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Colyngbourne 28th Dec 2009 23:50

2010 Filmlists
 
Col's Film List 2010

Cinema; TV; DVD/Video (bought or recorded); BB = Blockbusters video-hire; not including repeat viewings in a single year.



131. Tora! Tora! Tora! - TV ****0
130. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - cinema ****0
129. District 9 - BB ****0
128. Bright Star - BB ****0
127. An American Tale - DVD ***00
126. Young Sherlock Holmes - DVD ***00½
125. The Never-Ending Story - ***00
124. Oliver! - DVD ****0
123. A Series of Unfortunate Events - TV ***00½
122. The Nightmare Before Christmas - DVD ***00½
121. Toy Story 3 - DVD ****0
120. Casablanca - TV ****0
119. The Muppet Christmas Carol - DVD ****** (apart from now missing that song from the theatrical release)
118. To Kill a Mockingbird - DVD *****
117. 12 Monkeys - DVD ****0
116. A Room With A View - DVD *****
115. Meet Me in St Louis - DVD *****
114. Beauty & the Beast - DVD *****
113. The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe - DVD ****0
112. The Corpse Bride - DVD ***00
111. Prince Caspian - DVD ****0 As soon as Regina Spector starts singing, it gets very weepy.
110. Waterloo - TV ****0 Go, the Soviet Army! Tremendous personification of the leaders and the battle.
109. Little Women - DVD ***** Obviously getting close to Xmas now!
108. LotR: The Two Towers - extended edition - DVD ****0½
107. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows - cinema ***00½ Review here
106. Richard III - DVD (1995) ****0
105. Daybreakers - BB **000½
104. Robin Hood - DVD ***00 (2010) Not good enough by far. Not even with Russell.
103. Alice in Wonderland - BB ***00
102. The Hurt Locker - BB ****0
101. Amadeus - TV and DVD ****0
100. Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights - DVD (1992) ****0 Better than I recalled, though a couple of scenes still grate and Binoche's accent (and double role as both Cathys) is awful.
99. Thank You For Smoking - BB ***00 Interesting styled semi-humorous film, though I couldn't concur with its arguments in the end.
98. Jason & the Argonauts - TV ****0 Ooh, scary Talos, scary harpies and even scarier skeletons...
97. Othello - DVD (1995) ***00½ Branagh's Iago is very good but Laurence Fishburne is underwhelming and Irene Jacob's Desdemona too feeble.
96. The Mask of Zorro - DVD ***00
95. Spiderman - DVD ***00½
94. High School Musical 2 - DVD **000
93. Gangs of New York - DVD ****0
92. Monsters Inc. - DVD ****0
91. Iron Age III - DVD ***00½
90. The Godfather - DVD *****
89. Hot Fuzz - DVD ****0
88. Harry Brown - DVD ***00½
87. Toy Story 2 - DVD ***00½
86. A Knight's Tale - DVD ***00½
85. The Castle of Cagliostro - DVD ***00
84. M*A*S*H - DVD ****0
83. The Simpsons Movie - DVD ***00
82. Much Ado About Nothing - DVD ****0½
81. Romper Stomper - DVD ***00½
80. Ratatouille - DVD ****0
79. Saving Private Ryan - DVD ****0 Can't visit Normandy without running through this. Still v impressive.
78. The Proposal - BB ****0 Really enjoyable Sandra Bullock rom-com-by-numbers
77. The Lion King - video ****0 #Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba# Adult Simba is even more annoying than young Simba
76. Finding Nemo - DVD ***00½ Only worth watching for Dory and the turtles, to be honest.
75. The Bourne Supremacy - DVD ***00
74. Peter Pan - DVD ****0½
73. A Single Man - BB ****0
72. Eclipse - cinema ****0
71. Newsies - video ****0½ Still a top musical.
70. Clash of the Titans - TV **000½
69. King Kong - video (1933) ***00½
68. Atonement - DVD ****0
67. Reign of Fire - BB - **000½
66. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - BB ****0
65. Open Range - DVD ****0 Good is good, melted or not...
64. Ponyo - DVD ****0 Yay! Likely to gain a half-star on rewatching. More wonderful family viewing from Miyazaki.
63. Peter's Friends - video ***00½ Dated and luvvie but funny and more Mr Branagh
62. Star Trek - DVD ****0½
61. Hamlet - video (1990) - ***00½
60. A Fistful of Dollars - DVD ***00½
59. Hamlet - DVD (1996) ****0½ Very very long but fairly stellar.
58. The Wizard of Oz - DVD ***00½ Briliant but I don't really like it.
57. The History Boys - DVD ***00½ Not as good as the play. And Scripps is lovely.
56. High School Musical 3 - DVD **000½
55. Avatar - DVD on loan - ***00½ Meh to the story, yee to the effects, woe to the shallowness.
54. 3:10 to Yuma - DVD ****0 Sooper Crowe and brill Bale.
53. Fiddler on the Roof - DVD *****
52. The City of Lost Children - DVD ***00
51. Cabaret - DVD *****
50. Guys and Dolls - DVD ***00 I think Philippe the Mouse in Ladyhawke stole his verbal style from Nathan Detroit.
49. Fitzcarraldo - DVD ****0½ Slow but bonkers and staggering.
48. Mamma Mia! - DVD ***00
47. Mission Impossible II - DVD **000 Only the Roxburgh is worth it.
46. Nanny McPhee & the Big Bang - cinema ***00½
45. The Rocky Horror Picture Show - TV ****0
44. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - DVD **000½
43. Stardust - DVD ***00½
42. Iron Man - DVD ****0
41. As You Like It - DVD ***00½
40. LotR: The Fellowship of the Ring: Extended Edition - DVD ****0½ Ooh, lots more good stuff in this. Celeborn, for one! :-D
39. Edward II - DVD ****0
38. New Moon - DVD ***00 Not enough Cullens for me!
37. Up - cinema ****0
36. Jimmy and Judy - DVD **000½ Fairly agonising to watch.
35. Bruce Almighty - TV ***00
34. Dogma - TV ***00½
33. Starter for 10 - DVD **000½
32. Lilo & Stitch - DVD ****0
31. Pineapple Express - DVD ***00
30. Ghostbusters - DVD ***00 Sigourney looking very sultry; Bill Murray being too dry; Harold Ramis being attractive.
29. Fargo - DVD ****0
28. Jerry Maguire - video **000
27. Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book - video (1994) ***00
26. The Hunchback of Notre Dame - video (1939) ***00½ Tremendous in parts (Laughton, Sir Cedric Hardwicke), very cheesy in others (Edmond O'Brien, various American extras) and the fabulous spherical-earth-denying friend of Louis XI, muttering "it's not round, it's flat!" at every moment.
25. Ferris Bueller's Day Off - TV *****
24. The Hunchback of Notre Dame - DVD (Disney) ****0½
23. Whisper of the Heart - TV ****0½
22. Creation - BB ***** Our last film from Blockbuster as our local branch closed yesterday :-( But watched this again, with the daughter who looks very very like Darwin's daughter, and she cried non-stop from virtually a third of the way in. (But thought it was excellent too!)
21. State of Play - BB ***00½ Passable political corruption/journalist thing, of which I didn't see the original BBC. Helen Mirren over-acted.
20. The Secret of Moonacre - BB *0000½ Beautiful costumes, poor telling of the Eliz Goudge story.
19. Far From The Madding Crowd - DVD ****0½
18. Ladyhawke - DVD ***00½
17. The Company of Wolves - DVD ****0 Still as creepy as hell.
16. August Rush - DVD ****0 Another fave of all the Col girls
15. Music & Lyrics - DVD ****0½ A real feel-good silly romance, well beloved of all the family.
14. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang - DVD ****0 Excellent fun.
13. Mary Poppins - video **000 I hate the Poppins for about twenty different reasons.
12. Millions - TV ***** Frank Cottrell Boyce plus Danny Boyle = film magic
11. My Neighbour Totoro - DVD ****0
10. Citizen Kane - DVD ***00½ Could see that the cinematography was innovative but not particularly fussed by the story or its presentation and development.
9. Slumdog Millionaire - TV - ****0½
8. The Road - cinema *****
7. Syriana - DVD ****0 Very good film only hindered by the fact that I find chunks of it too confusing to work out, and just feel sorry for DS9's Dr Julian Bashir as Prince Nasir Al-Subaai
6. The Hannah Montana Movie - DVD ***00 Sweet family film of family loyalty and not forgetting your roots.
5. JFK - video ****0
4. Twelfth Night - DVD ****0 Lovely sterling cast Nunn-production.
3. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - DVD ****0
2. Only Yesterday - DVD ****0½ Lovely Takahata Ghibli film, which goes beyond simple sentimentality and reflects movingly on a girl's childhood and where it has brought her.
1. Transformers 2: Rise of the Fallen - DVD *0000 Oh dear, my first of the new year, and pretty rubbish. Especially didn't like the casual use of tasers.

bill 29th Dec 2009 0:34

Re: 2010 Filmlists
 
The Hangover (d. Todd Phillips) ***00 - I'm a little confused by both the wild praise for this film, and the predictable backlash that followed. It breaks no ground in comedy, nor is it relentlessly funny. But it was funny enough, and I enjoyed it pretty consistently. The standout for me, and for most people, was Zach Galifanakis, as the disturbed fourth, and then third, wheel of the bachelor party group who, upon pulling everyone's fat out of the fire in the final third, is happy mainly because everyone's being nice to him for once.

Shock (d. Alfred Welker) ****0 - This early Vincent Price vehicle is part film noir, part pseudo-Gothic pscyho-drama. In it, a young bride (Anabel Shaw), waiting in a hotel room for her husband's return from the war, witnesses Price's character murder his wife. She goes into shock, and the one man in the hotel who specializes in treating this sort of thing is Price. On the DVD commentary track, the film-scholas-whose-name-I-can't-remember helpfully and accurately implores the viewer to not view this as coincidence, but rather as fate, because the film that we thought belonged to the bride actually belongs to Price. He's a murderer who is, fundamentally, not all that bad (bad enough, though, of course) and he's the one we follow into his self-created abyss.

Following (d. Christopher Nolan) ***00 - Christopher Nolan's first film, about a voyeur who feeds his obsession by choosing random people on the street to follow around all day, and the consequences that ensue, is entertaining and intriguing enough for most of its brisk 70-minute run. But Nolan, working with no money, feels the need to compensate for his lack of funds with a chronologically narrative. The problem is that, unlike Nolan's own Memento, which at this point was two years off, there's no good reason for it here. It's fractured just because Nolan needed to cheaply distinguish the film in some way. Add to that the fact that twists that mount up, and the payoff to same, feel sort of willed into being, and I wonder why I'm giving this as many as three stars. Well, it's not actually bad, I suppose...

Paranormal Activity (d. Oren Peli) ***001/2 (for the theatrical cut) ****0 (for the "alternate" cut) - Reviewed here.

Escape from New York (d. John Carpenter) ****0 - I don't know what I can say about a movie as well-loved as this one, coming to it for the first time just recently. It's just pure pulp fun, from Carpenter's heyday. Any movie that includes a scene featuring Kurt Russell, Adrienne Barbeau, Harry Dean Stanton and Donald Pleasance running over a bridge littered with junked cars, away from Isaac Hayes and to Lee Van Cleef, has a lot going for it.

The Final Destination (d. David R. Ellis) *0000 - Supposedly, this is the last installment of this unfortunately successful, and unfortunately occasionally entertaining series of horror films. But what sets it apart as the last one? It's the exact same film as the previous three! A group of people, mostly young and boring, survive a ridiculous disaster with the help of the psychic abilities bestowed upon one of their number. Death, not having any of that, then begins to elaborately pick them off one by one. THE END. Again, it's no different from the other films, except that it's quite a bit worse. There is one set-up in the beginning, and call-back at the end, that might have been spooky if the rest of the movie weren't so bone stupid. Also, the special effects are terrible.

First Name: Carmen (d. Jean-Luc Godard) **000 - Apart from the pleasant surprise of Tom Waits's "Ruby's Arms" being used extensively and effectively in the film's last third, this deliberately incoherent story about a man and a woman who may be bank-robbers, or instead may be making a movie, and who are probably, this being Godard, Marxists, but who are in any case falling out of love, is a typically, this being Godard, frustrating wank. Maruschka Detmers is lovely, and frequently nude, though, and this is not something I take lightly.

A Film With Me In It (d. Ian Fitzgibbon) **0001/2 - Written by lead actor Mark Doherty (I say "lead actor" as opposed to "star" because Dylan Moran has the more memorable performance), this film is about a struggling, and failing, actor who suddenly finds himself living in an apartment where people have fatal accidents, sometimes separated by mere minutes. What does one do in such a situation? The cops won't believe a word of the truth, so you begin to act as though you were actually guilty of murder. The film is not un-funny, but its intentionally absurd premise is stretched way too far (eventually, people die of things that wouldn't actually kill them), and the putatively hilarious, cynical pay-off is incredibly ill-advised: boring, old-hat, ruinous.

Stalker (d. Andrei Tarkovsky) ****0 - A full review of this Russian masterpiece would defeat me, so this capsule format is a life-saver. At heart -- or maybe only at the edges -- Stalker is a sober, philosophical, science-fiction riff on The Wizard of Oz: in the future, after an unspecified global calamity (given that this was made in Russia in the late 70s, I think we can assume it was nuclear in nature), a mysterious new region has opened up called the Zone, and somewhere in there is a place that grants wishes. The especially desperate hire people known as "stalkers" who can take them to this place, avoiding the dangers, and traps, the Zone creates along the way. The film tells of one stalker, known as "the Stalker", who leads two men -- The Writer and The Professor -- into the Zone, and towards wish-fulfillment. Or so they claim to want.

The Wizard of Oz-ness of Stalker comes not only from the wish-fulfillment quest in a fantasy-land (which is achieved entirely without any -- okay, maybe one -- special effects, and almost entirely through the psychology of, it would seem, you, the viewer) but from the "real world" scenes being shot not in black-and-white so much as in sepia-and-white. And Tarkovsky's eye for those images is utterly astonishing. Calling a film hypnotic is such a bland thing to say, but I don't know quite how else to describe my state of mind when watching one of those sepia images, this one silent, of the Stalker lying in a shallow creek bed, as a black dog runs through the water towards him. Stalker lives almost entirely on its images -- and some execellent acting -- but what Tarkovsky accomplishes simply by photographing the Soviet Union and calling it science fiction is pretty extraordinary.

In the Loop (d. Armando Ianucci) ***001/2 - It was funny. I don't deny that. But I have a hard time giving full credit to a film that is unambiguously a fiction, but asks us to credit it for being insightful satire. And it may be insightful up to a point, but the satirical absurdity of the last third doesn't cut to the bone, because it's fiction, so...maybe my problem is more with satire than this particular film. Anyway, it's brilliantly acted, and personally I preferred Tom Hollander's uneasy deadpan to Peter Capaldi's relentless profanity, entertaining though that was.

Halloween II (d. Rob Zombie) **000 - Rob Zombie's serious movie. Halloween II (a remake of a sequel that I haven't seen) is positively aching to embraced by the same kind of arthouse crowd that put Tobe Hooper's original Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the MoMA all those years ago. The difference is, Hooper wasn't aiming for that -- he only got there because the film he made was so singular. Zombie's not-even-armchair psychonalaysis of his serial killer is also the polar opposite of what made not only Hooper's film, but Carpenter's original Halloween, so chilling. Explanations are for simpletons. The last shot is kind of creepy, though.

The Hurt Locker (d. Kathryn Bigelow) ***** - Bigelow's Iraq War masterpiece really is as apolitical as everyone says (although I suspect there's enough covert cynicism about military brass, etc., in the film for certain kinds of interpretation to take hold), and focuses on the men who defuse roadside, and other, bombs, and how the adrenaline that's generated from such work can be addictive, and cause some men to become reckless. The Hurt Locker is relentlessly intense, and almost never steps wrong -- the one or two times it did are so minor that I don't think they're worth bringing up. The masterpiece within this masterpiece is an extended sniper duel in the middle of the desert. Brilliant.

Extract (d. Mike Judge) ***001/2 - Each of Mike Judge's live-action films (I'm excluding Beavis and Butthed Do America, because I remember that being a bit of a sensation at the time) has taken its own sweet time finding an audience. Office Space and Idiocracy were both dumped by their studios, and each has gained cult audiences of varying degrees of healthiness. His new one, Extract, actually got a legitimate theatrical release, and still nobody went. Nobody who did go seemed overly taken with it, and my expectations were therefore low. But I really enjoyed it, as it turns out. It's not as near-perfect as Office Space, or as occasionally rioutous as Idiocracy, but unlike that latter film it also doesn't run out of steam in the last third. It's consistently genial and entertaining, bolstered by a terrific cast of outstanding deadpan comic performers -- Jason Bateman, J. K. Simmons, Kristen Wiig, Ben Affleck, and the inhumanly attractive Mila Kunis, to name a few. Mike Judge knows ordinary people, and he knows what's so funny about them.

Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion (d. David Mirkin) ***00 - Eh. It was funny-ish, and I have a thing for Mira Sorvino, so...

