Posted: Tue, 18th Dec 2007, 7:58am
Post 1 of 54
Whew! What a year for movies! From highly-anticipated to the hundreds of sequels to the literal tens of threequels, it's been one heck of a movie season and year. Over this time I've been met with some real surprises, both refreshing and sickening, and found some real gems. So I decided to post some up, along with my Oscar predictions. So here it goes, my top ten movies of the year first.
_______________________________________________________________________1. Gone Baby Gone
Gripping, perfectly-directed and smartly-written, Gone Baby Gone proves Ben Affleck's worth as both a writer and director and confirms his little brother, Casey, as a serious actor. I absolutely loved this movie and have yet to find one that closely rivals it (besides the number 2 on my list) in quality. With a stand-out cast including a top-of-his-game Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman, this detective-story piece is narrowly told and unfolds in an unexpected way that had me genuinely shocked by the climax. Without giving away any spoilers, the ending goes to a blank screen from a long, drawn-out 2 or so minute-long shot of the protagonist thinking about the gifts and consequences of his decision at the end of the film. There's almost a moment of "was it right?" that is so eerie and told without any 'in-your-face' explanation.
The film is great, plain and simple. The cinematography is a fair mix of Oscar bravado, epic shots and guerilla handycam that makes for great moviemaking. The editing is slick and still slow at the rights times and keeps an even pace, all leading to what I would consider a clear Oscar contender for Best Director, Best Actor, Best Screen Adaptation, and possibly even Best Picture. 10/10
________________________________________________________________________2. No Country for Old Men
Powerful, poignant, and all-around badass. Those are really the only words to describe this modern Western epic. Set in my home state, this movie is a tour-de-force of gunslinging, murder, drugs, and corruption that does so with a mint on your theater seat and a "please" and "thank you". An expected champ, 'No Country' hits all the right marks and does so even without fast editing or a soundtrack at all
. Supremely shot and peculiarly cast, this movie somehow finds its niche in the Texan drama and holds on. I wouldn't be surprised in any way if this film gets best picture. I'm holding onto 'Gone' because it greatly overexceeds almost all facets, but if there ever was an equal or close second this would be it. This movie is a must-see. A fantastic work that really says it all:
"You can't stop what's coming." 9/10
________________________________________________________________________3. Michael Clayton
The truth can be adjusted. The slogan for the movie says it all in this great work that mixes overcomplicated corporate intrigue with Michael Clayton (George Clooney) and a stark raving mad and yet brilliant Tom Wilkinson's personal lives that all come together within a 4-day span. This one had me sweating along with all of the stories that wrenched the mind and amounted to nothing in a funny way but worked as a movie. This movie was solid all-around, but Clooney and Wilkinson's acting outclasses the production values, which are somewhat understated. Make no mistake, this was one of the best films in a very long time and by far the smartest corporate/law movie I've ever seen. Definitely worth a watch. 8/10
What an amazingly-pleasant surprise this film was indeed. While many criticized it as an over-commercialized trash version of 'Rear Window', this movie did something. It genuinely captured what it's like to be a teenager stuck at home (before all the killing stuff). The movie spends the first half explaining this kid and what he does, and it's all very John Hughes-esque. And who else to do it? The breakout star Shia Labeouf; who proves himself both a skiddish and hilarious 18-year-old and a total killer-opponent badass all in one sitting. This movie was the perfect horror movie for me, and I hate horror movies to no end. It kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time, was fun and light-hearted at times, and turned to completely 'scare-the-crap-outta-you' points that left me almost quivering. No joke. All-the-while, it remained grounded in an almost entirely-believable reality that was, well, surreal. I couldnt've expected any more than I got from 'Disturbia' or the new and fantastic Shia Labeouf, and that's why this is #3. 7/10
________________________________________________________________________5. The Bourne Ultimatum
What can I say? Bourne is back. This time without the motion-sickness and with double the punch and highlights of the previous two films. Matt Damon proves finally that he might
be the physically tougher one of him and Ben Affleck. Maybe not. We'll see. 8/10
________________________________________________________________________6. Knocked Up
This movie was flat-out hilarious, and there's no real way to go into depth without massive quoting beginning so I'll just call it like it is. Hilarious. What's more, it mixes superb and refreshingly 'quality' cinematography and directing into the equation and (unlike an equally as funny
'Superbad') finds a real humanity in how relationships work and people endure. It made me cry. Well, of laughter, but it still has a strong message. 7/10
________________________________________________________________________7. Hot Fuzz
Who knew? With witty batter, disgusting gore, and thousands of bullets, 'Hot Fuzz' found it's way into my heart. A dream editing job, this movie mixes the bizarre with the downright awesome and gift-wraps it with a side of English-kickass that was 'cool' to say the least. The first 'cool' film I've seen since the Matrix. (Well, maybe 'Reloaded'.) And I'm glad for it. Another top-notch movie of 2007. 7/10
________________________________________________________________________8. American Gangster
While I was excited about this one, I couldn't help but feel a little cheated out of the 'epic-ness' Ridley Scott projects in certain works (Gladiator, namely) and the larger story I longed for from the trailers. This movie was solid all-around and deserves Russel Crowe an Oscar nod, but I don't see this movie winning anything real big or really deserving it. While I enjoyed this movie, I found others that outclassed it so bad, combined with my high expectations, that I was left with some emptiness. Still, production design, acting, and editing get this the #8 spot on my list. 6/10
Why is this on my list? One reason. FOR SPARTAAAAA!!!!!!!!!! 6/10
________________________________________________________________________10. Superbad/Hot Rod
With more raunch and romp and less reasoning than 'Knocked Up', 'Superbad' remains tied for the funniest movie I've seen this year with KU and 'Hot Rod'. With tight and solid technicals and foul-mouthed fun, 'Superbad' defines the not-so-average highschool experience with a bum's grace and comes out on top. Similarly, 'Hot Rod' takes the less-believable route with the stuntman-extraodinaire Rod and proves to me that, when given a chance, these SNL guys may have something. Something I passed over in theaters, 'Hot Rod' is a memorable, joke-a-minute party that throws back to the days of 'A Night at the Roxbury' in style and packs solid writing and dated locations that make perfect production design. Rod gets extra brownie points for remaining as funny without throwing thousands of harsh words out, and being far, far less grounded in the now. 'Superbad' 6/10, 'Hot Rod' 6/10.
________________________________________________________________________Road to the Oscars
So who's who in Oscar land this year? Here's what I'm hoping for:Best Picture
- 'No Country for Old Men' or 'Gone Baby Gone'. It could go either way, depending on which "indie" side the Academy wants to take. I'd be equally happy with both, but my bets are on 'Men' right now.Best Director
- Ben Affleck, 'Gone Baby Gone'. There's no question or second-guessing in my mind about this one. Forget the typical Coen Brothers or Ridley Scott, if Affleck is nominated I'll be certain he'll win it. And he should. In his debut, even.Best Actor
- Casey Affleck, 'Gone Baby Gone'. That shrimpy kid brother of Benny Boy, who knew? I'd be surprised if he doesn't
get it.Best Actress
- Angelina Jolie, 'A Mighty Heart' Frankly, there hasn't been much here to compete with.Best Supporting Actor
- This is a tougher, as there are two clear winners. If there ever was possible an Oscar tie, it would be here. Javier Bardem, 'No Country for Old Men'; Tommy Lee Jones, 'No Country for Old Men'; Tom Wilkinson, 'Michael Clayton'. My bets are on Wilkinson, but I'd really like all to win.Best Supporting Actress
- Tilda Swinton, 'Michael Clayton'. Played with an unparalleled cruelness and vivacity. The clear frontrunner in my opinion is her.
And finally, to fill my expectations, I was relieved this year to know that 'Transformers' lived up to what I wanted and pushed it further. "Michael Bay Must Continue, No Matter The Cost!"
More to come!
Posted: Mon, 14th Jan 2008, 6:38am
Post 42 of 54
I wrote this as a Facebook note but I think it's fitting here. Sorry, no fancy pictures, but I think the reviews should suffice. This is essentially a rank of every movie I saw last year. The ones that were good that I haven't seen yet (There Will Be Blood, Charlie Wilson's War,The Savages) are not included in my top ten because I have not seen them yet.
Having seen tons of tons of films in 2007, it was such a good year I can't say I didn't enjoy any of them. Even the ones that people will hate me for laughing at (Codename: The Cleaner, etc) still had enough clever lines to make it watchable.
In fact, the only two films I saw this year that I felt really didn't have any plot/story were Death Proof (not a fan of Tarantino, especially here) and The Ten (series of vignettes that weren't meant to make a plot). Only three movies left me feeling like I'd just watched something sort of empty (I Am Legend, Juno, The Number 23) and even then these were in a completely different category than the other, solely 'entertaining' movies.
To be clear, I rate movies objectively on what they intended to do, how well they did it, how much I liked it, and how well it satisfied regular film standards of technicals/script/plot/acting/direction. Obviously, better films should be rated on a different scale than worse films, but I’ve tried to even the odds just a little by scaling my top ten movies in one platform. The rest of my judgments aren’t on an even scale.
Essentially, the '__/10' score here has ten points being ten hugely-deserved, somewhat Oscar-worthy points, not general ones.
Here's how this goes: I'll list my top ten films of 2007, then list the rest respectively in groups. Let's get going, shall we?
The Top Ten
1. No Country For Old Men
Violence and mayhem ensue after a hunter stumbles upon some dead bodies, a stash of heroin and more than $2 million in cash near the Rio Grande.
This film is a gem. One of the best films I've ever seen. It's a slow burn to get to the action, but the action itself is so smartly scripted you can't help but grin at the fates of the characters.
Speaking of characters, the ones in this film are so uniquely refreshing that it's a surprise they're not all nominated for Golden Globes. Tommy Lee Jones as the drawling, 'seen-everything-there-is-too-see-in-life' Sheriff Ed Tom Bell is great, even more so is Javier Bardem as arguably one of the most bold and haunting characters even put on paper, Anton Chigurgh.
Chigurgh's (roughly pronounced 'sugar') nihilistic demeanor is deeply unnerving, but his chilling sense of justice (anyone who identifies him is subject to a grisly fate decided by a coin toss) and his incredible intelligence make you like the character. He's definitely the best villain to grace Hollywood since Hannibal Lecter, maybe even before that. You'll have to see the movie to see what I mean.
Short of Bardem's performance (which alone is a great reason to see the film) Josh Brolin shines as Llewellyn Moss, the best character played by Brolin to date. Adding to Moss's quiet character is the incredibly beautiful cinematography, soundwork, and editing. Many may be shocked to learn that the film uses no music at all, and it's still an exhilirating experience.
Ultimately, "No Country" hits all the right points- and then some. It's highly dramatic, well-played, well-acted, darkly hilarious, and yet it's still quaint in its approach. The film is powerful, poignant, but not too over-the-top for the sake of gaining a commercial audience, and for this reason not a lot of people will understand it (most especially the ending). But if you enjoy good cinema, this is a movie for you.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention: the movie is shot in, directed from, and features an all-Texan cast.
"What's the most you ever lost on a coin toss?"
2. Gone, Baby, Gone
When 4 year old Amanda McCready disappears from her home and the police make little headway in solving the case, the girl's aunt hires two private detectives. The detectives freely admit that they have little experience with this type of case, but the family wants them for two reasons - they're not cops and they know the tough neighborhood in which they all live. When they finally solve the case, they are faced with a moral dilemma that tears them apart.
'Gone' blew me away. Why? Because I was expecting melodrama (I mean, it's directed by Ben Affleck, and consider what he's done lately) but what I got was one of the most well-crafted films of the year.
The story is shocking, suspenseful, and action-filled; but it manages to maintain its cinematic, drama-intensive poise throughout. The technicals are good all-around, especially when the twists (of which there are several) are revealed.
The acting is good, but not the best from all characters. Morgan Freeman puts up the usual good performance, as does Ed Harris; but it's nothing too special and for that reason the film falls back a bit. They're still excellent, excellent performances, just not Oscar-worthy. Then there's Michelle Monaghan who I loved in 'Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang' but doesn't really do anything here. And then you get to the lead, Casey Affleck.
Besides playing squirrely side roles here-and-there, Ben's little brother has never had a chance to shine, and now he does. Casey plays- despite speculation- a total badass private detective who keeps it real by openly expressing his strengths and weaknesses to the people he deals with.
'Gone' is more of a murder/crime mystery than anything else, but on that level it excels.
"I can't think of one reason big enough for him to lie to me and small enough for it not to matter"
3. Disturbia and The Bourne Ultimatum
Disturbia - An unofficial remake of Alfred Hitchcock's 'Rear Window', this film follows the plight of Kale Brecht, a house-arrested teen enduring the summer before senior year confined to home. Things seem mundane until he adopts voyeuristic hobbies which unveil secrets about his neighbor he can hardly comprehend. Are his neighbor's leading secret, murder-bound lives, or are such thoughts merely figments of Kale's imagination?
Besides Javier Bardem's Anton Chigurgh, Shia Labeouf's Kale Brecht is the most well-drawn character of the year. His actions as a bored 17-year-old are typical to most teenage viewers, but the way in which they are captured make for a very, very intriguing individual. He is sarcastic and sharp-tongued, but not in an overdone or obnoxious way (a la Ellen Page's Juno)
Director D.J. Caruso does a wonderful job instructing his actors, and their performances are some of the best of the year. Essentially, though it was billed as a horror/slasher movie, Disturbia is an abundantly-pleasing, well-crafted film that chooses to focus on its characters rather than its macabre subtext. In fact, it's not until well over halfway into the film that the whole plot of a murderous neighbor is revealed.
Even so, the shift in plot midway gives Labeouf's character more room to grow, and he does so in a stellar way. By the end, the audience is treated to the many sides of Kale: humorous, curious, often cynical and annoying, and eventually strategic and very, very, very badass (watch in the climax him hobble across the street on beaten knee carrying garden shears before lightning and thunder, and you'll know immediately what I mean). Labeouf gives us a character that we end up rooting for, despite his beginning shortcomings.
As a final note, I suggest anyone who sees Disturbia forget what they think about the superficial quality of thrillers and see it for what it is: a great movie that lives up to everything it tries to be. Disturbia isn't quite an Oscar-worthy epic, but it still hit its mark and goes the extra mile.
And boy, does this give me reason to respect Shia Labeouf. A completely different character than in 'The Greatest Game Ever Played'. Props to the kid. The new Tom Hanks.
"No, he can't see us. But trust me, he can feel us watching."
The Bourne Ultimatum - The third installment of the series, this film is the epic climax and conclusion of the government-spawned trials of assassin-turned-good Jason Bourne.
