Friday, September 25, 2009

Sins against his own body.

Bruno is vile.

Brandon, I mostly agree with your assessment of the film, but I need to stress that the humor here is consistently mean-spirited. I think that the film does work and it works well. I just can't get behind Bruno.

Cohen doesn’t want conversation. He wants blood.

I admire his tactics to an extent. If there is a culture war going on (and there is, but most are confused about where the lines of battle are drawn), then Cohen is a mighty warrior for what JPII called the Culture of Death.

JPII may as well have been writing about Bruno: we see that mistaken ideas about the individual's moral autonomy continue to inflict wounds on the consciences of many people and on the life of society.

Cohen’s character is homosexual, but Cohen’s not just saying something about homosexuals or “homophobia.” He’s defending a wider sexual license and attacking those who aren’t with the program.

As far as I’m concerned, Ron Paul is the hero of the film. He runs away. There is no rational discourse with Bruno. One must flee from sexual immorality.

I can’t know for sure, but I like to think that Paul would have reacted in the same way if it had been a beautiful woman who had taken off her pants and propositioned him. I love that Ron Paul was more than willing to be interviewed by a freak like Bruno. Paul shows him respect. It’s only when Bruno crosses a line that Paul calls a spade a spade. He’s queer. He dropped his pants. We’re leaving.

In the end, I don’t think it does all that much good to condemn Bruno. I do condemn Bruno, but instead of continuing to harp on that fact and dwell on the bad, I’ll instead praise the good.

Bruno knows nothing of love. He can only teach us death. We need to look elsewhere.

I watched In the Mood for Love back in July. I’m all caught up now with everything that I’ve seen (except for the last week‘s worth), but I’ve never mentioned In the Mood for Love here. I keep putting it off for stupid reasons, but here seems like a perfect place to post my In the Mood for Love memorial list. In the Mood for Love is a perfect evocation of a time and place and, more importantly, a mood. Love is evoked by its absence and by the chaste communion that two betrayed persons have with one another.

In the Mood for Love -
my romantic love top ten -
hesitant explorations toward a dignified sexuality

1) A Woman Under the Influence
2) Samurai Rebellion
3) The New World
4) Mr. and Mrs. Smith
5) Solaris
6) The Fisher King
7) An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
8) Roman Holiday
9) The Hustler
10) Minnie and Moskowitz

It’s not a perfect list, but those are the movies that quickly and easily came to mind. Without defending each choice, I’ll just say that I recommend each of these films for what they have to teach us about love.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Without a Paddle

After raving about Funny Games, I know that I sound like a hypocrite, but I agree with Andy about Wolf Creek. And I know that Antichrist will offend me to no end, but if you have that party on a Monday night, Brandon, then you know I’ll be there. Let me know. Some day maybe I’ll write more about Funny Games and why I think it rises above.

Wolf Creek starts with promise, developing character and exploring the threat of violence for 52 minutes. Good stuff. Then, the necessities of the genre overwhelm all other considerations and we get straight slasher thrills with a few playful tweaks at convention. Sorry Brandon, I don’t buy for a minute that the director cares about these characters.

What really irks me are the title cards and their claims at factuality. Instead of raising the film’s credibility, these words undermine it, signifying that the director doesn’t have confidence in his own story.

Rudo y Cursi was surprisingly fun to watch, but, honestly, I think that I would have found just about anything life-affirming after Wolf Creek.

Rudo y Cursi was just what I needed.

Persistently anti-realistic, the film revels in being a story instead of being “based on actual events.” Voiceover narration and a playfulness with “rise to success” sports movie conventions allow the film more room to reveal a specifically Mexican character and mood. It blows away any of Tulpan’s documentarian pretensions by being more truthful through creative lying. I think that I mostly enjoyed Rudo y Cursi because it was refreshing after a few big disappointments.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Thus may all GOD’s enemies perish, while his lovers be like the unclouded sun.

