omelette's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Playtime
Playtime(1973)
½

If for no other reason, cinema lovers must see Playtime for its absolute uniqueness. There's no narrative to speak of, and none of the (very little) dialogue has any importance - Playtime is more like a visual study of the complexities and absurdities of modern life and architecture. I know, that sounds like a ridiculously dull two hours - and for long stretches, Playtime's lack of any traditional plot or direction does become tedious. But the majority of Playtime holds a quiet fascination akin to people watching, and at its best moments is breathtaking in its ingenuity.

The Hangover Part II

I was never in love with the original Hangover, but it definitely had its charms - the premise is a genius setup for a comedy, and it delivered a few belly laughs. Part II, on the other hand, represents almost everything I hate about Hollywood sequel and comedy filmmaking. It's a step-by-step retread of the original. No matter how outrageous events become, nothing is ever surprising or thrilling because, while there are different variations (Bangkok instead of Vegas! A monkey instead of a tiger!), Part II never dares to violate the precise formula of Part I. The screenwriters did not have to make a radically original sequel, but Part II is downright stale - the jokes and revelations are dead on arrival. Beyond being one of the laziest sequels in recent memory, The Hangover fails miserably as a comedy. The filmmakers have considerably upped the raunch and nastiness from Part I, and the results are nauseating. The gross-out humor goes way too far, without an ounce of wit or actual shock behind it. There are funny moments, particularly early on in the movie, which makes its utter failure all the more disappointing - there was clearly talent here, and potential to make an enjoyable sequel. But instead, The Hangover Part II lazily rehashes the same stuff, with awe-inspiringly unfunny vulgarity and ugliness making it even worse than a mere cynical cash-grab.

Le Notti di Cabiria (Nights of Cabiria)

A heartbreaking, beautiful Fellini film that earns much of its power from Giulietta Masina's incredible performance. Nights of Cabiria does become a bit dull and overlong in stretches, but Fellini and Masina's portrait of this tough, vulgar but eternally hopeful prostitute wandering the streets of Rome is sympathetic and downright enchanting in its best moments.

La Strada is an even better Fellini/Masina collaboration.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

2011 has been a year of pleasantly surprising 4+ sequels. Once most franchises go past being a trilogy, the quality goes severely downhill - Scream 4 and Fast Five broke the trend, functioning as solid sequels and highly entertaining films standing on their own. Unfortunately, the latest entry in Pirates of the Caribbean does not continue this trend. On Stranger Tides feels utterly pointless. It is not as torturously endless and dull as At World's End, but has a similar "who cares?" vibe. My pulse rarely quickened, no matter how many daring escapes and killer mermaids the movie threw at me. The whole affair feels absolutely empty and there's rarely a true sense of danger or excitement.

On Stranger Tides has definite potential - while Johnny Depp's antics are less effective than they used to be, Jack Sparrow remains a fun character. Getting rid of Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, and shortening the running time by over half an hour, were all wise choices, and there are glimpses of legitimate creativity and fun. This is enough to make On Stranger Tides much more pleasant viewing than the insufferable At World's End - instead of being infuriatingly bad, it's merely forgettable and mediocre. Also, it's criminal how miserably Penelope Cruz was wasted here.

Thor
Thor(2011)
½

I loved Thor. It's not one of the great superhero films, but the charismatic performances, unique visuals, and surprisingly effective sense of humor make for an awesome summer flick.

Salt
Salt(2010)

Salt is a minor popcorn flick, and the ludicrousness of the plot does not hold up if you even question it for a second - but if you allow yourself to go along with and enjoy the absurd twists, Salt is a charming action flick. Angelina Jolie is perfectly cast, and has once again proved herself to be convincingly badass as a female action star. The stunts are fun, the action rarely lets up and the movie does not have an ounce of excess fat on its bones. Solid, quick fun.

The New World

The New World is a very special and remarkable achievement. As expected, the cinematography is gorgeous. The New World is not quite as beautifully filmed as Days of Heaven, but comes pretty close. The way Malick films nature is hypnotic, his camera views the wilds of 1600's Virginia with the same fresh sense of discovery as the characters. But it's not merely a montage of pretty scenery - The New World is a deeply moving experience. At times Malick comes across as uninterested in his characters, which thankfully is not the case here. Colin Farrell, Christian Bale and the stunningly expressive Q'orianka Kilcher all give emotive and natural performances. The level of depth they bring elevate The New World from being merely a beautiful mood piece or a unique history lesson to something close to a masterpiece.

Fast Five
Fast Five(2011)

I wish Hollywood always churned out dumb action movies as good as this one! Fast Five is unapologetically ridiculous and testosterone-charged, and a ton of fun to watch. A nice way to kick off 2011's summer movie season.

Rabbit Hole
Rabbit Hole(2010)
½

While understandably depressing considering the subject matter, Rabbit Hole is crafted with a steady hand and an eye for subtle, beautiful details. It never feels mopey or maudlin, but is always sharp, introspective and compassionate. Nicole Kidman also gives her most powerful performance since Eyes Wide Shut over a decade ago.

Breakfast on Pluto

Neil Jordan directs skillfully and stylishly as expected. Breakfast on Pluto also has an infectious soundtrack and is filled with darkly funny and lightly surreal moments - but the real reason to see this film is Cillian Murphy. Murphy is dazzling in his transformative role as the naive, lost Kitten. He creates a memorable and heartfelt character, and makes Breakfast on Pluto a rewarding and entertaining 2 hours. I would not say that I was blown away by Breakfast or am dying to revisit it, but it was a good time. It has a similar mix of the tragic and whimsical as Jordan's prior film The Butcher Boy, although I slightly prefer the latter.

Of Gods and Men

Of Gods And Men is the best movie I've ever seen about faith. It does not resort to inspirational, glittering generalities or unrealistic sentimentality, and is entirely uncompromising about the overwhelming hatred and messy political divisions in the world - yet still is a beautiful, pure portrayal of faith and love. It's also a superb, engrossingly authentic work of art. The character interactions and slow-paced details of the monastic lifestyle are a huge part of why Of Gods And Men is so spiritually powerful.

Scream 4
Scream 4(2011)
½

I had a blast with Scream 4! I walked out aware that it's nothing that I'd never seen before (it does have way more originality than probably any other four-quel, but it's still essentially the same variations on ideas Craven has been messing with since the original Scream), and it's nothing that will win Oscars. But as Scream 4 unfolded, I received that happy sensation of being completely entertained by a genre movie that met all my modest expectations and surpassed them with flying colors. I was laughing, I was cringing, I was left constantly guessing and even cheered and applauded at a few points. Scream 4 was the perfect Friday night movie to see with an equally amused group of friends - while the original Scream remains king, this is easily my favorite of the sequels. All-around good times with this one, especially the wickedly funny opening scene and beautifully twisted last act.

Marwencol
Marwencol(2010)

Marwencol is a deeply strange and moving documentary. It's amusing, heartbreaking and thought-provoking in equal measure.

The King of Comedy

A truly audacious dark comedy, The King of Comedy constantly toes the line between being uncomfortably hilarious and flat-out disturbing. It's one of Martin Scorsese's lesser-known works, and I can see why - the number of laughs come served with plenty of cringes. It's not always a pleasant film, but still consistently fascinating and even gripping. While he has not gotten as much attention for his Rupert Pupkin as his Travis Bickle or Jake LaMotta, De Niro's performance here is nearly as good, once again creating an unforgettable character.

The Crying Game

The Crying Game is a truly daring and provocative film that constantly dodges any label it could be tagged with. It organically morphs between genres and themes. The Crying Game is a hostage drama, dark love story and Hitchcockian thriller, blended with a few of director Neil Jordan's favorite things: the IRA, sexual dilemnas and Stephen Rea. It's a beautifully unpredictable and thought-provoking piece of work with near-perfect performances - however, this one never quite rose from 'great' to 'amazing' for me. As well-done as it is, I wish it had a slightly more satisfying ending and less flat visuals. Still, The Crying Game is a must-see. Think of my rating as more of an 8.5, if that really matters.

Romeo + Juliet

The clever transplanting of Shakespeare's wordplay to modern times and Luhrmann's hyper-kinetic style kept me amused for about the first half hour - then boredom set in. Romeo + Juliet is the rare ultra-bizarre movie that also happens to be deadly boring. Luhrmann's postmodern and gaudy style, at first interesting, quickly turns stifling and strangely monotonous despite being constantly bizarre. I love what Luhrmann did in Moulin Rouge!, however - it's similarly flashy, but he apparently improved as a director in the years between 1996 and 2001.

Safety Last!
Safety Last!(1923)
½

Harold Lloyd's Safety Last is a likable silent comedy with the unpretentious goal of giving the audience an entertaining and jaw-dropping experience. While the first 2/3's of the film are enjoyable but not as inspired as Keaton or Chaplin at their best, the building-scaling finale ensures that Lloyd emerges from the shadows of his more well-known peers. The fact that it's actually Lloyd climbing a building with little protection only adds to the thrill. The timing is perfection, and I guarantee you will gasp and laugh (maybe a little nervously) as Lloyd faces increasingly absurd obstacles on his way to the top. Safety Last may not quite be great filmmaking, but the nerve-wracking stuntwork and comic timing still inspire smiles and even awe.

Spider-Man 2
Spider-Man 2(2004)
½

Spider-Man 2 can stand proudly with the likes of Terminator 2, The Dark Knight and Batman Returns, action sequels that are huge improvements on their already-wonderful predecessors. Spidey 2 simply encapsulates everything good about Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy - the lovable characters, heartfelt storytelling, campy humor and soaring action sequences have never been more appealing or exciting than here. Sam Raimi tried to one-up himself with the threequel and ended up with a sporadically entertaining but enormously messy near-disaster - clearly all the elements were aligned perfectly in Spider-Man 2 for a great comic book film. In retrospect, they should have just stopped here. This is blockbuster filmmaking at its best.

Grizzly Man
Grizzly Man(2005)
½

Deeply fascinating, and equally disturbing, Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man gripped me like no other documentary I've seen. However, it's also an uncomfortable watch - not only because watching Treadwell interact with the bears that would kill himself and his girlfriend is creepy, but because Treadwell himself is such a trainwreck of a person. Here is someone who never found love or acceptance in human society, so angrily falls into his own delusions. His naivete about these dangerous wild animals is frightening, while his babbling rants and the way he sets up the camera as if making a heroic film about himself is painful to watch. Grizzly Man has a terrible fascination to it as a cringe-inducing but sympathetic portrait of a broken human being. It's also an awe-inspiring nature documentary - some of the footage of the enormous bears and strangely peaceful foxes is stunning in its beauty. While Treadwell did not respect or understand their ferocity and lack of humanity, you can clearly see why he was so taken with these incredible animals.

Sherlock Jr.
Sherlock Jr.(1924)
½

Awesome, wacky Buster Keaton short. Sherlock Jr is only 50 minutes long, but packs that running time with more eye-popping stunts and legitimately innovative ideas than just about all films twice its length. Sherlock Jr. delivers the creative gags and visual tricks with machine gun rapidity, and I found myself laughing fairly constantly and even awed by what I was seeing. The imagination and athleticism on display here are dazzling.

After loving both this and The General, I'm officially on board as a Buster Keaton fan and need to hunt down his other works.

The Kid
The Kid(1921)

Yet another great one from Charlie Chaplin. The Kid is short, simple, and beautiful. This does not have the inventiveness or ambition of Modern Times, but makes up for it with the heartfelt father-son relationship and a few classic gags. The little kid, Jackie Coogan, is fantastic - watching the Tramp raise him as an adopted son and try to keep custody of him is equally heartwarming and stressful. The dream sequence at the end was a bit of an awkward misfire in my opinion, but The Kid is still one of the greatest silents I've seen.

Jurassic Park
½

Jurassic Park is a movie that I watched and rewatched endlessly as a kid - I still remember being awestruck when the dinosaurs first appeared, and flat-out terrified when the T-Rex attacked the Jeep.

And hey, I still totally love this movie. Nobody makes transporting, thrill-ride blockbusters quite like Steven Spielberg, and Jurassic Park is one of his greatest moments. It may not have the iconic characters of Raiders of the Lost Ark or Jaws, but more than makes up for it in pure, awe-inspiring excitement. The special effects are astounding and remain stunning nearly two decades later - even after seeing the film dozens of times, the dinosaurs still make my mouth drop. They are so beautifully designed and terrifying. Spielberg's gift for suspense and shock has rarely been better utilized.

To this day, Jurassic Park has rarely been surpassed as one of the ultimate summer blockbusters. It's superb entertainment, and while watching I still feel like a scared and amazed little kid.

Beastly
Beastly(2011)

Beastly is not quite up there with Catwoman or The Wicker Man remake in the pantheon of so-bad-they're-good unintentional comedies, but it comes pretty close. If you do derive a (perhaps unhealthy) enjoyment from laughing at appallingly terrible moviemaking, then give Beastly a shot. Some terribly awkward acting, particularly from the wretched Vanessa Hudgens, and jaw-droppingly bizarre dialogue make Beastly a borderline laugh riot. It's like a shittier version of Twilight (an impressive, seemingly impossible feat on its own), and the kind of movie where the most heartbreaking scene in when a main character deletes his Twitter account in a fit of despair.

I suppose I should be giving this a lower rating, but hey, I did enjoy watching it, even for the wrong reasons. And I did not feel violated or offended, which happens after watching any truly heinous movie. But Beastly still sucks.

Le samouraï
Le samouraï(1967)

My first encounter with French director Jean-Pierre Melville, and I'm digging his style. Le Samourai is about as emotionless as films can get, but also intensely fascinating. I love the detail-oriented, quietly suspenseful approach - Le Samourai moves at an unhurried pace, letting the viewer soak in the fun film noir touches and tense unwinding of the plot. The cinematography is also strikingly beautiful. Every shot reeks of perfectionism, and Melville's vision of Paris is unforgettable.

Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre(2011)

A well-crafted and intriguing if slightly underwhelming adaptation of the Charlotte Bronte classic. I'm not sure that Cary Fukunaga's (the director behind 2009's excellent Sin Nombre) sleek and restrained direction suits this material all that well. Jane Eyre works wonders in intimate scenes of dialogue or silence, but the more melodramatic, gothic plot turns in Bronte's novel - the insane wife, the early scenes of Jane's childhood sufferings - are rendered awkward or underbaked with Fukunaga's more modern style. Also, Jane Eyre ends disappointingly, not giving the audience the same emotional fulfillment as the book. Still, there's no denying that this is an intelligent adaptation that gets most things right. Mainly, Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. Both talented, up-and-coming actors who do a fantastic job with their rich, fascinating characters. While Jane Eyre does not deliver quite enough punch to be truly memorable, the two central performances make it more than worthwhile.

Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes)
½

Wild movie. Nothing less should be expected from Herzog, one of the most eccentric and uniquely talented directors out there. Aguirre is one of his very best films, only behind Fitzcarraldo in my book, and an unforgettably gorgeous, eerie experience. Herzog's poetically slow pacing and the way which he films the overgrown nature dwarfing his characters was a clear influence on Terrence Malick, but the themes and moods of Aguirre are often more in line with Coppola's Apocalypse Now. This is a dark, strange descent into insanity, filled with grotesque humor and oddball poetry. Klaus Kinski is a disturbingly perfect fit for the titular character. His performance is almost comically intense and bizarre.

I could see myself boosting Aguirre up to a 10/10 rating on another viewing - yes, this is that good, and made even more weirdly fascinating by the insane complications Herzog and Kinski faced while shooting. Look them up, it's impressive that even with such crazy things going on they still turned out such a great film.

Taxi Driver
Taxi Driver(1976)

*UPDATE to this old review - had the chance to see Taxi Driver in a theater tonight. It was a very cool experience to watch Scorsese's masterpiece play out on the big screen, and on this viewing I gained an even deeper appreciation of the film. It's one of the best movies ever made.

I saw Taxi Driver on TV when I was about 13, and obviously didn't know what I was in for. I remember being impressed and fascinated, but also was much too disturbed and uncomfortable to say that I 'liked' it, and was completely puzzled by the ending.

Returning to it, I can now confidently say that Taxi Driver is a great movie. It is very disturbing and uncomfortable, not necessarily because of the seedy noirish atmosphere but because of Robert De Niro's intense, terrifying performance. De Niro is truly captivating here, creating a character who is utterly painful to watch - he's just too real. Watching him spin out of control is awkwardly intimate and gripping, and makes Taxi Driver one of the most disturbing films of all-time. It's not an easy one to watch, but you can't look away.

Martin Scorcese's direction is outstanding, especially considering that this was only his second film, and Jodie Foster and Harvey Keitel are excellent in supporting roles. However, this is mostly a one-man show, and De Niro does not disappoint. One of the all-time great performances.

Assault on Precinct 13
½

I feel almost guilty for giving Assault on Precinct 13 a mediocre rating, because I did really enjoy and admire aspects of this movie. I love the stripped-down, straightforward and hardboiled style - there's absolutely no excess fluff here, which is refreshing and allows Carpenter to just focus on building up tension. Speaking of which, Carpenter already was a skilled director this early in his career. Assault on Precinct 13 is stylish, and often effectively suspenseful.

Where Assault on Precinct 13 fails is the stale dialogue and wooden performances. I can see what Carpenter was aiming at with these characters, but the actors seem lost while delivering their lines, making the proceedings stiff and awkward in between the tense shoot-outs. Even more disappointingly, the ending is lame. After a fairly good build-up, Assault's unconvincing and limp action climax left me vastly unsatisfied. The low budget could be used as an excuse, but only two years later Carpenter's equally cheaply-made Halloween managed to have a wonderful build-up plus a terrifying finale. In the end, these shortcomings keep Assault on Precinct 13 from being much more than an 'A for effort', but it's still decently entertaining. As far as Carpenter flicks go, I'd recommend some of his later, stronger works (the masterworks of horror Halloween and The Thing, or the surreally goofy and inventive Big Trouble in Little China and They Live).

Commando
Commando(1985)
½

Commando is awesome. It knows what it is: a mindless, action-packed B-movie, and delivers the goods. There's no plot to speak of here, just pure, amped-up, hysterically ridiculous ass-kicking from the Schwartz. It pumps out the action cliches and corny one-liners with such high energy that it basically turns cheesy action filmmaking into an art form. I had a blast.

Creature from the Black Lagoon

Neat B-movie classic. The Creature From The Black Lagoon was one I always enjoyed as a kid, and I still get a kick out of it. The characters are incredibly stupid, but in a way that only adds to Creature's campy charm. The underwater photography remains pretty cool even 50 years later - the shot of the creature swimming underneath the girl is a classic horror movie moment. And of course, the creature itself is awesome, making this goofy creature feature a fun watch.

The Departed
The Departed(2006)
½

I'd seen The Departed before and enjoyed it, but for some reason on this latest viewing it truly roared to life for me. I now see what an engrossing, captivating crime thriller it is, and that it did deserve the Best Picture and Director wins it earned. I'd say that, along with Taxi Driver, The Departed is my favorite film from legendary director Martin Scorsese. His direction is at its kinetic, gritty best here, with an expectedly awesome soundtrack and authentic feel for the cops and criminals of Boston. It's amazing that, so late in his career, Scorsese still has such energy and verve in his direction - the dialogue seems to explode off the screen and the violence is shockingly blunt.

A huge factor lifting The Departed from well-crafted crime film into the realm of near-masterpieces is the unbelievable cast of actors, all on their A-game. The supporting cast is littered with talent - Mark Wahlberg and Alec Baldwin bring some much-needed humor, while Martin Sheen and Vera Farmiga also impress. Matt Damon manages to imbue his amoral character with humanity, and Jack Nicholson is perfectly loathsome and terrifying. The real standout, though, is Leonardo DiCaprio. No offense to his fine, Oscar-nominated work in Blood Diamond, but this is the performance he should have been nominated for instead. His intensity and increasing desperation is unforgettable.

A Night at the Opera
½

I prefer the off-the-charts lunacy of Duck Soup, but my second experience with the Marx Bros. was still a good one. A Night at the Opera is an old-school comedy that remains fresh and funny enough to put a smile on your face - I particularly loved the mid-movie piano/harp scenes and the chaotic finale.

The Social Network

Phenomenal performances, witty dialogue and masterful direction make The Social Network one of 2010's best films. A well-crafted film in just about every aspect. I do wish it was a more emotionally gripping film, but what Fincher, Sorkin, and the cast deliver is still fantastic, so it's hard to complain.

The French Connection
½

In all technical aspects, The French Connection is insanely well-done. Friedkin's direction is taut and straightforward, the cinematography is beautifully gritty, and the score only amplifies the all-around coolness. The French Connection isn't lacking in thrills, either. The entire film has a perfectly sustained sense of forward momentum, climaxing with an intense car chase and drug bust. In terms of characters and a truly gripping story, though, it feels underdeveloped. Very good, but maybe not deserving of its legendary reputation (or its Best Picture Oscar win).

The Butcher Boy

This disturbing, surreal look at a small-town Irish boy's descent into madness has been seen by far too few people. Neil Jordan directs wonderfully, blending Francie's hallucinations about aliens, the Cold War, and the Virgin Mary and plunging the viewer into his colorful but increasingly disturbed imagination. Also, Eamonn Owens blew me away - he nails Francie's rage and desperate yet unsatisfied need to be loved. This might be the best child performance I have seen, and his sympathetic yet terrifying portrayal of Francie keeps The Butcher Boy from being merely a weird black comedy. It is quite funny at times, but the tragedy and terror makes The Butcher Boy more disturbing than fun.

Up next for Neil Jordan - The Crying Game and Breakfast on Pluto. If they are anywhere near as good as The Butcher Boy, then I'll be pleased.

The Kids Are All Right

All-around quality performances, particularly from Annette Bening. The Kids Are All Right is earnest and heartfelt, but too formulaic to be truly memorable. I enjoyed these characters, but was not so moved by their story that I'm desiring to return to the film a second time.

Groundhog Day
½

Groundhog Day is easily among my favorite comedies - what's not to love about this movie? The premise on its own is bizarre and original, and the screenplay fully explores the amusing and even thought-provoking ideas that arise. Bill Murray also gives one of his greatest, funniest performances - and considering his career full of awesome, that is saying something. A legitimately funny, witty and heartfelt comedy classic.

The Hangover
The Hangover(2009)

After a couple years of hype and hearing it quoted constantly, I finally saw The Hangover. And hey - it was a pretty fun time. Zach Galifianakis is hysterically funny, and the way it is structured as a mystery gives it a cleverness and unpredictability not found in many raunchy comedies. I laughed plenty of times, but fell short of falling in love with The Hangover. Maybe it's my semi-hatred of Vegas and Bradley Cooper, or the pictures at the end which put a bad taste in my mouth, but whatever the reason The Hangover is far from being one of my favorite comedies. But I won't deny it - it's pretty damn funny at times.

Rango
Rango(2011)
½

Rango is essentially an acid-trip western masquerading as a talking-animal movie for kids. This has to be one of the downright strangest big-budget kids' films ever to emerge from Hollywood, and feels like an explosion of creative, sloppy freedom for director Gore Verbinski after being trapped in the increasingly bloated Pirates franchise for the past few years. Admittedly, Rango could use some editing - it feels overlong and sluggish in places - but overall I had a great time watching. The animation is gorgeous and often stunningly surreal, with particularly excellent character design. I also love the surprising film references and spaghetti western style.

Johnny Depp also redeems himself for a lackluster 2010 with some spectacular voicework as Rango. Depp makes him an unforgettably odd character, in an unforgettably odd movie. Probably the best film of 2011 so far.

Badlands
Badlands(1974)
½

Terrence Malick's Badlands has to be one of the flat-out greatest directorial debuts ever. It tells a similar criminal lovers-on-the-run tale as Bonnie and Clyde, but instead of being romantic and visceral it is haunting and downbeat. It approaches the characters and the trail of death they leave behind in a poetic, chilly sort of way - the violence is all the scarier for how detached and casual it is. Despite the disturbing subject matter, Badlands is also stunning in its beauty. Certain scenes - like when Kit and Holly set up a fort and live in the forest, or dance to Nat King Cole in the beam of a car's headlights like any normal lovestruck kids - are unforgettable. As Kit and Holly, Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek give nonjudgmental, eerily innocent performances. Watching them slip into crime so easily is quietly tragic and unnerving, but Malick also makes it beautiful. Along with The New World, this is his best work.

Belle de Jour
½

Belle De Jour is an intriguing mystery of a film - this seems like a spiritual predecessor to Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, as the main character's internal erotic desires are played out in a dreamlike fashion. Catherine Deneuve brings to life the complex emotions beneath her character's icy exterior - her performance is perfectly matched with Luis Bunuel's surreal and perversely comic style. I wasn't so compelled by Belle De Jour that I am dying to watch it again, but its enigmatic appeal is undeniable.

Kill Bill: Volume 2

Volume 2 is in some ways vastly different than Volume 1, but they perfectly complement each other to create a wildly unpredictable, rich and exciting 4-hour epic. One basic difference is that Volume 1 is more inspired by Eastern cinema, while Volume 2 is a riff on Westerns, Sergio Leone in particular. It also is more steadily paced. The action is sparse, while quietly building suspense and unhurried dialogue take over. The one true action scene, however, is a show-stopper - a hysterically brutal smackdown in a trailer between The Bride and Elle Driver. I nominate it as perhaps the most rousing and intense fight sequence ever filmed.

So while it may not be as deliriously gore-crazy as Volume 1, Volume 2 still offers punchy pulp thrills - the terrifying coffin scene and goofy training montage are also unforgettable. But what makes this probably the best half of Kill Bill is the surprising depth that emerges from the characters. In Volume 1 they were rarely seen as more than larger-than-life pop artifacts, but Volume 2 humanizes them and becomes a surprisingly soulful film in the process. Because of the non-sequential storytelling the film unfolds like a mystery, gradually revealing pieces of The Bride's and Bill's motivations, and through his brilliant dialogue Quentin Tarantino reveals that his punch-drunk genre mashup is also a bizarrely touching love story. Tarantino may be infatuated with severed limbs and swordfights but also knows when a low-key dialogue scenes works best. Volume 2 climaxes, unexpectedly, with a conversation. Perhaps some will be disappointed at the lack of gore, but I found this to be a brilliant move. Uma Thurman and David Carradine give truly Oscar-worthy performances, and their dialogue at the end is nothing less than hypnotic. The deep and cathartic ending allow Kill Bill to transcend being merely a wonderfully-crafted genre excercise - this is a masterpiece.

Kill Bill: Volume 1

Kill Bill (both Volumes, since they're really just one long film) easily ranks among my personal favorite films of all-time, earning a prominent spot on my Top 10. Tarantino is the mad genius of the movies, and Kill Bill feels like cinematic acrobatics. The virtuosity and explosive energy on display here is truly exhilarating.

Volume 1 seems like something you'd dream up after a night of LSD and back-to-back kung fu exploitation films. It's amped-up and manic, dazzling the eyes with the bold yellow of The Bride's jumpsuit and bright red geysers of blood. The fight scenes truly rank among the best ever filmed - whether the brutal opening fight with Vernita Green, the delightfully over-the-top and epic showdown with the Crazy 88's, or the beautiful snow fight with O'Ren, all are mind-blowing in their creativity and thrilling choreography. Tarantino also displays his offbeat, morbid sense of humor, while Uma Thurman gives one-half of the performance of a lifetime.

Taken on its own, Volume 1 is among the most entertaining and brilliantly-crafted films I have ever seen. But when sitting alongside Volume 2, it becomes apparent that Kill Bill is a masterpiece.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind
½

Intriguing sci-fi classic. I'm a bit split over Close Encounters of the Third Kind - aside from a lovably unhinged Richard Dreyfuss, the characters are terribly bland and uninvolving. Also, Close Encounters becomes too long-winded at moments and feels stretched out over its 2 hour 15 minute runtime. On the other hand, at its best, most iconic moments Close Encounters is pure Spielberg magic. I particularly love the intensely suspenseful scene where the little boy is abducted, and watching Dreyfuss go off the deep end and trash his own house. Imperfect, but still one of Hollywood's most imaginative and fascinating alien encounters.

Modern Times
Modern Times(1936)

Terrific silent comedy. Chaplin's inventiveness with slapstick humor is breathtaking - in Modern Times, I particularly loved any of the scenes dealing with the absurdly elaborate machinery of the factory. Outside of the amazing visual gags, Modern Times is a touching, lighthearted look at some of the struggles of the Great Depression. Chaplin was incredibly imaginative - I have seen pitifully few of his movies, but hope to change that very soon.

Mystic River
Mystic River(2003)
½

Mystic River, as with all of Clint Eastwood's best films, feels like a punch to the gut. Sean Penn and Marcia Gay Harden are unforgettably powerful, and the rest of the cast shines, but even in a film full of insanely good acting it is Tim Robbins who casts the biggest impression. Robbins is absolutely heartbreaking and terrifying - he undeniably earned the Oscar that year. While it's not perfect, Mystic River is a truly powerful, gripping tragedy.

Cul-de-Sac
Cul-de-Sac(1966)

Roman Polanski is an awesome director, and his wacky dark thriller Cul-De-Sac, sandwiched between the release of absolute brilliance like Repulsion and Rosemary's Baby, has understandably been mostly neglected in his career. It is a minor work for him, and as far as bizarre, unnervingly hilarious thrillers go he made a better one a decade later in The Tenant. Despite all that, Cul-De-Sac is a wonderfully offbeat hidden gem. It gets off to a slow start, but pays off with a weirdly unsettling, darkly funny and inventive second half. An underseen movie that deserves some sort of cult following, and a must-see for Polanski fans.

Gnomeo and Juliet
½

Yes, I saw Gnomeo and Juliet. Be jealous.

I don't know...it is what it is.

Sexy Beast
Sexy Beast(2000)

Brilliant! Sexy Beast runs only 89 minutes, yet has more weird surprises, genius dialogue, tension and character development than most movies twice its length. Ben Kingsley is on fire here - he's hysterically funny, profane and downright terrifying. His Don Logan will go down in history as one of the unforgettable film villians. Ray Winstone and Amanda Redman are also fantastic, while Jonathan Grazer directs in an innovatively stylish way. I cannot wait to watch this one again.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is an interesting look at the destruction of greed and paranoia. Humphrey Bogart is wonderful as expected, I enjoyed watching his transformation throughout the film - I also think that John Huston's straightforward but gritty direction perfectly fits the story. You can almost feel the dirt and heat of Mexico while watching. But in some ways I do not think that The Treasure of Sierra Madre has aged that well. There are a few too many corny, staged-feeling moments, while many scenes just aren't as gripping or exciting now as they must have been in 1948. Also, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre felt overlong to me - I believe this could have been a really good 90-minute movie instead of a pretty good 2-hour one. However, take my opinion on this with a huge grain of salt, since many regard Treasure of the Sierra Madre as a masterpiece.

Drive Angry
Drive Angry(2011)
½

Last year's Machete is an infinitely better grindhouse throwback. Rodriguez packed that one with so much creativity and all-out insanity that it transcended its intentional badness to become a wildly entertaining experience. Drive Angry has some fun moments - the premise is good for a grindhouse-styled movie, and William Fichtner steals the show in a hilarious supporting role - but in the end it feels pretty limp. Not much here is truly exciting, funny or memorable.

M*A*S*H
M*A*S*H(1970)

M*A*S*H is one of the most acclaimed, iconic films of one of my absolute favorite directors - if that doesn't seem like a sure bet for "this is going to be one of my new favorite movies", I don't know what is. But I found M*A*S*H terribly disappointing. Maybe I should revisit it sometime down the road with revised expectations, but on one viewing I think it falls way short of the hype level.

I can appreciate why this was a smash in 1970 - Altman's chaotic style and the anti-authority humor in a wartime setting must have been downright subsersive and appealing 40 years ago. But aside from being an interesting look at the culture of the early 70's, not much about M*A*S*H interested me. The characters are all kind of assholes, and much of the humor fell flat for me. I found it mildly amusing at its best moments and downright dull at its worst. Also, Altman wasn't really on his A-game yet - he released a masterpiece a year later with McCabe and Mrs. Miller, but his distinctive style was only developing during M*A*S*H. I suppose I'm in the minority on this one.

Tangled
Tangled(2010)

I expected absolutely nothing from Tangled, and ended up kinda-loving it. This is a charming, surprisingly hilarious Disney offering that offers up refreshingly old-school entertainment. It's a few notches beneath Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King, but comes closer to classic Disney than they have achieved in years.

The Conversation

Fascinating thriller. Francis Ford Coppola's direction is confidently steady and detail-oriented, while Gene Hackman gives a performance so subtle and quietly layered you forget you are watching a performance. The Conversation is also a deeply creepy film - the ending is truly unsettling.

Unknown
Unknown(2011)
½

As far as mindless, outrageous action-thrillers starring Liam Neeson go, I'll stick with Taken. Unknown starts off as a decidedly mediocre but entertaining action-thriller, and even shows brief flashes of promise here and there (particularly in a surprisingly good but small role from Bruno Ganz), but it absolutely goes off the deep end in the last act. Maybe the writer was on a crack binge while writing the last few pages, because the level of absurdity is through the charts. The last half-hour is so full of laughably random plot twists and general idiocy that Unknown morphs into flat-out hysterical self-parody. Watch it if you want a decently entertaining film to laugh at, but not if you want a good, actually thrilling brainless actioner.

Days of Heaven

Breathtakingly gorgeous film. The cinematography in Days of Heaven is insanely beautiful - my jaw was regularly dropped by the images I was seeing. The sunsets, rolling wheat fields, animals, farm equipment, earthy people - when combined with Ennio Morricone's haunting score, Days of Heaven is pure visual poetry. This is even more beautifully filmed than Malick's The Thin Red Line, and thankfully a far better movie in all other areas. While Malick still approaches the characters and their plight in a restrained and slightly disconnected way, I actually was interested by the characters and their complex, tragic dynamic. Also, the narration rarely drifts into the laughable faux-poetic randomness that killed The Thin Red LIne for me, staying mostly grounded and relevant.

As far as Terrence Malick goes, as of now Days of Heaven is my favorite - although it has given me an itching to revisit Badlands and The New World, both of which I enjoyed to a slightly lesser degree. Despite his flaws he is certainly one of America's most distinctive and striking directors, and from the looks of it this year's The Tree of Life will be another unique and gorgeous experience. I am looking forward to it.

Jaws
Jaws(1975)
½

The impact of Jaws is enormous. Many times I have swam in the ocean and John Williams' terrifying theme song uneasily pops up in my mind - usually followed by a quick swim back to shore. The fact that Spielberg achieved this at such a young age and with a cheap-looking fake shark is remarkable and inspiring. The suspense sequences in Jaws are comparable in power to Hitchcock at his most iconic - just as you often feel uneasy in the shower or get a chill whenever you see a flock of birds on a telephone wire, after watching Jaws swimming in the ocean will feel far creepier than it ever did. Beyond being an incredibly effective thriller, Jaws contains some wonderful characters and dialogue, and an epic man vs. fish finale that is worthy of "The Old Man and the Sea". Deservedly one of the most famous and successful thrillers of all-time.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

One of those inarguably great classics. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is just about as good as it gets - the acting, direction, screenplay, all remarkable. Jack Nicholson gives one of his best performances (which is really saying something) and Louise Fletcher is quietly bone-chilling as Nurse Ratchet. Over three decades has not dulled any of One Flew's raw power - the showdown between the patients and Nurse Ratchet remains passionate, angering, hilarious, and ultimately devastating. Brilliant!

The Little Mermaid

Classic! As far as Disney movies go, I prefer Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, but The Little Mermaid still has plenty of awe-inspiring and charming moments. Great animation, unforgettable songs and inventive, funny musical numbers - plus, Ursula has to be one of the best Disney villians.

The Thin Red Line

Terrence Malick knows how to shoot a movie. The Thin Red Line is visually gorgeous, but an absolute slog to sit through. I was hypnotized by the beautiful images and innovative cinematography for nearly an hour of the three-hour running time, but then started wanting more substance than pretty pictures. And it took far less than an hour before I tired of the "poetic", often downright corny narration. Malick approaches ambitious questions about the violence in nature and humanity, but ends up saying almost nothing new or interesting. The biggest sin this movie commits is casting so many great actors, and then doing nearly nothing with them. There are a few moments where the enormous talent of the cast shines through, but Malick seems uninterested in their characters. I appreciate the effort to do something radically different for the war genre, but The Thin Red Line was a depressingly empty experience for me - not to mention an excruciatingly long sit.

Thieves Like Us

One of Robert Altman's more minor achievements, but Thieves Like Us still contains quiet charms. Nothing here makes a huge impact and it even becomes tedious at times, but Thieves Like Us takes a likable and unique approach to the familiar "bank robbers on the run" tale. The central love story is sweet, awkward, and vaguely sad, while the cinematography and period detail make it an engrossing film even in its slowest stretches. A nice example of unconventional, subdued 1970's filmmaking.

Mona Lisa
Mona Lisa(1986)

Mona Lisa is intriguing. I can't say I was blown away, but it is certainly unique and more heartfelt than your average mystery-thriller film. Bob Hoskins and Cathy Tyson both give effortlessly natural performances, I enjoyed the odd dynamic between them. Aside from a few surprising and well-done suspense sequences, the scenes shared by Hoskins and Tyson are where Mona Lisa becomes fascinating.

From the limited number of his films I have seen, I have mixed feelings about Neil Jordan. He develops his characters well and creates an offbeat and appealing vibe, but his storytelling is sloppy and sometimes a little dull. But I enjoyed Mona Lisa enough that I do want to check out some of his other movies.

The Straight Story
½

The Straight Story is beautiful. It is simple and slow, but remarkably moving. Richard Farnsworth earned an Oscar nomination for his subdued, genuine performance. Although the soothing folk music and gorgeous American landscapes contribute to the film's beauty, most of it comes from Farnsworth's life-worn and experienced face.

David Lynch has incredible range as a director - he is the master of dark surrealistic films (Mulholland Dr., Blue Velvet and Eraserhead are all personal favorites) yet with this and The Elephant Man has proved that he also excels with straightforward, uncontroversial and life-affirming stories. While he is a bit uneven, I think Lynch is easily one of the most peculiarly gifted and poetic directors alive.

The Long Goodbye
½

Robert Altman's cool, bizarre, all-around enjoyable twist on film noir. Elliot Gould is absolutely fantastic as the lovably sarcastic detective and all-around loser - he makes his character rich, mesmerizing, and hilarious. The supporting actors are also amazing, making up the cast of sleazy Los Angeles weirdos who orbit around Gould. The Long Goodbye has very little plot, it's more about the compelling characters and the wonderful twists on noir genre conventions. Robert Altman keeps things very loose, and even improvisational-feeling, resulting in a film that's funny, wonderfully weird, sometimes disturbing, and surprisingly engaging. One of my favorite Altman movies.

Dead Ringers
Dead Ringers(1988)
½

With the exception of The Fly, which I love, I generally react to Cronenberg's films in the same way - I am fascinated by them, but do not love them and one viewing is sufficient. Again this is the case with Dead Ringers. It is a confidently paced and highly disturbing movie, with an incredible Jeremy Irons performance. Irons plays twins, yet remarkably manages to give them clearly separate and defined personalities. If you are a Cronenberg fan than I have no doubt you will love this - it is one of the best examples of his disquieting, psychologically horrific style of filmmaking.

California Split
½

California Split is second-tier Altman, meaning that it's no Long Goodbye or McCabe and Mrs. Miller, but still pretty fantastic. I love the laid-back, messy vibe. The looseness does lead to a few dull patches, but for the most part California Split is incredibly refreshing. Eliot Gould is hilarious, and even the minor characters cluttering the corners of the film almost always are colorful and interesting. Definitely give this one a shot if you are an Altman fan.

Dogtooth (Kynodontas)
½

Yikes. When faced with a movie like Dogtooth, I realize the futility of the ratings system. I considered ratings ranging from an 8 to a 2, and none seemed to fit.

One thing I do know for certain is that Dogtooth has a premise I find fascinating. It is homeschooling taken to the extreme, as these parents keep their grown-up children trapped, feeding them lies about man-eating cats outside and teaching them different meanings for words (to often amusing results). I am reminded of a quote from The Truman Show, "we accept the reality with which we're presented". Watching this family interact and create their own claustrophobic universe in their home is horrific but occasionally funny.

But there is a thin line between films that explore disturbing content because their subject matter requires it, and films that exploit perversity and weirdness for the sake of shock. Dogtooth often falls into the latter group to nauseating results. The extremely graphic sexuality and scenes of inexplicable weirdness make Dogtooth feel like an uncomfortably voyeuristic freakshow. Certain things would have been left better hinted at instead of explicitly shown, in my opinion. It is an original and often gripping film, but was too graphic and heartlessly cold for me to stomach.

Paper Moon
Paper Moon(1973)
½

I watched Paper Moon not knowing what to expect, and ended up falling in love with it. Ryan O'Neal and Tatum O'Neal (the youngest person to ever win an Oscar for her role here) both give beautiful performances, their characters are so well-written and their interactions are a joy to watch. The movie itself is realistic, funny, and sweet, with warm black-and-white visuals and excellent direction from Peter Bogdanovich. Fantastic film that adds to my growing love of 1970's movies.

The Last Picture Show

I really wanted to love The Last Picture Show, but I have a few too many problems with it. It becomes contrived near the end - it's annoying when films manipulate an ending just to make it happy, but Last Picture Show commits the opposite and equal crime of being depressing for the sake of it. The movie is downbeat and sad throughout, which comes with the subject matter of a miserable small town, but in the last half has a few too many out-of-left-field tragedies just to make everything bleaker. At a certain point I started to get annoyed. Nevertheless, in just about every other aspect The Last Picture Show is superb. The characters are so well-developed, and seem so natural. Performances are outstanding all around (and it was interesting to see a younger Jeff Bridges and Ellen Burstyn). Peter Bogdanovich is such an assured, observant director. Both Last Picture Show and his Paper Moon are fascinating character studies, with a perfect sense of their eras and quietly beautiful black-and-white images. See both, although I have to say that I prefer the latter.

Pickpocket
Pickpocket(1959)
½

Aspects of Pickpocket are excellent - the use of silence combined with the soundtrack of urban noises gives the movie a unique beat of its own. I also love all the actual theft scenes. Although the characters are only stealing wallets or watches, it is so beautifully filmed, with such careful attention to detail, that you feel you are watching small-scale heists unravel. I enjoyed Bresson's direction enough that I am looking forward to watching another one of his films, but I am hoping it will have a better script than Pickpocket. The dialogue is fairly awkward, and the plot is pretty much lifted wholesale from Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, only the characters are much less interesting. Also, while the subdued performances work well in the silent pickpocketing scenes, they fall terribly flat during any dramatic or dialogue-driven moments. Some of the line deliveries are so bad that they verge on deadpan comedy. In the end, Pickpocket was a mixed bag for me, but it is far from being a bad film or total waste of time.

Persona
Persona(1966)
½

I know, I know, a 5/10 for a Bergman film is blasphemous. But Persona never grabbed me. It is gorgeously filmed - I love the atmospheric black and white, and the way Bergman films faces and shadows. I also found the basic premise of two women whose identities blur together to be intriguing, and Liv Ullman's silent performance is striking despite her lack of dialogue. Honestly, though, the dialogue mostly bored me. Persona often seems like a long rambling monologue that is only occasionally interesting, and the editing techniques are often silly and outdated. Despite obvious flashes of brilliance, I found Persona to be more of a 1960's arthouse relic than an involving film. I do have to give it credit for inspiring later films like Altman's 3 Women and Lynch's masterpiece Mulholland Drive, both of which explore dreamlike imagery and shifting identities to much better effect, in my opinion.

I am disappointed that I did not enjoy Persona more, but I'll always have The Seventh Seal or The Virgin Spring when I need a Bergman fix.

L.A. Confidential
½

A phenomenal, intelligent crime thriller. The script is dense and witty, the acting is all-around solid, and the movie absolutely never has a dull moment. One of the best of 1997, and certainly would have been a better choice for Best Picture than Titanic.

The Piano
The Piano(1993)
½

Jane Campion is a fascinating director. Bright Star is one of the greatest romantic films I have ever seen, and The Piano is every bit as beautiful and haunting. I love the atmosphere that Campion creates with the gorgeous cinematography and music - The Piano is one of those films with a breathtakingly authentic sense of place. You can almost feel the mud and rain of 1800's New Zealand while watching. It is also an unusually passionate and sexually charged film that approaches its subject matter in a refreshingly, and even unsettlingly, honest way. The acting is outstanding, too. Although I am not sure if her Oscar was deserved, Anna Paquin gives one of the better child performances I have seen, while Harvey Keitel is magnetic and fascinating. But Holly Hunter is the powerhouse here, giving one of those performances that feels so natural and lived-in that you forget you are watching an actor. It is incredible how much emotion she conveys without ever speaking.

Chinatown
Chinatown(1974)

An American masterpiece and one of the greatest film noirs. Chinatown is just about flawless in every aspect - the witty dialogue, labyrinthe plot, smooth direction and unforgettable performances place Chinatown firmly among the greats. Jack Nicholson is brilliant, the noir private eye attitude fits him perfectly and he is wonderful in the delivery of hardboiled dialogue. Faye Dunaway is mysterious and heartbreaking, while John Huston is chilling in a small role as one of the most loathsome film characters possibly ever. Polanski is a genius, and Chinatown ranks with Rosemary's Baby among his very best work - and like that film, it has a downright depressing stunner of an ending.

Nashville
Nashville(1975)
½

A dense, cluttered and absorbing work of art, Nashville is never less than fascinating. Director Robert Altman creates his own ecosystem packed with colorful characters, watching them interact is cringe-worthy, heartbreaking and often very funny. Nashville weaves its vignettes together in improvisational, surprising ways, creating a look at American culture in the early 70's that is often cruel but sympathetic in the end. Altman, uneven as he was, truly was one of the American masters, and Nashville is one of his greatest works.

The Red Shoes

The Red Shoes has a superb first half - it starts off as a fascinatingly detailed look at the backstage process involved in ballet, and how a ballerina and composer find their way into the company. The extended, wildly surreal ballet sequence halfway through is a showstopper, making full use of vivid technicolor and charmingly old-school special effects. However, the second half seems uninspired in comparison, as the movie begins to feel overlong and never becomes dramatically satisfying. Many have lauded The Red Shoes as a masterpiece, which I do not agree with, but it is an often-beautiful classic that no classic film fan should miss out on.

Black Narcissus

Spellbinding and bizarre - Black Narcissus has an unusual premise, to say the least. It centers around a group of nuns who establish a convent in a former brothel in the Himalayas, and slowly are driven into madness and lust. Black Narcissus is creepy, surreal, and darkly funny, with beautifully exotic Technicolor visuals and wild cinematography. A dark gem, one of my favorite films of the 1940's.

The American
The American(2010)
½

Anton Corbijn nails the poetic atmospherics - The American is a gorgeously shot and appealingly moody film. It's a film with plenty of promise and talent behind it, but never really gets off the ground. The characters are cold and uninteresting, and the movie failed to ever become gripping. Intriguing but insubstantial.

Pi
Pi(1998)
½

Downright incredible for a directorial debut. The premise is fascinating and completely unique, while Aronofsky's kinetic visual style and Clint Mansell's beautiful score make Pi a creepy, absorbing, and bizarre ride. Unfortunately, this one gets dragged down a bit by poor acting - also, (unlike Aronofky's other downward-spiral movies, Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan, which had enormously satisfying endings) Pi fizzles out a bit near the finish line. The bit with the drill was certainly disturbing, but then the movie just ends - it's as if Aronofsky had no idea how to wrap up such a bizarre story. It may be a bit rough around the edges,but I still loved Pi. One of the most boldly interesting directorial debuts out there.

The Fighter
The Fighter(2010)
½

Solid, highly entertaining boxing drama with outstanding performances - Mark Wahlberg is fine, while Amy Adams and Melissa Leo are worthy of their Oscar nominations. It's Christian Bale who steals the show, however - he mesmerizes every minute he is on screen, proving yet again that he is one of this generation's best actors. The Fighter is tough, gritty and often very funny, although not quite a major achievement. It is likable and fascinating, but not powerful or memorable enough to be a truly great movie.

Casablanca
Casablanca(1942)

WWII is long over, yet Casablanca still has a stirring, inspirational power, in addition to being one of the most heartbreakingly romantic, richly scripted, and beautifully acted films of all-time. To put it simply, it's one of the best.

Wild Strawberries

Wonderful, unusual Bergman classic. It is warmer and more playful than the other Bergman films I have seen, although still has a melancholy sadness to it and a couple of eerie, surreal dream sequences. Victor Sjostrom gives a heartfelt and lived-in performance as the old man reflecting on his life. I love that Wild Strawberries did not end melodramatically, but on a silent, peacefully bittersweet note.

The Maltese Falcon

A classic example of film noir, and a hugely influential movie. The Maltese Falcon is incredibly fun to watch unfold - I love the complex, paranoid mystery of it, and the dialogue is outstanding. Humphrey Bogart is unbelievably cool as Sam Spade, creating an iconic character. The Maltese Falcon is not quite my favorite film noir but it's certainly one of the best.

Waiting for Guffman
½

Not quite as brilliant as Best in Show or This is Spinal Tap, but still plenty of laughs and lovably bizarre characters. Christopher Guest is insanely funny in the lead role.

Animal Kingdom
½

An intriguing, tense and smart look at a crime family, although not quite memorable or powerful enough to be truly great. Still, Animal Kingdom is well worth a watch - it is perfectly paced, with a terrific, quietly disturbing supporting performance from Jacki Weaver. A top-to-bottom solid crime drama.

Solaris
Solaris(2002)
½

I will need to watch this again to collect my thoughts. Solaris is not the kind of movie you can entirely wrap your head around in one viewing - but despite being perplexed much of the time, it was a gorgeous and immersive experience. Solaris is mind-bending and sad, yet strangely romantic. There's a definite 2001: A Space Odyssey vibe going on here, but even with a similarly eerie and beautiful atmosphere, Solaris isn't quite like any other movie I've ever seen. My favorite Steven Soderbergh film.

The Ladykillers
½

Easily the worst Coen Brothers film I've seen. Tom Hanks is enjoyably creepy and the movie does pick up steam and earn a few big laughs near the end, but overall The Ladykillers is lame. It mistakes being loud and quirky for actual humor.

The Green Hornet
½

Why all the hate? The Green Hornet is highly entertaining and lovably goofy, and I laughed out loud multiple times. It has a laid-back, inventively absurd vibe to it that should be expected of a Michel Gondry / Seth Rogen collaboration. Good fun.

Cyrus
Cyrus(2010)
½

Cyrus is a small movie that has grown on me since watching. The Duplass Brothers have a talent for observant, awkward, sweet but sad human comedy that feels effortless and natural. The performances are all-around outstanding, too. John C. Reilly, one of my favorite actors, is expectedly great while Marisa Tomei delivers a sweet but quietly complex performance. However, it's Jonah Hill who steals the show. He's a revelation - hilarious, creepy, sympathetic, and even kind of disturbing. I love that the characters, Jonah Hill's in particular, are cringe-inducingly pathetic, yet the movie treats them as sympathetic individuals and not carciatures. A wonderful surprise.

Secretariat
Secretariat(2010)
½

Just to clarify, I am not one of those grumpy film snobs who hates any mainstream inspirational film on principle - I really liked last year's The Blind Side - but Secretariat completely fell flat for me. It's unbelievably cheesy and dull, with irritating performances and a script that throws vague inspirational phrases at you every few minutes. No thanks.

Being John Malkovich
½

Brilliant dark comedy. I love that Kaufman's script takes a wacky premise and just runs with it, taking it to its bizarre but oddly logical ends - and the movie even dares to up the nuttiness factor with increasingly weird subplots. It's a hilarious, hilarious movie, Kaufman at his most twisted and cynical with Spike Jonze at his most visually inventive.

Adaptation
Adaptation(2002)
½

Out of the Charlie Kaufman-penned movies I've seen, this is probably the least impressive to me - it's almost a little too clever for its own good, while not as hilarious as Being John Malkovich or as touching as Eternal Sunshine or Synecdoche, New York. Nevertheless, it's a movie that is packed with interesting, twisted ideas. Spike Jonze directs it beautifully, and Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, and particularly Nicolas Cage give fantastic performances. The movie's constant self-referential quirkiness grows tiresome, especially in the last twenty minutes, but it's wickedly intelligent and breathtakingly beautiful at moments.

The Passion of Joan of Arc (La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc)
½

Intense, beautiful, and moving. The silent era is in general not my favorite for cinema, but I recognize that The Passion of Joan of Arc is a visionary masterpiece for its time and remains remarkably powerful. The story is incredible, and Maria Falconetti's performance is haunting.

Alle Anderen (Everyone Else)

A quiet, insightful and massively uncomfortable film - I can't say I've ever seen a film like Everyone Else, and I'm not sure if I'd want to. This sadistically probing and intimate look at an unhealthy relationship is perfectly acted, with incredibly detailed character development that made me realize just how hollow most film characters are. Everyone Else is frightening and claustrophobic, and does not even begin to approach the label of 'entertaining', but it is surprisingly absorbing and emotionally effective. A must-see for fans of subtle character studies, although keep in mind that due to the uncomfortable voyeuristic feeling Everyone Else is much easier to admire than to 'like'.

A Prophet (Un prophete)
½

At 155 minutes, A Prophet is absurdly overlong. There was no reason for this film to be so lengthy - it becomes dull and repetitive at about the hour mark, and never really recovers. However, somewhere within the lumbering, sporadically fascinating A Prophet is an excellent 90-minute movie. Tahar Rahim is powerful in the lead role, although all the supporting characters are completely uninteresting; also, while director Jacques Audiard gives the film way too much slack he does have an eye for details and small beautiful moments. Not at all a bad film, but an absolute slog to sit through and frustratingly uneven.

Kick-Ass
Kick-Ass(2010)

At its best moments, Kick-Ass is flat-out awesome. Like Matthew Vaughn's last film, Stardust, there's plenty of energy and refreshingly odd humor here - Chloe Moretz's Hit Girl and Nicolas Cage's Big Daddy are particularly bizarre and wonderful. Unfortunately, Kick-Ass is way too uneven to be a classic. Most of the inventive, fun moments are followed by moments that fall flat, and after a while it starts to feel overlong. Despite its flaws I had alot of fun watching Kick-Ass - it's every bit as ridiculous and gleefully violent as I was hoping.

Winter's Bone

Superb, but not at all a film to be watched lightly. Winter's Bone is tough, frightening, and disturbing - the mystery and danger grow uncomfortably intense and unsettling. Thankfully, it rarely feels like one of those self-consciously miserable message films about poverty, but instead a realistic, compassionate look at how one courageous teenage girl deals with an incredibly tough situation. Jennifer Lawrence is powerful in the lead role, this is a stunning, heartrending performance that announces Lawrence as a formidable new talent. John Hawkes is also effective in a supporting role, and director Debra Granik shows that she has an eye for developing an intense atmosphere while also capturing small, beautiful human moments. Winter's Bone is not flawless, but it's easily one of the most powerful films of 2010.

I Am Love
I Am Love(2010)

A much weaker movie than I was expecting. Tilda Swinton (who impressively learned Italian and Russian for her role) gives the film some life and the visuals are lush and beautiful - but I Am Love has the feel of a feature-length perfume ad. No matter how stunning the cinematography is, it does not make up for the underdeveloped characters, weak storytelling, and lack of emotional connection. I Am Love kept me entertained but it is far from gripping.

Somewhere
Somewhere(2010)

While I loved it, a word of warning: Somewhere is not for everybody. It's entirely understandable why this slow-paced, uneventful film would be a miserably dull experience for some, but I found it weirdly hypnotic and touching. It's not as stunningly good as Lost in Translation (one of my all-time favorites), but has a quiet, detatched but tender fascination to it that could have only come from Sofia Coppola.

A Serious Man

Ranks with Barton Fink as one of the most bizarre, idiosyncratic and ambiguous films that the Coen Brothers have made. A Serious Man is truly like nothing else out there - it's very funny at moments, but also stressful, intensely awkward, and even weirdly poignant here and there. I'm kind of shocked this was nominated for Best Picture last year. Not that it's undeserving, just movies this out-there rarely seem to earn Oscar love. A fascinating oddity, and further proof of the relentless creativity of the Coens.

Tron Legacy
Tron Legacy(2010)

Tron is an enjoyable action blockbuster - the sleek visuals and awesome Daft Punk soundtrack kept my eyes and ears dazzled. It's an entertaining and serviceable sci-fi actioner, but I get the feeling that it could've been some sort of trippy, campy semi-classic if it had gone farther with its premise - but like this year's Alice in Wonderland, it's too tied down by the Disney formula to rise above 'fun, but nothing special.'

Jonah Hex
Jonah Hex(2010)

I came into Jonah Hex wanting nothing more than laughably stupid, explosive, guilty-pleasure entertainment - along the lines of unintentional comedy classics like Catwoman or the Wicker Man remake. Jonah Hex does deliver plenty of that sort of entertainment, but when I wasn't laughing and reveling in the glorious stupidity of it all, I was massively bored. Certain stretches of Jonah Hex are just dull and inexplicably awful. However, I was never bored too long since Jonah Hex lasts only 70 minutes. Good for a few laughs, but keep the remote nearby - the majority of Jonah Hex will leave you baffled. Head-spinningly bad.

Ondine
Ondine(2010)

Disappointingly, Ondine fizzles out in the last 25 minutes or so by morphing into a sloppy, out-of-left-field thriller - but everything that comes before is enchanting. I loved the sweet, lyrical and very Irish atmosphere of the movie brought on by the beautiful photography and casual fairy tale plot. The characters are easily likable, with Colin Farrell continuing his streak of excellent performances. It's unfortunate that Ondine took such a nosedive in the last act, otherwise it's an excellent movie.

Shutter Island

Shutter Island is a visual stunner, with an appealingly surreal and menacing atmosphere - but the twist is unconvincing and clunky. Scorsese's cinematic mastery still ensures that Shutter Island is an intense, occasionally beautiful thriller, but the story is pretty weak.

Alice in Wonderland
½

A disappointment. While watching you can almost see the sadly wasted potential swirling down the drain. Johnny Depp has rarely been less inspired, and unfortunately the same could be said of Tim Burton. He appears to be lazily drifting on autopilot here. Alice in Wonderland is Tim Burton neutered and Disneyfied - and it only fleetingly captures the poetic nuttiness of the Lewis Carroll classic. Stephen Fry is wonderful as the Cheshire Cat and Helena Bonham-Carter is awesome as always, but aside from those bright spots and some nice visuals this Alice adaptation is none too memorable.

