Movie Log, 2008

  1. [Liked] Yes Man (2008, Peyton Reed) Not necessarily a "good" movie, but very enjoyable and a genuinely inspiring message.
  2. [Meh] The Last Mistress (2007, Catherine Breillat)
  3. [Hated] Gran Torino (2008, Clint Eastwood) I had no idea what reviews this movie was getting when I saw it. I couldn't even finish it, it was so awful. Bad acting, even from Clint. Stupid script.
  4. [Really Liked] Gomorra (2008, Matteo Garrone)
  5. [Liked] Wendy and Lucy (2008, Kelly Reichardt) Not so much a great movie as one that simply doesn't have the problems that nearly all movies have.
  6. [Loved] You, the Living (2007, Roy Andersson)
  7. [Really Liked] The Wrestler (2008, Darren Aronofsky)
  8. [Meh] The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008, David Fincher)
  9. [Meh] The Dutchess (2008, Saul Dibb)
  10. [Liked] Slumdog Millionaire (2008, Danny Boyle) Slum kid grows up to win a million dollars and bang the hottest chick on the planet. The last hour needed some work.
  11. [Liked] Milk (2008, Gus van Sant)
  12. [No] Revolutionary Road (2008, Sam Mendes) Forced.
  13. [Meh] 9 (2009, Shane Acker) [short] Watch. Being made into feature-length. I hope the feature is silent, too.
  14. [Hated] Pineapple Express (2008, David Gordon Green) Nothing in this movie actually works.
  15. [Meh] The Edge of Heaven (2007, Fatih Akin)
  16. [No] Snow Angels (2007, David Gordon Green) Ugh. What ponderous bullshit. This is David Gordon Green?
  17. [Liked] Marie Antoinette (2006, Sofia Coppola) I usually hate movies like this, but I liked this one and I have no idea why, which is why I would make a horrible film critic despite all the time I waste watching movies.
  18. [Meh] God on Trial (2008, Andy DeEmmony) [TV movie]
  19. [Loved] Kung Fu Panda (2008, Mark Osborne) Thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.
  20. [Liked] Inherit the Wind (1960, Stanley Kramer) A rare film to criticize blind faith and dogmatism! But do not mistake it for history.
  21. [Liked] The Life of Brian (1979, Terry Jones) The 20 minutes following Brian's tumble onto a street preacher are LOLarious, the rest are just decent.
  22. [Meh] The Ballad of a Soldier (1959, Grigori Chukhrai) The story didn't have to be cheesy, but it's execution sure is. I'm not doing so well with the "watch only movies I expect to really like" thing.
  23. [Meh] Religulous (2008, Bill Maher) At the Hollywood Arclight Thursday midnight showing, I counted, at best guess, 4 straight women, 3 gay women, 5 straight guys, 50 gay guys, and 100 empty seats. Since the only possible audience for this film is people who feel atheism is signficant to their identity, I'll foolishly infer some things from the turnout. First, women are irrational, like we always knew. :) Second, maybe most atheists leave religion for emtional, not rational, reasons. (Being told that you were born an abomination is a big turn-off. Then again, maybe there were so many gays there because the Hollywood Arclight is the best place for the boys of WeHo to catch a show.) Third, even in Hollywood it's hard to gather atheists together. We're all just such independent thinkers! And that was the best point in Maher's film. Atheists/agnostics, at about 15% of the US population, are much larger than other minorities that hold huge sway among our lawmakers: blacks, hispanics, gays, NRA members... Why are atheists/agnostics so impotent? Why can't we band together to protect us all from religious idiocracy? The rest of the film was like Maher's standup: a bunch of jokes about stupid religious people. It could have been funnier and faster. It also wasn't Maher's purpose to systematically present the case against religion. And I suspect many believers will say, "Well, Maher was mocking stuff that I don't believe." Fine, but he was mocking the faiths that most people cling to. Most religious people really do believe in virgin births and talking snakes and a coming apocalypse. And these people are allowed to vote! Maher's film ends with scary footage of atom bombs and religious apocalyptic prophecy.
  24. [Meh] Encounters at the End of the World (2007, Werner Herzog)
  25. [Really Liked] The Savages (2007, Tamara Jenkins) Definitely in a mold but I enjoyed it.
  26. [Liked] Life and Debt (2001, Stephanie Black) Documentary about the effects of globalization. Life is more complicated than Austrian economists would like to think.
  27. [Loved] Requiem for a Dream (2000, Darren Aronofsky)
  28. [Loved] There Will Be Blood (2007, Paul Thomas Anderson) Which scene is the most beautiful and powerful? All of them.
  29. [Loved] Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, Michel Gondry) Pffff. This movie is so damn good it's ridiculous. Fellini wishes he could make a movie like this.
  30. [Meh] Divided We Fall (2000, Jan Hrebejk) Um. What the fuck. I've already seen this movie. This year. It's on the list. Obviously, this only reinforces the [Meh] it got the first time. It was so [Meh] I forgot I'd seen it, in the span of a few short months.
