweave, but more than not remain as their own isolated story. If the plots were to connect, it would cause the film to feel insular rather than expansive, which is the feeling Garrone wants to evoke. The Hollywood version of this film would seek to be sleek, refined, and would desperate to constantly try and engage the audience. Gomorrah, plays out slowly and at a pace that could be infuriating to some viewers. It is a slice of life film, showing how mundane and common these acts of violence and crime are in the lives of the people in these regions of Italy.

The main characters are Don Ciro; a man charged with distributing cash to the families of imprisoned members of the family, Toto; a 13 year old boy who seeks to join the family to gain prominence in his slum community, Roberto; a recent university graduate working with a mob boss to illegally dump toxic waste, Pasquale; a tailor who is struggling to make the order demands of the mob and moonlighting as a sewing instructor for a Chinese-Italian sweatshop, and finally Marco and Ciro; two young men who are caught up in the fantasy of being in the mob and are unaware of the real dangers of pissing off the wrong people.

Instead of focusing the top tier of the mafia and glamorizing it, the film seeks to explore the lives of the people at the bottom rung of the ladder. The lives displayed are gritty and bleak and there doesn’t seem to be much chance of rising out of the mire. The mob has so taken over every aspect of life that they have replaced the government, and in the case of Tito, his biological family. There is much this picture has in common with Fernando Meirelles’ City of God, just even less stylistic. In fact, I believe Garrone is trying to create a film without embellishment so that the every day nature of crime is the main focus. I highly recommend this as counterprogramming to the mainstream films that stylistically glorify the criminal lifestyle

Film 2010 #9 – Cold Souls

Cold Souls (2009, dir. Sophie Barthes)
Starring Paul Giamatti, Emily Watson, Dian Korzun, David Strathrain

The premise is an intriguing one: Paul Giamatti playing an actor named Paul Giamatti, is having trouble tackling his role in an upcoming production of Uncle Vanya. His agent informs him of a new soul extraction service and hints that this might help him overcome his difficulties. Giamatti hems and haws over it and finally agrees and finds he’s lost his ability to act completely. Sounds like it could be good, right? Sadly, the film fails to explore its concepts fully and provides a picture that is moderately engaging.

Giamatti’s story is paralleled by that of Nina, a Russian woman who traffics souls back and forth to be used on the black market. Because the only safe way to transport a soul is to have a person carry it inside them. A side effect is that fragments of carried souls accumulate in a person and they begin to lose touch with the world. This story takes up more of the narrative and is eventually tied into Giamatti’s plot strand. It feels that the cleverness and originality of the plot concepts it lost on director Barthes.

The film owes a lot to the work of Charlie Kaufman, most notably Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Unlike those movies, there is an undeveloped nature to this script. The Giamatti angle doesn’t feel fully explored the true plot is Nina’s. In addition, Barthes creates a much darker landscape than Kaufman has ever attempted. His world’s lean more to the fanciful, while Cold Souls has merely dipped its toes. There seems to be a lot of influence from Russian literature and absurd and satiric theater, specifically that of Eugeneg Ionesco. There is not much humor in this picture, and for myself that is where I felt myself distancing from it.

I truly wanted to love this movie after seeing the trailer and seeing the interesting angle Giamatti was going to take. However, I finished it with a sense of dissatisfaction, wishing I could have seen the movie I had prepared myself for in my head. I wouldn’t encourage someone to not see this film, because there are some wonderful concepts and ideas, I just wouldn’t be able to recommend it enthusiastically.

Film 2010 #8 – The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones (2009, dir. Peter Jackson)
Starring Saorise Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Stanley Tucci, Susan Sarandon

Before he was known as the director who brought The Lord of the Rings to the big screen, Peter Jackson was a small budget New Zealand filmmaker. Among his work was the wacked out zombie flick Dead Alive, the Muppet show on crack Meet the Feebles, and the amazing Heavenly Creatures. And it is Heavenly Creatures, that seems to bear the strongest kinship to Jackson’s latest film. Both films focus on female protagonists and involve their subconscious being brought to the surface in surreal landscapes. However, where The Lovely Bones is an improvement in technical achievement, it lacks the narrative strength of Heavenly Creatures.

Based on the 2003 novel by Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones is a first person narrative where the newly deceased Susie Salmon chronicles her afterlife and her family’s reactions to her death. Susie is unable to be at rest in the afterlife, due to her murderer still wandering free. She begins to influence the actions of her family and direct them towards the murderer’s house so that the case can be solved and she can move on. This is juxtaposed to her living out fantasies in a strange surreal afterlife landscape.