To be short, this film is a rush. It poses unique, frenetic camerawork with solid, unexpectedly badass performances from its usually more mild-mannered cast (Julia Stiles and Matt Damon, most notably) and it ties it all up with a strong storyline and an even stronger conclusion. Those disappointed by the soft-spun endings of I Am Legend and No Country For Old Men will cheer as Damon braves his demons in this heated inner-city manhunt.
Not much more needs to be said, fans of the first and second films will already know what to think of this. Though its second film held the title, it is 'Ultimatum' that is truly supreme.
"I told you people to leave me alone, and now I will bring this fight to your doorstep"
4. Knocked Up
When an 'E' news hopeful engages in one drunken night with a Canadian underachiever, their shenanigans lead to calamity. Hilarity ensues as the audience witnesses the hectice and too-often conflicted process of unwanted pregnancy.
'Knocked Up' is the best comedy I have seen all year. It's not necessarily the funniest, (though it is amongst them) but it is risque without being too over-the-top, (a la Superbad or Walk Hard) which grants it greater accolades in my opinion.
The pseudo-slacker Ben Stone (played by Seth Rogen, originally of 'Freaks and Geeks') is a character that we grow to love, and his status as the dumpy, humorous, somewhat-pathetic underdog father of an unwanted child is quite possibly as well-played as it has ever been: we believe in Ben, but we also doubt him at times. It's a versatile but lovable character.
Rogen is juxtaposed by Katherine Heigl, who shines in her histrionics as an expecting young mother. This film made me laugh out loud until I cried. It was undoubtedly hilarious, and it also had a strong, determined sense of humanity and heart; making it easily one of the best, most enjoyable films of the year.
"Your face looks like Robin Williams' knuckles"
Follows the real-life story of the most notorious CIA-infiltrating spy in American history and his subsequent struggle and collapse.
I saw 'Breach' on my flight back to Dallas from New York (which was delayed on the tarmac for 3 hours, if you were wondering) and it was a completely and utterly unexpected triumph. Anyone loves a thriller about a spy on the verge of being found out, but this movie changes the view entirely on the genre.
Instead of a 'Departed'-esque story with Ryan Phillipe as a spy, we are given the aging, unexpected Chris Cooper as the American traitor, with Phillipe following as his seemingly unknowing protege. The story digresses to give Phillipe the information of Cooper's defection, but this only makes for a more interesting story. Cooper is a hard-to-place character, but such indecision makes him all-the-more mysterious. His terms of betrayal are uncertain, and at times we even want to believe he is still a 'good guy', so to speak. It's brilliant.
'Breach' is refreshing and different from almost every other film this year (even different from those that, in trying to be independent, off-center and different (Juno, Hot Rod, Superbad) get categorized as such; and the story that is told is heart-pounding, epic, and engrossing. The film is a slow burn, all the way. There is no huge, all-out action. Yet, even as an even-paced spy movie, it retains a commanding sense of thrill and dramatic timing.
"Can you imagine, sitting in a room with a bunch of your colleagues, everybody trying to guess the identity of a mole and all the while, it's you they're after, you they're looking for?"
6. Planet Terror
Robert Rodriguez's contribution to 'Grindhouse' focusing on the trials of a group of survivors in a small Texas town that becomes overrun by flesh-boiling zombies.
This was my most enjoyable time at the movies this year, by far. Come to think of it, it was the most enjoyable movie experience I’ve ever had in my entire life- and I’ve seen hundreds of hundreds of movies.
Fans of the weirdly-liked 'B-movie' genre will love this, so will horror film lovers. Not being a member of either group, I did not think I would like this at all, but I absolutely, without a doubt loved it. It was the most endearing film of the year in that it drew me into a genre I despise (gory horror) and for that I give it major, major respect.
Rodriguez has never disappointed me and this is no exception. Without a doubt the better of the 'Grindhouse' ensemble (DP was a trainwreck) I spent every moment of this film cheering Freddy Rodriguez's character, the tongue-in-cheek, never-explained-but-still-legendary 'El Rey'. I also spent time staring at Rose McGowan, who is both hot and hilarious, in this film at least.
The technicals are really, really awesome and Rodriguez makes use of harsh digital grading and vibrant, eerie-colored lighting, even in perhaps inappropriate circumstances (like a love scene that is swiftly followed by a satirical ‘Missing Reel’ notification). Even though this intense visual style might deter some, I found it generally exciting: it only added to the creepy yet incredibly, unbelievably badass aspect of the film.
The movie is gratuitous for the sake of being gratuitous, but admittedly so. The action is overdone (El Rey at times runs up walls and does backflips) but not so much as to make the movie a farce (as can be seen in the Jamie Kennedy/Icecream man action scenes in Max Keeble’s Big Move, if anyone was wondering). Like many of Tarantino’s sordid films, ‘Planet Terror’ pays homage and commits cliché as a natural part of the genre it encompasses. It has moments of Hitchcock suspense that are rudely interrupted by someone or something that openly addresses that such suspense was happening. In essence, the tongue-in-cheek nature of the film is clear and obvious, and that makes it all-the-more understandable and therefore more entertaining.