  31. [Liked] Baran (2001, Majid Majidi) Wonderful photography. Profound yet simple. In fact, you could probably watch the whole thing without the subtitles on. Exactly the kind of movie I tend to like. But, not as affecting as Majidi's other films.
  32. [Meh] Syndromes and a Century (2006, Apichatpong Weerasethakul) A very self-conscious film. No story. Only the director's vague memories, transplanted to new characters and situations. The second half of the film repeats the ideas of the first, but takes place through different characters and in a different setting, with different results. This is a boring film, and a bizarre one, with no interest whatsoever in what is traditionally viewed as "art." I cannot say it is a film I enjoyed, but it is a film I can respect. But this (finally!) got me thinking. I feel a "need" to watch all the movies from each year that I suspect have artistic value (under my criteria), so that I can fill out my lists for each year and not leave any gaps. Well, screw that. I'm not a skilled critic, my opinions are not important or influential, and I should stop wasting my time. I'll keep my lists as a fun exercise, but I will not try be a completist. Instead, I have a new challenge for myself. I'm going to try to watch nothing but movies I end up [Really Liking] from here one out (excepting those films I see socially). That means I'm going to watch very few movies, and I'll have to choose them very carefully. Today's list of films I'm fairly certain I'll really like when I see them? Gomorra, Synechdoche, New York, Pineapple Express, 8 Women, Baran, The Edge of Heaven, The Return, Divided We Fall, All the Real Girls.
  33. [Nah] A Real Young Girl (1976, Catherine Breillat) A 14-year-old girl has all kinds of sensory explorations, including sleeping with an older man, putting a spoon in her vagina, and sticking feathers in her bum and crawling around like a rooster. Not that good of a movie. Maybe Fat Girl was an anomaly.
  34. [Meh] All About Lily Chou-Chou (2001, Shunji Iwai) It is totally unfair to me and to Japan that I cannot connect to this movie like I can to, say, Elephant. But that's the way it goes.
  35. [Meh] Romance (1999, Catherine Breillat)
  36. [Hated] Anatomy of Hell (2004, Catherine Breillat) The very first frame of this movie literally shows the shaft of one man's penis inside another's mouth. Breillat is a provocateur, so of course I love her. (If you don't like something, turn away. Take responsibility for your own mind, and tolerate those who have different tastes than you do. Please.) But this is a shitty movie. As usual, Ebert hits it on the money.
  37. [Meh] Altered States (1980, Ken Russell) I didn't like it but in many ways it is spectacular and excellent, especially for 1980. It ends immediately and perfectly.
  38. [Liked] La Vie en Rose (2007, Olivier Dahan) Jumps freely about in Piaf's life. I still have not seen a film do this so profoundly, so effectively as in 21 Grams, but this is quite an enjoyable film.
  39. [Liked] Mysterious Object at Noon (2000, Apichatpong Weerasethakul) A game, really, and perhaps art. Weerasethakul drives around Thailand, asking people to continue a story that has been advanced in stages by each interviewee before them.
  40. [Liked] The Day I Became a Woman (2000, Marzieh Makhmalbaf) A woman's life in Iran, at age 9, in her 20s, and late in life. The final stage is the funnest.
  41. [Loved] Fat Girl (2001, Catherine Breillat)
  42. [Meh] Bamako (2006, Abderrahmane Sissako) Decent, except: bad direction, bad cinematography, and very bad acting.
  43. [Loved] C.R.A.Z.Y. (2005, Jean-Marc Vallée) Gut-wrenching. A man who loves/hates his sons, and a son who loves/hates his father. Full of style and heart.
  44. [No] Sex and Lucia (2001, Julio Medem)
  45. [Liked] Voices of Iraq (2004, Martin Kunert) I would've loved to see them release all the video shot for the project to the internets and let anybody remix it.
  46. [Loved] Bubble (2005, Stephen Soderbergh) Invigorating!
  47. [Liked] Mutual Appreciation (2005, Andrew Bujalski) Neo-Cassavetes mumblecore about a young emo rocker wannabee. The men are weak, the women are strong, and all these young twentysomethings are trying to figure out what life is all about. Very real. I was surprised to be so engaged despite the believable (read: incredibly boring) dialogue. I'd like to see this genre expand, with a bigger budget and more cinematic aims.
  48. [Hated] Pirates (2005, Joone) Except for a few minutes of Deep Throat (1972), I think this is the first non-amateur video porn I've seen. Pirates imitates the style and cues of Pirates of the Caribbean. It's one of the most expensive (and best selling) porn videos of all time, has hundreds of (bad) effects shots, and won a record 11 AVN awards (the Oscars of porn). Oddly, an R-Rated cut was released in 2006, which suggests that the producers believe there is value in the film when the explicit sex is taken out. I suspect buyers disagreed. Okay so, the "review." As expected, the writing, acting, staging, music, effects are horrible, whether judging it from an "art" POV or an "entertainment" POV. Even the first 3 seconds of dialogue hit my gag reflex. As for the film's other qualities, it is not a compliment to say the R-rated version could be an hour and 45 minutes long (the original is 2 hours, 10 minutes). The sex scenes in Pirates do have better lighting and hotter women than the amatuer stuff I know. But it's pretty much all the same. It's not like they found another hole. One of my film student friends says he wants to make "the Koyaanisqatsi of porn." I'd like to see that.
