2019 Top Ten List

My feelings towards 2019 as a year-in-film are mixed, because it felt like two radically different years fused together in the middle whose individual parts ultimately coalesced about as well as bone marrow and cheddar cheese. January until about June was one of the most disheartening seasons I can recall, and that was despite a conscious effort to avoid movies I knew I’d hate such as Godzilla: King of the Kong and X-Men XXII: Dark Phoenix Revisited. I must have angered the Indie Film Gods at some point, because there were key movies in the early portions of 2019 that I had pegged for a slot on the ol’ Top Ten that proved woefully disappointing. In fact, until about July I had been getting ready to give up on films altogether and devote myself to more worthy pursuits, such as reading, exercising, and dating—oh God, help me…

July, however, triggered a dynamic shift in the quality of films available to me, with some surprisingly great films trickling into my hometown’s Theatrical Symposium for Degenerate Fancies (likely by accident) and slowly but surely filling up my Top Ten.

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Let’s Talk About: Joker

A few years back a series of single-sentence plot summaries surfaced on the Internet that recontextualized the premises of famous films, often with the result of casting the protagonist in an ironically negative light. For instance, The Wizard of Oz was reframed as a crime thriller about a teenage girl who, upon being transported to a fantastical land, promptly murders and loots the body of a community leader before teaming up with a trio of locals on a quest to kill again. Finding Nemo was reinterpreted as the horrific nightmare of a man whose wife is brutally murdered by a serial killer before his physically-disabled son is kidnapped, compelling him to embark on a rescue mission with the aid of a chronically-amnesiac transient. In a true thematic reversal, The Dark Knight was recapitulated as the story of a deranged billionaire who copes with his crippling PTSD by dressing up like a giant rodent and victimizing an extremely troubled, mentally ill man in a clown costume.

These twisted plot rewrites are, of course, meant to give us a hearty chuckle as well as prompt some reflection on the underlying messages and themes conveyed in our favourite films, not to mention showcase how imperative context and perspective are.

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