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2010 Film List (Reviews, Discussion, Tracking)

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#1 of 74 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted December 31 2009 - 06:53 AM

Q:  What is the 2010 Film List?
A:  The 2010 Film List thread is mainly for discussing, reviewing and tracking 2010 films. The "Track the films you watch" thread is a great place to keep track of all films watched in a year, though any are welcome to track all their film watching here if they so desire.

This is also a great place to discuss smaller release, independent and foreign films that probably won't get a dedicated review and discussion thread.

And this thread is useful for keeping track of what 2010 films you watched when you're compiling an end of year list or a top ten next December.

Q:  Is there any easy way to find my list or someone else's?
A:  I'm going to try to keep an index of everyone's list at the end of this post, so you can click on a name and get to their post instantly. This helped make the 2009 List a little more active than some previous years. If I miss your list, just PM and I'll be sure to add a link.
Q:  Are there any rules?
A:  At the top of your list, state the criteria you are using for updates. Some common criteria are:
  • Films released in North American theaters in 2010.
  • Films in wide release in 2010.
  • Films seen in a movie theater in 2010 regardless of original release date
  • Films seen in a movie theater in 2010 and DVDs of films released in North American theaters in 2010
Every time you update your list, try to reply to the thread with a short comment related to your updates. This will keep the thread on the first page, and hopefully get some discussion going.

If anyone has any ideas or suggestions on how to improve the list, please feel free to share them!

Film Lists Index (Added after listing at least one film):
Adam Lenhardt's Film List
Michael Reuben's Film List
Kirk Tsai's Film List
Justin_S's Film List
Brian.L's Film List
filmfandan's Film List

#2 of 74 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

Adam Lenhardt

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Posted December 31 2009 - 06:53 AM

2010 Film List

Total Films Seen: 11

Last Updated: 28 March 2010

Criteria: Seen in a cinema during 2010; 2010 North American releases seen on DVD in 2010

Date Film Director Quality Movie Theater
05.01.2010 Avatar [IMAX 3D/2009] James Cameron Regal Colonie Center Stadium 13

#3 of 74 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted December 31 2009 - 02:24 PM

I'm sticking with last year's practice and simply listing the films I see in 2010. I don't care that a few of the early January viewings will be of films released in 2009, especially since much of what I saw in in late 2009 will be 2010 releases for many others (like An Education and A Single Man). Besides, I had a lot of scheduling conflicts in December that prevented me from making it to the theater as often as I would have liked.

If I'm particularly impressed by something, for one reason or another, I'll put a red asterisk by it, but the absence of one doesn't mean I think a film is bad.

In-theater viewings only:


01/01/10  Invictus (AMC Lincoln Sq.)
01/03/10  Nine (AMC 34th St.)
01/06/10  Crazy Heart (AMC Lincoln Sq.)
01/07/10  Brothers (AMC 25/Times Sq.)
01/10/10  Youth in Revolt (AMC 25/Times Sq.)
01/17/10  The Book of Eli (AMC 25/Times Sq.)
01/18/10  Daybreakers (AMC Kips Bay)
01/24/10  Fish Tank (Lincoln Plaza)
01/31/10  Edge of Darkness (AMC 34th St.)


02/06/10  From Paris with Love (AMC 25/Times Sq.)
02/07/10  Ajami (Lincoln Plaza)*
02/11/10  The Lovely Bones (AMC 34th St.)
02/14/10  The Last Station (Paris Theater)
02/15/10  The Wolfman (AMC 25/Times Sq.)
02/20/10  The Ghost Writer (Lincoln  Plaza)*
02/21/10  Shutter Island (AMC Kips Bays)
02/27/10  A Prophet (Lincoln Plaza)*
02/28/10  The Crazies (AMC 34th St.)


03/06/10  Alice in Wonderland 3D (AMC 25/Times Sq.)
03/13/10  Mother (Lincoln Plaza)*
03/14/10  Green Zone (AMC Kips Bay)
03/21/10  The Runaways (AMC Lincoln Sq.)
03/28/10  Chloe (AMC Lincoln Sq.)