The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, after Ehud died. So the LORD sold them into the hand of King Jabin of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; the commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Ha-rosheth-ha-goiim. Then the Israelites cried out to the LORD for help; for he had nine hundred chariots of iron, and had oppressed the Israelites cruelly for twenty years.

Read all of Judges 4:

I have my doubts whether or not Tarantino is familiar with the book of Judges, but I keep thinking of Inglourious Basterds in the light of Judges.

Jael is in a long line of women warriors, beginning with Eve and ending with Mary and the Church.

Back at the beginning, after Adam’s failure to exercise dominion and Eve’s failure to be as wise as a serpent, God confronts all the guilty persons; Adam, Eve, Serpent.

Specifically speaking to the Serpent:
“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

Peterson’s translation makes it clear: “I’m declaring war between you and the Woman, between your offspring and hers. He’ll wound your head, you’ll wound his heel.”

Theologians refer to the above passage as the proto-evangelion. An early Gospel promise.

There is enmity at work here. There is war. I don’t have the time or inclination to go into all of the biblical patterns that follow, but trust me that, over and over again, throughout the rest of the bible, there is a war between the woman and the serpent and the woman’s seed and the serpent’s seed, culminating in the victory of Jesus.

Jael’s story in Judges is one clear war story along the way. The story literalizes the wounding of the head that the Serpent’s offspring experience. Things don't always have to be this obvious and literal, but an actual, factual skull-crushing will work every time to illustrate Genesis 3:15.

This is all well and good, but what does it have to do with Inglourious Basterds?

I don’t know.

There’s a war going on.

I keep thinking of Shosanna as a Jael figure. An enemy of her people is seeking refuge in her house (cinema in this case). The enemy asks for water and she gives them milk (not literally in this case, but it’s interesting that Tarantino repeatedly brings up milk), refusing them nothing in the premiere of their movie. Meanwhile, Shosanna bides her time until the enemy that she is at war with feels safe and she can drive the tent-peg into his temple. The Nazis, like Sisera, feel safe, because they don’t realize where Shosanna’s loyalties lie or what her family background is. It’s also interesting that while Jael is giving the death blow to the enemy in her tent, Barak and his army are continuing to hunt down Sisera while they exterminate the rest of his army. “All the army of Sisera fell by the sword; no one was left.“ There’s no mention of scalping (also no foreskins involved this time!) but this is indeed total war. There are parallels between Barak’s army and the Basterds hunting down Nazis while Shosanna is independently aiding the cause.

The difference here is that Barak and Jael were acting as agents of God’s vengeance. It isn’t too hard, though, to imagine these folks taking delight in the destruction of their oppressors (just read Judges 5).

There are parallels, but Shosanna is clearly acting primarily as an agent of personal vengeance and the Basterds just revel in the violence a little too much. One gets the idea that a few of these Basterds would enjoy hurting just about anyone. Nazis are convenient. Still, there’s a clear Antithesis at work in the film that echoes biblical themes. Even the marking of foreheads has a biblical connotation. I’m pretty sure that Tarantino might find all this nuts, but the text of the film stands apart from its author and engages with this specific viewer, producing the above thoughts.

I continue to think more highly of Basterds as I’ve been meditating on it more over the past 10 days. I do need to see it again.

(p.s. The painting that opens this post is by a man named Tony Nsofor. It's a great painting. I have to admit, though, that I only found it when searching for images for this post. Read more about Nsofor by clicking on the painting above.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Chump at the NYS Fair

I'm not a big fan of the Great New York State Fair. In fact, I mostly hate it. It's my luck then that Abby and the girls look forward to it all year, enjoy the day we go immensely, then talk about how great it was all year until they start talking about next year's fair. Bah.

For my time and money, the best hour of the fair was a screening of A Chump at Oxford. No one wanted to come with me except for Annie. Her and I had a lot of fun and my favorite moments were when she'd be laughing hysterically while the rest of the audience was silent.

