Jesus ruddy bloody Christ I’m poor at maths. This is the penultimate year (not including 2009) in our amble down Reminiscence Road and I was hoping to neatly tie it all up with a big bow of celluloid string ending with a rundown of this years offerings. Seeing as it’s only mid-November you may just have to wait for the rundown of this here year until all the films are signed, sealed and delivered. Sorry about that.
For the meantime, enjoy 2007. Just don’t eat it all at once.
The Simpsons finally made it to the big-screen with the sounds of ‘Woohoo’ and ‘D’oh’ echoing around the globe. ‘D’oh’ because most people felt the wait was far too long and that the yellow family had missed their prime and ‘Woohoo’ because, even at it’s worst, ‘The Simpsons’ is always subversive, witty and cleverer than a million other ‘cartoons for grown-ups’.
Three-quels were in plentiful supply with the major hitters being ‘Spiderman’ and ‘Bourne’. The webslinger veered dangerously close to ‘Batman And Robin’ villian-ary overload but ended up just being average. Whilst Bourne bowed out with a helluva ending. Until, of course, they started talking about a fourth.
Britain showed some great diversity with nary a Cockney geezer in sight. ‘Hot Fuzz’ showed what really happens when the shit gets real. ‘This Is England’ was another masterpiece of ‘it may be grim oop north but I’ll find you horror and humanity in equal measures’ by Shane Meadows. ‘Sunshine’ was more Boyle brilliance and ‘Atonement’ made it clear that Joe Wright was another UK director to follow closely…all the way to Hollywood. Judas!
But then why not go to Hollywood when they have the budgets and inclination to make such immaculately crafted movies as ‘Zodiac’. A tale of obsession from a man who knows a thing or two about obsession, Fincher continued his track record of ridiculously ace movies with this study of the San Francisco killings that had the kind of attention to detail that made you believe if he was a cop at the time he would have actually caught Z.
Now that we’re all part of Europe (did anyone see the headline in ‘The Express’ last week, screaming ‘BRITAIN:THE END’? Brilliant) we can safely praise ‘Tell No One’ and ‘The Lives Of Others’ as film-making of the highest calibre.
Finally, a special shout out to two films that left me blubbing despite myself, ‘Once’ and ‘Bridge To Terrabithia’. And if my inclusion of them starts people screaming, just wait until you see what’s below.
My Film Of The Year
Did anybody notice the subtle change to the heading of this year’s nostalgic piece? Yes, I’ve replaced ‘The Best’ with ‘My Favourite’. A pussy move to be sure, but it’s the only way that I can rest easy at night for not giving the top spot to Fincher’s ‘Zodiac’. For ‘Zodiac’ is a masterpiece, plain and simple (even though it’s neither plain nor simple). But it wasn’t the film that had me running out to buy the soundtrack, the book and hang a poster on my bedroom wall. That film was ‘The Fountain’.
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Booed at Cannes and derided by many critics, my choice for film of 2007 is going to piss a few people off. And I’m glad. Not in a ‘ooh look at me I can be different’ kind of way but in a ‘if people can both love and hate a film, it must be doing something right’ kind of way. The best films will cause discussion, debates and divorce. And ‘The Fountain’ will almost certainly cause the first two.
So, for the uninitiated, what’s it all about? Well in the year 1500, Hugh Jackman plays a conquistador searching for the Tree of Life on the behest of the Queen of Spain (Rachel Weisz). In the year 2000, Hugh Jackman plays a doctor searching for a cure for his wife’s (Rachel Weisz) cancer. In the year 2500, Hugh Jackman plays a man in a bubble trying to keep a tree (Rachel Weisz) alive. Sold!
A pitch like that is likely to have every studio in the world striking you off their records. To be honest that isn’t a bad evaluation of the story. If I was to add more elusive, descriptive phrases about the film like, ‘tackling spirituality’ and ‘the fragility of the human existence’, you’d be forgiven for shutting down your computer and throwing it in the nearest bin. Happily, there is so much more to ‘The Fountain’ that the gobbledigook I just spouted.
For starters it is one of the most visually impressive films of the decade (the timeless effects made by micro-photography of chemical reactions), it features a score of breathtaking beauty by Clint Mansell and has enough visual flourishes by director Darren Aronofsky to shame an interior designer at Mardi Gras. Is it pretentious? Possibly. Is it convoluted? Maybe. Is it boring? Absolutely not.
Its detractors will find a lot to complain about and I will, for the most part, agree. The dialogue is sparse and overly expositional. The acting is too melodramatic. The over-reaching plot is difficult to comprehend. Yet these things (for once) don’t bother me, because at the heart of ‘The Fountain’ beats an immersive, emotional tale of Love and Death. Is there anything more powerful to make a film about?