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20

Mar

LIMITLESS

REVIEW:  (out of four)


If you’ve ever thought about what would happen if you took a pill that could literally fix all of your flaws and unlock sides of you that no one knew existed, then Limitless is the movie for you. If not, then you’re shit out of luck and I would suggest finding something else to do with the next four or five minutes of your life instead of continuing to read this.

Bradley Cooper plays Eddie Morra, a starving and struggling writer whose life changes radically when he is introduced to NZT, an experimental, black-market pharmaceutical drug that allows him to remember everything he’s ever read or experienced, learn new languages in a day, master complex equations in a blink, mastermind the workings of Wall Street, and, presumably, decode all of the twists and turns in Inception.

Since we all have been desensitized to the fact that nothing this powerful in movie land can ever come without a price, it should come as no surprise that Eddie soon finds himself scrambling to replenish his supply, for the effects of one pill wear off within a day or so. And, to top that all of, he’s also in the process of trying to fend off a group of ruthless Russian mobsters who are on to his “get rich and successful quickly” scheme. Meanwhile, his ex-girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish), who had written Eddie off as a deadbeat at the beginning of the film, finds herself powerless against her hubby’s newfound intelligence and charisma. Eddie also manages to somehow attract the attention of Wall Street mogul Carl Van Loon played by Robert De Niro, who just seems so uncomfortably out of place here.

Cooper has such screen presence in this film that even when the plot verges on complete and utter insanity, I felt content with shirking off the confines of reality and just going along with him on this wildly unrealistic and overblown ride. He’s fascinating to watch as he transitions from a scruffy, down and out loser to a successful, pill-popping genius and playboy. Cooper proves, if nothing more, that he is more than capable of tackling the coveted leading man status from here on out, with screen legend De Niro barely even on screen. And even when he is, Cooper sweeps the spotlight right from under him. I almost felt bad for the guy. With almost forty years under his belt, I don’t think he ever could have imagined the day that he’d be upstaged by some up-and-coming heartthrob. I suppose that is Hollywood for you; one moment you’re on top and the next you’re right back where you started: on the bottom and making others look good by just being there.

There are so many questions that could have been addressed and answered throughout the course of this film concerning Eddie’s super-intellect, but instead opts for the drug angle which, I think, may have been its biggest downfall. Yet, despite its flaws (man there sure are plenty), this is a surprisingly good thriller that’s propelled along at an excitingly fast-pace by a star making performance. Although Limitless may not shake any new sort of ground, smart and entertaining flicks are hard to come by nowadays. And given the line up of other films that are currently in release, I can almost guarantee that this one is just about the best that you’re going to get. Take it or leave it.

14

Mar

RANGO

REVIEW:  (out of four)

I have to be honest. When I first saw the teaser for Rango back about a half a year ago or so, I remember feeling rather thrown off. It featured this big orange fish that was just swimming across what seemed to be some sort of abandoned highway. It gave away not one single piece of information, except for of course its title. Looking back, I now realize how brilliant a teaser it actually was; for, to be perfectly honest, nothing that I can say or do will prepare you for this film. Yes, it’s enormously entertaining and pretty to look at. But, for a kids’ flick, it might be just as, if not even darker and morbid than this past summer’s heart wrenching surprise, Toy Story 3.

Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski takes a unique and ambitious career turn here and re-teams with Johnny Depp, but this time for an animated movie that I can quite honestly say is not meant at all for children. Depp, interestingly, would not have been my first choice for the role of the titular hero, but his presence is always welcomed and certainly adds an element of wit that we have all come to love and expect from him over the years.

The story, in a nutshell, is your classic Western tale about a stranger who stumbles upon an old, dirty, decaying town in the middle of the desert and acts like he’s some big-time hero. But, in Rango’s case, he isn’t; not even by a long shot and just like the typically narrow-minded townspeople that one would expect to find in a place like this, they believe him. What they don’t know, however, is that he’s actually a lizard who has spent his entire life in a glass cage with inanimate plastic objects that he likes to call his friends. But, when he is unexpectedly separated from them, he comes across the town of Dirt (yes, you read that correctly) and before long, he finds himself in deep trouble and is given an opportunity to finally become the hero that he’s always wanted to be. We never actually know Rango’s real name, by the way. Perhaps he doesn’t even have one, but in the midst of concocting some ridiculous, over-the-top story about how he became the fearless hero that he is now, he calls himself Rango and luckily, no one is wise enough to realize that it’s all just an act.