Machete
Machete(2010)

Machete is clunky, violent, and stupid - I adored it. As with Planet Terror, Rodriguez creates an incredibly fun, lovably sleazy exploitation flick that is never timid about being over-the-top or trashy. By no means is it a great movie, but I certainly had a great time watching it. Enjoy, although you have to have a sense of humor about this one.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1

Only half a film, but a superb first half. If Part II keeps up the level of quality, then Deathly Hallows will be the best Potter film yet. I enjoyed the darkness and deeper emotional maturity of this one, in addition to the truly exciting action - cannot wait for Summer 2011.

Inception
Inception(2010)
½

After repeat viewings, I've come to decide that Inception is not quite the masterpiece I thought it was on my overexcited first viewing. But it's one of the greatest, most ambitious and creatively executed action-thrillers in years, and Christopher Nolan's most exciting puzzle of a movie. One of the soaring highlights of a pretty slow movie year.

Speed Racer
Speed Racer(2008)

Love the colorful acid-trip visuals! It's an enjoyably campy and dazzling ride, but the 135-minute running time is way too long for a movie of this nature.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
½

The visual style is often fun and dazzlingly inventive, but Scott Pilgrim eventually turns a bit stale - the 2-hour runtime could have easily been cut by a third. Making it worse, Michael Cera and Mary Winstead are pretty dull, although many of the supporting characters are colorful. Not bad at all, but not nearly as hilarious or exciting as it could have been.

Splice
Splice(2010)
½

I can see this becoming a cult classic down the road. It's bizarre, creepy, hysterical, and entirely out of its fucking mind.

The King's Speech
½

A pleasant, well-done film with outstanding performances from Helena Bonham-Carter, Geoffrey Rush, and Colin Firth in particular. I'm a bit surprised that this one is earning raves, though - outside of the performances, it's a top-to-bottom solid film but nothing overwhelmingly brilliant.

True Grit
True Grit(2010)

Another quality work from the Coen Brothers. Hailee Steinfeld and Jeff Bridges were both outstanding.

Micmacs (Micmacs à tire-larigot)
½

Sporadically amusing, but I expect much more from Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Micmacs has plenty of the zaniness and visual splendor found in Jeunet's best films, but little of the heart or genuine creativity.

127 Hours
127 Hours(2010)

Harrowing, gorgeous, exhausting - 127 Hours is a deeply gripping and intense experience. Danny Boyle's direction is breathtaking in its virtuosity, and James Franco is stunningly powerful. The movie of the year.

Black Swan
Black Swan(2010)
½

Black Swan's 2-hour runtime felt more like 45 minutes. This movie is so engrossing, outlandish, and relentlessly unnerving that I was absolutely hypnotized by it throughout. Darren Aronofsky once again displays his directorial brilliance, Natalie Portman gives the performance of a lifetime, Mila Kunis and Barbara Hershey are shockingly good - despite a handful of unnecessary moments, Black Swan is outstanding. What an insane ride.

Paranormal Activity 2

The rare horror sequel that is actually pretty decent. It's an entertaining horror ride that's perfect for Halloween, although not as effective as the first Paranormal Activity - many of the scares in the first half feel recycled, but thankfully the movie picks up steam as it goes and delivers a creepy, wickedly clever ending.

The Elephant Man

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[left][font=Book Antiqua][size=3][i]The Elephant Man [/i]is truly a great film...I don't think I'd be able to find a single flaw in this dramatic masterpiece. It's also one of the saddest movies I've ever seen. I rarely ever cry during films, but I came really close multiple times throughout this one. You grow really attatched to the title character, and watching him suffer so much is truly heartbreaking. I think this is mostly due to the amazing performance by John Hurt, who plays his role in a sensitive and believable way. All-in-all, [i]The Elephant Man [/i]is a powerful movie that deserves a viewing if you haven't seen it already - but be warned, it's not exactly a happy movie. David Lynch is an awesome director, I can't wait to see some more of his movies. [/size][/font][/left]

Trick 'r Treat

Why Trick R Treat was unceremoniously dumped direct-to-DVD is a complete mystery - this is a delightfully twisted, completely entertaining horror film bursting with the Halloween spirit. I haven't had this much fun with a modern-day horror movie in a long time. The various stories are full of spooky, blood-splattered surprises, and come with a wicked ink-black sense of humor. Watching them unfold and overlap is unexpected ways is pure giddy fun. Trick R Treat should be required viewing for any horror fan this October.

Mammoth
Mammoth(2006)

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[left][font=Arial Black][size=3]Yes, I actually saw this. Be jealous.[/size][/font][/left]
[left][font=Arial Black][size=3][/size][/font] [/left]

[left][font=Arial Black][size=3]Anyways, me and my friends wanted something totally ridiculous to watch - and it doesn't really get any more ridiculous than a mammoth frozen in time who is awakened by a meteor then is possessed by aliens and goes on a rampage through a small town, impaling people and sucking their souls through his trunk.[/size][/font][/left]
[left] [/left]

[left][font=Arial Black][size=3][i]Mammoth [/i]is definitely an easy to film to laugh at and make fun of. The scenes where the mammoth attacks are sometimes hilarious because of how shoddily made and stupid they are. However, despite the awesomely cheesy premise and a lot of unintentionally funny scenes, [i]Mammoth [/i]wasn't worth seeing even to laugh at. It was pretty painful to sit through at parts. Anyways, see this one if you can fast-forward to the unintentional comedy bits, but you should get some award if you can actually sit through the whole thing without throwing anything at the TV.[/size][/font][/left]

The Killing
The Killing(1956)
½

The Killing is a highly entertaining heist thriller, wickedly clever in its structure and fascinating in its level of detail. Stanley Kubrick, in one of his earliest films, already was a confident and skilled filmmaker - although not quite on his A-game yet. The Killing is too cold and methodical to have much impact, so its more of a brilliant toy and less of a Kubrick masterpiece. Still, I wholeheartedly recommend The Killing - it's a classic heist film, thorougly enjoyable and thrilling from beginning to end.

Snow Angels
Snow Angels(2007)

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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif][i]Snow Angels [/i]came and went quietly from theaters, getting a rather mixed reaction from critics and causing only a very small amount of positive buzz among audiences. It's a shame that this beautiful film went so unnoticed, in my opinion it's absolutely one of the best films of the year, and easily the most criminally overlooked. However, [i]Snow Angels [/i]is rarely an easy film to watch. In fact, at times it's horribly depressing, bleak, and brutal. [i]Snow Angels [/i]is absolutely unflinching in its tragedy, and a couple of doomed characters come to a gutwrenching, horrifying conclusion that will have you wanting to look away. Thankfully, though, [i]Snow Angels [/i]isn't simply an excercise in sadness - there's also moments of joy and discovery and warmth. These emotions are brought perfectly to life by the naturalistic cast, I didn't feel like I was watching performances, but instead people living their lives. I also found the contrast of the film really beautiful - while the relationship between Kate Beckinsale's and Sam Rockwell's characters was destroying itself, the relationship between Michael Angarano and Olivia Thirlby was just beginning. Angarano and Thirlby play two of the most realistic highschool characters I've seen in a movie, and their relationship is sweet and perfectly awkward, keeping the film from becoming too dark and depressing.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif][/font] [/left]

[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]2008 really has been one hell of a year for director David Gordon Green. Not only did he come out with the kickass action-comedy [i]Pineapple Express[/i], but he came out with this masterpiece that happens to be a completely different type of film. Green is a ridiculously versatile, talented director - he's just shot up my list of directors to watch out for, I can't wait to watch some more of his stuff.[/font][/left]

Slumdog Millionaire

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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]The outcome of [i]Slumdog Millionare [/i]is fairly predictable - but Danny Boyle's latest is anything but bland and overdone, in fact, it's an exciting discovery. [i]Slumdog Millionare [/i]is bursting with energy and life, and carries an affirming message - even in the toughest of circumstances, life is full of joy and love. While it carries such a positive message, [i]Slumdog [/i]never feels artificially joyful or sugarcoated. Actually it's the opposite of sugarcoated, with some horrifically brutal scenes that show how dangerous life can be for lower-class people in India.[/font][/left]
[left] [/left]

[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]Part of [i]Slumdog[/i]'s major success lies with the mostly young cast - all the actors who played Jamal and Salim at the different points in their lives were fantastic. Often when different actors play the same character, it feels odd and takes you out of the film - but that's not the case here, all the young actors gave a sense of consistency to the character, and I never doubted that I was watching the same person as before. And, obviously, [i]Slumdog [/i]works so well because of Danny Boyle. While [i]Sunshine [/i]and [i]28 Days Later [/i]were very good, this is the best work that I've seen from him yet (have yet to watch [i]Trainspotting [/i]and[i] Millions[/i]). Boyle's beautiful cinematography and knack for picking perfect music is possibly at its best here, and the emotion he brings to certain scenes is almost overwhelming. Overall, [i]Slumdog Millionare [/i]is one of the most refreshing, engrossing, and all-around best films of 2008.[/font][/left]

Atonement
Atonement(2007)

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[left][font=Arial Black][size=3]Beautiful, intelligent, and often heartbreaking - [i]Atonement [/i]is one of the year's most acclaimed films, and I can understand why. This is an undeniably well-made and interesting story of love and tragedy. The cast is perfect, the visuals are often breathtakingly gorgeous, and the musical score is beautiful and unconventional. [i]Atonement [/i]is simply an all-around solid production.[/size][/font][/left]
[left][font=Arial Black][size=3][/size][/font] [/left]

[left][font=Arial Black][size=3]It would be fairly easy to split [i]Atonement [/i]into three seperate parts. The first act is probably the best. This segment of the film is paced beautifully, slowly letting sexual tensions and hidden feelings bubble to the surface until they boil over. The second section concerning McAvoy's character in the war was my least favorite - these scenes, while visually stunning, occasionally failed to keep my attention. Thankfully [i]Atonement [/i]picks itself back up with a fascinating ending concerning Briony and her guilty conscience. There is an unexpected twist near the end that is depressing and beautiful at the same time - it's an emotional ending that will leave you stunned and somewhat depressed.[/size][/font][/left]
[left][font=Arial Black][size=3][/size][/font] [/left]

[left][font=Arial Black][size=3]You might be wondering why I'm only giving [i]Atonement [/i]an 8 after praising it so much. I have two reasons. The first reason is that [i]Atonement [/i]didn't [i]quite [/i]reach up to my expectations. It's a very very good film, even a great one, but it's not a masterpiece like the reviews and Oscar buzz would indicate. There have been better films to come out this year. The second, and more important, reason for my 8 rating is that [i]Atonement[/i]'s central romance isn't as interesting as it should have been. Keira Knightley and James McAvoy are both fantastic in their roles, but their romance doesn't feel very convincing. I personally think that [i]Atonement [/i]works much better as a character study of someone with a guilty conscience - the scenes with Briony were more involving and emotional than the romantic parts. Her character's development and wounded spirit is fascinating and often heartbreaking.[/size][/font][/left]
[left] [/left]

[left][font=Arial Black][size=3]Although the romance was uninvolving, [i]Atonement [/i]is a classy, fascinating, and beautiful production. Although I don't think it deserves to win Best Picture (as I said earlier, there have been better movies this year), I hope that it garners a few well-deserved nods from the Academy. [i]Atonement [/i]is excellent and well-made, it's worth the price of admission.[/size][/font][/left]

Dawn of the Dead
½

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[left][font=Arial Narrow][i]DAWN OF THE DEAD [/i]IS, EASILY, THE BEST ZOMBIE FILM I'VE SEEN YET (AS LONG AS YOU'RE NOT INCLUDING [i]SHAUN OF THE DEAD[/i]). WHILE ON THE SURFACE THIS FILM APPEARS TO BE JUST ANOTHER MINDLESS AND SHLOCKY SPLATTERFEST, IT'S ACTUALLY MUCH MORE THAN THAT. [i]DAWN OF THE DEAD, [/i]BESIDES BEING A SHAMELESSLY ENTERTAINING HORROR FLICK, IS ALSO A SATIRE OF MINDLESS CONSUMERISM AND ACTUALLY HAS BELIEVABLE CHARACTERS THAT YOU CARE ABOUT. THESE TRAITS MAKE [i]DAWN OF THE DEAD [/i]MUCH BETTER THAN IT COULD'VE AND SHOULD'VE BEEN, RESULTING IN ONE OF THE MOST ENGROSSING AND MASTERFUL HORROR FILMS EVER MADE. I WOULDN'T CALL THIS ONE PERFECT, IT IS PRETTY CHEESY AT TIMES, BUT I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT NEVERTHELESS. IT'S AN EPIC HORROR FILM THAT KEEPS THE SUSPENSE AND DARK HUMOR COMING AT A BREAKNECK PACE, RESULTING IN ONE EXTREMELY ENTERTAINING, TERRIFYING RIDE.[/font][/left]
[left] [/left]

[left][font=Arial Narrow]I THINK THAT [i]DAWN OF THE DEAD [/i]WILL PLEASE PRETTY MUCH EVERYONE; GOREHOUNDS WILL UNDOUBTEDLY LOVE IT, AND THOSE LOOKING FOR SOME SATIRE AND HUMAN DRAMA TO GO ALONG WITH THE HORROR WILL ALSO BE SATISFIED. THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO MIGHT NOT ENJOY THIS FLICK ARE THOSE WITH WEAK STOMACHS...SOME PARTS ARE PRETTY NASTY. THIS IS A HORROR CLASSIC, THIS MAKES ME EXTREMELY EXCITED TO WATCH [i]NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD [/i](WHICH, BELIEVE IT OR NOT, I'VE NEVER SEEN.)[/font][/left]

Ed Wood
Ed Wood(1994)
½

Hilarious, sad, bizarre, inspiring, fantastic. One of Tim Burton's best, behind only Sweeney Todd and Edward Scissorhands.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off
½

[size=3]Wow...I think this is the most reviews I've ever crammed into one entry...enjoy![/size]
[size=3][/size]

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[left][size=3]Not as hilarious as what I was hoping for, but [i]Austin Powers [/i]nevertheless is pretty funny stuff. It sometimes is very crude, but inbetween all of the only occasionally funny fart/poop jokes there are some genuinely clever and hilarious gags that keep this film extremely entertaining. I especially enjoyed the bits with Dr. Evil and his henchmen, and the jokes about his relationship with his son was hilarious! [i]Austin Powers [/i]is a bit crude and forgettable, but also lots of fun--I will make sure to check out the sequels.[/size][/left]
[left][size=3][/size] [/left]
[center][img]http://i12.tinypic.com/2w514x1.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]
[center][b][size=4][color=mediumturquoise]THE BOTTOM LINE: [/color][/size][/b][/center]
[center][size=3]Has a couple of genuinely funny bits that keep it entertaining--a very solid rental to watch with friends.[/size][/center]
[center][size=3][/size] [/center]
[center]:fresh: [b][size=5][color=red]6.9/10[/color][/size][/b][/center]
[center][b][size=4][color=darkred]MY GRADE: [size=5]B-[/size][/color][/size][/b][/center]
[center][b][size=5][color=#8b0000][/color][/size][/b] [/center]
[center][b][size=5][color=#8b0000][/color][/size][/b] [/center]


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[left][size=3]I always thought that Monty Python's Terry Gilliam was a unique and creative director, but with this piece of utter cinematic lunacy he has immediately become one of my favorite directors! [i]The Adventures of Baron Munchausen [/i]is an underappreciated fantasy, and the third movie in Gilliam's imagination vs. reality trilogy, following [i]Time Bandits [/i]and [i]Brazil. [/i]It's my personal favorite of the trilogy, a totally wacky and bizarre adventure that I loved! The pure imagination of this film is amazing, especially during the wonderfully trippy scenes on the moon, featuring Robin Williams in a brilliant cameo. I absolutely adored [i]Baron Munchausen, [/i]it definitely is a very quirky film and isn't for everybody, but it has quickly become one of my favorites of all-time![/size][/left]
[left][size=3][/size] [/left]
[center][img]http://i7.tinypic.com/2hqcokw.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]
[center][b][size=4][color=yellowgreen]THE BOTTOM LINE:[/color][/size][/b][/center]
[center][size=3]Quite possibly Terry Gilliam at his strangest and most imaginative...a trippy and crazy film that I had a blast watching![/size][/center]
[center][size=3][/size] [/center]
[center]:fresh: [b][size=5][color=red]9.5/10[/color][/size][/b][/center]
[center][b][size=4][color=darkred]MY GRADE: [size=5]A[/size][/color][/size][/b][/center]
[center][b][size=5][color=#8b0000][/color][/size][/b] [/center]


[center][img]http://i12.tinypic.com/2nu4zgz.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]
[left][size=3][i]Ferris Bueller's Day Off [/i]is one of the best teen comedies ever made...not only is it entertaining and funny, but smart and clever, and there's never a boring moment to be found. Enough said.[/size][/left]
[left][size=3][/size] [/left]
[center][img]http://i9.tinypic.com/3y37xhj.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]
[center][b][size=4][color=paleturquoise]THE BOTTOM LINE:[/color][/size][/b][/center]
[center][size=3]Fun, intelligent, and highly entertaining! How could you not like this movie?[/size][/center]
[center][size=3][/size] [/center]
[center]:fresh: [b][size=5][color=red]9.0/10[/color][/size][/b][/center]
[center][b][size=4][color=darkred]MY GRADE: [size=5]A-[/size][/color][/size][/b][/center]
[center][b][size=5][color=#8b0000][/color][/size][/b] [/center]


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[left][size=3]Meh. A totally mediocre action film! [i]The Transporter [/i]does have a cool car chase near the beginning, and some absolutely crazy and kickass action scenes near the end, but besides that--this isn't a good movie. At all. Stupid dialogue, and one of the most boring female "love interests" ever. [/size][/left]
[left][size=3][/size] [/left]
[center][img]http://i9.tinypic.com/42i55zb.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]
[center][b][size=4][color=navy]THE BOTTOM LINE:[/color][/size][/b][/center]
[center][size=3]A few really cool action scenes don't save [i]The Transporter [/i]from being a dull mess of a film.[/size][/center]
[center][size=3][/size] [/center]
[center]:rotten: [b][size=5][color=#00ff00]4.9/10[/color][/size][/b][/center]
[center][b][size=4][color=yellowgreen]MY GRADE: [size=5][color=yellowgreen]C-[/color][/size][/color][/size][/b][/center]
[center][b][size=5][color=#9acd32][/color][/size][/b] [/center]

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[left][size=3]Certainly an interesting film, but far from being my favorite anime. I found the story to be a bit hard to follow, and somewhat ridiculous. However, it still is a good film, and even though I sometimes didn't know what the point was I always was kept interested. Has some nice music, and is certainly a masterpiece on a visual level--I had no idea a hand-drawn animated film could be so stunningly beautiful! [/size][/left]
[left][size=3][/size] [/left]
[center][img]http://i9.tinypic.com/2i0usjo.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]
[center][b][size=4][color=yellow]THE BOTTOM LINE:[/color][/size][/b][/center]
[center][size=3]Interesting, and without a doubt the most visually beautiful anime I have ever seen.[/size][/center]
[center] [/center]
[center]:fresh: [b][size=5][color=red]7.0/10[/color][/size][/b][/center]
[center][b][size=4][color=darkred]MY GRADE: [size=5]B[/size][/color][/size][/b][/center]

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
½

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[center][font=Arial Black]Um...has RT been all whacked out for anyone else lately? It has been for me, and it won't let me change my font size or anything. So this review's font will be smaller...not that it matters a whole lot...[/font][/center]
[center][font=Arial Black][/font] [/center]

[center][b][font=Arial Black]IV[/font][/b][/center]
[left][font=Arial Black]A brilliant and legendary start to the [i]Star Wars [/i]movies, AKA the best trilogy ever made. [i]Star Wars [/i]is the ultimate piece of escapist entertainment - it's imaginative, funny, exciting, and has a certain adventurous charm that has rarely ever been repeated in other films. And watching this film after seeing [i]Episode III [/i]makes it even better - Obi-Wan's fight with Darth Vader is now much more exciting and emotional than before now that we know their history. Anyways, [i]Star Wars [/i]is as classic as movies get.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Arial Black][/font] [/left]

[center][b][font=Arial Black]V[/font][/b][/center]
[left][font=Arial Black]The rare sequel that matches the original. I'm not one of the people who says that [i]Empire Strikes Back [/i]is by far the finest in the series - in my book all three originals are just about tied (with [i]Episode III [/i]very close behind) - but I can see why lots of people think this one is the best. It's a brilliant continuation of the original that takes the story in a more dark and epic direction - the action and emotion is certainly amped up this time around. Plus, it has two of the best lines ever put onto film (Leia: "I love you." Han Solo: "I know." And of course you know the other one). [/font][/left]
[left][font=Arial Black][/font] [/left]

[center][b][font=Arial Black]VI[/font][/b][/center]
[left][font=Arial Black]Whatever, guys. This movie [i]is [/i]equally as good as the first two, and I really have no idea why some people think it's a disappointment. The Ewoks were a bit too cutesy at times, but they didn't annoy me at all (in fact, I thought they were awesome for the most part). Anyways, as far as pure spectacle goes, [i]Return of the Jedi [/i]is the best in the series. It's non-stop entertainment, from the truly awesome opening at Jabba the Hutt's palace to the climatic lightsaber fight and space battle. It's an incredibly fun movie that never lets up, I loved it. Another amazing, classic entry in probably the best trilogy ever made.[/font][/left]

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope
½

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[center][font=Arial Black]Um...has RT been all whacked out for anyone else lately? It has been for me, and it won't let me change my font size or anything. So this review's font will be smaller...not that it matters a whole lot...[/font][/center]
[center][font=Arial Black][/font] [/center]

[center][b][font=Arial Black]IV[/font][/b][/center]
[left][font=Arial Black]A brilliant and legendary start to the [i]Star Wars [/i]movies, AKA the best trilogy ever made. [i]Star Wars [/i]is the ultimate piece of escapist entertainment - it's imaginative, funny, exciting, and has a certain adventurous charm that has rarely ever been repeated in other films. And watching this film after seeing [i]Episode III [/i]makes it even better - Obi-Wan's fight with Darth Vader is now much more exciting and emotional than before now that we know their history. Anyways, [i]Star Wars [/i]is as classic as movies get.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Arial Black][/font] [/left]

[center][b][font=Arial Black]V[/font][/b][/center]
[left][font=Arial Black]The rare sequel that matches the original. I'm not one of the people who says that [i]Empire Strikes Back [/i]is by far the finest in the series - in my book all three originals are just about tied (with [i]Episode III [/i]very close behind) - but I can see why lots of people think this one is the best. It's a brilliant continuation of the original that takes the story in a more dark and epic direction - the action and emotion is certainly amped up this time around. Plus, it has two of the best lines ever put onto film (Leia: "I love you." Han Solo: "I know." And of course you know the other one). [/font][/left]
[left][font=Arial Black][/font] [/left]

[center][b][font=Arial Black]VI[/font][/b][/center]
[left][font=Arial Black]Whatever, guys. This movie [i]is [/i]equally as good as the first two, and I really have no idea why some people think it's a disappointment. The Ewoks were a bit too cutesy at times, but they didn't annoy me at all (in fact, I thought they were awesome for the most part). Anyways, as far as pure spectacle goes, [i]Return of the Jedi [/i]is the best in the series. It's non-stop entertainment, from the truly awesome opening at Jabba the Hutt's palace to the climatic lightsaber fight and space battle. It's an incredibly fun movie that never lets up, I loved it. Another amazing, classic entry in probably the best trilogy ever made.[/font][/left]

Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi
½

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[center] [/center]

[center][font=Arial Black]Um...has RT been all whacked out for anyone else lately? It has been for me, and it won't let me change my font size or anything. So this review's font will be smaller...not that it matters a whole lot...[/font][/center]
[center][font=Arial Black][/font] [/center]

[center][b][font=Arial Black]IV[/font][/b][/center]
[left][font=Arial Black]A brilliant and legendary start to the [i]Star Wars [/i]movies, AKA the best trilogy ever made. [i]Star Wars [/i]is the ultimate piece of escapist entertainment - it's imaginative, funny, exciting, and has a certain adventurous charm that has rarely ever been repeated in other films. And watching this film after seeing [i]Episode III [/i]makes it even better - Obi-Wan's fight with Darth Vader is now much more exciting and emotional than before now that we know their history. Anyways, [i]Star Wars [/i]is as classic as movies get.[/font][/left]
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[center][b][font=Arial Black]V[/font][/b][/center]
[left][font=Arial Black]The rare sequel that matches the original. I'm not one of the people who says that [i]Empire Strikes Back [/i]is by far the finest in the series - in my book all three originals are just about tied (with [i]Episode III [/i]very close behind) - but I can see why lots of people think this one is the best. It's a brilliant continuation of the original that takes the story in a more dark and epic direction - the action and emotion is certainly amped up this time around. Plus, it has two of the best lines ever put onto film (Leia: "I love you." Han Solo: "I know." And of course you know the other one). [/font][/left]
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[center][b][font=Arial Black]VI[/font][/b][/center]
[left][font=Arial Black]Whatever, guys. This movie [i]is [/i]equally as good as the first two, and I really have no idea why some people think it's a disappointment. The Ewoks were a bit too cutesy at times, but they didn't annoy me at all (in fact, I thought they were awesome for the most part). Anyways, as far as pure spectacle goes, [i]Return of the Jedi [/i]is the best in the series. It's non-stop entertainment, from the truly awesome opening at Jabba the Hutt's palace to the climatic lightsaber fight and space battle. It's an incredibly fun movie that never lets up, I loved it. Another amazing, classic entry in probably the best trilogy ever made.[/font][/left]

The Sixth Sense
½

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[b][u][font=Century Gothic][size=5][color=orange]HALLOWEEN RECOMMENDATION #3: THE SIXTH SENSE[/color][/size][/font][/u][/b]

[size=3][i]The Sixth Sense [/i]still is by far M. Night's best film. It's an excellent and suspenseful supernatural mystery, with truly great performances throughout. It also has one of the best twist endings ever! [/size]

[size=3]I just absolutely love this film. It was fairly creepy sometimes, the characters were very realistic and likable, and it was a very thought-provoking and often sad movie. I won't spoil the plot for you if you haven't seen it yet (which is unlikely) and if you haven't seen it go watch it now! [/size]

:fresh: [size=5][i]**** [/i][/size][size=2](out of ****) [/size]

Sin City
Sin City(2005)
½

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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]I knew that I was going to enjoy [i]Sin City[/i], but I had no idea that I was going to be so blown away by it. Not only is [i]Sin City[/i] fun to watch because of its amazingly cool imagery, but it tells multiple gripping stories extremely well. [i]Sin City [/i]is truly never boring, or even mildly uninteresting - from literally the first shot I was hooked. It's a truly explosive piece of entertainment that juggles a huge cast of characters and many complicated storylines without ever feeling rushed or messy. It's simply a tight, swift, epic, and stylish crime picture, full of perfectly over-the-top hardboiled characters and dialogue. One of the most entertaining movies ever made, and certainly a new favorite of mine.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif][i]The Spirit[/i] is a completely different type of movie from Frank Miller - an awful one. [i]Sin City [/i]had interesting characters, actual stories, and some form of coherency - [i]The Spirit [/i]abandons all of that, and is literally all style and no substance. It's an incoherent disaster with vague hints at plotlines and sad attempts at creating interesting characters, but in the end [i]The Spirit [/i]only consists of awkwardly placed hardboiled dialogue and occasionally cool visuals (although the same types of visuals were way more impressive and well-done in [i]Sin City[/i]). But [i]The Spirit [/i]isn't only formless and empty - it's a laughable disaster, a movie so bizarrely miscalculated that it's almost awesome. What was up with Samuel L. Jackson's character's obsession with eggs, why is there a scene where Jackson and Scarlett Johansson randomly wear Nazi uniforms and proceed to melt a cat, and why is an 'action' scene where the Spirit is beaten with a giant wrench and a toilet? I will never know, but the surreal awfulness of [i]The Spirit[/i] places it in a selective class of hilarious, mystifying bad movies such as [i]The Wicker Man [/i]and [i]Catwoman[/i].[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]Another weird aspect of [i]The Spirit [/i]is that alot of talent is involved in the making of it, yet it's the worst film I've seen all year. How did that happen? I suppose all fingers can point to Frank Miller - while he co-directed the much much better [i]Sin City[/i], Robert Rodriguez was there to keep him in line. Miller is a very creative man, but he should never be allowed to make another solo project - he needs to have someone guiding him through it, he is an awful scriptwriter and director. The acting is also quite bad, but that's mostly because the dialogue is so unbelievably corny. Samuel L. Jackson is fun and takes the camp level to the extreme, but this is also a sad performance that's a long way from his brilliant work in [i]Pulp Fiction[/i]. It pained me to see one of my favorite young actresses, Scarlett Johansson, in this trash - but she emerged relatively unscathed. Her role is merely boring and not awe-inspiringly awful like some were.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif][i]The Spirit [/i]is actually worth seeing in a way, just to watch something so strangely inept - but if you're expecting something along the lines of [i]300[/i] or [i]Sin City[/i], you'll be shocked and disappointed. One of the biggest cinematic disasters of the decade.[/font][/left]

Leprechaun 4: In Space

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[center][font=Arial Black]Well, I...I honestly don't know what to say about this little gem. I think that the title sums it up pretty well.[/font][/center]

Killer's Kiss

Fascinating early Stanley Kubrick film. Aspects of Killer's Kiss are weak - the acting is stilted, the dialogue is corny, and the story, while it kept my interest, is nothing special - but the pure filmmaking creativity on display here is mindblowing. Kubrick already was a genius when it came to cinematography and surreal visuals. He amazingly captures images of New York, and the climatic fight in a mannequin warehouse is unforgettably unusual. So while it may be subpar in some areas, as a visual experience Killer's Kiss is brilliant - and at a brief 68 minutes it's pretty entertaining and easy to watch. If you're a Kubrick fan, definitely seek this one out.

My ratings of Kubrick films:
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey - 10
2. The Shining - 10
3. A Clockwork Orange - 10
4. Eyes Wide Shut - 10
5. Dr. Strangelove - 9.5
6. Full Metal Jacket - 9.5
7. Barry Lyndon - 8
8. Killer's Kiss - 6

Paths of Glory

It's always an awesome surprise to watch a new favorite movie from a director you already love, which is the case for Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory. Maybe because it's one of his earlier films I wasn't expecting Paths of Glory to measure up to his later masterpieces, but Kubrick shocked me by delivering one of the most powerful films I've ever seen. While watching, I was terrified, infuriated, deeply saddened, and entirely absorbed by the film. This is easily one of the greatest war films ever made (or, more accurately, one of the greatest antiwar films ever made). Paths of Glory is furiously angry and cynical, but also has a hope for humanity that is deeply touching. The final scene is absolutely perfect - it's both terribly sad and quietly hopeful. A surprising new favorite.

My ratings of Kubrick films:
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey - 10
2. The Shining - 10
3. Eyes Wide Shut - 10
4. Paths of Glory - 10
5. A Clockwork Orange - 9.5
6. Dr. Strangelove - 9.5
7. Full Metal Jacket - 9
8. Barry Lyndon - 8
9. Killer's Kiss - 6

The Reader
The Reader(2008)

Kate Winslet is good, even excellent, but I'm surprised this is the role that won her an Oscar. Sure, she's believable and sometimes heartbreaking in her performance, but I think that many of her past roles have been much richer and more memorable. Maybe I'm just saying all this because the movie surrounding her is so ridiculous. The Reader is certainly unusual and it kept me entertained, but I just wasn't convinced by it. There's almost no character development. The first half is basically one long montage of reading and then having sex - it's like some bizarre Oscar-baiting porn for literature professors. There are few attempts to build any sense of emotion or character, The Reader is entirely cold and clinical in its construction. Then the second half dissolves into Twilight-worthy scenes of endless moping and brooding. The movie does touch on interesting themes of German guilt, but never really explores them. It just mentions them and lazily hopes that the audience will explore them, instead wasting its time with endless scenes of the character wandering around and moping. The Best Picture nomination for this was a total joke.

Tekkon kinkurîto (Tekkonkinkreet)
½

[center][font=Arial Black][size=3]QUICK REVIEW [/size][/font][/center]
[center][font=Arial Black][size=3][color=mediumturquoise]REQUESTED BY JACK SKELLINGTON[/color][/size][/font][/center]
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[left][font=Arial Black][size=3]Uh...sorry Max...this movie just totally wasn't for me. I think the only anime films that I genuinely enjoy are the ones created by Studio Ghibli. [i]Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, [/i]and [i]Princess Mononoke [/i]are all favorites of mine, but [i]Tekkon Kinkreet [/i]just bored me. I didn't care about any of the characters (White annoyed me to no end), and I really wasn't paying any attention to the plot. My reaction to everything was: what's the point? Why should I care? In fact, I grew so bored and annoyed that I turned off [i]Tekkon Kinkreet [/i]about halfway through. That's why my review is so vague and short, since I didn't watch the entire film I can't really write a full review. Really, the only reason why I didn't give [i]Kinkreet [/i]a lower rating is because the animation was colorful, amazingly detailed, and occasionally even breathtaking (and I'm talking about the backgrounds and not the character animation - which sucked). Despite some nice animation, what I saw of [i]Tekkon Kinkreet [/i]was rather obnoxious, so I don't particularly see a reason to watch the rest of it.[/size][/font][/left]
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[center][font=Arial Black][size=3][color=mediumturquoise]Next Jack Skellington Requested Review: MirrorMask (which I will hopefully be watching soon)[/color][/size][/font][/center]

The Last Detail
½

One of Jack Nicholson's best, earliest performances. The Last Detail is worth seeing for his magnetic performance alone, but the intelligent, bittersweet script and direction from Hal Ashby make it an all-around outstanding movie. It doesn't have the same magic as Harold and Maude, another Ashby-directed effort, but there's a similar offbeat charm to it at moments.

Toy Story 3
Toy Story 3(2010)
½

I, along with everyone else, am starting to sound like a broken record, but it's the truth - Pixar is brilliant. They release outstanding film after outstanding film, and Toy Story 3 is their latest awesome creation. I wouldn't say that this is quite to the mindblowing 'masterpiece' status of Up or WALL-E, but it's thrilling, heartfelt, and wickedly clever, and the best movie of 2010 so far.

My ratings of Pixar movies:
1. Up - 10
2. WALL-E - 10
3. The Incredibles - 10
4. Finding Nemo - 10
5. Toy Story - 10
6. Toy Story 3 - 9
7. Ratatouille - 9
8. Monsters Inc. - 9
9. Toy Story 2 - 8
10. A Bug's Life - 8
11. Cars - 7

Le Voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon)
½

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[left][font=Arial Black][size=3][i]Le Voyage Dans La Lune[/i], also known as [i]A Trip to the Moon[/i], is a nifty little short film. Obviously it doesn't hold up too well nowadays, but for being made 106 (!) years ago it's definitely an impressive achievement. Such creativity and inventiveness is rare to find in films this old. The first 5 minutes or so of [i]A Trip to the Moon [/i]are somewhat boring, but once you get past that, it's really a wonderful and somewhat surreal film. Lasting for only 14 minutes, [i]A Trip to the Moon [/i]is a wonderful historical treasure that I would highly recommend watching (it's availabe on Youtube).[/size][/font][/left]

The Purple Rose of Cairo

Beautiful, imaginative, hilarious, bittersweet, clever, romantic. One of Woody Allen's very best.

My ratings of Allen films:
1. Annie Hall - 10
2. Manhattan - 10
3. Match Point - 10
4. Purple Rose of Cairo - 9
5. Crimes and Misdemeanors - 9
6. Hannah and her Sisters - 9
7. Vicky Cristina Barcelona - 9
8. Love and Death - 8
9. Deconstructing Harry - 7
10. Sleeper - 7
11. Scoop - 7
12. Cassandra's Dream - 7

A Prairie Home Companion
½

A Prairie Home Companion is the great Robert Altman's final film, and a worthy end to his career. It's also very fitting and haunting that this was his final movie, since so much of it is a gentle look at death and goodbyes. If that makes it sound depressing, though, it really isn't - I've rarely seen a movie that feels warmer or more relaxed. A Prairie Home Companion isn't trying to blow anyone's mind, but I fell in love with its low-key, folksy atmosphere and interesting group of characters. As usual, Altman flawlessly balances all the characters, and every member of the ensemble cast fits in perfectly (including Lindsay Lohan, who was actually a promising actress before she went insane). Overall, Robert Altman has definitely made more important and memorable movies, but Prairie Home Companion is unique, funny, and deeply charming, an underrated gem.

My ratings of Altman films:
1. McCabe and Mrs Miller - 10
2. The Long Goodbye - 9
3. Short Cuts - 8
4. Gosford Park - 8
5. The Player - 8
6. 3 Women - 8
7. A Prairie Home Companion - 8
8. Brewster McCloud - 7
9. Images - 7
10. Popeye - 5

Love and Death
½

Love and Death represents Allen at his funniest and most irreverent - the one-liners and absurd jokes almost always hit their targets here. Really witty, entertaining, and enjoyably ridiculous.

My ratings of Allen movies:
1. Annie Hall - 10
2. Manhattan - 10
3. Match Point - 10
4. Crimes and Misdemeanors - 9
5. Hannah and her Sisters - 9
6. Vicky Cristina Barcelona - 9
7. Love and Death - 8
8. Deconstructing Harry - 7
9. Sleeper - 7
10. Scoop - 7
11. Cassandra's Dream - 7

Scarface
Scarface(1932)
½

An awesome old-school gangster flick. Howard Hawks is truly one of the great classic directors, and even in one of his earliest films he already was masterfully stylish with his direction. Scarface is exciting, violent, and intense for the time period - a consistently entertaining, involving classic and one of the most impressive 1930's films I've seen.

Shrek Forever After
½

Much better than the wretched Shrek the Third, but Shrek Forever After still doesn't hold a candle to the first two films in the series. However, this movie was much more enjoyable than I was expecting - the supporting characters are fun, there's a handful of laughs, and I never really was bored. Plus the message is nice, even if it's a bit corny and overdone. But, honestly, the Shrek franchise was exhausted after #2, and this one doesn't do anything to change that despite brief inspired moments - overall, it has the feel of a pretty good direct-to-DVD sequel, and for every one of its decent moments there's a horribly lame joke to go along with it. Shrek Forever After is one of those movies that is moderately enjoyable while watching, but you forget almost everything about it once you leave the theater. Hopefully this is Shrek's final adventure.

Crimes and Misdemeanors

Crimes and Misdemeanors is one of Woody Allen's very best movies. There's two main stories here, one a depressing drama and the other more of a comedy, which don't intersect until the very end but work perfectly together to form a bleak, thought-provoking, unusual whole. This is Woody Allen at his most pessimistic and bitter, but the movie's downbeat mood is made alot easier to swallow due to the absolutely perfect ensemble cast and surprisingly hilarious moments. Martin Landau and Woody Allen are brilliant in their lead roles, while Anjelica Huston, Mia Farrow, and Alan Alda lend memorable support. Overall, Crimes and Misdemeanors is something truly unique and special - it's tragic, hilarious, and scary intelligent.

Gosford Park
Gosford Park(2001)

My semi-obsession with Altman continues with Gosford Park, yet another rich, fascinating movie in his impressive career. Gosford Park sometimes isn't the easiest movie to swallow, however. There are literally dozens of characters, throughout the first half you might find yourself wanting to take notes on all of them just to keep up. But once you get into the busy, talky rhythm of the movie, it's a thoroughly absorbing experience. The cast is hugely impressive, and basically a laundry list of British talent. And although a handful of characters feel disposable, the ones who count are deeply rich and interesting - watching these people interact in the ecosystem they've created is fascinating even before the plot thickens with a murder.

My ratings of Altman films:
1. McCabe and Mrs Miller - 10
2. The Long Goodbye - 9
3. Short Cuts - 8
4. Gosford Park - 8
5. The Player - 8
6. 3 Women - 8
7. Brewster McCloud - 7
8. A Prairie Home Companion - 7
9. Images - 7
10. Popeye - 5

Popeye
Popeye(1980)
½

Even though I'm giving Popeye a mildly rotten rating, I don't really dislike it. I'm not quite sure whether Popeye is the best bad movie I've ever seen or the worst good one. There's plenty of good aspects here - Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall are perfectly cast, and Robert Altman is a great director who gives many scenes of Popeye an anarchic, goofy energy. But the overall movie is a huge mess in search of some sort of story to hang its fun ideas on, and never finds one. It's not like I need every movie I watch to be heavily plotted (and from Altman, the opposite should be expected), but Popeye kind of just spins its wheels. By the time the two hours had ended, I felt like almost nothing had happened in the movie. It's really too bad, because during its best moments Popeye has a chaotic, silly and sweet spirit to it that is deeply likable in a scruffy sort of way. Also, this is the movie to first include the song 'He Needs Me' which was used so beautifully in Punch-Drunk Love, and I'll always respect it a little bit for that. A 5.5 for this one. It's worth a watch for Altman fans, but the fast-forward button might come in handy during the duller moments.

Manhattan
Manhattan(1979)
½

Beautiful! I adore Manhattan - Woody Allen's mix of clever humor and bittersweet romance has rarely been better, and it's by far his most visually stunning film. The black-and-white shots of New York set to the Gershwin music is complete movie magic. A classic, with one of the all-time great film openings and endings.

My ratings of Woody Allen films:
1. Annie Hall - 10
2. Manhattan - 9
3. Match Point - 9
4. Hannah and her Sisters - 8
5. Vicky Cristina Barcelona - 8
6. Deconstructing Harry - 7
7. Sleeper - 7
8. Scoop - 7
9. Love and Death - 7
10. Cassandra's Dream - 7

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

A pretty great movie, but one that's not easy to watch. It's 2 + hours of crazy drunk people arguing and psychologically tearing each other apart, and no matter how brilliantly done it is the whole thing just gets tiresome sometimes. After a while, the screaming matches and cruel remarks become fairly repetitive and exhausting to keep up with - thankfully the absolutely incredible acting and solid direction kept my interest. Virginia Woolf is possibly one of the most well-acted films ever made. Richard Burton and George Segal are outstanding, but the real powerhouse performance comes from Elizabeth Taylor, who is hypnotic for every minute. The direction from first-timer Mike Nichols is well-done, and would only improve for his masterpiece sophomore effort, The Graduate.

3 Women
3 Women(1977)

Even for Altman, 3 Women is pretty out-there. While watching, I was very often reminded of Mulholland Drive - 3 Women isn't at the same 'masterpiece' level, but it has a similarly dreamy feel and a story involving women whose identities blur and shift together. The women are Sissy Spacek and Shelley Duvall, who both are terrific with their painfully awkward characters. Spacek really freaked me out here - something about her waifish, empty slate of a character is weirdly unsettling, and her various transformations throughout the movie are entirely believable. Duvall is even better, proving once again that she was one of the most underrated actresses of her time. Duvall is both pathetic, annoying, and hilarious - her performance is complex and wonderfully odd, and I believe should've earned her an Oscar nomination. The third woman is a mysterious pregnant lady who silently drifts in the background of the film, painting creepy murals of reptilian people.

As you can probably tell, 3 Women is anything but normal. Even during the more mundane scenes something about it seems weirdly off-kilter. Altman's dream of a film has only gotten better the more I think about it, the performances and haunting images are strange and unforgettable, plus it has an entertainingly odd streak of humor. One of Altman's best.

My ratings of Robert Altman films:
1. McCabe and Mrs Miller - 10
2. The Long Goodbye - 9
3. Short Cuts - 8
4. The Player - 8
5. 3 Women - 8
6. Brewster McCloud - 7
7. A Prairie Home Companion - 7
8. Images - 7

Whisper of the Heart (Mimi wo sumaseba) (If You Listen Closely)

[b][size=3][color=deepskyblue][u][i]Review Requested by Jack Skellington[/i][/u][/color][/size][/b]

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[size=3]This film is just plain enchanting, it's very sweet, simple, and loveable. The characters are endearing and the animation is plain beautiful. I admit that I'm not a fan of anime at all, it's just not really my cup of tea. I loved [i]My Neighbor Totoro, [/i]but I think many others are bizarrely overrated, like [i]Princess Mononoke. [/i]But I was surprised to have genuinely enjoyed this anime film! It's just a plain magical movie, it's very unlike other animated films just because it's so quiet, slow-paced, and much less frantic than most kid's films. By the end of the movie you will have fallen in love with the characters! [/size]

[size=3]Thankyou Jack Skellington for having recommended this movie, I don't think I would have watched otherwise but now that I have I'm glad I did! [/size]

:fresh: [size=5][color=#ff0000][b]8.5/10[/b][/color][/size]

Rio Bravo
Rio Bravo(1959)

I've never seen a John Wayne movie before, and I never was that interested in watching one to be honest. I watched Rio Bravo more because of Howard Hawks, who is one of my favorite old-school directors, and ended up really enjoying myself. Rio Bravo is easily the best 'classic Hollywood' western I've ever seen. I still slightly prefer the grittiness of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly or McCabe and Mrs Miller, but Rio Bravo is an entertaining, lovable western complete with clear-cut good and bad guys. The plot is smart and suspenseful, peppered with some memorable shootouts, but the true appeal of Rio Bravo is the characters. They're deeply likable in general, and the movie's leisurely, down-to-earth pacing lets them just hang out plenty, with witty dialogue and one warm scene where they all sing together. So while Rio Bravo might not be the most overwhelmingly impressive movie ever made, it's so likable, cozy and (at times) suspenseful that I easily fell in love with it.

Duck Soup
Duck Soup(1933)
½

Watched this in class, and to my surprise I ended up falling in love with it. Duck Soup is almost 80 years old but it's still one of the funniest, most insanely inventive comedies out there. A few jokes do fall flat, but most of the gags work, and in its most inspired moments Duck Soup basically becomes one long, extended laugh. The slapstick stunts and total anarchy is impressive and left a huge smile on my face for all of Duck Soup's breezy 70 minutes. A must-see and a classic that's worthy of its status.

Princess Mononoke (Mononoke-hime)

Miyazaki continues to blow me away. While I'm still not a huge fan of the overly cartoony look of characters in anime movies, I get so lost in the beauty of Miyazaki's films that I stop caring. Princess Mononoke is one of the most visually gorgeous movies I've ever seen. Miyazaki's drawings range from peaceful delicate forests, to detailed, medieval Japanese villages, to scenes of terrifying, gruesome mass destruction. And while the human designs still seem slightly awkward, the animals and creatures here are stunningly impressive - I especially enjoyed the adorably bizarre forest spirits. Really, press the pause button at any point during this movie and it would be something worthy of framing and putting up on your wall.

Beyond just the amazing drawings, Princess Mononoke is one of the all-time great film epics. While I loved last year's Avatar, James Cameron could learn a thing or two from Mononoke - it has the same huge battle scenes and environmentalist message, without becoming anywhere near as preachy or simplistic. Miyazaki doesn't insult his audience's intelligence, instead creating a dizzyingly complex mythology where no-one is all good or all bad, and everyone has different motives. The complicated, smart story is brought perfectly to life with huge battle scenes and well-developed characters, along with some quieter and more reflective moments. This is one of the few movies where, while watching, I'm completely engrossed. It's an entirely captivating, beautiful experience, and definitely not for young kids. The plot's subtleties will fly over their heads, and the violence is very gory and disturbing at times.

Overall Princess Mononoke is easily one of the most brilliant animated movies I've ever seen. Don't avoid this one just because it's anime - I'm not much of a fan, but Miyazaki's vision is always breathtaking. Oddly, this isn't even my clear favorite of his - it's pretty much in a three-way tie with Spirited Away and Totoro.

Iron Man 2
Iron Man 2(2010)
½

I feel like I'm maybe being a bit generous with my Iron Man 2 rating, but I had too much fun with this movie to give it anything lower. The first third and last third of Iron Man 2 are legitimately awesome, but the middle section is surprisingly messy. Honestly, the teasers for the upcoming Avengers movie were just annoying. Iron Man 2 would've been even better if it had cut out almost all of Nick Fury's scenes - they're vague and confusing (what is SHIELD? We haven't all read the comics), and bog the movie down. Throw in some equally random scenes of Stark overcoming daddy issues and discovering a new element, and Iron Man 2's pacing slows to a crawl. Thankfully, that aimless, out-of-place middle patch is surrounded by nothing but awesomeness.

Robert Downey Jr. resumes his role as Tony Stark/Iron Man, and once again rocks it. He's every bit as hilarious, annoying, and lovable as in the first movie. Gwyneth Paltrow also returns as Pepper Potts, and also does well - she has plenty of chemistry with Downey Jr., I loved their bickering. I was a bit skeptical about Mickey Rourke's character from the trailers, but he actually is outstanding. Once again, Rourke creates such a fascinatingly bizarre character. He's scary, funny, and just plain weird. Sam Rockwell is also entertainingly eccentric as a pampered, annoying rival to Stark in the weapons industry. Rockwell, with great roles in this, Moon, and Snow Angels, is proving himself to be one of the most interesting actors out there. And finally there's Scarlett Johansson, in a role that's all about being sexy and kicking ass, and she does it damn well. Her action scene was jaw-dropping, for sure one of the best parts of the whole movie.

In the end, I like Iron Man 2 just about as much as the first. Sure, 2 has some sketchy plotting issues in its midsection that drag it down, but the action is easily more exciting and the villians are far more interesting this time around. The fight with Vanko at the race course and the epic climatic battle are truly gripping, fun action scenes. Inbetween those moments, I was entertained by the brilliant cast, who are clearly all having alot of fun here. Just cut out some of the middle section and you'd have an instant classic on your hands. As it is, Iron Man 2 is still a blast and one of the highlights of 2010 so far.

The Player
The Player(1992)

Robert Altman definitely has a cynical, subversive prankster side to him which is alive and well in The Player. It's a comedy, a thriller, an attack on Hollywood, and altogether very satisfying and entertaining. I'm not sure that I could see myself returning to The Player again and again or anything, but I definitely had a good time watching it. Tim Robbins is solid as a sleazy, desperate Hollywood producer, making his character weirdly sympathetic despite being an all-around douchebag, and Gretta Scacchi is also oddly fascinating as his unusual girlfriend. Robert Altman keeps things moving at a fast pace, often moving into some dark, oddly unexpected places. My favorite moments of The Player are the strange little details, whether it's one of the many random celebrity cameos or the casual, off-topic conversations. Those improvisational, offhand moments are what give Altman films their own unique style.

My ratings of Altman films:
1. McCabe and Mrs Miller - 10
2. The Long Goodbye - 9
3. Short Cuts - 8
4. The Player - 8
5. Brewster McCloud - 7
6. A Prairie Home Companion - 7
7. Images - 7

The Blind Side
½

The Blind Side is refreshing, and a rarity in Hollywood - a well-done feel-good movie. A huge part of the movie's charm comes from Sandra Bullock, who is incredible. She gives her character such personality, strength, and depth, it's easy to see why she won the Oscar for this. Unfortunately, the homeless black kid who Sandra Bullock takes under her wing, Michael Oher, isn't developed with nearly as much richness or detail. The actor who plays Oher does well, but I kept waiting for the script to develop his character more deeply. It never does, leaving The Blind Side a little lopsided. I feel like I got to know Sandra Bullock's character in this amazing true story, but I wanted to know more about Michael Oher. Still, The Blind Side is heartfelt and completely entertaining - totally worth seeing once or twice.

The Godfather, Part II
½

The Godfather Part II is one of the only times I have been both blown away and slightly disappointed by a film. The first Godfather is an absolutely perfect movie, and one of my personal favorites (I recently added it to my Top 10) - a true masterpiece if ever there was one. Part II is a brilliant continuation, but just didn't have quite the same effect on me. Maybe it's just ridiculous to enter any movie with those kinds of expectations, but there's no denying for me that Part II is a few notches less entertaining, powerful, and gripping than the first. It's only twenty minutes longer than the three-hour first film, but feels at least an hour longer. That's probably my major problem with The Godfather Part II - it just feels too stretched-out and overlong. Some scenes go on for minutes longer than they should, and in its dullest stretches The Godfather Part II becomes something uncomfortably close to an endurance contest.

Thankfully, The Godfather Part II is worth the effort it sometimes takes to sit through. Despite bloat that drags it down, this is a massively impressive film and a worthy sequel/prequel to the original Godfather. Francis Ford Coppola's direction is expectedly incredible, with rich, often beautiful cinematography, but for the most part Coppola just steps back and lets the acting and story speak for themselves. The cast is all-around, 100% phenomenal, with Pacino in particular delivering a powerhouse performance that gave me chills. Robert De Niro is also amazing, with powerful supporting roles from Diane Keaton and John Cazale among others. You just can't go wrong with this cast. A few scenes here go down as among the all-time best in acting history. Beyond that, The Godfather Part II's story is so rich, epic and tragic - I don't see how there's a Godfather III, because Parts I and II so perfectly, completely tell this huge story. We see Vito Corleone's rise to power in America, his death and the passing of power to his son, and then Michael's descent into cruelty and loneliness - all ending with Michael, sitting alone and thinking on his sins. An unbelievably haunting, perfect ending.

Crazy Heart
Crazy Heart(2009)
½

The only buzz surrounding Crazy Heart seems to focus on the music and performances, which is pretty accurate. Those aspects of Crazy Heart are beautiful, the rest is nothing to get too excited about. The story, while done in a more heartfelt and gritty way than usual, is fairly typical and not too memorable. Jeff Bridges is insanely good as Bad Blake, while Maggie Gylenhaal and Colin Farell do very well in smaller roles. They're really the reason that Crazy Heart is a must-see, along with the outstanding country-folk soundtrack.

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
½

Oddball camp classic about a trio of amply-cleavaged, badass ladies who go about terrorizing people for seemingly no reason. Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (awesome title) absolutely revels in its own ridiculousness. It's all catfights, car chases, and hysterically awkward double entendres - how could you not have fun with this? Tura Santana is wickedly memorable as the impossibly huge-bosomed gang leader with an appetite for violence.

I'd bet anything that this is one of Quentin Tarantino's favorites - I was reminded of his films often, Death Proof in particular.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 - Dream Warriors

I've never seen Part Two, but Dream Warriors is shockingly good for being the third entry in a horror series. It doesn't even approach the fright, originality, or charm of the first Nightmare on Elm Street, but Part Three is really alot of fun. Dream Warriors is about as cheesy as it gets and I can't say that I cared too much about the characters, but it's just so wacky and creative. I loved the bizarre special effects and surreal, morbid dream sequences. In terms of pure off-the-wall creativity, this movie is awesome. Dream Warriors is really more comedy and fantasy than horror, but there are a few unnerving moments. Worth seeing if you're in the mood for something ridiculous but highly entertaining.

Bringing Up Baby
½

Before I watched Bringing Up Baby, I thought that I might not be a fan of old screwball comedies. Arsenic and Old Lace is considered an untouchable classic by most, but I found it horribly lame and outdated - Bringing Up Baby has a handful of the overly goofy, forced jokes that killed Arsenic for me, but for the most part this one is total gold. Cary Grant is alot of fun, but Katherine Hepburn completely steals the show. She's off-the-wall energetic and hilarious - I couldn't stop smiling whenever she was onscreen, which was pretty much the entire movie. Probably one of my favorite comic performances of all-time, and she has plenty of amusing chemistry with Grant. Howard Hawks keeps the witty banter and convoluted gags coming at a breakneck pace, building the insanity until it hits a frantically hilarious 30-minute finale where all chaos breaks loose. I had so much fun with this movie, one of the greatest old-school comedies.

Dead Man
Dead Man(1995)
½

I can pretty confidently say that I've never seen anything like Dead Man. It's a gritty, black-and-white psychedelic western with an almost nonexistent plot. This one is really more about the mood and surreal characters. Johnny Depp is fantastic as always, although surprisingly toned down. He's still amazing in a quiet way, perfectly playing both the over-civilized clerk and the casually violent, detatched badass that he eventually becomes. Surrounding Depp is an awesomely bizarre cast including Gary Farmer, Robert Mitchum, Lance Henrikson, Iggy Pop, Alfred Molina, and Billy Bob Thornton, and all of them bring something fascinatingly weird to their characters. The gritty black-and-white cinematography, beautifully simple Neil Young soundtrack, and increasingly violent, surreal situations only add on to the hypnotic oddness. One of my favorite Jarmusch films, only behind the equally-unusual Ghost Dog.

The Godfather

Even more brilliant than I remember it being. One of the most beautiful, rich, perfect films ever made - there's really nothing else that needs to be said.

Female Trouble

Ignore the 6/10 rating I've given Female Trouble. There's really no way to rate this like normal movies - it's just too batshit crazy. Female Trouble is a total piece of trash, but it's so outrageous and over-the-top that it's entertaining and even kind of genius in its own depraved way. Divine gives one of the most bizarre, gleefully disturbing performances I've ever seen, and the movie surrounding her is every bit as wacky. I died laughing at moments, and at other times just felt kind of numb and nauseous due to all the depravity so proudly on display. Some parts of Female Trouble are just too unwatchably gag-worthy, but it was worthwhile as just some fascinating, occasionally hysterical oddity. John Waters is a complete madman. If Pink Flamingos is even more disgusting and weird than this, I'm not sure I'll be able to handle it.

Terror at the Opera
½

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[left][font=Arial Black]Every bit as beautiful and horrifying as it is frustrating. Dario Argento's [i]Opera [/i]is so close to being an amazing horror film - it's just drowning in obvious flaws. [i]Opera[/i] reminds me alot of the only other Argento film I've seen, [i]Suspiria [/i](although the latter is a notch better than the former) - both are frightening, imaginative, often glorious films that are unfortunately dragged down by poor acting, occasional silliness, and lapses in logic, and disappointing endings. [i]Opera [/i]suffers from these glaring mistakes more than [i]Suspiria [/i]does, especially when it comes to the ending - the last 15 minutes of [i]Opera [/i]are weak and incredibly illogical, and only get worse and worse, leading to one of the shittiest final minutes I've ever seen to an otherwise top-notch film. The ending of [i]Opera [/i]is so random and absurb that it was laughable, which is a shame since the rest of the film was pretty awesome.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Arial Black]Now that I've gotten the unfortunate negatives out of the way, I can get to the positives of [i]Opera[/i] - and despite the seriously flawed nature of the whole thing, there's enough mindblowing elements that I still think that it's a fantastic movie overall. The all-around style of the movie is just plain cool. The camerawork is completely unusual and often astounding, it flows freely up staircases and through hallways and seems to always be on the move - helping to make [i]Opera [/i]by far one of the most visually appealing and artistic horror offerings out there. I also found the music choice here fascinating and weirdly effective - the opera music works very well with the over-the-top nature of the film, and the metal songs playing over the murder scenes, while arguably a bit silly, are an effectively jarring change from the usual opera music. It's undoubtedly a daring soundtrack, and it helped make [i]Opera [/i]a highly unique and unnerving experience. Actually, calling [i]Opera [/i]'unnerving' is an understatement. The film's atmosphere is eerie and uncomfortable, and the murder scenes are truly brutal and horrifying. There's one bizarrely beautiful, shocking murder sequence involving a keyhole that I'll especially never forget. [/font][font=Arial Black]All-in-all, [i]Opera [/i]is an outstandingly stylish horror flick, I just hate that damn ending.[/font][/left]
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[center][font=Arial Black][color=red]RANDOM:[/color][/font][/center]
[left][font=Arial Black]- Much thanks to foolofatook for telling me about the Halloween sale at Amazon. I ordered [i]An American Werewolf in London, The Thing, [/i]and the first two [i]Evil Dead [/i]movies for only a little bit over $25. Sweet.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Arial Black]- There's so many good-looking movies out in theatres right now, yet I can't see any of them. [i]Synecdoche, New York, Let the Right One In, Rachel Getting Married, Happy-Go-Lucky[/i] - I'll be very lucky if I can find a theatre near me that'll be playing any of those fantastic-looking movies. Bummer. I might have to make a bit of a road trip.[/font][/left]

The Fisher King

The Fisher King is a strange, beautiful experience. Terry Gilliam is a brilliantly warped genius (excluding that wretched Fear and Loathing to Tideland phase), and The Fisher King is one of his most heartfelt and absorbing. As always, Gilliam's style is wildly trippy and unpredictable - many scenes here are jaw-droppingly beautiful and inventive. But despite all the awesome Gilliam wackiness, The Fisher King is surprisingly humane and touching, mostly due to the all-around phenomenal performances. Jeff Bridges is pitch-perfect, completely believable as a self-centered asshole yet someone who is somehow impossible to dislike. Robin Williams gives what is probably his best performance - he's bizarre and hilarious, but a deeply tragic character at the same time. Mercedes Ruehl, who I've never seen in anything else before, is absolutely wonderful. She's earthy, sexy, and passionate, creating a character who is easy to fall in love with - Ruehl deservedly won a Supporting Actress Oscar. Amanda Plummer is also fantastic (I'm starting to sound a bit like a broken record) as a super-awkward but kindhearted woman. Add in strange small roles from Michael Jeter and Tom Waits, and you have The Fisher King's rich, compelling cast of lovable, deeply damaged weirdos. Watching these characters grow is a hilarious, tragic, surreal, and entirely rewarding experience.

My ratings of Gilliam movies:
1. Brazil - 10
2. Monty Python and the Holy Grail - 9
3. 12 Monkeys - 9
4. The Fisher King - 9
5. Adventures of Baron Munchausen - 9
6. Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus - 9
7. Time Bandits - 7
8. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - 5
9. Brothers Grimm - 3

10000. Tideland - 1

Castle in the Sky

Castle in the Sky is yet another fantastic movie from Hayao Miyazaki. While I'm not at all an anime fan otherwise, Miyazaki has to be one of my favorite directors. His creativity never fails to blow my mind. Castle in the Sky isn't quite on the same level as Spirited Away or Totoro, but it's beautiful, epic, and so much fun. This is a refreshingly sweet, innocent adventure with easily likable characters and a fast, exciting pace. Check this one out if you're a Miyazaki fan.

My ratings of Miyazaki movies:
1. Spirited Away - 10
2. My Neighbor Totoro - 10
3. Princess Mononoke - 9
4. Ponyo - 9
5. Castle in the Sky - 8
6. Howl's Moving Castle - 8
7. Kiki's Delivery Service - 7
8. Nausicaa - 7
9. Porco Rosso - 7

Seven Samurai (Shichinin no Samurai)
½

Pathetically, this is only the second Kurosawa film I've seen. The first was Rashomon, which was very good and impressively original for its time, but didn't live up to the hype for me. Thankfully, Seven Samurai is every bit the awesome epic that it's universally hyped up to be. At 3 1/2 hours, it's a long sit, but Kurosawa fills up the running time with beautiful images, surprising character development, and gripping battle scenes. I rarely was bored, and found Seven Samurai to be a transportive experience - the world that Kurosawa creates seems like a truly authentic 1500s Japan. Classic movie, now I need to watch some more Kurosawa.

Date Night
Date Night(2010)
½

Date Night is downright cruel. It takes these two wonderful comedians and occasionally tantalizes the audience with their comic genius, but for the most part just has them running through the motions of a mediocre action-comedy. The moments where Carell and Fey are allowed to cut loose and improvise are absolutely hilarious. Probably the best scene of Date Night is when Carell and Fey briefly meet up with sleazy characters played by Mila Kunis and James Franco - the plot takes a backseat for a few minutes as the four actors just bounce off each other. I was dying laughing. Most of the rest of the movie, though, is pretty stale and lame - it would be awful without Carell and Fey there to inject it with some laughs and lovability. Mildly enjoyable, but it could've been so much more.

Resident Evil
½

Totally ridiculous and laughably stupid, but I had a good time watching it. Worth watching if you just want some brainless fun.

GoodFellas
GoodFellas(1990)

I'm not nearly as into Goodfellas as most people, but there's no denying that this is a compelling made look at the mobster lifestyle. For the most part, though, I don't quite get the 'masterpiece' status that this movie has been universally stamped with - most of the movie I was fascinated by from a distance. The performances are excellent (in particular Joe Pesci), Scorsese's camerawork and music choices are perfect, there's some scenes of truly shocking violence, and watching the inner workings of the mob is interesting, but I rarely was drawn in by these characters or cared what happened to them. However, there are two absolutely fantastic extended scenes that are sort of mini-masterpieces on their own. The first was Lorraine Bracco's character's narrarated scenes about what it's like to be dating and marrying a gangster - that was by far the most emotionally involving part of Goodfellas to me. The second was the chaotic scene covering the day before Ray Liotta's arrest, which is just a masterfully done scene. I can see how that sequence alone inspired a few of my favorite movies, like P.T. Anderson's Boogie Nights and Magnolia.

So for now I'll settle for calling Goodfellas a great movie, but it's not the mindblowing experience for me that it is for many people. Nevertheless, this was 2 1/2 hours well-spent.

My ratings of Scorsese films:
1. Taxi Driver - 10
2. Raging Bull - 9
3. Goodfellas - 8
4. The Departed - 8
5. Gangs of New York - 8
6. Shutter Island - 8
7. Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore - 7
8. The Aviator - 6

How to Train Your Dragon

How To Train Your Dragon is unexpectedly fantastic - this is the best film DreamWorks has made yet. Both Shrek and Kung Fu Panda are alot of fun, but Dragon contains the perfect combination of humor, beauty, heart, and genuinely exhilarating action. I particularly enjoyed the imaginative designs of all the dragons - especially Toothless, who is an awesome, easily lovable creature. If, like me, you were skeptical about How To Train Your Dragon's quality, see it anyways. It's a total blast, and carries on last year's trend of top-notch animated movies.

Raising Arizona

So much fun. Probably one of my favorite Coen Brothers movies.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

With that awkward title, and the cast (Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Xzibit) you'd expect Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans to be mediocre if not flat-out awful. But this is Werner Herzog, one of the most unpredictable, eccentric directors out there, and Port of Call New Orleans instead turns out to be a bizarre, sort-of brilliant experience. This is Herzog at his most playful - taking these common cop film cliches and twisting them into something really surreal and darkly hilarious. A huge part of the film's charm comes from Nicolas Cage, which is a pleasant surprise considering how godawful he's been lately. Cage is obviously talented, but he wastes it on terribly annoying roles in terrible films like The Wicker Man and National Treasure. Thankfully Port of Call is Nicolas Cage in prime form - this is a throwback to the old days of Wild at Heart and Raising Arizona, when Cage was wildly over-the-top and awesomely entertaining. As the titular bad lieutenant, Cage goes batshit crazy, yet all his bizarre mannerisms and drug-fueled twitches are weirdly believable in addition to being completely hilarious. The rest of the cast also does well. Eva Mendes and Xzibit are surprisingly decent, and Jennifer Coolidge is a scene stealer in a small, strange role. But the real reasons to see Bad Lieutenant are Cage and Herzog, both cranking up the crazy here. Herzog takes the film is some wonderfully weird, unexpected directions. Just when you think the film is going to become a cliched cop thriller, Herzog throws some trippy iguanas or breakdancing criminals at you. And just when you think that Port of Call is really just a weird black comedy, Herzog shows you something quietly, oddly poetic.

Images
Images(1972)
½

Even for Robert Altman, Images is pretty strange. This is one of Altman's most obscure films, and while it's definitely not among his best it's also a bit of a hidden gem (if a rough one). The visuals and music are haunting and beautiful, and in its best moments Images is brilliantly strange and creepily disorienting. There's at least a handful of scenes that are perfectly done, but also plenty of awkward moments - Altman definitely isn't a natural born horror director. Images is far too uneven and un-scary to be too much more than a 'nice try', but I still had fun watching it. It's too playfully bizarre and inventive to be anything less than fascinating.

Oldboy
Oldboy(2005)
½

Really cool movie, and I can see why it's developed a dedicated cult following - this is the kind of genuinely original, oddball movie that rarely comes along. Be warned though, Oldboy is also legitimately uncomfortable to watch - and not only the graphic scenes of violence. Its disturbing, complex revenge story, Min-sik Choi's intense performance, and the surreal visuals all evoke a deeply sinister atmosphere. While Oldboy never really involved me on an emotional level, it's a twisted, strange and artistically-done tale of vengeance that kept me entertained and horrified.

Sisters
Sisters(1973)
½

Sisters is thrilling fun until it splinters off into a whopping WTF of an ending - one of the only endings I can think of that way overexplains while still making absolutely no sense. Aside from the poorly executed final twist, Sisters is a pretty cool riff on Hitchcock. There's some nice suspense and morbid humor, and De Palma's direction is inventively stylish. Worth seeing, but don't take it too seriously.

Little Children
½

Little Children is acted perfectly, the filmmaking is beautiful and stylish, and the stories and characters are fascinating and rich. All that being said, it's not on the same level as Todd Field's first film, the truly stunning In the Bedroom. Little Children isn't as focused and doesn't deliver the same explosive emotional impact - however, it still is a gripping, provocative drama, and Field proves once again that he is a brilliant director. He also has an incredibly talented cast to back him up, getting especially good performances from Patrick Wilson, Jackie Earle Hayley, and especially Kate Winslet (who, yet again, blew me away). All these painfully realistic performances, along with Field's intelligent and fearless script, give Little Children the feel of watching real lives as they play out. It makes for an uncomfortable, disturbing viewing that left me melancholy for hours after watching, despite some hope at the end - Little Children easily snuck under my skin.

The Ghost Writer

A wonderful thriller, and a return to wonderfully creepy form for Roman Polanski. I love the hell out of classic Polanski thrillers like Repulsion, The Tenant, and the masterpiece Rosemary's Baby, so it was quite a thrill to see that off-kilter, paranoid style on the big screen. Ghost Writer kept me gripped the entire runtime with its detailed, slowly unraveling mystery - it's perfectly paced and filled with surprising, smart twists. Ghost Writer also has a subtly morbid sense of humor and irony that lends it the feel of a classic Hitchcock. In addition, the whole cast does extremely well - Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Olivia Williams, and Tom Wilkinson all are fantastic and perfectly aid the creepy, secretive vibe that Polanski creates. Destined to be among the best films of 2010.

My ratings of Polanski films:
1. Rosemary's Baby - 10
2. Repulsion - 9
3. Chinatown - 9
4. Ghost Writer - 9
5. The Tenant - 8
6. Knife in the Water - 6

Mallrats
Mallrats(1995)
½

"They're not there to shop. They're not there to work. They're just there." The tagline for Mallrats really fits - it's not very funny, or very unfunny, it's just kind of there. I laughed occasionally and was mildly amused, but overall it's forgettable. The main characters aren't too likable (although Jay and Silent Bob are awesome as always), and the twisted, raunchy humor isn't nearly as hilarious as it was in Clerks. Out of all the Smith films I've seen, this is my least favorite - although it wasn't a waste of time or anything. My rating is really more imbetween a 5 and a 6.

Smoke Signals

I can't say that I was ever truly drawn into the central father/son drama of Smoke Signals, but this still was an entertaining, warm, funny movie. It's also pretty unique - not in terms of plot, but while watching I realized that I've never before seen a movie about Native Americans made by Native Americans. I can't say that I was blown away, and a couple moments are pretty corny, but Smoke Signals turned out to be a really likable film worth watching.

In the Bedroom
½

Beautiful, heartbreaking, and haunting. It's remarkable that In the Bedroom was Todd Field's first time directing - he already proves himself to be a master of filmmaking. The atmosphere, pace, and mood of In the Bedroom put me in something close to a trance. The performances are also some of the greatest I've ever seen. Marisa Tomei and Nick Stahl are incredible, but this movie is owned by Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson. Both of them perfectly, heartwrenchingly capture the seperate, quiet ways that their characters deal with grief - the eventual argument that erupts between the two is one of the most devastating scenes I've ever seen. 'Wow' is really all I have to say about In the Bedroom. I can imagine that it only gets better on repeat viewings, although that would require putting myself through the wringer again - however this is one of those depressing films (like Requiem for a Dream or The Elephant Man) that's so masterful and beautiful that it's worth it. I will now try to see Todd Field's follow-up, Little Children, as soon as possible.

Tape
Tape(2001)

Richard Linklater is one of my favorites (although I haven't seen his supposedly bad movies - like Fast Food Nation or Bad News Bears), and Tape only reinforces that. It's filmed on digital camera, with only three characters who talk in the same motel room for 90 minutes. Doesn't sound like the most exciting movie ever made, but Tape turns out to be completely engrossing and even thrilling. The script is intelligent and thought-provoking, and brought amazingly to life by the three actors. Ethan Hawke is a knockout playing a crazy, funny, vicious drug addict, while Robert Sean Leonard is equally convincing in a much quieter role. And although she doesn't show up until almost 2/3's of the way through, it's Uma Thurman who possibly makes the biggest impression - her character is the most mysterious of the three, but Thurman gives even her smallest gestures and lines a tremendous complexity and emotional weight. This is up there with her amazing performances in Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill.

Tape is a must-see for those who don't mind movies that are 100% dialogue. It seems to be one of Linklater's less seen and less talked-about movies, which is too bad - I personally haven't been able to get the movie out of my head in the few days since I've watched it.

Brewster McCloud
½

Brewster McCloud is one of the most legitimately strange movies I've seen in a long time. I can't say I was ever involved in the story or in the characters, but Brewster kept me fascinated anyways - it was kind of thrilling to watch something that felt so improvisational and off-kilter. If you're a fan of Robert Altman or movies that are a little on the bizarre side, then you'll probably find plenty to enjoy here.

Cold Souls
Cold Souls(2009)

Cold Souls is an interesting oddity about a company that can remove people's souls to make their lives lighter and more bearable, and complications around the 'soul business' (including international soul trafficking!). I liked the way that this movie's bizarre plot unraveled - despite the absurdity of the situation, it unfolds very logically and is generally played straight. However, I can definitely tell that this is writer/director Sofie Barthes's debut film. While it's very smart and always kept me intrigued, it never really rises above being a well-executed good idea and feels too much like Charlie Kaufman-lite. Although I wasn't blown away, Cold Souls still was a cool movie worth watching, and it's given a major boost from the good performances of Paul Giamatti, David Strathairn, Emily Watson, and Russian actress Dina Korzun.

Man on the Moon

Fantastic and horribly underrated, Man on the Moon is a beautiful portrait of a bizarre comic genius. One of Jim Carrey's greatest performances.

Clerks II
Clerks II(2006)
½

A fantastic sequel. Clerks II loses the amateur charm of the first film, and doesn't quite have the same improvational, fresh feeling - but it's possibly even funnier and definitely more involving in the more 'serious' scenes. However, a word of warning - just like the original (actually, even more so than the original), Clerks II is raunchy as hell. Kevin Smith pulls no punches with his rude, graphic, politically incorrect humor. My jaw was hanging open throughout most of Clerks II, sometimes because I was shocked at the joyfully offensive humor but mostly because I was laughing hysterically. But it isn't pure raunch - there's plenty of heart here, the characters are lovable as always. Many from the first film are back, along with some fresh faces, including the cute and instantly likable Rosario Dawson. Because of these great characters and some huge laughs, Clerks II is a blast. It's one of the only comedy sequels I can think of that's every bit as good as the original.

McCabe & Mrs. Miller
½

The first thing that impressed me about McCabe and Mrs. Miller was the incredible atmosphere of it. The snowy, foggy scenery and downbeat folk songs create a really unusual and melancholy but undeniably beautiful mood. However, narrative and character wise, McCabe and Mrs. Miller gets off to a slow start. Throughout the first few scenes, I was a bit disoriented - the rhythm of the film is very unique and steadily paced. However, once I got more accustomed to its unusual approach, I began to really fall in love with it. The performances are brilliant - Warren Beatty creates such a memorable, rich character, and Julie Christie is every bit as great in her mysterious, sad role.

By the ending, I was sure I was watching some sort of offbeat masterpiece. The final shootout, which seems obligatory in every Western, unfolds in a way unlike any Western I've ever seen. It's a quietly thrilling scene, and ends the movie on a deeply sad, mournful note. It's probably not for everybody, but McCabe and Mrs. Miller is a truly unusual, beautiful movie you have to see for yourself - one of the best of the 70's.

Black Dynamite
½

Black Dynamite is a loving spoof of 70's blaxploitation flicks, a cheap genre that I have a (perhaps misplaced) love for. Black Dynamite totally nails the look and feel of blaxploitation, and has some surprisingly hilarious moments - a couple scenes made me laugh harder than anything I've seen in a long time. Unfortunately the laughs are a bit uneven, but overall the awesome jokes easily outweigh the lame ones.

Black Dynamite falls short of being a classic comedy, but it's still a blast overall. While watching I actually was reminded alot of Planet Terror - while not as endlessly awesome, it has some of the same old-school badassery and brilliantly ridiculous sense of humor.

The Lovely Bones

Peter Jackson has consistently been one of the most talented, creative directors working - he's delivered great, unique films ranging from Lord of the Rings to Dead Alive to Heavenly Creatures. The Lovely Bones, as far as I know, is his first failure, and it's seriously disappointing.

However, I will give The Lovely Bones credit for being entertaining and for having a few well-done sequences. I was never remotely bored, and sometimes even began to think that I was watching a good movie. A few moments are genuinely creepy, one scene in particular is extremely suspenseful. Also, Saoirse Ronan and Stanley Tucci both give good performances. But every time I thought that my opinion on The Lovely Bones might be changing for the better, I would be slapped in the face with yet another ridiculous scene. The scenes taking place in Susie's heaven are unbearably cheesy - it took a lot of effort to suppress laughter as Susie frolicked around her CGI wonderland in butterfly capes and platform shoes. If that's what heaven is really like, I think I'd rather go to hell.

Waking Life
Waking Life(2001)
½

A gorgeous, trippy experience that crawled in my brain and thoroughly fucked with it for a couple of hours. I loved it.

Paper Heart
Paper Heart(2009)
½

Paper Heart does have its charming moments, but overall it just doesn't work. It tries way too hard to be cleverly quirky, so ends up feeling strained and disconnected. I wouldn't say that I disliked Paper Heart, but it's entirely forgettable and not really worth seeking out.

Whip It
Whip It(2009)
½

What an awesome surprise! While Whip It does stick to the whole 'sports underdog' narrative formula, this movie is anything but mediocre like I was expecting. It's actually refreshing, joyful, and a whole lot of fun. Drew Barrymore proves that she has plenty of potential as a director - she gives Whip It a fresh punk-rock feel, and gets good performances all around from her talented cast. Ellen Page is excellent in a role that's surprisingly different from her Juno MacGuff. Marcia Gay Harden, Juliette Lewis, and especially Kristen Wiig are also fantastic - and I was happy to see Death Proof's cute and badass Zoe Bell show up in a small role. I definitely recommend Whip It - it's not incredibly original nor will it change your life, but if you're just expecting great fun then you'll come away satisfied.

The House of the Devil
½

I absolutely love a good horror movie, but unfortunately they're in short supply - which is why I'm always thrilled when one like The House of the Devil comes along. This is a wonderfully creepy, beautifully crafted horror movie, and a perfect homage to 80's horror flicks. The House of the Devil definitely takes it time getting started, to the point where it does drag at times in the first half. Even though it could've used a little bit more editing (my one complaint), in the end the slow pace works perfectly for House of the Devil - the suspense and creepiness build to almost unbearable levels. And once all hell breaks loose, it doesn't hold back - the climax is perfectly twisted and horrifying.

Overall, House of the Devil is an awesome horror flick - 2009 has been a bizarrely good year for horror. Trick 'r Treat, The House of the Devil, Paranormal Activity, and Drag Me to Hell all in the same year? I hope this trend continues.

Tetro
Tetro(2009)

Tetro delivers beautiful, strange visuals and excellent performances, but is light on emotional impact and is perhaps a bit forgettable. Still, this is a supercool movie - it's always fun to watch Francis Ford Coppola at work.

An Education
An Education(2009)

I don't have too much to say that hasn't already been said. It's a hugely charming movie, and much of that charm comes from the lovable Carey Mulligan. One of the better films of 2009.

Zombieland
Zombieland(2009)
½

Even after all the good buzz from pretty much everyone, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Zombieland - it's just a straight-up good time. There's plenty of gore and action to enjoy here, but the real surprise is the legitimately creative, funny humor and lovable characters. Zombieland manages to be sort of a worthy American counterpart to Shaun of the Dead - and it also contains one of the most hilarious, awesomely random scenes of the year.

Funny Games
Funny Games(2008)

Funny Games is well-acted, well-shot - and absolutely despicable. Despite its technically good qualities, I can't stand this film. It shoves awful, ugly violence and suffering in our face, then chastizes us for "enjoying" it. I can certainly enjoy stylized 'movie' violence, but I don't think anyone but absolute sickos enjoys realistic-feeling violence like what is on display here. And Funny Games doesn't develops beyond that - it's the same sick, smug joke repeated again and again. I watched it until the remote control scene, then turned it off. The whole movie is basically an excuse for Haneke to disgust, bore, and mock the audience, and flaunt how morally superior he is. I didn't want to waste my time.

Caché
Caché(2005)

I really love elements of Cache, but as a whole I don't think it lived up to its full potential. The performances are solid all around, certain scenes are extremely creepy and haunting (one in particular shocked the hell out of me), and overall it is skillfully directed by Michael Haneke. What weighs down Cache is the sluggish pacing - it feels ridiculously stretched out over its long two hours. In the last hour I often found it hard to stay awake. I also disliked the ending - I don't need every loose end tied up in every film I watch, but this was just irritating and (as with Funny Games) shows a smug contempt for the audience on Haneke's part.

All that being said, Cache was still an interesting film - but something about Haneke just turns me off. Cache is a very well-done film that I feel mostly indifferent towards, and I absolutely loathe Funny Games - hopefully The White Ribbon will change my opinion on Haneke.

Observe and Report

Observe and Report is not 100 percent terrible, mostly because of Seth Rogen and Anna Faris. Both of them are admirably fearless in making their characters completely despicable, and Faris gives the film a few much-needed laughs. I also enjoyed the scenes with the girl who worked at the coffee shop. Honestly, though, my mild praises stop there. The dark sense of humor isn't funny, disturbing, or thought-provoking, just kind of bland and predictable. Few things are more depressing then sitting through a comedy and hardly ever laughing.

Crank 2: High Voltage

Hyperactive, vulgar, hilarious, seizure-inducing - overall just an all-out batshit crazy movie. 'Over-the-top' doesn't even describe the experience of Crank High Voltage, which is easily one of the most gleefully crazy movies I've ever seen. And while I'm not generally grossed out or offended by too many movies, Crank definitely went much too far in some aspects - it demeans women more than any other movie I've ever seen, the nudity and sex is borderline pornographic, and some of the violence is just disgusting. It's really strange that High Voltage escaped with an R-rating - if this isn't NC-17 stuff, I don't know what is!

Overall, though, I had a good time with Crank High Voltage, even if it made me feel dirty while watching. It's an ultra-crazy modern exploitation flick that anyone who is a fan of cinematic inventiveness needs to see - just know what you're getting yourself into!

Bright Star
Bright Star(2009)
½

I knew very little about John Keats coming into Bright Star, but after hearing wonderful excerpts of his poetry thoughout, I must read some of his stuff. Bright Star is a stunning tribute to Keats and his romance with the headstrong Fanny Brawne - and very appropriately, it feels like a cinematic poem. With words and visuals alone, Bright Star moved me deeply. The dialogue is intelligent, funny, and rich, often including excerpts of Keats's poetry, and the visuals are unbelievably gorgeous. Through these words and images Bright Star captures a perfect atmosphere - I'll probably never forget some of the things I saw and heard in it.

Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish are brilliant in their roles. Right from the start, you feel like you know these characters - the way they speak and act seems entirely real, as does the romance between them. Bright Star has one of the most accurate-feeling depictions of love I've seen in a movie, not a moment here feels phoney or melodramatic. Whishaw and Cornish managed to move me deeply with even their subtlest mannerisms and line deliveries - because of their perfect performances and the mesmerizing mood that Jane Campion creates, Bright Star is one of the most romantic movies I've seen in a long time. Also, this is without a doubt my favorite "costme drama"/period piece - although admittedly there's not much competition, since the only other period pieces (off the top of my head) that I like are Marie Antoinette and Barry Lyndon.

Little Shop of Horrors
½

I can't say that I'm a huge fan of musicals, but Little Shop of Horrors won me over. It's pure fun, with energetic songs and gleefully twisted humor. Steve Martin is completely hilarious as a sadistic dentist (one of his patients is Bill Murray, in an awesome cameo appearance). I also love the old-school special effects used to create Audrey II, the bloodthirsty giant plant - there's a wonderful inventive charm to 80's special effects that is sadly missing from most modern movies.

The Hurt Locker

A fantastic war movie. The Hurt Locker is deeply intense and gutwrenching - during some especially nervewracking scenes, my jaw was permanently hanging open. Beyond just the amazingly suspenseful atmosphere, The Hurt Locker is phenomenal for its performances, direction, and refreshingly apolitical stance. The Hurt Locker never makes any sort of preachy message about the Iraq War, it's perfectly content with honestly telling a good story. A definite must-see, although be warned: it's pretty tough to watch at spots. There's no pulling punches here.

Sin Nombre
Sin Nombre(2009)

Almost everything in Sin Nombre works. The performances are quietly intense, the cinematography is gorgeous, and the atmosphere and characters seem truly authentic. It's a truly absorbing thriller, although keep in mind that it's tough to watch at points. In the end though, it's a fascinating journey, and manages to find some hope and beauty out of a violent situation. Sin Nombre is an extremely promising debut for director Cary Fukunaga and star Edgar Flores. Flores is really outstanding - it's not at all a flashy performance, but Flores can devastate you just with his facial expressions. I hope that Flores and Sin Nombre itself get some love during the Oscars, but it's probably not too likely.

Watchmen
Watchmen(2009)
½

Although I did not enjoy Watchmen, I respect Zack Snyder for tackling such an ambitious, complex book and not backing down. Snyder doesn't soften the bleak messages of the graphic novel, and at least attempts to cover most of the complicated subplots and backstories. And Snyder's film version is definitely not a bastardization - it's beautifully stylish and at its best moments does capture the mood of the novel. Watchmen also starts off really well, with absolutely brilliant opening credits and a few perfectly moody scenes.

Somewhere along the way, though, Watchmen loses almost all its energy. Honestly, this movie is just no fun to watch. The novel covers the same downbeat themes but kept me hooked and entertained the entire read - the movie is just a slog, with its 2 1/2 hour running time feeling more like 4 hours. The characters certainly don't help - with the exception of Rorscach and the Comedian, they're all completely dull and void of any sort of personality. Watchmen is also devoid of anything resembling excitement - the action scenes are horribly lame. Zack Snyder, perhaps sensing the lack of a pulse, tries to liven things up by adding in plenty of ultra-grisly violence and a hilariously overdone sex scene.

In the end, there's lots of things I respect and like about Watchmen, but I found it incredibly dull to sit through. Zack Snyder is obviously talented, but his execution of this movie is very hit-or-miss - and honestly, this seems like the kind of story that is far better suited for the page.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

I love the hell out of Terry Gilliam's pre-Fear and Loathing stuff, but lately he's been disappointing. Actually, disappointing is far too light a word - I was under the impression that Gilliam had completely lost it. Fear and Loathing has its moments but eventually just endlessly repeats the same gag, while the lifeless Brothers Grimm and disgusting, abysmal Tideland are some of my least favorite films of the decade. So, to say the least, I've been a bit bitter towards Gilliam lately, but The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus blasted away the awful memories of Gilliam's last decade.

Imaginarium is pure, unadulterated, wild genius - unhinged and completely insane. I couldn't have had a better time. The CGI effects are unbelievable, trippy and gorgeous. Every scene behind the mirror is truly jaw-dropping - the dreamlike scenery and wildly bizarre humor make Imaginarium one of the most entertaining and impressive films of 2009. But I was expecting eye candy - the main surprise about Imaginarium is that the scenes in the real world are often every bit as good. As far as characters go, this is one of Gilliam's very best. Yes, these are the usual collection of oddballs you'd find in one of his films, but they have a sweet humanity to them. Lily Cole and Andrew Garfield are two newcomers to look out for - both of them are absolutely fantastic. Christopher Plummer is also great, and Tom Waits is perfectly cast as the sly Mr. Nick (AKA the devil).

And of course, this is Heath Ledger's last role - it's both eerie and heartwarming to see him up on the big screen again. Ledger and all the actors who briefly replace him (Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell) are excellent, although his character actually isn't the focus point of the movie. Still, this was a perfect last movie for Ledger, and he delivers with a charming, mysterious performance.

Overall, I couldn't be much happier about how Imaginarium turned out. No, it's not perfect, but I loved it anyways - and while watching, I was reminded of Adventures of Baron Munchausen, which is a great thing. I'm not quite ready to forgive Gilliam for the travesty that was Tideland, but Imaginarium is a huge leap in the right direction and a wonderful, bizarre bit of escapism.

World's Greatest Dad
½

I knew very little about World's Greatest Dad going in, which actually turned out to be the best way to watch it. I was pretty shocked by the dark, audacious directions it took - it's a very intelligent, thought-provoking black comedy, and one of the great cinematic surprises of 2009. Possibly the biggest pleasant surprise here is Robin Williams, who is fantastic - he's a surprisingly subtle mix of sad, loathesome, and sympathetic. See this one if you like your comedy pitch-black.

Tokyo!
Tokyo!(2008)
½

Tokyo is a collection of three bizarre short films all taking place in the chaotic Japanese city, each one done by a different director. Michel Gondry directed the first movie, Interior Design, and honestly that's the only reason I saw this - I think that Gondry is one of the few true genuises working in film today. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is arguably my all-time favorite movie and Science of Sleep is also completely brilliant; Interior Design didn't disappoint. It's a fantastic short - funny, melancholy, and radiating with that wonderfully messy, offbeat Gondry vibe. The ending is especially good, in an unexpectedly weird and touching way. I loved it!

After loving Interior Design, I was hoping the next two films would be pleasant surprises - which they weren't. The next film, Merde, was shockingly awful. It was bizarre, grotesque, and completely uninteresting. If Interiors on its own is one of the best movies of 2009, then Merde is one of the absolute worst. The final film, Tokyo Shaking, is just decent. There are some interesting ideas and visuals, but in the end it just left me scratching my head.

Tokyo is an extreme mixed bag of awesome, wretched, and okay. I nearly gave this one a 50%, but anything with Gondry's brilliant film in it deserves at least a mild fresh rating. In the end, Tokyo is worth seeing - just don't expect anything resembling consistency.

Paranormal Activity
½

If you let yourself get sucked in by it, Paranormal Activity is a deeply creepy experience. This is a truly low-budget barebones movie with almost ridiculously simple tricks to build suspense and provoke scares, but it somehow works beautifully. Most of the film is more entertainingly eerie than scary, but a couple scenes near the end are jaw-droppingly frightening. The tension builds perfectly, and when the fear explodes in the last 20 minutes, Paranormal Activity secures a spot as one of the few truly scary movies of the past decade. Unfortunately, the last 15 seconds are pretty ridiculous and laughable (including the 'whereabouts unknown' titles), but one brief moment of lameness doesn't erase the powerful creepiness of what came before.

The Brothers Bloom
½

The Brothers Bloom eventually deflates a bit near the end, its endless twists and turns become tiresome. But up until that point, I was having a great time. Rian Johnson's direction is energetic and visually striking - similar to Wes Anderson, but with plenty of spark and originality of its own. Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody are both solid, but Rachel Weisz totally steals the movie. She nails her eccentric, lovable character, and watching her experience romance and adventure is unexpectedly heartwarming (and hilarious - Weisz delivers some of the funniest one-liners of the year). Even if it does fizzle out a bit at the end, Brothers Bloom is good, clever fun given a boost by a fantastic performance.

Moon
Moon(2009)
½

It's rare to complain that a movie is far too short, but that's my main problem with Moon. In a way, that's almost a backwards compliment - because Moon was so interesting and thought-provoking that I just ended up wanting more. It runs a bit under 90 minutes, and feels far too rushed and underdeveloped. I think that an extra half hour or so to develop character and build tension would've made Moon a great science-fiction movie, instead of merely a good one.

But despite some pacing issues, Moon is a fantastic debut film from Duncan Jones (the son of David Bowie!). It tells an extremely interesting, intelligent story that could've seemed like an episode of the Twilight Zone, but instead is approached in a more poetic, tragic way. I was surprised by how deeply sad and bleak it became - Moon is a rare dead-serious science-fiction film.

However, the real reason to see Moon is Sam Rockwell. Rockwell plays two roles, and excels in both - he is intense, heartbreaking, and likable, and fascinates every moment. It's too bad he isn't receiving any awards buzz, because this performance at least worthy of an Oscar nomination, if not a win.

Mystery Train
½

A fascinating oddity, as should be expected from Jim Jarmusch. Mystery Train is split into 3 stories, all revolving around a Memphis hotel and the spirit and music of Elvis. The first segment about a Japanese couple is easily my favorite - it's unexpectedly sweet and funny. The next two are slightly less interesting, but still are fun and have a cool, romantic atmosphere to them. I probably won't watch Mystery Train a second time, but it was enjoyable and offbeat, and generally a good time.

Ratings of Jim Jarmusch movies:
1. Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai - 9
2. Down by Law - 8
3. Broken Flowers - 8
4. Mystery Train - 7
5. Coffee and Cigarettes - 7
6. The Limits of Control - 1

Broken Embraces
½

I'm surprised that Broken Embraces is being generally dismissed as one of Almodovar's weaker films. It's such a gorgeous movie, and probably my favorite work yet from Almodovar. The colors are beautiful and bold, the plot is intriguing and dizzyingly complex, and the performances are stunning all across the board. Especially worth mentioning is Penelope Cruz, who once again proves that she is one of today's best (and most jaw-droppingly gorgeous) actresses. Broken Embraces is relentlessly fascinating - a beautiful, deeply romantic mystery of a movie, and one of 2009's best.

My ratings of Almodovar films:
1. Broken Embraces - 9
2. Talk to Her - 9
3. Volver - 8
4. All About My Mother - 8
5. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown - 7
6. Bad Education - 6

Public Enemies
½

As far as disappointments go, Public Enemies is pretty excellent. The direction is surprisingly experimental and impressive, the acting is all-around outstanding, and the action is furious and exciting. But overall, Public Enemies is too shallow to be truly engrossing. The characters are interesting and brought to life wonderfully by the cast, but the script never really explores them. I wanted to know more about these people and their motives. Also, a few long sections of Public Enemies are cold and flat. The beginning is interesting but the midsection feels detatched and dull. Thankfully, about halfway through Public Enemies picks up steam, and throughout the last act I was completely thrilled and entertained.

Even in the duller scenes, Public Enemies always has fantastic acting. Johnny Depp is perfect - charismatic and likable, but believably intense and violent. Marion Cotillard is a scene stealer as Depp's girlfriend. She provides Public Enemies with most of its emotionally moving scenes, and proves that she is one of today's most promising actresses. Christian Bale is expectedly solid, and the rest of the cast, even in their small roles, leave some sort of impression.

Depp and Cotillard are the main reasons to see Public Enemies, but I was also very impressed with Michael Mann's direction. His camerawork is unusual and gritty, giving Public Enemies a surprisingly experimental look for a mainstream action movie. And, as expected from Mann, the action scenes are intense, sharp, and exciting. Though it has flaws, in the end Public Enemies is a good crime flick worth seeing.

Up in the Air
½

Until a last-act stumble, I loved Up in the Air. At times I even thought I was watching a masterpiece. George Clooney is perfectly natural, slipping into his character with ease. Vera Farmiga is warm, funny, and sexy. The biggest surprise is Anna Kendrick, who demands your attention with her humor and energy. Watching George Clooney's character transform as these two women enter his lonely life is moving, funny, and refreshingly honest. Up in the Air has the same warm humanity as Reitman's last movie, Juno, but with a darker edge considering George Clooney's job as a man hired to fire people.

For the most part, Up in the Air unfolds beautifully. I was invested in these people and their lives, and found myself extraordinarily moved. Unfortunately, the last 10 minutes disappoint. Without spoiling anything, a twist happens that I just didn't buy. It seemed completely inconsistent with a certain character, and flat-out did not make sense with that character's behavior and personality. It was totally manipulative and fake, which is odd considering how genuine everything up until that point was. That cheapened a whole section of the movie in retrospect, and made it seem like just a set-up. The actual last scene of Up in the Air is solid, but by that point I was totally turned off.

It's a shame, because aside from that Up in the Air was truly wonderful. If it had ended about 10 minutes earlier, you'd be reading a much different review.

Avatar
Avatar(2009)

I was taken aback by how much I enjoyed Avatar. The environmental message is eye-rollingly obvious at times, but aside from that I had a blast. The visuals are unbelievably gorgeous, the action is epic and hugely exciting, and the characters are surprisingly likable and easy to root for. Truly incredible, one you absolutely must see on the big screen.

Down by Law
Down by Law(1986)
½

Beautifully unusual movie. The first thing I noticed was the black-and-white cinematography, which is gritty and beautiful at the same time. However, Down By Law takes its time truly getting started. The first few scenes are wonderfully filmed but a bit empty, and I found myself becoming slightly impatient. However, once the three men are all stuck together in the prison cell, I was absorbed in the film. Tom Waits and John Lurie are both sad, cool, and sympathetic, while Roberto Benigni is lovable and hilarious. Watching the three of them fight, talk, and eventually become friends is fascinating and surprisingly funny. Those three awesome performances, combined with a completely natural script and Jim Jarmusch's gritty, laidback style, results in a weirdly entertaining and wholly original film.

My ratings of Jim Jarmusch movies:
1. Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai - 9
2. Down By Law - 8
3. Broken Flowers - 8
4. Coffee and Cigarettes - 7
5. Limits of Control - 1

The Shining
The Shining(1980)

I can't believe I've never written a review for The Shining! It's tied with 2001: A Space Odyssey as my favorite Stanley Kubrick movie, and I think that it's the best horror movie ever made. As with all Kubrick movies, The Shining is very methodical. But the slow pace sucks you in, letting the viewer soak in the quietly building creepiness, eerily beautiful images, and unhinged performances. The Shining has perhaps the best slowly-built tension I've ever seen in any movie. It starts out mildly eerie, and by the last half-hour has turned into an all-out horrifying, surreal nightmare.

With that being said, The Shining is also hilarious - I think this may be the only truly successful combination of horror and comedy. I love the hell out of horror-comedies like An American Werewolf in London and Evil Dead 2, but those movies definitely sacrifice scares for laughs. The Shining somehow manages to be both laugh-out-loud funny and one of the scariest movies ever made - it's a bizarre balancing act that makes The Shining unique in the world of horror movies.

Much credit for the awesome mix of humor and horror obviously goes to Jack Nicholson. His performance is gleefully deranged, inspiring plenty of uneasy laughter and deep chills. Nicholson deservedly has won endless praise for his performance, but Shelley Duvall has gone mostly unnoticed as his terrified wife. I think Duvall's performance is criminally underrated - maybe people ignore her because she plays a homely, pathetic oddball in a genre that's usually filled with supermodels. Instead of the usual vapid horror victim, Duvall is sweet, awkward, and near the end her character reaches a completely believable level of absolute terror.

The Shining is absolutely hypnotic, and one of the few films I wouldn't hesitate to call perfect. Kubrick tried his hand at a 'genre' film and ended up making a gorgeous, hilarious, terrifying work of art that remains unsurpasssed as the best horror movie ever.

My ratings of Kubrick films:
1. The Shining / 2001: A Space Odyssey - 10's
2. A Clockwork Orange - 9.5
3. Eyes Wide Shut - 9.5
4. Full Metal Jacket - 9.5
5. Dr. Strangelove - 9
6. Barry Lyndon - 8

Invictus
Invictus(2009)

Solidly well-made and inspiring, but considering the source material and the talent behind it, Invictus should've been great. It feels like a really good TV movie - it's entertaining and even a bit rousing at moments, but forgettable and far too shallow. Morgan Freeman is really good and Matt Damon is solid, but their real-life characters aren't explored very deeply, so they don't have much to do. Clint Eastwood seems to be on autopilot here, Invictus has only a fraction of the passion and style that Eastwood crammed into last year's Gran Torino and Changeling.

However, despite all my complaints, I did like Invictus. It completely held my interest throughout, and of course Nelson Mandela is just such a fascinating, inspiring person. The theme of overcoming racism is explored in a heartfelt way, even if the movie itself is a bit flat and disappointing.

The Princess and the Frog
½

My rating is really more of a 7.5, but I'm so thrilled to see Disney returning to classy, hand-drawn animated films that I'll bump it up to an 8. Princess and the Frog is no Beauty and the Beast or Lion King, but it's wonderful entertainment and a huge step in the right direction for Disney. The animation is gorgeous, the characters are fun, and the musical numbers are enchanting and creative (even if the songs themselves aren't too memorable). It's lively, funny, and enchanting - I'm so glad to see that Disney is returning to what they do best.

Sleeper
Sleeper(1973)
½

Fun movie. It won't change your life, but there's plenty of laughs, and the sci-fi twist is actually pretty wacky and inventive. A minor Woody Allen classic.

Hannah and Her Sisters

Hannah And Her Sisters is a beautifully acted movie, with every member of the ensemble cast delivering an outstanding performance. Woody Allen's writing is at its best, a perfect balance of bitter and humorous. Watching these flawed but sympathetic people circle around each other and talk is funny, sad, and in the end perfectly uplifting. One of Woody Allen's very best movies.

Plan 9 from Outer Space
½

No matter how jaw-droppingly inept and terribly made Plan 9 From Outer Space may be, I could never consider this as the worst movie ever made. It's just too damn lovable. There's something genuine and even clumsily creative about it, it's obvious that Ed Wood put plenty of heart into this, even if his skill as a filmmaker is (to put it mildly) below par. Hilarious, enjoyable movie and a total classic, even if for all the wrong reasons.

Fitzcarraldo
Fitzcarraldo(1982)
½

Fitzcarraldo is a beautiful masterpiece. This is an absurdly ambitious film that is just as fascinating for the events happening on-screen as for the making of it. The plot concerns a slightly insane man, Fitzcarraldo, who has a grand dream of building an opera in a remote area of the rainforest. This will require him to travel great lengths of the Amazon and haul his entire steamboat over a mountain. Stretched over 2 1/2 hours, the film is very steadily, slowly paced, showing every detail of the epic journey and manual labor required to haul a whole boat up a slope. The result maybe isn't the most insanely entertaining film on record, but like Apocalypse Now and 2001: A Space Odyssey, Fitzcarraldo blew me away with its sheer originality and crazy ambition. Because hauling the boat over a mountain wasn't just a special effect - director Werner Herzog actually accomplished what is portrayed in the movie, which is stunningly impressive. Also impressive is that, with all the technical complications of performing this massive feat, Fitzcarraldo still turns out to be a beautiful movie. The scenery and music have a hypnotic effect, and Klaus Kinski is lovable, intense, and just the right amount of crazy as Fitzcarraldo.

Amarcord
Amarcord(1974)
½

One of Fellini's best. Amarcord is a truly lively, bizarre film - crazy, raunchy, nostalgic, and completely charming. This movie made me blissfully happy.

Apocalypse Now

Masterpiece. Apocalypse Now is one of the most impressive films of all-time, an exciting, surreal, terrifying trip through the hell of Vietnam. As far as Francis Ford Coppola films go, I think this is even better than The Godfather, which is no small feat.

Hard Eight
Hard Eight(1996)
½

A grossly overlooked near-masterpiece. Hard Eight is one of the most refreshing, fascinating crime films of the 90's, if not all time, yet it seems that hardly anyone has heard of it. Perhaps the subtlety and relaxed pace turns people off - Hard Eight definitely isn't in a rush to get anywhere. It lets you soak in the rich characters, the sharp dialogue, and the smooth atmosphere, while slowly unraveling its unconventional plot. I personally love the chilled-out pacing - it lets you get to know the characters, making the last act twist surprising and haunting.

There's something about Paul Thomas Anderson's filmmaking that's just magic. Hard Eight is his directorial debut, and already he shows an outstanding talent for character development and beautiful camera work. Hard Eight has to be one of the most stunningly confident directorial debuts out there - Anderson knows what he wants. It's not hard to see that this is from the same man who went on to make the masterpieces Boogie Nights and Magnolia.

I was very tempted to give Hard Eight a 10/10 rating. I don't really have any complaints. The performances are all perfect - Philip Baker Hall is quietly brilliant, John C. Reilly is funny and charismatic, Gwyneth Paltrow is both pathetic and sympathetic, and Samuel L. Jackson is gloriously sleazy and menacing. Also, the direction is gorgeous and the script is intelligent, quietly suspenseful, and emotionally moving - so why not a 10/10? The main reason is that, in comparison to all of P.T. Anderson's films that came after, Hard Eight is a bit insignificant. It's a damn good film, but nowhere near as ambitious or mindblowing as Anderson's four others. Consider it a very high 9/10.

Family Plot
Family Plot(1976)
½

What a nice surprise. I wasn't expecting to like Family Plot so much, since it seems to generally be perceived as one of Hitchcock's weakest. And while this is one of his minor films and one of his least artistically ambitious, it's just so much fun. The plot is impressively complex and engrossing - the way that the various strands of the film come together are satisfying and sometimes breathtakingly suspenseful. Also, this is one of Hitchcock's more straightforwardly humorous movies, and his uniquely odd sense of humor is always entertaining.

It's a shame Hitchcock didn't make more movies, because with his last two films he was experimenting in new ways. Both of his 70's films, the dark, bizarre semi-masterpiece Frenzy and Family Plot, have a very different feel to them than Hitchcock's other movies. Still, he made a mind-boggling number of amazing movies during his long career, and even though Family Plot is not one of his masterpieces it was a great film to end with.

My ratings of Hitchcock films:
1. Rear Window - 10
2. Psycho - 10
3. The Birds - 10
4. Strangers on a Train - 10
5. Vertigo - 10
6. Rebecca - 10
7. Notorious - 10
8. Rope - 9.5
9. North by Northwest - 9
10. Shadow of a Doubt - 9
11. Frenzy - 9
12. The Lady Vanishes - 9
13. Spellbound - 8.5
14. Lifeboat - 8.5
15. The 39 Steps - 8
16. Sabotage - 8
17. Family Plot - 8
18. Dial M for Murder - 8
19. To Catch a Thief - 7.5
20. Trouble with Harry - 7.5
21. The Man Who Knew too Much - 7
22. The Lodger - 6
23. Marnie - 6
24. Young and Innocent - 6
25. Blackmail - 5

Encounters at the End of the World

One of the most thought-provoking, beautiful documentaries I've ever seen. Encounters at the End of the World is very loose and ponderous - it's not only a nature documentary or only a documentary about the various eccentric people living in Antartica but both at once, with eerie, haunting themes also quietly playing out. It's a completely gorgeous film, full of huge, empty landscapes and beautiful, creepy underwater scenes. Herzog also shows us some of the wildlife living in the South Pole, but these bizarre, fascinating animal scenes are nothing like your average nature documentary. However, the people are possibly the most interesting aspect of Encounters. All these people are wanderers and dreamers, and seeing how passionate they are for adventure and beauty is truly inspiring.

In a subtle way, Encounters also touches on ideas of eternity and the end of mankind. Herzog doesn't overplay these themes or try to frighten the viewers into becoming environmentally aware, he instead plays with these ideas in a poetic, haunting way.

Encounters is intellectually, emotionally, and visually satisfying, and one of the best documentaries I've ever seen. It could use a little editing, but when faced with a movie this hauntingly beautiful it seems pointless to complain.

Mary and Max
Mary and Max(2009)
½

Mary and Max is the third absolutely fantastic stop-motion animated film of 2009. When was the last time that was even possible? I'm really glad to see that stop-motion still has a place in movies today, there's an old-school charm to it that computer animation just can't capture.

Mary and Max has an awesome look to it. Everything is bleak and almost colorless, but there's odd, humorous, even grotesque touches in every frame that give the film plenty of charm. I'm incredibly impressed that, despite the low budget, Mary and Max looks so detailed.

The characters live up to their bizarre appearances. All of them are odd and extremely flawed, but lovable right from the start. You forget that these characters are only moving lumps of clay, and begin to think of them as real, interesting people. The first half hour of Mary and Max I thought I was watching a masterpiece - the strange humor, sweetness, and mildly depressing vibe fit perfectly together. However, at a point things do get a little repetitive and surprisingly dark. During the more relentlessly downbeat sections, Mary and Max lost me a little instead of emotionally drawing me in more. Still, it's a minor complaint, because even in its glum moments there's still some wicked dark humor and that wonderful animation.

Overall, Mary and Max is an unforgettable, moving animated film for adults. While I don't think it quite lived up to the enormous potential of the first act, it's still an incredibly personal labor of love from the filmmakers and one of the most wonderfully unusual movies I've ever seen. A must-see.

Short Cuts
Short Cuts(1993)

Not really what I was expecting. I mainly watched Short Cuts because I heard it was a huge influence on P.T. Anderson's Magnolia, which is probably one of my ten favorite movies. I can definitely see how Anderson was influenced - both take place over a short period of time in Los Angeles, involve many seriously flawed characters, and have a huge out-of-left-field surprise that hits all the characters at the end. But where Magnolia is more of an intense but hopeful drama, Short Cuts is more of a cynical black comedy. Some of the stories do have emotional weight to them, but more often than not we are supposed to laugh at these people and all the weird, fucked-up things they do. Because of this, Short Cuts is rarely emotionally engaging or likeable in any way, but it's still fascinating as hell. The characters weave together in clever, unexpected, often shocking ways, and the fact that Altman managed to keep Short Cuts from splintering into complete chaos is incredibly impressive. With all these unique, funny, often creepy stories unfolding beautifully, the 3-hour running time goes by pretty quickly, to the point where I actually wanted a little bit more.

Short Cuts is sometimes a bit overwhelming and often unsettlingly dark, but it ended up being a wonderfully unusual, thought-provoking film that was worth the effort to watch. Besides, look at that cast!

Heavenly Creatures

After the brilliant, disgusting Dead Alive, Peter Jackson tried his hand at something totally different - a true-life drama based on two very close friends who murder one of their mothers in 1950's New Zealand. The story is fascinating on its own, but Jackson doesn't merely show the events as they happened, he tries to get inside the heads of the two girls. As you watch Heavenly Creatures, you see life mostly through the eyes of these very creative, very disturbed girls - resulting in an audacious, breathtakingly free film that's an emotional rollercoaster. It wildly swings between humor and beauty, sadness and horror, and is all captured by Peter Jackson's hyperactive camera, which just makes the film seem all the more out-of-control.

All this ambitious chaos might've gone completely out of control if the two central actresses weren't up to the challenge, but Melanie Lynskey and Kate Winslet are both astoundingly good. Lynskey is the more outwardly disturbed of the two, and perfectly brings her complex, frightening character to life, making her an absolute monster who is also extremely sympathetic. Kate Winslet is equally amazing, although at first she actually came across as irritating and amateurish. However, this is just a part of her character, who hides her pain with an overly cheery shell - when her dark side shows through, it's truly chilling. What Winslet does with her character is incredible, especially for a first performance. Also worth mentioning is Sarah Pierse as the doomed mother, who has less screentime than the girls but makes just as much of an impact. She portrays the mother as a flawed but goodhearted person, who ends up being by far the most sympathetic character in the whole film.

Overall, Heavenly Creatures in one of the most intriguing, unique movies I've seen in a long time. It tackles difficult, real subject matter head-on in a bold, unusual matter, and lets the viewer make up their own minds on what they just saw. A jaw-dropping work and an absolute must-see, although keep in mind - you will be very, very disturbed.

My ratings of Peter Jackson films:
1. Lord of the Rings Trilogy - 10
2. King Kong - 9
3. Heavenly Creatures / Dead Alive - 9's (like them equally for very different reasons)

A Hard Day's Night
½

I really enjoyed A Hard Day's Night, although it was much different than what I was expecting - after watching Help!, I was expecting another colorful, crazy, slapstick comedy. A Hard Day's Night is really none of those - it's black-and-white, mostly very laid-back, and despite some slapstick humor, has a pretty 'real' vibe to it. It's mostly just hanging out with the Beatles for a day, as they goof off, run away from fans and the police, and just hang out. It's enjoyably loose and free-spirited, and often very funny (most of the laughs come from Ringo, who I have a newfound respect for), but actually too laid-back to be considered a great movie. Still, it's fun - and obviously the music is great.

Raging Bull
Raging Bull(1980)
½

Raging Bull is not an easy one to watch - almost everything about this movie is painful, from Robert De Niro's intensely unlikable performance as the self-destructive boxer Jake LaMotta to the bloody, brutal fights. I often don't like movies about despicable characters, since they usually just come across as condescending and pointless, but Raging Bull is an exception. Scorcese and De Niro manage to find some sympathy and beauty in the life of a monstrous person, making this a deeply human and crushingly sad drama. When LaMotta is yelling out in his prison cell near the end of the film, I found myself feeling horribly sad for him, even though this was what he deserved. De Niro humanizes LaMotta in incredible ways that I'm not sure any other actor would be able to pull off.

In addition, Raging Bull is easily one of the most beautifully crafted black-and-white films I've ever seen. From the stunning opening shot to the intense, breathtaking fights, Raging Bull is stunningly beautiful. Scorcese is on the top of his game as a visual artist here.

Raging Bull is not one I will want to watch again anytime soon, but I can see why many consider it a masterpiece, and partially agree with them. It's brutal and fascinating, with Scorcese and De Niro at their respective best, not to mention a great supporting performance from Joe Pesci.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque de Nervios)
½

Good fun. Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown is easily the most lighthearted Almodovar film I've seen, but still contains most of his trademarks - a twisty plot, bright colors, and an obvious love of women and melodrama. It's rarely laugh-out-loud funny (though it does get funnier as it goes on), but it was consistently enjoyable anyways, and Carmen Maura's lovably stressed central performance gives it some emotional weight. I probably won't watch it again, but it was a fun time.

My ratings of Almodovar films:
1. Talk to Her - 9
2. Volver - 9
3. All About My Mother - 8
4. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown - 7
5. Bad Education - 6.5

Naked Lunch
Naked Lunch(1991)

Yikes! I thought Videdrome was bizarre and disturbing, but Naked Lunch is even more out-there. There's not much linear plot to be found here, only paranoid drug-induced conspiracies involving juice-secreting Mugwumps, beetle typewriters who talk out of their anuses, and other grotesque, weirdly sexual creatures. If that description made you feel uncomfortable, you'd probably be a happier person if you stayed away from Naked Lunch.

I enjoyed it, although I'm guessing most people wouldn't. I found all the creatures grossly fascinating, and was equally amused and depressed by Peter Weller's deadpan performance. Naked Lunch certainly isn't for everyone - approach with caution.

My ratings of David Cronenberg films:
1. The Fly - 9
2. Eastern Promises - 8
3. Naked Lunch - 7
4. Videodrome - 6

The Untouchables
½

The Untouchables is no Godfather, but it's not trying to be. Instead of an dark complex study of crime, The Untouchables is merely old-school entertainment that could've been made in the 30's if it wasn't for the blood. It's good-versus-evil popcorn entertainment, complete with ultra-stylish Brian De Palma direction and a touch of campiness. I had a good time with it - and, of course, the shootout on the stairs is classic.

The Abyss
The Abyss(1989)

One of James Cameron's best films, and certainly his most underrated. The Abyss perfectly shows off Cameron's gift for building interesting characters and ratcheting up the intensity. The Abyss does take its time to get started, but I was never once bored, because the characters are just so likable. Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrontonio play the leads, a married couple who are on the verge of divorce until all hell breaks loose on their underwater rig and they rediscover how much they love each other. The 'former couple getting back together' is a cliche in action movies, but I don't think I've ever seen it done better than here. This is easily one of the best romances I've seen in an action movie.

However, even if The Abyss did not have the wonderful acting and characters, Cameron's ambitious vision would still make this an incredibly impressive movie. It's visually stunning, with plenty of gorgeous, eerie underwater scenes, and just an unbelievably tension-filled adventure. A high level of suspense is sustained throughout, along with plenty of mystery, wonder, and beauty. The Abyss was an absolute 10/10 until the final few minutes, which is the only part of the film I'm not completely sold on. Not that the ending is poorly done, it's just too sentimental and ruins the feeling of mystery that came before - maybe it could've been a good ending for a different movie, but feels out-of-place here.

Nevertheless, I think that The Abyss is a masterpiece and all-around incredible achievement - I'm sure that I'll be watching this one many more times.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Wes Anderson's funniest, most lovable and most excitingly original film since The Royal Tenenbaums. I think I had an awed smile on my face throughout Fantastic Mr. Fox - this movie just made me blissfully happy. The stop-motion animation is incredible, this is truly one of the most visually inventive films I've ever seen. The backgrounds and characters are teeming with quirky, often hilarious details, down to real textured fur on all the animals. In addition to being a visual work of art, Fantastic Mr. Fox is brilliantly funny, exciting, and touching. Wes Anderson's films occasionally become so deadpan that they begin to feel cold and inhuman (the sometimes-awesome but forced Life Aquatic being a prime example), but Fantastic Mr. Fox never has this problem. The dry humor has rarely been funnier, but the characters remain extremely lovable and interesting. They are brought perfectly to life by their voice actors, Meryl Streep in particular being a highlight.

