2010: The Year We Made Contact
If anything that follows feels like a personal attack, it probably is and should be taken as such. Let the controversy begin.
In 2010 I saw 98 movies in the theater and outside of the theater I saw 104 movies that I had never seen before.
That’s 202 for 2010. Decent Haul.
And now it has come time to wrap it up. (Past time maybe?) Why do we do this? Why do we do this to the movies? And so today in order to prepare for this Best of/ End of the Year Spectacular I was transcribing my master list of 2010 films from my notebook into a word document. I started to notice the movies on the list that were just from the past few years. Pictures like Fool’s Gold, Tiptoes, and/or Redbelt. And I was thinking that the nice thing about watching those movies was that they existed on their own. Or rather I was looking over the list to find my favorite movies from this past year and getting overwhelmed and/or BORED by whatever relationships they have with the other damn movies I saw this year. With this year-end Poop fest, best of the time rap up list it’s like we’re trapping the movies, shows, songs, experiences together in the year they were made/seen/released. Squeezing the life and freedom out of them and carefully organizing everything from our past together for easy fucking reference.
Am I right?
Of Course I fucking am. Now if you excuse me I’m going to go watch A Prophet and see how that stacks up against the rest of this crap.
Let’s get into it for a minute shall we?
Best of 2010
The Best movie I saw this year was Michael Mann’s Thief from 1981. Saw it at the Film Forum. It’s really worth checking out. The Second and Third Best Movies I saw this year were Bill Friedkin’s Sorcerer (1977) and Tony Scott’s Top Gun (1986)
The best screening I may have been at was last January when MOMA showed Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) There was a crazy lady in the audience who was upset with people leaving the theater and talking as the credits played and I remember wondering if they had gassed the theater. Also I got to see El Cid at the Film Forum. I felt really privileged to have that chance.
11. PIRANHA 3D -
“Hey ass wipe! Nice shirt!”
I like it when a movie feels like a movie. Feels complete. A solid 3-star movie is often my favorite type to watch. And it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes a movie feel like a real movie. It’s something un-explainable, but you can feel it as you’re watching. I think it boils down to a great manipulation of structure, characters, pacing, plot and music. All that boring stuff that really makes it fly when you hit them on the target.
Piranha 3D felt like a real fucking movie. Sure there were a lot of big dumb tits and some blood and gore for the kids, but more that that it was a movie. Frankly the Exploitative stuff was the most disappointing elements, but the characters and the comedy that the characters brought out just by existing the way they existed, really made the movie work the way it worked. And I think at the end of the day it’s gonna go down as one of the great ensemble pictures of the early 21st Century.* Ranks right up there with Nashville and Jaws and Tremors.
*It was too short. Or maybe that’s a good thing. Still I think another 20 minutes would have really pushed it into classic status.
10. True Grit -
This one is growing on me. I want to go see it again. Part of that may be me trying to wash out Tron: Legacy in Disney digital 3D. Although Jeff Bridges is pretty sublime in Tron. He’s a fucking hoot in that one. I really thought True Grit was going to be my favorite movie of the year. I Ended up liking it, but never loving it. “That movie was good, but it never got off the chain.” – Dan Dickerson. That being said, I think upon repeated viewings, this is going to become a favorite of mine. Something about the music though and the lack of …. AHHHH something kept it from crossing over the boundary of just being a nice little tale told well.
Still this movie had at least three of my favorite scenes and my mom’s favorite cameo. When Mattie gets on her horse to chase down Rooster and Laboeuf and the music swells and she crosses the river I was swept away. I loved the scene. In the book it was a simple moment. On screen it was the literal moment that this character left her regular life and was about to have an adventure. A real honest to god classic western adventure. And knowing what was going to happen and that she was going to grow up to be an old maid and that this was her one great adventure it filled this scene with all this strange power and it was so beautiful and I choked up and now I feel like Dustin Hoffman.
Later the scene at the cabin. Another great one. Mattie’s first taste of the old ultra violence and one of the most violent PG-13 bullets to the head that I know of. Followed up by an excellent and suspense building use of characters watching characters and camera work. Long shots as Laboeuf and than Ned Pepper approach and the confusing violence that ensues. This is repeated later as Mattie and LaBoeuf watch Rooster’s heroic one-man charge against Ned Pepper and the memory of John Wayne in what may be his best scene.
The cameo was Barry Pepper as Lucky Ned Pepper. I’m impressed that my mom spotted him. He’s all covered in scars and what not, but he was her favorite character in Saving Private Ryan. I thought he sounded a lot like Robert Duvall, though. Robert Duvall played Ned Pepper in the 1969 Version of the True Grit.
9. The Book of Eli -
My roommates hated this movie.* I don’t remember what my dad thinks, but I know Ben McCain liked it. I missed this in the theater, but I added it to my queue when it came out on the Netflix and watched it in two parts back home in Yardley. It opens up really strangely. Really weird. Super strange. Sets up the whole slo-mo style used occasionally during the rest of the movie, but it’s way more surreal during the opening. I was hooked though. And kept getting more hooked. It’s an impressive thing to draw an audience (of one?) in when you’ve only got one actor on screen and no dialogue. I should stop here and say that I was on a hardcore Denzel kick at the time, but that’s not important.
The aesthetic really worked for me throughout. Dug the costume design, which is a major thing in post apocalyptic junk and I really enjoyed the way that clothes were adapted into this future, but I also enjoyed the quest and the western attributes. The action scenes were choreographed with excitement and stakes, which is oh so important. And then Mila Kunis shows up. And Mila Kunis is awful and miscast in every scene she’s in and she’s completely inappropriate in the movie and it turns out that Eli is Blind, but I was cool with that. I really liked it
and Michael Gambon and France Delatour are cannibals in it.
*This is always a tough situation. It’s one of those things where you know you’re right. And you put yourself out there, because you want to share this amazing thing with the people you care about. You want them to enjoy it with you and to watch it together for years to come. But this time your friends hate it and make fun of you for liking it and doubts set in. Why do you hang out with these people? What do they know? And then you realize they’re a bunch a fucking idiots. And I’m done with them.
8. Shutter Island
I dislocated my jaw the night after I saw Shutter Island.
This movie seems to be forgotten, snubbed, disregarded and disliked.
And I do think the end was in some terms a near disaster, but I can’t deny how much I enjoyed almost every other moment. (And upon a second viewing you see that everything is set up to lead to that ending.)
7. Cooking History -
I saw this documentary at Cinequest and found it to be disconcertingly awesome. The film is a series of portraits of different army cooks from various European Armies. Beginning with World War Two and ending with the conflict in Chechnya. Intercut with the transportation and slaughter of a cow and a pig. The slaughter scenes apparently caused several festival goers to leave the theater. The chefs are beautiful and fascinating. Beautifully facsinating? A Baker of bread for the Nazis, A woman who made 8000 (?) Pancakes during the siege of Stalingrad, the Jewish cooks who baked bread filled with arsenic to murder imprisoned Nazis, and an a-political Hungarian Sausage Maker who’s pride, sense of humor, and courage under fire in sausage making provided one of the best segments.
Here’s the Trailer -
6. Edge of Darkness -
Mel Gibson is pretty much irrevocable/unforgivable at this point. It is getting harder and harder for me not to accept that he’s a terrible man beneath all of his problems. Rotten to the core. Of course the more terrible he is in real life, the more fascinating his characters on screen are. Mel Gibson is fucking furious and so is this movie. Martin Campbell directs a classic revenge vehicle spiced up with the flavor of some of my favorite 70s Paranoia Thrillers. Movies like Klute, 3 Days of the Condor, The Parallax View, and/or well maybe The China Syndrome.
The movie is constantly in danger of being weighed down by a clunkily talky screenplay from William Monahan, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of Gibson or the lines on his face. So many Lines. He’s devastated in this movie. Jay O’Sanders has one of his best scenes ever in it. Damian Young is delightful and disgusting as a corrupt, impotent, John Kerry-esque Senator. Ray Winstone is so good as the British hitman/cleaner who identifies more with Mel Gibson than the scumbags who have hired him and Danny Huston. Ohhh Danny Huston, I wanted him dead so badly. The end of this flick was so damn thrilling in the theater. Also one of the best trailers from Last year.
5. Kick-Ass BUT ONLY THE BIG DADDY/HIT-GIRL STORYLINE -
I would like to go on record saying that Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass is the worst comic book mini-series I have ever read. And for me the movie wasn’t much better, except….. for the shit with Nic Cage.
And it’s not cause I’m a Nic Cage fan, and it ‘s not cause it’s New Year’s Eve. It’s because when you find somebody you want to spend the rest of your life with… Sorry. The Kick-Ass character storyline in Kick-Ass was an offensive, juvenile, played out rip-off/take on the Spider-man Origin story, minus the lessons of responsibility, the heart and the – me caring for what was going on in any way shape or form.
And I think Aaron Johnson is a lousy actor (Who looked even lousier in Nowhere Boy, which was my Least favorite trailer this year.) Then Hit-Girl showed up and the movie was transformed. I was not looking forward to the cartoonish bloodbaths that had been obnoxiously advertised ad-nauseum in the omnipresent Red-Band trailers. (Red-band trailers are lousy and most times artless/careless) But in the movie the violence was hilarious and exciting and violence and inappropriate. And then Nic Cage started acting his fucking brain out and I wanted the movie to only be about these characters who existed in some sort of crazy 80s urban revenge thriller, something that might have been in some theaters, but really hit it off with the viewing public in the video stores and on Cinemax, something that I would blow 40 bucks on for the VHS for on Amazon.
I’ve mostly been let-down by Matthew Vaughn since Layer Cake, but the promise and execution of the too-few scenes with Big Daddy and Hit-Girl were so WOW. So WOW.
“SWITCH to KRYPTONIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
4. Film Socialisme -
I was waiting for my friend Sean Nortz to bring me the tickets and it was ticking down to the last minute and Wes Anderson was also pacing around as if he was waiting for someone. Noah Baumbach casually walked up with some skinny ginger and Wes Anderson blew up at Noah until he sheepishly handed over the ticket envelope and they hurried into the theater. Sean showed up just a few moments later.
This movie was such a mess and I am in no way adequate to comment on it intelligently. But it was beautiful and thought provoking. Well most of it. The half spent on a cruise with random Patti Smith and IPhone(??) Video intercut with general cruise Life segment and last 10 to fifteen minutes are great. The Second hour at a house in the South of France (???) was at times, in my most humble opinion – useless. But this movie jazzed me and made me want to do nothing more than make movies for the rest of my life, while at the same time re-affirming that I have to nothing to say that is worth saying with my art or any art.
3. Carlos/Enter the Void-
If I had to label any two movies “the must-watch movies of 2010,” these would be those movies. Enter the Void is an altogether nasty movie. It’s preachy and nihilistic. Fucked-up for fucked-up’s sake, re-affirming my opinion of Gaspar Noe as a moralistic moron. A fucking silly Twelve-Year* with an undeniable command over the tools of the cinema, who unfortunately is just interested in one-upping his own grossness. In the end it’s more exhausting than shocking, but Enter the Void should be watched and one should be exhausted and wiped out by the viewing of it. One must journey into the depths in order to better appreciate the greater glories.
I crossed paths with a particularly surly looking Paz De La Huerta on my way to see Carlos. I probably should have invited her along. We were right across from the IFC Center, but she had a lot of shopping bags and she looked really surly. Carlos is almost an entirely different beast than Enter the Void, but the level of exhaustion I felt after was only matched by that experienced after Enter the Void. Carlos should not be watched as a single movie. There is too much and you hate the Part 3, although Part 3 is actually more effective if you watch it all at once. You would get what I am saying if you saw it. See it. The subject matter is fascinating. This movie should be watched in a weekend marathon with Munich and The Baader-Meinhof Complex and The Day of the Jackal and CHE and The Passenger and a few others that I’ll have to think of.
Here are some much more interesting thoughts on Enter the Void.
* From Andrew Parrish’s facebook comment - 5) @Sean Traynor RE: ’3. “Carlos”/”Enter the Void”‘ :: Rob actually meant to say ‘TWELFTH Year,’ minus the needless appending of ‘old’ to the syntagm; he was referring to the Hogwarts Programme for Continuing Studies, in which Gaspar Noé is currently a Twelfth-Year Student (double-major, S&M Scare Tactics / Poon Ogling);
2. Inception/The Social Network -
Inception feels like it was lifetime ago. The Social Network, half a lifetime.
I think that these were the two best made films this year in the sense of the classic-Hollywood style of being well-made. I was not actually planning on placing either one this high. They kind of inevitably fell here.
I feel like I have Christopher Nolan down pat. I know what he’s about. Control. Fear over a loss of control. All present in this one. A movie that’s about dreams, but it’s not really about dreams, it’s about making movies and more than that how movies can change you, because movies do change you. I like getting Christopher Nolan. I like his movies wearing there themes out on the surface and I like that he delivers it in such an exciting and visceral (But in the end empty?) package. I’d like him to direct something written by someone who isn’t him or his brother or his David Goyer.
The Social Network got under my skin. I hate so much. I hate being confronted with the things that I hate. I loved watching this movie. I hated how it made me feel. First time David Fincher has made me feel or think about anything interesting since that late night watching Fight Club twice in a row back in high school. Slick motherfuckers on these ones.
1. The Fighter –
“A NEAR MASTERPIECE” – Dan Dickerson
Ten years ago, I didn’t give a shit about boxing movies. Ten Years ago I didn’t give a shit about Rocky and hadn’t seen all of Raging Bull. A lot has changed. This movie really surprised me. I was expecting a bit of “ironic fun” from the trailers. Another silly Bostonian Romp. Filled with Cartoons, Mark Wahlberg ( I really enjoy Mark Wahlberg as an actor and as a human being.) and what looked to be the most dangerously over the top clown town performance of Christian Bale’s short life. (Also I thought it was Daniel Day-Lewis in the Trailer at first.?)
When I went to see it with Nicholas D Feitel, it was more to get it out of the way and because I didn’t have a good enough excuse not to see it, but I must say the New York Times’s glowing review had gotten me a little jazzed/intrigued. But I was going to see it as a prelude before Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark and I was sure it was just going to be a forgotten stepping stone. And then a funny thing happened. I kind of fell in love. With all sorts of things. Amy Adams probably stole my heart once or twice, but as much as Mark Wahlberg’s overwhelmingly quiet, torn Mickey Ward or maybe it was his dad played by Jack McGee who had me laughing embarrassingly at everything. I laugh at all sorts of weird things when I see a movie in the theater. Often just because a movie is doing something that I approve of.
Christian Bale is possibly the strongest part of the film, but he may be the weakest. He’s a dangerous son of a bitch and he glides all over the place, but I think David O Russell may be his match in Crazy anger and almost everything he does seems real and works for the film, not just for him. And also the real Dicky Eklund seems hella crazier. As we were leaving the theater, Feitel and I argued over the acting and the characters whom he accused of being cartoons and used Hurt Locker bro’s performance in The Town as an example of something better, more understated. But come on Jeremy Renner was one note and forgettable in The Town. No one even came out of that movie quotin him. It was all Affleck. I’m putting this Whole Jeremy Renner in my Rearview.
I’m thinking of some scenes and they’re making me smile. There’s one where Micky takes Charlene (Amy Adams) out to an art house theater to see Bell Epoque for their first date. It smacks of real life and something only in a movie. But I think the best scene is Dicky’s confrontation with Charlene on her porch, which may be the best work of either actor and is just so good.
You gotta hit em in the head and the middle and the head and the middle and don’t give them a chance to defend themselves. As soon as they defend their head. You attack the middle.
Runners up –
Black Swan – Tons of fun, but it should have gone further.
Inside Job – Fantastic despite Matt Damon’s Narration. The movie Wall Street two would have been if the Oliver Stone from 20 years ago was still making movies.
The Town – Not a heist movie. A Cops and Robbers movie. In the tradition of Point Break and Michael Mann. A fun B-movie with a great cast and action scenes that actually felt exciting as hell. Plus Ben Affleck likes Bones.
Ne Chang Rien – I loved this movie. But I also probably slept through half of it, but that just added to the experience. Unlike anything I have ever seen.
Exit Through The Gift Shop – Ya know, this was pretty cool, but as a critique of the artworld, etc. etc. I feel like I’ve seen it a hundred times before, with different subject matters maybe. Too many people told me I would really like this film and too many people compared it to F For Fake. Frankly this movie sucks and pales in comparison completely to F For Fake. Thank God it was on Netflix Instant Watch. But Rhys Ifans should narrate more and more. I watched this the same day I watched Greenberg, I think.
A Prophet – Didn’t actually watch this one until 2011 (Jan 3 2011). Intense, Visceral, Perfectly executed. But in the end I felt like I was a watching Christopher Nolan directing Gomorrah. Honestly this film was great, but I feel like I missed whatever those who loved it saw in it. And it sucks to miss out.
Robin Hood – Yeah. Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood. Not a very good a Robin Hood movie, but a good Medieval Adventure film until the final battle on the beach. Terrible scene. In which characters do stupid things. Some terrible stupid anachronistic/impossible things. You couldn’t have a sword fight, wearing chain mail and splash around in the ocean. Chain mail was heavy. And tiny little Cate Blanchett would have died under all the armor and what’s with the Ewoks. Timeline is a great book. Best part of the flick was Kevin Durand’s Little John.
I also liked these movies. –
Aquas Verdes, Border, Cleanflix, Mother, Hot Tub Time Machine, How to Train Your Dragon 3D, Harry Brown, Shrek Forever After, MacGruber, Valhalla Rising, Toy Story 3, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, The Other Guys, Machete, DEVIL, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Inside Job, Jackass 3D, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, The King’s Speech, Greenberg
And I’m also really torn on 127 hours & I Love You, Philip Morris. I kind of hate 127 hours but loved it while I was hating it. I think every choice that Danny Boyle made was wrong and it added up into a kind of transcendent mess of uplifting stupidity.
