Sunday, December 28, 2008

Fear and Loathing in Overland Park pt 86

That's the UK Poster there. It was released last November 30th in the UK.

Top movies of the year. And notice I didn't say Top ten. Or best of the year. Or worst of the year. Because these aren't all movies that will make any lists. These aren't all movies that people will ever even see.

A lot of these are just the movies that I thought were the most entertaining. The most watchable. And the ones that I have watched the most this year.

We all know where I live. And where I live doesn't afford me the opportunity of seeing such films as The Wrestler, Gran Torino, JCVD, and countless others until some time in the next year.

I didn't get to see Slumdog Millionaire. Or Let the Right One In. I chose not to see Twilight and I never ever will watch it.

I never got a chance to see In Bruges even though I've been told countless times I should see it.

Hell, I didn't even get to see Gonzo, the documentary about Mr. Hunter S. Thompson, a man whose life I have followed daily. Or Choke, a movie version of one of my favorite books. This was a year spent trying to do too much and not seeing all the movies that I wanted to see.

I'm not complaining. I'm really not. It's just been a year. I can't believe it's already been another year.

I will start with this one though:

The Dark Knight

I spent the months leading up to the film talking about it. Discussing it. Looking and poring over it for the minutiae and trying to decipher any potential secret messages. I spent a long time trying to decide what I thought of it and how it could possibly stand up to what I made of it in my mind.

It was the best movie of the year. In my opinion. It lived up to all the expectations. It was a comic movie that was unlike any other. It was a real adult version of a comic that didn't mock the viewer who happened to be a comic reader and didn't force the viewer who wasn't to attempt to be one.

It was an honest to Velocijesus good movie and great comic adaptation. And one of the all-time best.

Years from now people will stop comparing every comic movie that gets released to Superman and instead compare it to this. And it's already started with the comparisons that Spirit has been getting. Too bad that movie looks all kinds of suck.

Next on the list, two movies that didn't get wide releases at all but two movies that found there way into my brain and into my favorite movies of all-time:

The Nines
Southland Tales

Both films are enjoyable. They are frustrating. They make you think. They make you scratch your head.

And both movies really are hard to follow unless you pay attention. They don't give you anything up front. They don't just explain everything outright to you. They make you work for it.

And I love movies like that.

Movies that challenge you. Movies that make you work for meaning and don't just say HERE IT IS.

Movies that make you want to watch them again and find things that you may have missed.

Every time I watch Southland Tales I pick up on more things. Other nuances. Little subtle hints that Richard Kelly gave to the viewers and didn't just belabor to show you. The soundtrack is one of the best and it even made me like Moby.

Plus, after my last viewing of this, I found someone worthy of a shot at impersonating Barack Obama: Dwayne Johnson. Trust me and watch the movie and tell me there aren't a few instances in the film where he could honestly portray him on one of the comedy shows and do a fine job of it.

Tropic Thunder
Pineapple Express

Role Models

These three films are the three fun films of the year. They are goofy, they are funny, they are just little surprises in an otherwise turd-filled movie year.

When we were given crap like Step Brothers, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Semi-Pro, Zohan, Love Guru, Meet Dave, and the list goes on, to have three actually funny comedies that were set up as comedies, all of them R-rated, you have to hand it to them. These were actually good movies too.

Pineapple Express is one of my favorite movies of the year. Hands down. It was funny. It was action-packed. And Danny McBride looks just like one of my best friends in this film and a little like him in Tropic Thunder so it's one of those instances where you're watching the film and you look over to make sure it's not the same person next to you.

But James Franco and Matthew McConaughey and Seann William Scott are the surprises this year. Franco dominated Pineapple Express. His stoner was amazing. The scene where he cries eating the cheeseburger is, for some reason, one of the funniest moments in a film all year. And Franco is commonly known as a serious actor, so to see him in this film, with some of the best lines (besides McBride) alongside an actor I'm completely sick of (Rogen), you just have to give him credit for making this movie much better than it would have been had it been directed by, oh I don't know, Judd Apatow or Kevin Smith?

Matteo in Tropic Thunder was a surprise moreso than Cruise and Downey. Both good nonetheless, but McConaughey was great. He was funny. He was on-mark. His idiot agent with the idiot son was great. His need to give his client Tivo was hysterical. He was perfect. And I've never liked him in ANYTHING before. Ever.

Seann William Scott was in two movies I loved this year, Southland Tales and Role Models. And he was great in both. A Messiah and a complete asshole, he worked some range this year. Yes he played the idiot party animal like usual in Role Models, but that movie was funny. Much funnier than Zack and Miri and a much better all-around movie than quite a few others this year.

Burn After Reading
Be Kind Rewind

Two more movies by directors that I love that did not disappoint.

I liked Pitt better in Burn after Reading than I did him in Benjamin Button and I liked Jack Black better in Be Kind Rewind more than I did him in Tropic Thunder.

But to watch these movies, movies that didn't really get much credit yet and might not get any, and just laughing my ass off while watching them, it was great.