  49. [Really Liked] The Dark Knight (2008, Christopher Nolan) "You see, nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even if the plan is horrifying. If I told people that a gangbanger was going to get shot, or a busload of soldiers was going to get blown up, nobody would panic. Because it's all part of the plan. But tell people that one tiny little mayor is going to die and everyone loses their minds!" The Dark Knight is a mix of skeptical moral/political philosophy and silly action ala V for Vendetta (neither of which can match The Matrix). It raises questions about torture, Orwellian surveillance, lying, heroism, power, the prisoner's dillemma, and social order. In the meantime, we have to put up with ludicrous action and a Tuvan throat singing Batman. I will say that Ledger nailed The Joker, and Eckhart (and his makeup people) really nailed Harvey Dent. Anyway, I went into this film not expecting much; an excellent strategy for any film.
  50. [Meh] Ata Whenua - Shadowland (2008, Fiordland) Trailer.
  51. [Liked] My Kid Could Paint That (2007, Amir Bar-Lev) A four-year-old's abstract paintings start selling like hotcakes, for thousands of dollars. Things get interesting when a 60 Minutes piece questions whether young Marla actually painted the pieces or not. The family recorded her painting two pieces from start to finish, but these had a different quality to them than the ones that sold. I don't think Marla painted the really good ones, but I could easily be wrong. Maybe one day we'll know.
  52. [Loved] Magnetosphere (200?, Robert Hodgin) [short] Watch. My favorite music video ever, for the next 30 minutes.
  53. [Meh] Strangers (2004, Erez Tadmor) [short] Watch. Engaging little film.
  54. [No] Bumfights: A Cause for Concern (2002, Ryen McPherson) Some guy paid a bunch of bums to beat the shit out of each other, drink urine, get bad tattoos, vandalize, and so on. Socially atrocious and undeniably entertaining.
  55. [No] Flatland (2007, Ladd Ehlinger Jr.) The first computer animated feature-length film created by a single person. An adaption of the famous 1884 novella, Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions. Every few seconds, a title card appears to explain the action or make a comment toward the viewer: "Don't try to understand how flatlanders see; it will hurt your brain" and "If you weren't paying attention, you just missed a vital plot point." The film is more purely 2D than even the original novella, and also a more adept satire of the modern world.
  56. [Loved] Be Kind Rewind (2008, Michel Gondry) Heeeeeeeeeeeeelarious.
  57. [No] The Man From Earth (2007, Richard Schenkman) At his retirement party, John Oldman reveals that he has been alive since the Upper Paleolithic. The film is nothing but that conversation. More of an essay than a film. At least it is a "thinking man's sci-fi," and those are truly rare. It is also one of the most blatantly atheistic films I have ever seen.
  58. [Meh] Yacoubian Building (2006, Marwan Hamed) I was happily surprised by the budget and technical skill on display, but the sentimentality was more blatant and less well-crafted than a Speilberg film.The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom (2007, Adam Curtis) I'm sure everything that is brilliant about this documentary has been done before, but I have never seen it done so confidently, so comprehensively, and so beautifully. I was so overwhelmed by the artful eclectic collage soundtrack and the stunningly suggestive montage that I could barely pay attention to the content of the documentary, which was itself excellent. Sometimes the art behind the message was so beautiful I almost cried. Adam Curtis is a genius. In some ways, I think this is the greatest documentary I have ever seen.
  59. [Meh] The Brown Bunny (2003, Vincen Gallo) People either love or hate this film. I think it's very annoying to watch a whiny asshole, but it's not a terrible movie.
  60. [Meh] 12:01 PM (1990, Jonathan Heap) [short] A short film version of Groundhog Day, except more sinister and a single hour keeps repeating itself.
  61. [Liked] Little Otik (2000, Jan Svankmajer) An accessible Svankmajer absurdist film.
  62. [Loved] George Washington (2000, David Gordon Green) A superb cross between Malick and Hartley.
  63. [Liked] The Oak (1992, Lucian Pintilie) Excellent Romanian absurdist realism. A review. (I'm too lazy.)
  64. [Hated] Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation (1989, Eric Zala) A shot-by-shot remake by three teens on a budget of $2000. An astonishing achievement, however hokey and artless.
