Sunday, December 11, 2005

Film in 2005: Part I of possibly more...

Note: I began writing on films I've seen in 2005 and the post became so long that I decided to break it up into parts and post pieces as I have time. As was the case with music, not all of these films were released in 2005.


Corporations, corporations, corporations. The new Walmart film would round out the list nicely, but I've yet to see it. This year I saw three documentaries critical of big corporations including Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, The Corporation and The Yes Men (2003), all of which I consider worth seeing.

Enron is a fascinating and often shocking documentarian study of a corporation were things went wrong, very wrong. The Corporation takes a critical look at the social function of corporations and corporate ethics tracing the history of the corporation from its beginnings to the present day.

The Yes Men (2003) is a film about The Yes Men, a few activists who are hilarious and, regardless of one's politics, a good example of how much just how much mischief and mayhem a couple of intelligent people can engineer in service to their cause. (Margaret Mead was right.) If you're unfamiliar with them, check out their site. Their fake WTO site ( has a PageRank higher than the real WTO site (!

Corporations also play villainous roles in The Constant Gardener and Syriana. The Constant Gardener, was a good film, although I'm still left wondering what Ralph Fiennes' character actually did for a living. Syriana was a great film, but be forewarned, Syriana is, to say the least, a multithreaded story (some theater patrons were clearly confused). It is complex and full of rotating plotlines, but also cohesive and very well done.

If you limit yourself to one George Clooney film per year, I'd see Syriana before Good Night, and Good Luck. The latter was a good film, and it's true that David Strathairn's rendition of Edward R. Murrow rocked, but I think GN&GL was overpraised by reviewers who were hungry for the film's political and social commentary at a time when such commentary in the mainstream media seems to be lacking. Don't get me wrong, GN&GL was good, but--contrary to IMDB--I don't think it's a film of the caliber of All the President's Men. The latter is unquestionably a four star film, in spite of the fact that IMDB users have rated it 0.1 points lower than Good Night, and Good Luck.

Continuing on the corporate theme, the big corporation functions mostly as a backdrop in the film In Good Company starring Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace and Scarlett Johansson. Corporate takeover, clueless young executive (Grace) becomes boss of "old" guy (Quaid) and clueless young executive has a thing for "old" guy's daughter (Johansson). IGC was a much better film than I was expecting. About a Boy's Paul Weitz deserves a lot of credit for good writing and direction. Iron & Wine star on a soundtrack I enjoyed enough to add it to my 2005 music list.

(to be continued... hopefully)


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