04/02/10  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Lincoln Plaza)**
04/03/10  Clash of the Titans (AMC Lincoln Sq.)
04/04/10  Greenberg (AMC Lincoln Sq.)
04/18/10  Kick-Ass (AMC 25/Times Sq.)
04/19/10  The Secret in Their Eyes (Lincoln Plaza)*
04/22/10  The Joneses (AMC Lincoln Sq.)
04/24/10  The Losers (AMC 25/Times Sq.)
04/25/10  Exit Through the Gift Shop (Lincoln Plaza)*

04/30/10  Death at a Funeral (AMC 34th St.)


05/01/10  Harry Brown (AMC Lincoln Sq.)

05/08/10  Iron Man 2  (AMC Lincoln Sq.)

05/09/10  Mother and Child (Lincoln Plaza)

05/15/10  Please Give (AMC Lincoln Sq.)*

05/16/10  Letters to Juliet (AMC Lincoln Sq.)

05/22/10  Solitary Man (Lincoln Plaza)*

05/29/10  The Father of My Children (Lincoln Plaza)*

05/30/10  Micmacs (Micmacs a tire-larigot) (AMC 25/Times Sq.)*

05/31/10  Sex and the City 2 (AMC Lincoln Sq.)


06/05/10  Splice (AMC 25/Times Sq.)

06/06/10  Madmoiselle Chambon (Lincoln Plaza)

06/12/10  Winter's Bone (Lincoln Plaza)**

06/13/10  The A-Team (AMC 25/Times Sq.)

06/17/10  The Karate Kid (AMC 25/Times Sq.)

06/19/10  Let It Rain (Parlez-moi de la pluie) (Lincoln Plaza)

06/20/10  Cyrus (AMC Lincoln Sq.)*

06/24/10  Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (AMC 25/Times Sq.)

06/26/10  Knight and Day (AMC Lincoln Sq.)

06/27/10  I Am Love (Io sono l'amore) (Lincoln Plaza)


07/01/10  Toy Story 3 3D (AMC Lincoln Sq.)

07/04/10  Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (Lincoln Plaza)*

07/09/10  Wild Grass (Lincoln Plaza)

07/10/10  The Kids Are All Right (Lincoln Plaza)**

07/11/10  The Girl Who Played with Fire (Lincoln Plaza)

07/15/10  Get Him to the Greek (AMC Lincoln Sq.)

07/18/10  Inception IMAX (AMC Lincoln Sq.)

07/22/10  Despicable Me 3D (AMC 34th St.)

07/24/10  Salt (AMC Lincoln Sq.)

07/25/10  Farewell (L'affaire Farewell) (Lincoln Plaza)*

07/29/10  The Sorcerer's Apprentice (AMC Lincoln Sq.)


08/01/10  Dinner for Schmucks (AMC Lincoln Sq.)

08/03/10  Get Low (Lincoln Plaza)*

08/04/10  Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child (Film Forum)* 

08/07/10  The Other Guys (AMC Lincoln Sq.)

08/08/10  Cairo Time (Lincoln Plaza)

08/14/10  Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (AMC Lincoln Sq.)* 

08/15/10  Animal Kingdom (Landmark Sunshine)* 

08/21/10  Eat Pray Love (AMC Lincoln Sq.)

08/22/10  Soul Kitchen (dir. Fatih Akin) (IFC Center)* 

08/28/10  Change of Plans (Le code a changé) (IFC Center)

08/29/10  Mesrine: Killer Instinct (L'instinct de mort) (AMC 25/Times Sq.)* 


09/04/10  Mesrine: Public Enemy #1 (L'ennemi public n°1) (AMC 25/Times Sq.)* 

09/05/10  The American (AMC 25/Times Sq.)

09/11/10  Heartbreaker (L'arnacoeur) (IFC Center)

09/12/10  A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop (Landmark Sunshine)

09/18/10  Easy A (AMC Lincoln Sq.)

09/19/10  The Town (AMC Kips Bay)* 

09/23/10  Resident Evil 3D (AMC 25/Times Sq. ETX)

09/25/10  You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (Lincoln Plaza)

09/26/10  Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (AMC 25/Times Sq.)


10/02/10  The Social Network (AMC 25/Times Sq.)*  

10/03/10  Let Me In (AMC Kips Bay)

10/07/10  Never Let Me Go (AMC 25/Times Sq.)

10/10/10  It's Kind of a Funny Story (AMC Lincoln Sq.)

10/16/10  Tamara Drewe (Lincoln Plaza)

10/17/10  Red (AMC Village 7)

10/30/10  The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Lincoln Plaza)

10/31/10  Hereafter (AMC 25/Times Sq.)


