It's not you, it's me..... : 2005 was a year of almosts. I was "lucky" enough to see many films I admired but couldn't quite embrace. By any reasonable measure they are all "good films," but some niggling detail (political, narrative, formal) kept me from being completely convinced. Add to this that each and every one of these films has been declared a hands-down masterpiece by at least one respected acquaintance, and you've got a new wrinkle in the "pretentious top ten" problem. My churlishness just makes it look like I'm trying to be a contrarian bad-ass (I think we all know a few of those), or that I just can't let myself love movies on their own terms. So, here's to love on our own terms. They're the only ones we ever know.

Dear Caché (Hidden),

You are a really neat little mystery film, and a bold step forward for your maker, Michael Haneke, in terms of narrative coherence and tense plotting. And yet these are not really the things I want from Haneke films. You are anchored by a twitchy time bomb of a protagonist; I can't think of an actor who gave a better performance in 2005 than Daniel Auteuil. But the streamlining of your plot mechanics meant that a lot of the dispersal and resonance of earlier films by your maker -- Code Unknown and The Seventh Continent in particular -- was lost, resulting in an above-average Euro-thriller but a tiny step back for Haneke. Also, you're a bit too optimistic in the era of Le Pen. It just ain't working like it oughta, toots. Let's move on.

Sorry. 7/10.


Dear The New World,

God, you are beautiful. You are one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen. I mean, your editing is a little off, but still, you look great and any top ten list would be lucky to have you. But I just don't think we're right for each other. It's not just that you focus on a topic that has present-day political ramifications and treat it as though it were safely a part of our nation's past. Although there is that. (Did you know that there are still Native Americans, many of whom are currently making legal claims to their own sovereign lands? Oh, well, that's okay.) Mainly I just had this odd feeling when we were together, like your poetry concealed a certain noncommital aspect of your nature. Who are you? What are you about? I still don't know, and while part of me appreciates the mystery, another part just lumbers away, perplexed. What do you want from me anyway? Did I mention that you're beautiful, almost too much so for this world? Sadly, this is the world I live in.

Sorry. 7/10


Dear A History of Violence,

This is hard for me. I hardly know what to say. Maybe I should just shoot straight with you. You're a B-picture. Now, I don't mean this in a bad way. Lots of really cool movies fall into this category. But really, you and I had a good time and all, expecting some big twist that never came (good for you!) and having that steamy rendezvous on the stairs and oh yeah, William Hurt. He was awesome. But you're just not quite top ten material, and if that hurts you I'm sorry. I know lots of other viewers love you, but to me, it's like you just reflect back whatever anyone wants to see in you. Critique of violence in the Gulf War II era? Okay. Portrait of fractured masculinity? You got it. Subdued Cronenbergian treatise on the body in crisis? I'm your film. Etc. Etc. I mean, look, I enjoyed our time together but surely you didn't think this was serious, did you?

Sorry. 7/10


Dear Memories of Murder,

Um, frankly I don't know why you've got other people so hot and bothered. You're a forlorn little police procedural, but tonally, you're, um, kind of a tramp. Your jokes aren't funny, but more than that, you have no business making them in the first place. Seriously, I think you have a lot of growing up to do, and I'm not the viewer to help you do it. Anyhow, have a good life. Maybe you'll be remade someday.

Sorry. 7/10


Dear 2046,

God damn it. You broke my heart. I thought we were living in a dream. But really it was just a lovely but typical trajectory, one thing after another and then it's over. Where did I think it was going? That's just it. I didn't care where it was going, I just liked being with you. But then I saw that you had a pretty obvious agenda. It was right there the whole time. Was I blind? Seriously, though, I know it's not your fault. I projected all my fantasies on you, and you stood there helpless, flickering in the dark, waiting for me to really see you. When I did, I knew it wasn't right. And for that I'm truly ashamed. I may be a cad, but you'll certainly love again. And again. And again.

Sorry. 7/10