Films of 2012

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Skyfall

The Master

Moonrise Kingdom

Les Miserables

Silver Linings Playbook

Elena

Dark Knight Rises

Safety Not Guaranteed

Cabin in the Woods

21 Jump Street

Wreck it Ralph

Brave

Cloud Atlas

Oslo August, 31st

Holy Motors

Django Unchained

The Avengers

Hunger Games

Lincoln

Indie Game The Movie

Jeff Who Lives at Home

Flight

Best Films Of 2011 (That I saw)

Here’s my annual year end list of the films I say this year ranked from best to worst.

Melancholia
This film reminded me of Tree of Life in that it leaves you contemplating some of life’s most important mysteries. Films like this are important because they help break the spell of the monotonous everyday distractions from real life. This film is beautiful and the acting is great. It is a draining experience that builds to an epic climax.

The Tree of Life
This movie would have felt drawn out at times if it wasn’t so beautifully shot, and it has such a huge scale that it is understandable that it would feel long. I felt like it could be interpreted in many ways which is sometimes what artists strive for. But I understand that some people feel its ridiculous and pretensions because of the scale.

Martha Marcy May Marlene
Olsen is great as a haunted and strong-willed girl trying to escape the complicated scars from her past 2 years as a member of a cult and Hawkes is great as the leader of the cult. The story is fairly barebones but told in such a way that it I never felt that it dragged and at the end I wanted more.

Drive
This film does a good job at simply establishing a love interest that sets into motion the gory and beautifully stylized ride. The music is great and the acting is good. It wants to be a cult film and it doesn’t say much about anything but is entertaining.

 We Need to Talk About Kevin

“Kevin” is a horror story that is thrilling and disturbing because it could be based on a true story and it seems like it is. Bad child actors can often ruin films for me, but I don’t really have any problems with the kids who portrayed younger Kevin. The acting is pretty great all around especially from Tilda Swinton (no surprise there). The film is well balanced and well paced as it navigates through the current setting and flashbacks and it leads up well to Kevin’s big plan.

 

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
I hadn’t seen the Tim Burton movie or too much of the tv before seeing this movie and I didn’t have many expectations for it. I was kind of expecting a popcorn movie and for most of the movie to be a big monkey fight but that was only part of it. The main ape, Ceasar is well developed emotionally and visually. It is a popcorn movie but its a well-made popcorn movie.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
I used to be a Harry Potter freak like everybody else but the phenomenon had worn out a couple films ago. I didn’t reread the book before watching the film like I used to do. The movie starts out where the last one left off, like the plot of a videogame  where Harry Ron and Hermione are collecting he magical objects they need to defeat the evil boss Lord Voldemort. The rest of the film does a good job at pacing itself and reaching the crescendo of the series. There are great little moments with the characters portrayed by the awesome British actors that most of the world have been watching for the last decade. Alan Rickman’s performance as Snape is the best part of this film.

Super 8
Super 8 feels a bit like it has two separate parts. The story of a young boy named Joe who meets a girl while shooting a zombie movie with his friends while he and his father are trying to figure out how to cope with the death of his mother and about how it influences their somewhat distant relationship.  The other part of the story is your basic alien invasion in a small town story. It is a little predictable. I really expected this part of the story to be more complicated and have more mysterious puzzle pieces, seeing as it is from the person who brought life to “Lost” and “Star Trek”. Overall I really enjoyed this movie and recommend it.  It is thrilling, has good action, and has a heart.  Full Review

Bridesmaids
Kristen Wiiig was hilarious in this movie. This movie is often compared to the first “Hangover” and I definitely enjoyed it more even though I’m a Zach Galifinakis fan. I think the movie could have been funnier if they did without the formulaic, chick flick, relationship between Wiig and the police officer, but I guess that made it more accessible to both genders. Overall I enjoyed this movie, lots of good laughs.

Midnight in Paris
Woody Allen’s latest is a love letter to Paris and the power of nostalgia. Owen Wilson travels back Paris in the twenties and meets the era’s greatest artists.This is kind of fun at first but it gets kind of silly after a bit. But its a fun and dream-like film.

Mission Impossible IV
This was the first film I have seen of the Mission Impossible franchise. It was probably the most fun I had at the theater this year and I felt that it was worth spending the ten dollars to see it in Imax. Its understandable that there would be some cliche and nearly cheesy moments but they were well handled. The fact that the gadgets that could have easily ruled a movie like this, seemed to malfunction in every mission made the film more believable and more about human triumph.

Uncle Boonme Who can Recount his Past Lives
This is a difficult film to rank because it is quite unlike anything I’ve seen before. It is quite dreamlike in the way it seems to wander but never too far and still maintaining a feeling of purpose. Its quite slow and its quite an experience of a fantasy where spirits live amongst the living in a way that is so matter-of-fact that it seems dull while still keeping your attention.

Submarine
It doesn’t fully plant its few attempts at meta-jokes and the stylistic tendencies seem a bit forced. It has a tone that may not feel unique but the quirky and simple take on coming of age, virginity, and the persistence of love is entertaining and somewhat refreshing.

