I’ve watched a bunch of different stuff the past couple weeks, and this edition of “Quickfire reviews” is long overdue and includes several Oscar nominees and 11 flicks in all. A new decision on my part: the order of reviews will begin with the bad and end on the good. I’ll save the best for last.
Big Fan. (Overall 2/10)
Last weekend I was searching for a movie to go see in theatres. I had seen The Princess and the Frog on Friday, and wanted to check out a matinee on Sunday. I couldn’t justify spending money to see Sherlock Holmes. I just can’t find any interest there. Why is Sherlock Holmes a borderline superhero engaging in bare-fist fighting? I just don’t get it. It has Netflix Watch Instantly written all over it.
The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus? Ehhh…honestly, I think the trailer is cool as hell, but Terry Gilliam is too weird, and I’ve disliked too many of his films to believe that this will be any different. My main motivation is really just to see Heath Ledger’s final performance. I still want to see it, but I think I’ll wait for Netflix.
Anyway, here’s what I have seen the past two weeks, whether in theatres or at home, but still 2009 releases…
I’ve been trying to narrow down a Top 100 of the decade and fairly easily managed to figure the top 27. However, as I tried to create some kind of order among the final 73 I realized how little meaning there would be. A top 27 says more and I can at least try to briefly explain the reasoning. These films clearly stand out to me and have remained memorable throughout the past 10 years. As I’ve said before, I clearly distinguish between which are the “best” and which are my “favorites.” It’s hard to separate them but I think this list best represents what I feel to be a blend of the two.
27. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004) — Easily the most quotable movie of the decade. My face hurt from laughing so hard the first time I saw it in theatres. It’s this generations Caddyshack and only improves through repeated viewings. I hope they don’t follow through with the long rumored sequel, see Caddyshack 2 for supporting evidence. There’s no topping the original.
James Cameron has done what I thought to be unachievable. Never did I think it was possible, nor had I even entertained the thought of it happening. But he’s done it. James Cameron has created a likable Michelle Rodriguez character. Bravo, Mr. Cameron. BRAVO.
Ok, seriously. (Although I was being serious about Michelle Rodriguez. I have never liked her before in anything she’s been in, she was capable of borderline ruining a film for me.) I was lucky enough to snag tickets to a 3D IMAX preview of Avatar on “Avatar Day” (August 21st). I was extremely pumped as anyone else would be who has been following the progress of the movie for quite some time and hearing the rumors of the technology and 3D immersion. It was just under 20 minutes long, and it was a few different sequences cut together, completely out of context. I had not watched the released trailer yet, because I felt it would spoil the IMAX experience. I was also seeing District 9 right afterwards and was able to go from seeing the IMAX 3D preview of the Avatar trailer to the regular 2D trailer running prior to District 9. I knew right away that anyone comparing the two, or knocking the 2D trailer for it’s realism or “wow” factor were vastly uninformed. There’s no comparison to seeing it in 3D. This is not opinion, it’s fact.
I came into LOST a little late near the beginning of Season 2. I was in college and my parents called me insisting that I watch the Pilot. They had bought it off iTunes, watched it on a plane, and immediately raved about it. I had a vague familiarity with LOST; people were stranded on an island from a plane crash, there may or may not be dinosaurs involved, etc. But I had no idea what I was about to get myself into.
I blasted through the Season 1 and was immediately caught up to the live airing episodes of Season 2. During Season 2, I had downloaded a Dashboard widget which counted down 108 minutes, and would beep during the final 4, during which you had to input the numbers to reset it, just as they do on the show. Forgetting I had the widget, my roommate and I were watching an episode one night when we heard the familiar alarm. But it wasn’t coming from the TV and we were both sitting there wondering what was going on. Yep, it was my computer. Good times.
I’m a big fan of Clint Eastwood. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, The Outlaw Josey Whales, Dirty Harry. Clint is a badass. We all know this. The guy was born 11 pounds, 6 ounces. The average baby weighs 5 pounds, 6 ounces and, on average, doesn’t reach 10 pounds until 2 months. He’s more than twice the man the rest of us mere mortals are and the past decade he’s established his prowess as one of the best directors working today. From 2000 to 2009 Clint has directed 9 films, starred in 4 and composed the soundtracks for 5. He was nominated for 7 Oscars total and won 2, for Best Director and Best Picture on Million Dollar Baby, and nearly a 3rd for Best Actor if not for Jamie Foxx in Ray that same year. Keep in mind, this “man” turns 80 this May. As a result of this success I guess I’ve become conditioned to expect nothing but greatness from Clint. And when I saw the trailer for Invictus, I thought I was in for another gem.
Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) spends most of his life traveling; 322 days last year, according to his count. He fires people for a living, traveling across the country from office to office to handle mass layoffs that inept bosses fail to stomach. He also works part-time as a motivational speaker with his “What’s in your backpack” philosophy of minimizing your life. He’s great at his job, meets women on the road (Vera Farmiga plays love interest Alex Goran) and the lifestyle suits him perfectly. But his way of life is threatened when Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), a young, hot-shot Cornell grad, comes in with plans to cut corporate costs by implementing a video chat system to fire employees. For his final trip “up in the air”, Bingham’s boss Craig Gregory (Jason Bateman) charges Bingham with showing Keener the ropes and reality of firing for on the job training before the company fully transitions to the new system.
We’ve all seen George Clooney be charming, and in that respect this role is perfect for him, and even written by Juno director Jason Reitman with Clooney in mind. But what makes this performance special is the complexity that comes with his charming, smooth nature. There’s a unique innocence to his charisma, a pleasure in enjoying his world and satisfaction in being great at what he does.