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10 Best Films: Heather Joslyn

By Heather Joslyn | Posted 12/20/2000

Chicken Run (Peter Lord and Nick Park, United Kingdom/United States)* A thrilling, inspirational tale of survival and derring-do, with sharp wit, riotous slapstick, touching romance, and a brainy female protagonist, told entirely through the exploits of little Plasticine chickens. What's not to love?

One Day in September (Kevin Macdonald, Germany/Switzerland/United Kingdom) An unforgettable, Oscar-winning documentary about what happened when Libyan terrorists took Israeli athletes hostage during the 1972 Olympics in Munich. September urgently captures every angle: from the Keystone Kops-like rescue attempts by German authorities to the irresponsibility of the TV crews to the chilling pride displayed by the only surviving terrorist. (Opens at the Charles Theatre Dec. 22; see Film, page 38.)

You Can Count on Me (Kenneth Lonergan, United States) A smart, miraculous indie comedy full of unsentimental heart, in which a pair of orphaned siblings struggle to make their way as adults when they reunite in their sleepy upstate-New York hometown. Mark Ruffalo is great as the sort of ne'er-do-well relative you'd trust to watch your kid but not your wallet; Laura Linney is even better as his good-girl sister, a single mom who loves the wrong men because she feels sorry for them. (Opens Dec. 22; see Film, page 37.)

My Best Fiend, Klaus Kinski (Werner Herzog, Finland/France/Germany/United Kingdom)* The love story of director Werner Herzog and drama queen Klaus Kinski, who made five renowned films together while simultaneously plotting one another's death. Even if you don't know Kinski from Col. Klink, you'll laugh yourself sick.

The Filth and the Fury (Julien Temple, United Kingdom/United States)* Using rare historical footage, clips from Laurence Olivier's Richard III (a surprising influence on John Lydon/Rotten), band interviews, and juxtapositions worthy of documentary master Errol Morris, Temple paints an indelible portrait of the Sex Pistols and the furious throwaway generation that birthed them. Along the way, he reveals a true tragic hero--not poor, doomed Sid Vicious, but brave and vulnerable Lydon, who laments, "I could take on all of England, but I couldn't take on one heroin junkie."

42 Up (Michael Apted, United Kingdom)* In 1964, Apted began tracking the lives of a bunch of British schoolchildren for the BBC, revisiting his subjects every seven years to see if, as the Jesuits say, one's character really is shaped by age 7. In its own way, this poignant portrait of boys and girls at midlife is the most deeply spiritual film of the year, with plot twists that best television's Survivor.

Sweet and Lowdown (Woody Allen, United States)* A tough-but-tender comedy about the struggles of a selfish artist to balance work and love, arriving just in time for those of us who were getting ready to turn in our Allen fan-club cards. Lowdown offered a rare chance to bask in the comic gifts of Sean Penn, and--for those trolling for nuggets of autobiography--saw Allen paying penance for all that the-heart-wants-what-it-wants crap.

Waking the Dead (Keith Gordon, United States)* Billy Crudup plays a young, blue-collar-bred lawyer who is running for the congressional seat he's coveted all his life; meanwhile, he's haunted by what might be the ghost of his lover (Jennifer Connelly). ("After the election," his ambitious sister soothes him, "we can be as crazy as we want.") Despite a cop-out ending, this sexy, luminous, intelligent sleeper was the year's best date film.

American Movie (Chris Smith, United States)* Mark Borchardt is a Bizarro World Steven Spielberg, one who never got his big break and finds working-class reality gumming up his dream works with debts, unwed fatherhood, and alcoholism. Though it walks the line between laughing at and laughing with its subject, this documentary shows why, in the 1990s, indie filmmaking attracted the sort of gifted misfits who used to write novels and form bands.

Erin Brockovich (Steven Soderbergh, United States)* In which Julia Roberts, as the real-life legal secretary who organized a massive class-action suit against a corporate polluter, puts on Norma Rae's tight clothes and finds they fit perfectly, after a little adjustment for current Hollywood standards. Erin Brockovich is a rabble-rousing entertainment dedicated to the proposition that hard-working, pissed-off, potty-mouthed single moms are the backbone of our society; it works because, well, they are.

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The Year In Tracks (12/15/2009)
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The Year in News (12/9/2009)

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More from Heather Joslyn

In Memoriam (10/3/2007)
Pamela Purdy, 1940-2007

Vampire's Kiss (5/15/2002)
Larry Kramer Creator David Drake Explores His Family's Secret History in Son of Drakula

Living in Darkness (12/12/2001)
James Carr, 1942-2001

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