Burn After Reading is one of those movies where getting prepared for it you don't know what to expect and as the movie continues on you have no clue what to expect. But it's hysterical. Clooney and Pitt and J.K. Simmons (one of the finest comedic actors living today) give great performances and McDormand is outstanding, as usual, and Tilda Swinton and John Malkovich are surprising as all hell in this movie about people falling out of love with each other and espionage shit going down.

The Coens know how to make a movie about idiots and make it funny. Another great performance from Richard Jenkins (sadly overshadowed by that shitty Step Brothers).

Be Kind Rewind was just a good movie. Hands down. I like the cast. I love the premise. And the director is one of the most interesting talents in Hollywood today. Won't make any ten best lists, but it was enjoyable.

Iron Man
Incredible Hulk
Punisher: War Zone

I'm a Marvel Comics fan. And I loved all three. Iron Man would have been the best of the year had it not been completely outshined by the amazing Dark Knight. No real reason to say anything more as I already reviewed this movie once this year, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The other reason it wasn't the best of the year: Downey was great but was playing himself in a suit of armor. And the majority of the plot and the rest of the movie was just a little too on the nose and tried a little too hard for my tastes.

Incredible Hulk, while boring, gave all the smashing. I would go into more depth, but the movie was dumb fun and that's all you need to know.

Punisher War Zone, just like Rambo this year, two of the most gory, violent, and insane films to watch in theaters. Punisher was dumb. It was stupid. It had crappy acting, crappy directing, and a shitty soundtrack full of loud, thumping, death metal.

But the movie itself was fun. It was violent because it was supposed to be. The Punisher looked like the Punisher. He looked like someone to be scared of. He looked like someone to genuinely flee in terror from.

It had some of the loudest gunfire in movie history and some of the most insane death scenes this side of Rambo's 50-cal attack scene. One guy got blown to bits with a rocket launcher in Punisher.

I laughed. I laughed at it's sheer insanity and I don't care what critics say, I enjoyed it. No 98-pound weakling as the Punisher this time and I enjoyed the hell out of it. Plus, it didn't have any dumb bullshit like Hellboy 2 where the director tried really hard to cash in on his Pan's Labryinth success while using a big-red superhero demon to make more money. That movie was just dumb.

Pure and simple.


CJ7 was directed by Stephen Chow and is amazing. I loved it. It was a kid's movie in Chinese and I loved it. I loved reading the subtitles. I loved the story. I loved the special effects. I loved the cheese factor.

I love everything about this movie.

I love that it was one of those movies that you see and you know what it is and when other people start to talk about it you can say, later on, that you had seen it way back when. But even beyond that, I love everything about this movie. I love the scenery. I love the sense of wonder that can be felt in this film that quickly reminds you of Gremlins or ET and then says, but wait, this is the crazy Chinese guy who did Kung Fu Hustle.

So it's great.

On the English-language side of things, Wall-E is probably one of the best animated films of all-time. Sure, it had a message about pollution and taking care of the planet and all that environmental stuff, but I still love it.

I can look past the message and not be stuck, hip-deep in allegory, when I watch the film because it's just a movie.

It's a movie about two robots that fall in love and a society that is going to take action and make the world a better place.

It's beautiful, even moreso in Blu-ray. But it was an outstanding movie. One that wants to make you think and really wants you to get the message but you just have to love it.

You have to look inside and see the kid in you and just accept the film as a piece of cinema and enjoy the crap out of it.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Like the title suggests, it is a curious thing. I'm still trying to decide what I thought of this film.

Did I love it? Did I hate it? Was it awesome? Was it boring?

Was it everything everyone is making it out to be?

Or was it something more?

Brad Pitt did an excellent job. He really did. He made me believe in the character of Benjamin Button and he played it close to the chest.

It wasn't hammy like his partner's performance in Changeling and it wasn't over-the-top like her performance in Wanted.

It was great. He was great.

Cate Blanchett probably looked her best in this film with all the special effects really helping her to look her best as well as Brad to look his.

The soundtrack was amazing. The special effects, the scenery, the entirety of the film was a thing of beauty. But the story itself is where I'm stuck. I'm still curious about that.

There were things that felt like too much. I hated the people in the theater behind me and yelled at them a number of times to shut up as they seemed to just be there to watch and laugh at the absurdity of the film and not be taken away by it's fable story.

So that took me out of the experience a little bit.

But the idea that the daughter is reading the diary on the mother's deathbed just seemed like too much melodrama for me. Like the movie could have been handled better maybe with Blanchett reading it for herself or just having the movie start with Pitt telling the story.

The sidestory with Tilda Swinton seemed a little unnecessary, but again, showed Benjamin a new part of the world.

The stuff with his birth father could have all been excised. It was pointless and again melodramatic, but Pitt did his best in these scenes and did not overdo it. He was amazing in this movie.

So again, I'm still curious about this one. I loved the film. I really did. I love everything the director has touched and will see each of his films, no matter what they're about.

But I feel like this movie needs to be seen again and processed, but will I sit through it in theaters for another 3 hours? Maybe not.

Again, I'm still curious about this one.

Alright, so next time we'll get to the worst movies of the year, some of which were briefly mentioned in this here blog. See ya in a few and keep reading. Music is on its way as well.


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