Category Archives: Movies

We all seen them, so let me just tell you all how I feel towards this moving art form.

Top 10 Movies of the 2000s

Cinema in the 2000s was some of the more interesting decade of films. This was around the time where CGI became the norm and instantly, so many films that were considered “un-filmable” finally making it into the big picture. I will always remember films in the 2000s decade for the renaissance of comic book movies, the return to fantasy films (that was absent in the 1990s), international films making more success than ever before, and the serious case of sequelitus (More movie sequels than any decade ever). Of course, it is expected to find plenty of bad films from any decade and 2000s is no different. The down side about movies in the 2000s is that practical effects and traditional animation reached it decline (thanks to CGI), Hollywood ran out of original ideas, many action movies attempting to do what Matrix has accomplished, and too many unnecessary sequels. I did enjoy what this 2000s had to offer in films and I showed ten best movies of each year in the 2000s.

Top 10 Movies of 2000
Top 10 Movies of 2001
Top 10 Movies of 2002
Top 10 Movies of 2003
Top 10 Movies of 2004
Top 10 Movies of 2005
Top 10 Movies of 2006
Top 10 Movies of 2007
Top 10 Movies of 2008
Top 10 Movies of 2009

The positives about movies in the 2000s is that there was a lot less risk involved. Anybody who’s anybody could go ahead and watch these films as long as it has a decent trailer that interests them. Just like music in the 2000s, technologically movies has evolved as well. The decade started with DVD’s being the norm and then becoming available for download (possibly for pirating) just like mp3s. Though a lot of filmmakers who got their fame from the 90s stuck around giving their best efforts, many old faces in the movie world remain relevant and nothing drastically changed much throughout the decade of films. So here I am to give you the ten best movies released in the 2000s!

Number 10.  – Oldboy

Oldboy is the sequel to Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and is a well thought out movie that ranks up there as one of the greatest revenge films ever made, more so than the likes of Kill Bill. This is nonetheless a superb piece of cinema — South Korea’s best, one that ever serious film fan should definitely check out. The level of filmmaking is superb and director Chan-Wook Park crafts a blistering picture that has stood out above others in the genre. This is a brilliantly shot picture that will certainly appeal to genre fans looking for something truly different. Oldboy is an in your face type of movie, one that doesn’t shy away from its violent content, and it’s one of the few film where the violence is an integral part of the story, and not used in an unnecessary manner. Along with that there is a truly compelling and well layered plot that entertains you from start to finish. Acting wise, the cast deliver some wonderful, convincing performances and in terms of a strong sequel, Oldboy is a worthwhile follow up that exceeds expectations. Korean cinema in the last few years has seen some stellar films, and Oldboy is one such prime example of the genres standout features. This is a near flawless picture that is haunting in its plot and tells a stellar revenge story that is sure to delight cinema buffs everywhere. Oldboy is a disturbing ride, but one that is worth taking if you love a well crafted movie that tells a great story. The direction is immaculate the performances are wonderful, and the film will certainly stay with you long after you’ve seen it. The scenes that use a heavy dose of violence are not for the squeamish and add to the experience that director Chan Wook Park is trying to convey in his Vengeance trilogy and it works brilliantly. Oldboy is a riveting masterwork that elevates the revenge genre to whole new levels.

Number 9.  –  Pan’s Labyrinth

It’s hard to pigeon hole a film like Pan’s Labyrinth as there are so many facets to it’s structure. On the one hand, it’s a political/historical drama and on the other it’s a fantasy/horror. Few (if any) films will spring to mind when these genres are mentioned in the same breath which reflects the very craftsmanship that’s at work here. One thing that you can undoubtedly count on, though, is it’s highly imaginative nature. Sure, we’ve had fantastical stories before where a young girl escapes her constrained life to enter bigger and more possible worlds. We’ve also had commentaries on the brutalities and restrictions of fascist regimes but to combine them into a wondrous journey of life, struggle and imagination is an amalgamation that I have rarely witnessed. Such is the case with this film and such is the skill of del Toro in his writing and handling of the material. He incorporates an abundance of childhood fantasies, from delving into books and mythology – that feature fauns and fairies – to the power of a piece of chalk on the wall. This may be built around the point of view of a child’s eye but its also not afraid to explore the darker recesses of that very imagination and construct some of the most monstrous creatures that can inhabit that realm. Del Toro is in absolute command here and he’s aided, immeasurably, by cinematographer Guillermo Navarro in capturing and contrasting his world within a world; one is a visually striking and enchanting fantasia, the other a stark and brutal reality. It’s a balance that’s difficult to achieve but with deft handling of coexisting genres, del Toro’s vision is able to come to fruition and manages to be both a reminder of the rigidity of fascism and the escapable ability of an imaginary youthful mind.

Number 8.  –  There Will Be Blood

God, what a heavy film. It’s a disturbing and weird and fascinating character study that is just out there, but extremely compelling. Even though this is a brilliant masterpiece, parts of it feel a tad forced and hollow, but that’s only a minor issue since the point of the film is characters and themes. It’s a character study about greed, ambition, family, ruthlessness, and insanity. This is more art than anything. As for the plot, well, it’s kinda hard to nail down exactly, but, in broad strokes, it’s about a ruthless oil prospector, and the clashes he has with a local preacher as he strives to strike it rich in California during the early days of the oil industry (late 1890s-late 1920s). Day-Lewis’s performance enters the history books after the first half hour. After the conclusion, the film follows suit. The camerawork here is thematically driven and hypnotic in a way that evokes Kubrick or Coppola. Any minor flaws in the script are dwarfed by haunting and grand beauty and physical craftsmanship, poignant exploration of timeless themes, and Day-Lewis’s mammoth performance. Relentless, strange, and sad, Anderson’s opus depicts human nature in all its contradictions, while also showing an America that, even a century later, has not changed how it operates.

Number 7.  –  Children of Men

There have been a lot of sci-fi stories that deals with the extinction of humanity, but never was there one that felt so original by not having another alien race eliminating them. Instead, it explores a grim world in which two decades of global human infertility have left humanity with less than a century to survive. Other words, since a genetic fertility defect in women there hasn’t been a single child born in 18 years, thus the world is corrupt with terrorism and anti-government movement holding government responsible for the infertility. Our main character Theo Faron, a former activist encounters his ex-lover, Julian Taylor whose leader of the rebellion to have Theo to join her team and show her Kee, an Arican refugee who reviled that she is pregnant and the first woman in 18 years to finally bare a child. But since she’s the only woman in the world to carry a baby, everybody around Theo and Kee would want to use the baby for various situations; send them over to the “Human Project” to cure the infertility to save humanity. This film goes leaps and bounds with the tension with foreground and background. It goes heavily on the topic of immigration, harsh realities, fear, religion, and government control all of which that is not afraid to show the grim world of what would society be like if humanity is coming to an end, but like Pan’s Labyrinth, as cruel as Children of Men seems its worth it because of the brilliance of hope and the will to overcome the impossible. This is a great display of heroism because using just a single baby to save humanity is perhaps the most magical and yet original idea of doing what’s right. Another thing I immensely appreciate, especially considering that it’s a risky move, is that Children of Men avoided sex. Imagine if Kee wasn’t a talented African actress, but instead was a dumb bimbo that everyone wants to get laid with; this wouldn’t make the subject matter of infertility to be at all taken serious and just made Kee pregnant as an accident rather than a blessing. For the actress who played Kee, she displayed a lot of heart in her role in making a mother to love her child to be believable and as well keeping both of them alive to be intense. There wasn’t a single moment in this movie that I didn’t loose my suspense of disbelief; everything was believable and thanks to the excellent and innovative directing and cinematography, which was the innovative single-shot action sequences. Today we have single-shot action sequences in other movies, like Cloverfield and Battle of Los Angelas, but still to this day Children of Men does its single-shot action sequences better than any movie that imitates it because it doesn’t give you a headache with the shaky cameras, directing was aimed perfectly, and the emotional scenes just makes it ground breaking. If you’re one of those people that complain why movies aren’t innovative anymore, check out Children of Men because it shows that there are still creative ideas for cinema. Its films like Children of Men that guarantees that cinema as art will really survive.

Number 6.  –  Watchmen

Since the comic book/graphic novel was released, we all were skeptical of even having a Watchmen movie because of the fact that it’s impossible for movies to adapt comic’s most important treasure. We needed to wait 2 decades in order for the technology to even visualize the story told in this comic book. In a matter of fact, I actually like movie more so than the comic book it was adapting. They took a way the stupid squid (made for shock factor) and even the ridiculousTales of the Black Freighter side-story that is unnecessary. Based on the Alan Moore graphic novel, Watchmen is set in an alternate reality where costumed “heroes” were created as state-sanctioned vigilantes to fight the mob and who helped the US win the Vietnam war and get tricky Dicky elected for 5 successive terms as president. Another superhero movie with a difference it sticks firmly to the moral grey areas, showing these “heroes” as human and fallible; who is the more heroic, a violent sociopath obsessed with punishment through vengeance or an emotionally detached self-appointed guardian willing to sacrifice millions of lives for “the greater good”…? The core of the film is provided by charismatic anti-hero Rorschach’s Noir style investigation into the murder of fascistic black ops hero The Comedian, set to the backdrop of a skewed history and political situation which all makes for very interesting viewing and tinges the usual big budget spectacle with a nicely grimy undercurrent. Snyder is hardly the most insightful of directors but his stylized visuals work perfectly here thanks to the wealth of intelligent ideas and interesting characters supplied by a source material that is very visual in essence. Definitely up with the best of the modern style hero movies, Watchmen is intelligent, dark and although I wouldn’t describe it as “exciting”, it’s perfectly paced over its 2 and a half hour length. Considered by most to be unfilmable, Snyder has managed to pull off a bit of a coup with this one and created a superhero film that ranks amongst the best. In a matter of fact, films in the 2000’s is recognized as the renaissance of comic book movies, but in my humble opinion, the genre built itself from mediocre films into the magnum opus of comic book movies with Watchmen!

Number 5.  –  Waltz With Bashir

This is the VERY FIRST animated documentary that artfully accounts the filmmaker’s forgotten, but haunting memory of the 1982 Lebanon War, Sabra and Shatila Massacre. Ugly history presented with irresistible creativity and charm; a strong and powerful work that explores the psychological trauma by warfare and does it much better than any war film ever created. This film is so goddamn creative by making such build up with the director of the documentary, Ari Folman, as himself animated interviewing as many veterans of the 1982 Labanon War as possible to piece out the stories and remember what did he do in the war that haunted him for years. The film uses a striking combination of frame-by-frame and computer generated animation to create a powerful and at times surreal portrayal of war and the way memory plays tricks on the mind. I love the fact that this film is animated because they were able to animate all the war stories told by these veterans. In fact, it was impossible to get any live-action footage of this war (except for the end sequence) this film took the perfect opportunity to use animation because this is the prime example that you can literally do anything with animation. There were a lot of scenes that were impossible to capture in live-action but Waltz managed to put display all it can with its unique usage of CGI animation. No way on Earth could a live-action movie could be done like this, ever! This film is so in-depth into the structure of this war that it’s nearly a psychological thriller due to the presentation of the traumas of these veterans. As you watch this film it really does open your eyes on its unrelenting and very powerful (yet very disturbing) messages. Waltz With Bashir is an animated documentary (possibly made out of guilt) that really is a life-changing experience. I mean there were so many entertaining and mesmerizing war stories being told and right after Ari Folman pieced everything out and remembered what happened at the end, I swear no one could see it coming. Waltz with Bashir is definitely a film where the more you think about it, the more and more you’ll feel appreciative it, not only what this film did in telling us about this war that not that many people today ever heard of, but also what it did to animation in general for going an extra mile.

Number 4.  –  Persepolis

We Americans are easily judgmental and lack the view-point of understanding one’s culture while we all only focus our own. I’m pretty sure that there have been a lot of films & books that tried to convince the world that people from the Middle East are civilized as to any other country, but they never got a world wide attention. That is until two graphic novels was released in France in 2000 by author/artist, Marjane Satrapi who showed the world her own life in Iran and it was very different than what we were told by the media. Then seven years later, she finally made her own masterpiece into the big screen that easily showed the world of cinema what her life in Iran is like and how did it feel like being a fugitive carrying the nationality. Out of all the ways you can display the truth to the world, she made it into an animated film and from beginning to end, it was a wonderful & also a harsh experience. This is a black and white animated film that captures the feel that you read in graphic novels and even better is that Persepolis as a film took that perfect opportunity of telling Marjane’s life in a subtle manner. This was a very well crafted coming of age story where it started Marjane’s life as a child who grew up in the Iranian Revolution in the late 70’s to where she is at today. Marjane Satrapi took all the things she remembered the most in her life and displayed them all in the film. In her childhood she faced the issue of her uncle’s loss in the revolution, Iran politics, and religion. In her teen hood, she faced the issue with women’s rights, lack of freedom, education, and to flee from Iran. Then in her young adulthood, she’s faced the issue of cultural differences, flawed love life, and even trying to fit in the social life. All of these were chapters of her life and I loved that this film was very entertaining, rather than depressing or pretentious, throughout the film. The way Marjane Satrapi portrayed her life in Persepolis was not only just events that happened to her, but also she makes references to show us what her life was like back in the time. She was a fan of pop, metal, and alternative music, celebrity stars she and everyone else were into, and historic events that pops out of on the course of the film. I couldn’t believe how effective these pop cultural & historic references were whenever they show up to not only amuse the audience but also remind them that this once existed. Marjane didn’t force you to feel sorry for her, but instead she wanted the audience to connect with her as a person and at times as a realistic cartoon character whenever she makes a funny scene. But most of all, this is a film that offered me something special that I don’t see any other film that does it this well, and in a matter of fact, this is a film that I don’t see any other film that could possibly execute as well as Persepolis. I learned so much from this film and this is the very film that showed how special life really is.

Number 3.  –  The Terminal

The Terminal is the very movie that I believe is perfection because it has everything that many movies don’t have, like mesmerizing cinematography that goes leaps and bounds from what we’ve already seen, the cast can’t possibly get better because each role an actor plays a solid performance, and the screenplay itself is perhaps the BEST screenplay I’ve ever seen in a movie.  This movie could have been one of the most depressing films ever made if they didn’t make Victor Navorski (Tom Hanks) more active, intelligent, developed, helpful, and heroic in his own way. He starts out as a Krakozhian citizen that discovered that he had no country when he arrived in the JFK airport, sad & lonely without a single person who’s from Krakozhia to help him, and his English is limited. As the film moves on, he learns how to live in the airport and was able to improve the Terminal by working as a construction worker to fix the place and help everyone who’s in need in of help in the very airport that he’s in. The character is so well played that I forgot many parts of the film that he’s Tom Hanks and VERY rarely any actor could possibly do that. Yet, the antagonist, Customs and Border Protection, Frank Dixon refuses to let Victor to see America and is smart enough to keep him in there, but not enough to make Victor look like a criminal fugitive which he tries to do throughout the entire movie. But yet, as Victor makes more friends and a better reputation in the terminal, everyone can see the unfairness that Frank Dixon is putting towards Victor and soon letting him see America made the build up so engaging. And who can ever forget the love relationship with Navorski and stewardess Amelia Warren, played by Catherine-Zeta Jones? Amelia Warren is a stewardess who is having an affair with a married man and finds she can open her heart to this strange, simple man. But this film isn’t always about Victor Navorski, but also other characters in the airport such as Rajan Gupta who left India to save himself to work as a janitor, Enrique Cruz who’s needed Victor’s help to find out more for the woman he loves because he’s afraid to talk to her, and so many more.

What I admire most about the film is that we live in a day in age where we are in the subject of terrorism and putting a film set in the airport, you can almost feel it coming, but the Terminal never acknowledges that terrorism exists or else this film would have been considered prejudice or insensitive to internationals whom enters America. Instead this film just shows how difficult it is to have a nationality and being in another country, but yet this film had hopes to keep the movie going forward. There was never a film that was set in the airport that actually made the audience feel like they’re in the airport. And believe me, staying in the airport, though it may be a stretch in waiting too long, it is indeed a beautiful place and I have to take my hat off to Spielberg for showing the beautiful atmosphere of the setting and made the people working in the terminal to look important. Never was there a single movie that made me smile from beginning to end because of how beautiful and well crafted everything seen in this very movie. It avoids everything that I don’t like to see in films, which other movies very often do, and instead takes everything that I want in a good movie and left we with an impression that The Terminal is some the best movie I’ve ever seen in my life.

Number 2.  –  The Fountain

This film is absolutely… amazing! I must’ve be in the minority, but I thought this was a true masterpiece. The epic nature of the love story is incredible and completely unique. It’s the ultimate spiritual movie that uplifts you out of your own reality and gives you so many meaning and symbolism that feels awe inspiring. The usage of space and time is like nothing anyone has ever tried to accomplish before. While it is mostly a sci-fi fairy tale, you never feel as though each segment doesn’t have power in itself. Hugh Jackman gave truly his best performance and Rachel Weisz did a beautiful job as well. While this certainly isolates itself from most traditional hollywood narratives, I think once you break it down it really isn’t difficult at all to understand or analyze. I like narratives like this with twists and turns. It’s really one one of those films where you can decide what it is, but for me, I think it’s about life and death and how if people fear death, then it’s something to be feared. But if you embrace death as a natural part of your life then you can live beyond death and have something different to look forward to. I liked the juxtaposition between the past, the (relative) present, and the future showing how religion and spiritualism has been around for a long time and is an important part of many peoples lives. Spanning 1,000 years and filled with linking metaphors between the three separate storylines, this movie is surreal enough that any explanation of the literal story can be refuted. Ultimately though it’s asking if it is a tragedy, or a story of timeless redemption. Is heaven on Earth? This movie raises a lot of fun questions about who we are, who/what we are from, and of who/what we will become a part. Not just anyone can watch this movie and understand it. If you are open minded and looking for a meditative experience, the powerful journey that is ‘The Fountain’ cannot be overstated. From the semen like sap of the ‘Tree of Life’ to the use of rings to convey deeper meanings and the 3 interwoven love stories, this movie is a masterpiece of symbolism and spirituality. This movie is not about a man’s quest to save the woman he loves, it is about Man’s quest for truth and enlightenment but through the inevitable path of his own selfish desires for everlasting life and fear of death.

Number 1.  –  The Lord of the Rings

What defines a fantastic trilogy; a captivating beginning, mesmerizing middle, and an epic end! J.R.R. Tolkien has made some of the most memorable fantasy books and one of his most famous works was the Lord of the Rings trilogy that still to this day is claimed to be one of the most read books in the world. In the past, there has been plenty of animated film adaptation from the books but they never seem to show the full story of the Lord of the Rings nor have they completed the saga. For a long time, fans of the novels dreamed about a true live-action the Lord of the Rings movie and thus a director named Peter Jackson came to fulfill that promise. He made it in ways that the film was intended to be, not in just one movie, but rather three separate entrées in order of the trilogy; first being The Fellowship of the Ring, the Two Towers, and the Return of the King. And each and every one of them stayed true to each novel with a little addition of few to minor changes. Saying which one is the best is anyone’s personal pick, but there’s no argument that all three of films are one as a whole. The saga is about one of the toughest tasks to do in throwing the one ring in the Volcano of Mordor to end all evil and for that being the toughest task is to go through the dangers, obstacles, wars, and evils that forbids the ring from being destroyed. This is a bigger-than-life quest and an epic battle against ultimate good versus ultimate evil. For the first film we are introduced to the ring in which Frodo and his friends begin their journey in destroying the one ring in joining with the Fellowship. In the Two Towers, the fellowship is disbanded, but the journey has not yet ended having all of our heroes separated to seek help against the power army of Sauron. Then in the Return of the King retains everything good from its predecessors and delivers an phenomenal conclusion. All the characters in these movies had to endure so numerous terrain, trauma, battles, and tragic events in order to finally destroy the one ring. The beautiful cinematography and directing gave us the full visualization of all of Middle Earth, and Peter Jackson captures the heart and soul of Tolkien’s masterpiece and fulfills the world of Middle Earth while simultaneously delivering a legendary tale of orcs, warriors, magic, and characters. The best quality of the Lord of the Rings is the accessibility and its presentation. Each & every one of those scene in the whole trilogy is significant, groundbreaking, and biblical. Whether if you’re a long time fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work or casual movie goer, this movie pleases all!

The Top Listed Movies of the 2000s

10)     9)     8)  

         7)     6)     5)  

 4)     3)     2)  

1)   1 

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Top 10 Movies of 2009


Number 10.  –  Star Trek

J.J. Abrams brings his A-Game to directing this re-imaginging of the beloved “Star Trek” Universe of films and tv series’. With a story that is not anything new, it is told brilliantly in this film, which makes it so much better. The visuals are out of this world insane, and the casting choices are absolutely perfect. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto share some of the best on-screen chemistry in recent years, portraying the leads of Kirk and Spock. Eric Bana is also impressive as Nero, the villain, who may be one-dimentional, but his acting ability brings his character to new heights. This is a very well-directed and well-produced reboot and one of my personal favourite “Star Trek” films ever made. I loved it from start to finish and I just wanted more when the credits started. Highly recommended for Trekkies of the old generations and regular film fans alike.  The last 10 years have been big on reboots and remakes, and this is one of, if not, the best of them all. It took something that when I was younger I considered boring, and made it enthralling, interesting, and very entertaining. I know some big trekkies that really liked it, but had a lot of hang ups on some issues. But then again all reboots will have that. If you haven’t watched this or any “Trek” movies, IMO, this is a great jumping off point. It made me want to go back and watch some of the older movies, and excited for the future films. Great movie, worth a watch or a revisit.


Number 9.  –  Avatar

James Cameron was once regarded as the thinking man’s action director. Along with Paul Verhoeven, he was the man you could turn to if you wanted to argue that action movies didn’t have to be stupid, obnoxious or driven entirely by special effects. Whether it was the time paradoxes of the Terminator series or the gender politics of Aliens, you were pretty certain to both thrilled and in some small way challenged by a James Cameron action movie. A related problem with Avatar is that it is drinking from not one, but two poisoned chalices. In other words, it is attempting to tackle two kinds of stories which American filmmaking has been historically inept at telling: stories about American settlers encountering natives, and stories about Man destroying the environment. Disney’s Pocahontas is contrived and misjudged, Dances with Wolves is stony-faced and often dull, and even Terrence Malick came a cropper when he attempted a revisionist Pocahontas tale with The New World. And that’s before we get to the long parade of bad environmental films, including Once Upon A Forest, Ferngully and A Troll in Central Park. If the film was merely so predictable, this could be tolerated. If the story and characters brought nothing new to the table, we could accept Avatar as a generic but technically accomplished genre piece and move on. But the cliché-ridden story is made worse by how long and baggy the film is, taking more than two-and-a-half hours to tell a story that would barely stretch to an hour. Cameron cut his teeth under exploitation maestro Roger Corman, but ever since Piranha II he has steadily spurned the master’s training about efficient storytelling on a low budget. An amazing spectacle, but a dull story. Exotic animals and amazing sights can keep one entertained only so long, and this movie heavily leans on that for two hours and thirty minutes.

