Saturday, December 5, 2009

The aughts; an ongoing debate (with links)

To be fair, this was not a great decade for movies, period. Oh, sure, it was a pretty good decade for movies about slovenly males who could not get dates, or about adorable rodents, or about repressed individuals whose inner strengths could only be released through the power of dance. It was also a good decade for movies involving suspiciously eloquent British gangsters and Orcs. But it was not a great decade for romantic comedies, movies about the government or movies involving amazing scams.
- Joe Queenan, writing in last Thursday's Guardian about Hollywood's ham-fisted treatment of ancient classics and epics.

This paragraph popped out at me when I was reading Queenan's article on the train last week, because it seemed so out-of-place; such a disengenous, sweeping generalisation about an entire decade's worth of cinema. Leaving aside the bizarre sideswipe at Ratatouille (the film I presume he's referring to in that opening gambit), I just take massive issue with that last statement. Sure, the aughts were the decade in which torture-porn really took off as a viable mainstream genre, in which Eddie Murphy was allowed don inumerable fat-suits, in which we were repeatedly whacked over the head by inspid CGI animals voiced by celebs, etc., etc., etc,. There was a lot of dross, especially as seen from our close-up vantage point. But there's a flip-side to that viewpoint too; looking back over the past 10 years, we are still close enough to recognise that the years from 2000 onwards gave us a veritable banquet of cinematic fare, including hoards of stuff that maybe didn't top the highest-grossing list, or get lauded by any awards bodies, or end up on many top-ten lists. Obviously I'm biased; this decade was the one in which I hit puberty, graduated from secondary school, began college and really started paying attention to movies, and so I'm definitely under the 2000s spell. Of course, I've seen a far greater number of films made in this decade than I have any other decade, but that's a given. But how can you argue with a decade that offered you the following treats; Peter Jackson's Ring Trilogy, the irresistible rise-and-rise of Nicole Kidman, Pixar's string of heartbreaking films, the continued hilarious output of Christopher Guest's troupe, Tom McCarthy, "Four for you, Glen Coco", several savvy directors finally figuring out what to do with Patty Clarkson, the opportunity to glimpse Sofia Coppola characters through a car window, David Lynch scaring you inside out, Laura Linney's Oscar nomination, Moulin Rouge!, Tilsammans, and The Emperor's New Groove (what? Shut up!). And that's just a small selection of what I personally found to love during the decade.

It's exhilirating, reaching the end of a decade. I remember the millennium quite well (I even remember how hilarious I thought my ten-year-old self's witticism, "I think this is my favourite millennium so far" was) but I wasn't aware of pop culture enough to be aware of any of the lists I presume were sprouting up around that time. Flash forward ten years later, and I'm overwhelmed by the amount of end-of-decade lists I'm confronted with each time I log on. So far, my favourite of the lot has got to be the on-going series of Remembering at Nick's Flick Picks, a wonderful, mind-boggling, detailed account of a unique cinema-goer's decade in cinephilia. It's a fascinating read and I'm eagerly/greedily awaiting each installment.

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