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Monday, February 27, 2012

CNAMB's Worst Movies of 2011

Well, 2011 may be way over, but I still have a little unfinished business to attend to, and this time it comes in the form of my worst movies of 2011. Unlike some of the films found on lists from previous years, this list of worst isn't quite as bad, I suppose. Though, I do find it incredibly difficult to think any movie can even come close to being as bad as 2009's Wolverine, so I always know I have that going for me right there.


 

 

Exit 33/Eyes in the Dark

Worst Movies of 2011

Moving right along, I made the decision to group the first two films on my list together, and the reason for that being is I find both of them to almost be the same. Not the same in terms of story or delivery, but in how they both affected me as a horror movie fan. Both Exit 33 and Eyes in the Dark aren't exactly the types of films making an appearance on any cinema listings at the local multiplex, but they are, in my opinion, perfect for a few drinks with likeminded friends. Neither of these movie are even close to being "good," but they are truly authentic B-Movies. And while a majority of genre fans would poop all over both of them (and rightfully so), I think there is a chance they will be making a select group of horror fans laugh their asses off in 20 years. With that said, regardless of whether or not I found both Exit 33 and Eyes in the Dark to be kind of fun, it is a necessity that they make some sort of an appearance on this list because they are simply awful, inept and flat out stupid. And I cannot ignore that fact, no matter how bad my taste is. 

 Eyes in the Dark Review

 

Exit 33 Review


 

Insidious

Insidious Worst Movies of 2011

Oh, Insidious… how is it that you, out of so many other great horror films released in 2011, were so successful, while being so incredibly mediocre? A horror film that wasn't a remake or a sequel - but was oh so far from being original outside of its grossly over explained astral projection gimmick - Insidious certainly garnered its fair share of positive attention in 2011 from horror fans. But while it sits firmly on this list of worst films from 2011, and as deservingly scathing as my review was of the movie, I didn't hate the film; I just thought it was utterly unimpressive. I'll give credit where credit is due: I thought there were some nicely put together scenes of nail-biting tension early on in the film, but there was also an obnoxious lack of restraint shown with each of these scenes, and things got progressively worse as the film rolled on. It's too bad, really… I honestly wish I could have loved Insidious, but instead all I got was a film that wouldn't even make my top fifteen horror films of 2011.

Insidious Review


 

George: A Zombie Intervention

It hasn't been all that long since I watched and reviewed the next film on my worst of 2011 list, and, quite frankly, the boredom the film riddled me with is still quite fresh. George: A Zombie Intervention is not a horrible film by any stretch, it's just a pretty boring one. And to top it off, for a movie that is being sold as a zombie comedy, I found it to be far from humorous outside of its initial concept. There are a few funny moments here and there, but George: A Zombie Intervention pushed jokes too far and over-the-top into places that were so completely far from entertaining, let alone funny. Honestly, outside of writing this here list, I feel like I could have never thought about this movie again and been totally okay with it.

George: A Zombie Intervention Review


 

The Roommate

Worst Movies of 2011 The Roommate

Naturally, I had very little in terms of expectations for a film such as The Roommate, and the fact that it couldn't even live up to those expectations says a whole lot about the quality of the film. Helmed by Danish filmmaker, Christian E. Christiansen, a clear gun for hire getting his big break in Hollywood in the worst of ways, The Roommate is certainly the type of film I will often get a kick out of when done right. I love me a hokey obsessed teen/young adult thriller as much as the rest of them. I love how over-the-top they can be; I love how predictable they usually are; and I love the sheer drama of it all. Unfortunately, The Roommate only delivers on one of those aspects, and that comes in the form of how predictable it is. And while I still found that to be marginally entertaining, there was nothing else there to enjoy. Where I think a film like this suffers the most is the lack of sleaze. The film is a little too safe and generic to be anything more than a high-budgeted Lifetime movie, which, in Lifetimes defense, usually delivers the goods on a much better level. The only real thing The Roommate has going for it is it's nice looking cast, specifically Minka Kelly. Though, it's a little hard to get into her too much knowing that she allowed both Derek Jeter and John Mayer to plunge their lame dicks inside of her. Seriously, honey, set some standards for yourself. Babes are a dime a dozen, and so aren't bad, unoriginal, unentertaining thriller with no balls. 


