The Best Movies I Saw All Year, 2006 Edition.

Aug 24 2008 Published by Benito Vergara under notes,review

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?)

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Neill dela Llana and Ian Gamazon, “Cavite” (2005).

Aug 21 2008 Published by Benito Vergara under review

In Ian Gamazon and Neill dela Llana’s terrific thriller, Cavite, the Filipino American filmmakers take the tired cliches of the genre and craft an exceptional film. The plot isn’t anything you haven’t seen before, from Cellular to Red Eye (the only one I’ve seen of the four) to Nick of Time to Phone Booth: a man receives a call on a cellphone from a kidnapper, telling him that his mother and sister has been kidnapped and that he has to follow all the kidnapper’s demands or they die. The result is a surprisingly politically complex and gripping suspense movie, made even more interesting for its being set in the Philippines.

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