11/06/10  Inspector Bellamy (IFC Center)

11/07/10  Fair Game (AMC 72nd St.)* 

11/13/10  Unstoppable (AMC Lincoln Sq.)

11/14/10  Morning Glory (AMC Lincoln Sq.)

11/20/10  Tiny Furniture (IFC Center)

11/21/10  The Next Three Days (AMC Kips Bay)

11/27/10  Love and Other Drugs (AMC 19th St.)

11/28/10  The King's Speech (AMC Lincoln Sq.)* 


12/02/10  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, pt. 1 (AMC 25/Times Sq. ETX)

12/04/10  Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (IFC Center)* 

12/05/10  I Love You, Phillip Morris (AMC Village 7)

12/09/10  Inside Job (Lincoln Plaza)* 

12/11/10  The Tourist (AMC Lincoln Sq.)

12/12/10  Black Swan (AMC 25/Times Sq.)

12/18/10  Burlesque (AMC 84th St.)

12/24/10  True Grit (AMC 25/Times Sq.)*

12/28/10  The Tempest (Lincoln Plaza)

12/30/10  TRON Legacy IMAX (AMC Lincoln Sq.)

12/31/10  Blue Valentine (Lincoln Plaza)*

112 films

COMPLETE list of my disc reviews.       HTF Rules / 200920102011 Film Lists

#4 of 74 OFFLINE   Kirk Tsai

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Posted December 31 2009 - 02:26 PM

I intend to list only 2010 releases. 2010 films seen: 72 Daybreakers - ** The Book of Eli - ** Valentine's Day - *1/2 The Ghost Writer - *** 14 Swords (2010 Asian) - * Monga (2010 Asian) - ***1/2 The Warlords - ***1/2 Cop Out - ** Shutter Island - ***1/2 The Wolfman - *1/2 Alice in Wonderland (3D) - ** Clash of the Titans - *** Hot Tub Time Machine - *** The Runaways - ** Green Zone - **1/2 A Prophet - ***1/2 How to Train a Dragon (3D) - *** Casino Jack and the United States of Money - ** The Secret in Their Eyes - ***1/2 Kick Ass - ***1/2 Iron Man 2 - ** Robin Hood - **1/2 Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time - *1/2 Toy Story 3 (3D) - ***1/2 The Karate Kid - **1/2 Knight and Day - ** Eclipse - ** Inception - ***1/2 Salt - ** The Expendables - ** The Kids are All Right - ***1/2 The Other Guys - ** The American - *** Scott Pilgrim vs. The World - *** Get Low - *** The Town - ***1/2 Machete - ** Easy A - *** Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps - **1/2 Never Let Me Go - *** A Woman, a Gun, and a Noodle Shop - *** Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Fire (2010 Asian) - **1/2 Shrek Forever After - *** Soul Kitchen - **1/2 On the Path (2010 European) - *** Cairo Time - **1/2 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - *** The Social Network - ***1/2 Aftershock - **1/2 Due Date - ** RED - **1/2 Megamind (3D) - *** Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief - ** Hereafter - *** Morning Glory - *** Love and Other Drugs - **1/2 The Next Three Days - ***1/2 Burlesque - ** The Tourist - **1/2 Unstoppable - *** Tron Legacy - ** The Fighter - ***1/2 Little Fockers - **1/2 True Grit - *** Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - ** Black Swan - ***1/2 Date Night - **1/2 Winter's Bone - *** Welcome to the Rileys - *** 127 Hours - *** Buried - ** The King's Speech - ***1/2

#5 of 74 OFFLINE   Travis_S


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Posted December 31 2009 - 03:14 PM

2010 Film List

Total Films Seen: 41

Last Updated: 12/27/10

Criteria: North American Release

The Wolfman (Director - Joe Johnston) **1/2
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (Director - Chris Columbus) ***
Shutter Island (Director - Martin Scorsese) ***1/2
The Crazies (Director - Breck Eisner) ***
Hot Tub Time Machine (Director - Steve Pink) ***
Alice in Wonderland (Director - Tim Burton) **1/2

Date Night (Director - Shawn Levy) **1/2

Kick-Ass (Director - Matthew Vaughn) ***

A Nightmare on Elm Street (Director - Samuel Bayer) **1/2

Iron Man 2 (Director - Jon Favreau) ***

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (Director - Mike Newell) **1/2