Fantastic Mr. Fox is an animated masterpiece in a bizarrely outstanding year for animated movies. At least four films this year have significantly raised the bar for animated films (this, Coraline, Ponyo, and of course Up).

My ratings of Wes Anderson films:
1. The Royal Tenenbaums / Fantastic Mr. Fox / Rushmore - 10's (can't choose which one is my favorite!)
2. Bottle Rocket - 8.5
3. The Darjeeling Limited - 8
4. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - 7

In the Mood for Love

In the Mood For Love is stunningly beautiful. Wong Kar-Wai once again shows his talent for gorgeous visuals and music that fits perfectly. Wong Kar-Wai's style gives In the Mood for Love a very haunting, sadly romantic atmosphere that I loved - however, there's not a whole lot more to this film. The characters and their situation are quietly tragic and interesting, but they were never fleshed out enough for me to truly care about them. I can't rave enough about Wong Kar-Wai's beautiful, haunting style, but his characters were emotionally flat. However, I really like In the Mood for Love's sort-of-sequel, 2046 - that one has the same wonderful atmosphere, but a much more interesting plot and characters.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon
½

Just like last November with Twilight, I got dragged into theaters to see New Moon. Thankfully, though, I found New Moon to be a huge improvement over Twilight - or at least parts of it were a huge improvement.

By parts of it, I mean the entire middle section of the film. Bella's romance with Jacob, while still completely ridiculous (about 90% of his screentime Jacob was needlessly shirtless, which was laughable at points), is infinitely more entertaining than her wooden scenes with Edward. Taylor Lautner has an energy and charisma that is surprising, and his character actually has a sense of humor - which is refreshing since all the other characters seem to just sulk constantly. Lautner and Stewart have something actually resembling chemistry, which makes the midsection of New Moon very entertaining in a guilty pleasure sort of way.

However, whenever Robert Pattinson is on screen, he drains the film of all life - I have no idea how anyone would want to spend eternity with someone so utterly depressing. And that's not even mentioning New Moon's many other problems, including sketchy special effects and a climax completely devoid of excitement.

But overall, New Moon was better than expected. It's certainly an improvement on Twilight, with Taylor Lautner and a few random supporting actors delivering charming performances, Kristin Stewart showing a little bit more life as Bella, and a much higher entertainment value than the original Twilight, even if my entertainment was sometimes derived from mocking it. Passably enjoyable, as long as you don't take it too seriously.

Broken Flowers
½

I'm actually a bit surprised that so many have accused Broken Flowers of being empty and dull - sure, it's not non-stop thrills, but I found it to be a very enjoyable experience full of humor, oddness, and genuinely felt emotions. Then again, I watched this one just after The Limits of Control, and just about anything would seem action-packed in comparison.

Broken Flowers is just a nice, interesting experience. It's not a life-changing masterpiece, but it's a film that quietly sneaks up on you, unexpectedly moving you with its bittersweet mix of humor and sadness. Bill Murray is awesome as always, in a role that's even more downbeat than his performance in Lost in Translation. But his sly humor is still there, and somehow Murray is fascinating to watch even when he's not doing anything at all. Murray is contrasted with a bunch of fantastic actresses - none of them are onscreen for a long time, but all of them make some sort of impact, whether they're amusingly odd or subtly heartbreaking. Jeffrey Wright is a scene-stealer as one of Murray's few friends - he's a hilarious character who stands out as the one truly happy person in the entire movie. Again, Broken Flowers won't blow you away, but it's a subtle, enjoyable dramady that gives you the opportunity to meet some very interesting people.

My ratings of Jim Jarmusch movies:
1. Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai - 9
2. Broken Flowers - 8
3. Coffee and Cigarettes - 7
4. The Limits of Control - 1

The Limits of Control

*SPOILER ALERT*

I could've spent two hours staring at a blank screen, and would've been just as enriched and entertained as the two hours I spent watching The Limits of Control. This is a very nicely shot film, and Jim Jarmusch obviously does have alot of talent (based on this film and his previous ones, which I generally like). However, Jarmusch uses his talents on The Limits of Control, which is an exercise in nothing.

Actually, saying that The Limits of Control is about nothing is slightly unfair. The very loose plot follows an unnamed man who wanders around Spain on an undefined mission, meeting up with various characters who all represent a different artform or idea. At the end of his journey, the unnamed man assassinates Bill Murray's character, who represents the enemy of art. Along the way, characters constantly repeat the same quote about how life is dirt. These attempts at symbolism and meaning are stupefyingly obvious, and all land with a thud. I'm all for films that are all meaning/atmosphere and no plot, but with a film as excruciatingly slow and endlessly ponderous as Limits of Control, the meaning better be thought-provoking and worthwhile. There was absolutely no mystery, intrigue, or emotion to Limits of Control, it's just the same pretentious bullshit repeated over and over. I was legitimately pissed that I had wasted 2 hours on my life on something so empty-headed and utterly boring, and even more irritated that the usually fascinating Jim Jarmusch made this nonsense. Avoid at all costs.

Touch of Evil

Touch of Evil is undoubtedly one of the boldest films that ever was released in the 1950's. It's a disturbing and intensely stylish film noir that proves yet again that Orson Welles was a genius who was unfairly dismissed in his time. Both behind and in front of the camera, Welles absolutely demands your attention. As a director, he is wonderfully innovative. Touch of Evil is full of energetic camera work that obviously influenced directors like Sam Raimi and the Coen Brothers. As an actor, Welles is hugely entertaining. His character in Touch of Evil is terrifying and evil, but also very funny and even weirdly likeable. He's a disturbing but human villian who fascinated me every minute he was on screen.

However, I did have some issues with Touch of Evil. It's a bit incomprehensible at times, and there are a few dull moments. Also, I absolutely hated the motel manager character - he was gratingly obnoxious, thankfully he's a pretty minor character. Outside of those two complaints, I was blown away by Touch of Evil - it's gripping and intensely interesting, and is enormously groundbreaking for a 1958 film.

Also, if you liked this, I'd definitely recommend Lady from Shanghai. It's a similarly inventive Orson Welles noir, and while it's not quite as brilliant as Touch of Evil, it's still a fantastic thriller that not enough people have seen.

His Girl Friday
½

Great fun, and deservedly a comedy classic. His Girl Friday is a bit exhausting to keep up with - the dialogue is fast and witty, and truly never stops - but it's worth the effort. There's an endless amount of clever, hilarious one-liners here, and I probably didn't even catch half of them since they go by at such a furious rate.

All the layered, snappy dialogue is perfectly delivered by the cast. Cary Grant is wonderful as usual, but it's Rosalind Russell who pretty much steals the movie. Russell is smart, beautiful, and funny, it's great to see such a strong female character in a movie from 1940. Grant and Russell are the main reasons why His Girl Friday still is a firecracker comedy 70 years after its release, watching their battle of wits go down is funny, satisfying, and oddly romantic.

Desperado
Desperado(1995)

A fun follow-up to El Mariachi that delivers the action-packed goods. Desperado is all about the pulpy style and crazy shootouts, and on those accounts it's pretty damn good. The action is especially impressive, with a couple of inventive, wild shootouts that are thrilling, tongue-in-cheek fun. Imbetween the action scenes, though, Desperado slows - I really didn't care too much for the plot or characters. Still, Rodriguez knows that all people wanted from Desperado was great action, and he gives them plenty of it.

Help!
Help!(1965)

Help! is a huge mess, but an oddly charming mess, and of course having The Beatles around doesn't hurt. The laid-back, goofy spirit of this movie put a smile on my face that stayed for most of the running time. There's obviously plenty of great music, along with some surprisingly nice cinematography and some Python-esque absurdist humor. Worth seeing for Beatles fans (which happens to be just about everyone).

Bound
Bound(1996)

Before they exploded into fame with their sci-fi masterpiece The Matrix, the Wachowski Brothers made this criminally underrated noir thriller. Bound was very well-reviewed, but seems to have received little attention and remains bizarrely underseen. A shame, because this is one of the most gleefully twisted and entertaining thrillers I've seen in quite some time.

The little attention that Bound does seem to receive focuses mostly on the lesbianism, which is understandable but unfortunate. Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly have endless erotic chemistry, and the sex scenes between them are stunning, but Bound has so much more to offer than that. For a while, it does appear that Bound will merely be an entertaining, trashy sex thriller, but about 40 minutes in it goes into overdrive. The last hour of Bound is essentially one extended climax of dizzying twists and turns, and the way the Wachowskis orchestrate the chaos is already masterful so early in their careers. It's rare to find a film that can sustain a non-stop level of suspense for a full hour, but Bound does just that. It's a nerve-wracking delight to watch it unfold.

The performances are also electrifying. Joe Pantoliano is a wonderful villian, perfectly balancing out frighteningly crazy and violent with a touch of sympathy. Gina Gershon is solid, although it was her partner in crime, Jennifer Tilly, who stole the show. Tilly is hilarious and effortlessly sexy, I loved her character's transformation. These fun performances, the wickedly smart script, and energetic direction from the Wackshowskis make Bound one of the coolest directorial debuts I've ever seen. It's not a masterpiece, but insanely impressive and entertaining as hell.

Out of Sight
Out of Sight(1998)

What a nice surprise this one was. Out of Sight is smart, stylish entertainment, with Steven Soderbergh, George Clooney, and Jennifer Lopez all all the top of their game. For Soderbergh and Clooney, that's saying something - although that's not too impressive for Lopez, considering that she's a pretty bland actress. For once, though, Lopez shows that she does have serious potential. Her performance here is charming, strong, and funny - this is easily Lopez's best performance. Clooney dominates the screen, proving that he is one of the most charismatic and likeable actors working today. Together, Clooney and Lopez have unbelievable chemistry.

Soderbergh is also doing some of his best work here, creating an unbelievably stylish movie. Out of Sight is visually beautiful, every scene has a very smooth, sleek look to it. And while I very rarely notice things like this, the editing is perfect - the way the love scene was built was breathtaking (it also is one of the sexiest scenes in any movie, without showing any nudity).

Overall, Out of Sight is phenomenal entertainment - and I haven't even touched on any of the extremely fun supporting characters or the delightfully twisty plot, because this is the kind of movie that's better to enter blindly. Certainly one of the most underrated films of the 90's (along with another awesome Elmore Leonard adaptation, Jackie Brown).

Trainspotting
½

Danny Boyle is one of the most eclectic but reliable filmmakers working, and Trainspotting is one of his best. This is a gritty, energetic look at the lives of heroin addicts, and it's full of great style and impressive performances. Ewan McGregor is especially good in possibly his best performance as a drug addict who wants to get clean.

The aspect of Trainspotting that surprised me most was the humor. This is not an humorless, hopeless drug film like the masterpiece Requiem for a Dream, but really is more of a pitch black comedy. There's some very funny moments, and the movie as a whole is very fast-moving and energetic, very much like being on a drug high. Still, this isn't one for the faint-hearted - there are some pretty horrifying, disgusting moments, and a few disturbing scenes that I doubt I'll ever forget. Trainspotting is not always an easy one to sit through, but for those who can handle some terrifying moments with their dark comedy, this is a must-see.

Coffee and Cigarettes

A series of short films revolving around people talking over coffee and cigarettes. It's inevitably uneven, and even the best shorts are far from earth-shattering, but nothing here is trying to be. It's just meant to be laid-back and oddly funny, and on those accounts it (mostly) succeeds. The simple black and white cinematography also gives it a scruffy cool factor.

As for the shorts, they do vary quite a bit in quality, although thankfully the positive easily outweighs the negative - there was only one short that I truly disliked (No Problem, which was terrible). Outside of that, most of the shorts range from okay to pretty good. My favorites were the hilariously bizarre one with the White Stripes, the one featuring Iggy Pop and Tom Waits (mostly just out of my love for Waits), and the fascinatingly strange final short. My absolute favorite, however, was the one with The Wu-Tang Clan and Bill Murray - not a match you'd usually think of, and they were awesome together.

Talk to Her
Talk to Her(2002)
½

Pedro Almodovar's Talk to Her is one of the most interesting, unorthodox romantic dramas I've seen in a long time. It somehow manages to be enormously tragic while hopeful, and charmingly sweet while disturbingly creepy, all at the same time. I've rarely seen a film that evokes so many feelings at once, and the result is a brave work of art that happens to be the best Pedro Almodovar movie I've yet seen.

If I have one complaint about Talk to Her, it's that the pacing is a bit too leisurely. I don't mind slow-burn films, but this one took a little too long to draw me in completely. However, I stuck with it and eventually found myself completely immersed. Talk to Her, as expected from Almodovar, is beautifully well-done. The visuals are striking, and the controversial issues are tackled head-on in a nonjudgemental way. Talk to Her lets you make up your own mind about the characters and the situation they're in, the result is a truly thought-provoking movie with twists that left me reeling.

There's humor, too. My favorite part of Talk to Her is a 10-minute silent film called The Shrinking Lover. It's jaw-droppingly outrageous and funny, and completely unforgettable.

Bad Education

While Bad Education is every bit as ambitious, colorful, and layered as any of Almodovar's films, it fell a bit flat for me. Certain sequences were captivating, especially in the first half of the film, and Gael Garcia Bernal is electrifying in his double role. However, Bad Education gets a bit lost in its own twists and self-referenciality, and ends up feeling more like an excercise in style than anything else. I love Almodovar's boldness and visual style - both of which are present here in spades - but I also love the heart he puts into his characters. That, sadly, is a bit missing from Bad Education. Still pretty good, and I was always interested, but not one of Almodovar's best.

And a small rant - while I wouldn't argue against Bad Education's rating, it's absolutely ridiculous that this was slapped with an NC-17 while the more sexually graphic (not to mention extremely violent) Hostel only got an R rating a year later. There's plenty of other R-rated films I can think of that are more graphic than Bad Education - the ratings board is bizarre sometimes.

Volver
Volver(2006)

Out of the two Almodovar films I've seen so far, Volver is my favorite. All About My Mother was very good, but I found this one to be even more beautiful and affecting. Volver explores dark, serious subject matter, but does so in a way that is remarkably lively, warm, and often very funny. Almodovar puts a huge amount of heart into this soulful film, and it shows - nearly every scene is completely gorgeous. The bold colors pop of the screen, and the performances are electrifying. In particular, I'm talking about Penelope Cruz. She was completely astounding here - not only is she jaw-droppingly sexy, but her performance is deeply moving and passionate. Carmen Maura is also incredible, along with the rest of the almost entirely female cast.

Volver is, to put it simply, stunning. A few moments do drag, and a few twists of the plot require some suspension of belief, but they also are done beautifully and come with tremendous emotional impact, so it's stupid to complain. A wonderful work of art. Next up in Almodovar viewings is Talk to Her and Bad Education - if they're anywhere near as good as this, I'm sure that Almodovar will become one of my new favorite directors.

Ghost Dog - The Way of the Samurai

Ghost Dog is about as refreshingly unique as movies get. I had not seen any Jim Jarmusch films before this, but I definitely need to get on that - I loved what he did here. Ghost Dog is an offbeat mix of the samurai, gangster, and mob genres. And while it stays true to its genre roots with a few well-done shootouts and a high body count in the last third, Ghost Dog has a laid-back, odd vibe that is unlike just about anything. It's very slow-paced, which does admittedly lead to a couple of dull moments, but for the most part I found the leisurely way that Ghost Dog unfolded to be enjoyable and even hypnotic. This movie's best moments are in the quiet, strange details: Ghost Dog practicing his swordfighting and hanging out with his pet pigeons, the mysterious dog who appears randomly, and Ghost Dog's wonderfully sweet friendships with the French-speaking ice cream man and little girl at the park. This attention to odd details gives Ghost Dog a mysterious, dryly funny feel that I found pretty fascinating - add on top of that the beautiful visuals, truly awesome soundtrack from the RZA, and Forrest Whitaker's subtle but pitch-perfect performance, and you're left with one unexpectedly brilliant movie that quietly blows your mind. However, Ghost Dog isn't perfect - as I said earlier, there's a few dull patches - and it's certainly too fiercely idiosyncratic to work for everyone.

For me, Ghost Dog is remniscient in many ways of Kill Bill, although much calmer. Both creatively blend East and West cinema, but rise above being mere genre mish-mashes with their lovingly quirky details and their cool, fascinating characters who turn out to have surprising depth and poignancy in the end. Kill Bill is the better of the two films, but Ghost Dog has definitely become a new favorite of mine.

Videodrome
Videodrome(1983)

David Cronenberg is one twisted guy. Videodrome, for example, centers around a guy who becomes addicted to a TV program that shows nothing but sex and torture, and later does weird things like have sex with his TV and grow a stomach-vagina that can eat videotapes. Not really your average plotline for a movie, and it's kind of refreshing to watch something this joltingly bizarre and disturbing, even if it's never more than just coldly interesting. Not something I'll ever watch again, but if you're in the mood for something wholly unique and grotesque then make sure to give this one a try.

El Mariachi
El Mariachi(1993)
½

Robert Rodriguez is awesome. Right off the bat, his career goal was merely the unpretentious goal to entertain. While this has arguably kept him from being one of the all-time great filmmakers, it has left him with a filmography jam-packed with explosively entertaining movies, and his talent and artistry rarely fail to shine through. El Mariachi is his impressive debut, made for only a few thousand dollars. This is a great example of low-budget inventive filmmaking. While the acting and dialogue are sometimes a bit sketchy (the lead actor and actress are both decent, but whoever played the main villian was laughably awful), El Mariachi displays the same kind of energy present in the early movies of Sam Raimi and the Coen Brothers. It also is chock-full of a badass, slightly tongue-in-cheek style that is 100% Rodriguez. All-in-all, it's great fun.

Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother)

My first experience with Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, and it certainly won't be my last. All About My Mother is just a wonderful movie. It's colorful, lively, funny, sad, and very melodramatic. However, the melodrama here, while it does sometimes go over-the-top, is always sincere and rarely feels corny. Pedro Almodovar's direction is beautifully detailed, and the performances are all-around excellent, especially Cecilia Roth as the smart, loving mother of the title. Overall, All About My Mother is emotionally satisfying and enjoyable. It's not a masterpiece, but it is completely unique and delightful.

Scream 2
Scream 2(1997)

Scream 2 is definitely not as refreshing as the first film was - while the ironic dialogue and film-savvy references still manage to entertain, they're already starting to feel a bit worn out. The first Scream also was funnier, scarier, and generally has more rewatch value than Scream 2 - however, all that being said, Scream 2 still does a damn good job. The original is a horror classic that would've been fairly difficult for a sequel to match, but Wes Craven tries his hardest and the result is a sequel that's far better than it has any right to be. Really, Scream 2 is just a fun time. I was very entertained the whole way through, and I did find myself getting creeped out at points - a feeling only a handful of slashers (let alone slasher sequels) have inspired in me. Also, since a handful of the characters have been around for two films now, it's pretty hard not to care for them at least a little bit.

Oh, and that car scene definitely will go down in horror history as a classic moment - one of the best scenes in either of the Scream movies.

L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo (The Bird With the Crystal Plumage)

A solid, stylish horror-mystery, and particularly impressive when you consider that this was Dario Argento's first film. He already shows an artistic eye, and knows how to build suspense. However, outside of a few Hitchcockian suspense sequences and some cool stylistic flourishes, there aren't too many memorable things about The Bird With The Crystal Plumage. Still, this was a good start for Argento, and still holds a decent amount of thrills and surprises forty years after its release.

Slacker
Slacker(1991)

Slacker is Richard Linklater's directorial debut, and while he definitely surpassed it with his next two masterpieces - Dazed and Confused and Before Sunrise - this still is an awesome, bizarre film. Slacker has no plot, but unfolds over a 24-hour period in Austin, Texas, and will follow around a certain character for a while, then when they bump into someone else it will follow that person, and so on for the entire movie. That sounds like it would quickly become tiresome, but Slacker is engaging throughout because all the characters are so weird, fascinating, and often hilarious. A 90's indie classic, hasn't lost any of its strange charm.

Phenomena (Creepers)
½

Dario Argento is offically a madman. He goes all-out nuts with Phenomena, unleashing his twisted imagination and creating one of the most wacky, bizarre horror movies ever made. The 'throw everything at the screen' tactic that Argento uses here does make Phenomena boldly unique and wildly entertaining, but also makes it really uneven. Some scenes strike exactly the right balance between loveable goofiness and unnervingly surreal horror, but others are just head-scratching.

However, despite its glaring flaws, I couldn't help but love Phenomena. The acting is unusually good for a movie of this type - a young Jennifer Connelly already proves herself to be a striking and appealing lead actress with endless potential. Donald Pleasance is just being Donald Pleasance, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. And no matter how uneven Phenomena may be at times, it all builds up to a gloriously insane finale. The last 25 minutes involve a lot of angry insects, one seriously fucked-up family, a revenge-crazed chimpanzee, and an excess of blood and maggots. Any movie with an ending so deliriously batshit crazy is pretty awesome in my book.

Dario Argento films I've seen:
1. Suspiria - 8.5
2. Tenebre - 8
3. Phenomena - 7.5
4. Opera - 6.5

Carnival of Souls
½

Carnival of Souls is a gem of a horror film, although a bit of an unpolished one. The acting leaves something to be desired, and the dialogue is occasionally awkward - however, Carnival of Souls manages to rise above its obvious low-budget restrictions to become a haunting horror classic. I absolutely loved the atmosphere of this film - the black-and-white cinematography and organ music was truly chilling. In addition, the premise is fantastically creepy and very original for the time. Overall, despite its shortcomings, Carnival of Souls is a chilling and gothic work of art.

Fiend Without a Face

An amusing, forgotten B-horror flick about nothing less then atomic-fueled disembodied brains who eat people's brains. The first hour or so is really not too eventful, but is mildly amusing and diverting fluff. The last 15 minutes, however, are pure B-movie gold. While it's never less than utterly ridiculous and not at all frightening, the climax is actually pretty damn inventive, and it's easy to see how this inspired horror masterpieces like The Birds and Night of the Living Dead. Fiend Without A Face obviously is nothing great or even good, but it's enjoyable with a hilarious, bizarre climax. The sight of brains crawling around and strangling people to death thrilled my inner 10-year old.

The Return of the Living Dead

Return of the Living Dead is not on par with Romero's first two zombie masterpieces, but it doesn't really try to be. This one is just ridiculous, bloody fun - it's funny, strange, and always entertaining. Definitely a must-see for zombie fans this Halloween.

Traffic
Traffic(2000)

A powerful, dense drug epic that approaches the drug problem from all sides - it doesn't only cover the dangers of drug dealing and addiction, but also delves into the often horribly ineffective 'war on drugs.' The result is one of the most packed, interesting, thought-provoking dramas I've seen in quite some time. Add on the unique, bold photography and a handful of solid performances and you have a drug drama that easily stands out from the crowd. Traffic does have a few plot twists that I found to be a bit ridiculous, but it's such a fascinating, engrossing film that I was more than willing to go along with it. A must-see, even if, oddly enough, it isn't even the best anti-drug drama of 2000 (that honor goes to the stunning Requiem for a Dream).

Halloween II
Halloween II(1981)

Halloween II is nowhere near as completely terrible as it could've been, but it's also completely boring. The new characters are utterly forgettable and the returning characters aren't nearly as interesting this time around. The terror, suspense, and fun has completely vanished - Halloween II does try to recapture the same slow-burn suspense of the original, but to me it felt totally lifeless. If Carpenter had been behind the helm I would probably be writing a much different review, but unfortunately Halloween II is completely lacking in the freshness and fright of the ingenious first Halloween.

The Crucible
The Crucible(1996)
½

For a film so full of drama and tragedy, The Crucible is shockingly flat. The neverending stream of over-the-top theatrics and stilted acting grows tiresome quickly, resulting in one of the most dull, laughable tragedies I've seen. However, to be fair, I wasn't too impressed by Arthur Miller's play in the first place - so maybe those who enjoyed the play will find something to like in the film version. I didn't.

The Cell
The Cell(2000)

On a purely visual level, The Cell is an absolutely stunning work of art. The sets and cinematography are beautiful, disturbing, and gloriously bizarre, and the chilling visuals alone make this one a must-see. However, in terms of plot, this one's not too strong - strip away the unforgettable eye-candy and all you have is a semi-decent Silence of the Lambs rip-off. It manages to be both wonderfully original and stiffly derivative at the same time. But in the end The Cell is worth seeing for the decent acting and unforgettable visuals, which recall a particularly twisted Salvador Dali painting come to life.

Tenebre (Unsane)
½

Halloween is just around the corner - which means, of course, that I'll be hunting down some good horror films. Tenebre was a fantastic, bloody way to kick off my October horror marathon. I've always been intrigued by Dario Argento, but had seen two of his films before this (the brilliant Suspiria and the cool but deeply flawed Opera). Tenebre confirms that Argento is a genius when it comes to stylish, brutal horror. Sure, he's no genius when it comes to logic or dialogue, but the pure, wicked energy of his films is irresistible.

Tenebre is bursting with Argento's usual trademarks - wildly inventive murder scenes, weird and fascinating cinematography, and a booming soundtrack. Tenebre also contains plenty of shocking, amusingly ridiculous twists that kept me guessing right up to the gore-crazed climax. Overall, Tenebre is a gloriously entertaining, bold slasher and a must-see for any horror fan.

Dario Argento films I've seen:
1. Suspiria - 8.5
2. Tenebre - 8
3. Opera - 6.5

Christine
Christine(1983)
½

One of John Carpenter's more generic, less interesting efforts, but nevertheless Christine managed to keep me entertained. There's a few thrills to be had, along with fairly engaging characters and stylish direction. A solid Stephen King adaptation.

They Live
They Live(1988)
½

They Live is yet another entertaining, creative B-movie from the warped mind of John Carpenter. The premise is original and fairly creepy, and brought to life with a wonderfully campy 80's vibe. They Live isn't perfect - there's a few slow spots - but overall, quality, cheesy fun.

Hostel
Hostel(2006)

I was planning on avoiding Hostel, but eventually caved in and watched it because I enjoyed Eli Roth's hilariously disgusting 'Thanksgiving' trailer in Grindhouse and his performance in Inglourious Basterds. I thought that I might as well give the man a try.

Well, I really wish I hadn't. I don't think I've ever hated a movie more than Hostel. I was really tempted to slap this one with a '0' rating, but Eli Roth does have some potential to be a good director, and Hostel is slightly more original and had the potential to be more interesting than your average horror flick. But that is the limits of my praise for this disgusting piece of trash.

The first half of Hostel is basically pornography. A group of guys go to Amsterdam looking to get laid, and for the next 40 minutes Eli Roth films women lying around naked - that's the first half of this movie in a nutshell. All this is entirely dull, irrelevant, and unbelievably degrading to women. I hated all the characters and truly did not care whether they died or not - actually, scratch that, I really wanted them to die.

Then Hostel finally gets to the point, and actually manages to get even worse. Roth lays the blood and gore on thick here with an abundance of torture sequences, and while I'm really not one who is normally offended or grossed out by violence, this was just too much. I nearly threw up at one point, and became absolutely pissed at all the disgusting images Roth shows that I doubt I'll ever forget. But severely grossing out the audience does not take any skill whatsoever, while legitimately scaring them does - and Hostel doesn't have an ounce of suspense. I did not care for any of the characters, so really did not care whether they lived or got revenge. It's a horror movie without any thrills at all, and honestly, I don't see the point of a mere gorefest. It's not entertaining or interesting, just gross and stupid.

Somehow Hostel manages to reach even lower depths of complete awfulness in its last 15 minutes, completely flying off the rails and becoming totally incoherent and nonsensical. What the hell was Eli Roth thinking? And, even more disturbingly, what the hell was the brilliant Quentin Tarantino thinking when he decided to help promote this trash? I hated, hated the Pulp Fiction reference - and found it horribly ironic that my least favorite film of all-time has a scene involving my favorite film of all-time.

From Dusk Till Dawn
½

From Dusk Till Dawn is crude, vulgar, juvenile, and mostly mindless - and also a hell of a lot of fun. It's an odd little exploitation flick that starts out as a crime drama, and then randomly morphs halfway through into a hyper-gory vampire film. The first half is the more Tarantino-like of the two, with crackling dialogue, shootouts, and suspense. The second half, while far cheesier, is also more fun. From Dusk Till Dawn suddenly turns into an Evil Dead or Dead Alive-style horror/comedy, with lots of blood, gruesome effects, and plenty of corny one-liners. The entire film is brilliantly over-the-top and nasty, and a bloody good time.

And the Ship Sails On
½

A fairly enjoyable late-era Fellini film. I don't think that anybody is going to argue that And the Ship Sails On is Fellini's best film, but it certainly has its odd charms. In terms of music and images, And the Ship Sails On is enchanting. The classical and opera music fits perfectly, and all the quirky and artificial, often beautiful sets are precursors to directors like Wes Anderson. Unfortunately, the characters aren't anything special and the film often drags.

Still, there's enough visual splendor and creativity here, and certain scenes pop with that kind of charming, offbeat magic that only Fellini seems capable of creating. I particularly loved the dancing scene with the Serbian refugees, the orchestra made from cups of water, and the beautifully-done climatic disaster. The rest of And The Ship Sails On is minor, moderately enjoyable Fellini.

My list of Fellini films:
1. 8 1/2 - 9.5
2. Amarcord - 9.5
3. La Strada - 9
4. Juliet of the Spirits - 8.5
5. La Dolce Vita - 8
6. I Vitelloni - 7.5
7. And the Ship Sails On - 7
8. Satyricon - 3

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
½

While not the disaster that it's been hyped up to be by some people, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas runs out of ideas far before it comes to an end. Fear and Loathing gets off to a good start - the mix of Johnny Depp's crazed antics, Terry Gilliam's stunningly bizarre visuals (my favorite being the 'reptile zoo'), and the bleak social commentary made for a very enjoyable trip. Somewhere along the line, though, Fear and Loathing goes rotten and stale. It eventually seems to rely solely on Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro flipping out and acting crazy, which is amusing for a while, but even Johnny Depp can't support a film this utterly hollow and repetitive.

The trippy style of Fear and Loathing is enjoyable for a while, but the movie is completely devoid of soul and eventually runs out of fresh ideas. Another post-12 Monkeys Terry Gilliam disappointment, and it's only downhill from here with the lame Brothers Grimm and wretched Tideland. I'm hoping that The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus will end Gilliam's downhill tumble.

My list of Gilliam films:
1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail - 9.5
2. Brazil - 9
3. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen - 8.5
4. 12 Monkeys - 8.5
5. Time Bandits - 7.5
6. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - 5
7. The Brothers Grimm - 2.5
8. Tideland - 1

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Kaze no tani no Naushika)
½

A really impressive debut film from one the most creative minds out there, Hayao Miyazaki. Nausicaa is not one of Miyazaki's best - it has a couple moments that came off as a bit corny, and a few short dull stretches - but nevertheless, this is a fantastic starting point. It's packed to the brim with cool creatures, huge battles, and beautiful landscapes, and all of it is astoundingly epic and imaginative. A must-see for Miyazaki fans, I get the feeling that I may enjoy this one even more on a second viewing.

My list of Miyazaki movies:
1. Spirited Away - 10
2. My Neighbor Totoro - 9.5
3. Princess Mononoke - 9
4. Ponyo - 9
5. Howl's Moving Castle - 8
6. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind - 7.5
7. Porco Rosso - 7
8. Kiki's Delivery Service - 7
Still need to see Castle in the Sky.

Boogie Nights

Boogie Nights is a masterpiece. A 2 1/2 hour epic about the pornography industry (or more specifically, the people working in the pornography industry) in the late 70's and early 80's, Boogie Nights is packed with surprises. Sure, the rise-and-fall style story has been done before, but Boogie Nights still is a hugely refreshing film that's bursting with originality.

The most noticeable unique aspect of Boogie Nights is its cast - which is unusual for its size and eclectic mix of talented actors. Mark Wahlberg leads the film as Dirk Diggler, in easily his best performance. Wahlberg pulls off his character arc perfectly, being utterly convincing as both the sweetly naive, ambitious 17-year old and the cynical, burnt-out cocaine addict he would later become. Burt Reynolds also gives a possible career-best performance as Jack Horner, the laid-back pornographer who is both sleazy and easily likable. Julianne Moore is heartbreakingly good as Amber Waves, a broken porn star who has lost custody of her son and taken to mothering Dirk.

These three are supporting by a huge cast of actors including John C. Reilly, Don Cheadle, Heather Graham, William H. Macy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Melora Walters, Thomas Jane, and Alfred Molina, and not one of them plays a dull or half-baked character. I could honestly spend separate paragraphs talking about each individual character in Boogie Nights, they all seem incredibly human - complete with flaws and quirks and their own mannerisms. It's obvious that Paul Thomas Anderson had plenty of affection for his characters.

Perhaps even more impressive than the bucketful of insanely brilliant actors is Paul Thomas Anderson's directorial talent - especially considering this was only his second film! Anderson masterfully juggles the huge cast, amazingly never letting Boogie Nights splinter into complete chaos. Even if you took apart Boogie Nights scene by scene, each one of them is beautifully directed somehow - I particularly loved the loose, visually stunning long shots, where characters are allowed to bounce off each other and interact in a very life-like way. Anderson makes Boogie Nights one of the most energetic and invigorating films out there - even with the long running time, the film is so smooth and entertaining that, by the end of each viewing, I only want more. Boogie Nights could've been an hour longer and I doubt I would've noticed or cared.

Overall, Boogie Nights is easily one of my all-time favorites. There are very few other films that have left me this exhilirated, refreshed, and satisfied. Don't let the subject matter turn you off - yes, Boogie Nights has plenty of sex and nudity, but nothing here is meant to be pornographic. You could even say that Boogie Nights is anti-pornography, showing the out-of-control egos and drug problems that eventually come along with it - but at the same time finding plenty of surprising compassion and humor in a bizarre "family" of pornographers.

The Holy Mountain
½

What a bizarre movie. The Holy Mountain probably even one-ups Eraserhead as the strangest film I've ever seen - the difference is, I loved Eraserhead and this one just left me with a mixed reaction. I really enjoyed the best aspects of The Holy Mountain - the colorful sets are beautiful, and I just love the amount of imagination on display here. In fact, I probably would've loved Holy Mountain if it had cut back on some of the absolutely disgusting scenes. I usually have no problem with nudity, but the amount of random sex and nudity here just got irritating. Even worse are the seemingly endless scenes of spontaneous, nasty violence and bodily fluids. At times I felt like The Holy Mountain just wanted to be as shocking and disgusting as possible, which just got obnoxious. Still, there's enough brilliantly wacky, visually fascinating scenes here to fill at least 20 more unique full-length features, and that alone makes The Holy Mountain an impressive achievement. I'm glad I watched it once, but due to the many unnecessary disturbing scenes I won't be watching it again.

Fellini Satyricon
½

Fellini always was a bit off-the-wall, and I love him for it, but Satyricon is just a disaster. I give it props for being completely unique in the history of movies, and for having a unique, interesting visual style - but Satyricon is just miserable to sit through. It's grotesque, ridiculous, nonsensical, gross, cold, and, worst of all - pretty boring. There's hundreds of bizarre sights and sounds packed into Satyricon, with plentiful scenes of strange violence and sexuality, but very little of it has any impact. Aside from some cool visuals, Satyricon did not work on any level for me. I appreciate that Fellini stuck to his guns and created an entirely unique vision unlike anything else ever made, but I still absolutely hated it.

My list of Fellini films:
1. Amarcord - 9.5
2. 8 1/2 - 9.5
3. La Strada - 9
4. Juliet of the Spirits - 9
5. La Dolce Vita - 8
6. I Vitelloni - 8
7. Satyricon - 3

Barry Lyndon
Barry Lyndon(1975)

Probably the least interesting Kubrick film I've seen so far - but that's really not too bad of a complaint, considering that every Kubrick film I've seen is fascinating and brilliant in its own way. Barry Lyndon is just gorgeous. Kubrick seems to be quite the perfectionist when it comes to visuals, and as usual, it pays off spectacularly. Barry Lyndon looks like a painting that has come to life - every single shot is lit in a dream-like way that gives the movie a hypnotic atmosphere. Everything else about Barry Lyndon is also spectacular - the music, the acting, the tragedy and very slight humor - really, the only problem I have here is that the middle section often drags. The first and last hours are endlessly fascinating and entertaining, but in the middle hour, I found Barry Lyndon to be a bit distant and often cold. I think that some of the more tedious moments in the middle could've been cut out, and Barry Lyndon would've been a tighter, more effective film as a result - but what we have is still pretty spellbinding and one of the best period pieces I've seen.

My list of Kubrick films:
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey - 10
2. The Shining - 10
3. A Clockwork Orange - 9.5
4. Eyes Wide Shut - 9.5
5. Full Metal Jacket - 9.5
6. Dr. Strangelove - 9
7. Barry Lyndon - 8.5

Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds is one of those rare movies that's so colorful, so bold, so completely alive and thrilling and energetic that it makes nearly everything else seem completely dull in comparison. While watching this wicked WWII epic, I honestly just couldn't believe what I was seeing. The fact that someone was bold and ambitious enough to make something as sublimely fucked-up and insane as this just blew my mind.

Of course this person was Quentin Tarantino. I don't really care what the critics have to say, Tarantino is my personal favorite director. He really just does what he wants, and pulls it off with an unmatched level of style, humor, and intensity. On one viewing I'm not quite sure where Inglorious Basterds fits in with his other movies - Pulp Fiction is still my favorite, and I possibly still like the Kill Bills and Jackie Brown more, but Basterds is yet another Tarantino masterpiece that easily ranks among all those classic films.

Is Inglourious Basterds perfect? Well, not quite, but I really do not care when faced with a movie this brilliantly original and explosively entertaining. One thing about Basterds that I loved is that it consists of a handful of extremely long sequences - all of them start out normally, then slowly build suspense to unbearable levels, then completely erupt. This makes for a tight thriller that hardly leaves room to breathe - I was wide-eyed, transfixed, and terrified throughout the shockingly quick 2 1/2 hour runtime. Basterds is probably one of Tarantino's more serious efforts, which is surprising after the comic trailers. Sure, there's still plenty of amusing dialogue and hilarious moments, but Basterds is extremely intense and sometimes very frightening. Most of the violence here is not of the ultra-fake, comic Kill Bill variety - things get pretty sad and disturbing as characters you've grown to like die horribly. There's still moments where I laughed and cracked a smile at the sheer epic insanity of it all, but Basterds has a slightly more tragic and less jokey vibe than past Tarantino efforts.

Another immensely satisfying, entertaining aspect of Basterds is the huge ensemble cast - everyone brings something to the table. Brad Pitt is hilarious and always fun to watch. Melanie Laurent is beautiful and intense. And the hype for Chritoph Waltz is completely spot-on. His performance is weirdly funny, intelligent, and utterly terrifying at moments. He's a villian who you grow to absolutely despise, yet you are fascinated every moment when he's on screen.

Overall, as I'm sure you've guessed by now, I was totally floored by this movie. From the quietly intense opening to the jaw-dropping, enormously satisfying finale, Inglourious Basterds is an absolute masterpiece and a juggernaut of entertainment. One of the best films of the decade.

Deconstructing Harry
½

Every single Woody Allen movie I've ever seen has seem to fallen into two clear categories: the great ones, and the lesser but still very good ones. Deconstructing Harry is yet another addition to the latter group. This is a sharp, imaginative comedy - very funny, often brutally honest, and very openly angry. Allen seems to be venting out a bit of his anger here, which adds an interesting element of bitterness to the usual Woody Allen comedy. Deconstructing Harry is not quite a major film, it didn't really blow me away - but it is constantly enjoyable and has its memorable aspects - Candy being an especially entertaining character. Anyways, it's definitely a must-see if you're a Woody Allen fan, even if it doesn't reach the heights of an Annie Hall or Manhattan.

Fanny & Alexander
½

My first Ingmar Berman experience - and I'm massively indifferent to the whole thing. Fanny and Alexander is by no means a bad film, but it left me completely cold and bored. This movie splits pretty easily into thirds - the first third, involving a huge family celebrating Christmas, is beautifully colorful and occasionally interesting, but after an hour of watching this family I still hardly knew who any of them were. The second third is easily the best section of Fanny and Alexander - things actually get fairly creepy and tense here, as a death strikes the family and a menacing priest moves in to take his place. However, the third section of Fanny and Alexander is where the film derailed for me. It all of a sudden takes a surreal, wacky left turn, and while I'm usually all for any sorts of creepy oddness on film, I found myself massively bored by all the random nonsense and impatient for the film to finally end. I know that Fanny and Alexander is considered a masterpiece by many, and I suppose I can see why, but I was overjoyed when the end credits started rolling. I'll still check out some other Bergman films - hopefully they'll be more successful with me than this one.

Eyes Wide Shut

Yet another gorgeous, unsettling and unusual work of art from Stanley Kubrick - Eyes Wide Shut is his last film and possibly a masterpiece (verdict's still out on that one, I think I need to watch it again). Tom Cruise is excellent, and Nicole Kidman gives what is easily her best performance - whenever she speaks, she completely demands the screen. In fact, all of Eyes Wide Shut demands your attention - the rich, striking colors, the perfect use of music, the acting, and all the strange dream-like events put me in a trance and kept me hooked for the entire near-3 hour runtime. I also love that despite all the bizarre, creepy side-plots, Eyes Wide Shut is essentially just about a couple having a brief rough patch in their relationship. The final line is a hilarious punchline to this surreal, fascinating odyssey.

Kubrick movies I've seen so far:
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey - 10
2. The Shining - 10
3. A Clockwork Orange - 9.5
4. Eyes Wide Shut - 9.5
5. Full Metal Jacket - 9.5
6. Dr. Strangelove - 9

Synecdoche, New York
½

Charlie Kaufman is one of the best artists working in American movies today - admittedly, I think that Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, brilliantly creative and bold as they are, have some serious shortcomings. Eternal Sunshine, however, turned out to be my favorite film of all-time - and Synecdoche is another Kaufman masterpiece with the same blend of beautiful insight and mind-bending innovation as Eternal Sunshine. Although, be warned, Synecdoche doesn't really go down easily - it took two viewings for me to love Synecdoche. I do not agree with the popular criticism that it's confusing and overly cryptic, but it does often have a harshly depressing vibe that put me off a bit on first viewing. The second time around, however, I was stunned by Synecdoche's brutally honest depiction of some of the struggles of life, and also picked up on more of the wonderfully surreal humor. I also realized how pitch-perfect all the performances are - Philip Seymour Hoffman, Hope Davis, Dianne Wiest, and especially Samantha Morton are all brilliant in their own ways. Ultimately, what lifts Synecdoche from being merely fascinating, sad, funny, and insightful to being a transcendent masterpiece was the last act. The final twenty minutes of Synecdoche drift completely away from reality, and results in one of the strangest, most beautifully poetic film endings I can think of. I was left completely stunned, and without a doubt in my mind that Synecdoche is one of the most hypnotic and all-around best films of this decade.

District 9
District 9(2009)

One of the best movies released this summer, District 9 is awesome entertainment. In a summer of Transformers 2 and GI Joe, it's refreshing to see a science-fiction actioner like this - one that delivers on the special effects and thrills, while also giving us genuine originality and characters we care about. One minor problem I have with District 9 is that I honestly think it could've ditched the mockumentary format completely. This documentary-style approach is only there for the first half hour and a few other random scenes throughout, and these scenes are still solid and interesting, but I found District 9 so much more gripping when it was live-action. But District 9 more than makes up for its somewhat-average first third with a solid middle and a brilliant, intense, emotionally effecting last half hour. However, all that being said, I do think District 9 is maybe being a bit overhyped. It's excellent, but I don't see how it's one of the best sci-fi movies of all-time. It is one of the better sci-fi films of this decade, though, and completely entertaining. A must-see.

Ponyo
Ponyo(2009)
½

The general consensus on Ponyo seems to be that it's very good, but not among Miyazaki's best. I wholeheartedly disagree. Spirited Away is still my favorite Miyazaki, but in my opinion Ponyo easily ranks alongside My Neighbor Totoro and Princess Mononoke. I absolutely fell in love with this film - Ponyo is awe-inspiringly imaginative, sweetly innocent and gentle. It's also one of the most visually stunning movies I've ever seen - watching Ponyo is like viewing some strange, beautifully detailed painting come to life. The underwater scenes took my breath away with the mindblowing amount of surreal creatures and painstaking attention to detail. Ponyo turns out to be one amazingly creative, visually unforgettable scene after another - I'll never forget the opening sequence, or the scenes of wild, fish-like waves in a storm, or the strange and calm images of prehistoric fish swimming through a flooded forest. Imbetween these spectacularly surreal moments, Ponyo is very simple and child-like, very much in the vein of Miyazaki's classic Totoro. The characters are so loveable and warm that I had a smile on my face pretty much the entire film. Anyways, Ponyo set fire to my imagination and left me blissfully happy. An instant classic - I nearly gave this one a 10/10, but I think I'll need to see Ponyo again before I give it a perfect rating. Still, I do know that I love this one, and it's my second favorite film of the year behind Up.

Juliet of the Spirits (Giulietta degli Spiriti)

Juliet of the Spirits is, like nearly all of Fellini's movies, very hard to pin down and gloriously unpredictable. It's funny and light one moment, sad and somber the next, and even crosses the line into horror with a few unsettling, creepy scenes near the end. All this is told Fellini style, with reality and dreams wildly mixing together in the most surreal ways. Add on top of that the extremely bold, excessive use of color and the brilliant Nina Rota score, and you have one crazy madhouse of a film. Juliet of the Spirits is not as thought-provoking or deep as 8 1/2 (though it does have considerable depth), but in terms of pure hypnotic weirdness, this one is gold. And, of course, Giulietta Masina is wonderful as always. Her Juliet hardly ever speaks, but she doesn't need to - Giulietta can tell her whole story with her beautifully expressive face. Masina anchors this ingeniously off-the-wall film, and gives it its heart.

My list of Fellini movies:
1. 8 1/2 - 9.5
2. Amarcord - 9.5
3. La Strada - 9
4. Juliet of the Spirits - 9
5. La Dolce Vita - 8.5
6. I Vitelloni - 8

500 Days of Summer
½

Completely charming. 500 Days of Summer is a breath of fresh air - it never falls into the cliches that plague most romantic comedies, and at the same time mostly avoids turning into one of those awkward, forced attempts at 'quirky indie' romance (a la Nick and Norah). Instead, the quirks here are genuinely inventive, and the entire film is refreshingly genuine and honest. A few attempts at humor here fall pretty flat (the final line...meh), although thankfully most of 500 Days is hilarious, romantic, and heartbreaking - it's easily one of the best, most enjoyable romantic comedies of recent years. 500 Days also confirms that I'm madly in love with Zooey Deschanel. She's one of the sexiest women I can think of, and she doesn't even seem to try to be - but in addition to looking even more gorgeous then she ever has, she gives her best performance to date here. As always, she's instantly loveable and funny, but her character has obvious flaws - and Deschanel doesn't back away from showing them. This gives 500 Days a darker edge than most romantic comedies, and also makes it a good deal more complex and interesting. Overall, 500 Days of Summer is a great watch - it didn't turn out to be one of my new favorite movies as I secretly was hoping, but I totally dug the whole modern-day Annie Hall vibe it had.

8 1/2
8 1/2(1963)
½

8 1/2 is generally regarded as Fellini's masterpiece, and I wouldn't argue that (although it's not quite my favorite - Amarcord still holds that title). This movie is really just incredible - it's strange, surreal, sad, frustrating, hilarious, and a completely unusual ride. I'm actually shocked I ended up loving 8 1/2 so much, because the entire first half of the movie I was just scratching my head - but eventually the film's disjointed, odd rhythm just clicked with me, and from that moment on I knew I was watching a masterpiece. 8 1/2 is a completely magical experience, and obviously the inspiration for other great artists like Woody Allen and Charlie Kaufman. I do have some of the same problems with 8 1/2 that I did with La Dolce Vita - it feels maddeningly pointless at times - but in the end, it was a very minor problem and took little away from the film's power and brilliance. 8 1/2 is a must see - one of the best and certainly most original movies of the 60's. Loved it, Fellini is definitely becoming one of my favorite classic directors. 9.5/10.

La Dolce Vita

La Dolce Vita is a dazzling, strange epic from Fellini. It's a plotless film that unfolds at a completely random, episodic manner, which sometimes makes for a frustrating viewing over 3 hours, but still is completely worth it. My favorite mini-story in La Dolce Vita is a hilarious, truly beautiful segment about Marcello's night wandering Rome with a gorgeous, slightly emptyheaded American actress. I loved that entire scene, but La Dolce Vita is chock-full of other bizarre, memorable moments. Anyways, I do feel that this one deserves a higher rating - but in terms of enjoyment I probably can't give this a rating above an 8. I was endlessly fascinated and intrigued by it, but it's a very depressing film that often feels pointlessly drawn out, and the 3-hour runtime is a bit on the exhausting side - because of this, La Dolce Vita is not the kind of movie I'll want to return to anytime soon. Still, I wouldn't argue with its 'masterpiece' status, and in many ways I agree with its reputation. It's a big, bold, beautiful work of art, and still completely unique in the history of movies. Another very cool Fellini film.

Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (Nosferatu the Vampyre)
½

For most of its running time, Nosferatu is truly chilling. The stunning views of the Carpathian Mountains, the mystic score, and Klaus Kinski's creepy performance all combine to make a hypnotically beautiful but unsettling horror film. Unfortunately, near the end Nosferatu loses alot of steam and becomes sort of rambling and dull, and climaxes on a disappointingly lame note. Nevertheless, Nosferatu is worth seeing for its chilling, beautiful first 70 minutes. Now I definitely need to watch the 1922 version to see how they compare.

I Vitelloni
I Vitelloni(1953)
½

A pretty excellent early film from Federico Fellini. I Vitelloni finds the exact right balance between humor, warmth, and melancholy. It's not a Fellini masterpiece, but it's always entertaining and has a more than a few quietly beautiful, captivating scenes.

Magnolia
Magnolia(1999)

My pick for best film of 1999 - which is really saying something, since a few of my favorite movies were released that year. Over its surprisingly quick 3-hour running time, Magnolia covers about a dozen people in Los Angeles as they try to hold together their shattered lives. All of their stories are incredibly well-developed, and the characters are brought to life stunningly well by the huge cast. P.T. Anderson certainly didn't hold back here, and his ambition paid off wonderfully - Magnolia is stunning, strange, and one of the most emotionally affecting movies I've ever seen. Watching these people fall apart and find redemption is fascinating and rewarding, and all their stories come to an end in the most surreal, unexpected, but strangely perfect way imaginable. Loved this one, P.T. Anderson is officially one of my favorite filmmakers.

Funny People
Funny People(2009)

Decent movie from Apatow & Co, but doesn't live up to most of Apatow's past efforts for me. Adam Sandler is excellent here, in what's easily his best performance since Punch-Drunk Love. The rest of the performances are uniformly good and there's a few great laughs, but Funny People is just too long - it ran out of gas about half an hour before it actually ended.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Nearly all the Potter movies have been different from one another, but this one in particular stands out as a totally unique entry in the franchise. Half-Blood Prince is the funniest, scariest, darkest, and most emotionally involving entry in the series so far. It's probably not the most exciting - there's not much action this time around - but I still would say that this is probably my favorite Potter film yet. I loved how the characters were brought to life so perfectly in this one - Radcliffe is shockingly great, and finally they managed to nail Dumbledore's character. I could bitch and moan about the strange changes from the book, but that would be pointless - the movie on its own is pretty brilliant. Also, I loved the artistic edge this one had - the cinematography was stunning.

Here's some other movies I've watched this summer:

SLACKER - 8/10, bizarre and fascinating.
TO CATCH A THIEF - 7.5/10, a pleasant, mellow Hitchcock.
NOTES ON A SCANDAL - 7/10, nothing I'll want to rewatch, but it was a fascinating, creepy one-time viewing.
I LOVE YOU, MAN - 6/10, underwhelming but always entertaining and sometimes funny.
BEFORE SUNSET - 10/10, aside from Eternal Sunshine, this and Before Sunrise are my favorite romantic movies of all-time. This sequel is heartbreaking, romantic, and hynotizing for every second. Probably one of my Top 5 favorite movies.
A SCANNER DARKLY - 7/10, my least favorite Linklater so far, but still really interesting and totally unusual.
A FISH CALLED WANDA - 8/10, hilarious.
SUSPIRIA - 8.5, rewatched this one recently, I had forgotten how much I love it. It's far from perfect but the creativity and atmosphere of the whole thing is awesome.

Drag Me to Hell
½

A solid, nasy, entertaining little horror flick - but at the same time, I was disappointed. I suppose after all the pre-release buzz and surprisingly spectacular reviews from critics I was expecting a new horror classic from Sam Raimi - but Drag Me to Hell is nowhere near the Evil Dead films for me (more specifically, just not near 1 or 2 - it's as good or maybe better than Army of Darkness in my book). Sure, Drag Me to Hell has some of the crazy, gross and hilarious scenes that I was hoping for - the best among them being a bizarre, truly awesome fight scene in a parking garage that heavily involves a stapler and dentures. So Drag Me To Hell definitely delivers on some moments that are brilliantly insane (another great gag involves an anvil), but imbetween these classic moments it tends to just spin its wheels. There's plenty of time spent here with loud noises and fake jump-scares, and it's all fairly entertaining but never really goes anywhere. Still, Drag Me To Hell is always amusing and offers a few big twisted laughs - it's much more imaginative than almost any horror films being made nowadays, and that alone makes it worth seeing. I'll probably see this again with lowered expectations, and maybe my rating will go up a bit. As it is, I'd give Drag Me To Hell a perfectly respectable but slightly disappointing 6.5.

Anyways, I haven't been posting on Rotten Tomatoes lately because of this new layout - which I hate. Unfortunately, I don't think I'm going to be posting on this website anymore. This new layout is just ugly, confusing, and irritating - I've been on this website for 3 1/2 years and I didn't have any intention of leaving, but I just don't want to look at this ugly layout all the time. Thanks to all of you who made RT interesting, and introduced me to some good movies. :)

For completion's sake, here's some movies I saw recently but never got around to reviewing:
PANIC ROOM - 8
SE7EN - 8
HANNIBAL - 4
XANADU - 2
FANTASTIC PLANET - 7
APOCALYPSE NOW - 10
HARD EIGHT - 9
AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD - 7
SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION - 9.5
AMARCORD - 9
THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY - 6.5
AMERICAN BEAUTY - 8
KNIFE IN THE WATER - 6
COOL HAND LUKE - 9

Up
Up(2009)

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[left]Pixar is getting kind of ridiculous. I mean, honestly, they start out brilliantly with [i]Toy Story[/i], then top that with [i]Finding Nemo[/i], then top themselves again with [i]The Incredibles[/i], then reach a new dizzying peak with last year's [i]WALL-E[/i], with a handful of other instant classics imbetween those masterpieces- and now this. [i]Up [/i]may just be my new favorite from the unstoppable animation studio, which is almost unbelievable since they've already reached perfection multiple times. [i]Up [/i]goes above and beyond perfection - I love this film so much that I really wish there was an option for an 11 rating instead of just 10.[/left]
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[left]Right before [i]Up[/i], there's the usual animated short film, and it easily ranks among my favorite Pixar shorts. I won't spoil the hilarious surprises of its premise for those who have yet to see it, but it's so funny, heartfelt, and spectacularly imaginative that it puts most full-length children's films to shame.[/left]
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[left]Then [i]Up [/i]begins - and right from the first screen, the entire audience was completely engrossed in this stunning film. Right off the bat, [i]Up [/i]shows that it is unafraid to deal with mature subject matter in a 15-minute prologue that shows the ups and downs of a marriage between the adventure-seeking Carl and Ellie Fredriksen. This sequence is funny, warm, and heartbreaking - it's rare to see such a range of genuine emotion in such a short section of film. [i]Up [/i]then proceeds to the main plot about the old Carl who has turned stubborn and cranky without his wife Ellie around. Despite Carl's boxy, obviously stylized shape, he's one of the most loveably flawed characters I've seen in a film lately. Carl's loneliness without Ellie is heartbreaking, and his eventual recovery from his grief is legitimately powerful. [/left]
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[left]However, [i]Up [/i]is not nearly as quietly sad as I've made it sound - at heart, this is an upbeat, colorful adventure in the vein of [i]Indiana Jones[/i]. When Carl ties thousands of balloons to his house and floats away to South America, the various adventures he encounters are as exciting and imaginative as anything I've seen in a movie. Along his quest Carl meets up with a group of characters who are every bit as amusing and instantly loveable as he is - the first of them being Russell, the short, pudgy Asian boy scout who annoys Carl to death at first. Russell, like Carl, is merely an comical character at first but eventually becomes a human, realistic kid who is easy to fall in love with. However, the funniest characters in [i]Up [/i]are undeniably Kevin the giant bird and Dug the talking dog. Both of them offer up some of the hugest laughs of the movie, but eventually become real enough of characters that you may feel a bit nervous whenever either of them are in peril.[/left]
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[left][i]Up [/i]is just a work of art and among the most entertaining adventure films ever made - the combination of fast-paced adventure, comedy, and touching themes about overcoming grief make [i]Up [/i]my choice for best film of 2009. I know that 2009 isn't over yet, but I really can't see anything surpassing this.[/left]

True Romance
True Romance(1993)
½

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[left]Honestly, I was a bit disappointed with [i]True Romance[/i]. I've loved every single Quentin Tarantino-scripted movie that I've seen up until this point, but this one I merely liked. I guess that could be because Tony Scott directed [i]True Romance [/i]and not Tarantino himself, but I doubt that's it. The flaws with [i]True Romance [/i]lie with the script, which is always entertaining and occasionally brilliant, but is way too messy. The pacing is off, characters frustratingly drop in and out of the action, the constant change in tone very often feels awkward. This is pretty obviously Tarantino's first script - it feels like an ambitious, almost-there rought draft of a very good film.[/left]
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[left]Still, despite having an uneven, messy script, [i]True Romance [/i]is a success and a 90's classic. Christian Slater and especially Patricia Arquette are charming, charismatic, and smart, two entertaining leads who are easy to root for. Other standouts here are Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper, whose only scene together is brilliantly clever and offensive, hinting at the types of irreverent, snappy conversations Tarantino would later write for [i]Pulp Fiction[/i]. The other great scene in [i]True Romance [/i]involves Patricia Arquette and a pre-[i]Sopranos [/i]James Gandolfini getting into a brutal fight and completely trashing their hotel room in the process. This scene is intensely disturbing and exhilirating - one of many surprising, well-executed scenes in [i]True Romance.[/i] Unfortunately, though, [i]True Romance [/i]seems to only consist of well-done scenes that are linked together in a bit of a weak manner. It's sporadically brilliant and consistently interesting, but a bit too much of a mess. Still, a totally solid crime-romance, and I was admittedly a bit tired while watching this - so maybe I owe it a second viewing.[/left]

Wild At Heart

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[left]The first time I watched [i]Wild at Heart[/i], I nearly hated it. But because I'm a huge David Lynch fan, I decided to give it another try, and fell in love the second time around. [i]Wild at Heart [/i]is truly one of the most bizarre films I've ever seen, which is why it took me two viewings to warm up to it. Lynch's delirious road trip movie is a vibrant blend of sex, violence, Elvis, and the Wizard of Oz. It's certainly not for everyone, but for those who are willing to go along with Lynch's madly surreal vision, it's a crazy ride that you'll never forget.[/left]
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[left][i]Wild at Heart [/i]is entirely plotless and doesn't appear to have much depth beyond its colorful surface, but that's hardly a problem when the characters are this wildly entertaining. I've grown to hate Nicolas Cage lately, but man, I loved him here. His role of Sailor, the Elvis-loving, snakeskin jacket-wearing criminal, is definitely the most awesome moment in Cage's career. Laura Dern is also wildly entertaining as Lula, Sailor's sexy, crazy romantic interest. Willem Dafoe brings some menace into the film as Bobby Peru, one of the creepiest and disturbing yet hilarious villians I can think of. However, the person who somehow manages to steal the show here is Diane Ladd as Lula's psychotic, obsessive mother. Ladd is gloriously over-the-top here, and she makes every scene that she's in electric, creepy and hilarious (the scenes where she downs a martini and smears bright red lipstick all over her face being the highlights).[/left]
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[left]Overall, [i]Wild at Heart [/i]is another cracked-out piece of genius from Lynch. I do have some mostly minor issues with it - a few scenes are a bit too pointlessly nasty and uncomfortable, and I do think about ten minutes could've been edited out. Because of this, [i]Wild at Heart [/i]falls short of Lynch masterpieces such as [i]Mulholland Drive [/i]and [i]Eraserhead[/i] - but the brilliant performances and insane energy of the whole film are far too powerfully entertaining to ignore.[/left]

Star Trek
Star Trek(2009)

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[left]I'm not at all a [i]Star Trek [/i]fan, so JJ Abram's thrilling reboot was an awesome surprise. This new [i]Star Trek [/i]is sleek, smart and relentlessly entertaining, and even I, someone not at all familiar with this series, was watching the entire film with a huge smile on my face. While I am a fan of the recent trend of darker, more complex science-fiction/comic book films, it's pretty refreshing to see that [i]Star Trek [/i]mostly doesn't follow that trend. With the exception of a few darker moments and some intense action scenes, [i]Star Trek [/i]is actually pretty light and maintains a consistent level of humor. I'm sure that the inevitable sequel will take things into darker territory, but I loved the slightly-but-not-overly campy vibe here.[/left]


[left][i]Star Trek [/i]also happens to be perfectly-casted across the board. 40 years of character development within the many [i]Trek [/i]TV shows and movies must have helped, since all the characters here feel very well-developed for a popcorn flick. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto make for perfect, instantly likeable lead characters as Kirk and Spock, while Simon Pegg and Anton Yelchin stand out in the supporting cast. The charismatic leads are the main reason why [i]Star Trek [/i]rises from just being solid entertainment to a possible new sci-fi classic.[/left]


[left]Still, all that being said - [i]Star Wars [/i]will always be way better to me.[/left]

Grindhouse
Grindhouse(2007)

Tonight a couple friends came over and we watched [i]Planet Terror [/i]and [i]Death Proof [/i]back-to-back. I've seen both seperately and enjoyed them, but my love for both has grown alot since then - watching them together with some friends on a big screen just makes both even more awesome. We also watched the infamous fake trailers that I always had heard about but never saw, until I found out they've actually been on YouTube this whole time. Anyways, I know it's not the same as seeing [i]Grindhouse [/i]in a theater, but I still had a total blast.

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[left]PLANET TERROR: We started off our double feature with some insane, gory, awesome horror madness courtesy of Robert Rodriguez. Along with [i]Sin City[/i], this is Rodriguez's best film so far. It's completely twisted and unbelievably violent, but for those with a strong stomach, it turns out to be a hell of a lot of fun. Action, horror, and comedy has rarely been blended so well, resulting in one of the most entertainingly ridiculous films ever made. But [i]Planet Terror [/i]isn't purely a wildly entertaining gorefest - in its own dumb way, it actually has quite a bit of heart. I certainly loved watching this odd, rag-tag group of people fight off zombies. Freddie Rodriguez makes for one badass hero, and Rose McGowan is shockingly awesome as his ex-lover, a stripper who dreams of becoming a stand-up comedian (until her leg is eaten by zombies). Even though it takes awhile for McGowan to strap on that iconic gun leg, the scenes where she puts it to use are awe-inspiring and possibly the highlight of the whole film. Also starring are Marley Shelton and Josh Brolin as an extremely dysfunctional married couple - they both were hilariously creepy, and the running gag with Shelton's numb hands led to some of [i]Planet Terror[/i]'s biggest laughs. There's also has some fun cameos here, including Bruce Willis as an army official and Fergie as a sexy zombie snack. Overall, [i]Planet Terror [/i]is just awesome. A hilarious, gloriously trashy thrillride, and ranks with the '78 [i]Dawn of the Dead [/i]as my favorite zombie film of all time. A 9.5/10 for this half of [i]Grindhouse.[/i][/left]
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[left]DEATH PROOF: While most find [i]Death Proof [/i]to be the weak link in [i]Grindhouse[/i], I strongly disagree. As badass as [i]Planet Terror [/i]may have been, [i]Death Proof [/i]is even more absurdly awesome. Right from the stylish, very-70's opening credits, [i]Death Proof [/i]is endlessly entertaining and surprising. It does something rare for a B-movie thriller - lets you chill out with the characters and gets you to actually care about them. All the girls in this film are perfectly portrayed by these lovely actresses, and their dialogue is constantly funny and intriguing. Some brush off all the girl chat here as pretentious and tedious, but I was not bored for a single second. In the first group of girls, my favorites were Rose McGowan (doing [i]Grindhouse [/i]double duty) and the alluring Vanessa Ferlito. Unfortunately, these first group of girls are offed in one of the most shockingly violent, terrifying, and well-executed ten minutes I've seen in a thriller. The second group of girls, however, I loved even more. Rosario Dawson, Tracie Thoms, Zoe Bell, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead all are awesome - listening to these four just talk is hilarious and fascinating. Tying together these two groups of women is Kurt Russell in one of his best roles ever as a psychotic stuntman who kills women with his car. Russell is surprisingly menacing and a villian you love to hate - you'll want to stand up and cheer when the tables are turned against Russell in the most exciting, epic car chase I've ever seen. The ending of [i]Death Proof [/i]is pure gold, and will make you want to stand up and cheer. A 10/10 for this one.[/left]
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[left]MACHETE: My favorite out of the fake trailers. [i]Machete [/i]is violent, hilarious, and completely, totally mindblowing. "They just fucked with the wrong Mexican!" - awesome. DON'T: Annoying and completely hilarious. I love how hyper it gets at the end. WEREWOLF WOMEN OF THE S.S.: My least favorite, but still pretty amusing. Nicholas Cage as Fu Manchu stole the show. THANKSGIVING: Even by [i]Grindhouse [/i]standards, this one is completely nasty. Sickening, disturbing, and morally wrong on so, so many levels - but I laughed hysterically anyways.[/left]

Chasing Amy
Chasing Amy(1997)

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[left]CLERKS: Lives up to its hype as one of the funniest movies ever made. [i]Clerks [/i]is just a 90's classic - profane and bizarre, laid-back and lo-fi, and all-in-all just the ultimate tribute to slackers. [i]Clerks [/i]proves that movies don't need plots or quality picture to be great - it's filmed entirely in seedy black-and-white, and pretty much the entire running time consists of characters discussing [i]Star Wars [/i]and sex in the most graphic, clever ways possible. The whole film has an awesome vibe to it that I found impossible to resist - I was smiling and laughing my way through the whole thing, even when the humor headed into sick, twisted territories. While the amateurish enthusiasm is a big part of [i]Clerks[/i]'s charm, it also leads to a few horribly awkward moments. The supporting actors are mostly embarassingly awful, and while the lead actors are likeable and get the job done well, they do have a few stiff lines. Still, [i]Clerks [/i]is so hysterically funny, refreshing, and charming that I really didn't mind a few flat moments. A brilliant debut film for Kevin Smith, and definitely ranks among my favorite 90's comedies.[/left]
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[left]CHASING AMY: All the good stuff in [i]Chasing Amy[/i] is actually pretty excellent, which just makes the film's overall failure very disappointing. [i]Chasing Amy [/i]certainly gets an A for effort, though. I liked what it was trying to do, but found the execution of it too hit-or-miss. Some moments were funny, others were horribly unfunny. Some dramatic scenes were almost shockingly realistic and honest; others just came across as contrived. The main problem I have with [i]Chasing Amy [/i]is that Joey Lauren Adams' character was the only interesting one in the film. Ben Affleck and Jason Lee both were uninteresting and even kind of irritating, and one decision Ben Affleck's character took at the end of the movie was entirely unbelievable and stupid. If [i]Chasing Amy [/i]had more relatable characters and a better ending, I'm sure I would've loved it - as it is, [i]Chasing Amy [/i]is one of the more interesting failures I've seen. Worth a view for its good aspects, but come in expecting an equal amount of bad ones. [/left]

Clerks
Clerks(1994)

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[left]CLERKS: Lives up to its hype as one of the funniest movies ever made. [i]Clerks [/i]is just a 90's classic - profane and bizarre, laid-back and lo-fi, and all-in-all just the ultimate tribute to slackers. [i]Clerks [/i]proves that movies don't need plots or quality picture to be great - it's filmed entirely in seedy black-and-white, and pretty much the entire running time consists of characters discussing [i]Star Wars [/i]and sex in the most graphic, clever ways possible. The whole film has an awesome vibe to it that I found impossible to resist - I was smiling and laughing my way through the whole thing, even when the humor headed into sick, twisted territories. While the amateurish enthusiasm is a big part of [i]Clerks[/i]'s charm, it also leads to a few horribly awkward moments. The supporting actors are mostly embarassingly awful, and while the lead actors are likeable and get the job done well, they do have a few stiff lines. Still, [i]Clerks [/i]is so hysterically funny, refreshing, and charming that I really didn't mind a few flat moments. A brilliant debut film for Kevin Smith, and definitely ranks among my favorite 90's comedies.[/left]
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[left]CHASING AMY: All the good stuff in [i]Chasing Amy[/i] is actually pretty excellent, which just makes the film's overall failure very disappointing. [i]Chasing Amy [/i]certainly gets an A for effort, though. I liked what it was trying to do, but found the execution of it too hit-or-miss. Some moments were funny, others were horribly unfunny. Some dramatic scenes were almost shockingly realistic and honest; others just came across as contrived. The main problem I have with [i]Chasing Amy [/i]is that Joey Lauren Adams' character was the only interesting one in the film. Ben Affleck and Jason Lee both were uninteresting and even kind of irritating, and one decision Ben Affleck's character took at the end of the movie was entirely unbelievable and stupid. If [i]Chasing Amy [/i]had more relatable characters and a better ending, I'm sure I would've loved it - as it is, [i]Chasing Amy [/i]is one of the more interesting failures I've seen. Worth a view for its good aspects, but come in expecting an equal amount of bad ones. [/left]

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life

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[left]THE MEANING OF LIFE: Even though it's generally known as the weakest of the three Python films, I enjoyed the hell out of [i]Meaning of Life. [/i]It's one of the strangest comedies you're likely to ever see, and really is more of a series of random skits loosely strung together than a coherent movie. As with almost all Python movies, a couple jokes just don't work and go on for far too long, but for the most part [i]Meaning of Life [/i]is comedy gold. In addition to having a couple of the funniest scenes ever put on film, [i]Meaning of Life [/i]also is quite smart and even strangely touching in the wonderful, unexpected last act. A few flat jokes keep [i]Meaning of Life [/i]from being as amazing as [i]The Holy Grail[/i], but it's still a brilliant, must-see comedy.[/left]
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[left]LIFE OF BRIAN: More clever than funny. [i]Life of Brian [/i]is definitely original, and offers up plenty of witty, sharp religious satire, but in terms of laughs and entertainment value this is easily my least favorite Python film. A few skits are completely hilarious (the stoning scene and the 'call me Loretta' conversation being the two that got the biggest laughs from me), but lots of the attempts at comedy here struck me as a bit dull. Still, the satire is very clever and well-done, making [i]Life of Brian [/i]worth a view, although I doubt I'll be watching it again and again like [i]The Holy Grail [/i]and [i]Meaning of Life[/i].[/left]

Monty Python's Life of Brian

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[left]THE MEANING OF LIFE: Even though it's generally known as the weakest of the three Python films, I enjoyed the hell out of [i]Meaning of Life. [/i]It's one of the strangest comedies you're likely to ever see, and really is more of a series of random skits loosely strung together than a coherent movie. As with almost all Python movies, a couple jokes just don't work and go on for far too long, but for the most part [i]Meaning of Life [/i]is comedy gold. In addition to having a couple of the funniest scenes ever put on film, [i]Meaning of Life [/i]also is quite smart and even strangely touching in the wonderful, unexpected last act. A few flat jokes keep [i]Meaning of Life [/i]from being as amazing as [i]The Holy Grail[/i], but it's still a brilliant, must-see comedy.[/left]
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[left]LIFE OF BRIAN: More clever than funny. [i]Life of Brian [/i]is definitely original, and offers up plenty of witty, sharp religious satire, but in terms of laughs and entertainment value this is easily my least favorite Python film. A few skits are completely hilarious (the stoning scene and the 'call me Loretta' conversation being the two that got the biggest laughs from me), but lots of the attempts at comedy here struck me as a bit dull. Still, the satire is very clever and well-done, making [i]Life of Brian [/i]worth a view, although I doubt I'll be watching it again and again like [i]The Holy Grail [/i]and [i]Meaning of Life[/i].[/left]

Young and Innocent

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[left]SABOTAGE: Easily one of Hitchcock's most overlooked thrillers. [i]Sabotage [/i]gripped my attention from the beginning, and my interest never wavered. Things become especially fascinating about halfway through, when [i]Sabotage[/i] takes a twist that is shockingly dark and gutsy - I really don't know how they got away with this in 1936. After that suspenseful, shocking sequence [i]Sabotage [/i]truly becomes one gutwrenching scene after another. Part of the credit obviously goes to Hitchcock and his superb, tense direction, but plenty of credit also must be given to the surprisingly excellent performances. Sylvia Sydney is likeable and heartbreaking in the lead role, while Oskar Homolka creates a creepy, menacing villian who also has a human side. The scene where the two face off at the end is a brilliant example of their acting talent and Hitchcock's amazing ability to build tension. [i]Sabotage [/i]is a must-see for Hitchcock fans.[/left]
[left] [/left]

[left]THE 39 STEPS: [i]The 39 Steps [/i]is a charming spy thriller that does nearly everything right. Robert Donat is a likeable, dryly funny hero, while the equally entertaining Madeleine Carroll plays his reluctant romantic interest. [i]The 39 Steps [/i]works as a sort of precursor to [i]North by Northwest [/i]- both films have relentlessly fun suspense and adventure along with a sarcastic, humorous romance, and both are spectacularly entertaining. [i]The 39 Steps [/i]does have some scenes near the beginning that come across as a bit too corny and outdated, but that small complaint aside, it's a top-notch adventure film and a total classic.[/left]
[left] [/left]

[left]YOUNG AND INNOCENT: A minor Hitchcock film, but still has plenty of charms. [i]Young and Innocent [/i]feels like a lightweight, less-eventful [i]39 Steps[/i], and unfortunately doesn't have much to offer in terms of suspense. Most of the suspense scenes in [i]Young and Innocent [/i]feel a bit flat and tedious. Thankfully, the central romance between Nova Pilbeam and Derrick De Marney is breezy and enjoyable - both characters are likeable, attractive, and have plenty of chemistry. The romance and light comedy make up for the disappointing lack of suspense in [i]Young and Innocent[/i], making it a pretty enjoyable watch. Not one you need to rush out and see instantly, but Hitchcock fans will find plenty to like here.[/left]
[left] [/left]

[left]My updated list of Hitchcock movies:[/left]
[left][i]1. Rear Window 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]2. Psycho 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]3. Rebecca 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]4. The Birds 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]5. Strangers on a Train 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]6. Vertigo 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]7. Notorious 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]8. Rope 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]9. North by Northwest 9/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]10. Shadow of a Doubt 9/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]11. Spellbound 9/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]12. Frenzy 9/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]13. The Lady Vanishes 9/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]14. Lifeboat 8/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]15. Dial M for Murder 8/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]16. The 39 Steps 8/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]17. Sabotage 8/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]18. The Trouble With Harry 7/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]19. The Man Who Knew Too Much 7/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]20. Young and Innocent 6/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]21. Marnie 6/10[/i][/left]

Sabotage
Sabotage(1937)

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[center][img]http://i43.tinypic.com/1621d1l.jpg[/img] [img]http://i44.tinypic.com/2vu0i2a.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]

[left]SABOTAGE: Easily one of Hitchcock's most overlooked thrillers. [i]Sabotage [/i]gripped my attention from the beginning, and my interest never wavered. Things become especially fascinating about halfway through, when [i]Sabotage[/i] takes a twist that is shockingly dark and gutsy - I really don't know how they got away with this in 1936. After that suspenseful, shocking sequence [i]Sabotage [/i]truly becomes one gutwrenching scene after another. Part of the credit obviously goes to Hitchcock and his superb, tense direction, but plenty of credit also must be given to the surprisingly excellent performances. Sylvia Sydney is likeable and heartbreaking in the lead role, while Oskar Homolka creates a creepy, menacing villian who also has a human side. The scene where the two face off at the end is a brilliant example of their acting talent and Hitchcock's amazing ability to build tension. [i]Sabotage [/i]is a must-see for Hitchcock fans.[/left]
[left] [/left]

[left]THE 39 STEPS: [i]The 39 Steps [/i]is a charming spy thriller that does nearly everything right. Robert Donat is a likeable, dryly funny hero, while the equally entertaining Madeleine Carroll plays his reluctant romantic interest. [i]The 39 Steps [/i]works as a sort of precursor to [i]North by Northwest [/i]- both films have relentlessly fun suspense and adventure along with a sarcastic, humorous romance, and both are spectacularly entertaining. [i]The 39 Steps [/i]does have some scenes near the beginning that come across as a bit too corny and outdated, but that small complaint aside, it's a top-notch adventure film and a total classic.[/left]
[left] [/left]

[left]YOUNG AND INNOCENT: A minor Hitchcock film, but still has plenty of charms. [i]Young and Innocent [/i]feels like a lightweight, less-eventful [i]39 Steps[/i], and unfortunately doesn't have much to offer in terms of suspense. Most of the suspense scenes in [i]Young and Innocent [/i]feel a bit flat and tedious. Thankfully, the central romance between Nova Pilbeam and Derrick De Marney is breezy and enjoyable - both characters are likeable, attractive, and have plenty of chemistry. The romance and light comedy make up for the disappointing lack of suspense in [i]Young and Innocent[/i], making it a pretty enjoyable watch. Not one you need to rush out and see instantly, but Hitchcock fans will find plenty to like here.[/left]
[left] [/left]

[left]My updated list of Hitchcock movies:[/left]
[left][i]1. Rear Window 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]2. Psycho 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]3. Rebecca 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]4. The Birds 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]5. Strangers on a Train 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]6. Vertigo 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]7. Notorious 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]8. Rope 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]9. North by Northwest 9/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]10. Shadow of a Doubt 9/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]11. Spellbound 9/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]12. Frenzy 9/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]13. The Lady Vanishes 9/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]14. Lifeboat 8/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]15. Dial M for Murder 8/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]16. The 39 Steps 8/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]17. Sabotage 8/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]18. The Trouble With Harry 7/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]19. The Man Who Knew Too Much 7/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]20. Young and Innocent 6/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]21. Marnie 6/10[/i][/left]

Duplicity
Duplicity(2009)

[center][img]http://i44.tinypic.com/261oke9.jpg[/img] [img]http://i39.tinypic.com/29zsppf.jpg[/img] [img]http://i40.tinypic.com/2zpruio.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]

[left]ADVENTURELAND: Aside from maybe [i]Coraline[/i], [i]Adventureland[/i] is my favorite movie of 2009 so far. It's an enjoyably low-key, pleasant dramady, and is far calmer and more insightful than pretty much any teen comedies being made nowadays. Jesse Eisenberg is solid in the lead, and Kristen Stewart is lovely and fascinating (and redeems herself from her awkward performance in [i]Twilight[/i]). Greg Mottola, with this and [i]Superbad[/i], shows that he has enormous potential as a sort of modern-day John Hughes.[/left]
[left] [/left]

[left]DUPLICITY: Clive Owen and Julia Roberts are charming and attractive, the visual style is cool, and the plot is smart and unpredictable - but overall, [i]Duplicity [/i]isn't anything more than a forgettable, stylish comedy caper. [i]Duplicity [/i]also begins to drag in the midsection, and I began to lose interest - thankfully, the last 15 minutes are wickedly clever and unexpected, ending [i]Duplicity [/i]on a good note.[/left]
[left] [/left]

[left]MONSTERS VS. ALIENS: [i]Monsters vs. Aliens [/i]doesn't quite work. Like many DreamWorks films, it tries too hard for laughs and ends up being embarassingly unfunny in many places. The characters here are weak as well - BOB was entertaining, but the rest of the monsters weren't particularly funny or interesting. Still, [i]Monsters vs. Aliens [/i]has its bright spots - a couple random moments are completely hilarious, the animation is expectedly good, and the film as a whole is pretty entertaining. [i]Monsters vs. Aliens [/i]falls way short of last year's loveable DreamWorks effort, [i]Kung Fu Panda[/i], and overall feels like a minor failure, but it still is an okay way to pass the time.[/left]

Monsters vs. Aliens
½

[center][img]http://i44.tinypic.com/261oke9.jpg[/img] [img]http://i39.tinypic.com/29zsppf.jpg[/img] [img]http://i40.tinypic.com/2zpruio.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]

[left]ADVENTURELAND: Aside from maybe [i]Coraline[/i], [i]Adventureland[/i] is my favorite movie of 2009 so far. It's an enjoyably low-key, pleasant dramady, and is far calmer and more insightful than pretty much any teen comedies being made nowadays. Jesse Eisenberg is solid in the lead, and Kristen Stewart is lovely and fascinating (and redeems herself from her awkward performance in [i]Twilight[/i]). Greg Mottola, with this and [i]Superbad[/i], shows that he has enormous potential as a sort of modern-day John Hughes.[/left]
[left] [/left]

[left]DUPLICITY: Clive Owen and Julia Roberts are charming and attractive, the visual style is cool, and the plot is smart and unpredictable - but overall, [i]Duplicity [/i]isn't anything more than a forgettable, stylish comedy caper. [i]Duplicity [/i]also begins to drag in the midsection, and I began to lose interest - thankfully, the last 15 minutes are wickedly clever and unexpected, ending [i]Duplicity [/i]on a good note.[/left]
[left] [/left]

[left]MONSTERS VS. ALIENS: [i]Monsters vs. Aliens [/i]doesn't quite work. Like many DreamWorks films, it tries too hard for laughs and ends up being embarassingly unfunny in many places. The characters here are weak as well - BOB was entertaining, but the rest of the monsters weren't particularly funny or interesting. Still, [i]Monsters vs. Aliens [/i]has its bright spots - a couple random moments are completely hilarious, the animation is expectedly good, and the film as a whole is pretty entertaining. [i]Monsters vs. Aliens [/i]falls way short of last year's loveable DreamWorks effort, [i]Kung Fu Panda[/i], and overall feels like a minor failure, but it still is an okay way to pass the time.[/left]

Adventureland

[center][img]http://i44.tinypic.com/261oke9.jpg[/img] [img]http://i39.tinypic.com/29zsppf.jpg[/img] [img]http://i40.tinypic.com/2zpruio.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]

[left]ADVENTURELAND: Aside from maybe [i]Coraline[/i], [i]Adventureland[/i] is my favorite movie of 2009 so far. It's an enjoyably low-key, pleasant dramady, and is far calmer and more insightful than pretty much any teen comedies being made nowadays. Jesse Eisenberg is solid in the lead, and Kristen Stewart is lovely and fascinating (and redeems herself from her awkward performance in [i]Twilight[/i]). Greg Mottola, with this and [i]Superbad[/i], shows that he has enormous potential as a sort of modern-day John Hughes.[/left]
[left] [/left]

[left]DUPLICITY: Clive Owen and Julia Roberts are charming and attractive, the visual style is cool, and the plot is smart and unpredictable - but overall, [i]Duplicity [/i]isn't anything more than a forgettable, stylish comedy caper. [i]Duplicity [/i]also begins to drag in the midsection, and I began to lose interest - thankfully, the last 15 minutes are wickedly clever and unexpected, ending [i]Duplicity [/i]on a good note.[/left]
[left] [/left]

[left]MONSTERS VS. ALIENS: [i]Monsters vs. Aliens [/i]doesn't quite work. Like many DreamWorks films, it tries too hard for laughs and ends up being embarassingly unfunny in many places. The characters here are weak as well - BOB was entertaining, but the rest of the monsters weren't particularly funny or interesting. Still, [i]Monsters vs. Aliens [/i]has its bright spots - a couple random moments are completely hilarious, the animation is expectedly good, and the film as a whole is pretty entertaining. [i]Monsters vs. Aliens [/i]falls way short of last year's loveable DreamWorks effort, [i]Kung Fu Panda[/i], and overall feels like a minor failure, but it still is an okay way to pass the time.[/left]

Notorious
Notorious(1946)

[center][img]http://i40.tinypic.com/161ccjs.jpg[/img][/center]
[center][img]http://i43.tinypic.com/2s0crx3.jpg[/img] [img]http://i42.tinypic.com/kb3n6a.jpg[/img][/center]


[left]NOTORIOUS: I saw [i]Notorious [/i]a couple of years ago and was vaguely bored by it, and puzzled by all the praise. After hearing many times after that first viewing that [i]Notorious [/i]is a masterpiece and one of Hitchcock's best, I gave it another chance - and I happily admit that I was very, very wrong. [i]Notorious [/i]is definitely a masterpiece, one of many in Hitchcock's unbelievably impressive career.[i] Notorious [/i]is pretty much flawless - it's not as out-there or morbid as many Hitchcock films, but still manages to be brilliantly suspenseful and tense at many moments, especially during the unforgettable party scene. However, the aspect of [i]Notorious [/i]that surprises most is the frustrating, charming central romance. Cary Grant and especially Ingrid Bergman are both on fire here, and their chemistry is spellbinding. [i]Notorious [/i]is a must-see, one of the best films of the 40's and yet another knockout Hitchcock thriller.[/left]


[left]FRENZY: A truly awesome surprise, [i]Frenzy [/i]is one of Hitchcock's more underrated works. I always seem to hear only bad things about Hitchcock's later films (I have not yet seen his much-maligned films [i]Family Plot, Topaz,[/i] and [i]Torn Curtain[/i]), so I always assumed that [i]Frenzy[/i] would be a disappointment - but as this spectacular serial killer film played out, I was gladly proven wrong. [i]Frenzy[/i] is a rather seedy film, with a claustrophobic, dirty atmosphere that perfectly captures the feeling of a packed, sleaze-ridden London. It also doesn't hold back on the more disturbing elements, especially during one brutal rape/strangulation scene that will leave you horrified. It's an extremely well-done scene, but incredibly disturbing. Aside from that, [i]Frenzy[/i] is actually rather fun considering the dark subject matter - Hitchcock's odd, dark sense of humor shines through here, especially during the scenes involving the inspector's wife and her awful cooking, and the brilliant, grisly potato truck scene. [i]Frenzy[/i] isn't perfect, but a completely unique and gripping thriller that fits well with Hitchcock's list of classics.[/left]


[left]THE LADY VANISHES: I'm usually not too fond of movies made in before 1940, most of them are pretty tedious and stiff by today's standards. [i]The Lady Vanishes[/i], however, is probably every bit as fun, amusing, and suspenseful as the day it was released. This is one of Hitchcock's earliest films, and one of his more lighthearted thrillers that perfectly shows off his deadpan, odd sense of humor. From a slapstick fight scene with a magician to Micheal Redgrave's hilarious one-liners, [i]The Lady Vanishes [/i]is really more of a comedy than anything else - though it still has plenty of suspense and excitement typical from Hitchcock. The plot takes plenty of amusing twists and detours, and the final shootout is silly but incredibly fun. [i]The Lady Vanishes [/i]isn't a Hitchcock masterpiece, but it's a strange, very entertaining thriller that I really enjoyed.[/left]


[left]I've been on a bit of a Hitchcock craze lately, and it's pretty great. I just got a DVD set of some of Hitchcock's older films, so you can expect reviews for some of those soon. Here's my current list of Hitchcock movies, favorite to least favorite:[/left]
[left][i]1. Rear Window 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]2. Psycho 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]3. Rebecca 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]4. The Birds 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]5. Strangers on a Train 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]6. Vertigo 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]7. Notorious 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]8. Rope 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]9. Shadow of a Doubt 9/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]10. North by Northwest 9/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]11. Spellbound 9/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]12. Frenzy 9/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]13. The Lady Vanishes 9/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]14. Lifeboat 8/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]15. Dial M for Murder 8/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]16. The Trouble with Harry 7/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]17. The Man Who Knew Too Much 7/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]18. Marnie 6/10[/i][/left]

The Lady Vanishes
½

[center][img]http://i40.tinypic.com/161ccjs.jpg[/img][/center]
[center][img]http://i43.tinypic.com/2s0crx3.jpg[/img] [img]http://i42.tinypic.com/kb3n6a.jpg[/img][/center]


[left]NOTORIOUS: I saw [i]Notorious [/i]a couple of years ago and was vaguely bored by it, and puzzled by all the praise. After hearing many times after that first viewing that [i]Notorious [/i]is a masterpiece and one of Hitchcock's best, I gave it another chance - and I happily admit that I was very, very wrong. [i]Notorious [/i]is definitely a masterpiece, one of many in Hitchcock's unbelievably impressive career.[i] Notorious [/i]is pretty much flawless - it's not as out-there or morbid as many Hitchcock films, but still manages to be brilliantly suspenseful and tense at many moments, especially during the unforgettable party scene. However, the aspect of [i]Notorious [/i]that surprises most is the frustrating, charming central romance. Cary Grant and especially Ingrid Bergman are both on fire here, and their chemistry is spellbinding. [i]Notorious [/i]is a must-see, one of the best films of the 40's and yet another knockout Hitchcock thriller.[/left]


[left]FRENZY: A truly awesome surprise, [i]Frenzy [/i]is one of Hitchcock's more underrated works. I always seem to hear only bad things about Hitchcock's later films (I have not yet seen his much-maligned films [i]Family Plot, Topaz,[/i] and [i]Torn Curtain[/i]), so I always assumed that [i]Frenzy[/i] would be a disappointment - but as this spectacular serial killer film played out, I was gladly proven wrong. [i]Frenzy[/i] is a rather seedy film, with a claustrophobic, dirty atmosphere that perfectly captures the feeling of a packed, sleaze-ridden London. It also doesn't hold back on the more disturbing elements, especially during one brutal rape/strangulation scene that will leave you horrified. It's an extremely well-done scene, but incredibly disturbing. Aside from that, [i]Frenzy[/i] is actually rather fun considering the dark subject matter - Hitchcock's odd, dark sense of humor shines through here, especially during the scenes involving the inspector's wife and her awful cooking, and the brilliant, grisly potato truck scene. [i]Frenzy[/i] isn't perfect, but a completely unique and gripping thriller that fits well with Hitchcock's list of classics.[/left]


[left]THE LADY VANISHES: I'm usually not too fond of movies made in before 1940, most of them are pretty tedious and stiff by today's standards. [i]The Lady Vanishes[/i], however, is probably every bit as fun, amusing, and suspenseful as the day it was released. This is one of Hitchcock's earliest films, and one of his more lighthearted thrillers that perfectly shows off his deadpan, odd sense of humor. From a slapstick fight scene with a magician to Micheal Redgrave's hilarious one-liners, [i]The Lady Vanishes [/i]is really more of a comedy than anything else - though it still has plenty of suspense and excitement typical from Hitchcock. The plot takes plenty of amusing twists and detours, and the final shootout is silly but incredibly fun. [i]The Lady Vanishes [/i]isn't a Hitchcock masterpiece, but it's a strange, very entertaining thriller that I really enjoyed.[/left]


[left]I've been on a bit of a Hitchcock craze lately, and it's pretty great. I just got a DVD set of some of Hitchcock's older films, so you can expect reviews for some of those soon. Here's my current list of Hitchcock movies, favorite to least favorite:[/left]
[left][i]1. Rear Window 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]2. Psycho 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]3. Rebecca 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]4. The Birds 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]5. Strangers on a Train 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]6. Vertigo 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]7. Notorious 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]8. Rope 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]9. Shadow of a Doubt 9/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]10. North by Northwest 9/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]11. Spellbound 9/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]12. Frenzy 9/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]13. The Lady Vanishes 9/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]14. Lifeboat 8/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]15. Dial M for Murder 8/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]16. The Trouble with Harry 7/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]17. The Man Who Knew Too Much 7/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]18. Marnie 6/10[/i][/left]

Frenzy
Frenzy(1972)
½

[center][img]http://i40.tinypic.com/161ccjs.jpg[/img][/center]
[center][img]http://i43.tinypic.com/2s0crx3.jpg[/img] [img]http://i42.tinypic.com/kb3n6a.jpg[/img][/center]


[left]NOTORIOUS: I saw [i]Notorious [/i]a couple of years ago and was vaguely bored by it, and puzzled by all the praise. After hearing many times after that first viewing that [i]Notorious [/i]is a masterpiece and one of Hitchcock's best, I gave it another chance - and I happily admit that I was very, very wrong. [i]Notorious [/i]is definitely a masterpiece, one of many in Hitchcock's unbelievably impressive career.[i] Notorious [/i]is pretty much flawless - it's not as out-there or morbid as many Hitchcock films, but still manages to be brilliantly suspenseful and tense at many moments, especially during the unforgettable party scene. However, the aspect of [i]Notorious [/i]that surprises most is the frustrating, charming central romance. Cary Grant and especially Ingrid Bergman are both on fire here, and their chemistry is spellbinding. [i]Notorious [/i]is a must-see, one of the best films of the 40's and yet another knockout Hitchcock thriller.[/left]


[left]FRENZY: A truly awesome surprise, [i]Frenzy [/i]is one of Hitchcock's more underrated works. I always seem to hear only bad things about Hitchcock's later films (I have not yet seen his much-maligned films [i]Family Plot, Topaz,[/i] and [i]Torn Curtain[/i]), so I always assumed that [i]Frenzy[/i] would be a disappointment - but as this spectacular serial killer film played out, I was gladly proven wrong. [i]Frenzy[/i] is a rather seedy film, with a claustrophobic, dirty atmosphere that perfectly captures the feeling of a packed, sleaze-ridden London. It also doesn't hold back on the more disturbing elements, especially during one brutal rape/strangulation scene that will leave you horrified. It's an extremely well-done scene, but incredibly disturbing. Aside from that, [i]Frenzy[/i] is actually rather fun considering the dark subject matter - Hitchcock's odd, dark sense of humor shines through here, especially during the scenes involving the inspector's wife and her awful cooking, and the brilliant, grisly potato truck scene. [i]Frenzy[/i] isn't perfect, but a completely unique and gripping thriller that fits well with Hitchcock's list of classics.[/left]


[left]THE LADY VANISHES: I'm usually not too fond of movies made in before 1940, most of them are pretty tedious and stiff by today's standards. [i]The Lady Vanishes[/i], however, is probably every bit as fun, amusing, and suspenseful as the day it was released. This is one of Hitchcock's earliest films, and one of his more lighthearted thrillers that perfectly shows off his deadpan, odd sense of humor. From a slapstick fight scene with a magician to Micheal Redgrave's hilarious one-liners, [i]The Lady Vanishes [/i]is really more of a comedy than anything else - though it still has plenty of suspense and excitement typical from Hitchcock. The plot takes plenty of amusing twists and detours, and the final shootout is silly but incredibly fun. [i]The Lady Vanishes [/i]isn't a Hitchcock masterpiece, but it's a strange, very entertaining thriller that I really enjoyed.[/left]


[left]I've been on a bit of a Hitchcock craze lately, and it's pretty great. I just got a DVD set of some of Hitchcock's older films, so you can expect reviews for some of those soon. Here's my current list of Hitchcock movies, favorite to least favorite:[/left]
[left][i]1. Rear Window 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]2. Psycho 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]3. Rebecca 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]4. The Birds 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]5. Strangers on a Train 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]6. Vertigo 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]7. Notorious 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]8. Rope 10/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]9. Shadow of a Doubt 9/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]10. North by Northwest 9/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]11. Spellbound 9/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]12. Frenzy 9/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]13. The Lady Vanishes 9/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]14. Lifeboat 8/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]15. Dial M for Murder 8/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]16. The Trouble with Harry 7/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]17. The Man Who Knew Too Much 7/10[/i][/left]
[left][i]18. Marnie 6/10[/i][/left]

The Breakfast Club
½

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[left]THE BREAKFAST CLUB: This movie is now so iconic and famous that it almost seems like people have forgotten why it's so good. [i]The Breakfast Club [/i]seems to get publicity for its dance sequence and all its 80's music, and while those aspects are very fun, this really is more of a realistic drama than most people seem to remember. It's still a little overdramatized, but easily one of the most realistic portrayals of highschoolers, which makes [i]The Breakfast Club [/i]stick out among all the other 80's brat-pack comedies. Its about real teenagers dealing with real problems, and watching these five interesting characters break barriers is almost shockingly rewarding and refreshingly free of some of the bullshit that plagues other highschool movies. Not that [i]The Breakfast Club [/i]is all drama - plenty of stuff here is pretty hilarious, and it definitely has the same rebellious vibe that makes all Hughes movies so fun. With the exception of [i]Ferris Bueller's Day Off[/i], this is definitely my favorite John Hughes movie.[/left]
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[left]SIXTEEN CANDLES: This one is everything [i]The Breakfast Club [/i]isn't - it's an unrealistic, silly, cliched highschool movie, but often there's nothing more entertaining than a ridiculous teenage comedy, and this is one of those times. I definitely don't think that [i]Sixteen Candles[/i] is among the best highschool movies ever made, it certainly has its weak points - some of the gags fall flat, mainly the embarassingly unfunny character Long Duk Dong. But [i]Sixteen Candles [/i]makes up for its bad moments by being pure, harmless entertainment. Molly Ringwald is a charming lead as always, and Anthony Michael Hall steals the show as her creepy nerd stalker. [i]Sixteen Candles [/i]keeps the jokes coming and moves at a fast pace, resulting in a quick, entertaining comedy that ends up being pretty satisfying. A fun little 80s classic. [/left]

Sixteen Candles
½

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[left]THE BREAKFAST CLUB: This movie is now so iconic and famous that it almost seems like people have forgotten why it's so good. [i]The Breakfast Club [/i]seems to get publicity for its dance sequence and all its 80's music, and while those aspects are very fun, this really is more of a realistic drama than most people seem to remember. It's still a little overdramatized, but easily one of the most realistic portrayals of highschoolers, which makes [i]The Breakfast Club [/i]stick out among all the other 80's brat-pack comedies. Its about real teenagers dealing with real problems, and watching these five interesting characters break barriers is almost shockingly rewarding and refreshingly free of some of the bullshit that plagues other highschool movies. Not that [i]The Breakfast Club [/i]is all drama - plenty of stuff here is pretty hilarious, and it definitely has the same rebellious vibe that makes all Hughes movies so fun. With the exception of [i]Ferris Bueller's Day Off[/i], this is definitely my favorite John Hughes movie.[/left]
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[left]SIXTEEN CANDLES: This one is everything [i]The Breakfast Club [/i]isn't - it's an unrealistic, silly, cliched highschool movie, but often there's nothing more entertaining than a ridiculous teenage comedy, and this is one of those times. I definitely don't think that [i]Sixteen Candles[/i] is among the best highschool movies ever made, it certainly has its weak points - some of the gags fall flat, mainly the embarassingly unfunny character Long Duk Dong. But [i]Sixteen Candles [/i]makes up for its bad moments by being pure, harmless entertainment. Molly Ringwald is a charming lead as always, and Anthony Michael Hall steals the show as her creepy nerd stalker. [i]Sixteen Candles [/i]keeps the jokes coming and moves at a fast pace, resulting in a quick, entertaining comedy that ends up being pretty satisfying. A fun little 80s classic. [/left]

School of Rock
½

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[left]DAZED AND CONFUSED: [i]Dazed and Confused [/i]is essentially an [i]American Graffiti [/i]for the 70's, but even better. I was nowhere near being born in 1976, but I still related to [i]Dazed and Confused [/i]quite a bit. Many of the characters here are eerily similar to highschoolers I know, and I love that [i]Dazed [/i]covers most of the highschool 'cliques' - the intellectual nerdy types, jocks, stoners, popular girls, incoming freshmen - and nails all of them. But this isn't some corny highschool movie that uses cookie-cutter stereotypes as its characters, all the people here seem completely alive and real. [i]Dazed and Confused [/i]is almost thrilling to watch in the entirely accurate way it portrays highschoolers.[/left]
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[left]In addition to being a loving and insightful look at highschool life, [i]Dazed and Confused [/i]is just hilarious. So many small moments here had me laughing out loud, and overall this is just as entertaining and fun as movies get. Many have compared [i]Dazed and Confused[/i] to [i]Superbad[/i] and [i]American Graffiti[/i], and while both of those one-night highschool films are pretty awesome in their own ways, this one is just on a whole different level. I'd say that it even surpasses [i]Ferris Bueller's Day Off[/i] as my favorite movie ever made about highschoolers. And, seriously, one of the best soundtracks ever.[/left]
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[left]SCHOOL OF ROCK: I'm shocked that I haven't reviewed [i]School of Rock[/i] yet. Ever since 2003, this has been one of my favorite comedies - mostly because of Jack Black. I've always had a soft spot for Black, but this is by far his best role ever. He totally rocks here, delivering a performance that is hysterical and loveable. Black elevates [i]School of Rock [/i]from being just an entertaining comedy to something that achieves mindblowing hilarity. Outside of Jack Black though, [i]School of Rock [/i]still has plenty of awesome aspects. The soundtrack kicks ass, the supporting performances from the kids and Joan Cusack are shockingly hilarious, and the climax is gloriously corny and fun. While I absolutely love Linklater's talky, real-time indie films, [i]School of Rock [/i]proves that he also can make an insanely good mainstream comedy.[/left]

Dazed and Confused

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[left]DAZED AND CONFUSED: [i]Dazed and Confused [/i]is essentially an [i]American Graffiti [/i]for the 70's, but even better. I was nowhere near being born in 1976, but I still related to [i]Dazed and Confused [/i]quite a bit. Many of the characters here are eerily similar to highschoolers I know, and I love that [i]Dazed [/i]covers most of the highschool 'cliques' - the intellectual nerdy types, jocks, stoners, popular girls, incoming freshmen - and nails all of them. But this isn't some corny highschool movie that uses cookie-cutter stereotypes as its characters, all the people here seem completely alive and real. [i]Dazed and Confused [/i]is almost thrilling to watch in the entirely accurate way it portrays highschoolers.[/left]
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[left]In addition to being a loving and insightful look at highschool life, [i]Dazed and Confused [/i]is just hilarious. So many small moments here had me laughing out loud, and overall this is just as entertaining and fun as movies get. Many have compared [i]Dazed and Confused[/i] to [i]Superbad[/i] and [i]American Graffiti[/i], and while both of those one-night highschool films are pretty awesome in their own ways, this one is just on a whole different level. I'd say that it even surpasses [i]Ferris Bueller's Day Off[/i] as my favorite movie ever made about highschoolers. And, seriously, one of the best soundtracks ever.[/left]
[left] [/left]

[left]SCHOOL OF ROCK: I'm shocked that I haven't reviewed [i]School of Rock[/i] yet. Ever since 2003, this has been one of my favorite comedies - mostly because of Jack Black. I've always had a soft spot for Black, but this is by far his best role ever. He totally rocks here, delivering a performance that is hysterical and loveable. Black elevates [i]School of Rock [/i]from being just an entertaining comedy to something that achieves mindblowing hilarity. Outside of Jack Black though, [i]School of Rock [/i]still has plenty of awesome aspects. The soundtrack kicks ass, the supporting performances from the kids and Joan Cusack are shockingly hilarious, and the climax is gloriously corny and fun. While I absolutely love Linklater's talky, real-time indie films, [i]School of Rock [/i]proves that he also can make an insanely good mainstream comedy.[/left]

The Blues Brothers
½

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[left]THE BLUES BROTHERS: One of the most epic comedies ever made. [i]The Blues Brothers [/i]is just plain cool - Dan Akroyd and John Belushi give leading performances that are ingenious and deadpan hilarious right from the first scene. The way Jake and Elwood calmy react to everything is priceless, and their odd, funny mannerisms make them two of the coolest main characters you can find. I also love that [i]The Blues Brothers [/i]is truly unafraid to try anything - I don't know of any other movie that has both jazz musical numbers and gigantic car chases. The only problem I have with [i]The Blues Brothers [/i]is that it has a few too many scenes of screaming mobs and ridiculous car pileups at the end, which start out very fun but eventually turn a bit tiresome. Aside from that, though, [i]The Blues Brothers [/i]is a flawless comedy and a new favorite of mine. Definitely a must-see if you want a crazy good time.[/left]
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[left]ANIMAL HOUSE: I've always heard alot about John Belushi, but never really got to see him in action until [i]The Blues Brothers[/i], which I loved him in. [i]Animal House [/i]confirms many times over that Belushi is awesome. He doesn't even get much screentime, but when he is there - oh man. I was in tears. Belushi is definitely the highlight here, and the rest of [i]Animal House [/i]is admittedly slightly uneven. It's a very politically incorrect movie, which sometimes is refreshing, but also leads to a couple of embarassing scenes. A handful of flat, outdated jokes aside, [i]Animal House [/i]is a classic comedy containing at least a few of the funniest scenes in any movie. A perfect one to watch with a group of friends - Belushi alone makes it worth seeing a few times.[/left]

National Lampoon's Animal House

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[left]THE BLUES BROTHERS: One of the most epic comedies ever made. [i]The Blues Brothers [/i]is just plain cool - Dan Akroyd and John Belushi give leading performances that are ingenious and deadpan hilarious right from the first scene. The way Jake and Elwood calmy react to everything is priceless, and their odd, funny mannerisms make them two of the coolest main characters you can find. I also love that [i]The Blues Brothers [/i]is truly unafraid to try anything - I don't know of any other movie that has both jazz musical numbers and gigantic car chases. The only problem I have with [i]The Blues Brothers [/i]is that it has a few too many scenes of screaming mobs and ridiculous car pileups at the end, which start out very fun but eventually turn a bit tiresome. Aside from that, though, [i]The Blues Brothers [/i]is a flawless comedy and a new favorite of mine. Definitely a must-see if you want a crazy good time.[/left]
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[left]ANIMAL HOUSE: I've always heard alot about John Belushi, but never really got to see him in action until [i]The Blues Brothers[/i], which I loved him in. [i]Animal House [/i]confirms many times over that Belushi is awesome. He doesn't even get much screentime, but when he is there - oh man. I was in tears. Belushi is definitely the highlight here, and the rest of [i]Animal House [/i]is admittedly slightly uneven. It's a very politically incorrect movie, which sometimes is refreshing, but also leads to a couple of embarassing scenes. A handful of flat, outdated jokes aside, [i]Animal House [/i]is a classic comedy containing at least a few of the funniest scenes in any movie. A perfect one to watch with a group of friends - Belushi alone makes it worth seeing a few times.[/left]

True Lies
True Lies(1994)
½

DELIVERANCE: It's a bit odd throwing [i]Deliverance [/i]into this very lazy pile of action-movie reviews, because its not really an action movie. Sure, [i]Deliverance [/i]is essentially a river-rafting adventure film, but done in such a nightmarish, realistic way that its really more horror and drama than action. In addition to just being intense and disturbing on the surface level, [i]Deliverance [/i]subtly shows the devastating effects that these horrific events have on the lives of the characters. If you can handle the disturbing content, then [i]Deliverance [/i]is a definite must-see.

TRUE LIES: Good cheesy fun. [i]True Lies [/i]never takes itself seriously, and is all the better for it. Just sit back, and enjoy the creative action and corny humor.

BREAKDOWN: An awesome surprise of a thriller. [i]Breakdown [/i]packs in plenty of action and non-stop thrills, one of the most intense and underrated action films of the 90's.

SNAKES ON A PLANE: I actually wanted this one to get even crazier and more over-the-top - [i]Snakes on a Plane [/i]never achieves the ridiculous-fun thrills of something similarly tongue-in-cheek like [i]Planet Terror[/i], but it's still pretty entertaining. I couldn't have cared less about the characters, but the snake attacks are fun, enjoyably absurb, and surprisingly brutal at times. I'm barely giving [i]Snakes on a Plane [/i]a fresh rating, but it does offer up a decent amount of laughs and thrills, and makes for an enjoyable rental.

VANISHING POINT: There are aspects of [i]Vanishing Point [/i]that I really enjoyed - the visual style and laid-back 70's soundtrack give off a nice atmosphere, and there are a couple of car chases near the beginning that are kind of fun in their own relatively unimpressive way. Despite some bright spots, [i]Vanishing Point [/i]isn't really worth viewing. The main character is unbelievably dull, the plot is incredibly thin and gives us no reason to care, and there are a few brief but ugly scenes involving rape, racism, and homophobia that left a bad taste in my mouth. Skip it.

Snakes on a Plane

DELIVERANCE: It's a bit odd throwing [i]Deliverance [/i]into this very lazy pile of action-movie reviews, because its not really an action movie. Sure, [i]Deliverance [/i]is essentially a river-rafting adventure film, but done in such a nightmarish, realistic way that its really more horror and drama than action. In addition to just being intense and disturbing on the surface level, [i]Deliverance [/i]subtly shows the devastating effects that these horrific events have on the lives of the characters. If you can handle the disturbing content, then [i]Deliverance [/i]is a definite must-see.

TRUE LIES: Good cheesy fun. [i]True Lies [/i]never takes itself seriously, and is all the better for it. Just sit back, and enjoy the creative action and corny humor.

BREAKDOWN: An awesome surprise of a thriller. [i]Breakdown [/i]packs in plenty of action and non-stop thrills, one of the most intense and underrated action films of the 90's.

SNAKES ON A PLANE: I actually wanted this one to get even crazier and more over-the-top - [i]Snakes on a Plane [/i]never achieves the ridiculous-fun thrills of something similarly tongue-in-cheek like [i]Planet Terror[/i], but it's still pretty entertaining. I couldn't have cared less about the characters, but the snake attacks are fun, enjoyably absurb, and surprisingly brutal at times. I'm barely giving [i]Snakes on a Plane [/i]a fresh rating, but it does offer up a decent amount of laughs and thrills, and makes for an enjoyable rental.

VANISHING POINT: There are aspects of [i]Vanishing Point [/i]that I really enjoyed - the visual style and laid-back 70's soundtrack give off a nice atmosphere, and there are a couple of car chases near the beginning that are kind of fun in their own relatively unimpressive way. Despite some bright spots, [i]Vanishing Point [/i]isn't really worth viewing. The main character is unbelievably dull, the plot is incredibly thin and gives us no reason to care, and there are a few brief but ugly scenes involving rape, racism, and homophobia that left a bad taste in my mouth. Skip it.

Breakdown
Breakdown(1997)

DELIVERANCE: It's a bit odd throwing [i]Deliverance [/i]into this very lazy pile of action-movie reviews, because its not really an action movie. Sure, [i]Deliverance [/i]is essentially a river-rafting adventure film, but done in such a nightmarish, realistic way that its really more horror and drama than action. In addition to just being intense and disturbing on the surface level, [i]Deliverance [/i]subtly shows the devastating effects that these horrific events have on the lives of the characters. If you can handle the disturbing content, then [i]Deliverance [/i]is a definite must-see.

TRUE LIES: Good cheesy fun. [i]True Lies [/i]never takes itself seriously, and is all the better for it. Just sit back, and enjoy the creative action and corny humor.

BREAKDOWN: An awesome surprise of a thriller. [i]Breakdown [/i]packs in plenty of action and non-stop thrills, one of the most intense and underrated action films of the 90's.

SNAKES ON A PLANE: I actually wanted this one to get even crazier and more over-the-top - [i]Snakes on a Plane [/i]never achieves the ridiculous-fun thrills of something similarly tongue-in-cheek like [i]Planet Terror[/i], but it's still pretty entertaining. I couldn't have cared less about the characters, but the snake attacks are fun, enjoyably absurb, and surprisingly brutal at times. I'm barely giving [i]Snakes on a Plane [/i]a fresh rating, but it does offer up a decent amount of laughs and thrills, and makes for an enjoyable rental.

VANISHING POINT: There are aspects of [i]Vanishing Point [/i]that I really enjoyed - the visual style and laid-back 70's soundtrack give off a nice atmosphere, and there are a couple of car chases near the beginning that are kind of fun in their own relatively unimpressive way. Despite some bright spots, [i]Vanishing Point [/i]isn't really worth viewing. The main character is unbelievably dull, the plot is incredibly thin and gives us no reason to care, and there are a few brief but ugly scenes involving rape, racism, and homophobia that left a bad taste in my mouth. Skip it.

Deliverance
Deliverance(1972)

DELIVERANCE: It's a bit odd throwing [i]Deliverance [/i]into this very lazy pile of action-movie reviews, because its not really an action movie. Sure, [i]Deliverance [/i]is essentially a river-rafting adventure film, but done in such a nightmarish, realistic way that its really more horror and drama than action. In addition to just being intense and disturbing on the surface level, [i]Deliverance [/i]subtly shows the devastating effects that these horrific events have on the lives of the characters. If you can handle the disturbing content, then [i]Deliverance [/i]is a definite must-see.

TRUE LIES: Good cheesy fun. [i]True Lies [/i]never takes itself seriously, and is all the better for it. Just sit back, and enjoy the creative action and corny humor.

BREAKDOWN: An awesome surprise of a thriller. [i]Breakdown [/i]packs in plenty of action and non-stop thrills, one of the most intense and underrated action films of the 90's.

SNAKES ON A PLANE: I actually wanted this one to get even crazier and more over-the-top - [i]Snakes on a Plane [/i]never achieves the ridiculous-fun thrills of something similarly tongue-in-cheek like [i]Planet Terror[/i], but it's still pretty entertaining. I couldn't have cared less about the characters, but the snake attacks are fun, enjoyably absurb, and surprisingly brutal at times. I'm barely giving [i]Snakes on a Plane [/i]a fresh rating, but it does offer up a decent amount of laughs and thrills, and makes for an enjoyable rental.

VANISHING POINT: There are aspects of [i]Vanishing Point [/i]that I really enjoyed - the visual style and laid-back 70's soundtrack give off a nice atmosphere, and there are a couple of car chases near the beginning that are kind of fun in their own relatively unimpressive way. Despite some bright spots, [i]Vanishing Point [/i]isn't really worth viewing. The main character is unbelievably dull, the plot is incredibly thin and gives us no reason to care, and there are a few brief but ugly scenes involving rape, racism, and homophobia that left a bad taste in my mouth. Skip it.

Vanishing Point
½

DELIVERANCE: It's a bit odd throwing [i]Deliverance [/i]into this very lazy pile of action-movie reviews, because its not really an action movie. Sure, [i]Deliverance [/i]is essentially a river-rafting adventure film, but done in such a nightmarish, realistic way that its really more horror and drama than action. In addition to just being intense and disturbing on the surface level, [i]Deliverance [/i]subtly shows the devastating effects that these horrific events have on the lives of the characters. If you can handle the disturbing content, then [i]Deliverance [/i]is a definite must-see.

TRUE LIES: Good cheesy fun. [i]True Lies [/i]never takes itself seriously, and is all the better for it. Just sit back, and enjoy the creative action and corny humor.

BREAKDOWN: An awesome surprise of a thriller. [i]Breakdown [/i]packs in plenty of action and non-stop thrills, one of the most intense and underrated action films of the 90's.

SNAKES ON A PLANE: I actually wanted this one to get even crazier and more over-the-top - [i]Snakes on a Plane [/i]never achieves the ridiculous-fun thrills of something similarly tongue-in-cheek like [i]Planet Terror[/i], but it's still pretty entertaining. I couldn't have cared less about the characters, but the snake attacks are fun, enjoyably absurb, and surprisingly brutal at times. I'm barely giving [i]Snakes on a Plane [/i]a fresh rating, but it does offer up a decent amount of laughs and thrills, and makes for an enjoyable rental.

VANISHING POINT: There are aspects of [i]Vanishing Point [/i]that I really enjoyed - the visual style and laid-back 70's soundtrack give off a nice atmosphere, and there are a couple of car chases near the beginning that are kind of fun in their own relatively unimpressive way. Despite some bright spots, [i]Vanishing Point [/i]isn't really worth viewing. The main character is unbelievably dull, the plot is incredibly thin and gives us no reason to care, and there are a few brief but ugly scenes involving rape, racism, and homophobia that left a bad taste in my mouth. Skip it.

Coffy
Coffy(1973)
½

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[left]I know I sort of gave up putting posters on my reviews, but wow...those two are just too awesome to not post.[/left]
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[left]COFFY: A sleazy classic.[i] Coffy [/i]is not exactly classy, overflowing with violence, drugs, prostitutes, pimps, and plenty of pointless nudity. But like the best exploitation films, [i]Coffy [/i]doesn't pretend to be something it's not - it revels in its own trashiness. General depravity has never been so entertaining, with director Jack Hill making the most out of every ridiculous, badass minute. [i]Coffy [/i]definitely goes on my 'ridiculous yet awesome' list - any film that sports Pam Grier going wild with a shotgun and getting into giant prostitute fights is fine with me. Recommended for anyone who is not offended by such sublime tastelessness.[/left]
[left] [/left]

[left]JACKIE BROWN: Quentin Tarantino's third film, despite the style of its poster above, is not at all a so-called 'blaxploitation.' It definitely pays loving tribute to that obscure subgenre, including samplings from the groovy [i]Coffy [/i]soundtrack and most obviously the casting of Pam Grier. But instead of being shocking, fast-paced, and trashy, [i]Jackie Brown [/i]is chilled-out and thoughtful. It's rare to find a film this against the grain - it takes its time getting to its destination, letting you chill out with the characters and watch with delight as the plot slowly unfolds. While [i]Pulp Fiction [/i]was a blast of energy, [i]Jackie Brown [/i]is more of a slow burn. Also, the main character is a middle-aged black woman who has a believable, sweet but never physical romance between a middle-aged white man. Certainly not something you see in most Hollywood productions, and it's incredibly refreshing.[/left]
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[left]As usual with Tarantino films, the casting is genius. Samuel L. Jackson is mesmerizing and intense as the sometimes charming, mostly just scary villian - this is easily one of his best performances. Robert Forster plays the one honest character in the film who has an instant liking for Jackie, and he nails the role - creating a sweet character who also is tired and weary. Robert de Niro and Bridget Fonda play a stoned-out odd couple, and their performances are so subtle and believable that you might not notice how excellent they are. Bridget Fonda is especially good, playing a sexy but jaded and hateful 'blonde-haired surfer girl.'[/left]
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[left]Which brings me right into the best aspect of both [i]Coffy [/i]and [i]Jackie Brown[/i], the wonderful Pam Grier. In [i]Coffy[/i], she effortlessly oozes sex appeal, while also managing to be a total badass. Grier also brings in some genuine emotion to the otherwise silly [i]Coffy[/i], making you feel Coffy's anguish. In [i]Jackie Brown[/i], Grier obviously tones down the sexiness, instead playing a lost, independent, intelligent and world-weary middle-aged woman who is easy to fall in love with. As perfect as all the performances in [i]Jackie Brown [/i]were, it's Grier who steals the show. Grier's Jackie Brown is still tough as nails, as evidenced by one perfectly-done scene where she shows Samuel L. Jackson's character that she's not going to let him mess around with her. But in addition to being a badass, Jackie Brown is loveable, mysterious, kind, and an entirely believable woman. Certainly one of the best heroines put to screen, Quentin Tarantino writes such wonderful female characters, and Pam Grier delivers his dialogue brilliantly. Both Pam Grier and [i]Jackie Brown [/i]are amazing, underrated, and just plain cool.[/left]

Jackie Brown
Jackie Brown(1997)

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[left]I know I sort of gave up putting posters on my reviews, but wow...those two are just too awesome to not post.[/left]
[left] [/left]

[left]COFFY: A sleazy classic.[i] Coffy [/i]is not exactly classy, overflowing with violence, drugs, prostitutes, pimps, and plenty of pointless nudity. But like the best exploitation films, [i]Coffy [/i]doesn't pretend to be something it's not - it revels in its own trashiness. General depravity has never been so entertaining, with director Jack Hill making the most out of every ridiculous, badass minute. [i]Coffy [/i]definitely goes on my 'ridiculous yet awesome' list - any film that sports Pam Grier going wild with a shotgun and getting into giant prostitute fights is fine with me. Recommended for anyone who is not offended by such sublime tastelessness.[/left]
[left] [/left]

[left]JACKIE BROWN: Quentin Tarantino's third film, despite the style of its poster above, is not at all a so-called 'blaxploitation.' It definitely pays loving tribute to that obscure subgenre, including samplings from the groovy [i]Coffy [/i]soundtrack and most obviously the casting of Pam Grier. But instead of being shocking, fast-paced, and trashy, [i]Jackie Brown [/i]is chilled-out and thoughtful. It's rare to find a film this against the grain - it takes its time getting to its destination, letting you chill out with the characters and watch with delight as the plot slowly unfolds. While [i]Pulp Fiction [/i]was a blast of energy, [i]Jackie Brown [/i]is more of a slow burn. Also, the main character is a middle-aged black woman who has a believable, sweet but never physical romance between a middle-aged white man. Certainly not something you see in most Hollywood productions, and it's incredibly refreshing.[/left]
[left] [/left]

[left]As usual with Tarantino films, the casting is genius. Samuel L. Jackson is mesmerizing and intense as the sometimes charming, mostly just scary villian - this is easily one of his best performances. Robert Forster plays the one honest character in the film who has an instant liking for Jackie, and he nails the role - creating a sweet character who also is tired and weary. Robert de Niro and Bridget Fonda play a stoned-out odd couple, and their performances are so subtle and believable that you might not notice how excellent they are. Bridget Fonda is especially good, playing a sexy but jaded and hateful 'blonde-haired surfer girl.'[/left]
[left] [/left]

[left]Which brings me right into the best aspect of both [i]Coffy [/i]and [i]Jackie Brown[/i], the wonderful Pam Grier. In [i]Coffy[/i], she effortlessly oozes sex appeal, while also managing to be a total badass. Grier also brings in some genuine emotion to the otherwise silly [i]Coffy[/i], making you feel Coffy's anguish. In [i]Jackie Brown[/i], Grier obviously tones down the sexiness, instead playing a lost, independent, intelligent and world-weary middle-aged woman who is easy to fall in love with. As perfect as all the performances in [i]Jackie Brown [/i]were, it's Grier who steals the show. Grier's Jackie Brown is still tough as nails, as evidenced by one perfectly-done scene where she shows Samuel L. Jackson's character that she's not going to let him mess around with her. But in addition to being a badass, Jackie Brown is loveable, mysterious, kind, and an entirely believable woman. Certainly one of the best heroines put to screen, Quentin Tarantino writes such wonderful female characters, and Pam Grier delivers his dialogue brilliantly. Both Pam Grier and [i]Jackie Brown [/i]are amazing, underrated, and just plain cool.[/left]

Frozen River
Frozen River(2008)
½

HORTON HEARS A WHO: While not a new animated classic, [i]Horton Hears a Who [/i]manages to mostly keep the spirit of Dr. Seuss's work. It's a moderately charming, imaginative family film with its heart in the right place, and for the most part turns out to be an entertaining ride. In the long run, however, [i]Horton Hears a Who [/i]is a bit forgettable. A mild thumbs up for this minor but successful Seuss adaptation.

FROZEN RIVER: Melissa Leo is excellent in the downbeat and powerful [i]Frozen River[/i]. Unfortunately, the cast surrounding Leo is not up to par. However, aside from that, [i]Frozen River[/i] is a top-notch, grim drama that manages to be heartwrenching and suspenseful. Thankfully, there's glimmers of warmth and optimism throughout, keeping this drama from becoming too grim to handle.

MAN ON WIRE: One of the best documentaries I've seen (keep in mind that I've seen very few). The only flaw I can pick up in [i]Man on Wire [/i]is that it feels a bit stretched out - about 15 superfluous minutes could have been cut. Aside from that, this was a beautiful powerful film that moved me quite a bit more than expected. Definitely a must-see.

Man on Wire
Man on Wire(2008)

HORTON HEARS A WHO: While not a new animated classic, [i]Horton Hears a Who [/i]manages to mostly keep the spirit of Dr. Seuss's work. It's a moderately charming, imaginative family film with its heart in the right place, and for the most part turns out to be an entertaining ride. In the long run, however, [i]Horton Hears a Who [/i]is a bit forgettable. A mild thumbs up for this minor but successful Seuss adaptation.

FROZEN RIVER: Melissa Leo is excellent in the downbeat and powerful [i]Frozen River[/i]. Unfortunately, the cast surrounding Leo is not up to par. However, aside from that, [i]Frozen River[/i] is a top-notch, grim drama that manages to be heartwrenching and suspenseful. Thankfully, there's glimmers of warmth and optimism throughout, keeping this drama from becoming too grim to handle.

MAN ON WIRE: One of the best documentaries I've seen (keep in mind that I've seen very few). The only flaw I can pick up in [i]Man on Wire [/i]is that it feels a bit stretched out - about 15 superfluous minutes could have been cut. Aside from that, this was a beautiful powerful film that moved me quite a bit more than expected. Definitely a must-see.

Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!

HORTON HEARS A WHO: While not a new animated classic, [i]Horton Hears a Who [/i]manages to mostly keep the spirit of Dr. Seuss's work. It's a moderately charming, imaginative family film with its heart in the right place, and for the most part turns out to be an entertaining ride. In the long run, however, [i]Horton Hears a Who [/i]is a bit forgettable. A mild thumbs up for this minor but successful Seuss adaptation.

FROZEN RIVER: Melissa Leo is excellent in the downbeat and powerful [i]Frozen River[/i]. Unfortunately, the cast surrounding Leo is not up to par. However, aside from that, [i]Frozen River[/i] is a top-notch, grim drama that manages to be heartwrenching and suspenseful. Thankfully, there's glimmers of warmth and optimism throughout, keeping this drama from becoming too grim to handle.

MAN ON WIRE: One of the best documentaries I've seen (keep in mind that I've seen very few). The only flaw I can pick up in [i]Man on Wire [/i]is that it feels a bit stretched out - about 15 superfluous minutes could have been cut. Aside from that, this was a beautiful powerful film that moved me quite a bit more than expected. Definitely a must-see.

The Visitor
The Visitor(2008)

CITY OF EMBER: There were actually alot of things that I appreciated in [i]City of Ember[/i]. The set design is very well-done and beautiful, and it's nice to see a family adventure film that doesn't rely on immature humor to keep the kids entertained. The problem is not that [i]City of Ember[/i] is dumb like many of today's family films, it just needs more of a pulse. None of the characters are mildly interesting, and the film as a whole just never comes to life. It remains merely sort-of-interesting throughout the whole running time, without a single point where real danger or excitement is felt. [i]City of Ember[/i] isn't one I liked or disliked, it was just kind of there.

CHOKE: What a strange movie. [i]Choke [/i]goes off in all sorts of random directions without much rhyme or reason, but is held together by a clever sense of humor and strong performances. Sam Rockwell, Anjelica Huston, and Kelly MacDonald are all excellent, and keep this uneven comedy afloat. [i]Choke [/i]ends up feeling a bit hollow and overly scattershot, but the good performances and a couple of hilarious moments make it a solid rental.

THE VISITOR: A subtle drama that ends up being very powerful. From the trailers I was expecting [i]The Visitor [/i]to be in the vein of a Hallmark movie, but I turned out pleasantly surprised. This is an intelligent, tender, funny drama that never turns corny. Richard Jenkins is very good in the lead role - one of the best surprises of the 2008.

IN BRUGES: Another one of 2008's great surprises. [i]In Bruges [/i]is one of the best mixes of crime, comedy, and drama since [i]Pulp Fiction[/i]. It's a surprisingly quiet, laid-back film full of odd conversations for most of the running time, then in the end turns shockingly bloody and violent. An odd film to be certain, but I enjoyed the hell out of it.

CHANGELING: Clint Eastwood is incomparable. Not counting the rest of his amazing career, in 2008 he delivered the wonderful [i]Gran Torino[/i] and the knockout [i]Changeling[/i]. The latter is based off of a true story, and it's simply unbelievable that something this insane happened in real life. Apparently, though, Eastwood's film is very accurate in the telling of Christine Collin's story, which amazes and disturbs me. [i]Changeling [/i]is beautifully filmed and passionately told, and at times extremely horrifying. It deals with disturbing issues in a straightforward way, so prepare yourself for some very upsetting scenes. However, even though it's hardly an uplifting film, [i]Changeling [/i]is one of 2008's best. Angelina Jolie gives a great, intense performance, and the film as a whole is engrossing and very well-done. The last scenes are beautiful and haunting, and thankfully offer a hint of optimism. Ignore the critics, [i]Changeling[/i] is a must-see.

In Bruges
In Bruges(2008)

CITY OF EMBER: There were actually alot of things that I appreciated in [i]City of Ember[/i]. The set design is very well-done and beautiful, and it's nice to see a family adventure film that doesn't rely on immature humor to keep the kids entertained. The problem is not that [i]City of Ember[/i] is dumb like many of today's family films, it just needs more of a pulse. None of the characters are mildly interesting, and the film as a whole just never comes to life. It remains merely sort-of-interesting throughout the whole running time, without a single point where real danger or excitement is felt. [i]City of Ember[/i] isn't one I liked or disliked, it was just kind of there.

CHOKE: What a strange movie. [i]Choke [/i]goes off in all sorts of random directions without much rhyme or reason, but is held together by a clever sense of humor and strong performances. Sam Rockwell, Anjelica Huston, and Kelly MacDonald are all excellent, and keep this uneven comedy afloat. [i]Choke [/i]ends up feeling a bit hollow and overly scattershot, but the good performances and a couple of hilarious moments make it a solid rental.

THE VISITOR: A subtle drama that ends up being very powerful. From the trailers I was expecting [i]The Visitor [/i]to be in the vein of a Hallmark movie, but I turned out pleasantly surprised. This is an intelligent, tender, funny drama that never turns corny. Richard Jenkins is very good in the lead role - one of the best surprises of the 2008.

IN BRUGES: Another one of 2008's great surprises. [i]In Bruges [/i]is one of the best mixes of crime, comedy, and drama since [i]Pulp Fiction[/i]. It's a surprisingly quiet, laid-back film full of odd conversations for most of the running time, then in the end turns shockingly bloody and violent. An odd film to be certain, but I enjoyed the hell out of it.

CHANGELING: Clint Eastwood is incomparable. Not counting the rest of his amazing career, in 2008 he delivered the wonderful [i]Gran Torino[/i] and the knockout [i]Changeling[/i]. The latter is based off of a true story, and it's simply unbelievable that something this insane happened in real life. Apparently, though, Eastwood's film is very accurate in the telling of Christine Collin's story, which amazes and disturbs me. [i]Changeling [/i]is beautifully filmed and passionately told, and at times extremely horrifying. It deals with disturbing issues in a straightforward way, so prepare yourself for some very upsetting scenes. However, even though it's hardly an uplifting film, [i]Changeling [/i]is one of 2008's best. Angelina Jolie gives a great, intense performance, and the film as a whole is engrossing and very well-done. The last scenes are beautiful and haunting, and thankfully offer a hint of optimism. Ignore the critics, [i]Changeling[/i] is a must-see.

Choke
Choke(2008)

CITY OF EMBER: There were actually alot of things that I appreciated in [i]City of Ember[/i]. The set design is very well-done and beautiful, and it's nice to see a family adventure film that doesn't rely on immature humor to keep the kids entertained. The problem is not that [i]City of Ember[/i] is dumb like many of today's family films, it just needs more of a pulse. None of the characters are mildly interesting, and the film as a whole just never comes to life. It remains merely sort-of-interesting throughout the whole running time, without a single point where real danger or excitement is felt. [i]City of Ember[/i] isn't one I liked or disliked, it was just kind of there.

CHOKE: What a strange movie. [i]Choke [/i]goes off in all sorts of random directions without much rhyme or reason, but is held together by a clever sense of humor and strong performances. Sam Rockwell, Anjelica Huston, and Kelly MacDonald are all excellent, and keep this uneven comedy afloat. [i]Choke [/i]ends up feeling a bit hollow and overly scattershot, but the good performances and a couple of hilarious moments make it a solid rental.

THE VISITOR: A subtle drama that ends up being very powerful. From the trailers I was expecting [i]The Visitor [/i]to be in the vein of a Hallmark movie, but I turned out pleasantly surprised. This is an intelligent, tender, funny drama that never turns corny. Richard Jenkins is very good in the lead role - one of the best surprises of the 2008.

IN BRUGES: Another one of 2008's great surprises. [i]In Bruges [/i]is one of the best mixes of crime, comedy, and drama since [i]Pulp Fiction[/i]. It's a surprisingly quiet, laid-back film full of odd conversations for most of the running time, then in the end turns shockingly bloody and violent. An odd film to be certain, but I enjoyed the hell out of it.

CHANGELING: Clint Eastwood is incomparable. Not counting the rest of his amazing career, in 2008 he delivered the wonderful [i]Gran Torino[/i] and the knockout [i]Changeling[/i]. The latter is based off of a true story, and it's simply unbelievable that something this insane happened in real life. Apparently, though, Eastwood's film is very accurate in the telling of Christine Collin's story, which amazes and disturbs me. [i]Changeling [/i]is beautifully filmed and passionately told, and at times extremely horrifying. It deals with disturbing issues in a straightforward way, so prepare yourself for some very upsetting scenes. However, even though it's hardly an uplifting film, [i]Changeling [/i]is one of 2008's best. Angelina Jolie gives a great, intense performance, and the film as a whole is engrossing and very well-done. The last scenes are beautiful and haunting, and thankfully offer a hint of optimism. Ignore the critics, [i]Changeling[/i] is a must-see.

Changeling
Changeling(2008)

CITY OF EMBER: There were actually alot of things that I appreciated in [i]City of Ember[/i]. The set design is very well-done and beautiful, and it's nice to see a family adventure film that doesn't rely on immature humor to keep the kids entertained. The problem is not that [i]City of Ember[/i] is dumb like many of today's family films, it just needs more of a pulse. None of the characters are mildly interesting, and the film as a whole just never comes to life. It remains merely sort-of-interesting throughout the whole running time, without a single point where real danger or excitement is felt. [i]City of Ember[/i] isn't one I liked or disliked, it was just kind of there.

CHOKE: What a strange movie. [i]Choke [/i]goes off in all sorts of random directions without much rhyme or reason, but is held together by a clever sense of humor and strong performances. Sam Rockwell, Anjelica Huston, and Kelly MacDonald are all excellent, and keep this uneven comedy afloat. [i]Choke [/i]ends up feeling a bit hollow and overly scattershot, but the good performances and a couple of hilarious moments make it a solid rental.

THE VISITOR: A subtle drama that ends up being very powerful. From the trailers I was expecting [i]The Visitor [/i]to be in the vein of a Hallmark movie, but I turned out pleasantly surprised. This is an intelligent, tender, funny drama that never turns corny. Richard Jenkins is very good in the lead role - one of the best surprises of the 2008.

IN BRUGES: Another one of 2008's great surprises. [i]In Bruges [/i]is one of the best mixes of crime, comedy, and drama since [i]Pulp Fiction[/i]. It's a surprisingly quiet, laid-back film full of odd conversations for most of the running time, then in the end turns shockingly bloody and violent. An odd film to be certain, but I enjoyed the hell out of it.

CHANGELING: Clint Eastwood is incomparable. Not counting the rest of his amazing career, in 2008 he delivered the wonderful [i]Gran Torino[/i] and the knockout [i]Changeling[/i]. The latter is based off of a true story, and it's simply unbelievable that something this insane happened in real life. Apparently, though, Eastwood's film is very accurate in the telling of Christine Collin's story, which amazes and disturbs me. [i]Changeling [/i]is beautifully filmed and passionately told, and at times extremely horrifying. It deals with disturbing issues in a straightforward way, so prepare yourself for some very upsetting scenes. However, even though it's hardly an uplifting film, [i]Changeling [/i]is one of 2008's best. Angelina Jolie gives a great, intense performance, and the film as a whole is engrossing and very well-done. The last scenes are beautiful and haunting, and thankfully offer a hint of optimism. Ignore the critics, [i]Changeling[/i] is a must-see.

City of Ember
½

CITY OF EMBER: There were actually alot of things that I appreciated in [i]City of Ember[/i]. The set design is very well-done and beautiful, and it's nice to see a family adventure film that doesn't rely on immature humor to keep the kids entertained. The problem is not that [i]City of Ember[/i] is dumb like many of today's family films, it just needs more of a pulse. None of the characters are mildly interesting, and the film as a whole just never comes to life. It remains merely sort-of-interesting throughout the whole running time, without a single point where real danger or excitement is felt. [i]City of Ember[/i] isn't one I liked or disliked, it was just kind of there.

CHOKE: What a strange movie. [i]Choke [/i]goes off in all sorts of random directions without much rhyme or reason, but is held together by a clever sense of humor and strong performances. Sam Rockwell, Anjelica Huston, and Kelly MacDonald are all excellent, and keep this uneven comedy afloat. [i]Choke [/i]ends up feeling a bit hollow and overly scattershot, but the good performances and a couple of hilarious moments make it a solid rental.

THE VISITOR: A subtle drama that ends up being very powerful. From the trailers I was expecting [i]The Visitor [/i]to be in the vein of a Hallmark movie, but I turned out pleasantly surprised. This is an intelligent, tender, funny drama that never turns corny. Richard Jenkins is very good in the lead role - one of the best surprises of the 2008.

IN BRUGES: Another one of 2008's great surprises. [i]In Bruges [/i]is one of the best mixes of crime, comedy, and drama since [i]Pulp Fiction[/i]. It's a surprisingly quiet, laid-back film full of odd conversations for most of the running time, then in the end turns shockingly bloody and violent. An odd film to be certain, but I enjoyed the hell out of it.

CHANGELING: Clint Eastwood is incomparable. Not counting the rest of his amazing career, in 2008 he delivered the wonderful [i]Gran Torino[/i] and the knockout [i]Changeling[/i]. The latter is based off of a true story, and it's simply unbelievable that something this insane happened in real life. Apparently, though, Eastwood's film is very accurate in the telling of Christine Collin's story, which amazes and disturbs me. [i]Changeling [/i]is beautifully filmed and passionately told, and at times extremely horrifying. It deals with disturbing issues in a straightforward way, so prepare yourself for some very upsetting scenes. However, even though it's hardly an uplifting film, [i]Changeling [/i]is one of 2008's best. Angelina Jolie gives a great, intense performance, and the film as a whole is engrossing and very well-done. The last scenes are beautiful and haunting, and thankfully offer a hint of optimism. Ignore the critics, [i]Changeling[/i] is a must-see.

RocknRolla
RocknRolla(2008)
½

I have been lazy with posting lately, and got insanely behind in my reviews. I'll quickly post alot of these mini-reviews, then get on with my super-late 2008 movie awards sometime in the next few days.

ROCKNROLLA: While watching [i]RocknRolla[/i], it's easy to see that Guy Ritchie worships [i]Pulp Fiction[/i]. This is my first Ritchie film, and it's full of scenes that echo Tarantino's masterpiece - sadly, this has little of [i]Pulp[/i]'s brilliance. There are entertaining moments scattered throughout, but for the most part, nothing in [i]RocknRolla[/i] really grabbed my attention.

GHOST TOWN: Ricky Gervais is charming and funny, and makes the formulaic [i]Ghost Town[/i] worth a view. It plays out like a sitcom version of [i]The Sixth Sense[/i], and the supernatural elements are often amusing but very predictable - just like the overall film.

SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK: Charlie Kaufman wrote my favorite film of all-time, [i]Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind[/i], so obviously I have high expectations for whatever he writes. In my mind, [i]Synecdoche [/i]is nowhere near the heights of [i]Eternal Sunshine[/i]. I did not like the entire first half of the film - I found it a bit dull, with a coldly unrelatable main character and a harshly depressing vibe that was overwhelmingly negative. However, about halfway through, Kaufman's usual creativity kicked in, and I was won over. [i]Synecdoche[/i] becomes an ambitious exploration of identity, and one of the most thought-provoking films of the year. The last 20 minutes of the film are the most beautiful, strange, and hypnotic. If the whole film had been as emotional and brilliant as the ending, [i]Synecdoche [/i]would have been one of my Top 10 of 2008, no doubt. As it is, Kaufman's ambitious film is flawed but often brilliant.

REDBELT: Reminds me of [i]Happy-Go-Lucky[/i] in many ways. Both films are anchored by excellent performances, in [i]Redbelt[/i]'s case the British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, and both could use a stronger plot. [i]Redbelt [/i]wanders far too much, resulting in an uneven, occasionally dull film. Still, overall [i]Redbelt[/i] works. Ejiofor is a mesmerizing lead, and the ending is powerful and very well-done.

RACHEL GETTING MARRIED: One of those rare films that feels entirely real. Anne Hathaway deserves every bit of praise she has been receiving - her performance is definitely among the best of the year. I've always liked Hathaway, but never thought she was capable of this kind of powerhouse role. The rest of the cast, Rosemarie DeWitt especially, are also excellent. Watching these full-dimensional people come together, fight, and just interact is fascinating and rewarding, [i]Rachel Getting Married [/i]was definitely one of the better dramas released in 2008.

Rachel Getting Married
½

I have been lazy with posting lately, and got insanely behind in my reviews. I'll quickly post alot of these mini-reviews, then get on with my super-late 2008 movie awards sometime in the next few days.

ROCKNROLLA: While watching [i]RocknRolla[/i], it's easy to see that Guy Ritchie worships [i]Pulp Fiction[/i]. This is my first Ritchie film, and it's full of scenes that echo Tarantino's masterpiece - sadly, this has little of [i]Pulp[/i]'s brilliance. There are entertaining moments scattered throughout, but for the most part, nothing in [i]RocknRolla[/i] really grabbed my attention.

GHOST TOWN: Ricky Gervais is charming and funny, and makes the formulaic [i]Ghost Town[/i] worth a view. It plays out like a sitcom version of [i]The Sixth Sense[/i], and the supernatural elements are often amusing but very predictable - just like the overall film.

SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK: Charlie Kaufman wrote my favorite film of all-time, [i]Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind[/i], so obviously I have high expectations for whatever he writes. In my mind, [i]Synecdoche [/i]is nowhere near the heights of [i]Eternal Sunshine[/i]. I did not like the entire first half of the film - I found it a bit dull, with a coldly unrelatable main character and a harshly depressing vibe that was overwhelmingly negative. However, about halfway through, Kaufman's usual creativity kicked in, and I was won over. [i]Synecdoche[/i] becomes an ambitious exploration of identity, and one of the most thought-provoking films of the year. The last 20 minutes of the film are the most beautiful, strange, and hypnotic. If the whole film had been as emotional and brilliant as the ending, [i]Synecdoche [/i]would have been one of my Top 10 of 2008, no doubt. As it is, Kaufman's ambitious film is flawed but often brilliant.

REDBELT: Reminds me of [i]Happy-Go-Lucky[/i] in many ways. Both films are anchored by excellent performances, in [i]Redbelt[/i]'s case the British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, and both could use a stronger plot. [i]Redbelt [/i]wanders far too much, resulting in an uneven, occasionally dull film. Still, overall [i]Redbelt[/i] works. Ejiofor is a mesmerizing lead, and the ending is powerful and very well-done.

RACHEL GETTING MARRIED: One of those rare films that feels entirely real. Anne Hathaway deserves every bit of praise she has been receiving - her performance is definitely among the best of the year. I've always liked Hathaway, but never thought she was capable of this kind of powerhouse role. The rest of the cast, Rosemarie DeWitt especially, are also excellent. Watching these full-dimensional people come together, fight, and just interact is fascinating and rewarding, [i]Rachel Getting Married [/i]was definitely one of the better dramas released in 2008.

Redbelt
Redbelt(2008)
½

I have been lazy with posting lately, and got insanely behind in my reviews. I'll quickly post alot of these mini-reviews, then get on with my super-late 2008 movie awards sometime in the next few days.

ROCKNROLLA: While watching [i]RocknRolla[/i], it's easy to see that Guy Ritchie worships [i]Pulp Fiction[/i]. This is my first Ritchie film, and it's full of scenes that echo Tarantino's masterpiece - sadly, this has little of [i]Pulp[/i]'s brilliance. There are entertaining moments scattered throughout, but for the most part, nothing in [i]RocknRolla[/i] really grabbed my attention.

GHOST TOWN: Ricky Gervais is charming and funny, and makes the formulaic [i]Ghost Town[/i] worth a view. It plays out like a sitcom version of [i]The Sixth Sense[/i], and the supernatural elements are often amusing but very predictable - just like the overall film.

SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK: Charlie Kaufman wrote my favorite film of all-time, [i]Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind[/i], so obviously I have high expectations for whatever he writes. In my mind, [i]Synecdoche [/i]is nowhere near the heights of [i]Eternal Sunshine[/i]. I did not like the entire first half of the film - I found it a bit dull, with a coldly unrelatable main character and a harshly depressing vibe that was overwhelmingly negative. However, about halfway through, Kaufman's usual creativity kicked in, and I was won over. [i]Synecdoche[/i] becomes an ambitious exploration of identity, and one of the most thought-provoking films of the year. The last 20 minutes of the film are the most beautiful, strange, and hypnotic. If the whole film had been as emotional and brilliant as the ending, [i]Synecdoche [/i]would have been one of my Top 10 of 2008, no doubt. As it is, Kaufman's ambitious film is flawed but often brilliant.

REDBELT: Reminds me of [i]Happy-Go-Lucky[/i] in many ways. Both films are anchored by excellent performances, in [i]Redbelt[/i]'s case the British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, and both could use a stronger plot. [i]Redbelt [/i]wanders far too much, resulting in an uneven, occasionally dull film. Still, overall [i]Redbelt[/i] works. Ejiofor is a mesmerizing lead, and the ending is powerful and very well-done.

RACHEL GETTING MARRIED: One of those rare films that feels entirely real. Anne Hathaway deserves every bit of praise she has been receiving - her performance is definitely among the best of the year. I've always liked Hathaway, but never thought she was capable of this kind of powerhouse role. The rest of the cast, Rosemarie DeWitt especially, are also excellent. Watching these full-dimensional people come together, fight, and just interact is fascinating and rewarding, [i]Rachel Getting Married [/i]was definitely one of the better dramas released in 2008.

Repo! The Genetic Opera

I was going to say that the only positive aspect of [I]Repo[/I] is its originality, but after thinking about it, this rock musical isn't even that original. Sure, there's flashes of creative ideas here and there, but most of [I]Repo[/I]'s ideas can easily be traced back to a source - whether it be [I]Blade Runner, Phantom of the Opera, Sweeney Todd[/I], or especially [I]Rocky Horror Picture Show[/I]. I actually enjoyed all those movies ([I]Sweeney Todd[/I] is one of my all-time favorites), so it seems like [I]Repo[/I] would at least work on some level - wrong. I hated every single aspect of this movie. It was absolute torture to sit through the entire thing, I'm honestly not sure how I made it through.

There are so many things wrong with [I]Repo[/I] that I don't quite know where to start. Really, the only positive thing I can say is that it has the shell of a good idea - the idea of a future where organs can be repossessed is pretty cool. Aside from that, this is altogether a disaster. I get that [I]Repo[/I] was supposed to be campy, but even an intentionally bad musical should have good music. All the songs in this were simply awful and way too similar, I can't recall a single memorable song. In addition to that, the visuals are distractingly ugly. Every scene is cloudy-looking and smudged, resulting in a picture that's relentlessly unpleasant to look at as well as to listen to.

The ugliness of [I]Repo[/I]'s music and visuals happens to be present in pretty much every other aspect of the film. Random violence occurs without any sort of meaning, and some of the gore is so disgusting that I nearly threw up at one point - [I]Repo[/I] is every bit as sadistic and tasteless as any of the [I]Saw[/I]s or [I]Hostel[/I]s, except with Paris Hilton and truly wretched music added on top. I'm not sure if I've ever hated a movie more.

Taken
Taken(2009)
½

TAKEN: Exactly what I wanted it to be - a straight-up, B-movie thrill ride that delivers plenty of intensity. [I]Taken[/I] is a simple but effective action flick that kept me totally entertained from beginning to end. The action is effectively brutal and gripping, and Liam Neeson is great in the lead role - completely badass and charismatic. As long as you're not expecting anything more than a simple action flick, [I]Taken[/I] should be a good time at the movies.

THE INTERNATIONAL: Tom Twyker is one of the more promising directors out there today. [I]Run Lola Run[/I] is brilliantly stylish and entertaining, and his [I]Perfume[/I] is one of the most uniquely fascinating films ever made. Therefore, I'm a little disappointed that Twyker is spending his talent on [I]The International[/I], a film with a rather bland script and tired plot. Still, despite the mediocre script, [I]The International[/I] manages to be a relatively good thriller. Clive Owen continues to prove that he might be the best action star out there today, delivering another tough performance that commands your attention. Also, the moody atmosphere works well here - this is more visually interesting than your average thriller, with little of the sometimes-annoying shaky cam. However, what is easily the most impressive aspect of [I]The International[/I] is the much-hyped shootout at the Guggenheim Museum, which is shockingly brutal, intense, and even a little awe-inspiring. That scene alone makes [I]The International[/I] worth a viewing, which is otherwise merely a mildly interesting thriller.

The International

TAKEN: Exactly what I wanted it to be - a straight-up, B-movie thrill ride that delivers plenty of intensity. [I]Taken[/I] is a simple but effective action flick that kept me totally entertained from beginning to end. The action is effectively brutal and gripping, and Liam Neeson is great in the lead role - completely badass and charismatic. As long as you're not expecting anything more than a simple action flick, [I]Taken[/I] should be a good time at the movies.

THE INTERNATIONAL: Tom Twyker is one of the more promising directors out there today. [I]Run Lola Run[/I] is brilliantly stylish and entertaining, and his [I]Perfume[/I] is one of the most uniquely fascinating films ever made. Therefore, I'm a little disappointed that Twyker is spending his talent on [I]The International[/I], a film with a rather bland script and tired plot. Still, despite the mediocre script, [I]The International[/I] manages to be a relatively good thriller. Clive Owen continues to prove that he might be the best action star out there today, delivering another tough performance that commands your attention. Also, the moody atmosphere works well here - this is more visually interesting than your average thriller, with little of the sometimes-annoying shaky cam. However, what is easily the most impressive aspect of [I]The International[/I] is the much-hyped shootout at the Guggenheim Museum, which is shockingly brutal, intense, and even a little awe-inspiring. That scene alone makes [I]The International[/I] worth a viewing, which is otherwise merely a mildly interesting thriller.

Paranoid Park

MILK: Despite the tragic ending, [I]Milk[/I] is one of the most inspirational, optimistic films of the year. The true-life story is something that, to be honest, I knew little about coming in - but it's a very fascinating story brought beautifully to life by Gus Van Sant's direction. However, as touching as the story may have been, I felt a little bit disconnected to [I]Milk[/I], and ultimately underwhelmed. There's little done here, aside from a few artistic flourishes from Van Sant, that distinguishes [I]Milk[/I] from the pack of biopics. It's a fairly interesting take on a fascinating true story that never completely sprang to life for me - I rarely was completely gripped or involved by these characters, instead merely watching from a distance. In fact, some of the best moments are the small, subtle ones - one scene that is especially touching involves a phone call between Milk and a stranger who was inspired by him.

Another much-buzzed aspect of [I]Milk[/I] that left me slightly cold is the performances. Sean Penn and especially Josh Brolin are undeniably good, but nothing about their performances was particularly gripping to me. I thought that James Franco delivered the best performance of the film, creating a clearly-defined character with little screentime. This has been an excellent year for Franco - in both this and [I]Pineapple Express[/I], he has proved that he can tackle both comedy and drama extremely well.

I'm not trying to say that I disliked [I]Milk[/I] on any level - I actually liked it quite a bit - I just was underwhelmed by it, and am not nearly as impressed by the film or the performances as many have been. Still, it is undeniably a good film with its heart in the right place, and worth seeing for the inspirational story it tells.

PARANOID PARK: Gus Van Sant's other film of 2008, and unlike [I]Milk[/I], [I]Paranoid Park[/I] received little attention and slipped quietly between the cracks. A shame, because [I]Paranoid Park[/I] is a quiet, haunting film that deals with horrible subject matter in a beautiful, fascinating way. The central murder mystery is actually very disturbing and sad, but the gentle, warm presentation of the characters and the excellent cinematography and soundtrack make it a strangely enjoyable watch. I also loved the representation of skater culture, and of teenagers in general - it felt much more accurate and genuine than almost any other film I can think of. All-in-all, [I]Paranoid Park[/I] is a sad but also beautiful study of a guilty, confused teen that happens to be one of the best surprises of 2008.

Milk
Milk(2008)
½

MILK: Despite the tragic ending, [I]Milk[/I] is one of the most inspirational, optimistic films of the year. The true-life story is something that, to be honest, I knew little about coming in - but it's a very fascinating story brought beautifully to life by Gus Van Sant's direction. However, as touching as the story may have been, I felt a little bit disconnected to [I]Milk[/I], and ultimately underwhelmed. There's little done here, aside from a few artistic flourishes from Van Sant, that distinguishes [I]Milk[/I] from the pack of biopics. It's a fairly interesting take on a fascinating true story that never completely sprang to life for me - I rarely was completely gripped or involved by these characters, instead merely watching from a distance. In fact, some of the best moments are the small, subtle ones - one scene that is especially touching involves a phone call between Milk and a stranger who was inspired by him.

Another much-buzzed aspect of [I]Milk[/I] that left me slightly cold is the performances. Sean Penn and especially Josh Brolin are undeniably good, but nothing about their performances was particularly gripping to me. I thought that James Franco delivered the best performance of the film, creating a clearly-defined character with little screentime. This has been an excellent year for Franco - in both this and [I]Pineapple Express[/I], he has proved that he can tackle both comedy and drama extremely well.

I'm not trying to say that I disliked [I]Milk[/I] on any level - I actually liked it quite a bit - I just was underwhelmed by it, and am not nearly as impressed by the film or the performances as many have been. Still, it is undeniably a good film with its heart in the right place, and worth seeing for the inspirational story it tells.

PARANOID PARK: Gus Van Sant's other film of 2008, and unlike [I]Milk[/I], [I]Paranoid Park[/I] received little attention and slipped quietly between the cracks. A shame, because [I]Paranoid Park[/I] is a quiet, haunting film that deals with horrible subject matter in a beautiful, fascinating way. The central murder mystery is actually very disturbing and sad, but the gentle, warm presentation of the characters and the excellent cinematography and soundtrack make it a strangely enjoyable watch. I also loved the representation of skater culture, and of teenagers in general - it felt much more accurate and genuine than almost any other film I can think of. All-in-all, [I]Paranoid Park[/I] is a sad but also beautiful study of a guilty, confused teen that happens to be one of the best surprises of 2008.

Coraline
Coraline(2009)

MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO: One of Hayao Miyazaki's very best films, [I]My Neighbor Totoro[/I] is an incredibly charming Japanese fairy tale. I've rarely seen a film capture childhood so well - [I]My Neighbor Totoro[/I] is a nostalgic look back at what it's like to be a kid, Miyazaki perfectly capturing that innocent feel of wonder. It's a creative, joyful adventure that slaps a huge smile on my face whenever I watch it. One of my favorites as a kid, and still a completely delightful, awesome movie. A must-see, one of my favorite animated films in general.

THE SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS MOVIE: It might seem a little bit odd that I'm giving a 9 rating to a movie about Spongebob Squarepants - but my love for this movie is intense. I love absurdist comedy done well, and [I]The Spongebob Squarepants Movie[/I] more than satisfied my need for crazy, surreal humor. It starts out like an average episode of Spongebob Squarepants - meaning, pretty amusing but nothing too wild - but as it progresses, things just turn batshit crazy, culminating in one of the most insanely awesome, hysterical climaxes I can think of. This is one of the most hilarious, off-kilter, wholly original kid's movies since [I]Pee Wee's Big Adventure[/I], and simply a lot of fun. If you're willing to let yourself go to something completely crazy and silly, then you'll surely have a good time.

CORALINE: A wonderful surprise. Despite the fact that it's from the same director as the classic [I]Nightmare Before Christmas[/I], I really wasn't expecting too much out of [I]Coraline[/I] - my expectations were definitely shattered. [I]Coraline[/I] is an extremely entertaining, deliriously creative horror-fantasy that never failed to surprise me. The visuals are astounding and beautiful, and the plot, while familiar, is intriguing and surprisingly creepy. In fact, the most surprising element of [I]Coraline[/I] is just how dark it is - resulting in a spooky-fun film that works like a particularly scary, bizarre funhouse. While [I]Coraline[/I] is not quite in the same class as [I]Nightmare[/I], it manages to be one of the better animated films of the past few years. A trippy, creepy fantasy that turns out to be a very fun watch.

My Neighbor Totoro

MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO: One of Hayao Miyazaki's very best films, [I]My Neighbor Totoro[/I] is an incredibly charming Japanese fairy tale. I've rarely seen a film capture childhood so well - [I]My Neighbor Totoro[/I] is a nostalgic look back at what it's like to be a kid, Miyazaki perfectly capturing that innocent feel of wonder. It's a creative, joyful adventure that slaps a huge smile on my face whenever I watch it. One of my favorites as a kid, and still a completely delightful, awesome movie. A must-see, one of my favorite animated films in general.

THE SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS MOVIE: It might seem a little bit odd that I'm giving a 9 rating to a movie about Spongebob Squarepants - but my love for this movie is intense. I love absurdist comedy done well, and [I]The Spongebob Squarepants Movie[/I] more than satisfied my need for crazy, surreal humor. It starts out like an average episode of Spongebob Squarepants - meaning, pretty amusing but nothing too wild - but as it progresses, things just turn batshit crazy, culminating in one of the most insanely awesome, hysterical climaxes I can think of. This is one of the most hilarious, off-kilter, wholly original kid's movies since [I]Pee Wee's Big Adventure[/I], and simply a lot of fun. If you're willing to let yourself go to something completely crazy and silly, then you'll surely have a good time.

CORALINE: A wonderful surprise. Despite the fact that it's from the same director as the classic [I]Nightmare Before Christmas[/I], I really wasn't expecting too much out of [I]Coraline[/I] - my expectations were definitely shattered. [I]Coraline[/I] is an extremely entertaining, deliriously creative horror-fantasy that never failed to surprise me. The visuals are astounding and beautiful, and the plot, while familiar, is intriguing and surprisingly creepy. In fact, the most surprising element of [I]Coraline[/I] is just how dark it is - resulting in a spooky-fun film that works like a particularly scary, bizarre funhouse. While [I]Coraline[/I] is not quite in the same class as [I]Nightmare[/I], it manages to be one of the better animated films of the past few years. A trippy, creepy fantasy that turns out to be a very fun watch.

The Spongebob Squarepants Movie
½

MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO: One of Hayao Miyazaki's very best films, [I]My Neighbor Totoro[/I] is an incredibly charming Japanese fairy tale. I've rarely seen a film capture childhood so well - [I]My Neighbor Totoro[/I] is a nostalgic look back at what it's like to be a kid, Miyazaki perfectly capturing that innocent feel of wonder. It's a creative, joyful adventure that slaps a huge smile on my face whenever I watch it. One of my favorites as a kid, and still a completely delightful, awesome movie. A must-see, one of my favorite animated films in general.

THE SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS MOVIE: It might seem a little bit odd that I'm giving a 9 rating to a movie about Spongebob Squarepants - but my love for this movie is intense. I love absurdist comedy done well, and [I]The Spongebob Squarepants Movie[/I] more than satisfied my need for crazy, surreal humor. It starts out like an average episode of Spongebob Squarepants - meaning, pretty amusing but nothing too wild - but as it progresses, things just turn batshit crazy, culminating in one of the most insanely awesome, hysterical climaxes I can think of. This is one of the most hilarious, off-kilter, wholly original kid's movies since [I]Pee Wee's Big Adventure[/I], and simply a lot of fun. If you're willing to let yourself go to something completely crazy and silly, then you'll surely have a good time.

CORALINE: A wonderful surprise. Despite the fact that it's from the same director as the classic [I]Nightmare Before Christmas[/I], I really wasn't expecting too much out of [I]Coraline[/I] - my expectations were definitely shattered. [I]Coraline[/I] is an extremely entertaining, deliriously creative horror-fantasy that never failed to surprise me. The visuals are astounding and beautiful, and the plot, while familiar, is intriguing and surprisingly creepy. In fact, the most surprising element of [I]Coraline[/I] is just how dark it is - resulting in a spooky-fun film that works like a particularly scary, bizarre funhouse. While [I]Coraline[/I] is not quite in the same class as [I]Nightmare[/I], it manages to be one of the better animated films of the past few years. A trippy, creepy fantasy that turns out to be a very fun watch.

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
½

NICK AND NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST: I wasn't expecting much from Nick and Norah, and I still managed to be disappointed by it. I'm a big fan of Michael Cera and Kat Dennings, and so I was expecting to like them even if the movie around them turned out mediocre - and both of them were sadly average. Their talent shines through now and then, but they're not given much to do with such dull characters. And the movie around them is actually a little bit worse than mediocre, never unwatchable but rarely more than just boring and predictable. This is coming from someone who has a weak spot for highschool comedies and quirky romances - I still didn't find much to enjoy in Nick and Norah.

THE GO-GETTER: I really don't have much to say about The Go-Getter. Outside of Zooey Deschanel's sweet performance and a couple of beautifully-filmed scenes, I pretty much hated this movie. The main character was creepy and annoying, and the movie as a whole is just bland and awkward. Skip it.

The Go-Getter
½

NICK AND NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST: I wasn't expecting much from Nick and Norah, and I still managed to be disappointed by it. I'm a big fan of Michael Cera and Kat Dennings, and so I was expecting to like them even if the movie around them turned out mediocre - and both of them were sadly average. Their talent shines through now and then, but they're not given much to do with such dull characters. And the movie around them is actually a little bit worse than mediocre, never unwatchable but rarely more than just boring and predictable. This is coming from someone who has a weak spot for highschool comedies and quirky romances - I still didn't find much to enjoy in Nick and Norah.

THE GO-GETTER: I really don't have much to say about The Go-Getter. Outside of Zooey Deschanel's sweet performance and a couple of beautifully-filmed scenes, I pretty much hated this movie. The main character was creepy and annoying, and the movie as a whole is just bland and awkward. Skip it.

Revolutionary Road

THE READER: While I do think that the Best Picture nomination is a bit of a stretch, I'm surprised that The Reader is getting so much flack for being nominated. I do not believe that it's among the very top films of the year, but it's a fascinating, emotionally complex WWII drama that turned out much better than I expected. Really, the only Oscar nomination for The Reader that I find ridiculous is Stephen Daldry's Best Director nod - The Reader succeeds on the story and performances alone. Kate Winslet is every bit as ridiculously incredible in her role as people have been saying - creating a devastatingly sad character who you feel for despite some of the awful things she has done. David Kross also gives an excellent performance and is never outshined by Winslet - not to mention a very brave performance, appearing naked in front of the camera for pretty much the whole first half of the film. The Reader is not what I will be rooting for once Oscar night rolls along, but it's a noble, engrossing effort, and I'm glad that it's getting recognition.

REVOLUTIONARY ROAD: As good as The Reader was, I do believe that Revolutionary Road is the best Kate Winslet film of the year, and her best performance. Winslet is simply stunning here, giving one of the most brave, powerful performances of the year. Her character, April, is incredibly complex, and Winslet does not shy back from how brutally unlikeable April can be at times - yet still makes her completely believable and sympathetic. Also powerful is Leonardo DiCaprio, one of today's most talented young actors, in his best performance yet. It's a shame he was ignored by the Academy. Watching these two powerhouse actors share the screen is fascinating every second, and often terrifyingly real. Add to that a sharp script, and you have a vicious drama that stays with you long after the final scene. Revolutionary Road isn't anything groundbreaking - the themes of the hollowness and secret darkness of suburbia have been done many times before, it's starting to get a little irritating - but it still is a powerful film that will leave you shaken.

The Wrestler
The Wrestler(2008)
½

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode]THE WRESTLER: Darren Aronofsky adds another masterpiece to his belt. This man's talent has not yet failed to amaze me - his films are powerful, raw, and completely unique, and he always manages to coax truly outstanding performances out of his actors. While [i]The Wrestler [/i]is definitely more grounded than [i]The Fountain [/i]and less frenetic than [i]Requiem for a Dream[/i], Aronofsky's incredible power is still clearly visible here. The camerawork is simple and naturalistic, letting the insightful script and brilliant performances take the lead.

Speaking of those performances...wow. Mickey Rourke impressed the hell out of me, delivering what has to be one of the most memorable, strong performances I've ever seen. I don't take statements like that lightly, but I doubt I'll ever forget scenes like Rourke's heartbreaking confession to his daughter, or his final scene of the film. In addition to being emotionally devastating, Rourke gives a very physical performance, taking part in many brutal wrestling scenes (if pro wrestling is truly like this, then I have a newfound respect for the sport). However, Rourke does not overshadow the rest of the cast - Evan Rachel Wood and Marisa Tomei give heartfelt, gutwrenching performances. Watching these three extremely talented actors share the screen is fascinating for every second.

[i]The Wrestler [/i]is the most poignantly straightforward, raw, and real film of 2008. I'm not sure yet if it's the best (there's at least 2 other films that could just as easily take that title), but it's certainly the most powerful. See it, and experience another Aronofsky masterpiece.

GRAN TORINO: One of the best surprises of 2008. I was expecting that [i]Gran Torino [/i]would end up merely an entertaining, slightly ridiculous thriller, and I ended up surprised and delighted that I was completely wrong. [i]Gran Torino [/i]is a touching, gripping mix of comedy and drama that never failed to surprise me. It's always scrappy and rough around the edges, but with tender, funny, and tragic moments that arise when least expected.

Clint Eastwood leads the cast, and does brilliantly. This is one of my favorite performances of the year - Eastwood plays a cranky, mean, racist character who somehow manages to be tremendously likeable. Watching him transform from a bigoted old man into someone much more warm and loving was touching and not nearly as cheesy as I thought it would be. Bee Vang and Ahney Her play Eastwood's Hmong neighbors whom he befriends. Both of them are amateurs and it shows at times, but they still pull out strong performances and prove to be talented young actors who just need a bit of sharpening.

[i]Gran Torino [/i]is incredibly entertaining and powerful, with a rather brilliant ending that I did not see coming. If this truly is Eastwood's last performance, than he definitely capped off his acting career in a perfect way. Ignore the sub-par advertising and see this one, you might be wonderfully surprised like I was.[/font]

Gran Torino
Gran Torino(2009)
½

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode]THE WRESTLER: Darren Aronofsky adds another masterpiece to his belt. This man's talent has not yet failed to amaze me - his films are powerful, raw, and completely unique, and he always manages to coax truly outstanding performances out of his actors. While [i]The Wrestler [/i]is definitely more grounded than [i]The Fountain [/i]and less frenetic than [i]Requiem for a Dream[/i], Aronofsky's incredible power is still clearly visible here. The camerawork is simple and naturalistic, letting the insightful script and brilliant performances take the lead.

Speaking of those performances...wow. Mickey Rourke impressed the hell out of me, delivering what has to be one of the most memorable, strong performances I've ever seen. I don't take statements like that lightly, but I doubt I'll ever forget scenes like Rourke's heartbreaking confession to his daughter, or his final scene of the film. In addition to being emotionally devastating, Rourke gives a very physical performance, taking part in many brutal wrestling scenes (if pro wrestling is truly like this, then I have a newfound respect for the sport). However, Rourke does not overshadow the rest of the cast - Evan Rachel Wood and Marisa Tomei give heartfelt, gutwrenching performances. Watching these three extremely talented actors share the screen is fascinating for every second.

[i]The Wrestler [/i]is the most poignantly straightforward, raw, and real film of 2008. I'm not sure yet if it's the best (there's at least 2 other films that could just as easily take that title), but it's certainly the most powerful. See it, and experience another Aronofsky masterpiece.

GRAN TORINO: One of the best surprises of 2008. I was expecting that [i]Gran Torino [/i]would end up merely an entertaining, slightly ridiculous thriller, and I ended up surprised and delighted that I was completely wrong. [i]Gran Torino [/i]is a touching, gripping mix of comedy and drama that never failed to surprise me. It's always scrappy and rough around the edges, but with tender, funny, and tragic moments that arise when least expected.

Clint Eastwood leads the cast, and does brilliantly. This is one of my favorite performances of the year - Eastwood plays a cranky, mean, racist character who somehow manages to be tremendously likeable. Watching him transform from a bigoted old man into someone much more warm and loving was touching and not nearly as cheesy as I thought it would be. Bee Vang and Ahney Her play Eastwood's Hmong neighbors whom he befriends. Both of them are amateurs and it shows at times, but they still pull out strong performances and prove to be talented young actors who just need a bit of sharpening.

[i]Gran Torino [/i]is incredibly entertaining and powerful, with a rather brilliant ending that I did not see coming. If this truly is Eastwood's last performance, than he definitely capped off his acting career in a perfect way. Ignore the sub-par advertising and see this one, you might be wonderfully surprised like I was.[/font]

Ghost Town
Ghost Town(2008)

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode]VALKYRIE: If you want to get specific, [i]Valkyrie [/i]is more of a 6.5. As a thriller, this movie is totally solid. Although you already know the outcome going in, the film still generates a tremendous amount of suspense. Moments had me absolutely engrossed in their attempts to assassinate Hitler, and watching their plan go wrong is truly gripping. But [i]Valkyrie [/i]does not dig in to the characters or their situation at all. So when tragedy strikes, it left me a bit cold - I hardly felt anything for the characters. Also, Tom Cruise was pretty distracting - you never have one of those wonderful moments where you forget you're watching an actor. It's always Tom Cruise, just with a Nazi uniform on.

SON OF RAMBOW: Starts off extremely well. The first half of [i]Rambow [/i]is wonderful, showing this charming friendship between two very different boys and their very entertaining attempts to make a sequel of sorts to [i]First Blood[/i]. In those first 45 minutes, I thought that I was watching an instant classic among family films - however, I ended up being very disappointed. I've rarely seen a film have such an excellent first half and lacking second half. [i]Son of Rambow [/i]disappears into a boring subplot about a French foreign exhange student, and by the end drifts into obnoxious, over-the-top melodrama that feels awkward after the gentle creativity and fun of the first half. Worth seeing, but set yourself up for disappointment.

GHOST TOWN: An amusing supernatural romantic comedy. [i]Ghost Town [/i]is nothing outstanding and gets a bit tiresome, but it entertains well through its running time. Ricky Gervais is dryly funny, Tea Leoni and Greg Kinnear are solid, and Kristen Wiig steals all of her scenes in a hilarious, too-short role. Nothing spectacular, but it'll do.

HAMLET 2: Bizarre movie. Honestly, once this was over I was kind of wondering what the hell the point of it was, but for the most part I had a good time watching it. Steve Coogan is sort of brilliant in the lead role, providing the most spot-on hilarious parody of a highschool drama teacher I've ever seen. The film is gloriously twisted and original, and often very amusing, but it still feels pointless and a bit worthless. Rock Me Sexy Jesus was brilliant, though!

THE HAPPENING: I used to be an M. Night defender. [i]The Village [/i]was flawed but mesmerizing and totally unique, and [i]Lady in the Water[/i], while silly and weird, was too fascinating and creative to ignore. All my M. Night defending stops here. The man has turned into an arrogant hack, and his [i]The Happening [/i]flat-out sucks. The dialogue is awkward, the film is unintentionally humorous, and usually decent actors do horribly. Mark Wahlberg is laughable, and Zooey Deschanel (who I usually love) seems stiff and beyond awkward. I doubt it is because of their lack of skill, but because of the completely strange dialogue. [i]The Happening [/i]is completely unexciting and preachy - one of 2008's worst.
[/font]

The Happening
½

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode]VALKYRIE: If you want to get specific, [i]Valkyrie [/i]is more of a 6.5. As a thriller, this movie is totally solid. Although you already know the outcome going in, the film still generates a tremendous amount of suspense. Moments had me absolutely engrossed in their attempts to assassinate Hitler, and watching their plan go wrong is truly gripping. But [i]Valkyrie [/i]does not dig in to the characters or their situation at all. So when tragedy strikes, it left me a bit cold - I hardly felt anything for the characters. Also, Tom Cruise was pretty distracting - you never have one of those wonderful moments where you forget you're watching an actor. It's always Tom Cruise, just with a Nazi uniform on.

SON OF RAMBOW: Starts off extremely well. The first half of [i]Rambow [/i]is wonderful, showing this charming friendship between two very different boys and their very entertaining attempts to make a sequel of sorts to [i]First Blood[/i]. In those first 45 minutes, I thought that I was watching an instant classic among family films - however, I ended up being very disappointed. I've rarely seen a film have such an excellent first half and lacking second half. [i]Son of Rambow [/i]disappears into a boring subplot about a French foreign exhange student, and by the end drifts into obnoxious, over-the-top melodrama that feels awkward after the gentle creativity and fun of the first half. Worth seeing, but set yourself up for disappointment.

GHOST TOWN: An amusing supernatural romantic comedy. [i]Ghost Town [/i]is nothing outstanding and gets a bit tiresome, but it entertains well through its running time. Ricky Gervais is dryly funny, Tea Leoni and Greg Kinnear are solid, and Kristen Wiig steals all of her scenes in a hilarious, too-short role. Nothing spectacular, but it'll do.

HAMLET 2: Bizarre movie. Honestly, once this was over I was kind of wondering what the hell the point of it was, but for the most part I had a good time watching it. Steve Coogan is sort of brilliant in the lead role, providing the most spot-on hilarious parody of a highschool drama teacher I've ever seen. The film is gloriously twisted and original, and often very amusing, but it still feels pointless and a bit worthless. Rock Me Sexy Jesus was brilliant, though!

THE HAPPENING: I used to be an M. Night defender. [i]The Village [/i]was flawed but mesmerizing and totally unique, and [i]Lady in the Water[/i], while silly and weird, was too fascinating and creative to ignore. All my M. Night defending stops here. The man has turned into an arrogant hack, and his [i]The Happening [/i]flat-out sucks. The dialogue is awkward, the film is unintentionally humorous, and usually decent actors do horribly. Mark Wahlberg is laughable, and Zooey Deschanel (who I usually love) seems stiff and beyond awkward. I doubt it is because of their lack of skill, but because of the completely strange dialogue. [i]The Happening [/i]is completely unexciting and preachy - one of 2008's worst.
[/font]

Valkyrie
Valkyrie(2008)

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode]VALKYRIE: If you want to get specific, [i]Valkyrie [/i]is more of a 6.5. As a thriller, this movie is totally solid. Although you already know the outcome going in, the film still generates a tremendous amount of suspense. Moments had me absolutely engrossed in their attempts to assassinate Hitler, and watching their plan go wrong is truly gripping. But [i]Valkyrie [/i]does not dig in to the characters or their situation at all. So when tragedy strikes, it left me a bit cold - I hardly felt anything for the characters. Also, Tom Cruise was pretty distracting - you never have one of those wonderful moments where you forget you're watching an actor. It's always Tom Cruise, just with a Nazi uniform on.

