moviedodd's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

The World's End

I don't think I could have asked for anything more from the trio of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost. Their loveletter to genre filmmaking is given the ultimate conclusion as a group of pub-crawling friends combat body-snatching aliens and the apocalypse all for the sake of consuming booze. God this movie is fun.

Magic Magic
Magic Magic(2013)

I wouldn't suggest Magic Magic to those who can't handle claustrophobic moments. Anyone who has been forced to hang out with a group of people that you find bothersome will appreciate this to an extentas the lead character, played by Juno Temple, suffers a nervous breakdown from her newfound "friends." The most memorable thing about this film is Michael Cera playing a character almost too odd to figure out.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

With the exception of Jim Carrey wonderfully stealing scenes as a douchy Criss Angel/David Blaine hybrid, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is a pretty hollow comedy with very few moments that brought me genuine laughter.

Pain & Gain
Pain & Gain(2013)

Michael Bay continues his underwhelming streak with Pain & Gain where he actually attempts to tone down the CGI explosions and tell more of a story. Terrific. Except Bay still manages to work in his overstylized slow motion shots, his trademark misogony, and buckets of testosterone. Supporters of this movie say that Bay is self-aware and winking at himself. Personally, I don't think Michael Bay is capable of that that level of originality. Pain & Gain just seems like Bay doing his usual routine. At least Dwayne Johnson has his moments.

You're Next
You're Next(2013)

You're Next is being hailed as the next groundbreaking horror movie. It is almost aggravating how not fresh this movie is. I will recognize it for keeping me engaged. With that aside, You're Next is pretty sadistic and I failed to notice the "fun" and "humor" that the critics are referring to. The amateur performances from the "mumblecore" alumni cast was also rather distracting.


Amour is a rough ride, but I would rather go on a rough ride that is honest than a smooth ride that is dishonest. Honest about what? The concepts of grief and mortality. Sometimes we don't want the brutal truth when we go to the movies. But Amour is undeniably heart-wrenching.

Welcome to the Punch

I hate to say cliched things, but "Welcome to the Punch" is essentially lacking...well...punch. It is confident in its slick direction, but the plot is as bland as cardboard. Plus James McAvoy is given too many opportunities to chew scenery to laughable effect as an obsessed cop.


Danny Boyle certainly has a way with losing the viewer in a cluster of confusing dead ends, only to show us the way in the end with a trippy sense of clarity. I really enjoyed this movie, but I think only those with patience will appreciate the way Trance is laid out.

The Sapphires

As sappy and insignificant as the marketing makes The Sapphires appear, this really is an underappreciated film that people should seek out. Yes it is a feel-good movie, but it doesn't feel phony. Plus, I've established that Chris O'Dowd is probably the most likable actor working right now in the business. There's a strong storyline with historical relevance, there's contagious song numbers, and there's O'Dowd's strong supporting performance. There's not much to dislike.

To The Wonder

I always assumed that if Terrence Malick continued to juxtapose his perfect shots with fantastic music, then I would continue to love his films. With "To the Wonder", I learned that it actually is possible for Malick to mess up with narrative or casting. As great as everything looks, Olga Kurylenko (who I perceive as the actress playing the central character) just doesn't fit into Malick's usual poetic landscapes.


The reason Mud goes for the emotional jugular is due to its perspective from its 14-year-old main character. While coming to the aid of a fugitive named Mud (Matthew McConaughey, still on a terrific roll as of lately), he does so as a character with optimism that hasn't experienced heartbreak or betrayal. It is when life truly kicks his ass for the first time that is heartbreaking. Mud is a movie full of wonderment and intrigue, and I loved every minute of it.

West of Memphis

What makes West of Memphis so convincing is not the involvement of manipulative blowhards, but clear and present evidence. Not only does it cover the innocence of the West Memphis Three, but it clearly proves who the real killer is. At this point there is a genre shift into horror knowing that the real guilty party is still among us. It is one of those rare documentaries that seems too shocking to be true which, in my opinion, is the best kind.

Evil Dead
Evil Dead(2013)

A lot went through my head when watching this remake. Can a horror movie still be fun without cheesiness? At what point do I start not having fun when the gore becomes too real? In retrospect, I was ovethinking it. The Evil Dead remake intentionally sees how far it can go with cringe-inducing moments of human mutilation. Yet it's tone does not seem mean like much of what has come out of the "torture porn" sub-genre. The direction and actors are quite good as well. If you like horror, then its worth a watch. Just be aware that everyone on the set was laughing through every dismemberment. It's only pretend.

Spring Breakers

Despite the somewhat amusing performance by James Franco, Spring Breakers isn't a good movie. It just isn't. It has a sense of self-aware smugness about its edginess. Other critics say it does or will work as a campy, cult classic, but that's really not true. This movie is way too morose and redundant that I can't imagine why anyone would revisit it for second helpings except maybe in an attempt to better understand its dark surroundings. There are some filmmakers that I see through and others that I try to take the time to understand. I think I am no longer interested in buying into the hype of Harmony Korine.

The Call
The Call(2013)

While it does gradually descend into absurd territory, The Call is still an effectively-directed thriller. Coming from someone who briefly took 911 calls, I will even give it props for accuracy.


There is not much to particularly praise or slam about Snitch. It follows a simple narrative structure about a suburban dad (Dwayne Johnson) who helps bust a drug cartel in order to get his son off the hook for dealing charges. It's an easy watch that does not really resonate the day after.


The problem with anthology horror is that every story has to meet excellent standards in order for the movie to work in its entirety. As usually expected, the stories here are a mixed bag. However, the ones that work really do work and every single one of these manages to utilize clever, less-nauseating ventures into found-footage horror.

Wake in Fright

Wake in Fright fits that category of horror without technically being horror when a civilized school teacher becomes stranded in a neverending cycle of drunken debauchery in the isolated Australian outback. This film was recently restored and released after its remaining print was almost destroyed in Australia. It is a good thing it was saved.

Celeste and Jesse Forever

Rarely to romantic comedies/dramas think outside the box, but this is an exception. It is good to see that Andy Samberg can act with restraint for when he outgrows his usual goofball schtick in the future. Rashida Jones is the the real gem here as the co-star and co-writer. While she is rarely given much to do on the fantastic Parks and Recreation, her performance and humor dominates this movie.

Cloud Atlas
Cloud Atlas(2012)

I would never put this on a favorite list. Then again, I can't quite understand why some renowned critics would put this on their "worst" list. It is long and a little messy, but it is undeniably ambitious. There is a certain level of appreciation that I have for the work done here, but I do think the filmmakers worked a little too hard.

Side Effects
Side Effects(2013)

Steven Soderbergh will be sorely missed if he really did retire from filmmaking. Side Effects is a hypnotic thriller with effective twists thanks to the fact that the movie's subtlety never winks at the audience overplaying the idea that there are twists coming in the first place.

Oz the Great and Powerful

So much work is put into the mega-million fantasy world known as Oz. It is too bad after all of that effort that this isn't a good movie. Clunky sets and puppets would have been more immersive than the CGI green screen that the actors stand in front of from start to finish. There is an A for effort here, but truthfully, Oz just feels pointless with the exception of financial gain.

Man of Steel
Man of Steel(2013)

All of the elements that work are there except for that little thing called direction. Zack Snyder is usually hit and miss as a director. It seems like he got a little too excited making this reboot with aimless, overlong action sequences, and an unnecessary handheld look that consists of excessive shakiness. The story and cast are pretty much right at home. I hope that there is a sequel with a director who can give this series the tone and organization that it deserves.

The Last Stand

It's Schwarzenegger playing an American, rural sheriff named Ray who speaks in a thick Austrian accent. As usual he kicks ass and takes names. I know Arnold's post-political comeback as an ass-kicker may seem a bit pathetic, but can I admit that I kind of missed the guy? Let's be honest here, I had fun.

The Impossible

The Impossible surprised me not just because it was good, but because it jacked up my emotions and adrenaline so much that I needed a beer. There is a difference between good manipulative movies and bad manipulative movies. The Impossible falls into the former category due to its effective depiction of a tragedy. I sat back and let this movie have at my heartstrings.

Warm Bodies
Warm Bodies(2013)

If the unfortunate horror/romance invasion had to strike zombie territory, then I suppose Warm Bodies is the best result we have gotten thus far. I am not offering a glowing recommendation, but it is "just good" and I really have nothing bad to say about it. The direction by Jonathan Levine and the soundtrack choice are the real stand-outs.


Light on the gore and heavy on atmospheric chills, Mama is undeniably scary as hell. I could pick at the little things such as why the characters choose to visit a remote cabin in the woods at dark rather than daytime, but that would spoil the fun. Mama's objective is to make the hairs on your neck stand up and go to bed feeling pleasurably uncomfortable (I know that is a contradiction, but I do feel that way!). Based on those merits, it does succeed.

Star Trek Into Darkness

I'm glad that there are blockbusters out there that balance the actions and explosions with narratives and characters with at least some depth. J.J. Abrams has admittedly made me a Star Trek fan with his reboots.

The Bay
The Bay(2012)

The Bay is a found footage movie that is done with more class and effort than many of the other found footage flicks thrown together in 5 hours on a $2.00 budget. This one is effectively unsettling as microscopic isopods become mutated from pollution in the Maryland bay and begin tearing into and out of human hosts. What really got under my skin is that it turns out the Maryland bay really is polluted and really does have microscopic isopods in it.

Jack Reacher
Jack Reacher(2012)

The direction has a nostalgic 70's feel that reminded of claustrophobic, voyeuristic thrillers from the past. Even the plot works for the most part. However, the performances and dialogue really bring Jack Reacher down. Tom Cruise and Rosamund Pike deivery every line with wide-eyed seriousness and staged importance. Maybe this was intentional and I'm missing the point. Either way, it is a hinderance worth mentioning. I should also bring up the unintentional laughter every time someone delivers a line like, "Get me Reacher!"

Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3(2013)

Marvel Studios continues to take risks on unpredictable talent with Shane Black (80's action scribe of films such as Lethal Weapon) in the director's chair. The gamble pays off greatly. Iron Man 3 rebounds from the stale second entry with a very strong cast (Ben Kingsley and Guy Pearce in particular taking on villain roles) and action sequences that demonstrate style.

Life of Pi
Life of Pi(2012)

While not a profound favorite of mine, Life of Pi looks too damn great to ignore. It isn't just the magnificence of a CGI tiger. It is everything. The shot of a city street is even captivating. The allegorical premise is worth recognizing, but Life of Pi mostly proves that CGI can be used very effectively and not just to produce lazy vomit (talking to you Michael Bay).

John Dies at the End

I can't fully explain what the hell happened in this movie, yet I feel fulfilled. Phantasm director Don Coscarelli takes the audience through one trippy exploit after another. I'm under the impression that the filmmakers are aiming for fun rather than cohesiveness. This is made clear when the heroes are attacked by a creature made entirely from pieces of frozen meat. In a crazy way, John Dies at the End works, particularly for fans of camp and absurdity.

The Intouchables

The Intouchables is another "unlikely friendship/bond" movie about the odd coupling of an invalid millionaire and his caretaker with a hoodlum past. The predictability is really saved by the performances of the leads, especially Omar Sy, whose lax charisma brings forth a lot of laughter.

Killing Them Softly

Killing Them Softly, for being chocked full of more testosterone than a Gold's Gym in Venice Beach, is a surprisingly well-crafted thriller that provides various moments of quiet intensity.

This is 40
This is 40(2012)

As expected in Judd Apatow territory, I laughed out loud a lot. At the same time, I asked the question as to whether or not a run time over two hours was necessary. I admire this film for what its worth, but a lot of editing (both on reducing the run time and choppiness in the narrative) could have brought This is 40 closer to perfection.


Let's put it this way--- I was told not to watch this movie alone, yet I still slept like a rock when I was done watching this. It is true that I am somewhat desensitized to horror but I am still open to getting a good scare. For me, supernatural/ghost movies have to get it just right in order to provide a frightening experience. Sinister has unarguably creepy images and moments, but the more layers of backstory this movie applies, the more removed I became from feeling fearful. While not as chilling as I hoped, it is still worth watching.


With the exception of a terrifyingly-staged plane crash at the beginning, Flight is pretty much a Denzel Washington showcase that does not rely so much on plot, but on Washington going the distance to portray an addicted and tortured individual. And command the movie he does like usual. It will definitely go down in film as one of the best movies about alcoholism.


I laugh harder when I think back on this movie and I am sure I would have laughed even harder if I watched this with friends. Ted has its fair share of funny moments fueled by Seth MacFarlane's pop culture-infused references.

The Paperboy
The Paperboy(2012)

The movie is so immersed in its sultriness that it falls apart from the moisture. The cast is promising, but they have very little direction to follow. Zach Efron sulks around in his underwear ("Look guys! I'm not a Disney kid anymore!") while Nicole Kidman sluts up every scene with trashiness so much that I was afraid I contracted something just by watching her. Did I mention the infamous, yet awkward, scene where Kidman pees on Efron? In a strange way this may all sound fascinating, but trust me when I say it is not.

Seven Psychopaths

I had a hard time not enjoying Martin McDonagh's reflexive examination of predictable masculinity in crime movies. The movie is an abundance of "wink wink" moments, but that sense of smugness is balanced out by the perfect cast of psychos including Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, and Tom Waits (as a serial killer with a pet bunny....gotta love it.).


It definitely did not deserve to bomb as hard as it did, and I am sure it has Sly Stallone's tainted 1995 predecessor to thank for that. Most of the performances are stilted and the film itself is not earth-shattering, but Dredd is an undeniably cool-ass action movie. Extra praise goes to Game of Thrones star Lena Headey for playing a terrifically intimidating villain.

The Imposter
The Imposter(2012)

The Imposter is unarguably one of the best films this year yet no one is really talking about it. This is a documentary, but the improbable events that unfold make this feel very much like a fictional thriller. Not since Capturing the Friedmans has a documentary put my mind on high alert and left such an indelible impression. The basic premise itself is already mind-boggling, but the audience can't really prepare for the twists that present themselves. This is highly worth seeking out.

Zero Dark Thirty

Before walking into the theater, we all know the ending. That is why it takes the skillful direction of Kathryn Bigelow and the detailed, yet not tedious, screenplay by Mark Boal to build incredible suspense before the inevitable climax. Jessica Chastain, who is still relatively new to the film scene, embodies obsession to a "T" and she earns her Oscar nomination. In a cathartic way, we experience this obsession. Most of the time, it is Chastain's performance that drives the suspense.

Your Sister's Sister

Lynn Shelton, whose previous film was Humpday, has this magic for taking material that could be pretentious "mumblecore" and bringing it to life with terrific actors so that viewers who are not self-indulgent can actually enjoy it. I wouldn't say this is one of the best films I saw last year, but the three main characters do have a wonderful chemistry.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

I'm just not feeling it. I can't help but wonder if I saw this at Sundance before everyone started raving that I would also think that Beasts is a masterpiece. Do not get me wrong. This is a good movie. There are various scenes revolving around the 6-year-old protagonist that filled me with profound sadness (this is a positive comment of course). There are critics I respect who felt underwhelmed, and I think I am in that camp.

Silver Linings Playbook

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are outstanding as two mentally unstable lead characters that seek solace in one another. While most films have a tendency to view "crazy" people as quirky and two-dimensional, these characters are incredibly well-developed and understood. To date this has to be director David O. Russell's most mature film and is one of the best (if not the best) films I have seen this year. It is also worth mentioning that Robert De Niro appears to be not just collecting a check, but actually turning in one of his best performances in years.

10 Years
10 Years(2012)

10 Years could be reliant on predictable jokes about high school cliques. However, it is surprisingly sincere about the awkward get-together of old high school chums at a 10 year reunion. Whenever certain jokes don't seem to work because they are too cringe-inducing, they are saved later on in the film when it is revealed that these scenes were actually all cringe and no joke, which casts a sad shadow on some of these poor, unfortunate souls.

Premium Rush
Premium Rush(2012)

"Fun" is the keyword here. Premium Rush is not empty-headed like many blockbusters because it has style, heart, and the talent of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon (in reliable psycho mode like usual). However, it is also not to be taken seriously. It really does come with my recommendation simply because it is a guaranteed good time.


Arbitrage is ultimately fueled by Richard Gere, who gives one of the year's best performances as a Madhoff-like tycoon with cool charisma one minute and rabid desperation the next.

Django Unchained

Like all of Tarantino's prior films, I loved Django Unchained. From the very beginning with the nostalgic opening credits accompanied by a 50s era pop song to the bloody and delightful end, there is no doubt that the director loves movies and is sharing that love with the audience. While essentially divided into two films: a humorous buddy western and a somber, disturbing vengeance tale, Django works in its entirety. If you can handle the violence, then you are in for a treat.

Killer Joe
Killer Joe(2012)

I loved this movie. The bad news is that may make me sick. You know, I don't care. Loved it. Every character here is sick and despicable. These descriptors are terms of endearment when focusing on just how absolutely scummy these people are. Yet the well-crafted script, based on a play by Tracy Letts, unfolds one hell of a magnificent disaster that manifests itself from the very beginning. Matthew McConaughey actually deserves Oscar recognition as the calm and deadly title character, but I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen. I may have loved this movie, but that doesn't mean I recommend it unless one knows what they are getting into.

Magic Mike
Magic Mike(2012)

Marketed by Warner Brothers as a sausage fest for the ladies, Magic Mike is much more complex than just a beefcake-a-palooza. Steven Soderbergh brings his brand of grittiness and deep character development to the forefront by debunking my original belief that Channing Tatum exhibited zero talent. It is also a part of Matthew McConaughey's comeback year. Yes, his shirt is off like it usually is, but this time is accompanied with actual, good acting.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

The darker-toned apocalyptic comedy could be mined for many laughs and clever moments. Unfortunately the leads are Steve Carell and Keira Knightley. I love Carell, but what chemistry could he possibly have with Knightley? This wouldn't be a huge problem, except that we are asked to spend the entire film with them and invest in their connection. Too bad there is no connection.

The Queen of Versailles

I can't really think of anything better to watch during this current state of the country than a documentary about an excessively wealthy family that strives to build the largest home in the country (as they explain, simply because they can) only to have the 2008 economic downfall make their world come crumbling down. We watch as these people gradually become vulnerable human beings like the rest of us. The Queen of Versailles is a beautiful disaster.

Men in Black III

I don't know why, but Men in Black has always been one of those "meh" franchises to me. It strives to be really fun, but I always just kind of have fun. The third installment feels like a carbon copy of the prior two with the extra bonus of Josh Brolin doing a pitch perfect performance of a young Tommy Lee Jones

The Campaign
The Campaign(2012)

What makes The Campaign ultimately work is that its crude, R-rated humor is balanced out with legitimately good political satire. I can't deny that I was laughing with this movie from start to finish.

Craigslist Joe

Joe Garner sets out on a 30 day mission to prove that there is still goodness in this world. However, I can't help but wonder if the creeps (believe me, I know they are on Craigs List) were left on the cutting room floor, or if everyone was genuinely this trustworthy. It is still an original and enjoyable exercise nonetheless.


Director Richard Linklater returns to his Texas stomping grounds with this very enjoyable southern fried comedy. Jack Black is spot on as a God-fearing community man that courts a needy senior citizen (Shirley Maclaine). It is great how much of the film is cast with naturally quirky, non-professional actors.

Sound of My Voice

This is a great way for indie film fans to kill 90 minutes. Britt Marling gives a worthwhile performance, but the movie leaves us with empty ambiguity. It is the forgettable type of ambiguity rather than the kind that invites a second viewing.


It's amazing what you can get from a Bond film when you bring in a skilled director (Sam Mendes) , a villain that commands every scene (Javier Bardem) , and a James Bond that is a flawed human. Skyfall is so good that it sets the bar high and makes most films of James Bond past seem like cheap, stale candy.

Take This Waltz

Hollywood likes to treat love triangles with such whimsy and little regard for the consequences that may occur after the closing credits. Take This Waltz does the complete opposite. Michelle Williams is superb as a married woman that pushes the boundaries of flirting with a charismatic neighbor. The movie delves into her actions and the results of those actions with refreshing realism. I might add that Seth Rogen proves his acting versatility as Williams' husband.

Safety Not Guaranteed

Safety is a movie about time travel. Not so much the sci-fi kind, but the kind we may do everyday when a song teleports us to the past, or when we dwell on the "woulda, shoulda, couldas." This movie is terrifically funny and heartfelt from start to finish.


If there are any must-see documentaries out there now, this gem is one of them. Somehow this movie has gone completely unnoticed. However, it addresses the apathy of a new ADD generation as a relevant problem. This movie blew me away with its frightening observations.

The Revenant
The Revenant(2012)

This is a vampire movie that could have been more effective with a shorter run time. After long stretches of long, profane filler the movie delivers some rather clever commentary on the war. But, once more, it takes 2 hours to get there.

