Thursday, January 15, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009


Number 1 - Slumdog Millionaire

I think that if the average person were to sit down and watch all the movies on my top 10 list, they would probably only like the ones that they've heard of. Even though it won a few Golden Globes, I don't think the average person has heard of Slumdog Millionaire as of yet. And this movie is the exception to the previously stated rule. Most people would like a lot of this movie.

True, there are parts that are probably too gritty for the average person. It often shows a rather harsh look at life. Parts reminded me of the totally awesome City of God, but it doesn't have the same weight to it. In this case, that's a good thing. But the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire hook beings it back to Earth.

In Slumdog Millionaire, a character gets covered 99% in shit. Yep, shit. Crap covered. How can I NOT name this as my top movie? And I think this movie also creates what should be a new rule for movies. This isn't a spoiler, as it happens over the closing credits in Bollywood style. Yes, ALL movies should have a cast dance scene to end the movie.

I thought it worked from beginning to end, scene by scene. And I also think that it will not only hold up on future viewings, but there's probably more to get out of it. Once again, rush off this weekend to see this movie. Go, dammit!

And Twilight. Yeah, never seen it. Not interested. That "review" was made up of lines from the positive Rotten Tomatoes reviews.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Here's a quote from a message board which is very telling to me.

"English is my third language. I never knew anybody who had problems choosing between "you're" and "your" until I met people whose native language is english."

Number ONE!

How could the best movie of the year not be Twilight? It totally works as both a vampire movie and a love story. You really believe in the love between Edward and Bella. It feels real. The actors really pull it off. It rekindles the warmth of great Hollywood romances. And it has honest respect for the source material. Finally, we have a chick flick with some bite to it.

Friday, January 9, 2009


Number 2 - The Wrestler

I saw The Wrestler the day after I saw Benjamin Button. I felt that every scene, every line, every action, had the true sincerity and heart that Button faked. It's a character piece, and my reader's know that I dig a good character. Randy "The Ram" is a great character. Micky Rourke gets my vote (I should be getting my ballot in the mail any day now...) for Best Actor this year.

If I have one single complaint its that the relationship with his daughter happens too quickly. However, it isn't supposed to be the focus of the movie, I'm OK with it. That's just one of many relationships that he has. And in the end, he expresses the one that really mattered to him the most.

There are some truly great moments in The Wrestler.A couple scenes are supposed to be cringe-inducing - and I cringed (one including a meat cutter, the other had a staple gun, five-dollar bill, and a forehead. The entire scene was brutal). But both scenes were in place, and only over the top in a way that they needed to be.

And the ending is absolutely perfect. I thought at the second that it happened, "If this movie ends right here, it's perfect." And then the credits rolled. At it was perfect. Perfect enough for me to use the word perfect five times in this paragraph.

You don't need to like any wrestling to like this movie. You're either going to like it as a character piece or you won't. I loved it. As of today, it's showing more locally. Go check it out. Then come back tomorrow, come back and see what my number one movie is, then go check that out.


Number 3 - The Dark Knight

Since it's out on DVD now, if you didn't see it in the theaters, you've probably seen it by now if you like Batman Begins. Even if you didn't, you might still like the Dark Knight. I like Batman, but I've never been a huge fan of the comic character to at the same level as many others. I enjoyed the Tim Burton Batman movies, not so much the Joel Schumachers. I did like Begins.

Yes, TDK is has plot holes. Yes, it's too long. But damn, it has some great scenes. I wrote in my blog last year that I hadn't really liked any Heath Ledger roles, and I wasn't a fan. I'm a fan of his Joker. And to be honest, many of the plot holes can be filled in with, quite simply, "It's the Joker. It's not supposed to make sense." And I think in this case you really can do that because the joker is written correctly. Ledger made the scenes work and sold the material. But it was the Nolans' broad strokes across the movie that made the Joker a complete success. Nicholson's was entertaining. He was a Joker that you could laugh at. But this Joker is one that you laugh at because you're afraid of him killing you if you don't.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


I keep wanting to flip around my numbers 2, 3, and 4. So I put them back where I had them when I started the list. But maybe consider them a tie. I haven't moved my number one, so I think I'm happy with that.

Number 4 - In Bruges

In Bruges. Here’s the biggest problem that I had with this movie. They seemed to market it (with what little marketing there was) as an anti-Bruges movie. It was strictly from Ray’s (Colin Farrel) POV, which was very anti-Bruges. OK, so that didn’t really bother me at all. But when I was in Europe in 2005, Bruges was one of the highlights of that trip (granted there were like 20-30 highlights, but still…)

I was in Belgium for three nights on that trip. I spent the first night in Brussels, which was OK. The town center is pretty amazing, but it’s fairly small, and was really only worth a three or four hour stop instead of overnight. (I should note that the chocolate was my absolute favorite anywhere. Yes, I preferred it to both Switzerland and France.) So I headed off to Bruges, knowing that I had two nights there, thinking that I had planned way too much time there. So I went there with possibly a similar perspective from Ray’s – expecting the worst. But, as I mentioned, it was awesome. The top of the bell tower, which features in some key scenes, was really cool, as well as renting a bicycle, a brewery tour, and sightseeing on the canal. This is my Belgium page from my very incomplete travelblog.

So In Bruges’s two leading characters, Ray and Ken, both go through their own interesting character arcs. The subplot involving Jimmy (the dwarf) and the movie being filmed at first seem like something their trying to add just to be quirky. But it works, and helps tie the movie together at the end.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Number 5 - Milk

This continues the 1970's history lesson. As a wise man once said, "This is U.S. History; I see the globe right there."

