In The Killer Inside Me, Michael Winterbottom’s adaptation of the novel by Jim Thompson, Casey Affleck stars as Texas sheriff’s deputy Lou Ford. At first, he seems like the good-natured heroic main character of the film. ”Around here, if you’re not a man and a gentleman, you’re nothing,” Lou intones in a monologue that opens the film. My initial reaction was that Lou was describing the way he tries to live his life — the importance of striving to be a gentleman. The reality, as we quickly learn, is much darker. Lou is certainly not a gentleman and barely even a human being. His statement reflects his cold, blunt knowledge of that fact.
The Killer Inside Me is worth watching purely for the phenomenal lead performance of Casey Affleck. I am continually amazed by Mr. Affleck’s insistence on taking on challenging, outside-of-the-mainstream roles, and also for his extraordinary versatility as an actor. He can play straight comedy in the Ocean’s Eleven films, a heroic but conflicted lead character in Gone Baby Gone, and then the most horrible type of evil in this film. It’s an extraordinary range for an actor to display, and with each film Mr. Affleck seems to get better and better. In The Killer Inside Me, one can’t help but be captivated as Mr. Affleck reveals layer upon deeper layer of the cruel, horrible individual who Lou Ford really us. It’s a raw, electrifying performance, and one from which you really can’t look away.
The rest of the film is a little more difficult to praise. The film is outrageously violent, and there are several extremely gruesome and graphic depictions of Lou Ford’s violence towards women that verge on the nauseating. I don’t have a strong stomach for violence in films, I will readily admit, and this film really pushed me to my limits. It’s not that there is constant violence throughout the film — it’s more that there are several instances of intense, terrible violence. In particular, one female character meets a shocking demise about of a third of the way into the film. It’s a stunning moment — not only because I had expected that character to stick around for the rest of the film, but also because of the extraordinarily painful, extended, right-on-camera depiction of her death. It’s really rough stuff. I don’t think the violence is necessarily gratuitous — I do understand what Mr. Winterbottom was intending to accomplish — but it’s so tough to watch that in many ways those moments pull me right out of the story I’m watching unfold.
Though what really cripples the film, for me, is the loony left-turn that the narrative takes in the final … [continued]
While I try not to let a filmmaker’s personal life interfere with my enjoyment of their work, I must admit that I didn’t exactly feel a burning desire to rush out and see the latest Roman Polanski film, 2010′s The Ghost Writer. However, while Mr. Polanski’s somewhat sordid past did give me pause, I must of course acknowledge his tremendous skills as a filmmaker. So, in that respect, his involvement in The Ghost Writer also piqued my interest in the film. I wondered what sort of spin Mr. Polanski had brought to a story that looked, on the surface, like a pretty run-of-the-mill thriller. This push-pull on my interest resulted in my passing on the film in theatres, but adding it to my Netflix queue once it came out on DVD.
(And that, my friends, is a little extra free-of-charge insight into how my brain works!)
In the film, Ewan McGregor plays the titular ghost writer. (Interestingly enough, his character’s actual name is never given.) He’s a professional author, hired to help famous people complete their memoirs/autobiographies/etc. The ghost writer’s services are called into play, at the start of the film, to help beleaguered British politician Adam Lang. Mr. Lang, once the British Prime Minister, is now under fire for allegedly allowing suspected terrorists to be tortured while he was the PM. That, plus the untimely death of his last ghost writer, has put a wrinkle in the progress of his upcoming book. With the political scandal reaching fever pitch, the book’s publisher is desperate to get the book completed and on the shelves in great haste, and so Ewan McGregor’s character is dispatched to the Lang compound to begin work immediately.
Except, no surprise, things quickly become very complicated for the ghost. He finds himself faced with Mr. Lang, a politician under siege, who seems extraordinarily affable at times and yet reluctant to open up about himself or his past; Lang’s wife Ruth (Olivia Williams), who seems sympathetic but also extremely tightly-wound; and a growing mystery about Adam Lang’s past and what may or may not have happened to his ghost writer predecessor.
