The Best Films of the Decade: 2000 – 2009 Part 4 (Revised)
Directed by Lucrecia Martel
This masterly, disturbing and deeply mysterious film is an astounding portrait of a person entirely out of sync with her own existence. Headless Woman doesn’t fit neatly into a clear storyline, and will frustrate most viewers, but after just three features Lucrecia Martel has firmly established herself as one of world cinema’s most distinctive visionaries. Using clever sound design ,exquisitely framed images, deliberate pacing, formal compositions, fragmented images and a shifting tone, she creates a palpable tension that makes the film feel like a most unlikely thriller. Fans of Michelangelo Antonioni should enjoy this gem.
Directed by Jim Jarmush
Genre: Thriller / Crime
Jim Jarmusch, the king of indie cool, mixes excerpts from the text of “Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai” with Mafioso entanglements, and hip-hop street knowledge creating a downbeat, stylish and most unique film experience. This compellingly strange twist on the mafia genre features a stunning dark, seedy look by cinematographer by Robby Müller, an absorbing and fascinating performance from Forest Whitaker and a chilly and affective score by The RZA of Wu-Tang Clan.
Directed by David Cronenberg
Genre: Thriller, Crime, Gangster
To Quote J. Hoberman of the Village Voice: “David Cronenberg is the most provocative, original, and consistently excellent North American director of his generation.”
I couldn’t agree more, and Eastern Promises instantly takes its place among one of David Cronenberg’s very best films. Perhaps his most straightforward and accessible movie since The Fly, Promises is a Russian gangster movie starring Viggo Mortensen in a startling performance which demands the actor bare it all. A tough watch, and a rigid, well-crafted thriller packed with fascinating characters who guide us through a thick narrative of conspiracies and double-crosses.
Directed by Michael Cuesta
Genre: Coming of age / Drama
L.I.E. raises the bar on the coming-of-age story with a tightly focused portrait of a 15-year-old who looks for a father figure and finds his kindly neighbourhood sexual predator. L.I.E. could easily be mistaken for the latest Clark film but what puts it a cut above Clark’s movies is the surprisingly tender relationship between central characters Howie (Paul Franklin Dano) and Big John (Brian Cox). L.I.E, is an especially arresting film that keeps pulling the rug out from under you in terms of where it’s heading. Provocative, not exploitative and a bold artistic vision too frequently lacking in today’s independent cinema.
Directed by Neil Marshall
Genre: Horror / Thriller
This creepfest may not only see more feminist deconstruction than the original Alien, but The Descent is also one of the most tightly effective horror films in a long time. Much like his previous film Dog Soldiers, director Neil Marshall relies on our familiar memories of past horror films. But the fascination of this film is anticipating how it will turn these familiar elements, particularly the inferior ones, into creatively and new ways.
Directed by Ti West
House Of The Devil proves why Director Ti West is a name to look out for. West is not interested in cheap shocks and scares but rather takes a simple situation and spins tension out of it through careful craft. He’s a patient film maker, and makes great use of long sequences and static shots with an assortment of oddly askew camera angles, each camera positioned deliberately for creative reasons. He’s built a career on his preference for slow-building tension, atmosphere and suspense as opposed to fast-paced action, sex and splatter. His direction is smart, subtle, and passionate, and he likes to test the patience of his audience before rushing into its climax.
Directed by Joel Coen
Genre: Noir / Thriller
Once again, Ethan and Joel Coen have twisted a film genre into something new. The Man Who Wasn’t There is a quiet, contemplative noir thriller with a slow, brooding pace and a series of arresting visuals. Cinematographer Roger Deakins’ artful black-and-white photography beautifully recreate the shadows and starkness of the noir film world and Billy Bob Thornton gives one of the best performances of his career. The Man Who Wasn’t There reminds us of how entertaining a thriller can be when it concentrates on storyline rather than the overused staples of action sequences. This captivating gem of a crime caper is a pitch-perfect homage to the spirit of the original film noir movies of the 1940s.
Directed by Claire Denis
Genre: War / Drama
Loosely adapted from Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, Beau Travail is a darkly poetic dreamy, detached visual poem. Claire Denis along with her regular cinematographer, Agnes Godard makes exceptional use of silences and stillness to set mood and suggest emotional layers. This is one of the most somber and gorgeous films to come out of the decade using few words but powerful images to tell the story. Denis’ movies have left me both mystified and fascinated but I think she is one of the world’s most gifted artists.
Directed by Sacha Gervasi
A touching, uplifting and inspirational rockumentary about an aging metal band. Anvil! has been described as the “real-life Spinal Tap” but it is better to say it is to metal what The Wrestler is to wrestling. A spectacular documentary that displays the camaraderie and passion that two musicians feel for their music in the face of continued rejection. There is something beautiful about people who dream big and yet something foolish.
Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci
I am just going to take a quite from legendary film critic Phillip French to sum up this film.
“ It’s an amusing, sophisticated movie, true to its times, cheerfully erotic, and played with unselfconscious conviction by its three young actors.”