Nearly everybody agrees that 1999 was a terrific yr for films. We right here at The A.V. Membership don’t beg to vary: We affirmed that consensus opinion final summer season, once we revisited and ranked the bygone yr’s best movies, discovering no scarcity of previous favorites that also regarded like triumphs within the harsh gentle of hindsight. (Sure, Battle Membership holds up. Actually!) But when ’99’s fame as a mini- cinematic renaissance stays roughly undisputed, what might be mentioned in regards to the yr that adopted? What has been mentioned about it?
There are fewer champions, definitely, of our new millennium’s first new films, particularly if you restrict it to those that hit American theaters earlier than Y2K develop into Y2K1. Loads of important appraisers in December of 20 years previous couldn’t assist however evaluate the perfect films of the yr to the perfect films of the earlier yr. The Oscars didn’t a lot assist 2000’s rep: As Hollywood’s blockbuster model of an old style swordplay epic took on the unexpectedly successful-in-America Chinese language model, the undercard painted an image of an off yr for the medium… even when a couple of of the nomination leaders had been really fairly good. (See beneath.) After which there was the sudden proliferation of flicks shot on video—not the glossy, celluloid-approximating video we’ve grown accustomed to right now, however the primitive low-grade type seen (and by no means efficiently unseen) in adventurous however butt-ugly indies like Chuck & Buck, Time Code, and Lars von Trier’s in any other case very good Dancer In The Darkish. If there’s any such factor as a transitional yr within the endless ahead flux of moviemaking, Y2K would possibly qualify, at the least on technological grounds.
But when 2000 couldn’t compete, within the instant estimations of cinephiles, with the treasures of 1999, far has carried out favors to the cream of its crop. Which is to say, sure, there have been loads of excellent films launched on the daybreak of the century. American comedy made a robust displaying, with filmmakers just like the Coen brothers, Christopher Visitor, and even David Mamet providing up a few of their most gut-busting options. “Unadaptable” books acquired very good diversifications. Lars von Trier made a musical. Jim Jarmursch made a samurai image. Steven Soderbergh dropped two films in 9 months. In the meantime, the art-house was flooded with first-rate visions from around the globe, not all of them that includes clashing blades on verdant treetops. And, in a single constructive growth for the trade, loads of films by girls made a splash with critics and audiences—not at all a typical prevalence then.
To slim issues down, we as traditional restricted ourselves to movies launched in America someday over the yr in query. Which means, as soon as once more, that a couple of holdovers from the earlier yr’s competition circuit (see, for instance, No. 2 or No. 7) had been deemed eligible, but in addition that a couple of that premiered in 2000 however didn’t hit theaters by New Yr’s Eve had been disqualified. (Examine again subsequent summer season for an inventory that includes movies from Christopher Nolan, Wong Kar-wai, and one of many best Cannes Movie Festivals ever.) In any other case, the checklist beneath displays solely the style of the 13 contributors who voted—and, moreover, how they felt every week in the past, not 20 years in the past. For a 2000 tackle the 2000 yr in movie, seek the advice of Google. Simply be ready to listen to how a lot better the films of ’99 had been.
An actual documentary about aggressive canine breeding would presumably characteristic some eccentric characters of its personal. The mockumentary model, set within the kooky and warm-hearted world of Christopher Visitor, is sort of a ThunderShirt for people. Visitor’s ensemble is at its strongest right here, with Ready For Guffman gamers Catherine O’Hara, Parker Posey, Michael McKean, Michael Hitchcock, Eugene Levy, and the director himself returning to the fold. The movie additionally introduces some hilarious new faces to the Guestverse, like Jennifer Coolidge and Jane Lynch as, respectively, a canine breeder and coach whose affair isn’t as clandestine as they assume it’s, and John Michael Higgins because the loving however high-maintenance hairdresser dad of shih tzus Miss Agnes and Tyrone. It’s the loving half that’s key to Greatest In Present’s enchantment; even laugh-out-loud jokes like Fred Willard’s clueless coloration commentary have a sweetness that blends completely with the silliness, making a comedy as cozy as it’s hilarious. [Katie Rife]
