Election (2005, Johnnie To)

screened Sunday, January 21 2007 on DVD in Brooklyn, NY IMDb My gf and I were all set to watch an import DVD of my man Jia Zhangke's new film Still Life, but after suffering a headache from spending 3 hrs in a spa (irony of ironies) I opted for this, which we've been meaning to see for over a year. It was well worth the wait. Impeccably crafted and elaborately constructed, it's a dense and absorbing account of the power plays, conflicts of honor and pride, and violent outcome around the election of a new triad head. The ensemble, mostly drawn from To's John Ford-caliber stock company, is a first rate convening of understated stars (Tony Leung Ka Fai plays a crazy DeNiro-esque hothead, but with more dignity) and savory character actors, everyone standing out in their own way. There's a scene set among a row of prison cells that took my breath away, just in the brilliance of the scenario To had concocted and the offhanded way To executes it -- pretty much the antithesis of the overheated shenanigans of The Departed. Martin Scorsese may get his Oscar this year, but nobody's making crime movies today like Johnnie To.

YES (#5 for 2005 between THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU and C.R.A.Z.Y.)