Friday, February 29, 2008

Weekly Top 10

It may be almost March, but I felt it was wrong that I never did this. 2007 was a great year for film. Films so diverse that broke new ground, and revived tired genres (thrillers, westerns, comedies). To honor this great year, I now present you with the top 10 films of 2007:
1. There Will Be Blood- Rarely does a film divide audiences like this one did. Some found it a masterpiece, others loathed it, and some were just too weirded out. Me, I thought it was the best film of the year and one that will be talked about for decades to come. The typical rise-and-fall story is turned on its head as Daniel Plainview (incredible Daniel Day-Lewis) is evil and greedy without much cause. He is a prospector who unexpectedly finds oil and becomes rich. Throughout the year he endures a tumultuous relationship with his son and a preacher (Paul Dano). Anderson's film traces the roots of capitalism with themes relevant to the present that can be seen in Dano's wacky preist, which feels like watching the Church Network. Anderson's work is one that the likes of Kubrick would be smiling on today with prolonged silence and hidden irony. Blood is one that will forever stay with you. Without a doubt one of the best film's so far this decade.
2. Superbad- Comedy had a new name this year, and its name was Judd Apatow. He only produced this film, but you can really see his trademarks showing. This is the story of two high schoolers (Cera and Hill) who have been lifelong best friends about to be split apart once college comes around. Perhaps the one thing that keeps them together is how unpopular they are, but they find their last chance to get girls in high school when they get asked to buy alcohol for a popular girl's party. Superbad is a spot on portrayal of the awkwardness of high school that is sometimes so hard to watch because it is so realistic but then again, its impossible to stop watching. Superbad succeeds in the way nobody is made to look like a bad guy and the heroes strifes are just like our own. Mainly, it is a film that explores the meaning of true friendship like it's never been before on film and basically, the angst of being a teenager. Oh, it's also one of the funniest films in years. And I haven't even mentioned McLovin...
3. No Country for Old Men- When I first saw this, I walked out confused and unsure whether I liked this film or not because of its ending. But it does what a great film should do: it never leaves your mind. The Coen Brothers have created one of cinema's darkest thrillers. A hunter (Brolin) stumbles upon $2 million which insites the wrath of deadpan, psychotic assassin Anton Chigurh (Bardem) and an aging sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones). This is the brothers' darkest vision to date but they have not lost their old habits; they pay extra close attention to the culture and layout of the land they are exploring which emphasizes their stories. It works perfectly in No Country, as they search the empty, decaying Texas deserts. The daring decision of no background score is a fascinating one, and Bardem is the scariest killer since Hannibal Lecter. The Coen Brothers rightfully earned their first directing Oscar.
4. Knocked Up- The first Apatow film of the year is a brilliant example of just how far improv can take you. The story of a lazy stoner (Rogen) whose one night stand with a beautiful woman (Heigl) results in pregnancy is utterly convincing and in the end, deeply moving. Along the way, are a series of hilarious pop culture references ranging from Munich to naked Meg Ryan. It's a reflection of our pop-culturally, beauty obsessed culture but most importantly, dirty comedy done right.
5. Grindhouse- Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez united for this two part, 3 hour long film thats a tribute to their youth. One half is a trashy zombie film and the other is a chase film. It immitates, without mocking an underground culture of film the world ignored in theatres. Sadly, you'll never get the full Grindhouse experience because its tragically been split for DVD.
6. Juno- Another part of the comedy revival of 2007. Juno (Page) is a free-spirtied teen who goes too far when she coerces her best friend, Paulie Bleeker (Cera), into having sex with her. Inevitably, she gets pregnant. Instead of abortion, she decides to give it up to adoptive parents. Although criticized recently, Juno is just as good as when I first saw it. The jokes are hilarious, and the story moving. Page steals the film as a girl more mature than most teens who surround her yet still maintains childlike innocence. The soundtrack by the Moldy Peaches becomes a second narrator, giving away hints to the story's theme.
7. Eastern Promises- Mortenesen is spot-on as a Russian Mobster. A nurse (Watts) probs a diary she found from a dead teenager to a ring of prostituion and murder in the underground Russian mafia of London. David Cronenberg's (A History of Violence) second account of the effects of violence is even more effective then the first, pondering what justification could ever be made for violence. The answer: none. Credit also for the shocking violence, including the soon-to-be-famous bathhouse scene (see it, and you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.
8. Michael Clayton- A corporate lawyer (Wilkinson) finds a deadly secret about the company he has defended and goes mad. Another corporate "fixer" (Clooney) is the only one who understands his warnings. Clayton is a brilliant thriller, one that echos the 70s and hits you when you're least expected. It also makes you wonder, what makes people do the jobs that they take when they're as bad as Clayton's is? What do you do when you're defending the death's of over 400 people?
9. Persepolis- This brilliant French animated film tells the story of a rebellious teenage girl during the Iranian Revolution who gets away and explores the world as she matures. This is a film about what happens once a child leaves the nest into the harsh world and must learn to fend for themselves. Most importantly: always be proud of who you are and where you come from.
10. Zodiac- David Fincher (Fight Club) explores one of the most terrifying unsolved murder cases in this country's history. In the late 60s into the 80s, cartoonist Robert Greysmith (Gyllenhal) tries to track down the notorious serial killer the Zodiac and becomes obsessed. The film explores the dangers of inescapable obsession and one of Fincher's favorites: the exploitation of the media and people aiming for fame in the wrong way. Because the Zodiac has never been found, the film searches for no answers since there is none. All we see of him is a shadow and possible ideas of his identity. While most directors might've shown his face or tried to find an answer, Fincher makes a wise decision is staying away from that. Although it failed at the box office, Zodiac deserves a second life on DVD so you can all experience one of 2007's most unique tales of mysterious and unspeakable evil.
Other Favorites: The Simpsons Movie, Ratatouille, Darjeeling Limited, 3:10 to Yuma, Sweeney Todd, Sicko, Rescue Dawn