“Is it true that you just by no means discuss to no person and you bought no associates?” Pearline (Camille Winbush) asks the hitman Ghost Canine (Forest Whitaker), shortly earlier than his variety of associates climbs to 2, her included. The opposite, an ice cream man (Isaach de Bankolé), doesn’t communicate English. It doesn’t matter that the pair can’t talk with language; understanding arrives by feeling. The identical might be mentioned of Jim Jarmusch’s humorous however undeniably mournful crime drama. Anchored by the magnetic Whitaker and pulled inexorably ahead by a can’t-miss rating from RZA, Ghost Canine tosses out tropes from Westerns, samurai footage, mob movies, and noir, all to drop us into the lifetime of a personality adhering to a code (or style) nobody else follows. Whitaker’s stillness acts as line breaks do in poetry: It permits Jarmusch to punctuate the sparse dialogue, bursts of violence, and surreal, nearly cartoonish humor with tranquility, like a cardinal balanced on the barrel of a sniper rifle. [Allison Shoemaker]
Michael Almereyda’s eclectic, three-decade profession is essentially made up of impressed oddities, and his modern-dress adaptation of The Bard’s longest play is not any exception. Starring Ethan Hawke because the moody crown prince of the Denmark Company, this Y2K Hamlet bursts with visible invention and witty anachronism, treating its up to date New York Metropolis backdrop with a real sense of wonderment, whereas additionally capitalizing on the jarring disorientation of its ultra-modern setting. Effectively-known for his varied experiments with the PixelVision digicam, Almereyda juxtaposes a spread of low-grade video codecs with hyper-clear pictures of high-rise penthouses and Wall Avenue wealth. Working slightly below two hours, the movie is simply too aggressively pared all the way down to be a very definitive Hamlet. However for its technology-driven transformation of the textual content, it’s among the many most imaginative. [Lawrence Garcia]
The late Abbas Kiarostami closed out a decade of poetic cinema with a languid group portrait that doubles as an appreciation of life’s small ironies. The Wind Will Carry Us follows a four-person movie crew—led by “The Engineer” (Behzad Dorani), the one member we meet—that travels to a distant village hoping to seize the mourning rituals of the locals following the approaching dying of a 100-year-old girl. Sadly for them, the girl not solely doesn’t die, her well being really improves, stranding the staff in limbo. To cross the time, the Engineer invests himself within the townsfolk’s struggles. Kiarostami typically retains key info out of body, relegating it to the dense, intricate soundtrack; he primarily invitations audiences to fill within the visible blanks with their very own creativeness, and cues them to the rhythms of every day rural life. The director’s type was at all times distinctive, however hardly ever was it extra intellectually and emotionally participating. [Vikram Murthi]
Though it was marketed as a supernatural thriller, M. Evening Shyamalan’s follow-up to The Sixth Sense turned out to be an ingenious superhero origin story set within the writer-director’s mythic Philadelphia. A way of thriller and remorse surrounds its reluctant hero (Bruce Willis) and the rich comedian guide collector (Samuel L. Jackson) who helps him uncover his powers, creating some of the suave (and shifting) statements of Shyamalan’s profession theme of miracles and clashes of excellent and evil hiding in plain sight. Whereas Unbreakable’s fame as the lifelike superhero anti-blockbuster has solely grown since comedian guide films and franchises achieved international domination, a big a part of its eerie efficiency is owed to the truth that it nonetheless delivers on all the quintessential pleasures of a post-Batman superhero movie—from memorable costuming to a knockout rating—with type. [Ignatiy Vishnevetsky]
The struggle on medication is a failure, and nearly everybody in Site visitors is aware of it. Steven Soderbergh received the Greatest Director Oscar—beating his work on Erin Brockovich, for which he was additionally nominated—for this ensemble drama following the competing maneuvers of a drug czar (Michael Douglas), a Mexican police officer (Benicio del Toro), two DEA brokers (Don Cheadle and Luis Guzmán), and a kingpin’s housewife (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Stephen Gaghan’s script, tailored from a British miniseries, explores how fluidly forces of greed transfer over the American/Mexican border, devastating either side. Site visitors is most within the heroism (and, typically, the futility) of combating corruption—a theme that will come to form the remainder of Soderbergh’s profession; he’s since develop into one among American cinema’s most astute critics of establishments, and the way typically they’re at odds with the very folks they had been created to guard. [Roxana Hadadi]
Perhaps Excessive Constancy is meant to look problematic right now: a glorification of snobby gatekeepers, rockists, and dangerous boyfriends that’s predicated on decreasing actual life to top-five lists. However take into account the appreciable daring of John Cusack lending his sensitive-guy picture to a self-obsessed record-store proprietor who’s, all issues thought-about, much less likable than the murderer-for-hire he performed in Grosse Pointe Clean. Excessive Constancy shares with that darkish comedy a screenwriting staff and an ambivalent relationship with nostalgia (together with, sure, one other killer soundtrack). It’s additionally uncommonly perceptive about its characters’ ethical weaknesses whereas understanding the walled-off attract of sitting round making pointlessly authoritative lists (ahem), whether or not of “aspect ones, observe ones” or devastating breakups. These qualities had been current within the Nick Hornby novel, right here faithfully transposed from London to Chicago, however they achieve resonance when positioned into the Cusack canon of nerdy heartbreak. Excessive Constancy now feels downright prescient on the fraught relationship between the ecstasy of fandom and the agony of being type of a bastard. [Jesse Hassenger]
Due to Parasite’s sudden Oscar victory, mainstream America is lastly discovering Korean cinema, however cinephiles have lengthy identified of the demented improvements emanating from that nation’s southern half. Lee Myung-se’s Nowhere To Disguise might be onerous to abdomen, particularly at this historic second—the movie arguably celebrates police brutality, cheering on cops who assume primarily with their fists—however few motion films have pushed visible abstraction to such delirious heights. A fistfight photographed completely as shadows on partitions; a wrestling match that abruptly metamorphoses into a young waltz; black-and-white footage punctuated with what appear to be hand-colored freeze frames (synchronized to the musical rating); an assassination set piece constructed across the atypical, non-disco Bee Gees hit “Vacation”—there’s scarcely a second that doesn’t prioritize type over substance, typically to the purpose the place the latter feels downright irrelevant. Lee in the end did not create a brand new type of cinema, however this preliminary try stays galvanizing. [Mike D’Angelo]
It ought to have been one among Hollywood’s most notable disasters: Years into manufacturing on an animated epic referred to as Kingdom Of The Solar, Disney determined that the undertaking wasn’t working, inspiring its director (Roger Allers, who co-helmed The Lion King) to stop. A number of songs that Sting had been commissioned to jot down had been scrapped, and the entire thing was unexpectedly re-conceived as a broad, wacky comedy, with an obnoxious supporting character voiced by David Spade changing into the movie’s new protagonist. It seems like a sure-fire recipe for failure, however alternative director Mark Dindal and his crew apparently felt liberated by the chaos, adopting a what-the-hell angle that embraced sheer lunacy for its personal sake. The result’s as shut as Disney has ever come to Chuck Jones’ anarchic sensibility, exemplified by the second during which villain Yzma (Eartha Kitt) orders dim-bulb flunky Kronk (Patrick Warburton) to tug the (mistaken) secret lever, dropping her right into a pit of crocodiles, and returns to wearily ask, “Why will we even have that lever?” [Mike D’Angelo]
Love & Basketball didn’t put too many factors on the field workplace board. However wanting again, its eventual rise to cult-classic standing—and its affect on a era of filmmakers—ought to have been predictable. Gina Prince-Bythewood’s directorial debut spans a number of many years, or “4 quarters,” as aspiring professional gamers Monica (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy (Omar Epps) attempt to stability their private lives with their athletic goals. One of many few sports activities films to this present day instructed from a lady’s standpoint, the movie can be a deeply nuanced portrait of Black love, with eager insights into evolving gender roles and Black affluence within the golden age of hip-hop and NBA superstardom. From its psychologically expressive gameplay scenes to its creative sensuality (a sport of strip-hoops stands out), Love & Basketball reinvigorated the sports activities drama, and paved a path for its reinvention. [Beatrice Loayza]
David Mamet channels his caustic wit and cynicism right into a Preston Sturges-esque ensemble comedy a couple of Hollywood manufacturing that takes over a tiny Vermont city. The massive-fish-in-a-small-pond premise is nothing new, however a solid of ringers (William H. Macy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Alec Baldwin, amongst others) livens it up, as does Mamet’s singular rhythmic dialogue. Line for line, State And Essential is the funniest American movie of the yr, however its politics have aged curiously effectively, too—not one thing that may be mentioned about many different works by this playwright-turned-filmmaker. The second half hinges on the manufacturing’s determined makes an attempt to cowl up their star’s sexual abuse, and the movie nails the ethical cowardice from nearly everybody concerned, whose rationalizing rhetoric ceaselessly performs like essentially the most cringeworthy defenses from #MeToo’s worst offenders. Mamet’s conclusion is depressingly salient: When sufficient cash and energy is concerned, “doing the correct factor” has little real-world worth past the safety of 1’s soul. Seems the movie, very like the film-within-a-film, actually is about purity. [Vikram Murthi]