Pierce Brosnan was widely-praised for his performance as Adam Lang, and rightly so. He brings all the charisma and bluster of a great politician to the fore, while also hinting at a dangerous edge that just might lie right below the surface. He constantly keeps the audience guessing as to whether he’s a noble politician beset by pernicious enemies, or whether Adam Lang is in fact a much more sinister character. Speaking of keeping the audience guessing, so too does the wonderful Olivia Williams (Dollhouse, Rushmore) as his wife Ruth. She is wonderfully creepy … [continued]
Over the past few years, Marvel has been reprinting many famous and well-thought-of story-lines from years past in a series of gorgeous Premiere Edition hardcovers. Many of the story-lines being reprinted are ones I’ve already read or own, and there are some that just don’t interest me, but there have been quite a few of these Premiere Editions that have collected old comics that I’ve always wanted to read. The idea of finally having a chance to read those old stories — reprinted in handsome hardcover collections — is very appealing to a hard-core comics fan like myself! Here are some of the ones I’ve read recently:
The Death of Captain Marvel — Despite being a momentous event in the history of the Marvel Universe, and despite my having read and loved quite a lot of Jim Starlin’s cosmic stories from the ’70s and ’80s, I never actually read The Death of Captain Marvel graphic novel (Marvel’s very first graphic novel ever published!). This hardcover not only reprints that famous graphic novel, but also several earlier Captain Marvel comics whose events play a part in the Death of Captain Marvel story. It’s really cool to see those older comics included. They’re certainly not critical to understanding the Death of Captain Marvel, but they’re fun samplings of Captain Marvel’s long history of outer-space adventures. It’s interesting to read them, and compare them to the more mature, somber story-telling of Jim Starlin’s epic The Death of Captain Marvel. It’s easy to forget, today, just how ground-breaking that story was, when it was originally published back in 1982. Not just that a prominent character was being killed off, but also that he would perish not as the result of some super-hero/super-villain slugfest, but as a victim of cancer. I applaud Mr. Starlin’s boldness in incorporating such real-world drama into the stories of his cosmic characters. While this does lead to some narrative silliness, in which Mr. Starlin has to come up with some not-quite convincing reasons for why none of the Marvel Universe’s array of geniuses (Reed Richards, Tony Stark, etc.) can cure or at least staunch the spread of the cancer affecting the Captain, it’s a forgivable sin. I can suspend my disbelief enough to be able to invest in the drama of the story Mr. Starlin was crafted. (Anyways, those scenes aren’t nearly as weird as the one in which the dying Captain Marvel suggests that his womanizing buddy, Eros, “look after” his girlfriend Elysius once he’s gone…) Over-all, the story stands up quite well, and I particularly enjoyed the final fourteen pages, everything that happens after the caption “midnight.” It’s a very clever way to end the story, and … [continued]
I was really captivated by The Squid and the Whale when I first saw it, and I think that first viewing made me interested for life in whatever future projects writer/director Noah Baumbach would undertake. I was bummed to have missed Greenberg when it was released to theatres last year, but was happy to catch up with it on DVD last month.
Ben Stiller plays the titular Greenberg: Roger Greenberg. A tightly-wound fellow, Roger Greenberg has returned to Los Angeles after many years away (and, apparently, a brief stay in a mental institution). While his wealthy brother, Phillip (Chris Messina) is out of town with his family, Roger has moved into his large house. While Phillip has given Roger some projects as an ostensible reason for his visit (namely to use his carpenter skills to build a new doghouse for the family pet), it’s clear that the main reason for his stay is to somehow find himself again, and perhaps to return some stability to his life.
Though the film is called Greenberg, the movie opens by allowing us to spend a significant amount of time with a young woman named Florence (played by Greta Gerwig). She is Phillip Greenberg’s assistant/nanny, and she’s assigned with taking care of some household chores in the family’s absence, and also to assist Roger if he needs help. It’s that last assignment that proves tricky. Though there’s a spark of attraction between the two, the young, cheerful Florence doesn’t quite know what to make of the occasionally depressed, always difficult forty year-old Roger.
As always, director and co-writer Noah Baumbach (he shares story credit with his wife, Jennifer Jason Leigh) is able to mine a lot of comedy from the painfully awkward collisions of slightly-damaged people. Well, in this case, I think it’s fair to say that Roger Greenberg is more than just slightly damaged. Mr. Baumbach and Mr. Stiller make brave choices in allowing their lead character to be extraordinarily unlikable at times. The film is very funny on occasions, and much of that humor is derived from Greenberg’s neuroses (such as his proclivity for writing long letters of complaint to any agency or business that has offended him in the slightest). But the film is also tough to watch at times. Greenberg’s insecurities cause him to lash out at those people trying (perhaps against their better judgment) to be in his life. In particular, he’s terribly cruel to Florence at several points in the film, in a way that really dares the audience to give up on this character.
But somehow — and this is really a testament to Mr. Baumbach’s skill as a writer/director — we never quite do, and
This is a pretty funny assemblage of 1980′s movie references. Don’t miss Topher Grace’s dynamite Marty McFly impersonation that comes at around 2:30.
I was sad to read of the passing of famed composer John Barry. He’s responsible for so many pieces of iconic James Bond related music, it’s staggering. He wrote the scores for eleven Bond films, including Goldfinger and From Russia With Love.
In happier Bond news, is it possible that Javier Bardem will be the villain in the next Bond film? James Bond vs. Anton Chigurh? What an inspired idea!
In even-happier-than-that Bond news, comes this casting possibility. I really hope these casting rumors pan out! I’m very excited with the way Bond 23 looks to be shaping up so far…
Click here to read The New Yorker‘s fantastic profile of Guillermo del Toro. It’s a lengthy piece, stuffed full of delicious tidbits of information on the many projects that he has in the hopper (and some — like The Hobbit with him as director — that sadly will never be). I really hope that his adaptation of At the Mountains of Madness actually happens.
I’m a dreamer, and I dare to dream that someday we’ll get another awesome X-Men movie. (I adored X-Men and X2, but was disappointed by X3 and thought X-Men Origins: Wolverine was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.) I’m starting to think it just might be happening when I read articles like this about The Wolverine, the upcoming film directed by Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler, Black Swan), written by Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects), and based upon Chris Claremont & Frank Miller’s famous, amazing Wolverine mini-series from 1982, set in Japan. My hopes are VERY high for this one, gentlemen. Please don’t let me down!
The moment I knew was coming has arrived: Brandon Routh is officially not playing Superman in Zack Snyder’s upcoming film. Readers of this site know that I am a fierce defender of Superman Returns, and in particular I thought Mr. Routh was phenomenal as Clark Kent/Superman. I totally understand that Mr. Snyder wants to set his film apart from Bryan Singer’s film, but I’m still really disappointed that we’re not going to get a whole series of films with Mr. Routh in the lead. It’s a big disappointment.
And, I must add, this rumor that Jessica Biel is up for the role of Lois Lane has me VERY worried. Urgh, that’s a terrible idea. But then I read that that Jessica Biel rumor is just that — a rumor. OK, whew, I thought, bullet dodged. But then I read … [continued]
I wanted to acknowledge, today, the passing of two terrific comedic actors: Kenneth Mars and Len Lesser.
Kenneth Mars was a mainstay of Mel Brooks’ early films, most notably The Producers (in which he played Franz Liebkind, a Nazi whose love for the fallen Reich spurred him to write the play “Springtime for Hitler”), and Young Frankenstein (in which he played another comedic German, the one-wooden-armed Inspector Kemp). Mr. Mars absolutely owns both of those films. I’m particularly fond of Inspector Kemp. I could listen to his mangled English all day. (“Ah rrriot ees un ugly sink!”)
For more on Mr. Mars’ life and career, click here. (And props to the New York Times for even making note of Mr. Mars’ one-time guest appearance on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine!)