Number 8.  –  Sherlock Holmes

Holmes is back, and he’s reincarnate for the twenty-first century. Robert Downey Jr. plays the charming and unique detective as he is thrown into a conspiracy by his “forever” love. Great storyline, compeling characters, and interesting directing, Sherlock Holmes will keep you entertained to the last scene. Sherlock Holmes is a stylistic take on a classic character, and it really works. As Lord Blackwood rises from his grave, he is on the loose, creating many obstacles for Holmes (and his partner Watson) to beat. The story is very well told, the writing is perfect, the cinematography is noticeably well-crafted, and the action is pretty good. The only downfall of this film is that the characters are already in pursuit and know what they are doing, we never really get backstories for either of the leads, which would have been a very nice touch. At times the film seems to drag on, but in the end, it is a very entertaining and action-packed, “old-time” detective picture. Sherlock Holmes is a hit! However, there is something quite bothersome about yet updated addition to Sherlock Holmes. It wasn’t exactly going at a speedy pace, and didn’t hesitate to occasionally drag on. It has been a few years, and maybe I’d enjoy it now, but most recollection of it was that it was long and tiresome.


Number 7.  –  Moon

I’m so fascinated by this movie. It is trying to be a lot like 2001, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It comes nowhere close, but it’s in the same general area. It’s one of those thought provoking and intellgient sci-fi films that are more about existential issues and not visceral mayhem. In a way, this is a welcome relief. The movie does feel a little underbaked though, but the potential for greatness is definitely there. There is a lack of scientific realism, and the movie kind of feels a little pointless and inconsequential, but there’s some interesting stuff going on here. Don’t expect it to be realistic, and try to be cool with a fair amount of filler, and you’ll probably like this movie. There’s not much plot, and not much action, but that didn’t bother me. It has a dark unnerving atmosphere to it, and mood and tension are the main proprieties here anyway. The visual scheme and set direction are really nice, and Sam Rockwell does a great job. He basically has to. He’s gotta carry the whole film essentially. Kevin Spacey lends his voice, but he’s not heard as much as you might think. This is not a film for everyone. Like I said, there’s a good amount of filler, it’s not super slow, but it’s not fast paced, either. Also, not a lot happens, and most of the focus is on one guy being bored and getting involved with an eerie mystery. If you want a different type of sci-fi movie though, then check this one out. It’s a spiritual relative to movies like 2001 and Solaris, but it’s a bit more accessible.

Number 6.  –  The Road

The Road is such a bleak and depressing movie to watch and it should be. The world that the father-son characters are put into is as bleak as any I have seen in a movie. The two characters move south and must watch out for cannibals and have to be suspicious of everyone. They search for food and are lucky when they are able to find crumbs on an old diners table. There’s very little happiness to be found in The Road. For a majority of the running time, nothing much happens. A father and son walk through a desolate America in search for coast line and from there, who knows. They have to battle the elements, their hunger and the few survivors they encounter. All they have is each other and a pistol with two bullets in it. The film does have some absolutely devastating scenes; one of which almost brought me to tears and I don’t tear up easily from movies. The Road at a huge effect on me. As I watched this movie, I realized just how nice I have it and that I wouldn’t last a day trying to live the way these characters do. Much like the Proposition, this is a feel bad film. The dread that Hillcoat is able to convey is extremely powerful. But don’t expect it to not ruin your evening.


Number 5.  –  The Princess And The Frog

This movie is without a doubt one of my favourites even if it is a relatively new one. I prefer 2D animation to 3D and have always thought that Disney did it better when they did it old school. Aside from the throw back to the old animantion style, it was genuinely refreshing to see the heroine of the story (who stereotypically did become a princess at the end, as we all expected) was a well rounded, hard working woman with the independence and drive to actually do something rather than sleep all day in a tower waiting for her happily ever after to come looking for her. I loved all the characters, as well as the music and setting. This film feels like a classic Disney film in every way, but incorporates a new southern twist to an old tale. The animation is really enjoyable and keeps to it’s traditional style and although the story line is predictable, it’s what you expect from a Disney film; a happily ever after.

Number 4.  –  Inglorious Basterds

Quentin Tarantino returns with the story of the Basterds, a group of Jewish soldiers performing guerilla warfare and terror tactics behind enemy lines to strike fear into the hearts of German soldiers during World War II. Inglourious Basterds is a very difficult film to pigeonhole. It’s part Jewish revenge fantasy, part gung ho war film, part knowing parody of patriotic flag wavers and 100% Tarantino. His trademark patchwork of styles and references is as evident as ever; the opening scenes are pure Leone, turns into The Dirty Dozen and then zig zags off on tangents all over the place. It’s impossible not to enjoy a film with this premise (unless you are a closet Fourth Reicher or member of the BNP) and Brad Pitt’s hilarious send up of a hick war hero is almost as good as Christoph Waltz’s high camp evil Sherlock Holmes (complete with pipe). But I’d have to say much of the film that does not feature these two could’ve stood for some judicious pruning and very oddly for a Tarantino film, the soundtrack sometimes just did not work. Unlike the likes of Lucas and Cameron though, Tarantino is a pure film fan’s film maker so when he gets too self indulgent, it is with the direction, dialogue and characters rather than visual bullshit and so even at their worst his films are always interesting and of merit.

Number 3.  –  Zombieland

This movie has many things I love: it’s a zombie movie, it’s a road movie, it’s a horror comedy, it’s gory, but at the same time, it has some substance, but it’s not overbearing. Mostly this movie is just really fun and hugely entertaining, which is probably the most important factor. The script is decent, and contains the right amount of wit and quirk without seeming derivative. There’s sone real cleverness with the title sequence and the presentation of Columbus’ “rules”-they are flashy, yet remain the punctuation, not the sentence. The performances are great. Each player is perfect for their respective roles. Jesse Eisenberg rivals only Michael Cera for the king of deadpan geeky quirk. Harrelson is having the time of his life, and Stone and Breslin prove that chicks can be pretty and kick ass, too. It isn’t for me as good as Romero’s stuff or Shaun of the Dead, but it takes the best from each camp, and makes it into its own little thing. The wonderful not quite a surprise cameo around the middle definitely serves as the cherry on top of a beautiful mound of ice cream, but the soundtrack kicks much ass as well- especially the usage of one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands during the opening credits sequence.

Number 2.  –  District 9

When a malfunctioning alien spaceship strands over a million of its inhabitants on Earth, they find an unlikely champion in the shape of a previously self serving weapons manufacturer exec who starts to metamorphose into one of them after exposure to an unknown chemical. District 9’s plot takes a lot of cues from cult 80s sci-fi, most obviously the racism allegory of Alien Nation and the genetic mutation premise from Cronenberg’s The Fly. However, unlike something like Doomsday which simply ripped off old films with no wit or subtlety, this film actually develops upon its ideas. The production design is fantastic and the action sequences extremely well done, particularly the brilliantly handled climactic battle and the film has a great deal of momentum that meant I enjoyed it more and more as it went on. But easily the strongest aspect of the film is Sharlto Copley’s central performance who is quite brilliant as the selfish corporate bastard who unwillingly finds a cause to fight for. It would have been nice to learn more about what happened to the ship and the aliens in the first place and why these obviously technologically advanced creatures had degenerated into a bunch of filthy, scavenging animals but as a whole it is a hugely enjoyable piece of action sci-fi with an intelligent twist. This film is quite an achievement. It ranks up there with Blade Runner, The Matrix, and some of Paul Verhoeven’s works as one of the best sci-fi action films loaded with substance. Take the substance away (specifically the socio-political, racism, Apartheid type stuff), and this would still be a decent action film. Adding in all of that heavy stuff makes it more than just a fun piece of entertainment. With that stuff, it retains its entertainment value, and also avoids being too heavy handed, preachy, or pretentious. When you really look at this movie in broad terms, it is true that it borrows from some classic tropes, but it puts it’s own neat spin on things, so I think that can be forgiven. Definitely give this a watch.


Number 1.  –  Watchmen

Since the comic book/graphic novel was released, we all were skeptical of even having a Watchmen movie because of the fact that it’s impossible for movies to adapt comic’s most important treasure. We needed to wait 2 decades in order for the technology to even visualize the story told in this comic book. In a matter of fact, I actually like movie more so than the comic book it was adapting. They took a way the stupid squid (made for shock factor) and even the ridiculous Tales of the Black Freighter side-story that is unnecessary. Based on the Alan Moore graphic novel, Watchmen is set in an alternate reality where costumed “heroes” were created as state-sanctioned vigilantes to fight the mob and who helped the US win the Vietnam war and get tricky Dicky elected for 5 successive terms as president. Another superhero movie with a difference it sticks firmly to the moral grey areas, showing these “heroes” as human and fallible; who is the more heroic, a violent sociopath obsessed with punishment through vengeance or an emotionally detached self-appointed guardian willing to sacrifice millions of lives for “the greater good”…? The core of the film is provided by charismatic anti-hero Rorschach’s Noir style investigation into the murder of fascistic black ops hero The Comedian, set to the backdrop of a skewed history and political situation which all makes for very interesting viewing and tinges the usual big budget spectacle with a nicely grimy undercurrent. Snyder is hardly the most insightful of directors but his stylized visuals work perfectly here thanks to the wealth of intelligent ideas and interesting characters supplied by a source material that is very visual in essence. Definitely up with the best of the modern style hero movies, Watchmen is intelligent, dark and although I wouldn’t describe it as “exciting”, it’s perfectly paced over its 2 and a half hour length. Considered by most to be unfilmable, Snyder has managed to pull off a bit of a coup with this one and created a superhero film that ranks amongst the best. In a matter of fact, films in the 2000’s is recognized as the renaissance of comic book movies, but in my humble opinion, the genre built itself from mediocre films into the magnum opus of comic book movies with Watchmen!

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Top 10 Movies of 2008


Number 10.  –  Pineapple Express

A classic, best pothead film in a long time. Stoner Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) is a insurance salesman who on one of his sales he witnesess a murder, and the first place he goes after is his friend and his weed supplier Saul (James Franco). The rest of the film the two have a hilarious journey as they get high, escape the killers, and try not to f#ck up everything. The plot was so dumb but thats the point, the characters are the true star of the movie. James Franco and Seth Rogen are amazing together, they should team up for movies. Overall I liked this film a lot, funniest movie in a long time. The characters could have been played by anyone as no actor in the film were able to express what they can actually do. Such as Seth Rogen, the central protaganist. Despite this Pineapple Express has belly aching laughs and sometimes emotion.

Number 9.  –  Kung Fu Panda

My expectations were pretty low considering Dreamwork’s downfall, but giving it a shot was entertainment delight. A greatly detailed animation film that is full of fun. You can tell when an animation film has had a lot of time, care and thought put into it. The quality of the lighting, shadows, reflections and even fur are up there with the best animations. It’s bright and colourful as well to appeal to the kids. Didn’t notice the strong voice cast until the credits came up including Jackie Chan, to have all of them in one film is impressive, in an animated film even more so. Outrageously entertaining! Jack Black, along with the rest of the voice cast, does an incredible job of making us believe that these animals are actually part of a kung fu team. I loved this movie from beginning to end. The witty humour, the hidden adult humour, the fight sequences, the visuals, and the storytelling, are all small parts that come together to make this movie one to remember. Dreamworks has definitely hit it’s mark in super-stardom. Common sense has just been kicked into me and I am ready for so much more. This movie is just not enough. Kung Fu Panda is incredible!!!

