Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Year In Short, Unhelpful Movie Reviews

In a moment, a collection of very short reviews of the movies I've seen this year. But first, an unrelated aside: On my way into Nashville last night, the transmitter that I use to listen to my MP3 player started getting interference, as often happens in new cities. Rather than try to find a usable frequency, I decided to try my luck with the radio--after all, Nashville should have some decent country stations in addition to the same 5 Clear Channel stations as every city in the nation, right? I occasionally have these moments of naive idealism. Anyway, on the way out of town today, the DJ is discussing the different types of country music--classic country, country rock, pop country, and "island country, which Kenny Chesney pretty much invented."

Really? You think so? There's a guy in Miami named Jimmy who I suspect would disagree. I hit the dial, and briefly had my faith in America restored by some Janis Joplin. Then that act of musical necrophilia that Kid Rock did to Sweet Home Alabama/Werewolves of London came on. I turned the MP3 player back on and returned to my musical bubble. I think I'll stay there. Now, about movies:

Sweeney Todd
Another Burton/Depp collaboration, only this time with musical numbers. The Depp/Burton thing is always good, but is starting to get a little tired.

Cloverfield
Two hours of my life that I'll never get back.

Vantage Point
Nice concept, but the execution left something to be desired. I like having at least a fighting chance of working out the twist for myself.

Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Those fucking aliens in another movie? An an Indy one at that? Really?

Iron Man
A friend of mine keeps trying to tell me that Iron Man was in some way not awesome. I realize that this is a matter of opinion, but she's wrong.

Hellboy II
There were a couple of things I didn't like about this one, but they were vastly outnumbered by cool monster butt-kickin'.

Journey To The Center of the Earth
Maybe not great film-making, but fun.

Hancock
I'm pretty sure the people who were disappointed by this movie were expecting too much. It's a Will Smith Fourth of July movie, people--enjoy the wisecracks and explosions, but don't expect a lot of depth.

Wanted
Cool stunts, but overall I can't decide if the premise of this one is stupid in a wonderful and entertaining way or just stupid.

The Dark Knight
Classic Frank Miller style Bats, Joker, and Two-Face, Gordon the way he's supposed to be done, and all without the necessity of involving Frank who, let's face it, has lost his God damned mind.

Step Brothers
As funny as Ferrell and Reilly are, I think I think Richard Jenkins might have outdone them.

Wall-E
It's a cute kids' story about a robot. It is neither groundbreaking film making nor biting social commentary. Accept it for what it is and move on, please.

Pineapple Express
Funny shit.

Swing Vote
You had me right up to the end, then you lost me.

Death Race
It's really hard to fuck up a movie involving Jason Statham and cars. As for ways of improving the formula, you could do worse than adding Al Swearengen and a killer Mustang.

House Bunny
Anna Farris is better than this.

Eagle Eye
Yeah, that's kinda what I figured. In other news, who is this LaBouf kid and why is he in every third movie coming out?

Baghead
I wanted to like this movie, but just ended up feeling kind of ambivalent.

Vicky Christina Barcelona
Yep, still don't get the appeal of Woody Allen.

Bottle Shock
Alan Rickman being snooty and British is always a good thing. Throw in Eliza Dushku (even if, as usual, she is criminally underused) and you got my eight bucks.

Lakeview Terrace
The Samuel L. Jackson movie equivalent of tofu. Filling but flavorless.

The Rocker
Worth it for the Will Arnett scenes alone, but the rest of it's actually funny, too. Also, they realize the true secret of making a good rock & roll movie--namely, make sure it's got Howard Hessman in it somewhere.

Burn After Reading
Quirky, funny, and occasionally ridicuous, but in that nice Coen brothers kind of way. As you know if you've seen the trailer, Brad Pitt was probably in his best form since Snatch.

Disaster Movie
Yeah, there's not much to do in this town, and sometimes you end up watching Disaster Movie. And yes, it's another shitty BLANK Movie. The death metal chipmunks were kinda cool, and Juno's overly clever dialog was actually well done for a scene or two.

Tropic Thunder
Stiller usually annoys me if he's a lead rather than part of the cast. Jack Black sometimes gets on my nerves. I went to see this for Robert Downey Jr. The fact that the rest of the cast did a great job was just a bonus. And holy shit, that was Tom Cruise!

My Best Friends Girl
I don't remember this one, but (according to my pile o' ticket stubs) I apparently saw it. I think maybe it had the piefucker in it. I can only assume there was nothing better to do that day.

Righteous Kill
De Niro and Paccino act at one another for two hours. This really can't go badly.

Hamlet 2
This movie had kind of a Napolean Dynamite vibe, only funny.

Considering Democracy
A documentary in which the film maker interviews people in other countries about America. Occasionally amusing and sometimes just depressing.

W
Much more symapthetic than you might expect.

Sex Drive
Funny if not particularly fresh and exciting. Plus it's got Seth Green as an Amish dude, and that's just cool.

Max Payne
Entertaining but forgettable.

Religulous
Very funny unless you're defensively religious or don't like Bill Mahr, in which case you're probably not going to see it anyway.

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
I'm just not cool enough for this movie, and I feel pretty good about that.

Transiberian
Nice, well-acted thriller.

The Fisher King
Yeah, not a new movie, but one of my favorites, so if it's on the big screen I'm watching it. It continues to be on of my favorite Gilliam flicks, and Gilliam is one of my favorite directors. You do the math.

Quarantine
Finally, a movie in the Blair Witch/Cloverfield style that actually kinda works. Not great, but not actively disappointing, which is a first for the genre.

Zack And Miri Make a Porno
Kevin Smith and Seth Rogan working together should probably be funnier than this, but this is still pretty damned funny (though I could have done without the Jay cock). Also, it's nice to see Elizabeth Banks in every third movie coming out. She's a lot cuter than that LaBouf kid.

Saw V

I didn't see the 3rd and 4th Saw movies, and apparently actually did miss some plot points along the way. This does not make me feel any obligation to go back and watch what I've missed.

Role Models
This movie was even funnier than I expected, and I expected it to be pretty damned funny.

Sould Men
Nice to see The Blues Brothers formula put to good use.

Quantum of Solace
I still haven't seen Casino Royale, so this was my first experience with the bold new gadgetless era of Bond. I enjoyed the movie, but am still not sure how I feel about 007 flicks without Q branch.

Apaloosa
Ed Harris and Aragorn come to town and shooot some people while the extremely untalented Renee Zellwegger eats up valuable screen time.

RocknRolla
Guy Ritchie movie about slightly higher-rent London gangsters, but still a Guy Ritchie movie about London gangsters. Not as good as Snatch and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, but still fun.

Bolt
Amusing.

Punisher: War Zone
It's hard to be diappointed when you don't expect much. I wasn't disappointed.

Cadillac Records
I kind of felt like I'd seen this movie before, but that was ok given the great acting (and great music). Mos Def as Chuck Berry was as great as you might suspect it would be.

Christmas On Mars
I'm not sure why The Flaming Lips needed an excuse to make weird freaky space music, but aparently this movie gave it to them. I'm not entirely sure if this movie was good or bad, but it was definitely weird.

Seven Pounds
Well made, but don't expect any surprises. What's happening is just what you think is happening.

The Spirit
There is a line that separates the entertainingly misguided from the blindingly stupid. The Spirit walks this line. See also earlier comment about how Frank Miller has lost his God damned mind.

STRAIGHT-TO-VIDEO BONUS ROUND:

Lost Boys II: The Tribe

This wasn't the train wreck I was afraid it would be, but I'm still not sure that means it should have been made. Feldman's Seth Gecko tats were a nice touch, though.

Zombie Strippers
Strippers, zombies, and over-the-top Robert Englund. In Kentucky we have a word for that kind of thing: Trifecta.
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