Hanna
Fairly mindless but quite entertaining. Its fast paced and the fight scenes are well choreographed and they are short and quick. Long fight scenes usually bore me.

Weekend
Through the love interests of the film, Weekend shows two perspectives of the gay community. Its fairly understated and honest and it portrays gay people as actual people.

Winnie the Pooh
Winne the Pooh is fittingly a simple and short film. It is fairly entertaining for an adult audience as well with fun meta-humor and original music from She and Him. It does well at capturing the characters and spirit of the classic franchise for a new generation.

Beginners
This movie was maybe trying to hard to be cute, and a few times it was dead on but a lot of the times it wasn’t. Too much dog dialogue. In the end its not much more then a somewhat unique romantic comedy.

Paul
This movie was pretty funny. It did a good job at playing homage to films in the extraterrestrial vein, and maybe for that reason the plot of the film didn’t feel very new or exciting. Kristen Wiig was probably the funniest part of this movie but her swear jokes were not as funny after a couple go-rounds.

Another Earth
The high-concept sci-fi drama does what most well-made sci-fi films do by not focusing on scientific explanations of going-ons but the way these going-ons effect people. The relationship at the center of the film did not feel real to me and I think that may be more due to the writing and pacing of the film then the acting.

Cars 2
I don’t really remember most of this movie for some reason. Cars was my least favorite Pixar film and Cars 2 was a bit worse. It was just  generic spy movie with a forced eco-friendly message with humor that was mostly corny and delivered by Larry the Cable Guy. This movie doesn’t lower my faith in Pixar “Brave” should be good.

The Trip

This film is sometimes quite funny but also sometimes feels like a waste of time. The random ranting could be funnier and the impressions get old fast as I think think they are meant to. I’m normally a fan of dry satirical comedy but The Trip just didnt do it for me sometimes. Its fairly entertaining though and has some heart.

Source Code
This movie was enjoyable if you ignored their attempt at “science”, their reasoning for why things worked, and the fact that most of the film was the same scene being revisited. They made this movie more entertaining then “Vantage Point” which isn’t saying a whole lot, but I didn’t get as bored by revisiting the same scene over and over. The acting was alright. I feel like the story and writing needed some work.

Captain America
A movie full of lame short jokes and endless action scenes.This movie takes place during world war II but the weapons are just as, if not more, advanced then the technology of today. The supervillan is literally an evil Nazi demon who is trying to destroy the world with an evil death ray, come on now, really? I’m glad “The Avengers” is coming out soon so they can stop making these movies.

Best Films of 2010 (That I saw)

The years almost over there were a lot of pretty good films that came out this year. Here are all of the movies I saw from 201o in the order of my preference.

Toy Story 3

 

Inception

Black Swan

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

127  Hours

Kick Ass

The Social Network

How to Train Your Dragon

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Shutter Island

The Town

Winter’s Bone

The Other Guys

Un Prophete

Average

Get Him to the Greek

Cyrus

Iron Man 2

Despicable Me

Dinner for Schmucks

Youth In Revolt

Alice in Wonderland

Not so Good

Red

She’s Out of My League

Robin Hood

Tourture and Triumph:”127 Hours”

 

I was a bit worried 127 Hours would not be the most entertaining movie because it is about a guy that was trapped in a canyon for 127 hours. The film began with the antagonist, Aron Ralston venturing out to the canyon. Through his encounter with a couple of girls on the way we get the idea that Aron is a somewhat eccentric and charming person and that he knows a thing or two about the bluffs and surrounding area. After leaving the girls and wondering around for a while it happens. While he is jumping down into a crevasse between two rocks, he dislodges a large rock that falls on his arm. The title pops up and you realize that the majority of this movie is going to take place in that spot.
The majority of the rest of the movie deals with Aron as he struggles with his need for water food and maintaining other human conditions. That doesn’t sound very interesting but the score by A. R. Rahman, the cinematography and acting are well done. Aron documents his survival struggle through a video journal using the camcorder he brought. Flashback are utilized to let the audience learn more about Aron and about the people who are important to him. The success of this film relied heavily on James Franco’s portrayal of Aron and he delivers.
127 Hours is quite funny at times and it is very intense. Watching this movie is torturous, as it should be, but that just makes the ending (which most people already know because the actual events that this film is based on were well televised) so much more powerful. The scene in which Aron finally escapes from the rock is very painful to watch. This is one of those movies in which you feel a connection with the audience because it feels like you went through these horrible things with the character.

“The Other Guys” Versus The “Schmucks”

If you are trying to find a comedy to entertain you during this deadbeat summer, you basically have two choices, “Dinner for Schmucks” or “The Other Guys”. You should choose the latter.