Number 8.  –  Zack & Miri Make A Porno

Not your average crude comedy, Zack and Miri is at heart a very realistic and sentimental love story between two friends who are governed by the age old adage of sex ruining friendship. The main characters are best friends living in the worst of conditions, no respect from their friends, peers, or co-workers, but are each lovable in an off the wall kind of way. The beginning is raunchy but very down to earth with the portrayals of the degenerate characters living in Pittsburgh, working blue collar and never making rent. Highlights include a great scene with Justin Long, who plays a character I could never see him as in my mind’s eye, paired with the gorgeous Brandon Routh. The second half turns into a tangled web between the protagonists as they maneuver the idiocy of false pride. There are some very dirty sequences, and some scenes only added for the fact that it’s about pornographic films, but there’s only one that crosses the line into puke worthy, and I personally found it hilarious, if not oddly placed and virtually unneeded. The ending itself was convoluted, and though funny at times was a waste of film to explain pretenses that no one cares about. Still, it’s hard to create such romance and sincere love between two people in the midst of absurdity, and that’s what this film accomplished. Not for everyone, but certainly hilarious in high doses.

Number 7.  –  The Hurt Locker

Gripping, intense, and extremely well-acted, “The Hurt Locker” shows the war like never before. Jeremy Renner is in his breakout performance, which will eventually lead him to superstardom. As we follow a bomb-defusing team, we are placed in events that seem so real you will be on the edge of your seat, hoping for our cast to make it out alive. I give Kathryn Bigelow a standing ovation for outstanding direction. A phenomenal achievement. This movie is created perfectly; the editing, the cinematography… Kathryn Bigelow brings us into the tense and dangerous environment of these characters. You can grasp the tension that this movie throws at you. HOWEVER, I do not agree this deserves best picture or best screenplay. The dialogue is awful. And though this movie was directed to a perfection, the plot was not engaging enough. When there were action scenes, the audience would be in that exact situation, panting and sweating just like the characters, but when the plot advanced, there was a disconnection due to many different factors. Overall, I highly recommend this great but flawed movie.


Number 6.  –  The Boy in Striped Pajamas

World War II’s greatest horror as seen from the eyes of an innocent child. Quite a riveting drama, with magnificent acting all-around. The subject is really nothing new, but it has a fresh-thinking approach on how it takes us through it’s story. Placing focus on the children, and their reactions to the strange and unfathomable actions by the adults around them, is a brilliant concept that made the film all the more engaging. For authenticity’s sake, I would have prefer a German cast over a British one, but I suppose you can’t get everything. The movie during the holocaust and is about a young boy who after he moves to another town because of his fathers promotion in the Nazi army, the boy discovers his fathers concentration camp. There he sits on the outside of the fence talking to a young Jewish boy on the inside, and two people who are supposed to be enemies become friends, but what happens in the end will test each ithers loyalty, trust, and ultimate friendship. I found the plot to be amazing, truly showing how a naive child would witness World War 2 and the Holocaust. The young actors are great and live up to the amazing acting of the adults. At any rate, however, this a beautifully executed motion picture, with many powerful and heart-rending moments. Be sure not to miss it, because it’s one of the best of its kind.

Number 5.  –  Wall-E

“Wall-E” is not just your average loveable Pixar film, but it also has the brains and a realistic tone to go along with it. As a world is stripped of everything, a banned wasteland remains with a little robot to re-inhabit the earth. It shows what life could really be like in a thousand years from now, with a society that is corrupt on technology, becoming fat and run by computers, having no relation to the outside world. When opportunity presents itself, the story then becomes a mission to repopulate the earth. There are so many symbols for adults to notice and appreciate what their childhood was like, and so many symbols that this generation to snap out of and notice as well. Forget great Pixar film, this is just a great science-fiction film period. The title character and Eve make for a cute duo. Kids will enjoy the charmingly funny antics while adults will be taken in by the film’s surprisingly dark and biting social commentary (obesity, commercialism, environmentalism). Every scene from the desolate Earth to the vastness of space bursts with some of the most beautiful animation committed to film. The robot characters are well-designed and manage to be endearing with very little dialogue. ‘Wall-E’ is a heartwarming love story combined with a great sci-fi tale and it remains a testament to why Pixar is one of the best things to ever happen to cinema.

Number 4.  –  Iron Man

Jon Favreau’s Iron Man is a terrific and highly thrilling superhero action film. This is a brilliant film with a stellar cast and a well crafted plot. Robert Downey Jr. is perfect in the role of Tony Stark, and he brings charm to his performance, which really makes it unique. The film is packed with memorable action that reinvents the genre after many bad movies such as Daredevil and Cat Woman. This film brought the genre back in top form, and is certainly one of the best recent superhero films. The appeal of the film lies in the performances, the choice of actors], story and well crafted action. Favreau’s direction is terrific and he is able to craft something highly engaging from start to finish. Where other superhero films have failed, Iron Man has succeeded. The aspect that stands out the most about the film is the action that is well executed. This is a must see action film that is among the finest superhero films in the last ten years. Along with Nolan’s Batman trilogy and a few others such as V for Vendetta, The Avengers and Watchmen, this one is definitely worth checking out and is sure to deliver the thrills that you’d expect from a well made movie. This is a near flawless film that I really enjoyed from the first moment on, and if you’re looking for an outstanding film, then this one is the one to watch. What makes this one work is the well thought out script and the varied talent involved in the project. An aspect that I really enjoyed was seeing Jeff Bridges as the villain, it was nice to see him playing a different type of character this time around, and he really did a great job. Iron Man is not a perfect film, but it manages to a well structured superhero film that proves, that when it’s done right, the end result is an impressive and memorable picture that will delight comic book fans.


Number 3.  –  The Dark Knight

If you ignore the hype surrounding the film and its reputation of being the best superhero film ever made, it’s a pretty solid film that’s almost ruined by the idiotic fanbase who threatens others who says otherwise. he level of sophistication in this movie and its adult themes leave all other movies in the genre in the genre. The intertwining character arcs propel the plot. The most heartbreaking of these is the fall of Harvey Dent, played by Aaron Eckhart. Batman (Christian Bale) and Gordon (Gary Oldman) complete a triad of “good” characters who are forever changed by the mechinations of the Joker, played by the phenomenal Health Ledger. Ledger is not just acting; he is channeling something very dark and frightening. What makes this one of the greatest movies of all time is the full repertoire of emotions, tones, and themes that Nolan deftly constructs into a complex journey without an easy ending. There are scenes of suspense and tension as horrifying as anything in horror, exhilarating chase scenes, several moments of thoughtful reflection, difficult decisions made by complex characters, heartbreaking losses, witty humor, the best moments between Bruce and Alfred yet, an opening and an ending that flow smoothly and inevitably, and a bewildering number of themes grounded in the complexity of unfolding events in a huge modern city. It’s rare to see a movie so enjoyably stunning, dramatic and still possessing a complicated plot which silences audiences. It was clever, shocking, dark and just complex and dramatic enough to blow you away. .


Number 2.  –  Let The Right One In 

While yes, this is a “vampire” film, it’s not really a vampire film in a typical sense. It’s more like a romantic study of loneliness, friendship, and the pains of adolescence, with some occasional gruesomeness. Think of vampirism as more of a metaphor. Is this a horror film? Only in an unconventional sense. As with the vampire connection, look at it as more of a drama with some moments of intensity. Atmosphere, mood, and tone are the real stars here. This is a quiet, small, and brooding film. The Swedish setting fits vibe perfectly. I loved the look and the camera work here. While this film is okay to watch anytime, it works best if you watch it on a cold, dark, and eerie winter day- it really heightens the mood. Great cinematography and a haunting score help to provide a high quality vampire film experience. There’s an odd tenderness in this nightmarish experience. An unsettling combination. Many plot points come across as subtle instead of being thrust in your face. This is sort of a play on the romance horror angle of vampire lore. Worth your time. An incredibly sweet, unusual love story, one of the only great ones I can remember or care about. The film focuses on a strong bond that develops between a young boy who is terrorized by bullies and a mysterious girl who is in fact a vampire. The girl entrusts the aid of an adult guardian to find blood that can keep her alive. The film is incredibly done, while the bleak feel of the Swedish countryside wonderfully adds to the film’s plot and setting. Director Tomas Alfredson adds a great story between the two main characters, while both actors have terrific chemistry. The film is haunting and beautiful, while also proving that the vampire genre is not dead.

Number 1.  –  Waltz with Bashir

This is the VERY FIRST animated documentary that artfully accounts the filmmaker’s forgotten, but haunting memory of the 1982 Lebanon War, Sabra and Shatila Massacre. Ugly history presented with irresistible creativity and charm; a strong and powerful work that explores the psychological trauma by warfare and does it much better than any war film ever created. This film is so goddamn creative by making such build up with the director of the documentary, Ari Folman, as himself animated interviewing as many veterans of the 1982 Labanon War as possible to piece out the stories and remember what did he do in the war that haunted him for years. The film uses a striking combination of frame-by-frame and computer generated animation to create a powerful and at times surreal portrayal of war and the way memory plays tricks on the mind. I love the fact that this film is animated because they were able to animate all the war stories told by these veterans. In fact, it was impossible to get any live-action footage of this war (except for the end sequence) this film took the perfect opportunity to use animation because this is the prime example that you can literally do anything with animation. There were a lot of scenes that were impossible to capture in live-action but Waltz managed to put display all it can with its unique usage of CGI animation. No way on Earth could a live-action movie could be done like this, ever! This film is so in-depth into the structure of this war that it’s nearly a psychological thriller due to the presentation of the traumas of these veterans. As you watch this film it really does open your eyes on its unrelenting and very powerful (yet very disturbing) messages. Waltz With Bashir is an animated documentary (possibly made out of guilt) that really is a life-changing experience. I mean there were so many entertaining and mesmerizing war stories being told and right after Ari Folman pieced everything out and remembered what happened at the end, I swear no one could see it coming. Waltz with Bashir is definitely a film where the more you think about it, the more and more you’ll feel appreciative it, not only what this film did in telling us about this war that not that many people today ever heard of, but also what it did to animation in general for going an extra mile, period!

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Top 10 Movies of 2007

Number 10.  –  Enchanted

The animated scenes were more appealing than the live-action part of the film. (Sigh) I miss traditionally drawn animation. As a film in it’s own standards, it was a decent animated to live-action flick that pokes fun on the Disney traditional princess that Feminists and critics have raved for years. Starting off predictable in it’s own fairytale world, “Enchanted” makes you believe that you about to enter a classic disney fable, whether you like it or not. It even seems that way when the characters enter our world, until the self-awareness and hilarity ensues. About halfway through this film is when I started to believe this was going to be a great film. “Enchanted is very well-written and the story (although predictable) is very charming and a blast to watch. As predictable as it is, it seems fresh in almost every way. I really really liked this film. Beautiful Disney movie about a girl called Giselle waiting for her prince. The characters cross from animation into reality. My fave scene is in the park when everyone starts singing and dancing together like at a Disneyland parade. Great cast and interesting storyline. It reminds me of Who Framed Roger Rabbit where toons and humans mix.

Number 9.  –  Into The Wild

Into the Wild is one of those movies that has so much heart at the core of its story. It’s a story of following a path that you choose for yourself and not the one that society tries to dictate for you. It’s the story of Christopher McCandless and a true one at that. The film is beautiful and just pure joy to watch. I love these type of movies where we follow an interesting man on a journey. The journey in this one is pretty epic too. It takes us from South Dakota to Arizona, from Mexico to Alaska. Along the way we meet hippies, a beautiful girl that falls for Chris, and an old man that learns to love Chris as his own grandchild. Into the Wild is a must see film and one of my personal favorites. I could watch this movie over and over again, and have as much passion for the story as I did the first time. This should definitely be on the list of films that you need to see before you die, because if you don’t, you’re certainly missing out on a full blown masterpiece.