Not since his alter ego hurled a garbage can by the window of Sal’s Well-known Pizzeria had Spike Lee tapped so immediately into his personal righteous anger. Combining components of previous showbiz indictments like Community and The Producers, this scathing satire follows a Black TV govt (Damon Wayans) whose scheme to free himself from his contract backfires spectacularly when his intentionally offensive creation—a throwback minstrel selection present, set on a watermelon patch and starring Black actors in blackface—turns into an unbelievable hit with viewers and critics alike. Lee overstuffs the movie with subplots, broad supporting characters, and editorializing asides, however he by no means loses sight of his thesis: how dehumanizing stereotypes have advanced over the many years, taking up the cosmopolitan form of “edgy” comedy and satire itself to wedge themselves deeper into the cracks and crevices of our popular culture. Grossly underrated upon launch, Bamboozled appears timelier than ever because the lie of a post-racial America has crumbled in broad daylight; the one factor dated in regards to the movie is its hideous digital cinematography. [A.A. Dowd]
Regardless that all of the brief tales in Denis Johnson’s 1992 assortment Jesus’ Son are narrated by the identical man—a sloppy junkie identified solely as “Fuckhead”—the guide appeared like unlikely fodder for a film adaptation, on condition that its vignettes are sometimes grotesque, surreal, and solely loosely related. However director Alison Maclean, a staff of screenwriters, and star Billy Crudup (ably supported by an eclectic solid of top-shelf character actors) discovered a significant narrative in Johnson’s work, turning it right into a picaresque story of life on the margins. The candy, soulful Fuckhead—talking all through in Crudup’s quirkily halting voice—takes us on a tour by the unusual and darkly comedian lives of drug sellers and customers in America’s heartland. At the same time as he himself tries to discover a means out of habit, the person stays a eager observer of humanity at its greatest and worst—by no means judging, ever-marveling. [Noel Murray]
The North Carolina of George Washington is a liminal area between naturalism and romanticism, between the tough realities of an impoverished America and the goals of its younger inhabitants. Following a gaggle of principally Black adolescents over a kind of sweltering final summers of childhood that possibly exist solely within the films, David Gordon Inexperienced’s micro-budget first characteristic stays one of many nice indie debuts of the brand new millennium—and for Inexperienced himself, a troublesome act to observe, which can clarify the zigzagging course his profession has taken within the years since, swerving from Hollywood stoner comedies to slasher reboots. If the filmmaker by no means returned to the earnest magic of George Washington—a younger man’s film in each sense—loads of others tried to conjure it anew; simply as Inexperienced drew from the 1970s triumphs of Terrence Malick and Charles Burnett, his personal swoony type has echoed by Sundance sensations and denims commercials. [A.A. Dowd]
“What do you like about music?” teenage journalist William Miller (Patrick Fugit) asks Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup), the “guitarist with mystique” in mid-tier 1970s rock band Stillwater. “To start with, all the things,” Russell says, reducing by the toxicity, ego, and hubris that Cameron Crowe depicts with simultaneous honesty and heat over the previous two hours (or two and a half, within the luxurious director’s minimize) of his semi-autobiographical dramedy. William is meant to take care of skepticism as he tags alongside on Stillwater’s cross-country tour, however he can’t assist falling in love with the poetic fruitlessness of a struggling, often transcendent band—and with world’s best fan Penny Lane, dropped at life by a by no means higher Kate Hudson. For that matter, has anybody on this film ever been higher elsewhere? Even heavyweights like Frances McDormand and Philip Seymour Hoffman match their greatest work in an ensemble that imbues each participant with palpable pleasure and unhappiness as they stay, breathe, and yell at one another. Crowe loves hokey 1973 rock ’n’ roll, certain, however he loves his characters much more. [Jesse Hassenger]
