My Netflix addiction continued unabated this past year - the records show 82 discs viewed in the past 12 months. Damn, even I didn't realize it was that bad. Here's the cream of the crop.
25th Hour (2002): One of the thing's I've done this year is work my way through some of the Spike Lee flicks (um, excuse me, "joints") that I'd overlooked in the past year. Of the bunch, 25th Hour is by far the best. It's basically traces the last day in a man's life before he reports to prison to serve a long sentence. It doesn't sugarcoat the guy's crime (victimless - he's a dealer), but it focuses on the shattered relationships with his family, friends, and loved ones that he leaves in his wake. Lots of people who don't interact with criminal defendants on a regular basis don't know about those effects, but they are very very real.I even saw a few flicks the old fashioned way - in the theater!
The Triplets of Belleville (2003): French, animated, and largely free of dialogue - how's that for an interesting basis for a film? This was one of the most original flicks I've seen in a long time, visually rich and exquisitely surreal.
Annie Hall (1977): I was not familiar most of Woody Allen's classics before this year. Like 25th Hour with the Spike joints, Annie Hall was the best of Woody's bunch. A terrifically developed romantic comedy, where the guy doesn't get the girl in the end and it still feels like a happy (in a realistic sort of way) ending.
City of God (2002): I put this Brazilian flick in my queue two years ago because it was on several 10 best lists from 2002 and forgot about it until it popped out of my mailbox. Given that situation, I was a completely clean slate when I watched it. I haven't been so overwhelmed by a film in a long time as I was with City of God, a sprawling epic set in the Rio slum of the same name. As violent, compelling, and moving as any of the great American mob epics.
Serenity (2005): I am a huge fan of Joss Whedon's defunct TV sci-fi/western Firefly, so it was only natural that I'd go see the big-screen version when it came out. As such, I'm probably not the most neutral observer, but I think it was the best sci-fi I'd seen on the screen in a long time. Much better that The Phantom Menace, even. Sadly, it went underappreciated and any chances of either film franchise or return to TV are dead and buried. Oh well.Well, that's it for 2005 here at the Ranch, folks. Another long weekend beckons, so I'll be back in 2006, hopefully after a successful WVU bowl game.
Syriana (2005): Although it has sort of a Traffic-lite feel (given the parties involved, that makes sense), this is nonetheless a great grown-up thriller with serious ideas behind it. And if you have a thing against George Clooney, this is the flick for you!