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Top Ten Films Of 2006

by Antisuttree
1) Inland Empire - USA/Poland/France, dir. David Lynch. A cinema of mirrors and dark, hidden chambers. An epic title sequence opens the convoluted maze of a film—written, shot, edited, produced, and directed by David Lynch, himself. Lynch stated that the film makes “perfect sense,” and indeed, in exaggeratedly Godardian fashion, the story comes together rather tightly; but the point (perhaps the desired effect) is the cinematic experience—not the point, itself—and this is cinema, indeed. The film’s most obvious kink is not its lengthy runtime or elaborate story, but its low-grade, standard definition digital picture (Lynch used a… Read more

1) Inland Empire - USA/Poland/France, dir. David Lynch. A cinema of mirrors and dark, hidden chambers. An epic title sequence opens the convoluted maze of a film—written, shot, edited, produced, and directed by David Lynch, himself. Lynch stated that the film makes “perfect sense,” and indeed, in exaggeratedly Godardian fashion, the story comes together rather tightly; but the point (perhaps the desired effect) is the cinematic experience—not the point, itself—and this is cinema, indeed. The film’s most obvious kink is not its lengthy runtime or elaborate story, but its low-grade, standard definition digital picture (Lynch used a consumer-level Sony DSR-PD150 camera—his first divagation into digital video), yet it could be argued that this look is a character in the film, intended and designed by Lynch. Idiosyncratically Lynchian, innovative sound design rectifies much of the picture loss. In the end, this is a film of originality, experimentation, and achievement. Trailer



2) Lake Of Fire - USA, dir. Tony Kaye. Nearly twenty years in the making, Lake Of Fire is a masterful documentary on the issue of abortion, focusing mainly on religious and political division in the United States, but carrying larger messages on empathy, education, and cultural development. Several philosophers, fundamentalist extremists, and other public figures contribute ideas. Noam Chomsky’s words are of particular wisdom. Director Tony Kaye also directed the photography in a high-contrast black and white, crystallizing this moment in American history; Anne Dudley’s gorgeous, sweeping score accentuates the tragedy that is the massive cultural dissent. A powerful, arresting film. Trailer



3) The Prestige - USA/UK, dir. Christopher Nolan. The Prestige is a complex, subtle period piece about magician rivalry, exploring such themes as secrecy, obsession, and sacrifice, and the film is exemplary Christopher Nolan material in that it is refined, nuanced, and polished. The upshot is a convoluted 21st century noir thriller mystery. Some viewers will justifiably find a few key elements gimmicky if not outright unfair, however the film is well-made, meriting one viewing if not more. Trailer



4) The Lives Of Others (Das Leben der Anderen) - Germany, dir. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. There is a meticulous precision in The Lives Of Others. This well-crafted film about 1980s east Germany (and, specifically, east Berlin) under the German Democratic Republic before the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989 depicts lives of writers and artists in the Berlin cultural scene of the time, when such lives were heavily, closely monitored and scrutinized. A cold, historical, dramatic thriller with a moving ending. Trailer



5) Letters From Iwo Jima - USA, dir. Clint Eastwood. Eastwood’s prolific period—and two films in 2006 alone; Letters From Iwo Jima is the better of the two (the other being Flags Of Our Fathers). An impressive World War II film from the point of view of Japanese soldiers (Flags Of Our Fathers is from the point of view of American soldiers). One of Eastwood’s very best. Trailer



6) Hard Candy - USA, dir. David Slade. Not a film for the weak; easily one of the most disturbing films I’ve ever seen. An intelligently-considered color palette warms the film, and the anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio frames the film’s lead characters (played by Patrick Wilson and Ellen Page) in two-actor theater-like fashion. Elements of the unfolding story seem cold-hearted and psychotic, but in time, the viewer is weighing two wrongdoings and considering whether a circumstantial redemption is comprised of revenge or justice. Welcome to the world stage, Ellen Page. Trailer



7) Invisible Waves (คำพิพากษาของมหาสมุทร) - Thailand/Hong Kong/South Korea, dir. Pen-Ek Ratanaruang. The ethereally slow shots of Christopher Doyle’s cinematography grace this subtle and dreamy, quadrilingual (Thai/English/Japanese/Korean) art film about a Japanese cook’s angular adventures after leaving Macau, where he’d been living and working. As protagonist Kyoji, Tadanobu Asano provides his characteristically unique, quirky presence, which is sprinkled with occasional humor. In the isolated wanderings and experiences through vacant streets, ships, and hotels, and in the strange mysteries of curious crimes, this classic Ratanaruang film demonstrates why he is very much an Asian Antonioni. Trailer



8) Babel - USA/France/Mexico, dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu. In his pessimistic worldview (putting it frankly), Alejandro González Iñárritu believes that the world is not just a dark night, but the darkest night. A tragic, international drama, the plot of this septilingual (English/Spanish/French/Arabic/Berber/Japanese/Japanese Sign Language) film spans three continents and four countries, and there’s no Hollywood ending anywhere in sight. Iñárritu’s approach to locating any optimistic possibilities is to learn from the tragedies of cultural inequality, and in that light, perhaps his despairing films shall somehow effect change. Trailer



9) Reprise - Norway, dir. Joachim Trier. One of the finer Norwegian films I’ve ever seen. Crisp, paced, and stylish, representing Oslo in all of its impressive modernity. Two young friends and aspiring writers simultaneously attempt publication, and their lives slowly begin to take different courses. Trailer



10) The Devil And Daniel Johnston - USA, dir. Jeff Feuerzeig. A compelling look at one of the last few decades’ maddest and most gifted outsider musicians and artists, Daniel Johnston. Whether he is preaching to his audience about the dangers of the number six, getting in fights that lead to stretches in mental institutions, pining over his one-and-only and long-gone muse of yesteryear, or crashing planes because he’s inspired by comic book characters in parachutes, Daniel continues to make music and art—the only constant in his life. I’m living my life in vain, Johnston writes with honesty in his song, “Life In Vain”; …I got to really try … so hard to get by. Restricted by autism and bipolar disorder, Daniel’s madness is mixed with brilliance, and in this documentary, profundity, beauty, and emotion coalesce as well. Trailer



Other Years’ Top Ten Lists: 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012

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