“Dinner for Schmucks” is pretty good. It’s hard to go wrong with so many hilarious people: Steve Carell, Zach Galifianakis, Paul Rudd, Jermaine Clement, and Kristen Schaal. (I find it kind of funny that Jeff Dunham is in this movie, he is a “comedian” but he is not “funny”. But, he plays the schmuck at the party with a puppet which makes sense, because he tries to be funny using puppets.) The acting is pretty great in this movie, it’s the writing that isn’t spectacular. It’s a pretty basic and predictable storyline. The schmuck that Paul Rudd’s character needs for a party to get a promotion causes him a lot of problems and then they go to the party. I enjoyed “Dinner for Schmucks”, but it wasn’t amazing.

“The Other Guys” was probably the funniest comedy this summer, which isn’t saying hardly anything at all because the year has sucked in terms of movies. “Dinner for Schmucks” is basically it’s only competitor.  There’s nothing serious about it, it’s really just a good time. Will Ferrell basically plays the same character that he always plays, but it works here. I wasn’t a fan of Mark Wahlberg’s acting, I don’t feel he does the comedy thing that well, but he wasn’t bad enough to not enjoy it. The scenes are with Eva Mendez, Will Ferrell’s average looking wife. One thing I like about the movie is that it is pretty unpredictable, some pretty extreme things happen, it doesn’t get to the point of being like “The Hangover” in that aspect, but it’s nice that it’s not really predictable.

The winners: “The Other Guys”,

“Toy Story 3” : What A Summer Blockbuster Looks Like

I can’t think of a film studio like Pixar that has ever released a weak movie. Toy Story 3 continues Pixar’s streak. It’s been over a decade since the last installment of Toy Story, but the characters feel just as alive.

Toy Story 3 takes place after many of the toys (Bo-peep and Wheezy being the most notable) have been gotten rid of. This was a good move, because Toy Story 3 has a very large cast. The people at Pixar did a very good job at juggling them all though.

The first scene is a fun and action-packed re-imagining of the opening of the first film when Andy is playing with his toys. The movie follows the toys as they are relocated to a nursery called “Sunnyside” which may not be as pleasant as it sounds.

(Spoiler stuff ahead)

“TS3” gets pretty intense for a movie who’s main audience may be kids. There is a freaky baby like the one from “The Twilight Zone” and a scary hissing monkey. The most intense scene takes place at the climax of the movie when the toys end up in an incinerator at a junk yard. The toys accept defeat and link arms awaiting their fiery end. The score is really cool during this scene and I actually believed for a second that they were all going to die. They are saved though in a truely “Toy Story” way that makes the rescue seem like less of a forced deus-ex-machina mechanism.

There were a lot of times I found myself laughing out loud during “TS3” and many times that I laughed pretty hard.  Just as in most Pixar movies (excluding “Up”) “Toy Story 3” has good humor, not the lame and childish attempts at humor that are present in most Dreamworks films.  Barbie and Ken are probably responsible for the most laughs.  Ken is puts on a show for Barbie, Mr. Potatohead becomes Mr. Pitahead, and Buzz starts speaking Spanish and does a dance for a surprised Jessie. These things all happen in a short span of time while the toys are trying to escape. I wish there was more of Kristen Schaal’s character, Trixie, because she is pretty funny.

It’s hard to find things to complain about this movie, there are very few third installment into a film series that are this good. The villain of this film, Lotso, is very similar to The Prospector from “Toy Story 2”, but it is done in such a fresh way this time that you don’t even notice.

I could not keep myself from getting teary-eyed both times I saw the ending. Only Pixar can get me to cry about someone giving their toys away. It feels like a good ending to the “Toy Story” trilogy.

Top Ten Pixar Films (Now Including Toy Story 3)

1. Toy Story

2. The Incredibles

3. Finding Nemo

4.  WALL-E

5. Up

6. Ratatouille

7. Toy Story 3

8. Monster’s Inc.

9. Toy Story 2

10.  A Bug’s Life

11. Cars

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Teaser Trailer

Here is the teaser trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part one that was shown at the MTV move awards.

I have been a Harry Potter nerd since third grade and I think this trailer shows promise for the second to last film of the series.

“Super 8” The New J. J. Abrams Project

This secretive teaser for “Super 8” was shown before some showings of “Iron Man 2”.

“Super 8” is the new project from Steven Spielberg and J. J. Abrams. It seems to be about the mysteries surrounding Area 51 and it looks like it is set in 1979.

At Super 8 News you can see screen-caps from the trailer that show what looks to be a face. There are also screen-caps of the name of the website: www.scariestthingieversaw.com which is most likely the beginning of the viral advertising for “Super 8”.

If you go to that site, there is a fake old windows screen. If you move the window that pops up, there is another window that says “print documents”. If you press “ok”, your computer will print: “Stop posting publicly. I can answer your questions. I have proof.”

Update: The official and better quality teaser can be viewed here.

“Machete” Trailer

This trailer was released yesterday.  It looks like another Robert Rodriguez film along the lines of “Planet Terror”. It has a couple of minor actors from Lost: Michelle Rodriguez (Ann Lucia Cortez), Jeff Fahey (Frank Lapidus), and Cheech Marin (Hurley’s dad). It also stars Robert DeNiro, Lindsay Lohan, and Steven Segal. What an interesting ensemble. Warning: the trailer contains some violence and a swear.

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