 

 

Columbiana

Worst Movies of 2011 Columbiana

Of all the new films I watched in 2011, I think the award for most unfulfilling has got to go to Columbiana. Directed by Olivier Megaton, Columbiana sucked a megaton of life force right out of me in a way that actually caused me to try and drown myself in my very own toilet. This Luc Besson scripted travesty not only suffers from unoriginality, which can be overlooked for the right reasons, it does not deliver on what it needed to most, the action. All of the actual fight and chase scenes are simply lackluster, unfocused and highly erratic. I saw nothing that I have not seen a million times before, in movies that I probably thought were mediocre at best. If you are trying to sell me on a pseudo-hokey action/revenge/assassin film, then at least give me some decent action scenes. At least Zoe Saldana is nice to look at, but she might even be too skinny for me, a guy who rarely criticizes women for being thin. 


Welp, hope you enjoyed my list, or at least felt some sort of emotion about it. I honestly don't think anyone will give a shit about seeing any one film appear on this list except for maybe Insidious. In that case, I'm sure there are a few out there who are a tad pissed that it's on here, but it is what it is. Who knows what I will think about it in a year or so. Rob Zombie's Halloween 2 was on my scarce worst of 2009 list, and I sorta love that movie now. Really, I do.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Red State (2011): Get off My Lawn

Red State poster (2011)

Over the past year or two, a slew of onetime Kevin Smith fans have been pouring out of the woodwork claiming they no longer appreciate the writer/director, some even going as far to say that they now hate him and everything he has done. While much of his post '90s work is sketchy at best, everything beforehand is note worthy for individual reasons, and I find it highly misguided that some would take away what Smith had done early on due to the gradual downfall in the quality of his films as his career has progressed and sanity deteriorated. I understand the fact that some have outgrown his brand of humor, and his films just don't speak to some people anymore, something that is a fair assessment for an aging/maturing film fan who grew up with Smith's movies. But to full on rain hate on the man and everything he has done seems like it's more about bandwagoning and one-upmanship than anything. It's become chic to dislike Kevin Smith, and that bothers me.

The reason I am yapping on about all of this is because I still consider myself a fan of Kevin Smith. I don't cherish him as I once did when I was younger (and often baked like a potato), and I have certainly outgrown him in many ways, but I still appreciate what he did for Independent film back when he burst onto the scene. I'm what you could consider a fair and balanced fan of his work, unclouded by fanboydom and not unjustly critical.

Red State (2011)2

Enter Smith's latest film Red State (2011), an oddity in the director's repertoire due to its serious tone, subject matter and its lack of dick and fart jokes. Red State is Smith's attempt at making a film unlike anything he has done before and, coming off Cop Out, it comes at a time when he is probably at his lowest in terms of fan acceptance and critical discontent. Being fair and balanced about Smith, I look at Red State with an open mind and no unfair expectations.

Based on what I have heard and read about other movie fan's opinions of Red State, the film has received extremely mixed reviews, collectively leaning more towards the good side of the equation. I've read from some that Red State is one of the worst films they have ever seen, while others proclaim it to be one of the year's best genre offerings. For me personally, the fair and balanced guy, I cannot get behind either sentiment in the least.

You probably already know the basic plot, so I'll spare you the details for the sake of review length, but the quick rundown is Red State is sort of like if From Dusk Till Dawn met the opening to The Devils Rejects and the two moved to Waco, Texas for a nice little brunch with David Koresh. Now, as good as that sounds, it doesn't necessarily reflect upon Red State's quality as a film, but that's not to say it's a horrible movie, either.   

