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So everyone is doing their “best of the decade” lists and apparently I’m no exception.  Though the Aughts (also known as the 2000’s) were horrible in a lot of ways for the world – or at least for the US (Bush years, ongoing wars, September 11th, massive recession and economic meltdown) there were also some great things and going through my list of films that came out from 2000 – 2009…it was a VERY strong decade.  So strong in fact that I can’t bear to just post a Top 10…so I’m doing a Top 25.

As usual, keep in mind that there are many movies I have not yet seen that might have made the list but just didn’t have a chance because I haven’t gotten to them yet…notably missing off the top of my head are:  The Wrestler, The Cove, 35 Shots of Rum, Revanche, Wendy and Lucy, and Synecdoche, New York.

I’d also like to offer up honorable mentions to the following:  The Station Agent, Ballast, Police Adjective, Friends With Money, The Savages, Syriana, Children of Men, Monster’s Ball, Michael Clayton, Go, Lovely & Amazing, Requiem For A Dream, Irreversible, Brodre (Brothers), The Incredibles, and Dead Man’s Shoes.

Okay, onto the list!

25. The Dark Knight

24. Dogville

23.  Movern Callar

22.  The Departed

21.  Brick

Read the rest of this entry »

coldsouls poster

Cold Souls.  Sophie Barthes (writer/director).  Film.

I had the privliedge of seeing this movie way in advance last spring at the New Directors/New Films Film Festival in NYC.  We saw it at Walter Reade Theater (one of my favorite theaters in the city) and it was one of those kind of perfect movie experiences.  Seeing something in advance of everyone else is always pretty cool…but seeing something really good in advance of everyone is WAY cool.  I didn’t originally plan to write a review of this film as I rarely do film reviews on this blog, but as its release date came closer I realized I wanted to write about it – if only to help it (not like this tiny blog actually gets any people out to the movies) but it makes me feel like I’m helping – and that’s almost as important (not really).

[Mild Spoilers – in plot summary]

The Good: Paul Giamatti playing Paul Giamatti works as brilliantly here as it did when John Malkovich played himself in Being John Malkovich.  And this film borrows lightly from Being John Malkovich in the sense that the sensibility is the same – a dark funny offbeat comedy set in a very real world, with one very interesting twist.  In Being John Malkovich that was obviously that you could go through a hole in a wall and be inside John Malkovich, in Cold Souls it’s that the soul of a person can be removed and stored and replaced later (if the person so desires) and that you can even try on other souls for size.

I think writer/director Sophie Barthes’ brilliance here is that her concept is totally original and wonderfully executed, but that she never takes her concept too seriously.  The soul, as Giamatti quickly finds out, is a troublesome little thing, that though it can weigh you down, life is pretty not good without one.  And so Giamatti returns to have his soul, well, returned.  Unfortunately his soul has been lost/stolen and the hunt begins for him to get it back.  Cold Souls fully explores this slightly fictional world and with interesting results.

The wonderful Dina Korzun (Forty Shades Of Blue) plays Nina, a soul trafficking mule, that tries to help Giamatti get his soul back, while also dealing with her own complicated life and the harsh ramifications of trafficking in souls.  Giamatti’s soul has been taken by the gorgeous but horrible Sveta, the girlfriend of the head honcho on the Russian side of the soul removal operation.  Sveta (played wonderfully by Katheryn Winnick) is a Russian soap actress that has been told Giamatti’s actor soul is actually the actor soul of Al Pacino, and once she has it, she’s not inclined to give it back, liking the way it feels, and believing that it will strengthen her acting chops.

Smaller performances by powerhouses Emily Watson as Giamatti’s wife Claire; David Strathairn as apologetic Dr. Flintstein; and Lauren Ambrose as lab assistant Stephanie, only gives extra weight to an already fantastic cast full of beautiful character performances led masterfully by Paul Giamatti.

The movie is full of surprises – both in how it all plays out – and in how darkly funny it is, while still managing to tackle thought provoking ideas.

The Bad: I honestly can’t think of anything.  I suppose it’s possible that there are small nitpicky things that I didn’t like when I saw this months ago, but in retrospect I can’t recall anything but the good stuff…which speaks well for the film in the end.

The Ugly: Nothing.  I love the way this movie looks and feels.  It’s beautifully shot and actually feels cold throughout and to good effect – from the sorrow in Giamatti (pre and post soul removal); to the clinical futuristic offices and labs; to the stunning Russian landscapes and the poverty and plight of some of its citizens forced to sell their souls on the black market.

4.5 Stars


Now, please keep in mind I do of course mix this up with different babydoll nightgowns, ratty sweaters, and sweatpants.  But yeah, it’s decidedly not awesome.

If we hadn’t gone out this weekend (twice!) I think Adam would have forgotten what I looked like in real clothes.  Speaking of this weekend, we saw two really good films this weeked at the New Directors/New Films series.  Treeless Mountain and Cold Souls. I don’t know if either will be getting a wide release, though the latter has enough star power that it seems like it should (Paul Giamatti), it also features in a small role some “new” actress (Katheryn Winnick) that I have to say I could not take my eyes off of.  To be “that guy” (or girl, as it were) she looked like a lovely version of Scarlett Johansson…only taller and a bit older.  Va va va voom.


Not quite, but I’m surprisingly close.

Who is Alan Zweig you ask?  Alan Zweig is a talented documentary filmmaker with a grim (though not unwarranted) outlook on life.  I came across Zweig’s films, as I come across many great things, via Adam.  Thanks Adam!

A few weeks ago I was trying to work (I think it was writing) and Adam put in Zweig’s documentary Vinyl.  My attempt at working did not last long as I was drawn in from the office to the living room repeatedly by fascinating, funny, introspective, and really sad stuff I was hearing in Zweig’s fascinating film.  We both fell in love with Zweig’s Vinyl, partly because it’s just a wonderful documentary about collectors of vinyl and partly because Adam and I both suffer from obsessive compulsive collecting to a certain degree…not for vinyl, but for various kinds of media…it is worst in me for books and comic books/graphic novels, it is worst in Adam for film as he’s managed to mostly curb his inner comic collector.  Regardless, I guess my point is that we were really able to relate to the people Zweig interviewed (including Zweig himself), but from a slightly safe distance – though collecting is a bit of a problem for us – mostly financial – it hasn’t managed to take over or shape our lives (yet?) in the way that most of Zweig’s subjects admitted it does for them.

The film Vinyl is an unflinchingly honest documentary about collectors, and what and why they love what they love, and also why they have sometimes come to hate it.  Zweig himself is incredibly frank about the fact that he believes his collecting gets in the way of his life – particularly for his relationships and general growth as a person living a “normal” life.

Being throughougly entranced by Vinyl (released in 2000) Adam quickly hunted down Zweig’s other two documentaries, I,Curmudgeon (2004) and Lovable (2007), these in combination with Vinyl are often referred to unofficially as his “Trilogy of Narcissism” and the title fits, in the best sense of the word.  All three documentaries are executed in a very stripped down interview style.  There is no fancy lighting, or great sets.  The interviews are almost exclusively shot head on as medium-ish shots, in the subjects’ own homes, with the exception of Zweig’s “confessional” interviews with himself where he shoots just his head/face in a mirror.  I suppose this would drive some people crazy, but I found it charming, and honest.  Zweig is far more open I think and vulnerable talking to himself in the mirror than he would be in a more professional or staged setting, or if being interviewed by someone else.  He knows exactly the questions he wants to ask, and he is brave about not dodging the ones that have horrible answers, or worse, the ones he doesn’t actually know the answers to.  It’s almost like watching someone in therapy.  But real therapy, not some staged witty version of what is usually written for “realistic” therapy sessions.

I, Curmudgeon in a nutshell is about being a curmudgeon…being a person that can’t just be happy and go with the flow.  The people he interviews range from just sarcastic and bitter to chronically depressed.  Zweig considers himself a curmudgeon, although he seems mild in comparison to some of his fellow curmudgeons.  This was by far the most depressing of the documentaries – perhaps because I related to it too much.  I don’t really consider myself a curmudgeon, and I doubt people I know would categorize me that way, but I absolutely have a dark sarcastic side and I often suffer from bouts of depression and I find myself either annoyed or confounded by people that just seem happy.  Unlike most of the people in Zweig’s film I’m pretty good at hiding it (not good for me by the way) and I’m very socially ept.  I suspect many of Zweig’s interview subjects would actually take issue with me empathizing with their problems…but I do, and I love that someone even wanted to make this film – it is so outside the realm of “traditionally acceptable subject matter” for mass consumption.

Loveable is Zweig interviewing solely women, women who are single and have been for a very very long time, some to the point of having always been single.  Because Zweig contstantly ruminates in his films about finding love and a real life partner I can’t help but feel a small part of him hoped through his new film to find a woman that felt as unloveable as he did, and that they could be loved by one another, thus pairing off two people previously incredibly lonely.  I don’t begrudge him this (we all want to be loved, right?) and I don’t think it affected his film, except perhaps in the editing room (some of the scenes run a bit long or repetitive).  I suspect he fell in love with all of these women a little bit, as they were all pretty amazing, and yet touched with the same sadness that he is. Overall it’s a gripping and almost shocking documentary in that it really is surprising that some of these women are single and have always been single.  A couple of them I nearly fell in love with myself.  In the end, though I thought the film was excellent,  it is the subject matter I related to the least (I have ended up lucky in love if nothing else in my life) and thus it was less powerful for me than his other two films.

In the end I can’t really recommend Alan Zweig or his films to just anybody, a lot of people will hate what he’s done here, however, if you’ve read this review and “get it” you should probably check him out immediately.  For the record, here are the ratings (out of 5):

Vinyl – 4.5 Stars

I, Curmudgeon – 4.0 Stars

Loveable – 3.5 Stars


E-@Theletes.  Directed by Jonathan Boal.  Produced by Artem Agafonov

I had the opportunity through this blog to review a screener copy of E-@Theletes, a direct to DVD documentary about professional gaming. 

The subject matter is quite frankly, fascinating.  Regardless of whether you’re the kind of inner circle gaming geek (said with love!) that this documentary is geared towards or not, this film’s subject matter is just captivating…if only because whether you think professional gaming applies to you or not, in some way in the future it probably will.  There are people out there that never thought mobile phones or home computers would affect their way of life, and I think it’s safe to say that even if you hate mobile phones or home computers and choose not to have them, they are simply a way of life at this point and absolutely affect everyone.  I suspect professional gaming will be in a similar category one day. 

The Good:  As mentioned, the subject matter is fascinating and this documentary comes at the very beginning of what I expect will eventually be a huge industry as we slowly replace much of real life with online life, which is already happening in the form of games like Second Life.   The documentary covered a lot of different aspects of the gaming industry, including opinions from authors and experts, interviews with gamers and their families and girlfriends, as well as with some industry people and borderline visionaries.  It’s hard to imagine, but in their own way these people are not unlike the guys who first tried to get a sport like basketball going…and I have little doubt they’ll be successful and that someday competitive gaming will be mentioned in the same sentence as more mainstream sports like basketball, football, and baseball.   It’s not going to be in the next five years, but eventually it will happen, it’s the direction we’re all headed.  That said, I’m still waiting for my freaking hoverboard…

The Bad:  The music is not so good and the needle drops are sometimes oddly placed, often overpowering the actual interviews, which, in a documentary, is not a good thing.  Several times I lost whole sentences from the interview because the bad music was too loud or started at a strange moment.  I’m sure the budget could not handle the cost for buying the rights to a couple awesome songs, but it’s unfortunately for such a small thing really could have brought this piece together.  There were a couple moments in The King of Kong a similar documentary film about gaming, most specifically when Joe Esposito’s extremely cheesy Karate Kid jam “You’re The Best Around” is played and literally the entire theater lit up in smiles…for so many reasons.  This documentary could have benefited hugely from a few moments like that. 

Early on the documentary did feel a bit unfocused.  It felt at times like Boal shot every single thing he could in an effort to figure out what the story was here – and that’s probably how it happened – as often does in documentaries as you wait for the story to emerge – but as a viewer I don’t want to feel that in the final product.  For the uninitiated to the professional gaming community (me) I felt kind of thrown into the deep end of the pool in the first scenes.  There is no real explanation of how the system works, or what they’re trying to accomplish, and the competitive gaming community IS pretty complicated.  I’m a fairly savvy viewer, and I’m familiar with less mainstream stuff like comicons and such, but as I’m not well versed specifically in competitive gaming I found myself  lost and a bit confused for the first twenty minutes.  Perhaps Boal didn’t want to risk alienating the insiders he knew would be interested in his film, but I have to believe there’s a happy medium somehow where you can appease the fantatics and the uninitiated at the same time and with minimal frustration for either group. 

Once the story solified as a focus on two US competitive gaming teams (3D and Complexity) and their intensifying rivalry, it really started to get a focus and became far more interesting.  The human element, as always I think, really helped drive the story forward.  Once Boal focused on 3D and Complexity and less on the larger scope of gaming it was easy to see that though many people probably consider professional gaming a silly waste of time, the people we met in E-@Theletes have invested serious amounts of time, money, and love into the venture, and it really helped me care both in regards to who was advancing and winning big prize money and also about the future of professional gaming in general.  

The Ugly:  The packaging is not pretty.  I think the distributor made a real mistake here, though I’m sure it was all budget and cost related, much like the music limitations.  All the images on the front and back of the DVD are very dark and far too small, and the pictures sit on a black background as well, making everything extremely muddy and dark.  The summary on the back is also not so compelling compared to the actual content of the film, which is strong. 

Additionally, as a woman, I found the summary on the back to be a little misogynistic, and it turned me off immediately even though the film itself proved far less offensive than I expected based on the summary.   It’s unfortunate that women do take such a back seat in this film, they are literally only featured as mothers and girlfriends, but considering the very thorough interviewing done by the filmmakers I can’t blame them…I think women just aren’t into competitive gaming enough yet to be anything other than side characters.  I look forward to the follow up documentary in a couple years where women have definitely stepped up in the gaming community and made their presence known. 

In the end it is a shame for all the work that went into this documentary that the packaging is not doing it justice.  When you go straight to DVD it’s more important than ever I think to have some powerful packaging and an excellent (accurate) summary.  Don’t be fooled in this case – the actual film is far more interesting than the packaging would lead you to believe. 

Overall, I give it 3 stars (out of 5) for the fascinating subject matter.  I’m sure the director, Jonathan Boal is a little burnt out on the professional gaming community, but I for one would love an update in a few years showing us how that industry has advanced. 

The DVD releases this Tuesday, January 27th and will be available to rent from Netflix and to buy from Barnes & Noble, Borders, Amazon, and Best Buy.  The DVD is a two-disc set and includes Director/Producer commentary, deleted scenes and a making of documentary.

So I didn’t do an epic best of list for 2008…whether it’s because I was too busy, or because I was wiped out from being sick for a month, or just because in general I was less impressed with what I saw, read, and listened to I’m not sure.  But in looking at the films from this year, I thought there were enough good ones (a lot of solid 4 stars – very few 5 stars) that I should at least make my lazy self do a best films of 2008.

Please keep in mind that this list is missing some pretty significant films as I was not great about getting to the theater this year.  Likely contenders for best films that are notably missing because of I’ve yet to see them are Synechdoche New York, The Reader, Elegy, W, Taxi To The Dark Side, Religulous, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Tell No One, Che, Wendy & Lucy, American Teen, Blindness (which I was dying to see but still managed to miss) and The Wrestler.  Any of these films had the potential to drastically change the list below, had I been more on the ball with my filmgoing…


10. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button 4 stars


9. Milk 4 stars


8. Revolutionary Road 4 stars


7.  Frozen River 4 stars


6.  Snow Angels 4 stars


5.  Vicky Cristina Barcelona 4 stars


4.  Forgetting Sarah Marshall 4.5 stars


3.  Ballast 4.5 stars


2.  The Dark Knight 4.5 stars


1.  Reprise 5 stars

Runner’s Up:  Wall-E and Iron Man

I have to say, reviewing this list, it was a very depressing year overall.  Of the ten films on my list I would say at least seven or eight are significantly depressing.  Maybe I just had a depressing year and so everything seems more depressing to me?  Could be.

The Nice Surprises of 2008? Let The Right One In, Rachel Getting Married, and Redbelt (though I’ve got some serious problems with it, the end largely redeemed it).

Biggest Disappointment of 2008The Changeling.  I enjoy Jolie and thought it was going to be great…it was decidedly not great, though I don’t blame Jolie for it.  Runners up for biggest disappointments go to:  My Blueberry Nights, Burn After Reading, Married Life, The Last Mistress, and Brideshead Revisted all of which I had high hopes for…hopes that were dashed horribly against sharp rocks.

The Middling Mediocre Middle Ground of 2008Hancock (eh), Semi-Pro (barely eh), Step Brothers (eh when it should have been hilarious), Cloverfield (eh), Wanted (eh, Jolie saved it from being an utterly unwatchable special effects commercial), and Hellboy 2 (eh, too many effects, not enough of everything else).

Worst Film of 2008?  The worst film I saw in 2008 was The Other Boleyn Girl, if only because the book (not even the kind of book I generally read) is freaking fantastic, and how you can screw that up so badly is beyond me.   The worst mainstream film made in 2008 had to be a three way tie between Gran Torino and Nights in Rodanthe.  I didn’t see either film, but seeing the previews alone was enough to make me want to slit my wrists and gouge out my eyes.  In the case of this tie I’d have to award the final prize to Gran Torino…how can Clint Eastwood sometimes be so right on and awesome and sometimes be so off the mark and hideously awful?  It defies explanation…

Worst Film of 2008 that I refused to see in the theater and hid out watching in my apartment and am embarrased to say I paid for:  Another tie folks…Sex and the City and 27 Dresses.  Where Katherine Heigl gets off talking shit about Knocked Up for being “anti-female” or whatever and then doing this dreck and thinking it’s somehow “female positive” I have no idea.  As for Sex and the City, it was better than I expected it to be in that the preview looked like one giant commercial, however, I cannot respect this film as I don’t understand how a film can actually have a character while ‘down on her luck’ talking about Cinderella to a child and trying to explain how things don’t always work out that way – happy ending-ish and all – trying to explain that it’s fiction…just a story, and then have that character do a 180 in the next 40 minutes and LITERALLY have a Cinderella style moment in which she is proposed to and a slipper is placed on her foot…SERIOUSLY!?!  WTF?!?!  If they were doing it tongue in cheek…or as a joke…or something I could maybe forgive it, but I just don’t believe they were.  The rest of the film wasn’t smart enough for that part to be a joke.  So, bad on you SATC.  bad.

“Film EXPERTS(?!!?) Ben Lyons (L) and Ben Mankiewicz (R) are shown in this combination photo of publicity images released to Reuters July 22, 2008. The Walt Disney Company named the two men on Tuesday the new hosts to replace Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper on the popular movie-review show “At the Movies,” in the wake of the influential critics’ departure from the program.” (Emphasis is all mine).

Disney does it again.

At The Movies (also known as Siskel & Ebert and then Ebert & Roeper, and then most recently Roeper and “rotating co-host”) has been killed and resurrected as a horrible disfigured incompetent frankenstein version of its previous self. The rotating co-host of At The Movies had recently “unofficially” become Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune, ironically my least favorite of the rotating co-hosts (I would have loved to see A.O Scott of The New York Times or Robert Wilonsky who was also good). Phillips and Roeper however were SO MUCH better than the “NEW” At The Movies, I cannot accurately articulate it in words…in my lifetime. Ever.

Let’s start at the very beginning which is to say that I don’t listen wholeheartedly to movie reviewers, I don’t go, “Oh – so and so likes it – let’s go!” but what I do like to do is read/listen to a few different reviewers that I don’t find to be totally off base (Roeper included) and judging on the kinds of things they say, help me decide which movies to see since I don’t have the time (or the money) to see them all. This has been a pretty good system for me, as it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a movie that I hated and wished I hadn’t spent my money on. Goal achieved! So Adam and I have tivo’d At The Movies and used to enjoy catching it on weekends.

I read online sometime in June or July 2008 that At The Movies was getting canceled. I was disappointed, but I had already had to absorb the new “see it”, “skip it”, or “rent it” nonsense rating system instead of the thumbs up/thumbs down rating system. This was apparently due to the fact that the latter is owned by Ebert and as contract negotiations dragged on I guess Disney decided it was best to just move on and try to force their new inane rating system (devised by an intern over the summer perhaps?) down our throats while we still had a familiar face (Roeper) delivering them. So since May 2008 the show has been a little less than it should have been. But now I know that the truly horrible changes were still to come.

The new formatting totally sucks. The set, graphics, and entire production is cheap and terrible looking. A far cry from the “theater seating” look that was so appropriate (and pretty good looking) of the old show. The new show has the two “hosts” standing at a counter (one behind it, and one in front of it) and it is a totally uncomfortable way to watch them talk about something. You feel like there is no way they can actually have a serious debate or even a conversation about any issue because they are standing there together, facing the camera and not each other at all. It also feels like they could just dart off stage at any moment. At the end of the show they did sit in chairs (on the still horrible set with the still horrible graphics) but the chairs were so close that they were touching, and it remained completely uncomfortable to watch.

The show does have a somewhat interesting new segment that brings in a “critic roundup” where they have three guest critics (all very young) that comment on one of the movies they are reviewing. Unfortunately however this did not work either because the critics were given far too little time to articulate any point of view other than “yes” or “no”. It didn’t help that on the segment I saw, the critic from IFC (Independent Film Channel), Matt Singer was quite knowledgeable and so made Ben Lyons the new idiot co-host of the show seem even more incompetent than he obviously is.

Onto the meat, the new “hosts” (I use that term very loosely). Actually, Ben Mankiewicz was pretty good. He seemed knowledgeable and well spoken and more importantly he seemed interested in actually discussing the films, rather than just looking pretty for the camera and getting his sound bites in. Which brings us to the idiocy that is Ben Lyons. This dude is absolutely ridiculous. I cannot believe the producers of this show think that throwing a pretty face at viewers will help us ignore the fact that the guy is a complete moron that doesn’t seem to even know anything about film (he hails mostly from the E! channel). It’s not that I disagree with his point of view on films…it’s more that he doesn’t seem to have one.

Also, let’s talk about the fact that Ben Lyons, who is obviously the worst kind of star whore (see his blog, which is essentially pictures of him with famous people), with his E! Entertainment credentials is actually a conflict of interest reviewer. It’s like having Karl Rove come in as an “independent commentator” on Fox News to talk about Obama’s or McCain’s speeches. Rove is CLEARLY not an objective observer, he has an obvious stake in the Republicans winning the election, just as Lyons has a stake in certain movies doing well, and/or maintaining relationships with actors, directors, producers, writers, etc., in order to keep getting his interviews and oh so important photo ops. This is a total conflict of interest.

And as if to really solidify my viewpoint that this show is a pandering ridiculous revamp that is now intending to not actually review films, but to create even more PR and spin for the Hollywood machine, Lyon’s choice for ‘Three to See‘ (a fairly new feature where they pick the three best films currently in theaters) was not even a FILM! Yes, you read that correctly. Mankiewicz picked Hamlet 2 and Towelhead as his picks and Lyons said that people should watch the trailers for Twilight. A TRAILER? Wait, let me rephrase that…A FUCKING TRAILER? A trailer for a giant Hollywood machine of a movie coming out in November 2008? That is your current movie pick? You fucking idiot. Don’t EVER show up on my TV ever again.


Yep, you’re pretty much looking at what I did for six days.

I somehow managed to watch several movies, between the LONG plane trips and a day stuck in due to either a sun or chlorine allergy and I’ve done a “witty” one/two sentence summary of each below for your edification (I love the word edification…isn’t it great?)…anyway here they are:

Step Brothers: Funnier than Semi-Pro, less funny than some of the other Will Ferrel vehicles, it’s a bit lacking in plot, like all of ‘those movies’, but with some choice lines you’ll find yourself repeating probably for the rest of your life. A solid 3 Stars.

The Namesake: A beautiful and poignant film, with an ending that slightly let me down, and previews that kind of led me astray, and ultimately made me want to read the book, which I bet is at least ten times better. A good 3.5 stars.

Married Life: A lovely looking period piece about relationships, friendships, and marriage, with excellent performances by everyone except the bootleg Parker Posey (Rachael McAdams for the uninitiated), with the especially brilliant Patricia Clarkson driving the heart of the film, as always. 3.5 Stars.

Sidenote: McAdams wasn’t TERRIBLE, I’m just a little biased and she’s not good here, just acceptable.

Flawless: A hideous film that I never would have finished had I not been belted in at thirty thousand feet and coked up on too much caffeine to fall alseep easily, Demi Moore’s accent is atrocious, and while Michael Cane is pretty solid, as always, the plot and writing are dry and horrible, and the ending is atrocious. I don’t know why anyone would have thought this film could/should be made. 1 Star.

Blue State: An equally hideous little film, that I was tricked into watching by the beguiling Anna Paquin. Breckin Meyer is the lead, who I feel lukewarm about in general, but hated with a firey passion here where he is devoid of chemistry with Paquin (how can you be devoid of chemistry with Anna Paquin?! Even I would have chemistry with Paquin for christ’s sake!) and he is not aided at all by the horrible plot, script, and direction. Yay. 1 Star.

While not technically viewed on my trip, I watched my Netflix rental of Green Street Hooligans upon my return to New York. It was pretty good, and by that I mean that it was sometimes awful and sometimes pretty great in alternating turns. I did expect more from it and found it hard to become to emotionally attached to what was going on considering that the main characters were basically in gangs (called ‘firms’) based on local football (US=Soccer) alliances. Silly. I know it’s true and accurate that many people feel so passionate about sports, and particularly in Europe it has become a problem with violence and alcohol, but I just couldn’t stop thinking about the film The Wind That Shakes The Barley that I watched late last year, and which was so painfully about REAL war, war that can’t be avoided…I don’t know, it just seemed ridiculous to care to much that these kids (and adults) were so stupid to be killing over something so silly as sports loyalties. That said, how is Charlie Hunnam not a HUGE star by now? Gorgeous and very talented. Even standing next to the pretty much always solid Elijah Wood he was a powerhouse in the acting category. I was totally in love, with him, if nothing else. And based largely on that love, I’m giving it 3 Stars.

I also read two excellent books that I’ll be posting hopefully later this week…in case you’re looking for an excellent book :)

That’s right. If you want to fucking text, stay at FUCKING home. Really, why do you want to pay eleven bucks to text anyway?

Also, if you think you’re some kind genius Sherlock Holmes because you figured out that Harvey Dent’s two-headed coin, was in fact two-headed, only shortly before it was “revealed”…let me say this, have you really never seen Harvey Dent ever in a Batman comic book…or cartoon…or even (heaven forbid) Batman & Robint (#3) with Val Kilmer? I mean really, it’s not like this was a huge reveal dude, this is completely common knowledge to anyone with the most basic BASIC knowledge of Batman. We pretty much all know know about the god damn two-headed coin, and if for some reason you don’t, the movie didn’t exactly make it not obvious…so please, just keep your brilliant revelations to yourself next time okay? You just end up looking like a super moron when you go, “OH. It’s a two-headed coin…” to your idiot girlfriend in the middle of the theater as if you are letting us all in on a little secret…guess what…we’re all like an hour and a half (or several decades) ahead of you…moron.