Quote of the Day

"When fortune smiles on something as violent and ugly as revenge, it seems proof like no other, that God exists, and not only does He exist, you're doing His will."
-Kill Bill Volume 1

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Quote of the Day

Nicky: You have really kind eyes, you know that?
Andy Stitzer: Thanks. Umm... your hat has sequins.
-The 40 Year Old Virgin

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Quote of the Day

Kyle: Michael Bay gets to keep making movies and Cartman gets his own theme park; there is no God.
-South Park

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Quote of the Day

Airport Lot Attendant: There's a minimum charge of 4 dollars, long term parking charges by the day.
Carl Showalter: I guess you think you're... you know like an authority figure, with that stupid fuckin' uniform, huh buddy? King clip-on-tie there, big fuckin' man huh? You know these are the limits of your life, man. The rule of your little fuckin' gate here. Here's your 4 dollars, you pathetic piece of shit.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Oscars head towards "No Country"

Surprise surprise. No Country for Old Men took home this year's best picture statue. It also won for Joel/Ethan Coen's outstanding directing (finally), adapted screenplay, and brilliant Javier Bardem. And of course, Daniel Day-Lewis won for There Will Be Blood. He truly does drink your milkshake. Honestly if he didn't win, I'd swear off the Academy for good.
There Will Be Blood was my favorite film of the year and although I'm a little disappointed it lost, I know it won't be forgotten come 20-30 years from now. Still, I'm glad No Country won as well. This was the award the Coen Brothers should've gotten for Fargo and should've been nominated for The Big Lebowski.
Each best picture nominee got at least one award. Michael Clayton's Tilda Swinton won for her menacing corporation head. She was fantastic, but Blanchett was better as Bob Dylan. Nearly forgotten Atonement got a best score win while Juno won for best original screenplay. Accepting the award was Diablo Cody, who came dressed as Fred Flinstone.
Ratatouille scored another win for Pixar. It still haunts me that Surfs Up was chosen in that category over The Simpsons Movie. Marion Cotilard won best actress. Haven't seen the movie she was in and don't really want to. All I know is that Ellen Page deserved that trophy. She's young, she'll win sometime hopefully. Same goes to Paul Thomas Anderson. A Kubrick for this generation, the mastermind was shut out for his sweeping masterpiece. Oh well, Orson Welles lost for Citizen Kane. Yep, I just compared Blood to Kane because its just that good. Hopefully, this was just a preview for more greatness to come from him.
The surprise appearance by Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill was hilarious enough to make up for the fact that Knocked Up and Superbad were totally shut out and Norbit got a nod instead. As for the host himself, Stewart, another fine job. He managed to keep things fun for the 3 hour ceremony. His joke that Cate Blanchett was a dog in No Country was sheer genius, as was his salute to binoculars.
Congrats to the Coen Brothers for finally winning. Daniel and Javier, you deserved it, and P.T. Anderson will be called up one day soon. Let's pray for a good ceremony next year and a good winner as well. Maybe a few less accents would help, too. Mostly, please get Judd Apatow's name on the ballot for once.