Number 8.  –  The Bourne Ultimatum

The Bourne Supremacy is one of the most disappointing sequels of the 2000s, so I was expecting Bourne Ultimatum to not deliver the goods. Thankfully I was wrong. The Bourne Ultimatum focuses on Jason Bourne trying to piece together the mystery of his past and he’s being hunted down by the same organization that hired him. The movie is unbelievable intense. The pace is faster and the first scene of the movie just puts you directly into what’s going on. There’s almost no stop to whatever goes on in the movie. My main area of praise for the Bourne movies is how perfectly the action and non-action scenes are balanced out. There’s more action this time around, but I’m not complaining. The car chases are exciting and the fight scenes are nothing short of awesome. My favorite fight scene of the trilogy is in this movie and it’s when Bourne is fighting with Desh. You get to see the exhaustion, the frustration, the blood, the sweat, everything that makes the fight so realistic. It’s also a fight scene with a lot of tension. Desh absolutely pummels Bourne in the fight and it’s one of the best fight scenes since Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indiana Jones is fighting the Nazi Hulk Hogan by the german plane. This review is going to be shorter than the other two because I feel like I’m constantly repeating myself when I praise these movies. There’s not a lot to say about them without being repetetive. The action is excellent, the acting’s great, the intrique is well executed, the dialogue is well written, the pace is fast and The Bourne Ultimatum is my favorite Bourne movie and one of my favorite action movies ever. I will see The Bourne Legacy tomorrow and I can only hope it lives up to the rest of the trilogy.


Number 7.  –  The Simpsons Movie

Some reason, The Simpsons just isn’t funny anymore. It’s perhaps because they weren’t edgy and too many writers have changed the characters to turn away many of its long time fans. The movie however was the series’ saving grace. This is, by far, the funniest movie I have ever seen. Funnier than Dumb & Dumber. Funnier than Bean. Funnier than anything I have ever seen. The Simpsons Movie is probably the first movie to have a laugh-out-loud funny joke pretty much every minute… I meant that LITERALLY. This is just as funny (if not, funnier) than the TV show (Which I do really like), and is just… funny. I’m finding it pretty hard to write this comment for the fact that the more I type, the more I remember from the movie… so I keep stopping to mentally laugh and embrace how well the creators did in making this movie. The story is also excellent. There are many references to popular culture items. Harry Potter, Spider-man, Green Day, and even Grand Theft Auto make there appearances, as well as many, many others. There are even some famous actors that make there display, like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom Hanks.

Number 6.  –  Zodiac

I understand it’s hard to love David Fincher’s “Zodiac”, a three hour procedural drama about one of the most notoriously unsolved murder sprees in American crime history; but it’s something that I found uncommonly compelling. Fincher’s film is all about atmosphere. He takes such care in crafting the time periods and presenting the accurate facts that there is always something to see, hear and feel. The theme of obsession is the string running all the characters and events together, proving to be the most powerful motive for murder or salvation. The film is wonderfully acted by Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr and Mark Ruffalo and the groundbreaking period digital photography is gorgeous. I think what people fail to notice with “Zodiac” is that this is not a serial killer film. This is a zeitgeist film about a time in American crime where everything was in flux and psychology was demanding a seat at the table. It was such an abstract concept for these cops at the time that denying it meant having this mystery stay unsolved forever. “Zodiac” is engaging and unique.


Number 5.  –  The Mist

The Mist is a great horror movie another another great adaption that Frank Darabont has done on a Stephen King story, but they are not as great as his previous adaptions. The story follows a group of people hiding in a supermarket from a mist that has something hiding in it that may be the end of the world. The plot of this film is about surviving, although we have seen that kind of movie before this is one of the few to get it right, it was cool seeing the different kinds of reactions to this experience and how some people have denial to what is going on, but most importantly of the fear that there is no hope, it has a variety of characters that each have their own personalities and it made the story even better, a very well done story and I enjoyed it. The cast is probably my biggest problem , its not that they were bad but the problem was that their really was no performance that touched me or made me grow to care for them which I have done in previous Darabont films, its not that I saw bad performances, just not very memorable ones. The special effects were pretty good, the monster effects were about as good as I expected and I enjoyed it. The Mist is a movie that people will enjoy, some people do not enjoy the supernatural survivor films like this and War of the Worlds, I do not always enjoy them either like the film The Happening which I hated. But overall it was a film that many people will enjoy and some will hate, as for me i enjoyed it but it just did not live up to the genius of past Darabont films.

Number 4.  –  No Country For Old Men

The Coen Brothers were set out to make one of the most realistic movie experiences on the big screen. That means no music, no CGI effects, no over acting, and no over the top scenes. So how on Earth is this film going to be good? Most thrillers maybe entertaining but ‘No Country For Old Men’ invites its audiences right into the story, creating an incredibly tense, clever piece topped with black humour on the side. But every component of the film is mastered to a particular thriller style, in a very Coen way. The normalities of any Coen piece are there, with the memorable storyline, complicated twists and turns and well above average cinematography. However the enticing poetic nature of the film is what makes it stand above the rest and pull you ever deeper into the character’s lives, both normal and abnormal. The Coen’s brother collection of films make it hard to point definitely to just one as their unchallenged masterpiece, but in the ranks of their greatest films, as well as some of the finest cinema to come out of America in years, ‘No Country For Old Men’ ranks at the top.

Number 3.  –  Hot Fuzz

If Shaun of the Dead satires Zombie-horror flicks, Hot Fuzz satires Buddy-cop action flicks. Unlike other satire films that parodies other films, Hot Fuzz loves the films that it’s mocking and I admire everyone who worked on this film for that. Throughout the entire film, Hot Fuzz is filled with really ingenious humor that does indeed references action-flicks and as well uses its own humor. Whatever happens in the film, it will bring that situation back with a great punchline after another. Unlike other spoof/parody films, this film puts a lot of effort of creating its own story and yet not missing its criteria of mocking the buddy cop movies. Sgt. Nicholas Angel is station to the town of Stanford due to the fact that he’s so good as a cop that he’s making the police force in London look bad. Ridding him was an excuse to make him not look so great, but as he makes it to Stanford, Angel notices a lot going wrong with the town. The police force in Stanford are all lazy and dimwitted, hardly anyone is obeying the law, and a mysterious serial killer is making numerous of murders and made it look like it’s an accident. Nicolas Angel is the only policeman that takes his job more seriously than every one else in the force only to be teamed up with Sgt. Danny Butterman who’s obsessed with action flicks. While both of these characters are getting used to each other, they’re in a serious case on the mysterious killer murdering citizens of Sandford. The build up is great because it is all preparing the audience for a huge punchline as well as great surprises that no one could expect. All the way to the end of the film it leads off with some of the coolest action scenes in film history but never forgets about the gags on Bad Boys II and Point Break. It’s funny that Angel didn’t have any time for Danny’s interests in action films but suddenly it turns into one. So following the story for once in a comedy felt like it’s a fantastic story uncovering the secret of Sanford and as well brings out some of the best jokes I’ve ever seen in film. Hot Fuzz really is a rare occurrence to see such a great comedy film that isn’t afraid to spare any expense with its comedy and writing and all the effort that was put on this film deserves to be remembered at the best of the 2000’s.

Number 2.  –  There Will Be Blood

God, what a heavy film. It’s a disturbing and weird and fascinating character study that is just out there, but extremely compelling. Even though this is a brilliant masterpiece, parts of it feel a tad forced and hollow, but that’s only a minor issue since the point of the film is characters and themes. It’s a character study about greed, ambition, family, ruthlessness, and insanity. This is more art than anything. As for the plot, well, it’s kinda hard to nail down exactly, but, in broad strokes, it’s about a ruthless oil prospector, and the clashes he has with a local preacher as he strives to strike it rich in California during the early days of the oil industry (late 1890s-late 1920s). Day-Lewis’s performance enters the history books after the first half hour. After the conclusion, the film follows suit. The camerawork here is thematically driven and hypnotic in a way that evokes Kubrick or Coppola. Any minor flaws in the script are dwarfed by haunting and grand beauty and physical craftsmanship, poignant exploration of timeless themes, and Day-Lewis’s mammoth performance. Relentless, strange, and sad, Anderson’s opus depicts human nature in all its contradictions, while also showing an America that, even a century later, has not changed how it operates.

Number 1.  –  Persepolis

Throughout the 1990’s we American depict people from the Middle East as terrorist and dangerous people, then in 2000’s, we fear them because of the event in 9/11. We Americans are easily judgmental and lack the view-point of understanding one’s culture while we all only focus our own. I’m pretty sure that there have been a lot of films & books that tried to convince the world that people from the Middle East are civilized as to any other country, but they never got a world wide attention. That is until two graphic novels was released in France in 2000 by author/artist, Marjane Satrapi who showed the world her own life in Iran and it was very different than what we were told by the media. Then seven years later, she finally made her own masterpiece into the big screen that easily showed the world of cinema what her life in Iran is like and how did it feel like being a fugitive carrying the nationality. Out of all the ways you can display the truth to the world, she made it into an animated film and from beginning to end, it was a wonderful & also a harsh experience. This is a black and white animated film that captures the feel that you read in graphic novels and even better is that Persepolis as a film took that perfect opportunity of telling Marjane’s life in a subtle manner. This was a very well crafted coming of age story where it started Marjane’s life as a child who grew up in the Iranian Revolution in the late 70’s to where she is at today. Marjane Satrapi took all the things she remembered the most in her life and displayed them all in the film. In her childhood she faced the issue of her uncle’s loss in the revolution, Iran politics, and religion. In her teen hood, she faced the issue with women’s rights, lack of freedom, education, and to flee from Iran. Then in her young adulthood, she’s faced the issue of cultural differences, flawed love life, and even trying to fit in the social life. All of these were chapters of her life and I loved that this film was very entertaining, rather than depressing or pretentious, throughout the film. The way Marjane Satrapi portrayed her life in Persepolis was not only just events that happened to her, but also she makes references to show us what her life was like back in the time. She was a fan of pop, metal, and alternative music, celebrity stars she and everyone else were into, and historic events that pops out of on the course of the film. I couldn’t believe how effective these pop cultural & historic references were whenever they show up to not only amuse the audience but also remind them that this once existed. Marjane didn’t force you to feel sorry for her, but instead she wanted the audience to connect with her as a person and at times as a realistic cartoon character whenever she makes a funny scene. But most of all, this is a film that offered me something special that I don’t see any other film that does it this well, and in a matter of fact, this is a film that I don’t see any other film that could possibly execute as well as Persepolis. I learned so much from this film and this is the very film that showed how special life really is.

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Top 10 Movies of 2006

Number 10.  –  The Prestige

A truly sophisticated and wondrous film that never loses its sparkle. With its multiple and mind challenging twists that are continuously debated over, a film that’s talked about like this is one that won’t be forgotten anytime soon. Aside from its superb story, The Prestige is packed with powerful performances; from the rising tension and competition between Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, to Scarlett Johansson being caught between the rivalry of the magicians, to the words of wisdom from Michael Caine and David Bowie as the infamous Nikola Tesla. This is one of Christopher Nolan’s better yet less recognized works that will never cease to grip its audience and continues to deliver one powerful show of revenge, mystery and the shocking choices that our rival leads are willing to make.

300Number 9.  –  300

300′ is a totally riveting masterpiece of film making. Zack Snyder, inspired by the graphic novel, has brought a 2487 year-old news story to life with people you really care about who are faced with choices between compromise and war that are all too familiar today. The breath-taking CGI images are flawlessly integrated with the live action. All the actors are excellent in their roles, and Butler IS Leonidas. The sound design is excellent. The score was recorded by the London Phil with a full chorus and is beautiful to listen to, but is very reminiscent of ‘Gladiator’ which detracts from the otherwise total originality of the film. This movie integrates the potentials of film-making and story-telling in a wonderful new way that is the best of both entertainment and artistic achievement. Though this film is largely style over substance, it does have some deeper themes and what not going through it, chiefly that of fascism. You root for the Spartans, and you’re rooting for fascism. Kinda like Starship Troopers though not quite as brilliant. The slow-mo gets a tad overused, and yeah, the Persians are undeniably portrayed as perhaps too fey and sibilant, but hell, this is fun, not art. I actually prefer this to the graphic novel it’s based on because this has much more story and depth.

The IllusionistNumber 8.  –  Illusionist

Though Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige was the big film dealing with magic in 2006, its competitor The Illusionist released the same year, is a well crafted film in the same style, but very different. Edward Norton yet again delivers an electrifying performance as illusionist Eisenheim. The Illusionist is a strong film with top notch performances aside from Norton. A surprisingly good performance is that of Jessica Biel as Duchess Sophie Von Teschen. She delivers the best performance of her career. The Illusionist is a strong film with a story full of twists and turns. The plot is surprising and its never what you really expect. Its really hard to compare The Illusionist with The Prestige because they’re two totally different films. But The Illusionist is a totally different story than The Prestige despite the fact that it uses magic as a plot device. The story here is incredible, beautiful, mysterious and suspenseful. People have said this is predictable, but I beg to defer. I thought the story had plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing till the very end. The Illusionist is a very entertaining film with a strong cast and despite the fact its a lesser film than The Prestige, this is still a worthy film to watch and enjoy. The Illusionist is one of Edward Norton’s best films and also the fact that it shows Jessica Biel giving a great performance gives her a lot more credibility as an actress. A must see film that brings on great amounts of thrills and mystery.

Number 7.  –  Silent Hill

For all those who say that all video game movies suck, allow me to introduce to you Silent Hill. If I were to make a list of the best video game movies, this adaptation from the video game series will be on the top of the list and still to this day there hasn’t been another video game movie that dominated it’s level of craftsmanship and faithfulness to it’s source material. As a long-time fan of the “Silent Hill” video games and a fan of video games in general, I have to acknowledge how amazingly rare it is for a film adaptation to be this faithful to the source material. This film delivers almost 100% fan-service in every way, which could also be seen as it’s biggest flaw – though I would argue that it has the capacity to entertain most non-game-affiliated horror fanatics who are good enough at paying close attention to it’s sometimes overlooked plot intricacies – nonetheless, it’s a fantastic piece of evidence to prove how good video game-based films can be when put in the right hands, unfortunately most of them aren’t.

Number 6.  –  Flags of Our Fathers / Letters From Iwo Jima

                

Extras on the four-disc collectors’ edition shed additional light on Clint Eastwood’s unique attempt to see both sides of a story in a double-header of films relating to the second world war conflict. Flags of Our Fathers is based on a book in which the son of one of the flag-raisers in the iconic photograph traces the story dad never told him. The book’s writer, James Bradley, gives an insight into a man whose role was to try to keep the wounded alive, exposing him to the grimmest experiences in a bloody battle. This was a task t
hat cost him five years of crying in his sleep, but Bradley never talked about it, even to his wife and son. With skillfully interspersed flashbacks and desaturated color in both Eastwood’s films, the stories seems both historical and immediate and the battle sequences are convincingly grueling. If the US tale is partly about the clash of showbiz and reality, the Japanese view is a sombre, fatalistic tale of inevitable defeat for doomed troops living in tunnels under a volcanic outcrop, and expected to fight to the death or commit suicide. Eastwood explains that the US went in expecting to take the island in four days, but the grim reality was a month of struggle that cost 6,000 US and 22,000 Japanese lives. As a pair, the films paint a grim but memorable picture of the last days of a war which had a clearer objective than any since. They are available together and separately.

Number 5.  –  A Scanner Darkly 

I never really liked Waking Life due to the fact that it wasn’t a movie, it was a lecture about life… A Scanner Darkly on the other hand IS a movie! This is a very dialogue driven film with some nice performances to back up the bizarre visual style. The final thing I’m going to note here is that Robert Downey Jr. absolutely steals the show. Every scene he is in is an absolute joy to watch and his character is easily one of the film’s biggest highlights. The first half is decent, but the second half manages to pick up the slack and kicks things into high gear. Definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but brilliant nevertheless. Such a cool movie with some truly amazing visuals. It doesn’t feel like an animated movie, but a drug inhibited story seen through its protagonist’s eyes. Keanu Reeves and Robert Downey Jr. are both perfect in their roles and give legitimacy to what might have been seen as a cartoon movie with no substance. The manipulation of reality is so effective and it’s what makes Philip K. Dick’s story all the more convincing. It’s one of the most ambitious ways to tell a pretty non-flashy sci-fi story and for the most part, it’s flawless. I wouldn’t get too bogged down in the fact its a sci fi or based in the future because apart from one story hook and plot line. There is very little to give the impression of a futuristic movie. The element which you can argue about is the layers of animation (I don’t know what type of animation this is either) but the whole way through you are watching a very surreal yet very down to earth approach to ordinary peoples lives in a drastic build up to an ending.


Casino RoyaleNumber 4.  –  Casino Royale

Similar to how Batman series have turned into the wrong direction and redeemed itself with a reboot, James Bond did the same thing with Casino Royale. I remember when it was announced that Daniel Craig was taking on the role as James Bond a lot of people were nervous and/or upset. “A Blond James Bond?” “He doesn’t look the part!” “Worst. Choice. Ever.” I saw those three sayings a lot in the lead up to “Casino Royale”. I’m proud to say I thought Craig was a good choice, and was more hopeful than anything. Then, I went to see the movie with my Dad, and knew that this movie was special. This is my favorite Bond movie(although “Skyfall” is very close now”). Daniel Craig is the perfect Bond, and in my opinion the Best Bond(sorry Connery supporters). He makes the role very realistic and has a real badass persona, mixed with charisma that most actors don’t pull off at all. It’s a reboot of the series, and sets it off in a very grounded way. This movie has everything a Bond movie should have. Hot women, crazy action, a weird villain, and one of the best on screen poker games ever. I love this movie and left the theater in absolute joy at where the franchise was heading. I rewatched this the other night(had to skip some Bond movies to watch the Craig movies before “Skyfall”.) and it holds up very well, and I’m sure 20 years from now this will still be at the top(or very close to) of the list of Bond movies. If you haven’t seen this, then jump on board and check it out. It’s an absolute must watch!


Pan's LabyrinthNumber 3.  –  Pan’s Labyrinth

It’s hard to pigeon hole a film like Pan’s Labyrinth as there are so many facets to it’s structure. On the one hand, it’s a political/historical drama and on the other it’s a fantasy/horror. Few (if any) films will spring to mind when these genres are mentioned in the same breath which reflects the very craftsmanship that’s at work here. One thing that you can undoubtedly count on, though, is it’s highly imaginative nature. Sure, we’ve had fantastical stories before where a young girl escapes her constrained life to enter bigger and more possible worlds. We’ve also had commentaries on the brutalities and restrictions of fascist regimes but to combine them into a wondrous journey of life, struggle and imagination is an amalgamation that I have rarely witnessed. Such is the case with this film and such is the skill of del Toro in his writing and handling of the material. He incorporates an abundance of childhood fantasies, from delving into books and mythology – that feature fauns and fairies – to the power of a piece of chalk on the wall. This may be built around the point of view of a child’s eye but its also not afraid to explore the darker recesses of that very imagination and construct some of the most monstrous creatures that can inhabit that realm. Del Toro is in absolute command here and he’s aided, immeasurably, by cinematographer Guillermo Navarro in capturing and contrasting his world within a world; one is a visually striking and enchanting fantasia, the other a stark and brutal reality. It’s a balance that’s difficult to achieve but with deft handling of coexisting genres, del Toro’s vision is able to come to fruition and manages to be both a reminder of the rigidity of fascism and the escapable ability of an imaginary youthful mind.

Number 2.  –  Children of Men

There have been a lot of sci-fi stories that deals with the extinction of humanity, but never was there one that felt so original by not having another alien race eliminating them. Instead, it explores a grim world in which two decades of global human infertility have left humanity with less than a century to survive. Other words, since a genetic fertility defect in women there hasn’t been a single child born in 18 years, thus the world is corrupt with terrorism and anti-government movement holding government responsible for the infertility. Our main character Theo Faron, a former activist encounters his ex-lover, Julian Taylor whose leader of the rebellion to have Theo to join her team and show her Kee, an Arican refugee who reviled that she is pregnant and the first woman in 18 years to finally bare a child. But since she’s the only woman in the world to carry a baby, everybody around Theo and Kee would want to use the baby for various situations; send them over to the “Human Project” to cure the infertility to save humanity. This film goes leaps and bounds with the tension with foreground and background. It goes heavily on the topic of immigration, harsh realities, fear, religion, and government control all of which that is not afraid to show the grim world of what would society be like if humanity is coming to an end, but like Pan’s Labyrinth, as cruel as Children of Men seems its worth it because of the brilliance of hope and the will to overcome the impossible. This is a great display of heroism because using just a single baby to save humanity is perhaps the most magical and yet original idea of doing what’s right. Another thing I immensely appreciate, especially considering that it’s a risky move, is that Children of Men avoided sex. Imagine if Kee wasn’t a talented African actress, but instead was a dumb bimbo that everyone wants to get laid with; this wouldn’t make the subject matter of infertility to be at all taken serious and just made Kee pregnant as an accident rather than a blessing. For the actress who played Kee, she displayed a lot of heart in her role in making a mother to love her child to be believable and as well keeping both of them alive to be intense. There wasn’t a single moment in this movie that I didn’t loose my suspense of disbelief; everything was believable and thanks to the excellent and innovative directing and cinematography, which was the innovative single-shot action sequences. Today we have single-shot action sequences in other movies, like Cloverfield and Battle of Los Angelas, but still to this day Children of Men does its single-shot action sequences better than any movie that imitates it because it doesn’t give you a headache with the shaky cameras, directing was aimed perfectly, and the emotional scenes just makes it ground breaking. If you’re one of those people that complain why movies aren’t innovative anymore, check out Children of Men because it shows that there are still creative ideas for cinema. Its films like Children of Men that guarantees that cinema as art will really survive.


The FountainNumber 1.  –  The Fountain

It was really difficult for me to decide if I like Pan’s Laberynth, Children of Men, or the Fountain more because it’s three of the best movies of 2006… but by the end of the day, I have to give it to the film that was more meaningful. This film is absolutely… amazing! I must’ve be in the minority, but I thought this was a true masterpiece. The epic nature of the love story is incredible and completely unique. It’s the ultimate spiritual movie that uplifts you out of your own reality and gives you so many meaning and symbolism that feels awe inspiring. The usage of space and time is like nothing anyone has ever tried to accomplish before. While it is mostly a sci-fi fairy tale, you never feel as though each segment doesn’t have power in itself. Hugh Jackman gave truly his best performance and Rachel Weisz did a beautiful job as well. While this certainly isolates itself from most traditional hollywood narratives, I think once you break it down it really isn’t difficult at all to understand or analyze. I like narratives like this with twists and turns. It’s really one one of those films where you can decide what it is, but for me, I think it’s about life and death and how if people fear death, then it’s something to be feared. But if you embrace death as a natural part of your life then you can live beyond death and have something different to look forward to. I liked the juxtaposition between the past, the (relative) present, and the future showing how religion and spiritualism has been around for a long time and is an important part of many peoples lives. Spanning 1000 years and filled with linking metaphors between the three separate storylines, this movie is surreal enough that any explanation of the literal story can be refuted. ultimately though it’s asking if it is a tragedy, or a story of timeless redemption. Is heaven on earth? This movie raises a lot of fun questions about who we are, who/what we are from, and of who/what we will become a part. Not just anyone can watch this movie and understand it. If you are open minded and looking for a meditative experience, the powerful journey that is ‘The Fountain’ cannot be overstated. From the semen like sap of the ‘Tree of Life’ to the use of rings to convey deeper meanings and the 3 interwoven love stories, this movie is a masterpiece of symbolism and spirituality. This movie is not about a man’s quest to save the woman he loves, it is about Man’s quest for truth and enlightenment but through the inevitable path of his own selfish desires for everlasting life and fear of death.

