"Duel" - Steven Spielberg's first movie is terrific. Definitely worth a look if you've never seen it. Just don't watch it before a road trip...
"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" - I was curious as to how this would translate to film as the book is loads and loads of exposition mixed with loads and loads of relationship drama, topped off with a relentless bummer of an ending (and I still keep forgetting how damn sad it is). It doesn't translate well at all, in fact this is one of the weaker Harry Potter movies. It reminded me of "Goblet of Fire" in that it included about a third of what was in the book while also adding in new stuff that was just strange. That and the motives of a certain character are completely unambiguous (quite unlike the book), to the point where you just end up feeling sad for him.
This is as good a place as any to mention that I enjoyed "Prisoner of Azkaban" the most out all the "Harry Potter" films. After reading Deathly Hallows, I was sad that we wouldn't get to see Alphonso Cuaron tackle the battle of Hogwarts, especially in light of "Children of Men". That could have been amazing."TimeCrimes" - Interesting indie science fiction thriller. Again, it's better if you don't know what it's about. Too bad the title's a bit of a give-away.
NOTE: If you have seen "Primer" and now have a fear of indie time travel stories, know that "TimeCrimes" is far less likely to give you a psychic nosebleed."Inglourious Basterds" - It's the war movie that Quentin Tarantino's been wanting to make for ages and ages. It makes history teachers cry at night, but it gets away with it because it's also crazy awesome. Again, I didn't know much about it going in, just know that the commercials are very misleading.
"Moon" - The SECOND-best thought-provoking, low-budget indie sci-fi movie of the past summer! Seriously, though, Sam Rockwell deserves a Best Actor Oscar nomination and a Best Supporting Actor nomination, and it makes me sad that this film has been completely ignored by almost every award show I am aware of.
(I don't want to spoil anything but trust me, the Best Actor and Best Supporting thing will make sense after you watch it.)"It's a Wonderful Life" - Watched this before Christmas, naturally.
Every time I watch this movie again, it hits me how blatantly depressing it is. My generation grew up with the impression that this was a merry holiday classic. I think what older people love, what they remember most, is the happy ending.
What they forget is that George has to earn the f*** out of that happy ending...
"Harvey" - This is the second time I've tried to watch this movie and the second time I fell asleep. I just remember the first time, I was watching it with my grandmother and my younger cousins, and all through the whole thing they were asking, "where is the bunny? I was promised that there was a bunny in this movie!"
And if you're wondering why I watched the last two movies...
"Donnie Darko" - Ha ha ha.
I hadn't seen this movie in a long time and I'd forgotten how good it is. Definitely one of the best of the past decade. The 2000's will probably be most notable for the sheer amount of bad movies we got, but it was also a really good decade for weird and/or cult movies. One of the writers for my local newspaper even voted it his favorite movie of the 2000's! (This was probably not the same person who wrote this wallbanger.) Give it a rent if you haven't seen it yet.
"The Box" - I should mention that I did not rent the Director's Cut of "Donnie Darko". I have heard that they've changed quite a lot of the music, which is a worthy criticism in this particular film. But the other major criticism of the director's cut is far more interesting: people don't like it because it explains too much. "Donnie Darko" was more interesting when it was more ambiguous.
Which brings us to "The Box". I definitely thought this was weird. Very, very weird. But I would have liked it a lot more if it had embraced that weirdness and flatly refused to explain what was really going on. But in light of all the terrible reviews this got, it certainly wasn't the worst movie I saw this year.
"Surf's Up" - It is at least a lot more fun than the other animated movie with penguins from around the same time. It's not very memorable, but it looks really pretty. Turns out that one of the technologies used to make "Avatar" was also used here. Crazy.
"Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs" - I watched this? I did? You sure Netflix Rental Activity list? Because I don't remember anything about it. Yet, apparently, this is one of the best-reviewed animated films of the past year (85% on Rotten Tomatoes). What is it about "Meatballs" that I didn't get? Please tell me because I'm starting to worry.
"Point Break" - I made this the Swayze-est Christmas of them aaaaaaaaaaaaaaall!!!
Seriously, this was a lot better than I expected. You are going to say, "LOL what?!" at least once reading the opening credits.
"The Hurt Locker" - The best and also the most relentlessly stressful war movie I've seen since the criminally underrated "Jarhead".
"Fanboys" - An abject lesson in the horrors of executive meddling.
The movie itself is okay, but it is also terribly obvious what scenes were demanded by the studio, who wanted to make a sweet story about friendship and fandom edgy and hip. You can listen to the director, Kyle Newman, describe the entire spectacular debacle in this episode of the wonderful /Film Podcast.
----Imaginative Realism - James Gurney's art instruction book is, naturally, gorgeous. Better yet, like his excellent blog (see links list at right), it's also warm and very informative. My favorite art instruction books gave me ideas I never would have thought of myself, and having read this one I may need to build myself a Taboret.
I only have one small nitpick: this books serves as a great collection of Gurney's artwork, so it is well worth purchasing even if you're just a fan and you hate oil painting. Unfortunately, some of the artwork included practically begs for longer explanations. (TV Tropes, of all places, has a good list of all the Dinotopia spinoffs. According to Imaginative Realism, there were originally meant to be more. Many more. Imagine an animated Dinotopia film that was made by people who actually bothered to stick to the books...)
----Trailers I saw at the Movies:
"Percy Jackson: The Olympians: The Lightning Thief: Colons!" - Nothing is funnier -NOTHING- than one of those "making of" trailers where the Newbie teenaged stars are asked to describe the plot of the book-based elaborate-backstory-heavy fantastic film that they have found themselves starring in.
"Tooth Fairy" - Jeepers creepers, this thing's real?!?
YouTube has sadly failed me here, but when Arnold Schwarzenegger was on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" ages and ages ago (possibly right around when "Terminator 2" was out), he described how he was going to be in this movie. Now here it is, more than a decade later, with The Rock. As a Tooth Fairy. With pretty sparkly Fairy wings. So this movie somehow survived being in development limbo for, let's guesstimate, fifteen years, and I already knew as a teen that the concept was hopelessly stupid.
"Shrek 4: Let's Just Get This Over With*" - So wait, we're not getting seven Shrek sequels after all? This is really the last one ever? Yaaaaay!!!
* - It was funny for the "Star Wars" prequels, it's funny here."Alice in Wonderland" - M'eh.
Well, you see, I'd already seen the trailer for "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus", and that is the only upcoming crazy-ass fantasy film for me. Now if only there was some assurance that my part of the world was ever going to get to see it! (Dammit, high-paid executives, some people like weird movies. Plus, this one has a built-in audience!)
"Cats and Dogs 2" - I may never get to see Heath Ledger's final performance in the theater, but I'm going to be able to watch a "Cats and Dogs" sequel.
This also means that we live in a world where "Cats and Dogs" can have a sequel. Also, "Tooth Fairy" exists now. This means that all bets are officially off.
"Inception" - This OWNS!
Thus far, this is the only movie I am 100% on board for this coming year and I want to stay totally clean. Don't tell me what it's about!!!
Remember that long-necked dragon from a few days ago? Well here he is in shiny finished form: