Sunday, June 26, 2011

1. Raging Bull (1980) - 6/10


-She says he's pretty.
-Yeah, well, you make him ugly.

Quality - 4/5
Enjoyability - 2/5

I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again: For the most part, Martin Scorsese makes doggone-near perfect movies about people I really don't care about. This movie is amazing. The way Scorsese films the fights is visionary and influenced nearly every action or sports movie that came after it. The choice to film in black and white actually made the film feel more genuine because it felt like a documentary instead of historical fiction. This is also aided by the amazing performances of Robert Deniro and Joe Pesci who both turned in probably the best performances of their career as troubled brothers.

Now, as for the subject, I just do not find the story of a real-life wife-beating, alcohol-abusing, boxer with no redemption appealing. Sure, his story was dramatic, interesting even, but I would much rather devote my time to someone who did even an ounce of good for this world (or even those around him).

Friday, June 24, 2011

365. Toy Story 3 (2010)


Thanks, guys.

note: I usually try to avoid spoilers, but I just couldn't do it with this one. If you haven't seen this, then do so. That is all.

The best movie of 2010, and nothing else even came close. Pixar pulled off something that pretty much no one else has ever done before (I'll admit it, even George Lucas). They created a trilogy of films that build on each other without ever losing their stride, getting progressively better, and creating characters that hold so much sentiment with viewers that I would would be willing to bet the scene pictured above elicited more tears than any movie of this generation. Maybe it is because I'm such a stickler for suspending my disbelief, but I actually thought that they might "kill off" the main characters in their penultimate episode. I still get a little misty when I think about my elation when the aliens scooped in with "the claw" to save our heroes. That final scene with Andy playing with the guys one last time, and individually explaining them to Bonnie mirrors what is going on in everyones head as they transition away from the wonders of their childhood imagination. And that final shot... I really can't explain how I felt when Woody issued that final "So long, partner".

It probably didn't help my emotions that this was also the first movie that I was accompanied by Abby. She had watched the previous Toy Story's on DVD and was quite a big fan of the characters. Being about a month short of 2 years old, I think she did marvelously. I know that she probably watches too many movies for a 2-year-old, but I really value that we share this love. We talk about her movies, and she learns so much. I also love how our tastes are so similar. We visited the Magic Kingdom today. After flying through Cinderellas castle to pay her respects, she wanted no part of the whole Princess treatment. She wanted to see Buzz, She was crushed when she was too short for Stitch's ride, and she drove the Tomorrowland racers better than I did.

Things I learned while doing my 365 day blog:
1. Writing a solid blog entry every day is tough.
2. People really need to watch more of these movies.
3. Lots of people read (nearly 7000 views) without commenting.
4. I love movie quotes.
5. Apparently I said something really profound in my Anastasia blog as it was my most viewed entry with nearly twice the views of the second place entry.
6. I really need to see more movies before 1990.

With #6 in mind, next week I will begin my new blog. For the next year, I am going to attempt to watch 100 movies that I am ashamed for having not seen. I figure that is pretty much 2 movies per week, which is a large step down from last year. Still, I will actually have to watch the movies this time. I have compiled a list 100, but feel free to recommend any if you didn't see them in my 365. I will rechristen this blog simply "Will's Movie Blog". See you next week!

364. Mother and Child (2010)


-To take something that comes from you, made of you, and part with it forever and ever.
-I don't want it.
-I didn't want you either.
-I'm not you.
-And yet here you are, 20 and pregnant and single, just like I was. You see, I didn't want you, and now, I can't take a breath without thinking of you, and wanting the best of the best for you.

A drama centered around the maternal relationships (or lack thereof) of three women and the quest to make things better. This movie features truly amazing performances from Samuel L. Jackson, Naomi Watts, Annette Bening, and Jimmy Smits. It also features another awesome performance from Shareeka Epps who first gained notice with a slew of critical awards in "Half Nelson" (she should really get more quality work). The three stories end up intertwining in unexpected but very moving ways. This was the biggest surprise of awards season for me last year and is why I put a lot of stock in the Independent Spirit Awards.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

363. Lovely, Still (2010)


It feels like, you've been here my whole life.

The best love story I have seen in a very long time, and odds are you haven't even heard of it. If you value touching stories of true love with just a dash of whimsy you should find this movie immediately. Martin Landau and Ellen Burstyn give career capping performances akin to Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn in "On Golden Pond".

