By David D'Arcy
Film critic, NPR commentator and frequent contributor to GreenCine Daily David D'Arcy muses on his favorite films of 2006. Read on:
Tristram Shandy: I suppose it's a shame that film adaptations of novels so rarely take anyone back to the novels. That said, this film is as good an argument as you'll get for adapting the "un-filmable" book. It helps that "Tristram Shandy" is a book for our times. Put it on the opposite pole of this year's "Da Vinci Code" idiocy. See the film, then read the classic.
Devil's Miner: You could call it Young Sisyphus, all the more grim because it's so elegantly shot. Desperate lyricism about child labor, stunningly cinematic.
The Death of Mr Lazarescu: Cristi Puiu calls his film a love story. I call it humanity without sanctimony. If there's any justice in the world, a notion that the film does its best to undermine, Ion Fiscuteanu should get the Best Actor Oscar, even though he's unconscious for the last 90 minutes of the film. Luminita Gheorghiu should win Best Actress for her role as a humane ambulance attendant who stays until the end with the dying man.
Pan's Labyrinth: It looks like a fairy tale, but it's a story about resistance to the fascist regime that outlasted Hitler. Great cinematography by Guillermo Navarro, and a moral core.
The Road to Guantanamo: The reality check on the war on terror that Bush still can't seem to get from his Dream Team advisers. I give Bush a supporting actor award for this one.
The Dead Girl: The surprise of the year - gripping story, stellar cast, staggering (literally) acting, no redemption. It's a shame that this film has barely been noticed.
This Film Is Not Yet Rated: And you thought the OJ jury was bad. This is a by-the-numbers guide to corporate censorship. Kirby Dick's best doc to date. An investigative first-person doc comedy that should be required watching.
Catch a Fire: Proves that you can make a good thriller without smothering it under special effects or, in this case, political correctness. It's a film that should have had mass appeal.
12 and Holding: Most Americans live in suburbs. Few besides Todd Solondz and The Simpsons have told their stories with much imagination. There's also Michael Cuesta, a fine director of acting and a shrewd observer of the world seen through the eyes of children. What happened to the audience for this one?
United 93: When you hear the nostrums about the war on terror, remember those who really made sacrifices in the face of certain death. There's not a false note here. This film is emotionally gripping throughout, even though we know the ending.
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