Time Out's 101 Films of the Decade â Part 2, with reactions from Peter Jackson, David Fincher, Guillermo del Toro and moreâ¦
In part two we slash and stab with David Fincher, smash and grab with Fatih Akin, and run like hell with Werner Herzog.
90. The Death of Mr Lazarescu (2005, Rom)Directed by Cristi Puiu A compassionate tale of life on society's fringesPlayed out more or less in real-time, this marvellous second feature chronicles the last few hours in the life of a sixtysomething man (Ion Fiscuteanu) who lives alone, with his cats and his super-strong booze, in a Bucharest flat. It begins with him complaining of a headache and nausea; his neighbours call an ambulance, which eventually arrives and takes him to a succession of hospitals all preoccuppied in dealing with the carnage of a car pile-up. Besides proffering a perfectly plausible portrait of the Romanian health services, Puiu also moves beyond social concerns with an account of life’s fragility and vulnerability that is subtly and persuasively philosophical. The performances are excellent throughout, the dialogue and mise-en-scene frighteningly true to life (and its gradual, inevitable departure) – albeit imbued, at the same time, with wit, warmth and great compassion for all involved in the story. GARead the Time Out review
89. Head-On (2003, Ger)Directed by Fatih AkinA nerve-jangling tale of booze-soaked mid-life rebellion With ‘Head-On’, German-Turkish director Fatih Akin announced himself as the filmmaker of choice for those liquored-up souls with a kamikaze attitude to existence. This throbbing, Germany-set tale of an amour fou between a soused, 40-something roustabout (Birol Ünel) and a prim younger woman looking to rebel against her strict religious parents (Sibel Kekilli) is fast lane filmmaking where every moment throbs with a coiled sexual passion that could any moment spill over into violence. The fact that one of the leads graphically slashes her wrists with a broken beer bottle within minutes of the film starting should give you some idea of Akin’s intentions: to use everything in his arsenal to rattle your brain. DJRead the Time Out review
88. Grizzly Man (2005, US)Directed by Werner HerzogTeddy bears picnic turns ugly for one enthused eco-warriorThis decade’s entrenchment of documentary features as part of mainstream cinema-going has been a boon for Werner Herzog, whose interest in monomaniacal struggles against the universe has never been limited to fictional characters. This extraordinary example uses footage taken by Timothy Treadwell, self-appointed champion of and eventual square meal for Alaska’s grizzly bear community. BW
Read the Time Out review
87. You Can Count on Me (2000, US)Directed by Kenneth LonerganLonergan and Linney put the fun in dysfunctionalAs the decade dawned, Kenneth Lonergan seemed like the future of cinema: his scripts for ‘Gangs of New York’ and ‘Analyze This’ had attracted big names and even bigger budgets, his stage play ‘This Is Our Youth’ was inspiring glowing reviews, and his filmmaking debut seemed to have the Original Screenplay Oscar in the bag. Taking the conventions of the US indie-comedy-drama (family strife, small towns, acoustic score) and creating something wonderfully witty, heartfelt and insightful, ‘You Can Count on Me’ deserved to make a bigger splash. It wasn’t to be: the film had its fans, but few of them sat on the Academy jury, and Lonergan retreated from the scene: his long-awaited follow up ‘Margaret’ is set for release next year. THRead the Time Out review
86. I'm Not There (2007, US)Directed by Todd HaynesKeep a good head and always carry a lightbulbAs much about the music as the man, as much about the legend as the truth, Todd Haynes’s captivating, kaleidoscopic take on the lives, loves and lyrics of Bob Dylan stands as one of the decade’s few genuine originals. Like its irascible subject, ‘I’m Not There’ has its share of flaws, and you’d need a degree in Dylanology to get every one of Haynes’s myriad references, but this is an entrancing, poetic and furiously intelligent film, both in its attitude towards and depiction of the creative process, and in its carefree manipulation of both audience expectations and the narrative form. TH Todd Haynes on ‘I’m Not There’: ‘There was no possible way of doing it without Dylan’s songs, and I wouldn’t even have tried. The film has a spirit that I feel Dylan would appreciate. It's not over-reverent and over-worshipful and laden with that whole… Dylan thing.’Read the Time Out review
85. All or Nothing (2002, GB)Directed by Mike Leigh More secrets and lies with Leigh's loveable losers
Mike Leigh said that his previous film, ‘Topsy-Turvy’ (1999), was a last chance to look back nostalgically over his shoulder before entering the gleaming new century, and with ‘All or Nothing’ the British writer-director fulfilled his implicit promise to deal with the here and now of contemporary life. There’s no escaping that this portrait of several lives on and around a south London council estate (and filmed on one such disused estate) is, for much of its running time, a bleak affair. Cabbie Timothy Spall and his supermarket worker wife Lesley Manville can barely make ends meet, while the love seems to have disappeared entirely from their marriage. Their children are overweight, and the neighbours also have their own problems (alcohol, low self-esteem, violence)… But out of all this gloom emerges the most heartbreaking, rewarding glimmer of hope: a suggestion that lost love can be rediscovered, families can come back together and life can be, well, alright if you try just a little bit harder. Critics like to call Leigh ‘miserablist’. I don’t think so. DCRead the Time Out review
Mike Leigh on 'All or Nothing': 'I think "All or Nothing" is one of the most sophisticated films I've ever made. It's one of the hardest for me to talk about because it comes from feelings, no a starting "idea". It is about love, although I'd contend that all my films in one way or another have been about love. It's also about loneliness, how we lose track of our feelings.'
84. Zodiac (2007, US)Directed by David FincherThere's a killer on the road...Cinema is rarely as clean and clinical as this: Fincher’s scalpel-sharp take on the spate of unsolved killings which shocked ’70s San Francisco is a work of near-Kubrickian precision, from its flawlessly detailed set decor and bold, unflagging script to some wonderfully understated and selfless central performances. This is filmmaking with zero frills, as focused and relentless as its absentee title character, and almost as terrifying: the scene with Ione Skye driving alone at night ranks as one of the decade’s most disturbing. TH
David Fincher on the Zodiac case: ‘I won’t say that the case was botched, because I think the people who worked on it deserve better. But it’s tragic that it turned out the way it did. I don’t think we’ll ever know the answers. This may be my particular perversity, but for me, those stories are the most interesting.’
Read the Time Out review
83. Werckmeister Harmonies (2000, Hungary)Directed by Béla TarrWhat arthouse cinemas were built forBéla Tarr’s ‘Werckmeister Harmonies’ was something of a miniature arthouse hit when it was released in UK cinemas, but only those who’ve seen the film will be able to fathom what a victory that was for quality European auteur cinema. Filmed – as is customary for Tarr – in severe monochrome and edited at, shall we say, an ‘unhurried’ pace, like his masterpiece ‘Satantango’, the film offered a hellish vision of societal breakdown, as a young drifter (Lars Rudolph) navigates his way through a desolate Hungarian township whose populace have been captivated by a large freight container, inside which is a stuffed whale carcass. To describe Tarr’s cinema as a mixture of Tarkovskian spiritualist metaphor and Gilliam-esque grotesquery would be reductive (and, in some minds, plain wrong), as there’s a unique otherness to his work that deifies easy categorisation. While this is the dictionary definition of ‘a tough watch’, if you’re not instantly mesmerised by the opening shot, where pub full of grubby drunks (another Tarr staple) are made to act out the planetary movements of the solar system, then we’d suggest you head back to your ‘Happy Gilmore’ DVD. DJRead the Time Out review
82. Time Out (2001, Fr)Directed by Laurent CantetHey, Laurent! Great title!He may have nabbed the Palme d’Or for ‘The Class’ in 2008, but Cantet had already proven his mastery seven years earlier with this painfully sad tale of a working family man who secretly decides to take leave of his daily routine and sit in his car doing nothing at all. Blessed with a fine central performance from Aurélien Recoing, the film traces how cracks in his bizarre charade begin to form, but Cantet’s interest goes far deeper, viewing the notion of work as one of a number of psychological traumas we unknowingly suffer day-to-day. DJ Read the Time Out review
81. The Barbarian Invasions (2003, Can)Directed by Denys ArcandPhilosophical Canadian melodrama? Yes please!In 1986's ‘The Decline of the American Empire’, Quebec director Arcand’s brilliant sweet-sour commentary on every cliché from philosophical Francophone discussion to the male sex drive was Oscar-nominated; with this belated sequel, he finally collected. Rémy, the sex-mad professor whose deceits made the first film so pungently entertaining, is dying – and as before, this is less an event in itself than an excuse for a great deal of marvelously sharp verbal interaction, as his old friends and family gather at the bedside. If this basic scenario brings to mind mawkish Hollywood weepies, forget it: this movie may well make you cry, but it’s the dialogue, not the dying, that you’ll remember. NCRead the Time Out review Click here for 80 through to 71...
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