hyperkineticism that fuels The Host to say nothing of the exquisite Zen archery of Bae Doo-na well, when faced with the task of trying to improve upon the effortless zap and zeal of Bong's filmmaking, the chopshop chumps in Hollywood haven't got a chance.
(5) and (6) Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt, US) and A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater, US). I've loved Kelly Reichardt's deliberately lo-fi reconsiderations of many of the early 1970s' most cherished genre-memes since her Badlands-on-a-lunch-money-budget first feature, River of Grass. My feelings about almost every Richard Linklater film I've suffered through since Slacker have run entirely to the opposite extreme. So while the inclusion of Old Joy Reichardt's gorgeously drifty riff on modern American malaise and misfit male bonding seems an entirely natural inclusion on this list, the appearance of Linklater's fear-soaked and ferociously rotoscopic incarnation of Philip K. Dick's most harrowing and heartbreaking book surprises no one more than me. But from the first volley to the film's inescapably haunting final thought "I saw death growing up from the earth" A Scanner Darkly's inescapably despairing analysis of lives sucked hollow by addiction had me hooked.
(7) through (11) The Wire, The Sopranos, The Shield, Deadwood, Dexter (various directors, US). I may have already perilously and uncharacteristically overburdened this list with Americana, but the ways in which so much of modern American television, now some five or six years into its latest and most glorious golden age, has risen to the occasion provided by modern American cinema's almost wholesale evasion of politically progressive and powerfully open-ended storytelling is a phenomenon no one can afford to ignore. From the battle of the Wills (Shakespeare versus Burroughs) that underscores the sixth season of The Sopranos and the seriously fucked-up bad copbad cop antiheroics of The Shield to the symposium on the failure of social systems borrowed from the poetics of the ancient Greeks by The Wire and the McCabe and Mrs. MillermeetsBerlin Alexanderplatz frontier profanities of Deadwood, today's American television is as much a source of constant pleasure as an unprecedentedly complex nexus of narrative sophistication and moral-vacuum despair. That the "hero" of this season's best new program, Showtime's Dexter, isn't just a lovably humanized sociopath (à la Tony Soprano), a homicidal policeman (à la Vic Mackey), or a basket case forensics specialist (à la the entire cast of CSI: Miami) but a huggable (and strangely pink-lipsticked) combination of all three delivers ineluctable proof positive that where once lay a vast wasteland populated by Gilligans and Gidgets now blossoms the promise of a brave new world. (Chuck Stephens)
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