The Movie of the Year 2009: Climaxes

The Black Hole

I hate missing the ending, so as a conclusion to my interim reflections on the year so far, let’s get to the climaxes.  (Trying my best to avoid spoilers, but read the following at your own risk):

THE MOVIE OF THE YEAR CLIMAXES

Moon: When Sam emulates Dave Bowman’s ultimate trip, but instead of experiencing terror, he’s whopping and hollering like a child on a rollercoaster; the most delightful homage to Kubrick I think I’ve seen.

The moment when Ric O’Barry interrupts a lie by wearing a television in ‘The Cove’.

The last section of ‘Inglourious Basterds’, which appears to be pushing the audience to face what we might prefer to ignore: that when we watch violence as entertainment, we may be complicit in its real world analogue.  (This section begins with an extraordinary image of a woman in a red dress [of the kind that Rita Hayworth used to be sewn into], smoking a cigarette, framed against the window of a cinema projector; the fact that said window seems to have been imported from the Emperor’s decompression chamber in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, and that the music that accompanies the scene was written by David Bowie and Giorgio Moroder thirty-eight years after the events depicted in the film took place in Tarantino’s imagination only serves to heighten the sense of both the universality of the film’s point, and the fact that ‘Inglourious Basterds’ might be the most aesthetically rich and philosophically profound film released so far this year.)

The climax of ‘Mary and Max’, the astonishing Sundance opener that regrettably still doesn’t have a US release date; one of the most honest unbroken vision of how life ends, and life goes on that I’ve seen in a movie.

The ‘Gojira’ exclamation by Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow at the end of ‘Anvil’ – the only heavy metal documentary that will make you cry (let me grant the fact that I’m not an expert on heavy metal documentaries); with admiration for the titanic struggle of these guys to do what they do best, and the vicarious pleasure one takes from imagining that the life of a film blogger might one day be as exciting as playing for free to an audience of 12 in a Prague basement club.

The very last image of ‘The Hurt Locker’ – revealing violence-inspired adrenaline as an addiction that will not be ended without the wisdom of old men like Clint.

END CREDITS

Speaking of Clint, you’d have to go far to get a more enveloping and meaningful end credits sequence than the one that has him singing over the embers of ‘Gran Torino’; an actor getting to control his swan song at the end of a film that reconciles the past violence of his iconic characters with the need for someone to end it.

The coruscating static camera throughout the end credits of ‘In the Loop’, observing the business-as-usual scene in the UK civil service, bureaucrats wandering in a formal haze, as if they haven’t just legitimized a war that will kill hundreds of thousands of people, dilute the moral credibility of their own nation, and make the world less safe than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Having said all this, the best experience I had in a cinema was my once every three or four-yearly revisitation of ‘Lawrence of Arabia‘, whose ‘funny sense of fun’ gets more disturbing each time I see it; my virginal encounter with ‘Andrei Rublev‘, whose scene of medieval town-sacking is one of about seven hundred reasons why Jett’s weekly statement about it might be unarguable.  But, as far as elevated aesthetic experiences go, none of these matched the sense of delirium I had last week in the presence of the Sun Ra Arkestra, their heavy horns pounding out the kind of sound you might expect to greet you in jazz heaven.  Having said that, I’m going to see a movie at a festival at the end of next week that happens to be the first film I ever saw, and one that I haven’t seen on a cinema screen since 1979.  I don’t know if the ‘The Black Hole‘ holds up as a coherent movie; but I’m hoping that the part of me that was captivated by cinema as a four year old kid thirty years ago gets to live again for a night.  And if you’re in or near North Carolina, you should join me.  If you do, you’ll get to see this:

The Black Hole planl

And why on earth would you want to miss that?

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