Sunday, December 18, 2011

The top 11 best movies of 2011...

Almost every year I've done one of these lists, my pick for #1 has always been a really easy choice. This is the first year where I've actually gone back and forth between my #1 and 2 choice. They're both amazing in their own ways, and I hope people take my #2 recommendation just as seriously as #1. And maybe fuck the rest of the list. Just kidding, see every movie in my entire fucking top 10 list and every single honorable mention, god damnit! Otherwise, you'll be doomed to a shitty life! MANIACAL LAUGH! MANIACAL LAUGH!

Moving on...speaking of The will not be in my top 10 list, though it was a pretty enjoyable movie.

To those who say, "Where's Martha Marcy May Marlene, motherfucker?" my answer is, "Sorry, I missed its theatrical run, fuckface." I found a workprint download of it, but I'd rather wait for it on DVD than to watch that.

Honorable mentions:

Hugo, Incendies, Limitless, American: The Bill Hicks Story, Hanna, Midnight in Paris, Beginners, Submarine, Bridesmaids, A Very Harold & Kumar 3-D Christmas, We Bought a Zoo, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

11. Born to be Wild Imax 3D ****1/2

Yep, I've once again put a 40 minute Imax movie in the top 10. Here's an Imax movie about the scarred lives of elephants and orangatangs who need human guidance, and it's suprisingly quite touching. This movie not only has some of the best 3-D of any movie I've seen this year, but it's also quite possibly the cutest movie ever made! I think this movie might even get "Awww" reactions out of serial killers.

10. Horrible Bosses ****1/2

Here is a movie that shows that when it comes to comedies, casting is everything. Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis as the 3 lovable and mistreated employees who all hate their bosses have absolute perfect comedic chemistry together. Kevin Spacey, and Colin Farrel are great as evil asshole bosses with no morals, but Jennifer Aniston easily steals the show as the horniest dentist of all time; this should be what she's remembered for as opposed to Rachael in Friends. I hope Judd Apatow casts her in his next movie.

Horrible Bosses has a Knocked Up type thing going for it as every single character is funny. There's a nice mix of raunchy, dark humor, but every once in a while the movie will give you those really clever one liners that'll make you grin from ear to ear. Horrible Bosses at times reminded me of the greatness that is "It's Always sunny in Philadelphia" and that's a big compliment.

9. The Ides of March ****1/2

If people are shocked at the non-stop shit show that is American politics, The Ides of March presents a fascianting, cynical political drama that's a behind the scenes look at a race for who will represent the Democrats in the presidential race. The movie begins with optimism, with characters who are so idealistic at how their actions may change the world to a cynical, ironic ending that is bound to send chills down your spine. The usual Hollywood character transformation of going from bad guy to good guy is in reverse in this one; it studies how these politicians full of integrity slowly sell out everything they stand for until they become what they hate.

Ides of March feels so realistic in its depiction of all the mind games, mind fucking and shady deals that go on. It's the kind of movie you watch and wish that everything in it was complete bullshit. I didn't say anything about the acting yet...uhh, absolute top notch cast from Hoffman to Giamatti to Clooney, and Ryan Gosling fucking rules! Nobody steals this motherfuckin movie from him.

8. Moneyball ****1/2

Moneyball is easily my pick for the best baseball movie ever made. It's sort of an inspirational based on a true story movie, but done in a cool indy anti-Hollywood way. Who knew that a movie about the mathematical and nerdy statistical way of putting together a baseball team would be so fascinating? Who knew I'd get so into this GM character that I find myself actually hoping the Oakland A's win a world series so that this real life character will get his moment of joy.

Moneyball is so refreshingly different than every other baseball movie, where the all the backstage stuff is so fascating, fast paced and frequently funny. While I wish the movie could have gone into a little more detail about the statistics behind assembling a cheap, but awesome baseball team, it's enjoyable in every way, crackling with witty dialogue from beginning to end, great comedic chemistry between Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, a really charming father - daughter relationship, and of course those moments of joy and elation when the under dog Oakland A's pull off something extraordinary that had never been done before in its 20+ game win streak. What a nice and funny tongue in cheek metaphor that happens close to the end of the movie.

7. The Adventures of Tintin ****1/2

Speilberg has officially been forgiven for raping Indiana Jones (South Park's "The China Problem" episode...look it up if you haven't seen it). Tintin is not only by far the best animated film of 2011, but it's also the best action movie of the year. This is a rare Hollywood movie where the critical/analytical side of my brain just shut off and I simply got completely lost in the movie's world. The action scenes are so full of excitement and exhileration, with so much creativity and imagination to them. The animations, the back drops are simply gorgeous to look at, and sometimes so realistic, you may forget at times that you're watching an animated film. While the two main characters aren't exactly 3 dimensional, the comedic chemistry is very good between them, and having an alcoholic as a main character in an action/adventure movie makes for some great comedy, and very creatively implemented into some of the action scenes. You don't have to be familiar with the source material to enjoy this. I had never heard of Tintin before I saw the movie, and here it is on my top 10.

6. Attack the Block ****1/2

The difference in quality between Attack the Block vs. every other alien movie of 2011 (there were a lot of them) is like the difference in quality between an expensive steak house vs. the grade F dog shit meat you get at Taco Bell. While every other alien movie was content on doing the exact same shit that's been done over and over again, leave it to the Attack the Block to do something refreshingly different. And hey, they had the lowest budget by far of all the alien movies.

Attack the Block is a hilarious movie that instead of doing a global alien invasion, it isolates it to one small location, exploring how street thugs and stoners would deal with an alien invasion. What a concept! In midst of all the alien action is also a really funny stoner comedy.

To that, I have to say, whoever the casting director was that found all these no name actors...give that person a special honorary Oscar. The acting is absolutely top notch from everyone, even the little 10 year wannabe street thugs. If I was to teach how to write good memorable characters for genre pictures, this would be the movie I'd show. The gang of thugs all have such funny, interesting personalities and the comedic chemistry between them is amazing. How much of their dialogue is improvised vs. how much was written is something I'm very curious about. The way the thugs try to make sense of their situation makes for great comedy. For example, how do you fit everything that's transpired into one text message?

The action scenes are fun, and it's interesting that you never fully see the alien, as they're black ominious creatures with really bright teeth and eyes, or as the characters describe them as, "Big gorilla wolf motherfuckers". One of the black characters remarks that the alien is even blacker than his cousin.

For all the alien movies released in 2011, the only one you need to see is Attack the Block. All the other alien movies can fuck off with their unoriginality.

5. The Descendants ****1/2

The release of an Alexander Payne movie truly is an event as opposed to just a movie release. After the wonderful human comedy Sideways, his fans were left in the dark for 7 years and returned with an even more accomplished movie in The Descendants. Let's hope the wait for his next movie won't be when I'm at a "must have a prostate check up" age...which seemed like the average age of the audience in this movie. The Descendants is really heavy dramatic material which is nicely balanced with some wickedly dark comedy.

You can be crying one minute, and that same scene can hit you with something hilarious within an instant. There are certain moments that make you laugh, but cringe at the same time. Certain moments are just downright painful to watch. The Descendants is a great character study, with George Clooney giving the best performance of his career as Matt King which is like a dramatic odyssey about a man's emotional journey and how he deals with life shitting on him in every way. One day he learns that his wife will never wake up from her coma and must figure out how to break the news to everyone including his kids. How does he now handle the task of being a single father? To top it all off, he soon learns that his wife had been cheating on him the whole time.

You see him go from despair and hopelessness to grief to anger and bitterness to acceptance. Through it all, he becomes a better person and better father. Especially his relationship with his daughter (played by Shailene Woodley who really deserves an Oscar nod for this wonderful role) is great to watch, seeing them at each other's throats all the time to becoming a team and helping each other through all the misery. The scene of the two of them confronting the man cheating with their wife/mom is so wonderfully done and very unpredictable.

Hawaii provides a nice back drop for the movie. As Ebert points out, the Matt King character seems kind of closed off from the rest of the land, but the more he embraces where he lives and gets connected to the land, the more he connects with his family. I really enjoy movies like this where the worst imaginable things in life bring out the best in someone and change them forever.

4. Life in a Day ****1/2

This cinematic experiment...people around the world were asked to film one day in their lives (July 24, 2010) and send it in, with an editor going through 4500 hours of footage to put together into a 90 minute time capsule movie of what life is like today around the world. I think this movie is the best piece of editing ever accomplished. Here is a movie that truly encapsulates the human experience all over the world.

To quote kerick08 on imdb, "This film is ultimately about connection; the connection of humans to one another and all of the mundane, regular, everyday things that we share despite our differences in culture, location, and upbringing. The fact that we all sleep. We all wake up in the morning. We all eat breakfast. We brush our teeth. We walk around. We smile. We love. We fear. We breathe. This film is an affirmation of the simple joys and sorrows that we experience merely as a result of living on this earth and being human. It is an affirmation of life at its rawest, truest, grittiest, and loveliest."

The experiment went well as the movie has plenty of great footage with such a wide range of human life from pain, grief, despair and fear to moments of exhileration and excitement to some truly hilarious moments.

Despite many poignant moments, this is one of the most life affirming movies I've ever seen. Chance is, the movie may change your mood for the rest of the day. Life in a Day will make you feel fortunate for the life that you currently live, maybe not take things for granted so much. It may also make you feel like a whiney bitch for bitching about the trivial aspects of your life.

3. A Separation ****1/2

Kudos to Roger Ebert for making a great pick for #1 best movie of 2011. I had never heard of this movie before and wasn't all that excited to watch it. What I got is one of best foreign language films ever made. It's a movie that is amazing, but so hard to describe in words what makes it so great. It has so many layers to it. Repeated viewings of this movie is definitely necessary, as there's so much to wrap your head around. I think for the upcoming Oscars, there will be no upset. Without having seen any of the other nominees, A Separation will take the best foreign film Oscar, no doubt about it.

Here is my best attempt at doing the movie justice with my words. A Separation is one motherfucking intense movie. Once the inciting incident takes place, I found myself fully involved with every twist and turn of the story. It's a part mystery, telling a story, but hiding certain details from the audience. When more is unraveled later in the movie, our perceptions of the characters shift as we slowly learn the truth. We see the same events from different eyes.

A Separation starts off with a wife wanting to divorce her husband. She wants to move the family to Europe out of Iran to live a better life, especially for the daughter. The husband can't do this, his dad has Alzheimer's and he feels the need to stay and look after him. They both have good points, and this is just one of many moral conundrums the movie has to offer.

The movie revolves around one big incident which I won't reveal. The mystery is interesting, but the movie's more about exploring these very well written 3 dimensional characters and how the incident and the following court case affects them. The characters are so realistic, and flawed. We get frustrated with some of their decisions, but we can understand why they act the way they do; it's often out of principle and stubborn emotion. However, soon the main character's stubbornness gets the worst of him. The court case fully consumes his life to the point that he's blind to how much everything is hurting his daughter.

This movie takes place in Iran, but it's a movie any of us can watch and constantly ask ourselves, "What would we do in this situation?" When is it time to swallow your pride and forget about being right? It's a movie that's morally complex, intense, very subtle with its character observations, and interesting in its study of Iranian culture and the role of Islam in their lives, but also at times emotionally devastating without cheap Hollywood trickery. The movie never loses sight of the separation of the parents and the affect it has on their daughter. Although she's not the main character, she really becomes the heart of the movie, and unintentionally the biggest target of pain as this young girl's idealistic view of life is shattered. There's a court room scene where she breaks down into tears, and it is so hard to watch; odds are anyone in the audience with a pulse will cry for her too.

2. Cold Weather *****

"God damn it, dude! How much Sherlock Holmes you been reading?"

Cold Weather is the ultimate testament to low budget filmmaking. Sometimes less is more. Sometimes you don't need hundreds of millions of dollars...all you need is a good script...sorry typo there, a brilliant script, and great actors who are just so natural in their roles, it never feels like they're putting on a performance. The movie's big climax is a car chase and despite a lack of explosions, car crashes and special FX, I found myself far more absorbed and at the edge of my seat in this low key car chase than 90% of big budget Hollywood movies. Most of all, I have so much respect for the comedy writing in this movie. Once again, it feels so natural and a lot of humor is found in the eccentricities and quirks of the characters and their relationships with each other. This is a movie that should be studied for how to write 3 dimensional characters. Even indy writers should study this for figuring out just the right amount of quirkiness to put into a character.

I love the film's transition from mumblecore to a low key detective mystery. Just like other mumblecores, we get a slacker characters who seem to go through life aimlessly with no real direction; In Cold Weather, we get a protagonist who seemed driven to get into forensic sciences, but soon dropped out, went from random job to job then moved in with his older sister, sleeping on her couch. He puts very little effort into a job search, but finds work at an ice factory. However, he is obsessed with Sherlock Holmes and dreams of being him one day. It's unfortunate that impatient viewers will get restless for the first 15 minutes that depict the characters' aimless lives, but it's very necessary for the rest of the film.

Soon enough, the protagonist's ex-girlfriend mysteriously disappears and he's thrown into a mystery. He finds himself playing the role of a slacker version of Sherlock Holmes. For a change, we get a detective movie that's so grounded in reality and where the detective really isn't larger than life. He requires his sister to drive him from place to place to find clues, stealing books from the library, or even to take him to buy a pipe to see whether smoking it like Sherlock Holmes will make him any wiser.

While this seems like an annoyance to her at first, she soon finds herself just as involved in the mystery as her brother and they work together amazingly well to solve all the clues. While the mystery is interesting, it's the interactions between the two siblings which is an absolute joy to watch. Both characters are very eccentric, but brilliant in their own ways. When the movie ends, you get a sense of a bond between the brother and sister that's never seemed stronger, and perhaps a clear sense of what the characters should be doing with the rest of their lives, conveyed with such subtlety. As I type this, I'm struggling to think of any detective mysteries that I'd pick over this one. Where mumblecores are concerned, I pick this one movie over In Search of a Midnight Kiss. (Note to everyone, seek out In Search of a Midnight Kiss as well. It's one of the funniest romantic comedies ever made.)

