Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Top 30: 2000-2009

This is based on browsing the top 5000 most popular films according to IMDB. I think I tried to pick films that stood out in their individual genres as well as simply being good films. I'll probably hate this list as soon as I'm finished with it.

1. The New World (Malick, 2005)
I kept trying to not make this my number film of the decade because it's already gotten so much attention from film club, but I couldn't. In some ways, it is unlike any other film I've ever seen. It stays with you.

2. O Brother Where Art Thou? (Coens, 2000)
I think the Coen Brothers are the only directors with more than one film in my list. O Brother is epic, humorous, quirky, and heartwarming.

3. LOTR-Return of the King (Jackson, 2003)
This might not have made the list had I not seen it again recently. It blew me away even more the second time through.

4. 28 Days Later (Boyle, 2002)
This may be the greatest and scariest horror film ever made.

5. No Country for Old Men (Coens, 2007)
It grabs you right in the gut and rips out your intestines.

6. Spirited Away (Miyazaki, 2001)
Not my favorite Miyazaki, but indisputably one of his best. Miyazaki has a knack for effectively reaching an all ages audience like few others.

7. Rabbit Proof Fence (Noyce, 2002)
An epic tale of injustice and survival and hope against all odds.

8. Snatch (Ritchie, 2000)
Groundbreaking cinematography, smart dialogue, great acting, and lots of plot twists. Keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole way.

9. Once (Carney, 2006)
A heart wrenching and believable love story with an awesome soundtrack.

10. Shaun of the Dead (Wright, 2004)
Manages to be a zombie film as well as a commentary on zombies films. Funny and clever, the only one of its kind.

11. Whale Rider (Caro, 2002)
A beautiful story about families and gender and destiny, and how they're all intertwined.

12. Doubt (Shanley, 2008)
Astounding acting, haunting soundtrack, thought-provoking themes.

13. Moulin Rouge (Luhrmann, 2001)
Great soundtrack, great tragedy, great choreography, great love story.

14. WALL-E (Stanton, 2008)
I surprised myself by ranking this so high. Maybe because the film itself is surprising, and surpasses any pot synopsis one could write for it. Simultaneously simple and deep.

15. Big Fish (Burton, 2003)
The story about where a man and the myth about him meet, and what it means for those who loved and had to live with him. May we all pass along a legacy so sweet.

16. Timecrimes (Vigalondo, 2007)
Hands down the best film about time travel ever made. Primer is a close second, but didn't have quite as compelling a narrative.

17. Idiocracy (Judge, 2006)
A scathing commentary on modern culture hidden by slapstick humor and potty jokes set in an astoundingly insightful and believable future society.

18. Kill Bill, vol. 1 & 2 (Tarantino 2003/2004)
These will always be one movie to me. The sum is far greater than the parts. Epic and violent and brilliant.

19. Russian Ark (Sokurov, 2002)
This may be a one-trick pony, but it is the most gorgeously decked pony you've seen. Blew me away.

20. Little Miss Sunshine (Dayton/Faris, 2006)
Great acting turns this routine road trip plot into a timeless classic.

21. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Gondry, 2004)
A romance unlike any you will ever see that raises questions you will never be able to answer.

22. There Will Be Blood (Anderson, 2007)
Cold and stark and heartless and yet bewilderingly effective at involving its audience on a deep emotional level.

23. Waitress (Shelly, 2007)
The world is a sadder place without the talents of this young director, who seemed to have her finger on the pulse of human behavior and relationships.

24. Tideland (Gilliam, 2005)
Probably Gilliam's  most underrated work, and yet one of his most thought-provoking and human.

25. Joyeaux Noel (Carion, 2005)
This film is a good example of one of the reasons I am a Mennonite. Human beings should never have to fight one another because their government tells them to.

26. Monsoon Wedding (Nair, 2001)
It's brilliant the way Nair is able to tell a universal human story and yet a specifically cultural one at the same time.

27. Pan's Labyrinth (del Toro, 2006)
A wonderful marriage of horror, fantasy, and history. And lots of unforgettable and expertly designed monsters and creatures.

28. The Dark Knight (Nolan, 2008)
Could I help but add this to my list? It's Batman and the Joker and a whole lot more.

29. Quiet City (Katz, 2007)
This is how friendships really start. I mean, we're witnessing something magical.

30. Shotgun Stories (Nichols, 2007)
How do we move from darkness into light? From violence to peace? This film gives us a little bit of an idea.

Breakdown by year:
2000 (2)
2001 (3)
2002 (4)
2003 (3)
2004 (3)
2005 (3)
2006 (4)
2007 (6)
2008 (3)
2009 (0)

Female directors: 4
Male directors: 27

Breakdown by genre:
Horror (3) pan's, shaun,  28 days
Drama (8) shotgun, monsoon, blood, doubt, whale, rabbit, new world
Comedy (4) waitress, sunshine, idiocracy, o brother
Fantasy (3) tideland, fish, ROTK
Superhero (1) knight
Mumblecore (1) quiet
Historical (2) joyeaux, ark
Sci-Fi (2) spotless, timecrimes
Action (2) kill bill, snatch
Animated (2) wall-e, spirited
Musical (2) moulin, once
Western (1) no country

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

More TP, Please

Hey, I've got a couple more things to say, especially after seeing Last House on the Left (Craven, 1972) last night.
I have Brandon's and Jeff's posts in my head, so I'm trying to sort my thoughts. They won't come out neatly, I don't think.
We do seem to talk about this a lot. I think that each time, we're saying something a least a little new, or we wouldn't keep talking about it. We're not the "you're wrong, no, you're wrong" sort, and more sensitive to nuances. So, let John be bored, and let him wait until we talk about something he's more interested in.
First, I really appreciate you tackling this discussion, Jeff. I feel like I'm seeing you on a different side than usual, and find myself changing my estimation of you and your ability to appreciate horror. I admire your willingness to try to find anything redeeming at all about a film like Martyrs.
Secondly, I don't see anyone taking me to task for my statement, but I still want to clarify. I guess I do believe that there is a line that a director shouldn't cross (even before the one that allows harming people and animals), but I couldn't tell you where that is. I can tell you where it is for me, but I have no way of knowing from a societal standpoint, where my line is relative to anyone else's. I suppose when I speak of a director respecting the distance between fantasy and reality, I mean perhaps simply respecting that there must be a distance or it's no longer entertainment. So then he must come up with his own conclusions as to what represents that distance, and we must decide whether or not our limits are compatible with his. But when a director disregards the notion altogether, then I think that he is moving from the realm of art to something else. I'm not going to get into a discussion of what is art and what isn't, but I think at least some people would agree that for art to be considered such, there must be a separation between the artist and the audience. Otherwise, anything can be art (some would say that it is, but I think that notion is silly). I need to be able to respond to art, and I can't do that when I'm closing my eyes and plugging my ears. I don't even think a work of art--like a horror film--needs to be saying anything profound. The thing is, when that gap is removed, I'm experiencing a thing rather than observing it. It's one thing when it's giant robots beating the hell out of each other and I feel like I'm right there. It's completely different when it's one human being torturing another. I don't want to be right there.
That's why I like the quick deaths of movies like the Jason films, or Final Destinations, or anything like that. Crack, snap, you're dead. On to the next one. Roller coaster ride. Roller coasters are fun because they last a couple of minutes. Leave there for a half hour and now I want to throw up.
The only time I appreciate a film pushing the envelope is when it's doing something new, or at least something that hasn't been done in awhile. There's an element of exploration, innovation, creativity, etc. If it goes too far, you might not know it until it's been in theaters for a little while. It's why I make an allowance for Hostel, but not, say, Captivity. One's breaking new ground, or breaking up fallow ground, the other is just sowing its seed in that ground (the kind Brandon referred to in his last post, not the kind you're probably thinking of). It's why I make an allowance for I Spit On Your Grave, and Last House on the Left (1972). As I mentioned in a FB comment, I was surprised to see Craven letting his film be what it was, but acknowledging that he explored some territory in LHOTL that he didn't need to revisit. I totally respect that.
For the record, the most harrowing part of LHOTL for me was when Krug made Phyllis piss herself. And then finding out later that the actress really did piss herself for the scene. Talk about blurring the line. I also found the inclusion of a woman among the aggresors interesting. We got screen time with them when they weren't committing crimes to see them as more than monsters. It reminded me of Zombie's Corpses/Rejects gang. I found the silences in between aggressive acts interesting, like we're watching the their humanity slip away from them, bit by bit.  Craven left a good half hour for the parents' revenge scene, too, so the film raises all kinds of questions not just about the torture and rape of two young women, but the length the parents go to avenge themselves. Revenge in films often happens towards the end, and we don't get time to process it. Here, we get to think about what they're doing and why we're enjoying that so much more than we enjoyed the violence against the young women. Which leads me to another potentially disturbing thought. When I was watching ISOYG, I had to turn away for some of the rougher parts (I mean, they just dragged on and on). But when it was the woman's turn to exact revenge, I swear I rewound and rewatched several of those scenes and tried not to pay attention to how much I relished them. It's a testament to the effectiveness of what came before that I wanted to see those young men die. But then....we also saw them not being monsters, especially the developmentally disabled young man. It was honestly a very confusing film to know what to do with emotionally.
Anyway, did you know that Craven was inspired to make Last House on the Left by Virgin Spring? Yeah, the Bergman one.
Hope you could make sense of this.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Brandon, I think that I think that Wolf Creek is a well-made film, and for me (as previously stated more than once) one of the most effective TP films out there. I think that may be why I finally had to ask myself why I was watching these films. When this sort of thing really happens to people who have done nothing to bring it upon themselves (like our sex-crazed teenagers in the Jason films) or who don't represent archetypes that need to be put in their place (so aptly and humorously done in CITW), why am I watching? Perhaps it hits too close to home for this voyeur masquerading as a horror fan, or perhaps it just crosses a line that entertainment is not supposed to cross. When horror is even a step removed from reality, I can still distance myself enough from it to be an armchair QB--that's part of what makes it fun. But when I'm not able to do that anymore (I Spit On your Grave is another fine example of a film I will never watch again and question my motives for watching it in the first place, yet is chillingly effective in its realism), and I'm actually in the film, as a participant--well, quite simply it's not fun anymore. I think that every horror director who is not trying to shock to get himself some extra recognition realizes that, ethically, he must respect that distance between the horror and reality. So whether or not he is genuine, McLean isn't respecting that distance. And yet, an individual's ability to distance themselves from horror varies, which is why some people can't watch any sort of horror at all and which is why there is disagreement about where exactly that line is. The perpetual subjectivity leaves the criticism of horror in constant tension, and I like that about it. Horror constantly flirts with boundaries, which makes it exciting, but it also practically guarantees it will never completely be taken seriously. Am I making any sense here?

