As in prior years, by Netflix addiction continued unabated. Going back through my rental history, it was actually fairly difficult to narrow it down to a few flicks that really stood out. Again, not "best," but favorites (at least some of them).
- The Prestige (2006): Hey, something I actually saw in the theater! This tale of feuding magicians in 19th-century London was fun just to sit back and enjoy. Maybe not the deepest thing in the world, but the constant one-upmanship between the two main characters is a lot of fun (in a very self destructive way!).
- Clerks II (2006): As a big Kevin Smith fan, I was a little apprehensive about a sequel to Clerks. Was Smith just looking for a safe haven after the debacle of Jersey Girl and running back to familiar material? Yeah, probably. In the end, did it matter? Nope. While not the classic that the original is, Clerks II had some tremendously funny bits and something vaguely resembling a plot that satisfied.
- V for Vendetta (2006): Hype for this flick convinced me to go out and get the graphic novel of the same name, by first real exposure to the genre. The movie can't really hold a candle to the book, but was pretty cool on its own merits. But the book got me hooked on graphic novels, anyway.
- Paradise Now (2005): If V for Vendetta was about a terrorist who was sure in his motives and means, Paradise Now is about just the opposite. The first Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee from the Palestinians, this film follows two friends who are called upon to fulfill their pledge to become suicide bombers as part of the Intifada. This is not a story that tries to "justify" the taking of human life - it is about the mental process that might go on inside someone who is so sure of their path in life, and one who is not so sure.
- The Saddest Music in the World (2003): Flat out, this is one of the strangest movies I've ever seen. It tells the story of a Canadian brewery baroness who launches a competition during the Depression to find out which country has the saddest music in the world. Competitors arrive in Winnipeg (IIRC) for a series of 1-on-1 matchups, after which the winner splashes down into a pool of beer. There's a layer of melodrama and flim-school "art" on top of the story that requires a little bit of patience to get used to. Once you do, however, it's a really neat flick (great leading man turn by former Kid in the Hall Mark McKinney).
- Ikiru (1952): A Kurosawa classic in which a lifelong bureaucrat learns he has terminal cancer and decides to "live life." Except that he discovers that the traditional ways of living the high life (women, wine, song, etc.) are as hollow as his prior paper pushing days. He finds meaning in actually navigating a needed public works project from need to completion before his death. In an abrupt shift of point of view, the film goes on for another 45 minutes after the main character's death, as his mourners argue about the meaning of what went on before. A brilliant piece of film.
- Fire (1996), Earth (1998), Water (2005): The girlfriend is a fan of foreign films, especially those from Southeast Asia and India. Thanks to her, I experienced this trilogy of Deepa Mehta flims in the space of a few weeks. Each deals with controversial issues in modern India, including the Indian/Pakistani partition (Earth), lesbianism among Hindus (Fire), and the treatment of impoverished widows (Water). Fire and Water both led to violence during the production and release of the films in India. All are excellent, but I think Water is the best.
* Hey, it worked last year. :)