This film felt as much like fantasy as the Lord of the Rings trilogy. While there are no orcs or wizards, characters are so unrealistic they might as well be wielding magic wands and riding dragons. Susie is so perfect in her actions and attitudes that I could not connect or empathize with her at all. Susie’s biggest rebellion as a teenager comes in being embarrassed about her new knit cap. Everything Susie does is framed by the film in a sort of gauzy light. In contrast, Mr. Harvey, her murderer is filmed in an equally absurd but menacing way. He constant sweatiness and heavy breathing is over-emphasized, and Jackson employs low camera angles to create a sense of looming danger.

This over simplification causes the film to come across as shallow as a silent film. I half expected, Mr. Harvey to start twirling his mustache and tie Susie to a railroad track. I assume the audience is meant to be wowed by the CG effects employed in the afterlife sequences, but because of the initial depthless nature of the characters it was simply some pretty pictures. At the end, the characters are so poorly developed it doesn’t seem possible to have the strong emotional response I’m sure Jackson and co-scripter Fran Walsh intended. It seems that since, and in despite of the success of, the Lord of the Rings series, Jackson has been returning a diminishing product (see King Kong as well). One hopes that he can make his next project a bit more meaningful and more character-driven.

Film 2010 #4 – The Road

The Road (2009, dir. John Hilcoat)
Starring Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smitt-McPhee, Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce

The post-apocalyptic landscape of The Road does not feel all that distant. Set mainly in rural areas and rundown smalltowns, these are settings familiar to my own youth growing up in Springfield. There is an extreme nature to these places though, all animals and crops have died and now roving bands of modern barbarians troll for fellow humans to slaughter. Into this setting is dropped The Man (Mortensen) and The Boy (McPhee). The characters are never named, purposefully, and the story contains traces of allegory moreso than speculative fiction.

Though I have not read the novel this film was based on, I was familiar with McCarthy’s work through Blood Meridian and No Country for Old Men. I was elated when I heard John Hilcoat was signed to direct this picture. Hilcoat directed the 2005 independent Australian western, The Proposition and in that film I could see the themes and spirit of much of McCarthy’s work. Both men are contemplative and almost mystical in their narratives, while juxtaposing that with sudden and brutal moments of violence. Hilcoat seemed one of the few directors best suited for speaking for McCarthy on the big screen.

The Road is by no means a perfect film, and in moments feels like a filmic self-flagellation, watching humanity suffer in such hopeless squalor. There are few moments of happiness, which is understandable when the world around our characters is literally crumbling and dimming out. The structure of the plot is episodic, with the Man and the Boy mostly encountering hostiles and the occasional old man (Duvall). Flashbacks are provided wherein we see how The Man and The Boy came to be on this odyssey to the East Coast and what happened to the Man’s wife in the early days of the Apocalypse.

The most obvious parallels to be drawn between the two main characters are that of the Old Testament Jehovah and the New Testament Jesus. The Man is thoroughly convinced that all people they encounter possess base, survivalist instincts. Within the Boy though, he talks about a fire that burns inside him and is his responsibility to carry on. The Boy is the half of the duo willing to trust those they meet, and chance that they will find some sort of company in the wilds. And despite all of the film’s bleakness and atmosphere of a shattered world, it does offer hope in the final moments, specifically in The Boy. You see that, unlike The Man, the Boy is able to trust and understands that without that capacity to risk in others life would truly be over.

Hypothetical Film Festival #3 – No Capes Comic Book Films

The super hero movie is valuable stock in Hollywood these days. From Batman to Iron Man to Spider-Man and the X-Men, every superpowered being in print is fodder for the next big budget blockbuster. On the flipside, existing parallel to the Big Two (DC and Marvel), has been an independent and creator driven comics industry. Out of this alternative has come unique and quirky stories that use the sequential art medium to tell stories off the beaten path. Here’s a few that would make for a dynamic and engaging film festival.

From Hell (2001, dir. The Hughes Brothers)

While I am no big fan of this adaptation of Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s graphic novel, it is still decent film even though it loses the essence of the original work. The story follows British Inspector Frederick Abberline (Johnny Depp) who has been brought onto the Jack the Ripper case. He befriends East End prostitute Mary Kelly (Heather Graham), whose friends are being picked off one by one. The mystery unfolds as part of a dark Illuminati conspiracy and the Ripper’s motives are attached to satanic machinations. The Hughes Brothers, best known for their contributions to African-American cinema with Menace II Society, Dead Presidents, and the wonderful documentary American Pimp, devise a few clever visual tricks but nothing that can raise the film too far beyond a mediocre level. The best part of the film are those metaphysical and occult concepts of Moore’s that made their way from the page to the screen.

American Splendor (2003, dir. Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini)

From my earlier review: “American Splendor is one of the most unusual comic book adaptations of the 2000s. While this is an origin story, there are no capes or tights. Instead its vintage records and perpetual scowls. Cleveland native, Harvey Pekar began chronicling his life in underground comic books in the 1970s after befriending cult comix artist Robert Crumb. The film works as a docudrama, that features the real Pekar commenting on his life mixed with Giamatti acting out the anecdotes. Even the illustrations from the comic books are animated and spliced amongst the live action sequences. The entire form and style of this film is unlike any other I have seen and have not seen it attempted since. Giamatti does an excellent job mimicking Pekar, but if you have seen the film you can agree nothing surpasses the natural curmudgeon of the original.”

Ghost World (2001, dir. Terry Zwigoff)

Based on the graphic novel by Daniel Clowes, Ghost World follows the post-high school graduation summer of surly teen, Enid (Thora Birch) and her best friend, Rebecca. The two girls move from episodic moment to episodic moment, slowly growing apart. Enid is the voice for many of the mid- to late 90s proto-hipsters. She has a love of old blues vinyl and kitschy ironic pop culture, and it comes across in a less forced away than many contemporary hipsters do. The summer is a growing time for Enid as her poor temper is forced to dissipate as the responsibilities of adulthood set it. A very sharp, clever film that appeals to the introverted English major type (as I can speak from experience).

A History of Violence (2005, dir. David Cronenberg)

Based on the overlooked graphic novel by crime writer John Wagner, Cronenberg reinterpreted it and took the main character, Tom McKenna (Viggo Mortensen) in a different direction. The inciting incident, a pair of murderous thieves hold up Tom’s small town diner, is the same but the choices the character makes and how figures from his past choose to interact with him is where the changes occur. This is a wonderful film that displays Cronenberg’s gifts as a filmmaker. He is totally comfortable in quiet moments and knows how to jolt the audience without playing to cheap shocks. This is also a film that gives an ending that doesn’t need a twist to create a powerful impact.

Persepolis (2008, dir. Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud)

Unlike the other films of this list, the author of the graphic novel had a direct hand in the adaptation and direction of their work. Persepolis chronicles Marjane Satrapi’s adolescence in Ayatollah-ruled Iran and her eventual relocation to Europe when her parents become afraid of the oppression in their country. Both the film and graphic novel give a wonderful history lesson on Iran and showcase how great America’s ignorance is about Iran’s relations with Iran and the rest of the Arab world. On a microcosmic level, it is also the story of a young girl who tests the borders of rebellion and transitions through the awkward moments of childhood into a confident and brilliant young woman.

The James Dean Trilogy – East of Eden

East of Eden (1955, dir. Elia Kazan)
Starring James Dean, Raymond Massey, Burl Ives

This month, I’ll be looking at the three core works of James Dean’s sadly short career. I didn’t see any of these films until 2007 when, while living in Washington state, I decided to check out Giant from the public library. What I discovered was the reason behind an icon. So often a pop culture figure’s work has been so far removed from our contemporary experiences that it is hard to understand exactly how they became so iconic. I have found that Dean was indeed a brilliant actor with a potential I don’t see in many others.

Dean made his starring role debut in Elia Kazan’s East of Eden (based on the novel of John Steinbeck), playing the tragic loner Cal Trask. Cal is the son of Adam, a farmer and brother to Aron. Throughout his life, Cal has been overshadowed by Aron’s accomplishments and looked at as the black sheep of the family. The mother mysteriously disappeared when the boys were children and Cal remembers little of her. The story is a reworking of the Cain and Abel story and mixes it with the gorgeous landscape of Salinas and Monterey, California.

The filmmaking at work here is a unique artifact of its time. Kazan is a deft director who is responsible for such masterpieces as On the Waterfront and A Streetcar Named Desire. And it was Kazan’s keen eye who discovered James Dean as he was performing on Broadway. Dean was a major proponent of method acting, a technique that transitioned from the more classical theatrical style of acting into a more psychological and physically interpretive method. Method acting bridges a sort of gap between acting and dance. This is seen in the way Dean almost spasms through his performance, he twists and contorts his body in unison with the psychological torment. The character of Cal is stunted mentally and Dean chooses to express that through his movement. Cal is constantly jamming his hands into his pockets, kicking at the dirt nervously, just like an awkward adolescent.

Dean was reportedly very uncooperative on set, and Kazan admitted he would encourage this by antagonizing the actor. Kazan believed that keeping Dean in such a mentally upset state would, in turn, enhance the anger and frustration of Cal on the screen. Dean’s co-star, Julie Harris is credited with truly enhancing the performance by adjusting her own to become more low-key and further highlight the distinction of what Dean was doing. For a first major film performance, Dean delivers in an astonishing way. Method acting was a new and exciting development in theater and its no wonder audiences were entranced with Dean.

