Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Top Ten of 2009

Now that I've finally managed to catch up with the last of the major releases from 2009, I'm finally ready to state my own unasked for preferences for the top ten movies of the past year.

#10. Treeless Mountain (Dir. So Yong Kim)

A heartbreaking story of two young girls forced to grow up on their own after their mother leaves to go search for their absent father. The two girls are so natural you find yourself weeping for them at every loss and cheering for every gain. An unheralded gem that hopefully will find an audience on DVD.

#9. Star Trek (Dir. J.J. Abrams)

This is what big, Hollywood movie making is all about. With the proper amount of respect given to its predecessors, J.J. Abrams turned out the summer's best event film. Great for fans and newbies alike, I'm ready for the sequel right now.

#8. The Young Victoria (Dir. Jean-Marc Vallée)

I admit I'm a sucker for British royalty pictures, but this one managed a nice balance between regal scenes and personal ones. Emily Blunt does a fine job showing Victoria's sometimes less than royal behavior since she's...well...young. Rupert Friend is now on my actors to watch list. A nice, slice of a history lesson that goes down easy.

#7. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (Dir. Terry Gilliam)

Without studio interference, Gilliam is capable of producing moments of brilliance. Parnassus has many such moments. A beautiful, visual phantasmagoria of a film, one can just sit back and be entertained by all the wild ideas thrown at the screen. Tom Waits is a hoot to watch and while there is sadness at watching Heath Ledger in his final film, he finishes in style.

#6. Drag Me To Hell (Dir. Sam Raimi)

Thankfully, Sam Raimi decided to cleanse his palate and do what he does best--horror comedy. A gooey-oozy punch of a film that provides plenty of jumps and chuckles right up to its fantastic finish. If only all PG-13 "horror" films could be like this. I knew the film was good when I didn't hate Justin Long in it, but now I'm scared of gypsies.

#5 Fantastic Mr. Fox (Dir. Wes Anderson)

Wes Anderson is a director who runs hot and cold for me; luckily, this time he ran hot. Beautiful to look at and run through with a bizarre sense of humor, Mr. Fox was the best animated film this year. (UP was good, until the villain tried to shoot Ed Asner [which does take spunk].) Here's hoping for a Roald Dahl revival.

#4. The White Ribbon (Dir. Michael Haneke)

Exploring the roots of Fascism by examining the life in a small village pre-WWI, Haneke shows how resentment over a strict upbringing can boil over. By turns creepy and harrowing, the rot that can exist underneath a seemingly peaceful, bucolic existence is laid bare.

#3. Antichrist (Dir. Lars von Trier)

Ignore the people that say this is a boring psychodrama, all are wrong. Antichrist, after admittedly a slightly dull first hour, turns into a rollicking comedy. There is simply no other explanation for the set of events that comprise the final 45 minutes. It is so ridiculous, the only response is continued laughter.

#2. The Hurt Locker (Dir. Kathryn Bigelow)

Pow! A lean and taut action thriller set in Iraq, but more concerned with the human response to war in general and fear in particular. Every set piece works, Jeremy Renner delivers a powerful performance and pieces of it linger in the mind long afterwards. Quite possibly the Best Picture winner come Oscar time (unless people go for the nature hooey of Avatar).

#1 In the Loop (Dir. Armando Iannucci)

A treat for the ears, In the Loop is the best laughs-per-minute movie I've seen in a long time. Nominally about trying to prevent the start of a war, the movie really exists as an exercise in verbal linguistics as each actor delivers the sharpest and funniest dialogue of the year. The true heart of the film lies in all the various insults the characters throw at each other; it's hard to choose a best from among them all, but "Nazi Julie Andrews" stays with me.

And there you have it, my top ten of 2009. Now, how close did I come to you? Which ones do you agree with? Which ones did I miss out on? Which ones will you call me an idiot for for not putting in the list? Fire away.....

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Birthday Shout Out

Silly me, I almost let the day get away from me without wishing a big Happy Birthday to Pulcheria, Empress of the Eastern Roman Empire, who would be a sprightly 1611 years old today! Rock on, lady.

Quick Question

Continuing on yesterday's post of impossible to find movies....is anyone familiar with HBO Short Takes? They were 5-15 minute short films shown between features during the 70's & 80's. I've been trying to locate the name of one for years, but have had no luck. If anyone remembers these, e-mail me and maybe you can be the lucky one to help me find this missing piece of my childhood.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Does anyone by any chance happen to own this on VHS and can rip a copy to DVD for me? This one's an instant classic.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Dispatch From the Front

Crap, now they're mutating. The first wave of attack squirrels will be harder to repel than I originally believed.

If it weren't for ITV

How did I watch this show throughout most of grammar school and not end up having nightmares?