So for pointless and arbitrary fun, here are my highlights of the first six months of 2009.
1. Best Film(s): The Limits of Control by Jim Jarmusch and The Girlfriend Experience by Steven Soderbergh
I know I am going to take some flack for this, but in a toss-up my two favorite films of the year so far are these deeply flawed yet totally engrossing portraits of loners. Soderbergh’s film works on a very Bazinian realist level. Sasha Grey only works in the film due to her extra-textual existence. She is not a particularly adept actress, but Soderbergh’s camera finds her so interesting that I got swept up past the questions of good or natural acting to Godardian exploration of late or even post-capitalism through the character of a prostitute. But perhaps the greater question that Soderbergh poses is which of these characters aren’t prostitutes in the America of the moment.
Jarmusch’s film is the most lyrical, musical piece of cinema I have seen in a long time. Operating at the intersection of rhythm and dreams, it’s a highly structured, intentionally repetitive film that is best summed up in Tilda Swinton’s monologue (adapted from a speech she gave at San Francisco Film Festival in 2006). “The best films are like dreams you’re never really sure you had.” Jarmusch has a made a film that barely seems to register upon first viewing, but has seldom left my mind since I saw it.
2. Best Album: Bitte Orca – Dirty Projectors
Really if you have been reading this thing for more than 5 seconds you probably know that I ❤ this band like it’s my first crush. Seeing them in Austin in 10 days. Very Excited.
3. Best Song: ‘My Night with the Prostitue from Marseille’ – Beirut
As much as I really love Beirut, I my actually like his odd little side effort Realpeople more in the realm of Zach Condon projects. Narrowly beating out ‘Stillness is the Move’ and ‘Brothersport’, this is the kind of song that brings back the long buried filmmaker in me. I’d love to see a nouvelle vague-ish short film with this on the soundtrack.