SON OF RAMBOW: Starts off extremely well. The first half of [i]Rambow [/i]is wonderful, showing this charming friendship between two very different boys and their very entertaining attempts to make a sequel of sorts to [i]First Blood[/i]. In those first 45 minutes, I thought that I was watching an instant classic among family films - however, I ended up being very disappointed. I've rarely seen a film have such an excellent first half and lacking second half. [i]Son of Rambow [/i]disappears into a boring subplot about a French foreign exhange student, and by the end drifts into obnoxious, over-the-top melodrama that feels awkward after the gentle creativity and fun of the first half. Worth seeing, but set yourself up for disappointment.

GHOST TOWN: An amusing supernatural romantic comedy. [i]Ghost Town [/i]is nothing outstanding and gets a bit tiresome, but it entertains well through its running time. Ricky Gervais is dryly funny, Tea Leoni and Greg Kinnear are solid, and Kristen Wiig steals all of her scenes in a hilarious, too-short role. Nothing spectacular, but it'll do.

HAMLET 2: Bizarre movie. Honestly, once this was over I was kind of wondering what the hell the point of it was, but for the most part I had a good time watching it. Steve Coogan is sort of brilliant in the lead role, providing the most spot-on hilarious parody of a highschool drama teacher I've ever seen. The film is gloriously twisted and original, and often very amusing, but it still feels pointless and a bit worthless. Rock Me Sexy Jesus was brilliant, though!

THE HAPPENING: I used to be an M. Night defender. [i]The Village [/i]was flawed but mesmerizing and totally unique, and [i]Lady in the Water[/i], while silly and weird, was too fascinating and creative to ignore. All my M. Night defending stops here. The man has turned into an arrogant hack, and his [i]The Happening [/i]flat-out sucks. The dialogue is awkward, the film is unintentionally humorous, and usually decent actors do horribly. Mark Wahlberg is laughable, and Zooey Deschanel (who I usually love) seems stiff and beyond awkward. I doubt it is because of their lack of skill, but because of the completely strange dialogue. [i]The Happening [/i]is completely unexciting and preachy - one of 2008's worst.
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Son of Rambow

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode]VALKYRIE: If you want to get specific, [i]Valkyrie [/i]is more of a 6.5. As a thriller, this movie is totally solid. Although you already know the outcome going in, the film still generates a tremendous amount of suspense. Moments had me absolutely engrossed in their attempts to assassinate Hitler, and watching their plan go wrong is truly gripping. But [i]Valkyrie [/i]does not dig in to the characters or their situation at all. So when tragedy strikes, it left me a bit cold - I hardly felt anything for the characters. Also, Tom Cruise was pretty distracting - you never have one of those wonderful moments where you forget you're watching an actor. It's always Tom Cruise, just with a Nazi uniform on.

SON OF RAMBOW: Starts off extremely well. The first half of [i]Rambow [/i]is wonderful, showing this charming friendship between two very different boys and their very entertaining attempts to make a sequel of sorts to [i]First Blood[/i]. In those first 45 minutes, I thought that I was watching an instant classic among family films - however, I ended up being very disappointed. I've rarely seen a film have such an excellent first half and lacking second half. [i]Son of Rambow [/i]disappears into a boring subplot about a French foreign exhange student, and by the end drifts into obnoxious, over-the-top melodrama that feels awkward after the gentle creativity and fun of the first half. Worth seeing, but set yourself up for disappointment.

GHOST TOWN: An amusing supernatural romantic comedy. [i]Ghost Town [/i]is nothing outstanding and gets a bit tiresome, but it entertains well through its running time. Ricky Gervais is dryly funny, Tea Leoni and Greg Kinnear are solid, and Kristen Wiig steals all of her scenes in a hilarious, too-short role. Nothing spectacular, but it'll do.

HAMLET 2: Bizarre movie. Honestly, once this was over I was kind of wondering what the hell the point of it was, but for the most part I had a good time watching it. Steve Coogan is sort of brilliant in the lead role, providing the most spot-on hilarious parody of a highschool drama teacher I've ever seen. The film is gloriously twisted and original, and often very amusing, but it still feels pointless and a bit worthless. Rock Me Sexy Jesus was brilliant, though!

THE HAPPENING: I used to be an M. Night defender. [i]The Village [/i]was flawed but mesmerizing and totally unique, and [i]Lady in the Water[/i], while silly and weird, was too fascinating and creative to ignore. All my M. Night defending stops here. The man has turned into an arrogant hack, and his [i]The Happening [/i]flat-out sucks. The dialogue is awkward, the film is unintentionally humorous, and usually decent actors do horribly. Mark Wahlberg is laughable, and Zooey Deschanel (who I usually love) seems stiff and beyond awkward. I doubt it is because of their lack of skill, but because of the completely strange dialogue. [i]The Happening [/i]is completely unexciting and preachy - one of 2008's worst.
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Hamlet 2
Hamlet 2(2008)

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode]VALKYRIE: If you want to get specific, [i]Valkyrie [/i]is more of a 6.5. As a thriller, this movie is totally solid. Although you already know the outcome going in, the film still generates a tremendous amount of suspense. Moments had me absolutely engrossed in their attempts to assassinate Hitler, and watching their plan go wrong is truly gripping. But [i]Valkyrie [/i]does not dig in to the characters or their situation at all. So when tragedy strikes, it left me a bit cold - I hardly felt anything for the characters. Also, Tom Cruise was pretty distracting - you never have one of those wonderful moments where you forget you're watching an actor. It's always Tom Cruise, just with a Nazi uniform on.

SON OF RAMBOW: Starts off extremely well. The first half of [i]Rambow [/i]is wonderful, showing this charming friendship between two very different boys and their very entertaining attempts to make a sequel of sorts to [i]First Blood[/i]. In those first 45 minutes, I thought that I was watching an instant classic among family films - however, I ended up being very disappointed. I've rarely seen a film have such an excellent first half and lacking second half. [i]Son of Rambow [/i]disappears into a boring subplot about a French foreign exhange student, and by the end drifts into obnoxious, over-the-top melodrama that feels awkward after the gentle creativity and fun of the first half. Worth seeing, but set yourself up for disappointment.

GHOST TOWN: An amusing supernatural romantic comedy. [i]Ghost Town [/i]is nothing outstanding and gets a bit tiresome, but it entertains well through its running time. Ricky Gervais is dryly funny, Tea Leoni and Greg Kinnear are solid, and Kristen Wiig steals all of her scenes in a hilarious, too-short role. Nothing spectacular, but it'll do.

HAMLET 2: Bizarre movie. Honestly, once this was over I was kind of wondering what the hell the point of it was, but for the most part I had a good time watching it. Steve Coogan is sort of brilliant in the lead role, providing the most spot-on hilarious parody of a highschool drama teacher I've ever seen. The film is gloriously twisted and original, and often very amusing, but it still feels pointless and a bit worthless. Rock Me Sexy Jesus was brilliant, though!

THE HAPPENING: I used to be an M. Night defender. [i]The Village [/i]was flawed but mesmerizing and totally unique, and [i]Lady in the Water[/i], while silly and weird, was too fascinating and creative to ignore. All my M. Night defending stops here. The man has turned into an arrogant hack, and his [i]The Happening [/i]flat-out sucks. The dialogue is awkward, the film is unintentionally humorous, and usually decent actors do horribly. Mark Wahlberg is laughable, and Zooey Deschanel (who I usually love) seems stiff and beyond awkward. I doubt it is because of their lack of skill, but because of the completely strange dialogue. [i]The Happening [/i]is completely unexciting and preachy - one of 2008's worst.
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Step Brothers
½

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode]STEP BROTHERS: Will Ferrell's over-the-top jerk act is getting a little old. I hate to say that, because I've loved alot of his past comedies, but now his routine is starting to feel totally predictable and lazy. Actually, that's how I'd describe [i]Step Brothers [/i]as a whole - it's just lazy, and not nearly as funny as it could have been. It wasn't bad enough to be a complete waste of time, but was only occasionally funny and totally forgettable.

CHARLIE BARTLETT: A decent highschool comedy. Aside from an annoying Hope Davis performance, the cast is charming - Kat Dennings in particular. There's really not much else to say, because [i]Charlie Bartlett[/i], while solid entertainment and a good one-time watch, isn't anything special.

YES MAN: Alot of fun. [i]Yes Man [/i]hardly breaks any new ground - it's a cliched romantic comedy at heart, complete with the ending where man loses woman, man chases woman, man gets woman back. The last one-third of [i]Yes Man [/i]strictly follows that much-traveled path, resulting in a drag of a final act. But the irritating lack of originality near the end of [i]Yes Man [/i]is mostly forgivable, since what comes before it is just so much crazy fun. I laughed often, smiled pretty much the whole way through, and actually cared for the characters and their romance. Zooey Deschanel is adorable and awesome as the romantic interest, and the awkwardly hilarious Rhys Darby steals his scenes as Jim Carrey's too-enthusiastic boss.

KUNG FU PANDA: Easily one of the best movies Dreamworks has released. [i]Kung Fu Panda [/i]is just a pleasant surprise. The animation is beautiful and colorful, the action scenes are often stunning and exciting, and the voice actors all fit their characters perfectly. [i]Kung Fu Panda [/i]is hardly a great movie, but it's likeable and creative and has a wonderful sense of fun. [i]WALL-E[/i] is the best animated movie of 2008, but [i]Kung Fu Panda[/i] settles in nicely with a silver medal.

ROLE MODELS: In many ways, this is a similar case to [i]Yes Man[/i] - meaning that it's funny as hell and never boring, but never dares to do much outside of the formula. Because of that, [i]Role Models[/i] feels minor and a bit disposable, but it's still one of the funniest movies of the year. And despite the cliches, there's a slightly anarchic vibe to [i]Role Models[/i] that was very fun - any movie that climaxes with the characters in Kiss make-up while fighting in a staged medeival battle is totally awesome in my book. [i]Role Models[/i] has that and more, including a priceless Jane Lynch as a nutty ex-addict. Hilarious stuff.
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Kung Fu Panda
½

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode]STEP BROTHERS: Will Ferrell's over-the-top jerk act is getting a little old. I hate to say that, because I've loved alot of his past comedies, but now his routine is starting to feel totally predictable and lazy. Actually, that's how I'd describe [i]Step Brothers [/i]as a whole - it's just lazy, and not nearly as funny as it could have been. It wasn't bad enough to be a complete waste of time, but was only occasionally funny and totally forgettable.

CHARLIE BARTLETT: A decent highschool comedy. Aside from an annoying Hope Davis performance, the cast is charming - Kat Dennings in particular. There's really not much else to say, because [i]Charlie Bartlett[/i], while solid entertainment and a good one-time watch, isn't anything special.

YES MAN: Alot of fun. [i]Yes Man [/i]hardly breaks any new ground - it's a cliched romantic comedy at heart, complete with the ending where man loses woman, man chases woman, man gets woman back. The last one-third of [i]Yes Man [/i]strictly follows that much-traveled path, resulting in a drag of a final act. But the irritating lack of originality near the end of [i]Yes Man [/i]is mostly forgivable, since what comes before it is just so much crazy fun. I laughed often, smiled pretty much the whole way through, and actually cared for the characters and their romance. Zooey Deschanel is adorable and awesome as the romantic interest, and the awkwardly hilarious Rhys Darby steals his scenes as Jim Carrey's too-enthusiastic boss.

KUNG FU PANDA: Easily one of the best movies Dreamworks has released. [i]Kung Fu Panda [/i]is just a pleasant surprise. The animation is beautiful and colorful, the action scenes are often stunning and exciting, and the voice actors all fit their characters perfectly. [i]Kung Fu Panda [/i]is hardly a great movie, but it's likeable and creative and has a wonderful sense of fun. [i]WALL-E[/i] is the best animated movie of 2008, but [i]Kung Fu Panda[/i] settles in nicely with a silver medal.

ROLE MODELS: In many ways, this is a similar case to [i]Yes Man[/i] - meaning that it's funny as hell and never boring, but never dares to do much outside of the formula. Because of that, [i]Role Models[/i] feels minor and a bit disposable, but it's still one of the funniest movies of the year. And despite the cliches, there's a slightly anarchic vibe to [i]Role Models[/i] that was very fun - any movie that climaxes with the characters in Kiss make-up while fighting in a staged medeival battle is totally awesome in my book. [i]Role Models[/i] has that and more, including a priceless Jane Lynch as a nutty ex-addict. Hilarious stuff.
[/font]

Charlie Bartlett

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode]STEP BROTHERS: Will Ferrell's over-the-top jerk act is getting a little old. I hate to say that, because I've loved alot of his past comedies, but now his routine is starting to feel totally predictable and lazy. Actually, that's how I'd describe [i]Step Brothers [/i]as a whole - it's just lazy, and not nearly as funny as it could have been. It wasn't bad enough to be a complete waste of time, but was only occasionally funny and totally forgettable.

CHARLIE BARTLETT: A decent highschool comedy. Aside from an annoying Hope Davis performance, the cast is charming - Kat Dennings in particular. There's really not much else to say, because [i]Charlie Bartlett[/i], while solid entertainment and a good one-time watch, isn't anything special.

YES MAN: Alot of fun. [i]Yes Man [/i]hardly breaks any new ground - it's a cliched romantic comedy at heart, complete with the ending where man loses woman, man chases woman, man gets woman back. The last one-third of [i]Yes Man [/i]strictly follows that much-traveled path, resulting in a drag of a final act. But the irritating lack of originality near the end of [i]Yes Man [/i]is mostly forgivable, since what comes before it is just so much crazy fun. I laughed often, smiled pretty much the whole way through, and actually cared for the characters and their romance. Zooey Deschanel is adorable and awesome as the romantic interest, and the awkwardly hilarious Rhys Darby steals his scenes as Jim Carrey's too-enthusiastic boss.

KUNG FU PANDA: Easily one of the best movies Dreamworks has released. [i]Kung Fu Panda [/i]is just a pleasant surprise. The animation is beautiful and colorful, the action scenes are often stunning and exciting, and the voice actors all fit their characters perfectly. [i]Kung Fu Panda [/i]is hardly a great movie, but it's likeable and creative and has a wonderful sense of fun. [i]WALL-E[/i] is the best animated movie of 2008, but [i]Kung Fu Panda[/i] settles in nicely with a silver medal.

ROLE MODELS: In many ways, this is a similar case to [i]Yes Man[/i] - meaning that it's funny as hell and never boring, but never dares to do much outside of the formula. Because of that, [i]Role Models[/i] feels minor and a bit disposable, but it's still one of the funniest movies of the year. And despite the cliches, there's a slightly anarchic vibe to [i]Role Models[/i] that was very fun - any movie that climaxes with the characters in Kiss make-up while fighting in a staged medeival battle is totally awesome in my book. [i]Role Models[/i] has that and more, including a priceless Jane Lynch as a nutty ex-addict. Hilarious stuff.
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Role Models
Role Models(2008)
½

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode]STEP BROTHERS: Will Ferrell's over-the-top jerk act is getting a little old. I hate to say that, because I've loved alot of his past comedies, but now his routine is starting to feel totally predictable and lazy. Actually, that's how I'd describe [i]Step Brothers [/i]as a whole - it's just lazy, and not nearly as funny as it could have been. It wasn't bad enough to be a complete waste of time, but was only occasionally funny and totally forgettable.

CHARLIE BARTLETT: A decent highschool comedy. Aside from an annoying Hope Davis performance, the cast is charming - Kat Dennings in particular. There's really not much else to say, because [i]Charlie Bartlett[/i], while solid entertainment and a good one-time watch, isn't anything special.

YES MAN: Alot of fun. [i]Yes Man [/i]hardly breaks any new ground - it's a cliched romantic comedy at heart, complete with the ending where man loses woman, man chases woman, man gets woman back. The last one-third of [i]Yes Man [/i]strictly follows that much-traveled path, resulting in a drag of a final act. But the irritating lack of originality near the end of [i]Yes Man [/i]is mostly forgivable, since what comes before it is just so much crazy fun. I laughed often, smiled pretty much the whole way through, and actually cared for the characters and their romance. Zooey Deschanel is adorable and awesome as the romantic interest, and the awkwardly hilarious Rhys Darby steals his scenes as Jim Carrey's too-enthusiastic boss.

KUNG FU PANDA: Easily one of the best movies Dreamworks has released. [i]Kung Fu Panda [/i]is just a pleasant surprise. The animation is beautiful and colorful, the action scenes are often stunning and exciting, and the voice actors all fit their characters perfectly. [i]Kung Fu Panda [/i]is hardly a great movie, but it's likeable and creative and has a wonderful sense of fun. [i]WALL-E[/i] is the best animated movie of 2008, but [i]Kung Fu Panda[/i] settles in nicely with a silver medal.

ROLE MODELS: In many ways, this is a similar case to [i]Yes Man[/i] - meaning that it's funny as hell and never boring, but never dares to do much outside of the formula. Because of that, [i]Role Models[/i] feels minor and a bit disposable, but it's still one of the funniest movies of the year. And despite the cliches, there's a slightly anarchic vibe to [i]Role Models[/i] that was very fun - any movie that climaxes with the characters in Kiss make-up while fighting in a staged medeival battle is totally awesome in my book. [i]Role Models[/i] has that and more, including a priceless Jane Lynch as a nutty ex-addict. Hilarious stuff.
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Yes Man
Yes Man(2008)
½

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode]STEP BROTHERS: Will Ferrell's over-the-top jerk act is getting a little old. I hate to say that, because I've loved alot of his past comedies, but now his routine is starting to feel totally predictable and lazy. Actually, that's how I'd describe [i]Step Brothers [/i]as a whole - it's just lazy, and not nearly as funny as it could have been. It wasn't bad enough to be a complete waste of time, but was only occasionally funny and totally forgettable.

CHARLIE BARTLETT: A decent highschool comedy. Aside from an annoying Hope Davis performance, the cast is charming - Kat Dennings in particular. There's really not much else to say, because [i]Charlie Bartlett[/i], while solid entertainment and a good one-time watch, isn't anything special.

YES MAN: Alot of fun. [i]Yes Man [/i]hardly breaks any new ground - it's a cliched romantic comedy at heart, complete with the ending where man loses woman, man chases woman, man gets woman back. The last one-third of [i]Yes Man [/i]strictly follows that much-traveled path, resulting in a drag of a final act. But the irritating lack of originality near the end of [i]Yes Man [/i]is mostly forgivable, since what comes before it is just so much crazy fun. I laughed often, smiled pretty much the whole way through, and actually cared for the characters and their romance. Zooey Deschanel is adorable and awesome as the romantic interest, and the awkwardly hilarious Rhys Darby steals his scenes as Jim Carrey's too-enthusiastic boss.

KUNG FU PANDA: Easily one of the best movies Dreamworks has released. [i]Kung Fu Panda [/i]is just a pleasant surprise. The animation is beautiful and colorful, the action scenes are often stunning and exciting, and the voice actors all fit their characters perfectly. [i]Kung Fu Panda [/i]is hardly a great movie, but it's likeable and creative and has a wonderful sense of fun. [i]WALL-E[/i] is the best animated movie of 2008, but [i]Kung Fu Panda[/i] settles in nicely with a silver medal.

ROLE MODELS: In many ways, this is a similar case to [i]Yes Man[/i] - meaning that it's funny as hell and never boring, but never dares to do much outside of the formula. Because of that, [i]Role Models[/i] feels minor and a bit disposable, but it's still one of the funniest movies of the year. And despite the cliches, there's a slightly anarchic vibe to [i]Role Models[/i] that was very fun - any movie that climaxes with the characters in Kiss make-up while fighting in a staged medeival battle is totally awesome in my book. [i]Role Models[/i] has that and more, including a priceless Jane Lynch as a nutty ex-addict. Hilarious stuff.
[/font]

Eagle Eye
Eagle Eye(2008)

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode]EAGLE EYE: Honestly, I barely remember anything about this movie. It has its entertaining moments, and the car crashes are cool, but nothing else here is worth mentioning. Completely disposable - in fact, why am I giving this a 5? I'm lowering the rating to a 4.

THE HOUSE BUNNY: I should probably be giving this slightly lame comedy a lower rating. [i]The House Bunny [/i]is a plastic comedy with the usual predictable storyline and jokes that are borrowed from other, better comedies. However, this dud is saved by the hilarious Anna Faris, who alone makes the film very entertaining and funny. Mostly because of her, the laughs are decently consistent and the entertainment value stays pretty high. Still, [i]The House Bunny [/i]is essentially a sad [i]Legally Blonde[/i] imitator, it's just been given a boost by an awesome comedic performance.

QUARANTINE: A straight-up remake of the Spanish horror film [i]REC[/i], and definitely the inferior version. They're nearly the same film, with minor changes that greatly hurt [i]Quarantine[/i]. The ending is slightly altered and much less terrifying as a result, and a couple of unnecessary and irritating scenes are added. Also, the acting in [i]REC[/i] was more natural than in [i]Quarantine[/i], and the film was scarier and more believable as a whole. In short, stick with the original.

THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR: The first [i]Mummy [/i]was solid cheesy fun, and [i]Mummy Returns[/i], as bad as it was, had a sense of fun about it. [i]Tomb of the Dragon Emperor[/i], on the other hand, feels like it was merely made for money. There's very little joy or excitement to be found here, it's just a lazy imitation of the past two [i]Mummy [/i]movies - but without their fun or adventure, and plenty of their corniness and stupidity. And it also, for some inexplicable reason, has a scene with fighting Yetis. Hm.

MAMMA MIA: I'm not a huge fan of musicals, there's a couple that I love and a couple that I only mildly enjoy. [i]Mamma Mia [/i]falls into a third category - musicals that drive me insane. It's not that I'm against peppy, silly musicals (I loved [i]Hairspray[/i]), but [i]Mamma Mia [/i]just rubbed me the wrong way. To be fair, I'm probably a bit biased though, because I hate ABBA, and when you combine that with the most over-the-top peppy movie ever - well, it was just too much to handle. Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried are fun to watch, but aside from that, I absolutely couldn't stand [i]Mamma Mia[/i].
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Mamma Mia!
Mamma Mia!(2008)
½

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode]EAGLE EYE: Honestly, I barely remember anything about this movie. It has its entertaining moments, and the car crashes are cool, but nothing else here is worth mentioning. Completely disposable - in fact, why am I giving this a 5? I'm lowering the rating to a 4.

THE HOUSE BUNNY: I should probably be giving this slightly lame comedy a lower rating. [i]The House Bunny [/i]is a plastic comedy with the usual predictable storyline and jokes that are borrowed from other, better comedies. However, this dud is saved by the hilarious Anna Faris, who alone makes the film very entertaining and funny. Mostly because of her, the laughs are decently consistent and the entertainment value stays pretty high. Still, [i]The House Bunny [/i]is essentially a sad [i]Legally Blonde[/i] imitator, it's just been given a boost by an awesome comedic performance.

QUARANTINE: A straight-up remake of the Spanish horror film [i]REC[/i], and definitely the inferior version. They're nearly the same film, with minor changes that greatly hurt [i]Quarantine[/i]. The ending is slightly altered and much less terrifying as a result, and a couple of unnecessary and irritating scenes are added. Also, the acting in [i]REC[/i] was more natural than in [i]Quarantine[/i], and the film was scarier and more believable as a whole. In short, stick with the original.

THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR: The first [i]Mummy [/i]was solid cheesy fun, and [i]Mummy Returns[/i], as bad as it was, had a sense of fun about it. [i]Tomb of the Dragon Emperor[/i], on the other hand, feels like it was merely made for money. There's very little joy or excitement to be found here, it's just a lazy imitation of the past two [i]Mummy [/i]movies - but without their fun or adventure, and plenty of their corniness and stupidity. And it also, for some inexplicable reason, has a scene with fighting Yetis. Hm.

MAMMA MIA: I'm not a huge fan of musicals, there's a couple that I love and a couple that I only mildly enjoy. [i]Mamma Mia [/i]falls into a third category - musicals that drive me insane. It's not that I'm against peppy, silly musicals (I loved [i]Hairspray[/i]), but [i]Mamma Mia [/i]just rubbed me the wrong way. To be fair, I'm probably a bit biased though, because I hate ABBA, and when you combine that with the most over-the-top peppy movie ever - well, it was just too much to handle. Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried are fun to watch, but aside from that, I absolutely couldn't stand [i]Mamma Mia[/i].
[/font]

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
½

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode]EAGLE EYE: Honestly, I barely remember anything about this movie. It has its entertaining moments, and the car crashes are cool, but nothing else here is worth mentioning. Completely disposable - in fact, why am I giving this a 5? I'm lowering the rating to a 4.

THE HOUSE BUNNY: I should probably be giving this slightly lame comedy a lower rating. [i]The House Bunny [/i]is a plastic comedy with the usual predictable storyline and jokes that are borrowed from other, better comedies. However, this dud is saved by the hilarious Anna Faris, who alone makes the film very entertaining and funny. Mostly because of her, the laughs are decently consistent and the entertainment value stays pretty high. Still, [i]The House Bunny [/i]is essentially a sad [i]Legally Blonde[/i] imitator, it's just been given a boost by an awesome comedic performance.

QUARANTINE: A straight-up remake of the Spanish horror film [i]REC[/i], and definitely the inferior version. They're nearly the same film, with minor changes that greatly hurt [i]Quarantine[/i]. The ending is slightly altered and much less terrifying as a result, and a couple of unnecessary and irritating scenes are added. Also, the acting in [i]REC[/i] was more natural than in [i]Quarantine[/i], and the film was scarier and more believable as a whole. In short, stick with the original.

THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR: The first [i]Mummy [/i]was solid cheesy fun, and [i]Mummy Returns[/i], as bad as it was, had a sense of fun about it. [i]Tomb of the Dragon Emperor[/i], on the other hand, feels like it was merely made for money. There's very little joy or excitement to be found here, it's just a lazy imitation of the past two [i]Mummy [/i]movies - but without their fun or adventure, and plenty of their corniness and stupidity. And it also, for some inexplicable reason, has a scene with fighting Yetis. Hm.

MAMMA MIA: I'm not a huge fan of musicals, there's a couple that I love and a couple that I only mildly enjoy. [i]Mamma Mia [/i]falls into a third category - musicals that drive me insane. It's not that I'm against peppy, silly musicals (I loved [i]Hairspray[/i]), but [i]Mamma Mia [/i]just rubbed me the wrong way. To be fair, I'm probably a bit biased though, because I hate ABBA, and when you combine that with the most over-the-top peppy movie ever - well, it was just too much to handle. Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried are fun to watch, but aside from that, I absolutely couldn't stand [i]Mamma Mia[/i].
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Quarantine
Quarantine(2008)

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode]EAGLE EYE: Honestly, I barely remember anything about this movie. It has its entertaining moments, and the car crashes are cool, but nothing else here is worth mentioning. Completely disposable - in fact, why am I giving this a 5? I'm lowering the rating to a 4.

THE HOUSE BUNNY: I should probably be giving this slightly lame comedy a lower rating. [i]The House Bunny [/i]is a plastic comedy with the usual predictable storyline and jokes that are borrowed from other, better comedies. However, this dud is saved by the hilarious Anna Faris, who alone makes the film very entertaining and funny. Mostly because of her, the laughs are decently consistent and the entertainment value stays pretty high. Still, [i]The House Bunny [/i]is essentially a sad [i]Legally Blonde[/i] imitator, it's just been given a boost by an awesome comedic performance.

QUARANTINE: A straight-up remake of the Spanish horror film [i]REC[/i], and definitely the inferior version. They're nearly the same film, with minor changes that greatly hurt [i]Quarantine[/i]. The ending is slightly altered and much less terrifying as a result, and a couple of unnecessary and irritating scenes are added. Also, the acting in [i]REC[/i] was more natural than in [i]Quarantine[/i], and the film was scarier and more believable as a whole. In short, stick with the original.

THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR: The first [i]Mummy [/i]was solid cheesy fun, and [i]Mummy Returns[/i], as bad as it was, had a sense of fun about it. [i]Tomb of the Dragon Emperor[/i], on the other hand, feels like it was merely made for money. There's very little joy or excitement to be found here, it's just a lazy imitation of the past two [i]Mummy [/i]movies - but without their fun or adventure, and plenty of their corniness and stupidity. And it also, for some inexplicable reason, has a scene with fighting Yetis. Hm.

MAMMA MIA: I'm not a huge fan of musicals, there's a couple that I love and a couple that I only mildly enjoy. [i]Mamma Mia [/i]falls into a third category - musicals that drive me insane. It's not that I'm against peppy, silly musicals (I loved [i]Hairspray[/i]), but [i]Mamma Mia [/i]just rubbed me the wrong way. To be fair, I'm probably a bit biased though, because I hate ABBA, and when you combine that with the most over-the-top peppy movie ever - well, it was just too much to handle. Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried are fun to watch, but aside from that, I absolutely couldn't stand [i]Mamma Mia[/i].
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The House Bunny
½

[font=Lucida Sans Unicode]EAGLE EYE: Honestly, I barely remember anything about this movie. It has its entertaining moments, and the car crashes are cool, but nothing else here is worth mentioning. Completely disposable - in fact, why am I giving this a 5? I'm lowering the rating to a 4.

THE HOUSE BUNNY: I should probably be giving this slightly lame comedy a lower rating. [i]The House Bunny [/i]is a plastic comedy with the usual predictable storyline and jokes that are borrowed from other, better comedies. However, this dud is saved by the hilarious Anna Faris, who alone makes the film very entertaining and funny. Mostly because of her, the laughs are decently consistent and the entertainment value stays pretty high. Still, [i]The House Bunny [/i]is essentially a sad [i]Legally Blonde[/i] imitator, it's just been given a boost by an awesome comedic performance.

QUARANTINE: A straight-up remake of the Spanish horror film [i]REC[/i], and definitely the inferior version. They're nearly the same film, with minor changes that greatly hurt [i]Quarantine[/i]. The ending is slightly altered and much less terrifying as a result, and a couple of unnecessary and irritating scenes are added. Also, the acting in [i]REC[/i] was more natural than in [i]Quarantine[/i], and the film was scarier and more believable as a whole. In short, stick with the original.

THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR: The first [i]Mummy [/i]was solid cheesy fun, and [i]Mummy Returns[/i], as bad as it was, had a sense of fun about it. [i]Tomb of the Dragon Emperor[/i], on the other hand, feels like it was merely made for money. There's very little joy or excitement to be found here, it's just a lazy imitation of the past two [i]Mummy [/i]movies - but without their fun or adventure, and plenty of their corniness and stupidity. And it also, for some inexplicable reason, has a scene with fighting Yetis. Hm.

MAMMA MIA: I'm not a huge fan of musicals, there's a couple that I love and a couple that I only mildly enjoy. [i]Mamma Mia [/i]falls into a third category - musicals that drive me insane. It's not that I'm against peppy, silly musicals (I loved [i]Hairspray[/i]), but [i]Mamma Mia [/i]just rubbed me the wrong way. To be fair, I'm probably a bit biased though, because I hate ABBA, and when you combine that with the most over-the-top peppy movie ever - well, it was just too much to handle. Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried are fun to watch, but aside from that, I absolutely couldn't stand [i]Mamma Mia[/i].
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The Spirit
The Spirit(2008)

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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]I knew that I was going to enjoy [i]Sin City[/i], but I had no idea that I was going to be so blown away by it. Not only is [i]Sin City[/i] fun to watch because of its amazingly cool imagery, but it tells multiple gripping stories extremely well. [i]Sin City [/i]is truly never boring, or even mildly uninteresting - from literally the first shot I was hooked. It's a truly explosive piece of entertainment that juggles a huge cast of characters and many complicated storylines without ever feeling rushed or messy. It's simply a tight, swift, epic, and stylish crime picture, full of perfectly over-the-top hardboiled characters and dialogue. One of the most entertaining movies ever made, and certainly a new favorite of mine.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif][i]The Spirit[/i] is a completely different type of movie from Frank Miller - an awful one. [i]Sin City [/i]had interesting characters, actual stories, and some form of coherency - [i]The Spirit [/i]abandons all of that, and is literally all style and no substance. It's an incoherent disaster with vague hints at plotlines and sad attempts at creating interesting characters, but in the end [i]The Spirit [/i]only consists of awkwardly placed hardboiled dialogue and occasionally cool visuals (although the same types of visuals were way more impressive and well-done in [i]Sin City[/i]). But [i]The Spirit [/i]isn't only formless and empty - it's a laughable disaster, a movie so bizarrely miscalculated that it's almost awesome. What was up with Samuel L. Jackson's character's obsession with eggs, why is there a scene where Jackson and Scarlett Johansson randomly wear Nazi uniforms and proceed to melt a cat, and why is an 'action' scene where the Spirit is beaten with a giant wrench and a toilet? I will never know, but the surreal awfulness of [i]The Spirit[/i] places it in a selective class of hilarious, mystifying bad movies such as [i]The Wicker Man [/i]and [i]Catwoman[/i].[/font][/left]
[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif][/font] [/left]

[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]Another weird aspect of [i]The Spirit [/i]is that alot of talent is involved in the making of it, yet it's the worst film I've seen all year. How did that happen? I suppose all fingers can point to Frank Miller - while he co-directed the much much better [i]Sin City[/i], Robert Rodriguez was there to keep him in line. Miller is a very creative man, but he should never be allowed to make another solo project - he needs to have someone guiding him through it, he is an awful scriptwriter and director. The acting is also quite bad, but that's mostly because the dialogue is so unbelievably corny. Samuel L. Jackson is fun and takes the camp level to the extreme, but this is also a sad performance that's a long way from his brilliant work in [i]Pulp Fiction[/i]. It pained me to see one of my favorite young actresses, Scarlett Johansson, in this trash - but she emerged relatively unscathed. Her role is merely boring and not awe-inspiringly awful like some were.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif][i]The Spirit [/i]is actually worth seeing in a way, just to watch something so strangely inept - but if you're expecting something along the lines of [i]300[/i] or [i]Sin City[/i], you'll be shocked and disappointed. One of the biggest cinematic disasters of the decade.[/font][/left]

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]Beautiful and mesmerizing. [i]The Curious Case of Benjamin Button [/i]is definitely a departure for director David Fincher, and I'd say that it's possibly his best film yet (head-to-head with [i]Fight Club[/i]). Even if you are one of [i]Benjamin Button[/i]'s naysayers, it can't be denied that it is technically stunning. The period detail is astounding and gorgeous, and the bar for special effects and makeup is raised by the methods used here to make Pitt, Blanchett and the entire cast look younger and older. [i]Benjamin Button [/i]is simply one of the most visually stunning movies of the year, every scene is gorgeous.[/font][/left]


[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]In addition to the fascinating visuals and stunning effects, [i]Curious Case of Benjamin Button [/i]is hauntingly beautiful on an emotional level. I've rarely walked out of a theater feeling so thoughtful and satisfied by what I had just seen. [i]Benjamin Button [/i]left my mind reeling with thoughts about life, and any film that can stir up such emotions is definitely something special. In fact, any film that can tackle such a huge topic as life, death, and the entire human experience without feeling half-baked is definitely special. Even better, [i]Benjamin Button [/i]is so involving without ever having to resort to melodrama. Many have accused it of being cold and distant, but I disagree - the emotions here are just subtle and quiet. I'm not against extreme emotions put on film, but the lack of hysterics here was refreshing. I also loved the small side-details in [i]Benjamin Button[/i] - such as the clock that ran backwards and the amusing mini-scenes about the man who was struck by lightning seven times - scenes like those were among the most charming, haunting segments of [i]Benjamin Button.[/i][/font][/left]
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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]It's no wonder that [i]Benjamin Button [/i]has stirred up so much awards buzz. Not only is it beautifully directed and well-written, but the performances are magic. Brad Pitt delivers one of the best roles of his lifetime as Benjamin - a quiet, sad, but hopeful character. Pitt is especially stunning in his scenes as a child in an old man's body, you truly forget that you're watching an ultra-famous star who is all over the tabloids, and not just because of the make-up. Cate Blanchett is expectedly solid as Daisy, a character who isn't always likeable but never fails to be interesting, and turns out sympathetic as the film goes on. However, arguably the best performance here comes from Taraji Henson as Benjamin's warm, loveable surrogate mother - she lights up the screen.[/font][/left]


[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]While I'm not one of the people who found [i]Benjamin Button [/i]an overlong drag to sit through - there were very few moments where I felt the long running time - I do agree that about 10-15 superfluous minutes could've easily been cut out. However, that's one of the very few problems I have with [i]Benjamin Button[/i], a film which is close to a masterpiece.[/font][/left]

CJ7
CJ7(2008)
½

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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]Almost, but not quite. [i]CJ7 [/i]is definitely unique, and much more interesting than most live-action kid's films being released nowadays, but is maddeningly uneven. It spastically changes tones from over-the-top cartoonish to realism to tragedy without any warning, resulting in a film that is awkward and often disappointing. Just when I started getting involved and thinking 'hey, this is getting pretty good', the film changes gears and loses me again. Because of this [i]CJ7 [/i]is frustrating to watch, although I suppose it was worth seeing once for the occasional enchanting moments throughout. The only constantly good element to the film is Jiao Xu as Dicky, who happens to be a girl who plays a 10-year old boy better than most 10-year old boys could. Overall, [i]CJ7[/i] is one of the most interesting failures of the year so far.[/font][/left]

Carrie
Carrie(1976)

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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]Among the most memorable horror films of the 70s. [i]Carrie [/i]isn't very frightening, but it's ten times more imaginative and emotionally involving than your average horror flick. The performances are also much better than they have any right to be in a B-movie - Sissy Spacek is amazing as Carrie, making us feel her pain, and when she finally snaps in the brilliant prom scene she turns rather scary but remains sympathetic. Brian dePalma's direction is awesome - he goes all out here, using relatively underused editing techniques so well that you wonder why they aren't used more often. [i]Carrie [/i]is simply a campy B-movie at heart, but Sissy Spacek's heartbreaking performance and the surreal style of the film make it a horror classic.[/font][/left]

Dawn of the Dead
½

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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]Aside from John Carpenter's [i]The Thing[/i], Zack Snyder's [i]Dawn of the Dead[/i] is the best horror remake I can think of at the moment. This reimagining of George Romero's classic, which I consider the best zombie flick out there, is smashingly entertaining and well-done. It's ruthless and brutal, and delivers a nice shot of adrenaline. One of the better horror films of recent years, it doesn't hold a candle to the characters and all-around charm of the original, but manages to be what so few modern horror films are - unpredictable and genuinely intense.[/font][/left]

House of Sand and Fog
½

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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]Ben Kingsley and Jennifer Connelly give two powerful performances in the mournful [i]House of Sand and Fog[/i]. It's an extremely depressing film that doesn't pull any punches (actually, it probably goes a little too over-the-top in its attempts to be tragic), but it's definitely worth seeing, mostly because of the two performances mentioned. Kingsley is brilliant and gutwrenching, and Connelly sells the deep pain of her character so well that it's almost embarassing to watch. Both of them were Oscar-worthy, and this great melodrama should've received more attention in general.[/font][/left]

Y Tu Mama Tambien

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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]Alfonso Cuaron is one cool guy. I love any director who can have such a wide and consistently fantastic filmography - [i]Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban[/i], [i]Children of Men[/i], and the real, engrossing [i]Y Tu Mama Tambien[/i]. [i]Y Tu Mama [/i]is the definition of daring filmmaking, with strong sexuality/nudity and gritty but strangely beautiful cinematography. The ensemble cast is excellent, with Maribel Verdu, Gael Garcia Bernal, and Diego Luna all turning in totally believable performances. I wouldn't call this a masterpiece, although it is a great film, and I could see my rating jumping up a bit on a second viewing. The quietly sad ending definitely changes your perspective on the film.[/font][/left]

Get Smart
Get Smart(2008)

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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]Not completely awful - I suppose that it's competently made on some levels - but [i]Get Smart[/i] simply isn't funny. I literally laughed once (at Bill Murray's cameo - in a tree), and the rest of the movie sat quietly in the theater - which was a slightly depressing experience, since I'm sure that there were many points where I was supposed to be dying of laughter. I expected to at least be mildly amused by this because of Steve Carrell's usually hilarious prescence, but his talents felt a bit wasted here - I could say the same for Anne Hathaway. She tries, I'll give her that, but her character was annoying and rather boring - some adjectives that perfectly describe the whole movie. It also irritated me that [i]Get Smart [/i]tried so desperately to reach all ages - most of the humor is a little childish, with some PG-13 humor shuffled in to keep the parents happy. The slightly more adult humor feels ugly and unnecessary when placed in what is otherwise a kid's film. There are movies out there that are worse than [i]Get Smart[/i], but it was a fairly pathetic movie that did absolutely nothing for me.[/font][/left]

Twilight
Twilight(2008)
½

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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]If [i]Twilight [/i]has been a pilot for a TV show, I actually would've been fairly impressed. But it's a movie being released in theaters, and by that standard, it's completely mediocre. Everything about is fairly competent but merely average, nothing sticks out as particularly special. [i]Twilight [/i]simply plays everything too safe, and often turns pretty cheesy (the vampire baseball scene was awful). With that being said, though, [i]Twilight [/i]is decent entertainment. I can't say that I was ever carried away by the plot or characters, but I was never bored by them either. Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson both are fine leads, although I get the feeling that they're capable of much better performances than this. In fact, everyone on board [i]Twilight [/i]seems capable of better than this - there was talent behind this film, it just feels very much like a studio-controlled movie, that truly doesn't do anything unique or memorable. So [i]Twilight [/i]simply ends up being mildly diverting but bland and forgettable, which isn't what a movie entirely about blood-sucking vampires and falling in love should be like.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]And I have actually read the book Twilight, and while I have my problems with it, it's definitely better than the mostly pulse-free movie version. It captures the dangerous aspect of Edward much better than the movie does, and also makes the love story believable and exciting. Even though I think that it's a pretty overrated book (some people are calling it the new Harry Potter, and I don't think it's anywhere near that level), it's overall quite good and worth reading.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif][i]Let the Right One In [/i]is just undeniably good. A moody, sometimes gentle, often creepy coming-of-age drama - with vampires. This movie is just entirely unique. It offers up a unique mix of disturbing, creepy violence and the sweetness of two lonely kids falling in love. The movie works for many reasons - one of them being the often incredible cinematography. I can't remember the last time a horror movie looked this good. Also, the two leads here are a fantastic pair of young actors. I'm usually not a fan of child actors, but I can't remember one moment where I was unconvinced by either of their performances. Also, the vampire elements here were done perfectly - the violence is portrayed in a frighteningly straightforward, cold way. [i]Let the Right One In[/i]'s main goal isn't to scare the audience, but it still managed to send chills down my spine. All the violence and well-built relationships spin into the unforgettable climax that is executed in a jaw-dropping manner - that pool scene is one of the most memorable scenes I've seen in a movie this year.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]Although I greatly admired and was fascinated by [i]Let the Right One In[/i], for some reason I didn't quite love it, and I can't pin down why. With the exception of one hilariously corny scene involving CGI cats, I couldn't point out any major flaws here. It might just have been because I watched this online - something I don't really enjoy doing, but I didn't want to have to wait until May or something ridiculous to watch this. So I'll watch this again on DVD, and maybe my opinion of [i]Let the Right One In [/i]will change from 'pretty damn good' to 'mindblowing.'[/font][/left]

Let the Right One In

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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]If [i]Twilight [/i]has been a pilot for a TV show, I actually would've been fairly impressed. But it's a movie being released in theaters, and by that standard, it's completely mediocre. Everything about is fairly competent but merely average, nothing sticks out as particularly special. [i]Twilight [/i]simply plays everything too safe, and often turns pretty cheesy (the vampire baseball scene was awful). With that being said, though, [i]Twilight [/i]is decent entertainment. I can't say that I was ever carried away by the plot or characters, but I was never bored by them either. Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson both are fine leads, although I get the feeling that they're capable of much better performances than this. In fact, everyone on board [i]Twilight [/i]seems capable of better than this - there was talent behind this film, it just feels very much like a studio-controlled movie, that truly doesn't do anything unique or memorable. So [i]Twilight [/i]simply ends up being mildly diverting but bland and forgettable, which isn't what a movie entirely about blood-sucking vampires and falling in love should be like.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif][/font] [/left]

[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]And I have actually read the book Twilight, and while I have my problems with it, it's definitely better than the mostly pulse-free movie version. It captures the dangerous aspect of Edward much better than the movie does, and also makes the love story believable and exciting. Even though I think that it's a pretty overrated book (some people are calling it the new Harry Potter, and I don't think it's anywhere near that level), it's overall quite good and worth reading.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif][i]Let the Right One In [/i]is just undeniably good. A moody, sometimes gentle, often creepy coming-of-age drama - with vampires. This movie is just entirely unique. It offers up a unique mix of disturbing, creepy violence and the sweetness of two lonely kids falling in love. The movie works for many reasons - one of them being the often incredible cinematography. I can't remember the last time a horror movie looked this good. Also, the two leads here are a fantastic pair of young actors. I'm usually not a fan of child actors, but I can't remember one moment where I was unconvinced by either of their performances. Also, the vampire elements here were done perfectly - the violence is portrayed in a frighteningly straightforward, cold way. [i]Let the Right One In[/i]'s main goal isn't to scare the audience, but it still managed to send chills down my spine. All the violence and well-built relationships spin into the unforgettable climax that is executed in a jaw-dropping manner - that pool scene is one of the most memorable scenes I've seen in a movie this year.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]Although I greatly admired and was fascinated by [i]Let the Right One In[/i], for some reason I didn't quite love it, and I can't pin down why. With the exception of one hilariously corny scene involving CGI cats, I couldn't point out any major flaws here. It might just have been because I watched this online - something I don't really enjoy doing, but I didn't want to have to wait until May or something ridiculous to watch this. So I'll watch this again on DVD, and maybe my opinion of [i]Let the Right One In [/i]will change from 'pretty damn good' to 'mindblowing.'[/font][/left]

Rebecca
Rebecca(1940)

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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]Hitchcock has to be my all-time favorite director. Even his lesser films have a special quality to them, and the amount of great films and flat-out masterpieces he's made is ridiculously impressive. I've been a Hitchcock fan for a while now (actually, his [i]Rear Window [/i]is a huge reason why I've become a movie buff), and I thought that I'd covered pretty much all of his essential films. So [i]Rebecca [/i]turned out to be quite a surprise - it's absolutely brilliant, one of his very best films.[/font][/left]


[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]While [i]Rebecca [/i]may not be a typical Hitchcock thriller, it's one of his most fascinating, chilling works. The way the story and characters gradually unfold, revealing surprising layers you didn't see before, is hypnotic and tense. In fact, [i]Rebecca [/i]has among the best-built tension I've ever seen in a movie - it's very unpredictable, with a series of brilliant twists in plot and character leading to a very memorable conclusion. And while [i]Rebecca[/i] has a brilliant script, what really makes this masterpiece come to life is the direction and the performances. As usual, Hitchcock's directing is incredible - he makes [i]Rebecca [/i]visually stunning, with a chilling atmosphere. And while I usually don't enjoy 40's-era acting, the performances here are magnificient. Joan Fontaine earned a Best Actress Oscar for her work here, and it's not hard to see why. Her character (only referred to as the second Mrs. de Winter) starts out likeably innocent but almost irritatingly weak, and by the end of the film has turned strong, serious, and self-dependent - she pulls off the character arc perfectly. The other standout here is Judith Anderson as the quietly sadistic Mrs. Danvers, who was spot-on in her evil performance - the scene with her and Rebecca by the open window may be one of the most spine-chilling moments on film.[/font][/left]


[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]All-in-all, [i]Rebecca [/i]is simply perfect. It's suspenseful, intriguiging, and darkly romantic - a masterpiece in every possible way. Although keep in mind that a couple of moments in the first third of the film feel a little bit awkward - at first I thought these awkward moments were unintentional, but after watching the whole film, I realized that they made complete sense with the characters.[/font][/left]


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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]After watching [i]Rebecca[/i], I began wondering which Hitchcock movies are truly the best - so here's my favorite Hitchcocks that I've seen so far:[/font][/left]


[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif][b][color=white]10. Spellbound / Lifeboat [/color][/b]- I really couldn't decide which one of these to give the #10 slot to, so I'll just cheat and go with a tie. [i]Spellbound [/i]is suspenseful fun, brilliantly filmed and with knockout dream sequences. [i]Lifeboat [/i]is one of Hitchcock's most underrated - a fascinating character-based drama.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif][b][color=white]9. North by Northwest [/color][/b]- An extremely entertaining, inventive thriller. Not boring for a second.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif][b][color=white]8. Shadow of a Doubt[/color][/b] - Unsettling and dark. A masterful drama/thriller.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif][color=white][b]7. Rope[/b][/color] - A fun, cool murder-mystery. The tension builds beautifully.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif][b][color=white]6. Vertigo[/color][/b] - A work of art. Nobody's going to argue that it's Hitchcock's most entertaining, fun film, but it's one of his most fascinating, unusual, and complex.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif][color=white][b]5. The Birds[/b][/color] - One of the best horror films of all-time. Brilliantly filmed, surprisingly intense, and blackly funny, complete with a colorful cast of characters.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif][color=white][b]4. Strangers on a Train[/b][/color] - Not among Hitchcock's most complex movies, but it perhaps best shows off his offbeat, morbid sense of humor and ability to create suspense.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif][color=white][b]3. Rebecca[/b][/color] - The review explains everything.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif][color=white][b]2. Psycho[/b][/color] - Ground-breaking, hypnotic, and still shocking to this day. A perfect film.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif][b][color=white]1. Rear Window[/color][/b] - I'm not quite sure if [i]Rear Window [/i]is truly Hitchcock's [i]best[/i] - I could argue for almost any of the films on this list being his best - but I do know that it's my favorite of his, and one of my all-time favorites. Suspenseful, funny, romantic, and classy - cinematic gold.[/font][/left]

Australia
Australia(2008)
½

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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif][i]Australia [/i]isn't a very good movie, but it's not for a lack of trying. It's an incredibly hard film to give a rating to - it's massively ambitious, often entertaining, and has quite a few scenes that are fairly close to great - so I feel a little bit strange giving it a rotten rating. Even though I'm giving [i]Australia [/i]a borderline rotten, I don't discourage you from one second for seeing it. [i]Australia [/i]may be a failure overall, but it has its moments, and is more memorable and ambitious than many films that I've actually given a fresh rating to.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]With that being said, [i]Australia [/i]is one gigantic mess. Stunning visuals and an epic story don't hide the fact that the characters seem fairly lifeless. There were occasional sparks of chemistry between Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman's characters (including one of the film's best scenes involving a kiss in the rain), but for the most part, I found both of them a bit dull. The same goes for the minor characters - whenever one of them died or was in danger, I found that I truly couldn't force myself to care about them, which never is a good sign.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]In addition to there being a lack of strong characters to hold on to, [i]Australia[/i] is just too damn long. It stuffs too many plotlines and characters and genres into its running time, resulting in a marathon of a movie that drags on and on. The different 'sections' of [i]Australia [/i]are often pretty good standing on their own, but when they're all shoved together without order in one movie, it just makes the whole thing feel plotless, tedious, and way overlong. Luhrmann may be a creative and ambitious director, but he just doesn't know when to quit. [i]Australia [/i]suffers from his excess and ends up feeling about an hour too long.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif][i]Australia [/i]isn't an awful film by any means, and with the exception of a few cheesy moments, isn't even a bad one. It just happens to be a huge, exhausting, occasionally spectacular, mostly diverting mixed bag. Luhrmann needs to organize his films better and flesh out his characters more - if he had done that to [i]Australia[/i], I'm sure I would've been writing a much different review. There are glimmers of a very good film here - especially the stunningly beautiful first few minutes - it just felt like an unfinished product that needed serious editing.[/font][/left]

Harold and Maude

[center][font=Microsoft Sans Serif][i]"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves, you can't let the world judge you too much."[/i][/font][/center]
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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]One of those extremely rare films that is not only perfect and a personal favorite, but also inspired me to change as a person. [i]Harold and Maude [/i]is a brilliant celebration of life. Despite some very morbid humor and a tragic turn near the ending, it's an optimistic, joyful movie that celebrates love in all forms. The romance between Harold and Maude is one of the sweetest, most rewarding I've ever seen in a movie - both characters are so fascinating. Maude is hilarious and a joy to watch, played brilliantly by Ruth Gordon in one of my favorite performances. Bud Cort is equally amazing if not better - his Harold is quiet and often creepy, but also completely likeable and sometimes hilarious (the scene where he slowly smiles at the camera is completely classic). [i]Harold and Maude [/i]also has what I believe is one of the best soundtracks ever, entirely consisting of Cat Stevens songs that fit the mood and themes of the film perfectly.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]My smile couldn't have been bigger while watching [i]Harold and Maude[/i]. It's a truly beautiful movie with a knockout bittersweet ending. It happens to be morbidly hilarious, wildly offbeat, and sweetly romantic - it simply fit my tastes perfectly. Fits very nicely on my new Top 10.[/font][/left]

Quantum of Solace

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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]I'm just going to go ahead and get this out of the way: [i]Quantum of Solace [/i]is not as good as [i]Casino Royale [/i]was. However, that would've been near-impossible, considering that [i]Casino Royale [/i]was, in my mind, a perfect Bond film - with more excitement and intensity than almost any action films out there, a more convincing romance than almost all Hollywood romances I've seen lately, and more interesting characters and emotional impact than many dramas can pull off. Not to mention it had one of the very best Bond girls in history in the beautiful, intelligent Vesper Lynd. So [i]Quantum of Solace [/i]had alot to live up to, and it doesn't quite reach the soaring heights of its classic prequel. But at the same time, it would be hard to call the endlessly impressive [i]Quantum [/i]a disappointing follow-up. It has some of the most breathtaking action and excitement I've seen in a movie in quite a while, and still carries some surprising emotional impact. The story and villian are a bit lacking, but it's hard to complain when the entertainment value is so incredibly high.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]In fact, I can't recall a moment during [i]Quantum of Solace [/i]where I was ever bored or even mildly uninterested. It's a ridiculously entertaining, recklessly action-packed adventure that rarely stops for breath. The action is quick, vicious, astounding, and creatively choreographed - the only scene I wasn't particularly fond of was when Bond and his opponent were swinging from the ropes. It seemed too cartoonish and unrealistic compared to the rest of the film. However, besides that, I have no complaint about the action - the level of excitement and suspense in [i]Quantum [/i]is off-the-charts.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif][/font] [/left]

[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]The new Bond girls in [i]Quantum [/i]are the vengeful Camille, played by the stunning Olga Kurylenko, and the MI6 agent Ms. Fields, played by the equally gorgeous Gemma Arterton. While neither of them are up to the level of Vesper Lynd, they're both among my favorite Bond girls, and bring something interesting to the table besides eye candy. I loved Kurylenko in this, while some of her line readings were a bit awkward, she pulled off the toughness, anger, and vunerability in Camille perfectly, making her one of the most unique and interesting Bond girls ever. Gemma Arterton did equally well in her smaller role, creating a smart and funny character who lit up the screen.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]Daniel Craig proves here that he totally owns the role of Bond. Sean Connery will likely always be my favorite 007, but Craig pulls off the role in an equally memorable, unique way. He's a complete badass, and often a cold, near-psychotic killer, yet he somehow makes the humanity within Bond clearly visible. I love that [i]Quantum [/i]and [i]Royale [/i]have both dared to characterize Bond, it gives both of the films an emotional, human edge that was missing in all the past 007 adventures. It's a refreshing change that, along with a grittier style, has helped revitalize the formerly drooping franchise. It's among the better Bond movies, and I believe that I will love it even more on repeat viewings. Oh, and I absolutely loved the modernized tribute to [i]Goldfinger[/i], that was brilliant.[/font][/left]

Failure to Launch

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[center][i][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]*I didn't want to put up a picture of this lame film's ugly poster - this picture of the awesome Ms. Deschanel, my future wife, is much less repulsive.[/font][/i][/center]
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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]As said above, [i]Failure to Launch [/i]is lame. I can't stand Matthew McConaughney, and he and Sarah Jessica Parker have very little chemistry together. I didn't buy their romance at all, and even a cookiecutter Hollywood rom-com should at the very least have a convincing romance at the center. In addition to that, [i]Failure to Launch [/i]is just generally too ridiculous. Lots of the attempts at humor are cringe-inducing, including a weirdly frequent amount of scenes involving fake-looking animals attacking people. These were some of the most jaw-droppingly pathetic, sad attempts at humor I've seen in a while. To be fair, [i]Failure to Launch [/i]does have its charming moments - I laughed here and there, and it wasn't unbearable to sit through for the most part.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Microsoft Sans Serif]However, pretty much all of the charming moments and laughs came from the lovely, hilarious Zooey Deschanel. Without her, [i]Failure to Launch [/i]would probably be torture, but every scene with her hilarious prescense is instant gold.[/font][/left]

Happy-Go-Lucky
½

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[left][font=Lucida Sans Unicode][i]Happy-Go-Lucky [/i]is a bit too plotless and overlong to be a great film overall, but it's definitely a great character study. By the time it was over, I felt like I had gotten to know a new group of individuals, instead of just watching them for two hours. That's a feeling that movies very rarely achieve, and full credit goes to Mike Leigh's natural dialogue and the performances of the cast. Sally Hawkins in the lead role is every bit as awesome as everyone has been saying - she creates one of the most fascinating, memorable characters of the year in Poppy. In addition to being hilarious and peppy without ever feeling unnatural, Sally Hawkins perfectly captures the more sad, serious side that occasionally emerges in Poppy. Hawkins is the main reason why [i]Happy-Go-Lucky[/i] is a success, while I found the film overlong and a bit too rambling, it's a must-see for her smile-inducing performance alone. Unfortunately, I can't praise Eddie Marsan's performance as the terminally angry driving instructor Scott nearly as much. Hawkins pulls off her character's constant over-the-top happiness with seeming ease and makes it all seem natural, but Marsan fails to make his character believable or even interesting. That's a shame, since much of the movie is spent around Poppy and Scott on their driving lessons - I found these scenes rather dull, repetitive, and annoying.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Lucida Sans Unicode]Although it fails to pull off the main dramatic conflict between Poppy and Scott, I found that [i]Happy-Go-Lucky[/i] was still a very good movie. I enjoyed spending time with most of these characters, and many more scenes than one put a huge smile on my face. [i]Happy-Go-Lucky[/i] isn't something I'll sit through a second time, but it's well worth one viewing.[/font][/left]

