Monday, January 04, 2010

2009 Recap - Motion Pictures

Hey! I didn't pay to see any shitty movies this year! Success! ("Leatherheads". 2008. Never Forget.)

Theater Viewing

I Love You, Man
Paul Rudd shows everyone how difficult it can be for dudes to make friends with other dudes. It feels like this movie came out three years ago. I remember laughing despite all the Rush in the soundtrack.

So, I guess Jesse Eisenberg and Kristin Stewart are really good actors? I didn't see that one coming. This was advertised as a summer romp, but it's really a character-driven coming-of-age tale. Very well done.

Star Trek
There is nothing to say that Floyd and I have not already said. Twice.

The Hangover
I watched this by myself in downtown Buffalo. It's become the highest grossing R-rated comedy ever. Floyd and I have discussed it in detail. They're going to make a sequel - I will post a new Floyd chat on this development later this week.

Inglorious Basterds
Initially, I didn't know what to think about it. I liked it, but finding the subtext of films has never been my strong point. So I just use this Videogum comment as my interpretation:
Basically, it's not a movie about World War II. It's entirely about movies and how film affects and distorts the way we look pretty much everything (but violence and justice especially). So the intended effect of the movie is go get the viewer cheering the heroes torture and slaughter Nazis, and then on the way home question whether we should be cheering at really over the top violence. It's like Funny Games, but less judgmental. And there are all these other situations that explore how characters can't really distinguish between life and the movies: how the British send a film expert to France as a spy, or how Zoller assumes he can win over Shoshanna by acting like a romantic comedy hero, or how Hitler sees a film premier as this really pivotal moment. So the ultimate effect of the movie is to set up all these fantasies and subvert the shit out of them. And then the movie explores how film acts as social glue (in the bar scene where the spy's cover is basically his knowledge of film) or as a weapon (really obvious) or a deadening influence (the Nazis don't hear all the gunshots because the movie they're watching has a bunch of gunshots). So the message of the movie is "here are your fantasies. how do you feel about them?"

Jason Bateman makes extract, wants to cheat on his wife with Mila Kunis. Funny. The plot is not perfect, but you shouldn't worry about the plot of Mike Judge films -- it's more about the overall message. I walked out of the movie wanting to be a better worker, which was a very odd feeling.

The Informant!
Matt Damon gained a lot of weight to play a guy who informs the FBI of agribusiness wrongdoings. Funny and interesting. But as Doug Benson points out, why did Matt Damon have to gain weight? Couldn't a businessman be in good shape? And why cast all-star comedians like Patton Oswalt and Paul F Tompkins to play characters with no funny lines?

I am disappointed in everyone, because no one insisted I see this -- I had to find its hilarity all by myself. Oh well, at least that kept the celebrity cameo a secret for me.

An Education
A British teen is seduced by Peter Sarsgaard. I like every coming-of-age tale ever made, and everything Nick Hornby has ever done, so of course I liked this. If it was set in Cleveland and had a homely lead actress, it would be forgettable.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox
"Rushmore" is my favorite movie, and while I've watched all of Wes Anderson's output I have not loved all of it. Dainty stop-animation? I was prepared for the worst. But it was the best! Or pretty close to the best! Even the twee, loud-speaking college freshman down the aisle couldn't detract from its whimsy.

Home Theater Viewing

The Brothers Bloom
Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody are con men, and Rachel Weisz gets involved. It's funny, there are a lot of plot twists, and the action occurs in several beautiful, far-off places. Not perfect, but a lot of fun.

Observe and Report
Seth Rogen is an idiot mall cop. A lot of people won't (or don't) think this is a funny movie, but if you like "The Foot Fist Way" or "Eastbound and Down" -- both also about masculine idiots with few redeeming qualities -- you'll like this too.

An enjoyable enough caper, but Julia Roberts? Weren't we done with her? Can we be?

Funny People
I was prepared for this movie to stink, but I liked it, even though it was long, and even though the second half featured fewer jokes. Despite one or two flaws, at least half of a very good movie, plus Jason Schwartzman's "Yo Teach" shorts.

Away We Go
Jim from "The Office" and Maya Rudolph from "Fucking PT Anderson" go on a road trip looking for the perfect place yo settle down. There are enough funny lines to make up for the permeating and sometimes nauseating indie heart.

500 Days of Summer
My former love Zooey and the always great JGL have a quirky relationship. This was okay. I suppose it should be applauded for being a non-generic rom-com, but it should also be mocked for its indie vintage costume design. I mean, I'm distracted from the plot when I'm constantly berating Joseph Gordon-Levitt's vests and cardigans.

District 9
I expected more from it based on the good reviews, and based on the fact there are aliens in it. Sure, I was entertained, but what was going on with the structure? Is this a faux-documentary or not? Both? You can do that? Apparently you can do that.

No comments: