A continuing countdown list of my top 12 favourites from the 2000s.
#9 Lady Vengeance (2005) Dir Park Chan-wook (Korea)
Originally reviewed post film festival in 2006, Chan-wook is one of a small band of Korean director’s keen to push the boundaries of mainstream Korean cinema by presenting stories and images that contrast in every way to the conservative, “soapy” staple that is the Korean mainstream. Lady Vengeance is Chan-wook’s third piece in his revenge trilogy that explores the personal impact of taking the law into one’s own hands. The story follows Lee Geum-ja on her release from prison after 13 years for the murder of a child she did not commit. Her hunt for the man responsible employs former prison-mates in the search and finally engages the parents of all of his victims. While not for the fainthearted, it parallels the conflict between contrition, retribution and redemption.
#8 Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers (2002) Dir P Jackson (NZ/US)
The second of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, New Zealand director Peter Jackson, employs his home country as a backdrop to the land of Middle Earth in a way that has changed the way that country is known forever. The Fellowship (established in the first movie) fractures during Two Towers and it is a testament to Jackson and his editors that they so effectively keep tabs on three disparate groups of characters and their three separate story lines.
By employing a dizzying array of computer special effects, model minatures and life size recreations of some sets, the climax to this film, the battle at Helm’s Deep, is like something that has never been seen in film before. Not content to have a hundred or a thousand or even ten thousand Orc soldiers, he creates a monster army of a hundred thousand or more, beating their breasts and charging the stone bastion of Rohan.
#7 Mulholland Dr. (2001) Dir D Lynch (US)
One of the most amusing ‘extras’ on the DVD is watching the Cannes film critics interview director David Lynch about this new release which had just been screened, and having absolutely no idea what the film was about and with Lynch giving absolutely nothing away.
If it is so incomprehensible, what makes it so good ? Part dream, part reality, part hallucination, part flashback, it is vital to know which part of the movie belongs in which “reality.” This is the first clue to unlocking the story. I won’t deny that an internet search was the lion’s share to understanding.
Naomi Watts plays Betty, a naïve country girl who comes to Los Angeles hoping for fame on the big screen. Her ambitions slowly fail and she finds herself drug addicted and making ends meet as a call girl. In her breakthrough role, Watts is a revelation as the fresh faced girl creating her own ‘Wizard of Oz’ storyline in her head while her waking reality becomes more and more desperate.