Monday, December 14, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
2. Titan A.E. (Directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman) - Eric
I consider this to be the most underrated animated film of all time. It's directed by the man behind The Land Before Time, written by Joss Whedon and John August, and was voiced by Matt Damon, Janeane Garofalo, and Ron Perlman, among numerous others. An impressive list that came together to make an impressive movie. It's science-fiction at it's best: action-packed, post-apocalyptic, with a lot of heart. The jokes are all well-timed, and the suspenseful scenes are nerveracking. I want it to be more talked about than it is, which appears to be not at all.
Abi Says: Huh. Wow. Never have I seen this one. Post-apocalyptic?! So ahead of its time, both literally and film-genrically. I'll watch it, and then I'll talk about only it forever until I stop.
3. Amores Perros (Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu) - Abi
I'm a sucker for films that have spliced-together stories. Much like this one. It's got three separate stories that all come together with a car accident. There is so much chaos - with a dying dog and guns and tearing up floorboards - but it all ends up coming together in a big picture way. Like that dot painting. I watched this film in the language lab at school trying to fulfill my necessary hours. I was sitting in a ridiculously uncomfortable chair and wearing headphones that had been worn by thousands of gross college students, but still I was riveted. Sympathetic characters is something I feel like I'm going to be bringing up a lot, and this film has them by the pounds. This one made my heart race itself to infinity.
Eric Says: Well I hate this movie. Hate it so much it's on my list, too. And my favorite by Inarritu. I like Gael Garcia Bernal's storyline most of all, because it feels like it has the most depth. He's in love, with a girl and a dog, and he's willing to stab plenty of people over it. The storylines seem to all come together in a much more rewarding way here compared to his later film 21 Grams, and there seems to be a lot more going on in the character's minds than in Babel. Great movie.
3. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen) - Eric
I'm a fan of all the Coen Brothers works. Except The Ladykillers. I can't stand that movie. Unfortunately for O Brother I rank it at the very bottom of the Coen favorites. The goofiness of the characters doesn't always balance into funny. It's sometimes offputting. And the music isn't my cup of tea, either. I think the acting is fine, I just don't think the acting is given to the best roles. But the lowliest Coen Brothers movie still makes it onto the top of 2000, and that's why they are terrific.
Abi Says: I haven't seen this, either. But I read the book.
4. The Emperor's New Groove (Directed by Mark Dindal) - Abi
This is the only film on my list that I actually saw in 2000. In theaters, no less! And as such, it holds a special place in my heart. I'm almost positive this is the last non-Pixary Disney film that I enjoyed, and it's one of my favorites, as well. The Emperor's New Groove got my Disney hopes up right before they were smashed to oblivion with Atlantis. Spade and Goodman play off each other really well. The writing makes me laugh, still. I know this, because roommates of mine were watching it last weekend, and I chuckled from afar. And the villain... Yzma (Kitt)! And her bumbling sidekick Kronk (Warburton). They Also play off each other well! This film is all about partnerships to me. And llamas. I just like a good llama film.
Eric Says: This is the second film on the list I saw in theaters, and one of two. Both animated. Cartoons were good when I was ten. And yes, until The Princess and the Frog blow our expectations out of the bayou we will look upon New Groove as one of those last few, proud members of the Disney old guard.
4. The Emperor's New Groove - Eric
5. Amores Perros (Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu) - Eric
5. Almost Famous (Directed by Cameron Crowe) - Abi
I didn't see this film until 2009. Until this very day, in fact. And maybe it's riding high in the "recently watched" part of my brain, but for now it belongs here. I liked the opening credits. I always appreciate when a film goes out of its way to make the opening credits enjoyable. These were. Fugit was apparently 18 during filming; a fact around which my head simply will not wrap. He looks every day of the 15 years of his character. Frances McDormand plays a great concerned and well-educated mother, and Zooey Deschanel is an excellent brat. And P-Hoff is in this! I almost forgot about him, but he's good. Billy Crudup's role as Russell Hammond is my favorite, though. He plays it to the nines. It made me want to be a rock star. It made me want to take acid.
Eric Says: I myself don't like this movie much. It's okay. I like Billy Crudup most, too, and I think there are fun moments between the band and the boy, but there's so much focus on the awful Penny Lane (Kate Hudson), and there are a lot of unbelievable moments that are supposed to be played as reality. I and Almost Famous do not gel.
6. Best in Show (Directed by Christopher Guest) - Eric
I can't remember if I saw this first, or A Mighty Wind first, but whichever sparked my interest in mockumentaries. I couldn't get enough of them. I only Really like four, all by Christopher Guest and his troupe, but I can't get enough of them. Best in Show is possibly one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. They are masters at improvisation. Every line is said with a ridiculous earnesty that makes me fear these people actually do walk the Earth outside of the film. Thank goodness they don't, and only exist to make me laugh.
