Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The cinematic shit-stains of the first half of 2010...

If you haven't yet read my list of the top 10 best movies of 2010 so far, please check it out here:

But now, it's time for me to take a shit on the movies that deserve to be shat on. So here we go...

Most Disappointing movie - Shutter Island
Rating: **1/2 (Out of 5)

Calling this movie Shitter Island would perhaps be a bit of a stretch, as it's by no means a horrible movie. If this movie had been directed by someone else not named Scorsese, it would not be showing up on this blog. In an attempt to make a creepy, chilling Hitchcockian film, Shutter Island just does not pull it off. It moves along at a slow pace, and it does a rather poor job of building up tension. A visceral experience this movie is not. Even the big twist didn't come close to a goosebumps type reaction or a "Holy shit!!" that a good twist delivers...I merely shrugged my shoulders was like, "okay"; not a good reaction to a big twist. Plus, when you analyze the movie postmortem, the twist simply does not make sense and makes the entire movie even more absurd and implausible.

Leo...please drop the Boston accent. It's getting annoying. Am I the only one who thinks Dicaprio is a tad bit over-rated? He's a good young actor, but I'll take Ryan Gosling and Joseph Gordon Levitt or him any day.

The most shameless, un-necessary, money hungry whore of a movie sequel - Shrek Forever After
Rating: ** (out of 5)

It really sucks to see a franchise that started off so fresh and different end like this. I hate sequels which are so obviously motivated by money rather than creativity. It sucks to see Dreamworks milking Shrek the way George Lucas milks Star Wars. Apparently, legacy just doesn't matter. See Shrek 4 then Toy Story 3 to see the difference between a sequel which was obviously just made for money and a sequel which had creative reasons to exist and tell a story that needed to be told. There is absolutely no reason this story of Shrek 4 needs to exist at all. It's a fucking bullshit story.

The humor is lazy and uninspired, the repetition of jokes from the previous Shrek movies are no longer funny (I can't believe people were still laughing at Pussinboots trying to be cute), and all the characters that were once interesting, and lovable from the earlier Shreks are now completely dull. I will say Rumpelstiltskin is a funny villain, and the only interesting character the film has to offer.

It's too bad, because the first 20 minutes of the movie showing how Shrek is bored with the repetition of his new family life was actually very good. However it all goes down hill from there. Its moral of, "You don't know what you got till it's gone...don't take the people you love for granted" has been done to death and delivered in such a trite way. Am I being too hard on the movie? No. I'm not comparing Shrek 4 to The Godfather...I just wish Shrek 4 could have been at least close to Shrek 1...or maybe even 2.

These unmotivated sequels to brilliant originals anger me more than a brand new movie that just sucks. Shrek 4 is a better than let's say...Fly me to the moon, but if I had the power to remove one of those movies from existence, it would definitely be Shrek 4.

Un-necessary remake - A Nightmare on Elm Street
Rating: **1/2

First off, what have you guys done to Freddy Kreuger? He does not look NEARLY as scary as the original. Someone in the audience screaming, "Awww, come on!!" at the first shot of Freddy Kreuger's face would be completely warranted. Second of all, horrible use of the line, "How's this for a wet dream?" It was a hilarious and brilliant line in Nightmare on Elm Street Part 4 (the water bed death), but in the context of this remake...WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU GUYS THINKING? That would be another time where an "Awww come on!" from someone in the audience would be completely warranted.

Finally, the director doesn't seem to understand that less is sometimes better. There is way too much exposure of Freddy Kreuger in the 2nd half to the point that his prescence on screen is no longer ominous. I really like Jackie Earl Haley, but he just doesn't really do it for me as Freddy.

You know, this is not a terrible movie. It's competently directed and it has its share of suspenseful moments. But, it offers nothing new that the original didn't do better. For that, this movie's existence is pointless. I ask, what's the fun in doing a remake like this? Why not do something different? Why not apply Nightmare on Elm Street to today's world dominated by the internet? There's many creative directions they can go with Freddy. But, I don't want to encourage them to make a sequel. Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th...come on, guys! Try to think up original new ideas and leave the classic horrors alone.

On another note, someone actually brought their baby to see this movie. During the first 20 minutes, I heard a baby crying a few times. Then the baby was silent for the rest of the movie. So, there you have it. Past the 20 minute mark, this movie couldn't even scare a baby.

The L Word - No, not lesbian, not love. LAME - The Lame-Team, I mean The A-Team
Rating: ** (out of 5)

Is The Lame Team funnier or The Aids Team? This movie is boring! I've seen soccer games with more exciting action than The A-Team. I did not go into A-team excepting a complex plot and 3 dimensional character. I expected a somewhat decently entertaining action movie with some funny moments. Is that too much to ask for? The entire time watching this movie, I kept thinking about another movie with a similar premise, but 1000 times better called The Losers, a movie with better characters, a fucking hilarious villain and action scenes that you can actually *gasp* see what's going on! Seriously, watch The Losers. That is a stupid, absurd, but very fun and entertaining action movie directed with style.

The first scene fight scene that shows Rampage Jackson beating people up shows exactly what is wrong with the movie. I hate action movies that employ the style of cutting so fast that you can barely see what the hell is going on. This is how the majority of the action is conveyed. The one saving grace is the ridiculous tank falling from the sky scene...there, you could actually see what's going on and it's a stupid, but fun action scene.

The movie is just so sloppily structured and repetitive. It's a repetition of this formula:
a.) Liam Neeson comes up with a plan for his team
b.) Action scene where it's hard to see what's going on and lacks excitement
c.) OMG! Somebody has betrayed the A-team, with Neeson getting all angry and being like, "GRR! I can't believe you betrayed me! I trusted you!"

And repeat that formula over and over and over again. Seriously...fucking everybody and their mothers betray the A-team. The number of, "You traitor! I trusted you!" scenes is laughable. Get it through your head, A-team...people just get a kick out of betraying you.

Oh right I guess there's change to the formula when Neeson is like, "Drrr, I'm so burned out, I can't come up with plans anymore" that dude from The Hangover becomes the new plan maker, but he's all like, "Oh no! I don't have confidence in my plan making skills, cuz usually it's that older wiser dude who comes up with the plans."

Completely ridiculous action scenes where our hero can get shot at by absolutely everyone, but every bullet will somehow miss, or a scene where the villain can shoot the hero, but talks and stalls until someone else comes in to save the day may have been cool in the 90s, but nowadays it just comes off very corny. Watch Rampage's motorcycle rescue as a good example of this. The action scenes have no excitement, no suspense, no sense of urgency, or even style.

Dumb action movies can be good if directed with a sense of unique style. Movies like Wanted and The Losers are good examples of this; dumb movies that are good. The A-Team however is just dumb, boring, and isn't even funny in a "So bad it's good" way. Seriously...this movie felt very long.

Worst movie of 2010 so far: Legion
Rating *1/2

There are two good things about this movie. One is that scene in the trailer when the old lady in the coffee shop goes apeshit and attacks. The other is that in the end credits, the font they use is really nice. I want to know the name of that font. That is all.

You know...there's a thing about dumb campy movies. If you're going to make a dumb, campy movie, embrace the stupidity. When dumb movies are very aware of how dumb they are and don't care, there's something kind of charming about that (once again I point to Wanted as an example). There's nothing worse than a dumb movie that takes itself WAAAAAY too seriously. That is Legion.

The plot about God losing faith in humanity and sending angels to kill off humanity is pretty dumb, but whatever...humans fighting off these scary creatures can still make for an entertaining movie, right? Here's the feels like a horror writer and a writer from The Young and the Restless teamed up to write the script. I was utterly shocked at the huge amount of melodrama between the stranded characters. The cheesy, "Oh gosh, this apocalypse has made me realize how horrible of a father I am" to "You're a horrible daughter!"...or a thug telling a rebellious girl that being rebellious isn't so cool with the girl being like, "Maybe you're right. Maybe I should stop being rebellious." ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?

