Notes from the Back Row 

Best of the year

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Well that’s that, another year. We’re all a year wiser, older, and that much closer to death or the Olympics (whichever comes first). It wasn’t the greatest year for cinema but it wasn’t that bad either. So here you go, out with the old in with the new. It’s time for Feet’s favorite movies of 2005.

Might as well begin with my favorite – It’s All Gone Pete Tong. Directed by Canadian Michael Dowse ( Fubar) Pete Tong is a mockumentary-styled look at a world-famous Ibiza DJ/drug addict who goes deaf yet somehow manages to overcome it all and keep the party hopping. Funny, touching, witty and charming, It’s All Gone Pete Tong came out of nowhere last April and I’m still chuckling about the "Coke Badger," the cleverest personification of addiction. I love it.

I also love on-screen violence, the kind that makes some people turn a queasy shade of green, and with no fewer than three castrations, a beheading and a guy getting his brains and skull pummeled into a stewy mush, Frank Miller’s Sin City was exactly what I’m talking about. Co-directed by Miller and Do It Yourself master Robert Rodriguez, this highly stylized comic book adaptation set new levels of awesomeness for integrating live characters with digitally created sets. This movie is a hard-boiled, tough-as-nails, shitkicking comic book come to life. Sin City is almost more a piece of visual art than cinema, but it’s amazing nonetheless.

Sticking with ultra violence, and how to do it properly, Rob Zombie sure stepped it up this year with his second feature The Devil’s Rejects. A masterful homage to ’70s horror films, road movies and almost everything else cool, Zombie’s film is raw, gritty and highly stylized. Who knew watching innocent people murdered in freeze-frame with a classic rock soundtrack could be not only enjoyable but beautiful as well?

Speaking of beautiful, C.R.A.Z.Y. ,the Quebec-made film that rocked the Whistler Film Festival earlier this month, is one of the best-shot, most stylized, coolest flicks to grace the screen this year. It’s a simple, touching family comedy-drama that totally works. Full of laughs, tears, and subtitles this movie totally rules and since my Canada includes Quebec (well, most of it) I think everyone should support this flick. Perfect movie.

As far as comedy goes, it was a slow year, The Wedding Crashers and 40 Year Old Virgin were standouts but Waiting , a hilariously accurate look at the dynamics of serving tables for a living, provided the most chuckles of all. It also stars Ryan Reynolds ( Van Wilder) who’s from Vancouver and who totally nails it in this film.

Other cinematic highlights include Favela Rising, a gorgeous and tear-jerkingly inspirational documentary about one man’s quest to unite/educate children in the slums of Rio De Janeiro through dance and camaraderie, and Canadian Don McKellar’s Childstar, which is a funny, socially poignant and just dramatic enough story about how the film industry treats its children. The structure of this flick is near-perfect and the ending is perhaps the best I’ve seen all year.

In animation, Howl’s Moving Castle blew me away and Wallace and Grommit: curse of the wererabbit might not only be the funniest animated film of the year but funniest overall too. As well, King Kong solidified Peter Jackson’s grip on the Best Special Effects Director Ever crown. Truly amazing.

And that’s that. Say goodbye to another year (525,600 minutes according to the chumps in Rent ) and for 2006 let’s pray Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson, and Naomi Watts make a desert island movie together.

AT VILLAGE 8 Dec. 29-Jan. 5: Ringer ; Memoirs of a Geisha; Rumour Has It ; Harry Potter ; Fun With Dick and Jane ; King Kong; Chronicles of Narnia ; Cheaper by the Dozen 2 .

AT RAINBOW THEATRE Dec. 29-30: Chicken Little ; Jarhead . Jan. 1-5: Wedding Crashers ; Jarhead .

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