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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