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Friday, January 14, 2011

My Pick For Film Of The Year Is........

Sorry it took so long. And before we get to number one, here are some honorable mentions:

Get Him to the Greek - Probably one of the better comedies in a year where there was a drought of good ones.

Shutter Island - Creepy and atmospheric, but also kind of boring. The ending is really farfetched too.

Iron Man 2 - Got bogged down from the high expectations. Still a good movie though, except the part where he pulls some Minority Report shit and creates a new element in like 5 seconds.

Blue Valentine - I haven't seen it, but I really want to.

Easy A - Well acted, but there are WAY too many plot lines going on.

Yogi Bear - Ahhh, I'm just fuckin' with ya.

Also here's a recap of 12-2:
12) Scott Pilgrim vs the World
11) Winter's Bone
10) The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
9) Jackass 3D
8) Black Swan
7) Kick Ass
6) True Grit
5) The Town
4) Inception
3) The Fighter
2) Toy Story 3

And my top movie of the year is.............

1) The Social Network

When I first heard about this movie, I couldn't help but think: this is retarded. A movie about Facebook and privacy snatching asshole who created it, like I want to watch that. The trailers didn't help either, the single zoom out on Jessie Eisenberg while cheesy lines were spouted from the audio: 'You know what's cooler than a million, a billion!' Ugh. And it had Justin Timberlake, double ugh.

But then I watched the movie, and it blew me away. It had everything. Great acting, great directing, a killer soundtrack. That acting is really what drives the point home for The Social Network. Eisenberg goes from a poor man's Michael Cera to a A-list star. Right from the beginning, in that first scene shows that he is not shitting around.

It also is an incredibly exciting movie for portraying something so incredible unexciting. Coding is not cool. Trust me.

The social network struck close to me because I was a computer science major myself at Berkeley. For those of you who think that Zuckerberg's portrayl was a stereotype of nerds gone raging, it is not. Assholes like Zucks were in EVERY SINGLE ONE of my computer science classes. Guys who were extremely intelligent and creative, but at the same time bitter and extremely sexually frustrated with women. They get dumped, so they keep their bitter pills against the fairer sex and did whatever it took (getting that job at Microsoft, starting up their own website) to tell all those ladies, fuck you, you could've had this. And also, there were no girls in my computer science classes, maybe one at most. That is not an exaggeration either.

There's also a lot of Sean Parkers too. Nerds who are trying to shed that image of being a nerd by partying, showing their arrogance, and doing coke off blondes. I saw a lot of these people too, people who were trying way to hard to show the world they weren't dorks. The only thing I rarely saw were people who were genuinely down to Earth, but to be fair, the people that were like that were usually pretty awesome people.

It is a little dramatic with making computer science look cool. Fincher gets the atmosphere right, the whole community based thing with music in the background, snacks, and a few beers. But there aren't hot girls around hanging out with you while your coding, they're too busy hanging out with people who actually are doing something fun.

It's also probably questionable whether the movie portrays Zucks accurately, but I never think that was the point. I always felt Sorkin and Fincher were trying to portray Zucks as an amalgam of this generations leaders of America. Smart with a sense of that privileged persona us milenials have, bitter, but cocky, Fincher's portrayl of the youth of today is dramatic yet, in some sense, very accurate.

The only thing I had against the movie were the Asian skanks. I don't think they were really necessary, other than to give nerdy white boys the hope that they can nail their own Asian groupie in a bathroom.

Friday, January 7, 2011

My Top 12 Films From 2010: #3 and #2

The top 12 so far:
12) Scott Pilgrim vs the World
11) Winter's Bone
10) The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
9) Jackass 3D
8) Black Swan
7) Kick Ass
6) True Grit
5) The Town
4) Inception

3) The Fighter

To truly appreciate Christian Bale's performance as Dicky Ecklund, you have to stay and watch the credits scene where you see how the real Dicky Ecklund is like. Once you watch it, you'll think, hoooo-ly shit Christian Bale acted just like this guy. It's pretty amazing.