Robin Hood (Director - Ridley Scott) **1/2

Survival of the Dead (Director - George A. Romero) **1/2

Daybreakers (Director - The Spierig Brothers) ***

The Book of Eli (Director - The Hughes Brothers) ***

Toy Story 3 (Director - Lee Unkrich) ****

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (Director - David Slade) ***

Predators (Director - Nimrod Antal) **1/2

Inception (Director - Christopher Nolan) ****

Dinner For Schmucks (Director - Jay Roach) **

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (Director - Edgar Wright) ***1/2

The Expendables (Director - Sylvester Stallone) ***

The A-Team (Director - Joe Carnahan) ***

Easy A (Director - Will Gluck) ***1/2

Frozen (Director - Adam Green) ***

Let Me In (Director - Matt Reeves) ***1/2

The Social Network (Director - David Fincher) ****

Saw 3-D (Director - Kevin Greutert) **

Paranormal Activity 2 (Director - Tod Williams)   *** 

Due Date (Director - Todd Phillips) **

Unstoppable (Director - Tony Scott) ***

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (Director - David Yates) ***1/2

The Last Airbender (Director - M Night Shyamalan) *1/2

Get Him To The Greek (Director - Nicholas Stoller) ***

127 Hours (Director - Danny Boyle) ***1/2

Burlesque (Director - Steve Antin) **1/2

The Fighter   (Director - David O. Russell)   ***1/2

True Grit (Director - Joel and Ethan Coen) ****

Black Swan (Director - Darren Aronofsky) ****

TRON: Legacy (Director - Joseph Kosinski) ***

The King's Speech (Director - Tom Hooper) ***1/2


1. Inception

2. True Grit

3. The Social Network

4. Black Swan

5. Toy Story 3

6. The Fighter

7. 127 Hours

8. The King's Speech

9. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

11. Let Me In

12. Easy A
13. Shutter Island

14. TRON: Legacy

15. Frozen

16. Kick-Ass

17. Unstoppable

18. Iron Man 2

19. Get Him To The Greek

20. The A-Team

21. The Expendables

22. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
23. Hot Tub Time Machine

24. The Crazies'

25. Paranormal Activity 2

26. Burlesque
27. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

28. Daybreakers

29. Predators

30. The Book of Eli

31. A Nightmare on Elm Street

32. Robin Hood
33. Alice in Wonderland

34. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

35. Date Night

36. Due Date

37. Dinner For Schmucks

38. Saw 3D

39. Survival of the Dead
40. The Wolfman

41. The Last Airbender

#6 of 74 OFFLINE   Justin_S



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Posted December 31 2009 - 05:42 PM

Ratings are on a scale of * to *****
Total seen: 5
Last watched: The Crazies


Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (Director: Ti West) **
Crazies, The (Director: Breck Eisner) ****

Daybreakers (Directors: The Spierig Brothers) **

Frozen (Director: Adam Green) ****

Triangle (Director: Christopher Smith) ***½

Wolfman, The (Director: Joe Johnston) **½




Crazies, The



Wolfman, The

Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever


#7 of 74 OFFLINE   PS Nystrom

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Posted January 01 2010 - 06:45 PM


#8 of 74 OFFLINE   Kristian


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Posted January 01 2010 - 07:05 PM

Last Updated: 12/31/10

Latest Seen:

[url= / 10/31/10        
Film Lists: 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | Pre-2006 | 2009

#9 of 74 OFFLINE   Brian.L


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Posted January 01 2010 - 09:01 PM

Eligible 2010 Film Count: 150 (seen between 1/1/10 and 12/31/11)
2009 Film List Continued: 70 (seen during the 2010 calendar year)
Pre-2009 Films Seen For the First Time: 69 (seen during the 2010 calendar year)
Revisits: 17
Total Seen to Date: 307

2010 Film List

Batman Begins (2005)
In the Company of Men (1997)

The Last Supper (1995)
Notorious (1946)
Up (2009)

The Room (2003)

[Movie Rankings / Music / DVD & Bluray Collection]
Films Watched By Date: [2012/11/10/09/08/07/06]
Film Lists: [2012/11/10/09/08/07/06/05/04]
Top 10s: [2011/10/09/08/07/06/05/04/03]

#10 of 74 OFFLINE   filmfandan



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Posted January 02 2010 - 05:59 AM

I am going to do mine a bit differently. I am going to list all the films I see in 2010, even 2009 release dates that I see at the cinema this year. And I am also instead of listing the dates, months ext that I view them, I am going to put them in order of which is the best. So more like a list of my 2010 Cinema Visits in order of what I think is the best.