For anyone who has a penchant for popcorn action movies (and a moderately strong stomach) this movie is definitely for you.
"You want the story? I'll spin it for you quick."
The story of curious food-connoisseur rat Remy, who, in migrating from country life gets separated from his family and stumbles upon success. What follows are his antics in a Paris kitchen (“Gusteau’s”) that allow room for both comedy and a bit of drama.
The best animated feature since ‘The Incredibles’, this movie is perfect in nearly every way for me. Because it is animated, the performances are obviously not quite Oscar caliber, but they are still strong and well-fitting within Ratatouille’s plotline.
The visuals are beautiful (though entirely computer-generated), the characters are well-crafted, and director Brad Bird isn’t afraid to show us that he’s got heart; and is willing to inject it into any project he takes on. Oh, and Mr. Bird also wrote the screenplay, which is a marvel as well.
"You're the one who was getting fancy with the spices!"
8. Hot Fuzz
Jealous colleagues conspire to get a top London cop transferred to a small town and paired with a witless new partner. On the beat, the pair stumble upon a series of suspicious accidents and events.
For anyone who ever thought Brits couldn't pull off a good action feature, this proves you wrong. 'Fuzz' is morbid, dark, and at times shocking, but it's not afraid to announce that it is, indeed, all in good fun.
Jokes, blood, and film-flickering action galore, 'Hot Fuzz' manages to encompasses action classics in a satirical and overstated way, and I loved every minute of it. Furthermore, it's genuinely creepy/scary when it needs to be, and the versatility of the actors and the direction is obvious.
9. America Gangster and The Kingdom
American Gangster - In 1970s America, a detective works to bring down the drug empire of Frank Lucas, a heroin kingpin from Manhattan, who is smuggling the drug into the country from the Far East.
If you wanted to pick one largely 'epic' film of the year- maybe even epic to a fault- this is it. Ridley Scott continues to impress (granted with less style and bravado than his brother's sort of recent Deja Vu) with his direction of the inimitable Russel Crowe and Denzel Washington.
This film is sort of a turn of events for Washington, who, despite his long and storied career, has never actually played the archetypal 'bad guy' (as he does in here). Much like Cooper in 'Breach', Washington's character is questionably evil until he walks out of eating breakfast at a diner, approaches a drugdealer on the street, and promptly shoots him point blank in the head. It isn't until Denzel cooly walks back to resume breakfast in the diner that we really get to see how ruthless he really is- and it's an absolute treat for the audience.
Opposing Washington is the down-on-his-luck, somehow-stupidly-separated-from-the-uber-hot-Carla-Gugino, city cop who is fighting a markedly uphill battle against the drug trade in New York City.
I'll be short for the rest of this, but a few things I need to address are the faults in this movie. It's long, and it probably doesn't need to be. We get character development ad nauseam, and sometimes it's hard to tell where the story is even going. And, to top it all off, then ending is underwhelming. Still good, but not great.
But all-in-all, it was a film I appreciated. And hence it makes the top 10.
The Kingdom - A team of U.S. government agents is sent to investigate the bombing of an American facility in the Middle East.
Though this film was made more for commercial benefits (to make money) and though, as evidenced by the behind-the-scenes, Peter Berg is an inevitable douchebag as a director (I still like the guy, though), I found this film shockingly great.
All the characters in this film are stereotyped, which I didn't quite like (Jamie Foxx is the 'let's kill 'em all!!!' black guy, Jennifer Garner the crying womany soldier, Chris Cooper the 'good ol' boy' military man, and Jason Bateman the geeky, 'The Shins'-shirt-wearing white guy) but there was one character that stood out that lent real humanity to the film, and that was Ashraf Barhom, who plays the frustrated yet compassionate state police colonel.
The film is a politically-charged piece, and the frenetic (and I mean FRENETIC) camerawork and editing make for a very realistically-portrayed piece on the Middle East. When a playground full of families is exploded by a suicide bomber in the first ten minutes of the film: you feel for them. When crews come in to fix the situation later that night and are exploded by a second suicide bomb: you REALLY feel for them.
The terms of the movie are tense, but then again so is life. Foxx and company arrive in Saudi Arabia ('The Kingdom', as it were) to investigate the second explosion (in which Gary Hobson formerly of the show 'Early Edition', who is apparently a colleague of theirs, is killed) only to be greeted by Barhom, who plays his character perfectly.
For many who know about conditions in the Eastern world, things are not ideal and director Berg has no problem showing this. Even once the Cia crew makes its way tot he crime scene, they are not allowed to touch or investigate anything, and their purpose is seemingly superficial. This is exemplified by Barhom's constant watch over the American agents, and his subsequent frustration. I was shocked to learn Barhom did not know English, and that he was forced to learn for the movie; because the way in which he speaks evokes so much emotion at times that you could swear it was his native tongue.
I won't say much more except for that I really, really enjoyed 'The Kingdom', if not for the fact that Jason Bateman gets kidnapped and held before camera to be beheaded by terrorists, than for the superb, Oscar-worthy performance of Ashraf Barhom.
"Which side do you think Allah's on?"
10. Hot Rod and 300
Hot Rod -Self-proclaimed stuntman Rod Kimble is preparing for the jump of his life - to clear fifteen buses to raise money for his abusive stepfather Frank's life-saving heart operation.
Funnily enough, like a lot of other movies this year, I was expecting very little from this film. The Lonely Island crew (who do the SNL Digital Shorts) have proven they can be funny (Lazy Sunday, Dick in a Box), but they have also shown inconsistency and their inability to make anything over 5 minutes.
'Hot Rod' proved all my negative assumptions wrong. It is the quirky humor so many people want to praise Juno for, but without the bitchy pregnant protagonist and with a lot more laughs. The zany humor here is reminiscient of The Office's awkward situations and Napolean Dynamite's offbeat edge. It's just a great eclectic combination.
Moreover, Andy Samberg's parody role as stuntman Rod Kimble is beyond hilarious. Dare I say it, he's funnier than McLovin. There are just so many great parts in the film that it's hard to remember them all. Some of the jokes you have to have seen 80's movies to get, but if you have you'll laugh yourself to you throw up. This movie will definitely not be liked by all, but I found it to be A+ comedy material.
Rod's character is simple, naive, and determined; reminding us of all the underdog stories of the 1980's film era. There's several homages here, and not once does the movie even try to be serious about it. It's a complete farce, so some will dislike it, but if you actually understand what it's going for then I guarantee you'll love this movie.
"I figured this whole thing out while I was passionately dance-fighting my frustrations in the woods."
300 - King Leonidas and a force of 300 men fight the Persians at Thermopylae in 480 B.C.
Visually stunning, this movie is an intense, war-epic rush that shoots it back to the days of loin-cloth-wearing crusaders. It was great, and I'd be stupid not to include it in this list. Now, I hate to say it, it wasn't that memorable, but it felt so epic (both visually and emotionally) that it for sure deserves whatever kudos it gets.
"To-night- we dine- in HELL! "
Every Other Movie I Saw
Now these are in the order in which I saw them, not quality, so forgive me if I list so relatively mediocre ones first. Here goes...
Codename: The Cleaner
This was passable entertainment. Obviously nothing special, and a HUGE commercially-made movie, but it had enough funny lines to tide it over. The scene where Cedric the Entertainer requests random stuff from the butler is certainly side-splitting.
"I want you to get me a JET magazine. It's like a pamphlet with a lot of pictures for brothers who like to read, but not that much."
While it was overplayed, had bad special effects (for how few there were), and tried a little too hard, this drama about real-life gang kidnapping was thrilling and emotional. Definitely one of the better films of the year. And Timberlake did a great job in his first serious role.
When you strip away all the dark, gross-out bits and the actiony facade, this movie is nothing more than a bad, bad remake of director Joe Carnahan's short film 'Ticker'. Yeah, it looked cool, and yeah, the characters were cool. But this tried to be a 'deep' movie, (unlike, say, The Cleaner, which knew it was shallow) and for that I deduct major points. A mediocre film at best.
Okay movie, worst movie experience. Some of the jokes were good, but the weirdness of it and the theater I was in (FULL of people on speakerphone on their cell phones) made for a bad experience. Still, Eddie Murphy is an accomplished actor and kudos go to him for (yet again) encompassing so many varied roles. Mediocre/bad movie.
Music and Lyrics
Funny, quirky, and proven to show that Hugh Grant hasn't passed his prime. I don't normally like chick flicks but this was surprisingly full of charm and wit. Good movie.
This, like many films, was too hollow a shell of a movie for me to really really like it. It felt like a fake movie, but the special effects and obligatory badass moments were still there. Also, Nicolas Cage, being a Coppola, is obviously a great actor, and he brings no less charm to the role than he ever has. A passable movie, especially if you like action/special effects.
The Number 23
A well-crafted but maybe too hasty film from recently maverick director Joel Schumacher. He goes back to his 'Falling Down' roots and focuses on the plight of one dramatic character, rather than on a campy situation. I liked it. Some will say the ending tied things up to quickly, but the movie's apparent depth coupled with its high entertainment value made for a great film in my opinion. Certainly one to rent.
Reno: 911! Miami
This was funny, but not as funny as the trailer made it look. Still, a hugely entertaining movie. Another good one to rent/buy pre-viewed for 5 bucks at Blockbuster.
Black Snake Moan
A very interesting, entertaining, and deep film about Christina Ricci as a recovering nymphomaniac. Very contemplative, and great performances all around. The story (girl chained to a man's house so he can cure her of her 'wickedness') is also a great backdrop for the plot.