Red State (2011)Something that really stands out about Red State is its pacing. Smith picks his audience up and drives them right out of the gate, guns a blazing, and as soon as the film's three teen protagonists are introduced, they find themselves in some seriously deep shit. The quick cut-to-the-chase pace is something I really appreciate about the film's opening, but from there, Smith makes what could be looked at as a bold move by hitting the breaks on this breakneck pace, bringing the film to a complete and total halt. Smith takes this time to focus on developing a character and his beliefs by giving him a sermon that must last at least fifteen minutes long. I appreciate Smith taking such a chance by slowing things down as much as he did, giving Michael Parks character, Abin Cooper, plenty of time to deliver a sermon for the ages. It worked for me, but I'm not surprised in the least that it doesn't work for everyone. It's a bit alienating, but in a way, that is the point. Smith was trying to alienate viewers, trying to make them think - trying to make them angry. So, take that as you may.

Red State is very much about keeping the audience on its toes. Specific events occur, changing the plot's focus from out of nowhere and without much warning, and when you think the movie is going one way, it goes another. Now, while that works in the moment, it's hard not to look at Red State as being a bit too jumbled after the fact. It's two or three different movies that gel together in theory, but don't fit in a way that makes an interesting, cohesive story worth caring about past the film's final moments, let alone even the midway point. I was along for the ride for most of the movie, but by the film's end, I was simply left empty, like as if Red State left almost no real impression on me outside of having to start processing this overly long review.

While I believe that all films should be judged on their own merit, as opposed to a director's previous work, the departure from normal (aka flat-out comedy) for Kevin Smith with Red State is surely fascinating. He has tackled religion in the past (with much better results), but never has he been more serious than with Red State, and that is very much reflected on screen with how the film was crafted visually. Red State is most definitely Smith's best-looking film, or at least the most visual film he has done thus far. And, to his credit, it's well put together for someone who is not that type of director. With that said, it's all mostly standard fare, and if you've seen one gritty, low-budget, digitally shot film with a case of Parkinson's, you've pretty much seen them all. 

Red State (2011)1

Smith is clearly saying something with Red State (and, at times, saying a little too much), and some would rightfully claim he was being more than heavy-handed in his approach. Granted, there is nothing being said in Red State that hasn't been said before, but I feel as if Kevin Smith really felt the need to get this all off his chest, and he was being genuine and true to himself in doing so. That truly shows with just how drastically different the film is from any other he has ever done before. I don't think he was trying to prove anything to anyone; he wanted to make this film for himself, and I fully applaud the attempt, regardless of its many flaws. 

My overall feelings about Red State perfectly reflect my overall feelings about Kevin Smith. There are things about the film I enjoyed, but there are so many issues to be found throughout. There is no sort of emotional impact whatsoever, and the amount of time spent explaining shit that didn't need to be explained was quite tedious, if not simply uninteresting. Both Smith and Red State are terminally confused in many ways, and it seems as if Smith has issues with expressing himself coherently, and that bleeds deeply into the final product. Red State is a movie that, unless it comes up in conversation, I will probably never think about again, and that's because it really didn't give me enough of a reason to.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Harry Warden Day!

As I sit Indian style in a field of golden wheat, bathed in the illuminous rays of the summer's sun (just go along with it), away I pluck at my six string, singing to you, Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

CNAMB's Best Movies of 2011

Now that we are already more than a month into 2012 (and more than a month closer to our demise, according to the Mayan calendar), and I've had a little more time to catch-up on a few titles, the wait to put together my list for the best movies of 2011 is over. In comparison to the previous two years where I put together a list such as this, 2011 seems to stand out as year where I was lucky enough to have watched a ton of great films. In fact, there were so many movies I loved that I actually had to do a lot of title shifting and a few marginally tough decisions had to be made And the final result is a massive list of fifteen films that make up my favorite films of 2011, with a ton of honorable mentions, to boot. 

As always, my criteria for a movie to fall into a specific year is whether or not I am able to easily access it. If a film has seen a FULL theatrical release, a home video release or is out on VOD in 2011, then it's a 2011 movie to me. If I cannot easily access it by either of those means, then how the hell do I see it?! So stop judging me!

