Saturday, January 15, 2011

This Year Sucked. Here's My Top 10.

Sorry, kids! I had a PS3 relapse and stopped visiting the internet. Fortunately, I started playing catch up and had enough time to watch pretty much every live action 2010 film I could get my hands on. Wait, did I say fortunately?
Let's face it: 2010 was awful. Even a large portion of the films that were supposed to be mildly entertaining escapism didn't really do the trick. Personally, I think this may be the worst year in cinema's history. I have yet to prove myself wrong on this point, and I welcome all of you to present a year to add to the debate.
There were, of course, still a lot good films this year, and despite the misleading opening statements, it will be the positive I will be discussing in this entry. We'll discuss the piss poor at a later date.

If you think I missed a film, you should be able to find it at the end of this entry, where I intend to list everything I saw or still intend to see. The execution of this plan, however, hinges entirely on my ability to finish this article before I run out of cigarettes.

Also, I did not see any animated films. Whatevs, dogg.

10. City Island

Yes, I know it says "2009" on IMDB, but it didn't start in US theaters until 2010. That's what counts, kids.

It's a funny and strange comedy that hints at quirkiness, but doesn't take it too far. However, if it had blown up like Juno did I might have changed my mind. Some stuff happens. Andy Garcia's son likes fat chicks. What more do you want?

9. Kickass

Obviously, I couldn't really remember anything clever to say about City Island. I was going to let you attribute that to laziness, when I realized I don't really have much to say about Kickass either. Some funny stuff happens. Nic Cage shoots a little girl. Kickass is a solid example of a silly escapism film that was actually done right this year.

8. Dogtooth

There were a couple films this year that were...different. Enter the Void and A Serbian Film were both similar to Dogtooth in subject matter/content/strangeness, but Dogtooth was actually good.

Dogtooth centers on three children who have been confined to their house and yard for the entirety of their lives. Fed misinformation from as early as they could understand it, they believe in a world entirely different from the one that exists in reality. Words have different meanings, cats are dangerous creatures, and oral sex is acceptable if it is in exchange for a sparkling headband.

All this, is of course, to protect the children from societal corruption. And this system seems to work until an outsider is brought into the home. This outsider's purpose is, logically, to have sex with the son.

Dogtooth is delightfully twisted and deranged, but in a way that supports the film's themes and commentary. Sure, there's some incest and sporadic violence, but its all in good fun. On the plus side, no one rapes a newborn baby, which is more than I can say for A Serbian Film.

7. Cyrus

In Cyrus, John C. Reilly is a lonely old dude who goes to a party, gets really drunk, and ends up charming Marisa Tomei. Marisa Tomei, being Marisa Tomei, is incredibly out of his league, except for the fact that her son is Jonah Hill. The only possible explanation for this strange genetic failure is that at one point Marisa Tomei slept with Chris Farley.

Jonah Hill, unlike his usual obnoxiously loud, probably trying to get laid self, is a passive aggressive twenty-one-year-old who lives at home and works on electronica music, all the while trying to sneak peaks of Marisa Tomei in the shower. Also, he hates John C. Reilly.

The main draw here is the secret battle going on between John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill, as they fight over who is slightly less unattractive and thus deserving of Marisa Tomei's affections. Also, John C. Reilly is really lonely and Marisa Tomei has changed his life, but if you thought that was important you'd just watch Eclipse again, wouldn't you?

6. 127 Hours

No, that does not say "6,127 Hours." Even James Franco couldn't go that long with his arm stuck under a rock. But 127 hours is nothing for Franco, he just takes some time to look at ravens, think about ex-girlfriends, and fantasize about a party he's not going to be able to make. Then, he pulls a Chuck Norris and cuts his arm off. James Franco is not trapped under a rock. The rock is trapped over James Franco.

127 Hours is a perfect example of what Buried could have been if it weren't stupid. You can't have a dude trapped in a box for 90 minutes and just show him being pissed off. He has to regret some aspect of his life. James Franco regrets his life of solitude. He never talks to his parents, he dumped his sexy foreign girlfriend, and he didn't tell anyone where he was going because he's an idiot. Yeah, he definitely regrets that last one.

There's really not much to say about 127 Hours. James Franco is trapped under a rock. It's good. See it.
Also, I have to apologize to Buried for simplifying its plot points. It's not just Ryan Reynolds in a box for 90 minutes being pissed off. It's Ryan Reynolds in a box for 90 minutes being pissed off, but he also kills a snake.