You mention Peeping Tom, which in my opinion allows sympathy but not empathy. We can somehow understand how this lonely young man arrived at his obsession, but we don't feel what he feels and we can never condone his behavior. Freddy, Jason, Pinhead, Leatherface--they will never get that sympathy. Okay, Leatherface is clearly mentally retarded (in the clinical sense) as well as mentally ill, so maybe him. Maybe just a little. Now that I think of it, Jason is too, ever so slightly. Poor guy never got over being drowned. But Freddy? F$%k him.

Now there's another great topic for discussion: horror and its treatment of the mentally ill and developmentally disabled. Want to create a monster who can kill senselessly and not be held morally responsible? Make him a retard.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Goon (Michael Dowse, 2012)

Guess who's home sick today, writing about not necessarily the greatest movie he's seen, but the last one, simply because he has the time?

Goon, starring Seann William Scott, is about a simple man brought on to a minor league hockey team to start (and win) fights. It's based on the real-life Doug Smith, who played for several minor league hockey teams for the same reason in the late eighties and nineties.

As usual, a lot of the details are changed for the sake of the narrative, but in this case, I'm glad, because the real life story is a little less interesting than the film. The whole thing takes place in northeastern Canada, and highlights cities like Halifax and St. John's, which don't get a lot of the Hollywood spotlight. The real life story took place entirely in the states. Blah. Hockey stories *should* take place in Canada.

Scott's character is a lovable oaf, who starts the film as a bouncer at a bar. He gets into a fight with a player at a hockey game and knocks him out, drawing the attention of the coach, who eventually gets him a job as an enforcer (or "goon") with the Halifax Highlanders, a player who is brought on exclusively to protect and take out other players. The climax of the film comes when he has to face Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber), a former NHL enforcer, now in the minors at the end of his career, and Doug's hero.

Scott reminds me of Sandler in Punch Drunk Love--in that he's portraying a character that resembles somewhat his one-dimensional dimwitted characters from other films, but played with significantly more depth and sensitivity. Scott does a great job of creating a character at whose foibles you chuckle, but with whom you are ultimately able to empathize. He's perhaps a bit too romanticized in places, but honestly, it's still refreshing. Alison Pill (Scott PilgrimConfessions of a Drama Queen--two movies film club members may have seen her in) is adorable as the love interest. The romance itself adds some heart but isn't really necessary, though at least doesn't fall along your typical romance/comedy ruts. You know they're going to get together by the end, but the way they go about it is entertaining, and, again, refreshing. Jay Baruchel is a little overbearing as the best friend, but isn't overused in the film and doesn't distract too much from the primary focus of the story, Doug Glatt trying to find self-respect and dignity using skills that don't necessarily lend themselves to it.

Goon is a lighthearted film that you can escape into, but that doesn't insult its audience. It's cute and heartwarming and it knows it, but it's taken a lot of effort to be so and really wants you to notice, because, frankly, it cares about giving you a good experience. It knows that you probably won't go on another date, but really appreciates the time you spent together and will remember you fondly, and hopes that you will too. And who knows, when you're sick and tired of all the other crap, you just might give it a call again, just to see how it's doing, and, maybe...well, it doesn't want to get ahead of itself.

P.S. I gave it four stars on Flixster.
P.P.S. It's on Netflix streaming.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Movie Dump (June-Sept)

Here's another Flixster film dump for Film Club. It would be lovely if people were willling to take a look and comment, though my lack of participation doesn't necessarily deserve it. It's been a crazy summer, and the next couple of months look to be just as full. As you can see, I've still been watching a lot of movies, just not taking the time to write about them on the blog. This list goes back to the beginning of June. American Reunion to Mr. Jealousy (from the bottom of the list up) were all watched while I was on drugs, but the reviews still seem pretty lucid, so take them as you will. I've reread my other reviews here and was surprised at how thought out some of them were, despite usually only taking a few minutes to write about them. I don't know why the star ratings didin't copy over like last time, but the reviews themselves seem to say enough to give you an idea of how I might have rated them. I hope you enjoy them. I miss you all.

My Ratings
    Mutual Appreciation
    3 minutes ago via Flixster

    Argh! I thought I rated this here, but I guess I forgot. It's been awhile (I watched it before Funny Ha Ha) so I don't know that I can say anything specific about it except that I liked it a lot. The characters were likeable, even with their flaws, and the mumblecore "formula" really works here in a more traditional narrative sense. Bujualski is smoother than in Funny Ha Ha and his storytelling is more refined.
    Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
    8 minutes ago via Flixster

    Not quite scary and not quite heartwarming. The total was not as great as the sum of its parts. I wanted it to be better, because the concept is so original, but it didn't quite take me where I wanted to go. I was a little disappointed that Santa never got unfrozen, but the elves twist was a nice one.
    Life in a Day
    16 minutes ago via Flixster

    Amazing how such a narrative about the human race can be woven from so many disparate parts. Editing this must have been a herculean task. Brought me almost to tears by the end, so I think the point was taken. My favorite part was the African women singing over video of people working all over the world. I can't help but wonder about all the other hours of film, but for something like this, and hour and a half is a smart length. It's good to leave the audience wanting more.
    Shut Up Little Man!
    21 minutes ago via Flixster

    Fascinating! I don't know where I was when all this was happening :). Raises a lot of thought-provoking questions about art, privacy, decency, copyright, etc. without necessarily taking a stand on any of them. It's tough to be objective, but Bate does a pretty good job. There's a lot of grey area here, and he doesn't try to resolve it.
    6 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    Backbeat (1994)

    I'd done a bit of reading prior to watching this, so it was hard not to be distracted by the artistic (though not necessarily significant) liberties Softley took with the facts. It's a fascinating and not often considered part of the Beatles' history, though, and if you don't know the story, well worth a look!
    Kagemusha (Shadow Warrior) (The Double)
    6 days ago via Movies on iPhone

    Epic and tragic, true to Kurosawa's later form. A hard film to summarize in a sentence or two.
    Funny Ha Ha
    13 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    Funny Ha Ha (2003)

    I saw this fairly soon after Mutual Appreciation, which I think is a more well-crafted film. It also might have been my mood, but the hemming and hawing in conversation got a little tedious. I guess I need to space my Bujalski films apart a little more. I did love the ending though. We're all gonna be okay, aren't we?
    The House of the Devil
    18 days ago via Movies on iPhone

    Great homage to seventies/eighties Satanic cult horror, right down to the ambiguous ending, but it doesn't really add anything new to the horror sub genre. I love "slow burn" horror and West does a great job recreating it, but why will I watch this instead of something that was actually filmed in the seventies? I'm not criticizing it necessarily; I just think he could have gone someplace new and really blown us away.
    The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
    18 days ago via Movies on iPhone

    I think I would have rated this higher if it had been a tad shorter. Otherwise, it was very artfully filmed, with wonderful and plentiful moments of tension in the silences between characters. Affleck's performance is wonderful and adds a degree of complexity to Ford that's already there in the writing. It probably deserves 4 stars, but my attention did wane a bit before the climax. [note: with more time to dwell on it, I do think it deserves 4 stars]
    18 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    Delicatessen (1991)

    Quirky and original with a lovely dark sense of humor and a fairytale quality, happy ending included.
    Until the Light Takes Us
    19 days ago via Movies on iPhone

    An excellent choice in subject matter carries the film where its construction and execution does not. The Count is by far the most fascinating character in the film and the filmmakers' refusal to make judgments is commendable. I had to stop about twenty minutes in to read a couple of Wikipedia articles to get some background info and I was able to appreciate the film a lot more. A well made documentary wouldn't require that. It's too bad, because there's a lot of potential here.
    Flushed Away
    19 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    Flushed Away (2006)

    Solidly entertaining. Love the slugs, lament the absence of Aardman studios' excellent stop-motion animation.
    Shotgun Stories
    21 days ago via Movies on iPhone

    Perhaps the best anti-revenge film I've ever seen. Nichols makes an intense thought-provoking film about the effects of escalating violent acts on two sets of brothers without managing to glorify or sensationalize the violence itself. Incredible. And what about Shampoo? Like Nichols says in the commentary, He is the Devil.
    21 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    Magadheera (2009)

    In turns funny (both intentionally and unintentionally) and engaging and endearing, Magadheera hits a home run for epic historical/contemporary drama/romantic comedies. What, you say? Precisely. Why haven't I seen more Tollywood films? And why haven't you? This plus Eega makes two. At least I got subtitles (albeit poorly translated ones) this time.
    I Spit on Your Grave (Day of the Woman)
    21 days ago via Movies on iPhone

    I had read about this in a few places, and was curious enough from a film history perspective to check it out. The first half is horrific and I had to turn the sound down and close my eyes a couple of times. But the way she exacts revenge, I must confess, is chilling yet understated in its execution. Keaton plays cold and detached really well, and dispatches her aggressors with creativity and malice. By far the best scene takes place in the bathroom, and then the living room, as Jenny waits for her form of justice to do its work. I wouldn't really recommend this, and don't really know how you could justify making it. But judgments aside, it is a far more effective film than it should ever be considering its B-movie plot and no-name actors.
    The Innkeepers
    28 days ago via Movies on iPhone

    Saw this awhile ago; can't believe I forgot to rate it! West is creating the new standard for low-budget indie horror with stuff like this. Compelling and down-to-earth characters and stripped down effects give this film an immediacy and accessibility that hails back to the early days of modern horror filmmaking. Not perfect, but very good.
    Emotion: densetsu no gogo = itsukamita Dracula
    28 days ago via Movies on iPhone

    Didn't keep my attention the way House did. And it lost me towards the end. I liked the imagery. And the umbrellas.
    Hausu (House)
    28 days ago via Movies on iPhone

    Like nothing I've ever seen before! I loved it! Funny and creepy and campy and strange. Oh so strange...
    The Gods Must Be Crazy
    35 days ago via Movies on iPhone

    A classic! This was my third screening. Too bad the stuff about bushmen in the beginning isn't quite so accurate...
    Comanche Station
    35 days ago via Movies on iPhone

    The Classic Boetticher formula proves successful and entertaining yet again. Great little twist at the end, too.
    Duck Soup
    35 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    Duck Soup (1933)

    So much funnier than I thought it would be. Vaudeville comes to the big screen!
    The Campaign
    37 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    The Campaign (2012)

    Ferrell and Zach are funny, but the plot sucked. Some funny scenes and lines but also some terrible ones. McDermott may be the best thing about the film.
    Beasts of the Southern Wild
    37 days ago via Movies on iPhone

    Wow. It's hard to know how to put this into words. Excellent acting, raw and flawed but relatable characters, realism and hope and community in the midst of challenging circumstances. Not like almost any other film I've seen.
    52 days ago via Flixster
    Videodrome (1983)

    3 stars is kind of a placeholder because I really need to watch this again to know what I think of it. It was nothing like I expected and pretty much totally weird. I was fell asleep in the middle and had to rewatch the ending (it was late). But I've been wanting to watch this for a long time, and am not satisfied with my experience with the film, so I want to watch it again. But in case I don't I'm writing something here.
    52 days ago via Flixster
    Brave (2012)

    I was disappointed in part because at a crucial point in the film I thought that it was going to be groundbreaking and then Pixar totally dropped the ball. Good strong female characters can only be so effedtive if being strong means embodying traditionally masculine characteristics. If the only difference between a girl character and a boy character is their gender, then you're still playing into stereotypes. I'd love to see a film where traditionally feminine characteristics are portrayed heroically. A character like that could appeal to boys and girls and not play into gender stereotypes. There was a moment where I thought [spoiler] the most heroic thing she can do here is SEW. How brilliant is that? But, of course, instead she breaks out of the locked room and sews while she's galloping towards her mother on the back of a horse--like a man stereotypically would if faced with the same task. So nothing is gained. Other than that, this is a great Pixar film, and looks really good in 3-D (which not everything does). Compelling soundtrack, etc. It just wasn't as great as it could have been and so I'm holding it to a higher standard.
    The Dark Knight Rises
    54 days ago via Movies on iPhone

    A Fitting conclusion to Nolan's series. A better companion to Batman Begins than Dark Knight, but the three still work well together. Hathaway was better than I thought she'd be but also had the cheesiest lines. Bane was cool, but is really a new character in the film because of how different he is from the comics. If you haven't seen this yet, watch it in IMAX; it's really something to see the way Nolan switches cameras throughout the film for different scenes.
    Make Way for Tomorrow
    55 days ago via Movies on iPhone

    Incredible characters, incredible mix of drama and comedy, incredible insights on relationships and the generation gap. An absolutely brilliant film.
    57 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    Serpico (1973)

    I appreciate Lumet's dedication to the facts of the story (minus some minor changes for ease of storytelling) and the lack of melodrama or sensationalism. Pacino carries the film effectively and gives a supremely memorable performance. I would like to watch this again.
    The Artist
    57 days ago via Movies on iPhone
    The Artist (2011)

    Some clever modern interjections into the silent format are notable, but otherwise this is a nice love story that deftly pays homage to the silent film era. Not something I'd give an Oscar to, though.
    Kataude mashin gâru (The Machine Girl)
    2 months ago via Movies on iPhone

    Japan does grind house. Awesome. Lots of spraying blood.
    The Amazing Spider-Man
    2 months ago via Movies on iPhone

    Except for his uncanny resemblance to Hayden Christiansen (down to the voice!), Garfield makes a great Spidey. I think the switch from nerd to loner works for the superhero, and I was super excited to see the lizard as the main villain (despite the terrible makeup). I wasn't thrilled to hear about the reboot, but they did a good job of making it fresh. Martin sheen was great as uncle Ben, and it was nice to see his character developed more. Emma stone was great as Gwen--I'll hate to see them kill her off in the next film or the one after. Definitely a top 5 superhero film.
    Easy A
    2 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    Easy A (2010)

    I think my expectations were too high. Stone is excellent, and her performance gives the film a half to whole star by itself. I think I have a crush on her now. But without her, this is a film with the same tired jokes and rehashed plot of most other teen sexuality movies. Also, I'm really tired of Hollywood ALWAYS portraying evangelical Christians as shallow, hypocritical buffoons. It's been done, man. Pick on someone else for a change. Don't get me wrong, I have my own issues with evangelical Christianity. But in a film filled with stereotypes, Marianne's character (and her pals) are like stereotypes of stereotypes. Enough already. But let's definitely see more of Emma stone :).
    Take Shelter
    2 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    Take Shelter (2011)

    I had mixed feelings about the ending. I'm not sure whether or not it clouded an intense and unflinching look at schizophrenia. The acting was fabulous and the cinematography and sound editing brought to mind Malick. Ye could not avert yer eyes. But the ending... It throws you off and makes you think. Definitely worth rewatching.
    The Dark Knight
    2 months ago via Movies on iPhone

    The story was well written enough to have broad appeal- beyond the usual superhero loving crowd. Ledger was excellent, as were Eckhart and Gyllenhaal. I hope they bring Eckhart back for the next one, though, because he wasn't Two-Face for nearly long enough. My only complaint (maybe it's why I didn't rate it 5 stars) is that Batman's voice was a little two gravelly. I don't remember it being that gravelly for Batman Begins... [addendum: it was even better the second time around--lots of suspense and complex character situations]
    The Hooker Cult Murders
    2 months ago via Movies on iPhone

    Seventies murder mystery Satanic cult horror is so frustrating sometimes. Seems like too many want to be cop movies and horror movies and end up being neither. There was pretty much no horror in this film until the end, and it was too little, too late. The only horror films I've seen that have successfully navigated this formula have been Rosemary's Baby and the Exorcist. But they tried in the seventies, oh how they tried. This gets an extra half star for its interesting simultaneous flashback/present storytelling, allowing us to see what happened in real time to Black's character as the cop discovers it. I liked that the viewer was expected to get the format and follow along without too much handholding.
    Ride Lonesome
    2 months ago via Movies on iPhone

    Great revenge flick. I like how Scott's character doesn't reveal his motivation until the end, leaving us to wonder all the while what's up. Then once his hand is laid out, the whole matter is resolved in ten minutes. I liked the way the characters interacted with each other--it's really what makes the film successful as the whole of the plot up to the last 15 minutes is the group of them riding to Santa Cruz while being chased by Indians and an angry brother. Scott is back to being serious here, and not any less to be reckoned with.
    Buchanan Rides Alone (The Name's Buchanan)
    2 months ago via Movies on iPhone

    My favorite Boetticher so far. Scott's character is lighter and wittier, more cavalier. Lots of other interesting characters, too--the greedy brothers, the simpleton, Gomez and the Mexican boy. Lots of action and movement, not quite as heavy-handed as some of the others I've seen.
    Day of Wrath (Vredens Dag)(Day of Anger)
    2 months ago via Movies on iPhone

    Love the contrasts, stark sets and lighting matches so appropriately the stark subject matter. Reminiscent of Winter's Light and the Trial of Joan of Arc. The former for tone and the latter for its commentary on the evils of the hive mind, specifically as it relates to institutionalized religion.
    2 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    Eega (2012)

    At least a star and a half (maybe 2) for an amazing moviegoing experience. This may have been my first Bollywood film and I was blown away--the soundtrack, animation, humor and melodrama were all over the top. And I even watched it without subtitles!
    The Pirates! Band of Misfits
    2 months ago via Movies on iPhone

    Funny, lighthearted, amazing sets. So far, Aardman has never disappointed. While there isn't near the same body of work, could comparisons be made to Ghibli?
    Decision at Sundown
    2 months ago via Movies on iPhone

    Unexpected ending, thought provoking. A bit like High Noon, except Scott's character can't seem to get a grip on the reality of the situation, including how his actions have helped the townspeople. Instead of riding into the sunset in victory, he rides out in self-defeat. Reminds me a little of Lonely Are the Brave in its deconstruction of the traditional western.
    The Tall T
    2 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    The Tall T (1957)

    Scott plays the collected calculating cowboy perfectly. And yet is flawed and human enough to be an Everyman.
    Peeping Tom
    2 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    Peeping Tom (1960)

    Nearly flawless--lighting, mood, characterization. The protagonist was wonderfully complex and tortured.
    Orange County
    3 months ago via Movies on iPhone

    A bit of a cliched, Hollywood factory plot that is saved by good acting from a large portion of the cast, especially Jack Black in a relatively early and funny role. Also, that high school building is awesome! Is it real?
    Séance on a Wet Afternoon
    3 months ago via Movies on iPhone

    A little slow in the beginning, but picks up and ends strong.
    Moonrise Kingdom
    3 months ago via Movies on iPhone

    Might be my favorite W.A. film. Big on heart, lots of laughs, lots of quirky characters, lots of adventure. Can't wait to see it again.
    Ernest Goes to Camp
    3 months ago via Movies on iPhone

    Watched with the fam. Okay, so it doesn't hold up so well 20 years later, but boy did I enjoy this film as a teenager. You can't deny it's got heart, though. And some great one-liners..."Hey, is that a rabbit over there?"
    Whale Rider
    3 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    Whale Rider (2002)

    My second viewing, this time with the fam. Castle-Hughes is most of the reason to watch this, but then there are so many more. I love the complexities of the grandfather's character. A great film about families and fathers and sons and daughters. Also, buy the soundtrack.
    Our Idiot Brother
    3 months ago via Movies on iPhone

    I watched this a little while ago because someone told me the main character reminded them of me. I keep watching Paul Rudd because I think he's funny and entertaining, but then I don't rank his films very high. Has he just not found the right film, or is my taste for mainstream comedy in general waned? I really like a lot, if not all, of the actors in the cast, so I guess I'm a little disappointed that I liked it and didn't love it.
    Men in Black
    3 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    Men in Black (1997)

    Saw this in the theater but watched it again just now with the fam. Holds up really well over time. Great mixture of sci-fi, comedy, and action.
    So I Married an Axe Murderer
    3 months ago via Movies on iPhone

    I've seen and loved and laughed at this film so many times I can no longer find any fault with it. I quoted this with my friends incessantly in college. So many great one-liners!
    Mr. Jealousy
    3 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    Mr. Jealousy (1997)

    Excellent dialogue, well-developed, quirky characters. I didn't like the ending, but it wasn't necessarily bad. Just not my taste. Might be a four star film. I'll have to watch it again sometime.
    Children of the Corn
    3 months ago via Movies on iPhone

    I'll admit it was something of a letdown, considering the glowing reports from my friends in third and fourth grade. Still, nice for a bit of eighties horror nostalgia. weird ending . It just kind of stopped. I also thought it would be better because of its source material, but they strayed pretty far from it. If they'd have stayed true to King's story--now that would've been a good film!
    3 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    Following (1999)

    Saw this in college and totally forgot that I saw it. Clever twist at the end, though I always find Nolan's style of flashback confusing. At least it's not as confusing as Memento. The B&W is nice, and the acting appropriately understated. I'd need to watch it again to see if it actually makes sense. I wonder if anyone's re-edited a chronological Following?
    Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
    3 months ago via Movies on iPhone

    Compelling characters and performances, harrowing narrative but with plenty of bright spots to keep you in the story. Great acting especially by Precious and Mary.
    Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt And The Magnetic Fields
    3 months ago via Movies on iPhone

    Interesting profile of a fascinating and talented musician. The subplot of his relationship with Claudia was particularly compelling.
    A Clockwork Orange
    3 months ago via Movies on iPhone

    Recognizing this as a well-made film doesn't necessarily mean that I liked it. It's a Thought-provoking meditation on violence, but I couldn't tell you in one viewing what the nature of that meditation is. It was strange struggling with feeling sympathy for a character who had committed such heinous acts earlier in the film. And the way he was being used by the government (as well as his former mates as policemen) was also distressing and seems like it might be linked to an overarching theme...
    3 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    Chronicle (2012)

    This might be the best superhero movie I've seen. Excellent character development mixed with fun and action. Impressive.
    3 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    Wanderlust (2012)

    Extra half star for Paul Rudd and Alan Alda. Most of the rest was meh.
    Reality Bites
    3 months ago via Movies on iPhone

    I felt bad for Ben Stiller's character, but I suppose he and Winona weren't right for each other. I can't believe it took me so long to watch it!
    Tiny Furniture
    3 months ago via Movies on iPhone

    I liked it until about the 45 minute mark, when Lena's character had her little spoiled temper tantrum. The film was well made, but there weren't very many likeable characters. I don't know that I liked any of them, really. Except the mom. Being a parent myself, I'm really sensitive to that spoiled entitled mentality in kids. I sympathized with the mom when Lena's character let her friend drink all the wine and eat all the frozen dinners. That would have really pissed me off. Okay, so you don't want to be a hostess. Well, do it for awhile and pull your weight until you find something you like better. Everybody's got to pay their dues.
    21 Jump Street
    3 months ago via Movies on iPhone

    Perhaps this sort of film is growing old for me. It was all right, but definitely trying too hard. Loved the cameo by Depp.
    Nine Queens (Nueve reinas)
    3 months ago via Movies on iPhone

    Much better than the American remake. I wish I'd seen this first, as the twist at the end is what sets it apart. It might have gotten four stars then.
    God Bless America
    3 months ago via Movies on iPhone

    A little preachy and predictable, but fun to watch. Sort of a cross between Falling Down and Idiocracy. I liked that Goldthwait went out of his way to avoid any kind of sexual interaction between the two leads.
    Piranha 3DD
    3 months ago via Movies on iPhone
    Piranha 3DD (2012)

    Sloppy, overindulgent, unfocused. Doesn't light a candle to the first, which itself was pretty much a one-joke film (and a fun and entertaining one at that).
    American Reunion
    3 months ago via Movies on iPhone

    Meh. Good movie to watch after surgery when you don't care of you doze off.