Anyway, it's time to get into this shit, yo, so here we go…

 

15. Meek's Cutoff

Meek's Cutoff Poster

Kelly Reichardt's vastly understated Western sets its focus on a group of settlers trying to make their way from point A to point B. In between, and on the surface, not too much happens, but the undercurrent of fear driven masculinity and white alpha male dominance being squandered by a confidant female character and a man of color delivers a deep and powerful punch. Meek's Cutoff is a film where simplicity is grandiose, and this is further proven by the choice to go with a 4:3 aspect ratio, something that, initially, boggles the Western fan's mind. Even with a 4:3 ratio, there is an incredible amount of depth and scope provided by the impressively vast and gorgeous Christopher Blauvelt cinematography. Meek's Cutoff is certainly a film where snail-paced subtlety is a key component, but Reichardt's slow delivery never feels dull or drawn-out. In fact, the deliberate pace of the film has this tension that, in an odd way, comes from a lack of tension, if that makes sense.


14. The Innkeepers

The Innkeepers

Initially, Ti West's follow-up to House of the Devil had a secure spot in the honorable mentions section of this list; however, after allowing the film to stew in my system for the last month, the flavor left on my pallet seems to get better and better with each passing day. While I do not look at The Innkeepers as great horror film, I do look at it as a film where I was introduced to two characters, both of whom I sort of fell in love with. With fantastically quirky performances from both Sarah Paxton and Pat Healy, The Innkeepers stay has been strong do to their honest and refreshing character traits, integration in their environment and the relationship they share. Director Ti West constantly plays with genre conventions, and this time around he has creating a haunted house setting where the two main events of the film's climax make you wonder if there are any actual haunting, or is everything just the result of some overworked imaginations.


 

13. Warrior

Warrior Poster

While being a tad sappy, a bit predictable and a little too convenient, Gavin O'Connor's MMA infused sports film, Warrior, brings to life one of the most intense and emotionally powerful sports stories in recent memory. Warrior is able to take its viewer on a long journey where the destination is already known, but the trip is so well drafted that the arrival brings about a testosterone driven emotion that harkens back to the original Rocky. While O'Conner certainly knows how to pull as hard as he can on ye old heartstrings, Warrior is truly driven by not only an incredible performance by Tom Hardy but equally intense performances by both Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte. In fact, I think it's a shame that neither Edgerton or Hardy('s shoulder muscles) weren't nominated for an Oscar, but I think we all know how credible the Academy is when it comes to Oscar nods and wins.


 

12. Attack the Block

Attack the Block Poster

Even though I wasn't quite as enamored with Joe Cornish's feature film debut, Attack the Block, as everyone else was this year, I still found it to be more than enjoyable enough to have it make my list for favorite films of 2011. While I believe the overall appeal for me with Attack the Block is simply how much fun it is, I really enjoyed seeing a film that actually took a page from the young teen movies of my youth. Of course, many would not believe a movie such as this, with its vulgarity and scenes of violence, is a bit too much for a younger teen audience. However, looking back to the films I grew up with - movies like The Outsiders or Stand by Me, for example - many were filled with these characteristics. Where Attack the Block stands above is the fact that there is a level of independent youth, but more importantly, with that independent youth comes character growth, and the final result is a group of teens who are vastly different people from beginning to end.  


 

11. Hanna

Hanna Poster Awesome

It's always refreshing to see a well-respected director such as Joe Wright focus their cinematic brush towards what is, superficially, a genre film. Starring the charmingly ethereal Saoirse Ronan as the titular character, Hanna doesn't brush story and character depth to the side to focus solely on action, and the result is a pseudo-coming of age story that follows one specific character's journey to discover who she is and what she is meant to be. Now, even though Hanna doesn't quite kick the door open with guns-a-blazing as an action film, that's not to say that there aren't some incredible set pieces. In fact, there are a handful of fantastic action sequences on display in this film, all of which are masterfully puppeteered across gorgeous settings thanks to the carefully crafted camera work of Alwin Küchler (specifically the airport sequence!).


 

10. Dream Home

dream-home1

Pang Ho-Cheung's Dream Home delivered what most Slasher films dare not: a complex character, social commentary and a nonlinear story, and it all just so happens to be drenched in blood-soaked viscera. While some horror fans didn't like this mixture of commentary and over-the-top violence, I found it to be absolutely refreshing for the genre, more specifically, the Slasher genre. What stood out about Dream Home most, outside of the incredible death scenes, was the fact that the nicely integrated flashbacks played with the viewer's emotions. There are moments that made me feel true sympathy for Josie Ho's character, but as soon as I became invested in her character in such a way, the film jolted back to the present and reminded me that this isn't a woman who I should feel any sympathy for.

