Twilight lovers, eat your lover's brooding heart out! From Park Chan-wook, director of Old Boy, already a legend in the edgy-foreign-indie scene, comes Thirst, and this is a vampire movie. Bold, inventive, endlessly entertaining yet thoughtful and unnerving, this is the kind of movie that would suck the sparkly life out of Edward Cullen.
Thirst is a love story -- the most twisted and appealing love story of the year, in fact, a film that dissects the nature of ravenous desire and feared temptation unlike any other film you've ever seen. A respected priest chooses to undergo an
experimental procedure to cure disease, flatlines, but comes back to life with a curious affliction: his overwhelming desire -- and indeed, the only thing that can keep his disease in check -- is drinking human blood. With this new thirst for comes a thirst for passion, which leads the priest to a childhood crush who becomes his star-crossed lover. The journey this couple treks is one of the wildest, most vividly potent psycho-sexual-emotional journeys to grace screens in 2009. It is about desire. It is about sin. It is about guilt. It is about love. It is, very simply, about thirst.
I was one of Half Nelson's few naysayers. For me, the film never played with the kind of brutal reality it so desperately wanted to. But filmmakers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck showed tremendous ability and promise, and they have taken another step forward with Sugar.
It is not quite a great film, in part because it allows its subject -- the fleeting roller-coaster rides of human drive and hope -- plays ping-pong with the audience in an infuriating way. But the filmmaking is strong. Boden and Fleck are one of the most exciting indie duos in the business, and their story, told with the authenticity of a docudrama, is a wonderful twist on the traditional sports formula. Sugar is that rare baseball picture that sheds light on one of the millions of big-league prospects who come to America and find themselves lost when they don't immediately skyrocket to the MLB.
Jim Jarmusch has always been a tone poet, and never has the term "tone poem" been more accurately applicable to any film in recent memory than Jarmusch's latest, The Limits of Control.
Another indie darling of the year, the buzz on this leadup-to-war satire has reached such a fever pitch that one is tempted to enter the screening room expecting the next Dr. Strangelove. My advice: leaven your expectations and you will have an enjoyable experience. No, In the Loop is not the next Dr. Strangelove, and it is not even the most savvily funny and intellectually probing dissection of our modern culture this year, but it is a smart and funny film with a few laugh-out-loud moments and several other witty chuckles.
Armando Iannucci, a mainstay of British TV, develops a wide array of interesting characters in his story of governmental P.R. run amok, and the result is such an entertaining experience that I'm disappointed I find myself posing counter-arguments to the trend of "it's one of the year's best" pronouncements. Maybe it was a case of diminished expectations, or maybe this just isn't quite my cup of tea, but In the Loop seems funny-but-flimsy, savvy-but-slight.