A Chump at Oxford is as funny as anything else I've seen with Laurel and Hardy. My only complaint about the film was that it seemed to be pieced together from two sections that only partially flowed together. Reading up about the film, I discovered that this is because twenty minutes were added to the film for a European release. It's good at 60 minutes, which is what I saw, but I think it would have been even better as the pared down 40 min. featurette that it once was. That said, besides the final joke about Hardy's chin(s), those 20 minutes at the beginning are among the funniest in the film. Laurel in drag, so obviously a man, had me hooting. And I don't hoot often!

Monday, September 21, 2009

But I like American music best.

Frost/Nixon is among Ron Howard's best films. And there's no doubt in my mind that Howard is one of this country's first-rate auteurs working within the studio system, even if I don't always care for his films. Howard's themes and preoccupations are always thoroughly American and Frost/Nixon is no exception.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian was tolerable despite its terrible anachronisms and generally lame humor. Seeing it with a guy who laughed hysterically at monkey slapping helped my appreciation quite a bit. I'm also willing to forgive a lot thanks to the Oscar cameo. Here's to hoping that the film actually inspires kids to learn about these historical figures instead of (what I think actually happens) falling in love with bad pop misappropriations of these same cultural icons.

Bad Company is interesting as an example of how elastic the Western is. It's also fun to see Jeff Bridges so young. The dismantling of the protagonist's pretensions is handled well as he breaks down and accepts doing bad with his bad company. Mostly, though, the film has no real hooks to hang any cares on, so I mostly didn't care.

I would have loved 9 when I was 9. At 30, I appreciate the art design and the animation as among the best of the year, but the story and especially the dialogue are major disappointments.

Thunder Road is fun as a Robert Mitchum vehicle, but fairly average for what it is. Still, watching Mitchum is enough. Mitchum + Moonshine = Satisfied Mind.

Robert Altman's The Gingerbread Man just isn't very good.

I tried giving The Dark Knight another chance on DVD, but I found myself getting irritated and gave up about halfway into it and fell asleep while Abby finished watching. I do think that the movie suffers on the small screen and I wonder if the critics who were most vocal about the editing being incomprehensible only saw the film on a DVD screener and not on the big screen. Besides the editing, I just don't think that the story is all that tight (or all that interesting) and the dialogue and performances are laughable in places. I'm not a fan. Sorry to be a hater.

United 93 is a well-crafted film, dignifying the events it depicts rather than exploiting them. Here is horror. Look no further.

In a Lonely Place is hard for me to write about because it means a lot to me and I don't want to dismiss it with a couple of sentences like all of the rest. Like Killing of a Chinese Bookie (which I have written about, but don't feel like I've written adequately about enough to publish), it's one of the best films I've seen all year and I can't stop thinking about it, but I also feel like it needs my undivided attention and devotion if I'm going to do it any justice here. I'm not worthy.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I'm not ready to write about Inglourious Basterds. I need to see it again. I still won't be ready.

It is the best film of the year so far, but I'm seriously conflicted about it.

"For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed...A double minded man is unstable in all his ways."

As usual, David Bordwell's commentary is among the best. The following quote is perceptive and striking and makes me want to hunt down a copy of the Carroll essay right now.

Several years ago the film theorist Noël Carroll speculated that the Movie Brats of the 1970s sought to create a shared culture of media savvy that would replace the traditional culture based on religion, classical mythology, and official history. For the baby boomers, knowledge of the Christian Bible and iconography of American history would be replaced by deep familiarity with movies, pop music, and TV. This secular sacred would bind the audience in a new set of traditions. On this path, Scorsese, Spielberg, and Lucas didn’t go as far as Tarantino has. In his films every situation or character name or line of dialogue feels like a citation, a link in a web of pop-culture associations. (Aldo Raine = Aldo Ray = Bruce Willis, whom Tarantino once compared to Aldo Ray.) The only other filmmaker I know who has achieved this supersaturated cross-referencing is Godard, another exponent of the vivid-moments model (though he uses it to create a more fragmentary whole). Tarantino is the most visible evidence of what Carroll called “The future of allusion.”