Abi Says: Mockumentaries are sometimes brilliant, and other times just painful. Christopher Guest makes 'em brilliant. Again, I haven't seen this, but I will never deny my extreme appreciation for his writing and acting contributions in This is Spinal Tap. He's a mockuartist. While we're mentioning mention-worthy mockumentaries, I want to say I enjoyed Akel's Chalk, and also that Summer Heights High gets at least honorably mentioned.
6. Chocolat (Directed by Lasse Hallstrom)
It's the stereotypical heterosexual woman in me that likes this one. Chocolate. Johnny Depp. That right there gets the attention of about 96% of all females. Add some Gypsies to the mix, and you've got yourself a gem. This film is like watching a two-hour long Snickers commercial, but with more emotional payback. I liked the vibe. I wish it had been more brightly-colored. I remember feeling it was kind of washed-out. But maybe Jeunet has lured me into this false sense of all things French having to be garish. Garish might be too harsh. Anyway. Chocolat.
Eric Says: I haven't seen Chocolat, but I've heard from many girls that it's a great movie. I like Johnny Depp, and I like chocolate, so I think I'd enjoy this. What did the homosexual woman in you think of Chocolat?
She was also appeased. Everyone likes chocolate. Everyone likes Johnny Depp.
7. In the Mood for Love (Directed by Wong Kar-Wai) - Eric
7. The Perfect Storm (Directed by Wolfgang Petersen) - Abi
You know what else women like? George Clooney. George Clooney, and a sad ending with Mark Wahlberg floating in the middle of the ocean. And fish. This film has them all! It's the story of a swordfish gettin' team, which gets stuck in this huge storm. There's a lot of exposition, because audiences have to actually care about the men on the boat, as well as their landlubber friends and loved ones. I liked this film, because I got to kick my younger siblings out of the room while I watched it due to its rating, and that made me feel cool. But the film itself made me sad. And I watched it on vacation. A vacation that involved fishing. Probably not a good idea. More film stuff... in the days before shows like Deadliest Catch, audiences probably didn't realize how much danger is actually involved in being in a fishing boat. It's a lot. This film did a good job of showing all the danger, I think. One guy gets a huge fish hook stuck in his hand! Films with dangerous water always make me feel uneasy, and this one was no different. Also, I should mention that this is based on a book, which is a creative nonfiction story. That means it actually kind of happened, which is sad. (PS: I should also mention that Chocolat was a book first. A fiction book. Here's to you, literary fans).
Eric Says: We're finally getting some diversity in this list, because I've never seen this movie either. I've watched parts on the television, and remember catching a glimpse when it was in theaters, but I normally don't like weather movies, and I definitely don't like tales of heroism. This would probably be off my list, had I seen it. It's very telling that it's on yours.
I'll say. It's also very telling that it's not on yours.
8. Memento (Directed by Christopher Nolan) - Eric
When I first saw this movie I thought it was So Cool. Guy Pearce is a total badass, getting justice for something he doesn't fully understand. The backwards narrative structure was unlike anything I'd seen before. This was prior Following, or Pulp Fiction. Fractured narrative was awesome. The second time I watched it, knowing the twist ending, and story style, I liked it even more. The best scene, for me, is when Moss leaves the house after screaming her head off, and... well, you haven't seen this, Abi, so I shouldn't spoil it. But that part's great.
Abi Says: What?! Who said I haven't seen this? From whom are you getting your information?
Wait... you have? Have we discussed it?
Abi Says: No. No, I haven't. No worries.
Abi Says: Having (again) not seen this, there's not much I can say. A backwards narrative structure is something I've applauded e'er since that one episode of Seinfeld. And a twist ending?! I can hardly contain my excitement. I've tried checking this out at the library, but it's been unavailable every time I've gone to snatch it up. Wouldn't you know it.
8. X-Men (Directed by Bryan Singer) - Abi
It feels good to be at number 8 already. The fact that my number 8 is X-Men feels less good. I watched this with a bunch of teenagers, I think. Teenagers who wished they had super powers. This film just leaves me feeling "ehhh" whenever I think about it. I see it as the first in a long line of the comic book films we keep getting, and I don't feel it was done nearly as well as, say... Watchmen. Duh. I liked Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. Didn't like Anna Paquin or even Halle Berry much. Felt really uncomfortable with Mystique.