Despite what everyone says, this movie is thoroughly hilarious. The characters are so well cast and well played that they make the perfect comic ensemble. This movie doesn't care to ever play it straight, and the 'black man in a group of white men' quips from Martin Lawrence are hilarious. Also, William H. Macy is the best in this movie, and he reminded me tons of Daniel O'Connor. A good comedy for family.
Another cinematic triumph from director David Fincher. Fans of Fight Club, The Game, or Panic Room will not be disappointed. Great, haunting film.
I downloaded this and sort of skipped through it because it was largely boring/weird in ways I didn't care about. But the ending was very climactic and intense, and I liked that part. Maybe rent, maybe not. Generic thrills.
Though it feels much like a country-boy reiteration of The Bourne Identity, this movie is as good as action/suspense can get, given the storyline. I really enjoyed this, for both technicals and storytelling merits. Rent/buy it.
Visually stunning animated movie. The animation isn't as good as say, Ratatouille, but it more than makes up for it in freaking badass/awesome stylizing of cinematography and lighting. The best camerawork of the year, save 'No Country'. A throwaway plot, but still: it's ninja turtles. You get what you get. And I liked the camerawork so much, I didn't care about anything else. It's sweeping and largely cinematic. A good movie, especially if you liked the ninja turtles as a kid.
Blades of Glory
Some cheap, hollow laughs and a couple of hot shots of Jenna Fischer (surprisingly) but other than that this movie is fake, insufficient, and not too funny. MTV's worst cinematic endeavor to date. A passable, if not bad film.
In what director Quentin Tarantino would like to convince you is an homage to several old films there is, without a doubt, nothing. There's no real story, not even a passable plot. The whole movie is one disjointed, incoherent mess that hinges on a seemingly 'awesome' final chase scene that is ultimately lackluster. About 90% of the people in the theater left during this movie. Domingo, who sat beside me, leaned in and asked "is this supposed to be this bad on purpose?". Bad movie. Wouldn't even consider watching again.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters
This was okay. It was like a less-than-stellar, more drawn out version of an episode of the show. Not bad, but not quite good either. Still had some good laughs.
Shallowly scripted and certainly the worst Philip K. Dick adaption yet(Blade Runner, Minority Report, Impostor, A Scanner Darkly) this film is okay, and actually has some good parts; but it is overshadowed by too much of an emphasis on non-existent character development. If they'd cut straight to the action more, it would've been better. Still a good film, just nothing special.
Very hard to place. Had some shockingly bad/awkward bits (the whole emo thing) but on the whole the emotions portrayed for a superhero film were some of the best of the year. The bridge scene with Kirsten Dunst is a great moment for Tobey MacGuire as an actor. I liked it, but can see why some didn't. A good movie to rent or consider owning.
A bit short of the comic timing, I still found this movie mildly engaging. It definitely had some lines I'll remember as hilarious, but it wasn't funny overall enough to be a true gem. Still, nothing crazy detracted the comedy or the story, and it was an interesting enough film to watch. Consider renting.
Pirates of the Carribbean 2 and 3
I remember these being hugely epic and visually pretty cool, but short of that I don't remember much else. They're forgetful and nothing that special. Good movies, but perhaps too long a watching endeavor to want to buy.
The great final chapter to the Danny Ocean saga. It retained all the enhanced cleverness of the second while capturing the luminescent setting of the first. Undoubtedly a good, enjoyable, smartly-scripted film.
An animated kid's movie with a good story, good acting (Shia Labeouf, yet again) and a whole lotta heart. I found this funny, entertaining, and all-around great.
Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer
This is nothing special for any sort of purpose, but the story is passable, the acting clever (at times) and the special effects pretty awesome. Oh, and Jessica Alba is all sorts of hot in it. So I liked it. Nothing special, but worth seeing if you want entertainment.
Live Free or Die Hard
This was an absolutely fantastic rush of a movie. The best action film in recent years, maybe even since the Matrix. I loved every minute of this. If you're a fan of John McClane (which you SHOULD be if you aren't already!) then you will for sure love this film. A great, great action movie.
A chillingly honest documentary about the American health care system. Despite being slightly alarmist (a la Michael Moore) it was an eye-opening movie and very redeeming of Moore's qualities as a documentarian after the Fahrenheit 9/11 ordeal.
I expected big stompy robots and that's precisely what I got. This film felt too rushed and too fake, and I didn't like it that much. The movie was generally good, but I felt it didn't keep it together enough, and it felt sort of 'throwaway'. The main character felt halfway transplanted from Kale Brecht in Disturbia, the same for the action from Live Free or Die Hard. It just wasn't unique and memorable enough for me to really, really appreciate it. Still a good movie, just not great.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
I missed like the whole first 30 minutes (which I am told are some of the best) but this movie was generally very good in all areas. Daniel Radcliffe actually proves he's there for more than just satisfying a contract he made 7 years ago, and the special effects artists actually give us something cool to look at. Good movie.