5. The Social Network

Jesse Eisenberg may be an obnoxious twat, but he has 500 million friends. And that's really all that matters. Critics keep citing The Social Network as brilliant social commentary, but let's face it. We already knew that Facebook is taking over our lives. So, commentary? Meh. Engaging film based on real life? I agree. It's not groundbreaking. It's just a good movie for general audiences in a year that didn't really have many good movies for general audiences.

Also, if anyone in this film wins an acting award I'm going to delete them on Facebook. I was going to say I'd shoot up Arizona, but I figured you bastards would think it was too soon.

4. Four Lions

Four Lions marks the point in this list where I actually start caring about the movies I'm talking about. It gets high marks for originality, humor, and because it totally has a fat, Islamic Jason Statham as a main character.

Four Lions is the story of four British Muslims who plan to become suicide bombers. Unfortunately for them, and Al Qaeda, they are idiots. Two of them get kicked out of terrorist training camp (after accidentally shooting a rocket at Osama Bin Ladin). They arrive home to find that their companions have recruited a fifth member, whose interests also include suicide bombing. Oh, and rap music.

The repeated failures and backwards logic of the group never fail to amuse, and even the sporadic death and gore (in no way depicted comically) incite laughter. The whole film builds to a fantastic finale. I recommend this to every one of you.

3. Blue Valentine

I was originally going to post a top ten list about a week ago. If I had, the number one spot would have been the Blue Valentine trailer, just because I'm hip like that. I did manage to hold off and wait until I'd actually seen the film.

I was hoping Blue Valentine would be this year's A Single Man, which to me is a film that just barely sneaked into 2009 and blew everything else out of the water. It did not have that effect, but it was quite good.

Blue Valentine cuts back and forth between two time periods. The first is, chronologically, the latter: the deterioration of the relationship between Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. Likewise, at various points we see the couple meeting and falling in love.

The strengths of Blue Valentine lie in the realism of the fighting, the scenarios, the fact that women are evil, etc. etc. It's brutally honest, and it's not sorry.

On the other hand, it also illustrates cinema's lack of female auteurs. This film is not a fair battleground. Michelle Williams' disappointments in Ryan Gosling come off as unjust and unwarranted, as his only crime appears to be loving her (and not caring for much else). This point is only further embedded in the viewer as the thesis of the film seems to come from a line of dialogue in which Gosling describes women as "less romantic" than men; claiming that men only get married when they're in love, while women entertain the idea of the perfect man, but always end up settling.

Thus, the film seems to come from a hostile place. An attempt to depict women as impossible to please, impossible to love, and incapable of reciprocating love. Blue Valentine is not a film about two people falling out of love with each other. It's a film about a woman falling out of love with a man, and his incomprehension of this fact.

As a singular argument, none of this is a problem. In fact, more often than not, this scenario is entirely plausible. However, films as frank as Blue Valentine are so rare that it only has a handful of peers, thus it almost begs for a counterargument from a female writer/director who could, presumably, point out Ryan Gosling's flaws, because I, honestly, don't see them.

As I usually find myself asserting at the end of my reviews: It was really good, though.

2. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Easily the best romcom of the year, although you can't be blamed if you missed that fact (what with all the bells and whistles) Scott Pilgrim was one of the few films that actually exceeded the expectations that I had for it. It was campy, spastic fun that had everything from vegan jokes to Kieran Culkin. Vegan jokes AND Kieran Culkin? Undoubtedly, a recipe for success.

Despite its greatness, it bombed at the box office. Which, if you really think about it, makes complete sense.

First of all, half of America now hates Michael Cera. They cannot be blamed for this. He asked for it. And while the cartoonish intensity of the trailers had everyone this side of high school pumped up for some intense nerd love, I'm assuming the popular kids in high school just stayed at home dry-humping in the basement while their parents watched NCIS reruns.

So, get your act together and rent the DVD, kids. I still refuse to use the term "Blu-ray" in casual conversation.

1. Inception

I know. I'm as bad as the kids who wanted The Dark Knight to win Best Picture. Give me a break, I didn't have a lot to work with. Not that I expect (or want) Inception to win Best Picture. Just think, if Inception had been a 2009 film, it would have been like fifth. Social Network wouldn't even have made the top ten.

Say what you want to about Inception, but it was entertaining as hell. Sure it had endless plot holes, an annoying dead woman, and immense hype. But those plot holes were fun to find, that dead woman is a sexy French actress, and the entertainment value actually outweighed the hype.

What I like best about Inception is that to follow it, the passive viewer has to become an alert one. Even your mother's retarded brother was trying to figure out if it was a dream or not. It's also incredibly amusing to listen or read people's frustrating battle with the ambiguous ending.

Most people defy logic, the IMDB message boards are proof. They should all kill themselves to pursue a better dream state.


Good Stuff

Exit through the Gift Shop - Solid flick reminding us all that people are stupid.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Best Harry Potter so far.
The Vicious Kind - Adam Scott has never been so drunk and lovely.
Machete - Honestly, almost made this list.
Rabbit Hole - Nicole Kidman is sad that her son died. Solid, forgettable.
Shutter Island - Obvious from the start, but a good thriller.
The Fighter - Should have been called "The Fighter's Brother" because Mark Wahlberg is irrelevant in this film.
The Kids Are All Right - Also almost made this list.
The King's Speech - Colin Firth swears a lot. He'll probably win Best Actor because he has a speech impediment and everyone finally saw A Single Man.
The Town - Your average heist flick.
True Grit - Your average western flick with a Coen brothers ending

Decent Stuff

Flipped - Too Wonder Yearsish, but solid
Get Him to the Greek - It was hilarious in the theater, not so much the second time.
RED - Surprisingly funny. But not that funny.
Easy A - This was actually quite funny.
Never Let Me Go - Remember when characters were supposed to develop?
Piranha 3D - Actually awesome.
Repo Men - Surprisingly entertaining.
Somewhere - Lost in Translation redux except with father and daughter and Chris Pontius.
Winter's Bone - The landscape is representational of the narrative.
The Other Guys - Funny, but the plot is nonsensical and it needed more Dwayne Johnson.
Black Swan - Surrealism is only cool when its funny, otherwise its just obnoxious.
Iron Man 2 - Mickey Rourke had a cockatoo.

Not Awful

Greenberg - This was actually quite trite.
Hot Tub Time Machine - Hot Tub Disappointment Machine.
Howl - Should have just been James Franco talking.
It's Kind of a Funny Story - It's Kind of a Piece of Shit
The Ghost Writer - Predictable. Tiresome. Lame.
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger - C'mon, Woody. Do better.
Macgruber - With such low expectations, its hard to hate it too much.
Buried - As good as it could have possibly been. This is not much of a compliment.
Casino Jack - Kevin Spacey does some stuff. I should have watched the documentary.
Valentine's Day - The averagely lame Valentine's movie.


Let Me In - Fuck Hollywood and their remakes.
The Crazies - It's always the government isn't it?
I'm Still Here - Not funny at all.
The Book Of Eli - Ridiculous.
A Serbian Film - Good for the first 45 minutes and then just decides to trade in commentary for torture/rape/murder/porn
I Love You, Phillip Morris - Occasionally funny, but mostly horrible.
Enter the Void - If Tarantino and Aronofsky filmed their wet dreams, this is what it would look like.
I Am Love - It takes about 45 minutes to figure out what the film is about, but by that time you've already stopped caring 35 minutes ago.


Barney's Version
Animal Kingdom  Decent
Monsters Not Awful



  1. Good post. Glad to see you thought highly of Machete, pure campy mayhem! Four Lions looks interesting i'll have to check it out.

  2. Four Lions was definitely the best black comedy in a while.

  3. 1. I'm glad you're back.

    2. Dogtooth and Four Lions I need to see before I do my own top 10. Also Carlos, The Illusionist, Tangled, Life During Wartime, probably a few others.

    3. Blue Valentine, 127 Hours and Social Network I liked a lot.

    4. Have you seen Micmacs?

    5. Enter the Void was far less masturbatory than Inception. I agree about I Am Love though.

  4. Whoops, I forgot to put Micmacs in my need to see section.

    I didn't think Enter the Void was masturbatory, I just think that Quentin Tarantino masturbated to it. Also, I found it incredibly dull and unnecessary.

    And on an amusing note, when I watched I Am Love I thought, "Tristan would probably love this." I guess I still haven't pegged your taste.

  5. Highly stylized films are a crap-shoot. Pull it off and you could be in Third Man territory. Fail and a weak story seems more hollow than below, plus it looks like you're overcompensating (The King's Speech and all those silly shots of negative space is guilty of the second point).

    And Jesus, I Am Love's score was the most bombastic I've heard in a long time.