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My Best Films of 2007…Finally!

The days keep going by and I keep delaying this piece, simply because there are too many things to do and not enough hours in the day. I don’t think I can even begin to be as comprehensive as Mike Tully has been and why should I try? Tully is Tully, as the saying goes! In addition to being a wide ranging look at cinema 2007, it’s basically a reference tool for those of us who have occasional holes in our memories and can’t remember all the films we’ve seen. Maybe I should keep a notebook…..
All in all, 2007 was one of the best years I can remember for films and there are still several that have been widly deemed noteworthy that I haven’t seen. So without further babbling, I will now pontificate some, wax rhapsodic some and spew the occasional invective, to wit:
The best film of 2007:
The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford, written and directed by Andrew Dominik
This is an extraordinary work of art, full stop. A true American classic (albeit one directed by a Kiwi) and one that, once I get some distance from it, will likely take its place on my all-time top 10 list. (Said list doesn’t really exist of course and would likely be 20-30 strong if it did.) I recently saw the film for a second time and I am begging Manohla Dargis and Kenneth Turan to go and see the film again. I’ve given up on Anthony Lane, Kirk Honeycutt and Lou Lumenick…hopeless, the lot. I mean, Honeycutt liked The Walker, for god’s sake!
I know quite a few devotees of this film and it might take some work to convince them that it actually gets even better on second viewing but it does. It’s an even more layered and nuanced portrayal of celebrity and the desperate urge it stirs in fans. The script is more lyrical and the characters more poetic and tragic.
This is the perfect film to relate to Tom Hall’s post about film length in The Back Row Manifesto. Yes, this film is 160 minutes long and no, I didn’t feel it a bit. This is coming from someone who tends to doze off repeatedly during the day, but this film held my interest, even in Toronto at 9am and hungover. The second viewing was simply just perfect.
In September I made a pledge to eat my hat if it doesn’t get 10 Oscar nominations and I guess I am going to have to break said vow. No way am I eating one of my hats. Who do you think I am, Werner Herzog? As it is, Casey Affleck picked up a nomination for best supporting actor (notwithstanding the fact that his performance is a leading one) and Roger Deakins got one for his stunning cinematography. Both have a chance of winning but of course that would require the Academy voters to actually see the damn film.
Much more after the jump!

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Sarasota 07: In the Shadow of the Moon

IMG_2900.jpgRegional film festivals all over the world need to take notice of how the Sarasota Film Festival does its thang. First of all, the opening night film, David Sington‘s brilliant In the Shadow of the Moon, was fantastic and Tom Hall, director of programming for this fest isn’t the only one who’s noticed. Festival programmers all over the country are opening their events with this film and the audience here was rapturous.
A compelling, moving and enlightening account of the Apollo space program told from the point of view of the astronauts who took part, In the Shadow of the Moon is the adult film for the 10 year-old “when I grow up, I’m gonna be a asta-naut!” inside us all. The film is further proof that there are still stories to be told, considering that there had, as yet, not been a film strictly about the Apollo program, narrative or doc. Rife with heretofore unseen footage from NASA’s archives, including footage shot by astronauts on the moon, the film is far more than a rote an accounting of the Apollo program. The personal accounting of the program and their missions by the 10 astronauts makes for compelling viewing, especially when Apollo 11 Command Module Pilot Michael Collins recounts what it was like being alone in the spacecraft while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin where making their famous moonwalk.

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