Strong acting is what carries The Fighter to the top. Bale, Marky Mark, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo, even the trainer who was Micky Ward's trainer in real life all act really well in this movie. You'll watch it and think, yup, this is probably how the real people act in real life.

The Fighter is also a good movie because it is devoid of a lot of boxing cliches. Granted, there are still some in there, like when Dicky tells Micky that he's doing it for Lowell while coaching in his corner instead of actually coaching. But other than that, the whole movie is pretty compelling stuff. You get heavily invested in the characters and the complexities behind them. Sure, on paper, Micky's mom looks like a control, money hungry freak, but afterwards, you realize it's not so clear cut. And it's easy to paint Dicky as a washed up drug addict, because for most of the movie he is, but you also kind of feel for the guy, mainly because he's played so charismatically by Bale.

A lot of people have been complaining about how the fight scenes don't look real, and this video kind of disproves it.


This drives the point home that most people are really f'ing stupid, commenting on how real or fake something looks without knowing much about boxing in the first place. There's a bit of dramatic license in there, but people would be complaining if there wasn't. Haters gonna hate.

2) Toy Story 3

It really says a lot about Pixar when people can only really name one mediocre movie from them (Cars) while every other single film churned out by them is critically lauded.

When I found out Toy Story 3 was coming out, I was a little skeptical. First, it's been almost 10 years since the last one. The people, like me, grew up on Toy Story films, but those people 10 years later are indeed grown up. What investment do younger kids, who never watched 1 and 2 in the theater have to number 3.

Then I watched it. And it blew me away. I think I've covered everything I could on it before, so I won't say too much again. But this film really is one of the best of the year.

Number 1 is coming.... tomorrow!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My Top 12 Films From 2010: #5 and #4

Back to business...

The top 12 so far:
12) Scott Pilgrim vs the World
11) Winter's Bone
10) The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
9) Jackass 3D
8) Black Swan
7) Kick Ass
6) True Grit

5) The Town

"FACK YOU, YA BAY AREA TOONIE!"

The town is everything you thought it'd be! Cliche! Boston Accents up the wazzu! Over the top lines! The criminal with the heart of gold! His loose cannon friend! Guns! Heists! Blake Lively's Tittays! Red SAWXXXXXX! Ben Affleck's forehead! And yes, Don Draper as a f'in cop.

But that doesn't make it a bad movie. In fact, these things make it a great movie. I feel when Afflect directed this movie, he wasn't making it out to be the next stuuuper sterious heist movie people thought it would be. Instead, he knew it would be a movie people could go watch and have fun with. Which is great, because I did have fun with it. There were times when I was watching the movie where I'd think, fuck yeah, put that goddamn town in your goddamn rear view mirror. And when Jeremy Renner's character did something hot headed, I'd think, oh hell nah!

The movie's cliches are many. It's set in Boston, and within the first five minutes, you know it is. Red Sox logos are everywhere. The words Smahhht and Facccck fly around like they're the letter e. They even rob Fenway Park, I shit you not. And while it's easy to laugh at their dopey Bostonian toughness, it also makes the movie entertaining to watch. I feel like it's almost purposely over the top for this reason.

The directing is pretty straightforward, another reason why I liked it. No Chris Nolan camera tricks or Aronofsky mind fucking, just straight forward shoot em up action that is raw and gritty. It's not like the Departed at all. The Town doesn't take itself too seriously like The Departed did, which makes things less intense but flows a lot smoother.

The acting is.... all right. Jeremy Renner is awesome, as always, but Affleck is Ben Affleck, and Jon Hamm is Don Draper with an FBI vest. I wish Afflect had gotten someone else to be his character, like Matty Damon or Tom Hardy or something. But what can you do.

The Town isn't a film that will blow you away, but it's much more solid than films that are trying to hard (Black Swan).

4) Inception

After I saw Inception, I thought it'd be my movie of the year, but then as more months past, and as I watched it again, I realized it was not. It really is hyped a bit too much.

Mind you, that doesn't make it a bad movie, but Inception reminded me of Avatar, a movie that was a breakthrough, but in the end not a movie of the year. But at the same time, as a movie, it's a lot better than Avatar, which after watching it in non 3D, I realized is a piece of trash.

Everyone knows why Inception is great: the shifting gravity fights, the action, the way the tone is set for all the scenes, the great performances by the ensemble cast, so I'm going to list why Inception is not the top movie of the year.

First off, one dimensional characters. When I saw the advertising for Inception, they broke down each character by their roles: Extractor, Point Man, Shade, etc. Well, apparently, these roles were also stuck in the film, and each actor acted to this role perfectly. But in the end, that leaves you stuck with characters who have no complexity. Joseph Gordon Levitt is the point man, he gets action done, and basically that's all to his character. Tom Hardy is the forger, he creates new identities, and that's all to his character. That's about it. I felt that after watching a movie with all these characters, I still could not relate to them.

Even Leo's character, who the audience is supposed to identify with, comes off a little one dimensional. The man with the broken past. And that's all there is to him. Every scene he's in, he's either mumbling about Mal or talking about how inception was done.

Also, it's too obvious that Ellen Page's character is there just to explain stuff to the viewer. She spouts off lines that are clearly just explanation lines, and throws in a few worried glances to Leo's character Cobb. That's about it.

The other problem I had with it was plot. It's confusing. Unless you spend analyzing it for a while after watching, you don't understand what the hell went on after walking out of the theatre. I suppose Nolan did the best job to tell a story that had too many stories within a stories. Too many characters, too many settings, too many plot lines, it's hard to juggle, and Nolan does a great job. That doesn't mean though that he was trying to be too ambitious.

For those reasons, Inception is not my top movie. But it's still in my top 5 for all the reasons that everyone else loved the movie.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My Top 12 (Not 11) Movies of the Year: #8 and #6

I made a mistake on my last post. I put Kick Ass as number 7, and originally only had 11 movies. I also stated that I hadn't watched Black Swan or The Town, but they'd end up on the list somewhere after I watched them. Then I watched them. So now they're on the list, I have 12 movies, and because of that, I screwed up my rankings. Great. Well here's the REAL ranking I have after adding those two movies in. Hey, don't blame me for releasing and inferior version of their product to fit the deadline, Apple does it all the time (iPhone).

The top 12 so far:
12) Scott Pilgrim vs the World
11) Winter's Bone
10) The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
9) Jackass 3D
8) ???? (Look below)
7) Kick Ass


The REAL number 8: Black Swan

I was seriously hyping up this movie before I saw it. I anticipated that it would be in my top 5. And while it is a very good movie, I would say it fell short of expectations after I watched it, mainly after I realized it was just Fight Club for ballerinas. Hope that doesn't give too much of the plot away.

But then again, there isn't much plot to begin with. The movie is one of those is it in her mind or isn't it in her mind kind of movies. Some people like those movies because they think it's a mind trip, but I personally don't like them that much because it's a cop out. I want answers, damnit, not more questions. That's why people found the ending of Lost to be frustrating, because it didn't answer anything. Black Swan kind of answers it with the ending (it's in her mind) but at the same time it doesn't. If it's in her mind, then how was Mila Kunis's character, Lily, able to go party with her or have crazy lesbian sex? That's where the Fight Club comparison comes in: sometimes it's in her mind (like the lesbian sex, since in that scene's build up, Nina's (Portman) mom doesn't acknowledge Lily what so ever, and sometimes it's not, like when Portman observes her dance instructor instructing Lily. That's all fine and dandy if they actually point this out, like in Fight Club, but they don't, and I feel that leaves a lot of plot holes. One could argue that's for the viewer to decide, but fuck that, because that leaves the director and writer too much creative freedom and leave it to Nina's hallucinations for the explanation. Oh, a giant dragon crashed from the sky and ate Lily? That's all in Nina's mind man. And in a movie like this, that doesn't seem to farfetched.

