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Posted on Jan 28th, 2009
Stakeout, Films Of 2008


(Soundtrack: Neil Young “Rust Never Sleeps”, The Pastels “Illumination”)
On the way home just now I passed two policemen on “stake-out”. They are fully visible, about three streets away, stood on a corner, complete with huge machine guns. They have been there for at least six months. I have been passing them every day or two and wondering why they are there. Initially I thought that perhaps there had been a lot of break-ins on that street and they were increasing police presence, but then they were there too long for that. I considered if they were waiting to catch someone they expected to show up, but then surely they would not be so obvious? The only reason they would be so visible is if they are guarding someone, or providing protection. So I concluded that maybe a foreign diplomat was staying there – I started to look at the houses and found one that is larger than the rest, and set back from the road. Some days the cops have cups of coffee or soup or packets of Jaffa Cakes on the wall by them; I couldn’t help imagining local housewives bringing them sustenance. After all it has been below freezing a lot of the time over the last few weeks.
Bridie kept encouraging me to ask them why they were there, but each time I intended to, I chickened out. Then the other night we were walking home late and a bit drunk and Bridie bounded up to one of them and asked “Excuse me, but we have seen you here for a few months now, would you be able to tell us why you are here?”. He smiled, looked a bit smug and glad of the distraction: “Not at all madam – we are guarding the home of an important government official who lives nearby”. “Oh, who is it?” “I am afraid I am not at liberty to say madam.” I chipped in with “And do they live in that house over there?” He smiled, smugness levels peaking: “They might do…” I am not sure his colleague was impressed with his manner. Anyway, we thanked them and staggered off home.
So who can that be? How high up do you need to be in order to have two armed guards at all hours of the day? I am not sure I would recognise politicians anyway, I mean Gordon Brown yes, but not the rest of them.
I would like to have included a photo here of the stake-out, but I was too chicken, so instead this is one of Bridie and I reflected in a big eye in the basement of the Kelvingrove Museum on a recent trip to Glasgow.
We have finally finished the list of our top 100 films of 2008. You would be right to say that watching movies then grading them and compiling an end of year list is completely anal, but it certainly is fun! It is a joint list so there are one or two titles which are higher or lower than I would have placed them left to my own devices, but only one or two. I think it was a brilliant year for films, in fact there is a case for it being the best year ever: so many classics! I mean, what year would be better? 1939? (Wizard Of Oz, Gone With The Wind, The Women), 1950? (Sunset Boulevard, All About Eve, Rashomon), 1959? (Some Like It Hot, Room At The Top, North By Northwest), 1972? (The Godfather, Cabaret, Deliverance), 1977? (Star Wars, Saturday Night Fever, Annie Hall), 1992? (Reservoir Dogs, Waynes World, The Player). It is easy to see the past as being better, but I am not so sure. Anyway, who gives a monkey’s?
There are a couple of films we have yet to see (Gomorrah, Eden Lake, Die Hard, The Kite Runner), but here is the list:
1 Milk (wonderful and memorable as explained in previous diary entry) 2 The Diving Bell And The Butterfly (a beautiful, moving, life-affirming masterpiece) 3 Mamma Mia (don’t sneer; I love musicals and this is great – it will quite simply become the most popular musical ever) 4 Man On Wire (I recommend this to anyone, there is nothing else like it) 5 No Country For Old Men (perfect) 6 My Winnipeg (the most singular vision of the year: Guy Maddin makes movies like great indie records) 7 Mister Lonely (another great, quirky indie film – I love this, it is so uplifting and heart-warming, especially Diego Luna as Michael Jackson – needs to be seen again soon) 8 Sex & The City (OK I wouldn’t have had this one quite so high, and it doesn’t equal the brilliance of the series, but it is much better than it might have been) 9 In Bruges (instant cult classic, would make a great double bill with Withnail & I) 10 The Dark Knight (a bit long and a bit noisy, but over-whelmingly good) 11 Burn After Reading (the Coens on absolutely top form) 12 Pineapple Express (it seems to me that this will grow in stature – a future classic – with a lovely performance from James Franco ) 13 Year Of The Dog (funny, moving US small town indie from that Chuck & Buck chap) 14 Sweeney Todd (nice and dark version, and Sacha Baron Cohen always adds so much to everything he is involved with) 15 PS I Love You (this would have made a prefect Sex & The City 2, a really good, soppy romantic comedy) 16 There Will Be Blood (already a classic) 17 The Orphanage (ace Spanish ghost story) 18 Iron Man (wonderful, dry turn from Robert Downey Jnr) 19 Margot At The Wedding (under-rated, this nasty, repressed role really suits Nicole Kidman) 20 Happy Go Lucky (lovely gentle Mike Leigh movie; deceptively innovative in subject matter) 21 Paris (top notch Romain Duris ensemble piece) 22 Persepolis (already a classic) 23 Lonesome Jim (perfect Steve Buscemi US small town indie flick; Casey Affleck is so winsome) 24 30 Days Of Night (under-rated I think: a classic zombie thriller) 25 I’ve Loved You So Long (wonderfully played Kristin Scott ~Thomas drama) 26 Gone Baby Gone (I have always liked Ben Affleck and this proves me right!) 27 Heartbeat Detector (original, dizzying, challenging puzzle with the ace Mathieu Amalric) 28 Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day (charming and great to see Frances McDormand in a lead role) 29 Then She Found Me (this is a really good romantic drama from Helen Hunt and Colin Firth is turning into a great actor) 30 You Kill Me (charming San Fran Ben Kingsly hit-man comedy) 31 4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days (uncomfortable, darkly funny, brilliantly made and acted) 32 Joshua (classy lost take on Rosemary’s Baby only saw daylight last year) 33 Be Kind Rewind (charming, light Michel Gondry comedy) 34 Stardust (a family fantasy adventure that really works) 35 In Search Of A Midnight Kiss (almost classic, like an Indie LA Woody Allen) 36 Easy Virtue (classy and sharp, Colin Firth and Kristin Scott Thomas very good again) 37 Lars And The Real Girl (cool cult comedy with Ryan Gosling) 38 A Little Trip To Heaven (oddly lost Icelandic-made noir with Forrest Whitaker) 39 Twilight (highly enjoyable for a mainstream teen franchise) 40 Summer Hours (lovely thoughtful French ensemble piece) 41 Garbage Warrior (I totally recommend this inspiring documentary about Michael Reynolds, who builds self-sustaining homes out of garbage) 42 The Visitor (gentle, warm, uplifting) 43 Juno (entertaining and funny; Ellen Page is a star) 44 Taken (big, dumb, exciting, guilty, pleasure thriller from Luc Besson) 45 A History Of My Sexual Failures (charming, surprising, likeable documentary) 46 Smart People (under-rated follow-up to Sideways) 47 The Strangers (a good low-budget slasher horror with Liv Tyler) 48 Teeth (surprisingly witty and well made spoof horror – she has teeth “down there”) 49 In The Valley Of Elah (enjoyable, classy civilian/war drama with Tommy Lee Jones) 50 And When Did You Last See Your Father? (tender story of Blake Morrison’s relationship with his father – another great performance from Colin Firth!)
And here are the next 50: 51 Baby Mama 52 The Changeling 53 Stepbrothers 54 Indiana Jones 4 55 Kung Fu Panda 56 Flight Of the Red Balloon 57 Horton Hears A Who 58 Priceless 59 Garage 60 We Own The Night 61 Her Name Is Sabine 62 American Gangster 63 Female Agents 64 Nim’s Island 65 XXY 66 The Mist 67 Dan In Real Life 68 The Savages 69 Hallam Foe 70 Ghost Town 71 Annie Liebowitz 72 Walk Hard 73 Son Of Rambow 74 We Are Together 75 Madagascar 2 76 While She Was Out 77 Underdog 78 Tropic Thunder 79 The Air I Breathe 80 Inkheart 81 Space Chimps 82 The Lookout 83 Show Of Hands 84 Wake Up Ron Burgundy 85 P2 86 Death At A Funeral 87 The Wackness 88 The Rocker 89 Meet Dave 90 27 Dresses 91 The Fall 92 Cous Cous 93 Syndromes Of A Century 94 Honey Dripper 95 Silent Light 96 Swing Vote 97 X Files 2 98 You The Living 99 Comedy Of Power 100 Somers Town
Clearly some of these were not technically 2008, but, hey, it’s our list… Roll on 2009!


if you were to project a film onto the side of a building in your street in a guerilla action for the benefit of the people in the street, which one out of the 100 would it be?

• Posted by scribblin' tyke at 3:57 pm on Jan 29th, 2009

My Winnipeg would look great projected onto the side of a building. In fact, Guy Maddin’s forthcoming short film is just that. Man On Wire, Mister Lonely, Persepolis and The Fall would also make really good projections. Not sure any would constitute guerilla activity though… It is quite a lively street anyway, someone was shot a few weeks ago – “Don’t worry, it’s only a car back-firing” was my response…

• Posted by Shirley at 2:02 pm on Jan 30th, 2009
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