Len Lesser is best known to me — and probably most American TV-watchers! — as Uncle Leo from Seinfeld. It’s tough to overstate just how perfect his performance as Leo was — there’s a reason the Seinfeld writers kept bringing back that character! (“They said they were sending an Asian woman!”) But Mr. Lesser also had a long and varied career in TV and film. His credits include The Outlaw Josey Wales and Birdman of Alcatraz. For more on Mr. Lesser, click here.
Both men will be missed.… [continued]
Believe it or not, 2010 marked the 40th anniversary of Garry Trudeau’s seminal comic-strip Doonesbury. I was lucky enough to have received as gifts, recently, two tomes that were recently released in order to celebrate that event.
The first is Doonesbury and the Art of G.B. Trudeau, by Brian Walker. This gorgeous, over-sized hardcover coffee-table book spotlights the illustration and design work of Mr. Trudeau (as opposed to a focus on his strips’ political satire and/or relevance). As Mr. Walker comments in his introduction, “I had always felt that [Trudeau] had not received adequate recognition for his talents as an artist and graphic designer.” In order to remedy that, the book includes beautiful reproductions of a wealth of Doonesbury-related materials drawn by Mr. Trudeau.
There is, first and foremost, a healthy sampling of reproductions of the strip itself. Sometimes these comics are produced in the clean, colored, finished versions that one could read on the newspaper page. Other strips — far more interestingly, to me — look to be scans of Mr. Trudeau’s original art boards, so we can get a sense of how the ink and lettering were originally applied, where mistakes were corrected, etc. As an artist myself, I found it super-cool to get a glimpse at these samples of Doonesbury in their rough form.
But the book is far more than just a handsome collection of cartoons. Mr. White has included hundreds of other images of Doonesbury material. We see promotional material created by/for the syndicate to promote the strip. We see Doonesbury posters, t-shirts, buttons, etc. We see Doonesbury illustrations that Mr. Trudeau produced for magazines (like Rolling Stone, Life, & Newsweek) that spotlighted the strip. We see illustrations from the Doonesbury: the Musical (an experiment from 1984 that I had never heard of before!) and the Doonesbury board game, designs for Doonesbury stamps, illustrations for various Doonesbury collections from over the years, and so much more. My single favorite image was a lovely reproduction of the poster for Sally’s Pizza in New Haven, CT (the best pizza place on planet Earth, in my humble opinion) drawn by Mr. Trudeau that I always admire on the wall when eating there.
The book also spotlights some of Mr. Trudeau’s key creative partners, which is fascinating. One, though, was quite a shock to me — I had no idea that, almost since the very beginning, Mr. Trudeau has not inked his own work! No, he pencils the strip, and the cartoons are then inked by Don Carlton. This is unbelievable to me!! Now, there’s no shame in an artist using an inker. Many do — and, in fact, the penciller/inker partnership is a key … [continued]
5. 30 Rock: “Reaganing” (season 5, episode 5, aired on 10/21/10) – Jack boasts that he has reached a 24-hour state of perfection that he called “Reaganing,” in which he is unable to make any mistakes. But his perfect game is challenged when he’s faced with helping Liz sort out her latest sexual hang-up. The episode is packed with terrific moments: Kelsey Grammer helping Jenna and Kenneth scam a local bakery; Tracy’s incredible inability to deliver a single line necessary for a commercial; and the revelation of the origin of Liz’s sexual problem. (Hint: it involves Tom Jones.) Very funny stuff.
4. The Pacific: Part Ten (aired on 5/16/10) – I’m a big fan of the final chapters of The Return of the King that chronicle what happened after the victorious destruction of the One Ring and the defeat of Sauron. I also love the voluminous appendices, that detail the final fates of all of the main characters. Most stories choose to end at the moment of our heroes’ triumph, but I find something powerfully sad about exploring what happens in the days afterwards. This might help to explain why I was so taken with the final episode of Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg’s HBO mini-series The Pacific. This episode is set after the end of the war, and we see our characters — most notably Eugene Sledge and Robert Leckie — return home and attempt, each in their own way, to rebuild their lives which were forever changed by their experiences in combat. I found the whole hour to be devastating, particularly the moment when we see Sledge’s father standing quietly, helplessly, outside his son’s bedroom door as he listens to the wails of his son who lies within, unable to sleep because of the haunting effects of the conflict. The series could have easily ended after Part Nine, but it’s the events of Part Ten that, to me, raise The Pacific to the level of greatness.
3. Parks and Recreation: “94 Meetings” (Season 2, episode 21, aired on 4/29/2010) – Yep, I’ve got a second episode of Parks and Recreation on my list. Ron Effing Swanson is threatened with actually having to do some work when he discovers that April has scheduled all of the meetings that he’s put off all year-long for one single day. The wonderfully rich ensemble of the show (which has been so beautifully fleshed out during the show’s second season, after a shaky start in the six-episode first season) gets to shine, when Ron solicits everyone’s help in … [continued]
All right! So here we are at last at my final 2010 Top 10 list — my list of the Top 10 Episodes of TV of 2010! I hope you’ve all enjoyed my previous lists: The Top 10 Movies of 2010 (click here for part one, and here for part two), The Top 10 DVDs/Blu-Rays of 2010 (click here for part one, and here for part two), and the Top 15 Comic Books of 2010 (click here for part one, and here for part two).
Before we begin, I should note that there are a few 2010 TV shows that I haven’t had a chance to see any of (though I hope to remedy this soon, through the magic of DVD. Just need to find the time!!) These include: Louie, Eastbound and Down, Bored to Death, and Boardwalk Empire. So, if you’re wondering why no episodes from those (apparently great) shows made the list, now you know!
OK, here we go:
10. Mad Men: “The Beautiful Girls” (Season 4, episode, 9, aired on 9/19/10) — This was an interesting episode of Mad Men that spotlighted many of the women in the ensemble. Sally, miserable living with her mother, runs away to find Don at his office, and begs him to let her live with him. Faye is put in the uncomfortable position of having to comfort this distraught child. Peggy has a rough series of interactions with the young fella who Joyce set her up with, who doesn’t seem to have a clue as to what sort of woman Peggy is and how to connect with her. Joan, lonely after the departure of her husband Greg for Vietnam, finally accepts Roger Stirling’s offer of dinner — which proves momentous because of what goes down after the two of them are mugged. And then, of course, there is poor Mrs. Blankenship, whose untimely demise leads to a laugh-out-loud sequence in which the folks at Stirling, Cooper, Draper, Price try to prevent the presence of a dead body from interrupting their regular business. It’s my favorite moment of the entire season of Mad Men.
9. Parks and Recreation: “Woman of the Year” (Season 2, episode 17, aired 3/4/2010) — Leslie Knope expects to be chosen as the Woman of the Year by the Indiana Organization of Women, but she’s horrified to learn that their choice is actually her mustachioed boss, Ron Swanson. There’s a lot of comic fun to be had from Ron’s gleeful torturing of Leslie (“Which of these objects most represents women, for this portrait?”), but what I love about this episode is the surprising amount of sweetness that … [continued]
5. Incognito: Bad Influences – Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ sequel to their terrific series, Incognito, has only just begun but I’m already deeply hooked again on the story of former super-villain Zack Overkill. At the end of the last series, Zack had thrown in with the S.O.S. (the agency that tries to hold the line against the super-villain crime gangs). Now they’ve sent him back undercover into the criminal world, in an attempt to contact another S.O.S. undercover agent who has apparently gone rogue. There’s no way this is going to end well. Mr. Brubaker’s fusion of super-hero and crime stories is as engagingly clever as ever, and Mr. Phillips gritty, evocative art (aided by Val Staples’ gorgeous colors) makes each page a real work of art. Phenomenal stuff.
4. Baltimore: The Plague Ships — Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden bring their vampire-hunter character, Baltimore, from the pages of their novel (Baltimore, or The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire) into the comic-book world, and the result is a wonderfully creepy mini-series. In France in 1916, Lord Baltimore hunts the vampire, Haigus, who destroyed his family. But when he and the Gypsy young woman traveling with him find themselves shipwrecked, they discover a graveyard of German submarines and an even more terrible threat. Ben Stenbeck’s illustration work and Dave Stewart’s colors work together beautifully to bring this dark, suspenseful tale to life. It’s a compelling horror story that has really stuck with me since I finished reading the series. I am very excited for the next Baltimore mini-series, coming this year!
3. S.H.I.E.L.D. – This series took me completely by surprise. I almost didn’t buy the first issue, but thank goodness that I did! Jonathan Hickman’s story about the secret origins of the Marvel Universe — from Leonardo DaVinci’s encounter with a Celestial to Galileo’s fight with Galactus to the secret work that Anthony Stark and Nathaniel Richards (the parents of Tony Stark — Iron Man — and Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four) did together, this series is stuffed to the gills with interweaving characters and story-lines that span centuries, and a heck of a lot of BIG ideas. Mr. Hickman’s story is complex, inventive and unique, and the artwork by Dustin Weaver and Christina Strain is absolutely gorgeous.
2. Serenity: Float Out and The Shepherd’s Tale — Dark Horse Comics only released two short stories, this year, set in the universe of Joss Whedon’s … [continued]
I hope you all enjoyed my Top 10 Movies of 2010 list (click here for part one, and here for part two) and my Top 10 DVDs of 2010 list (click here for part one, and here for part two)! Now on to my list of my Top 15 Comic Book Series of 2010!
Honorable Mentions: Hoo boy, did I read a lot of really fantastic comic books this past year. In addition to the titles listed in my Top 15 list (I couldn’t even keep this list contained to a Top 10), I also really enjoyed: The Marvels Project, X-Factor, X-Factor Forever, New Avengers, Avengers Prime, Batman: Streets of Gotham, Batman and Robin, The Stand, Astro City, RASL, Ultimate Thor, Ultimate Mystery, Ultimate Doom, and the final issues of Ex Machina. I’m also pleased beyond words that John Byrne’s Next Men has finally returned to life (even though I don’t think the first two issues of the relaunch have come anywhere close to the greatness of the original Next Men series).
15. Superman/Batman Annual #4 — OK, this isn’t a series, but an incredible single issue. The Batman Beyond mini-series that DC published this year was great, but this one-shot annual was absolutely phenomenal. Set some-time after the conclusion of the Bruce Timm-masterminded TV series Batman Beyond, this issue picks up story-threads left dangling by the show’s Justice League two-parter “The Call.” An older Superman comes out of the fog of years of mind-control to attempt to pick up the ruins of his shattered life, and Batman (Terry McGinnis) must confront the man who took over Metropolis in Superman’s absence: Lex Luthor. A great story by Paul Levitz with gorgeous art by Renato Guedes and Jose Wilson, this was a real winner.
14. Nemesis – This profane and extraordinarily violent four-issue series from Mark Millar and Steve McNiven was gloriously outrageous fun. The premise is simple: what if Batman, instead of being a hero, had used his incredible mind and enormous fortune to become the world’s most dangerous super-villain? Fourteen-year-old me would have thought this was the greatest comic book ever created, and the older, balder version of me also thought it was a heck of a lot of fun. (It would have been higher on this list if not for the last few pages of the final issue which, to me, didn’t make any sense.) They’re not on this list, but I also enjoyed Mark Millar’s series Superior and Kick-Ass 2 (of which one issue has been published so far).