Rango, although it may be unlike any other animated film that I have ever seen before, feels unexplainably familiar and this works to its advantage, because even though the plot is nothing new, almost nothing else about it is. There are some really, really strange moments in this one and the decision to use such a coveted genre like the western as the framework for a project like this was definitely a good one. If I were to be super picky, I would have to say that the only real problem with this film is that it’s trying a little bit too hard. Verbinski and his team attempt to cram about a million different ideas, situations and characters together and although I would not go as far as to say that they failed, they could have toned it down just a bit.

Nevertheless, I must admit that it’s hard not to be engaged by every second of Rango. I mean, c’mon, when you’ve got people like Depp, Verbinski, and the brilliant Hans Zimmer working together, what’s not to love? No one else has ever used animation to tell a story like this; it’s a first of its kind. This is the kind of movie that deserves attention. As a matter of fact, it deserves a ton. We may just have something brilliant on our hands, here. Let’s just pray that the studios don’t ruin it and crank out a sequel.

23

Feb

JUST GO WITH IT

REVIEW:  (out of four)


What is it with me and my obsession with Adam Sandler? No matter how many bombs he releases, I find myself racing to the theaters every single time he plops out another. I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry was painfully unfunny and downright offensive. You Don’t Mess With the Zohan was hard to sit through and way too politically charged for its own good. Bedtime Stories was- well how about let’s just not and say we did. Funny People was a step in the right direction, even though it may not have been what most have come to expect from funnyman Sandler. His most previous release, Grown Ups, looked so horrendous that I couldn’t even bring myself to consider going to see it. And now, with Just Go With It, it appears as though our buddy Adam may really be losing his comedic touch, for this is without a doubt one of his worst to date.

If you’ve seen the trailers for this one then you already know the gist of it. Sandler plays a single plastic surgeon who struts around wearing a wedding ring to trick women into sleeping with him. One night, he meets a beautiful young woman named Palmer (Sports Illustrated model Brooklyn Decker) and ends up spending a romantic evening with her on the beach. But, the next morning, Palmer finds the fake band in his pocket. Thus, in order to win back Palmer’s trust, Sandler employs his trusted friend and assistant Katherine (Jennifer Aniston) to act as his ex-wife. But, once Katherine’s indescribably annoying kids are thrown into the mix, things naturally take a turn for the worst. Oh, and somewhere along the way, everyone takes a trip to Hawaii. For what reason you may ask? There is none.

The movie works hard to get all of these subplots and conflicts moving, but unfortunately comes across as rather forced. Decker’s character, although a beautiful piece of eye candy, serves absolutely no purpose in the film, other than to give the other characters an excuse to continue spewing out lie after lie after life. And ultimately, as one lie forms after another, you too will become just as fed up as the people being lied to on screen. To make matters even worse, the running time clocks in at around two hours. I am sorry, but there is no reason why any Adam Sandler screwball comedy should be any longer than an hour and a half. Why extend our torture? Oh yeah and I forgot to mention that Nicole Kidman has a sizable cameo as Katherine’s college nemesis who they just so happen to run into in Hawaii. Surprised? Judging by her performance in the film, so was she.

I don’t know who advised Sandler, Aniston and even Kidman, for that matter, to agree to do this film. But, whoever was responsible should be shot. Doesn’t Sandler realize that if he keeps releasing one dud after another that people will eventually stop showing up? Or maybe I’m completely wrong. Perhaps this is what audiences have come to appreciate; lazy, uninspired comedy that could have been written by a fifth grader on a sugar high. The only redeeming thing that you should expect to find here is Nick Swardson, who steals every scene that he is in as Sandler’s bumbling and perverted cousin.

As much as it kills me to say, do yourself a favor and forget about going with this one. I mean, unless of course you think a man clinching a coconut in his asshole is satisfactory entertainment.

PAUL

REVIEW:  (out of four)

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are the kings of bromance action flicks. Their two previous, most successful helming efforts- Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz- have earned their spots amongst some of the great buddy comedies of our time. And, just when you thought that they had done it all, they’re back at it again doing exactly what they do best. Well, sort of.

Paul is the story of Graeme Willy (Simon Pegg) and Clive Gollings (Nick Frost), two run-of-the-mill British comic book nerds who have just made their first trip to the states to attend the legendary Comic Con reception in San Diego. They aren’t just there to fawn over the sci-fi stars and icons that they’ve idolized for their entire lives, however. The two have also planned on taking a road trip in a rented Winnebago to visit the most infamous alien contact sites across the country.

But, when the bumbling pair accidentally ends up coming face to face with a real, actual alien named Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen), they’re vacation is put to an immediate halt. Paul is currently on the run and fleeing from the government, which has mysteriously decided that his “services” to the United States are no longer needed. Paul claims to have crashed his spaceship into a farm near Area 51 back in the 50’s, and has spent the last half century as a guest of the US secret intelligence services, helping everyone from scientists to film directors better understand what extraterrestrial life forms are really all about. But, in that space of time, he’s somehow become an offensive, intolerant pothead with a rather unruly demeanor.


Thus, the unlikely threesome find themselves reluctantly embarking on a dangerous journey- while being followed by a group of senseless FBI agents- to get Paul to a secure site from which he will be able to be picked up by his intergalactic comrades. Essentially, this paves the way for an obnoxious amount of hackneyed road movie/sci-fi/love triangle gags, all of which never quite manage to stick. They also end up accidentally kidnapping an evangelical Christian woman named Ruth Boggs, played by the always-hysterical Kristen Wiig- who’s given the best comedic moments here, but then again, there’s only so much a talented actress can do with mediocre material like this.

Paul is directed by Greg Mottola, the man responsible for the now legendary comedic masterpiece, Superbad. And although his unique style and tone are welcomed with open arms here, it still, unfortunately, is not enough to save the film from its undeniably conventional and geeky premise. This movie was written by geeks, for geeks, about geeks. So, unless you’ve dedicated your life to memorizing all of the names and planets that exist within the worlds of Star Wars and Star Trek, I’m not quite sure if this one will work for you. It relies heavily on the assumption that the audience will pick up on a number of gags that aren’t so recognizable upon first listen. As opposed to their previous efforts, where just about everything was funny regardless of any kind of underlying theme or intertextuality, I have no doubts that Paul will appeal to a demographic of some sort; but certainly not a large one.

It should come as no surprise that Pegg and Frost breeze effortlessly through this film with their infamous chemistry that has since become their trademark. And not to mention, their chemistry actually helped the film get through its boring, awkward first 30 minutes. Seth Rogen does some fine voice work as the title character, but doesn’t really bring anything new to the table that we haven’t already seen (or heard) from him hundreds of times before. There is also a group of priceless cameos throughout film that I won’t even bother spoiling, just so that if you decide to venture out and see this extraterrestrial piece of garage, at least you’ve got something to look forward to.

Let there be no confusion here; I am well aware that Paul was, by no means, intended to be a work of art. But, after everything that we have seen from Pegg and Frost over the years, I suppose my expectations were set a bit too high. With studios producing less and less projects every year, there is simply no excuse for crap like this. Mottola and his crew had everything they needed in order to make something great. Perhaps what they need now more than anything else is to begin considering a change of profession.

11

Feb

JUSTIN BIEBER: NEVER SAY NEVER

REVIEW:  (out of four)

If any of you are planning on seeing the brand new 3D documentary, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, odds are you haven’t got a choice in the matter. Either you’ve got a terrible case of “Bieber Fever” and will see just about anything the pre-pubescent pop star does, or you’re the parent of someone who falls somewhere in this group. Or, then again, you’re like me: a 20-year-old college student who is in the beginning stages of “Bieber Fever” denial. But, all jokes aside, whether you’re a devoted fan or not, this kid has got some talent. And thanks to this undeniably charming and entertaining film, chances are, by the end of this weekend, little Justin will not only be one of the most popular recording artists in the world, but he will also be a box office sensation.

I’m sure many of you are already rolling your heads and asking yourselves why in the world any sane human being would go anywhere near something like this. Well, in the movie’s defense, it both embraces and pokes fun at how truly ridiculous this teenybopper phenomenon has become. Bieber is absolutely aware of his effect on all of these young girls, as it’s probably not a coincidence that he takes off his shirt within the first 10 minutes and spends an entire segment whipping around his infamously shaped haircut in slow motion.

Never Say Never offers a rather intimate behind-the-scenes look at Justin’s life on the road and his rise to unprecedented fame as just another kid growing up in the suburbs of Canada. Both a documentary as well as a concert film, there’s a recurring countdown throughout that finally leads up to his first sold out performance at Madison Square Garden. But something that this film does very well is the way in which director John Chu incorporates Bieber’s personal life and the people who are always there to surround and care for him (which is exactly, in my opinion, what Michael Jackson’s This Is It got horribly wrong).

