Sunday, January 31, 2010

Avatar Reviewed at The Cinematheque

I think I actually hate the idea of what Avatar represents more than the actual movie itself.  A colorful melange of acid-trippy environmentalism and anti-imperialism wrapped inside a gorgeous make-believe world that is unfortunately encumbered with one of the most stereotypical of screenplays (Cameron's weak spot indeed) in many a year.  The movie itself ends up being nothing more than mere middle-of-the-road multi-plex fodder full of pretty computer-created 3D pictures.  The idea that it will change cinema - which it very well may - is what pisses this critic off.  This change in the weather as it were, may be a change in the complete wrong direction.  Taking the art out of cinema (and yes, much of it is already, and always has been, artless) Cameron's apparent paradigm shift could be what Susan Sontag warned us of years ago - the death of cinema.  Okay, I am probably being over-dramatic, but I've been accused of that before.  Whatever the case may be, Avatar is, at best, an okay picture - at best.  Why all the hullabaloo, I don't know - but then the masses always need something to hang their hopes on. 

Friday, January 29, 2010

Scarlett & Rhett: King (and Queen) of The World

So Avatar and Jimmy Cameron think they're hot stuff huh!?  King of the world??  Two billion in box office sales??  Well think again people.  Although Avatar has now topped Cameron's other smash Titanic on the all-time B.O. list and is perched to top two bill, it is not the movie seen by the most people - not even close.  When accounting for pure ticket sales the all-time champ is still Gone With The Wind followed by the original Star Wars.  Where is Avatar on this list you ask.  Number 26 baby.  Sure, it has topped the B.O. but considering tix these days run from $8 to $10 (give or take depending on where and when and all) and when you add to that the inflated price for 3D and/or IMAX - of course it out sold everything else.

On that particular list, after Avatar and Titanic come a bunch of Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings/Pirates movies (and The Dark Knight!) but when you count purely ticket sales - well it's a whole other ballgame.  Below is a list of the top 20 movies by ticket sales.

1. Gone With The Wind
2. Star Wars
3. The Sound of Music
4. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
5. The Ten Commandments
6. Titanic
7. Jaws
8. Dr. Zhivago
9. The Exorcist
10. Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs
11. 101 Dalmations
12. The Empire Strikes Back
13. Ben-Hur
14. Return of the Jedi
15. The Sting
16. Raiders of the Lost Ark
17. Jurassic Park
18. The Graduate
19. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace
20. Fantasia

Now I am not saying all these films are better than Avatar (although most are) nor am I saying they are better than the whole Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings/Pirates movies (though most are) or even that these are all great films.  I happen to loath the Phantom Menace and Sound of Music and am rather uninterested in Ben Hur or The Sting or even Titanic (see Cameron, that one is at least still up there pretty high).  And I know this means nothing to all the Avatar lovers out there (I actually kinda liked the film for what little there was to it) or to the fact that it may inexplicably beat out The Hurt Locker (and/or Inglourious Basterds) for the Oscar - I just wanted to share this little list with all of you out there.  

Avatar will probably pierce the top twenty eventually (it's poised to leap ahead of Grease and The Lion King any day now) but it would take a lot to reach the top on this list - it'll be gone and on DVD before that ever happens.  Movies back in the day (aka: before the video revolution of the eighties) tended to stay in theaters a lot longer than nowadays.  Star Wars opened in May and was still in theaters come December - and then returned to theaters the following spring and summer.   Nowadays, it's all about the DVD sales and rentals so even the biggest movies tend to last only a few months at best.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Road Reviewed at The Cinematheque

As I attest to in my review, though John Hillcoat is a more than capable director and his psycho-western The Proposition was a more than bravura take on the long dead genre, Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize winning novel of desolation and sacrifice would have come closer to the source material (and McCarthy's Faulkneresque prose poetry) if someone like Bela Tarr or, in crossing over, the late great austere master Andrei Tarkovsky were at the helm.  The film is visually magnificent and Viggo Mortensen's central performance is awe-inspiring as they say, and Hillcoat does a marvelous job in adaptation (leaving out very little when all is said and done) but there is just a feel that should be there that is just not.  But then, I am splitting hairs, for my criticism, though seemingly major, is probably a lesser concern than it should be.  One cannot really ask what a film would be like under the auspices of another director.   Well one can, but one probably shouldn't.  Imagine what the film would have been like with Antonioni at the helm.  There I go again.  I'll try to stop.  Anyway, that being as it may, here is my review of The Road. 

Best of the Decade: 2000-2009

After long deliberation and even longer procrastination, and with very little fuss and/or fanfare, I give you my choices for the fifty best films of the last decade.

1. Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch)
2. In the Mood For Love (Wong Kar-wai)
3. Dogville (Lars von Trier)
4. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson)
5. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)
6. Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee)
7. Y Tu Mama Tambien (Alfonso Cuaron)
8. I'm Not There (Todd Haynes)
9. Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman)
10. Werckmesiter Harmonies (Bela Tarr)
11. Silent Light (Carlos Reygadas)
12. 2046 (Wong Kar-wai)
13. Kill Bill Vol. I & II (Quentin Tarantino)
14. INLAND EMPIRE (David Lynch)
15. Russian Ark (Aleksandr Sokurov)
16. Marie Antoinette (Sofia Coppola)
17. The Royal Tanenbaums (Wes Anderson)
18. The Wayward Cloud (Tsai Ming-liang)
19. Antichrist (Lars von Trier)
20. Goodbye Dragon Inn (Tsai Ming-liang)
21. The New World (Terrence Malick)
22. Zodiac (David Fincher)
23. The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow)
24. Memento (Christopher Nolan)
25. No Country For Old Men (Joel & Ethan Coen)
26. Mystic River (Clint Eastwood)
27. Let The Right One In (Thomas Alfredson)
28. The Dreamers (Bernardo Bertolucci)
29. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron)
30. Before Sunset (Richard Linklater)
31. Public Enemies (Michael Mann)
32. Wendy and Lucy (Kelly Reichardt)
33. Regular Lovers (Philippe Garrel)
34. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu)
35. The Brown Bunny (Vincent Gallo)
36. A History of Violence (David Cronenberg)
37. Little Children (Todd Field)
38. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan)
39. Gone Baby Gone (Ben Affleck)
40. Irreversable (Gasper Noe)
41. Talk To Her (Pedro Almodovar)
42. Far From Heaven (Todd Haynes)
43. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry)
44. Moulin Rouge (Baz Luhrmann)
45. United 93 (Paul Greengrass)
46. The Triplets of Belleville (Sylvain Chomet)
47. Capturing the Friedmans (Andrew Jarecki)
48. Requiem For A Dream (Darren Aronofsky)
49. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Cristi Puiu)
50. City of God (Fernando Meirelles)

So that's the list.  It may change somewhat in about an hour or so, and then again and hour or so after that, ad infinitum, but for now, this is the list.  Now I've got to start work on my next best of the decade list.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Nine Reviewed at The Cinematheque

The idea of a musical version of Fellini's 8 1/2 is a unique and rather interesting idea, and under the right auspices (and right director) it could have been a unique and rather interesting movie.  Unfortunately for us (and everyone involved in the making of the film) that director is not Rob Marshall.  He already demolished Bob Fosse's Chicago back in 2002 (and won the Academy Award for his services!!? Beating out both The Pianist and Gangs of New York btw!!?) and now he does grand ruin to Fellini's memory as well.  Luckily (to some degree) the cast - including Daniel Day-Lewis, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard and Sophia Loren - almost makes up for Marshall's complete lack of filmmaking ability.  Has the guy ever even seen a movie other than his own!?  Anyway, you take the good, you take the bad, and there you have...well, the film is merely middle-of-the-road and that is all there is to that. I guess, though it could have and should have been much better, it could have been much much worse too. 

Read my review of Nine at The Cinematheque.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I'm Still Here (it's true)

Hey...I'm still here.  Just been real busy lately with some non-movie stuff.  Yeah yeah, believe it or not there is such a thing as non-movie stuff.  But I will return within a week with new reviews of such films as The Lovely Bones, Nine, Up in the Air, Crazy Heart, Broken Embraces, The White Ribbon, A Single Man, Youth in Revolt, Fish Tank, Dr. Parnassus, The Messenger, Daybreakers, The Road, The Book of Eli, Mammoth, Police Adjective, The Young Victoria, The Last Station, Precious, Leap Year and a bunch more.  Also I will reveal my choices for the 50 Best Films of the Decade.  And I might be a new homeowner as well.  Wish me luck and see you soon.....

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Golden Globes (unfortunately unsurprising) Faux Pas

The below picture should have been the scene at the end of The Golden Globes.  Alas, poor Kathryn.  But hey, she may have lost the Globe(s) to her ex-husband James Cameron, but she no longer has to sleep with the man, so I ask you...who is the real winner here?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Best of the Decade Coming Soon.....

I know, I know, it's fourteen days past the end of the decade already and still no Best of the Decade list from yours truly.  Well, give your bellyaching a rest.  It is coming soon.....

Until then here is a teaser (and no, this is not my number one pic).

Monday, January 11, 2010

Farewell & Adieu Monsieur Rohmer

"You can't think of nothing." - Eric Rohmer

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Best of 2009

Here are my long-delayed choices for the best films of 2009.

1. Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)  
2. Antichrist (Lars von Trier)
3. The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow)
4. Public Enemies (Michael Mann)
5. Red Cliff (John Woo)
6. Tetro (Francis Ford Coppola)
7. Broken Embraces (Pedro Almodovar)
8. Drag Me to Hell (Sam Raimi)
9. Gomorrah (Matteo Garrone)
10. Star Trek (J.J. Abrams)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It Might Get Loud Reviewed at The Cinematheque

Since I never got around to reviewing the film when it first came out (even though it played at the cinema I happen to run) I am finally taking the time now, as it is released on DVD, to review It Might Get Loud.  Not much more to say other than go over to MovieZeal and read the review. 