My question to you: Will No Country For Old Men hold up and become a classic? My answer: yes. But I think this will be a French Connection-Clockwork Orange scenario: the former was deserving and soon became a classic but the latter would one day become a timeless and forever discussed masterwork. No Country will be like French and Blood will be like Clockwork

Quote of the Day (Special Double Oscar Edition)

Llewelyn Moss: If I don't come back, tell mother I love her.
Carla Jean Moss: Your mother's dead, Llewelyn.
Llewelyn Moss: Well then I'll tell her myself.
-No Country For Old Men

Plainview: Did you think your song and dance and your superstition would help you, Eli? I am the Third Revelation! I am who the Lord has chosen!
-There Will Be Blood

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Defending "Juno"

I remember going into see Juno at the begginning of December when it was mostly unknown and playing in limited release. Critics praised the film and urged people to stray away from tyical studio films and rush directly into this one. Now, Juno plays nationwide, is nominated for four oscars, and has made over $100 million. Suddenly it's faced a giant backlash. People who stood by its side and other detractors are suddenly standing up and pointing out the film's every flaw: it's a phony, it's unoriginal, it's unrealistic, it's not funny, and the list goes on. Despite all the criticism, I still stand by the film's side and refuse to remove it from my top 10 movies of the year.
There's an axiom that an independent film is only good until its discovered. That seems to be the case for Juno. I was lucky enough to see it before it had been discovered. As the credits roled, there was not a dry eye in the audience nor a single person who hadn't gotten up and joined in the standing ovation the crowded theatre gave it. This was before the hype built up and the expectations so little. That's why it seems most people who went to go see it now felt dissapointed, as if they were expecting the greatest movie ever made. My question is, do you really think they were trying to make the greatest film ever made? Would you be as dissapointed walking out of Norbit because it wasn't the greatest film ever made? You probably weren't expecting it to be (and you better not think so). So if you haven't seen Juno yet, go in with no expectations and prepare to be surprised.
Now, let's move on to the criticism. Some range from just matter of opinion, questioning if its really that funny or realistic. Some though are just plain ridiculous. On one website, a critic complained about the fact that Juno chugs a pitcher of Sunny D for her pregnancy test at the beggining of the film. He wonders, why Sunny D? Why couldn't she just drink water. My question: what is the problem with drinking Sunny D? She couldv'e drank anything but I guess she liked that drink. Faulting the film at that is just sad and ridiculous. But the most serious criticism is the film's dialogue. People are scorning it, saying that it's "too hip"? Would you prefer the characters speak in 18th century British accents? I found the dialogue original and hilarious. To say that its not the way kids speak nowadays is not only cruel but hypocritical. Those people who accuse the film of this are adults. What do they now of how kids speak nowadays. It's up to us kids to decide whether the dialouge is how we speak. My answer: yes. If you want a more realistic way of how teens talk nowadays, Juno would've face an R rating and an overload of "that's what she said" jokes.
No matter what detractors say, I still love Juno as much as I did the day I first saw it. You may not be able to take down No Country at the Oscars, but Juno, you're a firm reminder of the power of independent film, a subtle and hilarious comedy, and worthy of being mentioned in the Best Picture race. Continue to spread your charm and show what effect a great comedy can have.

Quote of the Day

Frank Costello: When you decide to be something, you can be it. That's what they don't tell you in the church. When I was your age they would say we can become cops, or criminals. Today, what I'm saying to you is this: when you're facing a loaded gun, what's the difference?
-The Departed

Friday, February 22, 2008

Movie Review: Michael Clayton

Corporations have dominated America. And one day, they'll probably end up destroying it. That's what's already happening as seen through the eyes of Michael Clayton, a brilliant legal thriller with so of the most haunted heroes and evil villains in years. And the scariest part, its all real.
Michael Clayton (Clooney) is a "fixer" (or as one character puts it, a "janitor") for big corporations, cleaning up the messes they leave behind and trying to attain their good image. Fellow corporate lawyer Alex (excellent Tom Wilkinson) feels a battle of conscience with his profession after discovering a deadly secret about the corporation he has defended for years and begins to snap. Is he mad, or trying to say something important? Only Michael seems to understand the true nature of his craziness, and at stake is the good name of a major chemical company and the lives of over 400 people. The brilliance of the film is that its a thriller, but not to overstated. It's resembles the great political thrillers of the 70s like The French Connection and All the President's Men who let you get to know the characters for a while and understand how their minds work and then jolt you up with random intense violence and thrills. A film like this hopefully make Americans more aware of what happens behind the scenes of big corporate America and big fancy law firms every day.
Tony Gilroy's directing give the film a tight, tense look and his writing is filled with memorable lines ("Does it look like I'm Negotiating?"). The decision to make it travel back in time and back to the future immerse the audience in the story. But, the ensemble cast is truly winning here. Wilkinson is convincing as a man loosing his mind and Tilda Swintion is quietly creepy as the evil head of the chemical company. But Clooney is truly brilliant. His performance helps him escape the dreaded pretty-boy reputation. It's those sad sorry eyes and ambivalent smile in the final scene that so brilliantly show a man finally understanding the atrocities he's unwittingly defended for years for millions of dollars and the feeling of freedom finally gripping him.

Quote of the Day

Juno MacGuff: Nah... I mean, I'm already pregnant, so what other kind of shenanigans could I get into?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Open Your Ears...

...And listen to soothing lyrics of Dr. Dog. They are a new and relatively unknown band. They are probably the best band so far this decade. Listening to them is like listening to The Beatles, so you can't go wrong there. So if you're looking for something new please try this wonderful band. Spread the word.

Who's Your Favorite Arrested Development Character?

In honor of the possibility that the brilliant but canceled TV show, Arrested Development, may become a movie (cross your fingers) I was pondering who my favorite character on the show may be. Many comedy shows have one clear favorite character, but Arrested has so many funny, unique characters that it's impossible to choose. If you are lucky enough to have seen the show (and if you haven't yet, go watch it now) can you pick a favorite character? Is it sexually confused (or just plain stupid) Tobias (pictured)? Sheltered and child-like Buster? Idiotic, failed magician Gob? His puppet Franklin? Racist Lucille? Awkward George Michael? Other?

Let me know what you think. And in the coming weeks look out for a compiled list of the greatest TV show characters of all time. And at least one person from Arrested has to make it on, so which should it be?

Quote of the Day

Mr. Blonde: Are you gonna bark all day, little doggy, or are you gonna bite?
-Reservoir Dogs

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Movie Review: Ratatouille

Pixar films always portray the lives of something beyound the human world we actually know so little about. Toys, bugs, fish, and now rats. We see sympathy for these new creatures and after watching you may even think twice before poisoning them. That is part of Pixar's unique genius. Ratatouille joins this pantheon.
Remy (Patton Oswalt) is a French rat with a unique sense for food. He's forced to smell for rat poison to protect his family until one day he is seperated from the rest of them and ends up in Paris. Here, he follows his heart and ends up working in a fancy restaraunt, helping out a struggling chef. However, it's hard for Remy to become truly professional because of rat and human relationships.
Most Pixar films (excluding The Incredibles) portray humans in the background almost as caricatures. Ratatouille is the first film that solidifies a strong bond between the human and natural world. Both a rat and a human are shown deeply and interacting with each other as well. This emphsizes the two worlds misunderstandings of each other which will seem to never end.
Like all Pixar films, Ratatouille is a film that extends beyond just being a film for children. The story and characters are something a little kid would love and the humor and lessons are something only a teen or adult would truly get. Everyone should see it.
The film is the most unpredictable kids movie I've ever seen. Hell, calling it a kids movie sounds cruel. This is one of the few animated films I could truly relate to. Remy's search for meaning and identity resonates to my search (and that of ever teen's) of who they truly are and where they truly belong and who to stay loyal to. What is more important, family or breaking free. Ratatouille is a savory and moving comedy for all. Dig in and enjoy.

This Year's Most Painful Oscar Snubs

Here are a few films and actors that unjustly received no love from the Academy:

Knocked Up/Superbad- In a year that redefined comedy, Judd Apatow and his loyal crew reigned. Apatow struggled for fame with such underrated comic gems as Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared but finally rose to fame as Knocked Up and Superbad reached the $100 million mark. Who would’ve known that the awkwardness of high school or an unplanned pregnancy could be so funny? Too bad the Academy didn’t notice.
Heath Ledger- The actor broke through in 2005 with his haunted cowboy in Brokeback Mountain and three years later; his life was tragically cut short. In one of his last roles, Ledger proved his ability with his version of a young and rebellious Bob Dylan in I’m Not There, a performance that was overshadowed by Blanchett. Even if the Academy looked away, this performance will always be remembered as that of a budding legend who died to young.
The Simpsons Movie- It took nearly two decades to get to the big screen but it was worth the wait. Matt Groening adapted his show into something deeper then an extended episode while hitting the audience with non-stop laughter. Oh Academy, couldn’t you have at least given a break for poor Spider Pig?
Josh Brolin- Javier has gotten all of the attention, but people seem to be forgetting the true heart and soul of No Country for Old Men. It rests in the good guy, Brolin, as a hunter who stumbles upon the cash. It may be a film without a true emotional center but once he goes down, something seems missing. To put it short, he is sly, funny, and truly convinvcing. May Brolin have a bright future ahead of him.
Paul Dano- Here's another great actor overshadowed by another character. Day-Lewis dominates every frame of There Will Be Blood, but Dano's misguided preacher deserves praise as well. He acts like a crazy priest you'd see shouting tounges on Church TV perfectly and manages to shock with his character's unpredictable turn. Going from a silent teen in Little Miss Sunshine to this role, Dano proved his range. Despite the snub, Dano has a promising future up the road.

Quote of the Day

Ron Burgundy: Brick, where did you get a hand grenade?
Brick Tamland: I don't know.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Weekly Top 10

In honor of this Sunday's Oscar Ceremony, my top 10 list for the week will have to do with the Academy. The Academy gets it wrong A LOT (I'll get into that another time) but every once in a while, they get it right. Here is a list of the best films to take home the best picture prize:
1) The Godfather- The Academy had the chance to give Citizen Kane an Oscar, but passed. Luckily they didn't let The Godfather go home empty handed. This brilliant and timeless mob epic was daring and violent for its time and still is today. It also deservedly took home statues for Brando and the screenplay, but strangely Coppola's direction was passed over. Any which way, this is one of the few winning films that will be revered forever and influence the way films are made today.
2) One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest- What makes this movie work so well is its mixture of comedy and brutal tragedy. Both blended together make this the kind of uplifting film that lifts the spirits and inspires rather than inspire tears from sappiness. It has everything a film needs from great acting, to writing to directing it's got it all. A truly incredible American drama.
3) American Beauty- Many may call me crazy for mentioning this film in the same breathe as many of these films. In fact, some would rather mention it with The Greatest Show on Earth as one of the worst films to win. I disagree. Because it stays with you. Like Cuckoo's Nest it provides that rare and impossible mix of comedy and tragedy. It's also just so daring and doesn't seem to care whom it may offend. Some accuse of being non subtle, but others don't see it's subtle message lying behind it of how despite each characters' mistakes, there is some feeling you feel at the end that you just have to forgive all of them after getting such a full understanding of the lives they lead. Few films make us feel these incredibly complex emotions.
4) On the Waterfront- "I coulda been a contender" states Terry Malloy (Brando). And this film certainly was, and deservingly so. This drama about a failed boxer (Brando) now working on the docks must come to the decision of whether to defend his wicked union bosses or do the right thing: stand up and rat them out. Coming out in 1954 it won 8 Oscars. Each well deserved. Brando's performance will never be forgotten as time goes by. Every other performance is great as well, not a single actor is wasted. Still strikingly relevant, On the Waterfront is a devastating tale of betrayal and rebellion.
5) Annie Hall- Rarely is it that a comedy does so well at the Oscars. This year, they've done right by mentioning Juno (but unfortunately, totally snubbing Knocked Up and Superbad). However, in the past 30 years the only pure comedy to pick up the statue is Annie Hall. This is Woody Allen's comic masterpiece, a genius piece of cinema about a neurotic New Yorker's (Allen) turbulent relationship with a waspy singer (Keaton) and how he comes to terms with himself and his mistakes. The laughs are still as painful and true today. Star Wars might have been up for the award as well, but why have Obi Wan when you can listen to Alvy Singer?
6) The Godfather II- Still unrivaled as the greatest sequel of all time. This was the only film to win best picture along with its counterpart. It's not as good (then again, what is as good as the original) but it comes pretty damn close. This time, we get to see Pacino in his most understated psychotic role as well as a masterful De Niro performance as young Vito that nearly rivals Brando's performance in the first film. Although fellow nominee Chinatown was better, this film still packs an emotional punch that most sequels lack.
7) Amadeus- Milos Foreman (Cuckoo's Nest) gets on the list, again! Here, it's for by far the best film to win best picture in the 80s. It is the most exciting and inventive period piece I've ever seen. It looks historically accurate yet feels young and hip (especially those purple wigs). It's revenge and jealousy story is odd and original but it truly questions the motives of these two actions. Tom Hulce is fun as the giggling Mozart but F. Murray Abrams' cold-hearted composer Salieri is the stuff of history.
8) Schindler's List- It took Steven Speilberg nearly two decades to finally pick up a statue. But this was no sympathy vote, this was a truly deserving win. Speilberg did a beautiful thing for the world and the Jewish community in making this film. It truly informs us of the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust while uplifitng the audience with the portrayal of one man who found the kindness in his heart to help save thousands of people he thought nothing of. It brings out the absolute worst in humans but then shows the absolute greatest thing a person could do as well. It's a film that purely, is impossible to dismiss.
9) The Silence of the Lambs- This is the only horror film ever to win a best picture statue. And it is by far, one of the best films of the genre. It doesn't get scares from relentless gore like most films do but good old fashioned scares arising from terrifying characters. Jodie Foster is one of the great powerful female film protagonists on film while Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter rivals Norman Bates in creepiness. The film is fast-paced, the mystery is suspenseful, acting/writing/directing is superior, and most importantly: it's really scary.
10) Casablanca- I debated what should fill this last spot. There are many worthy contenders but in the end, it would've been impossible to exclude this one. Why? Because it's simply a classic, and simply timeless. I get teary eyed just thinking about it, and that's a rare feat. Few love stories end the way this one does and are still as effective today as they were 60 years ago. As time goes by, we will never forget Rick's (Bogart) sacrifice and we will always have Casablanca.
Runner Up: Midnight Cowboy, Unforgiven, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Million Dollar Baby, The Departed, The Deer Hunter

