My 2010 In Movies: Politics Edition

Well guys, it's that special time of year, where we get to reflect on the 12 months past and consolidate our learnings (or something to that effect). I've been putting off a top-ten list for ages now, and I've realized that I've put it off for a reason - I don't like the idea that something so subjective can be numbered objectively. In all honesty, my rankings would change based on my particular mood of the moment and by what 'art' stage I'm vacillating between, whether it's 'would-be serious critic' or 'lover of pretty people doing pretty people things on a giant, coloured screen.'

So instead, you get simple desultory philippics (ten points to the first commenter who gets the reference!) on my year in movies. This is just part one, but I aim to cover my entire year in film. Key disclosure, I won't just be talking about movies released in 2010, I'll be talking about what I saw this year).


I seem to have bookended the year with two great movies about terrorists (and terrorists that did actually collaborate for a few years in the 1980s, oddly enough). The year started with a bang (many bangs!) in my parents home theater, with The Baader Meinhof Complex. This movie led to a strange obsession with understanding underground far-left groups that seems to have persisted until today. I suspect next year I'll be reading lots of books about these phenomenon (starting with Heinrich Boll).

One of the last movies I saw this year was Carlos the Jackal, at least the short version. To give you an idea about how much I loved this movie, my reaction at the time: "Wait a minute...there's a 5 hour version? HOORAY!!!"

In both cases, we have terrorists who were also sex symbols, and it was interesting to see the different ways the authorities dealt with this particular variation on a very old problem. In the case of the former, it led to the vast demonization (and civil violation) of youth culture for an entire decade. Of course, teenage rebellion against your parents is a whole 'nother kettle of fish when your parents were the Nazis.

In Carlos, it meant that various nations looked past his most egregious transgressions and tried instead to make him a martyr to their various causes. But of course, they critically misjudged him; Carlos has only one cause - himself.

So now I hear you, you're asking, did all the politics come from foreign countries? What happened to those pinko Hollywood liberals I've heard so much about? I suppose there were overtly political movies released this year, but the only one that leaps to mind is Fair Game, which I can't be bothered to see (I'm not too nostalgic for the Bush era, to be honest).

In fact, the most political movie Hollywood released was shockingly a-political (which some critics apparently conflated with being boring). You know what's coming, don't you? The Kids Are All Right! 

Slight meandering confession: it really irritates me that the spelling they chose was All Right instead of Alright. I keep flashing back to that Arrested Development bit: 

-"He's going to be all right."
-"Oh thank god!"
-"No, you don't seem to understand. He's going to be all right. We had to cut off his left hand."

I keep seeing comments to the effect of "this movie is only interesting because the couple at the center of it is gay instead of straight." Well...yes. That may be true. But that does still mean something in this day and age; lets face it, mass entertainment probably does more to normalize gay marriage than a thousand impassioned pleas in front of state capitols. And there was something simply wonderful about the way it was executed: that being gay or straight doesn't fundamentally affect the fact that when two people grow and change together, circumstances may conspire to pull them apart - not even big picture circumstances like legislation, but just the simple fact of being human.

*I was going to discuss Hurt Locker here, but in all truth, there is zero politics in that movie (which was actually one of its greatest selling points, I suspect). I'll find a way to slot it in somewhere else though, don't worry.

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