January 9, 2006|After a year, 2004, wherein we indulged in the fantasy that we could forget our recent past in favour of better tomorrows, 2005 finds us obsessed with the things we've lost (especially children), the things we deny, and the difficulty of living with ghosts. It was a reflection of our political landscape split starkly into a Yeatsian twain between the worst, with their passionate intensity, and the best, lacking all conviction--the ultra-conservatives producing more of the same old tired, divisive hate (The Island showed that even Old Scratch could be predictable and boring) and the ultra-liberals producing high-minded garbage that either studiously avoided a point-of-view (The Interpreter, The Constant Gardener, Kingdom of Heaven, Syriana) or was so clearly left-wing proselytizing that it jettisoned context and energy in favour of bland political allegory (Good Night, and Good Luck.). The reason Bush Jr. won a second term is that he ran unopposed--and after the disastrous year the Grand Old Party had under him as their fearless leader, the real tragedy is that there's still no strong message in any opposing party to fill the void. Which explains, I guess, why the most ambivalent, overtly politicized films of the year were not only ultimately mediocre, but also made by a guy who taught himself how to finally direct an almost-passable film on the trial-and-mostly-error backs of three of the most highly-anticipated films of all time (George Lucas and Revenge of the Sith) and the king of everything for everyone (Steven Spielberg and his War of the Worlds and Munich). The blatant exceptions were Christopher Nolan's genre Munich (Batman Begins) and David Cronenberg's A History of Violence, a film that says volumes about vengeance and the delusions of the righteous while trapped in the body of a good old American, sexy dames and guns-a-blazing, neo-noir.