Monday, September 12, 2011

Movie Review: Contagion (by Dave Machado)

I have an obsession when it comes to using Purell. I tend to use it multiple times a day and really freak out when the bottle empties before I've had a chance to buy a refill. I'm by no means a "germaphobe" but I tend to go the extra length to make sure I don't get sick. So going into Contagion, I was anticipating a movie that would make me squirm in my seat and run home to shower in a mixture of Purell and bleach. Yet in the end I was filled with an odd sadness when leaving the theater based on how little the movie actually freaked me out. While I enjoyed the film overall, I couldn't help but feel slightly underwhelmed. Contagion, while still a fantastically well made movie with lots of memorable scenes and characters, ended up being another example of a film that tries to do too much with far too little time.

The basic setup of Contagion is that a woman traveling for business (Gwyneth Paltrow) gets sick and quickly dies after returning home. The race is on to determine where the disease came from and how many people did she spread it to before her death (and how many people did they spread it to, and so on and so on). From there, Contagion kicks into gear as a multi-threaded story that tries to cover every aspect of the outbreak. This is where my main problem with the movie stems from. In trying to cover so much ground in less than 120 minutes, every section felt too thin. 

Aside from the abovementioned Paltrow, the movie also focuses on her widow (played by Matt Damon) as he tries to adjust to his new life while also making sure his daughter stays healthy as society starts to break down around him. Then there is Jude Law playing a political blogger who uses the outbreak as an excuse to make some extra money and build up his readership. There's also Kate Winslet playing a scientist for the CDC who is trying to track down possible victims and help design a plan to quarantine the sick and stop the disease from spreading. Also, Lawrence Fishbourne plays another CDC worker who is tasked with overseeing the plan to contain and kill this disease, but begins having a personal conflict with how info is being handed out to concerned citizens. Those are just half of the plots running throughout Contagion. While I enjoyed every story going on within the movie, I was always left wanting more. I understand the movie was supposed to be a broad look at a real world reaction to such an outbreak, but I couldn't help thinking how much better it could have been as a miniseries or even as a TV show. 

Having said that, I was amazed at how well Contagion was made in order to juggle so many stories yet always feel like the movie was pushing forward. I never felt like a jump to another story was a lateral jump, but always something that helped pushed the overall story a little further. One such reason for this was the incredible score that was used for the film. It's a minimal score that calls to mind some of the great Carpenter scores of the 1980s. It's slightly creepy while also slowly building to match the current tension on screen. 

It can be really toxic for a film with multiple plotlines to have even one small story drag the film down even the slightest. Luckily, Contagion does not have this problem as every section was equally engaging. While I may have favored Damon's story the most, I was never bored or annoyed when it switched to another perspective. I also have to give the movie credit for not bending over backwards in order to make every thread tie together too closely. Sure, they are all connected under the umbrella of this disease, but I was happy to see no third act revelations that two characters from separate stories were related or some other nonsense typically seen in this type of narrative.

While I may have hyped up the potential of me getting freaked out over the disease aspect of the movie, it was actually a much more visible threat that shook me the most. I mentioned earlier that my favorite part of the movie was the story that focused on Damon's character as he tries to keep his daughter safe. We begin to see mobs of people fighting over the small amount of vaccine and food left and even see Damon's character witness a robbery across the street where men force their way into a house and kill (or wound) the people inside as they look for supplies. This was the most chilling scene of the movie for me and if any story could have been excised and made into it's own movie, it would have been this. It may be because I am a naive optimist but I like to think that big disasters such as the epidemic seen in the movie, people would bond together as they try to find a way to survive. It is the quick emerging of the mob mentality seen in this movie that really chilled me and gave me large amounts of anxiety even after I left the theater.

So while Contagion didn't make me run home and cover myself in cleaning products, it did leave a lasting impression as far as how vulnerable we are as a society to just a disease. Kudos goes to director Steven Soderbergh and writer Scott Burns for keeping so many stories in check and never making me wish the focus would switch back to something else. It's not an awards caliber movie but it was smart enough to really pull me into the world that was setup. I highly recommend checking it out and look forward to hearing what other people thought. At the very least, it will make you touch your own face a whole lot less.

You're Welcome,

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Summer Movie Preview: May 2011 (by Dave Machado)

With May right around the corner, I thought now would be a good time to take a look at some of the movies that will be coming out at the start of the 2011 Summer Movie Season. At first look, May seems to be the home for many of the "lesser quality" summer movies this season but I think there might be a few gems in the mix (with one guaranteed classic I was already able to see). Expect a new entry near the end of each month this summer. If all goes well, it may just become a monthly series.

May 6th
THE BEAVER (limited release)
The Beaver is actually the movie I'm looking forward to seeing most this month. Shelved for the past year due to Mel Gibson's "issues", The Beaver has finally started seeing the light of day within the last couple months as it rounds the festival circuit. For those who don't know, the movie centers on a man (Gibson) who has a mental breakdown but discovers that he is able to slowly get out of his rut by interacting with the world using a beaver hand puppet. I've read reviews saying the tone of the movie tends to go all over the place (broad humor, dark humor, sad family drama, etc.) but a movie this original deserves to be seen. Jodie Foster stars as Gibson's ex-wife (Foster also directs the film, her first time behind the lens since Home for the Holidays in 1995) and Anton Yelchin & Jennifer Lawrence round out the rest of this impressive cast.

I'm having a hard time getting excited for this film. Nothing in the previews I've seen really excites me. The cast and crew seem great but I'm not sure the sum will be as good as the parts. Still, it will be interesting to see a new level of fantasy be introduced in the current Marvel Movie Canon. So far (Iron Man I/II and Incredible Hulk), their films have always (though not 100% successfully) tried to keep everything grounded in some pseudoscience/technological reality. But on May 6th, we start to get into the fun realm of different dimensions and God-like men. So while I don't have high hopes, I won't completely dismiss Thor. I look forward to seeing how it all comes together. I can't help thinking though that this film deserves a terrible theme song performed by Nickelback.


May 13th
I saw a screening of this film last week and it was fantastic. In an ideal work, Bridesmaid will make at least 3 times what The Hangover Part II will make. I'll be writing up a full review closer to opening weekend, but just know that I haven't laughed that hard in the theaters in a long time. Original, witty, and raunchy. Everything I want in a big summer comedy. 