Big Fan (d. Robert Siegel) ***001/2 - I had very high hopes from this, coming as it does from the pen and director's chair of Robert Siegel, best known for writing The Wrestler, one of the very best films of last year. And its subject matter -- a study of a particular kind of obsessed sports fan, and the dark places his obsession and social awkwardness take him -- was something I hadn't quite seen portrayed, or at least focused on, before. And I had a feeling that its lead actor, comedian and heretofore unproven dramatic actor Patton Oswalt, could, if he had any real acting chops at all, knock this role out of the park (to borrow a sports metaphor from a sport other than the one his character is obsessed with). And the film isn't bad. Oswalt is very good, and ultimately I did have a lot of affection for this wreck of a person and the outrageous lengths he'll go to to prefer what he incorrectly regards as his personal dignity. The film's major problem is that it's too plotted. And it's not even all that plotted -- there are really only two major turns in the story -- but I think I would have preferred a day-in-the-life approach to this kind of character, than the unlikely, though not implausible, series of events we get.

Moon (d. Duncan Jones) ****0 -I never realize how badly I miss big-screen takes on genuine science fiction themes and ideas until I actually see a new one. David Bowie's son's first film may wear some of its influences too prominently on its sleeve (Silent Running, for instance, and, most blatantly, 2001: A Space Odyssey), but Moon is not doing the same thing as those films, just nodding at them. Sam Rockwell, in what is essentially a one-man show, is superb as Sam Bell, an astronaut who is based on the moon, mining something-or-other, when he has an accident a couple of weeks before his three-year contract is up, and he's sent back home to his wife and child. When he wakes up in the infirmary (cared for by HAL 9000 stand-in Gerty, voiced by Kevin Spacey), however, he's forced to ask "Who's that other guy?" Gripping, sad, thoughtful, eerie, and pretty wonderful.

A Perfect Getaway (d. David Twohy) **0001/2 - The fact that I guessed the twist of this thriller should not be held too strongly against the film, although I was only able to do so because writer-director Twohy fills the first half of the story -- about a honeymooning couple (Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich) suspecting all other American couples they encounter in their South American hike, of being murderers -- with coy, post-modern, almost Scream-like genre in-jokes. Okay, fine, but must the violent action that follows this twist be so jittery and effects-laden as to rob the events of any genuine suspense? No, is the answer, but Twohy, like many of his brethren, still hasn't realized that.

District 9 (d. Neill Blomkamp) ***00 - Eh. 'S'okay, I guess. The curious thing about this South African science-fiction action film is that its blatant, fore-grounded Apartheid allegory goes up in smoke pretty quickly, the more dependent its rather absurd plot becomes on the actual science-fiction portion of its central idea. This plot centers around a substance, a fluid, which has the capacity to not only fuel the aliens mothership, but to transform humans into aliens. Soon this is fore-grounded, and the allegory disappears. Add to this the fact that the much-praised transmutation of the main character (Sharlto Copley, giving a bit of an overrated performance, I think) is only shown in its early and final stages, and that the last twenty minutes or so is taken up almost entirely with people exploding, and I'm left with a film that's trying to be two things at once, and ultimately half-assing both. Well, actually, three things at once, if you consider the film is stylistically broken up into both a standard "third person" narrative, and a fake documentary, which the film also half-asses, by virtue of Blomkamp's not going all the way with it. Which makes three half-asses, that I had a reasonably good time watching, but haven't thought much about since.

The Invention of Lying (d. Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson) ***001/2 - Quite entertaining, I was surprised and relieved to discover. Gervais is an outspoken atheist, and this plays fairly heavily into the story -- about a world where everyone tells the truth, and has never heard of lying, until Gervais's character invents it -- but it was rather less mean-spirited than I thought it would be. Mind you, Gervais seems to think that all those who have faith have the most simple-minded attitude imaginable towards it, but I'm willing to forgive that because the actual jokes are good. My biggest criticism of the film would actually be directed towards its idea of what telling the truth entails. For instance, telling the truth does not mean dropping non-sequitor insults into casual conversation. If you feel something negative about a person, but don't feel the need to voice that sentiment whenever you open your mouth, that doesn't mean you're lying, but Gervais apparently thinks it does, or does to the extent that it provides him with more material for comedy. The film's conceit requires the filmmaker to walk a fine line, and Gervais and Robinson often lose their balance, but what the hell. I laughed.

The Roost (d. Ti West) *00001/2 - On the surface, this film wouldn't seem to merit more words written about it than, say, The Hurt Locker, but as it happens I have more to say about it. Ti West's most recent film, The House of the Devil, is getting quite a bit of play on-line, and is being hailed as, if not a great horror film, than at least a pretty darn good one. A lot of people are pleased by that film's 1980s horror throwback qualities, which is to say that it's a no-frills, solid, spooky piece of work, with a nice mood and some good jumps. That's what a lot of people are saying about it, and, in fact, I liked it pretty well myself, largely because the set-up was so engaging, and Tom Noonan's too-brief supporting performance is, I think, sensational. The payoff to that set-up, and to Noonan's strange and oddly sympathetic (until we reach the end, anyway) character is less satisfying, but at least it has its moments, and also weren't 1980s horror films a lot of fun? Yes, some of them were, though if I were to pick a decade's worth of horror films that I wanted my modern horror films to emulate, it wouldn't be that one. In general, though, I'd prefer far less of this, period. The same could probably be said of most genres, but horror is the genre whose practitioners most believe that to look forward is to look back, and to make sure you know that they know that they're looking back. Not in terms of influence, but rather of insularity.

