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January 2006

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)

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.

Also really great were:

Oasis (Chang-dong Lee, 2002, KR)
Josee, the Tiger and the Fish (Isshin Inudou, 2003, JP)
partly for introducing me to the music of Quruli
Tony Takitani (Jun Ichikawa, 2004, JP)
partly for introducing me to the writings of Haruki Murakami
Mindgame (Masaaki Yuasa, 2004, JP)
Marathon (Yoon-Chul Jeong, 2005, KR)
Devils on the Doorstep (Wen Jiang, 2000, CN)
Sanjuro (Akira Kurosawa, 1962, JP)
Erleuchtung Garantiert (Doris Dörrie, 2000, DE)
The Machinist (Brad Anderson, 2004, US)
Kaza-Hana (Shinji Sômai, 2001, JP)
Spider Forest (Ilgon Song, 2004, KR)
Sideways (Alexander Payne, 2004, US)
Flower Island (Ilgon Song, 2001, KR)
Love Letter (Shunji Iwai, 1995, JP)
The President's Last Bang (Im Sang-soo, 2005, KR)
Charisma (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 1999, JP)
The Station Agent (Thomas McCarthy, 2003, US)
The Eel (Shohei Imamura, 1997, JP)
Git / Feathers In The Wind (Ilgon Song, 2005, KR)
Sin City (Robert Rodriguez, 2005, US)
Distance (Hirokazu Kore-Eda, 2001, JP)
A Bittersweet Life (Kim Ji-woon, 2005, KR)
Mondays In The Sun (Fernando León de Aranoa, 2002, ES)
Birth (Jonathan Glazer, 2004, US)
University of Laughs (Mamoru Hosi, 2004, JP)
The Hidden Fortress (Akira Kurosawa, 1958, JP)
La Planète Sauvage (René Laloux, 1973, FR)
Welcome To Dongmakgol (Park Kwang-Hyun, 2005, KR)
Maboroshi no Hikari (Hirokazu Kore-Eda, 1995, JP)
Hana and Alice (Shunji Iwai, 2004, JP)
Kammerflimmern (Hendrik Hölzemann, 2004, DE)
Sorcerer (William Friedkin, 1977, US)

Phew, I could go on still, but this should do... Somehow I managed to see very few bad films last year. Though I'd be really surprised if anybody reading this has even seen one third of these (if you have, msg me).

What were your favourites of 2005?

mnowak wrote on 2006/01/16:

Once Upon A Time in The West (Leone, 1968, IT)
Rear Window (Hitchcock, 1954, US)
and maybe (the at times cheesy, but good otherwise)
SPL: Sha po lang (Yip, 2005, HK)

Before Sunset would be up there too.

Milo wrote on 2006/01/16:
Sorry about that, I added a little HREF-parameter detection to prevent a lot of comment spams from appearing.

Ruben wrote on 2006/01/16:
Je moet nog eens uitleggen waar die Azië-blik vandaan komt!

Milo wrote on 2006/01/16:
Tja, ze maken daar gewoon erg veel, erg goeie films... Zoveel beter dan wat hier normaal in de bios draait, dat ik nog lang niet uitgekeken ben.

dacloo wrote on 2006/01/16:
hmmmm het is alleen wel heeeel veeeel Aziatisch spul. Ik ben zelf ook wel into Spaanse, Franse en Engelse. Specifiek Chinese films kunnen zo ontzettend traag verlopen...

Milo wrote on 2006/01/16:
Ik weet 't niet, ik kijk eigenlijk niet zoveel Chinese films. Maar de paar die ik gezien heb vond ik verre van traag.

Het hangt ook een beetje van je bronnen af natuurlijk :)
Ik zou graag meer aanbevelingen ontvangen over goeie Spaanse, Franse of Engelse films!

Martijn wrote on 2006/01/17:
These are the movies I really liked. I think they're all from 2004 / 2005, except The Shining.
It's hard to pick a favorite, so the order is kind of random.
Oh, and I'm giving Wedding Crashers a wildcard ;)

The Shining
The Machinist
The Station Agent
King Kong
Me and You and Everyone We Know
Happy Endings
40 Year Old Virgin
Cinderella Man
Serenity (for introducing me to FireFly!!)

Milo wrote on 2006/01/19:
Thinking back even more, I really should also mention:
Deadly Outlaw Rekka (Takashi Miike, 2002, JP)
...(for the kick-ass Flower Travellin' Band soundtrack)
Failan (Hae-sung Song, 2001, KR)
Dangang Runner (SABU, 1996, JP)
Bangkok Loco (Phornchai Hongrathanaphorn, 2004, TH)