  65. [Liked] Iraq in Fragments (2006, James Longley) A portrait of a poor, war-riven country crushed by Islam. Iraq, through the eyes of Iraqis.
  66. [Really Liked] Wall-E (2008, Andrew Stanton) I envy the kiddos. They get a $200 million space opera that is a flawless specimin of the mainstream action-adventure-comedy form. Problem is, it is a kids movie. It preaches every nice and affirming message. Nothing is trascendent or mysterious or profound. Everything is predictable. The ending wraps up neat and happy. The loser ugly guy wins the girl in the end because he is persistently needy and worshipful. (Our poor young men; they will never get laid with lessons like that!) Now don't get me wrong - this is a rich and entertaining experience. But it's no 2001 - despite the sparse dialogue in the first half. The annoying thing is that the creative geniuses at Pixar probably do have a 2001 inside them. Several, actually. But they're in a business. And they can't spend $200 million to make anything but well-crafted, cookie-cutter kiddo entertainment. Actually, Spielberg almost did it with A.I.. We'll see what James Cameron does with Avatar. Oh... get to the theater on time. You won't want to miss the Portal-inspired short film up front. I think it had something like 3 laughs per second. EDIT: I've changed my mind; Wall-E was great. The only way I could be disappointed was to go in stupidly expecting 2001, one of the greatest works of art in any medium.
  67. [No] Curse of the Golden Flower (2006, Yimou Zhang) Like At World's End, this is best appreciated as an abstract film.
  68. [Loved] Time (2006, Ki-duk Kim) Movies like this remind me of life and make me hear the phrase "true love" like I hear the phrase "true believer."
  69. [Hated] Disquiet (2006, Matthew Doyle) A no-budget film that could have been shot on my point-and-shoot camera. Bad acting. The sets are very realistic because, well, they're not sets. They are not designed to look like real places in daily use. They are real places in daily use.
  70. [Meh] The Virgin's Bed (1969, Philippe Garrel)
  71. [Hated] Iron Man (2008, Jon Favreau)
  72. [No] Hawaii, Oslo (2004, Hawaii, Oslo) Gack! No. What a lame imitation of Magnolia and Amorres Perros.
  73. [No] Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008, Steven Spielberg) Spielberg had lots of fun making this play just like the original trilogy. He is a consummate technician.
  74. [Loved] Carne (1991, Gaspar Noé) In the first scene, we watch a live horse get shot in the head, bled to death from the neck, and beheaded. Yes, this is a Gaspar Noé film. And yet, unlike most boring exploitation artists, Noé is a consummate artist, who cares for every shot and scene with the intensity of Kubrick. What he needs now is to make a film as ambitious as 2001 or Clockwork Orange.
  75. [Liked] The Free Will (2006, Matthias Glasner) The woman-hating Theo rapes a passing cyclist in a scene more graphic and brutal than the rape scene of Irreversible. He is captured in a stunning night chase scene. Jump forward 9 years: Theo is repentant and wants to reintegrate with society. He transitions to a half-way house. He begins a romance with a girl who has problems of her own, and at every minute we wonder if Theo is going to explode into violence again. Mostly this is a great movie because it has two fucking awesome performances.
  76. [Liked] Regular Lovers (2005, Philippe Garrel) I've long since given up reviewing films. It's much easier to watch a movie and then go find the review that most closely matches my own reaction. If I was getting paid, it'd be another story. Which means I will never get paid to do this. Which is good for humanity. Oh, this is what I thought about Regular Lovers.
  77. [Liked] Taking Liberties (2007, Chris Atkins) Both cute and terrifying.
  78. [No] Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers (2006) Ugh. Does nobody know how to make a good argument anymore? This one should've been easy.
  79. [Meh] The Travelling Players (1975, Theodoros Angelopoulos) Both profound and disappointing after seeing Satantango.
  80. [Loved] The Willow Tree (2005, Majid Majidi) Julia Wallace wrote a perfect review here.
  81. [Liked] The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005, Jacques Audiard) It's unusual for a remake to garner such international acclaim. A real estate thug pursues his (rather sudden) wish to become a concert pianist.
  82. [Liked] In Bruges (2008, Martin McDonagh) Well, except for the last 30 minutes, when everything sucked.
  83. [Meh] Block Party (2005, Michel Gondry)
  84. [Loved] Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975, Chantal Akerman)
