Tuesday, January 6, 2009

2008 Movies

Because, as usual, I owe it to my fans to put in my 2 cents, here's a list of all the movies I watched in 2008 (sans Saturday afternoon action movie crapfests that I came in partway through, and probably also minus a few movies that I forgot to record) accompanied by a quick one-line review. I'm sure you've been anxiously awaiting my opinions... Looking back over this, it's pretty clear to me when my "X-Files" re-watching mania began, leaving me with no time to watch movies. 2008 sort of became the year of obsessive, all-encompassing, time-sucking passions for me... We'll have to wait and see what fun 2009 has in store for me!

1.) Idiocracy (Netflix 1/5/08)-- liked it a lot! Funny stuff...
2.) There Will Be Blood (in theater 1/18/08)-- Unbelievable. Crushing, powerful, amazing.
3.) Punch-Drunk Love (re-watch 1/25/08)
4.) Magnolia (Netflix 2/2/08)-- Liked it a lot. A huge movie with an emotional impact, although it was a little muddled and perhaps a bit long. Also, there was a lot of crying.
5.) Juno (in theater 2/11/08)-- good, but not great. Weird how it neatly ended a not-that-happy story...
6.) Atonement (in theater 2/13/08)-- Well-made and unrelentingly sad.
7.) Big Trouble in Little China (on TV)-- greatest movie ever made. USA! USA!! USA!!!
8.) Be Kind Rewind (in theater 3/3/08)-- sweet, but somehow I never really connected to the story or characters. Felt more like something that I SHOULD have liked than something I actually liked.
9.) Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (Netflix 3/7/08)-- raunchy, but was more original than the typical stoner/college/gross-out movie because of its commentary on race.
10.) Once (Netflix 3/10/08)-- very sweet and original love story. Really, really liked it!
11.) Stranger Than Fiction (Netflix 3/16/08)-- liked it, although it was a bit too "meta" for my liking. Nice to see Will Ferrell in a more restrained role, though.
12.) Michael Clayton (Netflix 3/17/08)-- OK. I get it-- corporations are ruthless and evil, corporate lawyers are also ruthless and evil, and pesticides are bad for people. Nothing new here. The movie was a little slow, but still fairly enjoyable.
13.) Blades of Glory (Netflix 3/22/08ish)-- Mildly amusing. Napoleon Dynamite guy is a horrible actor.
14.) Me and You and Everyone We Know (Netflix 3/28/08)-- I really liked the theme of people struggling to connect with each other, despite the alienating influence of new technology. But, the undercurrent of very young sexuality, and the light way that it was treated, was pretty uncomfortable (i.e., we're supposed to laugh at a would-be pedophile and underage girls trying to seduce him). So I have mixed feelings about the movie overall.
15.) The Simpsons Movie (re-watch 3/30/08)-- Funny. I fell asleep towards the end 'cause I was really tired and it was Sunday nap time.
16.) Reno 911!: Miami (Netflix 4/5/08)-- Dumb but fairly entertaining. Pretty much the same as a gigantic episode of the show, which I like, but never go out of my way to watch.
17.) Sunshine (Netflix 4/14/08)-- Well-made and interesting, but disturbing and a little too pseudo-scientific for me...
18.) Fantastic Four (on TV 4/27/08)-- Super-cheesy dialogue and dumb story, but still kind of fun.
19.) Spiderman 2 (re-watch 4/27/08)-- I think I actually liked this movie more the second time. The first time around I was totally bored and thought it was just like the first.
20.) Iron Man (in theater 5/2/08)-- Really liked it! Great cast, not cheesy, and totally entertaining.
21.) Hearts of Darkness (Netflix 5/8/08)-- Interesting movie about what goes on behind-the-scenes in a crazy production. Amazing that Apocalypse Now turned out to be any good at all.
22.) Shine a Light (in theater 5/13/08)-- Scorcese. The Rolling Stones. Obviously it rocked. Note: Had tickets to see this opening night, but had to hock them last second to see a friend's show. Then time passed by, etc., and suddenly it was May and I still hadn't seen this. Also, some old dude was smoking pot in the theater... and there were only 7 people in the theater at the 3:30 show.
23.) Batman Begins (re-watch 5/16/08)-- Wanted to get pumped up for the new Batman movie, but had forgotten (or perhaps not realized) how heavy-handed and, at times, clunky this movie was. Granted, exposition is never a prime strength of a comic book movie, but I'm growing a little tired of movies where a full half-hour is spent catching us up with the character's history.