[Spoiler Warning]

Okay, on to the actual The Dark Knight “review”. I have to say, I’m going to fully jump on the bandwagon here…this movie was just incredible. I’ve been thinking about it since last night, and it is definitely one of the best action movies I have ever seen, it also may be the best comic book movie ever made – the fanboy in me probably got more excited about X-Men I and X-Men II because I was so attached to those characters as a kid – but this was an even better film. So far, in thinking about the film, I really can’t find a flaw. The performances were all extraordinary (Ledger most especially); the script was tight and well crafted; and the direction was beautiful and effective. It all came together into a perfectly constructed film.

I have one real complaint, and it’s only because as a woman that loves superheroes and especially superheroines, or at least strong female characters in all films superhero or otherwise, I felt a little ripped off. Rachael Dawes is not a bad character, she’s good and strong and full of passion, but in this movie (and the last) she is the typical damsel in distress needing to be rescued, falling from buildings, getting tied up and blown up, getting exposed to ‘fear gas’ whatever…there’s nothing new there. And then the only other female characters are Detective Ramirez (who anyone in the know thought was Detective Renee Montoya until her name was revealed near the end) who turns out to be a low level bad guy here; and Gordon’s wife Barbara (another innocent victim/woman in distress). So not only are the women in this film portrayed pretty poorly, but Nolan had the perfect opportunity to throw us a bone in the film…by at least showing us young Barbara Gordon instead of silly Jimmy Gordon. Who the F cares about Jimmy Gordon, when young Barbara Gordon (just waiting to become BATGIRL!) is right there…just off screen?! It kind of made the movie a cock fest…in the worst possible way, which made me a bit disappointed in Nolan. But he can redem himself by living up to the foreshadowing of a possible Catwoman for the next film…

(below is paraphrased)

Bruce Wayne: “Will it stand up to dogs?”

Lucius Fox: “Rotweillers or Chihauhuas?” [laughter] “It’ll stand up to cats”…

YES! Redeem yourself to the women of the world Nolan and give us a Catwoman worthy of your film. Michelle Pfeiffer was an excellent Catwoman (the only truly good thing going on) in Burton’s 1992 Batman Returns, but Halle Berry’s horrible nightmare performance/movie has erased for the current population, everything that was right about Pfeiffer’s Selina Kyle…we’re dying for a new and improved version as invisioned by you…and now you owe us…

For the record:

The Good: Pretty much every single thing.

The Bad: The role of women in the film.

The Ugly: Not a goddamn frame. It is GORGEOUS.

The Dark Knight – 4.5 Stars.

People look up some weird stuff on the interweb man.  I mean, I’m sure I’ve looked up some things that might seem bizarre to someone who didn’t know what I was looking for, but “Mila Kunis Wikipedia”?  What the hell? 

Anyway, apologies to Mila for the bad representation of her here, I tried, but since it was my first time drawing her, well, she pretty much doesn’t look anything like her. 

Speaking of Mila Kunis, did anyone out there see Forgetting Sarah Marshall?  Adam and I saw it with Kyle when he was in town, and I heartily recommend it.  I wasn’t expecting much, but I thought it was great.  Really funny stuff.  For my money it was definitely better than Superbad (which I didn’t love) and it was maybe even better than Knocked Up (although nothing is funnier than that scene with Paul Rudd and the chairs in Knocked Up – which used to be available on YouTube, if you want to see it again or never got the opportunity – hilarious!).  Anyway, I gave Forgetting Sarah Marshall four netflix stars.  Check it out if you haven’t yet.

Update:  Apparently there are some people that don’t even know who Mila Kunis is (ahem…Paul) so here’s a picture, so that it might jog your memory.  She is currently starring in Forgetting Sarah Marshall (as noted above) and she was also Jackie on That 70’s Show for like…100 years…

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