  85. [Loved] Taxidermia (2006, György Pálfi) Holy shit. Hukkle is one of the best debut films I've ever seen, and Taxidermia does not disappoint. Will Pálfi become one of the world's greatest directors? Hukkle and Taxidermia are formally avant-garde (and brilliant), offer plenty of accessible amusement, are simultaneously literal and symbolic, and display a technical mastery of film that so few young filmmakers possess. Pálfi's films are daring and deep commentaries on the social condition, and ones that cannot be summed up in a few key messages like Gone Baby Gone (which was good enough already). If I had the time, I would watch this film thirty times and write a book about how good it is. But it's much richer if you go in without any expectations at all (and this saves me the effort of trying to sound like a real critic). Pálfi's latest draws from Cronenberg, Kusturica, Buñuel, and others, but he is created a cinema world of his own.
  86. [Liked] The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006, Ken Loach)
  87. [Liked] Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006, Tom Tykwer) Tykwer directs impossible material with grace and style, and yet one can only feel this is an amusing diversion. Say, did you know the film ends with a thousand-person orgy?
  88. [Liked] The Host (2006, Joon-ho Bong) Funny in big ways and daring in small, this may be one of the best monster movies ever made. That doesn't mean it's any good, but monster movie buffs will love it.
  89. [Liked] Funny Games U.S. (2007, Michael Haneke) Very little of artistic merit here, but I must admit I was riveted the whole time.
  90. [Meh] Cremaster 3 (2002, Matthew Barney) Best of the series. Here is a more coherant appreciation than I could conjure.
  91. [Meh] Cremaster 2 (1999, Matthew Barney) An abstract techno/horror/western/romance that is more interesting but not necesarily more profound than Cremaster 1.
  92. [Hated] Cremaster 5 (1997, Matthew Barney) I have no idea and I don't care.
  93. [Hated] Cremaster 1 (
  94. 1995, Matthew Barney) Not many people will see this, as Barney's Cremaster Cycle has only been released on a limited DVD set that costs at least $100,000. Moreover, the films are only a part of the artwork, which also includes photographs, drawings, sculptures, and installations. As if this didn't make his work inaccessible and indigestible enough, Barney's Cremaster Cycle is abstract, slow, low-budget, and trashy. It might be the epitome of everything people hate about pretentious contemporary art. You can get the "plot synopsis" for each episode here or here. I'm tempted to say that "At least it's one of the most bizarre filmic experiences you could have." But no. There are tons of bizarre movies out there, and hundreds of them are more rewarding than Cremaster 1. Sstart with Eraserhead, maybe.
  95. [Hated] Cremaster 4 (1994, Matthew Barney) Random annoying bullshit.
  96. [No] Sunshine (2007, Danny Boyle)
  97. [Hated] Song of the South (1946, Harve Foster) Song of the South introduced the hit song "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah", inspired the Disney theme park ride Splash Mountain, was based on the wildly popular Uncle Remus story series, was Walt Disney's first live action film (with bits of animation), and yet has never been released in the USA because of its racism. It's no Birth of a Nation, but critics complain that it presents an idyllic impression of the master-slave relationship. I complain because it is maudlin, pedestrian, clumsy, and boring.
  98. [Liked] Silent Light (2007, Carlos Reygadas) But he ain't no Tarkovsky yet!
  99. [Liked] Kaidan (1964, Masaki Kobayashi) Four ghost stories. A "horror" film without any sensationalism or gore, just slow buildups of suspense. An effective but populist bit of filmmaking.
  100. [Liked] Night and Fog [short] (1955, Alain Resnais) A short but brutal documentary about Nazi concentration camps. There should be a documentary like this for every human tragedy during its time, to stir our hearts to action. Right now, we need a short like this about the tragedy in Myanmar.
  101. [Liked] Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974, Jacques Rivette) Certainly, an interesting and unique film, but it shares many of the "flaws" of other New Wave films. Rivette doesn't seem to care where he puts his camera. Nearly any two scenes could be removed and the film would be just as good or bad as it currently is. And Rivette is more interested to capture the silly little ideas that flitted into his head than he is to craft a masterpiece.
  102. [Liked] Dead Man's Shoes (2004, Shane Meadows)
  103. [Loved] This Is England (2006, Shane Meadows)
  104. [Nah] The Memory of a Killer (2003, Erik Van Looy) An interesting story told with an unending sequence of film clichés.
  105. [Loved] Away From Her (2006, Sarah Polley) As Ebert wrote, Polley is "in calm command of almost impossible."
  106. [Liked] The Man From London (2007, Béla Tarr) Tarr does film-noir, his own way.
  107. [Liked] I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK (2006, Chan-wook Park)
  108. [Meh] Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984, Michael Radford) Of course it's a good story, but it needs better direction.
  109. [Liked] Kolya (1996, Jan Sverák)
  110. [Liked] Pelísky (1999, Jan Hrebejk)
  111. [Really Liked] The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007, Julian Schnabel) This film should've been made decades ago - as a student film no less - but it wasn't. However gimmicky, it is about as perfect as such a film could be.