Eric Says: X-Men is my number nine. And I like it. I think it's deserving of this list, to a degree. More so I think X2 should be on a year's end list, and since it's not on my later lists this can serve as a place-holder for its sequel. Plus, without this one there wouldn't be the sequel. You didn't like Hugh Jackman? Or James Marsden? Yeah, they weren't so great. X-Men is more about the message than the movie, too. The X-Men are a fantastic group of superheroes, and of all the other superhero franchises sparked this is one of the best handled in terms of source material faith, and well-made-ness.
9. X-Men - Eric
9. Unbreakable (Directed by M. Night Shyamalan) - Abi
Sixth Sense was the very first "scary" movie I ever watched. I don't know why I put scary in quotes, because I was actually very scared by it. Scary. There. As a result, M. Night Shyamalan was able to captivate me with anything he made, so long as Bruce Willis played the lead. The first thing I think about with this film is the shot over young Samuel Jackson's head when he opens up his first comic book, and the camera spins around one way, while he spins the book around the other way. The younger me was enthralled by that. I also really like that color that means Samuel Jackson is involved. You know the one. Oh yeah! Remember when the son pulls a Gun on Bruce?! What a messed-kid! As a whole, this film left me partially shaken (due to the dangerous water), but overall unimpressed. Maybe because it was comic book-y? Do I really just not like comic book films? We've discussed this film before, and you made a good point about something. Something about the ending, like how dumb it was that he showed his kid that newspaper article, revealing his "superhero" identity.
Eric Says: It is a sad, sad world where we have to put films that have left us "unimpressed" in our ten favorite films of any year. I don't remember what I said about the ending. I don't remember talking much about this movie, except when I've told people how chilling Jackson's broken baby body is at the start of the movie. I too am overall unimpressed with Unbreakable, because it has a very strong story, and Bruce Willis is pretty good in it, but it eats up time with his exercise routines and sad, blue shots of his child.
Yup. Yup. Broken Bodied Baby is more chilling than an old Benjamin Button Baby any day.
10. Traffic (Directed by Steven Soderbergh) - Eric
2000 was a good year for anti-addict films. This was more of an anti-dealer, really. The War on Drugs was strong in our minds back then. A little less realistic than the War on Terror, but a little more realistic than the War on Crime. Soderbergh made the drug war feel entirely unbeatable. He didn't present it in a hopeless sort of way, he drew it out realistically. Troublesome and real. It's Topher Grace's best role. Benicio del Toro's, too. Actually, I don't like him in anything but Traffic. It's one of my favorite Soderbergh films. 2000 was a good year for favorites for certain directors. This weaves a bunch of great, diverse stories together in a less experimental way than Amores Perros, but in a more satisfying way, I think.
Abi Says: Good. Good; I'm glad for it. Haaaaven't seen it.
10. Miss Congeniality (Directed by Donald Petrie) - Abi
This film is kind of a guilty pleasure. I'm allowing it on this list mostly because it made me laugh as a young gal. But it's number ten, so keep that in mind. Filmically speaking, this doesn't have much going for it. It's not particularly well-shot, nor is Bullock's character very appealing. Less so before the make-over, but still not much overall. The other Miss State's are expectedly banal and flighty. Annoyingly so. I keep confusing this with Two Weeks Notice (sic). Not a good sign. I don't like the fact that there's a love interest. You know what I still like about Miss Congeniality? Michael Caine.
Eric Says: Michael Caine should be an argument in court. "How do you plead?/Michael Caine." Then you don't have to go to prison because everyone is busy thinking of how charming an actor he is, and of all his fantastic roles. Remember that picture I used for my Inception cast post? When he was young and dashing? Boy is Michael Caine stupendous. But yeah, Miss Congeniality sucks. I think I smiled at some of it when I watched it with my Mom, and Bullock's sidekick seemed like a nice guy when I was younger, but now the whole lot of them seem like huge wastes of film. A fitting end to 2000.
I wish all the films of 2000 were just Michael Caine.
Eric Says: Me too. Me too.
Written by Abi Travis and Eric T. Voigt (Dictated but not read)
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Mike Myers, how far ye have fallen. I bought his Austin Powers movies because I remember Myers fondly, not Powers. I should have been buying Wayne’s World. Wayne is a much funnier, likeable character, and paired with Dana Carvey’s Garth he was hysterical. I worried the sequel, this movie, wouldn’t live up to the standards set in the first one, but if anything it meets and surpasses.
Now, I’m not what you’d call a “fan of heavy metal or even pseudo-heavy metal,” but I can understand wanting to be after a sit-down with Wayne’s World 2. The level of Wayne’s grit in creating the best rock festival in the world is endearing. Hard rock is handled with an understanding and care that makes even the die-hardest techno junkie’s heart melt for the rockers.
