Hamlet ^ Michæl Almereyda’s highly hip revisiting of Shakespeare’s classic Hamlet demonstrated what happens when the classics hang out in Blockbuster Video. With a wonderful appearance by Sam Shephard and a startlingly refreshing performance by Ethan Hawke, Almereyda playfully experiments with old fury in a new world. Although critics and audiences alike complained in college freshman tones about not being able to comprehend Shakespearean verse against the backdrop of modern Manhattan, Hamlet’s great fight was in its refusal to play easy.
flex ^ The definitive winner of this year’s most missed movie award, flex is video-director Chris Cunningham’s 15-minute, wordless film meditation on sex and violence between men and women. As such, it was undoubtedly the most intense use of the medium of the moving image this year. Centering on a nude man and nude woman alone in an abyss outside of time or space, these two act out the fundamentals of love and hate while demonstrating what it means to be extremely human. Unless you made the trip to see the Apocalypse show at London’s Royal Academy of Arts, you probably missed it, but if you can bootleg it, do.
Cecil B. Demented ^ A refreshingly hilarious addition to the genre of I Hate Hollywood filmmaking, John Waters’ latest contribution to the world of anti-movies was far and away his best yet. Taking his mega-star played by Melanie Griffith on a grotesquely guerrilla-style ride through what real, real edgy filmmaking is all about, Waters spent an extraordinarily wonderful amount of time raping and pillaging the world of movie-making. If for no other reason, the movie is genius in that it dares to offer its bonafide star some crack.
Shadow of the Vampire ^ This inconsistently beautiful extended gag, directed by E. Elias Merhige, on what a bunch of bloodsucking vampires movie-makers are was an endearingly refreshing visual take on what method acting really means. Starring Willem Dafoe in a flawlessly entertaining role as the actor playing a vampire who believes he is a vampire, the movie’s beautiful throw-back style and strange funny peek at what goes on when you turn the camera on was one of this year’s better looks at the violence of movies. John Malkovich helms the movie within a movie, ironically spinning out from last year’s starring role as a movie star trapped in a movie.
Chuck and Buck ^ Probably this year’s best example of a perfect marriage between a movie and a video camera, Chuck and Buck is an appallingly wonderful look at what happens when a psychologically stunted psychopath goes out to stalk his irritatingly repressed childhood ex-butt-buddy. Who knew homosexual stalking could be so much fun? Chuck and Buck’s director Miguel Arteta redefines political incorrectness and the stereotype of the gay film at the same time, while playing so fast and close with the video camera that you can’t help but learn to love the lollipop-licking loser at its heart.
Susannah Breslin commands you to go right back to the beginning to get her opinion about the BEST MOVIES OF 2000>>>
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