In other news, with the 365 blog coming to an end on Saturday, I am going to change the format of Will's Movie Blog. During the next calendar year I am going to attempt to watch 100 movies I have never seen before that are inexcusable and write a short review/rumination. The first entry will be early next week - Raging Bull.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

362. The Fighter (2010)


That guy did not just get off the $*#%in' couch. If he did, I'm gonna get a couch like that.

I really need to rewatch this one before I make the final call, but I'm pretty sure this will end up being my favorite sports movie of all time. It is already my favorite boxing movie of all time. It simply does everything that "Rocky" did better and I can root for Micky Ward a whole lot easier than I can Jake LaMotta. I was literally jumping around and boxing in my seat in the theater during the movie's penultimate fight. It also didn't hurt that four actors gave probably the best performances of their careers. Mark Wahlberg was perfect as the strong silent Micky Ward. Christian Bale was amazing as Micky's brother and trainer Dicky. Amy Adams can do no wrong in my book, and actually made be believe she could be a cursing, hard-ass, New Englander. I didn't know much about Melissa Leo before this movie, but she gave the best acting performance of the 2010 as Micky and Dicky's manager and mother.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

361. (500) Days of Summer (2009)


The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Especially you Jenny Beckman. B#*$&.

The best love story of the new millennium is so good it actually warns its veiwers with the above statement as well as adding that it is "not a love story". Joseph Gordon-Levitt emerges from his "Tommy from 3rd Rock" image as the perfect "everyman" and Zooey Deschanel is mesmerizing as the object of "everyman"'s affection. The non-linear style works perfectly as the viewer is never actually sure whether the opening disclaimer was true or simply misdirection. I have talked to some who felt the ending was a little too sugary, but I felt it was the only way the movie could've avoided the "indy-hipster-depressing" file of movies.

Monday, June 20, 2011

360. Adventureland (2009)


-I think somebody was trying to write "Satan Lives" on that wall but they spelled it "Satin Lives".
-One of those textile worshiping cults no doubt.

This movie makes me sad. Not because Jesse Eisenberg was awesome, or it pretty much felt like a post-college sequel to "Freaks and Geeks", or because it is very funny. It makes me sad because it showed me the potential of Kristin Stewart. If only a certain piece of blood-sucking Mormon propaganda hadn't turned her into a lifeless shell of a damsel in distress, she could have been the next great queen of indy cinema. If only....

Sunday, June 19, 2011

359. Avatar (2009)


-I see you.
-I see you.

The further I am removed from seeing this movie in the theater the more I see its many faults. It is not the movie I want to rewatch to the extent I thought I would. It is most definitely "Dances with Wolves" in outer space. The simple message of environmentalism was applied with a sledghammer. Still, this movie is a perfect example of what you want to experience at the theater. Sure, it'll never be a film class subject, but the the movie does something that other movies only dream about. It transports the viewer to another world. It is probably the best looking and best sounding movie ever made, and sometimes a super simple story that lets its technology do the work is a really, really good thing.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

358. Away We Go (2009)


-Do you promise to let our daughter be fat or skinny or any weight at all? Because we want her to be happy, no matter what. Being obsessed with weight is just too cliché for our daughter.
-Yes, I do. Do you promise, when she talks, you'll listen? Like, really listen, especially when she's scared? And that her fights will be your fights?
-I do. And do you promise that if I die some embarrassing and boring death that you're gonna tell our daughter that her father was killed by Russian soldiers in this intense hand-to-hand combat in an attempt to save the lives of 850 Chechnyan orphans?
-I do. Chechnyan orphans. I do. I do.

Yet another criminally underseen movie. If this movie had been released during awards season instead of June, it would have garnered so much more attention. John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph are perfect as a young couple who are facing the realization that they need to grow up quick. Their impending pregnancy leads them on a cross-country journey to find a job and/or a home so that they can raise their child like responsible adults. Along the way they meet up with their friends who they thought were now taking on that "responsible" role only to find them squandering in their own forms of immaturity as well.

Friday, June 17, 2011

357. Capitalism: A Love Story (2009)


Is this the United States Congress, or the board of directors of Goldman Sachs?