I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
This was pretty good. Not HUGELY funny, but it's still Adam Sandler, so it was funny enough for me to like it. If you think you'll be a fan of the backdrop (illegitimate gay marriage) then I think you'll enjoy this.
The Simpsons Movie
This film lives up to characterizing the TV show and then some. I really enjoyed, and it was really very funny.
Rush Hour 3
Some really hilarious bits from Chris Tucker, but nothing like either of the first two. I wouldn't buy this, but I would rent it. It was okay. The first two (especially Rush Hour 2) are movies I can (and have) watch(ed) over and over from year-to-year without getting bored. This movie I can't see seeing more than once or twice.
This almost made the Top Ten, but I found the humor too over-the-top to grant best comedy. It characterized teenage life very well, but perhaps tried too hard. (a la saying 'vag' every five words, which, sadly, people in real life don't do) Still, it was supremely, supremely funny and one of the best comedies of the year. A great movie.
Despite a few off-hand scenes and poor music choices from the producers, Kevin Bacon really pulled through as both an emotional wreck as a father and a badass out for revenge in this classic-throwback. The action in this movie is hugely inventive, and it contains camerawork that shows that it isn't afriad to push the limits. There's one 15 minute long angle without any crew members visible that is basically Bacon running up six floors of a parking garage until he's wheezing and out of breath, still running from a street gang. It is visually and emotionally amazing. As a total film, it's obviously not Oscar material, but I still loved it for what it was.
Shoot 'Em Up
This film is actiony, self-proclaimed over-the-top, and a little weird; but it is still an intense rush. Unlike Die Hard 4, however, the story isn't there at all, so as a total movie it's not the best. But for an action and cinematography test, it's fantastic.
Wow, this may look bad to a lot of people, but if you're one of those people then you're not seeing a movie for what it is. This movie is a kid's movie, so it's obviously a bit shallow in nature, but it captures great performances from Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, and Kevin Spacey. The opening Vaughn scenes are the funniest, and the final dramatic scene with Spacey shows that the Kev-man is up for any movie to give a great performance. I really liked this as a kid's movie.
The motion-capture animation was sort of weird, but I still generally liked this movie. It felt rushed, like it added up to nothing, but it was still pretty good.
This movie was passable, nowhere near as good as it is hyped up to be. The scripting is juvenile an unnatural: I did not for a second see Juno as a believable person. She seemed artificial and fake, and the problems she suffered near the end seemed tied up quickly so as to spur hasty drama.
I see this film as a sort of trap: it's crafted to have 'indie' dialog (as if faux-hipster screenwriter Diablo Cody simply thought of everything 'cool' and 'independent' she could, then injected it gratuitously simply for the sake of sounding 'cool' and 'independent') and it would like to have you believe that there's something beneath the surface- about true love, passionate, mistakes, what have you- but beneath it all is nothing, just a mediocre story that is so overstated and unrealistic in approach that it has actually convinced people that that is what 'life is actually like'.
It was okay, but certainly nothing even close to special. Proponents of the script have fallen into the trap, and there's no getting out. Would be a good movie if it weren't wrapped in so much intentional pretention.
Alvin and the Chipmunks
I saw this with my little brother and enjoyed it. It's a kid's movie and doesn't try to be anything more than that. It had funny gags from the chipmunks (Alvin voiced by comedy maverick Justin Long) and some clever quips from actors Jason Lee and David Cross. I liked it, though nothing spectacular.
I Am Legend
Even though this collapsed into mediocrity in its third act, this film was overall very potent, powerful, and genuine in its approach. It was enjoyable and epic, and Will Smith was the right man to carry the movie. A good movie.
National Treasure: Book of Secrets
As a kid's/adult movie, this succeeds. It goes a little too over-the-edge int he suspension of disbelief department, but if you liked the first one then you'll like this. It's generally pretty entertaining, and the character playing Riley is hilarious as always. A pretty good movie.
This comedy epic was full of jokes that I laughed at. It got a little boring in the middle (I fell asleep, but not because of the movie) but the ending was very climactic and the performance by John C. Riley was hilarious, dramatic, and deserving of the Golden Globe nod he has received for it. A good comedy.
As a movie, this is horrible. As a series of sketches, it's actually pretty good. 'The Ten' is ten stories, all identifying different rules on the ten commandments. While each story is individually pretty funny, the weaker ones force themselves to be strung together with the stronger ones, and this brings the movie down. It doesn't feel so much like a movie as a technically-proficient long episode of MadTV, but for the few genius segments I give it props. It's full of offbeat and sometimes misunderstoof quirks, and one segment is about a woman's sexual awakening in Mexico with none other than a since-retired, out-of-work Jesus Christ. It is so, so, so, so hilarious I can't even describe it. But the other segments of the film are nowhere near as good. So it's passable as a movie. Good if you're willing just to watch the good segments.
Aaaaaand that's all folks. Please comment on your opinions on my opinions, as I'm completely open to clarifying. (I'm anticipating some Juno backlash). Hope you read the reviews!
Regards my dear chaps, Ben