2009 Film Review

(Edit © Kees van Dijkhuizen, 2009)

2009 ended on a rather low note, finishing a decade in film with no shortage of ups and downs. It was a year that started with the omen of huge changes for the industry, the most significant among them was the adoption of 3-D by all Hollywood majors as the new reigning format. 3-D offers the advantage of successfully putting piracy at bay, as well as being the perfect excuse to raise the price of the admisión, with the alibi of the more expensive technological novelty.

The extra dimension has meant already a big push for popular genres such as animation (“Up”; “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”); horror and science-fiction. “Avatar” is now confirmed as the biggest grossing movie of all time. But its predictable boom was preceded by other excellent works still in the conventional two dimensions –“District 9”; “Star Trek” o “Moon”. Altogether they have put back in the map a long-time devalued genre, lately reduced to the realms of comic adaptation.

But if blockbusters and pop-corn consumption are in good health; art house and world movies gave worrying signs of creative draught, surrounded by alert voices against the narrative impoverishment 3-D is likely to brin. World cinematography has endured a particularly weak twelve months in which the emerging Asian and Latin-American productions seem to have lost part of its attraction in the western world.

Europe offered two of the year’s biggest surpirses: “Let The Right One In” and “A Prophet”, but it didn’t shine exactly for the quantity of its output. The year for reputable authors was rather mixed: For every masterpiece (Haneke impressed with “The White Ribbon”; The Coens achieved at last their long-time pursued great comedy in “A Serious Man”; Kathryn Bigelow’s raw vision of war in Irak caused enormous impact; Gus Van Sant was in charge to take to the big screen the iconic life of gay politician Harvey Milk and Charlie Kauffman debuted as director with the peak of his already verified unique imagination, “Synecdoche, New York”) we also found multiple flops (New works by Frears; Almodóvar; Eastwood; Amenabar and many others didn’t reach their expected high standards). All of it was underlined by notably popular movies such as “500 Days Of Summer”, irrefutable evidence of the ethos and esthetic values of the American independent filmmaking being totally swallowed by the mainstream, without having found anything that replaces them –the mumblecore trend is still in its embryonic phase and cannot considered a true heir.

And finally, the disturbing impression that the film industry is confining the most serious and adult cinema for the months surrounding the awards season; leaving the rest of the year just for blockbusters and a few minor titles that didn’t achieve much luck in terms of nominations or honors. This reduces the diversity of the cinematic offer and does not bring much joy to those who conceive cinema as an art able to transcend mere entertainment.


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