EVERYTHING MUST GO (limited release)
I know very little about this film but it looks worth checking out. Will Ferrell stars as a man whose life falls apart while losing his job and wife. As a way to cope, he holds a yard sale, hoping it will allow him to get a fresh start. Also, the boy next door is played by Christopher Jordan Wallace (Notorious B.I.G.'s son). I've enjoyed "Serious Will Ferrell" before in Stranger Than Fiction so I don't doubt he'll be great here as well.

HESHER (limited release)
Another film I know very little about but based on the cast (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Natalie Portman, Rainn Wilson) and crew (directed by Spencer Susser, who made the amazing Animal Kingdom) it's worth seeing. It will be fun to see Gordon-Levitt play a dirty outcast/druggie/pyro (a nice change of pace for his usual dapper roles) and to see what kind of chemistry he has with Portman. They're two of the best younger actors working today, and that alone will get me in the theater. Also, that poster is pretty amazing.

I typically support any type of genre film but this just looks too bland. Throw in the stupid 3D conversion and I'll take a pass on this one.

May 20th
I never saw the third one but something tells me that won't be a problem. I've seen the previews and will admit this seems fun, but I also thought that before seeing the bad 2nd entry. The additions of Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane can't hurt though and I'm hoping the new cast injects some energy into the aging franchise. Semi-related story: I saw the original Pirates of the Caribbean in theaters during the summer I had back surgery in 2003. It was the first time I was able to leave the house by myself after finally getting clearance to drive again (only about 3 weeks of no driving but to a just graduated 18 year old, it was a long damn time). This makes Pirates of the Caribbean the only movie I ever saw while also wearing a small back brace under my shirt. I'm pretty sure that's why I liked the first one as much as I did. Why did I share that story? Because it's more interesting than this movie will probably end up being.

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS (limited release)
A new European Woody Allen movie. This time Owen Wilson is in it. Sure, why not?

May 27th
THE TREE OF LIFE (limited release)
I'm genuinely excited about this film. An intimately epic film spanning millions of years (at one point it involves dinosaurs). The central plot seems to revolve around Sean Penn's character, as we go back and forth between his current life and his childhood in the 1950s (featuring Brad Pitt, as his father). Penn's character appears to be having some sort of mid-life crisis, pondering such topics as the meaning of life and where we all came from. For anyone who complains that summer movies are all flash and no substance, consider this film your saving grace. The poster above will make for a great Criterion cover in the fall.

Enjoyed the first and will most likely enjoy the second. Not much else to say other than I'm still not sure why this had to be made. But who knows, it could end up being Dreamworks' version of Toy Story 2. Spoiler alert, it will not be Dreamworks' version of Toy Story 2.

"Oh my god, I can't believe this is happening...again!" -  What I assume will both be a quote from the movie itself and from me when I sit down to watch it. Maybe it will surprise me and be more than The Hangover 1: Bangkok Edition but something tells me that's exactly what it will be. Instead, go see Bridesmaids again the weekend this comes out.

That does it for May. Now shut up and go to the movies.

You're Welcome,

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Movie Review: Scream 4 (by Dave Machado)

I feel like I should preface this review by saying that the first Scream is the reason I became a horror geek. Before Scream, I couldn't handle even the tamest of horror movies. For whatever reason, seeing Scream opened the flood gates and ignited my love of horror. To this day I still consider it my favorite genre, despite how bad the current state of mainstream horror movies are. The interesting thing is that it seems the makers of Scream 4 feel the same way. The first Scream felt like a love letter to the slasher movies of the 80s, whereas this film is more a profanity ridden rant about the current crop of remakes and reboots. Consider Scream 4 the antithesis to what I thought the movie would actually be, which was "Scream 4: The Next Generation."

There were lots of paths Scream 4 could have taken. I fully expected it to focus equally on the reboot, torture porn, and found footage crazes that have plagued the horror landscape for the past few years. So it was interesting to see the movie speak so little to the latter two and instead focus most of its energy on reboots and remakes. Sure, they added a few lines of dialog here and a couple of small scenes there in order to open the discussion about the other two (re: torture and found footage), but since they never properly delved into either, these small scenes simply ended up feeling gratuitous. Having said that however, I really ended up liking what the film had to say about these remakes.

Unfortunately, the movie didn't leave me with a lot else I feel the need to discuss. It features some cool sequences and kills, along with moments of eye-rollingly faulty logic. There are some definite standouts in the new cast (specifically Hayden Panettiere and Alison Brie) but unfortunately I felt that the stronger characters were not given enough to do (whether due to an untimely death or simple lack of screen time). The "opening kill" tradition is still intact and I'll admit to finding it pretty entertaining, but I can see people being annoyed at the stream of fake-outs they must endure. Lastly, I have to congratulate Anthony Anderson on having the worst one-liner in the history of the franchise. It's so amazingly bad that it ruins what was probably my favorite kill scene.

*Fairly Major Spoilers from here on in (as in, I'll be discussing the ending, but without giving specifics). If you are still unsure of my opinion, simply know this, I liked Scream 4. It's not the best in the franchise but it certainly isn't the worst. If you enjoyed any of the previous 3, this one will entertain you. OK, now time for Spoilers, so stop reading if you want to know nothing about the last act.*

Scream 4 of course plays out like the previous 3, in that it is a murder mystery. The entire movie is about introducing red herrings and trying to make you think that (to quote Randy from the first Scream) "Everybody's a suspect!" While it can get a bit tedious at first with so many random "side glances of doom", I was actually surprised when the true killer was revealed. By the way, when I say "surprised", what I really mean is that I slapped my forehead and let out a hearty "What the hell?" followed by an eye roll. Of course, that was until I put together what the film actually was. You see, that's when I realized Scream 4 wasn't about real people, or even real characters. It was simply a metaphor on the current state of horror, no more, no less.

The killer(s) in Scream 4 are the personification of remakes and reboots. Obviously this then makes Sidney, Gale Weathers, and Dewey the personification of the "original" franchise. To me, the message of Scream 4 is that while bad remakes exist, no matter how bad they are they can never harm or kill off the original. Scream 4 is throwing a big middle finger to all remakes, declaring that they can never take down what has come before it, and that when all is said and done, it's the legacy of the original that will be the only survivor, no matter how harmed it may be in the process. This is where I think Scream 4 really succeeds, despite my indifference to most of what precedes the final act. Sure, it's not exactly a subtle approach for a movie to take, but then again, subtly never was the strong point of the franchise.