1. Toy Story 2 3D (Lasseter, 2009) USA
2. The Road (Hillcoat, 2009) USA
3. Ninja Assasin (McTeigue 2009) USA
4. Its Complicated (2009, Meyers) USA
5. The Book of Eli (Hughes, 2010) USA

6. Up In The Air (Reitman, 2009) USA
7. Did You Hear About The Morgans (Lawrence, 2009) USA
8. 44 Inch Chest (Venville, 2009) UK

#11 of 74 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted January 05 2010 - 02:57 PM

Added Avatar. It's hard to imagine any film in 2010 topping it. The movie reportedly cost $300 million to make, and you can see every penny of it on screen. My father and I tried to see it last night, but the theater was sold out so we bought tickets for today. Good thing, since when we got there today it was also sold out. Great crowd, great 3D, great experience.

#12 of 74 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted January 05 2010 - 04:57 PM

I keep trying to write something about Nine and giving up. I enjoyed the film, but I also understand why it isn't connecting with viewers. I would have been shocked if it had been any kind of success, knowing the source material (the stage show, not the Fellini film, which bears about as much relation to the musical as Shaw's Pygmalion bears to My Fair Lady, i.e., some character names and basic situations, but not much else). It's becoming more and more obvious, as musical after musical fails to make a hit film, that Chicago was a fluke: a happy confluence of subject matter, songs, filmmakers and cast that isn't likely to be repeated anytime soon. I'll take my musicals where they belong: in the theater or on classic Blu-rays like Fox's South Pacific  -- which, good as it is, still pales in comparison to the recent full-scale revival at Lincoln Center. A great musical is an event, and songs, even when they're good, are too antiquated a technique for creating a sense of event in contemporary filmmaking.
COMPLETE list of my disc reviews.       HTF Rules / 200920102011 Film Lists

#13 of 74 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted January 06 2010 - 07:55 AM

A truly great film performance does the same thing as 3D technology -- it lifts the character off the screen and makes him or her appear to walk among us. Jeff Bridges gives one of the greatest screen performances I have ever seen in Crazy Heart. Long before the film ends, you really feel that his Bad Blake (real name not to be disclosed until it appears on his tombstone) is somewhere out there cruising the backroads of the American Southwest, knocking back bourbon and performing his old standards in whatever dive will book him.

When I first read about Crazy Heart, it sounded like a remake of Tender Mercies, and indeed the star of that film, Robert Duvall (who won an Oscar for it), is a producer of Crazy Heart and has a small role as a bar owner and friend of Bad Blake. But despite some overlapping themes, Crazy Heart has an entirely different vibe, and part of that is because it's so unexpectedly funny. The director, Scott Cooper, co-wrote the script, and he tailored the role of Bad Blake for Bridges. I guess if you're writing a role for the man who will always live in the popular imagination as "The Dude", you have no choice but to take advantage of it. So in the opening scene, Bad Blake's truck rolls up to his next two-bit gig, and he's immediately pissed when he realizes that it's . . . a bowling alley! I was already laughing.

Bad Blake takes these crappy gigs, because he's broke and needs the money, and at this point in his life, he doesn't know what else to do. With no apparent effort, Bridges conveys the sense of a man who's filled with regret but has gotten so used to regretting everything that he's almost comfortable with it. Only a few things seem to push his buttons. One is a lingering sense of rivalry with a former protege, Tommy Sweet, who's become a big star singing songs that Bad Blake wrote. (Sweet is played by Colin Farrell, which sounds like bizarre casting, but it somehow works.) Another is Jean, a reporter half Bad's age who interviews him for the Santa Fe paper, because her uncle, a part-time piano player, sets it up. The reporter is played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, in a welcome return to the kind of role she does best, and the relationship that develops between Jean and Bad is odd, inappropriate and never anything but believable, because these two actors couldn't hit a false note if they tried.

The story doesn't go anywhere shocking or novel, but the movie is never anything less than compelling, because Bridges is always there -- and he's right there, as if Bad Blake were standing right in front of you: ornery, a lost cause, and impossible to ignore.
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#14 of 74 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted January 07 2010 - 08:15 AM

I stayed away from Brothers when it first came out, because I really liked the 2004 Danish original and the reviews I saw of the remake were lukewarm. My mistake. David Benioff's script is a thoughtful adapatation that appropriately resets the family relationships for an American context, and Jim Sheridan's direction is both precise and understated. Not to overlook Freddie Elmes' cinematography. The guy who shot Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart and Synecdoche, New York still knows how to put poetry in a frame.

The subject matter (strained family relationships and the toll that war takes on them) isn't easy, but so what? If it were easy, it wouldn't be interesting.

I've seen a number of critics complain that Tobey Maguire isn't up to the role of Sam, the "good" brother whose psyche gets shredded by the horrors of war, but I think they're full of it. I'm with Roger Ebert: Maguire convincingly conveys the anguish of a good man who finds himself trapped in a nightmare from which he can't awake, in which he's the bad guy and even his own children are terrified of him. (In the Danish original, the character was played by Ulrich Thomsen, who was the chief villain in The International.)

Strong supporting work from Sam Shepard as the alcoholic father, Mare Winningham as his second wife, and, in a crucial scene, Carey Mulligan as the wife of a fellow marine.
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#15 of 74 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted January 11 2010 - 04:18 AM

I was downtown with a visiting friend when we were driving by the Madison and decided on a whim to catch a film. Usually the Madison is the low-brow alternative to the Spectrum when it comes to intercity Albany theaters, but for whatever reason Brothers was showing there. Great film, perfectly cast and scripted. Given the horrific circumstances the family finds themselves dealing with, everyone is as decent as can be expected. Sam Shepard is terrific as the patriarch. At first he seems like a cruel drunk whose preference for his older son is obvious. However, unlike the Lifetime version of this archetype, his character has a lot more to offer. Over the course of the film, we learn that Tommy -- the younger son and recently released convict -- gave his father a lot of reasons to be dismissive. In spite of that, he is able to reevaluate Tommy as the evidence mounts that his reformation is legitimate. The apparent death of his older son, Capt. Sam Cahill, provides the catalyst for him to finally start dealing with his own post-tramatic stress disorder. Natalie Portman has the toughest and least showy role as Grace, a smart capable young mother who made the respectable decisions and values respectable behavior. Her lot in life is to be the sort of person that things happen to, condemned to making the best of often terrible situations. Tommy offers her the possibility of what Sam offered her, without all of the baggage that comes with being married to Sam. It is a credit to both of them that the ghost of Sam keeps them from moving forward. Bailee Madison is also stellar as Sam and Grace's first daughter, who is just old enough to internalize the emotional rollercoaster that war has introduced into their family. There is a scene outside, where Sam has returned after a angry fight and a full night's disappearance, that is absolutely heartbreaking as a result of Madison's performance. Then there are
Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire, who have somehow avoided being paired as brothers until now. Both are tremendously effective: Gyllenhaal as the earnest man trying to overcome his shady reputation, and Maguire as the tramatized survivor drowning in shame exacerbated by his heroic reputation. I usually can stand Maguire, but you need someone so happy-go-lucky and wholesome to carry the audience's sympathy through some very dark passages. A lesser director would have cast an actor who specializes in bad guys for Sam, turning a tense family drama into a horrific thriller. That would have robbed the film of its emotional heft and belittle a struggle that so many of our returning vets face. As it is, the movie doesn't end on a happy note, but it ends on the most optimistic note that the premise would reasonably allow for.

#16 of 74 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted January 15 2010 - 11:03 AM

Added Youth in Revolt, which caused me to laugh out loud more often than any movie in recent memory when it wasn't frustrating the hell out of me. The strange cross between lower middle class Americana and sophisticated intellectual fantasy took me a while to adjust to, and the deliberate, overwhelming pretension of the protagonists frustrated the hell out of me from beginning to end. A perfectly paced, lighthearted adaptation of a book that serves as the poster child of the kind of modern literary fiction I love to hate, arty but accessible. Portia Doubleday (terrific name!) is very pretty, but has the sort of face you want to smack; her character Sheeni positively drips with condescension. Most of the film's pleasures come from a stellar supporting cast of top-notch character actors. Fred Willard is a particular joy as the protagonist's bored, bleeding heart neighbor who uses his basement as a stop on a sort of underground railroad for illegal immigrants. And Justin Long is terrific as Sheeni's perpetually high brother Paul. Jean Smart, Zach Galifianakis, Steve Buscemi, Ray Liotta, M. Emmet Walsh and Mary Kay Place also pop up in fun little roles. The second half worked better for me than the first half, partially because I was more acclimated to the movie's rhythms and partially because the payoffs are largely effective.

