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My Favourite Movies in 2009


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I am a few days late in writing this… but just feel like writing down some of my thoughts on the best movies I have watched in 2009.  The list is personal, not in any order (except the no.1 movie for me)  and is by no means everybody’s choices… Happy reading.

 

10. Up

The centre of most animated movies is never about an old naggy man… til UP came along.  This is one film that embodies all aspects of life – youth, growing up, suffering ailments, death, love gain, love lost.  There is a 10min sequence I don’t think has ever been attempted in any animated films.  With no dialogue, the sequence poignantly summarises 2 lives.  I was always bothered with the final part where the ‘villain’ fell to his death presumably.  Isn’t that a disturbing scene for kids?  Then my pastor friend muses that he is already ‘dead’, he was so into clearing his name by finding the bird that he never notices the beauty around him.  I thought that was a wonderful point.  Cried, laughed and absolutely LOVE this.

 

9.  Let The Right One In

After watching the movie, I can still remember this group of teenagers applauded it… sarcastically.  It’s obvious that they were expecting another SAW or Final Destination movie… Sure there were some scares but to judge it at just that level is a shame.  The movie is bleak and wintry, and embedded in the incredible creepy atmosphere is a tender love story between 2 kids (who are not professional actors).  The movie never fully explains everything (eg. Who is the old man that takes care of the vampire girl?) and it doesn’t need to.  This film also lays claim as to why vampires needed to be ‘invited’ into a house before they could step in and that scene is real cool.  I can never forget the final scene at the swimming pool – absolutely inspired resolution.  But this is not quite a perfect watching experience, there are some instances where side characters are not fleshed out before they start to feature prominently.

 

8.  Zombieland

I thought nobody could ever make another hilarious zombie movie like Shaun Of The Dead.  I was dead wrong.  The first-time director didn’t try to make another Shaun but he took the zombie conventions and surprisingly made a cool movie about how to survive in a land filled with zombies and more.  Great cameo scene too. 

 

7.  Suspect X

This is not a whodunit because right from the onset, you already know who the murderer is and why it happened.  So this is a journey about how to cover up when a great detective investigates.  What a journey this is!  My wife and I couldn’t stop discussing about it even after the movie ends.  I particularly enjoyed the performance of the Math professor.  Months later, he was in another movie called Climbers’ High and he looked and acted so differently from Suspect X.  There was only one thing that kind of took me out of the movie – weird use of jazz music that I feel went against the flow of the movie.  You be the judge of that Ok.

 

6.  The Fall

This is so beautifully framed that almost any of the story-telling sequence looks like a postcard of an exotic spot.  It’s just such a shame that the film was not released in Singapore cinemas.  This is the type of movie that you need to invest your entire attention to all the details and everything will make absolute sense at last.

 

5.  500 Days Of Summer

To call this spunky movie a rom-com will be a terrible injustice.  This movie reminds me of the time when I first lay eyes on a girl that I like and all the emotional tumbles that go with getting to know her to falling out of love gradually.  So refreshing that it’s such a breath of fresh air.

 

4.  District 9

The fact that this film actually addresses the Apartheid and racism issues is very clear.  But it’s so cool and creative that the director chose to use the sci-fi genre to broadcast it.  Intelligently made and the budget used for the CGI is just a fraction of Transformers 2 and it doesn’t show.  Goes to show that if cheap CGI is used wisely to serve the story, it can be a much better movie.  So unlike, Transformers 2 which was so ridiculous… please don’t let me start on that stupid movie.

 

 

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3.  An Education

This is about a teenaged girl who is tempted to the ‘dark side’ type of story.  We have seen movies of this sort and most of them will always be geared towards melodrama with hankies-a-plenty, but this is so tenderly done that it never once becomes cliché.  Carey Mulligan is a complete revelation in her role as the girl, an embodiment of calculated impetuous and worldly weariness.  Come Oscar time, I will be rooting for her but she will probably not win in her first major role.  The rest of the cast was amazing too, I sure learn a few things about talking to your daughter from Alfred Molina.  A wonderful script written by Nick Hornby (High Fidelity), one of my favourite writers.

 

2.  3 Idiots

I watched this on New Year’s Eve and it absolutely deserved to be in my top 10 this year.  Seldom does a movie make me laugh and cry.  This is my only second time venturing into Bombay Talkies at Shaw Towers and came out learning a lot about what education is all about.  Sure… there are foot tapping melodies and mass dancing (in a toilet no less) but they serve the story well.  Some of the dialogue and scenes are truly inspired. I love this… as I write this, the song is still in my head.  If I did interest you in seeing this, go check it out at the cinema mentioned.  It’s truly an authentic experience and did I say it has an intermission.  Yeh… it does… and the interval comes at a point I was at the edge of my seat.  BRILLIANT.  But they should have done a better movie poster eh.