Still, why look a gift horse in the mouth? The House of the Devil is pretty good, and let us all be satisfied with that. And I am. I've even defended the film to a friend who liked it somewhat less than I did. But one look at Ti West's previous film, The Roost, and I'm forced to ask "Why are so many horror fans to easy to please?" This is a question I've asked repeatedly, and I'm no closer to an answer now than I was any of the previous times I've asked, but The Roost got quite a bit of good press itself, at least from genre outlets (Fangoria and the like), and I'm becoming more and more convinced that if horror fans fear anything, it's change, because The Roost, you see, is also a throwback, an even more self-conscious one than The House of the Devil. Tom Noonan is also in this one, though in a smaller role, this time as one of those fake TV creature-feature hosts that a lot horror filmmakers like to toss into the pot, so that the audience knows what kind of horror movies they watched growing up. Noonan's character is ostensibly introducing The Roost to us, and coming in here and there in the middle of the action to comment on it. At one point, he even pulls a Haneke, and rewinds the film so that the characters can behaving differently (with no impact to the story that I could tell, but I was losing focus on the film by that point, so maybe I missed something).
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In other words, West doesn't think any of this matters. And he's actually right about that, because the main story of The Roost -- four friends find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere and are attacked by bats that turn them into zombies -- isn't worth a hoot, though, in all honesty, it might have been worth at least a minor hoot if West hadn't been so busy laughing up his sleeve. What matters to West, at least in The Roost, is making his film feel like it wasn't made when he made it, and I'll be damned if I can figure out why that's supposed to matter to me. I'll admit that sort of thing can be amusing, but it's a pretty thin kind of amusement, even when done well, and in The Roost it isn't done well. The film image is covered in an artificial grain that reminded me of all those fake films-within-a-film, shot specifically so that characters can be shown watching them, and the filmmakers won't have to pay to use images from real movies. On top of that, West uses technology and effects that wouldn't have been available in the 80s, or the 70s, or whenever he wants us to think The Roost was made. As a result, the whole affair comes off as utterly phony and insincere, which is probably A-OK with West.

The Creature from the Black Lagoon (d. Jack Arnold) ***001/2 - There ain't nothing wrong with this movie. It's a bit campy, yes, and dated, but it's a good, professional bit of filmmaking, from an era when that sort of thing mattered to people. The creature has a curious tendency to rich his hand/flipper very slowly up from the water or through portholes without being noticed, or ever really achieving anything, but still, there's some great, even eerie, underwater photography, and a good time was had by all.

The Tenderness of Wolves (d. Ulli Lommel) ***001/2 - In the commentary track for this DVD, putative director Lommel claims that legendary German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder refused to direct this film (taking a producing role instead) because the subject matter -- the crimes of homosexual serial killer Fritz Haarmann, who lived and killed in pre-WWII German -- was too controversial. Lommel must be assuming that anyone listening to that track has never seen a Fassbinder film before, because the man was not shy of courting controversy. When you then consider that the film absolutely feels like a Fassbinder film, is filled with his usual actors, and that the film's star, Kurt Raab, wrote the screenplay and served as production designer as well, you have to wonder what, exactly, Lommel did. In any case, if Fassbinder was the true director, it would have to take a middle-of-the-pack status. The Tenderness of Wolves is a slightly rambling, but atmospheric, and, in sudden bursts, shocking and disturbing little film, with a great central performance from Raab, and an ending that takes you from horror to black comedy, and then suddenly ends, so that it's very possible that the last thing you do while watching this unpleasant story is laugh. Oops.

Bedazzled (d. Stanley Donen) ***00 - Is it possible to have seen a movie for the first time, and still think it hasn't aged well? I have to think that's the case with with this cult comedy, from the minds of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, in which Cook plays the devil, offering a series of wishes to hapless sadsack Moore in exchange for his soul. It's intermittently funny, and clever, but from a technical point of view, was every line of dialogue looped in post-production? Anyway, Moore, surprisingly, made me laugh a bit more than Cook did, possibly because Cook delivered every line exactly the same (and apparently he may have done this twice). Still, Cook's final line is pretty damned witty, and it's hard to imagine nobody had thought of that before.

Superstition (d. James W. Roberson) **0001/2 - I don't have a great deal to say about this horror film from the 1980s, as the memory of its particulars is already beginning to fade. What I do remember is that it has something to do with a witch and more than likely and old curse, and a new family moving into an old house that should be left alone, and so on. What did strike me, though, is that the family is completely done in. I mean, everybody dies in this movie, but the fact that a family, including children, is picked off one by one, the same way campers are in slasher movies (which Supersition both is and isn't) is pretty jarring. Not only that, but the patriarch of the family is presented to us from the beginning as a sad, defeated man, who is disappointed in himself. You'd think this was a set-up for some sort of redemption, but you'd be wrong. An odd film.

Anvil: The Story of Anvil (d. Sacha Gervasi) ****0 - So let me get this straight: this documentary is about a heavy metal band who peaked early and has hit the skids badly. They're attempting a comeback by going on tour and recording a new album, but are hampered along the way by the fact that they have a terrible female (which is relevant) manager. Also, at one point they visit Stonehenge, and they're big in Japan. One of them is named Robb Reiner. This is, apparently, a true story.

Dead Snow (d. Tommy Wirkola) **000 - This movie was fun enough, I suppose, but if you're going to make a movie that spoofs other zombie movies, don't get around to the spoofing eventually. Don't play it reasonably straight for half the movie, possibly longer, and then go all zany and madcap all of a sudden. I'd prefer a movie about zombie Nazis in snow to be played as straight as possible, myself, but if I can't have that I'd at least like a filmmaker who can commit to a tone. It had some nice moments, though.

The Children (d. Tommy Shankland) ***001/2 - This horror film is similar to Supersition in that it plunks a family down as the only possible victims, and then begins killing them. It's quite a bit more complicated, as well as better, than that sounds, but it's still the aspect of the film that stands out most strongly for me. The gist is, over Christmas an extended family gets together to celebrate, but one of the children has contracted some sort of virus, which only seems to be spread through the other children nearby, and which turns them into blank-eyed killers. This is brutal stuff, especially when the adults start fighting back, which you do sort of hope they'll do, but for God's sake look what they're doing! It's that sort of film, with, it would seem, some deeper implications having to do with abortion, but which I haven't quite parsed, and which may not be totally parse-able.

Dragonwyck (d. Joseph L. Mankiewicz) ***00 - Like the aforementioned Shock, this is one of Vincent Price's very early Gothic thriller/melodrama roles (it's also the first film by Mankiewicz, of All About Eve and Sleuth fame). The story is basically that a young woman (Gene Tierney) is overwhelmed by the wealth and smoothness of distant relative and wealthy landowner, Nicholas Van Ryn (Price). Then when she marries him, she finds out he's a crazy asshole. Price is wonderful, as always, and his final breakdown is wonderfully played, but Mankiewicz seemed a bit too concerned with making his film important, and therefore better than your standard genre film, and the result is that the film sags. There's a terrific efficiency to the best genre films, especially from this era (the film was made in 1946), so that when a film like Dragonwyck makes a transparent attempt to rise above them, it's hard not to see why those other films are so very good.

Summer Hours (d. Olivier Assayas) ****0 - This beautiful and beautifully acted French film, about a wealthy French family, whose matriarch passes away in an early scene, struggling to deal with her estate (consisting mainly of a gorgeous country home, and a sprawling collection of artwork), is not actually about family strife so much as it is about losing your past, and how much more meaningful art can be to the individual than it ever will be as art. Charles Berling, as the eldest son Frederic, gets the top marks, but as I said, everyone is superb. And for a film with such a small, intimate story, there's an incredible pace to it. Carried along, no doubt, by those performances. Top shelf.

Wrong Turn (d. Rob Schmidt) ***00 -I watched this horror film during the same weekend in which I saw Joy Ride and Turistas (see below), and apparently I was in a very forgiving mood. There's not much specific to recommend either Wrong Turn, but it's a professionally made bit of grotesque suspense about a group of young people who find themselves stranded in a deep rural setting populated by inbred cannibals. A lot of dying ensues. But its aims are modest, and you could do worse on a lazy Sunday.

Joy Ride (d. John Dahl) ***001/2 - This one is a bit better than the other two. For one thing, it features Steve Zahn as the secondary lead, and he's always fun to watch. Not only that, but the story -- about two brothers on a road trip, who, via CB radio, play a fairly mean prank on a random trucker, only to suffer a certain amount of blowback as a result -- actually is sort of about something. The trucker who hounds them, and commits vile deeds along the way, is the wounded party here. There's no excuse for what he does, obviously, but he was spurred to do it because our heroes were kind of acting like dicks, and the film doesn't forget that. Also, there's some really wonderful shots here -- it's a film that was actually directed. The ending is a let-down, though.

Blood and Black Lace (d. Mario Bava) **000 - My frustrating experiences with Italian horror and suspense films continue. Bava is often regarded as the king of this stuff, even moreso than the more famous Dario Argento, and in fact Blood and Black Lace is considered the very first giallo, which is an Italian brand of hyper-violent suspense film (as opposed to Italian horror, which, I believe, is not synonymous with giallo, even though many Italian genre filmmakers made both; but often the two are confused as one). But it's not very good, is the problem. The location and populace being terrorized by a mad killer this time around is a fashion school and its students, and the plot is just a bunch of finger-twiddling, punctuated with dialogue like "The idea that a sex murderer is stalking your fashion school...well, I don't like it." Bava did make some interesting movies, though, and of the ones I've seen I would recommend Bay of Blood, if that's your thing.

Nightmare Alley (d. Edmund Golding) ****0 - A great double-bill with Elia Kazan and Budd Schulberg's A Face in the Crowd, Nightmare Alley is a marvelous film noir with a carnival/spiritual setting. I don't so much review it as talk about it here, but I do recommend it most highly.

Turistas (d. John Stockwell) ***00 - See Wrong Turn. It's the same experience, essentially, though I will note that the moral ambiguity of the villain -- his slaughtering of American tourists is motivated by the absence of good organs for donation to needy South American patients -- is pretty badly and cynically undercut by making him a cold-hearted racist.

Zombieland (d. Ruben Fleischer) ***00 - Like The Hangover, this film's problem is that it's fans don't seem to know when to stop. Zombieland stars Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, and Woody Harrelson (who's very good here) as survivors of a zombie holocaust, who band together to survive. The post-modern cleverness, in the form of Eisenberg's rules for survival (presented in narration and arbitrarily placed, and moving, on-screen titles) wears out fast, but overall the film is as amiable as a zombie comedy that isn't as good as Shaun of the Dead can be. It's a good time, it's not that clever, the whole thing should have been about Harrelson's character, the much-talked-about celebrity cameo is fun, and the outcome of that cameo can be seen from two towns over. But it ain't bad. But it ain't great.

Sauna (d. Antti-Jussi Annila) ****0 - Reviewed here.

In Which We Serve (d. David Lean and Noel Coward) ***** - An absolutely superb British WWII film, featuring writer and co-director Coward in the lead role of a Naval battleship captain, trying to keep his crew trained and coherent through the madness of combat. The film begins with the ship being sunk by the Germans, and then flashes back to various characters' home life, their early days on the ship, and earlier battle experiences. Absolutely heart-wrenching at times, as well as completely stirring. It's near perfect, really.

Johnny Guitar (d. Nicholas Ray) ****0 - A quite strange Western from the 1950s, featuring Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge as the White Hat and the Black Hat, respectively. A lot has been made of this gender twist on the traditional Western, but the film itself doesn't hammer on any particular point: this is just the story, and these are just the characters. Mind you, it's wildly overheated, to the point of heaving melodrama, of the kind that Douglas Sirk made at his most bombastic. But if it works, it works, so why complain about bombast, if that's the goal, and the goal is struck dead center? Besides which, any film that features Sterling Hayden and Ernest Borgnine can't be that bad.

Land of the Lost (d. Brad Siberling) ***00 - Yes, I laughed. No, I'm not ashamed. "It's a doughnut stuffed with M&Ms. That way, when you finish the doughnut, you don't have to eat a bunch of M&Ms."

Circus of Horrors (d. Sidney Hayers) **000

Patty Hearst (d. Paul Schrader) ***001/2

White Dog (d. Sam Fuller) ****0

The Paradine Case (d. Alfred Hitchcock) ***00 - Reviewed here.

Paintball (d. Daniel Benmayor) *0000

Whiteout (d. Dominic Sena) **000

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (d. Gavin Hood) **000

The Beast Must Die! (d. Paul Annett) *00001/2

Shutter Island (d. Martin Scorsese) ***** - Reviewed here.

Gamer (d. Nevedine/Taylor) :turd:

Whip It! (d. Drew Barrymore) ***00

Where the Green Ants Dream (d. Werner Herzog) ***00

The Informant! (d. Steven Soderbergh) ****0

The Damned United (d. Tom Hooper) ****0

Jennifer's Body (d. Karyn Kusama) :turd:

Paul 29th Dec 2009 0:55

Re: 2010 Filmlists
 
01. Away From Her *****
02. Happy-Go-Lucky ***00½
03. Let The Right One In ****0
04. The Hurt Locker ****0½
05. About Schmidt (R) ***** (very close to ******)
06. Casablanca *****
07. A Serious Man *****
08. Avatar ****0
09. The Squid And The Whale ****0½
10. American Beauty ***00½
11. Starting Out In The Evening ****0
12. The Invention of Lying ***00½
13. Inglourious Basterds ****0½
14. Princess Mononoke ***00
15. Cries and Whispers *****
16. An Inconvenient Truth ****0
17. Goodbye Solo ****0½
18. Pi ***00
19. The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit *****
20. Singin' In The Rain ****0
21. Shine ***00½
22. District 9 ***00½
23. The Fall ****0
24. Monty Python's Life Of Brian ***00½
25. Rebecca *****
26. Pink Floyd The Wall ****0
27. Where The Wild Things Are ***00½
28. The Road *****
29. Once *****
30. The Machinist **000½
31. Annie Hall ****0
32. Toy Story 3 *****
32. Miller's Crossing ***00½
33. Invictus ***00
34. Fantastic Mr. Fox ***00
35. The Thin Red Line ****0½
36. 500 Days Of Summer ***00
37. Ran ****0½
38. The White Ribbon ***00
39. Precious ****0
40. Wit ****0
41. The Graduate **000½
42. Jeremiah Johnson ***00½
43. [REC] http://palimpsest.org.uk/forum/../im...threestars.gif½
44. The Descent **000½
45. Night Of The Living Dead ****0
46. Rosemary's Baby ******
47. The Devil's Backbone ***00½
48. Seven Samurai ****0
49. Blue *****
50. Rachel Getting Married *****
51. A Streecar Named Desire ****0
52. Blue *****
53. White *****
54. Red *****
55. Phoebe In Wonderland ****0
56. An Education ****0
57. Appaloosa http://palimpsest.org.uk/forum/../im...threestars.gif
58. Tokyo Story http://palimpsest.org.uk/forum/../im..._fivestars.gif
59. Man Push Cart http://palimpsest.org.uk/forum/../im..._fivestars.gif

BiNS 29th Dec 2009 2:15

Re: 2010 Filmlists
 
1. Sherlock Holmes Much better than I'd anticipated, though still annoying in parts. Robert Downey Jr's English accent was faultless. ***00

2. Inglourious Basterds (BluRay) Loved it. Will post more when I've watched it again. *****

3. District 9 (BluRay) Excellent in so many ways. Kudos to Peter Jackson for looking past US borders. Again. ****0

4. Gran Torino (BluRay) Nicely shot, nice music but Clint should have stayed at the right end of the camera. Some cringeworthy moments and exactly the ending I expected. ***00

5. The Hurt Locker (BluRay) Brilliant, just brilliant. I'm guessing Hollywood will follow the money and reward Avatar with Best Film at the Oscars. If they do, they're wrong. ***** May raise those stars to red on a rewatch.

6. Valkyrie (DVD) Nothing much wrong with it, nothing to raise it above 3 stars either. ***00

7. Avatar 3D Visually spectacular but then so were the 3D trailers. The story was pretty well worn and safe. Big corporation treads on little people, a hero emerges and kicks corporate butt. Steven Seagal should have been in it. I felt my eyes closing after two hours but having said all that, I'm glad I saw it for the visual experience alone.***00

8. Angels and Demons (BluRay) Ridiculous. I knew that, you all told me, but I had to see for myself. Should have read some Matthew Reilly instead. Actually somewhere between a turd and one star but there isn't a no star option. Actually, no. :turd:

9. State of Play. (Blu-Ray) Not as good as the original TV series but then they had to cram it into a two hour film. Perfectly watchable though and Russell 'Fatboy' Crowe played an excellent part. I'm not so sure Ben Affleck was the right choice to play a congressman though. ***00

10. Up In the Air. Excellent. A fine performance from George Clooney in, I suppose, a genre defying film. Some great one liners and a pretty unpredictable plot. It's never going to have you on the edge of your seat or chewing your nails but the perfect antidote to noisy blockbusters. I don't suppose GC will win an Oscar for this, but I'm glad he's in the mix. ****0

11. Bruno (DVD) Some hilarious parts, some cringe inducing parts too. I don't think he'll get away with another foray into cinema, not in the US anyway. If you watch the DVD, make sure you watch the deleted scenes. **0001/2

12. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. Harry Potter meets Clash of the Titans (and steals shamelessly from both, and Shrek). It wasn't bad, just meh. Nothing new here, move along. **000

13. The Town. Ben Affleck directs and stars in a surprisingly good film, probably my favourite this year. I wanted to see it because I enjoyed Chuck Hogan's book, Prince of Thieves, on which this is based. The film stands up on its own though and Affleck shines. ****01/2

Beth 29th Dec 2009 3:10

Re: 2010 Filmlists
 
Bagged my spot for keeping up with JunkMonkey's list...

