Inland Empire [David Lynch, U.S.A.] Shot on amateur DV and self-distributed, this is David Lynch's most experimental movie in the thirtysomething years since Eraserhead. In movie-ville, it's also the most controversial film of the year. Manohla Dargis's gutsy rave was denounced by the National Review; a critic who walked out on the movie congratulated me on my pan. Say what? Seems that when I characterized Inland Empire as a miasma (that is, "a thick, vaporous atmosphere"), it was taken as pejorative. Anyone familiar with Lynch knows that there are good miasmas and bad.
Battle in Heaven [Carlos Reygadas, Mexico] "Just when you thought there might be little or nothing new under the projector-beam sun, Carlos Reygadas's Battle in Heaven ker-blams into town, discombobulating the small thinkers and smiting the wicked." So wrote Mike Atkinson when Tartan released it last winter. A Warholian impresario, Reygadas works without a screenplay to create existential situations under which non- professional actors are compelled to expose themselvessometimes cruelly on camera. From the opening blowjob to the climactic, equally real religious procession, this movie is a provocationconfrontational even in its tedium.
Ten Best lists are a priori arbitrary; there are a half-dozen other movies that, on any other day, could just as easily have been on mine. Thus tied for 11th place are Children of Men(Alfonso Cuarón, U.K.-U.S.A.), Fateless(Lajos Koltai, Hungary), Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, Spain), Letters From Iwo Jima(Clint Eastwood, U.S.A.), and United 93(Paul Greengrass, U.K.-U.S.A.). These are followed by nine Honorable Mentions: Gabrielle(Patrice Chéreau, France), Lunacy Jan Svankmajer, Czech Republic), Mutual Appreciation(Andrew Bujalski, U.S.A.), Night Watch(Timur Bekmambetov, Russia), The Proposition(John Hillcoat, Australia), Old Joy(Kelly Reichardt, U.S.A.), Our Daily Bread (Nikolaus Geyrhalter, Austria), The Queen(Stephen Frears, U.K.), and Three Times(Hou Hsiao-hsien, Taiwan).
Performances for the ages
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