Films

Published on January 7th, 2007 | by Hans Fruck

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The Fruck Report: The Best of 2006

Everyone else who writes in a magazine or newspaper or on a website is publishing their best-of lists, so I thought I’d join the party. By my standards, I haven’t seen that many films this year, but that’s not gonna stop me… As for albums, well, I’m a bit hazy on what was actually released in 2006 and can’t be fucked digging through my collection, so I’m gonna rely on my memory. In which case, the list will be completely fucked. But let’s save the negativity till you’ve read my list, OK? (Jesus.)

FILMS

1. The New World

(Director: Terrence Malick)

Years ago, when I first saw The Thin Red Line, I was distinctly underwhelmed. It was Malick’s first film in 30 years and the hype was enormous, but I was unmoved. My lasting impression was a film that dragged its feet, with lots of digressions and windy philosophising. Still, when The New World came out, I went and saw it — if nothing else, I knew it’d be pretty to look at, and with me, that’s always half the battle.

Holy fuck, was I mesmerised. I barely even blinked. The New World tells the story of Pocahontas and her English lover, Captain Smith. The actress playing Pocahontas, Q’Orianka Kilcher, was only 14 years old during filming, and she’s astounding. Even Colin Farrell (I’m not a fan) is tolerable as Smith. It’s a beautifully shot, edited, and scored film about the meeting of two different cultures, and about two love stories, with Pocahontas at the centre of both.

If you put all the bottles of alcohol that the Baron has drunk this year end to end, that’d be the gap between this film and the next best. No, I’m not exaggerating. In fact, I liked this film so much that I went and rewatched The Thin Red Line, which I’ve now decided is even better than The New World and is my equal favourite film of all time.

The film that launched a thousand lame parodies.

The film that launched a thousand lame parodies.

2. Brokeback Mountain

(Director: Ang Lee)

I was devastated when I watched this and loved it. Dev-a-stated. I was primed to loathe it. All the necessary factors required for full-blown hatred were there. It had perhaps the most overrated director on the planet: Ang Lee. It was the cause celebre of the chattering classes — I’m still convinced some of them burnished their own self-opinion by going out of their way to gush over this film. And it also had a shitload of prepublicity, which always preemptively turns me against a film. Sigh. It was not to be…

Simone, whose review is here, had the underwhelmed reaction I expected to have. But I loved it. Ledger, to my surprise, was great, and the love story was affecting. A great film — definitely much better than Crash, which beat it for Best Picture at the Oscars.

3. The Constant Gardener

(Director: Fernando Meirelles)

From a novel by John Le Carre and filmed by the director of City of God, The Constant Gardener is a brilliantly photographed and acted piece on the rape and pillage of Africa by Western multinationals, with the connivance, of course, of corrupt local governments and amoral Western governments. Rachel Weisz is sublime, Danny Huston ickily charismatic, and Ralph Fiennes stammeringly effete (but not nauseatingly so).

This is a sad, sad film — both for the personal story at the film’s heart and the wider context of corruption, exploitation and poverty that it conjures into view.

Local weather’s a bitch.

Kirsten Dunst's rival film "An Inconvenient Tooth" fared less well at the box office

Kirsten Dunst’s rival film “An Inconvenient Tooth” fared less well at the box office

4. An Inconvenient Truth

(Director: Davis Guggenheim)

OK, it’s a documentary, but I’m still counting it. I don’t have much to say about this. It’s timely; it’s eloquent; and it makes me wish Al Gore was in the White House. (I guess these days everybody’s in that particular boat.) Some people have criticised Gore for being silent on the environmental record of the Clinton administration, while criticising the record of his political adversaries. I must admit, I wasn’t conscious of him doing so. Instead I was sitting there getting increasingly alarmed as Gore unfurled his lecture. And I wonder if people who were tallying Republican v Democrat score were, you know, missing the point. When weather patterns change, icecaps melt, mass extinctions happen, and sea levels rise, it’s gonna affect us all, no matter what our political affiliation.

5. Borat

(Director: Larry Charles)

Funny as. I have a limited tolerance for cringe humour. After a while, I find it excruciatingly embarrassing and unpleasant. Accordingly, there were times when I just couldn’t watch Borat or, at best, peeked between my fingers. But on at least three or four occasions I laughed till I had tears rolling down my cheeks.

I only hope that Sacha Baron Cohen isn’t tempted into doing a sequel. Borat is a oncer. Don’t fuck up everyone’s fond memories by repeating it all to an audience that will know what to expect next time round.

The scene called for a level five powerbrow

The scene called for a level five powerbrow

6. The Departed

(Director: Martin Scorcese)

Hollywood remake on a recent Hong Kong film, Infernal Affairs. Scorcese’s slumming it a bit with The Departed. It’s not a ‘serious’ film, more of a genre piece. But it’s an exceptionally good genre piece. DiCaprio is great. It’s trendy to dislike him, but he’s truly one of the best actors on the planet. The plot is complicated and silly, but satisfying; and although humour isn’t something I associate with Scorcese, this has some hilarious moments. (Alec Baldwin, who’s a legend, is fucking comedy gold in this film.)

7. Casino Royale

(Director: Martin Campbell)

Pure popcorn, and I loved it. I couldn’t believe producers cast Daniel Craig as Bond, but he’s made me a believer.

–Hans


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