Notes from the Back Row 

Best of the Year

And…. Cut. That’s a wrap. The movie year of 2006 is in the can. Pretty shitty year actually, if you ask me. No Devil’s Rejects, no Match Point , Christ, I don’t remember even one Angelina Jolie flick this year. (Sure, sure, she had that baby, and Scarlett Johansson picked up the slack by making three films but still, dark days all around.)

It wasn’t all garbage though, and a patient person with discerning taste and a bit of luck may have even uncovered a few gleaming needles in the shitstack, so without further ado here are the BEST FILMS OF 2006! (Bear in mind I’ve been in the jungles of Papua for the past month and haven’t seen all the big holiday feel-good releases. I’m guessing the new Will Smith flick will charm a lot of people, but yeah, not on the list.)

Comedy – For laugh-out-loud and grab-your-gut factors the winner should be Jackass 2 . Those cats are loony, and it doesn’t get old if you step it up. Fishing with Steve-O indeed. Genius. And Borat — lots of documentary and candid techniques there, really funny results; brilliant. Also brilliant was Jason Reitman’s Thank You for Smoking , the tobacco-lobbyist movie that was sharp, dry, and witty, with a last line pay-off that was one of the year’s best cinematic moments. The funniest movie you never heard of is Tristan Shandy: a Cock and Bull Story. It was at the ’05 Whistler Film Fest and it is funny, English Funny.

Action – Yeah sure, Pirates of the Caribbean made over $1 billion worldwide, and even with the action-packed comic book trifecta of X3, Superman, and V for Vendetta I’m still going with Bond. That’s right, Casino Royale with the new Daniel Craig Bond and its sinking buildings, embassy executions, and vertigo-inducing rooftop chases is the best action flick of 2006. Although I was pretty into Snakes on a Plane as well. Snakes jumping out of barf bags and latching on to peoples’ tongues? Never seen that before.

Horror – Again, lame year for horror. Hills Have Eyes, Omen, Saw3 ? Yeah, but they’re remakes and a sequel, nothing new. Slither, the killer zombie, alien, slug movie was good — at least it tapped into the fun side of horror — but the 2006 champ is the all-girl spelunking chill-fest, The Descent. Best horror of the year by far.

Real World – This includes documentaries so of course Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth makes the grade. Especially since global warming kind of affects us here in the resort municipality of Rain-to-the-top-way-too-often, but another astounding doc is Black Gold a stunning look at the world’s coffee trade and how absolutely desolate it is to be a coffee grower. Just watch it. Not a documentary at all, but based (sort of) on the real world, is the super-good The Last King of Scotland , which isn’t about Scotland at all. Forrest Whitaker goes for the Oscar as über-serious Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.

Best cartoon ­– Monster House . Best concert flick – Dave Chappelle’s Block Party. Best flick to watch with your in-laws – The World’s Fastest Indian. Shittiest of the year – Robin Williams in RV , a movie with all the charm of a two-hour tampon commercial.

And the overall winner is – The Departed. Marty Scorcese nailed it this time — superb acting, great music, but most importantly just storytelling, storytelling, storytelling. Give the man an Oscar ’cause few people make ’em like this anymore. Runners up – The Prestige was fantastic and Inside Man pretty nifty as well.

Happy New Year, let’s hope for a brighter 2007with waaaayyy more Angelina.

AT VILLAGE 8 Dec. 29-Jan. 4: Good Sheppard; Rocky Balboa; Night at the Museum; Pursuit of Happiness; Charlotte’s Web; Casino Royale; Eragon; Holiday; Happy Feet; Blood Diamond.

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