"If you're not a Democrat by the time you are twenty, then you have no heart. If you're not a Republican by the time you are thirty, then you have no head." I have heard this quote many times before, and I guess I have about 9 days to prove my cephalization, though my hopes aren't high. I just see the "right-wing" mindset of one completely based in greed. I understand the argument that capitilism is what made this country great, but one could also say that slavery made assisted in this country's rise to power in the same way. Just as we realized the error of our ways with abolition, I believe that we are well overdue for a change in our ideas about personal property, incorporation, and doing what's right for the common good instead of a single person. We were pretty close over the past 5 years or so, but when the bubble of the "credit era" truly bursts, the only option will be revolution.

Wow that was quite a rambling take on a movie. I guess that's what you get after driving with Abby and Angie for 6.5 hours in Friday afternoon traffic.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

356. Food, Inc. (2009)


A culture that just uses a pig as a pile of protoplasmic inanimate structure, to be manipulated by whatever creative design the human can foist on that critter, will probably view individuals within its community, and other cultures in the community of nations, with the same type of disdain and disrespect and controlling type mentalities.

It is a rare find to discover a documentary that is at the same time timely, thouroughly entertaining, and exceedingly informative. This is probably is important movie to be released in the new millennium. You may not want to hear about the pain and cost that goes into your food, you may not want to change anything about it once you do, but you owe it to yourself and your environment to at least be educated.

355. Inglourious Basterds (2009)


You probably heard we ain't in the prisoner-takin' business; we in the killin' Nazi business. And cousin, business is a-boomin'.

Quentin Tarantino's first period piece is a success mainly due to the outstanding performances by Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, and Melanie Laurent. Brad Pitt owns his role as Lt. Aldo Raine a hyperconfident, John Wayne-swaggering, leader of a brigade of Jewish-Americans out to kill out Nazis. Christoph Waltz won a very deserving Oscar for his turn as a German "Jew-hunter". Melanie Laurent's performance as a theater owner turned revolutionary didn't garner as much attention, but it is her role that truly anchors the crux of the movie. Also, only Tarantino could find a way to write a thoroughly entertaining movie about World War II and actually have the cajones to give the War an alternate ending.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

354. Star Trek (2009)


-I may throw up on you.
-I think these things are pretty safe.
-Don't pander to me, kid. One tiny crack in the hull and our blood boils in thirteen seconds. Solar flare might crop up, cook us in our seats. And wait till you're sitting pretty with a case of Andorian shingles, see if you're so relaxed when your eyeballs are bleeding. Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence.
-Well, I hate to break this to you, but Starfleet operates in space.
-Yeah. Well, I got nowhere else to go, the ex-wife took the whole damn planet in the divorce. All I got left is my bones.

Hollywood remakes are often simply a cash grab. Throw something familiar up on the screen and people will flock to it regardless of its quality. Probably due to the fact that Star Trek has had a consistent fan following for nearly the past fifty years, it was able to avoid this fate. J.J. Abrams not only delivers a respectful addition to the Trek canon, but arguably its best feature film. The characters (especially McCoy and Kirk) are captured with near flawless perfection that never approaches satire, and the screenplay (aside from the sorta-lame villian) is exciting from beginning to end. All in all, this is how you reboot a franchise.

353. Up (2009)


Thanks for the adventure. Now go have one of your own.

Think about all of the television shows and movies that you have watched that have moved you to tears. Now think about the amount of time and effort the shows creators put towards your emotional investment. It usually happens around the end of a movie or could be as long as years in a television series. The guys from Pixar did it here in 12 minutes. I would put the first quarter-hour of this film up against any nearly any piece of narrative entertainment as the fastest successful emotional wallop in history. The rest of the movie is not bad either.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

352. Observe and Report (2009)


Let me ask you something - how much did they get paid to storm Normandy, how much did King Arthur get paid to kill Merlin, how much did they get paid to invent Television? Nothing. They did it because they knew it was right.

A couple of years ago, I was finishing up my Masters in education. I never like to say anything negative about my alma mater, but I can only say that the science education department at ECU is lacking in MANY respects. My biggest problem was a professor who gave me an incomplete and a C after a semester of no grades or feedback in her two online classes. I turned in all assignments on time, simply received no feedback. She gave me an incomplete because she didn't grade my papers and a C because she didn't like me for some reason (probably because she could tell I was too smart to push around). Nonetheless, after much hard work (and help from friends at ECU and education administration) I graduated with my degree. Still, I felt more ill will for this professor than I have ever felt in my life. I pride myself in being a relatively loving and nonviolent person, and it really troubled me to have the thoughts I was having.

That being said, this movie served as amazing therapy during this hard time in my life. I'd classify it as a guilty pleasure dark comedy. Seth Rogen portrays a bipolar mall cop with delusions of grandeur. Do you really need to know anything else?

351. Battle in Seattle (2008)


I don't blame you. I mean, I do, but... $#*@, you're not the problem. You're just doing your job, i guess. The people I'm really trying to fight are the ones who destroy so much, and they hurt so many lives. Not just one. Literally, millions. And no one ever points a gun at them. You know, they just seem so, unaccountable. Untouchable. Just seems kind of @*#$ed that you're... You and me are the ones that have to fight each other.

Yet another underseen movie. It pains me so much that "Grown Ups" sells out theaters, the Twilight movies have people lining up, and movies like this get ignored. I know you may not always agree with critics, but if we all stop seeing bad movies, they won't make them any more, and more money and time can be devoted to quality films.

This movie is pretty much a dramatization of the outstanding documentary "This is What Democracy Looks Like". Regardless of your opinions about the World Trade Organization, I think we should all be able to agree that the freedom to assemble is one of the most important rights we have. In 1999, protesters in Seattle learned that this right could be easily removed if you stood in the way of rich people and their money.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

350. Fanboys (2008)


Time for you to get mauled, boy. - Quote spoken by Ray Park, who played Darth Maul... I'm a geek....

It truly hurts how criminally underseen this movie is. Especially since it is pretty much about my friends (and me). If you have any smidgen of geek in you (or love someone who does), then you owe it to yourself to see this movie immediately. Still not convinced?
Top 5 reasons to see "Fanboys":
1. Kristin Bell dressed in the infamous "Slave Leia" costume.
2. It took over 3 years for the movie to finally be released because of the "controversial" boy-with-cancer storyline.
3. Seth Rogen plays 3 completely distinct characters.
4. A van modded to with an R2 unit
5. William Shatner

Friday, June 10, 2011

349. The Clone Wars (2008)


You're reckless, little one. You never would have made it as Obi-Wan's Padawan. But you might make it as mine...

I admit. I am a sucker for all things Star Wars. This movie is a little annoying, but it has Yoda, Jabba the Hutt, and R2-D2. No amount of whiny new character or crying baby Huttlet can take away from the chance to see those characters in new stories. .... at least for me....

Thursday, June 9, 2011

348. Wall-E (2008)


Wait, that doesn't look like Earth. Where's the blue sky? Where's the-the grass?

With every movie that the Pixar animation studio makes, I find myself saying the same thing: "It's gonna be hard to top that one". Inevitably, their next film will blow me away. I've said it before, but it bears repeating. Pixar's undefeated streak is something that no one has ever pulled off in the history of movies (not to mention other artistic venues).

Wall-E is a prime example of Pixar's genius. They were able to pull of an animated "children's" movie with no dialogue for the first twenty minutes. It even begins with a "West Side Story"-esque montage aerial view with no action or gimmicky introduction. This develops into one of the most heartfelt romances of the new millennium (between two robots no less). Throw in a wonderful message of environmentalism and love for our planet and you have quiet the piece of movie magic.

347. Australia (2008)


-Missus Boss, I sing you to me.
-And I will hear you.

The saddest part about this movie is that it is only Baz Luhrmann's fourth movie in the past twenty years. With his "Red Curtain Trilogy" (Strictly Ballroom, Romeo+Juliet, and Moulin Rouge!) he transported the viewer to his stage using many elements that are common place in live theater. With "Australia", Luhrmann transports the viewer to the sprawling epics of the Golden Age of American cinema. In the same vein that "Gone with the Wind" celebrated Southern culture and "Giant" celebrated Texas, this movie celebrates the strength, will, and determination of the people of Australia. I don't recommend it much because it is a different kind of movie than is normally made today (and that is off-putting to many viewers), but if you yearn for the Hollywood epics of yore, then you should most definitely see this immediately.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

346. Bigger Stronger Faster* (2008)


Steroids?! I love it if they're on my team!!

Not sure how you feel about the whole Performance Enhancing Drugs in sports debate. This movie is an excellent place to start. An impressively even-handed and entertaining look at steroid use, this documentary succeeds because of its personal story of the Bell brothers and their struggles with sports, body-building, wrestling, and drug abuse. Once you're done with the movie, check out Wikipedia for a pretty tragic epilogue to the Bell brothers' story.