Obviously the passing of Prop 8 added some emotional impact to this movie. I wonder how much that added to some hype, if not my own. But does it matter? It's still an outstanding movie. I actually thought it started off a bit slow. It took maybe the first 20 minutes for me to get into it, but then it took off. Once Milk gets elected, it's right on from there. The campaign against prop 6 presents some great scenes.

I couldn't get through this writeup without talking about Sean Penn. Penn is often such a douche. His political blustering aside, I always think about him coming to Jude Law's defense at the Oscars. Buzzkill, blowhard douche. And when he won his acting Oscar for Mystic River, I didn't think much of him. But he's great as Spicoli, and he's pretty freakin' amazing here. When I got home I watched some youtube footage of Harvey Milk, and Penn became Harvey Milk. Still, though, I'm rooting for the star of a movie still to come on this list...

Monday, January 5, 2009


I'm dead tired, and I was going to go to bed an hour ago and instead wasted an hour reading through some stuff on the I would have forgotten to post this all together if I hadn't decided to post that last entry, so I need to keep this brief. I would say that I’ll come back and add more later, but I never do.

Number 6 - Frost/Nixon

Frost/Nixon kept my attention from beginning to end. I was surprised that the suspense worked as well as it did, considering that I not only knew the outcome, but I’ve seen the clips that they were replicating. Nixon comes across as one of the year’s best characters. Not a character where I would want to hang out with, but entertaining as hell on screen. I could see an Oscar nomination for the role. Of course, though, it’s on the list because I’m a history geek. It would make a sweet double feature with All the Presidents Men.

Sylvia Brown(e), a wonderful lady

Now that 2008 has come and gone, let's check in on Sylvia Browne's 2008 predictions, which should have been right on the money.

Yep. Every one of them, right on the button.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Christmas Eve in SF photos

Just a few pictures from a trip in to San Francisco. First, make sure to look at what the guy on BART was reading.The rest I just played with black and white filters, trying to make them look older than they are.


Number 7 - Wall-E

I don't want to skimp on the writeup, but if you like Pixar, you already saw it. And you know it's good. With Kung Fu Panda and Bolt, this was a pretty good year for animation. Many parents got to enjoy the movies they were dragged to.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


Number 8 - Vicky Christina Barcelona

A couple days ago, Vicky Christina Barcelona was my number 10 movie. While I started thinking about what to write, I decided that I actually liked it more than that. So I bumped it up a couple spots. I'm actually really glad I did because it gave me a couple extra days to think about it. And now I want to see it again. After reading a couple reviews, it looks like there are some things about some of the characters that I missed, so it would be cool to look for that.

I've never been a Woody Allen fan of any kind. I've seen only a small handful of his movies, and never been wild about him. Only one of those, Bananas, did I actually dislike enough to quit watching. The rest were amusing, entertaining, but not my cup of tea. A couple years ago I saw Match Point. It's one of his movies that he wasn't in. I liked it quite a bit more than anything else of his that I had seen. In fact, I named it number 8 in my 2006 list. Vicky Christina Barcelona also didn't star Woody. And surprise, I liked it.

Much like Match Point, I liked the slow, deliberate pace. But it isn't too long. It's barely over an hour and a half, and every scene feels necessary. I always like these movies that are filmed in Europe where everyone own these huge, beautiful houses out in the county with amazing yards on large plots of land. Yet, they seem to have little income. One of the characters in this movie is a poet who refuses to show anyone his work. Yet his home is amazing. It makes me want to move there so that I can live in a great house and do nothing but create art (reality sucks sometimes).

Friday, January 2, 2009


Number 9 - Tropic Thunder

So completely unlike President Bush, Tropic Thunder divided people. I read plenty or words from people who HATED this thing. Personally, I thought it was damn funny. If you're one of the people that didn't like it, that's great. I remain unapologetic about liking this.

The trailers at the beginning gave it a great start. Robert Downey Jr. was pretty awesome and funny, though the trailers (for Tropic Thunder, not in Tropic Thunder) gave away many of his best lines. I could have done without Jack Black; he didn't work for me. The lead actors in supporting roles, Nick Nolte, Matthew McConaughey, and Tom Cruise, gave some of their best performances ever, and i would be willing to bet that at least two out of those three will never be funnier.

Maybe one of the reasons I did like it so much was because of the "retard" protests. I didn't see Tropic Thunder until probably its second or third week of release, so I had time to read about the people who had such a big problem with Ben Stiller's Simple Jack. So, of course, I thought it was funny. I ate up the forbidden fruit. Downey's "Never Go Full Retard" was sweet.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Number 10 - Synecdoche, New York

Watching this movie requires a couple preconditions. First, you probably should have seen some Charlie Kaufman movies already so that you know that nothing is going to be normal. Second, you should understand that when you watch this movie, you're watching it for the first time to get the first viewing out of the way.

Now I'm ready to watch it for real to see what was really going on - what was real and what wasn't. For example, one person's house is on fire. I don't mean there is one scene in which someone's house is on fire. I mean that her house is continually on fire. She buys it in that condition, and in the three or so scenes that take place there later, several years later, it's still on fire.

With a movie like this, I left the theater with a dual feeling of fascination and confusion. Sure there's a chance that another viewing could reveal a stinky turd underneath. But I have a feeling that watching Synecdoche, New York again will be really rewarding. Since I loved Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I trust Kaufman.