My Nightmarish Review of 'Dream Home'!


 

9. The Loved Ones

Chuck Norris Ate My Baby: The Loved Ones: Finger-Lickin' Good

Written and directed by Sean Byrne, The Loved Ones is a great example of what can be achieved when a filmmaker has respect for his or her subject matter. This Australian, teen-themed hybrid of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Misery has two incredibly well thought out characters. The film's protagonist, played admirably by Xavier Samuel, is an angst ridden teen - as well as a victim of misguided jealousy - who actually commands sympathy from the viewer. In the same token, the film's antagonist, played with mindboggling brilliance by Robin McLeavy, is a vengeful character who doesn't necessarily fall into the tropes of your standard pathetic high school girl. As a result, this mix of pure terror, torture and Oreo-shit black comedy, combined with the well-written characters, makes this one of the best horror films of the year. The Loved Ones is actually a 2009 film (on IMDB) that still has not seen a release in the States, something that is a complete pile of travesty, if you ask me.

My Loving Review of 'The Loved Ones'!


 

8. Stake Land

stake land poster

After making a nice little splash with his feature film debut, the rock solid micro-budget Mulberry Street, co-writer/director Jim Mickle's vampire opus, Stake Land was most certainly blipping my radar for quite some time. Knowing that the guy who had such an odd but original take on the infection/pseudo-zombie genre was going to tackle vampires was attention drawing for someone who spent their childhood enamored by vampire films and the creatures that polluted them. And while Mickle's take on the vampire genre wasn't all that original, per say, and even if the road film approach wasn't anything I hadn't seen done in other genre films, per say, it was how he combined the two. It was the way he took the subject matter seriously that made Stake Land one of my favorite films of the year. With deep characters and some nicely groomed relationships, Stake Land had a few other big pluses to offer, with one being the awesome Nick Damici (who also served as co-writer on both Stake Land and Mulberry Street), and the other being the vampires who were nothing short of badass.

My Fangtastic Review of 'Stake Land'!


 

7. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

I generally am not one who pisses all over remakes; in fact, I almost kind of welcome them. With that said, there is one specific type of remake I do not welcome, and that is the dumbed down for American audiences - who don't go to the movies to read - remakes of foreign films that, more often than not, haven't even been released on home video yet (in the States, that is). It's a whole longwinded rant that I really need not get into as this is certainly not the time for it, but regardless, it's important to note that I dislike this Hollywood practice.

In any event, if you were to ever get me excited for a remake of a film such as the 2009 Swedish adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, you go ahead and attach a name like David Fincher to it. A dark, procedurally driven film directed by the guy who helmed not one but two dark, procedurally driven masterpieces with 2007's Zodiac and 1995's Se7en. Sounds like the perfect fit, and as it turns out, it was. While I loved the Niels Arden Oplev helmed Swedish take on this first chapter in the Millennium series, specifically the fantastic performance from Noomi Rapace, it lacked the cinematic touch that a director like Fincher is/was able to bring. Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is visually stunning and refined in a way that doesn't glance away from the more atrocious aspects of the story. To make an already too long story short, I enjoyed this version slightly better than the Swedish film, and I think it shows what can be created when the right, passionate filmmakers are attached to the right projects.     


 

6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

harry potter and the deathly hallows part 2

I never would have guessed a Harry Potter film would end up on my best of the year list. Then again, it's not as if I had ever seen any of the films in the same year they were released. My enjoyment of the Potter series was at a low simmer for many years. I enjoyed the first few films in the series, but for some odd reason, this past year, something with this series suddenly cliqued with me, and that simmer went into a full boil. I ended up catching up with both the Half Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows Part 1, all with the sole propose of seeing the final installment in theaters, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, the only Potter film I would see in a theatrical format.

