PRINT December 2007


Amy Taubin


1 Zodiac (David Fincher) Empirical knowledge—and its limits—recorded in codes, once analog, now digital, is the underlying concern of Fincher’s splendidly bleak and brainy investigative drama based on the search for the killer who symbolized the death of the Summer of Love.

2 Paranoid Park (Gus Van Sant) Like the skateboarding kids who are its subject, this rapturously beautiful film is thrilling for its balance of precision and spontaneity.

3 Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg) Complicated morality, homoeroticized violence, terrifying tribalism, and masterfully theatrical filmmaking. Viggo Mortensen is charismatic, inscrutable, and wickedly funny. The Russian bathhouse fight scene is already a classic.

4 Razzle Dazzle: The Lost World (Ken Jacobs) As in his landmark Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son (1969), Jacobs savors and worries a silent film scrap into feature length, here translated to video from celluloid via digital pyrotechnics.

5 No End in Sight (Charles Ferguson) The smartest, best-organized, most infuriating documentary charting of almost everything that has gone wrong in Iraq.

6 Terror’s Advocate (Barbet Schroeder) Examining the life of Jacques Vergès, the monster who defended Klaus Barbie, this documentary traces connections between European, Middle Eastern, and North African terrorism of the extreme Left and Right. As always, follow the money.

7 Dance Party USA (Aaron Katz) High school kids in Portland, Oregon, hook up in tenderly lit, intimately framed low-end DV. Katz’s follow-up, Quiet City—the two films were just released as a double DVD set—is even lovelier to look at though not as astringent.

8 Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy) I didn’t think Hollywood could still make a muckraking thriller this smart, skillful, and entertaining. First-rate work from screenwriter-turned-director Gilroy and actors George Clooney and the amazing Tilda Swinton.

9 Southland Tales (Richard Kelly) I just had to reprise this alt-reality vision of Revelations played out in Venice, California. Last year, I put the Cannes version, which Kelly now admits was a work in progress, in second place. The official US release is tighter, the CGIs spiffier, and history has all but caught up to Kelly’s near-future narrative.

10 Blade Runner (Ridley Scott) and Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett) Both directors use digital technology to tease out superior DVD versions of their already classic movies (from 1982 and 1977, respectively). Scott’s allegedly final “director’s cut” is definitive proof that Deckard is a replicant.

A contributing editor of Film Comment and Sight & Sound, Amy Taubin is the author of Taxi Driver (BFI, 2000).