I Love You, Philip Morris was not very good, partially because I just don’t think it was put together that well and partially because the directors conned themselves into thinking they were making a love story, when they were really making the story of a con. I never bought the romance.
Worst of 2010
1. The Expendables -
Made so much worse because of its potentials. So many potentials. And so poorly made. Ten steps back. Like five steps back from Rocky Balboa and Rambo. Oh god it was a bummer. Only good scene was the Bruce Schwarzenegger cameo. And that was not a very good scene.
2. Sex and the City 2 -
I think the worst kind of sequel is the vacation sequel. Let’s randomly send our characters to a new locale and see them be fun in Abu Dhabi. Gets the most offensive film of the year award by far. Sorry Enter the Void. Really just all sorts of unfortunate shit going on. Weird boner scene. Carrie finding out that a bunch of middle eastern women have the new fall catalogue and rich people pampering themselves and having fun and flaunting tradition and pampering themselves while everyone else suffers and dies. Sex and the City 2 should be shot in the street, but everyone should get their own chance to beat it to death first. Everyone.
I saw the last half of it after watching Prince of Persia with Blake LaRue. We saw enough
3. From Paris With Love –
I think Jonathan Rhys Meyers dubs over his own British accent in this to supply his character with a rather piss-poor American Accent. Another Disappointment. Taken was great. Really boring. Hard to follow, because it can’t keep your interest. John Travolta (is great, but the movie sucks his soul) shoots this broad in the head at one point and it’s out of nowhere, but I have no idea why cause the story couldn’t bother itself to give a fuck about me so why should I give a fuck about it.
4. I’m Still Here -
Rich people wasting my time in the guise of entertainment or rich people wasting my time in the guise of art?
Two silly boys wasting all that goodwill that they’ve scraped off of the legacies of their more talented brothers.*
*Fuck you. I would rather watch Ben Affleck any day of the week.
5. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice –
Last time I checked the posters for this are still hanging in the Metropolitan Grand St Station.
Some people got hurt really bad making this movie.
6. Dinner For Schmucks –
The death of comedy or the death of Jay Roach?
Paul Rudd can’t play this guy anymore.
7. The Wolfman –
The Worst edited film of all time, cut by one of the greatest film editors. WALTER MURCH.
8. Get Him To The Greek –
It wasn’t funny. It didn’t work on any emotional level. I don’t care about Jonah Hill’s relationship problems. I don’t care/ buy Russell Brand’s relationship issues. I had come to the conclusion that I was hard on Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but now I think I was just right.
I don’t think P. Diddy can really be funny as much as he should be, because he’s a not bad comedic actor, but half of what he does in this film is based on the novelty of watching P. Diddy do it and that novelty does nothing for me. I’m not gonna rush out of the theater to call my friends and tell them about how crazy P. Diddy got in that party scene (A party scene that would not end and did not make sense.)
9. Iron Man 2 –
A waste. Loud. Overlong. Lacking a punch and then a point. Squandering of important resources. Bet it was a blast to make.
10. Alice in Wonderland –
I’m sure this would have been the worst movie I had ever seen if I had seen it.
Other Movies I disliked –
Tiny Furniture, Little Fockers, Don’t Go Into the Woods, Due Date, Predators, Prince of Persia, The Losers, CLASH OF THE TITANS
Winter’s Bone, The Human Centipede
Hot Tub Time Machine, Robin Hood, The Other Guys
STRANGEST MOVIE NOONE WILL EVER TALK ABOUT AGAIN* -
*unless I force them to…
2 MOVIES NOONE WILL EVER TALK ABOUT AGAIN –
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, How Do You Know
BEST MILA KUNIS –
WORST MILA KUNIS –
The Book of Eli
WORST TRAILERS –
Nowhere Boy, Green Lantern
TREE OF LIFE, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Cowboys & Aliens, 127 Hours, Dogtooth
BEST USE OF KEVIN CORRIGAN BY TONY SCOTT –
Kevin Corrigan in Unstoppable
BEST HARRISON FORD –
It’s a toss-up between Morning Glory, the Cowboys & Aliens trailer and his interview on Conan O’Brien
Wow, what a year, right?
Well I gotta go to bed, but keep watching and remember I’ll be seeing you at those movie picture houses!