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in Filmmaking
on Dec 21, 2008

I asked some of our editors and contributors to send me their lists, recaps or even just random thoughts on the past year in film. I’ll be running them over the next few days, starting with Peter Bowen’s, below.

Strange that in such turbulent political times so few films deal head on with specific crises. Instead some of the most interesting films captured our time as nostalgia, symptom, suggestion, allegory, fable. Most of the films I found most resonant speak to our times by avoiding the subject. These are not in order of importance, but interest.

Milk: Long before Prop 8, it was clear that lesbians and gays needed a hero, and not another fund-raising congressional lobby group.

Waltz with Bashir: For Marx, history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce, but here it arrives as a cartoon.

Wendy and Lucy: The systemic failure of America capitalism is revealed in the fate of a dog. Hard to imagine how Marley and Me will top that.

Wall-E: Sometimes it takes one rusty trash-compacting robot to make us realize our inhumanity and our potential to care.

Man on Wire: One of the most forceful statements about 9/11 and the world it spawned comes from a movie that never mentions that date.

Standard Operating Procedure: Leave it to Errol Morris to create an epistemology of torture by asking about who is creating the photographic frame and criminal frame up at Abu Ghraib.

Happy Go Lucky: Mike Leigh, the unrepentant satirist of British class, keys into a politics of optimism, a gesture perhaps more radical than the most stinging leftist rebuke.

Chris and Don: In the absurd debate over gay marriage, Chris and Don should be all the answer anyone needs.

My Winnipeg: Guy Maddin once again teaches us that to find all the magic of the world we need go no further than backyard of a small Canadian prairie town.

The Dark Knight: Blockbusters can be as emotionally explosive as the endless bombs that go off in them. — Peter Bowen

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