There's like 40 fucking minutes of this corny soap opera writing with dramatic music and slow zoom ins to the characters' faces as their pour their hearts out. the filmmakers actually think their dramatic material is good?! It's also funny to see Dennis Quaid in this movie...he's the ultimate king of mediocre performances. Oh right, and the movie preaches on and on about how horrible human beings have become.

Did the writer actually think the script was good? I bet the writer's all like, "This is so much more than just a horror. It's a social commentary on the state of humanity. It's also a study of the human condition." haha, I actually want to see if the DVD has a behind the scenes with the writer saying shit like that. That'd be fucking hilarious...probably more enjoyable than the movie itself.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The top 10 best movies of the 1st half of 2010...

So far, 2010 has been a fantastic year for movies. We're only halfway through the year, and I already have two 5 star movies in the top 10. The fact that Temple Grandin only made #5 says a lot about the quality of movies ranked #1 to 4. There are some odd choices in my list (including a movie that's only 40 mins long), and there are a few movies that are arguably not 2010 movies, but fuck it...I saw them this year, and I want them to get more exposure.

Honorable mentions:

Youth In Revolt, Hot Tub Time Machine, The Lovely Bones, Splice, The Losers, The Crazies, Long Pigs (this film had the coolest time lapse shot in the history of time lapse shots)

10. Alice in Wonderland
Rating ****
Perhaps the fact that I saw this movie on shrooms might explain why it's placed up here. I just remember being unbelievably tripped out by this movie. While Tim Burton is often accused of casting the same people over and over again, kudos to him for the most inspired casting choice which was Mia Wasikowska who is fantastic as a 19 year old Alice, and really makes Alice a very memorable character. I understand why a lot of people hated this movie, but I had a lot of fun. Maybe I'll watch it again...not on shrooms and see if my opinion changes.

9. Get Him to the Greek
Rating ****

It's been a good year for raunchy R rated comedies. As funny as Hot Tub Time Machine and Youth in Revolt were, Get Him to the Greek was an easy choice for the best R rated comedy of the year, which is not only a more complete movie, but with great quotable lines of dialogue and smarter humor overall. The first half of the movie just might have some of the biggest laughs of any movie of the past few years. There are moments that made the audience laugh so hard, and long too...after a big joke, the movie would cut to a dialogue scene where you can't hear what's being said due to the audience still laughing at the joke that just took place. Aldous Snow's character released a flop of a song called "African Child"...he's hurt by some of the critics' comments including one critic who said, "African Child is the worst thing to happen to black people since the Rodney King beating"...I fucking love this type of humor!

I think most lesser writers would have been content on just having joke after joke after joke, but Nicolas Stoller is better than that. The 2nd half of the movie surprisingly has good dramatic depth, fully developing its two lead characters, and making the audience really care for their friendship. While Judd Apatow is still the king of the raunchy R rated comedy, Nicolas Stoller is getting very close to Apatow. I can't wait to see what he does next.

8. High life
Rating: ****

What a nice surprise this movie was...especially after seeing a very uninspired trailer which makes the movie look very generic. As a Canadian, I'm proud to flaunt this movie as what us Canadian filmmakers are capable of. It's the best heist movie since Matchstick Men (though it's not quite as good).

This is a very funny movie that shows what can go wrong if you get a bunch of drug addicts to team up together to pull off a robbery. The actors are very funny and there's a nice mix of personalities in the team; the funniest character is definitely the good looking charming guy who's importance to the heist is being...well...good looking and charming. The scene with him in the convenience store alone is worth the price of admission.

But, let's not forget about the heist aspect of the movie. The actual robbery plan is actually quite clever, the movie is easy to follow, unpredictable and unlike other heist stands up quite well in post mortem plausability analysis. High Life is simply a very fun, entertaining movie and far more intelligent than most of the bullshit offered by Hollywood. Go Canada!

