January 05, 2007

Movies of 2006 for shut-ins.

The No-Politics Friday (tm) continues into 2007 while looking back on 2006. Starting a little over a year ago, I moved above a second-run dollar theater whose manager was also my landlord. So for a period I saw nothing but bad second-runs movies while getting free popcorn. Halfway through I moved to Champaign, Il, where my access to quality cinema was practically nonexistent (though I do thank the local art theater for trying its best). However, my roommate just got a television that could only be described as bitchin (and, god bless us everyone, it was an open-box special at Circuit City), which makes it a perfect time to catch up on movies via DVD.

So, as I've seen virtually no good new movies this past year, and am in a perfect position technologically and emotionally to watch a lot of high-definition dvds in my living room, the question goes to you: What were the best movies of 2006? Please answer in the comments, my netflix queue is hungry and wants to be fed.

Now of course I lied; I have seen some good movies in 2006 and would like to share them with you.


I'm glad to see Ryan Gosling break big as an actor, something I've been waiting for since he first made waves in the excellent "The Believer" (1999). Watching several talented actors face the brutality of inner-city poverty, addiction and the drug trade makes for a rough movie-going experience. The emotional impact is overwhelming; days later you may still be torn between whether to think "[Gosling is] charismatic, multifaceted, and sincere, and we can’t really dismiss him without dismissing some part of ourselves" or "[Half-Nelson is part of] a series of new, grotesquely condescending movies..trumpet whites’ hidden resentment about blacks’ troubling, irremediable social status...hipster masochism."

Our Brand is Crisis

The best feature about Iraq I saw in 2006 was about the 2002 Bolivian election. In this documentary, the dark twin of The War Room (1993), camera crews follow the consulting team of "Greenberg, Carville, Shrum" as they attempt to win the Bolivian election for their client with the aid of modern political consulting equipment.

I knew of the movie before I saw it, and I was surprised by how drawn I was to Jeremy Rosner, the consultant who forms the center story. There's no bad faith or shameless profiteering on his part; he believes that what he is doing will ultimately aid democracy in South America. It is not hard to see in Bolivia echoes of the current political fallout in Iraq - where exporting democracy seems to be a series of color-coordination, negative aids from crafted third-parties, chi-squared evaluation of a candidate's honesty appeal, focus-group vetted slogans and controlling the terms of the debate, and how none of these things seem to be a match for deep-seated grievances on poverty, joblessness and cultural differences. You can hear in Rosner's post-election interview what we are already hearing from the neocons who thought democracy would triumph by default in Iraq.

Dave Chappelle Block Party

In a year where everything seemed to be falling apart, and where many of the best movies involved the worst of times (see above), seeing great musicians playing a street concert, doing what they love, with everyone having a great time, is a perfect antidote. One of the best concert films I've seen - the dvd has full performances of many of the songs, and they can be worked into a full-length viewing of the movie. Highly recommended.

So that's me. Your suggestions?

Posted by Mike at 01:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)
From The Archives:


Gun's Goin Off - Brokeback Mountain

Batman Begins

Movie Review: Star Wars III - Return of the Exhaustion

My Favorite 2004 Moments: Documentary, LA Plays Itself

Shaun of the Dead: An Exchange

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

harold and kumar go to white castle

a plea to Frederick Wiseman, asking him to cashout

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy

Spider-Man 2

Fahrenheit 9/11.

two documentaries

Tarantino's Universe

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind