Yankee Doodle Dandy (AFI #98)

“I’ve noticed that my AFI write ups generally tend to be a lot shorter than my current movie write ups. Im not entirely sure why that is. I think I feel weird doing the whole “”I liked this, this didnt work for me”” thing for movies that are considered to be the best.

Totally unrelated but I got District 9 playing in the background. It looks \m/ awesome on Blu-Ray. Just saying.

I had a hard time getting into Yankee Doodle Dandy at first. But after a while, it picked up. I went from not caring about the big musical numbers to those being the best part. However, I dont get why this is considered one of the all time best movies. I had to Wikipedia George M Cohan about 45 minutes into the film because I still had no idea who he was.

As far as cinematical breakthrough, the best I can find is that it was one of the first movies to be colorized after its release. That definitely helped a lot. I can’t see those broadway numbers working too well in B&W. Also, James Cagney’s Oscar winning performance as George M Cohan is considered one of the all time best. I’ll give him that. I was quite impressed with his dancing, and I did totally buy his arrogant yet sweet character.

Really liked his relationship with Mary. That was probably my other fave part besides the big broadway numbers. And I suppose it was the theater geek in me that liked the musical-ness. But still, mostly unimpressed.”

The Lovely Bones

“Before seeing this movie, there were two things that I kept on hearing. One was the controversy over leaving out the murder/rape stuff. The other the debate whether or not it was unfilmable. Before I comment, should point out that no, I haven’t read the book. But I am very interested to. I usually prefer to go backwards (see movie then, read book) so I will be adding it to my list. That said.

On that first issue, I think they made the right call. It didnt take a lot to put 2 and 2 together and figure out what happened to Susie Salmon. Also, I really liked the way they transitioned into her death. I knew she was going to be killed, and I actually believed for a second that she hadn’t been. I was almost as surprised as she was when she realized it (not quite though cause I did know it was coming. Not a spoiler, cause its the basic premise of the story)

As far as the unfilmable bit, sorta inclined to agree. At least, I think I do. The reason its considered that is because of the whole “”in between”” stuff (where she’s in a purgatory state of not on earth, not in heaven). I really coulda done without all that. I was into the story otherwise, but it lost me everytime we went back there. That also really bogged down the pacing. I did like her having a connection to the living, but the whole What Dreams May Come-ish afterlife world just didnt work right.

I will say the cast was fantastic. Loved Saoirse Ronan even from the trailers for Atonement. That is one intense little actress, and with an Academy Award nod already under her belt there’ll be no stopping her. Heart Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weitz, of course, but the scene stealer was Susan Sarrandon who’s been a fave of mine since I first saw The Client. Excellent choice for the eccentric grandma.

The other debate I’ve been hearing is over Stanley Tucci. He’s got a good chance of scoring an Oscar nod this year. The question is Lovely Bones or Julie & Julia? Most tend to lean toward Lovely Bones. I disagree. Yes he was fantastic. He so fully embodied this really creepy character, including voice and mannerisms. However I felt there was a lot more depth to him in …Julia. There he shone by helping his costar shine, and we all fell in love with him for it, or at least I did. And while we all know how much I love psycho killers (Dexter, Patrick Bateman, etc) Im not quite ready to add him to the list of the most classic killers.

Yeah so it seems I liked it more than a lot of others did. Its losing half a point for the whole in between fail. Otherwise, really intriguing story with a great cast.

The Lovely Bones – \m/ \m/ \n

Mr Smith Goes to Washington (AFI #26)

“My impressions of this film early on was that it almost made me feel like a bad American (in a good way though, if thats possible). Just the way his character was so excited about democracy in action and his love of American history really got to me. I’d always found that stuff to be rather cheesey, but Jimmy Stewart’s Mr Smith sold it with such conviction. I was thinking that I need to add this to the list of movies I really need to make my future kids see (whenever it is that they come along) preferably while they’re not old enough to be jaded into forgetting all the liberties we take for granted. Okay, its getting a bit weird here now. I’ll just conclude this thought with some trivia I got off IMDB. American politicians hated this film because they felt it portrayed the government as too corrupt. European facist states band it for being too democratic.

But yeah I did really like this one. The characters were great, the story was compelling. I guess I sorta knew what had to happen, but I was still anxious to see exactly how it all unfolded. Not sure how much more there is to say than that.”

The Book of Eli

“Little bit of catching up to do. Yesterday’s schedule was so jammed I couldnt find any write up time. Original plan was to do this during the Globes yesterday, but I ended up getting really into it until power went out on the whole block during the last hour. *sigh*

I shoulda known better than to get really excited for a January released movie. That’s always a setup for disappointment. From the trailer Book of Eli looked so promising. Yes I know the whole post apocalyptic thing is a bit over done (just in the past year: The Road, 9, Terminator: Salvation, plus a few other more subtle ones). But what could go wrong with Denzel kicking some butt? Lots actually.

My main gripe, well there’s a few actually. One is that it was so \m/ slow paced. Yes the action sequences were good (I _really_ loved the silhouette one) but they were few, far-between, and fleeting. The rest of the time, things were just progressing really slowly. Felt like nothing much was really happening the rest of the time. I recognize that a lot of that was to establish the feel of how sparsely populated the world was, but really we got the point. Move on please.

The other big gripe is that it was trying to hard to be meaningful. The irony there being that it woulda been, if they hadn’t pushed. The last ten minutes were amazing. While a lot of it was predictable, there was something I hadn’t forseen and it made me wanna watch the whole thing again with that knowledge. But up until that point, there were lots of vague references attempting to be universal. And the somewhat minimal dialogue was somewhat mediocre at best.

The saddest part was that such a great cast was wasted on it. Love Denzel and this was one of his most badass roles to date. Gary Oldman makes a wonderfully evil baddie, if only he had better dialogue to work with. Mila Kunis is another fave of mine, but she didnt have much to do. Surprise appearance by Malcom Macdowell, which made me happy, although it was distracting as I tried to figure out if it was Malcom Macdowell or Terrance Stamp cause I always have the damnest time trying to tell them apart.

Ultimately, I think it was kinda worth it for the end (which earned it an extra half point) but it just takes a long ass while to get there

The Book of Eli – \m/ \m/ \n

Easy Rider (AFI #84)

“I’ve been meaning to say this for the past few entries and it slips my mind each time. On a semi-impulse, I registered the domain www.expletivedleted.com There’s nothing there yet, and I didnt buy any webspace cause it’ll be a while til I can actually think about moving this onto an actual site. Just wanted to have the option one day and secure the address now.

So I pretty much stuck to my schedule today. I finished it off with the movie that’d been sitting in my pending queue the longest — Easy Rider. I didnt get it. At all. Actually, I was just really bored.

Not trying to knock the movie for the sake of knocking it (I do have some respect for it, given that the American Film Institute deemed it one of the greatest movies of all time) but nothing \m/ happened. Half the movie was just shots of them riding along the highway. When “”Born to Be Wild”” was playing over one of those early shots, that gave me some hope. The next time there was one of those scenes it had a fairly decent song, so I figured I’d end up liking it in the same way I liked American Graffiti–for the music. But that was about it for the music I liked.

We’ve firmly established that I like for my movies to have some sorta narrative. Going in, I’d read the summary on the back of the box and was confuddled that it didnt really say much. Now I get why.

The one semi redeeming factor for me was that I did enjoy Jack Nicholson’s performance (although Im not sure about that thing he’d do whenever he’d drink). But there wasn’t really much else that got me going. According to IMDB, the original cut of the movie was 3 hours. all I can say, is thank God that got cut in half. I really dont think I coulda made it through much more.”

Daybreakers

“Say what you want about the vampire craze. Im not tired of it. Although I am annoyed that some of the lesser vamps kinda tarnish the image for all of them. But I’ve loved vampires since Edward Cullen had braces (maybe not, but its been a while) and will still love them once this fad is over.

While I have my core vamp lore that I love above all others (sorry I didnt mean for that to rhyme so much) namely that by Anne Rice and Joss Whedon, and lately Charlaine Harris, Im always really interested to see the mythology and vampire “”rules”” that someone else comes up with. That aspect tends to be kinda make or break for me. If you’re gonna stray from the usual, you’d \m/ better incorporate it in well. And if you’re creating something new, introduce it in a smart way. Otherwise, Im gone. That said, I would like to take this moment to applaud Daybreakers for the vampire world it created.