1. Up in the Air (2009) *****
2. Wall-E (2008 ) (R) ***** again, the first 30 minutes ******
3. Volver (2006) ****0
4. El orfanato (2007) ****0
5. Persona (1966) ****** Woo, loved it
6. American Beauty (1999) ****0
7. Chinatown (1974) R ******
8. Like Water for Chocolate (1992) ***00
9. Blow Up (1966) ****** Watch this after you've been out for a daiquiri. Fab
10. Three Kings (1999) ***** Happiness- watching with my son and seeing him get the humor in it
11. L'eclisse (1962) ****0 Doesn't bowl you over, seeps in, will probably linger
12. The Painted Veil (2006) ***00+
13. The Class, or Entres les murs(2008 ) *****, plus, can I please just go to bed once with François Bégaudeau and say life is complete?
14. Rumor Has It (2005) :turd: What the fuck was I thinking? It was on tv.
15. Night of the Demon (1957) ***** loved it, jumped two or three times. "Nobody's free from fear."
16. Almost Famous (R) ****0
17. The Queen ***00
18. Philadelphia (R) ****0 especially love Neil Young's Philadelphia at the end...
19. The Reader ****0
20. Atlantic City (1981) ***** and a tee, hee, hee Laughed aloud when Burt shoots the hoods
21. The Last Picture Show (1971) *****
22. Gangs of New York - Technically well presented, well acted, all that stuff. Impossible to rate.
23. Stagecoach (1939) ***** Fantastic Apache attack and true action!
24. Pan's Labyrinth *****
25. The Hurt Locker *****
26. The Magic Flute (1975) **000
27. The Searchers (1956) ******
28. An Education (2009) ***00
29. Casablanca, on a plane, always a treat ****0
30. The Devil Wears Prada , return flight, always a :turd:
31. Se7en *****
32. Il Grido **000
33. A Serious Man ******
34. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room ***00+ doesn't really capture how badly these people hurt so many others
35. The Taking of Pelham 123 (1974) - ****0 My 13yr old loved it!
36. Where The Wild Things Are **000
37. Away From Her ****0
38. My Darling Clementine (1946) *****
39. Broadway Danny Rose (1984) ****0
40. The Bicycle Thief (1949) ******
41. Rules of the Game (1938 ) **000 The intro with Jean Renoir is fascinating. (reminds me a bit of the ghost chef in Ratatouille) The film almost put me into a coma. Very dated and I didn't appreciate the significance.
42. Dracula (1931) ***** Always suspenseful and emotionally engaging
43. Rebecca (1940) ****0 a bit too prettily done and not messy enough to have the chemistry I was hoping for. Enviable lingerie organization.
44. Dawn of the Dead (2004) **000
45. Melvyn and Howard ****0
46. Rear Window *****
47. This is Spinal Tap *****
48. Manhattan ****0
49. The Savages (2007) *****
50. Ratatouille (R) ****0 viewed on my kitchen tv, with a cookbook in hand...
51. Match Point *****
52. Autumn Sonata (1978 ) ****0
53. Venus (2006) ***00

Ang 29th Dec 2009 9:19

Re: 2010 Filmlists
 
1. The History Boys ****0
2. I Love You, Man ***00
3. A Prophet ****0
4. Vicky Christina Barcelona ***00
5. The Boat that Rocked ******
6. Into the Wild ****0
7. Sherlock Holmes **000
8. Toy Story 3 *****
9. Nixon **000
10. Invictus ******
11. Fight Club ***00
12. A Single Man *****
13. La Tête en Friche (My Afternoons with Margueritte) ******
14. The Queen ****0
15. A Serious Man ****0

Quink 29th Dec 2009 10:40

Re: 2010 Filmlists
 
7. The Father of my Children (Le Pere de mes Enfants) ****** C
6. Fast Food Nation ****0 TV
5. Mesrine - Public Enemy No 1 ****0 DVD
4. Mesrine - Killer Instinct ***** DVD
3. Fish Tank *0000 DVD
- A Serious Man (abandoned) C
2. A Prophet ***** C
1. The Road ***** C

kirsty 29th Dec 2009 12:11

Re: 2010 Filmlists
 
I'll give this a go, even though I barely watch films. Maybe this will give me a prod to watch some more in 2010.

paddyjoe 29th Dec 2009 12:32

Re: 2010 Filmlists
 
15. Up ***00
14. The American **000
13. In Bruges *****
12. Back To The Future (R) ****0
11. Happy-Go-Lucky (R) ****0
10. Inception *****
09. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly ****0
08. A Serious Man *****
07. An Education ****0
06. August Rush *0000 Pish.
05. A Single Man ****0
04. Perfume ***00
03. Millions ***00
02. The Road ****0
01. Sherlock Holmes ***00 Better than I expected.

John Self 29th Dec 2009 12:37

Re: 2010 Filmlists
 
2. A SERIOUS MAN ***** Wonderful film which throws a man into a series of unfortunate events, and drives him mad wondering what's causing them - is he the cause? - or more importantly why there's no certainty about whether anything's causing them or not. Fantastic performances throughout from an unknown cast, which means nobody's phoning in their performance. Coen brothers back on form. Mazel tov!

1. FUNNY FACE (1957) (DVD) ****0 Colourful, gay comedy starring Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire. Good fun and good songs by the Gershwins, marred only by (a) the premise that Hepburn is not extremely beautiful, but has, rather, a "funny face"; and (b) the love angle between Astaire [58] and Hepburn [28], which is a little like watching Paul Daniels romancing Cheryl Cole. Still, it did enable me to learn where the opening sample from the Divine Comedy song 'The Booklovers' comes from. Contains performance art.


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