Kill List
Kill List(2012)

I cannot fully explain what eventually goes down in the film Kill List. What I can confirm is that it is a very well made movie that gradually builds a sense of unsettling dread that hits a horrific apex. It is hard for me not to recommend it.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Thanks to a winning ensemble of veteran Brits, Marigold is an undeniably charming story about the trials and tribulations of aging.

Snow White and the Huntsman

Maybe if I understood why Kristen Stewart is a sought-after leading lady I would have appreciated this film more. Charlize Theron is pitch perfect along with every British veteren playing a dwarf. I don't like to be too abusive with criticism but Stewart in a lead role in anything is baffling to me. She lacks good looks and talent. So why is she acting?

The Loved Ones

I am very choosy when it comes to horror movies. Which is why my love for this film says a lot. It is scary, sick, and darkly comical and this is the reason I enjoyed every second of it. I am certain that if you are a horror fan, this is well worth your time.

The Dictator
The Dictator(2012)

I can either kid myself, or I can come clean and admit that I laughed during this movie. Not only that, but I still laugh thinking about it. What makes it work are R-rated jokes that very much offend, yet still resonate. Best quote of the film, "Crocs are the universal symbol of a man who's given up hope."

Beyond The Black Rainbow

I read reviews prior to seeing this that indicate, while the substance doesn't work, the style is worth observing. I'm not sure I even agree with that. The aesthetic that pays homage to low budget cable movies from the 80's has its moments as does the synthesized score. However, there is really nothing impressive about most of the scenes that are either tinted in red or blue, or seizure-inducing strobe. Only recommended for those open to experimental cinema.

Hatfields & McCoys

One should take a few hours to observe this history lesson in idiocy. Hatfields and McCoys is surprisingly well-directed for a TV miniseries. Some of the violence takes strikingly similar form to a vintage Sam Peckinpah western. Kevin Costner particularly delivers one of the best performances of his career as the Hatfield patriarch.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits

Thanks to the fine folks at Aardman Studios, The Pirates is a fun ride that clearly does not ignore its adult audience with its cheekiness and "so absurd its funny" one-liners ("Blood Island. It is called that because it is in the shape of some blood.")

Red White & Blue

I wanted to love Red, White, and Blue, but there are too many flaws to ignore. I don't think one can be truly prepared for the graphic violence that comes down on the viewer like a ton of bricks somewhere past the halfway mark. This tactic worked wonderfully in a movie like Drive. However here the violence is gratuitous and misplaced, which evoked a sense of confusion. However, the film still managed to leave me with a lot to think about at the end of the carnage.


The challenge to seeing Entrance is to understand that it isn't what it seems. Made on a shoestring budget, the movie slowly paces itself through the daily routines of a Los Angeles barista. Sound boring? If one takes the time to soak in sense of paranoia that gradually rises to an unforgettable climax, you will be compensated for your patience.

American Reunion

While American Pie was once funny when it was young during its theatrical release, American Reunion is like the creepy old guy that isn't funny anymore. Sound agist? I'm supposed to be these characters' age and it is cringe-inducing to see these "wacky kids" still going at their toilet and sex antics.


I acknowledge some good filmmaking here, but this is hardly the artifact of a masterpiece that some people are claiming that it is. In fact, I cringed at spending time with most of these characters, most of whom do nothing but get offended and start overreacting by screaming. This is particularly grating coming from Anna Paquin's less than smooth speaking voice. Maybe it is supposed to be a commentary on how America in general has become uptight and overly sensitive, but somehow I was under the impression that I was supposed to relate to these characters.

Perfect Sense

Maybe a lot of the critics on the negative end of the split spectrum for this movie can't take seriously a premise in which people undergo profound sadness, hunger, or anger before losing their senses. On paper, it sounds absurd and I went in with low expectations. Damned if this is not a beautifully done film that I consider to be drastically underrated.

Like Crazy
Like Crazy(2011)

I think Like Crazy hits the nail on the head when portraying the hardships of a long distance relationship. Plus Anton Yelchin is ideally case as an average Joe component to this relationship. The problem is the female casting. Felicity Jones and Jennifer Lawrence are terrific performers (especially Lawrence). But something about two gorgeous girls pining after and not giving up on a disheveled and non-outgoing man really served as a distraction for me.

Mirror Mirror

Tarsem Singh has directed films in the past (The Cell, The Fall) with larger-than-life direction, and these films were fantastic because they took a break from fantasy and grounded the viewer in reality (The Cell jumps between dreams and reality; The Fall jumps between a story world and the real world). Mirror Mirror immerses us in a very frantic world from start to finish, and it proves to be too much. It felt like someone was dunking my head in colorful sucrose and not letting me up for fresh air.

God Bless America

If you have ever pondered the question, "Why do Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian walk the Earth as if they serve a purpose?", then God Bless America may be within your humor palate. The angel on my shoulder told me it was wrong for me to like a comedy about people driving around the country and murdering uncivil pieces of dirt. Because, after all, murder is illegal. Yet the devil on my shoulder told me that Bobcat Goldthwait's comedy is merely a harmless exercise in catharsis that simultaneously does not hold back on the commentary regarding how irreversibly stupid certain aspects of America have become. I think the devil won this one.

Jeff Who Lives at Home

Jeff Who Lives at Home is surprisingly and consistently funny mostly due to Jason Segal's comedic turn as a lunk-headed loser who lives in his mom's basement and believes if he follows the rules dictated in the film Signs, that great things will come.

The Dark Knight Rises

And that ladies and gentleman is how you make the perfect trilogy. I almost mustered a tear at the end not only because of the powerful conclusion to this great series, but because it is inevitable that Warner Brothers will put this in the hands of another director within a few years, one that is likely not as capable as the great Christopher Nolan, a filmmaker who clearly knows how to structure narrative and characters with strong reinforcement. I really have no complaints about this entry. I especially have no qualms about Tom Hardy's intimidating performance as Bane.

The Guard
The Guard(2011)

The Guard is a surprisingly funny and quirky Irish comedy that is anchored reliably by Brenden Gleeson. When you throw in Don Cheadle as a fish-out-of-water American FBI agent you get a subversive play on the buddy cop genre. Word of warning: there is no shame in putting on the subtitles to get past Gleeson's thick accent used in the film.


While it may fall apart a little towards the end, Savages is overall a very gritty and enjoyable crime thriller about the illegal drug trade and how those who get involved are inevitably corrupted by the violence used to resolve business disputes. It is great to see Oliver Stone back in his atmosphere. Also Benicio Del Toro is especially menacing as a soulless villain.


The direction and buildup of this thriller penned by M. Night Shyamalan seems to suggest something grand. I give praise to that aspect of it. Unfortunately, like most of Shyamalan's latest movies, the end result is one disappointment of a heavy-handed, preachy message from Shyamalan about faith and existence. Not to sound like a pessimist, but damn it Shyamalan, I got the message the first seven times. Everything happens for a reason, there are no coincidences, blah, blah, blah..... Time to move on buddy.

30 Minutes or Less

A couple of chuckles here and there doesn't really compensate for the overall void that is this movie. It is essentially a movie about men who take action and never really think things through. The problem is that the filmmakers clearly didn't think things through either when throwing this thing together.

The Amazing Spider-Man

The reboot of the franchise is unarguably superior to Sam Raimi's prior trilogy. Andrew Garfield takes a more method approach to his performance that makes Peter Parker a more credible teenager that exhibits those gray areas of emotion that Tobey Maguire could not exhibit. Marc Webb, whose previous film was the superb 500 Days of Summer, shifts the focus onto characters and relationships while not neglecting the action for which most viewers desire.

The Cabin in the Woods

What one expects to get from Cabin in the Woods is not what one will find. It would be a crime to reveal what this movie is about but it is a must for horror fans and it pulls back the curtain in a self-reflexive way more so than Scream. Personally I regard it as a subversive classic.

The Woman in Black

I really didn't expect to enjoy this thriller so much. Most horror movies anymore (which usually suck) rely solely on jumps and surprises. The Woman and Black commits that crime a couple of times, but mostly relies on atmospheric scares. Yes, you can make a person jump by making a loud noise. But this film effectively scares by making the audience stare at eerie images that linger on the screen.

The Grey
The Grey(2012)

Man versus nature thrillers are few and far between, and The Grey satisfied that thirst I had for a thriller that actually makes me sleep better at night when I think about the fact that I am NOT stranded in the Alaskan wild with blood-thirsty wolves. It seems that at this phase of his carrer, Neeson has found his calling as the ultimate, badass survivalist that has no problem punching a rabid animal in the face.


With its slow pacing and NC-17 stamp for explicit sex, I wouldn't recommend this to everyone. Truth be told, I loved this movie. Shame is not a guilty pleasure for Fifty Shades of Grey readers. It is an incredibly sobering and cringe-inducing depiction of isolation and sexual addiction. Michael Fassbander really nails it (no pun intended) and continues his streak of excellence. While the film is slow moving, Fassbender's performance is so engaging to the point that I could understand where he was coming from, even though the film so tactfully never tells his back story while simultaneously leaving it up to the imagination on just how terrible his upbringing was.

My Week with Marilyn

I am always a sucker for meta-cinema that goes behind the scenes of Hollywood. My Week with Marilyn does a great job with its performers, particularly from Michelle Williams, who turns in a very good performance by capitalizing on the weakness of Marilyn Monroe that was behind this facade of greatness that the world drooled over. It is an actual performance rather than an impersonation. The flaw is that the plot itself just never gains the right traction from start to finish. It is perfect rental material.

We Bought a Zoo

On one hand, We Bought a Zoo doesn't do anything profound. On the other hand, it is so gentle and harmless, that I can't not like it. Overall, this movie rides a straight line without really going above and beyond my personal standards of greatness. It is a movie that simply just exists and is simply just good.

Marvel's The Avengers

With so many heroes jampacked into a movie, this could have been a mess. Avengers is surprisingly well-organized and focuses more on the stregths of the actors rather than nonsensically vomitting CGI everywhere (Transformers).


Haywire is action done with class and style by Steven Soderbergh. There is still an intense and twisted plot, but the action sequences are almost stripped of headache-inducing edits or electronica scores that usually overcompensate for the excitement in other films. With a tight 90-minute runtime, Haywire is just right.


Some critics and fans called this a tribute. I call it crap. There is a big difference between being faithful and just plain being lazy. The Footloose remake falls into the latter category. With the exception of modernizing a few scenes and adding minorities to the cast, Footloose recreates every scene of the original, right down to wearing the same outfits in the dance finale. I felt like this movie was laughing at its audience that it accomplished something so effortlessly and managed to make a profit.

The Adventures of Tintin

Meh. I almost want to give it a good review because I can feel Spielberg's love for this presumed childhood staple of his. It is the same way I felt his love for old-fashioned serials when watching Indiana Jones. However, Tintin is simply another boring exercise in motion-capture technology. My honest opinion is that I felt little excitement.

J. Edgar
J. Edgar(2011)

I think J Edgar is just as good as any biopic on J Edgar Hoover is going to get. And that is not great. The man was an enigma. While things about his life were suspect and obvious, they were never recorded as fact. However, Dustin Lance Black's script makes some pretty believable assumptions along with the items that are historically accurate. I suppose it is worth a rent.

Fright Night
Fright Night(2011)

Fright Night proves to be a worthy remake mostly due to the setup. When you have a suave vampire (Colin Farrell - perfectly cast) killing people in a closely-clustered neighborhood, then Las Vegas is a no-brainer setting. The film quite brilliantly implies that due to the apathetic, transient nature of the city, a vampire can move right in and kill people in the open without anyone batting an eye. On top of this clever set up, the movie proves to be just as much fun as its predecessor. David Tennant is a hoot as a douchey Vegas performer clearly taking aim at Chris Angel.

The Descendants

It looks like director Alexander Payne has hit a home run every time (Election, Sideways, About Schmidt). Proving once more just how freaking cool he is, George Clooney brings forth his consistent charisma and combines it with new characteristics to play wealthy Hawaiian land baron, Matt King. The fact is, we all know Clooney is the man and I am sure he knows it too. Which is why it is impressive to see the actor extend his range to play a man who is struggling with sadness and resentful anger all at once after he finds out some unsavory things about his comatose wife.

Martha Marcy May Marlene

Proving that the family of the Olsen twins can produce actual talent, Elizabeth Olsen nails this role as an escaped cult member who seeks refuge with her sister. The movie is unexpectedly suspenseful as a series of flashbacks familiarizes the audience with the cult (led by a chillingly charismatic John Hawkes). The cult goes from being depicted as a group of insecure quacks to something far more frightening which effectively runs hand-in-hand with Olsen's multi-layered performance.

War Horse
War Horse(2011)

I really can't get around the fact that so many people in the midst of a war care so much about this horse. I also am not sure how the audience is supposed to care. Perhaps I do not have a soul, but here it goes: it is just a horse! Why, Spielberg? Was it really necessary for me to waste two hours and thirty minutes to try and have feelings for an expressionless animal surviving World War I? I wish I could believe that this majestic beast is motivated by love and relationships, but its merely thinking about oats. I give it credit for Spielberg's beautiful direction, but the storyline never really touched me.

A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas

I would say this is just about on par with the rest of the franchise: incredibly stupid and gross while also throwing in its fair share of funny moments. Unfortunately, I never saw this in 3D, for which I am regretful, because the blatant use of the technology looks as if it was a blast (sometimes literally) in theaters.

The Ides of March

Considering that this "political" thriller is directed and co-written by George Clooney, I expected a one-sided political agenda to mentally debate afterwards. Much to my surprise, Clooney has crafted a well-done movie that eliminates political blow-hard theatrics and instead focuses on the unfortunate fact that politicians (of all parties) will say and do anything to surpass election day.

A Dangerous Method

I do love David Cronenberg and his ability to add his signature perverse twist to more genres than horror. A Dangerous Method seems to have attracted him for the opportunity to depict kinkiness in the circle of psychology history involving Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. However, I expected the plot to show a little more life than it actually does. Then again, there is no denying how great everyone is in it.

Young Adult
Young Adult(2011)

Charlize Theron is delightfully rotten as the grown-up popular girl from high school who never actually grew up and continues to dwell on what once was. Director Jason Reitman and his former writing collaborator Diablo Cody (both worked together on Juno) overcome the challenge of making the film enjoyable while placing someone so abhorrent in the lead role. Patton Oswalt is especially scene-stealing as the former unpopular kid who becomes Theron's new drinking buddy.

Take Shelter
Take Shelter(2011)

Once again, here is proof that the Academy selection process is majorly flawed. Michael Shannon plays an intense and protective father who has visions of an apocalypse. Is he mad or genuinely gifted? His performance is so solid that he had me hoping minute-by-minute that he is not mentally ill. Take Shelter is hypnotic and one of the best films of 2011.

The Interrupters

The Interrupters does not need a talking head to get its point across. The camera drops right into middle of the anger and violence of gangland Chicago. What is captured on camera is not amazing for shock value purposes. It is amazing because it is incredibly real and quite emotional at times.


Warrior definitely ranks above average due to its strong character introduction in the first hour. Tom Hardy is particularly doing an impressive spin on "method" acting and comes off as a modern-day Brando. However, the second half drags with too much emphasis on the UFC tournament and less emphasis on the strong story. Plus, there is that bias of mine that UFC is lame.

Final Destination 5

I have to come clean and recognize this as a solid entry in what may be the only decent horror franchise in existence. While gruesome, Final Destination 5 turns to suspense rather than cheap thrills (I'm talking about you, Paranormal Activity franchise!). It also revels in a morbid sense of humor and never takes itself too seriously, which allows for horror fans to have fun with it. It seems as of lately that horror films such as Saw and Hostel revel in gore, but do so with a mean spirit that never lets the audience feel as though they can have fun. The Final Destination films give horror fans that similar, campy viewing experience that one used to get from the Friday the 13th films.


Wanderlust's effective jokes definitely outweigh the stale ones as it pokes fun at two different ends of the socioeconomic spectrum: materialistic jerks and naive hippie communes. Director David Wain assembles much of his usual former collaborators (Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux, etc.) and everyone is clearly having a good time here. It is because of that level of comfort that I kicked back and laughed my ass off with this movie.

The Debt
The Debt(2011)

The Debt is a well-done thriller with class. The story jumps between the past and present as the younger and older versions of the same Mossad agents deal with a Nazi war criminal. Jessica Chastain really anchors most of the scenes as Helen Mirren in flashback. It is definitely worth checking out.

Paranormal Activity 3

Here's another franchise I am about to give up on. Not only did this almost put me to sleep, but, like its predecessors, it relies on surprises rather than actual scares. Of course Paranormal Activity 3 made me jump a bunch of times, but anyone with a camera and editing capabilities can make the audience jump. It is a cheap thrill tactic. This series has so much potential to fill its hidden camera sequences with jarring and disturbing Easter eggs, but instead it just wants to take the easy way out. It does have its moments, but Paranormal Activity 3 is mostly lazy.

Straw Dogs
Straw Dogs(2011)

I still have yet to see Sam Peckinpah's original version, which is a shame because I think one is entitled to draw comparisons to an original predecessor. That being said, standing alone with no comparisons, Straw Dogs is a very well directed thriller that really holds up until a somewhat lackluster conclusion. The real highlight here is James Woods in fine, sadistic form as a patriarchal bully who passes down his hateful ways to the younger generation.

Project Nim
Project Nim(2011)

Project Nim is a timely documentary considering the presence of dopes who keep chimps as pets while ignoring the fact that someone's face will inevitably get ripped off. The film tells a great story. However, considering the powerful potential behind the material, I was not as moved as I wanted to be. It is still worth a definite rental.

Real Steel
Real Steel(2011)

At least they didn't call it "Rock Em Sock Em Robots: The Movie". Considering the pitch to this movie was likely "the boxing robot movie", the end result is surprisingly good. I don't have praises to sing or bones to pick. Real Steel simply does what it is supposed to do and entertains. I do have to give extra credit to Hugh Jackman for pulling off a scene in which he shadow boxes in slow motion as a means of controling a robot. Any other actor in this scene would have looked like a douche. Except Chuck Norris.


Steven Soderbergh once more handles the ensemble drama with great precision. While he visited the drug trade in Traffic, this time Contagion focuses on the ripple effect of a virus epidemic. What I really like about Contagion is that it does not throw any Hollywood punches (yes I'm talking about you Outbreak). It lays out a theory of what would happen if there really was an unknown viral killer and the story is almost too horrifyingly real. The real chilling point is that the virus becomes the least of everyone's worries when populations are rioting violently and the the government is focusing its protection efforts on the "important" 1%. Now if you'll excuse me, I am going to get back to constructing my air-tight panic room that is equipped with canned goods and fire arms.

Cowboys & Aliens

There is a lot going on in Cowboys & Aliens: flying saucers, explosions, aliens that resemble Nintendo's Battletoads, etc. The problem is that there is way too much disorganized spectacle with no focal plot point to follow. I expected Cowboys & Aliens to be mediocre at least, but it is actually pretty bad. This is a real shame considering all of the talent involved in what could have been an ambitious and bold marriage of genres.


Yet another film that proves the just how flawed the Oscar nomination process is (50/50 was not nominated, but the poorly reviewed Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was?). 50/50 is the movie that no one saw in theaters that deserves redemption on DVD. Joseph Gordon-Levitt nails it (once again, no nomination) as a young person experiencing the denial and frustration of a cancer diagnosis. This isn't the type of manipulative plot that sees its audience as weepy bystanders, as every other Hollywood tale of chronic illness tends to do. Instead it takes a true first party perspective of the cancer victim and his view of the emotional circus unfolding around him.

Midnight in Paris

It is difficult to tell what to expect from Woody Allen since the man releases one film per year with about one out of every five actually being good. Midnight in Paris is actually the good one this time (the last good one, in my opinion, being Match Point). Allen has chosen a superb leading man in Owen Wilson be effectively highlighting his naivety and turning it into a certain charm that manages to carry the film. This movie is very funny and, while capitalizing on a nostalgia for certain artistic figures, never really alienates its audience.


The concept of Pontypool is clever on a low budget: people in a radio station hear the zombie attacks happening on the outside through phone calls into the station. The mystery of the whole thing establishes a creepy tone. What does not work is the "why". Pontypool then attempts to be clever and awkwardly humorous by explaining why everything is occurring. Did we really need to know? The sense of the unknown would have been much more effective.

The Artist
The Artist(2011)

The Artist hardly achieves anything groundbreaking. Silent films this magnificent used to come out regularly before the advent of sound. However, somehow the filmmakers mustered the gall to make a silent film in a world gone technologically bonkers. And somehow this movie managed to get screened at Cannes. And once more, somehow it managed to make it to our multiplexes and take home major American film awards. Bravo, The Artist! Bravo!

Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark

While likely not as frightening for grown-ups, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark delivers its fullest chill potential when the viewer puts his or her self in the shoes of a frightened child. Am I scared of furnace-dwelling creatures that eat children's teeth? Not really. That specific fear comes and goes. But you better believe my inner-child was frightened beyond belief.

