The movie gods smiled upon the world again in 2007 with a host of great pictures screening in festival circuits and major cities around the world. Unfortunately, few of those films made it to Egyptian screens this year.The following 10 movies represent the very best of films screened via commercial release and in different culture outlets in the last 12 months. With upcoming films from the likes of P.T. Anderson, the Coen Brothers, 2008 may be a brighter year for cinema.
10. “Fi Shaket Masr El Gedeeda (In the Heliopolis Flat)The only Egyptian entry on the list is easily the best Egyptian movie of the year. Mohamed Khan’s whimsical tale of an Upper Egypt woman searching for her missing teacher in the capital is an ode to Laila Mourad, Cairo and fading romanticism. Warm and magical – sans the cheesy clichés of the genre – the film also features a career-best performance from actress Ghada Adel.
9. “And When Did You Last See Your Father? Based on Blake Morrison’s bestselling novel, the tearjerker follows a man learning to forgive and understand his dying father. Director Anand Tucker weaves his heartfelt story with grace and poignancy, infusing his captivating English countryside scenery with Morrison’s memories and regrets.
8. “Ratatouille The best Pixar offering since “Toy Story 2 is a jubilant celebration of art and creation, the quest for perfection and a battle against mediocrity. Remy, the adorable rat that beats the odds of becoming the greatest chef in France, is eclipsed by Anton Ego (voiced by a show-stealing Peter O’Toole), the food critic who accurately embodies the essence and passion of art criticism.
7. “Children of Men Set in a chaotic, Iraq-like world where people have stopped procreating, the film traces an apathetic former activist (Clive Owen) as he attempts to save the first pregnant woman in 18 years. There are no heroes in Alfonso Cuarón’s futuristic nightmare. Every group from the seculars, the pro-immigration, the religious right and the tyrannical government abide by their agendas to the extreme. The average citizens are eventually left to reap the seeds of their indifference, and suffer the consequences of the self-righteous.
6. “Volver Pedro Almodóvar path to maturity continues with his latest work about a mother returning from the dead to reconcile with her daughter. Switching with astonishing ease from American 1950s melodramas to Hitchcockian thriller to a ghost story to media satire, the film is a tribute to women and the tiny details that make up their world. Aesthetically jaw-dropping, “Volver is Almodóvar’s most accessible film to date.
5. “Michael Clayton “Bourne scriptwriter Tony Gilroy directs one of the best legal dramas in years. George Clooney, in one of his best performances, exhumes an aura of coolness mixed with vulnerability and despair as a fixer who cleans up the dirt of his big law firm clients. An indictment and close examination of corporate America – as well as a character study of a group of damaged individuals – “Michael Clayton is slick, smart and entertaining.
4. “Letters from Iwo Jima Clint Eastwood’s masterful companion piece to “Flags of Our Fathers chronicles the famous Iwo Jima battle from the Japanese perspective. A harrowing, unflinching look at the horrors of war, Eastwood finds no heroism, significance or value worthy of the innocent lives gone to waste.
3. Tie: “4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days and “California Dreamin’ The two Cannes award winners have confirmed that 2007 is the year of the Romanians. Cristian Mungiu’s “4 Months tells the story of a woman helping her friend have an illegal abortion near the end of Ceausescu’s rule. Cristian Nemescu’s “California revolves around an American troop forced to stop on their way to deliver military equipments to Kosovo in a small Romanian village during the Balkan war. The first is gripping, unsettling thriller while the second is a black comedy.
2. “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer Tom Tykwer’s visually vivid adaptation of Patrick Süskind’s “unfilmable novel follows a young perfume maker, born without a smell of his own, as he attempts to create the ultimate perfume by murdering young virgins. Beyond Tykwer’s eye-popping spectacle and fascinating morbidity, is a tragic existential story about an alienated young man searching for happiness. Tykwer ends the film with two troubling questions: What if everything we’ve worked to achieve turns out to be nowhere as satisfactory as we assumed it would be? What if the presumed happiness associated with our most sought-after objectives turns out to be a mere illusion?
1. “The Lives of Others No other film this year came close to matching the vigor and power of Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s feature debut. Set in 1984 East Germany, a Stasi agent (the late Ulrich Mühe), conducting a surveillance on a renowned playwright and his girlfriend, becomes increasingly drawn to his suspects’ lives.”The Lives of Others is not only a re-examination of the last dark chapter in German history; it’s a story about sacrifice and the frailty of personal beliefs. It’s also a redemption story of a man finding salvation in the selfless act of protecting a stranger no different than him; a story about the possibility of goodness in a desolate world.