  112. [Meh] Secret Sunshine (2007, Chang-dong Lee) Should have been a novel, not a film.
  113. [Meh] Divided We Fall (2000, Jan Hrebejk)
  114. [Meh] Loners (2000, David Ondricek)
  115. [No] Mr. Woodcock (2007, Craig Gillespie) At least it was better than The Game Plan.
  116. [Really Liked] The Lives of Others (2006, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck)
  117. [Hated] The Game Plan (2007, Andy Fickman) This is what happens when friends just go to the video store and grab something off the shelves.
  118. [Loved] Zelary (2003, Ondrej Trojan) Very good Czeck WWII film.
  119. [Liked] Dark Blue World (2001, Jan Sverák) An enjoyable Czeck war drama.
  120. [Really Liked] Offside (2006, Jafar Panahi) Iranian films tend to be very simple. They let you soak in a situation without trying to quickly cut between 100 plot points. This is no different, and I enjoyed it.
  121. [Meh] Paradise Lost 2: Revelations (2000, Joe Berlinger) Low-quality, high-impact data that, along with its predecessor, may actually play a significant role in changing the lives of three (perhaps falsely) convicted murderers.
  122. [Really Liked] Blame it on Fidel! (2006, Julie Gavras) Spoiled 9-year-old Anna's life changes when her parents become radical political advocates. Young Anna is confronted with a barrage of warring ideologies and philosophies, and must build her own worldview out of this confusion. Probably would have made an even better novel than a movie, but I'm glad it was a movie because I don't have the time for novels.
  123. [Liked] Fitna (2008, Geert Wilders) [short] The controversial short film that points out the violence inherent to Islam. There's no art here, but it carries an important message. Amazingly, it has been banned by the U.N. secretary general! Free speech takes another blow from "religious tolerance." Watch it here.
  124. [Liked] Breaking and Entering (2006, Anthony Minghella)
  125. [Really Liked] In China They Eat Dogs (1999, Lasse Spang Olsen)
  126. [Nah] Leatherheads (2008, George Clooney) By-the-numbers historical drama/comedy. Mostly just annoying. Canned lies, canned acting, canned script.
  127. [Loved] Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008, Nicholas Stoller) Very high laughs-per-minute number. Hilarious. Judd Apatow knocks it out of the park again. Not a good movie, but a damn funny one.
  128. [Really Liked] The Simpsons Movie (2007, David Silverman) A pleasant surprise. I laughed, alot.
  129. [Liked] Kids (1995, Larry Clark) A nice little portrait of real people.
  130. [Nah] Stardust (2007, Matthew Vaughn) Interesting fantasy tale. Too bad it's poorly directed and kiddified.
  131. [Nah] Southland Tales (2006, Richard Kelly) Fails about as often as it works.
  132. [Liked] The Russian Dolls (2005, Cédric Klapisch)
  133. [Liked] The Spanish Apartment (2002, Cédric Klapisch)
  134. [Liked] Paranoid Park (2007, Gus Van Sant)
  135. [No] The Loss of Sexual Innocence (1999, Mike Figgis) Pretentious garbage.
  136. [Nah] Cane Toads (1988, Mark Lewis)
  137. [Loved] There Will Be Blood (2007, Paul Thomas Anderson)
  138. [Liked] Confessions of a Superhero (2007, Matthew Ogens)
  139. [Hated] He Was a Quiet Man (2007, Frank A. Cappello)
  140. [No] And When Did You Last See Your Father (2007, Anand Tucker)
  141. [Liked] Margot at the Wedding (2007, Noah Baumbach) I do so love messy people.
  142. [Liked] Michael Clayton (2007, Tony Gilroy)
  143. [Meh] In the Valley of Elah (2007, Paul Haggis) What are you trying to say Haggis? Something about the army? Speak up, Harris, I can't hear you! Seriously, though, I'm always glad for a movie that has balls.
  144. [Meh] Into the Wild (2007, Sean Penn) I didn't care for the directing, which tried to be both transcendental and stupid. And while it got the romantic part of Chris' character right, it didn't pay much attention to the stupid waste of his story.
  145. [Liked] Lust, Caution (2007, Ang Lee)
  146. [Meh] The Assasssination of Jesse James by Coward Robert Ford (2007, Andrew Dominik)
  147. [Really Liked] The Italian (2005, Andrei Kravchuk)
  148. [Liked] The Band's Visit (2007, Eran Kolirin)
  149. [Loved] Juno (2007, Jason Reitman) I just love watching their faces and listening to them talk. I don't think I would have noticed if there was no plot. Full of the joy and the sorrow and the confusion and the disillusionment and the insecurity and the splendor of life. I laughed, I cried, and I never once felt manipulated. And that's the mark of a good manipulator. Love ya, you actors and director and writer. Oh oh oh you know what I love the most? When Juno and Bleakers talk to each other about hard shit and you can tell they're trying their damndest not to cry. When I finished watching it, I started from the beginning again. Last time I did that with a movie I had to "rewind" it.
  150. [Hated] The God Who Wasn't There (2007, Brian Flemming)
  151. [Liked] Persepolis (2007, Marjane Satrapi)
  152. [Really Liked] MicroCosmos (1996, Claude Nuridsany)
Cloned From: 

I loved Juno, i think its the best movie of 2007, i saw it on a sneak preview, it haven't opened here yet, but i really want to see it again.

Speaking, of watching a movie right away, i think i've only done it twice, The Shawnshank Redemption, and Run Lola Run.

By "right away", do you mean "right away again" or a sneak preview?

right away again, rewind them, like you said.

[Hated] Iron Man (2008, Jon Favreau)

Is that as art or entertainment or both? I thought it was quite poor, but hated? The Hulk was much worse...

These movie mini reviews record my personal enjoyment of a film. The numbered rating lists are, on the other hand, my best guess at a film's objective value (according to my criteria for good art).

I hated Iron Man. I was bored out of my mind.

Thanks, I shall avoid The Incredible Hulk.

If you hate Iron Man, then you will really despise Hulk, and even worse they're going to do a spin off with the two of them, where the Hulk helps him out. The mainstream movie industry really does seem to be on the decline. I would've added spoilers but I fear no-one really cares about the so-called 'twist' at the end of Hulk.

Interesting; you think there was a time when the mainstream movie industry regularly produced better movies than they do today? If there was such a time, I am unaware of it.

I looked up Hulk on Wikipedia to see the twist. Looks like they'll be making an Avengers movie, eh?

I'm also not watching Hulk because I hear there's lots of needles in it. I hate needles.

Perhaps it was not better generally but it certainly seems to have produced a great deal more films. Hitchcock was mainstream, and he is a masterful director, as is Stanley Kubrick, who though may have made some rather less linear films in his time made movies which were appreciated by the mainstream such as 2001.

You hate needles, how did you sit through Requiem or Trainspotting, or in Pulp Fiction when Travola shoots up?

If they did make that, it would be a further abomination.

Also, quick question - how do you find all these films? Most seem quite unknown (at least to a newbie movie-lover like myself)

I dunno. Compare the 20 top-grossing films of 1945 or 1984 to those of 2007 and I don't see much of a difference in quality.

Yes, I did cringe during Requiem, Trainspotting, Pulp Fiction, and other needle movies.

How do I find all these films? Years of practice, reading histories of film, reading anthologies of criticism, browsing websites, searching for keywords and themes on databases like IMDB and All Movie Guide, talking with film lovers, whatever.

After many years, I've started to notice which critics tend to enjoy the same movies I enjoy. For example, I tend to like the same films as Michael Sicinski except that he praises many east-asian films more highly than I do, and I can't get access to the rare avant-garde works he enjoys.

I also tend to have similar tastes as Scaruffi, whose lists are already compilations of his own opinion and those of other select critics.

I have a low success rate with most populist critics, but I tend to like Judd Apatow-style comedies, multi-protagonist movies, and brutal and shocking fare (when they are well-reviewed). I love really innovative movies, and good science fiction (but fewer than 10 good science fiction movies have ever been made).

You will find similar patterns to ride, if you haven't already. Your own tastes will develop and grow.

Ten years ago I would have hated Persona; now I think it's the greatest thing ever. Five years ago I might have thought King Kong was great; today it bored me to tears.

The They Shoot Pictures list is probably the best place to see a wide range of films that are great in very different ways.

Stick to what you love but challenge yourself every now and then; you might end up loving something you didn't know you could love. Don't ever love something because you're supposed to or because it ends up on lots of "best of" lists.

I checked your film log and... Yeah, isn't 2001 amazing! It still plays every bit as brilliant as when it opened because nobody has followed it.

A quote from Chuck Klosterman in regards to mainstream Hollywood cinema from his book Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs (I agree with all of this):

"By now, almost everyone seems to agree that the number of transcendent mass-consumer films shrinks almost every year, almost to the point of their nonexistence. Granted, there remains a preponderance of low-budget deeply interesting movies that never play outside of major U.S. cities...

However, the idea of making a sophisticated movie that could be brilliant and commercially massive is almost unthinkable, and that schism is relatively new. In the early seventies, the Godfather films made tons of money, won bushels of Academy Awards, and - most notably - were anecdotally regarded as damn-near perfect by every non-Italian tier of society, both intellectually and emotionally. They succeed in every dimension. That could never happen today; interesting movies rarely earn money...

I realize citing the first two Godfather films is something of a cheap argument, since those two pictures are the pinnacle of the cinematic art form. But even if we discount Francis Ford Coppola's entire body of work, it's impossible to deny that the chances of seeing an uber-fantastic film in a conventional movie house are growing maddeningly rare, which wasn't always the case. It wasn't long ago that movies like Cool Hand Luke or The Last Picture Show or Nashville would show up everywhere, and everyone would see them collectively, and everyone would have their consciousness shaken at the same time and in the same way. That never happens anymore (Pulp Fiction was arguably the last instance)."

As for your specific examples, I haven't heard of most of the 1945 films, but The Lost Weekend is easily better than any of the top grossers of 2007. It does seem like a week year for Hollywood, though. As for 1984, I do think Ghostbusters and Beverly Hills Cop are better films than the top 10 of 2007, but I admit I do prefer Ratatouille, Knocked Up, and Juno, which fall shortly afterwards. IMHO, Hollywood did produce some really great films in 1984 (Amadeus and Once Upon a Time in America were truly transcendent, although to be fair those were made by non-American directors; and This Is Spinal Tap and the Terminator were high-quality entertainment), which may prove - like the Klosterman quote - that mainstream audiences just have bad taste.

Hmmm, that helps me think differently. Maybe you and Blind are right.

I looked for the best films in the top-10-grossers of each years since Pulp Fiction. They might be: Toy Story and The Matrix.

I just looked at all the top-10-grossers and came to the exact same conclusion. It's pretty slim pickins. On a slightly lower tier for me would be Seven, a couple other Pixar films, a couple superhero films I'm partial to (specifically, X2 and Batman Begins), and I will admit a certain fondness for There's Something About Mary. With the caveats that I haven't seen Saving Private Ryan and know that many people like the Lord of the Rings series even though I don't, I think most of the rest is either just barely good or pretty terrible.

Quick rant:

Why don't more experimental filmmakers put their movies online? Most of these films (especially the shorts) are NEVER released, so nobody can see them except at the occasional local festival. They'll never make money off them. With avant-garde work more than any other, the greatest tragedy is not a lack of profit but obscurity. And if they're worried about film quality, they can just put them on Veoh's HD service or something.

I barely ever review short films even though I suspect several each year are among the best films of the year. Why? They're not available.

I am so happy that everyone is a creator now.

About the perfume, it ends in the orgy? in the book there is a cannibalistic scene at the end after the orgy.

Lol, then the movie wussed out!

You don't remember the postscript, Luke? Sucks for you, donnit.

(The film is entirely faithful in that regard, Critico.)

I guess not! I guess so!


I had a bootleg dvd of The Perfume, it was damaged at the end, i think i missed the last 10 minutes, its on cable now.

glad you enjoyed kung fu panda, what a funny, entertaining film. loved it.