Coming up next: I take a look at the film that made Dean an icon, Rebel Without A Cause.

Film 2010 #6 – Youth in Revolt

Youth in Revolt (2009, dir. Miguel Arteta)
Starring Michael Cera, Steve Buscemi, Jean Smart, Ray Liotta, Zach Galafinakis, Justin Long

In 2003, Arrested Development debuted on Fox, and introduced America to the nebbish, nervous comedic talent of Michael Cera. He made George Michael one of the most lovable sad sacks in television history. With the series’ cancellation, Cera would go on to star in the Apatow-produced Superbad, wherein he reprised the George Michael personality. Since then, Cera’s stock had begun to drop as it appears he’s becoming typecast in a very disconcerting way. Youth in Revolt appears to be a partial attempt at breaking out of that mold, but sadly only reconfirms Cera’s career may have an early expiration date without some drastically different roles.

Based on the novel Youth in Revolt: The Journals of Nick Twisp by C.D. Payne, the film follows high schooler Nick Twisp, an intellectual lad who, despite his deft use of language, is unable to relate to his classmates. His life is transplanted to a trailer park miles away after his mother’s current beau scams some Navy men. Twisp meets the francophiliac Sheeni Saunders who becomes his object of obsession and leads to a series of catastrophic incidents.

Twisp is a strange mix of Cera’s afformentioned George Michael and the wise cracking of Ferris Bueller. Whereas, Bueller possessed an abundance of confidence about his plans, Twisp manages to mutter clever comebacks under his breath and awkward hatches schemes. I felt that Cera was probably of the mind that this film would help him break the typecasting he’s undergoing, but once on set he was coerced into going through the same muttery shtick that has defined his career so far.

Director Miguel Arteta is best known for indie pics Chuck and Buck (2000) and The Good Girl (2002), and since then has worked primarily in television (Ugly Betty, Freaks and Geeks, Six Feet Under). Because of Arteta’s background in the indie film scene of the late 90s/early 00s, Youth in Revolt has a the feel of those low budget pictures. The way in which things spiral continuously downward for Twisp felt to me like many indie black comedies. While, Arteta is very skilled at directing he offers few inspiring visual twists, aside for a couple stop motion animation sequences, that don’t add much to the film.

Youth in Revolt is not a bad film, but it feels like an opportunity missed. The material provided the opportunity for Cera to truly break free of the audience’s expectations, but it seems the filmmakers were too scared to attempt that. At the end of the day it will provide a few chuckles, but doesn’t contain much beyond that.

Film 2010 #7 – Up in the Air

Up in the Air (2009, dir. Jason Reitman)
Starring George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman

I come to the table with a strong dislike of the work of Jason Reitman. I didn’t find Thank You For Smoking funny and reviled Juno like the swine flu. That said, Reitman had a lot to prove to me and I felt this film was his “last shot” before I wrote him off as a director who simply didn’t make the sort of movies I enjoy.

Based on the novel by Walter Kirn (he also wrote the wonderful Thumbsucker which was also adapted to the screen), the story follows Ryan Bingham (Clooney), a “career transition counselor”, or in plain english, the man your boss hires when he’s too scared to fire you himself. Bingham is at home in airports and first class seats. The entire process has evolved to an almost ritualistic state, and Bingham takes great pride in his impeccable ability to traverse and flow through the environment like water. The inevitable snag occurs when young upstart Natalie Keener (Kendrick) proposes a new video conferencing system to replace the face to face firings Bingham’s firm provides. Bingham is terrified that his entire life and soul is at stake and volunteers to take Keener on his route in an effort to prove that the face to face is an essential part of their job.

Reitman has begun to win me over. Gone is the smirking humor of Thank You For Smoking and the nails-on-chalkboard hip-speak of Juno. There are still traces of the director’s hand but it feels like a maturation has occurred. Bingham is developed quite organically from a simple pastiche of Clooney’s typical film persona and into a truly broken and incredibly pathetic man. Vera Farmiga plays Alex, a woman who refers to herself as just like Bingham “but with a vagina”. They meet in an airport bar and foreplay consists of showing off their voluminous elite status cards from luxury hotels and car rental services. Their relationship feels shallow and it is and how that relationship plays out was quite a surprise to me. There are a few beats in the film, involving the transformation of Bingham’s priorities and it feels like Reitman is taking us into heavily tread territory, but he completely reverses things in a very satisfying way.