Monday, June 6, 2011

345. Death Proof (2008)


-Did any of them survive?
-$#*%. Two tons of metal, 200 miles an hour, flesh and bone and plain old Newton... they all princess died.

Quentin Tarantino's fifth film and the second half of the old-school "Grindhouse" double feature is a really underrated gem of a movie and has the single greatest car chase to ever grace the silver screen. This is probably Tarantino's simplest movie but it combines the greatest things about his previous movies to make it more than just a 45-minute classic car chase. It's got "Reservoir Dogs"-style breakfast table banter, "Pulp Fiction"-style music, "Jackie Brown"-style supercoolness, and "Kill Bill"-style grrrl power action.

344. Iron Man (2008)


-I'm Agent Phil Coulson with the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division.
-That's quite a mouthful.
-I know. We're working on it.

Producers, directors, and writers please take note (although judging by the new X-Men movie and Green Lantern it looks like most of you already have). THIS is how you make a comic book movie: quick origin, witty banter, LOTS of rock-n-roll action, and sometimes it's okay to kinda ignore the "love" interest (I'm lookin' at you random Batman movie). It also doesn't hurt to cast recovered addict and playboy (and all-around amazing actor) Robert Downey Jr. as your alcoholic playboy superhero.

343. Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)


What? Han Solo ain't never had no sex with Princess Leia in the Star War!

Easily Kevin Smith's best non-Jay & Silent Bob film. This movie succeeds because he wrote about what he knows best: average down-on-their-luck workers with too much time on their hands and an unlimited capacity for making pop-culture references, d*#&-jokes, and speaking in monologue. Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks anchor the audience firmly to the story, but the performances of Jason Mewes, Craig Robinson, Justin Long, and Jeff Anderson bring absolutely side-splitting performances that make the movie (and it's HOURS of outtakes) supremely rewatchable.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

342. The Garden (2008)


It's a pretty simple idea: Land, people, food, happy days.

Manipulative and one-sided just like a good "call-to-action" documentary should be. After multiple viewings, I freely admit that this doc kind of ignores pretty important things like, you know, law. Still, it highlights one of the lost arts of mankind: growing food for your family through sweat equity. My daddy may not be the most outwardly environmentally concscience individual, but this is one thing that he still does to this day. The backyard garden is where I learned many lessons about respect for the land, hard work, and sustainability. Anyone who denies the power a simple garden can have (regardless of the law in some cases), has simply never worked in one.

341. Pineapple Express (2008)


It's almost a shame to smoke it. It's like killing a unicorn... with, like, a bomb.

Easily the greatest "stoner" comedy of all time. Seth Rogen's comedic timing and screenplay combine with James Franco amazing ad lib and acting chops to turn create a masterpiece of immature gobbledygook. Bonus points for casting Rosie Perez as a crooked cop and Danny Mcbride's amazing star-turning role as Red.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

340. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)


-I knew you'd be watching.
-I thought we would meet only in death.
-This is our destiny.
-Kiss me.

Daring, unique, and magical take on the classic "boy meets girl" scenario. Not my favorite from Boyle, but it won him an Oscar, so I'm not complaining!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

339. Waitress (2008)


Dear Baby, I hope someday somebody wants to hold you for 20 minutes straight and that's all they do. They don't pull away. They don't look at your face. They don't try to kiss you. All they do is wrap you up in their arms and hold on tight, without an ounce of selfishness to it.

This movie is a uniquely beautiful look at female empowerment. It is also the only movie to be able to brag that it stars Andy Griffith, Matlock, Capt. Malcom Reynolds, and Richard Castle. For all of its awesomeness, the movie is overshadowed by the tragic story of its writer/director, Adrienne Shelly who was taken from this world just as she was putting the finishing touches on this film. Her story is seriously too sad to recount (feel free to check it out on wikipedia if you like), but her memory lives on in this touching love letter to her daughter.

338. Amazing Grace (2007)


Although my memory's fading, I remember two things very clearly. I'm a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.

One of the most underseen movies of recent years about one of the most understudied periods in world history. Who knew that the origins of the song "Amazing Grace" coincided with the end of African slavery? This is definitely an awesome way to learn.