#17 of 74 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted January 17 2010 - 08:37 AM

Added The Book of Eli, which owes a very large debt to the Mad Max series of films but actually improves on it by marrying the iconography of Road Warrior with a story possessing actual heft. The movie showcases stellar action scenes and beautifully realized post-apocolyptic visuals that transform Anywhere USA into New Mexico (where the film just so happened to film). All of that is just set dressing for an earnest exploration of faith and the power belief has to redeem us or destroy us. Denzel Washington is terrific as the title character, stoic like a monk, brutally violent when he has to be -- but only when he has to be. Over the course of the film, we learn that he acquired the book back East; exactly where is never clarified. A voice led him to its location, and that same voice sent him on a journey west with the promise of protection until he completes his task. Gary Oldman's villain, Carnegie, is much like Will Patton's General Bethlehem in The Postman, the educated leader of a barbarian clan. His obsession with belief is no less profound than Eli's. The fates of both men become entangled with Solara, the daughter of Carnegie's whore. Solara, played by Mila Kunis, is unrealistically beautiful. I could not buy that Eli was the first man that Carnegie forced upon her. But setting that aside, Kunis commits to her role with Washington's level of dedication. She spent the first seven years of her life living in the Ukraine during the final years of the Soviet era. I have no reason to believe she lived anything other than a middle class life before emigrating, but she brings a certain cold worldliness to the role that makes you believe she could have survived growing up in the hellscape of this movie.

The ending is a doozy, that forces you to reexamine everything that has come before it. I disagree with Ebert, however, when he says that "several WTF! Moments ... make everything in the entire movie impossible and incomprehensible". If you believe Eli, the ending makes perfect sense. If you consider the way Washington's performance interacts with the world, it makes just enough sense for me to buy it. Most importantly, though, the twists are perfectly in keeping with the themes of the movie, rather than turning the movie on its head.

#18 of 74 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted January 26 2010 - 01:47 PM

Attended a free promotional screening of Crazy Heart hosted by Fox Searchlight at the local arthouse theatre. I'd wanted to see it after reading great things here and elsewhere, and I'm happy I did. The movie is deceptively simple, chronicling a slice of Bad's life with only the bare minimum of plot. Jeff Bridges is fantastic, channeling with eery intuition all of the alcoholics I knew growing up while never once losing the instant charisma of being Jeff Bridges. He dominates the room everywhere he goes, even when he's at his most pathetic. His journey is neither edgy nor shocking nor unconventional. But it's real, and it's the journey the lucky ones in Bad's shoes get to walk. Robert Duvall is achingly believable as Bad's longtime friend and the owner of the bar Bad headlines when he's in town. Once again, when I was young the decent old men in my life were exactly like him. Every breath conveys the lifetime of experiences that they have lived, but unlike Bad they are not overly burdened by those experiences. Men like Duvall's character have already faced their pasts and come up on top. Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a world-weary flirt, like she does in so many pictures. Her character, Jean, does not share the hyper-real chemistry of the great movie pairings. Instead, we watch objectively as their relationship plays out. The flaws in Bad are evident from the get-go, and we wait to see what he'll do to finally drive her away for good. The ending is optimistic but honest.

On the way out of the screening, my audience was ambushed by thirty women representing MADD who were respectful but intense.

#19 of 74 OFFLINE   Justin_S



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Posted February 10 2010 - 04:08 PM

Added my first two 2010 releases.