The film is very much a product of contemporary events. Bingham’s firm is seeing a boon in business as the economy tanks. Bingham himself seems to be losing the assurance he normally feels in his job as he is contracted to fire an ever growing number of the workforce. The film comes across a bit heavy handed in some of these moments, particularly a ending montage sequence where real people who have been laid off in the last year talk directly to the camera about their feelings and reactions. While I thought they had good insight, the insertion of this into the film felt slightly pretentious. I think a documentary of said material would be a much more interesting venture though.

In the end, Reitman has duly impressed me. I went from having incredibly low expectations for his third film, to finding it to be enjoyable. I think his tempering and maturation as a filmmaker are very apparent, and I’m actually interested in what his next project will be.

Film 2010 #1 – Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes (2009, dir. Guy Ritchie)
Starring Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan, James Fox

There are few characters more iconic than Sherlock Holmes. He is a figure strongly ingrained in the pop culture psyche, wearing his deerstalker hat while sporting a pipe and magnifying glass. When British director Guy Ritchie was announced to be helming the current incarnation of the most famous detective, I wasn’t to intrigued. Since 2002’s Swept Away, Ritchie has seemed to be unable to find direction in his film career. With Sherlock Holmes he has managed to combine his dynamic visual storytelling style with plenty of humor to create an incredibly fresh twist on the icon.

The plot is not based on any particular Holmes’ tale, but references many characters and cases familiar to those who have read the stories. Holmes and Watson have just helped Inspector LeStrade apprehend Lord Blackwood, a member of the House of Lords involved in a satanic Illuminati ritual. Blackwood tells Holmes of a larger power at work before he is hung and appears to return to life. While Holmes attempts to uncover the truth behind Blackwood he must deal with Watson’s impending engagement and the return of his greatest adversary and infatuation, Irene Adler.

What Ritchie has effectively done is make a buddy cop movie set in the London of the late 19th century. The dynamic between Holmes and Watson is much different than previously presented and feels much more in tune with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s intent. They are a bickering married couple, with Holmes blatant jealous and worried over the idea of Watson leaving him to marry his fiancee. Ritchie also brings in Holmes’ past as a boxer, as aspect of the character greatly ignored in the previous interpretations.

What surprised me the most was how funny the film is, and because of that it should be classified much more as a comedy than anything else. I came to the realization that Robert Downey, Jr. is a good actor but what he’s been asked to play for the last decade or so is a pastiche of himself. Other than an accent there is not much difference between how he plays Holmes and Tony Stark. What I enjoyed wasn’t necessarily his acting, but rather his ability to do what he does so damn well.

The film is definitely a fresh look at the icon of Sherlock Holmes. Anyone who holds the traditional film portrayal, first seeded by Basil Rathbone, will find this to be quite jarring. For audiences who are ready for a new take, it is one of the most fun films they will see this year. And in the case of any good studio franchise, they leave this one open for an inevitable sequel.

My Top 10 Favorite Films of 2009

I’ve been keeping track of all the films I watch annually since 2005 and this year was one of the most prolific. I was able to see 200 new films and picking a top 10 was an incredibly hard task. That said, here are my top 10 favorites with some comments, followed by the long list of my viewing for 2009.

10) Where The Wild Things Are (2009, dir. Spike Jonze)

I love that Jonze and, co-writer, Dave Eggers managed to maintain the honest, darker tone of Maurice Sendak’s children’s book. Max acts like a real kid, not a movie script child. I especially appreciated the skillful mix of traditional puppetry and CG effects that made the Wild Things solid and real beings.

9) Inglourious Basterds (2009, dir. Quentin Tarantino)

From the trailers, I was led to believe this was an action shoot-em up and that turned me off immediately. I love Tarantino but had no interesting in a WWII action pic. However, a series of interviews turned me around and I found it to be yet another incredibly original film from a master. In essence, its a WWII fairy tale.

8) Bronson (2009, dir. Nicolas Winding Refn)

This one came out of nowhere but grabbed my attention due to its blatantly Kubrickian influence. Sort A Clockwork Orange about a real person. The film is less concerned with plot than it is establishing a dynamically visual character sketch.

7) Ballast (2008, dir.Lance Hammer)

A film whose merits lie strongly in its tone. The landscape is a familiar one to those of us who grew up in the rural South. The film also presents a look at contemporary rural Southern African-Americans in a very real and honest manner.

6) Antichrist (2009, dir. Lars von Trier)

Despite the hubbub over the graphic violence in, von Trier is able to evoke a strong sense of horror that so many mainstream horror movies never attempt. It’s typical von Trier in its attempts to upset the audience, not just through the brutality, but also through the incoherence of many story elements. And in the end, that’s why I love this director!

5) Precious (2009, dir. Lee Daniels)

Gabby Sidibe’s performance as the title character is so impressive, especially after seeing her interviews and realizing how drastically different she and her life are from this character. In this film, I saw the lives of a good number of children I’ve worked with. The dark nature of living below the poverty is broken though by a strong sense of hope in the film’s ending, that never comes off as maudlin.