For the Love of Film (and who doesn't!?)

A very important blogathon will be taking place Feb. 14-21, 2010.  It is more than a mere blogathon.  It is called "For the Love of Film", and it is a fundraising blogathon, with proceeds to going to the National Film Preservation Foundation.  The places to be are The Self-Styled Siren and Ferdy on Films.  You can go to either one of those aforementioned blogs (two of my favourites by the way) to find out all the juicy info about how to participate.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Best of the Decade: Year 2008

Welcome to Part VII of the Best of the Decade Project.  Each few days I will name my choices for the best films of each particular year in the aforementioned decade.  This will culminate just after the new year with my list of the 50 greatest films of the decade.  So without further ado I give you my top ten for the year 2008.

1. Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman)
2. Let the Right One In (Thomas Alfredsen)
3. Wendy and Lucy (Kelly Reichardt) 
4. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan)
5. A Christmas Tale (Arnaud Desplechin) 
6. Rachel Getting Married (Jonathan Demme)
7. The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky)
8. Che (Steven Soderbergh)
9. Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood) 
10. Waltz With Bashir (Ari Folman)

Chicken Critics

I found this while breezing through the world wide web the other day and just needed to share it with all of you out there who care enough to pay attention. 

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Best of the Decade: Year 2007

Welcome to Part VII of the Best of the Decade Project.  Each few days I will name my choices for the best films of each particular year in the aforementioned decade.  This will culminate just after the new year with my list of the 50 greatest films of the decade.  So without further ado I give you my top ten for the year 2007.

1. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson)
2. I'm Not There (Todd Haynes)
3. Silent Light (Carlos Reygadas)
4. Zodiac (David Fincher)
5. No Country For Old Men (Joel & Ethan Coen)
6. 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days (Cristian Mingiu)
7. Gone Baby Gone (Ben Affleck) 
8. My Blueberry Nights (Wong Kar-wai)
9. Grindhouse (Quentin Tarantino & Robert Rodriguez)
10. 28 Weeks Later (Juan Carlos Fresnadillo)

The Great Procrastinator Catches Up: Fantastic Mr. Fox, Brothers & 2012 Reviewed at The Cinematheque

Well, it's 2010 and this procrastinating old fool has yet to review many of the movies he saw over the last few months of 2009.  That procrastinating old fool is here today to remedy at least some of that.  With that said, I give you three reviews of films that should have been written and posted more than a while ago.   I will list them (for no other reason than because I want to) in preferential order, from best to worst.

First up is Wes Anderson's inevitable foray into animation, with the stop-motion screwball comedy Fantastic Mr. Fox (my review can be read here).  Charming, but in the Wes Anderson definition of charm, Fantastic Mr. Fox is the more popular but less demanding of the two talking fox movies that came out in 2009.  But chaos still reigns in Anderson's movie.  It's just a somewhat more light-hearted kind of chaos.  But hey, any movie with Bill Murray as a badger is just alright with me.

Second is the Jim Sheridan helmed remake of the Danish film Brothers (my review can be read here).  It is a rather mediocre remake, as many a Hollywood retread of European fare tends to be, but occasionally the haphazard performances break through the surface to keep the film from faltering too far down the rabbit hole.  Not exactly a rave review, but I suppose it could have been worse.

The third film of this triple play catch-up game is Roland Emmerich's disaster du jour 2012 (my review can be read here).  Based on the idea that the world will end on 12/21/12 (thanks to those pesky Mayans and their unfinished calendar) this CGI-addled John Cusack adventure movie could have been a lot worse than it was.  Another rave, eh?  Emmerich has done giddy popcorn fun before with his favourite genre, but here his well seems to be beginning to run a bit on the dry side. 

I'll be back soon with some more catch-up of 2009, with reviews of Where the Wild Things Are, La Belle Personne, Bad Lieutenant, Lake Tahoe, The Silence of Lorna, Coco Before Chanel, Amelia, Invictus, Amreeka, Disgrace, The Messenger and Avatar.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Best of the Decade: Year 2006

Welcome to Part VII of the Best of the Decade Project.  Each few days I will name my choices for the best films of each particular year in the aforementioned decade.  This will culminate just after the new year with my list of the 50 greatest films of the decade.  So without further ado I give you my top ten for the year 2006.

1. Marie Antoinette (Sofia Coppola)
2. Inland Empire (David Lynch)
3. Little Children (Todd Field)
4. United 93 (Paul Greengrass)
5. Miami Vice (Michael Mann) 
6. Black Book (Paul Verhoeven)  
7. Letters From Iwo Jima (Clint Eastwood) 
8. The GoodTimesKid (Azazel Jacobs) 
9. Day Night Day Night (Julia Loktev)
10. Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt)