Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Films of 2006

Yes Yes I know it's a little too late to actually list down my favourites of 2006, but it's just the way it is. Last year had not been the brightest year for movies (the summer sucks!) but there are a few movies that worth some mention:

It was a 2005 movie but since it was not shown in Malaysian cinemas you have to wait until early 2006 for its DVD release (in Malaysia, that is) and hence, for me, a 2006 movie. Paul Haggis brilliantly combined the stories of a group of unacquainted but somehow connected people across Los Angeles, which portray the racial tensions that happen in our daily lives, even in the so-called most liberal society and melting pot of California. Haggis was so diligent in addressing the racial issues, that audiences would have the "so true" feeling while watching the movie. At least, Malaysians wouldn't find it too estranged since we are also living in a multi-racial society, and some of the scenes wouldn't be looked too unfamiliar. Some say Crash robbed Brokeback Mountain of the Oscars Best Picture, but considering its universal values and political correctness (in opposed to the latter's gay theme), I can't be less agreed with them.

The Prestige

Everyone who has watched Christopher Nolan's Memento would have been "shocked and awed" by his brilliant screenplay and in his latest work The Prestige, we can see that Nolan has kept up his good effort in producing an adapted screenplay full of twists and surprises. The two leading actors, especially Christian Bale, have also been awesome in the movie. While the movie is all about fake magic by two conmen cum magicians, it is a real magic of its own. And the magician who performed it is Christopher Nolan.

Little Miss Sunshine
Little Miss Sunshine is a surprise movie, in the sense that a film with such low budget and simple story can draw such great attention. But really, it is a light hearted movie that sweeps away all your anxiety and grief, well, at least for a while. It is actually about a dysfunctional family going on a road trip to California just to attend a child beauty pageant. Abigail Breslin, who played Olive, is the most outstanding one among the actors but Steve Carrell, who played Olive's uncle Frank, also deserves some credit.

Munich is almost the same case as Crash, where most Malaysians can only watch the movie by 2006. Steven Spielberg, though a jew, has managed to view the Munich tragedy from the perspectives of both Israel and Palestine, and the only message he wished to convey is: an eye for an eye will not get both sides anywhere. And this is still rather true in the modern context, where the Middle East crisis is still in the deadlock as it was 20 years ago.

墨攻 (The Battle of Wits)
Definitely the best performance by Andy Lau of all his previous movies. No offense, but even his role at Running Out of Time which brought him Best Actor in HK Film Awards can't quite match this. Also kudos to director Zhang Zhiliang who successfully portrayed a wartime story with strong storyline unlike the likes of Curse of the Golden Flowers or The Banquet which depend heavily on exaggerated stunts and luxury costumes. Chinese film's hope it is.

我要成名 (My Name is Fame)
This is a film neglected, or worse still, forgotten by many people, including the film critics, all due to super-low publicity, contrary to its name. Lau Ching Wan is as superb as ever in terms of acting (always wonder why he has yet to receive Best Actor when Andy Lau can grab two of them) but the one who really stood out was newcomer Huo Siyian. This movie is so low profile that it should not be expected to be even nominated for any awards. But as Lau in the movie said (might be his real thought as well), an actor should try his best in depicting a role and if he does, he is already successful regardless of receiving an award or not. In that sense, Lau is already my Best Actor.

放.逐 (Exiled)
You will seldom get disappointed by a Johnie To's movie. Exiled is a movie about brotherhood and friendship, a theme used by many HK filmmakers but not many can quite compare themselves against this movie, except John Woo's 80s like A Better Tomorrow. Exiled took a similar taste as that of To's another movie, The Mission although Woo had denied any connection between the two films. The fact is, while the characters look all the more same, the filming style is not quite the same. A rare and brilliant HK film, in short.