40. Entre les murs (Laurent Cantet, 2008)
What I like most about this film is it’s ability to capture both the chaos and anxiety of the classroom. Though my own high school experience was often tame, even restrictive to a fault, the creeping moments of frustrated student revolts were not unheard of. In the case of Entre les murs, the classroom dynamics are motivated as much by hormones as they are by racial and political tensions. The film feeds off of the way children absorb their environments, not only in the effects that poverty and difficult domestic situations may have, but the influences of more widespread trends and social trends and sentiments. How children are not insolated from the fears and anxieties of their parents or teachers. The film is highly engaging, and heart warming without being cloying.
39. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Peter Jackson, 2001)
Though I think as the series goes on it becomes somewhat bloated and convoluted, the first entry is a beautiful and careful exercise in production design. If anything, the film succeeds at creating another world better than few films ever had. It is not the kind of film I am usually drawn to, but I can’t deny being pulled into the world Jackson creates. Something about this film hits all the right spots and is entirely satisfying.
38. The Dreamers (Bernardo Bertolucci, 2003)
A disturbing tribute to the movies and the people who watch them, The Dreamers explores an obsessives menage-a-trois built around a common love for the silver screen. The film is not always easy to watch, and often pushes the boundaries of acceptable sexual taboos and interactions. Theo and Isabelle seem to be in constant competition, though siblings, they’ve blurred the line between family and lovers without ever committing either way. Their competition is pulls them out further away from social norms and is hugely self-destructive. Isabelle suffers especially, as she seems confused as to her identity, especially as it ties to her sexuality. She seems lost between the woman she thinks she should be and the one that she is, her preservation of her room and her virginity, point to an inbreed conflict that is only aggravated by her relationship with Matthew and her brother.