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

Tucker and Dale ultimately succeeds at playing with the "killer imbred" genre while more accurately portraying what would happen to the dumb, horny teens depicted in horror films. There are enough laughs combined with comical splatter, that even the non-horror fan may get a rise out of this.

Margin Call
Margin Call(2011)

Margin Call is an intense and sickening thriller that depcits a fictitious, yet true, reenactment of how the decision of a selfish few led to the downfall of millions. There is financial jargon in the dialogue, yet all is still surprisingly understandable thanks to a tight script and terrific ensemble cast, including a very intimidating Jeremy Irons as the fat cat CEO.

Attack the Block

Attack the Block has become somewhat of a cult favorite. I was incredibly stoked to see it and incredibly underwhelmed when it was over. Maybe it would have had a more profound effect on me if I saw it at a film festival before it started getting overhyped. I've always had a fondness for those 80s era movies about a band of kids that have to take matters into their hands by kicking the asses of supernatural entities. This movie is entertaining, but forgettable.

Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol

Easily the best film to come along in the franchise. Congrats to Pixar alum Brad Bird for not only successfully directing live action, but proving that the fourth installment in a series can be the best. The action is well directed, Tom Cruise still has it, and Paula Patton is gorgeous. This is the type of popcorn movie that almost anyone should enjoy.

Water for Elephants

Considering that the critics branded this movie a snoozer, I was pleasantly surprised at the entertainment value. Water for Elephants is not great, but it is not a bad movie either. It is simple, straightforward, traditional storytelling. I might be bored by this if I didn't have boundary-pushing cinema as part of my diet to balance things out. Even Robert Pattinson manages to prove that he can act outside of that god awful "vampire" franchise. The real highlight is Christoph Waltz doing what he does best as a sadistic ringleader with a deceitful grin that, as in Inglorious Bastards, keeps you guessing as to when he is going to fly off the handle.


While a little slower paced than I had anticipated, Beginners is still a sweetly natured story about two men venturing into certain relationship territory for the first time. Christopher Plummer is especially winning as a man who comes out of the closet to his son when he is 75.


This is easily one of the best films of the year. While categorized as a "family film", this is still a Martin Scorcese film through and through. The 3D is sophisticated and the story is rich with a few film history lessons that movie enthusiasts will appreciate. What can I say except that I loved this film?

The Devil's Double

The story of Uday Hussein and his body double Latif Yahia is obviously sensationalized with some fictitious gap-fillers for the sake of attention-grabbing filmmaking. However, after doing some research, it is confirmed that some of the sensational, "no way in hell that really happened" things depicted in this film are based on true events. Certain details made up or not, Uday Hussein was one evil SOB and this film does a terrific job depicting him as the spawn of Satan that he was before eating his much deserved death. British actor Dominic Cooper shows his versatility by either chewing up scenery as Uday himself or playing the more subtle card as Latif.

Friends With Benefits

It appears to be a great week for romantic comedies that are not terrible. This is the "friends with benefits" comedy this year that is the good one (No Strings Attached being the bad one). We get a fair balance of raunchy and smart laughs, and Woody Harrelson as an aggressively gay sports writer. Based on that latter note how can this not be funny?

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Face it: romantic comedies suck. I am not saying this because I am a man. Most of them really do suck and, despite solid box office numbers, both male and female critics see them for the half-assed crap that they are. This is why I am extremely happy when a movie like Crazy Stupid Love comes along. It proves that when someone is actually given the chance to sit down and write something for a terrific ensemble cast, any genre can have staying power. I didn't just like this movie. I loved it. It is genuinely hilarious and the writers show that they actually may know a thing or two about the real complications of romance.

The Muppets
The Muppets(2011)

The Muppets make a powerful comeback thanks to putting them back where they belong: in the spotlight. Making a departure from the last few tepid Muppet movies, this one goes back to exploring their quirky world of underdogs in showbiz. There are well-choreographed musical numbers and plenty of solid laughs. If anything, this movie is more of a love letter for grown-ups that grew up with the felt-textured gang. It is undeniably enjoyable.

Bad Teacher
Bad Teacher(2011)

Bad Teacher is vulgar and mean-spirited. I do not mind this as long as there is enough comedy to make the harshness worthwhile. The problem is that, aside from a few offensive good gags, Bad Teacher really isn't that funny. Cameron Diaz is supposed to be an anti-hero, but she is more of an "anti" without the hero. Her character is just a terrible person, yet the movie desperately asks the audience in the end to still somehow root for her. The movie's other mistake: underusing Justin Timberlake and Jason Segal.

The Tree of Life

As some complained, there is not a conventional plot here. But does that mean it is not about anything? Absolutely not! Tree of Life is an engaging meditation on life. Terrence Malick compiles one gorgeous image after another. While some directors may have one or two breathtaking shots, Malick ensures that every single shot in his movie is perfect. Tree of Life isn't about nothing. It is about everything, and it had me from start to finish.


Coming from a non-sports fan like myself, I can honestly say that Moneyball is an engaging look at the politics of the game. While Brad Pitt is an eternal pretty boy, he is a damned good actor who manages to capture the sore regret of Oakland A's GM Billy Beane.

Red State
Red State(2011)

Despite mixed reviews, I found Kevin Smith's foray into the horror genre to be a really solid effort. This movie isn't so much horror as it is a suspenseful political commentary with some really dark humor sprinkled in. Michael Parks stupendously chews the scenery as a cult leader whose right wing beliefs cross into murderous territory. John Goodman also adds terrific comic timing. As some negative reviews imply, the movie is all over the place, but its manic transitions actually make it work.


Dirctor Errol Morris is a master listener and everytime I see one of his films, I find myself listening just as intently. The subjects here are involved in a scandelous tabloid story involving abduction and brainwashing. Even as the supposed abductor Joyce McKinney tells her version, I found myself actually conflicted on who was presenting the truth. Like the rest of Morris's films, this is very engaging.

Everything Must Go

Everything Must Go put an occasional grin on my face, but it also carries with it an overabundance of moroseness that is difficult to shake by the end.

POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

Morgan Spurlock is generally at the top of his A game when he leans more on the side of humor and doesn't attempt to focus on such serious issues. While not earth-shattering, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is still clever, ironic, and consistently funny.

Scream 4
Scream 4(2011)

This newest installment desperately and awkwardly tries to survive in a new generation, but ends up floundering. There is a lot of new technology, overkill acknowledgement of the term "meta", and even "me-centric" motivation for the killer (don't worry- this gives nothing away). It is almost exhausting to see this franchise tailored for a new decade when the original trilogy was made for a completely different audience. In fact, I'd love to write a paper on this movie. But did I like it from a critical standpoint? I'm afraid not.


Nothing is ever what it seems in this violent and well-directed movie that ranks among the best of the year. Ryan Gosling remains mostly silent yet gives a non-verbal performance that speaks more than words. This is also the first movie in which Albert Brooks proves that he can be scary and intimidating as sh*t.

Conan O'Brien Can't Stop

Fans of the late night cult icon will appreciate this fly-on-the-wall observation of the slightly disgruntled Conan O'Brien following his fall out with NBC. Documentary classic it is not, but it is undeniaby enjoyable to see O'Brien's clever sense of humor in full fource on and off of the stage.

Take Me Home Tonight

It may be another run-of-the-mill, stupid comedy, but I would be a liar if I said I didn't laugh here and there. It is a contemporary movie posing as an 80's comedy, and that feel of the era does not resonate. It is unfortunate that Topher Grace does not get more parts in higher quality movies, because he is one of those Average Joe actors that can anchor a lead role.


Paul is the kind of comedy that brought out a few chuckles, but never quite reached the point of hilarity. I mostly appreciate it as a love letter to science fiction fans. There are more pop cultural references in this movie than a Family Guy episode.


Super is about as dark as comedy can get. Since I am a guy that appreciates morbid humor, then I would have to describe this movie as gleefully disturbing. It is as if Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver decided to become a superhero. Plus Ellen Page is maniacally superb as a sexually and violent-charged sidekick.


It is a crime how overlooked this movie is. Is it at times pretentious? Yes. But the fact remains that Ceremony made me laugh and hang on to every character in the story of a young man with a mission to crash the wedding of his one-time fling (Uma Thurman). Forget the 42% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I declare this one of the best movies I have seen in 2011.

Hobo With a Shotgun

Offensive, gratuitous and....surprisingly fun, Hobo with a Shotgun is another experiment in retro reinvention that is something of a cross between an 80's Troma flick and grindhouse sleaze. Definitely not for the faint of heart, but very strongly recommended for fans of midnight fare.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

In what is one of the better blockbusters to come out of the summer, Rise of the Planet of the Apes cleverly sets up not only a strong prequel, but also the potential for a great franchise if handled properly. Andy Serkis once again proves himself to be the pioneering thespian of CGI motion capture.

Life During Wartime

As a follow up to Todd Solondz's Happiness, Life During Wartime struck me as underwhelming and rather pointless. After over a decade of morose, disturbing dramas, I can't help but wonder if Solondz will ever prove he has the capability to do something slightly different.

Barney's Version

Only Paul Giamatti can carry a movie as a philandering, drunken schlub and still have the audience at least empathizing with him. This is a terrific movie about the decades of a man's romantic mistakes. Dustin Hoffman is especially scene-stealing as Giamatti's dirty old man of a father.


Here is one of the year's best films that slipped between the cracks. A 14-year-old girl is lured by a sexual predator on the Internet. Clive Owen plays the girl's father with convincing rage as a man so obsessed with finding and avenging the pervert that he completely neglects his daughter's pain. Young newcomer Liana Liberto is also especially outstanding as the victim who hides in a cocoon of denial. Special props go to Friends alum David Schwimmer for directing this powerful drama. Movies like this do not have to go unnoticed. Seek it out!


I appreciate Rubber for its self-admitted absurdity, but was this exercise really necessary? It feels as though the filmmakers are trying to force a cult classic upon us. Little do many directors know what cult status happens unexpectedly like a phenomenon, hence the term "cult phenomenon." Maybe I'm wrong, but I think Rubber is going to end up forgotten along the side of the road like its main character, a tire that kills people with psychokinesis.

Horrible Bosses

Horrible Bosses feels uneven at times, but the three leads, Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day, are given free reign to chew up the scenery. Throw in the terrific supporting cast as the title characters and you have a comedy that works with just the right balance of vulgarity, profanity, slapstick, and dark humor. It is this economy's new 9 to 5.


I think Unknown would benefit from more of Liam Neeson kicking ass and taking names, and less sub par acting from the always-dreadful January Jones. Still this is enjoyable enough for a ho-hum rental.

Hall Pass
Hall Pass(2011)

Talk about a travesty of a comedy. The Farrelly Brothers used to be the kings of raunchy comedy that worked (Kingpin, There's Something About Mary). This disorganized project is jam-packed with painful dialogue and great talent put to terrible use. It is cringe-worthy to hear men and women in this movie talk about topics that men and women NEVER talk about in a very stilted, rehearsed fashion.


Insidious begins to lose its mark around the climax. But the fact of the matter is that it is undeniably scary. This is coming from a devoted enthusiast of the horror genre that only gets chills from a new horror film once a year, if that. Director James Wan (Saw) forgets gore and focuses on modestly budgeted haunted house scares within PG-13 restrictions. Insidious proves that the best scares are not from CGI and big budgets, but from proper positioning and planning.

A Film Unfinished

What amazes me about A Film Unfinished is that it is more of an artifact than a standard documentary. It deals with actual recovered footage of the Warsaw ghetto and translates what is happening before our eyes thanks to recovered interview transcripts and journal entries from decades past. This movie chilled me to the bone. Many filmmakers have reenacted the terror of the Holocaust, but it does not get any more real and accurate than this.

X-Men: First Class

X-Men: First Class could easily start its own franchise. This prequel is more intense and sophisticated than any of the previous X-Men installments thanks to director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, Layer Cake). Did I happen to mention that Michael Fassbender is certifiably bad-ass as a young Magneto? Did I also mention Kevin Bacon playing a mint villain? Look, the list goes on and on. This could be the best summer movie thus far.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Despite tepid reviews, I really dug this follow up to the original. The setting has gone from the materialistic 80's to the 2008 economic meltdown and Michael Douglas' Gordon Gekko, fresh out of prison, is trying to adapt his crooked ways like a chameleon. The fresh-faced cast does well, but I think putting Michael Douglas front and center rather than Shia LaBeouf would have served the film better.

The Company Men

The storyline accurately reflects the crumbling economy and its victims, and the casting is golden. However, Company Men feels rushed. It reminds me of a made-for-TV movie that is enjoyable enough for a boring Sunday evening, but does not leave an impression on me in the days to come.

Kill the Irishman

This is worth seeing just to take in the intriguing true story of Danny Greene and his numerous tangos with death as the Cleveland mob tried to take him out. Its shortfall is the amateurish direction. I would like to see this same story done in the capable hands of Martin Scorcese.

Vanishing On 7th Street

What a letdown it is to see a thriller that doesn't thrill. Survivors run from the literal darkness as it attempts to consume all forms of life. What the writers fail to understand is that people are afraid of the dark because they do not know what lurks from within it. But the dark itself swallowing people? That is about as unscary as Jay Leno is unfunny. And from my perspective, that is pretty damn unscary.

No Strings Attached

While having a few solid gags up its sleeve, No Strings Attached is mostly uneven and unfunny. Surprisingly Ashton Kutcher is the good actor here while Natalie Portman is almost painful to watch as she unconvincingly plays a commitment-phobe married to her career. Her character comes off as mentally unstable, but I am pretty sure it was the director's intention to make her funny and cute.

Super 8
Super 8(2011)

In the midst of predictable summer sequels, remakes, and superhero movies, we actually get a blockbuster that pays homage to the original blockbusters of the 1980's. It is obvious that director J.J. Abrams is someone who actually appreciates movies and the simplicity of being an adventurous child. I love this movie and the way that it played with my emotions.

The Illusionist (L'illusionniste)

When done properly, an animated film can convey charm and emotions with barely a word being spoken(see the opening montage in Pixar's Up). The Illusionist isn't as much of a pleasure to see as director Sylvain Chomet's previous project The Triplets of Belleville, but it still has its moments that are quiet, yet so hilariously poignant.

The Green Hornet

The only thing really keeping this afloat is the generally-reliable direction from Michel Gondry. This movie went through several makeovers before finally settling on a Seth Rogen-scripted comedy. This movie suffers from major identity crisis and Seth Rogen obnoxiously devours the scenery to the point of exhaustion.

Inside Job
Inside Job(2010)

There's nothing like a movie that gets you good and pissed off. Inside Job is a documentary that does not paint pictures with talking heads or political pundits. It does not try to get you to hate a Republican or a Democrat. It simply addresses in plain English how the economy took a sucker punch and how some of the greedy bastards that orchestrated the whole thing still have a connection to the White House. Inside Job is simply informative and educational, and should not be missed by anyone still baffled at what the hell happened.


Thor is entertaining enough to qualify as quality summer blockbuster fare, but it feels more like a Neverending Story sequel rather than a "superhero movie". Unlike other Marvel heroes who have human origins, Thor has always been fantastical and magical. Even when the film briefly makes him a mortal, I just couldn't find a way to connect with or understand him. I guess I just need to come to terms with the fact that I think Thor is kind of an uninteresting tool.

Blue Valentine

You aren't going to get upbeat happiness from Blue Valentine, hence the title. But I suppose it is refreshing to have a romantic movie that sheds light on the realistic path that a portion of today's marriages take. Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling are almost too real as a married couple whose love and affection have taken a turn for the worst.


Machete is supposed to be an intentional exercise in excess, and that is fine with me. But what starts out as a cheap-looking grindhouse movie basically turns into a regular film with a decent-enough aesthetic. Plus, for a movie that is asking me to leave my brain at the door, Machete is WAY too preachy with its blatant pro- illegal immigration message. I definitely wouldn't call Machete the grindhouse movie that director Robert Rodgriguez claims it to be.


Everything is here that usually makes a Clint Eastwood movie good: his self-composed piano score, the hard-hitting, revelatory, dramatic moments, and the isolated protagonist searching for some sort of destiny. Hereafter concludes with some terrific moments, but getting there is half the battle. The build-up to the climax feels like slow filler. Once resolution was achieved, I actually wanted the story to go on. If only the time dedicated to the film's center focused more on post-climatic resolution. Unfortunately, it faded to black and....credits.

The Fighter
The Fighter(2010)

The Fighter is a solid underdog movie that I can stand behind. I really didn't expect much despite its award nominations. But David O'Russell captures an immersive and gritty Boston setting along with a cast of characters that clearly stayed true to the eccentricities of the real people on which the film is based.

Morning Glory

Morning Glory suffers from relying on bad romantic comedy cliches and this is no thanks to Rachel McAdams clumsily scampering around in her heels as the director presumably tells her off camera to be charming. What it does not suffer from is the presence of veterans Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford. This is perhaps worth seeing just to hear Ford as a surly morning talk show host pitch a segment on menopause.


Limitless is not flawless, but it also doesn't bore. It is fast paced with its stylish direction, and Bradley Cooper proves himself a worthy leading man by carrying the film on his shoulders. Limitless gave me a good time at the movies, and that is really the bare minimum that I ask for out of my admission.

Due Date
Due Date(2010)

This isn't Todd Phillips' strongest comedy. Plus the character development is rather awkward with Robert Downey Jr. coming off as confusingly hateful. But I also love Downey Jr. as the king of deadpan delivery. Zach Galifianakis also has his moments. The movie is funny enough in spurts to suggest a rental.

I Love You Phillip Morris

I Love You Phillip Morris puts the icing on the cake for anyone who thinks Jim Carrey will do anything. While it has its raunchy moments, this is a comedy that did not get enough credit with its limited theatrical release. The outlandish story supposedly stays true to the real life events on which the movie was based, and Jim Carrey is at his sleaziest as a gay con man.


I didn't know it was possible to cross an art film with kick-ass action, but director Joe Wright makes it happen. Hanna is hardcore and the score by the Chemical Brothers intensifies the adrenaline. Saoirse Ronan also surprises as quite the badass. I just can't believe this movie scored a PG-13 in its blood spurting glory, yet the King's Speech was rated R for a series of concentrated F-bombs.

Basket Case
Basket Case(1982)

Basket Case is no Citizen Kane. Far from it actually. But I am sure the puppet and claymation effects in 1982 were mind-boggling. Today they are just as attention grabbing in a campy sort of way. Within the expectations of the horror genre, Basket Case is a movie that works, particularly as a midnight movie staple.

Source Code
Source Code(2011)

Duncan Jones is definitely a filmmaker to watch. His second effort (the first being Moon) Source Code is a tight science fiction thriller that will likely appease both mainstream fans and admirers of the more complicated, mind-bending variety.

Grown Ups
Grown Ups(2010)

I remember when Adam Sandler movies used to be stupid, yet funny. Now they are just stupid. Grown Ups is no exception. I didn't go into this with a closed mind. I wanted to laugh! But it is just one uninspired joke after another about people falling down, people farting, grandmas farting, and fat people. Not that Sandler's movies were once comedic genius, but they are really deteriorating in quality the older the man gets.

Cedar Rapids
Cedar Rapids(2011)

This is a comedy with the finest balance of raunch and heart. Ed Helms is incredibly likable as a naive small town fellow exposed to the big city life during an insurance convention in Cedar Rapids, IA. Really, everyone in this film plays their roles well, including John C. Reilly who chews up every scene he is in.


Unstoppable is not a masterpiece, but it succeeds in giving its audience what it wants: excitement. This is not an action movie riddled with bullets and splatter, but rather one about combating time and physics as a runaway train carrying hazardous materials threatens to overturn in a populated area. It reminds me a lot of another solid action film, Speed.

Let Me In
Let Me In(2010)

As a hater of remakes, I think it goes a long way when I say I loved this movie. It stays true to the original Swedish film yet brings its own style to the table. It is just unfortunate that American audiences did not embrace the remake when, for once, the filmmakers actually got it right. Whether it is the original (Let the Right One In) or the remake, this is one of the best horror films to come along in a while. I might add that its subplot on bullying is quite timely.

Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go is primarily a romantic drama with science fiction flowing through its veins. The film is quite understated considering that it barely received a theatrical release. It is particularly a good reflection on the brevity of life.

Middle Men
Middle Men(2010)

The plot of this crime/corruption flick is a little rushed, but undeniably entertaining. Luke Wilson is affable as a mild-mannered businessman thrust (not an innuendo) into the Internet porn industry.

Paranormal Activity 2

While the original Paranormal Activity thrived on the novelty of low-budget chills, the sequel is basically a rehash of the predecessor film's scare tactics. It also commits the mistake of filling in mysterious gaps from the first film. The explanations are somewhat clever, but aren't some voids in horror films meant to be left alone so we can ponder the creepy unknown?


Monsters is like the Diet Coke to District 9's Coca Cola Classic. You get the same idea of science fiction fused with a subtext on immigration. I hate to review a movie by comparing it, but the similarities are undeniable. However, the major difference is that Monsters, while intriguing in premise, just doesn't deliver to its fullest, exciting potential. The larger-than-life aliens are rather dull as well.


Rango is a very rare family film that does not rely on obnoxious toilet humor. In fact, there are few laugh-out-loud moments. It is a very bizarre spaghetti western that pays tribute to prior films in the subgenre and other Hollywood classics (watch out for an excellent Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas reference). Overall, this is just a really well-done film.

Waiting for Superman

If you are looking for a sobering experience, then look no further. Director Davis Guggenheim gives a very comprehensive argument about problems with the nation's public education system. On a side note, I am not sure if I can handle another hard-hitting documentary about the nation's problems. Are things really getting this bad?

The Last Exorcism

This faux documentary would have benefited from an even lower budget and a little creativity (see Paranormal Activity). It was incredibly difficult for me to suspend my disbelief when the entire project felt like a community play caught on video. Rather than getting sucked in, I watched from the sidelines as this turkey struggled hard to be scary. It only gets worse when it culminates in an absurd conclusion. This doesn't have to be the last exorcism folks. Go out and buy (not rent) The Exorcist instead


I found Salt to be not only entertaining, but unexpectedly dark in its storytelling. The DVD provides the option to watch the unrated director's cut and I would strongly suggest this version. There are a couple of small differences that, in my opinion, really changed the tone of the entire film.

Easy A
Easy A(2010)

It is nice to see a high school movie with a likable main character and smart writing. Emma Stone is irresistibly charming as a teenage girl who acknowledges the transparency of high school popularity, and whole-heartedly accepts fake rumors of being a promiscuous slut as a means of making unpopular guys look like sex gods. It is a terrific commentary on today's sexist views in which males are empowered by a sexual reputation while females are frowned upon as adultery-loving sex toys.


Catfish received positive buzz on the film festival circuit, and negative buzz from audiences. The problem is not the film, but the way that the studio marketed it as a Hitchcockian thriller. This is neither a thriller nor a horror film, but is instead a documentary that explores a man's venture into the truth lurking behind a Facebook love interest. Maybe this is a staged project, but I doubt it considering the genuine subtlety of those involved. The filmmakers could have blown this up into something cinematic, but that never happens. Catfish is about the new ways that people connect, and would serve as a fitting companion piece to The Social Network.


The biggest downfall with Cyrus is its predictable plot and dry humor that underwhelmed even when the jokes were clear. The likable aspect of the movie is the cast including John C. Reilly as a desperate, Shrek-like, lovable loser. Jonah Hill is even restrained as a psychotic man-child trying to ambush his mother's relationships.

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom is undoubtedly one of the more understated films of 2010. Yes, Jacki Weaver received a much-deserved Oscar nomination as a sociopath matriarch in a crime family. What is not getting enough credit is the film itself, which is an engrossing and suspenseful tale about bad people and the terrible things they will do to avoid life behind bars.

Dogtooth (Kynodontas)

Dogtooth is a rather unconventional choice for an Oscar nominee. This bizarre film from Greece centers on adult children who are sheltered by their parents under a roof of ignorance. The film has moments of violence, incest, and bizarre rituals. Yet, I couldn't turn my head away and I couldn't deny how much I enjoyed watching this train wreck of a family. This is a particularly good choice for something different.

The Other Guys

I heard that the laughs in this movie are sporadic. Truthfully, I laughed my ass off. The dead-on spoofs of the adrenaline-fueled buddy cop film are especially fun. I confidently recommend this as a solid comedy.


There really is no better way to strike the claustrophobic jugular of your audience than to follow a single protagonist for 90 minutes who is buried alive in a wooden box. There is no getting around the suspense and the surprisingly edgy performance from Ryan Reynolds as a man losing his mind and losing time.

City Island
City Island(2010)

City Island is a dysfunctional family dramedy that made me laugh from time to time, but did not really leave much of a lasting impression. However, it does showcase an above average performance from Andy Garcia, which is a rare thing these days.

127 Hours
127 Hours(2010)

James Franco delivers a brilliant one-man show as the survivor of the famous "arm" incident. While Franco delivers in front of the camera, director Danny Boyle once more brings his unique, trippy direction to the forefront. The result is the subjective experience of a man that truly taps into the senses of its audience through the pleasure and, of course, pain of it all.

Best Worst Movie

Even if you failed to see the hilarious disaster Troll 2, this documentary will still satisfy. It catches up with the original cast and crew, and delves into the world of cult cinema where pieces of cinematic garbage, like certain types of cheeses, age into something both stinky and fulfilling.


While the reveal is a bit off, Exam deserves major props just for the build-up alone. Rarely do we get a thriller that is intensely driven by characters confined to a single room, which is in the vein of a stage play. Mystery fans should rejoice and seek out on Netflix Watch It Now.

Exit Through The Gift Shop

This is truly one of the most original documentaries to come along in a long time. What it is actually about is difficult to describe. Let's just say it is a clever view on the art scene and manages to surprise the viewer with its presentation of who is actually directing this film. This is funny, refreshing, and worth the watch.

Joan Rivers: A Piece Of Work

The critics say it is one of the best documentaries of the year. I'm not going to pretend in order to fit in. I don't give a damn about Joan Rivers and I find her about unfunny as Two and a Half Men. The documentary is well-made and held my interest, but I can't help but think that it is hailed as one of the best documentaries this year because good documentaries were few and far between in 2010.

Black Swan
Black Swan(2010)

Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant. If director Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream is the ideal anti-drug movie to show to teens, then Black Swan should be shown to every young female drowning in cutesy, pink, "I want to be a ballerina" ideology. This is a maddening horror film disguised as a melodrama and it is both sick and beautiful at the same time. Also, Natalie Portman better take the Oscar this year. She deserves it in all of her tense glory.

The Kids Are All Right

In what is one of the year's best films, Julianne Moore and Annette Bening are pitch perfect as a deeply devoted lesbian couple with two children. Mark Ruffalo brings a superb performance to the table as the laid-back sperm donor who fathered their children. The Kids Are All Right is incredibly likable due to the way in which director Lisa Cholodenko hits the nail on the head with family dynamics. By the end of the movie, one forgets that a gay relationship is even a subtopic. It is just a relationship.


Michael Ruppert is not a nationally-appointed expert on global disaster. However, every concern he voices makes sense and it is quite frightening. I am not about ready to take his advice and start living off the land, but just processing his words is quite enlightening.

The Expendables

I already went in not expecting a stellar script. Never mind that for a moment. Sly Stallone decided to assemble every action heavyweight that he could, put them together on screen, and then blow crap up. Hey, it isn't the perfect plan, but this movie isn't meant to be taken seriously.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Call me old fashioned. I guess I grew up on movies released not too long ago that didn't need to rely on "look at me", ADD aesthetics. At the same time, this is the clever concept of real world meeting video game worlds. Not only that, but the video game world is inspired by Nintendo-era titles. I am not one to give this 5-star accolades, but damned if it isn't one of the most unique movies to come out this year.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Redford and Newman bring mellow charisma and bad assery (yeah, I just made that a word) to this well-directed and entertaining western. While not one of my favorite films, it still feels like a classic.


Unlike the prior Predator follow ups that spiraled into uninteresting, PG-13 territory, this installment gets back in touch with the roots of the original. It is man versus alien killing machines in the jungle. This is definitely the worthiest of the bunch to follow Predator


(Untitled) takes a sharp jab at the pretentious art world, but does so tactfully. Anyone from a high brow art connoisseur to someone who is frustrated with what passes for art will surely appreciate the humor here.

Mary and Max
Mary and Max(2009)

I love it when Netflix suggests movies to me that were completely off my radar. Take for example this claymation dark comedy about two mentally unstable pen pals across the globe from one another. These characters are so damaged, but I totally hung on every word of this movie's narration and dialogue.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

One cannot deny this is a cute movie about the horrors of junior high. However, as someone who experienced the horrors of junior high, I am always going to see movies like this and think they should have been more brutally honest. Especially in this world where kids are committing suicide in reaction to bullies. But hey, its a kid's movie that has to be classified as a PG film. It is what it is and it is just simply.....good.

Please Give
Please Give(2010)

Nicole Holofcener is a director who never gets enough credit. Please Give is probably her finest film. There is a storyline that is sweet, but the best thing about his movie are the complex characters and the actors who portray them. Catherine Keener, who usually plays abrasive and fearless, is especially remarkable as a vulnerable woman who does not know how to act on her feelings of remorse.

American Grindhouse

For anyone interested in the history of grindhouse cinema, this is a must-see. This traces exploitation film making from the days of Thomas Edison to the present. American Grindhouse is a comprehensive and organized documentary on the subject.

Leaves of Grass

This definitely falls into the category of one of the more underrated movies this year. Edward Norton is brilliant as ever as identical twins: one an academic scholar, the other a pot-dealing redneck. The comedy is on the dark side, but I found the characters to be affable from start to finish.


Splice is an intriguing piece of science fiction that is about ethical dilemnas in experimentation. It also never fails to hold back on its boundary-pushing storyline which delves into moments of unexpected perversion that would make David Cronenberg proud.

Solitary Man
Solitary Man(2010)

Michael Douglas commands every scene as an aged, slick-talking womanizer with a confidant exterior and a defeated soul. There is an all-star supporting cast that drifts in and out, but it is Douglas who solidly runs the show.

My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done

I am always on board when Werner Herzog directs a film. It is not as if "My Son.." is a misfire, but it underwhelms. It is kept interesting by its shadow of mystery and the all star cast, especially Michael Shannon. This guy is the quintessential oddball in every film and he hits the nail on the head every time.

A Town Called Panic (Panique au village)

Talk about a hidden gem. This is stop motion animation using old school plastic toys. It is as if someone recorded Terry Gilliam and the cast of Monty Python playing with French. I laughed hysterically while simultaneously feeling like a kid again. This movie is frenetic and imaginative. Cinematic archaeologists should seek this out.

The Losers
The Losers(2010)

The Losers is a silly and flashy comic adaptation, and this is what I expected. If something is not going to take itself seriously, I at least expect it to be fun. However, Losers is pretty generic and run-of-the-mill with a few overstylized slow motion shots that do nothing for upping the cool factor. Surprisingly, Chris Evans is the most enjoyable part of the movie as a tech expert with a love for Journey.


Joe Dante is the king of retro references to cinema's science fiction past. This late 80's ode to Fantastic Voyage and Loony Toons is worth going back and watching. This was a childhood favorite of mine and it actually still holds up as terrific, escapist entertainment.


This Halloween, one should consider taking in the real life horrors revealed in this documentary. Yes, zombies and monsters are scary, but so are the real life boogeymen who escape mental institutions and kidnap children. A lot of questions are raised that will surely deliver chills.

Casino Jack And The United States Of Money

While having its lull moments, director Alex Gibney delivers a documentary expose of former lobbyist Jack Abramoff that is still quite provocative and sickening at the same time.

Prodigal Sons

Some of the best documentaries are the ones that present unexpected twists. In this case, Kimberly Reed, a transgendered woman, attempts to tie up loose ends with her older brother. When she decides to stay in her home town to focus on her brother as a subject, there are a few surprises. This is a great recommendation for documentary fans.

Temple Grandin

Biopics are a challenge in convincing the audience that the subject is worth crafting a story around. Claire Danes basically owns this movie in a convincing performance of an autistic woman who went above and beyond societal's expectations of her condition.

Date Night
Date Night(2010)

You can take or leave the fairly stupid script. Carrell and Fey are the ones whose improvisational lines actually make this movie funny from time to time. You really can't go wrong if you want a safe comedy that everyone in the room will enjoy.

The Human Centipede (First Sequence)

How can one assess a star value for something like this? I would compare my morbid curiosity to seeing this movie to Seth Rogen's reaction to seeing his first Tijuana "horse show" in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin". I knew what I was going into by watching it, but once I started watching, I wondered why the hell I ever got myself into this sick mess. It is not that I give this zero stars with a thorough explanation of hate. I just don't understand how one can realistically critique this in the same way that a person can't critique a snuff film.


Babies is a documentary without narration, and this serves the project well. By observing four children growing up in four different parts of the world, the film does not try to make a point about class or privilege. It simply reveals that, before acclimating to languages, cultures, and values, babies across the world cling onto the same God-given characteristics.

Paura nella città dei morti viventi (City Of The Living Dead) (The Gates of Hell)

I speak only to true horror fans when I say that Lucio Fulci's City of the Living Dead is a fun exercise in synthesized music, dubbed actors, and radiant gore that, like in all Italian horror films, really pushes the envelope.

Hachi: A Dog's Tale

Lasse Hallstrom directed this tender, family-friendly flick that went under the radar by going straight to DVD. I think any dog owner is destined to get a lump in the throat at the poignant loyalty exhibited by the title character.

Wall Street
Wall Street(1987)

You don't have to be a stock guru to appreciate Oliver Stone's classic from the materialistic 80's. Michael Douglas earned his Oscar playing a snake in the grass we love to hate- Gordon Gekko.

The Square
The Square(2010)

The Square is a gem worth pursuing from Australia. It is another neo-noir thriller about money corrupting the lives of the unsuspecting greedy. But damned if it isn't well crafted and kept me on the edge of my seat.

Survival of the Dead

I can easily see why critics are tearing this apart with the horrendous acting and George Romero not giving his material 100% like he once did. But there are still zombies. Not only this, but they are Romero's zombies. It is an entertaining movie, but the lamest title in the Living Dead franchise.


The title says it all. I loved every second of this comically violent story of vigilante justice. The best thing about it has to be child actor Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl, an 11-year-old, pint-sized crime fighter who is skilled with knives. If you can handle the violence, then trust me when I say that movies this brilliant and fun rarely come along.

Winter's Bone

I went in with ultra-high expectations based on the positive buzz, and felt a tad disappointed. The neo-noir experience applied to the Ozark mountains makes for a film-watching experience unlike any other and newcomer Jennifer Lawrence is one tough cookie of a hard-boiled detective surrogate. I am just unsure if the screenplay is perfect. It definitely merits a second viewing.

The Town
The Town(2010)

While The Town is somewhat predictable and formulaic, Ben Affleck has assembled a terrific cast and really proven his skills as a filmmaker. Jeremy Renner is particularly intense as a Boston hothead. I can't not recommend this.

I'm Still Here

I realize that director Casey Affleck recently unveiled this as a hoax. However, my thoughts on the film before this announcement: "Either this is a hoax or not. Joaquin Phoenix will either end up dead in front of the Viper Room or he will say "Ha, I fooled you!". Either way, why should we care? This isn't so much a documentary as it is an exercise in futility.

The Ghost Writer

Think what you will of the globe-trotting pedophile/rapist Roman Polanski. The man has made terrific films and he still has it. The Ghost Writer is a classy thriller that never oversteps its tension boundaries, and it had me engaged from start to finish.

A Prophet (Un prophete)

A Prophet is yet another diamond in the rough overlooked because it is subtitled. This happens to be one of the greatest films out there about prison survival, and I highly suggest seeking it out.

The Art Of The Steal

The concept of a prized art collection getting controversially sold does not sound appealing. Surprisingly this doc makes it interesting from start to finish. However, I still think documentary topic ideas these days are pretty dried up.

Piranha 3-D
Piranha 3-D(2010)

If you go in with open arms expecting gratuitous violence, nudity, and...well...piranhas, then you are in for a treat. I find something amusing about drunk, authority-defying Spring Breakers getting eaten alive by flesh-eating fish. Especially in 3D! I must also add that Elisabeth Shue still looks stunning as ever.


Like Noah Baumbach's latest projects, Greenberg is yet another film about pretentious pessimists. Unlike Margot at the Wedding, which I loathed, Ben Stiller at least redeems the movie's gloom with an effective performance as an embittered narcissist.

Whip It
Whip It(2009)

You know that movie about the teenager who is passionate about something, but has to contend with his or her parent(s) who, for God knows what reason, won't let their child pursue their interests? Here is another one of those movies.

The Wolfman
The Wolfman(2010)

I give this remake more credit than other sources have. Then again, I saw the unrated director's cut not shown in theaters. In my opinion, there is a lot that works here such as the quirky London village right out of a Universal horror film, and the scene-chewing Hugo Weaving as a Scotland Yard detective. Unfortunately, the classy parts that work are cancelled out by the occasional CGI effect that bombs and the excessive gore that seemed more at home in a Monty Python sketch. I say it is worth the rental.

The White Ribbon (Das weisse Band)

Director Michael Haneke has created a hypnotic mystery in stunning black and white. While the pace is slow, it was hard for me not to become engaged with the various villagers who slowly crumble into a state of corruption. One should be warned that the filmmaker loves ambiguous endings open for interpretation. I think Haneke is easily one of the best directors out there right now.

Mystery Team
Mystery Team(2009)

While not the funniest thing I've seen, the concept alone is worth the rental. You have three former kid detectives who still maintain their precocious ways at the ages of eighteen. To make matters funnier, they venture into their town's seedy underbelly to solve a brutal murder. In retrospect, I laugh more thinking about this movie than I did when watching it.

A Single Man
A Single Man(2009)

Colin Firth received a well-deserved Oscar nomination for his role as a closeted gay man in the 1960s plagued with depression and isolation after the death of his lover. The direction by Tom Ford is flawed with its overabundance of slow motion that looks like a mid-90's fragrance commercial. But Firth's emotional roller coaster steals the show.

The Road
The Road(2009)

The Cormac McCarthy adaptation stays true to the author's bleak vision of apocalypse and survival. The pace of the film trudges slowly. What really got to me while watching is Viggo Mortensen's portrayal of a protective father. To some viewers his character may seem overzealous. I guess as a recently new father, the outrageous choices made by this man make total sense.

Get Him to the Greek

Spun off from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, this comedy underwhelms. Russell Brand and Jonah Hill have served as supporting characters effectively, but they can't really carry this thing on their shoulders as leads. Plus the writing consists more of uninspired gross-out gags rather than cleverness. However, I thought I would never ever say this, but Sean "P. Diddy" Combs is the film's comical saving grace.


In a time when my enthusiasm for movies has dipped due to every release being a sequel or remake, Inception comes along and gives me such strong hope. Christopher Nolan has crafted layer upon layer of surreal, mind-bending goodness. Not only that, but every actor here is cast perfectly and performs to his or her fullest potential. I felt warm fulfillment and satisfaction when the closing credits began to roll. If you go out to see one movie, then you owe it to yourself to choose this one.

Shutter Island

Once again, Martin Scorsese brings it. The reviews are middling, and I predicted the twist ending just by analyzing the trailer, but I truly enjoyed Shutter Island in its entirety. This movie is jam-packed full of characters that serve as integral puzzle pieces in the extra creepy atmosphere of a 1940s mental hospital.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I was sucked into this film adaptation of the hugely popular book series that made its way to the States from Sweden. The murder mystery plot is very original and captivating. However, there are moments of disturbing, sadomasochistic rape that make me wonder if the American remake will stay true to the material, or become watered down in order to play it safe with American audiences. I say stick to the Swedish film adaptations as they are sure to stay true to the literary material.

The Crazies
The Crazies(2010)

I know this isn't the first zombie/virus movie, but it is incredibly effective. In this case, townspeople are infected and become homicidal. What really resonates is the underlying question about who is really the monster. Is it the infected, or the corrupt government coming in to cover up the mess?


The heist flick has a nice, suspenseful build-up with an ending that fizzles. I have to give it due credit for being entertaining.

It's Complicated

It's just a good movie that is perfect for home video viewing. Director Nancy Meyer, like in all of her other movies, likes to create main characters who are stinking wealthy yet somehow relate to every average viewer. I find it a tad annoying. With additional romantic comedy cliches aside, the three main cast members are all terrific, especially Steve Martin in a believably restrained turn.

Women in Trouble

It seems the director is aiming for something in the vein of Pedro Almodovar with interconnecting stories about women. But man, this thing is a misfire. Pretty much every female character is a filthy slut with no strong character development to back up why they are that way. So if you are seeking out a terribly written film about weak-willed women, then I guess this is your cup of tea.

The Horseman
The Horseman(2008)

There is nothing really redeeming about this Australian exercise in vengeful torture porn. Then again, the acting is actually above average. Final thoughts? Don't bother.


As many inspirational "based-on-a-true-story" films tend to be, this is rather ho-hum and predictable. However, Morgan Freeman is superb as usual this time filling the shoes of Nelson Mandela.

Toy Story 3
Toy Story 3(2010)

The third installment in the series is best enjoyed if one has the proper expectations. Unlike the prior installments that reveled in niceness, Toy Story 3 has a dark edge and relentlessly mean characters. When I think of the film in retrospect while keeping this in mind, I realize that I love it.


This space thriller is not terrible. The concept of Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster awakening on a ship with loss of memory whilst discovering mutant cannibals in the corridors is oddly intriguing. My complaint is the direction. Some directors never learn that loud noises, bright flashes of light, and quick cuts give headaches, not scares.


With the Twilight movies watering down the fierceness of vampire lore, it is refreshing to see a movie where vampires are scary again. Daybreakers is a well-written film about vampirism taking over as s sort of virus. I am just wondering why there is so much Monty Python-esque gore. A movie that is so serious should not have to rely on so much borderline comical splatter.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

My expectations were low, but this family film is surprisingly hilarious. There is clearly a strong union between the animators and the writers in creating the many sporadic, random jokes that make this thing worth watching.

The Messenger

Woody Harrelson received a much-deserved Oscar nomination in this portrayal of two men given the dreaded task of informing soldiers' families of their deaths. This contains some of the most hard-hitting scenes of the year.

Crazy Heart
Crazy Heart(2009)

Overall, this is a fantastic film. The premise is simple and quaint, but the actors bring so much depth to their characters that I was engaged from start to finish. As usual, Jeff Bridges rules.

Youth in Revolt

The movie is a mere 90 minutes, while the book it is based on is a thick stack of pages. It seems clear that the movie tried to condense so much into a small runtime. This movie is crammed with so many characters that are introduced, but never really serve a purpose for the remainder of the film.


This is an overlooked gem. Most recognize John Malkovich as playing creeps, but he gives a very heartfelt performance as a domineering professor who is faced with a major dilemna when he and his daughter are assaulted in post apartheid Africa. It is not only a movie about racial division, but also questions how one could define rape.


Francis Ford Coppola has created quite a gorgeous film. The director does not necessarily do anything wrong here in creating a personal project. It just simply isn't a masterpiece.


Interesting documentary that focuses on the tedious thought process that goes into every object we use from day-to-day. The point, while intriguing, just exhausts itself after about 30 minutes or so.

The Slammin' Salmon

Broken Lizard has gone unnoticed since their cult success Super Troopers. It is unfortunate that Slammin Salmon was a flop because it is actually funny in all of its profane glory.

The End of the Line

There was once a time when documentaries focused on fresh and interesting subjects. In this era of negativity, most of them now focus on problems and persuading the audience that everything will not be OK. I've seen a ton of these. So really, when The End of the Line tries to convince me I should lose sleep because the blue fin tuna may go extinct, I can't help but not give a crap.


Staying with this film is a long journey. Focusing on the true story of a prison hunger strike, director Steve McQueen is a very visual filmmaker. There is more emphasis on camera shots of the abject rather than a screenplay. This movie is graphic and unsettling, yet leaves an undeniable impression.

Black Dynamite

I found this genuinely hilarious. Unlike previous blaxpoitation spoofs like Undercover Brother, this movie never really winks at the audience. The whole 1970's aesthetic is there. It is as if the filmmakers set out to make a real blaxploitation film with humor blended in.

Saw VI
Saw VI(2009)

What started as a violent, yet clever, morality series has turned into something just plain mean and ruthless. What scares me is that the violence takes itself so damn seriously without the slightest hint of being campy. Maybe the makers of this franchise are the ones who deserve a dose of their own sadistic medicine. I think I am done with this series.

I Sell the Dead

Overall this is a fun little horror-comedy romp. What drags it down is the storyline that goes spastic in choosing its monstrous subjects. The grave robber protagonists encounter vampires, zombies and.....aliens (?).

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

If it were not for a few plot oversights, this could have been one of Terry Gilliam's best films. With that aside, I really liked this movie. I became lost in the surreal playground inhabited by Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell, who all stepped to play Heath Ledger's character after his death.

Sherlock Holmes

Robert Downey Jr pretty much guarantees a solid performance in any project he does. With the likable actor aside, the rest of the movie kind of underwhelms. The plot loses itself in a tangle of black magic mystery that is not very captivating, and of course Guy Ritchie can't resist the slow motion and rapid editing.

Law Abiding Citizen

Law Abiding Citizen does not lack in entertainment. This thing had me engaged from start to finish. The problem is that the seemingly neat and elaborate set up really loses its footing and the answer to many of the movie's questions is a tad laughable.

Pirate Radio (The Boat That Rocked)

Director Richard Curtis has this way with creating manipulative feel-good flicks (see Love Actually or Bridget Jones' Diary). That charm is here as is the awesome ensemble cast. However, the storyline is presented like a non-cohesive series of sketches and the characters are hardly developed. It is hard for me to not recommend it, but Pirate Radio doesn't quite reach its fullest potential.

The Damned United

The Damned United is a sports movie that is not so much about British football, but about team manager Brian Clough. Michael Sheen owns this surprisingly joyful movie as Clough with a commanding arrogance.

Broken Embraces

Pedro Almodovar has made better films (Talk to Her, Bad Education). But I have yet to see a film by the director that I have not liked. Like his prior works, this film just looks terrific. The vibrant, primary colors give me some sort of an eye candy endorphine rush. And the melodrama he creates is a contagious, guilty pleasure. I like this movie, but, as I mentioned, not his best work.

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire

Precious is a very hard film to take, but it is a story of abuse that needed to be told. Mo'Nique portrays one of the meanest movie monsters this decade.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Amidst the crap that Nicolas Cage does for paychecks, he occasionally settles on a good idea. In this case we have the collaboration of Nicolas Cage and director Werner Herzog. The result is Cage devouring the scenery and Herzog gleefully capturing the madness with his lens. I loved this movie.


The documentary starts out with attention-grabbing gusto and gradually fizzles out. For an hour and a half it follows the same essential template over and over: evidence is presented that a politician may be gay, evidence is presented that they publicly denounce homosexuality, and then the politician is called a hypocrite. As I mentioned, the idea for the doc is great, but I wish director Kirby Dick would have broken up the monotony a little.

An Education
An Education(2009)

The film is purely delightful and is carried on the shoulders of newcomer Carey Mulligan as a mature-beyond-her-age school girl who begins dating an older man. The supporting cast is also strongly noteworthy including Petger Sarsgaard as the charismatic suitor and Alfred Molina as the girl's overprotective, yet clueless father.

A Serious Man

The latest from the Coen Brothers is a slow-paced and meditative journey into the accumulating problems of a mild-mannered, Jewish professor. Like many other Coen films, there is a question of direction during A Serious Man's progression. However, I cannot stop thinking about the thought-provoking moral dilemmas that this character faces. I say very well done.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

I loved every second of Wes Anderson's dry venture into family movie territory. The stop-motion animation is a shot of brilliant nostalgia and the comedic timing is impeccable. I did not laugh out loud, but I had a huge grin on my face from start to finish.

Cold Souls
Cold Souls(2009)

The premise of Paul Giamatti playing himself and hiring a company to place his soul in storage is wacky and fun. Unfortunately the movie itself is dreary and slow. I guess I expected more illogical quirks in the vein of Being John Malkovich.


I thought I hated this after enduring this film's horrific images that have forever scarred me. But after it sparked a long conversation between my friend Ben and I, I stopped to ponder how many movies actually do that. This movie is for serious cinephiles only with a strong stomach. I suggest taking it in and letting it soak into your brain for two days before forming an opinion.


The movie is short and does not get very far in developing its characters or a story. But really, flaws aside, I enjoyed this animated flick particularly for its wild creations amidst a post-apocalyptic landscape. This makes for a great rental.

Dead Snow (Død snø)

The concept: Nazi zombies. That is all you need to know. There is actually more tense horror than there are comedic elements. I got what I expected from this bloodbath and enjoyed every minute of it.

The House of the Devil

I remember thinking how cool it would be if a director made a film today more in the vein of actual scary films from the 70s or 80s. Director Ti West does not just pay homage to 80s horror, but he recreates it. Not only is the vintage aesthetic incredible fun, but the film itself manages to be actually scary.

Du Levande (You, The Living)

I thoroughly enjoyed this film and it is hard for me to say why. It is a series of vignettes that are melancholy, yet not depressing. I quietly laughed to myself from start to finish. It is definitely unlike any other film that I have seen.

Julie & Julia

This is best described as part romantic comedy, part food porn. I can take or leave the 50% of this film that revolves around Amy Adams. It has its moments. It is Meryl Streep who shines as Julia Childs, and Stanley Tucci providing strong backbone as her supportive husband. When it was over, I was in an admittedly good mood. I also felt like downing a pound cake.

Big Fan
Big Fan(2009)

Patton Oswalt dominates this role as a sad schlub whose life revolves around sports fandom. I think this would make any sports fan stop and ponder just how far they would be willing go to prove team loyalty

The Children
The Children(2008)

I think the FDA could pretty much label this film as a new form of effective birth control. A bunch of innocent-eyes, English children become mysteriously aggressive and start trying to kill their parents. What is very unsettling is that this movie is not cheese. These kids are genuinely creepy, and the reaction of the grown-ups on how to deal with murderous kids is chillingly realistic.


An actual Fatal Attraction rip-off would have been better than this. The difference with this movie is that the man does not even have an affair. So why does he continue to carry around a guilty conscience and keep it a secret that his hot secretary is stalking him? Because of this stupid writing, this entire crappy movie exists. It even culminates in a cat fight between Ali Larter and Beyonce Knowles that I am sure provoked "Jerry Springer-esque" hoots and hollers from the audience the weekend that it debuted at #1. I, on the other hand, felt like stabbing myself in the face.


Smart science fiction is incredibly hard to come by. I was immersed in every minute of Moon. Sam Rockwell turns in a performance(s) that is worthy of Oscar recognition as he essentially performs a one-man show. I truly hope this movie finds an audience on DVD. I would recommend this to anyone looking for some thought-provoking, character-driven sci-fi.


Michelle Monaghan is really something. I love her in everything she is in because she is both uniquely beautiful and a talented performer. In Trucker, she hits every note correctly. The problem is that the story itself drags with predictability.

Take Out
Take Out(2004)

I would compare this to a neorealist film like The Bicycle Thief. This follows a Chinese immigrant for one day as he struggles to make tips as a means of paying off hammer-wielding loan sharks. I add this to the list of movies I will reflect upon when I think I am having a bad day.

Crank 2: High Voltage

I had some level of enjoyment for the first installment with its adrenaline-fueled absurdity. This sequel takes it up a notch and tries so hard to shock, but seems to have no other objectives. Within the first 10 minutes, Jason Statham dips a shotgun barrel in tar and jams it deep up a man's ass. Enough said. I love offensive movies if they accomplish something. But this movie is just flat out dumb.

Hell House
Hell House(2002)

What I love about this doc is that it is strictly "fly-on-the-wall". There is no Michael Moore-like narrator to tell us what to think about a Christian-themed haunted house that warns its visitors of eternal damnation if they buy into the occult, homosexuality, or abortion. Zealous Christians would watch this and find it to be a very accurate depiction of the Hell House trend that has swept the nation. I think no matter what your view is, you will somehow appreciate this movie. My thoughts? I enjoyed it for its unintentional comedic moments.


I think one could argue endlessly as to whether or not James Cameron's long-awaited pet project lives up to all the hype. The fact is that this movie is good-----really good. Cameron has put so much effort into the 3D worlds, the lifelike characters, and the action sequences. The storyline is also immersive. Why debate if a movie like this is a masterpiece or not when it came out the same year as Transformers 2? It is at the very least undeniably above average. James Cameron, I thank you for bringing us a sophisticated blockbuster, something that has been absent for quite a while.


Mike Judge does it again with his dry satire. See my full review at MovieWeb:


I needed to rent this so that I could have opinion and I'm a little baffled at this movie's popularity. As a fan of horror and vampires, so many of these scenes were torment. Vampire Edward states that he wants to kill Bella, but instead produces whiny, emo monologues. Bella is a girl who could appreciate life, but instead also produces similar whiny lines of dialogue about how she is already dead. My wife also so cleverly pointed out that Bella trustfully submits to a relationship in which she has no say as to whether or not she does or does not get killed. Who the hell are these people? I've never seen the vampire genre so violently castrated.

Up in the Air

This is easily the best film I have seen in 2009. Movies such as this are rarely made and that is a shame. Not only is this a well-told story with very complex characters, but it will likely be remembered within the context of film history as accurately depicting the turbulence of the weak economy.

Eyes Without a Face

Before David Croenberg's foray into body horror, there was this French horror film about a doctor obsessed with giving his disfigured daughter the perfect face transplant. Eyes Without a Face delivers its moments of cringe-worthy gruesomeness that had me clutching onto my healthily attached face, but it also leaves plenty of room for subtle silence and engaging camera work. It is rare that art film and horror film work together in perfect harmony.

Taking Woodstock

It is easy to see why Taking Woodstock received such mixed reviews. It really does jump around with indecisiveness. After the first half it switches gears from a quirky comedy to a trippy, Altman-esque setting. But once I sunk into this second half, I began to truly appreciate what Ang Lee has done. The atmosphere made me really feel like I was at Woodstock, and the array of characters, particularly Liev Schrieber as a buff drag queen, are winning.


Atom Egoyan's latest has a remarkable feel to it. All of the main characters embark on these thought-provoking journeys revolving around tolerance and xenophobia. The flaw is that, in the end, these journeys seem futile with little pay-off to the characters or the audience.

The Limits of Control

I've given praise to a lot of slow-moving, artsy-fartsy, pretentious movies. While I actually loved the first 30 minutes of The Limits of Control, director Jim Jarmusch somehow manages to steer the remainder of this film into a deep, empty void. This is a sad reminder of how the energetic spirit of indie films is slowly being extinguished.

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard

The high compliment I have to pay to The Goods is that it is not terrible. There were surprisingly no desperate bodily fluid gags. Rather there is a lot of vulgar profanity that manages to be effective half of the time.

The Open Road

It is a road trip movie, but unfortunately not the kind of trip I wanted to tag along for. Jeff Bridges is usually great, but his Southern ball player spouts off lame similes so much that it is unbearable. At the end, profound life lessons are learned by the characters from their trip, but I took nothing with me as the audience bystander who had to observe these characters working out their petty problems.

17 Again
17 Again(2009)
½ is what it is: another rip-off of Big. It does deserve credit for its easy and light humor. Zac Efron even manages to turn in a likable and funny performance, but it is Thomas Lennon (Reno 911) who steals the show.

Gomorrah (Gomorra)

While this isn't the crime masterpiece that I expected, it is still gritty and well-done. It helps going in expecting this to be character-centric rather than plot-centric with twists and turns. It runs at a slow pace, but it is not hard to get into these characters destined for a grizzly fate while serving for the life-destroying Camorra crime syndicate.

Bakjwi (Thirst)

Director Park Chan-wook is probably one of the greatest filmmakers working today. This time he tackles vampires and does so with captivating humor and horror.

All the President's Men

The story of Woodward and Bernstein is a fantastic exploration of journalism. Not only does it withstand the test of time, but it actually gets better as time goes by. It demonstrates what real journalism used to be in comparison with today's blogospheres and sensational "news" journals. Very intricate and detailed, yet also intense.

After Hours
After Hours(1985)

I would go so far to call this one of Martin Scorsese's best films. Griffin Dunne plays a single dude who only wants to make it home after a regrettable trip to SoHo for a one night stand with head case Rosanna Arquette. It is just too bad that a series of coincidences leave him trapped in SoHo where he encounters a cast of quirky folks. It is a quick-paced and brilliant movie.

Trick 'r Treat

It amazes me that so much crap within the horror genre is released in theaters, yet this was given a direct-to-DVD release. It is a very well-done horror anthology that interweaves its characters. I think I will be buying this and watching it every Halloween.

Observe and Report

I think this movie deserves a lot more credit than it received. I went in with my expectations low and I laughed so hard my face hurt. If you prefer your comedy to be R-rated, edgy, and completely unrestrained whilst not relying on fart jokes, I think you will dig this.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop

I thought that since Paul Blart was the #1 movie for many consecutive weeks back in January that there may be something redeeming here. I was wrong. I'll give a half star to Kevin James for his fat man physical shtick that rivals the late Chris Farley. But this pulled in over $100 million as the #1 movie in America? Seriously, really??????

Red Road
Red Road(2007)

I would call this another hidden gem. This is a Scotland-set psychological thriller that immerses us in a world of vagueness until the very end. A female protagonist obsessively watches a man from her past. How he figures into her past the audience never knows until the conclusion, and it is not knowing that kept me enamored.

Don't Look Now

Don't Look Now is part drama, part thriller, and whole magnificence. Strange things happen to married couple Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie while they are in Italy trying to start fresh after the death of their daughter. These strange things lead to a climax both chilling and perplexing. This really is a diamond in the rough of older, forgotten films.

Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!

Talk about a wild ride. This is a very comprehensive documentary about genre films in Australia. Everything is covered from cars to sexploitation to bloody horror. While watching this film, I was simultaneously adding titles to my Netflix queue.

Dead and Buried

This is a little-seen mystery about resurrecting that dead that I found quite atmospheric and creepy. The highlight of this has to be Jack "Grandpa Joe from Willy Wonka" Albertson in his final role as the town coroner. Also watch out for a "pre-Freddy Kreuger" Robert Englund.

Burnt Offerings

The final 5 minutes are genuinely chilling, but it sure takes a lot of slow dragging to get there.


Pixar is still on a winning streak.

My review for the DVD/Blu-Ray combo at

White Zombie
White Zombie(1932)

This movie is solid simply because a) it is considered the first zombie movie and b) Bela Lugosi rules.

Where the Wild Things Are

This is a massive disappointment considering the fact that I was expecting one of the best films this year. The trailer is amazing and everything in the film is visually incredible. But there is very little effort in the screenwriting department. It truly feels like the thinly-paged source material was stretched out to a 90-minute film. The majority of this movie rarely goes anywhere.

American Swing

The topic of late 70's swing culture is intriguing, but it seems like there is way too little to talk about even during an 80-minute runtime. Plus, I seriously felt I like contracted 5 different STD's by listening to the testimonials of crusty fogies who spent a great deal of their younger years swimming around nude in jacuzzi petri dishes.

Night of the Creeps

This 80's zombie/alien flick is full of campy wonderment. It isn't perfect, but it also never takes itself too seriously. Simply put, it is a fun movie, and it is available for the first time on DVD at the end of this month.


Without the strong performances from the ensemble cast, this is just another movie about dysfunctional families and how it seriously messes up the kids.

The Fly
The Fly(1986)

The body horror of director David Cronenberg + the eccentric Jeff Goldblum = a horror masterpiece. It is a classic worth renting this Halloween season.

The Invention of Lying

While the second half of this movie drags a tad, the first 45 minutes are bitingly hilarious thanks to the humor of Ricky Gervais. It is definitely rent-worthy.

Paranormal Activity

I would go so far to say this movie is superior to Blair Witch. I love that a movie on an ultra-low budget can produce more thrills than any throw-away remake or sequel (yeah, I mean you Saw!!!). While very modern, this movie is old fashioned in its "things that go bump in the night" scares. I suggest it to anyone who enjoys getting creeped out.

Eden Lake
Eden Lake(2008)

This movie is chilling brilliance. It is extremely unsettling and not for the faint of heart. But for those who can stomach it, this thriller about an innocent couple being terrorized by teens while on a country vacation will leave a definite impression. The commentary about troubled youths and the root of their problems is particularly frightening. From start to finish this movie had me, and anyone who loves strong suspense should seek it out.

The Proposal
The Proposal(2009)

What would the world do without Betty White? My review of The Proposal on DVD at Movieweb:


I am a sucker for the zombie movies. This doesn't measure up to some of the classics out there, but it still knows how to deliver a bloody good time. When vampires have lately become wussy objects of goth fetishism, the zombie is the true monster we have left to rely on.


I like the concept of a stalker love story, but this one never quite convincingly hits the mark. Steve Zahn brings his immature likability to the table, but his character's creepy pursuit of Jennifer Aniston is overkill. More questions are raised when Aniston's character actually falls for his tactics on numerous occasions. This movie could have improved with more smart dialogue and less goofy slapstick.

Anvil! The Story of Anvil

From start to finish, the documentary had me. I would best describe it as part American Movie and part Spinal Tap. It is the story of a Canadian metal band that never quite made it, yet still strives to be on top even though the band founders have hit mid-life. It is hard to not be fascinated by the lead singer Lips and his wide-eyed, eternal optimism. This is one of the best movies I have seen this year.

Couples Retreat

Outlook for this weekend's big release? Not so good.
My review of Couples Retreat:

The Soloist
The Soloist(2009)

My DVD review at MovieWeb:

The Brothers Bloom

Director Rian Johnson creates incredibly infectious characters who exist in the present as 1930's-era con men. This movie really sucked me in as Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo set their sights on a naively adorable Rachel Weisz. A pretty big problem is a 30-minute final stretch that is unnecessarily tacked on and really weighs down the film's potential.

The Girlfriend Experience

Director Steven Soderbergh is a machine. He managed to crank out this low-budget, experimental effort between filming the epic Che and Matt Damon vehicle The Informant. In summation, I really dug this movie about a high-class prostitute. Adult film star Sasha Grey does not bring much to the table, but Soderbergh shines by making this a movie that capitalizes less on sex, and more on the broken economy and the isolated Internet culture.

Away We Go
Away We Go(2009)

This is, hands down, one of the best films of 2009. Sometimes I laughed until my face hurt while other times I really absorbed the sincere relationship played with exactness by John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph. This movie works on so many levels and shouldn't be missed.


My re-review of the DVD at MovieWeb:

Second Skin
Second Skin(2008)

When it comes to focusing on the gamer lifestyle, this is probably the most balanced treatment you will see. The documentary follows everything from love, expression, addiction, and camaraderie all within the realm of gaming. It is not a masterpiece project, but a fun rental.


I re-reviewed this movie for the DVD release. Here is the link:

Nights and Weekends

Some of these mumblecore indies (Humpday, Baghead) manage to prevail with strong performances despite ultra low budgets. However, Nights and Weekends seems to smugly announce that it understands relationships. What we get are two actors improvising dialogue with absolutely no direction. Even going to a real fighting couple's apartment would be more fulfilling than this.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

With a running time of 3 hours, this classic Sergio Leone flick breezes through. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly exudes tension and Ennio Morricone's score is unforgettable. Any film lover should see it from start to finish.

House of Wax
House of Wax(1953)

Forget the god-awful remake featuring Paris Hilton. Stacked up against a lot of the PG-13 manure that passes for horror today, House of Wax stands the test of time. As usual, Vincent Price ups the ante with his calming creepiness.


This movie isn't just about baseball, but about America, and how a Dominican Republic immigrant faces the challenge of adjusting to both. It is a slowly-paced, but very rich journey.

Bart Got a Room

Never heard of it? Me neither. But here is the thing: it is genuinely funny. Full review here:

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

How this film was greenlit---now that's the real mystery.

Full review at

The Informers

This is just an awful movie. It takes real filmmaking talent to make a Bret Easton Ellis adaptation likable because his characters are typically shallow. Maybe it is the directors, or maybe it is the source material (Ellis co-penned the screenplay), but one is guaranteed to spend 90 minutes with some of the most miserable, narcissistic characters ever laid onto celluloid. I really wish I could have that time back.

Sunshine Cleaning

Full review at


My re-review of Julia at MovieWeb:

I Love You, Man

My full DVD review at

Rudo y Cursi
Rudo y Cursi(2009)

Really this movie is just good. It the the perfect example of something worth waiting for on video. The tale is a simple story of rags to riches. The highlight has to be Gael Garcia Bernal who always manages to bring multifaceted characters to the table.


Director James Toback goes the way of Errol Morris in this documentary by allowing his subject and friend Mike Tyson to simply sit there and talk about the pivotal incidents of his life for a full 90 minutes. Love him or hate him, this movie honestly fleshes out a man who could be described both as a fearless beast and a cowardly lion.

Inglourious Basterds

Quentin Tarantino shamelessly alters historical accuracy with this bloody wonderful masterpiece. This is probably the director's most dialogue-heavy film, but even these long stretches dragged me along for every second. It is undoubtedly one of the best flicks to come out this year.


This movie has undeniable likability. The characters have this familiarity about them as if I've met them at one point in my life. Ryan Reynolds is especially spot-on as that "one guy" who uses his older, handsome charm to manipulate young, naive girls. The comedy is not laugh-out-loud, but rather light and honest. I do scratch my head at the fact that all of these kids are college graduate age. I never grew up as a young adult in 1987, but my memories of flirting and shenanigans were in late high school/early college. This minor beef aside, it is a comedy worth seeing.

District 9
District 9(2009)

This science fiction masterpiece has everything from smart subtext to action sequences that will blow your mind. It is definitely one of the best films this year and could be one of the best films of the decade. Did I mention it was all done on a $30 million budget and has special effects that put movies like Transformers 2 to shame? Go stuff that in your pipe and smoke it Hollywood!


Jennifer Lynch follows in the footsteps of father David Lynch with this murder mystery. With the exception of the predictable ending that I called on the first frame, this movie is kinky, funny, and sick. It is also a solid thriller that kept me engaged. Honorable mention goes to French Stewart as hick cop that ups this movie's creep factor.

Spirited Away

I am not a fan of anime, but Hayao Miyazaki's films never fail at putting me in a state of hypnotic awe. Spirited Away does not make sense 100% of the time, but it never seems to matter. This Alice in Wonderland-like tale just crawls deeper down the rabbit hole and I never asked questions. I simply sat back and admired the hand-drawn scenery.

The Class
The Class(2008)

The film is loaded with over 2 hours of improvised dialogue between a teacher and his students. Boring right? I was hooked from start to finish, and I think anyone who remembers the classroom will feel just as engaged. I didn't realize it until the final credits started rolling, but I loved this movie.

High School Musical 3: Senior Year

How I yearn for the days when everyone in home room broke into spontaneous song and dance. I can't wait for College Musical when the gang bangs out choreography at a kegger, and Zac Efron sings about the importance of safe sex.

A Perfect Getaway

If you want a fun movie-going experience, then look no further. My full review at MovieWeb:


With the exception of Michel Gondry's enjoyably bizarre entry, I hardly found this trilogy of short films worth my time. If you want a series of shorts that poignantly define a city, rent Paris Je T'aime instead.

The Cove
The Cove(2009)

I reviewed this gripping documentary at ShoWest 2009 earlier this year for MovieWeb:

For anyone who has ever thought, "Oh that dolphin on TV is so cute", or "Wow, dolphins look so happy", I encourage to see this movie. When you are done, you will want to fly to Japan and beat down the worthless fisherman who sadistically bludgeon the mammals to death for financial gain.


If you are familiar with the horror film Quarantine, this is the original Spanish language film that inspired it. The premise is essentially the same, but this original version, like usual, is superior to its American remake. This film gets straight to the terrifying point without too many dialogue fillers. While I really dug Quarantine, I definitely would have questioned why a remake was necessary if I saw this version first.

The Hurt Locker

You have your cliched war films lumped together in one corner, and then you have something like The Hurt Locker in the other. This is not so much an Iraq war movie as it is a movie about people in the Iraq war. Kathryn Bigelow, known for her action movie resume, uses precision in her direction to create action and suspense not through the "blow em up" method (although there are explosions), but rather through psychological intensity. One of the best films this year.

Funny People
Funny People(2009)

It's called Funny People. How can possibly go wrong? Check out my MovieWeb review:

Yes Man
Yes Man(2008)

It is a high concept comedy that was clearly given life by means of a 5-word pitch in a producer's office, but damned if this movie didn't make me laugh. In fact, I actually laughed consistently and enjoyed it! God bless Netflix for allowing me to take in the tepidly reviewed movies that I refused to drop $10 on in the movie theater.

Cadillac Records

This is a very good movie that was overlooked in its theatrical run. The premise itself would be a mediocre effort, but luckily the film is driven by its rockin blues soundtrack. Mos Def is especially enjoyable as string strummin Chuck Berry.


This is not a bad effort from an animation studio not known as Pixar. They do not rely on gross-out gags, which is always a start. The premise itself would be pretty dull, but the likabiltiy of this movie benefits from animator Mark Walton pumping life into Rhino, an adrenaline junkie hamster.

The Burrowers

This is surprisingly good for a horror flick that was sentenced straight-to-video. This starts as a rather solid western but it is when it slides into horror territory with an overdose of CGI creatures that things take a turn downward slope.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

These movies have gotten better since the kids have started growing up. This is another worthy entry into the series that leaves me anticipating the final chapter. The third entry, Prisoner of Azkaban, is still the best title in the film series.

500 Days of Summer

My review of the film from my coverage of CineVegas 2009:

The International

Clive Owen and especially Naomi Watts are underused in this baffling thriller.

Midnight Express

After seeing this movie, you will think twice before smuggling hash out of Turkey. Because, you know, I was thinking about doing that next month. The film follows the main character's miserable sentence in a Turkish prison. It is incredibly xenophobic to the point that that Turkey tourism had to have plummeted around the film's release in 1978. However, the movie is also effective thanks to the strong performance from the late Brad Davis.


So wrong. Oh so wrong. Wait...but oh so right! Cohen really doesn't hold back. This thing had me laughing harder than Borat as gay Austrian Bruno explores the country and focuses the camera on American intolerance.


The storyline is actually intriguing and the CGI is surprisingly not cartoony. The biggest flaw has to be Nicolas Cage with is usual display of exaggerated tics.


This movie feels important, but it really isn't. It only tags us along to shamelessly reveal one rip off of a twist ending.

Friday the 13th

I don't condone these horror remakes. Friday the 13th manages to work just a little bit because it is hard to go wrong with inventing crazy ways for stupid teenager characters to get slaughtered. It is too bad that mainstream horror is now limited to Michael Bay and his motley crew of hack, ex-music video directors.

Two Lovers
Two Lovers(2008)

Here is a surprisingly deep drama. The pace is slow and the love story is on the melancholy side. However, as we get to know the characters, the film really comes together in the end. Like always, Joaquin Phoenix proves he is one of the best actors out there. If only he would cut his nutjob act and get back in front of the camera.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas)

I'm a tad torn on this one. The film itself tells a rich story set during the Holocaust. I just can't decide if the film's resolution is something brilliant, or a manipulative way for the filmmakers to really push buttons. Either way, there is undeniable entertainment value.


Is Baz Luhrmann compensating for something? My review of Australia on DVD:


The setup is ho-hum and it is hard at first to get around the god awful miscasting of 26-year-old Maggie Grace as a silly 17-year-old girl. But, you see, soon these things don't matter. What matters is that Liam Neeson carries this movie on his shoulders and does so in pure bad-ass mode. The moral of this story is to not kidnap Liam Neeson's daughter or else he will track you down, shoot you in the foot, and then rapidly punch you in the nuts until you pass out.

Public Enemies

Is Johnny Depp solid again in Public Enemies? Check out my review at MovieWeb.


The concept is a tad far-fetched: a murderer elaborately places victims in front of a web cam with some gimmicky death trap. The more people who visit the site, the faster the person will die. One could describe it as Saw disguised as a friendly, mainstream movie. But what works in this movie is the commentary on American web surfers. Sadly, I do believe that if a site like this existed, people would come in droves in order to witness carnage.

Kærlighed på Film (Just Another Love Story)

This is a lot like the Sandra Bullock film While You Were Sleeping minus the comedy, and plus suspense. One could call it a contemporary film noir as the main character finds himself up to his elbows thanks to stupid decisions, lies, and a femme fatale. I encourage movie fans to seek this out. With American studios mostly cranking out remakes, it seems like other countries are the only source for original material like this.

Nothing But the Truth

It pains me when movies like this are released in theaters yet no one has heard of them. This is a terrific movie about journalism and the justice system, and Kate Beckinsale really carries this movie from start to finish. Honorable mentions go to Alan Alda as a passionate attorney and Matt Dillon as a slimeball prosecutor. This is definitely worth seeking out.

The Wicker Man

I can see why this is such a cult classic. This is a very musical and jovial mystery that twists into top-notch suspense. If you have not yet seen the remake with Nicholas Cage, I suggest bypassing it and experiencing this odd tale with little expectation or knowledge of the premise.

The Hangover
The Hangover(2009)

It is great to see Todd Phillips back to doing R-rated comedy. There are definitely laughs in store here. But to have green-lit a sequel before it was even released? Don't get me wrong, this is funny stuff. Maybe living in Vegas has desensitized me to the overblown myth that so many wild and crazy things happen here.

Marley & Me
Marley & Me(2008)

This is what I expected in the sense that it is poignant and easy-to-digest. Any dog lover should be warned that the final 30 minutes will rip out your heart and manipulate it to the fullest extent.

Beyond the Sea

There is a lot about this movie that works. They just do not work well together. One minute it is a serious biopic while the next it is packed with colorful musical sequences. It isn't that I didn't enjoy Beyond the Sea; it just has a few too many flaws.

Drag Me to Hell

Simply put: this movie rules. Sam Raimi returns to horror and he could not be any more welcome. The movie is scary while simultaneously incorporating Raimi's trademark slapstick that lets the audience know it is ok to have a good time. I would love to see this again.


This is a nicely done horror movie. The splinter creature that goes after survivors locked up in a filling station is an innovative and scary booger. Overall it is a nice distribution of gore and suspense. Probably best for horror fans.

The Haunting of Molly Hartley

Do teens deserve better? You bet. Check out my review at MovieWeb:

Wendy and Lucy

This movie is slow-moving and melancholic, but I loved it. It is a realistic look at how scary the world can be and how the kindness of strangers has sadly transformed into self-centeredness and distrust.

X-Men Origins - Wolverine

Is this really an origin story? Batman Begins is a movie that made me understand Bruce Wayne like never before. This movie is just an excuse to highlight some more cool freaks and plenty of action sequences with pretty bad green-screen technology.


I never bothered with this movie in theaters because it looked forcefully recycled. However, I gave it a chance on DVD and found myself quite satisfied. This can be best described as Blair Witch meets 28 Days Later. The movie does a tremendous job of beginning with mundane normalcy and escalating into horrific chaos. In a decade full of awful horror remakes, this may be one of the few horror movies notable for its originality. This is a must for scary movie fans.

What Doesn't Kill You

This is really an overlooked gem about Boston thug life. In most crime movies you get the criminal protagonists that are portrayed as badasses. Here, in an autobiographical screenplay co-written by director and co-star Brian Goodman, we get two misled errand boys played by Ethan Hawke and Mark Ruffalo. But they are not hardened criminals we come to admire. They are insecure cowards. Perhaps it was knowing that director Brian Goodman experienced these things first hand, but something about this movie felt real. This is definitely worth seeking out.

The Monster Squad

How can my 80's nostalgia say no to this? It is like the Goonies banding together to fight the Universal monsters. I have not seen this movie since the time I saw it on VHS when I was in the first grade. Good stuff.


Has Alan Ball taken things too far?

Check out my review at MovieWeb:


This film had me hooked every step of the way thanks to its intense performances. Meryl Streep's commanding force against Hoffman's blank slate of a priest creates a tension that has the audience hanging on every word. Despite the majority of criticism against the plot, I actually found the storyline to be just as engaging.

The Last Winter

Help, global warming is going to kill us! Don't get me wrong, the intentions here mean well, but ever since that disaster dud The Day After Tomorrow, I cannot help but snicker every time I see someone literally getting chased by global warming.

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

And here I thought the teen genre was dead and buried in this "OMG" culture. It is really rare that we get movies about teenagers who are actually smart, well-developed people. Nick and Norah are two heart-broken kids who drive the streets of New York City and become acquainted over their shared love of music. In a way this reminded me of Say Anything. It is a sweet little movie and I highly recommend it.

Babylon A.D.
Babylon A.D.(2008)

Vin Diesel showing range? Ha!

Read my review at MovieWeb:

Ne le Dis à Personne (Tell No One)

This French thriller is very engaging and done with a surprising level of subtlety and class.


Be sure to let me know when CGI effects are supposed to be scary.


Check out my review:

The Battle of Algiers (La Battaglia di Algeri)

This is a riveting film that feels like it could have been made this year. The war on terror and the violence that results from it was a relevant topic then just as much as it is today.

Alien Trespass

Check out my review at MovieWeb:

How to Lose Friends & Alienate People

Check out my review at MovieWeb:

The Last House on the Left

Check out my review at MovieWeb:


Check out my review at

I've Loved You So Long

There is no denying the raw emotion that Kristen Scott Thomas brings to this role. As a woman getting back into the swing of life after 15 years of incarceration, her moments of dealing are genuine and her French is fluent. It is the storyline itself that dragged and did not do too much for me.

The Rocker
The Rocker(2008)

This really isn't the terrible film I expected it to be. Rainn Wilson isn't enough to anchor the film as a comedic lead, but the young cast members, including Emma Stone, are all likable. Plus the storyline progresses pleasantly without too many obnoxious snags.


Meh. Much praise was given to Sally Hawkins as an overly-optimistic spirit. I found her performance to be quite grating, but props do go to Eddie Marsan as a driving instructor with anger issues.

Synecdoche, New York

One friend of mine calls this pretentious crap while another states it is compelling. I think I am going to have to go with both. I was sucked in by this head trip of a movie. At its core, I think I know where cerebral writer/director Charlie Kaufman is going with this, but I really don't feel the need to revisit it like I would with a successful David Lynch movie. I think Kaufman has once again decided to vent about his writing frustrations through a sad sack of a protagonist played here by Philip Seymour Hoffman.


There have been years of development hell with this movie along with a concern that the finished product would not be true to the source material. I cannot imagine this version being done any better. Even the sections of the graphic novel that I skimmed in my reading experience were wisely omitted from the film. As predicted, the film lost most of its audience in the second week and I can only assume it is from poor word of mouth. Audiences probably wanted a superhero movie out of this and instead got a dialogue-heavy and very gory character study of troubled vigilantes trying to be heroes. This is an anti-superhero movie that makes things challenging for the audience, and this is why I enjoyed it so much.

Body of Lies
Body of Lies(2008)

In addition to this film being as ho-hum and mediocre as it is, there is the additional benefit of Russell Crowe. Why did the mega star agree to gain weight to play a goofy sidekick who is overshadowed by Leo DiCaprio? If they needed a heavyset and Southern-voiced actor to play such an insignificant role, I am sure Fred Dalton Thompson would have said yes.

My Name Is Bruce

I really do love Bruce Campbell and his history of B kitsch, which is why I looked forward to his directorial debut in which he plays himself being forced to fight demons in real life. It is just too bad that Campbell makes the unfortunate choice of portraying himself as an obnoxious loser who at one point in the film chugs a bottle of piss.

Saw V
Saw V(2008)

I don't want to like this franchise that has gone into uninspired waters, but it is what it is. I give it props for being what seems to be the only horror creation out of this decade that isn't a remake, and I also give it props for not sucking terribly like the fourth installment. Plus it asks the age old question: Would you rather a pendulum cut you in half or let a medieval contraption crush your hands to prevent the pendulum from cutting you in half? Now that's the ultimate Sophie's Choice right there.


I felt the same way about the book as I do about the movie. It is delightfully crude and offensive, but doesn't pack near as much punch as Palahniuk's earlier works like Fight Club and Survivor. But director/actor Clark Gregg does a commendable job as does Sam Rockwell as the protagonist pervert who we root for even though we want to take a shower after getting to know him.

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father

Hands down one of the greatest documentaries ever made. If you make it through this movie without shedding a tear, then you may be dehydrated and should consult a doctor. I cannot emphasize the importance of anyone, movie lover or not, seeking this out. After you are done bawling your eyes out, please recommend this to your friends and help make this film known.

Frozen River
Frozen River(2008)

There are tons of movies about desperate people doing illegal or stupid things all for the sake of money. You know this plot device is successful when you feel for the character every step of the way rather than curse them for their choices. Melissa Leo definitely deserves her Oscar nod as a desperate, single mother who turns to immigrant smuggling across a frozen river as a means of income.

Repo! The Genetic Opera

This little movie is unexpectedly noteworthy. Be advised this is only for those who can hold their stomach with gore. As a horror fan, I somewhat appreciated the Rocky Horror-like feel along with the vocal talents of Anthony Head and Paul Sorvino.

Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes)

Herzog's classic is really worth checking out. It is interesting to see a 16th century -set film about the consequences of greed, and how much the storyline compares to today's economic climate. Herzog's hypnotic direction also compliments it well.

The Conversation

Infused with paranoia, I gripped onto every second of this classic. Gene Hackman is prime as an anti-social surveillance expert who learns the hard way what happens when he gets too involved in his subjects.

Non si deve profanare il sonno dei morti (Let Sleeping Corpses Lie) (Don't Open the Window)

This film really does not go wrong as a solid zombie flick. Fans of the subgenre will appreciate the walking dead presented here. What makes the film truly chilling is its use of sound. Like the score of John Williams in Jaws, we know these creepy flesh eaters are near when we hear the sounds of their strained breathing. Lots of fun!

Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!

Dr Seuss really is brilliant and the morality backbone is here. The problem with Seuss movie adaptations is that filmmakers have to take a children's book and stretch it out to at least 90 minutes. Kids will not notice, but it seemed like they were really reaching for straws in trying to give this thing some length. I think I would have felt more moved if I sat down and read the book.

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired

Roman Polanski had sex with a 13-year-old. The American media portrayed him as a horny gnome yet the Parisians still love the man. This documentary very tediously recollects the entire trial. Entertaining, but could have easily been done as a 30-minute profile piece on IFC.


This is one of those movies I simply admired for being different. I think its flaw is that when it is funny it is not funny enough, or when it has that opportunity to seize the moment with poignancy, it doesn't. Overall, this is still a decent breakthrough for director/writer/star Scott Prendergast. Extra randomness points are awarded for casting Teri Garr as a lunatic.

Waltz with Bashir

A documentary about the Lebanon War would just be a gritty documentary. But nothing quite brings out the nightmarish trauma like the animation work done here. This movie fascinated me.

Shotgun Stories

In cities you have the mob. In small town Arkansas, you have feuding kin. Shotgun Stories captures the isolation and boredom that provokes violence in small towns quite accurately, and recent Oscar nominee Michael Shannon nails it.

Gran Torino
Gran Torino(2009)

Another terrific film that was snubbed for Best Picture so that Benjamin Button could get nominated. Clint Eastwood is at the top of his game as a grizzled racist with a heart of gold.

The Wrestler
The Wrestler(2008)

Hands down the best film out of 2008. Darren Aronofsky once again proves his filmmaking ability by bringing Mickey Rourke out of his scarred shell. There is no getting around the strength of Rourke's performance as a washed up wrestler, which strongly reflects Rourke's decline from his glory days. Absolutely fantastic!


I can't help but dig it because it is an anti-slasher, slasher movie. In other words, do not go in expecting familiar characteristics of the subgenre. It is shot on a shoestring budget and delves more into the drama of the characters than into the question, "Who is Baghead?" The filmmakers did not break new ground, but I found it to be quite entertaining.

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl

It is a kid's movie and a fine example of one at that. These days it is hard to shield little girls from the influence of the Bratz and Barbies in their clown-whore makeup. Here you have a resourceful and smart protagonist trying to make ends meet as a journalist during the Great Depression. While a tad long in stretches, it is still a family movie with backbone and heart.

The Foot Fist Way

One word: overrated. That is great that Will Ferrell and his friends somehow found this funny and forked over their plentiful cash to give this a wide release, but there is nothing unique, hilarious, or even bizarre about this comedy. It does not even manage to be funny in a "stupid" sense.

Revolutionary Road

It certainly is not the feel-good movie of the year and I would never suggest bringing a date (unless you want the other person to leave you alone). But it is undeniably terrific with unrestrained performances from the leads. You also have Sam Mendes revisiting the whole "facade in suburbia" theme that was present in American Beauty.

Before the Rains

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this beautifully-directed romantic drama set in India. Not all films with the names "Merchant Ivory" on them are snore fests.


Ed Harris delivers a pretty "meh" product in his directorial effort. It is not that there is anything terrible about the film. It simply underwhelms.

Ghost Town
Ghost Town(2008)

Ricky Gervais lands his first leading role and pulls it off quite well. So well in fact that he makes this concept of a man who can talk to dead people something more than a regurgitation from a pitch session.

The Unborn
The Unborn(2009)

Dear Movie Studios,
When horror is something more than CGI effects and "jump out and scare you" gags every 2 seconds all within the safe boundaries of a PG-13 rating, then give me a call.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

It is an entertaining journey film with a strong start and an emotional conclusion. It is just the middle section that feels stuck in the mud with a trite romance subplot that runs on a treadmill and does not go anywhere. A solid effort, but not the best from David Fincher.

Tenebre (Unsane)

This is probably one of Argento's best films. In addition to his aesthetically pleasing gore, he actually tells a good story that keeps audiences guessing whodunit.

Then She Found Me

Helen Hunt directs and stars in this sweet little movie that was shamefully overlooked. When most romantic comedies and chick flicks are so mind-numbing, it is nice to see a likable and talented cast assembled. Colin Firth pulls his usual befuddled sctick that is beginning to make Hugh Grant look like an amateur, and Bette Midler chews the scenery as usual.


It seems like John Sayles comes out with a movie every year that go completely unnoticed, which is a shame. This is not a masterpiece, but it is a toe-tapping drama set in racially-segregated Alabama. It is also a great role for Danny Glover, who generally fails to impress me.

Rachel Getting Married

I genuinely felt like a guest at this wedding. Jonathan Demme makes these characters so accessible and Anne Hathaway makes a memorable departure from her predictable innocent roles.


Dare I say I actually enjoyed this? Try not to think of this as the ridiculous casting of Tom Cruise as a German. Really try to take in Bryan Singer's direction and ability to build tension. This movie makes me wish that Hitler were still alive just so I could get together with a group of badasses and kill the SOB. Merry Christmas!

Let the Right One In

I actually loved this movie. It is the perfect anecdote to the teenie bopper boorishness of Twilight. It is where solid horror and the indie aesthetic meet at a halfway point.

The Night of the Hunter

The thing that makes this film so legendary is Robert Mitchum as a manipulative and murderous false preacher. Without him, the film would be quite bland.


It took years to finally launch this project off of the ground and the final result is perfect. There was no one better to cast than Sean Penn who becomes the loud and proud Harvey Milk. This is one of the best pictures this year.

Once Upon a Time in the West

There is no getting around it. This is a masterpiece. Descriptors do it no justice. See this film.

Quantum of Solace

I can only say "meh". After a strong reboot with Casino Royale, this sophomoric effort falls into the same mediocre slump that Brosnan's Bond movies fell into following Goldeneye. Daniel Craig is one of the best Bonds to come along, so here is hoping that the installments to follow will be an improvement.


Director Tom DiCillo has a way with satirizing Hollywood, and he scores again with this look at celebrity obsession both in front of and behind the paparazzi camera.


There is no gratuitous gore here. Just old fashioned suspense on a train in the style of Hitchcock.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Kevin Smith does that thing that he does best which is make a movie completely filthy and poignant at the same time.

An American Crime

This movie had distribution issues since its debut at Sundance which is unfortunate. This has to be one of the best films I have seen this year. It is based on a shocking true story and Catherine Keener plays one of the nastiest monsters since Kathy Bates in Misery. This is not to be missed and should be sought out by avid thriller fans.


There is no getting around how much I loved this movie. It is a sick and twisted dark comedy from Stuart Gordon that sheds a sad light on the selfish, me-centric society we are slowly becoming.

Paranoid Park

This is no Elephant, but Gus Van Sant is up to his old tricks with another independently funded project that he cranks out between his blockbusters. The director really has a way with capturing teens realistically.

Boy A
Boy A(2007)

This movie about trying to forget the past had me captivated from start to finish. Peter Mullan and Andrew Garfield particularly have great chemistry here as a mentor and mentee respectively, and they give very heartfelt performances. This is one of the best films I have seen this year and it should not go overlooked.


It has its moments of laughter, but Bill Maher's supposed underlying thesis of religion getting mixed up with foreign policy and government is briefly mentioned in the final 5 minutes in which Maher makes it clear that the movie is more for him than it is its viewers. If you want to see a more coherent documentary on the same subject with a host who isn't an asshole, I recommend Constantine's Sword.

Speed Racer
Speed Racer(2008)

I couldn't even have fun with this movie. A majority of it is CGI racing that makes me feel like grabbing a video game controlled that I don't have! When there is a storyline, it drives nowhere. This entire movie is a pile of vomit and I am grateful that I skipped it in the theater.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

...a predictable and thin plot, but also an undeniably charming one with Frances McDormand stealing the show.

The Promotion

Meh. I am on the borderline between suggesting this or not suggesting this. I suppose there were enough snickers I can reflect upon that would make me suggest this as a rental.

The Fall
The Fall(2006)

This is a fantastic film that truly proves you should not always listen to the critics. The critical consensus seems to be that this is eye candy with not much there, but I was moved by both the striking visuals and the rich storytelling. This didn't remind me so much of a Pan's Labyrinth as it did The Wizard of Oz in which a storyteller (Lee Pace) integrates real life characters into his tale. I dug this movie a lot and hope that more people seek it out.


If you think a movie about recounting voter ballots does not have the potential to be suspenseful, then Recount will give you a run for your money. This may be direct-to-cable, but it is one of the best films of 2008.


This is another one of those rare gems that went overlooked in its theatrical release. This is one of the best films to come out this year and should not be missed.

Righteous Kill

It seems that once De Niro and Pacino were onboard, the filmmakers essentially half-assed the script and made the film revolve around these men. There could have been more attention focused on a deep character study, but director Jon Avnet seems more concerned with putting the two actors together in the same shot as much as possible.

The Signal
The Signal(2008)

This is a trilogy of horror-thriller stories that begins with so much ambition in the first installment and sadly spirals out of control. What is even more unfortunate is seeing that a disappointing project like these took three directors to make. Yes, I know it is a trilogy, but one director could have taken on this drag of a movie just as well.

Burn After Reading

I have to give this a mild recommendation. This isn't a joke-per-minute comedy so much as it is a big picture comedy. Once the movie ended, I reflected on what went on from start to finish, and it was at that point that I laughed hysterically. It is possible that, like the Coen Brother's Big Lebowski, this could be a comedy that gets better with more viewings.


Other than an intense chase scene that is effective, this movie is directionless. It is a post-apocalyptic action film featuring knights in shining armor on horses, cannibal punks, and humans being splattered all over the place like hamburger meat. This movie vomits out plot devices from the last couple of decades in desperate attempt to be remembered as a cool cult classic.

What Would Jesus Buy?

This is one underrated documentary about a performance group headed up by Reverend Billy whose mission is to get Americans to realize that the true holiday spirit has been tarnished by selfish consumerism. What I loved about it is that it actually sends out an optimistic and nice message rather than the angry and bleak message you get from most left-leaning docs.

The Dark Knight

This is truly what superhero movies should set out to be. It is dark, sophisticated, and well-done, and I can only hope more films will follow in its footsteps thanks to its high box office intake.

Pineapple Express

I got a chuckle in from time to time. Unsurprisingly the people around me scarfing Cheetos really fast seemed to be enjoying it a lot more.

American Teen

This is one of those documentaries that made me wish I could go back in time, find my teenage self, confidently look myself in the eye, and say "Dude, screw these people"

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Woody Allen does what he does best by really going inside his characters and making his setting of choice (this time Spain) a character in the movie. But overall this story of triangular love and emotion does not live up to Allen's last drama Match Point.

Tropic Thunder

Finally the end of the summer starts producing terrific comedies! You have Robert Downey Jr playing an Australian playing a poorly stereotyped black man, you have explosions, and you have one of the most dead-on Hollywood satires to come out in a long time. God it feels good to laugh at comedies again. Thank you Ben Stiller!

Hamlet 2
Hamlet 2(2008)

There may not be laughs every minute, but this is a reliably funny comedy. And damned if the offensively brilliant musical at the climax doesn't make this one of the funniest movies of the summer.

Encounters at the End of the World

Werner Herzog does not just set out to make a movie about Antarctica. He manages to examine everything from the continent itself to the wildlife to the quirky researchers living there. This is a visually stunning and fascinating documentary that had me grinning from start to finish.

Diary of the Dead

Romero is back with another installment of his zombie franchise. It is an undeniably intense movie from the original zombie maestro himself, but, like Cloverfield, it suggests these characters keep a camera glued to their face no matter what the circumstance. I can't help but wonder if the commentary this time from Romero is that we are so numb that we've lost our "flight or flight" instincts.

Bigger, Stronger, Faster*

This is part personal film and part social commentary on steroids and masculinity. Director and bodybuilder Chris Bell provides a thought-provoking look at the testosterone-stimulating drug and boldly questions why America treats it as a major problem-causer while soldiers are killed in Iraq and innocents are killed every day by drunk drivers.

Step Brothers

I have a fondness for Will Ferrell's sense of humor, but this movie is too harsh. While a percentage of the film made me laugh, what remained was farts and poop-eating along with tons of obnoxious screaming, crying, and punching. I wanted to laugh and relax, but this movie actually made me feel annoyed and irritable.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Hellboy 2)

...a marriage of CGI creatures and costumed actors that demonstrate the work of a man who admires both old school movie making and new age innovations.

Wanted(2008) over the top that you at one point just have to let go and soak up the fun.


Yeah that's right....4 stars. I really don't understand why critics are hating on this movie. It is the anti- dumb blockbuster that has a slower pace and focuses more on its characters. Will Smith made a great choice in playing a superhero with imperfections. Plus Peter Berg's direction is very much experimental in the vein of Michael Mann (who executive produced) rather than the "point and shoot" styling of any cliched mega film. My bold suggestion is to bypass Rotten Tomatoes and see this anyway. You may be disappointed yes, but you may also be pleasantly surprised.


Wall-E is a film that will make you laugh, cry, and be thankful that there is still a studio out there today that understands audiences, films, and how to make said films both classy and entertaining for said audiences.

King Corn
King Corn(2007)

The documentary is amateurish, but the directors make great moderators for their film who treat their subjects respectfully and do not put on a Michael Moore spectacle of shame or embarrassment. Of course there is also the subject matter of corn being in virtually everything we buy. You better believe that I'm warming up to farmers markets.

Standard Operating Procedure

Errol Morris is a genius at getting his subjects to talk and making us want to listen to them. However, this does pale in comparison to Alex Gibney's doc, Taxi to the Dark Side, which is more all-encompassing of the war prisoner torture scandal.

The Incredible Hulk

Really, it gets the job done and is a step above Ang Lee's version. It should be known that Edward Norton was pushing for the final cut of this film that focused on more character depth, and this version was cut by the studio. This original version will hopefully be obtainable on DVD. But really, I enjoyed this movie, loved Edward Norton, and especially loved Tim Roth as the slime ball villain.


This is one extremely bizarre film that befuddled me and had me laughing hysterically simultaneously.

The Happening

Shyamalan's tale of man vs nature is more laughable than intriguing. It is almost as absurd as the film The Day After Tomorrow when people are being chased by global warming.

Get Smart
Get Smart(2008)

Steve Carell is funny....this movie is not.

Son of Rambow

....a poignant little movie about children, creativity, and conformity.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

There is some original spirit here that I enjoyed thanks to some great action sequences and welcome appearances from Harrison Ford and Karen Allen (who is still ultimately crushable at her age). However, the final stretch throws out some absurdities that I can only assume are thanks to George Lucas. I like to blame many problems on George Lucas. He is probably responsible for the rising gas prices.

The Strangers

I like this film because it is very succinct in its short run time. We are not bombarded by motives or twists. The victims are scared, normal people, and the villains are anonymous people committing terrible acts simply because they are mean.


A surprisingly solid thriller that picks the ideal locale for terror: a creepy, deserted parking garage.


This is a tight script from David Mamet that does not contain his usual arrogantly weak dialogue. In fact, this would be a much better film if it were not for a very underwhelming conclusion that comes out of left field when things are intense, and just deflates the whole thing.

Southland Tales

I honestly couldn't explain what the hell it is that happens in Richard Kelly's follow-up to Donnie Darko. But it deserves credit for bringing entertainment value. What I don't understand is why Kelly thinks this story is worth being of epic proportions as if it were the next Lawrence of Arabia.

Iron Man
Iron Man(2008)

I am glad that this film has allowed for me to confirm that blockbusters can be a wonderful experience, and that I am not just an uppity dick invested only in award-winning indies. Director Jon Favreau delivers the goods with Robert Downey Jr. in the lead and one hell of an action-packed thrill ride that actually gives us something to look forward to that isn't an uninspired sequel.

Snow Angels
Snow Angels(2007)

This is a terrific film. David Gordon Green has a detailed direction that defines every character and the emotions they are feeling. Keeping that in mind, everyone here turns in smashing performances. Even Kate Beckinsale proves that she can do some acting.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

There are really no complaints here. This is a terrific comedy that made me laugh with characters I actually cared about. It is like consuming a well-balanced serving of humor.

Fierce People

There is nothing that can ruin a potentially decent satire than a random scene of male rape. The more I think about it, the more I hate this piece of crap film that thinks it is being oh so smart by referring to the rich as brutal savages.

The Counterfeiters

I am a bit biased as a fan of films that capture the horror of the Holocaust. However, this German-language film takes a terrific perspective in the shoes of Jewish prisoners who are forced to counterfeit money as a means of funding the Nazi war effort.

Taxi to the Dark Side

Director Alex Gibney has a true knack for making captivating documentaries. This film shook me to the core, yet I didn't feel as though I was being manipulated by biased pundits.

Smart People
Smart People(2008)

It is too bad that this talented cast is not given better material to work with. The lowest point in this film has to be the zip chemistry between Sarah Jessica Parker, and Dennis Quaid putting the 'tense' in pretentious.


Let's face it: Clooney is today's Cary Grant. Now if he had left room for more genuine screwball shenanigans in the screenplay, this movie would have surpassed tepidness.


It is unfortunate that the movie-going public does not flock to the truthful nature of these Iraq war films. For anyone who has developed the patriotic, "let's get'em" notion about the war, this film may slightly alter that perception. Despite this being a clearly politically biased film, the storyline is very emotional and the performances here are outstanding. It may not be the feel good movie of the year, but it is certainly worth checking out.

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

This is a thriller that plays less upon predictable cliches, but rather on pure human emotion. My heart was palpitating not because of some chase scene, but because I could sincerely feel the emotions of the main character, who does the unthinkable to get her best friend a back alley abortion in Communist Bucharest. If you can seek out this movie, I highly suggest seeing it.

We Own the Night

The first half is predictable drama with the overused "where does your loyalty stand?" theme, but this is slightly forgiven by an intense second half that includes a vehicle chase scene that simply blew me away. So overall, I give half and half on this one.

The Bank Job
The Bank Job(2008)

This heist film is old school and doesn't quit for a moment with the intensity. Divert your attention from the razzle dazzle crap that is 10,000 BC and see this underappreciated film before it is gone from theaters.

Things We Lost in the Fire

This is basically a Lifetime movie with more notable actors. Nothing about this mediocre, depressing effort really struck me as memorable or moving.


This has to be the greatest film about toothed vaginas that I have ever seen!

He Was a Quiet Man

This is another original work overlooked on the film festival circuit. Christian Slater and Elisha Cuthbert are especially terrific as an office head case and a quadriplegic office whore who find love with one another.

The Nines
The Nines(2007)

There are mind-f*ck movies that accomplish nothing and then there are those that make us want to come back because we know there is something worth exploring. This surrealistic flick from writer/director John August falls into the latter category. I was thoroughly entertained, satisfied, and baffled all at once.

I Could Never Be Your Woman

How this film was sent to straight-to-DVD exile is beyond me. Director Amy Heckerling is at the top of her game with this hilarious romantic comedy about older-younger relationships with some television industry and body image satire thrown in. This film is better than most of the piss-poor romantic comedies that actually make it to theater screens, and will hopefully find its audience from word of mouth.

30 Days of Night

The film is undeniably chilling with Danny Huston nailing it as a scary-as-hell head vampire. What makes the film suffer is its extra runtime minutes devoted strictly to gratuitous gore. With the splatter factor toned down a little, the suspense factor would have been more pronounced.

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

This is the story of geeks vying for the title of the highest Donkey Kong points. Believe it or not, it is one of the most intense and poignant films this year.

Charlie Bartlett

I truly appreciate high school movies that don't depict the heroes as dimwits that speak a hybrid of hip hop slang and text message, and that is why I enjoyed Charlie Bartlett. At the same time, it doesn't bring anything revelatory to the table, and the high school setting it depicts is a far cry from any high school I've visited.

Be Kind Rewind

What appears at first to be a broken-record premise driven into the ground actually turns out to be a pretty original idea. Director Michel Gondry really hits home the idea of creating something from nothing with a little creativity. Jack Black and Mos Def are a joy to watch as two guys who are like wide-eyed 12 year olds with movie cameras for the first time.

Definitely, Maybe

Good romantic comedies are so few and far between, so it is difficult for me to not recommend this movie that actually acts mature for once. At the same time, it could be better. A mopey Ryan Reynolds is upstaged by the amazing women in this film. Isla Fisher is especially winning.

Great World of Sound

I give this a mild recommendation. What I enjoyed is its dog-eat-dog depiction of scam artists. I couldn't help but cringe at its honest message that money-grubbing predators are around every corner looking to shatter the dreams of others for their own personal gain.

Across the Universe

The music of the Beetles sends chills up my spine. Too bad it is difficult to enjoy in this god awful and trite piece of eye candy. The more I think back on this film, the more I hate it. The characters in the film are named after characters from Beetles songs and the narrative conveniently places the songs to define certain scenes. For example, "Dear Prudence" is sung to a girl named Prudence who has locked herself in a closet and happens to be a closet lesbian. I can't think of a more piss poor way to write a screenplay. The songs may send chills up my spine, but this film sends pain through my brain.

The Hunting Party

A surprisingly entertaining journalism film that delivers a unique blend of thrills and humor. This has to be one of the most overlooked projects of 2007.

Rocket Science

I enjoyed this high school comedy very much. What makes it work is how it effectively captures the unglamorous and awkward side of high school. The stuttering protagonist is not a hunk playing a dweeb; he is a genuine struggler trying to fit in.


A well-directed, postpartum nightmare serves as a nice commercial for vasectomies. I expected very little, and I actually ended up digging this underappreciated flick.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

A hard-hitting drama that really brings out the claustrophobic frustrations of "locked-in" syndrome.

High Fidelity

This film never fails to put a smile on my face. It also gives an honest look at the prickish actions of males during the break-up process.


While the narrative is too stretched out at times, I still love the characters and the dark direction from Guillermo Del Toro. The upcoming sequel has strong potential.

Saw IV
Saw IV(2007)

....and to think this sell-out, disgusting franchise all began with a clever premise of an indie film.

Smiley Face
Smiley Face(2007)

I've seen much funnier weed comedies.


A + for the marketing campaign shrouded in mystery; C+ for the predictable finished product.

The Savages
The Savages(2007)

This is more of a depressing drama than the comedy that marketing has build it up to be. But it is a sometimes poignant and sometimes merciless look at the topic of how to care for elderly loved ones. Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman are expectedly terrific.

There Will Be Blood

A fine accomplish that proves just how bad ass Daniel Day Lewis really is, and how much Paul Thomas Anderson has matured as a filmmaker. This is some really intense drama and filmmaking.

The Orphanage

A strong reminder of how suspense, when utilized correctly, can deliver hella chills.


Zzzzzz. This film is commendable for its outstanding direction, particularly a nicely-done long take. Overall, this film dwells on romance and guilt, but stays stagnant rather than progressing forward.


Funny how an indie comedy that is so predictably quirky is also one of the most sincere films I have seen in a long time. I loved every minute and Ellen Page is a marvel.


Immediately after watching this movie I felt a sense of partial emptiness. However, ever since leaving my couch, I can't stop thinking about it. The music is full of sweet harmony and the story is undeniably sweet. It is just the critical praises for this film stating that it will forever revolutionize the musical that I don't quite understand.

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

The latest effort from Judd Apatow and friends is pretty hit and miss. Some moments are right on the money, but I have to dock points for the story dragging on too long at times.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

This is a toe-tapping, blood-spurting masterwork from Tim Burton, and I loved every second of its dark sickness.

Lars and the Real Girl

You will either connect with or lose touch with this tale of a socially inept lad who creates a loving mate out of a sex doll. While I wanted to see the tenderness in small town folk kindly going along with the man's delusions, I couldn't help but wonder where the mullet-headed, intolerant rednecks were in this town. Reservations aside, Ryan Gosling is still on a roll of greatness.

I Am Legend
I Am Legend(2007)

The thriller is slightly bogged down by the casting of CGI creations as the infected humans. I really do wish that Hollywood's boner for CGI effects would subside. This small reservation aside, the movie comes through thanks to a solid performance from Will Smith as a man forced to live in isolation after a viral apocalypse.

The Golden Compass

There is something admirable about the bizarreness of this trippy fantasy. It is hard not to like things like armored polar bears, Sam Elliot as a cowboy, and a talented young lead. But something about the half-assed storytelling really takes the focus off of the strong characters and makes the movie feel a tad rushed.

Crazy Love
Crazy Love(2007)

It is one thing to enjoy a twisted love story. However, it is something completely different when that story is true. This is an engaging documentary that will evoke one extreme of emotions one minute and another extreme the next.

Hot Rod
Hot Rod(2007)

I actually do feel less intelligent after watching this comedy. I know that Andy Samberg has some potential from this work on SNL, but the few sporadic gags don't make up for the entirety of this mess.

The Mist
The Mist(2007)

God bless Frank Darabont. The man understands Stephen King's material like no other director. It saddens me that this is the lowest -grossing Thanksgiving movie to be released because this one is intense and thoroughly entertaining. The characters in the movie are actually scarier than the monsters themselves. Please see this movie and tell me if you agree that it rules.

A Mighty Heart

I commend this for not being overly-stagy and being more realistic, but I don't think this is one of the best films this year. I give it a "meh".


This is just an overall disappointing and lousy movie. It's getting to the point where I see past a movie simply because it has cool CGI effects. This film could have been so much more, but never really achieves it.

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

All I can say No CG effects, no overacting, and no explosions. Just good, old-fashioned cinema with genuine performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman and Albert Finney.

No Country for Old Men

From this point forward, I will mess myself and cry at the sight of Javier Bardem. Did I mention that this movie rules?

Black Sheep
Black Sheep(2006)

This movie does go a but too far sometimes. But I think a part of me has secretly been waiting for a movie in which sheep maul the shit out of people. Yes...I was laughing and amused.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

This is not so much a film I enjoyed in the moment, but more a film that hits me now as I think back on it. At almost 3 hours, this western felt more like 90 minutes. Perhaps I was mesmerized by the old-timey direction, eloquent voice-over narration, and the scene-stealing performances from Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck.

Into the Wild

Terrific performances from, not only the actors, but from Sean Penn as a filmmaker. When the story doesn't dominate, the cross-country scenery does.

The Heartbreak Kid

The Farellys start things off solid in the first 30 minutes, but it just gets progressively worse after that. Every other comedy filmmaker has driven gross-out into the ground since There's Something About Mary. This makes whatever queef, fart, or pee joke teh Farrellys throw into the mix not so shocking or funny.

Snow Cake
Snow Cake(2006)

Snow Cake is a different little film that has potential, but it becomes really tiresome because it simply stretches things out. The film is about being trapped, whether it is Alex's predicament or Linda's arrested development. This is a great concept, but there has to be a better way to progress this film.

Beyond the Gates

At first I was disinterested in seeing another film about the Rwandan genocides, but Beyond the Gates is a completely different film from that of the more popular Hotel Rwanda. How it differentiates from this film will appeal to some, but will repel others. The unsettling aspects of the Rwandan genocide are revealed. This includes the merciless killing of women and babies with machetes. The gruesomeness of these acts is very hard to take, but this is precisely what makes the film work in the first place. The story of these people needs to be told, and the audience is given ample opportunity to gain more insight into the pain and suffering that occurred during this horrific time.

Michael Clayton

Really we have seen this premise before in every generic, legal thriller to come out in the past two decades. What this one does so differently is that it keeps its characters in mind rather than just jumping into excessive thrills. It seems that the main characters have their professional demeanors at work, but also have their flaws at home. This is especially so for Tilda Swinton's performance as a legal counsel who is weak at the knees. Of course George Clooney is the man like usual.

Lucky You
Lucky You(2007)

Lucky You could have been a film about characters set in the poker world. Instead it is a movie about poker set in a world of characters.

Funny Face
Funny Face(1957)

The film itself offers an array of worthwhile song and dance numbers, but the collision of old and young doesn't really flow. One minute Hepburn is expressing herself in a beatnik dance, while the next minute, Fred Astaire performs an old-fashioned tap dance. The film was clearly produced at a crucial point of transition for the Hollywood musical, and it tries to utilize the best of both worlds.

Manda Bala (Send a Bullet)

Here is a film that will make you appreciate the United States and all of its somewhat minuscule problems. Many Brazilian citizens open up about the harsh conditions of Sao Paulo. What I especially love is how the filmmaker introduces us to an array of people, and just let's them talk. If you are ever able to find this playing in your local theater, definitely consider it.

28 Weeks Later...

For the most part it really delivers in respecting the source material and not going for profitable thrills. With Danny Boyle on board as a producer and consultant, you can really tell that a lot of care was put into the finished product. This may not include the occasional bit of gratuitous violence that breaks away from most of the film's intelligent agenda.

You Kill Me
You Kill Me(2007)

You Kill Me is not a hilarious classic, but it doesn't throw any foolish punches that make it an unlikable movie.

A Simple Plan

I forgot how intelligent Sam Raimi's pre-Spiderman thriller is. Any film buffs who haven't seen this should seek it out on the bottom shelf of their video store.

Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World

How painful it is to see Albert Brooks going astray

Seven Samurai (Shichinin no Samurai)

Never mind the 207-minute runtime. Back when Hollywood was producing "gee golly" films in the 1950s, Akira Kurosawa was creating this epic masterpiece that inspired so many classics, that its not even funny.

Bonnie and Clyde

It may seem like nothing to younger audiences today, but back in its heyday this was a controversial piece of work that had critics split. Films today that are well-directed, smart, and violent probably have Bonnie and Clyde to thank for kicking things off.

Resident Evil: Extinction

I've always had a soft spot for this critically-attacked series. The films really are getting weaker as they progress.

A Hard Day's Night

The wacky Beatles scurry around London where they get into trouble and break into spontaneous song. While the story is underwhelming, the music makes this a pleasurable viewing.

Good Luck Chuck

You see movies like this because they put things into perspective. The next time I see a truly great comedy, I will appreciate it even more thanks to the gross-out gags and hackneyed slapstick of this stupid little movie sitting in the back of my mind.

In the Valley of Elah

Tommy Lee Jones will surely be nominated for an Oscar for his performance as an old-fashioned war veteran coming to terms with the death of his son, and the Iraq war that has completely gotten out of hand. This is one of the best films you will see this year.


Even after seeing this a second time, I can't quite wrap my mind around the twisted storyline. But this contemporary, teenage film noir is so undeniably cool and clever.

The Ten
The Ten(2007)

Freaking hilarious! This humor will really not work with everyone. If you are a fan of Wet Hot American Summer, or the sketch comedy of Stella, this is sure to get a rise out of you. The Ten is absurd humor at its best.

Eastern Promises

By creating a first-rate suspense thriller interlaced with moments of bizarre violence, Cronenberg proves that he can still have his cake and eat it too.

Mr. Woodcock
Mr. Woodcock(2007)

It's not that this is a bad movie. It is just straightforward, predictable, and not funny.

No End in Sight

It is difficult to ignore this one. The filmmakers don't try to be pretentious, smug, or preachy (I'm talking to you Michael Moore). This documentary delivers the inconvenient truth about the war in Iraq and how it spiraled out of control using interviews with pivotal insiders as its basis.

3:10 to Yuma
3:10 to Yuma(2007)

A winning remake that surpasses its predecessor with high class intensity and stellar performances from Crowe and Bale.

The Brave One

I really enjoyed this film because of its observation on how a normal person can turn into a killer from a traumatic experience. The performances by Jodie Foster and Terrence Howard are also top notch. The big problem with this film isn't necessarily with the film itself, but with the misunderstood viewers. The audience in my theater hooted, hollered, and laughed hysterically after Foster's character would kill someone. It amazed me that so many dumbasses failed to see a character study about an emotionally scarred woman, and instead saw a story that encouraged everyone to go home, get their guns, and kill the next person they despised. For the sake of experiencing this movie the way the filmmakers intended, I suggest waiting for this movie on DVD and avoiding the trigger-happy, popcorn munchers with ADD looking for cheap thrills. If that is your cup of tea, please walk further down the hall for a showing of Shoot Em' Up (which, by the way, is a righteously kick ass popcorn movie).

Mad Love
Mad Love(1995)

The title for this should be, "Naive Teen Boy Thinks He Loves Kooky Girl From Across the Lake". They should have made a sequel to see if good boy Chris O'Donnell would really have the patience to love suicidal nut case Drew Barrymore. I smell a sitcom!

Deliver Us from Evil

One of the most unsettling and greatest documentaries ever made. This isn't so much about corruption in the Catholic Church, but about corruption that can occur in any institution, and our vulnerability to it because of intimidating leadership. Hell, I am a devout Catholic and I still absolutely love this film. This is undoubtedly a must-see picture.

Shoot 'Em Up
Shoot 'Em Up(2007)

Shoot Em' Up will get into your bloodstream like a shot of Red Bull, and still leave you charged during the ride home.

Death Sentence

At one point this thriller takes a turn for the worst. The second half of this doesn't just dive; it hits rock bottom.


On the grand scale of things, the project does not come close to filling the shoes of its predecessor. But it does give us a bag of tricks and treats to savor at the end of a hot summer.

3:10 to Yuma
3:10 to Yuma(1957)

I must admit that this is one impressive western. Glenn Ford and Van Heflin play off one another perfectly and the tension is strong. The upcoming remake really has a lot to live up to.

The Contract
The Contract(2006)

One stupid fix is piled up upon another to progress the action, and we rarely get the chance to ask why or even become acquainted with these characters. Why such talent would become involved in this train wreck of clichés is beyond me.


The performances compensate where the direction and screenplay are weak. I hope for better things in the upcoming October follow-up film.

Starter for 10

The storyline is short of being hilarious or original, but it is really too sweet-natured to fault anything here.

Death at a Funeral

There's a lot of old-fashioned physical comedy and farce here that aims only to make us laugh. I must admit that the British charm won me over.


This is an 83-minute whirlwind of hot and cold emotion between two polar opposites. Yet I was thoroughly engaged from start to finish.

Hot Fuzz
Hot Fuzz(2007)

Hey...these guys love movies and it is pure bliss to see what happens when they mix comedy with popular genres.

Slow Burn
Slow Burn(2007)

An ambitious neo-noir with clever racial plot devices that sinks way too deep into whodunit territory.

Lonely Hearts

It is difficult for me to ignore the casting of sexy Salma Hayak as a woman who was a disgustingly obese psychopath in real life. I knew this going into Lonely Hearts, yet I still enjoyed this story about the Lonely Hearts killers. Everyone here turns in great performances including John Travolta playing things calmly, Jared Leto, and Hayek herself as the jealous killer. Many inaccuracies aside, the movie is still a nail-biter.


After some serious thought, I've deemed this a worthy teen comedy. Not only did it make me laugh enough, but it is really true to form about high school males, and the inner badass that shakes in his boots when it comes to actual confrontation.

Dead Silence
Dead Silence(2007)

The ending to this movie is terribly predictable. In fact, the filmmakers could have taken numerous easy measures to not make it so painfully obvious from square one. However, the movie is also undeniably creepy from square one. The use of ventriloquist dummies is quite effective, and the plot as a whole is reminiscent of a children's campfire tale or urban legend. It is just the twist ending! Trust me, it will be hitting you smack dab in the face within the first 15 minutes.

The Hills Have Eyes 2

Unlike the predecessor remake, which was effectively creepy, this one simply strives to be more brutal and bloody. Seeing a drooling, retarded mutant rape a woman isn't scary; it is simply uninspired and screams, "Look how far we can go." Funny how horror movies that were once a metaphor for rape (ie. the slasher knife penetrating the female victim) have evolved into crap such as this where filmmakers feel the need to spell everything out for us.

The Holiday
The Holiday(2006)

The romance between Jude Law and Cameron Diaz as beautiful people looking for love (gag me) falls flat. However, Jack Black and the stunningly gorgeous Kate Winslet even things out.


Meh. This is a political thriller that runs way too long thanks to a convoluted plot and superfluous shots of Mark Wahlberg walking in slow motion.

Wondrous Oblivion

A slice of nostalgic sappiness that would fit in quite well on the Hallmark Channel.


A wildly creative and funny adult fairy tale that will get little to no recognition because everyone would rather see Brett Ratner's Rush Hour 3.

Bridge to Terabithia

A worthy kids film that gets to the point by understanding the obstacles of junior high and how having an optimistic imagination can pull you through it all.

The Astronaut Farmer

Nothing beats a clean-cut story about an underdog who accomplishes the impossible and essentially tells all doubtful Goliaths to get bent.

The Last Mimzy

This family adventure that is supposed to feel magical felt a tad cultish and creepy to me. The storyline sounds like a passage out of a Scientology origins pamphlet. Granted this likely isn't true, the movie just didn't sit well with me. The kids are smart, the parents are dumb, and the damn government is always out to shatter the dreams of children.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Definitely one of the finest installments in the series thus far.

The Bourne Ultimatum

Hang on for dear life! Paul Greengrass once again brings us a fine distribution of kick-ass confrontations and suspenseful storytelling.

Talk to Me
Talk to Me(2007)

The film runs a tad long, but it is undeniably good. Don Cheadle and Chiwetel Ejiofor have terrific chemistry in this comedy/drama about race, media, and freedom of speech.

La Gran final (The Great Match)

Rather than exoticizing the Other, this movie reveals that so many people across the world are alike, and do not even realize it because of physical and cultural differences.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Some classics never die. Nothing beats Robert Patrick as a liquid metal villain and Governor Schwarzenegger handing asses to any life form that stands in his way.

The Bourne Supremacy

If you were like me and felt underwhelmed by The Bourne Identity, then give this follow-up a shot. Paul Greengrass breathes much needed action, storyline, and life into this installment.


There is some turbulence in the writing during the final stretch, but as a whole this is a solid sci-fi outing from Danny Boyle with effective human drama and mind-blowing special effects.

Rescue Dawn
Rescue Dawn(2007)

Nothing beats a good, old-fashioned escape movie with Christian Bale in arrogant, badass mode.

Fun With Dick and Jane

I now know why I was never excited to see this lame stab at materialism and the Enron scandal.

Incident at Loch Ness

A pretty lame venture into mockumentary territory, but Werner Herzog is always a pro, even in front of the camera.

The Simpsons Movie

The movie version of the long-running television series may be running on already-tread waters, but it is still darn funny by relying on its rich characters and clever writing rather than poop and burp jokes.

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

This is the best installment of the prequels, and that is not really a compliment.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Promising, but not the most impressive in the film series.


Overhyped? Yes. But let's not forget how much we cried when seeing DiCaprio's frozen face going underwater.


A light and enjoyable musical weakened by the casting of John Travolta in a fat suit. Unlike previous men who portrayed Edna Turnblad (Divine and Harvey Fierstein) Travolta has difficulty getting in touch with his womanly side. The fresh-faced talent are the ones who really steal this show.

Evan Almighty

Funnier than I expected, but still lacking. Not that I expected great things from yet another scriptless summer movie that is solely concerned with CGI.

Gray Matters
Gray Matters(2007)

Heather Graham may be easy on the eyes, but her performance as a budding lesbian is painfully naive.


Bloody carnage is all this film is concerned with. The rest comes off as simply unplanned.

Ten Canoes
Ten Canoes(2007)

I felt refreshed to see a picture that gets in touch with the Aborigine culture rather than position it as something of a joke that differentiates from modern times.

Fay Grim
Fay Grim(2007)

...we are treated to more of an indie aesthetic that would certainly succeed in a slow-moving character study about love and relationships, but certainly not here in a film about espionage.


Damn it Michael Bay! When will you learn?

Welcome Home Roxy Carmichael

A painful-to-watch comedy that wanders off into absurd quirkiness.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Priscilla does not meet my standards of a classic comedy, but I certainly enjoyed this unusual road trip film. Much credit goes to Terence Stamp for leaving his tough guy at home to become all woman.


I loved this movie, and I am even a Michael Moore basher. It is a breath of fresh air to see the filmmaker/performer take on an issue that anyone--left, right, or moderate--would probably agree is a major problem in this country: health care.

Live Free or Die Hard

This installment underwhelmed me. It is like eating a bowl of gumbo that doesn't have any kick to it.


Pixar proves once again that they are the sharpest and classiest animators in Hollywood


The concept is solid, but things clearly got out of hand somewhere in the production process.

The Wood
The Wood(1999)

....a jovial trip down memory lane that looks at the traumatic and awkward moments in adolescence that crack us up as adults.

Reno 911!: Miami

Reno 911 is a film that had me laughing on occasion, but there is no comparison to the television show. There is some material intended to stay within the boob tube, and even Reno 911 is not an exception.

Ghost Rider
Ghost Rider(2007)

Comic book films tend to go wrong when they misinterpret the definition of "comical". Because a film is based on a comic book does not necessarily mean it should be comical in nature. Judging by the cliched, jokey quips and blatantly synthetic CGI effects, the makers of Ghost Rider clearly did not give this much thought.

Pan's Labyrinth

This story reveals that the monsters that exist in real life are the inspiration for the monsters in our imaginations. Definitely one of the best films of 2006.

They Live
They Live(1988)

John Carpenter's cult classic is a load of fun. See it at least for the 7-minute-long fight sequence between Roddy Piper and Keith David that defines drawn-out sight gags.


Cusack really makes the insanity and claustrophobia come alive. 1408 is the hotel horror film that Vacancy should have been.

The Devil's Backbone (El Espinazo del diablo)

It is always a joy to revisit this eerie treasure, which serves as a reminder of Gueillermo del Toro's ability to class up the horror genre.

Away From Her

Sarah Polley makes an impressive directorial debut in this moving picture about the strengthening and deterioration of mind and companionship. There are also strong performances here from Julie Christie, Gordon Pinsent, and Olympia Dukakis.

The Dead Girl

This is certainly solid storytelling, but it isn't the underrated, critical gem that I anticipated.


Every once in a blue moon, a simple romantic comedy comes along that captures rich characters, a sweet sense of humor, and amazing pies. This is one of those films. Bring a date and prepare to smile.

Paris Je T'aime

Various filmmakers unite and bring us a collection of poignant, tearful, terrifying, and romantic tales. It is hard not to fall in love with this Paris.

Blue Velvet
Blue Velvet(1986)

Dennis Hopper going berserk. Need I say more?


We are excited by superficial green screens, slow motion, and beefcakes in Speedos? Come on now! Settle down.

Ocean's Thirteen

I feel like renting an Armani suit and ripping off a casino.

Hostel Part II

Wake me up when people are through claiming that torture porn is quality horror.


A bit over the top, but delightfully paranoid and claustrophobic.


Every now and then we need a thriller with sophistication and class.

A Fistful of Dollars (Per un Pugno di Dollari)

A decent kick-off to the spaghetti western craze.

Little Children

A winning portrayal of grown-ups and their underdeveloped inner children.

Mr. Brooks
Mr. Brooks(2007)

Great to see Costner doing something worth while. It is just unfortunate that Demi Moore's unnecessary appearance wrecks this rather excessive thriller.