By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
Knocked Up: Come for the dirty words and bong hits, stay for the trenchant observations—no, seriously. Sure, it's the one-liners that linger ("You look like a cholo dressed up for Easter"), but even they barely obscure life's biggest truth, which is: "Marriage is like a tense, unfunny version of Everybody Loves Raymond, only it doesn't last 22 minutes. It lasts forever." (Wilonsky)
Manufactured Landscapes: The opener of Jennifer Baichwal's beautiful documentary, a tracking shot that takes about eight minutes to roam from one end of a Chinese electronics factory floor to the other, tells you all you need to know about modern labor, our disposable world, and who will own the global economy. (Taylor)
Private Fears in Public Places: Directed with light-fingered mastery by Alain Resnais, now 84 and fully indulging his delight in golden-age cinematic gloss, this exquisite ensemble comedy-drama about the perils of seeking love late in life resembles a Vincente Minnelli musical with the songs elided, leaving only the persistent ache of unexpressed desires. (Ridley)
Honorable Mentions: Into the Wild, Black Book, West of the Tracks, No Country for Old Men, Syndromes and a Century, My Kid Could Paint That, Grindhouse, Offside, Day Night Day Night, Away from Her, Once, Paprika, Lars and the Real Girl, The Host, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Honor de Cavalleria, The Band's Visit, Lake of Fire, No End in Sight, The Bourne Ultimatum, Terror's Advocate, The Savages, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Music and Lyrics
Kick yourself for not seeing these 10 movies
By Jim Ridley
How tough is it for a movie to find its audience, above the din of blockbuster marketing and beyond the clogged distribution pipeline? Tsai Ming-liang, the Taiwanese/Malaysian director regarded as one of the world's greats, had two films in U.S. theaters this year, The Wayward Cloud and I Don't Want to Sleep Alone. Neither made it far outside of the nation's major cities. They weren't alone. From minor hits to complete obscurities, these 10 films from 2007 deserved more attention from audiences, distributors, and critics.
End of the Line: Good, unreleased horror movies are not exactly in overstock, so why has Maurice Devereaux's hair-raising subterranean shocker taken so long to surface from the festival circuit? Maybe it's because this sick satiric tale—in which religious zealots conduct their own Rapture with cross-shaped daggers on a stalled subway—pushes sensitive buttons about fundamentalist hysteria. Then again, maybe it's because the movie raises the even more subversive possibility that the zealots are right. Either way, this is scary as hell and impressively unrelenting—starting with a strong candidate for the best jump-fright since Michael Myers bolted upright.
The Hills Have Eyes 2: It starts in a mock-up Kandahar, Afghanistan, with a war room staffed by stuffed dummies; it ends with a besieged peacenik wisely chucking his pacifist ideals in the face of Pure Fucking Evil. In between, outmanned U.S. troops reap the fruit of decades-old government policy—here, desert nuclear testing—in the form of implacable fanatics with the home-field advantage of tunnels and caves. In a year when Hollywood turned Iraq War hand-wringing into a virtual subgenre, no reputable movie caught the country's ideological confusion so fully. This should be playing somewhere near Los Alamos, at a drive-in with No End in Sight.
I Know Who Killed Me: Not even Lindsay Lohan's sojourn in the tabloids stirred up much interest in this marvel of trashy delirium. A pity, too: Chris Sivertson's mystifying mood piece about a demure honor student who morphs into a mutilated stripper was sold as torture porn, but it's closer in spirit to a glue-huffing remake of Kieslowski's The Double Life of Veronique. As psychodrama, it was even more potent. Try finding a more eerie metaphor for a child star's uneasy transition to adulthood than pole-dancer Lohan facing her Disney-princess self packed away in a casket.
Joshua: You can't blame new parents who didn't want to waste their one date night a year on a movie that acutely captures the sleep-deprived panic of the other 364 days. For the stouthearted, though, George Ratliff's masterfully unnerving thriller about a blank-faced tyke (Jacob Kogan) whose mom and dad suspect him of psychological warfare against their new baby creates a mood of imminent doom that anyone with suspiciously quiet tots will recognize. The leads enact the pressures of child-rearing so empathetically—mom Vera Farmiga in exhausted near-madness, dad Sam Rockwell in sex-starved, stuck-in-the-middle befuddlement—that the cumulative chills leave your teeth chattering. It's perhaps better watched at home, with your kids locked safely in their rooms.
Lake of Fire: The year's most criminally underseen movie, Tony Kaye's landmark abortion documentary made a crucial commercial miscalculation: Because it presented both pro-choice and pro-life positions fairly, neither side wanted to see it. A documentary is supposed to reinforce your prejudices, stupid, not challenge them. For anyone brave enough to consider the issue beyond sloganeering and name-calling, though, this staggering doc has the power to tip the undecided either way. And kudos to Kaye for shooting on celluloid—his graphic film may be hell to watch, but never to look at.