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January 2009

Triumph of the Spirit, Human or Mechanical

W-123
Disney/Pixar

This has been a weird year for going to the movies in Britain. It seems that films distributed this year are either earth-shattering blockbusters or tiny little films – local films for local people, you might say. The usual Hollywood-focused distribution pattern was present and correct, although French and German do play in London, and Italian cinema seems to be getting stronger by the minute. For new faces, Johanna Wokalek stormed the screen in "The Baader-Meinhof Complex" before holding our gaze in "North Face;" she is definitely a talent to watch. As for British film, regrettably the maxims which make smaller British films normally such a bore and larger ones too Americanized to feel truly homegrown remain true. Fortunately the continued worldwide success of actors such as James McAvoy, Ray Winstone and Kristin Scott Thomas enables the industry to hold onto its vibrancy and importance.

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Old Heroes for a Strange New World

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Richard Foreman/Miramax Films

The year 2008 was very strong culturally, a big improvement on 2007. In the early months of the year, it seemed like quality films were being released every week and even the summer blockbusters were of a very high standard ("Wall-E" just misses out on my top 10). One notable omission from my list is "There Will Be Blood," which I very much expected to like but found it to be an arrogant, over-rated mess. I may well revisit it in future and learn to love it. I also didn’t think much to "Of Time and the City" and I haven’t yet managed to see "Gomorrah." Although "The Dark Knight" is the third best film of the year for me (solely as a film), in its Imax format I would elevate it to first position as the richest cinematic experience of the year.

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When Good Men Do Nothing

MOVIE REVIEW
Good (2008)

27-5153-Mortensen-station
THINKFilm

A radical concept lies at the heart of “Good,” the new film by Vicente Amorim adapted from the C. P. Taylor play. The notion is this: The Nazi party was not comprised entirely of evil men. Some of its members were in fact everyday citizens without any particular animosity towards Jews. At first such an idea proves startling, but upon deeper and more meaningful reflection it becomes apparent just how clearly valid it is.

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