[Last of 2008]

* Let the Right One In. Fantastic. Seriously. Go see it.

* Angel. I hated it. I went because of the director & because it was free, but I could not stand the lead character. Nor could I stand everyone else’s adoration of her. See 8 Women instead.

* Quantum of Solace. The crap reviews are all crap. It rocks. Also, Mathieu Amalric is the villain. How is that not awesome?

* Slumdog Millionaire. I have to be honest — I am not quite getting the showers of awards on this. It’s a formula film. A formula by Danny Boyle, and therefore formula with quite a twist & gorgeously filmed, but a formula just the same. It’s good, but in danger of acquiring the label “overrated”.

* Milk. This was actually more effective the second time. The first was a rough cut, though, so.

* Wild Child. Fascinating film about the wild boy of Aveyron, though it made me grateful for the Internet so I could learn What Happened Next.

* Frost/Nixon. I keep forgetting this was a Ron Howard film, because its Peter Morgan screenplay (adapted from Morgan’s play) is such a strong voice. (He wrote The Queen & The Deal, both of which also starred Michael Sheen, there as Tony Blair.) It’s excellent.

* The Godfather Part II. I hadn’t seen it before, so getting to see the restoration in the theater was amazing. I might almost like it better than Part I, thanks in no small part to the flashbacks with De Niro’s Vito, but I need to see both of them many, many more times to be sure.

… and I think that’s 67 in the theater this year, which is not as good as last year, but still Not Bad. I’ll probably want to see a few more of the end-of-year award contenders before I do my wrap-up. I am sure you are all waiting with bated breath.

[Three totally unrelated films]

* During the festival, a friend came up to Seattle and we went to Sex and the City. I know, I know. But I love the show, I do, and I wanted to know What Happens Next. But to me, it resembled nothing more than really bad fanfiction. Which is sad, because there is really good fanfiction for this show.

* At the festival someone handed out passes to what would turn out to be the first audience screening anywhere of Milk. I’ve never attended a test screening before, just lots of press ones, so that was an interesting experience in itself. I know a lot of folks doubt the casting of Sean Penn, and I did too, mostly because even though I can see that he’s a great actor, I can pretty much only see him as himself. And I must admit that in the film it went back and forth for me; sometimes he was Sean Penn, and sometimes he was Harvey Milk. He got more Milk as it went on, though, and like I said, I think a lot of this is in my head.

I did think that Emile Hirsch, James Franco, and Alison Pill were particularly great, and I will be interested in seeing it again when it comes out in December (!!) to see how it compares to this cut. I read on the IMDb, always a source of accurate information (heh) that they are shooting pick-ups still. So, we’ll see. There were some things I thought were off: the integration of Milk’s audio recordings was a little forced, for example. And there’s a little self-indulgent Van Sant slow motion. But there were also some glorious shots, like some where Milk & White were dwarfed by the magnificent interior of City Hall. I love that sort of thing, where the director doesn’t compromise a big screen vision for the sake of eventual small screen viewing.

But most of all, what I put on the survey afterwards is that it reminded me that it’s all right to still be angry. Probably not what the studio was looking for, but no less true for all that, and particularly notable leading up to this disgusting Seattle Pride weekend where everyone’s supposed to show queer unity or whatever by buying stuff. *spits*

* Finally, last night I trekked up to Shoreline for my last chance to see OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies. It was a last minute addition and surprise audience award winner at last year’s film festival, so I had been pretty much dying to see it. It’s a French James Bond parody, and it was worth the wait. Hilarious, with a side of ho!yay. Excellent! Probably would have been even better if my French wasn’t basically non-existent, but the subtitles were good. Hey! They’re shooting a sequel! Awesome. Also, I’d love to get my hands on some of the older OSS movies, even though the IMDb voters appear unimpressed.

[In theater part three: free movies]

And then are the movies I saw for free:

* In Bruges. Hated it. I was excited, because I loved “Six Shooter”, but no. Brendan Gleeson was really great, but the high point for me was probably the scene where the background music was Townes Van Zandt. Also, Bruges is a really pretty town, on film anyway.

* The Band’s Visit was disqualified from the Oscars because more than 50% of the dialogue was in English. Which is tragic. It’s a charming as hell little movie, funny and gentle and true, with, hands-down, the best courtship scene I have ever seen.

* Paranoid Park just didn’t do it for me. It’s gorgeous — how can it not be with Christopher Doyle lighting it? — but what should have been meditative felt repetitive.

* Young @ Heart was freakin’ FANTASTIC. It’s about the Young at Heart chorus, from Northampton, and it follows their rehearsals and lives leading up to a performance. I loved it to tiny bits, and if it doesn’t make you laugh and cry you have NO SOUL. I’m just saying.