What are your favorite best picture winners? Gimme some of your thoughts

Quote of the Day

Ken Miller: I always say girl plus car equals dead animal.
-Freaks and Geeks

Monday, February 18, 2008

My Latest Discovery: Northern Exposure

Until 30 Rock and The Office return, I think I've found something to occupy my time: Northern Exposure. This quirky comedy follows a Jewish doctor from New York who ends up becoming doctor for a small Alaskan Town. This quirky comedy is filled with great laughs and philosophical moments (thank you John Corbett). It's something to warm your heart in the cold Alaskan tundra. All six seasons of the 90s comedy are out on DVD for you to discover as well.

Movie Review: Rambo IV

How do I review a film like this? It's this internal struggle of whether to take it seriously or accept it for what it is: a corny, over-the-top action thriller. That's what I hoped for, and that's exactly what Rambo provides the audience with.
John Rambo (none other than Sylvester Stallone) returns after 20 years, now living in Thailand. His mission: to help bring a group of nice Christian Americans safely up a river to war-torn Burma to bring medical supplies. Traveling up a river in a small boat through a war-devastated country, sounds kind of like Apocalypse Now only Marlon Brando does not wait at the end of the river for us. Only a bunch of crazed rebels.
Stallone delivers an Oscar Worthy performance (just kidding). His performance is just like that of the rest of the series; much grunting and shouting and a whole lot of killing.
Whether you should see it, it's all up to you. If you want to see a violent work of art, go see There Will Be Blood or No Country for Old Men instead. Those of you looking for a fun 90 minutes at the movies filled with brutal killing and hammy laughs, this is the movie for you. I had a blast, and most likely, so will you.

Movie Review: Persepolis

No matter what, you must always be yourself and never do what the rest of society tells you to do. That is the lesson of Persepolis. This masterful work of animation is a darkly comic coming of age story set in the background of the Iranian Revolution of the late 70s.
Marjane is just a child as efforts to overthrow the emperor and strive for a democracy. She also lives through Iran's bloody war with Iraq. Marjane is not like most girls however. She wears a vail walking down the streets but underneath wheres a pair of sneakers and listens to Iron Maiden. She was born in a family of political prisoners and therefore learns how to stand up and most importantly, always be proud of who you are.
The Iranian Revolution was a perfect way to show a coming of age story. It allowed this girl to leave and roam free while discovering harsh lessons about life throughout the world like artificialness of love and the cruelty of strangers.
Instead of using the typical computer animation, the director decided instead to go traditional. Every character looks like a 2D cutout but they gush with life and fascinating stories to tell. Persepolis reaches the height of the greatest works of Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke) as an animated film that reaches out to its younger audience while still ringing true to the adults that view as well. Everything is mythical but relatable, each shot stunning. The lessons of this film may guide the lives of the younger viewers wise enough to watch it and give them a better understanding of the world. This is one of the year's best films.