Zack and Miri Make a Porno
½

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[left][font=Arial Black]I probably liked [i]Zack and Miri Make a Porno [/i]a bit more than I should have. I could easily pick this movie apart if I wanted to - it's immature, a couple of jokes fall completely flat, and if you strip away the porn aspects, it's a completely formulaic Hollywood romance. But [i]Zack and Miri [/i]is far too sweet and enjoyable to dismiss, and although many jokes are way off target, I still found myself laughing out loud a healty amount of times. It's a laid-back, completely entertaining flick that doesn't require much brain activity - I just sat back and enjoyed the Apatow-esque mix of raunchy sex humor and much more gentle romance. Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks are both perfect fits for their characters, and the smaller roles are all filled in really well, especially Justin Long, who only appears for a few minutes but was completely hilarious. The standout in the cast here is Craig Robinson, whose had scene-stealing cameos in [i]The Office [/i]and [i]Knocked Up[/i] - here he gets a larger role, and still manages to steal every scene he's in. If Robinson ever gets a starring role in a comedy like this, then sign me the hell up.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Arial Black]Overall, [i]Zack and Miri [/i]is a totally solid comedy. It's nowhere near the level of the other raunchy rom-com of 2008, [i]Forgetting Sarah Marshall[/i], but there's still plenty of fun to be found here. This was actually my first Kevin Smith film, and it won't be my last.[/font][/left]

The 40 Year Old Virgin

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[left][font=Arial Black][i]The 40 Year-Old Virgin [/i]was the absolutely awesome arrival of two comedy powerhouses: Steve Carrell and Judd Apatow. It was Steve Carrell's first starring role after scene-stealing cameos in [i]Bruce Almighty[/i] and [i]Anchorman[/i], and he knocks it out of the park. Carrell is believable, sweet, loveable, and, above all, ridiculously funny. He's the perfect center to this Judd Apatow written-and-directed modern comedy classic. But no matter how awesome Carrell may be, [i]Virgin [/i]isn't a one-man show. Actually, the amount of comic talent that Apatow somehow stuffed into his movie is mindblowing. I hate to get into long-winded lists, but right now I'm going to have to anyways - Catherine Keener, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Jane Lynch, Kat Jennings, Elizabeth Banks, Leslie Mann, and Jonah Hill as a creepy eBay customer all in one movie? That's pretty damn impressive. With that much talent on board, it's no wonder that [i]The 40 Year-Old Virgin [/i]basically revived the comedy genre. It's the best, funniest, most likeable comedy that came out in 2005, I loved it.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Arial Black]I saw [i]Superbad [/i]in theaters and wasn't too impressed by it, but after hearing endless amounts of praise, and after watching other Apatow & Co flicks and loving them, I decided to give [i]Superbad [/i]another shot. Good choice. It's absolutely hysterical, entertaining, and surprisingly real. The way it portrayed highschoolers and highschool in general was dead-on accurate, right down to the dialogue and constant awkward insecurity. The subplot about McLovin and the two cops took away from the natural feel of the rest of the movie, but I didn't really care because their wacky adventures were just so fucking hilarious. The entire thing is funny as hell, with the exception of a few slow patches where the comedy seems to run dry and rely simply on a string of cuss words. However, for the most part [i]Superbad [/i]is awesome entertainment - real, real funny and just a good time in general.[/font][/left]

The Descent
The Descent(2006)

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[left][font=Arial Black][i]The Omen [/i]is a fantastic horror classic. It's a well-acted, well-directed, all-around well-done movie with a good enough cast to get the job done. The entire movie is incredibly atmospheric, even the relatively normal scenes have a slightly unsettling vibe, and [i]The Omen [/i]can also be creepy as hell when it wants to be. There were a couple of standout sequences that especially made my skin crawl, that infamous tricycle scene included, and anything involving Damien's truly creepy nanny. Overall, [i]The Omen [/i]is a totally solid, stylish, eerie film that deserves its status as a classic. As far as devil-related horror goes, this one is a notch below [i]The Exorcist [/i]and [i]Rosemary's Baby[/i], but it easily takes a very respectable bronze.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Arial Black]I'm often creeped out or unnerved by movies, but I'm always surprised when I find one that [i]really[/i] scares or disturbs me - and [i]The Descent[/i] was definitely a jarring surprise. It's one of the few films of the past five or ten years that I would unhesitatingly call an instant horror classic - the film's power to unnerve and disturb is undeniable. [i]The Descent [/i]sets up the characters perfectly, they're a very believable group of women who are easy to get attatched to. That's the film's main success, and the reason why it's so hard to watch - watching a group of perfectly likeable people get slaughtered in the most brutal ways isn't exactly a fun time. Most horror films don't convey a sense of sadness or tragedy when the characters die because they don't seem like real people, here I actually didn't want any of them to die, and it was horribly disturbing to see them gruesomely killed one-by-one. Another reason that [i]The Descent [/i]is such a success is because it's deeper than most other horror flicks - it may seem like another bloody monster movie, but there's a gutwrenching, surprisingly thought-provoking message here about [i]the[/i] depths one would go to for vengeance. And the final reason why [i]The Descent [/i]is fantastic is Neil Marshall's truly brilliant direction - he amplifies the tension to almost unbearable levels using top-notch cinematography. I'm usually not a fan of Marshall, but I give him major props for creating this vicious, non-stop fright flick. The only problem I have with [i]The Descent [/i]is the ending - I don't mind that it was bleak, I just thought that the way it was done seemed confusing and didn't fit in with the rest of the film. Maybe my thoughts will change on a second viewing.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Arial Black][/font] [/left]

[center][img]http://i34.tinypic.com/w7bib4.jpg[/img][/center]
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[left][font=Arial Black]I could easily sum up my thoughts on [i]Hocus Pocus [/i]in three words: fun, but bad. It's sloppy, overly goofy and corny, and has 'made-for-TV' written all over it. But I would be surprised to find someone who truly hated this flick despite the fact that it's poorly made. It's filled with a fun, spooky Halloween spirit, and has its genuinely inspired moments - plus it's just very amusing and rewatchable as a whole. I guess you could classify this one as a guilty pleasure. Watch it next Halloween - with very, very low expectations.[/font][/left]

Hocus Pocus
Hocus Pocus(1993)
½

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[left][font=Arial Black][i]The Omen [/i]is a fantastic horror classic. It's a well-acted, well-directed, all-around well-done movie with a good enough cast to get the job done. The entire movie is incredibly atmospheric, even the relatively normal scenes have a slightly unsettling vibe, and [i]The Omen [/i]can also be creepy as hell when it wants to be. There were a couple of standout sequences that especially made my skin crawl, that infamous tricycle scene included, and anything involving Damien's truly creepy nanny. Overall, [i]The Omen [/i]is a totally solid, stylish, eerie film that deserves its status as a classic. As far as devil-related horror goes, this one is a notch below [i]The Exorcist [/i]and [i]Rosemary's Baby[/i], but it easily takes a very respectable bronze.[/font][/left]
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[center][img]http://i33.tinypic.com/30vipt2.jpg[/img][/center]
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[left][font=Arial Black]I'm often creeped out or unnerved by movies, but I'm always surprised when I find one that [i]really[/i] scares or disturbs me - and [i]The Descent[/i] was definitely a jarring surprise. It's one of the few films of the past five or ten years that I would unhesitatingly call an instant horror classic - the film's power to unnerve and disturb is undeniable. [i]The Descent [/i]sets up the characters perfectly, they're a very believable group of women who are easy to get attatched to. That's the film's main success, and the reason why it's so hard to watch - watching a group of perfectly likeable people get slaughtered in the most brutal ways isn't exactly a fun time. Most horror films don't convey a sense of sadness or tragedy when the characters die because they don't seem like real people, here I actually didn't want any of them to die, and it was horribly disturbing to see them gruesomely killed one-by-one. Another reason that [i]The Descent [/i]is such a success is because it's deeper than most other horror flicks - it may seem like another bloody monster movie, but there's a gutwrenching, surprisingly thought-provoking message here about [i]the[/i] depths one would go to for vengeance. And the final reason why [i]The Descent [/i]is fantastic is Neil Marshall's truly brilliant direction - he amplifies the tension to almost unbearable levels using top-notch cinematography. I'm usually not a fan of Marshall, but I give him major props for creating this vicious, non-stop fright flick. The only problem I have with [i]The Descent [/i]is the ending - I don't mind that it was bleak, I just thought that the way it was done seemed confusing and didn't fit in with the rest of the film. Maybe my thoughts will change on a second viewing.[/font][/left]
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[center][img]http://i34.tinypic.com/w7bib4.jpg[/img][/center]
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[left][font=Arial Black]I could easily sum up my thoughts on [i]Hocus Pocus [/i]in three words: fun, but bad. It's sloppy, overly goofy and corny, and has 'made-for-TV' written all over it. But I would be surprised to find someone who truly hated this flick despite the fact that it's poorly made. It's filled with a fun, spooky Halloween spirit, and has its genuinely inspired moments - plus it's just very amusing and rewatchable as a whole. I guess you could classify this one as a guilty pleasure. Watch it next Halloween - with very, very low expectations.[/font][/left]

The Omen
The Omen(1976)

[center][img]http://i36.tinypic.com/6ie7px.jpg[/img][/center]
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[left][font=Arial Black][i]The Omen [/i]is a fantastic horror classic. It's a well-acted, well-directed, all-around well-done movie with a good enough cast to get the job done. The entire movie is incredibly atmospheric, even the relatively normal scenes have a slightly unsettling vibe, and [i]The Omen [/i]can also be creepy as hell when it wants to be. There were a couple of standout sequences that especially made my skin crawl, that infamous tricycle scene included, and anything involving Damien's truly creepy nanny. Overall, [i]The Omen [/i]is a totally solid, stylish, eerie film that deserves its status as a classic. As far as devil-related horror goes, this one is a notch below [i]The Exorcist [/i]and [i]Rosemary's Baby[/i], but it easily takes a very respectable bronze.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Arial Black][/font] [/left]

[center][img]http://i33.tinypic.com/30vipt2.jpg[/img][/center]
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[left][font=Arial Black]I'm often creeped out or unnerved by movies, but I'm always surprised when I find one that [i]really[/i] scares or disturbs me - and [i]The Descent[/i] was definitely a jarring surprise. It's one of the few films of the past five or ten years that I would unhesitatingly call an instant horror classic - the film's power to unnerve and disturb is undeniable. [i]The Descent [/i]sets up the characters perfectly, they're a very believable group of women who are easy to get attatched to. That's the film's main success, and the reason why it's so hard to watch - watching a group of perfectly likeable people get slaughtered in the most brutal ways isn't exactly a fun time. Most horror films don't convey a sense of sadness or tragedy when the characters die because they don't seem like real people, here I actually didn't want any of them to die, and it was horribly disturbing to see them gruesomely killed one-by-one. Another reason that [i]The Descent [/i]is such a success is because it's deeper than most other horror flicks - it may seem like another bloody monster movie, but there's a gutwrenching, surprisingly thought-provoking message here about [i]the[/i] depths one would go to for vengeance. And the final reason why [i]The Descent [/i]is fantastic is Neil Marshall's truly brilliant direction - he amplifies the tension to almost unbearable levels using top-notch cinematography. I'm usually not a fan of Marshall, but I give him major props for creating this vicious, non-stop fright flick. The only problem I have with [i]The Descent [/i]is the ending - I don't mind that it was bleak, I just thought that the way it was done seemed confusing and didn't fit in with the rest of the film. Maybe my thoughts will change on a second viewing.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Arial Black][/font] [/left]

[center][img]http://i34.tinypic.com/w7bib4.jpg[/img][/center]
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[left][font=Arial Black]I could easily sum up my thoughts on [i]Hocus Pocus [/i]in three words: fun, but bad. It's sloppy, overly goofy and corny, and has 'made-for-TV' written all over it. But I would be surprised to find someone who truly hated this flick despite the fact that it's poorly made. It's filled with a fun, spooky Halloween spirit, and has its genuinely inspired moments - plus it's just very amusing and rewatchable as a whole. I guess you could classify this one as a guilty pleasure. Watch it next Halloween - with very, very low expectations.[/font][/left]

Dead Alive
Dead Alive(1993)
½

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[left][font=Arial Black][i]Dead Alive [/i]could either be looked at as a really bloody, hilarious horror flick, or a really bloody, horrific comedy. Either way, it's really bloody. I have to say that [i]Dead Alive [/i]truly does deserve its reputation as being the goriest movie ever made. It's certainly the goriest one I've ever seen, filled with an insane amount of fake blood, flying body parts, and gruesomely realistic makeup work. Most of it is too over-the-top to be truly disgusting, although there are a few genuinely stomach-churning moments that might test your gag reflex and have you looking away (all the 'dinner table' scenes were sublimely repulsive) - basically, if you don't like blood, [i]stay away [/i]from [i]Dead Alive. [/i]However, for hardcore horror fans who don't mind some ridiculously over-the-top violence, [i]Dead Alive [/i]is a treat. Sure, it's absolutely goofy, campy, and dumb, but that's all part of the charm. Approach it like a blood-soaked episode of Looney Toons, and you'll probably have a fun time.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Arial Black]However, [i]Dead Alive [/i]can't quite just be brushed off as a fun but worthless B-movie - it's too awesomely imaginative for that. Peter Jackson has an endless, incredibly demented mind, and he lets it run wild here. I loved how the film just got crazier and crazier, building insane event on top of insane event with relentless morbid imagination. Just when you think the movie couldn't get any more energetic or bloody, it takes another delirious, unexpected turn down another bizarre, brilliantly funny and fucked-up path. Also, [i]Dead Alive [/i]shouldn't be dismissed because it just has too much heart. A dumb, clumsy heart it may be, but it's just an absolutely loveable film despite the off-the-charts level of bloodshed. Definitely a fantastic zombie flick, endlessly hilarious and creative, and further proof that Peter Jackson is just awesome. If you can, check this one out this week - it's a perfect Halloween season viewing.[/font][/left]

An American Werewolf in London

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[left][font=Arial Black]Yes, that's right, I [i]did [/i]just give a 'masterpiece' rating to a horror/comedy about werewolves. For what it is, [i]An American Werewolf in London [/i]is just perfect. It's a brilliant, hilarious, occasionally horrific, and always ridiculously enjoyable piece of entertainment that I don't have a single complaint about. From beginning to end, this movie is just completely awesome. It's possibly the best horror-comedy hybrid ever, probably even surpassing [i]Shaun of the Dead [/i]and [i]Gremlins.[/i][/font][/left]
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[left][font=Arial Black]One of the biggest surprises of [i]American Werewolf [/i]is the acting, which for a horror flick is surprisingly fantastic. John Goodvine and Griffin Dunne are hysterical in their relatively small roles, giving the movie some of its biggest laughs. David Naughton and Jenny Agutter are both fantastic leads, playing it completely natural and being funny without really trying - which, in fact, is a good way to describe [i]An American Werewolf in London[/i] as a whole. It's an extremely amusing film, but most of the humor seems completely effortless because it naturally arises from the characters and the weird situation they're in.[/font][/left]


[left][font=Arial Black]However, no matter how funny [i]An American Werewolf in London [/i]may be, it doesn't take away from the film's scenes of horror and drama. It's much more comedy than horror, with the two often overlapping, but [i]American Werewolf [/i]still has its share of genuinely jarring scares and shocking violence. These scenes are all the more effective because they are surrounded by dry, casual comedy, and the horrific moments are often brought to life by the gruesome, truly brilliant special effects work. [i]American Werewolf [/i]also is a surprisingly emotionally involving film at times - the central romance is awkwardly sweet and believable, and you grow to care alot for the characters. All this perfectly balanced comedy, drama, and horror melds together in a brutal, perfect, absolutely insane and unpredictable ending that finished the movie up in the most shocking, amazing way possible. Awesome.[/font][/left]


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[left][font=Arial Black]I have a story to share that I found very amusing, but in order to tell it I have to admit something: I'm still in highschool. I think my RT profile says that I'm 21 - nope, I'm only 16 (I would change it, but I'm too lazy right now). Now, with that being said...[/font][/left]


[left][font=Arial Black]I'm on the swim team at my school, and just yesterday we had the finals of the regionals swim meet. It was a large meet with many rival schools attending, and randomly former Supreme Court member Sandra Day O'Connor was there, I'm assuming to support a relative on one of the teams. I didn't think much of her being there until I stepped up onto the block right before my race, the 100 Butterfly, and saw her standing right next to my lane, clapping politely. It was a weird moment to see her standing right there, but I was too full of adrenaline for the race to care much about it.[/font][/left]


[left][font=Arial Black]I dove into the water and the race began. At about a lap into the race, I noticed something - my swimsuit was slipping down. Again, I was too intent on my race to care that much, so I kept going. By the time I was halfway through the race, the upper half of my ass was completely exposed - and since this was Butterfly, it wasn't exactly hard to notice for bystanders. It remained that way throughout the whole race.[/font][/left]

[left][font=Arial Black]To my surprise, I ended up winning the heat and getting my best time in that race, but the real achievement of that day was the fact that I may have mooned Sandra Day O'Connor. Hm.[/font][/left]

Jason X
Jason X(2002)

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[left][font=Arial Black][i]Jason X [/i]has to be one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. The problem is that, with the exception of a few painfully dumb stabs at humor, it's really not supposed to be funny. I would say that this even surpasses [i]The Grudge 2 [/i]and [i]The Wicker Man [/i]as the most unintentionally amusing horror flick ever created, it really is just a riot. The acting is terrible from all involved, and even worse is the impressively awful script that just gets stupider with every new scene. [i]Jason X [/i]also makes a few sad flirts with over-the-top sci-fi action (it was made during the whole [i]Matrix [/i]craze), and these scenes are among the most painfully inept of the whole movie. But if you're just looking for entertainment value, no matter how ridiculously awful that piece of entertainment may be, [i]Jason X [/i]will do. It's absolutely hysterical and I have to admit that some of the kill sequences are actually pretty cool and well-done in their own campy way (the only semi-decent thing about this movie).[/font][/left]

Friday the 13th

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[left][font=Arial Black]For a cheap [i]Halloween [/i]rip-off, [i]Friday the 13th [/i]isn't bad. Yes, it does steal the entire structure and atmosphere of John Carpenter's far superior horror film, and there's also many shades of [i]Psycho [/i]found here - so [i]Friday the 13th [/i]isn't quite the most original movie out there. It's also campy and sleazy, with unnecessary violence and sexuality throughout. However, [i]Friday the 13th [/i]is just too damn entertaining to ignore. Even if there are many far better horror films out there, I can see why this one has become one of the most famous. It's just alot of fun. It offers up plenty of cheap thrills and excitement, with rarely a boring moment throughout the running time. The kills are often shocking and brutal, and the film is spooky fun without ever becoming truly scary. Plus, it has one hell of an ending. [i]Friday the 13th [/i]may be a little bit lame - as far as slashers go, this one definitely is a step or two below thrillers like [i]Halloween [/i]and [i]A Nightmare on Elm Street[/i] - but it's still a hell of a lot of fun, and there's something weirdly charming about the cheap sleaziness of the whole thing. [/font][/left]

[Rec]
[Rec](2007)

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[left][font=Arial Black]You won't hear me saying this often, but [i][REC] [/i]truly scared the hell out of me. It's undoubtedly my favorite out of the faux-documentary horror films such as [i]Blair Witch Project [/i]and [i]Cloverfield[/i], and definitely the most effectively disturbing and scary one so far. It's a movie that is guaranteed to get your adrenaline flowing and have you jumping out of your seat, and it contains one of the craziest, most suspenseful endings in horror history - a half-hour, relentlessly scary climax that built up the terror to unbearable levels. The very ending haunted me long after [i][REC][/i] was over, in fact I'd say it's the single most chilling last scene to a horror flick since, well, [i]The Blair Witch Project [/i]- the movie that inspired [i][REC][/i], and in my opinion was improved upon by it.[/font][/left]


[left][font=Arial Black][i][REC][/i], in my opinion, is just a resounding success in every way, and the scariest film to come along since a little movie called [i]The Exorcist.[/i] Definitely a recommended shocker to view this Halloween if you can find a way to watch it (even on the computer screen it's pretty horrifying). Two thumbs up, along with [i]The Orphanage [/i]this was the best horror movie of 2007.[/font][/left]

Dog Soldiers
Dog Soldiers(2002)

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[left][font=Arial Black]I was actually fairly excited to watch [i]Dog Soldiers [/i]considering the fact that it was such a rarity - a critically-praised horror flick. I ended up mildly disappointed, and confused as to why such a dull, repetitive, completely unscary movie like this one would receive high marks from critics. [i]Dog Soldiers [/i]starts off promisingly enough - in fact, I was rather enjoying the first 30 minutes or so. Then it kept going - and going - and going. I thought [i]Dog Soldiers [/i]would never end, it was just a strung-together series of completely unexciting action scenes with absolutely no pulse. The characters weren't interesting, in fact I found them all rather annoying.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Arial Black]As of now, I'm definitely not a Neil Marshall fan. [i]Doomsday [/i]was an absolute disaster, and while [i]Dog Soldiers [/i]isn't nearly as terrible, it's still an irritating film. It has its moments here and there, but for the most part it's a surprisingly dull, lifeless horror flick. I'll be watching [i]The Descent [/i]soon, I'm seriously hoping that I'll like it more than this flat-out boring Neil Marshall effort.[/font][/left]

The Fog
The Fog(1979)
½

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[left][font=Arial Black][i]The Fog [/i]is not one of John Carpenter's greatest achievements. In his career, it comes imbetween [i]Halloween [/i]and [i]The Thing [/i]- two absolute masterpieces of horror, and in comparison [i]The Fog [/i]feels extremely insignificant. That's the main problem I have with [i]The Fog[/i] - it just feels minor and slightly underwhelming in ever way. It's eerie with a couple of chilling moments, but it's never truly scary, and the characters are somewhat interesting but feel incomplete. The whole movie feels a bit half-baked and restrained.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Arial Black]However, while it isn't very ambitious or overly memorable, [i]The Fog [/i]still is a totally solid horror film and a classic in its own right. It's alot of spooky, slightly goofy fun, with an old-fashioned ghost story vibe that I really dug. The whole atmosphere of [i]The Fog [/i]is its biggest strength - it's never a truly terrifying film, but there's a few moments that sent chills up my spine, and the scenes of dark shapes moving slowly through the thick fog were undeniably creepy. It's a highly enjoyable thriller that provides enough spookiness to be a perfect Halloween season viewing. I really liked it overall, I just wish that it was a slightly better movie.[/font][/left]

The Devil Wears Prada

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[left][font=Arial Black]Meryl Streep commands the screen in the enjoyably clever [i]The Devil Wears Prada. [/i]Really, Streep is the only reason why [i]Devil [/i]is a must-see type of film - she's hilarious, fascinating, and totally owns her role. In fact, the entire cast is well above average. Anne Hathaway doesn't do anything amazing, but she's definitely endearing and believeable enough; while Emily Blunt and Stanley Tucci have alot of fun in their small roles. [i]The Devil Wears Prada [/i]is mostly a success because of these actors, although the script isn't half-bad either - there's plenty of sardonic banter and a couple of unpredictable plot turns that kept me at least amused.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Arial Black]However, while [i]The Devil Wears Prada [/i]is definitely a decently well-done picture with a truly awesome Meryl Streep performance, overall the movie just wasn't for me. I have little to no interest in the fashion world, so the movie actually did a pretty good job in keeping me entertained for having such, in my opinion, uninteresting subject matter. However, this is one of those movies that kept my interest but never completely hooked me in - I could've turned it off at any point and not truly cared what I had missed in the rest of the film. Overall, [i]Devil Wears Prada [/i]is a well-acted, clever little comedy that I doubt I'll ever watch again, but it was definitely a solid one-time view. Oh, and the whole subplot involving Harry Potter was pure joy to the nerdier side of me.[/font][/left]

Shortbus
Shortbus(2006)

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[left][font=Arial Black]Many will hate [i]Shortbus[/i], I have no doubt about that. It's an extremely daring, sexually frank romantic dramady that has no problem with going where most non-pornographic films have never gone before. However, the graphic sex isn't what makes [i]Shortbus [/i]great - sexuality here is just used as a way to explore characters. Some have accused the film of being pornographic, and I couldn't disagree more. The sex scenes aren't meant to be arousing, but are just another way for director John Cameron Mitchell to express emotion, humor, or discovery in his perfectly fleshed-out characters. Nowadays sexually graphic films tend to be cold or simply played for shock value, so I was surprised to discover that [i]Shortbus [/i]is an incredibly warm film. It's sweet and romantic, and filled with genuine sadness and joy. All the characters are resoundingly human, their emotions and skin are completely vulnerable and exposed to the audience. This is the reason why I loved [i]Shortbus - [/i]it's far from perfect, and could've benefited from a slightly less sloppy execution, but it drew a true emotional reaction from me and that's all that really mattered in the end. Definitely not for everyone, but I found it to be a refreshing, emotional, and totally enjoyable gem.[/font][/left]

Burn After Reading

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[left][font=Arial Black]The Coen brothers are one seriously fascinating duo. Whether you like them or not, you cannot deny that they have one of the most unique, diverse filmographies of directors working today. [i]Burn After Reading [/i]is their latest, and in the career of the Coen brothers this one falls right into the middle of the pack. It's no masterpiece like [i]Fargo, [/i]but it's definitely not a near-miss like [i]Intolerable Cruelty [/i](which was a [i]very [/i]entertaining and often hilarious near-miss, but almost a failure nonetheless). And while it may not be among their very best works, in [i]Burn After Reading [/i]the Coen brother's anarchic and morbidly hilarious spirit is very much alive. It's a ridiculously dark, odd comedy that doesn't really go anywhere or add up to much - which is a huge part of its charm. It always moves in extremely unexpected directions, which lead to some huge laughs and a couple of huge shocks. The movie's meandering plotline(s) make for an amusing, suspenseful, hysterical ride that verges on toppling over - the truly amazing cast thankfully keep things together. Frances McDormand is brilliant and pathetically funny, Brad Pitt delivers the movie's biggest laughs, George Clooney ups the sleaze factor and totally owns his role, and J.K. Simmons is truly awesome in the few moments he has throughout. This amazing cast, along with the clever and strange script, make [i]Burn After Reading [/i]one of the funniest, darkest, cleverest comedies of the year.[/font][/left]

The Boondock Saints
½

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[left][font=Arial Black]While perhaps a bit more unique than your average action movie, [i]The Boondock Saints [/i]isn't nearly as clever as it seems to think it is. I try to avoid using the word pretentious in reviews, but it definitely applies here. The movie sets up a pretense of being clever and intelligent, when it really isn't either - it's as empty-headed as nearly every other action flick out there, it just happens to have [i]Pulp Fiction[/i] aspirations. However, that's not the main reason why I disliked [i]The Boondock Saints[/i] - I just found the film to be almost completely devoid of fun. There's a few standout interesting scenes, but for the most part [i]The Boondock Saints [/i]is depressingly dull and annoying. The sense of humor usually wasn't funny, and the action scenes usually weren't very impressive. There were a few standout scenes that I was impressed by, but for the most part it's a film that just grated on my nerves. Willem Dafoe was the lone bright spot of the movie. His performance was ridiculously over-the-top, but it never failed to be entertaining and amusing, and at least his ridiculousness was a refreshing change from the depressingly bland feel of the rest of the movie.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Arial Black]However, possibly the biggest downfall of [i]The Boondock Saints [/i]is the character Rocco. I couldn't stand him. Every time he opened his obnoxious mouth I wanted to chop up the TV with an axe, then force the remnants down a blender with a sledgehammer (I actually didn't come up with that on the spot - I got so bored and irritated during [i]The Boondock Saints [/i]that I began thinking of increasingly violent ways to obliterate the television).[/font][/left]
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[center][font=Arial Black][color=white]Music Video for Gnarls Barkley's [i]Who's Gonna Save My Soul[/i]:[/color] [url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTVSygNKAsg"]CLICK HERE[/url][/font][/center]
[center][font=Arial Black]Currently my favorite music video. It's beyond awesome. Major thanks to J. Larry Fuzz for pointing me in its direction a little while back![/font][/center]

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
½

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[left][font=Arial Black]The first time I saw [i]Life Aquatic[/i], I didn't particularly care for it - I found it to be a hollow curiosity, obviously creative and sometimes even brilliant, but shallow and too wrapped up in its own fantasy world. However, lately my love for Wes Anderson has been revived with very sucessful rewatches of [i]The Royal Tenenbaums [/i]and [i]The Darjeeling Limited, [/i]and I decided to give [i]Life Aquatic [/i]another go-round - the second viewing ended up being really helpful. [i]The Life Aquatic [/i]is definitely one of the most unique, strangely fascinating films I've ever experienced. There's not much of a plot to speak of, just a bunch of bizarre adventures concering Steve Zissou and his crew, a group of violent pirates, Steve's "half-gay" rival, and some Zissou family issues. Throw in a soundtrack filled with David Bowie songs in Portuguese and a few nifty Harry Selick-designed stopmotion animated creatures, and you've got a basic idea of what to expect from [i]The Life Aquatic.[/i] It's basically a typical Wes Anderson film - except on crack. The characters and humor are even drier and more depressed this time around, and the visuals are even more bizarre. For non-Anderson fans this means it'll be two hours in hell, but for fans of his highly stylized stories it's a wild, truly awesome trip. Thankfully, I fall into the latter category, and I loved nearly every minute of this strange, hysterically absurb adventure.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Arial Black]However, the thing that surprised me most about [i]The Life Aquatic [/i]on second viewing was the connection I felt with the characters. The first time around I thought the biggest reason that the film failed to take off was because the characters were cold and uninvolving - this viewing felt completely different. The characters may live in a highly stylized world, but I totally clicked with them, and they were brought to life wonderfully by their actors. I got so into the characters and their dilemnas that by the time the climax rolled along, a showstoppingly beautiful scene with Sigur Ros blaring on the soundtrack, I had to hold back tears. Despite its neverending strangeness and ironic humor, [i]The Life Aquatic [/i]was a deeply affecting film to me - it has a strange beauty unlike anything else I've ever seen. I can't quite give it a 10/10 because it's just too messy and unfocused - if Wes Anderson had tightened things up just a little bit, he could've made a true masterpiece to rival [i]The Royal Tenenbaums[/i] as his best work. Still, despite its obvious flaws, [i]The Life Aquatic [/i]is one of my all-time favorites. It's poignant, amusing, bizarre, and a true original. [/font][/left]
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[center][font=Arial Black][color=red]RANDOM NON-MOVIE RECOMMENDATION[/color][/font][/center]
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[left][font=Arial Black]I'm not a huge reader, but [i]Running with Scissors [/i]is truly an awesome memoir. I'm not sure if all of its bizarre contents actually happened in Augusten Burroughs's childhood - some of it is just weird and mortifying beyond belief - but that doesn't stop it from being one of the best books I've read in a long time. It's hilarious, horrifying, and genuinely moving in equal measure - definitely one that you have to read if you haven't already. I need to see the movie, too, although apparently it's nowhere near as good.[/font][/left]

Intolerable Cruelty

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[left][font=Arial Black][i]Intolerable Cruelty [/i]is definitely a mixed bag, but as far as mixed bags go, this one's pretty damn good and completely enjoyable. I've always heard that this is one of the Coen Brother's most mainstream flicks, and from the poster art and the leading stars I was expecting a fairly normal rom-com, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I was wrong. While it's definitely not as odd as some other Coen features, it's still pretty cynical, dark, and strange, and takes some fairly bizarre plot turns that I definitely wasn't expecting. At its best, the movie is gold - a few scenes achieve a sort of manic, crazed comic energy that continue building and building until my sides hurt from laughing so hard. Imbetween those sublime sections, however, [i]Intolerable Cruelty [/i]feels slightly meandering. It never gets boring, it's just that some sections feel flabby and uninspired. Still, the movie's highlights are pure crazy comic gold, and make some of the slower stretches worth it. Definitely not one of the highlights in the career of the Coen Brothers, but still a very enjoyable, funny flick that was better than I was expecting. Definitely worth a viewing or two, it's worth seeing for the gorgeous, awesomely evil Catherine Zeta-Jones alone.[/font][/left]

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

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[left][font=Arial Black][i]4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days [/i]may be a brilliant film, but it's not an easy one to swallow. It tackles difficult, dark subject matter in a brutally realistic, unbiased manner. A film this slow-paced and disturbing definitely isn't for everyone, I wouldn't recommend it to those with a weak stomach - but for those who can handle it, [i]4 Months [/i]is an unforgettable work of art. It starts off in a somewhat dull, perplexing way, and remains that way for about 30 minutes before the viewer is plunged into the nightmare of the story (which I won't explain for those of you who haven't experienced the film yet - it's best to go in completely blind). And despite having a rough, unpolished, shaky look, [i]4 Months [/i]is an artistic achievement in every way. It makes you feel what the characters feel at the time - the first 30 minutes have a paranoid and confused atmosphere, and later on the shaky, dark cinematography makes you feel every bit as nervous and terrified as the on-screen characters. It's an incredibly effective, emotionally involving film - it's a very difficult task for a movie that takes place in near-real time to be endlessly fascinating, heart-stopping, and intense, but [i]4 Months [/i]achieves just that. The perfomances in [i]4 Months [/i]are part of the reason why I was fascinated throughout - Anamaria Marinca and Laura Vasiliu as the endlessly annoying Gabita were both extremely impressive in their roles, and added to the movie's very realistic feel. Anamaria Marinca was especially fantastic as Otilia, her evergrowing feelings of anger, paranoia, and terror are portrayed gutwrenchingly well.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Arial Black][i]4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days[/i] isn't one I'd recommend for just anybody, but it's certainly a very impressive film. The director, Cristian Mungiu, is definitely an exciting new talent - I look forward to whatever he's planning to do next. His [i]4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days [/i]is definitely a knockout, and at the end (which is a perfectly done last scene, by the way) I was left speechless.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Arial Black]- In other random news, a totally awesome thing happened the other day. My sister called, and told me that while her boyfriend Scott was skateboarding through his school's campus a man came up to him and asked if he'd like to be an extra in [i]Transformers 2[/i]. The man said that Scott had exactly the look that they wanted for the very small part, and now they're going to meet tomorrow and talk about it. If he actually makes it into the movie, I'll make sure and point out what scene to you guys - and we'll definitely be having a [i]Transformers 2 [/i]party/viewing in honor of Scott.[/font][/left]

Vicky Cristina Barcelona
½

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[left][font=Arial Black]I just knew that I would love [i]Vicky Cristina Barcelona[/i]. Woody Allen never fails to impress me, [i]Annie Hall [/i]and [i]Match Point[/i] are huge favorites of mine, and I really enjoyed his extremely underrated [i]Cassandra's Dream [/i]and [i]Scoop[/i]. [i]Vicky Cristina [/i]definitely didn't disappoint - it's another minor masterpiece from Woody Allen, delivering a clever script full of fascinating, amusing dialogue and a deliciously tangled plot full of surprises. It's an unpredictable, sexy romantic comedy with a sunny Spanish location that perfectly fits the mood.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Arial Black]One of the main things elevating [i]Vicky Cristina Barcelona [/i]from merely being an intelligent, lightweigt romantic-comedy is the absolutely brilliant cast. 2008 seems to be the year of fantastic ensemble casts - the tradition continues here, every single actor is cast perfectly, and watching them share the screen is a fascinating experience. Scarlett Johansson is one of my favorite actresses working today - she is gorgeous and talented, and definitely didn't disappoint here in one of her best roles yet as the free-spirited Cristina. Rebecca Hall also stars as the other 1/3 of the title, Vicky. Hall was excellent in a small role in [i]The Prestige[/i], but I still was very surprised by how subtly great she was here, I'd love to see more from her. Javier Bardem is extremely charming and charismatic, in a role that is a complete turnaround from his rather terrifying [i]No Country for Old Men [/i]performance. However, it's Penelope Cruz who steals the show - every scene with her is absolute gold, she's firey, sexy, and believably, hilariously insane. The scenes of her and Bardem angrily confronting each other are absolutely unforgettable, and should earn Cruz a Best Supporting Actress nomination once the Oscars roll around.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Arial Black]Overall, [i]Vicky Cristina Barcelona [/i]is a huge success - a perfectly entertaining way to spend 100 minutes. However, the one main problem with [i]Vicky Cristina Barcelona[/i] is the fact that, like some of Woody's works, it just feels minor. It's a beautifully well-done film, and one of the best of the year so far - it just never quite crosses the line into 'amazing' territory. It's a damn good movie, just don't expect anything life-changing.[/font][/left]

Tropic Thunder

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[left][font=Arial Black]The funniest, most violent, most balls-out crazy comedy to hit theaters since - um, a week ago. So [i]Tropic Thunder [/i]had the misfortune of hitting theaters right after [i]Pineapple Express[/i], an instant comedy/action classic. Comparisons are inevitable, and to be honest, [i]Tropic Thunder [/i]isn't quite as good as that piece of comic gold. However, on a scale of pure insanity and hilarity, they're about equal. [i]Tropic Thunder [/i]is quite simply one of the most bizarre, violent, energetic comedies I've ever seen - and possibly one of the funniest. I can't really give this any higher than an 8, since it's relentlessly dumb and has a couple of jokes that fall flat, but I can't deny that I was dying of laughter throughout. One of the best things about [i]Tropic Thunder [/i]is that there actually was some effort put into it. Ben Stiller, who starred, directed, and wrote the film, obviously didn't want this to end up as a disposable comedy with a couple of recycled jokes that would make some money than be forgotten - he wanted to make an absurb, audacious comedy classic along the lines of [i]Airplane! [/i]or [i]Monty Python and the Holy Grail[/i]. And I would say that he mostly succeeded - it's a movie that I'm sure will become some sort of odd classic. And despite being endlessly silly, random, profane, and violent, [i]Tropic Thunder [/i]is smarter than your average dumb comedy because of the attacks on Hollywood. Okay, so the satire on actors and agents and the entire money-hungry Hollywood system isn't exactly brilliant or original, but it's definitely amusing and gives the entire film a boost in the brains department.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Arial Black]However, one of [i]Tropic Thunder[/i]'s strongest points is the rock-solid ensemble cast. Robert Downey Jr. is the star here in a truly awesome, fascinating, funny role - every line of dialogue and facial expression from him is priceless and wildly entertaining. But even though this is undoubtedly RDJ's movie, the rest of the cast also does pretty damn well. Ben Stiller isn't really capable of much variety in his performances, but I shouldn't complain too much since I always end up being very entertained by him anyways. Jack Black, a once-awesome comedian who I have begun losing a bit of faith in lately, turns in a performance that harks back to his days of being awesome (I especially enjoyed the moment where a crazed, drug-deprived Black savagely attacked a bat). Matthew McConaughey also shows up, turning in a surprisingly amusing small role (and he has one of the film funniest moments near the end), and Tom Cruise also appears in a much-buzzed small role that's every bit as funny and unexpected as people are saying.[/font][/left]
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[left][font=Arial Black]If you're easily offended or don't enjoy dumb, random humor, than maybe [i]Tropic Thunder [/i]isn't for you. But I loved it to death - it's far from perfect, but I laughed my ass off and had a great time, which is really all you can ask for in a movie like this one. I've been on and off the Ben Stiller fanwagon for a while now, but he will have to make many, many more crap comedies to kill off my goodwill towards him after the awesomeness of [i]Tropic Thunder[/i].[/font][/left]

Doomsday
Doomsday(2008)

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[left][font=Arial Black]I actually have never seen Neil Marshall's much-loved horror films [i]Dog Soldiers [/i]and [i]The Descent[/i] - it's too bad that my first Marshall film was [i]Doomsday[/i], which truly is a wretched disaster. I somewhat enjoyed Rhona Mitra's campy performance, but the rest of the movie is just terrible on almost every level. Even the action scenes are awful - the editing is so annoyingly quick and messy that I couldn't tell what was going on most of the time. And I'm aware of the fact that [i]Doomsday [/i]was supposed to be a slightly goofy homage to 80's apocalypse flicks, but that doesn't excuse it from not doing anything new or even mildly interesting. It doesn't do anything that another movie did much, much better. [i]Doomsday [/i]is the worst 2008 movie I've seen yet - it's a truly boring and annoying piece of film that failed miserably in every way possible - I hated it.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Arial Black][/font] [/left]

[center][font=Arial Black][color=white]---------------------------------[/color][/font][/center]
[center] [/center]

[center][font=Arial Black]I know that I've been lazy with my RT reviewing - things have just been crazy stressful lately. My grandpa had a minor type of stroke and had to have brain surgery, thankfully he's fine and recovered quickly. I also have had to face the start of school in the past two days - yikes. I feel like pulling out my hair. When I get time I'll finish up my New Top 10 Reviews, but it'll probably be a while before that happens.[/font][/center]

Pineapple Express

[center][font=Arial Black]These movies deserve full reviews, so sorry for sticking them all in this one entry - but I just have to catch up a little bit on ratings. So here's some good ones I've watched lately:[/font][/center]
[center][font=Arial Black][/font] [/center]

[center][img]http://i34.tinypic.com/zinb75.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]

[left][font=Arial Black]Judd Apatow - I officially love you. I admit that I don't get the hubbub around his hit [i]Superbad[/i], but [i]Walk Hard, Knocked Up,[/i] and especially [i]Forgetting Sarah Marshall[/i] were all glorious comedies - some of the best and funniest of recent years. [i]Pineapple Express[/i] is yet another hit comedy from Apatow & Co, in fact I'd say it's their second best film yet. It's an instantly loveable, uproariously hilarious, and amusingly violent action/stoner comedy that really isn't like anything I've seen before. I loved every outrageously over-the-top death scene and hilarious line of dialogue, plus James Franco's truly awesome performance and the groovy soundtrack only increased my feeling of euphoria. [i]Pineapple Express[/i] is, to sum it up, a total blast. I loved pretty much every minute of it. The second best comedy of the year - behind [i]Forgetting Sarah Marshall[/i], of course.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Arial Black][/font] [/left]

[center][img]http://i37.tinypic.com/2s8qwt1.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]

[left][font=Arial Black]I'm not too familiar with the works of Martin Scorcese, but [i]The Departed [/i]is the best film that I've seen from him yet. It's a thrilling crime epic that crackles with entertainment from start to finish - I was absolutely hooked in the twisty plot and couldn't look away from the screen. Leonardo DiCaprio is absolutely stunning, probably the best performance of his career so far - I was somewhat mixed about the rest of the cast, however. Jack Nicholson was impressive and frightening, Mark Wahlberg was rather annoying, and Matt Damon was adequate but the role could've been played equally as well by anyone else. Overall it's a believable cast, but DiCaprio easily steals the show. Anyways, [i]The Departed [/i]is a fascinating, suspenseful, very well-done thriller - I can see why this won the Oscar for Best Picture, even though it wouldn't have been my personal choice. I have some fairly minor problems with it, so I wasn't sure whether to give this one an 8 or a 9 - I eventually settled on a 9, since it's just so damn entertaining, and DiCaprio impressed the hell out of me.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Arial Black][/font] [/left]

[center][img]http://i35.tinypic.com/2zqscjl.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]

[left][font=Arial Black]I'm a pretty huge fan of Lynch's work, and I felt like I'd already seen most of his essential films - so imagine my shock when I saw [i]Lost Highway [/i]and absolutely loved it. This has always been perceived as one of his lesser efforts, and while Lynch is capable of doing better, it's still an absolutely fantastic film. The first 30 minutes of [i]Lost Highway [/i]are especially mindblowing, and shockingly creepy - at that point, I thought I was watching a masterpiece. The next 90 minutes are very different, and not [i]quite [/i]as astounding, but still Lynchian brilliance. The entire film didn't make a bit of sense to me, but I enjoyed every bizarre, beautiful, terrifying moment of it.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Arial Black][/font] [/left]

[center][img]http://i37.tinypic.com/24v4i2v.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]

[left][font=Arial Black][i]Big Trouble in Little China [/i]is just plain fun. It's ridiculously campy and overstuffed - but that's the charm of it. I think it would impossible to not have fun with a movie this ridiculous and playful. Plus, Kurt Russell is absolutely awesome here, creating perhaps one of the funniest film characters ever - Jack Burton. He talks tough but is, in fact, kind of an idiot and not very heroic - his sidekick manages to get most of the dirty work done for him. Russell's very amusing performance makes [i]Big Trouble [/i]better than your average B-movie. And John Carpenter's in the directing chair, so of course the whole thing is going to be very creative and fun.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Arial Black][/font] [/left]

[center][img]http://i33.tinypic.com/n2z5mr.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]

[left][font=Arial Black]Ignore the 6 rating at the top of this entry, because [i]Barbarella [/i]is a movie that's hard to rate. The entire thing is quite terrible and corny, and I will admit that there was about a 15-minute period during the film where I became rather bored. Aside from that, though, [i]Barbarella [/i]is a top-notch guilty pleasure. It's hilariously campy and gloriously strange, and a rather fun little ride. Our ditzy heroine, who always finds a way to escape the confines of her various skimpy outfits, goes on a series of adventures that involves evil little children who sacrifice people to their fanged dolls, a half-naked man swimming inside of a giant bong being smoked by leather-clad women, and plenty of trippy blobs of color. It's an extremely odd, silly cult classic - nothing great, but it's plenty of bizarre fun.[/font][/left]

Barbarella
Barbarella(1968)

[center][font=Arial Black]These movies deserve full reviews, so sorry for sticking them all in this one entry - but I just have to catch up a little bit on ratings. So here's some good ones I've watched lately:[/font][/center]
[center][font=Arial Black][/font] [/center]

[center][img]http://i34.tinypic.com/zinb75.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]

[left][font=Arial Black]Judd Apatow - I officially love you. I admit that I don't get the hubbub around his hit [i]Superbad[/i], but [i]Walk Hard, Knocked Up,[/i] and especially [i]Forgetting Sarah Marshall[/i] were all glorious comedies - some of the best and funniest of recent years. [i]Pineapple Express[/i] is yet another hit comedy from Apatow & Co, in fact I'd say it's their second best film yet. It's an instantly loveable, uproariously hilarious, and amusingly violent action/stoner comedy that really isn't like anything I've seen before. I loved every outrageously over-the-top death scene and hilarious line of dialogue, plus James Franco's truly awesome performance and the groovy soundtrack only increased my feeling of euphoria. [i]Pineapple Express[/i] is, to sum it up, a total blast. I loved pretty much every minute of it. The second best comedy of the year - behind [i]Forgetting Sarah Marshall[/i], of course.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Arial Black][/font] [/left]

[center][img]http://i37.tinypic.com/2s8qwt1.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]

[left][font=Arial Black]I'm not too familiar with the works of Martin Scorcese, but [i]The Departed [/i]is the best film that I've seen from him yet. It's a thrilling crime epic that crackles with entertainment from start to finish - I was absolutely hooked in the twisty plot and couldn't look away from the screen. Leonardo DiCaprio is absolutely stunning, probably the best performance of his career so far - I was somewhat mixed about the rest of the cast, however. Jack Nicholson was impressive and frightening, Mark Wahlberg was rather annoying, and Matt Damon was adequate but the role could've been played equally as well by anyone else. Overall it's a believable cast, but DiCaprio easily steals the show. Anyways, [i]The Departed [/i]is a fascinating, suspenseful, very well-done thriller - I can see why this won the Oscar for Best Picture, even though it wouldn't have been my personal choice. I have some fairly minor problems with it, so I wasn't sure whether to give this one an 8 or a 9 - I eventually settled on a 9, since it's just so damn entertaining, and DiCaprio impressed the hell out of me.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Arial Black][/font] [/left]

[center][img]http://i35.tinypic.com/2zqscjl.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]

[left][font=Arial Black]I'm a pretty huge fan of Lynch's work, and I felt like I'd already seen most of his essential films - so imagine my shock when I saw [i]Lost Highway [/i]and absolutely loved it. This has always been perceived as one of his lesser efforts, and while Lynch is capable of doing better, it's still an absolutely fantastic film. The first 30 minutes of [i]Lost Highway [/i]are especially mindblowing, and shockingly creepy - at that point, I thought I was watching a masterpiece. The next 90 minutes are very different, and not [i]quite [/i]as astounding, but still Lynchian brilliance. The entire film didn't make a bit of sense to me, but I enjoyed every bizarre, beautiful, terrifying moment of it.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Arial Black][/font] [/left]

[center][img]http://i37.tinypic.com/24v4i2v.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]

[left][font=Arial Black][i]Big Trouble in Little China [/i]is just plain fun. It's ridiculously campy and overstuffed - but that's the charm of it. I think it would impossible to not have fun with a movie this ridiculous and playful. Plus, Kurt Russell is absolutely awesome here, creating perhaps one of the funniest film characters ever - Jack Burton. He talks tough but is, in fact, kind of an idiot and not very heroic - his sidekick manages to get most of the dirty work done for him. Russell's very amusing performance makes [i]Big Trouble [/i]better than your average B-movie. And John Carpenter's in the directing chair, so of course the whole thing is going to be very creative and fun.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Arial Black][/font] [/left]

[center][img]http://i33.tinypic.com/n2z5mr.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]

[left][font=Arial Black]Ignore the 6 rating at the top of this entry, because [i]Barbarella [/i]is a movie that's hard to rate. The entire thing is quite terrible and corny, and I will admit that there was about a 15-minute period during the film where I became rather bored. Aside from that, though, [i]Barbarella [/i]is a top-notch guilty pleasure. It's hilariously campy and gloriously strange, and a rather fun little ride. Our ditzy heroine, who always finds a way to escape the confines of her various skimpy outfits, goes on a series of adventures that involves evil little children who sacrifice people to their fanged dolls, a half-naked man swimming inside of a giant bong being smoked by leather-clad women, and plenty of trippy blobs of color. It's an extremely odd, silly cult classic - nothing great, but it's plenty of bizarre fun.[/font][/left]

Big Trouble in Little China
½

[center][font=Arial Black]These movies deserve full reviews, so sorry for sticking them all in this one entry - but I just have to catch up a little bit on ratings. So here's some good ones I've watched lately:[/font][/center]
[center][font=Arial Black][/font] [/center]

[center][img]http://i34.tinypic.com/zinb75.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]

[left][font=Arial Black]Judd Apatow - I officially love you. I admit that I don't get the hubbub around his hit [i]Superbad[/i], but [i]Walk Hard, Knocked Up,[/i] and especially [i]Forgetting Sarah Marshall[/i] were all glorious comedies - some of the best and funniest of recent years. [i]Pineapple Express[/i] is yet another hit comedy from Apatow & Co, in fact I'd say it's their second best film yet. It's an instantly loveable, uproariously hilarious, and amusingly violent action/stoner comedy that really isn't like anything I've seen before. I loved every outrageously over-the-top death scene and hilarious line of dialogue, plus James Franco's truly awesome performance and the groovy soundtrack only increased my feeling of euphoria. [i]Pineapple Express[/i] is, to sum it up, a total blast. I loved pretty much every minute of it. The second best comedy of the year - behind [i]Forgetting Sarah Marshall[/i], of course.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Arial Black][/font] [/left]

[center][img]http://i37.tinypic.com/2s8qwt1.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]

[left][font=Arial Black]I'm not too familiar with the works of Martin Scorcese, but [i]The Departed [/i]is the best film that I've seen from him yet. It's a thrilling crime epic that crackles with entertainment from start to finish - I was absolutely hooked in the twisty plot and couldn't look away from the screen. Leonardo DiCaprio is absolutely stunning, probably the best performance of his career so far - I was somewhat mixed about the rest of the cast, however. Jack Nicholson was impressive and frightening, Mark Wahlberg was rather annoying, and Matt Damon was adequate but the role could've been played equally as well by anyone else. Overall it's a believable cast, but DiCaprio easily steals the show. Anyways, [i]The Departed [/i]is a fascinating, suspenseful, very well-done thriller - I can see why this won the Oscar for Best Picture, even though it wouldn't have been my personal choice. I have some fairly minor problems with it, so I wasn't sure whether to give this one an 8 or a 9 - I eventually settled on a 9, since it's just so damn entertaining, and DiCaprio impressed the hell out of me.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Arial Black][/font] [/left]

[center][img]http://i35.tinypic.com/2zqscjl.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]

[left][font=Arial Black]I'm a pretty huge fan of Lynch's work, and I felt like I'd already seen most of his essential films - so imagine my shock when I saw [i]Lost Highway [/i]and absolutely loved it. This has always been perceived as one of his lesser efforts, and while Lynch is capable of doing better, it's still an absolutely fantastic film. The first 30 minutes of [i]Lost Highway [/i]are especially mindblowing, and shockingly creepy - at that point, I thought I was watching a masterpiece. The next 90 minutes are very different, and not [i]quite [/i]as astounding, but still Lynchian brilliance. The entire film didn't make a bit of sense to me, but I enjoyed every bizarre, beautiful, terrifying moment of it.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Arial Black][/font] [/left]

[center][img]http://i37.tinypic.com/24v4i2v.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]

[left][font=Arial Black][i]Big Trouble in Little China [/i]is just plain fun. It's ridiculously campy and overstuffed - but that's the charm of it. I think it would impossible to not have fun with a movie this ridiculous and playful. Plus, Kurt Russell is absolutely awesome here, creating perhaps one of the funniest film characters ever - Jack Burton. He talks tough but is, in fact, kind of an idiot and not very heroic - his sidekick manages to get most of the dirty work done for him. Russell's very amusing performance makes [i]Big Trouble [/i]better than your average B-movie. And John Carpenter's in the directing chair, so of course the whole thing is going to be very creative and fun.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Arial Black][/font] [/left]

[center][img]http://i33.tinypic.com/n2z5mr.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]

[left][font=Arial Black]Ignore the 6 rating at the top of this entry, because [i]Barbarella [/i]is a movie that's hard to rate. The entire thing is quite terrible and corny, and I will admit that there was about a 15-minute period during the film where I became rather bored. Aside from that, though, [i]Barbarella [/i]is a top-notch guilty pleasure. It's hilariously campy and gloriously strange, and a rather fun little ride. Our ditzy heroine, who always finds a way to escape the confines of her various skimpy outfits, goes on a series of adventures that involves evil little children who sacrifice people to their fanged dolls, a half-naked man swimming inside of a giant bong being smoked by leather-clad women, and plenty of trippy blobs of color. It's an extremely odd, silly cult classic - nothing great, but it's plenty of bizarre fun.[/font][/left]

Lost Highway
Lost Highway(1997)
½

[center][font=Arial Black]These movies deserve full reviews, so sorry for sticking them all in this one entry - but I just have to catch up a little bit on ratings. So here's some good ones I've watched lately:[/font][/center]
[center][font=Arial Black][/font] [/center]

[center][img]http://i34.tinypic.com/zinb75.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]

[left][font=Arial Black]Judd Apatow - I officially love you. I admit that I don't get the hubbub around his hit [i]Superbad[/i], but [i]Walk Hard, Knocked Up,[/i] and especially [i]Forgetting Sarah Marshall[/i] were all glorious comedies - some of the best and funniest of recent years. [i]Pineapple Express[/i] is yet another hit comedy from Apatow & Co, in fact I'd say it's their second best film yet. It's an instantly loveable, uproariously hilarious, and amusingly violent action/stoner comedy that really isn't like anything I've seen before. I loved every outrageously over-the-top death scene and hilarious line of dialogue, plus James Franco's truly awesome performance and the groovy soundtrack only increased my feeling of euphoria. [i]Pineapple Express[/i] is, to sum it up, a total blast. I loved pretty much every minute of it. The second best comedy of the year - behind [i]Forgetting Sarah Marshall[/i], of course.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Arial Black][/font] [/left]

[center][img]http://i37.tinypic.com/2s8qwt1.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]

[left][font=Arial Black]I'm not too familiar with the works of Martin Scorcese, but [i]The Departed [/i]is the best film that I've seen from him yet. It's a thrilling crime epic that crackles with entertainment from start to finish - I was absolutely hooked in the twisty plot and couldn't look away from the screen. Leonardo DiCaprio is absolutely stunning, probably the best performance of his career so far - I was somewhat mixed about the rest of the cast, however. Jack Nicholson was impressive and frightening, Mark Wahlberg was rather annoying, and Matt Damon was adequate but the role could've been played equally as well by anyone else. Overall it's a believable cast, but DiCaprio easily steals the show. Anyways, [i]The Departed [/i]is a fascinating, suspenseful, very well-done thriller - I can see why this won the Oscar for Best Picture, even though it wouldn't have been my personal choice. I have some fairly minor problems with it, so I wasn't sure whether to give this one an 8 or a 9 - I eventually settled on a 9, since it's just so damn entertaining, and DiCaprio impressed the hell out of me.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Arial Black][/font] [/left]

[center][img]http://i35.tinypic.com/2zqscjl.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]

[left][font=Arial Black]I'm a pretty huge fan of Lynch's work, and I felt like I'd already seen most of his essential films - so imagine my shock when I saw [i]Lost Highway [/i]and absolutely loved it. This has always been perceived as one of his lesser efforts, and while Lynch is capable of doing better, it's still an absolutely fantastic film. The first 30 minutes of [i]Lost Highway [/i]are especially mindblowing, and shockingly creepy - at that point, I thought I was watching a masterpiece. The next 90 minutes are very different, and not [i]quite [/i]as astounding, but still Lynchian brilliance. The entire film didn't make a bit of sense to me, but I enjoyed every bizarre, beautiful, terrifying moment of it.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Arial Black][/font] [/left]

[center][img]http://i37.tinypic.com/24v4i2v.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]

[left][font=Arial Black][i]Big Trouble in Little China [/i]is just plain fun. It's ridiculously campy and overstuffed - but that's the charm of it. I think it would impossible to not have fun with a movie this ridiculous and playful. Plus, Kurt Russell is absolutely awesome here, creating perhaps one of the funniest film characters ever - Jack Burton. He talks tough but is, in fact, kind of an idiot and not very heroic - his sidekick manages to get most of the dirty work done for him. Russell's very amusing performance makes [i]Big Trouble [/i]better than your average B-movie. And John Carpenter's in the directing chair, so of course the whole thing is going to be very creative and fun.[/font][/left]
[left][font=Arial Black][/font] [/left]

[center][img]http://i33.tinypic.com/n2z5mr.jpg[/img][/center]
[center] [/center]

[left][font=Arial Black]Ignore the 6 rating at the top of this entry, because [i]Barbarella [/i]is a movie that's hard to rate. The entire thing is quite terrible and corny, and I will admit that there was about a 15-minute period during the film where I became rather bored. Aside from that, though, [i]Barbarella [/i]is a top-notch guilty pleasure. It's hilariously campy and gloriously strange, and a rather fun little ride. Our ditzy heroine, who always finds a way to escape the confines of her various skimpy outfits, goes on a series of adventures that involves evil little children who sacrifice people to their fanged dolls, a half-naked man swimming inside of a giant bong being smoked by leather-clad women, and plenty of trippy blobs of color. It's an extremely odd, silly cult classic - nothing great, but it's plenty of bizarre fun.[/font][/left]