What was unique about this universe is that humans were the minority. I loved the opening sequence with its mix of backstory and vamp-centric advertisements, and snapshot of how the current world operates (ie, sign for school zone speed limit in effect from 2am – 3am). And that is what surrounded the morally gray area the film lived in. I just got off the phone with my parents and my daddy, in reference to the movie, asked me who won. My response was that it depends on how you look at it. “”You mean what side you’re on?”” “”No, more what outcome you wanted””. I just love that

The setup may have sucked me in, but the story kept me glued to it. Nothing too particularly spectacular, but it was very streamlined and interesting. Without going into spoilertastic detail, I’ll just say that I liked the way it played out and eventually concluded.

Big fan of Ethan Hawke. Have been since Training Day (although in my head it always takes me a minute to remember he was in Training Day, not Seven). He made quite the sexy conflicted vampire (very Angel-like, Angel as in formerly Angelus not as in Gabriel or Michael). Sam Neil was quite creepy as the evil corporate undead dude. Happy as always to see Willem Dafoe. Given some of his acting history (Cirque Du Freak, Shadow of the Vampire), he too seems to be quite the vamp lover.

Oh and yes, there was blood. Lots. A bit on the gratiutous side for most tastes, but I happen to enjoy that sorta thing. Most of the movie had a dim yet sleek look to it, and the bright red blood was a cool contrast to that.

Yes, I know Im gonna prolly get a good deal of negative votes on Rotten Tomatoes for giving this flick such high praise. Keep in mind, I rate based on enjoyability and entertainment value, not necessarily quality. And I verily enjoyed it and was thoroughly entertained. While that may mostly be because I’m a fangbanger, Im a very picky one at that. Not just any movie that has hot guys with pointy teeth is gonna get my approval.

Daybreakers – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n”

The Searchers (AFI #12)

“Really hungry and on a tight movie watching schedule for today, so this’ll likely be on the consise side of things.

Would ya believe that I’d never seen a John Wayne movie before? Well I guess if you know that Im not too well versed on older films (at least not before this project) and that westerns aren’t typically my thing (though I LOVED the 3:10 to Yuma remake with Christian Bale and Russell Crow) then I guess its not that much of a stretch. But it does still strike me as odd.

Yeah I never understood the whole cowboy and indian fascination. While that is prolly because Im not a ten year old boy, I do have a remarkable tendancy to like most other things a ten year old boy would. Case in point, I have Superman sheets on my bed. So how did I feel about The Searchers? My enjoyment of it kinda went up and down throughout the whole thing.

It took me a while to get into it. There was a lot of sub-par acting. Yeah I hate being so hypercritical of such an acclaimed movie, but it really brought it down for me. Also had some confusion about a third of the way in when I couldnt quite tell how much time was passing between events. Felt like it also dragged in the middle. It did pick up by the end and I found myself on the edge of my seat for a moment there.

I can see where John Wayne gets his bad ass cowboy reputation. He was very larger than life and in control. However, my fave was Jeffrey Hunter as Martin. Big surprised that I’d prefer the sympathetic pretty boy, huh? Failed to recognize Natalie Wood, which makes me lose some musical points there.

I can also see why its considered the best western of all time. Everything that has since become a cliche in the genre was there. I get why its the best, and maybe if I had a greater appreciation for westerns in general, I woulda thought a lot more of it.”

An Education

I eventually made it outta there, and I had about half an hour until the next one. I’d actually planned ahead and brought a granola bar intead of pigging out at the snack bar like I typically do at my double features.

The whole placing was really jumping, mostly there for Crazy Heart I think. There’s always a really strange vibe there, guess cause its not my usual crowd. There’s just some sorta slightly superior attitude I tend to get from ’em. Makes me feel almost like a poser being at that small indie theater when I spend far more time watching the big coporate blockbuster type films. And then when the trailers play, Im sitting there thinking WTF during some of them, bored during others, but everyone around me is laughing hysterically or chattering away about how good those films look. Huh? Moving On.

An Education is another one of those that I didnt expect to like, based on the premise alone. Then A) it got really good buzz B)it was on the list of 25 movies to see before the Oscars C) Quentin Tarantino (the god of movie gods in my eyes) listed it as one of his faves for the year. So I went. As soon as the quirky music started playing over the opening credits, I knew I was in for something fun.

Turns out quirky is a pretty good way to describe a lot of the film. The spirit of the movie, especially embodied thru the main character Jenny, was very much like Juno–spunky young independant woman learns about life the hard way. Carey Mulligan was so adorable, but also capable of such depth. She’s another assumed lock for an Oscar nod and I fully support that as well. I could also really relate to her character, having grown up in an environment of “”school first””, college is the number one goal. Granted, my ‘rents weren’t quite as harsh as hers, and I didnt have some big rebellion, harsh life lesson/epiphany, but I still totally get it. I guess for me it was more focus focus focus, done, now what?

Starting to ramble. Back to the film. Speaking of her parents, Alfred Molina played her dad. I hated him for half the movie, but I think that was just a sign of him doing a good job. Also, never quite realized Molina is actually British. Yeah, IMDB just told me that. Weird. Points for Peter Sarsgaard as well. Although I was kinda distracted for a lot of it cause I got his last name confused with Skarsgard, as in Alexander Skarsgard who plays the hottest vamp currently on tv–Eric on True Blood. I somehow got it into my head that they were bros, so that got in the way a bit.

Ultimately, yes I was very much entertained by this one. It was both very light at times and very intense at others. Yeah can’t really think of much else, but again thoroughly enjoyable

An Education – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/”

A Single Man

“OMG work has been murder this week. I had time to watch movies when I’d come home, but I figured in the state of mind I was in, I wouldnt be able to give them a fair watching. Pulled what I call a Dawn Dawn Double Feature today. That just means I saw two movies today. This time, both at the Kendall Square Landmark Theater. First time I ever double there. Usually I get one there, then catch the second elsewhere.

Anyhoo, first up was A Single Man, which I thought was rather incredible. I absolutely adored Colin Firth’s character, George, and he was played so expertly. You could practically feel the pain he was going thru, and sympathized with his character every step of the way. Fully support the inevitable Oscar nod Firth is poised for.

Guess we’ll keep going down the line with the cast. Never particularly cared much for Julianne Moore, except for Magnolia, but I loved everyone in that. While she was good here, I dont see why she’s also supposed to be a lock for an Oscar nod. I dunno, just wasnt as struck by her as I was by Firth and some of the others. The others would be Nicholas Hoult and Matthew Goode, neither of whom I was familiar with previously. Apparently Nicholas Hoult was the little kid in About A Boy, which I never saw. He annoyed me at first but I fell in love with him over the course of the movie. And Goode was (resisting the urge for the bad pun) quite go..um…great as the idealized lover.

While I definitely recommend this film, I warn you it is quite the downer. As if the story wasnt somber enough on its own, the feel was heightened by the lighting. During George’s low points, the lighting would be very bleak and dull. It’d brighten momentarily along with his moods, but that didnt usually last too long. I found that detail to be extremely effective and was quite impressed by it. By the end, it was one of those that I just needed a minute to recover from. I wont go into spoilery detail but all along I’d expected the film to end a certain way, then it didnt, then it twisted again. I spent the last 5 minutes frozen, with my hand covering my mouth after I’d gasped with surprise along with the rest of the fairly sizable crowd. I didnt even get up until halfway through the credits, and I wasn’t the only one who’d been affected that way it seemed.

A Single Man – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

2009 Recap

“Yes, Im finally doing this write up. Okay, I guess 5 days isnt all that late. Certainly better than last year. January was just about over by the time I posted.

Instead of going by release date, Im counting the year based on when I went to the theater. So, for example, even though Avatar was released on Dec 18th, I didnt see it until Jan 3rd, so for me it isnt eligible until next year’s recap. I did notice on last year’s recap that I included some of those gray area timeline films, so I wont take those into consideration when ranking my faves. Example: Revolutionary Road was out last Dec, I saw it in Jan but ranked it as an honorable mention. I’ll list it, but wont rank it.

First off, here’s the list of what I saw at the theaters, with links to their write ups. Most of these are on my old blog , and they might not be as extensive as I try to do now. Im skipping the first entry’s worth of reviews cause I think they were prolly actually late 2008. I didnt used to be so good about posting right away

Okay I’ll stop with all the arbitrary guidelines I’ve set for myself. No one else cares.

Seven Pounds
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Rachel Getting Married
Revolutionary Road
Gran Torino
The Wrestler
The Reader
Defiance
Taken
Push
Coraline
Fanboys
The International
Watchmen
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li
Confessions of a Shopaholic
Duplicity
Sunshine Cleaning
The Great Buck Howard
I Love You Man
Monsters Vs Aliens
Adventureland
Observe and Report
17 Again
Crank 2: High Voltage
Fast & Furious
The Soloist
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Star Trek
Angels & Demons
Terminator: Salvation
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
Up
The Hangover
Land of the Lost
Year One
Moon
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Public Enemies
Bruno
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
I Love You Beth Cooper
(500) Days of Summer
Funny People
Julie & Julia
G-Force
GI Joe: Rise of Cobra
District 9
Inglorious Basterds
Gamer
Taking Woodstock
Extract
The Informant!
9
Jennifer’s Body
Surrogates
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Fame
Zombieland
Whip It
Paranormal Activity
The Invention of Lying
Toy Story Double Feature
Where the Wild Things Are
Law Abiding Citizen
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant
Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day
The Box
The Men Who Stare At Goats
A Serious Man
2012
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
The Messenger
The Fantastic Mr Fox
The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Brothers
The Hurt Locker
The Blind Side
Everybody’s Fine
Up in the Air
The Princess and the Frog
Invictus

—–

\m/ shit that’s 82 times I went to the movies. Although Im slightly disappointed. I expected to break 100. Not complaining though. Still averages to more than once a week. And Im sure the Regal Fenway, which is where probably at least 50 of those occurred, isnt complaining either.

Before I most my top picks, gotta give the usual DISCLAIMER. Im actually gonna steal the same one I wrote last year. These are my personal favorites of the year. Not necessarily the best movies. Just the ones I enjoyed most or felt some special attachment to. I’ve said this many times before, but I can recognize a movie as bad and still enjoy it for its entertainment value. Likewise I can recognize a movie as good, and hate it. Without further ado

**drumroll please**

Dawn Dawn’s top 5 for 2009

1-Star Trek
2-Zombieland
3-(500) Days of Summer
4-The Hangover
5-(tie)-Inglorious Basterds
5-(tie)-Up in the Air

Honorable Mention: I Love You Man
Almost Honorable Mentions: Fanboys, District 9, The Messenger


Some comments on the above.
-Was back and forth between on which order to put 2 and 3. Ultimately I put Zombieland higher because that was far more of a Dawn movie.
-Was also a bit torn about The Hangover vs I Love You Man making it into the actual top five. Decided on The Hangover because that one surprised me in how awesome it was. While …Man was great, I expected no less from Paul Rudd and Jason Segal.
-Really wasnt sure which I prefered between Basterds and Up in the Air. I’d originally been a bit harsh on my judgement of Basterds, mostly because Tarantino has set the bar so high for himself. But thinking back on it later, yes that movie is brilliant. If its not as good as the ones I consider his top 3 (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill) thats because those 3 are really \m/ good. On the other hand, I did love Up in the Air as well. Timely, quirky, fun, deep. Thats the contender with the possibility of winning that Im backing for the Oscars this year
-I was also a bit harsh on The Messenger when I first wrote it up. I dont even think I gave it a full 4 \m/ but I really should have. That was one damn good movie. I mostly wanted to include it so it gets a bit more very deserved attention.

And now, for good measure, the not so good ones.


Bottom 3
-I Love You Beth Cooper
-Year One
-Bruno

Dishonorable Mentions:
Observe and Report, Land of the Lost, A Serious Man

Comments
-I know someone’s gonna wanna come and choke a bitch for me including A Serious Man on the list. Dont hate. It just wasnt my style. Yes, I do think the Coen bro’s are movie gods, but this one wasnt for me
-I somehow still ended up impulse buying Land of the Lost on Black Friday, even though I know it was kinda bad

Yeah so movie-wise, 2009 was a pretty good year. Some highlights (cause I like bullet points)
-Actually blogged every last movie I saw in theaters
-Started a new, more hardcore blog
-Earned some street cred watching AFI movies, and will continue to do so until I finish the list
-Upgraded my entertainment center
-Reached 1000 items in the movie wall of doom
-Got a private screening of a movie. How cool is that?
-Watched a movie at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, also wicked cool
-Tied for second (only behind by one point) in the usual Oscar prediction game

I know I had more, but I can’t think of ’em right now. And bed time is rapidly approaching. Here’s hoping 2010 is even more epic!

\m/