Everything is accessible, when so many of my senses are reeling against it. Even when the humor is at its most juvenile it’s so earnest I throw all caution to the wind and smile until my lips want to rip. Wayne’s World 2 is one of my favorite buddy movies, demonstrating the essence of comedy, love of music, and friendship.
I remember watching the Addams Family Vacation at my house. My Grandfather snuck out of the house, crept over beneath the window and popped his head up, shouting. He nearly scared me to death. Think, a seven year old going into cardiac arrest, and it being all his Grandpa’s fault. That’s the most interesting memory I have of any Addams Family movie.
The Addams Family movie(s) weren’t as funny as they tried to be, or as creepy as they could have been if they’d stuck to the source material. They fell into this kind of funky purgatory. Not a good funk, a lame funk. The first Casper movie suffered from the same problems. It aspired to be spooky, but turned out dusty and disgusting. Dusty isn’t an adjective often applied to tone. Its the only word I can think of.
Morticia and Gomez had this running gag where Gomez would become incredibly horny, and start kissing his wife’s arm, I think. I know there was a sexual undercurrent that I understood at my young age, but didn’t approve of. It was disconcerting. If I’m a prude now I was even more of a prude then. I blame the German and Puritan blood what flows through me.
If Addams Family had any humor it flew right over my head. I think I remember there being jokes. I don’t remember laughing. If the movie was too mature, or just a bad movie I’m not totally sure of. I supposed it left some kind of impact if I’m using four paragraphs to talk about it.
The Boris Karloff hosted Black Sabbath is a strange beast. I saw it at my first Music Box Massacre, at threeish in the morning. It took three Italian horror shorts and compiled them into an anthology. All of the actors were dubbed over in English except for Boris, who gave brief introductions before each short. He starred as a vampire in the longest and most boring short. The other two felt like average Twilight Zone episodes. I didn’t like it. Why did they subject us to such blah filmmaking?
Whether or not the shorts were intended to be compiled as an anthology still confuses me. The English dubbing appeared to take liberties with the stories, with dialogue not always matching up with the visuals. Whole chunks of exposition felt tacked on to help slower audience members. It was one of the least entertaining films in the twenty-four hours and ill placed for an audience who’d been awake for seventeen hours and at least nine more to go.
Now I know where “the world is yours” comes from! One more reference to notch into the bedpost.
Hopefully the poster has lead you to understand I’m referring to the 1932 Howard Hawks film, not the Brian DePalma/Al Pacino Scarface. I haven’t seen that Scarface. The only DePalma movie I’ve liked is Phantom of the Paradise, so I don’t have much interest in checking out the remake, if that’s what it’s considered. Judging from what I know about both there isn’t much similar ground between the two.
Hawks’ take was surprisingly comedic. Like, laugh out loud comedic. I haven’t seen a gangster movie mix humor and violence quite like Scarface. There’s a character, Angelo, who was the equivalent of a murderous Chico Marx. Hilarious. Paul Muni outdoes himself on the funny, too. He’s a greedy, evil bastard, but light enough to feel alright rooting for. He’s ruthless, but he’s a ruthless endearing underdog.
I definitely want to check out more by Howard Hawks. Did you know I haven’t even seen The Big Sleep? It feels deplorable, it does. If his other work is as masterful as Scarface I may be getting a new favorite director. If I’ve spoken too soon, with my foot in my mouth, I’ll address it in upcoming installments, over 220 posts from now.
Screwball comedies, I miss you. I want gutsy, fast talking women and adorable leading men who remain at their best when bested. Intolerable Cruelty pays homage, and adds on to, a great familiar genre which has been lost somewhere in the past half-century.
Judging from the cover, poster, and anything else marketing the movie I expected Intolerable Cruelty to be my least liked Coen brother venture. I was shown George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones, big Hollywood names with nothing to lose, staring dotingly into each others eyes. “Romantic comedy blech,” I thought. “Surely the Coens jest.” I should never have misjudged them.
Intolerable Cruelty may be one of their funniest films yet. The clever wordplay is at its cleverest. Its comedic timing could have a clock set to it. All of the actors treat the absurd as dead-pan as possible, and man, oh man, does it culminate into something hilarious. That something: Intolerable Cruelty.
Don’t be like this guy over here. Give Intolerable Cruelty a chance. If you’ve heard someone denigrating it ignore them, and let yourself decide. I can see where it would be everyone’s cup of tea, but for a culture ready to throw thousands away on Epic Movie and the next straight-to-DVD American Pie it feels like Intolerable Cruelty is something all the more special. Hilarious and special. I cherish it.