Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Screw Rehab, I Love My Addiction. No Sleep. No Sleep. I Am Always On A Mission

Spread (Mackenzie, 2009)

It seems almost universally American to, at some point or another, fantasize about an easy life out in Hollywood. Perhaps as an actor, a writer, a director, a singer. It's your fantasy, not mine, any aspirations I had to venture out west dissipated many years ago. However, the life of Ashton Kutcher's Nikki in Spread is almost enough to place the stars back in my eyes, drop any cynicism, and try out a life filled with great meals, beautiful women, and no work. Of course this, rather predictably, does not completely work out according to Nikki's plan, which is where much of the tension can be found in David Mackenzie's fourth feature film is found.

Mackenzie works a wonderful camera as the Kutch lights up the screen as the disengaged playboy, Nikki. Similar to Josh Peck in The Wackness, Kutcher is sometimes a bit too detached for his own good, but he brings a compelling personality to a figure who is easy to play solely for laughs. Nikki is humorous, by nature, but he is also a self destructive force who has too much ego for his own good. He's a fascinating central figure to begin with, but Kutcher's spin on the character makes the film even more compelling. No other supporting actor is worth mentioning though, even Heche does not make the most of her screen time. Thankfully none of the supporters hurt the film either, so I find any specific complaints too minor to worth mentioning.

Spread is nowhere close to a flawless film and I can see it alienating many audiences, but the film glorifies the fast life and tears it apart, all with an underlying darkness that one would not expect to encounter in a film starring Ashton Kutcher. Helped along by a noticeable technical precision, Spread is at worst an interesting character study, though given the final scene and the thematic development throughout the film I am certainly willing to call it one of the year's most overlooked films.

B+ or 4.0112839216742642973

Comments are welcome and, for anyone with a literary mind, I encourage checking out my poetry blog filled with all original works for your reading pleasure.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Baby, Who Turned The Temperature Hotter?

Fired Up! (Gluck, 2009)

Let's get this out of the way right here, right now. I have a soft spot for coming of age films, I have a soft spot for high school films, I am a 20 year old male and I am naturally inclined to like grotesque jokes about sexuality because I'm an immature prick. There, we have it. Mercy street! Despite all of those affections, even I have a hard time calling Will Gluck's Fired Up! anything resembling a solid comedy. Covering territory that other 'should have been rated R' teen comedies such as Accepted have tread upon before, the film is a hodge-podge of solid ideas that are kept in check by a studio's desire to market to as large an audience as possible.

Anchored by Nicholas D'Agosto and Eric Christian Olsen playing two high school super stud football players, Shawn and Nick, we watch them sign up for cheer leading camp in an attempt to hook up with as many girls as possible in two weeks. We have seen this story before, and before that, and probably even before that. Thankfully at least half the time D'Agosto and Olsen actually do the comedy thing really well, especially individually, and when there is noticeable chemistry between the two the film gets fairly funny quicker than it takes the blood to rush to these oversexed teenagers' sperm poles. Wow, a lot of phallic references in this post.

The supporting cast here is really interesting as well, and they all play to the material they are given as well as they can considering how devoid of humor some of the gags are. It was interesting to see Margo Harshman who played Tawny on Even Stevens show up, but she is mostly wasted because her running joke makes little sense in context. John Michael Higgins has a few funny bits as well, but the standout is obviously David Walton as Dr. Rick, the generic frat boy tool bag who slides nicely into the role of antagonist. Not only does he nail the part perfectly, he is given the best recurring jokes. Hearing him proclaim how "Tubthumpin'" by Chumbawumba is part of the soundtrack of his life is simply hysterical. He is a breath of fresh air in a sea of generic, age appropriate, semi-edgy teen humor.

Yes, the film is mostly mediocre, but I have to admire the film for instituting a number of running jokes that it never gives up on, whether they are funny or not. The narrative takes no turns, the direction is sub-par at best, and the script is not deep or anything of the sort, but the film is as funny as the rating will allow and all of the pieces of a great comedy are present. Hopefully in the future projects like this can get an R rating and be phenomenal, because seeing all of this potential go to waste is simply frustrating.

C+ or 2.989473825467328516

Comments are welcome and, for anyone with a literary mind, I encourage checking out my poetry blog filled with all original works for your reading pleasure.

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You Say My Kisses Are Not Like His, But This Time I'm Not Gonna Tell You Why That Is

Whatever Works (Allen, 2009)

I've only seen two Woody Allen films, Annie Hall and Vicky Christina Barcelona. The first gets better with each viewing while Allen's first film in Spain had me rather enchanted upon an initial viewing. I have seen every episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, so the inclusion of Larry David had me ready to partake in some of the year's best comedy courtesy of one of my favorite funny men currently working. The inclusion of what I hoped would be trademark Allen dialogue only strengthened my determination to enjoy the film.

Luckily, I was not disappointed as the laughs are plentiful and David proves to be almost as capable of handling Woody's dialogue as Mr. Allen himself. The inherent cynicism that Allen displays in Annie Hall is all here, perhaps even more so, and is delivered pitch perfect by David, who even puts his own comedic spin on the character to keep him unique and interesting. The supporting cast is decent as well, though no one brings the laughs quite like the leading man, so when David is not on screen the film usually falls flat. However, Evan Rachel Wood is great as Melody, though she's also a blonde from the South who spouts off depressing, mostly nihilistic musings about life, so I may just be in love with the character.

The story here does not take many twists or turns, and the end is rather generic, but the real surprise for me was that Allen's camerawork, which was fantastic in VCB, is not only standard here, but mostly as generic as the script. The visual aesthetic was so bland and lifeless that I can see this aspect being the alienating factor capable of keeping people from enjoying what is otherwise a pleasant comedy that does not outstay its welcome. Allen's camera does not enhance any themes found in the film, it does not humanize or dehumanize any of the characters, it simply exists, which is odd when one factors in the idea that each of the characters here do have a unique story. I can see people having problems with the fourth wall breaking, but unlike the camera those portions of the film are usually used to enhance the comedy or to provide some insight into Boris' character.

While Larry David is great, the real star of the film is the dialogue. Personally, I think the writing here is just as sharp as what is found in Annie Hall and I think as a pure comedy there are more laughs to be found in Whatever Works than there are in either VCB or Hall. The film is not much more than a pleasant distraction, and neither the comedy nor the narrative are fleshed out enough to sustain even the lean 90 minute run time, but David knows how to handle Woody's words and the laughs are plentiful, so there is definitely enjoyment to be had here, even if the insight of Allen's earlier films is not as present.

B+ or 3.89437248132752389156182

Comments are welcome and, for anyone with a literary mind, I encourage checking out my poetry blog filled with all original works for your reading pleasure.

Also I am on the old Twitter thing so I guess you can follow me at

Monday, October 19, 2009

Your Head Will Collapse When There's Nothing In It, And You'll Ask Yourself: Where Is My Mind?

Where The Wild Things Are (Jonze, 2009)

The PG rating tacked on to Spike Jonze's latest film, Where The Wild Things Are, may make you think that this film is intended for children, but I can almost assure you that more adults will enjoy this movie than children will, which is to be expected when you have a director who has only handled adult films focusing on the philosophical plight of man. I am mostly unfamiliar with Jonze's previous work, though I have seen and rather enjoyed Adaptation, and Where The Wild Things Are was set to be my first Jonze film on the big screen. Since I had the pleasure of seeing the film in IMAX the screen certainly was large, perhaps even as large as the Wild Things that young Max encounters. Much like my lack of knowledge about most of Jonze's career with a camera, I have also never read the book this film is based on, so I went in without the years upon years of nostaliga that most viewers will likely enter with. Also, I basically thought the trailers were unimpressive. Still, I was hoping that Jonze could produce one of the year's best films, and I knew if there was a director capable of elevating what could easily have become a simple morality tale for families, Spike Jonze is that man.

In many ways Jonze does deliver a film that is so much more than a simple film made for family friendly audiences, we have a movie that is essentially a trip into the psyche of a vulnerable child as he apparently attempts to come to terms with all of the turmoil in his life. Jonze does, for better and worse, capture the idea of childhood with this film, in each and every regard. Unfortunately, that freedom also shines through in the narrative, or in many cases the lack thereof. The majority of the film when we spend time where the wild things are, the viewer is given only minor references to what portion of Max these creatures are supposed to represent or what the point of him being here is, other than to make things looks pretty for the viewer. But the film is a character study, we don't really need a plot, right? Right. Sadly, the character we are studying is developing constantly, but he is doing it through six or seven lesser portions that simply do not stand alone as compelling enough characters to warrant all the conflict and emotion that Jonze forces on the viewer. In many ways this film is like Antichrist, you know the symbolism is going on because the film pushes the viewer in that direction, but in neither film are we given enough to completely let these symbols exist naturally in the film, but with Antichrist the entire film is overtly allegorical, where as this film is all over the place because we need to believe the reality of the reality as well as the reality of the fantasy in this world. Perhaps I am over-analyzing the film, but I cannot help but I do feel safe in asserting that the film is more rewarding to contemplate afterward than it is to watch during. But that contemplation is the mark of a great film, I am so torn.

You know what else is the mark of a great film? Technical prowess. Jonze has this prowess in spades. Everything about the film up to the point where Max first encounters the wild things is absolutely brilliant. Not only are all of the actors near flawless, a trait that does carry throughout the entire film, but the camera is used so intimately that the intended emotion of each scene practically oozes from the screen. Pair that with the wonderful use soundtrack, the fantastic editing, and the intense art direction and we could have one fantastic film. Actually, all of those things mostly do run throughout the entire film. Why do I not love this film more? Anyhow, Jonze miraculously loses all of this emotion as the film continues, only capturing flashes of the initial greatness about ever 15 minutes or so. Thankfully the film is God damned beautiful, so despite the narrative and character development not being too engaging during the run the visuals are more than enough to keep the film afloat.

Minor spoilers in this next paragraph I suppose, but really it's only the first 15 minutes...

But I think things need to stay more than just afloat, in such a personal yet apparently universal film each and every viewer needs to be able to both sympathize and judge Max all at once. Perhaps that is what is missing in the middle. Early on, when we are still in the real world, everything Max does and each different scene not only reveals more and more about his character, though hardly in overt manners, while conveying different emotions. So much so that I imagine each and every viewer can, to some extent or another, connect with at least one of the things that Max experiences. Rebellion, isolation, joy, freedom, imagination, everything. Jonze displays it all, and he does it wonderfully. Hell, the film nearly had me in tears, which would have easily been a record, about fifteen minutes in when Max is lying on the ground under his mother's desk and she stresses out over work. I spent most of my adolescence in a single parent household and I completely connected with what Jonze had on display, but as a viewer I was also able to see the tragic beauty. And then we get the gut-wrenching scene where Max's mother has her boyfriend over. The way events transpire, it's devastatingly brilliant. But then that emotion disappears and we are given a pretty film to look at for a while.

Much like a child telling a story, the narrative offers basic symbols and moments of genius, but it just does not give enough during the film to truly showcase its brilliance. Yet after the credits rolled it's all mostly there, it just takes looking closer at the subtext. It's so confusing. I really do not know where I stand on the film, whether I love it, dislike it, respect it, admire it, adore it. I do not know. I honestly considered giving the film two ratings, but I can't do that, mostly because scores are meaningless. I'm certain this is not one of my favorite films of the year, yet aside from my top two or three there are no other films I have seen this year that I am more eager to revisit. I'll have to see if I can find someone to go with in the near future and hopefully get a fresh interpretation, maybe that will help me figure things out more. Let's just say it's pretty good, and pretty bad, and pretty fantastic.

B+/A- or 4.23234273847325462371895

We Were Once A Fairytale (Jonze, 2009)

Wow! A double dose of 2009 Spike Jonze! While I am still mostly confused about the Wild Things, I do know this short film is the best Spike Jonze directed film of 2009. Starring Kanye West in a role that is kind of like what I imagine John Malkovich did in the Jonze film about him, we experience a brief night in the club where Kanye struggles with identity, fame, rejection, and perhaps even the human condition. Jonze continues to show why he is magical with a camera, and he even gets a fairly decent performance out of Mr. West, though I have to wonder if Kanye always sounds so odd when he talks/yells. The film is a bit difficult to hear sometimes because it never drops the club atmosphere, so loud music is always playing, but that is nothing more than a minor complaint. While it is probably safe to give away the ending since Jonze has the film up online and it is only 11 minutes long, I will just talk about it in a round about manner. It's a fantastic ending point that, if I am interpreting it anywhere close to correct, and that may not be since the analytical portion of my brain had a good deal of trouble even formulating a decent idea of what was happening, essentially is delightfully bleak yet strikingly lovely. A great effort from Jonze and an excellent follow up to his messy Where The Wild Things Are.

A-/B+ or 4.278721462356239563279

And just like that I have hit 60 2009 films watched so far this year! I have roughly 4 months to hit 100, which I think is completely doable.

Feel free to watch We Were Once A Fairytale right here

Comments are welcome and, for anyone with a literary mind, I encourage checking out my poetry blog filled with all original works for your reading pleasure.

Also I am on the old Twitter thing so I guess you can follow me at

There's More Like Me Where I Come From, So Mark Our Shapes. Go Down To The Netherworld, Plant Grapes

Drag Me To Hell (Raimi, 2009)

You may notice that this entry jumps around a lot. We can say that, like Raimi, I like to make your mind jump, but that doesn't really work. Essentially, I need a post because this is for the marathon, but I am devoting most of my writing tonight to my Where the Wild Things Are review.

I have not seen the Evil Dead films, I really do not know what other non-Spiderman stuff Raimi has done, but after seeing how terrible Spider Man 2 was I had some reservations going into this film, As this little horror marathon continues I veer away slightly from the fun times found in Trick 'r Treat and actually sit down with a horror film that seems to be designed to scare. Raimi creates tension wonderfully and effectively delivers just about every jump scare he sets out to offer the audience, though that is not to say that the film is engaging simply because it can make the viewer jump. The tale is quite compelling, centering around Alison Lohman's character attempting to rid herself of a curse, and the camera work is damn near top notch. Not to mention that the visual effects are both rather stylized and great at setting the film's tone.

Lohman gives one Hell of a performance in the lead role, in fact I would probably list her as my second favorite actress of the year behind Charlotte in Antichrist and just ahead of Emma Roberts in Hotel for Dogs. As much as I like Justin Long, and that is a good deal, he does not really do all that much with his role. I suppose if there is a surprise it would come in the form of Dileep Rao, but I do not consider him among my favorite supporting performances of the year so it does not appear that he is worth mentioning in any detail. Really the film is Lohman's story and she does everything in her power to make sure that she keeps the viewer engaged.

While I am very inexperienced when it comes to horror films, it is also apparent during the film that Raimi is playing with genre convention, which adds a nice layer of underlying humor to the whole affair. There are some scenes that remind me of my time with Poltergeist 3 (no, I don't know why, of all the Poltergeist films, I watched the third one, but whatever), while a number of other scenes had me thinking of what I have heard about other genre staples. The whole dual horror/comedy thing comes to a bursting point when the seance scene occurs though, and what a fantastic scene Raimi has constructed. Without giving away too much information, a goat is involved, as is an old woman and a man servant. The humor is there, but the film never lets the viewer forget the severity of the situation. It's really genius construction, and similar scenes are found scattered throughout the film.

I do not know if I can all Drag Me To Hell one of the best films of the year, and I do not think I can say that it is better than Trick 'r Treat, but Raimi presents me with a film that does get significantly more frightening than Trick 'r Treat while still being at least as entertaining to watch. In hindsight I probably respect the film more than I enjoyed it, but maybe it is the other way around. I'm still not entirely sure. That will likely be a theme tonight as I get to my Wild Things review. I likely would have benefited from knowing more about the genre, but the genius of the film is that is can be enjoyed without all the viewer needing to get all the winks and nods to past films that Raimi has, I believe, inserted here. Anchored by a stellar performance from Lohman, some excellent camera work from Raimi, and a story that is as frightening as it is entertaining, Drag Me To Hell is a blast. I should probably buckle down and watch The Orphanage now though to prepare me for potentially seeing Paranormal Activity in a theater. Maybe.

Result: Lights Off!

B+ or 3.97848237480932753829065

Comments are welcome and, for anyone with a literary mind, I encourage checking out my poetry blog filled with all original works for your reading pleasure.

Also I am on the old Twitter thing so I guess you can follow me at

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Is It Much Too Much To Ask, Not To Hide Behind The Mask?

Trick 'r Treat (Dougherty, 2009)

I do not take well to horror films, a problem I hope to rectify this month with my "Keep the Lights On! (Generic Horror Marathon Extravaganza!) Marathon of Monsters, Mayhem, and Mental Provocation Marathon." Unofficially this started with Antichrist, so I guess we can say it has a 2009 theme for now given this entry and the forthcoming Drag Me To Hell one. I'm not into And in many ways neither is Trick 'r Treat (boom! What a lead in!), walking a fine line between horror and comedy that few films in recent memory have tread so capably. But let us not confuse this for a film like Shaun of the Dead or a Scary Movie, Trick 'r Treat is definitely a horror film, it just has a good deal more fun with the genre than what I imagine many more recent serious scary movies do, which is probably what makes it such a gateway film for this marathon. It is not necessary scary, it gets slightly formulaic and predictable, but it's still a consistently enjoyable and interesting ride.

A uniform narrative, at least in the sense that it all does occur in one area on a single night, the film follows four different groups of people on Halloween night. All of the stories flow normally, the cuts are not awkward or anything like that, and they are strung together by the ominous Sam character, a young child with a burlap sack or something similar covering his head. Visually it works wonders and keeps a mysterious figure at the center of what is already a collective of incredibly compelling tales. The performances are nothing incredibly special, I suppose Anna Paquin is the big name but she has never done much for me and she only continues to underwhelm in this film, and the direction did not have me stunned, but the film is edited excellently and really wonderfully paced and constructed, so I have no qualms about the technical aspects of the film at all. In fact, the film has a visual style that practically drips the essence of Halloween. Unlike any film I have ever seen before, and admittedly they are few and far between, no movie conveys all the atmosphere that comes with this time of year. It's absolutely intoxicating in a way that the all time great holiday movies are, and in many ways this film has the substance to exist as a great film even outside of the Halloween time frame. I suppose anyway since it just released and I will have to revisit it in a few months to verify this claim.

Many aspects of this film really reminded me of some childhood memories magnified and readjusted for a person who, like myself, grew up with these television programs and has missed similar thrills that cater to a more mature demographic. The film captures the thrill of a show like Are You Afraid of the Dark?, the excitement of a movie like Hocus Pocus, and the twists and turns that R.L. Stein delivered in his Goosebumps books and television series. Having the film tap into all of these different entertainment forms, while still making everything modern, occasionally bloody, usually frightening, and R rated in terms of language and what not, makes for a film that not only hits all the right notes in regard to nostalgic purposes, but also acts as a great thrill ride that does not let up at all during the 90 minute or so run. I am honestly stunned that such a high quality film was kept out of theaters and saved for a direct to DVD release, it truly is impressive that such a film could slip through the cracks because it seems to be able to appeal to anyone at all, even a non horror fan like myself. Who does not like to have a little fun?

So, unlike Antichrist, Trick 'r Treat is a much more traditional horror film, or at least that is what I have gathered. Plus the way it embraces Halloween is absolutely stunning, though I have probably fawned over that enough over the course of this review. Sure the film is not flawless in the sense that it has insane thematic depth, character development, or even interesting direction, but it also does little to nothing wrong aside from getting a little predictable toward the end. The film is a good time, it's a unique tale, it has a central symbol and idea that are both advanced incredibly well, and it really is a film that should enter the holiday cannon. The film is not scary, so those looking to be frightened should probably look elsewhere, but everyone really should go out of their way to check out this film, preferably before or on Halloween, because it truly is one Hell of a ride.

Result: Lights Off!

B+/A- or 4.182397214723104723

Comments are welcome and, for anyone with a literary mind, I encourage checking out my poetry blog filled with all original works for your reading pleasure.

Also I am on the old Twitter thing so I guess you can follow me at

Monday, October 12, 2009

There's A Place In The Buried West, In A Cave, With A House In It

Back to a quick entry of short paragraph reviews, though this time I have a theme to work with sort of as each film chronicles a tale taking place in a different country. Also, these films are all 2009 films, as my count on the year quickly approaches the 60 film mark. I was going to toss in a Trick 'r Treat review in here as well, but I think that one will get its own entry, especially since it works its way into my incredibly generic Keep the Lights On! October mini-marathon of horror films. Additionally, readers here may or may not know that I have been writing two weekly articles for The Reelists, so you can keep up with regular posts from me there as well as Processed Grass has taken a bit of a back seat to that one. Either way, on to the four films.

Anvil! The Story of Anvil (Gervasi, 2009)

I know enough about metal to know that, the majority of modern, inaudible, loud music is crap. I know enough about Canada to know that it kicks a good deal of ass, at least the parts in which I've traveled thus far. That said, I knew nothing about the band Anvil prior to entering this film, so like any good documentary I was prepared to get learned on the subject. The hook here is that Anvil is like a real life Spinal Tap~esque doc, and as far as humor goes it mostly delivers. The laughs are plentiful, especially early on since the film begins to tackle a few more deeper emotions as the narrative progresses, though humor can only carry a film so far. Luckily, Anvil! does not put a huge emphasis on the music, though the small snippets that were played were nice enough to listen to since Anvil apparently plays the 80's hair metal stuff rather than that new age grunt and yell. It's not Black Sabbath, Hell it's not even any Megadeth...well okay maybe it's comparable to Megadeth, which means it's still pretty decent. Still, the focus here is on the lead singer, Lips, and his constant determination, his drive to succeed. The man's passion and determination are admirable, two qualities the film captures nicely, but I suppose the notion that one can take away is that Lips is just a nice guy. And maybe nice guys do finish last, but why is money important when you are doing something you love? These concepts are a little too general for my liking, but the film makes them compelling. Plus the pacing helps make the viewing enjoyable and less of a chore. I had expected this year's Man on Wire or King of Kong, what I go was a doc that is slightly better than Soul Power, but not quite up to the level of a Food, Inc. How's that for arbitrary?

B/B+ or 3.7648972146234623085435

Sin Nombre (Fukunaga, 2009)

Traveling from Canada to Brazil, or Mexico, or someplace weird like that, we get the directorial debut from Cary Joji Fukunaga who has one of the coolest names I've ever seen given that he was apparently born and raised in Oakland. Simply by looking at the film one would not guess that it is a director's first effort, everything about the movie is visually beautiful, but when we start looking at the narrative the film's flaws are slowly exposed. Character motivation is not always there, some of the situations are a bit too convenient, and the relationship between the two leads does not really generate enough interest to feature it as the main focus of the story. Thankfully the film has enough depth that the glimpses into gang life, the journey Mexico to the United States, and the development of a young mind are all incredibly fascinating and handled with incredible mastery. Fukunaga makes the world and the characters come alive despite not getting much from his leads, so for that I would be willing to call the film at least pretty good, but add in the fact that the cinematography is spectacular and the film showcases some of the greatest costumes all year and I am very confident in calling Sin Nombre a successful film despite the numerous shortcomings from a narrative perspective.

B-/B or 3.4683245307964952753

Tulpan (Dvortsevoy, 2009)

Next stop on this entry's world wide (but not really since we are only showcasing two continents) tour we make a quick stop in Kazakhstan to take a look at this year's Kazakh entry for the Best Foreign Film Oscar. Focusing on the exploits of an aspiring goat farmer, Tulpan showcases an interesting filmmaking style and mixes with a great lead performance to make for a touching comedy with more than enough drama and symbolism going on to keep me interested in a cerebral sense. The driving sequences here are really entertaining as well and they help with character juxtaposition and ideological comparison. Overall the film is a little disjointed in the sense that I can remember individual scenes fondly, but as a whole the film does not really stand out until the climax. But oh boy is it some climax. Tension is built, I was left feeling slightly uncomfortable but also compelled to watch, drawn to see how everything would play out. And the payoff is both rewarding and a great conclusion to the film's themes. I was not expecting much from this film and, while it does have its share of flaws, the camera is used in such interesting ways and the performances are so good that I can easily recommend the film to anyone with an interest in Kazakh cinema and, likely more pertinent to any readers, dramadies in general. Plus the film links the majority of its themes with symbols in the movie, and I really had a fun time making these connections, so there is a bit of extraneous detail to chew on during repeat viewings. Tulpan likely will not stand much of a chance at taking home the Foreign Language Picture Oscar because it does not seem like the type of film the Academy gravitates towards, but it seems like as good a place as any to start with Kazakh cinema. Additionally, I have now seen as many goats being born as I have people.

B- or 3.3982348732894537205832

Away We Go (Mendes, 2009)

Does that smell like a Big Mac with the buns replaced by Boston Cream Doughnuts? We must be back in America. Fittingly, this cinematic tour concludes with Away We Go, a film that is, at least partially, about traveling. Also continuing the idea of directors dealing with a foreign country, Sam Mendes' follow up to last year's brilliant Revolutionary Road comes in the form of another tale about the American family struggling with a new situation. This time Mendes lets his comedy come out, anchored by a fairly well known cast of actors. Jim Gaffigan, John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Catherine O'Hara are just a few of the faces that make appearances during the film's mostly lean run time. As a comedy I am not sure how successful the film is because, well, the film did not make me laugh all that often or all that audibly. And in retrospect I am not sure how well the Rudolph/Krasinski relationship worked for me either since I recall very few specific details about the two aside from the fact that she was pregnant and they were attempting to find 'home.' The whole point here is the journey though, and Mendes packs the film with enough heightened realism to make each stop at least interesting in some regard. The real strength of the film though is, without a doubt, the direction paired with the cinematography. Mendes sure has a way with a camera, a brilliant sophistication that makes for an ocular delight. Sure that is not enough to outweigh all of the narrative's negatives nor does it excuse a lackluster central romance, but damn does the film look fantastic.

C/C+ or 2.9892317438290534805

Comments are welcome and, for anyone with a literary mind, I encourage checking out my poetry blog filled with all original works for your reading pleasure.

Also I am on the old Twitter thing so I guess you can follow me at

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

He Has Fixed His Sign In The Sky

Antichrist (Von Trier, 2009)

Word out of Cannes this year was that Lars Von Trier's latest film, Antichrist, was either one of the greatest things to grace a screen in recent memory or one of the most horrible, disgusting, worthless pieces of shit to ever masquerade as art. Now I knew little of this film when the buzz started building at the festival, but as the US release date started approaching I saw a trailer, heard that a video game tie in is planned, and learned basically He and She go back to Eden for something or another. Also, people have sex on a tree, potentially a tree made of people. I have to imagine, at least partially, that Terrence Malick would be proud of a more direct representation of his flora fetish. Either way, I still did not know entirely what to expect as the innocently chaotic title was etched across the screen in such a diabolical yet childlike fashion. All I knew was that I should be excited, and then it all starts, and I am left questioning if this is, in fact, the best place for me to begin delving into Von Trier's filmography.

Well, let us answer that question through a more thorough look at Antichrist, or at least what I am able to surmise with only a single viewing and a mind that still is attempting to process all the symbols and themes that Lars is compelled to toss my way over the relatively lean 110 minute run. Through a wonderfully disciplined style, possessing the occasional whimsy of Alice in Wonderland mixed with the stark realism of a film more akin to Elephant, Von Trier crafts what is, without a doubt, one of the most visually beautiful films in a year that is packed with gorgeous cinema. Whether wandering through the woods and back to Eden, or remaining captive in the close quarters of the run down shack, the film blends the real and the surreal fantastically, which further highlights the Biblical ideas that run throughout without ever directly weaving the real world, theoretically 'our' world, together with the perceived, or perhaps symbolic is the better term as the religious aspects certainly do not appear to be presented as factual. It may be overly cliche to say that the filmmaker is a artist whose canvas is his film, but Von Trier has so many sequences in this film that just stand out as portrait~esque that the comparison is more than relevant. And then to have such sequences placed alongside the sex scenes, it just creates a magical juxtaposition, given the presentation of sex throughout the latter part of the film.

Speaking of sex, it seems that there is a good deal going on here, but it all serves a greater purpose and is really not as plentiful as is to be expected given how much attention I am drawing to the scenes. I suppose in many ways the film is about, at least to an extent, the evils of sex, or pleasure in general. Dafoe's character advises against sex with his wife during her mental healing, it may partially be to blame for the initial tragedy, and Gainsbourg's behaviour in the final chapter can likely support a reading of the evils of sex. Yet Von Trier does not make things that simple at all, he adds in the whole portion about acorns to show the preciousness of life, he directly frames sex as beautiful during at least three portions throughout the film, and he does not let Dafoe off in the least, in fact he may even be condemning Dafoe. To prevent any further rambling, for now, I'm going to completely ignore transitional rules and jump right into performance. Dafoe is solid, and perhaps he has the tougher task given that he is expected to mostly be the serious and straight character, but what Charlotte Gainsbourg does as the She character is phenomenal. I liked her role in I'm Not There, but in Antichrist she does not only turn in a performance worthy of an Oscar, she displays one of the greatest performances of all time. The strength is not found in how much she has to do so much as it is found in the emotion that she brings to the role. Given the film's ambiguous nature she has to play evil and righteous, whore and saint, sane and insane, and still convey the grief that anyone in her situation is expected to possess. Praise upon praise can be given to Gainsbourg for her performance in Antichrist, but the most effective summation is best kept simple: she brings an insane complexity to a nameless character, Gainsbourg is fantastic.

Aside from performances, the chapter structure of the film is interesting as well. The breaks help keep the pacing pitch perfect and they all tie together into a mostly cohesive whole, retaining meaning as individual portions and as a collective. They chronicle the degradation of everything as well, and I do not mean to be vague by using the term 'everything,' but I do feel that it is the most applicable word in this case. Either way, let's toss up a spoiler warning now for the parts that seem to have audiences all riled up. Likely it will not mean too much out of context, so you should be safe reading, but if you do not want some specific actions revealed then I guess continue to the final paragraph for my closing thoughts. Antichrist was, despite causing who knows how many people to scream and faint and whatever else at Cannes, relatively tame throughout. Sure the film is occasionally overt in the way sex is handled and Gainsbourg has a scene where she walks around completely topless, and then there's that doe with the miscarried deer hanging out of it, but the only parts that I had any trouble watching, and even these are watchable as they are not very long, is when Gainsbourg smashes Dafoe's penis in with something, though that is concealed. However, the follow up where she gives him a hand job so he ejaculates blood instead of semen is slightly unnerving. I was unsettled throughout the whole scene, but I suppose that is to be expected. The other, and likely more unsettling, bit is when Gainsbourg castrates herself by cutting off her clitoris. It's an intense scene, but it serves a purpose and showing the act graphically is necessary to get the full effect, especially when paired with the cut to the deer that immediately follows. So yeah, the film gets unsettling in a few parts, but otherwise I do not understand exactly where the disgust for the film originates.

So was this the best place to start with Von Trier? I'm not entirely sure without seeing what else he had worked on, but given the numerous layers, symbols, themes, and ideas that he has going on during this film I have to imagine that it will be tough for his older works to create the same reaction I had toward Antichrist. Antichrist has all the markings of a technically great film, and as far as the extraneous material goes I found myself engaged throughout the entire run, so from an entertainment perspective, and I use the term referring to my mental engagement with the film not any pure bliss of simply watching, it's pretty fantastic as well. Antichrist contains some of the year's best cinematography, likely the year's best performance so far, and more literary and artistic flourishes than just about anything I have seen all year. I need time for it to sit and another viewing to process a good majority of the material properly, so I cannot say if the film is nearly as good as Adventureland, Lymelife, or The Cove just yet, but Antichrist is at least the fourth best film of the year and a truly jarring and rewarding experience.

A/A+ or 4.7891724235416938561359136519

So I'm also pretty behind in other reviews, which means that my next entry will probably be a short three or four paragraph post covering films that are more happier than Antichrist. On tap for that entry are, at the very least: Away We Go, Tulpan, Sin Nombre, and Anvil! The Story of Anvil!

Comments are welcome and, for anyone with a literary mind, I encourage checking out my poetry blog filled with all original works for your reading pleasure.

Also I am on the old Twitter thing so I guess you can follow me at

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

We'll Stick Together Forever, Stay Sick Together, Be Crazy Forever

The Informant! (Soderbergh, 2009)

So Steven Soderbergh has already made one of the year's most interesting films in the form of The Girlfriend Experience, and now he has returned with a more mainstream entry in his yarn about Mark Whitacre, famous corporate whistle blower. Starring Matt Damon as the lead, my excitement for the film was fairly high since, recently, I have been a fan of both Damon's and Soderbergh's work. However, the trailer told me that it the film would visually be in a style similar to his underwhelming Out of Sight. So I went in with little knowledge about the story, slightly hesitant that I would be in for something fairly light and comedic, and hoping to see one of the year's best films. In many ways none of those thoughts remained constant for very long after the film started rolling across the screen.

The Informant! is in no way a bad film, but these is certainly something off-putting about the whole affair, though I have to be slightly wary that, at least to an extent, much of that style is by Soderbergh's own craft. The score and style, both carefree and highly polished, are completely at odds with the incredibly dark overtones in the film's narrative such as the severity of the price fixing and, ultimately, the motivations for the Whitacre character. Unsettling is likely a more proper word used to describe my time with the film as even the casting choices are apparently meant to be at odds with viewer expectations. Matt Damon, a man I have known mostly as a 'serious' actor, easily slides into a comedic role while known comedians like Joel McHale and Tony Hale are given so little comedy to work with during the entire film. Perhaps Soderbergh wants the audience to make note of the foolish business practices and government actions through the supporting cast while still reminding the audience of the sincerity of the Whitacre character despite the surface comedy. Whatever his intention, he is clearly toying with preconceived ideas, which he also did in Out of Sight to similar success.

So I suppose the question is does the comedy work and, ultimately, is does the film succeed as a unique telling of this fascinating tale? The answer is not incredibly simple. While the comedy is usually not overt, Damon brings everything he can muster to the character and the dialogue, while a bit overt in some places and rather subtle in others, is simply superb. However, the film does not really have many big laughs, but the film does not really seem to be a straight comedy in the same sense that something like I Love You, Man attempts to exist as a comedy. The more apt comparison, as far as I am concerned, is to Observe and Report. While the audience may laugh with Damon, or perhaps even at him, I think the comedy, to an extent, comes to the hypocritical nature of man in addition to the constant idea to plan and progress. The film, in many ways, is about Whitacre's unraveling, but also about simply presenting the good and the bad, the serious and the comedic, aspects of the man. Nothing in the film is a definite, and I think Soderbergh does a nice job of presenting that idea through the portrayal of the Whitacre character and the constantly conflicting styles.

Ultimately, The Informant! is another interesting experiment from a director who, like one of my personal favorite filmmakers, Gus Van Sant, has a knack for bringing his own definitive perspective to even the most mainstream and conventional of films. Soderbergh does not hit this one out of the park in the same way that he does with The Girlfriend Experience, but he crafts a film that is a fun enough ride the first time through and probably will benefit from a second viewing. I have compared the film to Out of Sight throughout most of this review, and I will continue to do so here. Like Out of Sight, Soderbergh takes an interesting cast, anchors it with a fantastic lead performance, throws in an engaging story, adds a dose of flashy camera moves, a spiffy soundtrack, and toys with audience expectations to make an entertaining product that, like Out of Sight, does little more than serve as a mildly amusing way to spend a couple hours.

B-/B or 3.47483295634275163924561439

Comments are welcome and, for anyone with a literary mind, I encourage checking out my poetry blog filled with all original works for your reading pleasure.

Also I am on the old Twitter thing so I guess you can follow me at

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I Hear What You're Not Saying...

Sugar (Boden and Fleck, 2009)

While I missed the theatrical run of Sugar, I had heard nothing but good things about the baseball biopic focusing on a young Dominican player as he makes the journey over to America for a chance to play in the majors. From the opening preparations to the first minor league game, Sugar chronicles the progression of the titular character wonderfully and humanly, always respecting the game and the player. The rise and (spoilers coming) eventual fall of Sugar is portrayed without embellishment or splendor, the tale is simply told. The film is deceptive in nature though, as one may expect the film to mostly center on Sugar, but a good amount of time is given to the politics of baseball and how these imported players are mostly left by the wayside from the next prospect. The film is marked with a fairly distinctive visual style courtesy of the two directors, and the film is obviously helped by a stunningly strong turn from lead actor Algenis Soto.

The film does, admittedly drag on a bit in the middle portion, as the story drifts over to New York City for a seemingly meaningless portion. The politics of the game are left out, the language barrier complications that made the start of the film so endearing was mostly forgotten, and Sugar simply did not develop much more as a character. However, the film sets up a devastatingly beautiful ending that packs the viewer so full of hope but forces the audience to also look at reality. Sugar has a number of high points, and as far as entertainment is concerned the film certainly delivers, but as a whole the film does not feel like much more than a fairly standard story mixed with enough interesting concepts to add up to a worthwhile way to spend about two hours.

B/B+ or 3.98927483274083271583275

Big Man Japan (Matsumoto, 2009)

Easily presenting one of the most exciting trailers of the year, I have had the desire to watch Big Man Japan for quite a while, so stumbling across the title on Netflix Instant Watch was a welcome discovery. My expectations entering the film were for a rag tag, tongue-in-cheek Power Rangers~esque romp. Perhaps a Japanese take on The Host where the genre is poked fun at while a nice story is told. Well, that did not happen. Through a very diligent documentary look, Big Man Japan follows writer, director, and lead actor Hitoshi Matsumoto's character Daisato through the mundane life of Japan's protector from the numerous monsters that plague Japan. Matsumoto gives a wonderfully straight performance, capturing the run down depression of a man who has seemingly outlived his use both in the eyes of the public and his family. Mix that with near perfect comedic timing, and Matsumoto turns in one of the year's best performances.

The film also does mix in a few bigger fights, making use of CGI as best it could and making up for the less than perfect images by having an incredibly stylized group of monsters terrorizing Japan. And then there is the whole social commentary/existence struggle themes through run throughout the film, both of which are handled masterfully. And then the film ends, and what a finale Matsumoto presents. Hysterical to the extreme and incredibly poignant, the film's final fight sequence speaks volumes on American culture in Japanese society, media sensationalism, and one's struggle with humanity. The film is far from flawless, though I do think that the pacing is excellent, but Big Man Japan is a unique ride that is open to a plethora of readings. Any film that provides that is great in my book.

B+/A- or 4.172814962146231645923

Wild Strawberries (Bergman, 1957)

Speaking of films that are ripe for interpretation, Wild Strawberries is my second Ingmar Bergman film. A meditation on life, looking back upon the existence of a professor who has seemingly alienated his family and friends over the years, Bergman presents a quiet and compelling narrative with an incredibly compelling character at the center of the flash back filled affair. As Dr. Borg revisits his memories, the viewer is presented with a brilliantly structured film flowing to the brim with imagery and symbolism. Of course that is a blanket statement that requires a bit more thought. One scene has a cradle placed out in the woods, standing far enough away from the house to give the viewer some hint about something or another. This is all very vague, though with good reason, I was confused. Bergman creates a film here that is rewatchable, I am sure, but for some reason I was never completely hooked either. This film is odd. I should watch it again. Would have not put this entry up, but I love the poster.

B+ or 3.9892374032754235703?

Comments are welcome and, for anyone with a literary mind, I encourage checking out my poetry blog filled with all original works for your reading pleasure.

Also I am on the old Twitter thing so I guess you can follow me at

Monday, September 14, 2009

I Pour Myself A Tall Glass Of Milk, It Was Deep And Cold

Jeanne Dielman 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Akerman, 1975)

I had, for much of the month of August, avoided watching Jeanne Dielman. Part of the reasoning behind this avoidance was due to the Criterion release not being issued until the end of the month, so I clearly could not have Netflix send me a film that has yet to be released, but the other reason, the incredibly obvious one, is that the film is three and a half hours long of a Belgian woman doing stuff. At the time I was not sure what that stuff was, all I knew what that she cooked potatoes. Now I can get behind watching a Belgian woman cook potatoes in silence for about two hours, but you nearly double that and I just do not know if I am on board. As I opened up the Netflix case to see the new release sitting there, I figured I'd read the short description on the case and check out the Criterion website. Apparently the film was not only a feminist yarn, but also one of the earliest films from a 25 year old director, Chantal Akerman. Obviously, this behemoth draws immediate comparisons to the American classic Citizen Kane. My excitement for this film had effectively gone from mild to incredible. And so the tale of Jeanne Dielman started.

So, minimalist is probably not a good enough word to describe this film, the elongated sequences of Jeanne going through her daily routine in usual silence run throughout the entire film. When Jeanne prepares dinner, she goes through each and every action of preparing the food, never skipping any step. Filmed fantastically, Akerman makes effective use of long shots, congested scenes, and, much to my delight, the constant use of the same exact positioning of the camera outside the kitchen and leading to her bedroom, day in and day out, make for scenes that I shall not forget. The entire film is marked with the visual accomplishment of a seasoned filmmaker, so discovering that she was so young when making the film had me feeling rather shocked. Perhaps equally surprising is that I cannot recall any scene that looked amateurish, or even seemed out of place with the visual look of the rest of the film. Given that the film runs for such a lengthy time, and I'm sure the excess footage was likely staggering as well, Akerman's ability to make the most out of each shot is particularly impressive.

Of course not all of the film's successes are attributed entirely to Akerman; instead, one of the film's greatest strengths comes in the lead performance from Delphine Seyrig. As I have said before, much of the film is mostly dialogue free, yet Seyrig somehow needs no words to completely develop the Dielman character. Perhaps because of the routine like nature of the food preparation, or the detachment shown from the men who pay her for sex, or perhaps even because of the time spent simply sitting with her son at the table, one can understand both her circumstances and specifically why Jeanne is such a compelling central figure. From the trapped sense all the way to Jeanne's perceived independence and awakening, Seyrig is constantly somber and reserved, yet completely full of emotion and believability. Of course the rest of the cast is pretty fantastic as well, and Jan Decorte, in the role of Jeanne's son, makes the most out of his scenes.

Perhaps I should now talk about the pacing. While I have made slight reference to the repetitive aspects a little earlier, I will take this time to briefly expand on that aspect's impact on the film. Yes, some of the portions of the film are slow because nothing seems to be going on at a surface level, but when sitting down and really watching the film, and specifically watching Seyrig's movements, as she goes through her daily routine, the intensity level is miraculously heightened. Not to mention that when things start slowly unwinding, it hits and it hits hard. During the second portion of the film we see Jeanne encounter a problem with dinner that seems so minute, but the intensity of this event is captured perfectly. The film is so simple on the surface, but even if the viewer misses everything in the film, the ending is a giant clue that some more themes are going on below the surface. While I felt that I had a decent grasp on the film up to that point, the overt symbolism had me re-evaluating some portions of the film up to that point. I am positive that when, in a few years, I sit down with Jeanne Dielman again, I will find much more than I had initially discovered with the film.

I could probably dissect the film further, but much more capable people already have and they also likely have the advantage of multiple viewings. So as far as an initial reaction is concerned, I feel that I covered enough territory to make it known that Jeanne Dielman is one Hell of a film and certainly something that should not be missed nor should it be dismissed because of it's immense run time. Anchored by a stunningly strong lead performance from Delphine Seyrig, and paired with some fantastically masterful direction from the young Akerman, Jeanne Dielman is worthy of the comparison to Citizen Kane while still existing as one incredibly complex, challenging, rewarding, and strikingly unique examples of film making.

A or 4.728374983215436523145671

Comments are welcome and, for anyone with a literary mind, I encourage checking out my poetry blog filled with all original works for your reading pleasure.

Also I am on the old Twitter thing so I guess you can follow me at

Sunday, September 6, 2009

They Came In By The Dozens

So, I have been getting back into college routine again, so my reviews have slowed down slightly. As such, I'm going to attempt to do some quickie reviews and, when a film warrants it, give a full review. Also, I encourage that all readers check out my work, and the other contributor's works, over at The Reelists.

Inglourious Basterds (Tarantino, 2009)

While I have already engaged in a round table chat about Inglourious Basterds here, I feel compelled to talk about the film a little more. Little can be said about how great both Brad Pitt and Waltz are in their roles, so I am going to instead focus on some interesting aspects of the film. The choice to break the film into five parts pays off excellently, as it allows Tarantino to only use about 16 scenes or so over 2 and a half hours, without any of the parts ever dragging. The dialogue is gripping and keeps the film engaging throughout, which is good since the violence, which the trailer touts, is really not a huge part of the film. A truly amazing character study, Tarantino's latest is a love letter to cinema and a thrilling re-imagining of history. Not the year's best film, but it is right up there.

A or 4.647832946231756123956129

Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie (Spiro, 2009)

As a fan of the show, I was pretty excited to have a chance to sit down and see if any of the magic would carry over to the film. Sadly, I did not find myself as enchanted with the Russo family vacation as I would have enjoyed. However, as a coming of age story the film works decently enough and the scenes with Jake T. Austin are absolutely hypnotizing. Golly, I am a pun machine today, I'll try to stop myself. David Henrie is, as expected, quite the talent and his performance here further cements him as a name to look for in the future. Selena Gomez is incredibly engaging as well, as she is on the show, and manages to hold up a film with a fairly flimsy plot. The ending is frustrating, but the direction is decent, the humor mostly hits, and some of the set pieces are truly spellbinding. Damn it, I'll stop here before I pain you any more. Could not say that I would like the film to disappear as it is a fairly successful extension of the show, but the film does not have enough extra going on to make it much more than casual escapist cinema with simplistic themes.

C+/B- or 3.192372148732804517358

Extract (Judge, 2009)

Let's get this out of the way first, despite any similarities that the trailer may imply, this film is not Office Space. Nor is the film the simplistic romantic comedy with a twist that the trailer implies. Extract is a film is a solid cast of comedians, headlined by Jason Bateman in a thrilling performance where he channels his Michael Bluth, and supported by the surprising Ben Affleck, always funny Simmons, and stunningly attractive Kunis. The Whig character could have been more fleshed out, and I could probably have used more Brad, but the story here is engaging and the laughs are pretty plentiful. Mike Judge has a knack for taking the mundane and making it comedic, and his style of humor comes shinning through during this film, but I will need another viewing to accurately comment on how deep the humor digs. I could probably see this becoming another 'cult classic,' and I may like it even more than Office Space, as this film gets a bit darker towards the latter half. Plus I think the driving force of the plot is more interesting on a base level, though it is not given all the attention it needs. Still, it's a film anyone with a dry sense of humor can love while also containing enough big laughs to entertain any dinkus who may tag along.

B+ or 3.878264872316549837561

Comments are welcome and, for anyone with a literary mind, I encourage checking out my poetry blog filled with all original works for your reading pleasure.

Also I am on the old Twitter thing so I guess you can follow me at

Monday, August 17, 2009

Top 97 Films (Part One)

Now Part One may imply that this list will be broken up. It will not. I plan on compiling this list each year and seeing how it has changes and all that fancy stuff, so I guess that's basically it. I'll toss up posters from Wikipedia for the Top Ten and then scatter others throughout, but this will be it until August 17th, 2010 as far as the Top 97 goes.

Top 97 Films

1. Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Kubrick, 1964)

2. There Will Be Blood (Anderson, 2007)

3. George Washington (Green, 2000)

4. South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut (Parker, 1999)

5. I’m Not There (Haynes, 2007)

6. Hercules (Clements and Musker, 1997)

7. A Clockwork Orange (Kubrick, 1971)

8. Vincent (Burton, 1982)

9. Elephant (Van Sant, 2003)

10. Grave of the Fireflies (Takahata, 1988)

11. The Departed (Scorsese, 2006)

12. Wendy and Lucy (Reichardt, 2008)

13. Big Fish (Burton, 2003)

14. Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)

15. Superbad (Mottola, 2007)

16. Paranoid Park (Van Sant, 2008)

17. Killer of Sheep (Burnett, 1977)

18. Paprika (Kon, 2007)

19. Perfect Blue (Kon, 1998)

20. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Coen, 2000)
21. The Lion King (Allers and Minkoff, 1994)
22. Gerry (Van Sant, 2002)
23. Porco Rosso (Miyazaki, 1992)
24. Bicycle Thieves (De Sica, 1948)
25. My Neighbor Totoro (Miyazaki, 1988)
26. Pan’s Labyrinth (Del Toro, 2006)
27. Rashômon (Kurosawa, 1950)

28. Grindhouse (Rodriguez, Roth, Tarantino, Wright, Zombie 2007)
29. Bambi (Hand, 1942)
30. Mind Game (Yuasa, 2004)
31. Chop Shop (Bahrani, 2008)
32. Princess Mononoke (Miyazaki, 1997)
33. Unfaithfully Yours (Sturges, 1948)
34. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Burton, 2007)
35. Once (Carney, 2006)
36. My Own Private Idaho (Van Sant, 1991)
37. Ratcatcher (Ramsay, 1999)
38. All the Real Girls (Green, 2003)
39. Millennium Actress (Kon, 2001)
40. Man Push Cart (Bahrani, 2005)

41. Oldboy (Park, 2003)

42. King of Comedy (Chow and Lee, 1999)
43. Adventureland (Mottola, 2009)
44. Hot Fuzz (Wright, 2007)
45. Toy Story (Lasseter, 1995)
46. Infernal Affairs (Lau and Mak, 2002)
47. Ed Wood (Burton, 1994)
48. Team America: World Police (Parker, 2004)
49. Un Chien Andalou (Buñuel, 1929)
50. Annie Hall (Allen, 1977)
51. Fargo (Coen, 1996)
52. sex, lies, and videotape (Soderbergh, 1989)
53. Shadow of a Doubt (Hitchcock, 1943)
54. Tomorrow, the World! (Fenton, 1944)
55. Let the Right One In (Alfredson, 2008)
56. Song of the South (Foster and Jackson, 1946)
57. Punch-Drunk Love (Anderson, 2004)
58. Zack and Miri Make a Porno (Smith, 2008)
59. The Nightmare Before Christmas (Selick, 1993)
60. Funny Games (Haneke, 2008)
61. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Schnabel, 2007)
62. Tokyo Godfathers (Kon, 2003)
63. Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Move Film for Theaters (Maiellaro and Willis, 2007)
64. Before Sunset (Linklater, 2004)

65. Dont Look Back (Pennebaker, 1967)
66. Mars Attacks! (Burton, 1996)
67. Psycho (Hitchcock, 1960)
68. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Forman, 1975)
69. Clerks (Smith, 1994)
70. Batman Returns (Burton, 1992)
71. The Pagemaster (Pixote Hunt and Joe Johnston, 1994)
72. Orgazmo (Parker, 1997)
73. Shotgun Stories (Nichols, 2007)
74. Raising Arizona (Coen, 1987)
75. Il Postino (Radford, 1994)
76. The Squid and the Whale (Baumbach, 2005)

77. Eastern Promises (Cronenberg, 2007)
78. The 40-Year-Old Virgin (Apatow, 2005)
79. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Burton, 2005)
80. Beetlejuice (Burton, 1988)
81. In Bruges (McDonagh, 2008)
82. Pinocchio (Luske and Sharpsteen, 1940)
83. Ikiru (Kurosawa, 1952)
84. The Cove (Psihoyos, 2009)
85. Waltz With Bashir (Folman, 2008)

86. Lymelife (Martini, 2009)
87. Adaptation (Jonze, 2002)
88. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (Charles, 2006)
89. Big Daddy (Dugan, 1999)
90. Children of Men (Cuarón, 2006)
91. High Fidelity (Frears, 2000)
92. The Host (Bong, 2006)
93. Cannibal! The Musical (Parker, 1996)
94. Dumbo (Sharpsteen, 1941)
95. Still Life (Ke Jia, 2008)
96. Synecdoche, New York (Kaufman, 2008)
97. Bolt (Howard and Williams, 2008)

So how's about some statistics?

Most Populated - Burton (8 films)
Top Twenty - Kubrick (2 films) [edges out Van Sant, Burton, and Kon due to rankings]
Recent Films - 3 2009 Films (How did I forget about Moon?)
Non English Language Films - 22 (Not a bad number, I guess)
Completionist - 5 Directors (Each film by these directors I have seen made the cut if they had more than one film on the list. Winners are: Satoshi Kon, Stanley Kubrick, Paul Thomas Anderson, Akira Kurosawa, and Greg Mottola
Best Animated Film (Feature Length) - Grave of the Fireflies
Best Animated Film (Other) - Vincent

Comments are welcome and, for anyone with a literary mind, I encourage checking out my poetry blog filled with all original works for your reading pleasure.

Also I am on the old Twitter thing so I guess you can follow me at