This kid’s story may not be anything out of the ordinary, but it is certainly one that I found myself completely invested in. In an age where social media rules and sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter determine the success or failure of many up and coming artists, Never Say Never traces Justin’s career, all the way back to when his very first video was posted. The mere fact that various industry professionals in the film have dubbed him as this generation’s Elvis/Beatles is shocking to say the very least and proves that he is not one to be ignored. He’s not just some one-hit wonder teen sensation. Justin Bieber is here to stay. And to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t be happier about that.

08

Feb

SANCTUM

REVIEW:  (out of four)

If you’ve had the dubious pleasure of viewing the previews for the brand new, 3D adventure Sanctum, then you already know that James Cameron is the Executive Producer. But, other than that, there’s not much more information that one could have possibly gathered from watching them. Please, for the love of God: do not be fooled by this film’s devious marketing strategy. Sanctum is just about as epic as a Made-for-TV movie on TNT.

So, for everyone who’s ever wanted to know what it would be like to be trapped in world’s the largest underwater cave with a limited supply of food, water, and supplies, this is just the film for you. For everyone else: save yourself the price of admission (which is, of course, even more expensive than a normal ticket because the movie is only playing in 3D) and go rent Avatar.


I will admit, however, that the visuals are often breathtaking. It kills me to actually say this, but the film really must be seen in 3D. There are handful of underwater shots, in particular, that are unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. I would have expected nothing less, as it was shot using the very same technology that Cameron spent millions upon millions of dollars inventing.

Had the funds that were originally put forth for Sanctum been handed over to a National Geographic documentary of some sort, at least that would have been somewhat intriguing. Instead, we’ve been duped, yet again, by the Hollywood machine and left with an overwhelmingly dull, unexciting, visually stunning piece of crap.

06

Feb

2011 OSCAR PREDICTIONS

It has finally arrived; the moment we’ve been waiting for all year long. The Academy Award nominations have finally been released, and the ceremony is right around the corner. Who will win on Hollywood’s biggest night? Here are my predictions…

BEST PICTURE

Should Win: The Social Network

Will Win: The Social Network

Out of all the Best Picture nominees this year, The Social Network is by the far the best of the bunch. Sure, The King’s Speech pulled a fast one and snagged both the SGA and DGA honors, but who are these voters trying to fool? No film was smarter, no film was funnier, no film was more suspenseful, no film was more engrossing. David Fincher, along with his incredibly talented cast and crew, deserve every single award that comes their way.

The Social Network truly was the movie of the year, and maybe even of the entire decade. I mean, let’s just be honest with ourselves here; years from now, when people will look back at the movies of 2010, are they going to remember the one about a king who overcomes a speech impediment or the one about the guy who invented Facebook (the most popular social networking site in the world)? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Give it to the nerds.

BEST ACTOR

Should Win: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

Will Win: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

If there’s any Oscar category that needs no prediction this year, it’s Best Actor. Colin Firth has this one in the bag. He’s up against four other actors here who, although all very talented, have basically zero chance to win the big award. This year, Firth is that actor who annoyingly picks up every single award at every single ceremony. And although the Oscar voters have been known to offer up a few surprises over the years, I think it’s a lock by now.

Anything is possible, I suppose, but it’s going to be Firth. I’d bet my life on it.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Should Win: Christian Bale, The Fighter

Will Win: Christian Bale, The Fighter

Bale has been the front-runner since the very beginning. Anyone who’s seen his masterful performance in The Fighter knows this is his time. For anyone to steal away the statue from Bale come February 27th would no doubt be one of the biggest snubs in Oscar history.

BEST ACTRESS

Should Win: Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Will Win: Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right

This one is a toughie. The Best Actress race always somehow manages to be the most unpredictable and exciting categories of the evening. This year, we’ve got a good old-fashioned fight to the finish line between favorite Natalie Portman and veteran/four-time Oscar nominee Annette Bening. Just because Portman has been sweeping every major award up to this point doesn’t mean that we should all rule out the possibility of Bening’s name being called when the winner is announced. It’s indisputable; she’s one of the best around and has certainly waited long enough for this moment. I say: give it to the damn woman already. Natalie was incredible, yes, but don’t worry about her; she’ll have plenty more opportunities to soak up the spotlight.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Should Win: Melissa Leo, The Fighter

Will Win: Melissa Leo, The Fighter

Although I was not as big a fan of the film as others, there is no denying that The Fighter brought a couple of truly great performances to the screen this year; one of them being Melissa Leo’s portrayal as a cruel and overbearing mother. No other actress in this category deserves this more than her.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Should Win: Toy Story 3

Will Win: Toy Story 3

How to Train Your Dragon and The Illusionist should just be happy to even be nominated. There is absolutely zero competition here. Pixar is and always will be king.

BEST DIRECTOR

Should Win: David Fincher, The Social Network

Will Win: David Fincher, The Social Network

Before I even get into my prediction for this category, can someone please tell me why Christopher Nolan is not nominated this year? He’s been nominated for the DGA three times already, and still has yet to receive one from the Academy. Everyone knows that the reason they decided to expand the Best Picture pool from five to ten films is because of The Dark Knight’s unfortunate snub two years ago. But, now that Inception has been nominated for a handful of awards- including Best Picture- his omission this time around is absolutely disgusting and unforgivable. The voters should be ashamed of themselves.

Now that I had a chance to get that off of my chest, let’s get down to business. David Fincher is one of Hollywood’s best, most beloved directors. He’s made seven great films in a row, and his latest endeavor, The Social Network, is by far his finest work to date. He was just nominated two years ago for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and now it looks like he’ll finally be taking home the gold. If anyone other than Fincher steps up to that podium on February 27, it will be a huge upset and surprise.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Should Win: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network

Will Win: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network

This might actually be the easiest category to predict of the night. Typically, whenever the Coen Brothers are nominated for something, they are automatically dubbed as the front-runner. However, no matter how much buzz True Grit may be garnering- as well as The King’s Speech for that matter- Aaron Sorkin will win his first Academy Award for The Social Network. No matter what happens in the Best Picture and Director races, Sorkin can rest easy; he’s a 100% lock.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Should Win: Christopher Nolan, Inception

Will Win: David Seidler, The King’s Speech

Although it may not be a sure thing like Aaron Sorkin, David Seidler will probably win this award. For some unknown, unexplainable reason, The King’s Speech is leading the pool this year with a whopping twelve nominations. My gut tells me that it’s going to lose a ton to The Social Network. Therefore, this seems like the right thing to do.

I will say, however, that if Nolan were to win an award for Inception, it really should be for its screenplay. He’s a lot like a modern day Hitchcock; he makes one brilliant film after another and still is left empty handed at the end of every year. His time will come soon enough. I’m sure of it.

19

Jan

THE GREEN HORNET

REVIEW:  (out of four)

Welcome to January, folks. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past twenty or thirty years, I don’t think it’s any big secret that this is unquestionably the worst month of the year for Hollywood. All of the films that get released are either so bad that the studios don’t know what else to do with them or they simply cannot compete with the select few that are garnering Oscar buzz. Thus, it should come as no surprise to all of you that Seth Rogen’s latest effort, The Green Hornet, isn’t really anything worth buzzing about.

Britt Reid (Rogen) is not your typical superhero. He wasn’t raised in a broken home, he wasn’t picked on during his adolescent years, and he isn’t particularly bright. He’s actually just a spoiled brat. His father, James (Tom Wilkinson), owns one of the most powerful and influential newspapers in the city, so Britt has never once had to work a day in his life. But, when he suddenly passes away, there’s only one person left to inherit his empire.

Although he has absolutely zero interest in the field of journalism or working at all for that matter, Britt reluctantly agrees to take over the family business but also decides to occupy the bulk of his time living on the edge with his father’s former car mechanic and coffeemaker, Kato (Jay Chou). One night, Britt catches sight of a mugging and impulsively takes action. Well, actually, Kato takes action; Britt kind of just stands there. Regardless, Britt believes that they make the perfect team and should become masked, vigilante heroes. And so, as a result, they inadvertently become entrenched in LA’s world of crime and dirty politics, which just so happens to be controlled by a villainous man by the name of Chudnofsky- played by the brilliant Christoph Waltz (who is horribly underused here).

There have been rumors swirling for a long time that this was a “troubled production” from the get go. Original director Stephen Chow bailed after creative disputes; George Clooney was once attached, as was Kevin Smith. Eventually, the visionary Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) took over. Combined with Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg’s screenplay, it seemed for a little while that this might actually have some potential. Sadly enough, the rumors were all true.

Gondry is a talented filmmaker and one that I hold with the utmost regard, but this is just a mess of a film. The Green Hornet’s biggest problem is that it doesn’t really know what kind of movie it is. One moment it’s a typical, raunchy buddy comedy and the next it’s an outrageous action flick with explosions and bad one-liners galore. Rogen, although he lost a considerable amount of weight in order to prepare, is completely wrong for this sort of role and brings virtually nothing to the table. The script is messy, the dialogue is dull and lifeless, the comedy is uninspired, the action is over-the-top and gratuitous, the characters are unlikeable and undeveloped. And if that weren’t enough, as with almost every other film that gets released nowadays, the studio decided to release this in 3D for absolutely no discernable reason.

With all the Oscar bait in theaters right now, believe me when I say that you can do a whole lot better than this piece of garbage.

31

Dec

THE BEST & THE WORST OF 2010 

So, we’ve reached the end of another long and somewhat exciting year at the movies. Although I did not have the opportunity to watch everything that was released, of all the films that I had the great and sometimes dubious pleasure of seeing, here are my picks for the best and the worst of 2010.

THE BEST

5. The Town

Ben Affleck proved himself to be a triple threat in the industry here as he writes, directs and stars in this film that may have been even better than his previous helming effort Gone Baby Gone- which was coincidentally ranked in my top 5 of 2007. The film featured an idyllic fusion of drama, romance, action, and suspense that made for one of the more emotionally rewarding cinematic experiences in a long while. My gut tells me that this is going to be snubbed when the Oscar nominations are announced. But, I’m confident that Affleck will have his moment and be crowned again soon enough.

4. Inception

One of the biggest box office success of the year, Christopher Nolan’s Inception proved that Hollywood summer blockbusters don’t need to be full of explosions and gratuitous violence in order to be a hit. The burning question on everyone’s minds now is what the hell is this guy going to do next? He’s set the bar extremely high for himself and most likely will raise it even higher once his final Batman installment is released. Still, the whole “dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream” concept was absolutely mind blowing (no pun intended), even though it took me a few days just to process. The film is by no means perfect, but it is without a doubt the smartest and most ingenious blockbuster we can expect to see for a long, long time.

 3. Black Swan

A companion piece to 2008’s The Wrestler, Black Swan is yet another film from Darren Aronofsky about people who will stop at nothing to attain genuine fulfillment. No other movie this year gripped me quite like this did. Combining elements from all of his previous works, Aronofsky examines the trying and sometimes devastating creative process that one must go through in order to achieve perfection in their art. This sexy and dangerous thriller crept under my skin, into my brain, chewed me up, and spit me out into a million pieces. Not to mention, Natalie Portman’s performance is easily the best of the year and should earn her the trophy come Oscar night. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up being the dark horse for Best Picture.

2. Toy Story 3

Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang bid a fond farewell to audiences in this final chapter of trilogy that began 15 years ago. It’s a funny, smart, gut-wrenching, and sometimes scary film that’s geared directly to all of us who were at one time or another faced with the very tough decision to throw beloved toys away and begin a new chapter in our lives. Toy Story 3 may look like a family film on the outside, but it truly is much more than that as it tackles a number of adult issues such as loss, identity and self-respect, Needless to say, it was a perfect finale and one that’s guaranteed to live on for generations, or as Buzz would say: “to infinity and beyond.”

1. The Social Network

Facebook is certainly something that many people use, but not necessarily something that many people care about- emotionally that is. And therein lies the brilliance of The Social Network, the critically acclaimed film from director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin that may very well be the most compelling and socially relevant movie of our time. If there is any bit of justice in the world, this will be awarded the Best Picture trophy on February 27th. Fincher’s spot-on direction combined with Sorkin’s rapid, unflinching dialogue as well as with the stellar performances from everyone involved makes for what is unquestionably the best film of 2010.

Honorable Mentions127 Hours, Blue Valentine, The Fighter, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Nowhere Boy, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The King’s Speech


THE WORST

 5. Iron Man 2

 What a mess. A sequel to one of the biggest surprises of 2008, it fell victim to many of the same qualities that made Spider-Man 3 such an abomination. There were way too many things going on at once, actors were miscast and underused, and it ran thirty minutes too long. All those responsible have seen much better days indeed.

