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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Michael Glawogger, “Workingman’s Death” (2005).

Aug 21 2008 Published by Benito Vergara under review

“I hope you don’t think this film is about hell on earth,” Michael Glawogger told the audience before the screening of his 2005 documentary Workingman’s Death. It’s hard to see why not: his film — easily the best I’ve seen so far at the San Francisco Film Festival — is a headlong journey into the world of manual labor where, for the most part, workers’ lives are irrevocably yoked with potentially fatal peril. It sure looks like hell, too, whether it’s the unworldly yellow clouds of sulfur from a volcano in Indonesia, or a butcher’s market awash with crimson in Nigeria.

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