2005 in Movies

Movie Reviews I have written for movies released theatrically in 2005.

1. Sin City, directed by Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller (10/10)

Yes, it’s cheesy. But I think this will stand for a longtime as a landmark in mixing live action and animation.

1. Syriana, directed by Stephen Gaghan (10/10)

An excellent film. Lost my review of course.

3. Grizzly Man, directed by Werner Herzog (10/10)

Grizzly Man is incredibly fascinating. Herzog remains a great filmmaker even when he didn’t actually film the movie himself. It’s hard to really explain this movie. What I knew of it, didn’t prepare me in anyway for it. Just see it.

4. Brick, directed by Rian Johnson (9/10)

It’s been a few years since I’ve seen a good noir (at least I think so, that I can remember right now). Its always nice to see one. It’s also always nice to see one that does something different. So let me say this, this is one of the best film noirs of the last decade or two. I’m serious. It’s awesome. Genres need to be mixed to keep them fresh, and this is so great a mixing, I’m surprised it took someone so long. I absolutely loved this movie. The only thing that hampers is the budget. As a result, the sound quality is far from uniform (I believe this is why my parents hated it, aside from the fact that it is downbeat, like all film noir should be). Aside from that, it rules.

4. Cache, directed by Michel Haneke (9/10)

I lost my review.

6. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, directed by Cristi Puiu (9/10)

Lost my review. This is incredible though. Harrowing is probably the better world.

7. Shooting Dogs, directed by Michael Caton-Jones (9/10)

The cure for Hotel Rwanda.

8. Paradise Now, directed by Hany Abu-Assad (9/10)

This is a remarkable movie. It humanizes suicide bombers (not the bombings themselves as that is pretty much impossible) and tries to help us understand why so many people could do this. It’s remarkably successful and it actually becomes more effective as it goes on (which isn’t always the case with movies, especially ones dealing with a controversial subject like this one). It is really worth seeing.

9. The War Within, directed by Joseph Castelo (9/10)

I’m not sure this film is exactly where it needs to be to succeed as a film: it is obvious the budget wasn’t exactly high (well we know why that was…), there are certain aspects of the plot that feel a little paint-by-numbers, and it reeks to much of film convention (some of the climactic moments are a little too easy to predict) but that being said it is still a good movie and, perhaps more importantly, it is an important movies. It is important as one of the earliest films I know of to feature such a strong Muslim lead character and at the same time to dramatize the essential of extraordinary rendition and like policies (when you torture lots of people and leave them alive you have done one thing and one thing only). So though there is the odd flaw in its execution, it still must be seen.

10. Jarhead, directed by Sam Mendes (9/10)

This is the best war film I’ve seen since The Thin Red Line or perhaps even Full Metal Jacket. It’s partly because the situation works so well. Hundreds of thousands of troops sitting in the dessert, not even firing a shot. Not only is war crazy, but this kind of war is beyond the usual insanity. Incidentally, I would suggest reading Camus (or another existentialist, but he is the most accessible) before you see this film. The references to him are very deliberate. I guess if you don’t have time for books you could listen to “Killing an Arab” by the Cure.

SPOILER ALERT?

War dehumanizes people. Obviously you need to dehumanize the enemy in the minds of your troops, or they will have major moral problems. But when you train people to dehumanize, they also seem to dehumanize. But at least they have a purpose (I am not trying to justify those purposes here). Normally they do. The Gulf War was apparently special in that regard. Soldiers in WWII may have killed lots of people, but felt they were fighting for something, and some saw that something eventually (liberating concentration camps, for example). They may have suffered seriously, but much of that no doubt happened after the fact. That is to say, when there is the purpose, it subordinates your problems, for many people anyway.

But what happens when you take it away? This certainly seems to have happened in Nam. It also apparently happened in (our) Gulf War (I say our because the real Gulf War was between Iraq and Iran, supposedly they had the name first, we just stole it from them). What happens when you train snipers (or any soldiers) to do something and then prevent them from doing it to save their lives? Well, you fuck them up. You deny the purpose. For people who believe in God, or something like that, or any kind of purposeful universe, this causes massive problems. So that’s why Skaarsgaard goes crazy when they can’t take the shot. I think it’s the film’s most important scene. It symbolizes the whole mess. There they are, hundreds of thousands of them. Born to kill, as it were. And they don’t. They just find the mess after the fact.  I’m not trying to say that the old ways were better. I’m just saying that these effects are understandable. If you tell someone ‘this is your job’ over and over again in such a way as to make them think there is nothing else, and then you don’t let them do their job, it can cause problems.

11. The Squid and the Whale, directed by Noah Baumbach (9/10)

Perhaps the best movie about divorce I have ever seen.

12. The Italian, directed by Andrey Kravchuk (9/10)

I’m wary of this kind of stuff, usually.  And I’m sure if this had been made in the US, it would have been ridiculously manipulative and sappy.  But it’s totally not either of those things.  Moreover, somehow it’s actually believable.  The lead kid is fantastic, I hope he gets more roles.  The ending is probably the best part, which is not something I’d ever think I’d be saying about this type of movie.  Very good.

13. No Direction Home, directed by Martin Scorsese (9/10)

It’s a fascinating movie. It’s not really linear (but then I guess that fits Dylan pretty damn well…) as it jumps back and forth between the famous Albert Hall concert in 1966 and his early career. Basically up to right after that concert when a fairly significant event occurred (I don’t know how many of you know about it, I won’t mention it just in case). It is very much about Dylan the folkie and his breakaway from that whole scene, rather than anything else. For example, the Beatles are mentioned once. It’s not that I think they should have been mentioned more, it’s just you could probably make a film on Dylan and the Beatles influence on each other. Scorsese sets up Dylan as the pretty much the second coming for the protest movement/folk community. Only Dylan doesn’t want that. He’s there accidentally. Musically, we all know what happens (even if you, the viewer, don’t, the Albert Hall concert lets you know) . So we watch as Dylan is elevated to a status that is fairly absurd and then how he moves on, pissing off many people along the way.

There are lots of interesting interviews with many folkies, lots of new footage (but Scorsese also pillages existing documentaries, which is interesting), alternate takes of many songs, and even a bit where Scorsese reads a speech Dylan made at an award ceremony (he basically rejected the award). The movie is pretty long (over 200 minutes) but definitely worth it to watch, especially for Dylan fans.

For Dylan non-fans, you still get a pretty interesting glimpse at the folk scene of the era (rather than the rock scene, which has been very heavily documented) and you can see why Dylan became such a sensation (the protesters and some of the folkies believed he was writing the BEST songs of the time). You also get to see a somewhat inside look at an artist who refused to play by anyone else’s rules.

We also get to see how celebrity can be hard for someone who doesn’t want it. I’m not saying we should be soft on all celebrities, far from it. In fact, I am usually one of the first to ridicule most celebrities when they complain about the media. However, sometimes people become famous solely doing what they love. They are ambitious to succeed at this, but they don’t necessarily crave everything that comes along with it. We see how the media can treat someone on a pedestal, so to speak, and how bizarre that can be. There is obviously the other side, where celebrities go out of their way to get noticed (by the way, I consider showing up at awards shows where there not nominated just to parade on the read carpet as going out of their way). But here we see Dylan achieving far more than the success he was trying for (or so it seems) and getting asked some of the most ridiculous questions, to which he doesn’t have answers. It’s very interesting.

By the way, this movie doesn’t really help you understand Dylan much better. But it’s still fascinating.

Anyway, as usual, this is far less eloquent than when I “wrote” it at work (my job lets me think about whatever pretty much all day long) so I think I’ll just end this: this is Scorsese’s best film since Goodfellas, though it’s utterly different.

14. Murderball, directed by Henry Alex Rubin, Dana Adam Shapiro (9/10)

Lost my review.

15. Nine Lives, directed by Rodrigo Garcia (9/10)

I didn’t think I was going to like this. The moment I figured out what it was I sighed. However, somehow this works. It’s pretentious, it shouldn’t hold together as a feature (why not release 9 short films? except for the monetary reason…) but somehow I found that each part was involving and unique enough to hold my interest. I was unfamiliar with this dude; I’m impressed.

16. The Constant Gardener, directed by Fernando Meirelles (8/10)

This is not City of God. And I gotta say, I’m kind of disappointed. That’s not to say that this was a bad movie, in fact it was quite good, but it seems to me like he knew what he was doing more with City of God. I don’t like it when directors tell me I’m stupid. I feel like they are doing that when they replay shots over and over. Otherwise it was excellent. Some better editing and it might have been a classic.

17. Match Point, directed by Woody Allen (8/10)

What Allen does with his allusion to Crime and Punishment is just awesome. He uses the reference (SPOILER?) to strengthen the suggestion of the opening shot, about how easy it is to lose instead of win at tennis. If you’ve read the book, then the killing of the old lady instantly gets you thinking you know exactly what is going to happen. Compounded with the opening shot, suggesting a loss rather than a win, and the ring that doesn’t make the water, you’re set up for something. And he goes the other way. And it’s awesome. By the way, when I said Camus was the most accessible, I was thinking about the theory stuff, obviously any of them when they write stories or novels are more accessible than in their essays. And Dostoevsky is hardly more impenetrable than Camus, I was just thinking about essays and philosophy, rather than fiction. Sorry. Anyway, it’s stuff like this that makes me think that, despite his 10 or 15 mediocre or terrible films, Allen deserves credit as one of the great American film makers of the last 50 years. The problem obviously lies with his personal behaviour and his lack of consistency (he basically pretty much destroyed his legacy over the last decade and a half). Also, I can only name one of his films that I would list with the absolute classics, however he has made enough good to great films, branched out enough in to different genres, and done enough in terms of innovation that I think he deserves a little more credit than we give him. We talk about Scorsese  Coppola and others, and we forget about their busts. Hopefully we can forgive Allen Hollywood Ending and those other pieces of trash.

18. The Aristocrats, directed by Paul Provenza (8/10)

Great standup comedy is jazz.

19. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, directed by Shane Black (8/10)

Loved it. Don’t know what happened to my review.

20. Enron: the Smartest Guys in the Room, directed by Alex Gibney (8/10)

Doesn’t quite indict the system like some people would like, but a fascinating examination of everything wrong with prioritizing vague “talent” over ethics.

21. Tristam Shandy: a Cock and Bull Story, directed by Michael Winterbottom (8/10)

As good an adaptation of this novel as we could possibly imagine.

22. A History of Violence, directed by David Cronenberg (8/10)

Lost my review.

23. The Young Lieutenant, directed by Xavier Beauvois (8/10)

This is a very well done cop film. There is a great balance between the personal and the professional. Everything is handled matter-of-factly and the lack of a soundtrack really enhances the sense of realism. I really don’t have any thing to say in criticism of it.

24. Heart of the Game, directed by Ward Serill (8/10)

This documentary is far from the best-made film ever. But the story overcomes the flaws in the filmmaking (is it about the team or is it about Darnelia or is it about the Coach?). Hoop Dreams is still the benchmark in my opinion. By the way, this story makes me think hiring coaches from left field is a good idea, when they make sense. This guy appears to know what he’s doing, even though he had virtually no basketball background.

25. Me and You and Everyone We Know, directed by Miranda July (8/10)

This is a pretty great movie. The characters are “quirky” but not so quirky as to be unbelievable. It’s also very funny (especially the internet thing). The problem is that there are too many characters. We don’t really have enough time to meet all of them or understand them. It would have been better to have less characters, or a longer running time. Also, the soundtrack is pretty typical of such “indies” and is unremarkable to cliched, at various points. Otherwise it’s well worth the time.

26. The Beat That My Heart Has Skipped, directed by Jacques Audiard (8/10)

For once a remake that is actually better.

27. Broken Flowers, directed by Jim Jarmusch (8/10)

“I’m a stalker in a Taurus.”

28. Good Night and Good Luck, directed by George Clooney (8/10)

Lost my review.

29. The Proposition, directed by John Hillcoat (8/10)

There’s a lot to like here.  It visits many of the major themes of the western and it puts a slightly different spin on them by setting the film in Australia.  The acting is good and it is beautiful to look at.  The “don’t make a deal with the devil” moral that I thought was coming didn’t turn out, which I appreciate.  I think the pacing is, at times, a little off.  But the thing that I liked least (which is utterly surprising because I love the Bad Seeds) is the score: at times it is way over the top and seems utterly inappropriate, especially given the setting of the 1880s.  It’s not a bad score per se, I just think it’s too attention-grabbing for a film like this.

30. Memory for Max, Claire, Ida and Company, directed by Allan King (8/10)

Memory for Max, Claire, Ida and Company is a good movie, though it is not great. It’s worth seeing if only to get you to think about a) how you behave to your grandparents b) how you will behave when your parents are old and c) whether you really want to live when you can no longer look after yourself or remember anything.

31. Serenity, directed by Joss Whedon (8/10)

Even better than the series.

32. Sir! No Sir!, directed by David Zieger (8/10)

Lost my review.

33. The Devil’s Miner, directed by Kief Davidson, Richard Ladkani (8/10)

Lost my review.

34. Look Both Ways, directed by Sarah Watt (8/10)

There is way too much going on in this movie. Way too many characters and not enough time. That being said, it is so visually interesting that these problems are pretty forgivable. Sometimes the animation and slide shows seem awkward and out of place, but I think that’s the nature of combining different kinds of film together. It’s an inventive approach that makes the movie far more interesting than it might have been, especially given that we don’t know a whole hell of a lot about anybody. It’s worth seeing because of the endless inventiveness.

35. Protocols of Zion, directed by Marc Levin (8/10)

This is not the rigorous approach I would have appreciated. I figured the way to debunk it would be to go through each one and show why it’s stupid. This is a much more personal and intuitive film, but it works because of or despite this. At first it may seem a little scattershot, but by the end it feels comprehensive and balanced in a way that I couldn’t anticipate given how it begins. Levin goes places and asks questions I wouldn’t. He lets people speak for themselves. He is seemingly interested in everyone’s opinion. It’s well worth your time.

36. The Devil and Daniel Johnston, directed by Jeff Feuerzeig (8/10)

Lost my review.

37. The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, directed by Tommy Lee Jones (8/10)

Well this is extremely well-made, as the other reviews note, but it’s downright hard to sympathize with any of the characters (save the dead man) which is a dilly of a pickle.  The acting is uniformly excellent (well, almost uniformly excellent…January Jone is in it after all), the locations are just beautiful, and the plot befits a western.  But there is virtually no one to like here.  Sometimes that can be a really big problem for a film, especially a film with other issues.  But this is so well made that I guess I can over look it and say it is a good movie…just not very fun to watch.

38. L’enfant aka The Child, directed by Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne (8/10)

This movie is well made and probably as realistic as you could get, given the subject. However, I cannot in any way sympathize with the protagonist. This guy is a horrible person, and I couldn’t help thinking, “why do I care?” It pissed me off, and I guess that was the idea. It’s simple and to the point. But it isn’t mind altering in any way. I don’t understand why it won the award. It’s good, as it does what it strives to achieve without the usual movie cliches. But that doesn’t make it great.

39. The 40 Year Old Virgin, directed by Judd Apatow (8/10)

I avoided this like the plague because of the hype but it was actually really enjoyable.

40. Adam’s Apples aka Adams aebler, directed by Anders Thomas Jensen (7/10)

This an amusing but very, very dry take on that typical Scandinavian (normally Swedish, this time Danish) obsession of Good vs. Evil:

  • Is there a God?
  • Is the world Good?
  • Is the world Evil?
  • In the battle between Good and Evil who will triumph?
  • And so forth.

You’d be forgiven for most of the movie if you didn’t realize it’s a comedy, it’s that dry. (Though if you still don’t think it’s a comedy by the climax well, Heaven help you, yuk yuk yuk.)

A country minister who has the habit of adopting parolees takes on his newest charge, a Neo Nazi. However, as the Neo Nazi starts to get used to the place, he realizes that the minister’s air of success and excessive positivity isn’t what it seems. So they go at it.

It’s also the story of a man’s redemption. (I wonder who that could be.)

And though I normally don’t go for super naturalistic stuff, most of it is quite amusing.

41. Batman Begins, directed by Christopher Nolan (7/10)

Definitely the weakest of the trilogy in retrospect.

42. Tsotsi, directed by Gavin Hood (7/10)

If the plot seems contrived and slightly unrealistic, the acting and the filmmaking overcome it – for the most part (the one issue would be the soundtrack, which starts out fine, playing the South African equivalent of Hip Hop but then slowly enters Hollywood cliche territory).  The biggest problem for me, and the thing keeping this from being a great film, is the Big Movie Climax that ends the film.  Another quibble is the editing: there is a shot in the montage that would be the perfect end shot in the film, intsead it is used 15-20 minutes prior for no conceivable reason.

43. Isolation, directed by Billy O’Brien (7/10)

Lost my review. Very entertaining.

44. The Ice Harvest, directed by Harold Ramis (7/10)

I really enjoyed this but I lost my review.

45. The Matador, directed by Richard Shepard (7/10)

Brosnan should always play sleazy. It’s hilarious  Especially the part with the catholic girls.

I also liked how it suggested a number of different things could have happened. I don’t like how it picked the upbeat one. Too many movies are impeded by endings that don’t fit the tone of the film. I blame studio execs, pre-screenings, marketing, and other such things.

46. Everything is Illuminated, directed by Liev Schreiber (7/10)

Lost of my review.

47. Why We Fight, directed by Eugene Jarecki (7/10)

Lost my review.

48. Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, directed by Marc Rothemund (7/10)

This is a great story – especially if it is as accurate as it says it is – and it is an inspiration to us all. We should all hope that more people behave like this in situations like this and that we would behave similarly. There are some fairly glaring continuity errors (nothing significant, but obvious to anyone who’s paying attention) and the soundtrack is more than a little over the top. A better director would have helped.

49. Capote, directed by Bennett Miller (7/10)

Lost my review.

50. The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico, directed by Michael Mabbott (7/10)

This is mostly entertaining and sometimes very hysterical (though a few of the interviews don’t work at all).

The main problem with this film appears to be the choice of film stock for the supposed old footage. It doesn’t look old, and it really doesn’t look old when placed next to actual old footage. They should have used Super8 or something, and they should have worked on the stock. Also, if the midget is the one doing the filming, why does the footage start before the midget meets Terrifico? These are major problems, however the movie is enjoyable enough that you can mostly forgive it. I think they ended it properly, as the alternate ending reveals too much.

51. Thank You for Smoking, directed by Jason Reitman (7/10)

This is a pretty decent satire with a few laugh out loud moments.  It’s not quite as biting as it could have been but it’s still pretty on in its assessment of whole thing (this coming from a non-smoker).  Reitman’s direction is perhaps the biggest issue as there are some really unnecessary flashy moments which don’t really aid the subject matter in any way that I can figure out.

52. Walk the Line, directed by James Mangold (7/10)

Phoenix and Witherspoon are excellent and incredibly convincing as their respective characters and the story is of course compelling. But like a lot of biopics it’s pretty arbitrary about what it includes and excludes. We only see Cash up until the end of the ’60s and of that period, it focuses mostly on the music he created in the mid to late ’50s. It focuses far more on his personal life in the ’60s despite the fact that he put out a huge amount of – often very good – music during this time. And it sees At Folsom Prison as some kind of culmination of his career, even though he made music for another 30+ years. So that’s a little odd.

53. The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, directed by Steve Box, Nick Park (7/10)

I am not the target audience and I enjoyed myself so I guess that means it did the trick. The animation was extremely well done and the jokes are reasonably clever (some of the time) despite being extremely broad. So it’s well worth seeing if this is your kind of thing, and it’s certainly something you can show your kids and handle at the same time.

54. House of Sand, directed by Andrucha Waddington (7/10)

Lost my review. Crazy story.

55. The Boys of Baraka, directed by Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady (7/10)

Lost my review.

56. Brokeback Mountain, directed by Ang Lee (7/10)

A little too slow for my tastes. Read the review.

57. Game 6, directed by Michael Hoffman (7/10)

Lost my review.

58. Brothers of the Head, directed by Keith Fulton, Louis Pepe (7/10)

Lost my review.

59. Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, directed by Chan-woo Park (7/10)

I don’t really know what to make of it. It’s well made (acted, shot), and the score is great, but it jumps around a lot for no apparent reason. It’s a little schizophrenic and this dampens the emotional impact of what happens. I guess that editing is part of the appeal for some people, but it doesn’t seem to work in this case. It makes the tone inconsistent.

60. Little Fish, directed by Rowan Woods (7/10*)

This movie has some great acting (Blanchett and Weaving are particularly great) and some interesting moments but overall it doesn’t work that well. The direction is odd: lots of over-saturated shots and lots of slow-mo and lots of jump-cuts and I don’t really know why. If they’re meant to reflect Blanchett’s mood, they should be confined to her scenes. The music is odd too, the score is a pretty boring repetitive little figure that seems appropriate to the slow-mo but nothing else. The soundtrack, on the other hand, is really crazy featuring lots of songs that sound famous but I can’t place them. I have to look it up. The story is a little odd, as Blanchett is the central character but not really the central character in the climax. I don’t know what to make of it. But Blanchett and Weaving are fantastic in it so watch it for that I guess.

61. Bubble, directed by Steven Soderbergh (7/10)

Lost my review.

62. The Cult of the Suicide Bomber, directed by David Batty, Kevin Toolis (7/10)

Lost my review.

63. The March of the Penguins, directed by Luc Jacquet (7/10)

This is actually really good. But it inspired more than a few mediocre films.

64. Lemming, directed by Dominik Moll (7/10)

There are some truly great moments in this movie, such as when the bad neighbour scene is reversed, or when the protagonist gets his toy back, but these do not make the film great. Most of the time, I was thinking, ‘do people really behave like this?’ The ending has a hammered feel, it makes the connection explicit, and then it makes it explicit again, and again. I don’t like that. It also feels like it’s ending three times before it ends. Unfortunate. I want to own that cabin.

65. Dave Chapelle’s Block Party, directed by Michel Gondry (7/10)

Somebody feels very guilty about his success.

66. The Real Dirt on Farmer John, directed by Taggart Siegel (7/10)

John is one of those subjects that makes it easy for documentarians: he and his family filmed their lives for ages and ages. As a result, it is easy for him to narrate his life. The story isn’t that great, but he’s an interesting enough subject. His life has definitely been more interesting than many, and it’s nice to see him (and an idea) succeed.

67. In Memory of My Father, directed by Christopher Jaymes (7/10)

Lost my review.

68. U-Carmen eKhayelitsha, directed by Mark Dornford-May (7/10)

So this is definitely interesting (and it must have been difficult). I can’t help but think they could have picked a better opera (maybe there isn’t a more appropriate one on the other hand) as choosing practically the most famous opera ever seems a little obvious. But it is amazing they were able to translate it so effectively. But something is missing, though I can’t say what.

69. Live and Become, directed by Radu Mihailleaunu (7/10)

Lost my review.

70. Pierrepoint: the Last Hangman, directed by Adrian Shergold (7/10)

This is a well made biopic (especially for a TV movie). The score doesn’t work very well, especially in the “climax.” The acting is good and the story is compelling. A more original approach to such compelling material would have been welcome, but it is a TV movie. The “twist” actually happened so don’t see it as contrived as I did before I checked the real story.

71. The Notorious Bettie Page, directed by Mary Harron (7/10)

This is a very episodic film and I’m not sure how well that works with biography that is trying to be is trying to be accurate. Moll is Page, I don’t really remember believing she wasn’t her for a second, but the movie feels like it should have been at least 30 minutes longer. I don’t really know what Harron was up to with the stock footage, either. I guess she just didn’t have the budget to create the world she needed to. It could have been much better. That being said, it’s still interesting. I learned something.

72. The Last Mogul, directed by Barry Avrich (6/10)

Lost my review. Interesting but incomplete.

73. Into Great Silence, directed by Philip Groning (6/10)

This is clearly an attempt at a more “pure” documentary.  Trying to observe without really interfering.  It is also an attempt at conveying what a life of mostly silence would indeed be like.  It is very successful, but it is also nearly three hours of images and not much else.  A little religious chanting here, a little conversation about the nature of monastic life there.  It is difficult to sit through without letting your mind wander (in my case, doing crosswords).

74. Romance and Cigarettes, directed by John Tuturro (6/10)

Well it’s a neat idea: a musical using old songs that uses their subject matter to tell part of a rather serious story.  Unlike most musicals, this actually feels realistic.  The problem is that there is definitely an uneveness of tone throughout the hole film, as some parts are funny but other parts are not (for example). There’s nothing wrong with the acting, but the execution is not good. It’s at least entertaining and interesting.

75. Junebug, directed by Phil Morrison (6/10)

This is well-made, and there are some effective moments, but overall something just doesn’t work. I can’t really put my finger on it as yet, but something comes off as contrived. I guess part of this is rooted in the relationship of the two protagonists, as it’s hard to believe their relationship…at least some of the time. George’s behaviour should come off one way but he basically comes off hypocritical instead. I don’t know about this one.

76. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, directed by Tim Burton (6/10*)

I have been told this was terrible; maybe he was smoking something.

77. A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, directed by Garth Jennings (6/10)

I lost my review.

78. The Jacket, directed by John Maybury (6/10)

Lost my review.

79. Battle in Heaven, directed by Carlos Reygadas (6/10)

Lost my review.

80. The New World, directed by Terrence Mallick (6/10)

It’s the weakest Mallick movie I’ve seen. But that isn’t saying much I guess. It is also very similar to The Thin Red Line in a way that the first three were not similar to each other. This style worked for Line but it doesn’t work as well here. It’s still great to look at, and is interesting as revisionism, so to speak, of the Pocahontas story. But it just doesn’t hold your attention like his other films

81. Where the Truth Lies, directed by Atom Egoyan (6/10)

Lost my review.

82. Dust to Glory, directed by Dana Brown (6/10)

Lost my review.

83. The F Word, directed by Jed Weintrob (6/10)

Lost my review.

84. Vers le Sud, directed by Laurent Cantet (6/10)

Lost my review.

85. Thumbsucker, directed by Mike Mills (6/10)

We are being inundated with these quirky indie dramedies.  Some of them are better than others.  This one is mostly above average but there are some significant problems.  Perhaps the biggest is the soundtrack.  The polyphonic spree make the movie sound like it should be a musical, at times.  Further, their pseudo-mystical message is somewhat at odds with a movie which is trying to preach acceptance.  Then there are a few too many indie dramedy cliches: the knowledgeable orthodontist being the most obvious.  But the acting is great, as it usually is in these types of films, and there are some quite good moments.

86. Winter Passing, directed by Adam Rapp (6/10)

This is yet another pretty well-made sort of “indie” dramedy. As usual, it is reasonably effective: it is moderately funny and it has its moments of genuine pathos. And like so many of these movies, it is over-populated with eccentrics and their idiosyncrasies. That is the main problem with it. The other issue is that the against-type turns of Ferrell and Harris are a lot better than the lead performance. That being said, it’s still better than a lot of stuff.

87. Fuck, directed by Steve Anderson (6/10)

Lost my review.

88. Ice Breaker, directed by David Best, Jody Shapiro (6/10)

Interesting.

89. Land of the Dead, directed by George A. Romero (5/10*)

A least it was entertaining. I don’t believe directors should keep making sequels to their films any more than Bruce Willis should be in Die Hard 4. But Romero did. And it’s not terrible. But the smart zombie thing goes too far in my mind. And the whole thing just isn’t what it used to be. The remake of Dawn of the Dead is better. And what does that say?

90. War of the Worlds, directed by Steven Spielberg (5/10)

An ending away from actually being really good.

91. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, directed by Mike Newell (5/10)

Well Cuaron’s gone and you can sure tell. (As an aside: I wonder whether he quit to make (literally) great films, or whether he was fired because his Potter film was the least financially successful to date.) I’m sure it’s not just the director but there is a definite lack of style about this one.

The bigger problem, more than likely, is that this time Rowling has tried to make some kind of epic and she has unfortunately built it around a pretty boring tournament; a tournament that, in typical series fashion, should feature 3 contestants, but soon features Potter by yet another deus ex machina. (Speaking of deus ex machinas, Potter gets second place in one of the events through yet another one. Oy.) The tournament by itself might of worked – I feel like it’s the weakest storyline yet, but you never know – but the problem is there is so much going on around it this time out that the film has Return of the King type multiple denouements that are interminable this movie is 2 and a half hours long!

That’s probably what finished me off as I suspect I was on the fence about whether or not this was the worst (or least good) of the movies so far. But those denouements…

92. The King, directed by James Marsh (5/10)

It’s hard to know why this movie is.  I don’t really get it.  I mean, I understand that it’s a tale of revenge, but it’s hard to see how that revenge is deserved or why he does what he does.  With no back story, we can only assume that the protagonist had a horrible life, yet little of his behaviour seems to convey that.

93. These Girls, directed by John Hazlett (5/10)

I get why people made a big deal of this when it came out: it is a little shocking to see strong (young) female characters in a film such as this. But that doesn’t make it good. I laughed only sporadically (though more so as it went on) and had a somewhat hard time liking anyone except the tard. A better script would have helped but it would also have helped if there was an actual edge: the film is lot less risque than it thinks it is.

94. Beowulf and Grendel, directed by Sturla Gunnarsson (5/10)

Read the review.

95. The Outdoorsmen, directed by Scott Allen Perry (5/10)

Remember being filled with a mixture of entertainment and dismay.

96. Free Zone, directed by Amos Gitari (5/10)

Lost my review.

97. C.R.A.Z.Y., directed by Jean-Marc Vallee (5/10)

Lost my review.

98. The Interpreter, directed by Sydney Pollack (5/10)

Despite my problems with this film, I still refer to one moment in it constantly.

99. Familia, directed by Louis Archambault (5/10)

Lost my review.

100. V for Vendetta, directed by James McTeigue (5/10)

Unfortunately, I saw this in two parts. This has been done before, the theme I mean. Many times, and better.  Meh.

101. Munich, directed by Steven Spielberg (5/10)

I’ll leave it to someone else: “It’s 164 minutes long, officially. That’s two hours and 30 minutes of well-constructed, if repetitive, terrorist-hunting, and then 14 final minutes — no spoilers here — of ham-fisted catharsis and misguided 9/11 exploitation. What is Spielberg’s problem that he can’t trust his audience to get it without resorting to the big, dumb, obvious gesture? It doesn’t make him populist. It makes him unreliable.”

102. New York Doll, directed by Greg Whiteley (5/10)

This movie’s main strength is out of its hands: the circumstances create the poignancy. Well, and the main subject does to an extent, as well. Kane is not your stereotypical faded star. However, this movie is not very well directed, and assumes little music knowledge on the part of the viewer (why would non-music fans be watching a movie about one of the New York Dolls?). In some ways, the best part is listening to all the supposedly Dolls-influenced artists slag great music genres, when many of them don’t make particularly great music.

103. King Kong, directed by Peter Jackson (5/10)

Unnecessary.

104. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, directed by Andrew Adamson (5/10*)

I “saw” this a number of years ago on TV. Like many movies I saw in parts on TV when I was younger, I rated it without watching the entire thing. So I guess I’m making up for that.

This was the only fantasy book I “read” as a child. (It was read to me, as I was that young.) Perhaps this explains my dislike of most fantasy. I experienced so little as a child that, as a teen and an adult, I found so much of it ridiculous because I wasn’t raised on it. Anyway, to the movie itself (SPOILERS):

I can’t say that the adaptation is necessarily bad (from what I remember) though the CGI has dated rather poorly in some instances – not so much the animals, but the green screens, and some other things – and it’s fairly obvious that this film was not awarded the type of budget that The Lord of the Rings was or Harry Potter eventually was.

But the budget isn’t the problem. The problem is the source material. For kids, this is gripping. I still remember the general story to this day, and I remember being utterly captivated as a child. But as an adult, it is boring – there are literally zero stakes for us. Nobody good can die – everyone who does die comes back – and so there is literally no risk for anyone, despite what the actors (real and voice) try to convey.

The advantage Harry Potter has over this is threefold:

  1. first, its spread out over so many films that there is no easy resolution as with this film;
  2. second, major characters do indeed die;
  3. third, there are betrayals and whatever the opposite of betrayals are – you don’t always know who’s on which side.

That’s to say, there’s drama – in the narrative sense, not in the colloquial sense. And there isn’t really very much of that in this movie, unless you’re a kid.

I stand by my initial rating, even if I didn’t watch the whole movie (or even most of it) the first time.

105. Kingdom of Heaven, directed by Ridley Scott (5/10)

I remember disliking it.

106. Bad News Bears, directed by Richard Linklater (5/10)

Reasonably entertaining, like the original.

107. Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic, directed by Liam Lynch (5/10)

The stand-up is funny, but is nothing new on the stand-up film shooting. The other segments don’t always work.

108. Lucid, directed by Sean Garrity (5/10)

This movie is essentially Jacob’s Ladder, only the protagonist isn’t a Vietnam vet. There are few clues to alert the audience to what is going on. When the reveal comes, we learn that most of the information that would have clued us in to what is happening was kept from the audience. We viewers had no way of knowing about what is actually happening. As far as I’m concerned, that’s cheating. The talent is to drop the clues so subtly that the audience doesn’t notice them, not to hide most of the clues so that the audience can’t possibly guess.

109. Lords of Dogtown, directed by Catherine Hardwicke (5/10)

Not anything like the documentary.

110. Comedy Gold, directed by Martha Kehoe (5/10)

Self-congratulatory.

111. Domino, directed by Tony Scott (4/10)

Hollywood always gets this stuff wrong.

112. Heart of the Beholder, directed by Ken Tipton (4/10)

Lost my review.

113. The Skeleton Key, directed by Iain Softley (4/10)

The Skeleton Key starts off quite decently. There’s a great atmosphere that’s set up. However, little continuity errors and bizarre little things (like why is Kate Hudson wearing a bra while she sleeps???) help to undermine this atmosphere. The camera work gets a little stupid too. There’s lots of flashy camera effects that actually take away from the film. And then I guessed the ending way before it happened. Now I’m not one to actively figure out a movie, so that was annoying too. In some ways though, this movie is about black power. I won’t say any more. And it’s actually not. I just thought that was a funny thing to say (and one could argue it…not well, but you could argue it).

114. Derailed, directed by Mikael Hafstrom (4/10)

Lost my review.

115. The Great Raid, directed by John Dahl (4/10)

Cowboys and Indians.

116. Just Friends, directed by Roger Kumble (4/10)

I guess this isn’t terrible.

117. Stars Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, directed by George Lucas (4/10*)

I remember hating the climax.

118. The Island, directed by Michael Bay (4/10)

Silly.

119. Alien Planet, directed by Pierre de Lespinois (4/10)

Silly and kind of pointless.

120. Trust the Man, directed by Brat Freundlich (4/10)

As the film began I was thinking, a European director will show the connection between these couples in time, an American will do it immediately.  Within five minutes we know their connection to each other.  By 9 minutes the plot was already telegraphed.  I watched scenes I knew were supposed to be funny but I didn’t laugh.  Okay, I laughed a little two or three times.  But that’s it.  And the film is topped off with an over-the-top Hollywood climax.  4/10 is very generous.

121. Fantastic Four, directed by Tim Story (4/10*)

I can’t remember whether or not this was worse or better than I rated it.

122. Descent, directed by Neil Marshall (3/10*)

This is much better than this. No idea why I rated it so low.

123. Hostel, directed by Eli Roth (3/10)

The definitive torture porn flick if Saw wasn’t that already.

124. Wolf Creek, directed by Greg Mclean (3/10*)

I have been told I should watch this again.

125. Mr. and Mrs. Smith, directed by Doug Liman (3/10*)

Probably not this bad.

126. Assault on Precinct 13, directed by Jean-Francois Richet (3/10)

I didn’t really like the original very much – which was a re-imagining – but this remake is just a noisier, better-produced version.

126. Flightplan, directed by Robert Schwentke (3/10)

Will never happen to anyone so it isn’t scary…well, I take that back. It happens to people. But it doesn’t happen to little white girls…

127. The Dukes of Hazard, directed by Jay Chandrasekhar (3/10)

Bad.

128. Deuce Bigelow: European Gigolo, directed by Mike Bigelow (3/10)

Deuce Bigalow: European Gigalow is a very poorly made movie that was funnier than I thought it would be. Being under the influence of something probably would have helped, but it definitely could have been worse. In any event, there were half a gazillion continuity errors, as is the case with many of these types of comedies (see Scary Movie).

129. Hostage, directed by Florent Siri (3/10)

Don’t remember it beyond Willis looking like Willis.

130. Imagine Me and You, directed by (3/10)

I do. I think about you day and night. It’s only right.

131. Confessions of an American Bride, directed by Douglas Barr (3/10)

Brutal.

132. The Cave, directed by Bruce Hunt (3/10)

Hilarious.

133. The Quiet, directed by Jamie Babbit (3/10)

Faux-provocative nonsense.

134. Spirit Bear: the Simon Jackson Story, directed by Stefan Scaini (3/10)

Who knows why I watched this.

135. The Fog, directed by Rupert Wainwright (2/10)

Worse than the original.

136. Stay, directed by Marc Foster (2/10)

Don’t remember it.

137. Cry_Wolf, directed by Jeff Wadlow (2/10)

I have accidentally seen this twice.

138. Alone in the Dark, directed by Uwe Boll (2/10)

Boll’s masterpiece.

138. American Pie Presents Band Camp, directed by Steve Rash (2/10)

Ugh.

139. Alien Apocalypse, directed by Josh Becker (2/10)

For some reason I haven’t written a review of this terrible movie, which I own.

140. Man with the Screaming Brain, directed by Bruce Campbell (2/10)

Ditto for this one.

141. Locusts, directed by David Jackson (2/10)

Terrible.

142. Wild Swarms, directed by Ian Gilmour (1/10)

Brutal.

143. Romy and Michelle: in the Beginning, directed by Robin Schiff (1/10)

Terrible.

144. Stealth, directed by Rob Cohen (1/10)

Stealth is one of the worst movies ever made. I mean, it’s not even remotely funny (except for the map bit). It’s just terrible. Truly atrocious. If you don’t believe me, rent it for yourself. Also, get the DVD so you can watch the ridiculous bullshit that is the “documentary” on the music from the film. If that doesn’t make you laugh and, at the same time, hate the majority of hacks in Hollywood, I don’t know what will.

Wow, it was just terrible. From the opening words on the screen introducing the “concept” (if you can call it that), to the very end, it’s just a terrible, terrible, terrible movie. Yes, it’s Battlefield Earth bad. I know it’s hard to achieve that, but Mr. Rob Cohen (who should probably be locked up somewhere where he will never bother anyone ever again) accomplished something special.

145. Locusts: the 8th Plague, directed by (1/10)

Terrible.

146. Loose Change: Second Edition, directed by Dylan Avery (1/10)

This is a reasonably well put together series of provocative pictures, comments and tidbits that don’t actually amount to anything (and the vast majority is false…this is easily verifiable, by the way…just do your own research or watch the not very well-written rebuttal “Screw Loose Change”).  It is the presentation that makes it seem like the filmmakers are on to something.  If there was a conspiracy involved in 9-11 (and that’s true because of the definition of the word conspiracy) it is certainly not the one the filmmakers claim to have discovered.  And I don’t really know what that is.  At one point, they suggest it was a essentially a bank robbery (apparently 9-11 was Die Hard 3 writ large).  It is interesting to note that this second edition has removed some of the lies they were caught perpetuating, specifically the claims about Osama’s ring and watch.  There’s much more, but I’m lazy right now.

Shorts

“L’ami y’a bon” aka “The Colonial Friend”, directed by Rachid Bouchareb (8/10)

I remember liking this.

“Clara”, directed by Van Somerwine (7/10)

Certainly provocative.  A little slight to recommend to anyone to go out of their way. An interesting approach to loss in such a brief format, anyway.