You're Welcome, 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

2011 Academy Awards Live Blog

Monday, February 21, 2011

Countdown To The 2011 Academy Awards: The Best Picture Dilemma

Award shows have no bearing on the quality of my life. The actual award will only impact the very small circle of people who actively surround the winner. The yearly award circuit is simply a chance for the entire industry to get dressed up, pat each other on the back for a job well done, and pretend the night's events are as important as Guiliana Rancic tells us they are. Yet despite my (hugely) cynical take on the matter, I spend an awful lot of time trying to pick the winners and view the actual festivities as they unfold on TV. Why do I put so much thought and care into something that will not affect me in the slightest? The answer is quite simple, I like seeing things that I enjoy get recognized. I assume (though to a much lesser degree) it's similar to the excitement fans get when their favorite team wins the championship at season's end. As a fan, we feel connected to each other and so when we see our thing (whether it be a movie, musical artist, or football team) recognized as the current "best", we have the urge to celebrate alongside the people who actually did the hard work to earn the award (or pay for it). Yet this connection can go both ways, and so when the thing/person/team that we are rooting for loses to something we consider inferior, it causes an irrational collective misery as we feel our side was cheated out of victory.

It seems every year there is at least one race where I fear I will experience such irrational hatred towards a winner. This year, nothing sums that anxiety up more than the possibility of The King's Speech winning the Oscar for Best Picture. Did I hate The King's Speech? Not at all! I thought it was a well made film but not much else. It is a safely made film and while it may have caused me to applaud it (metaphorically) in my head as I left the theater, it also failed to leave me with much else to chew on past that. To me, The King's Speech is the child that gets raised very strictly by parents who will expect nothing short of perfection. So the child grows up to be immensely successful and exactly what it was supposed to be, yet is severely lacking in both uniqueness and any aspect of fun. I'm not saying The King's Speech as a movie lacked charisma because it had many entertaining scenes, it was just that the idea even behind those scenes had no spark or cool sense of danger. The King's Speech feels like a film bred for awards and thus it seems far too blandly predictable to hear it's name called as the final prize of the night.

This year's Academy Awards will feature the 83rd movie to be awarded as the year's best. For a film to be considered a part of such a small set, it should have to achieve a lot more than simply being a well made film. I understand the Best Picture award does not have the best track record (Citizen Kane, Suspicion, and The Maltese Falcon all lost in 1941 to How Green Was My Valley) but I am arguing for the future instead of a justification to go back to the "good old days" or some other type of false nostalgia. I want the award to go to a film that dared to accomplish something new in cinema and pushed the boundaries of entertainment. I want the award to go to a film that can balance being a snapshot of our current culture yet also be timeless enough for all generations (both past and present) to enjoy and relate to. I want the award to go to The Social Network.

This year's nominees are an exceptional bunch. (Make note, I have no problem with The King's Speech actual nomination.) But perhaps the fact that there are ten nominees will hinder the ability for a more "daring" film to actually take the prize. Let's say there are two types of Academy Award voters, those that go for something traditional and those that go for something more exciting and new. The traditional voters will go for The King's Speech as it is far and away the film in this category that best exemplifies that type of voting strategy. On the other hand, someone looking to honor a less traditional film has far too many options. While it's great that smaller films like Winter's Bone and 127 Hours get nominated now that the field has expanded from 5 to 10 nominees*, I feel it also lessens the chances of the more high profile underdog film to actually achieve an upset. It's the Raph Nadar effect. Add some fringe nominees and the people who would normally go for something like The Social Network will throw their weight behind Winter's Bone to support it, knowing full well it has no chance of winning.

Let's say my instincts are correct and The King's Speech wins. Shouldn't I simply be happy that the film I thought deserved to win was at least nominated? Logically the answer would be yes but my frustration stems more from The King's Speech's potential win than The Social Network's potential loss. In fact, if a film like The Fighter or True Grit squeezed out a surprise upset, I'd be just as happy than if The Social Network took the prize. To me, it all comes down to allowing a film to be recognized for trying something new and succeeding over a film that may have been exceptionally made, didn't do much for the legacy of film. It won't cause quite as much damage as when Crash won in 2005, but having The King's Speech take home the top prize this Sunday night will only further prove how meaningless the award really is. Either way, I'm just glad none of it matters to me.

You're Welcome, 

*I'm fully aware Best Picture used to be 10 nominees at the beginning, but it hasn't been that way since 1943. I am not sure as to the reason behind the change in 1944, but I support it and would gladly consider these past two years a failed experiment.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Movie Review: Blue Valentine and Rabbit Hole (by Dave Machado)

Blue Valentine and Rabbit Hole are two movies that are made to be difficult to sit through. Both deal with the destruction of a once stable relationship that will leave the viewer emotionally drained. Yet despite this broad similarity, the movies themselves could not be more different from each other. Blue Valentine tends to revel in the uncomfortable pain of a loveless relationship, while Rabbit Hole becomes the more uplifting of the two, showing what happens when two people don't fall out of love, but have a stake driven through their hearts that potentially leaves little room for love to regrow. Both are anchored by exceptionally strong performances that will be hard to shake, but in the end, Blue Valentine has far too many "on the nose" moments that cause it to seem like the lesser of the two from a dramatic standpoint.

Blue Valentine stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as a married couple entering their 30s with the realization that they are not as happy as they once were. The unhappiness isn't due to drugs or violence, but more to the most dangerous element in any long lasting relationship, time. It's only been 5 years since the couple first met but in the present day, that seems like a lifetime ago. We are given glimpses into their past throughout the film as it hops back and forth between their courtship and their current struggles to keep the marriage alive along with raising a child. The most striking part of the film is actually seeing how well Gosling and Williams essentially play two different characters. Seeing them go from youthfully energetic to defeated and depressed is sad in its own right. Knowing it all happened in the span of only 5 years makes it painfully heartbreaking.

While I'll admit the jumping between periods seemed refreshing at first, I began to notice far too many glaring instances where the film tries too hard to maintain a form of parallelism. I understand they want each scene to have an "opposite version" to play off of the clichés of falling in and out of love, but to use such blatant examples left a sour taste in my mouth. The biggest offender begins with the couple's trip to a sleazy motel as a last ditch attempt to reignite that spark that deep down they know is gone forever. (They are staying in the "Future Room", which already set off my subtly flag.) At one point, Gosling's character attempts to make love to Williams on the floor of the motel, but she repeatedly shoves off his advances, not being in the mood. She reluctantly gives in but after a short while, changes her mind and wants him to stop. She begins beating him away, leading him to angrily ask what her problem is and what he can do to make her happy. The film then jumps back to their first sexual encounter, which at one point literally has Williams playfully beating him away as he climbs on top of her.

Similar to the failing relationship portrayed in the movie, it's not big issues I have with the film that causes me to find it lackluster, it's the culmination of all the little annoyances that build up over time. I prefer movies that have mirroring scenes or ideas to use a more subtle approach than simply changing the context of the actions we previously saw. For example, if one were to really analyze the beginnings of their relationship they would realize that the entire theme of the movie is represented in the failed sex scene, thus causing the extra playful scene that follows it to be redundant. Their whole relationship is based on repeated advances by Gosling's character until he finally not so much wins her over, but almost convinces her that the only way to get him to stop is to actually go on a date with him. Only after some time, she slowly realizes she may have settled for something she wasn't really looking for and decides to be the one to try and force the whole situation to stop, leaving Gosling confused and angrily asking what he needs to do to get things back on track.

There is still a lot left in Blue Valentine to chew over (Gosling's speech about women not marrying out of love, the revelation that Williams was a fairly method actor in college, etc.) to make it worth seeing and ponder for days to come. It's the type of movie, for better or worse, that sticks with you long after the final (eye-rolling) scene. I have no qualms with the attention the movie has been getting this award season because I believe all of the acting nominations are just. Others may find my complaints unwarranted and it may be possible I am being too harsh on the film despite what it has to offer. Needless to say, it's still a movie worth seeing, though the question of the film's importance in the current cycle of films is still undecided.

While Blue Valentine is made to question the validity of love and what it means to want to be with somebody, Rabbit Hole is more about the importance of overcoming a tragedy you share with the one you love most. The film (adapted by David Lindsay-Abaire from his own play) stars Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart as a married couple trying to come to terms with the sudden death of their only son, who was killed when he was struck by a car at the age of 4. With this type of setup, it would be easy for the film to fall into the same "Sadness Porn" trap that bogged down Blue Valentine but the movie is surprisingly sweet and even has a unique sense of humor (albeit an extremely black one). Rabbit Hole does a great job of not turning to the usual clichés of grief movies and features characters that feel real instead of embodied characteristics acting out some morbid morality tale. 

What I found so interesting about the film is that it's not about people who cannot cope with tragedy, but about how different people handle grief in their own way. The film does a great job of never really condemning certain kinds of grief but instead shows how each person's reaction can be both healthy and unhealthy at the same time. The movie isn't interested in the "black and white" take on how to deal with grief but in the shady grey areas that are a lot harder to both disapprove of and rationalize at the same time. I was extremely pleased to see the movie never fall into the typical "spiritual" formula that these types of movies always seem to be tailored towards. Instead, the film plays out like an agnostic's or atheist's take on how to  overcome grief, which is something I found infinitely refreshing.

While Kidman and Eckhart are both fantastic in the movie, to me the real star is Diane Wiest, playing the role of Kidman's mother. Wiest's character also lost a son (to a heroin overdose when he was 30) so she has her own take on grief that is constantly causing friction between her and Kidman's character (specifically Kidman's frustration at her mother constantly comparing the loss of a 30 year old man to drugs with the loss of a 4 year old boy to a car accident). Later on in the movie, Wiest gives a powerful monologue about how one continues on after such a terrible loss. To me, it's the key moment of the film and is delivered perfectly by Wiest. She takes a scene that could have had the subtly of a hammer to the face and underplays it so well that it becomes the most poignant part of the movie. It's a great performance and I was disappointed to see that she is not getting much credit for the role this awards season.

There are a few moments that come dangerously close to continuing boring clichés often seen in adult dramas. Luckily the film has the smarts to constantly pull back just when you think it's going to go too far down that road. Getting so close to the brink of possible failure only to shock you with a new take on these scenarios makes the film seem all the more successful at what it is trying to do. I cannot recommend this film enough to people who want to experience a mature movie that doesn't succumb to saccharine solutions as an easy way out of a horrible situation. I'd place Rabbit Hole in the top tier of movies from 2010 and I look forward to seeing how people respond the the themes that are tackled in the movie in the months to come.

The bridging question asked in both Blue Valentine and Rabbit Hole seems to be "Is love doomed to fail when put up against seemingly indestructible obstacles?" Both movies can technically be described as having both an "uplifting" and "depressing" answer, depending on your own baggage you bring to the movie. I guess where you stand on that question will dictate which movie you relate to (and therefore enjoy) more. Blue Valentine wonders if true love can be forced, and if so, how easy does it break under the weight of time. Rabbit Hole on the other hand is interested in discovering how much trauma true love can handle until it begins to crack at the foundation. While I applaud both movies for the ideas behind them, I feel Rabbit Hole is the more successful of the two. But take my advice, give some time between both movies, because seeing them as a double feature is simply a bit too much to take.

You're Welcome,

Sunday, February 13, 2011

2011 Grammy Awards Live Chat

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Movie Review: 127 Hours (by Dave Machado)

127 Hours tells the true story of Aron Ralston, (played by James Franco) an American mountain climber who in April 2003 was forced to amputate his arm after being pinned by a boulder deep within Utah's Blue John Canyon for days. Similar to Buried, 127 Hours is mostly a one man show as the majority of the film takes place deep in the canyon as Ralston struggles to keep his mind on one idea only, survival. The film strives for accuracy and according to Ralston himself, is the closest they could get to making a Documentary without actually using footage of him inside the canyon. While Franco's performance is excellent and the editing is some of the best I've seen all year (second only to Scott Pilgrim), something about the latter half of the movie just didn't click with me. 127 Hours, while deeply inspirational and told with a refreshing energy, ended up having far too many stylistic choices that clashed with my expectations, causing the movie to lose too much steam to be considered a true classic.

It's hard to judge a film harshly when you know everything that is on screen really happened. Knowing they had Ralston's help and approval the whole way through only solidifies that fact even more. But it's not the story that bugged me most about 127 Hours, it was the way it was told. As the hours in the canyon pass and Ralston becomes more delusional due to thirst, cold, isolation, and fear of death, the movie makes the choice to really dive into his mind. Scenes of hallucinations are played out as if the camera itself has fused with the warped mind of the man trapped below. The movie then becomes more unhinged as you are not sure if what you are seeing is real, a memory, or neither of those two. I understand it is supposed to make you feel the same frustration that Ralston himself felt deep below the mountains, but I simply would have preferred a more distant/clinical study of his ordeal.

That issue aside, I really did enjoy the film. The opening credit sequence was one of the more exciting openings to a film I've seen in quite some time. The fast paced editing and multiple frames on screen gave everything an urgent feel and really dragged me into the film. Sometimes it takes far too long to get into the groove of a movie (The King's Speech) so it's always good to see one that you are on board with from the first frame. Obviously this level of energy is not kept up for the entire movie but that would have been a nearly impossible feat. That being said, it's important to note just how well of a job Danny Boyle did at making sure a movie about a man at the bottom of a canyon never gets dull. I may not have liked the stylistic choices he made during the middle of the movie, but it still never bored me.