Not writing about the film now means that I may never write about it, but while I leave you hanging I can at least point to another Tarantino clip - an introduction to There Will Be Blood, one of my favorite movies of all time. Toward the end, Tarantino explains how Blood was a direct influence on Basterds.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Right now, I'm being paid to surf the Internet at a comfortable hotel in Rochester, NY. I've enjoyed spending hours indulging my every searching whim, while also reminding myself how good it is that I don't have Internet access at home any longer.

Following up on my ramblings about the shortage of great SF films, here's Tarantino examining what makes Sunshine such a good but terribly-flawed-not-great film

Have You Seen The Thing?

Nothing that I write about The Thing is as interesting as this page about Thing related merchandise: The Thing's Monstrous Merchandise.

The Thing was a bit of a letdown after Dawn of the Dead, but that's only saying that it was good, not great.

The sense of dread and mistrust achieved is praiseworthy and surely the most horrifying aspect of the film, but this same aspect suffered from my utter confidence in Kurt Russel's ability to handle any crisis. Honestly, Russel is a bit too much of an action hero here.

The special effects are great. I'm becoming increasingly convinced that the late 70s through the 80s were the greatest period of cinematic special effects that we've yet seen. CGI will continue to improve, but I'll still prefer rubber monsters.

The Thing is more impressive as a smart science fiction film (with John W. Campbell, Jr. source material!) than as horror (but, then again, I'm still trying to figure out what horror is). Smart movie SF is still a rarity. I don't think I'm being that controversial when I suggest that film SF is decades behind print SF. There have been lots of decent to good SF films (I love Moon from this year) and these films, like The Thing, need to be championed for what they are, but there have been very few genuine masterpieces as of yet.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Seeing Lawrence of Arabia in 70mm with a crowd of folks who were all equally excited helped confirm that cinema usher is indeed my dream job.

After watching Lawrence, I started thinking about parallels with Soderbergh's Che. The two characters seemed more similar to me than I would have ever, apart from these cinematic representations, previously thought. It might border on cinematic sacrilege for me to write it, but Soderbergh's film is at least as good as Lean's epic. I'd love to spend a day watching them both together. What a double feature!

The 39 Steps is still a lot of fun and I was glad to have the chance to see a good 35mm print after the terrible DVD projection at Bundy earlier in the year. I only wish that Abby could have been with me again.

Tulpan is one of the biggest disappointments of the year so far. It received nearly universal praise, but I was indifferent. I loved the depictions of yurt life, but I was turned off by the earnest ethnic cuteness. If Americans weren't so hesitant about foreign films with subtitles, Tulpan could be the same kind of hit as something like My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Decade

General Disclaimer: I put these lists together fairly quickly and thoughtlessly. It was hard making any kind of reasonable lists when I haven’t seen the films in question in several years. I know that I’ve changed a lot since I’ve seen them. I’m sure that I’ve missed a few films that I’ve seen that may deserve to be here and I know that I didn‘t see a lot of films during the last decade. I’m equally sure that most of the titles below aren’t really the best movies that came out in a given year, but there’s something about each of them that I liked. I only have vague impressions of some of them. Others, I remember clearly.

There’s only a small handful that I really love and treasure.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how opinions can change. I still love Adventureland and I‘ll stick up for it if anyone knocks it, but each time I’ve watched it I’ve picked out more problems that I have with the story and the script - contrivances and gods from machines and all that.

I insist on the right to change my mind.

That said, here are some pathetic attempts at yearly lists, 2000 through 2007.

For the sake of making this a full ten years, I’m going to reprint here my 1999 list and my 2008 list at the end of the post. It also makes me feel better to have all of this crap bookended by two lists that I feel more confident about.