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Top 10 Movies of 2005

Number 10.  –  Crash

Other than the Sandra Bullock/Brendan Fraser storyline (which didn’t really go anywhere), this is basically a fantastic series of soap operas. It’s the type of movie where in the beginning of the film you recognize who’s you’re routing for and who you’re against, but towards the end, those role reversed because each of them show their true colors of who they really are. It’s both harsh and heartwarming to see such a film like this. Then you’ll understand why this movie is title “Crash” because of it. Some scenes will bring you to tears, others will leave you shaking, and one made me howl with (highly inappropriate!) laughter. These are all reactions that it’s the film’s goal to provoke as it asks the characters (and the viewer) to confront their prejudices. And sadly, for this (expertly plotted) group of (loosely) connected characters, this is all in a day’s work in contemporary Los Angeles. People say that Robert Altman’s Nashville did this first, and did it better. I’ll watch that one and see. For what it’s worth, after years of thinking Brokeback Mountain might have been ripped off at the Oscars, I can see why Crash won. A very, very good film.

Number 9.  –  Lord of War

A great thing about Lord of War is how the film is complex, well balanced, and is never overly preachey (or preachey period) in a general way or for either side of the issues being displayed here. It shows the difficulty of staying neutral to sell guns to both sides of the war. It resents both sides in a fair and balanced way, and does so in an entertaining and smart manner that blends a strong script, tons of wittiness, sharp direction, great music, intelligence, and lots of creativity. No matter how you feel about guns and genocide, you owe it to yourself to see tyhis film. It is important, touching, stylish, and just a joy to watch. It does the difficult task of blending technique with importance in an accessible fashion. My only real complaint (and the thing keeping it from getting another half star) is that the film just gets a little draggy in the middle from time to time.

Number 8.  –  Serenity

Thanks to the popularity that Firefly gained, we were able to get a finale to show that ended unfinished. Just as good as the television show that preceded it, “Serenity” grasps all the characters you know and love from “Firefly” and gives them all one last time to shine, and boy is it fun! This film offers some awesome action sequences, that obviously would not have been possible on the small-budgeted television show, and the dialogue is just as snappy as ever, while always taking itself serially when it needs to, which is why Joss Whedon is such a good writer. It may not be the best sci-fi flick out there, but it sure as hell is one of the most fun, and the visuals are fun to look at too, because they do the best with what they have. “Serenity” is great entertainment at it’s finest, but just look at who is at the helm. Great way to end the series!

Number 7.  –  Batman Begins

Batman Begins re-established the Batman franchise as something that can deliver the blockbuster goods while also delivering a grounded and human story that connects with everyone. This is not as gothic as Burton’s take on the franchise, but it does a decent job in showing us this “realistic” side of Batman. This is not wall to wall action, but it holds your attention from the get go and the pacing is just right. This is a total revamp of the Batman lore and showed us what Bruce Wayne had to go through in becoming the Dark Knight of Gotham City. Unfortunately, the whole film could have been better if they didn’t make the first half of the film in not only becoming an origin story, but describing every one of the tools that Batman uses. It’s one of those things that ruins the magic & mystery of seeing Batman if you know way too much of him. But I do appreciate that this origin story tells the tale of Bruce Wayne joining  the League of Shadows and Ra’s Al Ghul to learn his combat in ways that the movie-going audience never seen before. Add in Morgan Freeman as Lucious Fox, Michael Caine as Alfred, and Gary Oldman as Gordon and you have the pieces in place for something special. Katie Holmes is awful that her performance almost ruined the movie. This is one of those superhero movies that spends way too much on the origins and we just wait for the good to come in the sequels.

Number 6.  –  Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

A movie that barely anyone has seen, yet it was Robert Downey Jr.’s greatest comeback to movies before he officially became Iron Man. While Downey, Kilmer and Mognahan all deliver spot on, nuanced performances the real star here is director/writer Shane Black who’s knowledge, vision, and insight power this neo-noir past the usual fish-out-of-water detective cliches (Downey as a small town petty burglar and nicest guy in the film posing as an film actor posing as a private detective posing as the narrator of the film in big city L.A. for the first time) into a compliment/indictment of the movie community (like hating the one you love or loving the one you hate or something like that). Well informed and absolutely riotous. The story ceases to make sense or even to matter and I didn’t care. It’s a lovingly cynical film by a cynical guy about a cynical town in that most cynical of film motifs, the noir. I actually don’t think Downey has played any other character but this one since this has been made.

Number 5.  –  A History of Violence

Never in a million years will you ever see that this was based on Vertigo comic book, but even despite the fact that it was a fantastic gangster film. This is, like all Cronenberg’s work, a mythic movie. It occupies the world of “monsters” that Tom Stall’s daughter dreams about at the start. It’s as if we get to see the little girl’s nightmare as the film unfolds. It’s because of this poetic, super-real quality that criticisms from the “this isn’t real life” brigade have no relevance. The screenplay is exceptionally tight and well-woven – no image is wasted. The subplot of the son’s troubles with a school bully parallels the main plot. The very existence of the son is there to show the inheritance – the history – of violence. The sex scenes are there to show the proximity of lust and violence. It’s about the inexhaustible rage of humans. It couldn’t be more relevant, it couldn’t be more timeless. It is well acted and beautifully photographed. I have some minor reservations – did we really need so much of Howard Shore’s music? – but on the whole I think this is a a superb film. Not for the kiddies, however.

Number 4.  –  The Proposition

Western films have always been set in 1800’s wild west of America, but The Proposition shows that any country with a desert like Australia can do the same, in fact, there were cowboys in that country in that era. Not only do I love how refreshing this western feels, but the story and atmosphere was truly breathtaking. Guy Pearce stars as Charlie Burns, one of three notorious outlaw brothers, who has just been caught, along with the youngest and most innocent brother Mickey, by a police captain, played by Ray Winstone. The captain gives Charlie an ultimatum; he can save his younger brother’s life and be set free if he finds his older brother, Arthur Burns the most vicious of them all and played wonderfully by Danny Huston, and kills him. Charlie excepts this offer and makes his way to find his brother. During this time Charlie encounters a bounty hunter, played by John Hurt, as well as an unfortunate encounter with some of the aborigines. Using the Australian outback as a setting is a wonderful choice in terms of the film’s cinematography. The actors are all in top form, particularly Huston, who adds a strange soul to his ruthless outlaw, despite knowing full well that he is as ruthless as people know him. Its very much an ensemble film as well, making use of all of its characters.

1-1Number 3.  –  Star Wars Episode III:
Revenge of the Sith

The Star Wars prequels have been so godawful, but the last film of the series turned out to be a worthy installment to the Star Wars originals. Part of it is because for those who says Empire Strikes Back is their favorite is because they still love the ending where the villain won. We haven’t had a Star Wars film since Empires that brought the victory to the villains we admire to watch. You couldn’t have it any other way in making a bridge to Episode IV: New Hope because it was finally time for Anikin Skywalker to finally become Dearth Vader. In fact, you can even say that previous two films ever existed and just start with this film because it was about time to get it through George Lucas’s head on what film we wanted to see with the Star Wars title on it. For me, since I love Empire Strikes Back so much, I can stay I want to start with Revenge of the Sith and end with Empires Strikes Back because having the villains win is what makes Star Wars different than any other science fiction franchise. The emotional weight of the characters and the Shakespearean tragedies that unfold contribute to George Lucas’ best storytelling to date. Add in some of the best special effects you’ll ever see and some of the best action blockbusters can provide, and you get a masterclass in film-making vision and execution. The occasional clunky dialogue not withstanding (clearly the one deficiency most prevalent by Lucas), there’s little diehards and casual fans won’t love. The acting is the best of the series and all of the little nods and throwbacks to the original trilogy make for a seamless transition to Episode IV. You’ll want to pop it in the player as soon as this is over.

Number 2.  –  The 40 Year-Old Virgin

If you never seen this movie, you might think that this list is a joke, but I assure you that there isn’t a better movie that came out in 2005 than the 40 Year-Old Virgin! Throughout your first experience of this film, you will be rolling on the floor laughing, and watching it a second time, you will be as equally enthralled. It’s the type of movie that will inspire you to become a better person, if not man. If you fell like Andy (Steve Carell) where your life is boring and you need romance to change it, you’ll feel welcomed to this movie. At the same time, if you lost your virginity and have a decent sex life, you’ll still enjoy this film as you’ll rediscover your need of finding the one.  I really like how a film that runs solely on sex jokes can be so damn original. This film is very complex for a comedy, which is a huge payoff in the end, and I was left completely and utterly satisfied. Anyone who complains about this film being bad, must have a problem with the plot or something other than the comedy, because the writing is absolutely gut-splittingly hilarious. The plot is a comedy laugh riot, maybe its just me but it started to have some sweet moments mere the end and I didn’t like that, but its still managed to make me laugh my ass off all the way through. If you have ever been a nerd or didn’t get laid for a long time, this movie will relate to you and you will love it, if you haven’t you will probably laugh even harder because you will enjoy watching the hilarious moments. This is THE movie that made Steve Carrell one of the most inspirational people of the 2000s and it’s just wonderful to watch again and again, unlike most comedies.

Number 1. – Brick

This film is a hard-boiled detective mystery (complete with period slang) which is already cool, but made even cooler by the fact that it is set in contemporary times at an unnamed high school somewhere in California. Awesome.  This film isn’t merely just a nod to a genre though. It stands on its own and is a very compelling and really well made thriller that, if nothing else, could at least get people interested in the stuff that inspired it. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is at the center of this tale about an everryman thrust into a situation that quickly sees him in over his head and on very unstable ground as he tries to piece together the truth surrounding a phone call that got him in the mess to begin with. The film has a great sense of style, look, and atmosphere. The material, which involves drugs and murder, is suitably grim, but thankfully there’s some wry humor sprinkled throughout to take the edge of (slightly).  The film seems a bit hard to follow at first, but that’s kinda the fun of it. For those who can’t keep up though, it all gets answered in the end, so there. This might be a sign that the script could have been better at clarifying things, but I prefer to see it as a way of making the viewer engage with it and think, instead of just sitting there. ‘Brick’ is a fluid film that strikes all the right chords. The idea of a noir-type film set in a high school was brilliant to me, and Rian Johnson did not disappoint. The acting is subtle but assured, the music is purposeful and haunting, and the cinematography is awesome for such a small budget. The plot isn’t always easy to follow and some of the dialogue can be confusing, but Johnson handles the whole production with a steady hand.
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Top 10 Movies of 2004

Number 10.  –  Kill Bill Vol. 2

Kill Bill Vol. 2 is a good addition to the first film. Where the first film was a wall to wall action packed entry, this one slowed it down just a little bit and made for a more conversational film. It still had action and it still had the awesome choreography the first had; it just had longer scenes with more dialogue. For some action movies, that wouldn’t work, but when Tarantino I’d the filmmaker; dialogue is a great thing. The more dialogue, the better, in my opinion. I liked this one just as much as the first and I think a second viewing of both would make me like them even more. As a combination, these movies are amazing. Uma Thurman is the perfect fit for her character, as is David Carradine. These movies are a film buffs dream, but so is Quentin Tarantino. The Kill Bill movies are must see films. If you love any genre that these movies touch, it’s necessary. If you love smart, exciting, action packed, funny films, watch these movies. You won’t be disappointed in the four hour long runtime of the two films together.

Number 9.  –  Hellboy

In addition to his love of the fantastical and the macabre, Guillermo del Toro also excels in campy pulp. Luckily, Hellboy is the best of both worlds. It boasts a an over-the-top comic book world complete with snappy one-liners and colorful characters, but juxtaposes them with a Lovecraftian pahos. This is partially the fault of the source material, but del Toro has never been one to shy away from HP in any sense (see his creature design from Pan’s Labrynth or the plot of Pacific Rim for that matter). All-in-all, this is probably the closest we will ever get to seeing “At the Mountains of Madness” on the big screen in all its mystical elder god glory, but its still good to see del Toro carrying the classic sci-fi torch. Although it suffers from a slow beggining and only an average story, witty one-liners, impressive action and imagination, great character interaction and some very moving scenes make Hellboy a great success, as well as benefitting from a truly outstanding performance from Ron Perlman as the titular protagonist


Number 8.  –  The Incredibles

Highly engaging animated comedy, The Incredibles is a highly amusing picture made by Pixar, and as you can imagine, this is a solid piece of work from the studio that constantly turn out great movies. This is a well crafted film, one that boasts a great story, a great cast of voice actors, and brilliant animation. This one of the finest films that Pixar has made and one of their most elaborate. This is a highly engaging picture, one that is sure to satisfy any viewer of every age group. If you loved previous Pixar features, then you’re sure to enjoy this one just as much. The Incredibles is one of the finest animated features that I’ve seen. There are plenty of things to enjoy here, and any genre fan will surely enjoy the film. The idea behind the film is wonderful and it is a well crafted picture and director Brad Bird delivers a stunning animated feature that is guaranteed to appeal to anyone looking for a fun and entertaining picture. If you love Pixar films, don’t pass up on this film, it is a highly memorable affair, one of that is a lot of fun from start to finish. With great characters, well scripted dialogue and beautiful animation, this is a stunning piece of work from the studio, and is definitely a modern classic.


Number 7.  –  The Notebook

I’m not one for soppy romantic movies but this one pulls at the heart strings. An older gentlemen reads a story to an elderly lady in a nursing home. The story is about two teenagers Noah and Allie who meet one summer and fall in love. Allie’s parents are well to do and Noah is poor. They fell out and Allie’s parents send her away to school and they don’t see each other for years. Noah writes to her every day for a year but there is no response. They try to move on with their lives but something draws them back to each other and they pick up where they left off. It reminds me of ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’, there are good and bad things that happen but it all comes good in the end. Excellent cast and story. Ryan and Rachel make a good on screen and off screen couple. Kevin Connolly plays Fin, Noah’s best buddy. James Marsden plays Allie’s dashing new society beau.


Number 6.  –  Eternal Sunshine of
the Spotless Mind

Charlie Kaufman is a genius, one of few remaining screenwriters who can structure a film like prose amid the utter beauty of a poem. Only on the rarest of occasions does Kaufman write in an accessible nature, so to speak, but the mesmerizing atmosphere that has been constructed not only holds our undivided attention for as long as it pleases, it also demands further viewings. Not to decipher, but to enjoy the glorious experience once more. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a brave feat deserving of insurmountable praise. We’d generally scoff at a cross between the romance and science fiction genres. It seems like a novel idea for those longing to revisit the golden age of B-movies. But Kaufman can, quite simply, do anything, even make an audience tear up at the end of his romantic sci-fi film.

Number 5.  –  Downfall

This is a movie that you almost not want to see because it brings sympathy to the most hated dictator in history — Adolf Hitler, but somehow, someway… it worked. You’d almost believe that the filmmakers of this movie would be Nazi’s but they showed you that Hitler was misunderstood and made bad decision that made world worse for the sake of saving Germany. Based on true life memoirs of people who were actually there, this starkly gripping depiction of the last days of the third reich can hardly be described as an enjoyable experience. The german people are suffering terrible hardship as the attacking Russian forces reach Berlin while Hitler’s cowardly henchmen are attempting to make their escape or plotting the murder/suicides of themselves and their families when faced with the consequences of their monstrous actions. Lynch mobs roam the streets dispensing “justice” against suspected traitors and ill-equipped professional german soldiers are ordered to fight to the death in the face of certain defeat. His portrayal of Hitler veering between twitching broken shell and wild-eyed delusional maniac (who even at the end still commanded fanatical belief in him from some of his people) is totally convincing. It is still difficult to fully comprehend what you are seeing even as it happens in front of your eyes and I was left feeling shellshocked at the film’s end;.possibly the most important film made about WWII and something everyone simply must see.


Number 4.  –  Spider-Man 2

Taking a huge leap forward in technology and storytelling, “Spider-Man 2” is not just your great superhero film, but it is a piece of super-heroic art to own for a lifetime that should be cherished upon, and never given up! There is still cheese in this film, just like the first time around, but the characters have so much depth and the consequences actually come into effect. I do not see why anyone in their right mind would not like this film, because to me, it is “THE” greatest superhero film of all time! The shots are very impressive, the acting is very solid, the writing is on another level of great when it comes down to the considerations that it is a superhero film, and the action scenes are not something you can just walk away from. “Spider-man 2” is a movie that I will love forever! From the humour to the sad emotional moments, this film is brilliant in it’s own way! It may not follow the comics to a “T,” but honestly, we knew that going in. Forget that, and you have a masterpiece of a superhero film!


Number 3.  –  Shaun of the Dead

Combining sharp wit and a good humoured script, “Shaun Of The Dead” is an impressively comedic jaunt into the world of zombie horror flicks. Newcomer to directing Edgar Wright brings together a good cast to tell the story of Shaun, who amidst a zombie apocalypse tries to hunt down his ex-girlfriend and friends, and bring them to his favourite pub to hideout. Whilst the whole idea of “Shaun of the Dead” is a parody on the greatest zombie hits, most obviously of course, “Dawn of the Dead”, the script written by Wright and star Simon Pegg, is clever and witty, creating a certain you have to smile even though sometimes you don’t want to feeling, surrounding the film. A breakthrough first film from Edgar Wright who could have chose a much safer genre to try and enter the film industry. Instead, going for a zombie spoof and an unknown cast, the screenplay creates a very British comedy film, whilst appealing to worldwide audiences through the horror aspect. Never forgetting its intended dedicated zombie splatter fans, whilst entertaining all cinema goers, “Shaun of the Dead” is a film with flaws, but fun to watch and giggle at.

Number 2.  –  Before Sunset

Following the masterpiece that the first film was, “Before Sunset” picks up 9 years later after he has written a book based on the night they spent together in the first. Again, this film is driven by the performances and the screenplay which is 100% dialogue driven. Watching these two converse for the length of a feature film is more than satisfying, but that is due to the fact that the director writes the dialogue with the actors who will be portraying these wonderfully developed characters. The original Richard Linklater classic featured two fresh, young voices, finding each other in a spontaneous bohemian kind of way. Nine years, and a trail of failed relationships later, and our lovers find each other in Paris, beginning again from the ruins of their shared past. Beautiful for its Parisian sights, but also for its lovelorn dialogue, this film works principally because it’s a simple tale of love, having less to do with a pair’s story and more with the mechanics of their love affair. The characters are interesting, their conversations are crisp and new, and we as the audience revel in their experience, but also in finding out the answers to our questions from the first film. Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke work well together to create an organic and truly magical partnership as Celine and Jesse, and we watch because of their chemistry. The films not only circle around an interesting couple, but show love’s evolution and fragility.

Number 1.  –  The Terminal

Since history has been recorded, we all are living in an issue of nationality and entering in unfamiliar territory in culture shock and no matter how the world could possibly be at peace with each other we all have different languages, views of the world, culture, behavior, and social structure. Since I lived in many countries in my life such as the Philippines, United States, South Korea, and now living in Japan, I still deal with this sort of issue and yet because I’m an American citizen, it’s difficult to learn from that country especially when you move around in all kinds of places in the world. And it’s much more difficult being an international since that attacks in 9/11 the entire world is in paranoia with the subject of terrorism that makes it harder to fit in a certain society. Any movie that relates to this subject matter and did everything right is a movie that’s worth my attention. This film was directed by Steven Spielberg and I will always remember it as the most underrated movie of all time! Everybody always assume that Spielberg is a director that only makes Sci-Fi and WWII films, when they never seen movies like Catch Me If You Can to show that he can direct any movie genre. The Terminal is about Victor Navorski trapped in a terminal at New York’s JFK International Airport when he is denied entry into the United States and at the same time cannot return to his native country, the fictional country of Krakozhia, due to a revolution. Since Krakozhia is under a revolution, Victor’s nationality is removed and considered as a man without a country until the revolution ends and Krakozhia is at a state of being no longer a country. The film is partially inspired by the 18-year-stay of Mehran Karimi Nasseri in the Charles de Gaulle International Airport, Terminal I, Paris, France from 1988 to 2006.

The Terminal is the very movie that I believe is perfection because it has everything that many movies don’t have, like mesmerizing cinematography that goes leaps and bounds from what we’ve already seen, the cast can’t possibly get better because each role an actor plays a solid performance, and the screenplay itself is perhaps the BEST screenplay I’ve ever seen in a movie.  This movie could have been one of the most depressing films ever made if they didn’t make Navorski more active, intelligent, developed, helpful, and heroic in his own way. He starts out as a Krakozhian citizen that discovered that he had no country when he arrived in the JFK airport, sad & lonely without a single person who’s from Krakozhia to help him, and his English is limited. As the film moves on, he learns how to live in the airport and was able to improve the Terminal by working as a construction worker to fix the place and help everyone who’s in need in of help in the very airport that he’s in. The character is so well played that I forgot a many parts of the film that he’s Tom Hanks and VERY rarely any actor could possibly do that. Yet, the antagonist, Customs and Border Protection, Frank Dixon refuses Victor to let Victor to see America and is smart enough to keep him in there, but not enough to make Victor look like a criminal fugitive which he tries to do throughout the entire movie. But yet, as Victor makes more friends and a better reputation in the terminal, everyone can see the unfairness that Frank Dixon is putting towards Victor and soon letting him see America made the build up so engaging. And who can ever forget the love relationship with Navorski and stewardess Amelia Warren, played by Catherine-Zeta Jones? Amelia Warren is a stewardess who is having an affair with a married man and finds she can open her heart to this strange, simple man. But this film isn’t always about Victor Navorski, but also other characters in the airport such as Rajan Gupta who left India to save himself to work as a janitor, Enrique Cruz who’s needed Victor’s help to find out more for the woman he loves because he’s afraid to talk to her, and so many more.

What I admire most about the film is that we live in a day in age where we are in the subject of terrorism and putting a film set in the airport, you can almost feel it coming, but the Terminal never acknowledges that terrorism exists or else this film would have been consider prejudice or insensitive to internationals whom enters America. Instead this film just shows how difficult it is to have a nationality and being in another country, but yet this film had hopes to keep the movie going forward. There was never a film that was set in the airport that actually made the viewer feel like they’re in the airport. And believe me, staying in the airport, though it may be a stretch in waiting too long, it is indeed a beautiful place and I have to take my hat off to Spielberg for showing the beautiful atmosphere of the setting and made the people working in the terminal to look important. Never was there a single movie that made me smile from beginning to end because of beautiful and well crafted everything seen in this very movie. It avoids everything that I don’t like to see in films, which other movies very often do, and instead takes everything that I want in a good movie and left we with an impression that The Terminal is the best movie I’ve ever seen in my life.

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