4) Harlan County, USA (1976, dir. Barbara Kopple)

Though made thirty four years ago, this film is just as relevant, given the climate of economic disparity and anti-unionist rhetoric being spouted. Kopple chronicles the struggle between a group of poor Kentuckian miners and the Duke Power Company, in a strike the ended in blood being spilt. You may go into the film thinking it can’t engage you, but it will captivate you.

3) Synecdoche, New York (2008, dir. Charlie Kaufman)

Kaufman produced some of the best written films of the 2000s and this directorial debut is the culmination of all his themes and concepts. The film works as a matryoshka, a Russian nesting doll, and seems to have a kinship with much of Michel Gondry’s work.

2) Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006, dir. Tom Tykwer)

One of the most overlooked films of the 2000s by one of the most over looked directors. Tykwer follows a very literary structure and presents a character who lacks the ability to be sympathetic but somehow makes us sympathize with him by the end of the film.

1) Waltz With Bashir (2008, dir. Ari Folman)

Check out my full review for my thoughts on this amazing film!

And here is the full list of the 200 films I saw in 2009

1. Near Dark (1987, dir. Kathryn Bigelow)
2. Taxi to the Dark Side (2008, dir. Alex Gibney)
3. Revolutionary Road (2008, dir. Sam Mendes)
4. Scrooged (1988, dir. Richard Donner)
5. Renaissance (2006, dir. Christian Volckman)
6. The Magic Christian (1969, dir. Joseph McGrath)
7. Rock School (2005, dir. Don Argott)
8. The Spirit (2008, dir. Frank Miller)
9. Mirrors (2008, dir. Alexandre Aja)
10. Synecdoche, New York (2008, dir. Charlie Kaufman)
11. Cinemania (2002, dir. Angela Christlieb, Stephan Kijak)
12. Henry Fool (1997, dir. Hal Hartley)
13. Moonshine (2006, dir. Roger Ingram)
14. Crazy Love (2007, dir. Dan Klores)
15. Doubt (2008, dir. John Patrick Shanley)
16. Slumdog Millionaire (2008, dir. Danny Boyle)
17. The Reader (2008, dir. Stephen Daldry)
18. Fay Grim (2006, dir. Hal Hartley)
19. Sleeping Dogs Lie (2006, dir. Bobcat Goldthwait)
20. Waltz With Bashir (2008, dir. Ari Folman)
21. Fears of the Dark (2008, dir. Blutch, Charles Burns, Marie Caillou, Pierre Di Sciullo, Lorenzo Mattotti, Richard McGuire)
22. Gran Torino (2008, dir. Clint Eastwood)
23. In Bruges (2008, dir. Martin McDonagh)
24. Foot Fist Way (2008, dir. Jody Hill)
25. Che, Part One (2008, dir. Steven Soderbergh)
26. Coraline (2009, dir. Henry Selick)
27. The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2005, dir. Jeff Feuerzeig)
28. Hard Eight (1996, dir. PT Anderson)
29. Friday the 13th (2009, dir. Dean Haspiel)
30. Pola X (1999, dir. Leos Carax)
31. Paris, Je T’aime (2006, dir. various)
32. The Ring 2 (2005, dir. Hideo Nakata)
33. Watchmen (2009, dir. Zach Snyder)
34. Sex Drive (2008, dir. Sean Anders)
35. Rachel Getting Married (2008, dir. Jonathan Demme)
36. Cabin Boy (1994, dir. Adam Resnick)
37. Puffball (2007, dir. Nicolas Roeg)
38. Semi-Pro (2008, dir. Kent Alterman)
39. Freddy Got Fingered (2001, dir. Tom Green)
40. Wild Tigers I Have Known (2006, dir. Cam Archer)
41. Confederate States of America (2004, dir. Kevin Wilmott)
42. Fuck (2005, dir. Steve Anderson)
43. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006, dir. Scott Glosserman)
44. Standard Operating Procedure (2008, dir. Erroll Morris)
45. Perdita Durango (1997, dir. Alex de la Igelsia)
46. Glass: A Portrait of Philip in 12 Pieces (2007, dir. Scott Hicks)
47. W. (2008, dir. Oliver Stone)
48. The Sinful Dwarf (1973, dir. Vidal Raski)
49. Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural (1973, dir. Richard Blackburn)
50. Angel-A (2005, dir. Luc Besson)
51. The Room (2003, dir. Tommy Wiseau)
