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Summer ’06 Special Report

I did a lot of things this summer, including (as usual) watching movies. As to that, I see no reason to change my top ten system just because I’m not in school anymore. Three lists a year seems to work pretty well. However, I may eventually be whittling down the length of the list. As time goes on, I not only watch fewer movies (and, really, there’s no way I could keep up the original pace: 135+ movies in a single summer versus some 45 this summer) but I watch fewer good movies. As I exhaust my supply of movies I know are good, it becomes more difficult to pick out an instant hit. This is really a shame because in the early days I had to exclude some truly deserving movies from the top ten, and now there are some on the lists that perhaps are not as deserving as the nature of the list would imply. Be that as it may, I still saw some pretty good stuff this summer, and here is the list of my favorites:

Junebug

Man on Fire

The Right Stuff

Baby Doll

Anne of Green Gables

Reservoir Dogs

Syriana

House of Sand and Fog

Swimming With Sharks

Double Indemnity

I had seen three of these movies before: The Right Stuff, Anne of Green Gables, and Double Indemnity. I consider the latter to be among the greatest noir films ever made, starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, and the legendary Edward G. Robinson, all playing against type. It is a taut thriller, building up to the perfect murder, then following through as it all slowly unravels. It was finally released on DVD just last Tuesday, and I secured a copy “for my birthday” after scouring Longview to find it.

Undoubtedly my favorite new discovery of the summer was Junebug. I watched it three times. It is a hilarious but quiet indy flick about Yankee woman in charge of acquisitions for an Outsider art gallery who marries a Georgia boy and finally gets a chance to meet his quirky (but typically Southern) family when she travels South to woo an artistic prodigy. Anyone who has lived in the South should see it . . . it is full of people and scenes that you know quite well, lovingly brought to life on film.

Baby Doll was another Southern piece: a controversial, highly-volatile film, and the only work Tennessee Williams penned directly for the screen. It was a strangely fascinating movie, and its effect grew on me more and more as I thought it over afterwards. Most people would probably hate it for one reason or another, I suppose, but I thought it was quite riveting. It should hold an honored place in any Production Code marathon (a concept I’ve discussed before).

Finally, House of Sand and Fog was another surprising find . . . featuring some of the most powerful performances I’ve seen on film. Ben Kingsley is truly an amazing actor, and really the entire rest of the cast was great as well. The movie is a real downer (it made Rachel start sobbing, which did not bode well) but it is also incredibly moving. It features a very sobering illustration of the destructive power of good intentions and cultural gaps that still exist in even the most enlightened societies.

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~ by Jared on August 29, 2006.

3 Responses to “Summer ’06 Special Report”

  1. That’s kinda creepy: I’ve been working on-and-off this summer on an “independent paper” of my own. If I weren’t already sure (and proud) of my nerd/geek-hood, the fact that I am both writing my own and interested in reading yours would cement it for me.

    Incidentally…I sent you an email about a week ago; did you get it? I ask because I’ve sent several emails from my Gmail account the past month, and none have been answered; I’m afraid that either (1) Gmail is getting screwy :-/ or (2) my friends and acquaintances are ignoring me :-(.

  2. Double Indemnity ftw! Remember the first summer you stayed with me and we watched dozens of movies on AMC? Good times my friend, dang good dtimes.

  3. Kind of hard growing up and getting older. The things of childhood become things in our past…but at least you don’t have to worry about that yet or for lots of years to come. Enjoy you years of youth and young married life…that way there will be no regrets later on in life.

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