24.) Charlie Wilson's War (Netflix 5/18/08)-- Interesting, and I liked it, despite my hatred for Julia Roberts, my tiredness of Philip Seymour Hoffman's smug superiority, and my disinterest in any Tom Hanks movie. The light satire of the movie suddenly turns sinister, thanks to Mike Nichols' deft handling of the Sorkin script. Also, TVC's own Wynn Everett had some nice screen time (and big hair!).
25.) Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (in theater 5/23/08)-- I came in with low expectations because long-awaited sequels to popular franchises seldom fare very well (see Star Wars, Die Hard), and, despite cheesy moments, it was a thoroughly enjoyable movie. It's Indiana F-ing Jones, after all! But, I maintain my original thesis: space, and by extension aliens, are gay.
26.) Tongan Ninja (Netflix 5/25/08)-- I Netflixed this because Jemaine Clement from Flight of the Conchords made it. Plus, it's a New Zealand ninja movie, so that's pretty awesome. It was dumb but amusing, and had some funny musical numbers. Strangely enough, it kind of seemed like something that we would have made in tone, subject matter, and production values. :)
27.) Contempt (at Film Forum as part of the Godard in the 60's retrospective 5/29/08)-- This was an interesting movie about the deterioration of a relationship. I enjoyed it, except for the extra-creepy voyeuristic camera on Brigitte Bardot's naked butt. Pan a little slower, dude, a little slower. Wait, I didn't scour every inch of her butt with my greedy eyes yet! SLOWER!! Ick.
28.) No Country For Old Men (on DVD 5/31/08)-- I finally got around to watching this movie after way too many people told me I MUST SEE IT NOW and detailed their favorite parts, scenes, and even shots. Also, I've already read the book, which read like a screenplay. The movie was a technical success-- beautifully shot, excellent acting, etc., but I was never very engaged by it. After the movie ended, I didn't feel affected by it at all, and I didn't find it memorable at all, which was strange, because I thought about the book for days afterward. Somehow, seeing the story visually represented sort of drained it of all depth and feeling for me. So yeah...
29.) The Big Lebowski (rewatch 6/8/08)-- Watched this for like the 2,000th time. Still awesome.
30.) Jurassic Park (for Cam's birthday 6/29/08)-- Dude, it's Jurassic Park! Greatest movie ever.
31.) Semi-Pro (Netflix 7/1/08)-- Nearly unwatchable. I fear for Will Ferrell.
32.) Persepolis (Netflix 7/18/08)-- Really wanted to see this in the theater, but never made it. Moving memoirs of life in Iran during the revolution and war.
At times very funny and at times very sad. Highly recommended.
33.) The Dark Knight (in theater 7/19/08)-- A taut, tense, and superbly acted movie. Heath Ledger didn't disappoint in his much-hyped final performance. I really don't care about any other movie now.
34.) Zodiac (Netflix 7/24/08)-- A riveting film about the Zodiac killer's terrorization of the Bay area in the late '60's and the labyrinthine investigation surrounding the unsolved murders. I got entirely wrapped up, along with Jake Gyllenhaal's character, in the dizzying plot. This movie really reminded me of All the President's Men, particularly the score, and as it turns out, both films were scored by the same guy. And both movies manage to maintain tension and suspense while the main characters, in essence, push paper. Interesting.
35.) X-Files: I Want to Believe (in theater 7/26/08)-- Lots of fun. Several of the plot points were wildly implausible (and I mean WILDLY implausible), but it was still great to see Mulder and Scully teamed up again.
36.) Step Brothers (in theater 8/1)-- This movie was... dumb. I like Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, but somehow I don't like seeing them as foul-mouthed and nasty as this. They should stick to PG-13s-- it suits them better. But at least it wasn't another sports movie.
37.) Wall-E (in theater 8/2)-- Excellent. This was a thoroughly enjoyable and thoughtful movie, particularly for a kids' movie. It was a very quiet and intricate movie-- I loved that they didn't feel the need to wow kids with nonstop dialogue and zany setpieces. I really, really liked it.
38.) Hot Fuzz (Netflix 8/9)-- Really fun! I liked the goofball take on the buddy cop movie.
39.) Amadeus (DVD 8/31)-- A master work about talent, envy, and God. Affecting and unbelievably executed. Yep, I'm just now watching this for the first time.
40.) 3:10 to Yuma (Netflix 10/3)-- I find it hard to believe that I didn't watch a single movie all during September. I must have forgotten to keep track! Anyways... this movie didn't really feel very necessary-- it's almost impossible to make a Western that feels new, and this didn't really succeed at that. The feel, the characters, the moral, even the plot felt like they were copped from other movies. And the myth of redemptive violence, which I always have a problem with, was really in your face in this movie. It's not that I didn't like the movie, but it was fairly unmemorable and felt like a remake because it was so unoriginal.
