Thursday, April 06, 2006

Everyday I'm hustlin'

Top 5 Movies of the '06 First Quarter

IN ORDER

5. "Wordplay" -- Here's the FADER's take on this documentary about nerdy crossword puzzle culture, since theirs might be better than mine (since I haven't actually seen it in full yet): "We got our NPR on with Wordplay, a documentary about the country's best crossword players, centered around New York Times Crosswords Puzzle Editor Will Shortz and his annual crossword competition in Stamford, Connecticut. The Spellbound comparisons are both expected and warranted, but the film is jammed with the nerd humor we're convinced is the future of funny. Avid crosswordian Jon Stewart fucking murderalizes it during his guest segment, but other celebrity experts like the Indigo Girls and President William Jefferson Clinton offer little insight. Similes like 'solving problems is like solving the crossword puzzle' are pretty whatever, but baton twirling competitor Ellen Ripstein could supplant Nupur Lala as our top real world dork fixation."

4. "Inside Man" -- This is making some money (52.5 million in two weeks!) and its the first movie in a while that deserves to make that kind of money. It even beat ATL (the overhyped lifestyle movie that it is). "Inside Man" is Spike Lee's signature filmmaking at his most cleaned up: In a cream-colored suit (like Denzel in the movie) and coiffed. But no worries, Lee definitely hasn't lost his signature touch. He's not "going mainstream" or "selling out" just because this is his big payday. He's going to need the money for his Katrina documentary in August/September. This movie is ten times more subversive to the mind's of its middle American viewers than the schlocky-but-well-acted "V For Vendetta." "Inside Man" is mainstream cinema like it should be.

3. "Neil Young: Heart of Gold" -- Recently, Martin Scorsese swore off Hollywood films. He said he wants to focus on documentaries. Dubious, but maybe he thinks that's his way of winning an Oscar (finally) Jonathan Demme needs to do the same thing with concert films. It's not like he wouldn't make money at it, they're so hot right now. Dude's only done a handful (you know about "Stop Making Sense", "Storefront Hitchcock" maybe not so much) and has worked with Neil Young before. "Heart of Gold" is justification for Demme doing exclusively concert films-- its a touching, warm picture of not just Young's music, but his life.

2. "Why We Fight" I've posted on this before, so I'll just add this: It's the first-ever documentary on the military-industrial complex, so you can get your Marx on. Plus, in a possible attempt at (wait for it) post-Marxism, "Why We Fight" helps redefine the "military-industrial" complex as a trifectica: "military-industrial-political." Because the movie borrows its title from a series of what are ostensibly pro-American, WWII propaganda films, supposes a "military-industrial-political-entertainment" complex. Scary.

1. "Dave Chappelle's Block Party" -- I defy you not to feel joy while watching this movie. I watched it in a completely vacant theater, but with a sold out one I bet it's, like, ten times better.

It's strange how four of these five movies are non-fiction/documentary films-- two are even concert films. It seems like just about everything else I watch as far as Hollywood, or even arthouse/Cannes/Sundance/Miracle 5 fare, either patronizes or depresses me. These three movies either thrill your senses or ignite your intellect and imagination. Those are the kinds of movies for which I will gladly shell out $6 bucks.

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