 

1.  Departures

After watching this movie early this year, I couldn’t get it out of my head.  So I wrote an article to share my thoughts and it was published in ST but edited.  I thought it’s fitting to include the entire unedited piece here:

 

When I watched the trailer for Departures, I could surmise the plot immediately – guy loses job, guy finds a job as a “encoffiner”, guy learns job, guy is ashamed of job, finally guy (and all those around him) understands job and finds enlightenment.  How many times have we seen films of this sort?  However I find myself totally immersed and vested in Diago’s ((Masahiro Motoki) personal journey.  I wonder if it is because I lost my father some years ago but over the course of the film, I found myself totally captivated by the themes of death, living, reconciliation and forgiveness.

 

Many a time in Japanese films, we see it going one of two ways (I know I am over generalising here but it does feel like the trend in the new Japanese trailers I have seen).  It is either bogged down by overbearing melodrama or geared towards ridiculous campiness.  Departures is neatly balance between the two ends of the spectrum.  Suffice to say that humour was even embedded in the morbid subject of death.  I was kept enthralled by the ritualistic, graceful, dignified preparation of the deceased, all done in full view of the family members.  I found myself with the full knowledge that the whole funeral process is as much for the deceased as it is for the living.

 

This is a well-crafted film that is told in beautiful metaphors, so unlike the numerous films out there that spoon feed and ‘tells’ us everything, instead of trusting us to understand what is going on.  For instance, the final scene is shown through slow calculated actions and gestures to soaring music, with no dialogue and yet I am sure not one person in the cinema fails to be moved by it and takes away some personal lesson from it (the only other time I can remember a director uses this technique in an ending was A History of Violence).

 

Pay close attention to how the director, Yujiro Takita frames Diago each time he comes home and rest alone just above the stair landing.  Ponder also on the numerous metaphors (food, sex, nature etc) he puts in after scenes of dealing with the dead.  Linger your eyes on the physical positions of Diago’s wife, Mika as she observes her husband in action twice.  Without the use of dialogue and cliché scenes of the wife coming to terms with the morbidness of her husband’s profession, we know in our heart and mind her decision with regard to the profession.  I don’t know about other cinema-goers but I find it so refreshing to be engaged in heart, mind and soul throughout a film and not having it dumb down for me.

 

Departures is one movie that I have seen this year that moved and entertained me in almost equal measures.  I came out of the cinema falling in love with life all over again and loving my profession even more.  

 

The Rest

Some of the other movies that I liked are:

Avatar , State Of Play, Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea, Mary & Max, Taken, Slumdog Millionaire, Vengeance, Fireproof, Last Chance Harvey, Tokyo Sonata, Fantastic Mr Fox

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  • 5 weeks later...

8.  Zombieland

I thought nobody could ever make another hilarious zombie movie like Shaun Of The Dead.  I was dead wrong.  The first-time director didn’t try to make another Shaun but he took the zombie conventions and surprisingly made a cool movie about how to survive in a land filled with zombies and more.  Great cameo scene too. 

 

ditto, ditto, ditto. Awesome.

 

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Thanks for all the candid comments. Incidentally An Education is back inthe cinema. I think at Vivo GV. On the opposite side of best movies, one of the worst movies I have seen last year was Funny People. I had so much anticipated hopes for it since it was Judd Apatow. I tot this was one guy who is invincible after 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up etc. This was e only movie Tat I watched together with my trusty watch, wondering wen it would jus end. It jus droned on for 2 hrs plus and it's called Funny People and I din laugh one single bit

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Guest stwessed

yup! it does seem you have good taste in movies too (:

 

will you include hongkong classic movies in your list? ;D

 

like full throttle? drunken master?

 

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just a suggestion to TS... Maybe it'll be better to rename yr thread title to "My All Time Favourite Movies" or something along those lines?... so that there'll be more folks listing their favourites here... I'll state mine...

 

God Father I, II

Shawshank Redemption

Labamda

Braveheart

V For Vendetta

The Terminator

Aliens

The Crow

Point Break

Thelma n' Louise

Chungking Express

Wall Street

Strange Days

集结号 ( Assembly Trumpet )

The Devil's Advocate

Apocalypse Now

Vanilla Sky

Pan's Labrynth

City of Lost Children

Life is Beautiful

The American Gangster

American History X

Dark City

Se7en

Eraser Head

Shao Lin Soccer

The Incredibles...

 

There are more movies I like, but these are some that I can think of now...

 

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Great list of movies. I have watched all of it except Lambada. U r right abt it being in a diff thread. I am consolidating my thoughts and weedling down my list to 20 and doing a short write up for them. Perhaps u can repost this fantastic list there Next week

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  • 2 weeks later...

 

Finally caught this movies. All I can say is that this is one of the most beautiful movies that I've seen in a long, long time - and truly deserves all the accolades that it has garnered. Acting, directing and the music score is all 10/10. A must see. For everyone.

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