Today's Sign of the Apocalypse...

Larry the Cable Guy: Witless Protection

Out February 22...

Quote of the Day

Michael Scott: Yeah, I went hunting once. Shot a deer in the leg. Had to kill it with a shovel. Took about an hour. Why do you ask?
-The Office

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Weekly Top 10

Every week, I will have a new top 10 list prepared. What better way to start my blog then with the top 10 movies of all time? So here it is:
The top 10 movies of all time:

1. A Clockwork Orange-Kubrick's brutal view of the future offers unforgettable images, shock, and hilarious irony. 30 years on, and it's still as shocking as it was upon its release.
2. The Godfather-Coppola's timeless crime saga contains one of the greatest performances of all time (Marlon Brando) as well as an unflinching portrayal of honor and betrayal that will forever outlive all predecessors and imitators.
3. Pulp Fiction- Tarantino's hilarious and fascinating dialogue manage to avoid focusing on plot and instead show subtle character development. It's also the best performance by (Scientoligist) John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson.
4. Goodfellas- Another great crime film from the 90s is also Scorsese's greatest work. It brings us into a life we don't want to hear about it but by the end, we're haunted and begging for more. To bad Dances with Wolves beat it for Best Picture.
5. Once upon a Time in the West- The Good the Bad and the Ugly has always been the most revered, but West is Leone's greatest film, and the genre at its finest. The prolonged silences and lack of dialogue are substituted by its beautiful musical score. Clocking in at nearly three hours, its worth every minute.
6. Chinatown- Polanski took this homage to 40s crime thrillers and pumped it up with the demons of his own life for this film. Every snippet of dialogue and plot is unforgettable along with one of film's darkest endings ever.
7. The Graduate- Made in 1967, this film brought down Classical Hollywood and the line between Baby Boomers and the new generation. Not at all political, but a comment of its time and a timeless portrait of the loss of innocence and the aimless journey to adulthood.
8. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest- Nicholson's free-spirited R.P. McMurphy brings life into the cold halls of a corrupt mental hospital ruled by evil Nurse Ratched. The ending never fails to bring me to tears even as I stand up and applaud.
9. Taxi Driver- DeNiro's best performance is well beyond the legendary mirror scene. Nobody but the team of him and Scorsese have created such a truthful and haunting portrayal of loneliness and isolation.
10. American Beauty- Unjustly considered by many the worst film ever to win best picture (Rocky over Taxi Driver/Network/All the President's Men, anyone?) the film truly embodies its tagline: "Look Closer". Look closer to understand one man's (Kevin Spacey) struggle to break free from his dull suburban life and reach the so-called "American Dream". Haunting and hilarious, it dares to portray this country in the darkest ways that no one else will.

Quote of the Day

"Come on, man. I had a rough night and I hate the fuckin' Eagles, man!"
-The Big Lebowski

Friday, February 15, 2008

Quote of the Day

Tobias Fünke: So what are your plans for this evening?
Bob Loblaw: I thought that maybe I would stay in and work on my law blog.
Tobias Fünke: Ah, yes. The "Bob Loblaw Law Blog". You, sir, are a mouthful.
-Arrested Development

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Oscars '08: "No Country" Sweep?

Best Picture

The Nominees: Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, No Country For Old Men, There Will Be Blood

Atonement was an early favorite and despite its Golden Globe Win, its so-so box office and meager critical support along with a lack of love from the Guilds (who make up a large amount of the Academy) hurt its chances. Critics raved about Michael Clayton but it didn’t connect well with audiences. Juno has the highest gross of any of these films and could pull off a shocking “little-indie-that-could” win, similar to Crash in 2005. There Will Be Blood is gaining momentum and could be a possible spoiler but it’s No Country For Old Men which received some of the best reviews of the year and dominated most precursor awards that will end up being crowned as Best Picture of the year.

Predicted Winner: No Country For Old Men Possible Spoiler: Juno/There Will Be Blood

Best Director

The Nominees: Paul Thomas Anderson for There Will Be Blood

Joel and Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men

Tony Gilroy for Michael Clayton

Jason Reitman for Juno

Julian Schnabel for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Schnabel had a surprise victory at the Golden Globe Awards, but after years of churning out brilliant work (Fargo, The Big Lebowski), the Coen Brothers will finally get honored alongside their Best Picture winner.