13. Star Trek: Leonard McCoy: Frontier Doctor – John Byrne was the first comic book artist/writer who I ever … [continued]
5. Batman: Under the Red Hood — Bruce Timm’s Batman: The Animated Series knocked me for a loop when I first saw it back in the ’90s, and I’ve been a huge fan of his many DC Universe animated projects in the years since. The recent series of animated DVDs that he’s been masterminding have been a bit hit-or-miss, but this film (adapting a storyline from the Batman comics written by Judd Winick) is really tremendous. The story has a GREAT hook: Batman’s life is uprooted when he discovers that the new crime-lord in Gotham City just might be his former partner, Robin. What unfolds is a surprisingly dark, surprisingly violent tale. Whenever Mr. Timm returns to Batman, I’m a happy camper, but this grim little film really grabbed me. I think it’s a particularly great depiction of the Dark Knight Detective. A superlative voice cast (including Bruce Greenwood, Neal Patrick Harris, Jensen Ackles, Jason Isaacs, and Futurama’s John Di Maggio) is just the icing on the cake. (Click here for my original review.)
4. Family Guy: It’s a Trap! – The folks at Family Guy conclude their trilogy of extended episodes parodying the three original Star Wars films with this warped version of Return of the Jedi. The animation is absolutely gorgeous (it’s shocking that I would write that about an episode of Family Guy, but believe me, it’s true. These artists have painstakingly recreated shot after shot from Return of the Jedi. Their version of the Battle for the Second Death Star is astounding). The jokes are very funny. (I was particularly taken with their depiction of the speeder-bike chase sequence, but on tricycles.) It’s Family Guy Star Wars. What more could I ask for? (Click here for my original review.)
3. Grindhouse (Blu-Ray) – I was very afraid that this would never see the light of day, but at last one can now own the original theatrical version of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s double-feature, complete with all of the fake trailers. I love the extended versions of the two films that were released on DVD a few years back, but I’ve been aching to be able to experience what I saw (and so loved) in theatres back in 2007. Ignore the nay-sayers — this film is genius, and it is phenomenally entertaining viewing. It’s not for everyone (there’s a lot of sex and violence), but damn do I think it’s a lot of fun.
2. Apocalypse Now: Full Disclosure (Blu-Ray) – Apocalypse Now is one of my favorite films. I didn’t … [continued]
First, the DVDs that might have made this list had I had the time to watch them. My to-watch DVD shelf has been getting a bit backed-up lately. As a result, there are several DVDs and DVD sets that I am really excited about, but that I haven’t had a chance to watch. These include: The Red Riding Trilogy, the new edition of The Bridge on the River Kwai, the Criterion Collection edition of Guillermo del Toro’s film Cronos, the Criterion Collection edition of The Thin Red Line, and Parks and Recreation Season 2 (which I watched when it aired but I’m eager to revisit!). OK, now on to my list:
10. Scott Pilgrim vs the World (Blu-Ray) – This was my favorite film of 2010, and the Blu-Ray release rocked pretty hard as well. First of all, it’s an absolutely GORGEOUS presentation of the film. Second, the DVD is totally awash in incredible special features. I’m a nut for DVD special features, but this disc tested even my endurance (in the best possible way). There’s a phenomenal, in-depth making-of documentary, but there are also a ton of deleted and extended scenes, bloopers, featurettes spotlighting the film’s music, visual effects, casting, fight-training, pre-production, and so-much more. It’s a magnificent presentation of a magnificent film. (Click here for my original review of the film.)
9. Clerks (Blu-Ray) — This is a great film and it looks great on Blu-Ray, but the reason it’s on this list is because this disc includes the 2004 documentary film Oh, What a Lovely Tea Party. I’ve been reading about this documentary for years, but it’s never been released on any home-video format, until now. It’s a funny and fascinating fly-on-the-wall look at the making of Kevin Smith’s film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Now, you might be asking yourself, what is a documentary about Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back doing on the Blu-Ray of Clerks? Well, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, which is why this disc is in the bottom half of my top ten list, rather than the top half.
8. The Pacific (Blu-Ray) — This was a gift from my brother and his wife, and what a gift! I consider Band of Brothers to be one of the finest television series ever created, so obviously I was eagerly anticipating Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg’s take on the war in the Pacific. In many ways, … [continued]
Yesterday I began my list of my Top 10 Movies from 2010. Here now are numbers 5-1!
5. Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work – This documentary totally took me by surprise and completely changed the way I look at Joan Rivers. As the cameras follow Ms. Rivers for a year of her life, we see the struggles of this aging comedienne who wants, above all else, to keep working, working, working. The film gives one ample opportunities to analyze just why Ms. Rivers is so intent on remaining in the public eye, whether that be by doing stand-up in clubs, hawking merchandise on the Home Shopping Network, or appearing on Celebrity Apprentice. But whatever one’s conclusions, positive or negative, I found it impossible not to be astounded by this woman’s endurance and stamina. The film is well-crafted, and presents what I felt was an extraordinarily well-rounded picture of this iconic and polarizing figure. (Click here for my full review.)
4. Toy Story 3 — One of these days the folks at Pixar are going to make a bad movie (I’m afraid it might be Cars 2, but we’ll see…) but for now I can only relish in their unparalleled recent win-streak of amazing films: Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up, and now Toy Story 3. This movie is simply deliriously entertaining. It’s incredibly funny and also extraordinarily poignant. While the ending certainly isn’t tragic, I nevertheless found it to be devastatingly sad. It’s a wonderfully emotional climax to the story of Woody, Buzz and the gang, and pretty much every note is exactly perfect. The voice cast is stupendous, and the animation is absolutely beautiful (as are the 3-D effects). Pixar, my hat is off to you. (Click here for my full review.)
3. Black Swan — I’ve been an admirer of Darren Aronofsky’s work for a while now, but this film made me a fan for life. I couldn’t believe I’d ever go see a film about wrestling, let alone love a film about wrestling as much as I did Mr. Aronofsky’s last film, The Wrestler (click here for my review). And I DOUBLY wouldn’t have believed I’d ever go see a film about ballet dancers, let alone have been as head-over-heels in love with one as I am with Black Swan. The film is magnificent. Natalie Portman dazzles in the lead role of Nina Sayers, the young dancer cast in the lead role of Swan Lake, who just might be losing her mind as she struggles to take her dancing to the next level. The film is viscerally intense, with an escalating what-is-going-to-happen-NEXT mania that builds to a … [continued]
2010 was not a great year for new movies, in my opinion. For the first ten months of the year, I saw far fewer movies in the theatre than I had in years past. Part of that was due to how busy my life has gotten these days, but it was also because there just weren’t that many movies that came out that really interested me! Things started to turn for the better towards the end of the year. A number of very interesting films were released in the end-of-the-year Oscar crunch, and as those of you who’ve been following along with my “Catching Up On 2010″ series of articles know, I also made an enormous effort in December & January to track down on DVD many of the smaller films that I hadn’t been able to see in theatres earlier in the year (films like Cyrus, The Kids Are All Right, Winter’s Bone, etc.)
So in the last two months I’ve added quite a few films to the list of “good 2010 films” that I keep in my notebook. But what’s fascinating to me, as I looked through that list in preparation for creating this Top 10 list, is that while there did wind up being quite a few 2010 films that I found to be really GOOD, there weren’t so many that I felt were truly GREAT. Looking back at my Top 10 Movies from 2009 list, I think that every single one of the ten films I chose is really spectacular. I own all 10 films on DVD or blu-ray. But as I considered all of the new movies I saw in 2010, there aren’t that many that I can see myself buying on disc. (And since I buy a LOT of movies on disc, this is a telling statement about my feelings regarding the overall quality of the films I saw this year.)
But enough negativity. Though it was a harder list to assemble than it was last year, assemble it I have. The following ten films are the ones that I found to be truly superlative from 2010. It’s an eclectic mix, but I stand by my choices. If there are films on this list that you never saw, I strongly encourage you to check them out!
Before we begin, I like to make note of the 2010 films that I WANTED to see but didn’t. I think I see a lot more movies than your average Joe, but despite that, there are always films that I missed for whatever reason. This year these include: Tiny Furniture, Animal Kingdom, I Love You Phillip Morris, The Company Men, The Tempest, The Myth of the American … [continued]