White Material (Denis, 2010)

I finally give Claire Denis’s White Material, my favorite film of 2010, a thorough analysis in the form of a Blu-ray review for Slant. While I still feel Claire Denis films need be seen theatrically for maximum impact, this stellar high-definition version will have to do when that luxury isn’t afforded.

Muriel Awards 2010

I was lucky enough to be invited by my friend Steve Carlson of In Review Online to participate in his annual Muriel Awards, a cinephile tradition unlike any other that lists the best films, actors, actresses, and many more categories. Here are links to my personal page, where you can find more shortcuts to my essays on White Material, Mother, and Ryan Gosling, as well as the group site itself with lists galore. So many great writers contributed to the project, and it’s always fun checking out all the diverging opinions. Thanks to Steve and Paul Clark for working so passionately and diligently on the project and inviting your’s truly to participate. Can’t wait until next year.

The Walking Dead: Season 1 (AMC, 2010)

The Walking Dead: Season 1 is the beginning of a beautiful and bloody long-term epic. But with only six episodes last Fall, we only got the tip of the iceberg. The show is uneven in certain parts, but overall a highly enjoyable genre hybrid made up of equal parts action, horror, and melodrama. I highly recommend investing your time, because the best has yet to come.

Worst Films of 2010

Here’s an article that’s always fun to write. My film-savvy younger brother, my extremely patient lady, and I vigorously talk about this all year, watching every “bomb” we can get our hands on and discussing levels of suckery in order to fill out this cinematic void of a list. Sure, it’s a bit of a masochistic project, but you can’t deny tradition. I’ve been filling out a “Worst List” for years now, and with so much pooh out there, there’s more material than ever to consider. I decided to wait a few months into 2011 for some films to get released on DVD, ones that I felt might make the list. Boy were my instincts right on (I’m talking about you #1)! A few dishonorable mentions before we get started: Just Wright, The Runaways, Jolene, Marmaduke, The Fighter, Frozen, The Eclipse, Unthinkable, and Grownups barely missed the cut. Without further ado, the Worst Films of 2010.

1. Love and Other Drugs (dir. Edward Zwick) – Maybe the worst movie of the last decade. My hope in humanity diminished greatly watching this train wreck of incorrigible Oscar baiting (thankfully even the Academy didn’t bite), a film that shamelessly tries to mix comedy and social commentary and fails so badly neither even feels part of the same story. Gyllenhaal tries to be charming but comes across as relentlessly smug, while Hathaway looks completely lost in a ridiculously derivative plot that literally goes nowhere. Imagine the worst impulses of the romantic comedy mixing with the pretentious/self-righteous posturing of a “relevant” issue film. This is Up in the Air, re-imagined by Paul Haggis’ evil twin.

2. The Last Song (dir. Julie Anne Robinson) – As my boy Joel McHale would say, “It’s Miley!” I dare you to watch this umpteenth entry in the Nicolas Sparks/my dad is dying/I don’t want to but must fall in love with the wrong guy/bullshit.

3. City of Your Final Destination (dir. James Ivory) – Droll, monotonous, plodding, tiresome…yeah, I got nothing else. 2+ hours of rich people whining, populated by passive male characters and passive-aggressive females trying to transcend their suffering lives. Maybe this is one of those films “I’m too young to get”, but that excuse only goes so far. The outright melodramatic hackery on display can’t be denied.

4. Skyline (dirs. Colin and Greg Strause) – Laughably bad, inane, and clumsy. Really the worst genre film to come along since Battlefield Earth. This is almost worth watching for the mind-boggling stupid final scene, if you can get that far. Almost.

5. Sex and the City 2 (dir. Michael Patrick King) – A brazenly racist, sexist, and derogatory film dressed in high fashion and coated in spray-on tan. Just make this black eye on American pop culture stop.

6. Dear John (dir. Lasse Hallstrom) & Letter’s to Juliet (dir. Gary Winick) – An Amanda Seyfried double-bill from hell. Each is terrible in their own way, but the former falls nicely in line with my #3 film’s analysis, while the latter is a special type of sun-drenched turd, shoving a faux-Shakespearean romance down our throat until we gag on the syrupy discharge.

7. The Kids Are All Right (dir. Lisa Cholodenko) – The most controversial choice on this list since it obtained a number of high-profile Oscar nominations, but this is bad Lifetime television posing as social comedy. There’s an arrogant quality to the performances, writing, and direction that not many critics have discussed, a smugness that permeates through every scene in disturbing ways. By the end, I hated each one of these people and didn’t care one ounce about their situation. That many people have found viable substance here is insane.

8. Legion (dir. Scott Charles Stewart) – I love action films, but not this much. Paul Bettany as a stoic angel with machine guns protecting an idiot human population from other angels. Enough said.

9. Valentine’s Day (dir. Garry Marshall) – Shove it low-concept Hollywood!

10. Alice in Wonderland (dir. Tim Burton) – I think Tim Burton has officially drifted off into a fantasy land all his own, where lame stabs at auteurism like Alice in Wonderland are important pieces of art. So much potential wasted for unnecessary aesthetic pomp and circumstance.

– Finally, just in case you were wondering, I did see the abysmal Twilight: Eclipse, but figured I’d leave that one alone because everyone knows it sucks, and those tweens won’t listen to me anyway. Until next year.

A Woman, a Gun, and a Noodle Shop (Zhang, 2010)

A strange duck, A Woman, a Gun, and a Noodle Shop strips the brooding Neo-noir conventions from the Coen’s Blood Simple and re-imagines them in a vibrantly colorful vision of Chinese period-piece deceit. The film might not be one of Zhang’s best, but it warrants a look from those devoted to his filmography. It’s often stunning, including the final (nearly silent) climax involving arrows, swords, and splintering wood. Check out my review at GreenCine.

2010 Oscar Predictions

It’s that time of year again, where every film lover and many non film lovers start prognosticating about the Academy Awards. I’m still fuming over Ryan Gosling’s omission and even a bit perturbed at Christopher Nolan’s absence in favor of hack work by David O’Russell. But I digress. What follows are the predictions of who I think will win and who I think should win. Mostly, those are two very different opinions. Continue reading