Sunday, October 31, 2010

REVISED FAVORITES -- 2010

Heading into the final two months of the year, here's a look at my favorites from the year in film:

Enter the Void

Carlos
The American
Valhalla Rising
Inception
The Social Network
Never Let Me Go
Cyrus
Green Zone
Robin Hood
Shutter Island
Let Me In
The Town
The Square
Repo Men
Catfish
Please Give
The Kids Are All Right
Hereafter
How to Train Your Dragon
The Expendables
Kick-Ass
Ondine
Greenberg
Red Riding: 1974
Jack-Ass 3-D
Splice
The Other Guys
Salt
Knight & Day
Winter’s Bone
Get Him to the Greek
Leaves of Grass
The Girl Who Played With Fire
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Chloe
Iron Man 2
The Losers
Holy Rollers
Life During Wartime
I’m Still Here
Solitary Man
Predators
Takers
The Killer Inside Me
Date Night
The Book of Eli
Macgruber
Machete
Dear John
The Extra Man
Hot Tub Time Machine
Remember Me
Youth in Revolt
Piranha 3-D
Alice in Wonderland
Boogie Woogie
The A-Team

ONE SENTENCE BLU RAY REVIEWS

Get Him to the Greek kept me laughing hard and often.

Me and Orson Welles manged to be both boring and entertaining in equal measure.

Leaves of Grass, anchored by Ed Norton in dual roles, is a less juvenile Pineapple Express that deftly mixes black comedy, ultra-violence, and high-grade marijuana into a heady and potent brew that defies most genre conventions.

How to Train Your Dragon was a pure delight from start to finish; I was completely in love with the dragon from the first moment he appeared on screen.

Afterschool is further proof that kids these days are more fucked up than they should be...a scary film for anyone with kids or about to have them...good luck!

Dear John was cloying, sentimental pap that was better than it had any right to be thanks to the performances of Richard Jenkins, Amanda Seyfried, and Channing Tatum (who still comes off a bit MMR).

The Girl Who Played With Fire is a worthy follow-up to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; twisty and twisted with a wallop of a finale, it's yet another trip into a Swedish hell-hole of sexual depravity and furious violence.

Boogie Woogie sucked.

Holy Rollers was too slight to leave any lasting impact but Jesse Eisenberg gives yet another splendid performance in this true story of a group of naive Hasidic Jews who were duped into a drug smuggling ring.

Please Give was a terrific little film with awesome performances from a deep cast (Rebecca Hall, Oliver Platt, Amanda Peet, Catherine Keener) that showcases writer/director Nicole Holofcener (Fiends with Money, Lovely & Amazing) at the top of her craft.

Splice is a kinky, gushy, slimy, and extremely entertaining horror thriller with equal parts brain and gore.

Life During Wartime may be Todd Solondz's least impressive film but that doesn't mean it's got a lot going for it, chiefly, some excellent performances, and Solondz's ever impressive gift of awkward social commentary.

I'm Still Here, a.k.a. The Joaquin Phoenix documentary, is a sloppy little exercise in "wink-wink" celebrity satire that has to be seen to be believed; while it's now known to be completely fake and scripted, the film has a strange and unpredictable vibe that's not dissimilar to looking at a fiery car wreck.

Winter's Bone is a bleak, cold, and dark indie drama that I'll probably never see again but will never forget due to Jennifer Lawrence's stunning lead performance and a final 10 minutes that kick you in the gut.

Red Riding: 1974 is an engrossing and complex British serial killer thriller that's the first part of a trilogy; I'm looking forward to seeing the other two installments.

SEPT/OCT THEATRICAL ROUND UP

The Social Network is as sizzling as all of the critics have made it out to be.  It certainly proves that David Fincher can’t miss.  While it's his least visually flamboyant film to date, it's the one that has emphasized the written word over all other departments.  Aaron Sorkin knows how to write a lean, mean script.  Jesse Eisenberg plays a wonderful prick.  Andrew Garfield is gonna be a great Spidey.  Timberlake is surprisingly effective.  Everything works in this fast-paced, razor-sharp expose of the early beginnings of Facebook.  It’s not Fincher’s best film (Zodiac is tops for this writer) but it continues his flawless streak of exciting and trendsetting filmmaking.
Oliver Stone is, simply put and kinda sad to say, not the same filmmaker he once was.  Not that he’s become a bad filmmaker per se; it’s just that I get the feeling that for some reason his heart isn’t in it like it used to be.  Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is solid and entertaining and slick and fairly propulsive, but it’s a far cry from the original, and while Shia Lebeouf is a persuasive actor, it’s impossible to believe that he could tell off the likes of Michael Douglas and Josh Brolin in face-to-face confrontations.  I want the fiery, impassioned Oliver Stone back, the guy that pumped out masterpiece after masterpiece (films like JFK, Nixon, Natural Born Killers, Born on the Fourth of July come to mind).  W. was softer than I expected and would have liked, and now with Money Never Sleeps, it seems as if Stone is content to sit back a bit on autopilot.  He needs to get back to smoking hash and speeding in his Porsche along Sunset and acting like the bad-boy of cinema he used to be.