A lot has been said about the actual amputation scene in the film. I believe talks of people fainting have been greatly exaggerated, though I will say that if you are typically not a fan of gore, you may get a bit squeamish during the scene. I've seen enough gorefests now that I've become so desensitized to on screen violence that I simply watched, hand on chin, admiring the attention to detail as he systematically cuts away using a blade far too dull for such a gruesome task. It's a great scene and was also where I really regained my confidence in the film. I was happy to see that a movie with such a great lift off but a fairly bumpy ride was able to steady itself and stick the landing in a beautiful manner.

I was surprised to see that 127 Hours had made such a small amount during it's first run in theaters late last year. I hope all the award season buzz that Franco is getting for his performance will allow the movie to reach a larger audience during its second run. While I may have had my own problems with the movie, I can at least appreciate that it was one of the better made (and better sounding, as the score is fantastic) films of 2010 and rightfully deserves a spot in the Best Picture race. Danny Boyle proves he is one of the most exciting Directors working today and James Franco gets to show just how good of an actor he really is. Just make sure you leave a note saying where you've gone before seeing the film.

You're Welcome,

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

DVD Review: Buried (by Dave Machado)

Buried is film about an American truck driver named Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) who gets sent over to Iraq as an employer of a corporation helping to rebuild the damage that has been done since the war began. Paul is working a job of transporting kitchen supplies across a region of Baghdad when his convoy is attacked by insurgents. He gets knocked out during the attack and wakes up to find himself trapped in a coffin which he can only believe to be buried deep in the ground. Surprisingly, all of this setup is found out by the audience through expository dialog as every scene takes place with Paul already in the coffin. It is hard to believe that despite having no prologue, epilogue, or flashbacks during the course of the movie, Buried actually works despite the static location and single starring character. 

The thing I was most struck by after viewing Buried was that it is not based on a preexisting short story but an original screenplay (by Chris Sparling). Though I enjoyed the movie quite a bit, I found myself thinking how much better the story would be if it were in the medium of a tightly worded short story. Not to say that this was a failed experiment, I just felt the Director (Rodrigo Cortes) had to resort to countless instances of slowly panning away from Paul's face to show the darkness he is engulfed within. I'll admit that it was an powerful shot the first time, but as he kept going back to it, I couldn't help but feel this was being done to simply pad the running time of a story that can not support a feature length (Buried ends up clocking in at a fairly lean 95 minutes).

Of course the movie is not just Ryan Reynolds in a coffin screaming to himself for an hour and a half. Luckily, we find out early on that he has access to a cell phone with ever dwindling power and shoddy reception. The movie then becomes a series of intense phone calls as he tries to figure out who can actually get him out of this situation. Reynolds had one important task in this movie and that was to make us care about Paul Conroy getting out of this coffin. Without that, there really isn't a movie to enjoy. Fortunately,  I think he succeeded on this level as by the end, I found myself actually invested in his outcome, which typically does not happen to me when watching horror/thriller movies.

There are lots of interesting twists in Buried to keep the story moving along to the grand finale. I found myself early on having to turn off the part of my brain that always tries to piece together a movie's final twist way before it happens. I realized this is a movie that doesn't have that many options as far as plausible endings go so it would be better to simply enjoy the ride. Having said that, I really loved the ending they did go with. It's a great moment that reminded me of the best Twilight Zone episodes where even though it's fairly easy to see how it's all going to end, you still feel like you got punched in the stomach when the ending actually happens. Too many modern B-movies are based on a hook that fails to deliver (Snakes on a Plane, Machete, Precious), so it's always good to see one actually stick the landing.

Overall, I'd categorize Buried as a cool experiment that while it doesn't work out perfectly, is something worth seeing. Aside from a few lackluster camera/editing choices (Buried actually includes the cliché scene of the main character replaying key points of other character's dialog from the movie), it really holds up as a smart thriller. Kudos also goes to whoever created the fun title sequence which is set to a great "Bernard Herrmann-like" score, making you feel like you are about to watch an old Hitchcock thriller. It really helped set the tone and made it feel more like an event movie instead of the low budget thriller it really is. I definitely recommend Buried and look forward to hearing more people's reactions to this interesting, yet potentially polarizing, flick.

You're Welcome,

Friday, January 14, 2011

Best of 2010: Top 10 TV Shows (by Dave Machado)

There was a lot of great TV in 2010. So much so that I didn't really get a chance to watch everything that was being offered. So I'd like to preface this list by saying these were my favorite ten shows of the year, and I am in no way saying they are the ten best on TV. You'll find obvious omissions (Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire) not because I didn't like the shows, but because I either still have most of the season on my DVR (Boardwalk) or I'm still behind on previous seasons as I slowly go through the DVDs (Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Modern Family). Having said that, I still believe the following 11 shows (I felt the need to include an honorable mention) provided some great entertainment throughout 2010.

Honorable Mention: The Walking Dead
I really wanted this show to end up in my top 10 of the year but it simply had far too many problems with bad dialog. The show debuted with a lot of promise, as it was directed by Frank Darabont. But as the short series went on (6 episodes), it started to show less and less promise. I'll admit the show picked up again during the last episode but that execitement quickly died when I realized I now had to wait 10 months for Season 2 to begin. Let's hope they use that time wisely and come back a much stronger show. I believe in the end, Season 1 will be considered just a small tease to what the show would really become.

10) Eastbound and Down
Kenny Powers is such a great television character. While Season 2 may have had slightly less laugh out loud moments than Season 1, I was still in love with every episode. It was good to see Kenny in a new element (Mexico) but I am really looking forward to the third and final season where we can see him back in his Season 1 territory.

09) 30 Rock
30 Rock suffered from a huge dip in quality last season. Thankfully this seems to have only been a temporary problem as this year has produced some of the funniest 30 Rock episodes since Season 2. My biggest complaint from last year was that the characters were becoming too one-note. While I think the show still suffers from that problem from time the time (mainly Jenna and Kenneth), they've done a better job of opening each character to more stories.

