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.