1. 50/50 *****

I debated giving #1 to Cold Weather for a little bit, but I decided to stick with my initial gut feeling of giving it to 50/50. It's a perfect example of how to tackle a subject matter as depressing as cancer with integrity, authenticity, and lots of humor. It's unfortunate that the screenwriter Will Reiser had to battle cancer at such a young age, but he survived, and turned his experience into one of the most powerful dramatic comedies in a long time. It's interesting to find out that Joseph Gordon Levitt was actually not the first choice for the role and had stepped in last minute. Looking back, who knows if the movie would have been this good without him?

Laura Linney discussed the role comedy on the daily show, calling it a form of catharsis to battle the worst shit in life. Sometimes the best you can do when steaming piles of shit are thrown at you is laugh at it. 50/50 finds just the right balance between comedy and drama. The first half of the movie is absolutely hysterical, and this movie makes you want to see Joseph Gordon Levitt and Seth Rogan paired up more often. Rogan does some of his funniest work since Knocked Up, but Levitt is a great straight man to make Rogan funnier.

There's also the relationship between Levitt and his rookie shrink played by Anna Kendrick which strikes just the right balance of comedy and drama. Kendrick is really charming playing the young therapist, and I like how the movie covers the stress that therapists have to endure. It's tough knowing that they can easily fuck someone's life up if they don't do their jobs properly. It's the fact that she's so young and inexperienced in her job that makes her relationship with Levitt's character believable and not feel like bullshit. There's even some room for stoner comedy where the main character enjoys the joys of medicinal marijuana with other fellow cancer patients.

While the first half of the movie makes a great comedy, it's a few key dramatic scenes in the 2nd half of the movie that really stuck with me moreso than the humor.
The scene where Levitt is sitting on the bed, about to be operated on and realizing he may never wake up is unforgettable and the single most powerful moment of any movie this year. He breaks down in tears, and grabs on to his mom, and various people at imdb's messageboard who also went through cancer have all admit to reacting in the exact same way as the character; no matter how old you are, you turn back into a little boy and need the comfort of your mommy.

50/50 is real tearjerker, but not a single minute of the drama feels like emotional manipulation. The drama is handled in a very raw, non-mainstream Hollywood way and the tears are well earned. It's the authenticity that makes the drama work, as the movie depicts all the physical, emotional, mental pain and feelings of hopelessness so well. Cancer doesn't just affect the sufferer, but everyone around him too, and the relationships with his best friend, his mom, and therapist are very well handled. His ex-girlfriend...okay I can see where some people have issues with this, but I didn't think it took too much away from the movie.

There you go. 50/50 is my pick for the best movie of the year. As a comedy it's one of the funniest of the year and as a drama, no other film was more moving than this one.

Other Misc. Awards:

Trippyest movie:A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas 3-D (isn't it nice that a stoner comedy is also the trippyest movie? Other honorable mentions are: Enter the Void and Limitless.

Best ending to a movie:Life in a Day (simply one of the most poetic endings I can ever remember and a great existential speech that any of us can relate to) Runner up: We Bought a Zoo (absolutely beautiful ending). Other honorable mention: The Ides of March.

Best Opening Credits:Many might say Girl with a Dragon Tattoo. I'll go with The Adventures of Tintin with honorable mentions to: Limitless and once again...Enter the Void.

Best duo:
The brother and sister teaming up as detectives in Cold Weather. The chemistry between these two actors is simply amazing! It's one of the best sibling relationships ever in a movie.

Best 3D: Most will say Hugo and it was very good, but I have to go with Born to be Wild 3-D. The 3-D turned a cute movie into the cutest movie ever made.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The top 5 best movies of the first half of 2011...

Yep, I do this every year, so here it is. Now maybe it's a little past half of the first year, but ya know...despite my ethnicity, math was never my thing.

Alright, so let's start off with The Honorable mentions:
American: The Bill Hicks Story, Hanna, Midnight in Paris, Thor, Beginners, Submarine, Bridesmaids

I'm a little surprised that Midnight in Paris, Submarine and Beginners all didn't make it into my top 5. I thought going in they'd for sure be top 5 material. I don't know. Looking at my #5 and #2 pick, maybe I'm turning more into a philistine.

5. Limitless **** (out of 5)

Now THIS is an entertaining movie! While I agree with the critics who felt let down that a movie with this intruiging a premise could have been so much smarter, while there are some massive gaping plot holes, and the structure is a bit of a mess, this movie is just so much fun that I didn't care. While I'm usually not one for turning my brain off to enjoy mindless entertainment, this was a case where I fully embraced it. That's not to say that it's a completely mindless movie, as it does present an intruiging premise about a drug that can completely open up your brain to its full potential.

Limitless is surprisingly one of the trippyest movies of the year. The film is directed with such vibrant energy and exuberant style. The action scenes in this movie are for the lack of better words...fucking awesome. I fully understand some of the bad reviews this movie received, but to me, this was one of the biggest surprises of the year.

4. Incendies **** (out of 5)

This movie really should have gotten Canada yet another Oscar for best foreign language film. I really thought it would happen, as best foreign film is the category that the Oscars very often get right. However, this year was not the case and the incredibly underwhelming and rather corny In a better World took the Oscar.

But, enough with my bitching at the Oscars. While this is not a conventionally entertaining movie, it is a very disturbing, shocking, amazingly powerful and unforgettable movie that will shake you. Anybody that spoils the brilliant ending for you is a fucking asshole.

It's part mystery, part thriller, part social commentary on the senseless violence and hatred sprung up by conflicting religions. The movie starts with two twins dealing with their mother's death. They are given a letter which from the mother that reveals to them that they not only have a father, but also a brother and are asked to travel to the Middle East to find them and give them certain letters. Through the journey to the Middle East, the kids learn about their mother's incredibly sad, painful life and the mystery slowly unfolds about their family to which I once again will say...just watch it for yourself. How this movie lost to In a Better World, who the fuck knows?

3. Born to be Wild 3-D ****1/2 (out of 5)

Yep, I've once again put a 40 minute Imax movie on to the top 5. I think this being the cutest movie I've ever seen can warrant this making it on the top 5. Morgan Freeman takes on the narrating duties, and holy shit this movie has some of the best 3-d I've ever seen. Certain shots, animals appear to be right in front of your eyes, and you can reach out and touch them.

What could have been a really schmaltzy movie, it surprisingly is not. The story of the lives of elephants and Orangutans, who's lives had been so troubled that they needed the care and nurturing of humans to take them in before setting them back out into the wild is surprisingly touching. You movie does a better job of making you feel the animals' pain than many HOllywood movies do of feeling human pain. I learned that elephants are actually really emotional animals, they aren't just the kings of the jungle that bitch slap other animals with their trunks. Their sense of camerederie among elephants is actually kind of beautiful.

Orangutangs continue to prove that they are by far the most cinematic animals. I think the scenes of these monkeys would even get "Awww" reactions out of serial killers.

Of course there's the relationship between the humans and animals. When the humans after caring for the animals release them back into the wild, you can feel their bittersweet emotion of letting the animals back in. It's not quite as good as Hubble, but maybe the 2nd best 40 minute Imax movie.

2. Horrible Bosses ****1/2 (out of 5)

This is by far the biggest surprise of the year. I was expecting something funny, but I wasn't expecting was perhaps the funniest movie I've seen since Knocked Up. Here is a movie that shows that when it comes to comedies, casting is everything. Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis as the 3 lovable and mistreated employees who all hate their bosses have absolute perfect comedic chemistry together. It's really hard to pick out the best performance of the 3, because they all work off each other so well. I don't know, maybe I'll say Jason Bateman, just because I think good straight man performances are under-rated.

Then you have the horrible bosses, yes they are 1 dimensional characters, but who cares when they're as funny as these over the top, completely evil people. It's how ridiculously immoral these characters are that make them so funny and also can't help but make you as an audience root for the protagonists to succeed in their murder plans. As good as Kevin Spacey and Colin Farrel are, the funniest performance definitely goes to Jennifer Aniston, playing the hottest, and horniest dentist ever. I wonder if Judd Apatow immediately contacted Jennifer Aniston's agent after seeing this movie. It's one of the funniest female performances in a long time.

Then you have a hitman consultant character named Motherfucker Jones, to which the joke about his name never gets old. Maybe with a less competent comedic cast it would have.

Horrible Bosses has a Knocked Up type thing going for it, that there is not one unfunny character in the movie. At times the humor reminded me of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia which by no means is a criticism (I like Charlie Day a lot more in this than on the show). Horrible Bosses is R-rated comedy at its best. It's dark and raunchy, doesn't pull any punches, and it has a lot of great dialogue exchanges between the cast who all work so well together, and even some great Toyota jokes in there too. When the main characters realize how much deep shit they're in, Jason Sudeikis and Jason Bateman still have time to argue over the question of who of them is likely to get raped more in prison.

While the 2nd half of the movie's jokes aren't quite as clever as the first half, watching these bumbling idiots screw up over and over again in their murder plans makes for some great comedy. Horrible Bosses is what I want out of an R-rated comedy. Bridesmaids was a very funny movie, but Horrible Bosses stands tall as the funniest movie of 2011.

1. Life in a Day ****1/2 (out of 5)

Note: I'm pretty sure this movie comes out this Friday. People in Toronto, it's playing only at the AMC Yonge/Dundas theatre.

This stands tall as my clear cut favorite of 2011 so far. This cinematic experiment ...everyone being asked to film a day in their lives (July 24, 2010) and send it in, with an editor going through 4500 hours of footage to put together a 90 minute time capsule movie of what life is like today around the world could have lead to disastrous results. But, luckily they got a lot of good footage, and Joe Walker did an absolutely phenomenal job of putting it all together; I think Joe Walker deserves an Oscar for best editing. This is a movie that truly encapsulates the human experience all over the world.

To quote kerick08 on imdb, "This film is ultimately about connection; the connection of humans to one another and all of the mundane, regular, everyday things that we share despite our differences in culture, location, and upbringing. The fact that we all sleep. We all wake up in the morning. We all eat breakfast. We brush our teeth. We walk around. We smile. We love. We fear. We breathe. This film is an affirmation of the simple joys and sorrows that we experience merely as a result of living on this earth and being human. It is an affirmation of life at its rawest, truest, grittiest, and loveliest."

While some people may have an issue with the approach of the movie, or the fact that the people who submitted footage didn't get paid, people should just watch the movie for what it is. Through all the footage is a both visually and thematically beautiful movie; a deep, moving film about the human condition. I should also add, sometimes it is fucking hilarious as well. Despite many moments of sadness and poignancy, this is one of the most life affirming movies I've ever seen. Chance is, the movie may change your mood for the rest of the day and perhaps a changed person. This is the type of movie that will make you feel fortunate for the life that you currently live, maybe not take things for granted so much and may also make you feel like a bitch for bitching about the trivial aspects of your life. I very often found myself watching someone else's life saying, "Man, I'm glad I'm not living that person's life."

Just like how leaving a typical Hollywood movie, where it's fun to discuss memorable set pieces, Life in a Day has some of the most memorable moments of any movie, and I'm sure everyone will have their list of favorite momemts. There are moments of sadness, hope, love, exhileration, humor, and so on. A teenager shaves for the first time, and it actually looks like a horrible painful ordeal. Boy am I glad I'm incapable of growing facial hair. A scene of an old couple renewing their wedding vows is surprisingly funnier than anything most R-rated raunchy comedies can come up with (though maybe not Horrible Bosses). One family is revisted quite a few times in the movie, where the mother had cancer and is recovering from surgery. You see how this sickness has put a huge strain on the family, but the final scene that you see of this family with the father revealing his fear is absolutely beautiful. The best moment involves an existential speech made by a girl in a car, which is such a well delivered speech which I'm sure we've all thought of. While generations before us constantly struggled for survival, our modern day struggle in life is often just killing time and that's all really, and the idea of disspearing into obscurity with people having no clue of your existence...that is scary. I challenge people to find me a more poetic ending of a movie than the one this one has.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

I've got a bone to pick with Miller Lite's "Man up" commercials...

If you're not familiar with the commercials I'm talking about, here's one of them:

The typical formula of these commercials: a guy asks for a light beer, he's asked if he cares how it tastes to which he replies no. The bartender then insults his manhood and tells him that she'll give him a miller lite once he stops being a little bitch. They'll have some lame joke about how this man is also carrying a purse, or wearing a skirt.


That logic already seems very illogical. There's another commercial which bothers me even more, which I unfortunately can't find on youtube.

It has a bunch of guys on a camping trip. Everyone is drinking miller lite except for one guy who's drinking a can of light beer. They all make fun of him. The commercial ends with him drinking miller lite just like the rest of his buddies.

These commercials are subtly sending a bad message about peer pressure and conformity. All it takes is a little teasing and then the one oddball conforms to the gang and drinks Miller Lite just like the rest. That's all it takes...a little teasing. These are the kind of people that probably became smokers because their smoker friends in school called them a pussy and they're like, "Oh God, I don't want to become a pussy! I'll poison my lungs and get addicted to a product that kills hundreds of thousands of people a year to show how much of a pussy I'm not!"

As far as I'm concerned, these characters aren't liberated for drinking miller lite. They are simply showing how weak they are. Who knows what happens after that one person has been converted to Miller Lite? Maybe his friends are like, "By the way, we want to re-start the Nazi movement and rid the world of Jews. Can I get a Heil Hitler?" That character with a skirt probably ended up in a tattoo parlour getting a Swastika on his arm, while downing a miller lite.

Some of you may be like, "Oh God! Don't be like Fox news with Nazi analogies"...well, in my case I'm trying to use a Nazi analogy to be funny, so STFU!

I can personally attest to being that guy in the Miller Lite commercial, but in my case it's guys drinking beer and me drinking Smirnoff Ice. (Note: I no longer drink Smirnoff Ice because my stomach can't handle it anymore. Maybe I'm not woman enough for smirnoff ice?)

I constantly got, "What the fuck? You're drinking a woman's drink, woman."
Well...hey asshole, Smirnoff Ice has 7% alcohol a bottle while your Coors Light has 4%. I'm gonna get drunk way faster than you do...4 bottles of smirnoff ice is the alcoholic equivalent to 7 bottles of Coors Light.

If Shake Weight was around back then, I would totally be downing a Smirnoff Ice with one hand, while working out with the shakeweight with the other hand simulatenously. I don't care how unmanly that looks. I'm getting drunk while having a good work out at the same time.

Anyways, Miller Lite needs to stop telling people to "Man up" by doing what everyone else is doing. There is absolutely nothing manly about conformity. Conformity is for the weak-minded. Independant thought is way under-rated.

To quote a very wise white man, Vanilla Ice: "Be true to yourself! If you ain't bein true to yourself, YOU AIN'T BEIN TRUE TO NOBODY!!"

So if you find yourself at a bar asking for a light beer and the bartender starts to insult your manliness for not wanting miller lite answer with, "You know what? I change my mind. Get me a Shirley Temple with Vodka, motherfucker!"

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Most over-rated movies of 2010

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

I've decided to make the most over-rated movies blog its own thing and not lump it with the "Shit stains of 2010". In most cases, these over-rated movies are good, but simply not the masterpieces that many people think they are. Plus, it's more challenging to start shit with actual respected movies. Picking on Megan Fox for being a shitty actress isn't particulary challenging. We all know the only reason she's casted is because she's hot.

Prepare for long reads, as I'm sure people who love these movies (to which there are many) want good, concrete reasons as to why I think these movies are over-rated. Admittedly, my write up of Despicable Me isn't as complete as I wanted it to be, but that's because it's not as fresh in my mind as some of the others.

Without further ado, here is my list. 2 of the movies have showed up on just about every critic's top 10 list.

Rating: ***

Before I go on with my own reasons for this movie's over-ratedness, I very highly recommend reading this absolutely hilarious spoof script someone wrote of Inception which hilariously highlights all the flaws of the movie:

I will tell you right now, what you will read from me is not nearly as clever as the link above. But, if you're here to read what I think, then keep reading.

I gave this movie 2 viewings before writing this. On my 2nd viewing, I was actually very into the first half and thought maybe I was wrong about the movie the first time. Then the 2nd half of the movie rolled around, and I was surprised at how unengaged I was.

I wish someone travelled into Christopher Nolan's head, stole the idea of Inception and planted it into the brain of Charlie Kaufman or Richard Linklater. While I enjoyed Inception, I couldn't help but think there was potential for so much more. A movie with such a creative premise just doesn't really deliver all it could have.

A movie about dreams should have a more surreal, free spirited feel to it. Inception's treatment of the dream state just feels very mechanical and wooden. It's like, "5 minutes of real time calculates out to exactly 1 hour dream time." No, it doesn't! Shut the fuck up! To quote Jim Emerson's blog titled, "Has Christopher Nolan forgotten how to dream?, "The emotional components of dreaming (not to mention the universal archetypes) are nowhere to be found. No shame, lust, embarrassment, exhilaration; no flying, nakedness in public, pop quizzes, "actor's nightmares," quicksand floors, teeth falling out... There are lots of guns, and even those aren't anything but... guns."

It's also because Christopher Nolan has such an impressive resume that the movie left me feeling disappointed. Was expecting a Nolan movie to blow me away expecting too much? Was expecting a sci-fi movie with this creative of a premise to be better than The Matrix which came out 11 years ago expecting too much? People who say Inception is better than The Matrix, that just perplexes me. Both movies set up very fascinating premises in the first half, and then turn into all out action movies in the 2nd. Compare the two. At least The Matrix's action scenes are directed with such creative style. The Matrix truly transcends your typically Hollywood blockbuster making its action so unique and different from everything else.

While Inception has that really cool hotel action scene that everyone remembers, the rest of the action in the entire 2nd half comes off flat. Especially the snow fortress dream level is nothing but the main characters shooting and beating up a bunch of random dudes in winter coats...oh yeah, those people in winter coats represent the subconscious.

a.) Couldn't Nolan more creatively represent the subconscious than just a bunch of random dudes with guns...who have horrible aim might I add? Where is the imagination here? He could have done some very abstract or twisted stuff. Nolan seems content with conforming to the old Hollywood rule that if someone shoots at you with a gun, all you have to do is duck and cover your head, and he'll miss.

Remember the movie The Cell? A serial killer is in a coma, and they need to access information in his head, so Jennifer Lopez is hooked up to a machine, where she gets transported into the serial killer's mind. Now this is an example of a director who thinks big and comes up with some really creative imagery to represent what goes on in someone's brain.

b.) These action scenes are just boring! There's no intensity, no excitement. Random dudes we know nothing about get shot, the main characters plant explosions...lots and lots of explosions, oh right and then there are lots and lots of explosions too. I had to check the credits to see if the movie was co-directed by Michael Bay.

We could see this shit in James Bond movies, or even Vin Diesel fuck people up while snowboarding in XXX. This is a movie about dreams, give us something different! You teased at some cool shit, like Ellen Page having a city fold like a taco...why not incorporate that shit into your action scenes in the 2nd half?

Ellen Page...I am such a huge fan of hers, but what a flat, hammy performance she puts on, and what an empty character she plays in this movie. As others have pointed out, the sole purpose of her character in the movie is to ask questions about the plot that the audience has in mind. That's it.

For a brilliant architecture she's supposed to be, she's not really that smart. She's all like, "Oh my god! Cobb tells us not to do certain things, and then he does them himself! Oh my god!" or "These aren't your dreams! These are your memories!!! You're trying to keep her alive!", it sure took you long enough to figure that one out! Woah, people who lost loved ones trying to keep them alive in shocking!!

Many people have pointed out that the dialogue in the sucks. Here's an example which I'll quote from A D Jameson's brilliant criticism of the movie "17 ways to criticize Inception. Here's the link if you want to read it, it's a very long read:

Here's the exerpt from his blog:

The worst example comes late in the film, during the assault on the snow fortress-hospital. Cobb finally starts gunning down random bad guys, and Nolan interrupts the action to have Ariadne cry: “Are those projections part of his subconscious?“

(How has Ariadne forgotten this basic principle, one of the first things that Cobb explained?)

Cobb coolly replies, “Yes” (probably thinking, “I should have explained this two more times to her”).

Ariadne then cries: “Are you destroying those parts of his mind?“

Now, this is a fine question to ask, while they’re three dream states deep, and hours into a perilous mission (which followed weeks and weeks of planning).

But: “No, no,” Cobb assures her (and therefore the audience) “—they’re just projections.”

…What is this dialogue doing here? Why did Nolan find it necessary to write, and shoot, and edit in this exchange?

My guess is that the following conversation occurred during pre-production:

WARNER BROS. STUDIO EXEC: You have Cobb shooting and killing projections here. It’s really the first time in the film, in fact, that he’s killed any of them.

NOLAN [distractedly—he's busy planning an explosion]: Mm-hmm.

WARNER BROS. STUDIO EXEC: Well, the audience might think now that he’s a bad guy—that he’s destroying Fischer’s memories, or something. (Cillian Murphy’s eyes are rather blue, and rather soulful.)

NOLAN: …I hadn’t thought of that. [Puts down his models, thinks a second.] It’s OK. I’ll throw in some dialogue that clarifies he’s not doing any harm.

That’s Nolan’s solution to nearly every writing problem: throw in some dialogue!


Of course I have to mention the storyline involving Dicaprio and his wife, which is actually really dark and could have been done well, but...doesn't really work. The first time I saw this movie, I couldn't figure out why I had no emotional attachment whatsoever to this storyline.

Second time watching it, it was even cheesier. Dicaprio seeing his wife show up in a dream and being like, "No! You're not real!" brought back memories of Lui Kang in Mortal Kombat being like, "No! You're not my brother"

Here's a really funny blurb from the satirial script I mentioned above:



LEONARDO and ELLEN find CILLIAN, but also encounter MARION.

Leonardo, stay here with me. I know I’m just a figment of your imagination, but I’m all you’ve got.

My entire memory of you is as a vindictive, mean-spirited, violent, self-centered pile of bitch. Christ, why did it take me the entire movie to stop giving a shit about you? Fuck off.

And now that you’ve finished risking the lives of your only friends in the world for the sake of a little catharsis, we can finish the mission!

You’re right! We’ve got an innocent person’s memories and relationships to completely ruin!

This blurb points out why it doesn't work. All you see of his wife is this mean bitch who loves to go around stabbing and shooting people. Why should we give a shit about her?

They even give her cheesy horror movie pop up music when she sees Ellen Page invading Dicaprio's dream space.

Dicaprio's character...what a selfish piece of shit for risking all his friend's lives just so he can be with his kids. "Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you that you're so heavily sedated that if you die in the dream, your brain and turn into mush and you can spend eternity in limbo. Whoops. My bad. Forgot to tell you that. But, somehow I know how to get out limbo, while the rest of you don't."

Inception is an entertaining movie and despite how much I've been shitting all over the movie in this blog, I still do like it. It is a better than your average Hollywood blockbuster, but calling it one of the best movies of 21st century is absurd. Saying that this movie is mind blowing is also absurd. Maybe if I had never seen movies like: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Waking Life, The Matrix, Dark City, and The Cell (which are all way better movies at exploring alternate realities) my mind would be blown. I think even South Park's Imaginationland trilogy and Superjail's episode about dreams were more mind blowing and creative.

Finally, if you haven't seen the hilarious parody at college humor, check it out:

Black Swan
Rating: ***1/2

Black Swan is a good movie, but it's the weakest effort to come from Darren Aranovsky. After seeing the movie show up on just about every critic's top 10 list, I expected more. This ballerina could be the most 1 dimensional character ever directed by Aronovsky. A psychological mind fuck this movie is not.

To quote this review from Soergel:

"For all of Natalie Portman's impressive angst as a tormented ballet dancer, all you need to know is that she's sexually repressed, sleeps only with the big stuffed bunnies of her childhood, and that her creepy ex-ballet dancer mother (Barbara Hershey) still tucks her in at night."

To add in my 2 cents, she then trips crazy balls for the 2nd half of the movie. I guess the scene of her accidently taking crazy amounts of LSD got cut.

I was very into the first half of the movie. It shows the world of ballet, the skill and precision it requires, the toll it can take on the body, and the ridiculous amount of pressure that can be put on someone. The pursuit of perfection can be too much for one to handle. This was good.

But, the 2nd half of the movie turns into really campy horror movie territory as Natalie Portman trips balls and sees shit that isn't really there! It feels like the movie turns into a campy horror movie, to which I'm really disappointed to say, I expected more creativity out of Aronovsky in this territory. I'm shocked to say this as I don't like David Lynch at all...but the 2nd half of the movie would have been a cooler mind fuck had David Lynch handled it. Some horror moments seemed so campy, I thought I was watching a Sam Raimi movie...where the camp is intentional.

The movie's entertaining and seeing Pormtan lose her mind is fun to watch, but I couldn't help but feel underwhelmed. I thought it would be a more psychologically complex movie. It's not. The pursuit of perfection drives her to madness. That's all. Have you seen the movie Bug? That's a much better movie about showing a fragile character's descent into madness.

Of course the movie has the whole "life imitates art", with the happenings in Swan Lake being reflected in the ballerina's life, with lots and lots and lots of mirror shots. Yes Darren, we get the symbolism of the mirror! Enough already! Not only is the mirror an extremely obvious metaphorical device (when symbolism is so obvious, I don't like it), but it's also the most over-used, horror movie cliche.

The movie turns into an, "oh my god! I'm not sure what's real and what's not?" guessing game which isn't really that fascinating, because I found no reason to give a shit about the character. She's 1 dimensional, she has no personality whatsoever...especially compared to Randy the Ram from The Wrestler. Natalie Portman is amazing in this role, but it's the script which makes her character feel rather incomplete. The tragedy brought shoulder shrugs to me as opposed to some sort of emotional response.

Get Low
Rating: **

Get Low? More like Get Slow! (Thanks Matty G, for that one).

Because this movie will likely not be getting a best picture nomination, it's probably the least under-rated of this list. This also happens to be the shittyness movie of the 3. Get Low struck me as an Oscar bait movie. Everyone will be saying how awesome Robert Duvall is, and close up shots of Sissy Spacek crying a lot will probably get her an Oscar nod as well. The movie tries really really really hard to get the audience to cry, but emotional manipulation this forceful doesn't work.

For a movie which explores guilt as its central theme, as in how do you live with yourself knowing that you fucked up someone else's life, it comes up short and isn't really that deep. Compare it to another slow paced drama that also deals with guilt in Ordinary People, now that's a movie with a lot of psychological complexity to it and many interesting relationships revolving around a central tragedy.

I really liked the premise of an old hermit throwing a living funeral for himself (as in he is alive and gets to see what everyone at the funeral says about him). To this, I was really surprised at how ineffective it was as a drama, and at elliciting any kind of emotion.

Duvall is good, and Bill Murray is funny as a funeral director, but the movie focuses more on his assistant, the Buddy character (Lucas Black) who puts on a weak, dull performance. He ends up spending more time with the protagonist of the story, and a meaningful friendship between the two that could really change them both really could have made this a more memorable movie. Or maybe the filmmakers thought they had a good central friendship...after all, the close up shot of Buddy looking on reflectively after the living funeral shows that...apparently the whole experience of organizing the funeral and working with Felix changed the audience, I didn't feel this at all. It makes me wonder whether the film would have worked better had they casted someone better. I looked up Lucas Black...he was in a Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift as an inferior Paul Walker and Legion which was probably the worst movie of 2010. I don't remember if he was good, but I think I recall every performance in that movie being garbage.

Most of the movie, we get Duvall being hard-headed, spending such a long time arranging the funeral, leading up to the big climax where he tells his tragic story about what's caused him to be a hermit and alienating himself from society for his entire life. Had the climax delivered, I would be glad I sat through the first boring 80 minutes of the movie, but it doesn't. It's forceful drama, where the characters tells us a story we sort of already figured out on our own.

A drama like this needs to be deeper to be effective. Although most of the performances are very strong, I'm getting tired of movies that only have good acting associated with it.

Despicable Me
Rating: **1/2

This is like another case of Dante's Peak/Volcano, Deep Impact/Armageddon, Paul Blart/Observe and Report. Two movies in the same year with very similar premises. Too bad Despicable Me came out first, as it seemed like the fresher concept. Megamind ended up making a lot less money, due to perhaps seeming less fresh. Too bad, as Megamind is the much superior movie of the two. Its more unpredictable, and a much funnier movie.

I don't really get why this movie was such a hit. In fact, when it comes to animations, it really takes a far step back the way that X-men Origins: Wolverine was a step back in the superhero genre. Pixar and Dreamworks started making aninamted films that truly were for the entire family. There was humor that kids would get, and there was humor for the adults that would go over the heads of kids.

Despicable Me is really just for the kids. The humor feels very uncreative and uninspired, might I add it goes down a completely predictable path. The 2nd half where the adorable children turn the evil man into a kind, decent person is very corny and cringe inducing. A long time ago, this animated film would have been more acceptable, but with the standards set by Pixar, Despicable Me is a step in the wrong direction.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

top 10 best movies of 2010

I'm pretty sure all my picks can be found on DVD, with the exception of #8 and #3.

This was a bit of an odd year. On one hand, I did give out 3 five star ratings, and there were many good movies. On the other hand, I'm surprised at how weak the 2nd half of 2010 was (though I'm sure most critics will disagree.)

In June, I wrote a half year top 10 of 2010. I'm really surprised that 7 of those movies made it to the end of the year top 10. Usually only 3 movies from the first half of 2010 make it to the end. December is typically the best month for movies, but I don't know...I liked Blue Valentine, Rabbit Hole, The King's Speech, True Grit, and Black Swan (though I think it was over-rated), but never considered those movies top 10 worthy.

Stay tuned, as the next blog I'll be writing is my picks for the most over-rated movies of 2010. There are certain movies that have popped up on every critic's top 10 list which are absent from mine. Why? Because I've saved those for my over-rated list.

Oh well. Without further ado, here's my list:

Honorable Mentions: The Kids are All Right, Easy A, Hereafter, Blue Valentine, The Escapist, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Green Zone, Machete, Somewhere, The Social Network, Youth In Revolt, The Losers, Get Him to the Greek, The Last Exorcism

10. High Life
Rating: ****1/2

After a few mediocre years in Canadian cinema, I can finally say that Canada made one of the 10 best films of 2010. Sadly, nobody saw this movie. I don't blame them though, the trailer makes the movie look painfully mediocre. It's a shame, because High Life is the best heist movie since Matchstick Men (but 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 interesting 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. All your own country, and see this movie! it, just because it's an awesome heist movie.

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

Pixar has still got it! This is one of the rare trilogies that start strong and end on quite possibly the highest note it could possibly end on. Pixar has not yet turned into shameless money hungry whores like Dreamworks Animation (Shrek 4 being the most painfully obvious, uninspired money grab of 2010). 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.

As an action/adventure movie, I found Toy Story 3 surprisingly very exciting and far more intense than the pure eye candy, but no thrills action of Iron Man 2. For a rated G movie, the movie surprisingly gets really dark; the Incinerator scene is one of the darkest, most intense scenes of any movie this year. While it's not the funniest Pixar movie, it still delivers a lot of laughs, and Ken and Barbie make great additions to the cast.

Most importantly, Toy Story 3 really resonates on an emotional level moreso than its first two predecessors. We've all grown up, and I'm sure we all miss our childhood. Here's a profound movie about life, the transition from childhood to adolescents, and moving on and letting go of the past. With this movie now on DVD and no longer in theatres, there will unfortunately be no 3d glasses that can hide your tears when the final scene comes along.

8. Let Me In
Rating: ****1/2

Yes, a remake of the excellent Swedish vampire movie Let the Right One In just a year after its release seemed kind if ridiculous. It seemed like Hollywood would ruin yet another great foreign film. But, you know what? For once, Hollywood did it better. Let Me In captured the essence of what made the original movie so good, but added more to it.

Let the Right One In was darkly charming friendship movie between a boy and a girl, where the girl happens to be a vampire. It's the loneliness in both their lives that draws them together and makes them friends. It was a really uniquely new approach to the vampire movie.

Let Me in captures that essence and the heart of the original, but is also really good as a horror movie with suspense and atmosphere which was nowhere to be found in the original). The violence is far more brutal and memorable. It's a great thing that this wasn't a shot for shot remake, as Matt Reeves directs the movie with a far more exciting style. Its subjective style draws you into the movie so much more.

Here's a quote from the imdb board by AntoNEO comparing the directing styles of both movies:

"Let the Right One In is a beautifully shot film, characterized by the consistent use of painterly master shots, punctuated by long lens close-ups. The result, for me, is a semi-disconnected feeling of spectatorship. Let Me In, on the other hand, has a rather different filmmaking style, as it is largely composed of complementary close-ups and point of view shots, thereby putting the viewer in the shoes of the characters."

Wedgies are usually lame gags in PG rated comedies, and the idea of it makes kids in elementary school giggle. Give props to Let Me In for having a wedgie scene which is so brutal and hard to watch, you may never laugh at a wedgie ever again. Let Me In has set pieces which are so memorable. I challenge someone to name a movie that had a better car crash scene than Let Me In.

Or with that horror movie cliche...oh shit, the driver has no clue there's a killer hiding in the back seat...Let Me In does that cliche, except from the POV of the murderer in the back seat. What a concept! It's weirdly suspenseful if you're cheering for the killer in the back to make the kill.

If Let the Right One In was like a slice of really good apple pie, Let Me in is like really good apple pie plus the ice cream.

7. 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 get 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 knew absolutely nothing about Temple and had no idea of her existence before the movie, but by the time the credits rolled...I felt like I spent an hour 40 minutes with one of the most fascinating, admirable real people ever featured in a movie.

There's been a disturbing lack of Temple Grandin in most critics' top 10 lists. Who knows if it would have gotten more recognition had it been released in theatres as opposed to being an HBO movie. I'll take this over 90% of the Oscar nominated movies.

6. 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. The Oscars should stop being so short sighted by only nominating foreign film for best foreign film. The Secret in their Eyes was better than almost every other best picture nominee.

5. 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 even more. 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? You get Kick Ass, 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.

Kick Ass is directed with a really refreshing comic book style, with action that is brutally violent, and creatively choreographed. 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. The corrupting of a 13 year old actress was worth it after all. Who knows? She could grow up to have a sense of humor similar to Sarah Silverman's.

While I understand why certain movies of an arthouse nature fail at the box office, I still can't wrap my head around the lackluster box office results of Kick Ass. North America loves violence, and Kick Ass delivers it in a more creative way than almost every other action movie out there.

4. Scott Pilgrim vs. the world
Rating: ****1/2

First it was Shaun of the Dead, then Hot Fuzz, then this. What an impressive resume for Edgar Wright, and what a creative director he is! As good as Fuzz and Shaun were, Scott Pilgrim is his best effort yet. It's an extremely funny, visually stunning, and very creatively directed/editted movie which also happens to be a great movie that any nerd can relate to. Did I forget to mention that this movie has awesome fight scenes as well?

What stands out the most about Scott Pilgrim is its extremely creative video game/comic book style of direction. Scott Pilgrim lives in what seems at first like a normal world...but we soon learn that his environment is governed by the natural laws of a video game world. The additional animations are great, and you have to love little things like Scott Pilgrim taking a piss, with a piss metre showing up on screen.

Rarely do I ever notice a movie's editting, but Pilgrim is one of the most brilliantly, slickly editted films. The scene of Scott Pilgrim stalking Ramona at a house party is simply brilliant. I think that scene alone would sell the movie better than its mediocre trailer.

Let's not only talk about the style. Scott Pilgrim is an extremely funny movie, poking fun at many things about the current facebook/myspace generation, from the vegan who feels morally superior to everyone to the emo band who sings a song called "We hate you. Please die".

It was tough choosing the #4 spot between this and Kick Ass, as both movies have similar strengths, and they were both sadly box office failures. While they both deliver on the comedy and action, I think Pilgrim is the more creative movie of the two. It's close though.

3. 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.

2. Flipped
Rating: *****

After the schmaltzy, ridiculous Bucket List, Rob Reiner has redeemed himself with my pick for #2. I know that some people will disagree big time with this pick. Yes, I know it's not particularly original. But, as human beings we can't control how we feel. For me, Flipped is the ultimate feel good movie of 2010. This is likely to be the movie I'd watch to feel better when life is taking a shit all over my face. It is such a wonderful, innocent, charming, delightful, light hearted comedy about young love. It's one of those rare movies that leave you in such a good mood when the credits roll. This is one of the best romantic comedies of the past few years.

Flipped is about childhood love between two 8th graders: Bryce and Julie. The word "Flipped" refers to a complete 180 degree change in feelings from love to hate, or the other way around. At the beginning of the story, Julie has a huge crush on Bryce, while to him, she's a huge annoyance. Then as the movie progresses, the two of them flip.

What makes this really stand out is the multiple narrators approach. For once we get a romantic comedy where you see the relationship from both the guy and girl's perspectives, truly capturing the essence of the way kids think. Kind of like Rashoman, you often see the same events repeated twice, but you get to see how each side interpreted the event.

The characters are wonderfully written. Sometimes the best thing about watching movies is seeing characters transform, and Flipped is a great coming of age story for both characters. While the film's a love story, it's also about how the romance makes them grow as people. They're at the age where they're evolving out of being just kids to having full personalities, and developing attitudes and worldviews that will likely carry on to adulthood. It's not only the romance, but scenes with the families of both main characters provide good insight into the way both characters are.

Flipped does what a good romance should do. It gives you two very likable characters (especially Julie is one of the most likable characters of any movie this year), and it has you rooting for them to hook up. Unlike most romantic comedies, it really develops its characters, feels authentic and doesn't give into bullshit contrivances and coincidences...okay, maybe there's one coincidence that seems to convenient, but it didn't seem too unrealistic.

It's unfortunate that no one even knew about this movie. The distribution company had no clue how to market it, and it got a silent release with no publicitiy. Too bad. Fortunately it is now on DVD. Although it's a movie about kids, adults will ultimately get more out of it than children will. It may bring back memories from your childhood.

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

I imagine to many, my pick for #1 was quite predictable. When I saw this movie, I sort of knew it would be my pick for #1. I may get some backlash for saying good as the Coen Brothers are, I'll take Leaves of Grass over any of their movies.

If you're the kind of person who's bored of the predictability of your typical Hollywood movie, this movie will be such a breath of fresh air! One minute it's thoughtful and philosophical, next minute it turns absolutely batshit insane. Simply put, you can never predict where the movie's going. You just go along with the ride, 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 kind of like a threesome between the philisophical insight of a Richard Linklater movie, a stoner comedy like Pineapple Express, and a darkly funny and chaotic crime thriller of the Coen Brothers. 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. One is a highly respected Philosophy professor who got the fuck out of Oklahoma to escape the redneck life. His twin brother Brady is equally brilliant with such an elaborate and brilliantly run grow op, but putting his own life in serious danger. Brady's speech where he holds a bud up to the camera then talks about the pureness and feeling of peace when smoking weed will have all stoners nodding along in agreement and wishing that they could buy their weed off Brady.

Richard Dreyfus makes a 5 minute appearance as a dangerous Jew who Brady owes a shitload of money to. If William Hurt got an Oscar nomination for his 5 minutes in History of Violence, Dreyfus should get one for this movie. He is simply hilarious.

You have to love dialogue like:

"You know what I wish? I wish everyone would give me a dollar and call me a cocksucker!"
"So I'd be rich and everyone would love me!"

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, about family, the paths you take which lead you to who you become as a person, and the unexplainable violent, chaotic actions and behaviors of humans. While Billy has earned so many accolades for his groundbreaking philisophical insight, his visit back home makes him unable to understand this chaotic world.

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.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The best commercial I've seen in a long time...

When it comes to commercials, is there anything more annoying and repetitive than cell phone commercials? Going to a movie and getting there maybe...20 minutes before the movie starts, you are plagued with back to back to back cell phone commercials...with all of them played consecutively, they just all kind of blend together. And then when the movie pre-show starts, guess what? More cell phone commercials!

With that in mind, it was so refreshing to see this cell phone commercial by Windows 7

"It's time for a phone to save us from our phones"...what a slogan! Get the most basic shit done and out of the way with that you need from a cell phone and live your fucking lives!

This is a completely different approach to marketing a cell phone. For once, we get a commercial that's satirical; a social commentary on what cell phones have done to our lives. Instead of just using our phones for simple communication, we now live our lives around our phones. Just like the commercial, I see so many things that make me say, "Really?!"

When I see someone jaywalking and texting, completely oblivious and how dangerous his/her actions are, it is so tempting to just lightly tap the person with my car to send a signal to stop fucking're jay walking across fucking Yonge street! Your twittering stupid shit like, "OMG! I'm going for Starbucks! I can't wait" can fucking wait! Cross the fucking street before you twitter stupid shit. Just like the commercial, I once saw a guy texting while peeing into a urinal...though he didn't drop his phone. That would have been funny. The final shot of the commercial with the little girl being completely neglected by her mother...what a great final shot!

It's funny that the term "crackberry" has actually been coined. Being hooked on your blackberry the way crackheads are hooked on that really healthy? Who knows, maybe there are people out there who will suck dick for an Iphone 4...and twitter about it while sucking dick? Who knows?

The point of technology is to make our lives easier, and yes cell phones have done that. Texting is easily the most brilliant abnd convenient innovation. But, it's a problem when technology completely takes over your life. When many of life's great moments and pleasures are missed out on due to twittering the fact that you're experiencing this great moment, when you're really not...because you're on your fucking phone! You're plugged into this virtual world, when you should be hungry to experience the real world.

I do understand perhaps the irony of the commercial. Who knows if this windows phone is just as addictive as a crackberry or iphone? But, most commercials are the same generic bullshit. It's nice to get a commercial like this that really makes you think.