52. I Love You Man (2009, dir. John Hamburg)
53. Cthulhu (2007, dir. Dan Gildark)
54. Chop Shop (2007, dir. Rahmin Bahrani)
55. Monsters Vs. Aliens (2009, dir. Rob Letterman, Conrad Vernon)
56. Dig! (2005, dir. Ondi Timoner)
57. Zoo (2007, dir. Robinson Devor)
58. Observe & Report (2009, dir. Jody Hill)
59. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009, dir. Gavin Hood)
60. Safe Men (1998, dir. John Hamburg)
61. Chuck & Buck (2000, dir. Miguel Arteta)
62. Zach Galifinakis: Live at the Purple Onion (2007, dir. Michael Blieden)
63. The Wicker Man (2006, dir. Neil LaBute)
64. Grey Gardens (2009, dir. Michael Sucsy)
65. Mad Dog and Glory (1993, dir. David McNaughton)
66. Midnight Run (1988, dir. Martin Brest)
67. Bonnie and Clyde (1967, dir. Arthur Penn)
68. Crash (1996, dir. David Cronenberg)
69. Prime Cut (1972, dir. Michael Ritchie)
70. Special (2006, dir. Hal Haberman, Jeremy Passamore)
71. Papillon (1973, dir. Franklin J. Schaffner)
72. The Five Obstructions (2003, dir. Jorgen Leth, Lars Von Trier)
73. Haxan (1922, dir. Benjamin Christensen)
74. Shampoo (1975, dir. Hal Ashby)
75. S. Darko (2009, Chris Fisher)
76. Star Trek (2009, dir. JJ Abrams)
77. The Ninth Configuration (1980, dir. William Peter Blatty)
78. The Pledge (2001, dir. Sean Penn)
79. Heckler (2007, dir. Michael Addis)
80. Abel Raises Cain (2005, dir. Jenny Abel, Jeff Hockett)
81. Parents (1988, dir. Bob Balaban)
82. Harlan County, USA (1976, dir. Barbara Kopple)
83. Rubin and Ed (1991, dir. Trent Harris)
84. Eyes Wide Shut (1999, dir. Stanley Kubrick)
85. Bedtime Stories (2008, dir. Adam Shankman)
86. Fanboys (2008, dir. Kyle Newman)
87. The Unborn (2009, dir. David S. Goyer)
88. Terminator Salvation (2009, dir. McG)
89. Drag Me To Hell (2009, dir. Sam Raimi)
90. Trembling Before G-d (2001, dir. Sandi Simcha Dubowski)
91. Land of the Lost (2009, dir. Brad Silberling)
92. The Hangover (2009, dir. Todd Phillips)
93. Up (2009, dir. Pete Docter, Brad Anderson)
94. Deadgirl (2008, dir. Marcel Sarmiento, Gadi Harel)
95. Phoebe in Wonderland (2008, dir. Daniel Barnz)
96. Collateral (2004, dir. Michael Mann)
97. Sid and Nancy (1986, dir. Alex Cox)
98. Tell No One (2006, dir. Guilliame Canet)
99. Beach Party at the Threshold of Hell (2006, dir. Johnny Gillette, Kevin Wheatley)
100. The Cable Guy (1996, dir. Ben Stiller)
101. Sita Sings the Blues (2008, dir. Nina Paley)
102. Bruno (2009, dir. Larry Charles)
103. IOUSA (2008, dir. Patrick Creadon)
104. Moon (2009, dir. Duncan Jones)
105. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009, dir. Michael Bay)
106. Scream 3 (2000, dir. Wes Craven)
107. Adventureland (2009, dir. Greg Mottola)
108. In the Loop (2009, dir. Armando Iannucci)
109. Zazie dan le Metro (1960, dir. Louis Malle)
110. Plague Town (2008, dir. David Gregory)
111. Pontypool (2008, dir. Bruce McDonald)
112. Splinter (2008, dir. Toby Wilkins)
113. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008, dir. Woody Allen)
114. Bart Got A Room (2009, dir. Brian Hecker)
115. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009, dir. David Yates)
116. Green Lantern: First Flight (2009, dir. Lauren Montgomery)
117. The Strangers (2008, dir. Bryan Bertino)
118. Bamboozled (2000, dir. Spike Lee)
119. Funny People (2009, dir. Judd Apatow)
120. Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus (2006, Steven Shainberg)
121. Tetro (2009, dir. Francis Ford Coppola)
122. Gigantic (2008, dir. Brian Aselton)
123. Orphan (2009, dir. Jaume Collet-Serra)
124. Visioneers (2008, dir. Jared Drake)
125. Home Movie (2008, dir. Christopher Denham)
126. Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story (2008, dir. Stefan Forbes)
127. G.I. Joe (2009, dir. Stephen Sommers)