Overall though, Aronofsky does what he does best, making normal things scare the shit out of you. Every scene, I was bracing for some kind of pop up scare. You think Nina laying in bed means she's safe? Think again! Bam, something pops up, and makes you pee your pants. Black Swan is definitely the scariest movie I've seen all year (it's way scarier than Paranormal Activity). Talking pictures man, talking pictures. Oh and speaking of those pictures, how did Nina's mom become an artist with such shitty art skills. Just saying.

It's a good film. Just not as good as people think it is.

Oh yeah, and Natalie Portman's acting is top notch here, but she gets minus points from me for going from this to a movie with Ashton Kutcher in it. Ugh.

6) True Grit

I don't know how Jeff Bridges didn't get nominated for a Golden Globe, him as Rooster Cogburn was the most entertaining thing I watched all year. After the movie, I was literally doing Cogburn impressions.

True Grit is submitted as a drama, but I kind of think it was more of a action comedy. There were a lot of scenes that were pretty funny, especially the exchanges between Cogburn and Lebeouf (Damon). Though, it had that wry, dry Coen Brothers style of comedy that doesn't always sit well with everyone.

Newcomer Hailie Steinfeld also does a great job as Mattie Ross, the 14 year old who acts like a 41 year old. Naturally, her uptightness is the perfect ruse for Cogburns drunken scowl. They make a great team. It essentially breaks down into a buddy cop film set in the old west, a very good buddy cop film set in the old west.

My only complaint is Josh Brolin. I couldn't understand one damn thing he was saying. Get some Vicks, dude.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My Top 11 (Now 12) Films From 2010: #8 and #7 (Now #9 and #7)

Continuing the count down:
12) Scott Pilgrim vs the World
11) Winter's Bone
10) The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo


9) Jackass 3D

Scoff all you want, but this movie was probably funnier than any comedy that came out the past year. I mean, just look at the nominees for the Golden Globes Best Musical or Comedy: Burlesque? The Tourist. The 49ers season was funnier to watch than that dreck. Actually, I have to admit, the 49ers' regular season was pretty hilarious. Alex/Troy Smith's quarterbacking was the best attempt at slapstick comedy I've seen in a long time.

You'll notice this list is devoid of any comedies, unless you count Scott Pilgrim or number 7 as a comedy. And to be all fair, there were a lot of terrible comedies this year: Dinner for Shmucks, Meet the Fockers, Yogi Fuckin' Bear, the list goes on. The only other comedy I liked was Get Him To The Greek. For me, Jackass sums up all that comedy should be: hilarious.

Andy by god, it was hilarious. Jackass is one of those movies where you're either for it or against it, there's no middle ground. Some of you elitists out there (aka people who think they're too good for Jackass and put on lame fart sniffing soirees instead) think Jackass is just gross. And I have to admit, there were some stunts that made me, an avid Jackass fan, pretty sick: the one where Dave England poos a volcano stream, Steve-O's sweat drink, and the Poo Cocktail Supreme. But other stunts were rather innovative and creative, much more creative than Michael Bay directing a CGI explosion-gasm.

Plus, the opening 3D sequence was way cooler than any other 3D that came out this year (I'm looking at you TRON). Not since Avatar did I think, this is cool. And as a plus, I didn't have to watch Avatar to enjoy the 3D.

7) Kick Ass (yes, #7 not #8)

The underrated film of the year. This is one of those films that got good critical ratings, high audience score, but underperformed like hell. It was Scott Pilgrim before Scott Pilgrim came out. In fact, it has a lot in common with SP. Over exaggerated violence, comedy, based of a comic, but it ranks higher on my list because it doesn't have Michael Cera. Laugh all you want, but a world without that awkward guy in movies is a world that has seen the brightest of days.

People give Nic Cage a lot of crap, and rightfully so. Just look at the trailer for his new witch movie. What the fuck dude? Everyone happens to speak with an accent but you. Ugh. But in Kick Ass, he was pretty great. He fit the role perfectly as the cooky hero dad to Hit Girl.