Joel and Ethan Coen’s O Brother The place Artwork Thou? has a shaggy-dog high quality to it, as if the brothers had been nonetheless shaking off a White Russian-and-Maui Wowie hangover from The Huge Lebowski. Or possibly it’s simply the humidity, because the writer-directors collect up a complete mess of 1930s pop cultural signifiers, wrap them up right into a bindle, and embark on a joyful ramble by the Melancholy-era South. The title of the movie is a reference to Preston Sturges’ screwball basic Sullivan’s Travels, and the construction is cribbed from Homer’s Odyssey, however the true coronary heart of the movie lies within the extra homespun artwork type of its bluegrass soundtrack. George Clooney brings movie-star charisma to the proceedings as Everett, chief of a bumbling trio of escaped convicts; he’s accompanied by John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson as Pete Hogwallop and Delmar O’Donnell, humble males whose obtuse tendencies might be readily discerned from their Christian patronymics (because the grandiloquent Everett would put it). Offstage, they’re needed criminals. Onstage they’re the Soggy Backside Boys, a singing group whose debut music, “Man Of Fixed Sorrow,” is best than it has any proper to be—each inside the movie and with out. [Katie Rife]
Out of all of the selfless girls within the Lars von Trier oeuvre, none are subjected to extra sadistic anti-karma than Selma (Björk), the practically blind immigrant manufacturing unit employee who escapes into imaginary song-and-dance numbers in Dancer In The Darkish. But the Danish provocateur’s 1960s-set tackle the Hollywood musical is one among his most fluid and compelling works. Regardless of the deglamorized video aesthetic (which incorporates complicated musical fantasy sequences minimize collectively from a wide range of static, surveillance-like angles), von Trier’s signature mix of emotional manipulation and deconstructive distancing results is as heightened as ever, drawing the movie’s disarming sincerity to a grim conclusion. The behind-the-scenes relationship between the director and Björk was notoriously poisonous, however good luck discovering any proof of it on display on this imaginative and prescient of punished innocence. That somebody like Selma couldn’t exist in our world is in the end the purpose. [Ignatiy Vishnevetsky]
Amid all of the poverty and abuse and harrowing deaths typical of British miserablism, Lynne Ramsay salvages magnificence, compassion, and valuable life to succeed in a high-water mark of that pejoratively termed motion. In her debut characteristic, the 30-year-old Scot resisted the bludgeoning dourness that hangs over many superficially related neorealist dramas, matching her unsparing depictions of trauma and hardship in ’70s Glasgow with passages of arresting lyrical marvel. A mouse tied to a balloon sails to the moon and joins a colony of its completely happy brethren; in essentially the most transcendent scene, our boy James (a sturdy but weak William Eadie) climbs by a window and takes off into an Elysian discipline of wheat, fleet and free. He’s acquired a lot value escaping, which Ramsay duly articulates. And but just like the protagonists of the opposite three movies within the compact Ramsay canon, he has no alternative however to forge forward out of the darkness, a technique or one other. [Charles Bramesco]
Earlier than Misplaced In Translation established Sofia Coppola as one of many foremost authorities on boredom and ennui, her dreamy debut—an adaptation of the celebrated novel by Jeffrey Eugenides—provided a radical, haunting portrait of girlhood and thwarted puberty draped in floral print and delicate pink. Who had been the Lisbon ladies, and why did they determine to take their very own lives? These questions linger within the minds of a gaggle of neighborhood boys, whose perspective we undertake as they battle to know these legendary younger girls and their fiery ringleader, Lux (a luminous Kirsten Dunst). Countering the insufficient phrases of her male narrator, Coppola steeps the movie in intoxicating, impressionistic imagery—white attire with grass stains, a sweater clinging to a naked shoulder, shiny magazines and sluggish our bodies unfold out on a carpet. The Virgin Suicides is that uncommon coming-of-age movie during which the thriller of the teenage lady coexists with a palpable understanding of what it feels wish to be one, stifled and craving for extra. [Beatrice Loayza]
Lengthy overshadowed by The Age Of Innocence (which boasts larger film stars and a legendary director working towards kind), Terence Davies’ exquisitely odd tackle Edith Wharton’s 1905 novel nonetheless ranks among the many very best literary diversifications of the previous 20 years. Davies one way or the other acknowledged a hitherto untapped high quality in Gillian Anderson, who was nonetheless identified nearly completely as Dana Scully on the time (the movie was shot between seasons seven and eight of The X-Information); her efficiency as Lily Bart, a poor and independent-minded girl struggling to take care of her tenuous place in excessive society, is so intensely deliberate that it creates the impression of somebody treating her very existence as a theatrical position, striving to maintain it sufficiently diverting that potential benefactors don’t lose curiosity. The movie opens with a tone of wry amusement and strikes inexorably, nearly imperceptibly, towards resigned devastation. [Mike D’Angelo]