Ben Affleck, the director, has arrived.  He’s now a serious filmmaker to pay attention too.  With The Town, he has proved that Gone Baby Gone was no fluke.  The Town is a hot-blooded crime movie with lots of tough-guy dialogue and a gritty visual style (the incredible Robert Elswit is the d.o.p).  It's also got terrific action sequences and a dynamite car chase through the narrow streets of Boston.  Juicy supporting performances from Jeremy Renner and John Hamm bolster the narrative, while Rebecca Hall continues her impressive run from film to film (The Prestige, Frost Nixon, Vicky Christina Barcelona, Please Give, Red Riding 1974).  And then there’s Affleck, the actor, who gives probably the best performance of his career.  The Town never quite reaches the level of Heat (it's clear that all these guys have studied Mann’s masterwork religiously) but it’s cracker-jack genre entertainment nonetheless.  Affleck could become the next Eastwood if he plays his cards right.


Catfish...the other Facebook movie.  This is an exhilarating, constantly surprising documentary about a group of friends and aspiring filmmakers who learn the cruel, hard truth about the internet.  The less you know/read about this engrossing piece of work the better; it literally pins you to the edge of your seat and refuses to let you go.  I know that sounds like a cliched soundbite but it's true -- this film keeps you guessing.  Funny, sad, scary, and deeply human all at once, Catfish is a film made in the moment, for the moment, and with a cinematic pulse that feels alive and extremely relevant.

Hereafter shows Clint Eastwood and Matt Damon out of their comfort zones but doing some very interesting work.  I loved Damon's performance and also found Cecile De France to be quite effective.  The opening tidal wave sequence was gripping and harrowing (I never want to be in that position) and the ending, while obviously contrived, still worked because I was seriously invested in the characters and I respected how Eastwood and scripter Peter Morgan avoided any discussions of god and spirituality to leak into the tricky narrative.  It's not a game-changer but it's unique amongst Eastwood's filmography and it will definitely stick around in the memory banks upon exiting the theater.

For what it set out to do, Jack-Ass 3-D succeeded.  Genuinely disgusting and always hysterical.  Say what you want about our ever deteriorating society, but I laughed my ass off at the antics on display.  “Reviewing” this vomitorium of idiocy is pointless – you know what you’re getting into…you either want to see a guy covered in other people's fecal matter...or you don't...


With Let Me In, Matt Reeves proved that Cloverfield wasn’t a fluke, and that he was more than capable of adapting the brilliant Swedish original.  Repeating some of the same beats while creating some new ones, Reeves and his fantastic cast (Chloe Moretz, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Richard Jenkins are the standouts) have crafted a grisly horror story, a touching coming of age story, and a clever supernatural thriller all at once.  And since there’s no way it could have been as fresh or as new as the original (especially for those who have seen the Swedish import) it’s especially surprising that the film works as well as it does.  I preferred a few of the touches from the original but at the same time, Reeves does some stuff that is more powerful than what came before him.  It’s less of an out-and-out remake and more of a reimagining…one that matches its predecessor.  I still say that both Let The Right One In and Let Me In are the vampire movies for people who don't like "vampire movies."
   
A tender and delicate film that’s darker than dark at its core, Mark Romanek’s second theatrical effort, Never Let Me Go, (after the underrated One Hour Photo) slipped in and out of theaters and it’s a royal shame for that.  A trio of extremely committed performances (Kiera Knightley, Andrew Garfield, and Carey Mulligan – all sensational) anchor this thought provoking and ultimately devastating drama with sci-fi-ish overtones.  Here's the question:  if you had the money, would you clone yourself incase you needed a new heart or lung or kidney or eye or ear, knowing full well that your clone would likely not see more than 30 years of life?  That’s the whopper posed by this challenging narrative.  Every shot in Never Let Me Go seems ultra precise and extremely controlled; Romanek is a clear disciple of Kubrick.  And I think that old Stanley would have loved this quietly mesmerizing piece of cinema. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

MOVIES FOR THE WEEKEND

Don't think I'll be seeing anything in the theater this weekend.

Just watched Winter's Bone a few nights ago from Netflix...a very good but very dark and depressing indie (in many ways similar to Frozen River) with an amazing lead performance from Jennifer Lawrence.  For delivery tomorrow from Netflix is The Girl Who Played With Fire...

DROPS NEXT TUESDAY

Sloth love Chunk.

PICKING THIS UP TODAY

Best trilogy/franchise ever?

Friday, October 22, 2010

MOVIES FOR THE WEEKEND

This Saturday I'll be seeing Hereafter.  Looks like a major change of pace for Eastwood and Damon.

From Netflix, for delivery tomorrow, is Holy Rollers.  Watched the terrific dark comedy Please Give earlier this week -- one of the best films of the year.

I'm anxious to dip into The Red Riding Trilogy at some point soon...maybe tonight...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

MOVIES FOR THE WEEKEND

Never Let Me Go on Saturday.  Mark Romanek's debut film, One Hour Photo, was more-or-less brilliant, so I have high expectations (critics of taste have responded favorably as well).

Jackass 3-D and Red next week after work.  Both look like good late afternoon flicks.

From Netflix is Me and Orson Welles.  Always a fan of Dick Linklater's eclectic body of work.  If you've never seen Fast Food Nation go out and rent it/buy it right now...terrific film that not enough people have seen.

Last night I watched the underrated erotic mystery In the Cut, from director Jane Campion (The Piano, Bright Star).  Gorgeous film (d.o.p. was Dion Beebe, he of Miami Vice and Chicago fame) and one of the more sexually explicit studio movies ever made.  The Unrated Director's Cut is fairly eye-opening.  You'll definitely get a glimpse of Meg Ryan in a way you've never gotten a glimpse before...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

SO FAR

Here's a look at what I've seen from 2010 (best to worst):

Enter the Void

Carlos
The American
Inception
Valhalla Rising
The Social Network
Cyrus
Green Zone
Robin Hood
Shutter Island
Let Me In
The Town
The Square
Repo Men
Catfish
The Kids Are All Right
The Expendables
Kick-Ass
Ondine
Greenberg
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
The Other Guys
Salt
Knight & Day
Get Him to the Greek
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Chloe
Iron Man 2
The Losers
Life During Wartime
I’m Still Here
Solitary Man
Predators
Takers
The Killer Inside Me
Date Night
The Book of Eli
Macgruber
Machete
Dear John
The Extra Man
Hot Tub Time Machine
Remember Me
Boogie Woogie
Youth in Revolt
Alice in Wonderland
The A-Team

BAY @ WORK

Friday, October 8, 2010

MOVIES FOR THE WEEKEND

Won't be able to make it to the theater this weekend.  Never Let Me Go opened in my area, so I'll be checking that out either next week after work or next weekend.  Secretariat looks solid if a bit vanilla.

From Netflix is the romantic drama Dear John.  A chick-flick every once in a while is a'ight.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

TONIGHT VIA ON DEMAND



I'm armed to the teeth and ready...

Monday, October 4, 2010

A THOUGHT

People (me for instance) who aren't yet using Facebook will be no more/less likely to sign-up after viewing The Social Network.  In other words, The Social Network will have zero negative effect on Facebook; but at the same time, I don't think it's going to have must positive effect either.

However, people who have resisted Facebook thus far (like me), will likely NEVER use it after seeing something like Catfish.  And I think, to some extent, avid users of Facebook could potentially start thinking twice about certain uses of the Facebook site. 

Basically, in a nutshell, Catfish is a truly disturbing look at where the Internet has gone (and where it's headed) while The Social Network exists as an intense character study of an individual who is basically Daniel Plainview in a hoodie.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

EXTREMELY QUICK

The Social Network is yet another triumph for David Fincher.  Let Me In is a worthy remake and an overall terrific piece of filmmaking.  Catfish is one of the most peculiar and emotionally intense movies I've seen in a while.  Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps was enjoyable but a far cry from Stone's first effort.  The Town was fantastic on pretty much all levels, and cements Affleck as a serious director of note.

I'll have extended comments on each of these recent releases coming up this week but just wanted to throw this out there.  Also, Get Him to the Greek was a near constant laugh-out-loud experience, and the disturbing and fucked-up Afterschool basically serves as further proof that the last few relatively "normal" generations of young kids are sadly behind us.

Friday, October 1, 2010

OLD SCHOOL

I'm getting a whiff of some of that Jesse James brilliance coming from the upcoming True Grit...

MOVIES FOR THE WEEKEND

Double feature Saturday -- The Social Network followed by Catfish.

Let Me In this Sunday afternoon -- very pleased to hear that apparently it's as good as the original...

From Netflix is the supposed dark comedy Boogie Woogie.

I'm also gonna try and sneak a viewing of Get Him to the Greek in tonight as that title just hit On Demand.