What I was finding with the Harry Potter films is they were beginning to tap into my nostalgic side of thinking, and I began to view the series as it is: a nicely delegated amount of children's fantasy mixed with dark subject matter and imagery. As is the case with the best children's stories, the Potter series grew darker with each passing installment, until the double dose of utter despair found in the combined Deathly Hallows films. It's an incredible thing how this "children's" series just suddenly hit me in such a way, but the feelings I have for the Harry Potter series, story flaws and all, are deeply rooted in my own childhood innocence and love for fantastical horror, and my enjoyment is reflected as such. 


 

5. Fish Tank

Fish Tank Poster

Propelled by a refreshingly raw and emotional performance from a young woman who had absolutely no acting experience beforehand, writer/director Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank is one of the purest examples of a coming of age story I have seen in some time. I absolutely adore a good coming of age tale, and Fish Tank's story of a young, rebellious teen living a significantly less than perfect life in the urban streets of London is about as good as it gets.

Rookie actress Katie Jarvis shines brightly playing the infectiously likeable and fascinating Mia, a girl who is looking to find her own purpose in the world. Mia's struggles come from living a difficult life, as she is trying to separate herself from her mother's absolute lack of maternal maturity, but her biggest struggle comes from being such a fiercely independent young woman. Mia is a bit of an immature brat at times, something that comes with her young age, but she is rebellious in a way that shows strength and determination. Mia's decision-making is far from refined, and as a result, she makes many mistakes, but she has no road map to follow, no guidance from those who would normally provide it. Mia is left to learn things for herself, thus giving her the opportunity to learn from her own mistakes on her own terms. 


 

4. 13 Assassins

13 Assassins

I, like many who share my specific genre film tastes, am a big fan of Takashi Miike's work. The prolific director has been behind a handful of my favorite genre pictures, but what he did with the Samurai epic, 13 Assassins, is something that defines the director's ability to transition from the Miike of old to the Miike of new. I think it's simply awesome to see a director take everything that defines his work - sadism, fetishism, extreme stylized violence – and integrate those themes in to a classically fashioned Samurai story. It's been quite a while since I have seen the film, so my memory has faded significantly, so I don't have much more to say about the film outside of simply stating that there is a reason 13 Assassins is at number 4 on my list, and in a way, that kind of speaks for itself.  


 

3. Hobo With a Shotgun

Hobo With a shotgun

Never in a million years did I expect to even remotely enjoy Jason Eisener's Hobo with a Shotgun. From the unpleasant style of the film (based off what I had seen in trailers and images) to the completely overdone grindhouse motif that is rarely ever correctly executed, everything about this film screamed for me to keep far far away. Still, even though I figured I would absolutely hate the movie, I sat down and watched it anyway, and in what may be the biggest cinematic surprises I have experienced in quite some time, I absolutely loved it. First off, while Hobo does take a page or two from the proto-Exploitation handbook, I found that the film has very little in common with many of its brethren.

Unlike most throwback films of late, Hobo with a Shotgun is less a '70s Exploitation film and more a pure '80s sleaze-fest, and despite the fact that the movie is extremely over-the-top, I found many of its outlandish characteristics to feel more organic than most other films. Where Hobo stands out most is the often-applauded performance by Rutger Hauer, however, the gorgeously gaudy neon color pallet that Eisener employs gives the film an incredibly distinct otherworldly feeling. It's both Hauer's performance and the film's garish style that combine with its wonderfully absurd storyline that make this film standout from the pack, and as a result, Hobo with a Shotgun feels less like a throwback and more like its own film.    


 

2. Drive

drive

Over the past few years, director Nicolas Winding Refn has slowly risen towards the top of the food chain as far as being one of my favorite directors goes. With that said, anything the man is attached to certainly piques my interest at a very high level, and none more than Drive. In fact, Drive was easily my most anticipated film of 2011, and thankfully, I was not at all letdown. As per usual, Refn doesn't give audiences what they would typically expect from a genre picture. This is something he has done with most every film he has directed, and this tradition continues with the story of a stunt driver who, essentially, falls for the wrong girl.

Nicolas Winding Refn delivers incredible attention to detail as well as incredible attention to tension, and the lack of over-the-top car chases and false machismo give the film a lot more to stand on than your typical popcorn bullshit. And yet, when the stakes are high and the pace is kicked into next gear, Refn shows just how well he can construct a scene of pure adrenaline, and all without an ounce of it feeling phony or trite. From the cool as ice soundtrack and the noir-ish LA backdrop to the unconventional performance by Ryan Gosling, Drive is a genre picture that is as hip as it gets, but it never feels like it's trying to be too cool for school.


 

1. Biutiful

Biutiful Poster

For some reason, I almost find it difficult to properly put into words why I love this film so much. Seeing it only once is certainly not enough to allow me to fully realize all of my thoughts, but I do know this, Alejandro González Iñárritu's Biutiful is one of the most incredibly moving films I have seen since Children of Men. And if you know me well enough, you should know the esteem in which I hold Children of Men. As a piece of cinema, Biutiful is simply brilliant, on every level, but what really makes this film what it is, more than anything, is the emotionally charged performance by Javier Bardem.

After seeing Bardem in 2007's No Country for Old Men, I knew he was a fantastic actor, one who certainly deserved the Oscar win for his maniacal portrayal of Anton Chigurh. However, I had let Bardem slip from my consciences as an actor, almost forgetting how good he was capable of being. Seeing him in Biutiful did more than reaffirm the actor as a performer who could put forth a fantastic performance, it showed me that he is, without a doubt, one of the best actors working today. There is something about Bardem that goes beyond typical acting skills, and that something is easily defined as his overall presence, specifically his face. Javier Bardem might have one of the most expressive and interesting faces the screen has ever been graced with. His eyes alone, filled with an incredibly sympathetic poignancy, tell a million and one stories without the actor having to even bat a lash. And each one of those stories feels as if it's told through his eyes in Biutiful.


 

Special Honorable Mention

The Ides of March

Unfortunately, I caught the George Clooney directed political thriller, The Ides of March, just after I had started writing this post out, and once I begin to actually type it out, I do not like to make any changes. With that said, had Ides made it into my player beforehand, it very easily would have been in my top ten, possibly taking the number six or seven spot. This is technically an honorable mention, so I don't want to get into it too much; however, The Ides of March is a fantastically written and acted film that goes in directions that I, for once, did not foresee. A wonderful film that every cinema fan should check out.

Not Good Enough to Make a List, but Boy Did  I Really Like 'em!

Red Hill * Paranormal Activity 3 * All the Boys Love Mandy Lane * Moneyball * Conan O'Brien Can't Stop * I Saw the Devil * Marwencol * The Silent House * X-Men First Class * The Man From Nowhere * Clash (Bay Rong) * Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale * Black Death * Machete Maidens Unleashed * All God's Creatures * Ip Man 2 * Troll Hunter * Rise of the Planet of the Apes * Skew * Tucker and Dale VS. Evil

Okay, that's it… I really hope you enjoyed my longer than it needed to be list of my favorite films of 2011. I hope you take a moment to share both your thoughts as well as what films you loved from the year that brought us the Forever Lazy.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Fly Like Paper: Mephisto's Castle's Sinister Spotlight Featuring ME!

A few months back, the always-magnificent Jose of Mephisto's Castle asked if I would join him in a powerlifting tournament sponsored by Gatorade and Molson Golden, which I naturally accepted. Unfortunately, that was before I hurt my back trying to learn how to do a proper Buffalo Stance, leaving me laid up and out of commish for six to eight weeks. As a result, Jose became very sad and he did a lot of uncontrollable crying and nose blowing, but then it came to him: instead of having me be his partner in the powerlifting tournament sponsored by Gatorade and Molson Golden, he could invite me to be a guest host for his Sinister Spotlight podcast! And guess what? He did, and I said yes!

Jose asked me to pick a movie for us to talk about, and the film I chose was none other than the 1986 Cronenberg masterpiece, The Fly, a film I absolutely, positively adore. Outside of some minor microphone issues on my end - which take away from my hysterical jokes - the conversation was nothing short of wonderful. Jose and I dug deep and dissected The Fly in a way that only Geena Davis was ever able to, and if you are even remotely a fan of the film, I implore you to take the time to listen to us babble on like Babylon?

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