Daybreakers - in the near future, a bat-borne plague has turned 99% of the human population into vampires. The remaining humans are hunted down and farmed for blood by a corporation headed by Charles Bromley (Sam Neill), an individual who views vampirism as a miracle since he was dying before the plague broke out. There aren't many humans left though, and when a vamp goes without blood, they turn into grotesque Nosferatu variants called subsiders. Bromley enlists his top hematologist (Ethan Hawke) to come up with a blood substitute, but an underground band of surviving humans have a different resolution in mind. This film has a unique premise, and for the first hour or so, I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the world that Michael and Peter Spierig created. The opening scene shows one of the downsides of vampirism, as a girl takes her life rather than be stuck in a child's body for eternity. There were some fun touches thrown in too, like blood coming in wine bottles and being poured over ice. The film also touches on themes of corporate greed taking precedent over the good of the public. Alas, the second half turns into a cliched mess. The ending in particular is really cheesy as a result. Truthfully, I would have been happy if the entire band of humans idea had been scrapped entirely. Surely they could've come up with something better than that. Other segments of the picture seem rushed, like the subplot involving Bromley's daughter. Speaking of Bromley, Sam Neill is one of my favorite actors, so it was great seeing him in a genre film again. His presence is easily the highlight of Daybreakers. I've never much cared for Hawke, and his performance here did nothing to change my mind. Willem Dafoe also pops up, and while I usually do like him, his character here is annoying. As is, chalk it up as a movie that could've been more. Oh well, at least it's way better than the last work from the Spierigs, Undead. That was one of the rare films that I stopped watching halfway through. Quick note: I saw a father and two young teens leave shortly after an early scene involving a gory testing of the blood substitute. Guess they thought this would be another Twilight.

Frozen - a college student, his girlfriend and his jealous buddy go on a weekend ski/snowboard outing. It was supposed to be just the guys, but the girlfriend came along much to buddy Lynch's dismay. She is still learning, and as a result of this, the trio spend most of the day on a bunny slope. After some complaining from Lynch, they decide to go on a quick run down the mountain before the day is through, but there's bad weather moving in. They manage to convince the lift operator to let them go, but through a series of unfortunate circumstances, the lift is stopped midway up the mountain leaving them stuck as the place shuts down for the week. With bad weather, the freezing cold and a large drop between them and the ground, the chances for survival are looking slim. And that's not taking the pack of hungry wolves into account. I caught this Saturday and thought it was fantastic. It's from the Open Water/Black Water/The Canyon school of survival horror, but this may just be my pick for best of the lot. At one point early on into the trio's predicament, I discovered that I had unknowingly squeezed my hands together so tightly that they'd fallen asleep, so it's safe to say that the tension got to me. The characters also really grew on me as the film wore on, and I actually felt really bad for them. With the "introducing" credit, I'm guessing this is Emma Bell's first film. While she has a spotty moment or two, for a first-timer, I'd say she knocked it out of the park. Her standout scene takes place when she's relaying her fears about what might happen to her puppy if she dies on the lift, and if he'd think she abandoned him. Also effective is the sparingly used score, usually played over visuals of the abandoned ski park. There are some gruesome bits, particularly the hand scene from the trailer and a discovery towards the film's end, but most of the tension comes from the predicament itself and some of the debasing things the characters have to do. I didn't think much of Adam Green's Hatchet, but this is worth the praise that one received.

#20 of 74 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted February 20 2010 - 05:03 PM

Caught two movies at two different theaters today:

From Paris With Love is an excellent crowd-pleaser that subverts our expectations from beginning to end. What starts out a staid European espionage thriller changes completely when the protagonist is sent to free Charlie Wax from French customs. Wax is truly what an American James Bond would be like: crass, abusive, delightedly ignorant but also intelligent, resourceful, loyal, creative and incredibly determined. Over the course of the film, our understanding of everyone changes. Wax is one of Travolta's all-time great characters, a chance for him to chew scenery without ever completely destroying the sense of plausibility. I would pay to see more Charlie Wax movies in the future.

Shutter Island is Scorcese's love letter to the gothic horror genre. It's got every staple: the remote island, surrounded by fog, the old military fort that seems chock full of medieval dungeons, a mysterious and troubled protagonist, a German mad scientist, hidden caves and secret passages, ominous forbidden areas, an ancient grave yard. The flashbacks to the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp and subequent massacre are surprisingly graphic, as are flashbacks to another more fragmented and amorphous event. Naturally, nothing is as it seems. We have seen all of these elements many many times before, and Scorcese both relishes in and depends on that familiarity. The twist ending in not terribly surprising given the conventions of the genre, but the implications of the final scene -- depending on how you interpret the meaning of what Leonardo DiCaprio's character says to Mark Ruffalo's character -- are truly horrifying.

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