Speaking of her, Chloe Moretz is the main reason to watch this film. Granted, Aaron Johnson was fun to watch now, but watching Hit Girl slaughter nearly 20 grown men makes my 10 dollars well spent.

Monday, January 3, 2011

My Top 11 Films From 2010: #11, #10, and #9

Please note: I haven't seen Black Swan or The Town yet, but I think they'll end up on this list somewhere...

11) Scott Pilgrim vs the World

I know this has been emphasized a million times, but that's still not enough.

Please Note, I really hate Michael Cera. He's the kind of actor hipsters love, mainly because he's unoriginal and promotes indie music in his films.

It's been a slow decent from like to dislike. I loved him in Arrested Development when he played George Michael Bluth. Then I liked him in Superbad when he played Evan, but he was really just playing George Michael Bluth. Then in Juno he played a guy who was like George Michael Bluth, then Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist... Then in 2009 he changed his tone and played George Michael Bluth...as a cave man. Freakin brilliant! Too bad the movie bombed. So he went back to playing regular George Micahel Bluth in Youth in Revolt. That bombed too. Then in Scott Pilgrim, he played George Micahel Bluth with super powers and an Asian girlfriend. Cool, I guess.

Yeah, Cera's not the main reason I enjoyed Scott Pilgrim. I enjoyed it because it's just fun to watch. I admit, it appeals to the video game crowd with flashy visuals, simple plot, and Asians, but that doesn't mean it's not entertaining. The fight scenes and action is way better than anything Iron Man 2 produced. It's fast, yet doesn't take itself too seriously, which a lot of action movies are doing these days. I read the comic too, and I found it too 'I'm too cool' to enjoy, but I enjoyed this movie. And, for once, the awkward, indie white guy doesn't end up with the Asian chick. Awesome.

But fuckin' Michael Cera man, fuckin' Michael Cera.

10) Winter's Bone


Yeah, I can't believe that's the Winter's Bone chick either.

This movie is SLOW. I mean slowwwwwwwwww. An hour into it, I was wondering when the hell is something going to happen? The basic story is about a girl with a bail bond skipping father who has left the price tag with her and brothers and sisters. Now she's out to find him. Sounds like a premise for a Mel Gibson movie, so I kind of thought she'd go guns blazing. Instead, she just slowly slinks around her small rural town looking for answers. It's a lot of talk with nothing going on.

When I first watched this movie, I really hated it. My girlfriend tried to convince me it was a good movie, but I wasn't having any of it. It was just too slow for me. But then I realized, it had a lot in common with two things I loved: Fallout 3 and Lost. Both are slow too. Both make you feel like you're just wandering around, not really getting the point. But what makes both good are the environment they set up. Winter's Bone really sets up this feeling of eerieness and despair. It's not a movie to make you feel good, it's quite depressing, but that's what makes you enjoy it in the end. It transforms your mind into a place outside of what you know, and does a good job convincing you this is how it's really like for some of the shitty places in the world. For that alone, I commend it.

It's not an eye boner, it's a soul boner.

Ugh, I can't believe I typed that.

9) The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

This picture sums up their relationship in the entire movie.



This came out in Sweden in 2009, but didn't come to the states til 2010. So I'm putting it in as a 2010 movie.

After watching the foreign version, I'm a little skeptical about the American version coming up, because Noomi Rapace is fuckin' Lisbeth Salandar. I don't care what Rooney Mara does, there's no way to top what Noomi did in The Swedish version. She perfectly portrays Lisbeth as the awkward, somewhat robot like Lisbeth who is good at what she does, detective workin'.

Aside from Noomi's awesome performance, the movie itself plays out as a really good mystery movie. You have your disgraced hero, his trusty quirky sidekick, a creepy family, and not one, but two of society's most hated villains: rapists and Nazi sympathizers. And both go down in a blaze of glory. Awesome.

This is way better than any episode of CSI. Now we'll have to see how the American version does, but so far with David Fincher and everyone's favorite T Swifty photobomber, it looks promising. American remakes aren't always bad, just look at The Office (seasons 1-3). If you say that the British version is better, you are dipshit. Done and done.