7. Sita Sings the Blues
Rating: ****1/2

This movie can be seen for free at:

This movie is proof that often suffering leads to the best art. True story: the husband of this filmmaker left her, leaving her extremely depressed. How'd she get over it? sitting at her computer and spending years animating this astonishing and extremely creative animated film. What a fucking accomplishment! She directed, wrote, produced...she did pretty much everything on this movie. This movie is a very funny and extremely sarcastic re-telling of a classic Hindu tale of Ramayana (I should add, there are 3 Indian narrators who are fucking hilarious and poke fun at this story, showing how shallow the characters are) paralleled with the true story of the filmmaker's relationship. When you get to the end of the movie, you understand what the two stories have in common. People who are frustrated at the lack of creativity in animated films nowadays need to give this one a try. I hope to see a lot more of Nina Paley.

6. Toy Story 3
Rating: ****1/2

Pixar has still got it! This is one of the rare trilogies where the franchise doesn't run out of steam. In fact, I'll say that the last third of Toy Story 3 is some of the strongest material of any of the Toy Story movies. Pixar has not yet turned into shameless money hungry whores like Dreamworks Animation (Shrek 4 was such an obvious money grab, and a completely unwarranted sequel). Toy Story 3 clearly had a creative reason for being made, and it's the most satisfying conclusion to a trilogy I can think of. No matter how much pressure Disney made put on you to make a Toy Story 4, tell me to fuck off and end on a high note, Pixar! Toy Story 3's ending was perfect, and leave on a high note.

The action/adventure scenes are surprisingly intense and very exciting (sometimes very dark too), there's a lot of good humor, especially with the addition of Ken and Barbie. But, it's ultimately the ending which really makes this Toy Story a memorable movie. It may not have been as ground breakingly creative as its first two predecessors, but this is the Toy Story that will resonate the most on an emotional level with older people. We've all grown up, and I'm sure we all miss our childhood. Beyond all the crazy action scenes, it's a profound movie about life, the transition from childhood to adolescents, and moving on and letting go of the past. I recommend seeing this movie in 3-D, as if you don't want to look like a huge pussy crying at a Pixar cartoon, the 3-D glasses do a pretty good job of hiding your tears.

5. Temple Grandin
Rating: ****1/2

After getting bored with the huge amount of biopics which are getting very repetitive, it is so refreshing to get Temple Grandin, which I think is the best biopic since Monster. People who liked bullshit "based on true story" inspirational stories like The Blind Side and The Pursuit of Happyness need to watch Temple Grandin to see how a true inspirational story is done with creativity, originality and authenticity that doesn't feel completely phoney. It is unfortunate that this movie will have no shot at the Oscars due to the fact that it's an HBO movie.

The film is directed with such a refreshingly different style, and Temple Grandin is a very fascinating person who's struggles in life and being able to past all the obstacles of being an autistic person is very admirable. You learn a lot about autism, the movie's direction sort of lets you see through the eyes of an autistic person, and when the film finally arrives at its ending, it is one of the most well earned, and uplifting feel good endings since...perhaps The Shawshank Redemption. I can't believe this movie's only at #5.

4. The Secret in Their Eyes
Rating: ****1/2

This movie pulled a huge upset at the Oscars, but after seeing A Prophet, White Ribbon and this one...the Oscars got it right this time! This is a fascinating, thought provoking, moving, darkly funny police procedural which is brilliantly written and directed (the soccer stadium scene...holy fucking shit!! I can also say Holy shit to the brilliant and witty dialogue), well acted and I should add includes an ending which will linger in your mind for a long time after the credits roll (it's a twist ending which really makes you think and can spark a long morality debate). Simply saying that this movie is a mystery or police procedural would be doing it a huge injustice. The Oscar for best screenplay should have gone to this movie.

While the murder case itself is fascinating, and unravels at a good pace, the movie's core focus is on the characters and how it affected their lives. The film jumps back and forth in time...we see the characters working on the case in 1974 and present day in 2000 where the former investigator is now trying to write a book about the murder case in 1974, but the lack of closure has made it impossible for him to move on with his life. Within it all, involves a romance where I'll movie I can think of has made me root for two characters to hook up more than this one. This is the kind of drama that I wish Hollywood would make.

3. Kick Ass
Rating: ****1/2

After seeing The Dark Knight and Iron Man evolve the super hero genre, here's a movie that will hopefully further the evolution of super hero movies. What if you took a post modern approach to the super hero movie, added Kill Bill type brutal violence, directed action scenes with the very cool style of Wanted, added in Superbad type raunchy humor, include an 11 year old girl who calls people cocksuckers and cunts, and integrate the super hero world into today's modern world ruled by myspace and youtube? That sounds to me like one of the freshest, most original takes on the super hero movie. Let's not write this off as something trashy, the writing is very clever, and even the opening existential speech made by the main character about how ordinary his life is and how he merely exists is brilliant. Immediately, the film has 95% of the audience that can relate to the main character's teenage angst.

Oh how I wish all big blockbuster movies were this much fun. Very few movies have gotten me more excited about the final big action scene than this one. The build up is phenomenal, the surprise weapon that remains a mystery does not disappoint, and the villain suffers the most epic death of any movie I can remember. This is the movie you can just sit there, be very entertained...then when you think about it and analyze it's even better.

2. Hubble
Rating: *****

Okay, so is it absurd that I put a 40 minute Imax movie into this list? Maybe. I normally find those 40 minute Imax movies at the science centre to be great visual treats, but very corny in its storytelling. To say that my mind was completely blown by this movie is an understatement. Now, if I were to have seen this on DVD, then maybe the rating would be lower, but I'm judging this based on seeing it on a giant Omnimax screen with a sick sound system.

If there is only one movie to see in theatres this year, it's Hubble in Imax. If there's only one movie get stoned's Hubble in Imax (I will say with ease...this is the trippiest movie I've ever seen). The visuals are simply...mind blowing; seeing the stars forming, cocoons in space that may form into artist can match the absolute beauty that's captured in space by this hubble telescope.

Beyond the dazzling visuals, the film tells a very good story. It documents a team of astronauts being sent into space to fix the telescope. The dangers they face are crazy, and there are some very intense moments. What surprised me the most is the emotional power of this movie. It is so uplifting, and made me feel proud to be alive, and human, and living on this planet, and proud of what the human race has accomplished. It sounds cheesy, but that's how I felt. This movie is a truly unique experience you won't get in any other movie.

1. Leaves of Grass
Rating: *****

From what I know...this movie will be released in the summer. I may get some backlash for saying good as the Coen Brothers are, I'll take Leaves of Grass over any of their movies. While ordering this top 10 list was hard, picking this as #1 was an easy choice.

If you're the kind of person who's bored of the predictability of your typical Hollywood movie, this is the movie for you! One minute it's thoughtful and philosophical, next minute it turns absolutely batshit insane. I loved it! Simply put, you can never predict where the movie's going. You just go along with it, and enjoy all the surprises. This sort of reminded me of why I loved Punch Drunk Love so much as well.

Leaves of Grass is like a more thoughtful, deeper, philosophical Pineapple Express (there are many scenes of characters getting high, as well as one character running a grow op) combined with a violent Coen Brothers crime thriller...oh yeah, and the movie's fucking hilarious as well. In committing a somewhat clever crime, the characters commit one of the funniest fuck ups I've ever seen in a movie. To top it all off, Leaves of Grass gives us a romance that we can really care for between the main character (a philosophy professor) and a poet. Ed Norton and Keri Russel have phenomenal chemistry together and the very smart dialogue between them is what I wish I saw more of in Hollywood romantic comedies.

Edward Norton deserves an Oscar for playing two very different, but equally brilliant twins. I'd also like to see a supporting nomination for Richard Dreyfus who is hilarious as the dangerous Jew who will kill Brady if he doesn't get his money.

On one hand, the movie is a wacked out, outrageous, brutally violent, and darkly funny movie. On the other hand, it'll make you think more deeply about life, the paths you take which lead you to who you become as a person, and the unexplainable actions and behaviors of humans and why they act that way. This could be the smartest stoner movie ever made. This is perhaps a movie for intellectual stoners to get baked then watch. Then smoke another joint when the movie's done and have a long indepth discussion about the themes and ideas of the movie.

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