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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Year in Film, 2009

In my experience, 2009 was an average year for films, with few peak experiences. Most of the contenders for annual awards would struggle mightily against past winners. Even the standouts (or, should I say, “my favorites”) won’t make my Top 100 all-time list, though they fair well against the year’s competition. My general release favorites included The Hurt Locker, Nine, Up, A Single Man, The Road, Precious, An Education, The Blind Side, and maybe, Up In the Air. Small films that I liked, were Captain Abu Raed and One Peace at a Time, a documentary. The Palm Springs International Film Festival was its usual…a fantastic experience, with delightful fellow film goers, from near and far, but also reflective of 2009, in general. Some superb experiences, made whole by the appearances of writers, directors and some actors, a few excellent films, many very good ones, and the expected clinker or two, most often in the case of a country’s submission for an Oscar. This year’s clear winner of the PSIFF “razzie” is Dogtooth, an offensive and inane Greek import, though it had competition from the unfortunate The Misfortunates. My favorite small film was Letters to Father Jacob, the most enjoyable epics were Bride Flight and John Rabe, and the documentaries were simply sensational: The Most Dangerous Man In America, Learning From Light: I.M. Pei The Great Contemporary Art Bubble, and The Art of the Steal to name a few. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo did not disappoint, and the theaters were packed with many who had read the book. Sony plans English versions of all three “Girl…” novels…unfortunately, this probably means we will not get to see English subtitled versions of films two and three on the big screen. Other festival films we were glad to see included Rabia, Mother, Villon’s Wife, Chameleon, Mediterranean Food, Air Doll, Slovenian Girl, The Last Days of Emma Blank, Glorious 39, The Swimsuit Issue, About Elly, The Over the Hill Band, Vincere, North, and Excited. Films I missed, but will be look for in limited release or on Netflix include: Nobody to watch Over Me, Red Ridng trilogy, The White Ribbon, War in Wintertime, Welcome, A matter of Size, For a Moment, Freedom, Only When I Dance, My Dog Tulip, Medal of Honor, The Other Bank, Today’s Special, The World Is Big and salvation Lurks around the Corner, and Waking Sleeping Beauty.

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