 4. Alice in Wonderland

 This may not be the worst film of 2010, but it was definitely the most disappointing. Tim Burton is known for consistently delivering some of the most creative and engrossing films in Hollywood. His latest effort, yet again featuring his favorites Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, had the potential to be one of the most beautifully haunting movies of the past decade. Instead, it succumbed to obvious studio pressures and was released in dreadful 3D, thus making the experience ten times more painful than it needed to be.

 3. How Do You Know

 I had really high hopes for this one and unfortunately, they were shattered beyond disbelief. James L. Brooks has made some of the greatest romantic comedies in the history of romantic comedies. So, you can imagine how disappointed I was after seeing this film. It wasn’t just bad; it was agonizing. Never before have I wanted to leave a theater so badly. The dialog was laughable, the story didn’t really make sense, the acting was cheesy and over dramatic; the list could go on forever. I feel embarrassed for every single person involved.

 2. Dinner for Schmucks

When a great cast and a great creative team are brought together, chances are they’re most likely going to create something even greater. Well, Dinner for Schmucks could just be the perfect exception to such a theory. Paul Rudd and Steve Carell both make complete fools out of themselves here and prove, if nothing more, that even the best of comics simply can’t do all that much with mediocre material.

1. Sex and the City 2

Easily the most obnoxious, over-the-top, pointless, idiotic, and offensive film of the year, Sex and the City 2 had it all: a horrible script, a clouded director and misguided actors. But, worst of all, the costumes were horrid. One would think that a series known most for its wardrobe trend setting appeal would feature some of the most gorgeous outfits that the world has ever seen. I mean, if they couldn’t even get that right, why in the world did they even bother going through with the whole production in the first place? A sensible person would have recognized that this was doomed from the very start. Too late.

Other movies that shouldn’t have ever been green litA Nightmare on Elm Street, Due Date, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Jackass 3-D, Knight & Day, Paranormal Activity 2, Splice

30

Dec

BLUE VALENTINE

REVIEW:  (out of four)

Nothing has distorted our society’s perception of love more than Hollywood. Every month or so, we’re given a romantic comedy that features a beautiful and young couple falling head over heels in love, falling out of love, and getting back together just before the credits are about to roll. But, whether we’re willing to admit it or not, the real world doesn’t work like that; not one bit. Real relationships entail suffering, pain, struggle, sacrifice; all of which are conveniently left out of most films that are released. It’s this very unsettling reality that writer/director Derek Cianfrance extraordinarily depicts for us in his brilliant film Blue Valentine.

Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams play Dean and Cindy, a married couple trying to reignite the love and passion in their decaying relationship. Through flashbacks, we see when they first meet, when they fall in love, and finally where things begin to reach a boiling point. Because of Cianfrance’s unrelentingly honest script, executed to perfection by Gosling and Williams- both of whom deserve Oscar nominations- I connected with the characters immediately. Based off of the reactions of those who were seated around me in the theater, so will everyone else.


Dean, a relatively hard-working laborer, and Cindy, a dedicated nurse, appear to be going through the motions of inevitable heartbreak even when first we meet them. It would be unfair to say that they weren’t always dissatisfied with their lives, for at the very, very beginning, they can’t get enough of one another. But, as the film continues, it becomes evident that the only saving grace holding the relationship together is their daughter, Frankie (Faith Wladyka).

In spite of the film’s rather infamous battle with the MPAA over the deadly NC-17 rating, there’s little here that I think will genuinely shock mature audience members. While the movie does contain a few sexually explicit moments, it’s never used gratuitously, as is usually the case with most romance flicks. Instead, the scenes aid the continuance and significance of the story tremendously. Cianfrance brings us so uncomfortably close to these characters that I’m sure his abnormal level of intimacy will turn some people off. But, for those who are willing to stick it out, they will quickly realize that it is some of the most daring and powerful stuff ever put on screen.


Just in case you hadn’t already gotten the gist, Blue Valentine is certainly not the feel-good movie of 2010. Unlike 2008’s Revolutionary Road, there are no clichés to be found here. Yes, they both examine the everyday complexities of relationships, but thanks to its compelling performances and screenplay, this stands alone as one of, if not the most emotionally affecting romances ever made.

We’re so used to watching couples live happily ever after. And now that Blue Valentine has altered that annoying, hackneyed convention, I think that it is safe to assume that audiences’ perception and sensitivity to films like this will too be changed for the better. This is a film that must be seen by everyone, no matter what. It would be a tremendous mistake to miss it.