It’s not particularly easy recommending Alexandre Aja’s Piranha – not because it’s beneath my readers’ discriminating tastes – but because it’s ultimately a waste of Aja’s directorial potential. Aja more or less ushered in the new wave of French horror with 2003’s almost-wordless High Tension (see a short blurb at the bottom of this entry on the best films I saw in 2006), then promptly plunged to the bottom with an unnecessary remake (The Hills Have Eyes, from 2006) and the dreadful Mirrors (2008). He’s back to plumbing the depths again, but this time they harbor prehistoric horrors, when an earthquake unleashes savage schools of piranha from an underwater lake onto frolicking college students during Spring Break.
As usual, these include (older) films I got to see only in 2006.
In alphabetical order:
- The Descent (dir. Neil Marshall, England, 2005)
- Linda Linda Linda (dir. Nobuhiro Yamashita, Japan, 2005)
- Tropical Malady (dir. Apichatpong Weesethakul, Thailand, 2004)
- Workingman’s Death (dir. Michael Glawogger, Austria, 2005)
And three runners-up:
- Cavite (dir. Neill dela Llana and Ian Gamazon, U.S.A., 2006)
- High Tension (dir. Alexandre Aja, France, 2003)
- Platform (dir. Jia Zhangke, China, 2000)
“The language of cinema is universal.” This is Landmark Cinema’s introduction to its movies — a contradiction, however, to how much of the American public seems to like its movie-watching. “Like” is a guess on my part; Jonathan Rosenbaum argues, in essence, that the weekly charts of top ten highest-grossing movies are more of a reflection of how producers, marketers and distributors view the American movie-going public. There’s no reason, for instance, that Park Chan-Wook’s satisfying but disturbing revenge flick Oldboy would not have cashed in at the box office — except for the fact that it has subtitles and, most importantly, was relegated only to limited film-festival or one-week runs in North America. (Okay, there are various acts of mutilation and torture, and an animal gets eaten alive — but surely Jackass Number Two had similar scenes, no?)