Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Sombrero Grande's Top Te-- err-- One DVD of 2006!

Howdy there, folks. Well, it's the start of another new year, which means it's time for me to re-invent my "Top Ten Movies of the Year" framework once again.

In 2006 I found myself hitting my local theater less and less, along with canceling both my Netflix and Blockbuster online movie rental memberships. The inevitable result: I saw far less movies in 2006 than any real, respectable movie reviewer should. As a result I cannot in good conscience string together any kind of an honest "Ten" list, so I've decided to take this another way. Instead of splitting up my praise to cover multiple movies, I'm going to throw it all behind one amazing film that really stood out as the best movie I saw in 2006:

C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America

Trying briefly to describe C.S.A. is difficult. Staged in an alternate present-day, one where the South won the Civil War and slavery remains a staple of everyday American life, C.S.A. is a film within a film, set up as a controversial British documentary playing for the first time on American television. The documentary's outside-looking-in perspective is challenged by the brilliant addition of "commercials" that periodically interrupt the broadcast and showcase just how ingrained racism and slavery are in this alternate America. Among the film’s greatest achievements is that it succeeds in making its viewers gasp at the shocking and brazen display of culturally-accepted racism, then reveals how our world is not so diametrically different from the one portrayed by showing how racism has been more subtly ingrained in our own products and culture.

In addition to its inspired, ingenious framework, the most remarkable strength of C.S.A. as a film is the fact that, while making its message crystal clear, it never ceases to be greatly entertaining. Some moments are hilarious, others are terrifying; most are both. Add in the remarkable authenticity given to the crafting of new footage to look old, the fascinatingly believable way in which history is given a nudge in a different direction, or any of a dozen more praiseworthy accomplishments evident in the film, and there can be no doubt that writer/director Kevin Willmott’s C.S.A. ably earns Sombrero Grande’s Top One DVD of 2006 distinction. This one is eagerly recommended for all.


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