Continuing the tradition I started last year, here are the best movies I saw in 2005, roughly arranged so that the "most best" appear at top (though the order changes depending on my mood). Again with a heavy emphasis on the East-Asian, as I found myself working through the back-catalogues of particular favourite directors and actors:
(This time I've tried to add a little review blurb to each, which is new for me, so bear with me)
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- Shiki-Jitsu / Ritual (Hideaki Anno, 2000, JP) [official site]
Anime-director Anno's second live-action outing, featuring a rare but appropriately subtle acting performance by director Shunji Iwai, I'm surprised this beautiful tale of quiet-observer-meets-eccentric-girl in scene after scene of very photogenic industrial, arty, maze-like surroundings isn't more widely known. If it weren't for these two threads I never would have known about it.
- Bin-jip / 3-Iron (Kim Ki-Duk, 2004, KR)
- A subtly magical film where every scene and shot seems right. After a while you realize that some aspects of Kim Ki-Duk's films (such as the non-speaking characters) are just gimmicks specifically designed to appeal to foreign audiences, but even though it fails horribly sometimes (like in The Bow), it simply works really really well here.
- Nobody Knows (Hirokazu Kore-Eda, 2004, JP)
- Hauntingly memorable tale of four young kids left to take care of themselves after being abandoned by their mother, very naturally acted and shot.
- This Charming Girl (Yoon-ki Lee, 2004, KR)
- A clever and moving piece of storytelling, following a couple of days in the quiet life of post office worker Jeong-hae, while a complicating and shocking backstory is revealed little by little in incidental minute-long flashbacks.
- Before Sunrise + Before Sunset (Richard Linklater, 1995 + 2004, US)
- Quite the opposite of Bin-jip in a way, being nothing *but* dialog, watching these two for the first time (in a row even) surprisingly provided one of the most intense movie experiences ever.
- The Taste Of Tea (Katsuhito Ishii, 2004, JP)
- Lots of interesting visual effects in this wonderfully poetic celebration of imagination.
- My Neighbors The Yamadas (Isao Takahata, 1999, JP)
- Plenty of laugh-out-loud funny moments in this Studio Ghibli animation where the characters and scenery are reduced to their most minimalistic, while still retaining lots of emotion.
- All About Lily Chou-Chou (Shunji Iwai, 2001, JP)
- A very confusing but very impressive film, this tale of
high-school bullying continuously overlayed with vague messageboard quotes that turn out to be from the website of a fictional singer. With an amazing soundtrack of songs by the "real" Lily Chou-Chou, Salyu.
- Yiyi (Edward Yang, 2000, TW)
- A nearly 3-hour long, beautifully shot collage of moments in the life of all members of a family in Taipei.
- Sympathy For Lady Vengeance (Park Chan Wook, 2005, KR)
- Full of original, funny and shocking scenes, not quite as ridiculous in concept as Oldboy and not quite as depressing as Mr. Vengeance, this is definitely my favourite of Park Chan Wook's "revenge trilogy".
- Blessing Bell (SABU, 2002, JP)
- My favourite SABU film, continuing his theme of transportation here in the form of a fired factory worker that just walks and walks and walks from one strange situation into the next. I always love seeing Susumu Terajima's face show up in films (as he does in two other films on this list), so it's great to see him get a whole feature to himself for once.
- Vital (Shinya Tsukamoto, 2004, JP)
- Certainly the best-looking film I've seen last year... A gripping story of loss and memory, with a lot less emphasis on the gore than one might expect from the description.