41.) Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Netflix 10/10)-- A somewhat amusing, but thoroughly predictable romantic comedy. It had its moments, but overall nothing too impressive.
42.) Almost Famous (rewatch 10/12)-- Seriously, maybe like the 30th time I've seen this movie. Trivia: going to this movie was my first date with the Man Friend... although he brought his brother along, so maybe it wasn't a date?
43.) Changeling (in theater 10/26)-- A disturbing and well-crafted movie about a woman's struggle to find her missing son. Totally heart-breaking. Note: some critics complained about the lack of consistency in the movie, that it jumps from genre to genre, but I actually liked that. I felt like this was a complex story that needed a complex structure to do it justice.
44.) The Conversation (Netflix 11/7)-- Liked this movie. Gene Hackman is a stud (and you gotta love Harrison Ford's appearance as a smarmy, conniving assistant) and is always a pleasure to watch. I really liked the way that the film examined the issue of privacy-- it's clear in the movie (and in real life) that anything gained by unlawful/borderline unlawful surveillance is bought at a heavy price. Of course, the landmark sound design is legendary for a reason-- it's pretty impressive.
45.) Four Christmases (in theater 11/28)-- Now, before you hastily pass judgment on me, please understand that this was a desperate situation in which my entire extended family thought this movie looked "SO cuuuuute" and in which I gritted my teeth and went (despite my better judgment) in orer to prove that I am a Team Player and that I am not a Film Snob or a Stuck-Up City Gal. That said... I'm pretty sure this dethroned White Chicks and maybe even Flying Tiger as the Worst Movie I've Ever Seen. It was joyless, mean-spirited, gross, poorly edited, had no story arc, and, possibly worst of all, had a completely unwarranted corn syrup-y ending tacked onto it. I can't possible emphasize enough how awful this movie was. NEVER see it. Don't even make eye contact with the DVD cover-- somehow you'll be sucked into the vacuous whirlwind of poopy that makes up this movie and you'll probably never recover.
46.) All the President's Men (rewatch Netflix 12/17)-- I think this was probably the 5th time I've seen this movie (I even wrote an excellent paper on it in college, if I may toot my own French horn a bit, and this movie inspired me hugely as a 15 year-old journalism student), but I can't help but be impressed by it every time I see it. Redford and Hoffman are great, the score is perfect, the camera work perfectly complements the story and the mood, and the script is excellent. If you've been living under a rock or are the only person in the world who reads blogs regularly but didn't attend a liberal arts school with this somewhere in the curriculum, watch it now.
47.) A Christmas Story (on DVD 11/24)-- Um, the greatest movie EVER? Our Christmas Eve tradition usually involves watching this and/or It's a Wonderful Life. I want to live in this movie. Not kidding at all here.
48.) Charlie Wilson's War (on TV 11/24)-- Like I said, Christmas Eve at the Man Friend's family homestead USUALLY involves watching A Christmas Story and It's a Wonderful Life. However, the combination of HBO and history nerds in that house occasionally means that you flip on the TV 30 seconds into Charlie Wilson's War and somehow end up spending Christmas Eve hating the ridiculous way that American foreign policy is formed instead of having your heart warmed and being reminded that "no man is a failure who has friends". Dang you, history nerds!!
49.) The Spirit (in theater 12/28)-- Wow, this was a big, hot mess. I didn't come into it with high expectations at all-- I just thought it would be a fun and mildly entertaining popcorn movie. But it was a big, hot mess. There was no structure at all and no story arc, and nothing at all happens during the first hour and fifteen minutes or so. The movie takes forever even letting you know who the characters are, and then nothing happens! Instead, scene after disjointed scene follows monologue after pointless monologue. I really felt like the scenes had been shuffled like a deck of cards and haphazardly dealt into a random order-- the movie would have been just as nonsensical if the scenes had been placed in a different order. It wasn't driving at anything at all. Moreover, this was a comic book movie without a single action set piece! Someone needs to explain this to me. Finally, a kitten gets zapped in it!! A tiny kitten!!! And there's a thoroughly unreasonable amount of puns in this, even for a comic book movie. If that's not crime enough, consider this one last thing-- while the end credits rolled, my ears were assaulted by a Christina Aguilera song. Yep. As if I wasn't already miserable enough. The only thing this movie had going in its favor was casting the dad from "The Wonder Years" as the police commissioner. Mr. Arnold!!

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