When it first premiered, American Psycho was seen as a really particular satire of 1980s tradition. However its story of a murderous Wall Avenue funding banker has solely confirmed increasingly more timeless since. In adapting Bret Easton Ellis’ controversial 1991 novel, director Mary Harron and her co-writer, Guinevere Turner, pared down the guide’s violence, upped its satire, and added a pointed feminist lens. They usually anchored the movie across the darkest of jokes: The common entitled finance bro is actually indistinguishable from a serial killer. Christian Bale’s egoless efficiency is vital to promoting the humor of Patrick Bateman’s vanity-obsessed, embarrassingly uncool world of aggressive machismo, the place enterprise card pissing contests and restaurant reservation anxiousness are the norm. (Good luck getting a desk at Dorsia.) Due to Harron’s pitch-perfect mastery of tone, American Psycho is alternately disturbing, absurd, and laugh-out-loud humorous. It’s additionally a prescient warning in regards to the intertwining risks of capitalism and poisonous masculinity. [Caroline Siede]
The Chinese language movie trade was in a state of flux in 2000, because the 1997 handover of Hong Kong and China’s impending entry to the World Commerce Group threatened to upset previous balances of energy. Nonetheless, nobody anticipated a wuxia throwback from a Taiwanese director already ensconced in Hollywood to popularize the extra romantic aspect of Chinese language-language motion filmmaking for the worldwide lots. Ang Lee’s sweeping, balletic throwback enchanted viewers (and blew minds) around the globe. That includes a solid that included bona fide superstars Chow Yun-fat, Michelle Yeoh, and Cheng Pei-pei—in addition to standout newcomer Zhang Ziyi—this elegantly choreographed story set in 18th-century China launched thousands and thousands of viewers to the exhilarating artistry of Chinese language sword-and-chivalry martial arts epics. They usually responded to the tune of greater than $200 million worldwide. [Katie Rife]
A wayward soul (Mark Ruffalo) returns to his charming however stifling hometown to go to his extra accountable sister (Laura Linney). Collectively, the 2 mirror on their previous, current, and future, working by their belief points. The premise of this primary characteristic from writer-director Kenneth Lonergan, who’d go on to make Margaret and Manchester By The Sea, sounds just like the dreariest type of indie drama. However Lonergan’s writing and staging—coupled with two heartbreakingly vivid lead performances—is so bracingly current, revealing who these individuals are by what they do, in scenes which are typically brief and to the purpose. You Can Rely On Me expresses its themes in easy slice-of-life moments, the place one thing as primary as whether or not a flighty member of the family can reliably carry out a every day errand provokes edge-of-the-seat suspense. [Noel Murray]
A reverie of physicalities and opacities transforms Claire Denis’ reimagining of the unfinished Herman Melville novella Billy Budd into an enigmatic ballet. At a International Legion camp in Djibouti the place recruits spend their days in coaching drills and their nights in native dance golf equipment, an officer (the singular Denis Lavant) turns into consumed with jealousy towards a younger legionnaire (Grégoire Colin). Although wealthy in references and subtexts, this masterpiece is superbly immune to intellectualization. From its opening moments, one is solely invited to drift, as Denis weaves her fascinations (amongst them male our bodies, music, and the African nations of her childhood) right into a ceaselessly wordless film that feels equal elements improvised and permeated with poetic double meanings, constructing to a transcendent closing shot. Beau Travail stays Denis’ most celebrated work, and one of many important artwork movies of the flip of the millennium. [Ignatiy Vishnevetsky]
Edward Yang knew life was bittersweet. Why else would he start his closing movie at a marriage and finish it with a funeral? Yi Yi, a serene masterpiece of longing, remorse, and commiseration, unfolds over the yr (and three hours of working time) separating these occasions. The late, nice Taiwanese director gracefully juggles the connection woes of a middle-aged father (Wu Nien-jen), his teenage daughter (Kelly Lee), and his financially irresponsible brother-in-law (Xisheng Chen), in vast photographs so artfully composed they might be displayed in a museum. He creates some lovely rhymes, too, as in a passage that intercuts a reunion between estranged lovers with the hesitant courtship of a primary date. If the filmmaker has an onscreen surrogate, it’s a bit of boy with a digicam, snapping footage of individuals’s napes to point out them the world from a brand new perspective. However one also can see a bit of of Yang, who died of most cancers a couple of years after the movie’s launch, within the parting, probably imagined affection of an ailing grandmother, coming back from the brink of oblivion to supply some solace earlier than she goes. In a means, isn’t that what Yang gave us with this magnificent swan music: a farewell as comforting as a heat embrace? [A.A. Dowd]