128. Big Man Japan (2007, dir. Hitoshi Matsumoto)
129. Second Skin (2008, dir. Juan Carlos Pineiro-Escoriaza)
130. Used Cars (1980, dir. Robert Zemeckis)
131. Knowing (2009, dir. Alex Proyas)
132. The Informers (2009, dir. Gregor Jordan)
133. Domino (2005, dir. Tony Scott)
134. Push (2009, dir. Paul McGuigan)
135. District 9 (2009, dir. Neil Blomkamp)
136. World’s Greatest Dad (2009, dir. Bobcat Goldthwait)
137. The Corporation (2003, dir. Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott)
138. Bronson (2009, dir.Nicolas Winding Refn)
139. Edmond (2005, dir. Stuart Gordon)
140. The Brothers Bloom (2009, dir. Rian Johnson)
141. Antichrist (2009, dir. Lars von Trier)
142. Empire of the Sun (1987, dir. Steven Spielberg)
143. Wall Street (1987, dir. Oliver Stone)
144. Grace (2009, dir. Paul Solet)
145. Year One (2009, dir. Harold Ramis)
146. Lymelife (2008, dir. Derek Martini)
147. 500 Days of Summer (2009, dir. Marc Webb)
148. Christmas on Mars (2008, dir. Wayne Coyne)
149. Manderlay (2005, dir. Lars von Trier)
150. Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009, dir. Sam Liu)
151. Trick R’ Treat (2008, dir. Michael Doughtry)
152. Inglourious Basterds (2009, dir. Quentin Tarantino)
153. Life is Sweet (1991, dir. Mike Leigh)
154. Owning Mahowny (2003, dir. Richard Kwietniowski)
155. Adam Resurrected (2008, dir. Paul Schrader)
156. Tideland (2005, dir. Terry Gilliam)
157. Jennifer’s Body (2009, dir. Karyn Kusama)
156. Sick Girl (2007, dir. Eben McGarr)
157. Pandorum (2009, dir. Christian Alvart)
158. Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel (2009, dir. Garreth Carravick)
159. Zombieland (2009, dir. Ruben Fleischer)
160. Big Fan (2009, dir. Robert D. Siegel)
161. Where the Truth Lies (2005, dir. Atom Egoyan)
162. Paranormal Activity (2009, dir Oren Peli)
163. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006, dir. Tom Tykwer)
164. The Informant! (2009, dir. Steven Soderbergh)
165. You’re Welcome America: A Final Night with George W. Bush (2009, dir. Marty Callner)
166. Frontrunners (2008, dir. Caroline Suh)
167. Humpday (2009, dir.Lynn Shelton)
168. Adoration (2009, dir. Atom Egoyan)
169. I Sell The Dead (2008, dir. Glenn McQuaid)
170. Roman Polanski: Wanted & Desired (2008, dir. Marina Zenovich)
171. Paper Heart (2009, Nicholas Jasenovec)
172. American Ruling Class (2005, dir. John Kirby)
173. Homicide (1992, dir. David Mamet)
174. Franklyn (2009, dir. Gerald McMorrow)
175. The Transporter (2002, dir. Corey Yuen)
176. The Magdalene Sisters (2002, dir. Peter Mullan)
177. The House of the Devil (2009, dir. Ti West)
178. The Triplets of Belleville (2003, dir. Sylvain Chomet)
179. BSG: The Plan (2009, dir. Edward James Olmos)
180. Spider (2002, dir. David Cronenberg)
181. Ballast (2008, dir. Lance Hammer)
182. Radiant City (2006, dir. Jim Brown, Gary Burns)
183. Medicine for Melancholy (2008, dir. Barry Jenkins)
184. Extract (2009, dir. Mike Judge)
185. The Box (2009, dir. Richard Kelly)
186. The Cove (2009, dir. Louis Psihoyos)
187. Diagnosis Death (2009, dir. Jason Stutter)
188. Sauna (2008, dir. Antti-Jussi Annila)
189. Tokyo (2008, dir. Michel Gondry, Leos Carax, Joon-ho Bong)
190. The Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009, dir. Wes Anderson)
191. Trumbo (2007, dir. Peter Askin)
192. Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs (2009, dir. Phil Lord, Chris Miller)
193. Stay (2005, dir. Marc Forster)
194. Herb & Dorothy (2009, dir. Megumi Sasaki)
195. Where The Wild Things Are (2009, dir. Spike Jonze)
196. Avatar (2009, dir. James Cameron)
197. The Invention of Lying (2009, dir.Ricky Gervais, Matthew Robinson)
198. An Education (2009, dir. Lone Sherfig)
199. Precious (2009, dir. Lee Daniels)
200. Ravenous (1999, dir. Antonia Bird)