Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My favorite films of 2008

There Will Be Blood ( Paul Thomas Anderson, USA)
The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, USA)
Hunger (Steve McQueen, Ireland/UK)
WALL-E (Adrew Stanton, USA)
Gruz 200 (Cargo 200, Aleksei Balabanoc, Russia)
In Bruges (Martin McDonagh, USA/UK)
Waltz With Bashir (Ari Folman, Israel/Germany/France/USA)
Låt Den Rätte Komma In (Let The Right One In, Tomas Alfredson, Sweden)
Bigger Stronger Faster* (Chris Bell, USA)
Ai No Yokan (The Rebirth, Kobayashi Masahiro, Japan)

There Will Be Blood, The Dark Knight and Wall-E are pretty much instant classics, I don’t think I have to elaborate much on those (although we can quibble about those annoying ‘bat vision’ scenes in The Dark Knight – why, Nolan, why!). Hunger, Gruz 200 and Waltz With Bashir are all pretty grim films, but their unique looks and storytelling styles made them really stand out. Låt Den Rätte Komma In is a wonderfully fresh take on vampire horror, a subgenre I don’t even like. In Bruges satisfied my taste for dry humor and midget abuse. Bigger Stronger Faster* might not be the best or slickest documentary of the year, but it sure is one of the most personal journeys I’ve seen on screen. Ai No Yokan is my yearly odd-one out, an equally frustrating as mesmerizing study of repetition which will drive most viewers mad. I developed a strange love for it though.
FYI: these are all films released in the Netherlands in 2008, spiced up with some films which should have been...

Runners-up:
Alexandra, Be Kind Rewind, Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead, El Cielo la Tierra y la Iluvia, The Fall, Funny Games US, La Graine et le Mulet, In The Valley of Elah, Iron Man, John Rambo, Juno, Kung Fu Panda, The Mourning Forest, Naissance des Pieuvres, No Country For Old Men, Stuck, Taxi To The Dark Side, Tropic Thunder, Ponyo, [rec], Sweeney Todd, Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death

Films I regret I missed:
Aanrijding in Moskou, Caos Calmo, Dagen Zonder Lief, Entre Le Murs, Import/Export, Inside,La Silence de Lorna, Speed Racer (IMAX), W., You The Living

Best gore since The Passion of the Christ:
John Rambo

Worst hairdo in an utterly pointless remake:
Nicholas Cage in Bangkok Dangerous

Most self-centered asshole main character which is nevertheless portrayed as some kind of hero:
Into the Wild

Best fake trailer:
Satan’s Alley

Biggest waste of Tina Fey:
Baby Mama

Best use of prehistoric fish:
Ponyo

Worst Tarzan:
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Best sequel that should not have been one, unless they make it into a trilogy or would that even be worse maybe I don’t know anymore…:
Quantum of Solace

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Confronting the time drain

A whopping 2200 hours. That’s how much time I’ve played World of Warcraft since early 2005. That was the reality I was confronted with when I added up all the play time on my characters before I uninstalled the game from my system. Just think about how many films I could have seen in that time, or how many books I could have read. Or, for that matter, how many other games I could have been playing!

So, was it worth it?

Well, it actually was my job to spend all this time in WoW, so it’s not like I had a choice. Right? Yes and no. Engaging in a game like World of Warcraft for research (or whatever ‘serious’ reason) still cannot hide the fact that not all activities in there work. Not by a long shot. They are play, pure and simple. Then again, you don’t ‘get’ WoW by reading or talking about it. You have to play it. You have to live it. You have to ‘go native’ on its ass.

And that I did. For 2200 hours.

So far, no regrets. WoW remains one of the most impressive, engaging and interesting experiences I’ve ever been part of. Thank God for that. Or was it Thrall?