Predicted Winner: Joel and Ethan Coen Possible Spoiler: Julian Schnabel

Best Actor

The Nominees: George Clooney in Michael Clayton

Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood

Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd

Tommy Lee Jones in In the Valley of Elah

Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises

Could Depp finally get the award he’s been long overdue for with his performance as a vengence-seeking barber? Probably not, because his singing and throat cutting is no match for Day-Lewis’s brooding performance as a power-hungry oil baron in There Will Be Blood. In fact, the actor should already be clearing his shelf for another Oscar, next to the award he also won for 1989’s My Left Foot.

Predicted Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis Possible Spoiler: Johnny Depp

Best Actress

The Nominees: Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie in Away From Her
Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose
Laura Linney in The Savages
Ellen Page in Juno

This may be the hardest of the top categories to predict but only three women have a fighting chance. Cotillard, relatively unknown in the U.S., had a surprise win at the Golden Globe Awards while practically yanking the trophy from the hands of Ellen Page. Page deserves the Oscar for her wonderfully heartfelt performance as a free-spirited pregnant teen in Juno and could benefit from the film’s box office and critical support. But will the academy honor someone as young as Page? The one to crush the hopes of these two rising stars will most likely be veteran Christie for her performance as a woman stricken with Alzheimer’s in Away From Her. She’s swept almost every award so far. This one will be no different.

Predicted Winner: Julie Christie Possible Spoiler: Ellen Page

Best Supporting Actor

The Nominees: Casey Affleck in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman in Charlie Wilson's War
Hal Holbrook in Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson in Michael Clayton

Unless veteran Holbrook receives a “sorry-we-forgot-to-give-you-an-award-before” win, this category belongs to Bardem. He created a new meaning of horror with his understated performance as a quiet but callous killer who roams the desert with a cattle gun in No Country For Old Men.

Predicted Winner: Javier Bardem Possible Spoiler: Hal Holbrook

Best Supporting Actress

The Nominees: Cate Blanchett in I'm Not There
Ruby Dee in American Gangster
Saoirse Ronan in Atonement
Amy Ryan in Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton

Many leading critics’ awards have chosen Ryan’s performance in Gone Baby Gone. However, the Academy has always been a fan of actors acting totally out of character. Blanchett, nominated twice this year, will be walking home with at least one statue and it’s going to be for her spot-on interpretation of Bob Dylan in the mind-warping biopic I’m Not There.

Predicted Winner: Cate Blanchett Possible Spoiler: Amy Ryan

Best Original Screenplay

The Nominees: Brad Bird for Ratatouille
Diablo Cody for Juno
Tony Gilroy for Michael Clayton
Tamara Jenkins for The Savages
Nancy Oliver for Lars and the Real Girl

No contest. First-time screenwriter Cody wrote Juno about the serious subject of teen pregnancy but pumped it full of witticisms about high school, a mix of one-liners and subtle jokes, loveable characters, and a romantic back-story that questions the meaning of love itself. If voters look into their hearts, they’ll realize that the only award this film may pick up belongs to its screenplay.

Predicted Winner: Juno Possible Spoiler: Michael Clayton

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Nominees: Paul Thomas Anderson for There Will Be Blood
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men
Christopher Hampton for Atonement
Ronald Harwood for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Sarah Polley for Away From Her

Like Best Original Screenplay, there already seems to be a lock on this category. The Coen Brothers adapted Cormac McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men nearly verbatim, but the finished product contains the duo’s trademark heist gone wrong as well as moments of wit to lighten up the bloody tragedy. Also, the rare balance of silence with terrifying dialogue makes the film as fascinating to look at as it is to find out what will happen next.

Predicted Winner: No Country For Old Men Possible Spoiler: There Will Be Blood

Getting Started

Yo, this is my first blog post. Let me introduce myself. I'm Ian Phillips. I'm a Sophomore at Staples High School. I am totally obsessed with film and everything concerning it. The purpose of this blog is to give you an inside perspective of film I want to introduce you to, as well as TV shows that were too good for television (you'll be hearing a lot about Arrested Development and Freaks and Geeks soon enough). I'll post reviews of films both new and old as well as other critiques on Hollywood as much as possible. Enjoy

P.S. I would like to thank Jordan Cohen (NYU) for helping me come up with the title of this blog