I still love movies. But this year made it a little more difficult to love them because I often walked out of the theater simply feeling ripped off. I did have a few that I liked, though I can't recall a comedy that made me giddy or a romantic flick that made me sigh. And there was really only one flick that made me appreciate the big screen of a theater.
Released separately on DVD as two movies, Death Proof and Planet Terror, the US theatrical release of Grindhouse was a financial failure. But the double feature was double-the-fun with bonus "trailers" and a truly quirky arthouse meets grindhouse vibe to the presentation. From the carefully replicated worn look of Rodriguez's Planet Terror to the missing reel of Vanessa Ferlito's lapdance (admittedly, a nice addition on the DVD release) these guys tried to bring the onscreen experience of '70s sub-prime cinema to a new generation. The ambience was there, but Rodriguez managed to make a really cool zombie flick in the process, and Tarantino -- with his lack of CGI that was more than compensated for by the incredible Zoe Bell and the mesmerizing-menacing presence of Kurt Russell -- created another near-masterpiece of thrills that utterly bored most audiences.
It was generally a shit year for women in movies. But Planet Terror unleashed vampy-vixen Rose McGowen, while Death Proof had the ultimate trio of Tracie Thoms, Rosario Dawson, and Zoe Bell.
While the underlying premise of Grindhouse was to harken back to a sleazier, previous movie experience, I can't help but worry about the critical and commercial rejection of this film in 2007 and what it means for the future of movies.
I will give props to Matt Damon and The Bourne Ultimatum. Despite Paul Greengrass's over-use of the shaky cam, this is an action franchise that delivers the action. And Damon finally snagged his long-coveted spot as People's SMA. Also not bad? Live Free or Die Hard. Bruce is still sexy when he bleeds.
You know I love my TV, so picking one favorite is difficult. But 30 Rock has those weird running jokes about the Shinehardt Wig Company and "Werewolf Bar Mitzvah". Liz Lemon is an attractive, smart and talented woman, and yet she's a total loser in the 30 Rock universe, with her bras held together with tape and penchant for eating Pop Tarts that may or may not have been previously used as sex toys. Also? Alec Baldwin. There is nothing left to say.
The Sopranos finished its run with what may be remembered as the most contentious finale in TV history. Love it or hate it, that cut to black really shouldn't undermine a season that did so successfully what Grindhouse attempted. It linked back to the classics and updated and reimagined in startling new ways. The scene of Tony standing as Godfather to Christopher's daughter still lingers in my head as the defining moment of the series -- both archly coy and deeply disturbing.
If you hated the ending of The Sopranos, then you definitely loved the ending of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. Talk about tying up every end. Quidditch on a crutch, man. She sure as shit did go on... and on. And then she went on some more to elaborate in press conferences that Dumbledore was gay. That revelation, it was about as shocking as Clemens and the juicing, huh? Guess she ended any potential mainstream/literary conversation with this finale.
In the literary realm, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz lived up to its name. And Don DeLillo's Falling Man lived up to DeLillo's reputation.
And in the pulp realm, Paris Noir was a great collection of shorts about the shadows in the city of light.