Top Ten Films of 1999

1. Julien Donkey-Boy
2. Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai
3. The Straight Story
4. Magnolia
5. Three Kings
6. Princess Mononoke
7. The Iron Giant
8. Toy Story 2
9. The Talented Mr. Ripley
10. Bringing Out the Dead


2000 was a continuation of 1999 for me. I’m pretty sure that the first half of 2000 mostly consisted of 1999 films, either movies finally in wide release available in the cinemas of Buffalo/Rochester/LI or on VHS/DVD.

[Aside: I was a fairly early adopter of DVDs in 1997, but I didn’t fully give up on VHS until a few years later, getting rid of the bulk of my VHS collection in 2001, then slowly weeding out the remaining VHS over the last few years. The format and the picture/audio quality was never what bothered me, though it was nice to upgrade. It was the damnable persistence of pan and scan that fostered the hate that I have for VHS. The immediate and (almost) consistent practice of preserving a film’s aspect ratio on DVD was what initially drew me to the format and I’m still happy with the format. I don’t know why pan and scan was dropped or whether or not it would have died just as well if VHS had stayed around, but I’m glad that it’s mostly a fact of the past now. As far as new technology goes, maybe eventually I’ll break down and buy a Blu-Ray player or whatever else is new in 10 years, but I’m happy enough for now.]

I saw about half as many 2000 releases as I did 1999 releases. Sill, I saw a lot of movies in 2000.

Meet the Parents is funny. X-Men signaled the rebirth of enjoyable superhero films. I like Erin Brockovich more than I like Traffic. I hate Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Charlie’s Angels features a great Crispin Glover performance. I liked Rugrats in Paris. The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, like Inspector Gadget before it and Speed Racer after it, was much more enjoyable than it had any right to be. O Brother Where Art Thou? is one of my least favorite Coen films, but I won’t deny its charms. All the Pretty Horses isn’t quite what it should have been. Boiler Room is small, but slick. Nurse Betty is interesting seen in the light of In the Company of Men. LaBute is still someone to watch, which reminds me that I need to get around to seeing Lakeview Terrace. I watched The Perfect Storm just because John C. Reilly was in it. Gladiator is still overrated. Frequency is silly, but sweet. High Fidelity was a disappointment. Mission Impossible 2 was the worst movie of the year.

The second half of 2000 found me “studying” in London. Despite the required minimum 12 credits, my real education was on the streets interacting with other malcontents. And at the cinema. I regret now that I didn’t keep any sort of film journal because I can’t remember most of what I saw there and I have nothing to jog my memory. After thinking about it for a while, I can remember the following then current releases: Julien Donkey-Boy (x3), Dancer in the Dark (x2), Ratcatcher, O Brother Where Art Thou?, Nurse Betty, Animal Factory, and Stagecoach. I know that I saw so much more, especially older films, at BFI and other places, but my memory fails me. In the end, the best thing that I took from London was a board game, one of my favorites - Bladder. (click on the link - it’ll take you to the first board game review that I wrote for BGG)


I don’t think I’ve seen any of these films again within the last 5-9 years so ranking them now is a difficult if not somewhat stupid task.

Also, going back through the past decade has been humbling as I recognize how totally ignorant I was (and to an extent still remain) of world cinema. I saw a small smattering of things, but missed out on much more. I have a decent (but still weak) grasp on international cinema maybe up until the ‘70s, but then I just don’t know what is going on up until the present. It’s not that I was hostile to foreign film. I definitely wasn’t hostile, but I was clueless. Being clueless, I didn’t seek anything out. Unfortunately, foreign film distribution is so poor in this country that if small and foreign films aren’t actively and specifically sought after, then they’re easy to miss, either because they never played in your area to begin with or because you’ve never read, seen, or heard anything about them and they’re only playing for a week or so in your town. Easy to miss. I do think that Rosenbaum’s Movie Wars is a good read in this regard, examining why movie distribution sucks. I’ve enjoyed reading Film Comment and Cinema Scope since about mid-2007. Starting to read those magazines, following a few blogs (especially David Hudson, wherever he’s at), and meeting Brandon in January ‘08 all worked together to fuel an obsession that I had let lapse and atrophy for nearly a decade, but, also and most importantly opened me back up to an entire world of film, enveloped in but broader than any national boundaries.


Top Ten Films of 2000

1. Dancer in the Dark
2. George Washington
3. The Big Kahuna
4. Shadow of the Vampire
5. Cast Away
6. Wonder Boys
7. Space Cowboys
8. The Tao of Steve
9. Unbreakable
10. Chicken Run


Spring semester 2001 was my final year of college. All of my time was taken up courting my beautiful bride-to-be and trying to fake my way through student teaching (ultimately receiving a 4.0, what a joke). My preferred media of choice at the time was “Old-Time Radio,” especially the Science Fiction shows. Specifically the two ‘X’ shows: X Minus One, Dimension X. I may have been the only college kid in 2001 hosting Baby Snooks parties, but I’d hold those parties up and above any Frat bash. In May, I participated in a “Mayterm” trip to Paris as a last desperate attempt to finish my language requirement, the only thing holding me back from graduating. I was miserable in Paris, but Paris wasn’t miserable. I went to a few movies, the most memorable being several nights at an Elia Kazan retrospective. I still haven’t seen America, American again since (it could possibly be my favorite Kazan picture), but Panic in the Streets was a fun discovery and A Face in the Crowd has since grown to be one of my favorites which I like to revisit.

Over the summer, I moved up to Whitney Point, NY in preparation for married life. I don’t remember going to any movies. We were married October 6th and went on a honeymoon for a week or so. We went to the NESFA clubhouse, but no movies. I don’t remember many movies for the rest of the year and I don’t even think we had a television set up in our apartment for a while. I know that I didn’t have one in the apartment on September 11th. I listened to everything happening via NPR and other radio stations and didn’t see any footage of the attacks until several years later.

I only count 23 2001 releases that I’ve seen and I don’t care for most of them. A Beautiful Mind is okay. Hannibal might have been scary. I don’t remember. Enemy at the Gates I only just watched this year. Spy Kids was a little bit fun. Blow blew. The Mummy Returns was dumb. Shrek is outrageously overrated. Fast and the Furious irritated me at a moderate pace. Planet of the Apes was a nice try. The first Harry Potter put me to sleep. The Royal Tannenbaums is everything I dislike about Wes Anderson, but good for him. Ali is the weakest Mann film that I’ve seen. LoTR:FoTR proved to be much worse than I had feared. Despite some incredible effects (even these are sometimes too showy as CGI), the story adaptation is hack work, operating on the level of a bad television drama. I Am Sam was better than everyone gives it credit for. Memento pissed me off with its “cleverness.” I liked Black Hawk Down, but don‘t remember it well enough to justify listing it below. I really can’t remember whether or not I saw Spirited Away. I feel like I have, but I can’t remember anything about it except for some weird light creatures who were maybe from Mononoke? I don’t know.

2001 was the beginning of my decline as a moviegoing geek. I can’t even make a top ten.

Top Ten Films of 2001

1. In the Mood for Love
2. A. I.
3. Waking Life
4. Monsters, Inc.
5. The Man Who Wasn’t There
6. Donnie Darko


I only saw about half a dozen more 2002 releases than 2001.

Blade II was bad. Star Wars II was bad. The Two Towers was bad. Men in Black II worked enough for me to proclaim it the best sequel of the year. Spiderman did a lot to cement Marvel’s ascendancy, but I liked it less than others. Bourne Identity felt fresh and new. So did Road to Perdition, a film I’d like to revisit. My Big Fat Greek Wedding was big and fat and Greek. 8 Mile was better than I thought it would be. Insomnia is great, but I don’t remember it well enough. Bowling for Columbine has its moments, including the moments when I stopped trusting Moore. Catch Me if You Can was fun. The Pianist wasn’t. Star Trek Nemesis made me happy the same way every Star Trek film makes me happy. I saw a clip of Panic Room on television the other night and realized now what I missed last year when I saw it for the first time. That little girl is Kristen Stewart. Lastly, I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for The Rookie.

Note: I have problems with every single film on the list below. I enjoyed them all, but in no way could I unequivocally and wholeheartedly recommend each one in the way that I could do so for my 2008 list. To a certain extent, this note applies to each of the lists from the last ten years. I say that I enjoy them, but I think that I might hate some of them, too. I don’t know. I’m just making lists and these movies were better than others. I have a feeling that there were plenty of better films in 2002 that I missed out on. Anyhow, there’s at least a little something to praise in each of the titles below.

Top Ten Films of 2002

1. Minority Report
2. Solaris
3. Signs
4. Changing Lanes
5. Punch Drunk Love
6. Gangs of New York
7. Love Liza
8. Reign of Fire
9. Adaptation
10. We Were Soldiers


Titles seen increased by about half a dozen again this year, up to 32, though still not even that close to half as many as that high mark, 1999.

I’m not going to waste any time except to say that 2003 seems like it was a good year even though I still missed a lot of the more critically acclaimed films. At least, I feel positive about the movies below. Here’s a top ten.

Top Ten Films of 2003

1. School of Rock
2. Owning Mahowny
3. Northfork
4. Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus
5. Elf
6. Gods and Generals
7. Finding Nemo
8. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
9. Holes
10. Open Range

Honorable Mentions: 28 Days Later, Luther, Mystic River, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, Winged Migration

Most overrated: In America

Singled out for hate: The Hulk


I count 24 releases seen from 2004. In the fall of 2004, I started library school. It took another degree to forcefully make me recognize that I’m not cut out for a professional work environment. I do like to watch movies. 2004 was an okay year, though I know that I missed a lot.

Top Ten Films of 2004

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2. The Incredibles
3. The Five Obstructions
4. The Passion of the Christ
5. Undertow
6. Collateral
7. Million Dollar Baby
8. The Terminal
9. Saw
10. Primer

Honorable Mentions: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, Supersize Me

Most overrated: Spiderman 2

Singled out for hate: Sideways


In 2005, I had a growing family, I was working full-time, and I was going to school full-time. I was hanging out a lot at Don’s Atomic Comics and doing plenty of comics related projects for school. Needless to say, I saw less films. I saw only 17 films released in 2005. No matter, because 2005 was the year that Malick gave us his masterpiece. Brandon, I’m looking forward to reading more about what you thought about 2005 because I mostly missed it. Looking back, it doesn’t seem like I missed all that much, but I’m willing to change my mind about that.

Top Ten Films of 2005

1. The New World
2. Grizzly Man
3. Serenity
4. Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
5. Kung Fu Hustle

Honorable Mentions: Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, MirrorMask, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Syriana

Most overrated: Batman Begins

Singled out for hate: Fantastic Four


2006 marks the all-time low of only 13 films seen from that year. And I saw the majority of them after 2006. Late 2005 was when I discovered BoardGameGeek. In early 2006, I was meeting regularly with a group in Buffalo. I wasn’t going to see movies. At home, Abby and I were watching television shows mostly, going on a Buffy binge late in the year after moving down to the Binghamton area, watching all 8 seasons in about 8 months or less. Someone might argue that 2006 was a great year for movies, but I just can’t see it from where I’m standing.

Top Ten Films of 2006

1. A Scanner Darkly
2. The Proposition
3. Joyeux Noel

Honorable Mentions: Lady in the Water, X-Men: The Last Stand

Most Overrated: Babel

Singled out for hate: Apocalypto


2007 marked my return to seriously caring about film and, to a lesser extent, film culture. Mid-year, I started reading Film Comment and Cinema Scope. I’m still not entirely sure why. I saw the magazines there on the shelf at Barnes and Noble and I remembered that good films exist. I wasn’t gaming as much as I had been in Buffalo and what gaming I was doing wasn’t satisfying. I was burned out on theology and ecclesiology and didn’t want to debate any more. My girls were beginning education and I would argue that film needed to be a part of their education. All things considered, I was ready to return to the cinema. And 2007 was a great year.

Major contenders that I haven’t seen, but would like to: Away From Her, The Assassination of Jess James by the Coward Robert Ford, Colossal Youth, Grindhouse, The Host, Into Great Silence, Lake of Fire, Southland Tales

Cute: The Astronaut Farmer, The Martian Child

I liked more than others, but won‘t press the issue: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Spiderman 3

Had minor moments that justified their existence, but I could forget them: I Am Legend, 3:10 to Yuma, Ghost Rider, 1408

Critical darlings that I mostly disliked: I’m Not There, Juno, The Savages, Sweeny Todd

Honorable Mentions: Breach, Control, Enchanted, Offside, Once, Michael Clayton, Zodiac

Top Ten Films of 2007

1. There Will Be Blood
2. No Country For Old Men
3. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
4. Ratatouille
5. The Simpsons Movie
6. Gone Baby Gone
7. Reign Over Me
8. Sunshine
9. Stardust
10. The Darjeeling Limited


And then came 2008. I know that it’s probably mostly a matter of perspective, but I believe that 2008, in general, was a better year than all of those other years combined.

Top Ten Films of 2008

1. Mister Lonely
2. Still Life
3. The Romance of Astrea and Celadon
4. Ashes of Time Redux
5. Wall-E
6. Funny Games
7. Appaloosa
8. La France
9. In Bruges
10. Iron Man

I already want to tweak this list some since I made it last month, but I won’t. All I’d really be doing is rearranging and switching in some films from the #11 honorable mention slot. Oh well.

That’s ten years of my life as a moviegoer.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

5 minutes at the library

Brandon, it was a relief to read your Moon review and to know that you liked it. I felt fairly confident that you would, but I was also prepared to exchange blows if it came to that. Fred, you need to see it. And Fred, I was a jerk and never got around to it, but Thank You for posting your A Choice of Gods piece. I'll be sure to call you to score the film once my producer gives me the clearance saying that we have the fifty million dollar budget to go ahead with the project.

I'm sad to say that I haven't made it to Basterds yet, but I still intend to see it. It's too long for me to see it before work, the times haven't been right for me to see it after work, and now that I've been doing the Cornell thing I don't have time to see other movies on my days off (at least not without Abby killing me for being a bozo absentee husband). Grizzly Man is a great movie. Starting at the end of this week, I'm going to begin posting my top ten lists for the last 10 years. I've got them all mostly done and am ready to share.

As a note to myself, I want to congratulate myself on writing at least one sentence about EVERY SINGLE MOVIE that I've seen in 2009 (with the ever-present exception of the half a dozen or so films that I've recently watched and am behind on writing about). The only things missing here are television shows (mostly Lost), short films (lots of WB cartoons and quite a few silent shorts from a Kino collection), and various things that I only get to watch bits and pieces of at work, including es of TCM, baseball games, the evening news, and bad stand-up. There's too much visual media to keep up with, but I've been faithful to writing about each feature film. Hooray for me.

All of this just to say that I'm glad that I haven't given up on this blog despite my long period of library-only Internet access. It's brought me some enjoyment and made me, sometimes, clarify my thoughts more than I would have otherwise.

I was going to wait until I'd seen Inglourious Basterds, but I don't want to wait any more.

Here is my off-the-top-of-my-head-post-bad-summer-movie-pre-fall-art-film-season-top-five-of-2009-so-far-list.

1) Moon
2) Summer Hours
3&4) Ponyo/Up
5) Drag Me to Hell

Honorable Mentions (or numbers 6 and 7 out of 5): Adventureland, Public Enemies