I was faced with a choice, at a difficult age. Would I write a book, or should I take to the stage

Thursday, December 23


Being the end of the year, you surely do. And since we haven't punched out much in the way of film "appraisal" recently, can you possibly make do with a flippant little list of Fop's best films of 2004? CAN YOU? MAKE DO? Good.


The 10th best film of the year is Before Sunset. You know, we're not entirely sure about this one and have a feeling that some of the Melbourne Film Festival films are more deserving. But they didn't get a proper release here and we need Rules and Regulations, for a list. So, Before Sunset. Don't you think, when a film is unambitious in scope of narrative, such as two people walking and talking for an entire film, the result can be disarmingly affecting? Well, that happened here! 9th place is for Monster, due to all the great jokes acutely observed drama, lack of hyperbole and judgment in the storytelling and Charlize Theron being astonishing. Then in 8th place, how about Mean Girls? Surely 2004 will be known, in future, as the year that Lindsay Lohan started to get really good. If you were after great jokes involving the word "crack", Mean Girls has them, in spades! Yes. We believe we already banged on about Mean Girls a time ago and we must get cracking! 7th place, hello The Return. This is a grim little Russian film that we perhaps neglected to mention in one of the many neglectful periods this droning blog had this year. But can you imagine anything more rivetting than a couple of brothers being made to drive somewhere in the Russian wilds with their mysteriously reappeared father, and things getting a bit fraught and tensions running hilariously high? Why, of course not! We note that to see this film in Melbourne you might have had to go to Melbourne's most uncomfortable, but still best, cinema, The Lumiere. Angus mentioned a time ago (on his "Typepad"!) that a collection ought to be taken up for that cinema to get some more comfortable seats, and we hereby throw our weight behind this good suggestion. Now, where are we. Quick! 6th, is I Heart Huckabees, if only because of the wondrous Isabelle Huppert, and the high-larious antics of Naomi Watts when she refuses to make the Huckabees commercials in the correct "style". (The result of her character's unwillingness to make the conventional commercial is perhaps Fop's best filmic moment of the ENTIRE YEAR, and has certainly helped I Heart Huckabees up the chart.) Naomi Watts's nipples thankfully do not feature here. And 5th! It is In My Father's Den. New Zealand has really been banging out the good product, recently, hasn't it. You might like this one if you enjoy, say, a bit of a mystery, bit of a murder, some recriminations reverberating around a small town, some family secrets. It would, at least, be fair to say you mightn't be too pleased if you did not care for these items/features. Number 4 is Somersault. Australian film needs all the support it can get, and for this reason, we reserved the all-important number four place for an Australian film. And how pleasing, then, that Somersault actually deserves this place on its own, since it is quite brilliant! Some people might say, "Oh, nothing happens in this film and it is consequently boring! Where are the explosions, the gigantic fights, the great jokes?" Such shortsighted, tedious people would be better off watching, eg, any other film made in Australia this year. Nearly there, now. Are you still reading? Because we have, at number 3, My Life Without Me. The DVD box exclaims that Sarah Polley deserves an Oscar for her performance, and she actually DOES. She will obviously not get one, but this is an extraordinarily beautiful and disciplined film, and we love it. Did you know, Deborah Harry is in it? Well, it's true. Very good she is, also. And in second place, Elephant, which a pedant might bellow was released in 2003 and therefore has no place on the list. "OH DO SHUT UP," is our response to THAT. We carried on and on about this film earlier in the year. Check the archives for a flippant little review we tossed off in May or April this year, about this film. Somewhere around there. Very good, anyway.

AND FOP'S NUMBER ONE FILM for 2004, is clearly Pieces of April. Would you care for a little checklist, of what is good about this gorgeous film, our FILM OF THE YEAR? Well HERE:

* Patricia Clarkson is dying, in it, but her morbid sense of humour is as healthy as ever!
* Katie Holmes attempts to cook dinner for her long-suffering family, but can't seem to GET ANYTHING RIGHT! She can't even chop up a potato, bloody!
* Sean Hayes is willing to help her out! (And then, he isn't willing anymore, all of a sudden!)

* All the music is by Stephen Merritt from out of the Magnetic Fields! Did you know, he JUST LOVES ABBA? He does!
* Krispy Kremes donuts are a feature!

This is a quietly powerful masterpiece, this film. And so thriftily made! This is the sort of thing that we should be doing here in Australia, on digital video! But, of course, we don't seem to be, sadly. (Or perhaps we are, in which case, GREAT.)

So you see, 2004 was a year in which film offered a bit of everything! And at the same time, absolutely nothing.

Happy Christmas, viewers! Kindly "tie one on", for us! (We are hoping for albums by Amy's Winehouse and Gwen Stefani for The Jesus's Birthday, in case you're wondering, about it.)



At 12:42 am, Blogger Angus said...

Hmm, in fact I'm pretty sure I saw *The Return* in de luxe comfort at the Nova...I think the only time I went to the Lumiere this year was for *Safe* (which would be my number 1! Even though it's actually from 1995...). Anyway, great list, I certainly agree on the films I've seen. (Which is admittedly only 3 of them.)

At 10:00 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh just you WAIT until our film comes out! Just you wait!

Well, it's more a sitcom really...but it's still going to be great!


At 11:02 am, Blogger Jess said...

Merry Christmas Willface xx


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