08) Parks and Recreation
Parks and Recreation wins the award for biggest improvement for a show between Season 1 and Season 2. It was sad to see this amazing show so low on the list but the only reason is that it had so little shows on the air in 2010. Last airing in August, Parks and Recreation was an unfortunate victim of network programming issues as it was shelved for midseason to make way for the terrible new show Outsourced. I'm at least thankful for the small amount of episodes I did get to see this year as each one contained some of the best comedy on TV this year. Thankfully, Parks and Recreation is coming back Jan. 20. I really need some more Ron Swanson in my life.

07) The Soup
I debated on whether or not to include this on the list as it's not a sitcom or a drama but there is no denying that The Soup really is one of the best shows on TV. Thanks in large part to Joel McHale (making his first of two appearances on this list), The Soup is consistently one of the funniest 30 minutes on television, thanks in large part to the huge amount of crap that is currently being shown on TV. I make it a point to stay away from any show on VHI, MTV, or anything "reality" based, but I still love nothing more than seeing these insanely unimportant humans make fools of themselves in bite sized clips only to then be further beaten down by a cruel joke about their lack of purpose on earth.

06) Daily Show/Colbert Report
Like The Soup, this may not be a traditional "show" but it's one of the best things going for television right now. I consider these shows two sides of the same coin so it's fair for them to split #6. They both perfectly compromise each other by providing different (but equally important) takes on what's currently going on in the world. The Daily Show provides more of the cynical "Are you kidding me" anger towards the broken system of current politics while The Colbert Report dishes out amazing mockery of the blow hard types currently trying to pass off opinion as facts. While I consider The Daily Show to be the better important show, The Colbert Report is the necessary dessert of absurd humor that's needed after such a filling meal.

05) It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Similar to 30 Rock, It's Always Sunny has had quite the resurgence in quality this season as opposed to the previous few years. I would say that It's Always Sunny actually went one step further than 30 Rock this year though and actually had their best season to date. I've already talked about my love of the Blackface Debate from the Lethal Weapon 5 episode, but almost every episode had at least one scene that was almost just as funny (Dennis' idea of luring women on a boat, Charlie and Dennis getting trashed at the fundraising event in Atlantic City, Mac searching for his "God Damned Bible", etc...). Part of me wishes this was the final season because it would have been a great way to go out (especially considering how many past characters they brought back for the season finale). The writers and cast have their work cut out for them this year and I look forward to see what they try out.

04) Supernatural
Supernatural is the show that I love but have no one to share that love with since it seems nobody else I know watches it as much as me. While I admit the beginning of the latest season was a bit rocky due to the planned "5 year story" now being stretched beyond it's original ending point, I'm glad to see that at the mid-point of the season, I am now fully on board to see where they take the show. Last year's final push to the finale was one of the best I had seen in a show in a while. It's a shame the real ending was ruined slightly by many forced twists in order to allow the show to continue, but it doesn't take away from the fact that they did a very good job of ending a planned story without too much compromise. It's great to see a show that is still able to mix-up "Monster of the Week" episodes with dense myth building ones and never really miss a beat. Now if only they could ease on the episode ending "heart to heart" talks that I'm pretty sure use the same conversation week to week.

03) Louie
Louie was the best new show of 2010. It's amazing this show exists and that Louis C.K. was able to take a chance to make his own show in his own voice and not screw up at any point. Each episode was like a mad genius mix of stand-up comedy and absurd sketches that combined to form a perfect half hour of TV. Every aspect from this show came from Louis C.K.'s mind and it really shows in the end product. I'm extremely happy the show is getting a second season and hope this time it's audience continues to grow as more people discover just how great it really is.

02) LOST
It was hard to put this show at #2 because it really is my favorite show of all time. But considering it was only on the air for 1/2 of 2010 (added to the fact that I still feel let down by the final season) I think this is where LOST belongs. This season was a mix of highs and lows as the final mysteries started to unveil themselves. But after spending a whole season trying to figure out the mystery of the "sideways universe" only to discover it was all some "afterlife" holding pen caused much anger, especially the night of the finale. I've since come to terms with the finale and find it quite touching, though there are still lots of issues I have with the show. The most of which would be the total waste of time that was the Temple arc. For a show with so many questions as LOST to throw in a new location, only to never have any of the questions raised there really pay off, has left a sour taste in my mouth when looking back on the last season as a whole. I'm sure as years pass and I revisit LOST I'll find myself enjoying it much more the second time around (there were lots of great episodes, such as Happily Ever After, the final Desmond-centric episode).

01) Community
Community is the best comedy on television right now. Mostly everything this show does is perfect and it's the best mix of character vs. pop culture related jokes. It can weave its structure into pretty much any genre (post-apocalyptic, mob family, claymation, zombies, etc...) and never at the cost of moving the story forward. Community has formed a real tight ensemble so any of the main characters can bounce off each other, giving the show a large number of combinations to explore. I know a show is good when I'm left saying "Well that was their best episode ever" after roughly 2/3 of all episodes in 2010. It's exciting to have a show like Community on TV and I just hope it is able to stick around for many more to come. While I find it hard to believe that they will ever top the perfection that was the paintball episode ("Modern Warfare"), it doesn't take away from the fact that most episodes since have only been slightly less amazing.

You're Welcome,

Monday, January 10, 2011

Best of 2010: Top 15 Movies (by Dave Machado)

2010 was a good year for movies. All total, I was able to see 58 movies from 2010 (and I only really hated two of them).  Though there are a few I never got around to seeing, (mainly The King's Speech and 127 Hours) I feel like I was able to see mostly everything else that had a chance of ranking high. I've already covered films #58-16 in a previous post so without further rambling, here are my top 15 movies for 2010.

15) Winter's Bone
This movie reminded me of Brick in that it took an already great story and dropped it into the fantastic universe of Film Noir. I may have a hard time praising Jennifer Lawrence for her amazing role because I've yet to see her in anything else, but I thought her character was one of the best in all of 2010. She does a great job, especially considering she is surrounded by fantastic character actors like Garret Dillahunt and John Hawkes.

14) Splice
I went into Splice not expecting much and ended up being blown away by what I saw. It was great to see more original sci-fi this year (along with Inception) that was able to stand on it's own away from the sequels and remakes. I had a few problems regarding the last act of the movie delving too much into straight up horror but overall it's a very fun flick that should have a larger audience. It finally teaches the long needed lesson that humans should not have sex with genetically created hybrids.

13) Despicable Me
One thing 2010 will always be remembered for is my obsession with the Minions. In fact, without them in this movie, I doubt it would even crack the Top 20 (thus showing just how much I loved them). Though I should give some credit to Despicable Me for making me laugh more than any other animated movie I saw this year. I was brought to the movie without having any desire to see it and ended up enjoying it more than Toy Story 3.

12) MacGruber
The funniest movie of 2010. Like most of America I stayed away from this in the theaters and that was a stupid mistake. It may not bat 1.000 with jokes but it comes pretty close. It's wonderfully absurd and very R-Rated, combining raunchy humor with fairly graphic violence. MacGruber also contains the funniest "sex scene" joke I have ever seen. Please see this movie.

11) The Ghost Writer
The thing I loved most about The Ghost Writer was how perfectly it was paced. Every scene seemed to build on top of the previous one as the story became increasingly more engaging. This should be no surprise considering it comes from Roman Polanski (One of the best example of loving the work but not the man behind it). A great political thriller that actually managed to surprise me at the end. I would also like to point out that a movie featuring Jim Belushi is my 11th favorite movie of 2010. I'm a little upset about that.

10) Kick-Ass
If you had asked me a month ago where Kick-Ass would fall in my list for 2010, I would have said #3. Then I made the mistake of re-watching the movie where I sadly found out that it does not hold up to a second viewing. Clearly I still love the movie but watching it a second time really brought out the flaws (mainly anything to do with Dave's love life). I think the combination of seeing it in a packed theater and not knowing what to expect made the movie seem a lot better. The only thing that didn't get worse was anything featuring Hit-Girl and/or Big Daddy. It's those scenes that make this #10 for the year.

09) Black Swan
Darren Aronofsky is amazing. I've really loved his previous 3 movies (I still need to see Pi) and think Black Swan is a new high point in his career. He should also be thanked for directing Natalie Portman in her best role yet.  I really think she deserves all the hype that is being generated for her right now and it will be good to see her win some awards. I'm still not sure what was real and what was her imagination but it doesn't matter because the movie itself tells such a great story. Bonus points are rewarded for the graphic scenes of body horror that caused me to both cringe in my seat and smile at the same time.

08) The American
I'm surprised how little love The American got as 2010 came to an end. I understand some people might have expected Jason Bourne: The Senior Years but you can't deny that The American is a fantastically made character study of an aging hitman. I'll admit a few scenes could have used a bit more subtlety but it's forgivable considering how smart and gorgeous most of the movie is. I don't want to call people who didn't like this movie "stupid," so I'll just stop here. But seriously, if you missed out on this movie, go see it now.

07) Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Pt. 1
I'm glad that I decided to finally watch the Harry Potter series last year because it allowed me to be able to see this one in the theaters. I've said many times before that I am not a Harry Potter Fanboy (never read the books and I've seen each movie once), but I easily consider The Deathly Hallows to be the best of the bunch. I don't buy the complaint that it was boring as I was fully engaged from start to finish and found the quieter moments to be quite touching. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me wish it was July 2011 so I can see the finale.

06) True Grit
I wanted True Grit to be my favorite movie of the year. I spent months counting down to the release, awaiting the chance to see the best movie the Coen brothers ever made. Maybe it was that insane amount of hype that made me feel let down by the movie, but I really think it was my hope that the movie was going to be more gritty and not have as much comic relief that let me down the most. I'm not saying it made me hate the movie (seeing as how it ranks this high) but it just made me wish that the story was taken a bit more seriously. Having said that, the performances in this movie are outstanding and it's also one of the nicest looking movies that I saw this year. It has a lot of "Coen Brothers charm" (read that as both a positive and a slight negative), and I was happy that the ending felt a bit more fleshed out than their past few movies. I really think this movie will only get better with repeat viewings.

05) The Fighter
This is the surprise of the year to me. I expected to enjoy The Fighter but I never thought it would be my fifth favorite movie of the year. As with the remaining Top 5 movies in this list, I spent the better part of The Fighter actually saying "this is an amazing movie..." over and over in my head as it continued to amaze me. Yes, Christian Bale deserves an Oscar for this movie. Yes, David O. Russell and Amy Adams deserve Oscar nominations for this movie. Yes, whoever picked out Amy Adams outfits should get an honorary Oscar for this movie. But the real standouts of this movie are The Sisters. I've read them described as a dysfunctional Greek Chorus and that really sums it up better than I could. I saw this movie pretty late in the year but if I redid my Top 30 Pop Culture Moments of 2010 now, the fight scene on the front porch between the sisters and Amy Adams' character would easily crack the top 15.

04) The Social Network
Obviously a movie about Computer Programmers would end up as one of my favorites of 2010, but The Social Network is a lot more than a simple movie about computer geeks. From the opening scene at the bar, The Social Network came right out of the gate as one of the best written movies I've seen in quite some time. People can argue all they want about about how factual the movie is and whether or not it is sexist,  but I'm simply not interested in either of those arguments. Every role in this movie was perfectly cast and I applaud the use of groundbreaking technology (the creation of the Winklevoss twins) as a way to further the story and not simply wow a crowd (see: Avatar, Alice in Wonderland).

03) Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Everything about Scott Pilgrim vs. The World works and it's a shame that it didn't get the attention it deserved this summer. Edgar Wright is now 3/3 as far as feature films go and at this point it's safe to say that he's my favorite director currently making movies. Unlike Kick-Ass, Scott Pilgrim actually seems to get better the more I watch it (which has already been 3 times). While it may seem a bit crowded at times due to the desire to only make one movie while keeping the number of evil ex-boyfriends ("evil exes!") to seven, it's also fairly unbelievable how well made the movie is considering how much is going on. People will be talking about the innovative way the movie was edited for years to come as it will become a blueprint for how to make this type of movie. Anyone who doesn't like this movie, can tell it to the cleaning lady on Monday.

02) Piranha 3D
I had a real hard time deciding on the final ranking for my top 2 movies of the year. But as much as a I loved Piranha 3D when I saw it in theaters (best movie theater experience of my life), I still think it belongs at #2 on my list. I still can't believe this movie exists and I'm even more amazed that it got a release in theaters. Hatchet II gets pulled after 2 days in theaters because it was released Unrated due to not being able to get an R, yet Piranha 3D was allowed to skate by on a R despite being far more graphic than anything in Hatchet II. The genius of the MPAA at work! Regardless of that, Piranha 3D is simply my favorite over-the-top horror movie since Dead Alive. I felt guilty at first loving something with that much nudity and violence in it but that quickly faded into me accepting it as the greatness that it is. Let's see if Piranha 3DD (the actual title) can top it. I highly doubt it but it will be fun to see them try.

01) Inception
It almost felt lame picking this as my #1 movie of the year because I feel like the backlash for this movie has really hit a new high lately as people create their best of 2010 lists. But to be honest, it was my favorite movie of 2010 and what I consider the best science fiction film since Children of Men. I was blown away by the effects, engaged by the story, and entertained by all of the excellent performances (though special praise goes to Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy). Christopher Nolan took a giant chance with this movie and nailed it out of the park. Sure it's a bit heavy on expository dialog but I don't consider that as big of a fault as others do. I still go back and forth on my reading of the movie but I'm fairly settled on the belief that most of the movie is actually Cobb's dream. I believe his team is putting him under as a way to try and have him get over his wife's death after they see how much it is starting to affect his life and their line of work. Why do you think the first time we see Mal (Cobb's dead wife) is when Arthur asks Cobb "What is she doing here?" It was him planting that thought into his head as a way to start putting everything into motion. As for the ending, I don't think the top stopped or kept going. I think Cobb woke up.

You're Welcome,

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Best of 2010: The Leftover Movies (by Dave Machado)

2010 was a good year for movies. All total, I was able to see 58 movies from 2010 (and I only really hated two of them).  Though there are a few I never got around to seeing, (mainly The King's Speech and 127 Hours) I feel like I was able to see mostly everything else that had a chance of ranking high. In order to make this easier to digest, I'm splitting it up by first listing the movies that did not make my top 15 (yes, I ranked all 58). I'll try to say a quick line about each movie and open it up to longer responses in the Top 15 post. So for now, enjoy the movies that didn't quite make my list of favorites for the year.

58) A Nightmare on Elm St. - Hate.
57) Sex and the City 2 - Hate 2.
56) Jonah Hex - A giant mess of a movie. 
55) Nightmares in Red, White, and Blue - History of American Horror that ended up being a cheap Cliff Notes version. Any horror fan would just be bored.
54) Wolfman - Like Jonah Hex, it suffered from so many people trying to improve the movie in the editing room that it ended up being too much of a mess.
53) I'm Still Here - It was a hoax, a boring hoax. Though Joaquin's performance is amazing, the movie is not.
52) Survival of the Dead - George A. Romero made a Western Zombie movie that didn't have enough "western" or "zombie" elements.
51) Iron Man 2 - Fell flat. I can hardly even remember this movie. Something about Super Soldiers, Mickey Rourke, and Scarlett Johansson in a tight black suit.
50) Cyrus - I've never hated characters more than the ones in this movie.
49) Machete - This is what happens when you spend too much time making a cult movie and less time making a good movie.
48) The Losers - Fun and forgettable PG-13 Action flick.
47) Salt - Slightly more fun yet just as forgettable PG-13 Action flick. So many twists!
46) The Other Guys - Surprised how low this is. Nothing about the story clicked. I need to see it again.
45) The Expendables - It was fun but was ruined by the use of cgi blood instead of the over the top practical gore of Rambo. 
44) Best Worst Movie - Fun Documentary about Troll 2 but I became too irritated by the stars after a while. Worth seeing if you are a Troll 2 "fan" though.
43) Hot Tub Time Machine - Funny but forgettable. Saved by having a great cast.
42) Waking Sleeping Beauty - Very good look at the great run Disney Animation had in the late-80s to early-90s. A bit dry but interesting.
41) Predators - Way better than the Alien vs. Predator movies but nothing special.
40) Catfish - Was it real or fake? As time goes on, I care less and less.
39) I Am Comic - Good Documentary on stand-up comedy. Nothing ground breaking but a good collection of interviews.
38) The Human Centipede (First Sequence) - Over-hyped Horror movie. Has some cool ideas but ends up being fairly generic. Not gross enough based on where it could have gone.
37) Frozen - First of two Adam Green movies from 2010 I was able to see. Great concept hindered by a slow beginning and uneven final act.
36) Batman: Under the Red Hood - I wasn't sure if I could include this but it was feature length and a pretty great animated Batman movie. If you liked The Dark Knight, check this out!
35) Devil - Trashy fun that caused me to roll my eyes yet not feel like I was wasting my time.
34) Date Night - Surprised me how funny this was. Lots of great supporting characters.
33) Exit Through the Gift Shop - Another possible hoax Documentary but this time it doesn't matter because the film is well made.
32) Joan Rivers: Piece of Work - Great Documentary that really made me respect Joan Rivers. Again, nothing earth shattering but a fine way to spend 90 minutes.
31) Get Him to the Greek - I enjoy Russel Brand and Jonah Hill together. Funny movie but by no means a classic. Big step down from Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
30) Greenberg - Ben Stiller's best movie. It's very much an "indie" movie but not at all what I expected.
29) Let Me In - I hated that it was made and how closely it stuck to the original, yet I can't deny that it was an extremely well made movie. If I never saw the original, this would be in my Top 10.
28) The Kids Are Alright - I wanted to like this more but the last act just made me angry with how dramatic it all became. Also, too much time is wasted on the friends of the two kids considering those stories go nowhere.
27) Never Let Me Go - This movie didn't hit me that hard when I first saw it but it's slowly crept up the list throughout the rest of the year as I've begun to appreciate the small scale of the movie. Art House Sci-Fi at it's best.
26) The Last Exorcism - I was ready to call the "found footage" gimmick dead until I saw this fun summer horror flick. Doesn't add much to the exorcism genre but is unique enough to stand on its own.
25) How To Train Your Dragon - I wish I saw this in 3D in a large theater. It holds up at home but consistently felt like something was missing.
24) Going the Distance - I was almost mad at how much I enjoyed this movie. Very funny R rated Romantic Comedy with hysterical supporting characters. One of the worst endings to a movie I have ever seen though.
23) Hatchet II - Extremely fun Unrated Horror movie. The kills were exactly how they should be in slasher movies: gory and over-the-top. Had a sense of humor that's missing in horror these days.
22) Daybreakers - Fantastic Vampire movie that made me realize there are still good vampire tales to tell that don't involve teenage drama.
21) Toy Story 3 - I thought this would end up being a Top 10 movie of the year. Just because it didn't wow me like the previous Pixar movies doesn't take away how good the movie actually is.
20) The Town - It was cheesy and a bit "retahded" but I was a huge fan of Affleck's little Boston crime movie. 
19) Shutter Island - Not the best Leonardo DiCaprio movie of the year but a great homage to B horror.
18) The Crazies - Everything A Nightmare on Elm St. remake did wrong, The Crazies did right. One of the few horror remakes that I believe surpasses the original.
17) The Tillman Story - The Documentary that made me the most angry. If you want to hate people, go see this movie.
16) Easy A - The best teen comedy since Mean Girls (only better).

You're Welcome,