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2010 Film List (Reviews, Discussion, Tracking)


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#41 of 74 juli888

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Posted July 19 2010 - 09:04 PM

Unique film which was pleasant to me for 2010г. It is film Avatar. It has amazed me with the individuality. It was sensation of year.



#42 of 74 Adam Lenhardt

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Posted July 28 2010 - 12:13 PM

Added Salt, which I had to see since the truck hopping scene was filmed over the Hudson in downtown Albany. I was pleasantly surprised; it was a well-done Cold War thriller that fits organically into the post-Cold War era. For long stretches I genuinely didn't know who to believe, and that's the sign of a well done thriller.



#43 of 74 Adam Lenhardt

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Posted July 31 2010 - 01:28 PM

Added Flickan som lekte med elden, The Girl Who Played With Fire, the second Swedish adaptation of Stieg Larsson's Millenium trilogy. Partly due to the nature of the source material and partly due to the choices made by the filmmakers, this second film is far less effective than the first. Män som hatar kvinnor benefited from having a self-contained story to tell, whereas The Girl Who Played With Fire is really the first half of a vast and complex political thriller with way more characters and subplots than could be contained in even two two hour films. But the absence of Niels Arden Oplev behind the camera and Nikolaj Arcel & Rasmus Heisterberg behind the screenplay is keenly felt. They took the source material and crafted a final product that was in many aspects superior to the original. Daniel Alfredson and Jonas Frykberg know they have a built in audience and never strain to create a self-contained work. The result is a film the renders the key bullet points of the Blomvkist and Salander storylines from the book in an efficient and businesslike manner divorced from context or an emotional throughline. It is unlikely that Fincher's movie will better Opley's movie, but if he sticks around for the whole trilogy he'll have a good shot at bettering this one -- and I hope he convinces Paolo Roberto to play himself again!



#44 of 74 Adam Lenhardt

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Posted August 06 2010 - 03:17 PM

If ever there was a poster child for test screening movies before releasing them, The Other Guys is it. There are some funny scenes, but far more of the jokes fall flat than land. Some of the political subtext is sharp, particularly the end credit graphics showcasing with hard number exactly how pervasive the culture of greed and selfishness have become over the last few decade, but the financial mystery at the center is a mess that pays only lip services to coherency. Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg have no chemistry at all, and there back and forth is like pulling teeth. They were originally set to star in "Cop Out", only to bail for more money with this Adam McKay knock-off. I'm here to say that Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan were much funnier. It's nice to see Michael Keaton pop up as the police captain/Beds Bath & Beyond floor manager, but he exists purely to provide the support and/or conflict that the script requires at a given moment. That this movie is currently sitting at 80 percent on Rotten Tomatoes really leaves me questioning 80 percent of the critics out there. Simply awful.

#45 of 74 Adam Lenhardt

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Posted August 14 2010 - 02:45 PM

Caught Scott Pilgrim vs. the World tonight and LOVED it. The sense of humor exists on a very specific wavelength, and I was riding that wavelength tonight. This is also Edgar Wright's most disciplined effort to-date. I loved Shaun of the Dead, but thought Hot Fuzz was an under-edited sloppy mess of a movie. Scott Pilgrim knows exactly what it's doing every moment from beginning to end. This was very close to a four star movie for me; if the ending had a little more punch it might have gotten there.



#46 of 74 Adam Lenhardt

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Posted August 20 2010 - 05:26 PM

If I'd known that The Switch was from the directors behind Blades of Glory and the failed "Cavemen" TV Series, I probably would have probably avoided seeing it despite a very good trailer. I'm very happy for my ignorance. The Switch has the structure and setup of a traditional romantic comedy. It observes the conventions and brings us to the expected conclusions, only deviating from the formula by failing to pair off the best friends of Bateman and Aniston, played terrifically by Jeff Goldblum and Juliette Lewis. But Jason Bateman is not a traditional romantic comedy lead, and that makes the journey far more interesting and complex and nuanced than the label would imply. Bateman plays the cripplingly honest, insecure, self-destructive and neurotic Wally Mars. For the last several years, he has been locked into the friend zone with Aniston's Kassie (with a "k") Larson. Larson is a far more traditional romantic comedy lead, except that she is smart enough and perceptive enough to navigate Bateman's complexities. This is Bateman's movie. We see Kassie only as Wally sees her. He both depends on her ability to decipher him and runs scared from the vulnerability that that implies. After one too many failed relationships, Kassie decides to use a sperm donor to become a mother. As the trailer tells you, a mishap happens and she ends up unknowingly becoming inseminated with Wally's sperm. Where the movie really gets interesting is seven years later, when Kassie returns to New York with Sebastian in tow. Wally had forgotten about the titular switch as a result of being drugged by Lewis's character. Kassie never found out. Two interweaving triangles develop. The first and most important is the triangle between Wally, Kassie and Sebastian. Sebastian is not a football that the movie tosses around to fit the requirements of the plot. He is as fully developed as Wally and Kassie, and the relationship between Wally and Sebastian becomes at least as important as the relationship between Wally and Kassie. This pathetic little kid with with a stable of quirks as larger as Wally's becomes important to Wally on a gut level that no woman ever has before. He understands the kid in a way that Kassie is not equipped to. Sebastian grows to depend on that understanding. The chemistry between Jason Bateman and the boy who plays Sebastian is terrific. If that dynamic hadn't worked, the movie would have fallen apart. But the scenes between Wally and Sebastian are magic. When he finally goes after Kassie, it's at least as much about his relationship with Sebastian as it is about his relationship with Kassie; he's willing to deny his own happiness in order to protect the status quo, but he's not willing to deny Sebastian's happiness to avoid the risk. It's no great spoiler that the ending is a happy one; I will only say that this is the rare romantic comedy where an unhappy ending would have been the cheat. Everything that happens in the film is made somewhat inevitable by the personalities of the three central characters. The tension comes from the fact that the events that transpire must fly in the face of the personal histories that brought them to that point.

#47 of 74 Aaron Silverman

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Posted August 27 2010 - 04:41 AM

I didn't see Blades of Glory, but IMO the Cavemen TV show was very good and I was sorry to see it canceled so quickly, without even a DVD to show for itself.


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#48 of 74 Michael Reuben

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Posted August 27 2010 - 11:46 AM

Required viewing for me this weekend: Mesrine: Killer Instinct, the first of the two-part French gangster epic starring Vincent Cassel. Music Box (which is releasing the Millennium Trilogy) is rolling this out in a few markets.


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#49 of 74 Adam Lenhardt

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Posted September 03 2010 - 06:42 PM

Added Winter's Bone, surely one of the best films of 2010. It captures a specific place and time and very specific circumstances. It does not comment on what it shows us, it doesn't present a message. It merely observes, capturing the complexities of a world small enough that everyone is related to everyone is some distant fashion or another. It would have been easy for director
Debra Granik to National Geographic the Ozarks, translating the regional culture and overwhelming poverty for Northeast and west coast audiences, but this movie never looks down on the people, never apologizes for the curiosities on display. This way of life is taken as a given, and the people that populate it are at least as complicated as the audiences populating art house theaters to watch it. Ree Dolly is a seventeen year old girl, the de facto matriarch of the most destitute branch of the extended Dolly clan. Her father had kept the family afloat by cooking meth for the local drug ring, led by the terrifying Thump Milton, but he hasn't been seen in weeks and the family home and land has been put up as collateral for the father's bail. Unless he can be located or proven dead, Ree and her family will be on the streets. Horrifying things happen in this movie, among the most horrifying I've ever seen in a movie, but the darkest places aren't where the film is focused. It's a story of one smart, resilient and utterly courageous young girl who refuses to throw in the towel. It's about the complex, fragile ties of family: both how important they are and how treacherous they are. It is about the unspoken vernacular of a community with a lifetime of shared history, and the bonds that define it. Jennifer Lawrence turns in an incredible performance leading a cast of which much is demanded and much is achieved. As Ree, Lawrence takes a young girl who stands up to the most merciless men in her world and finds her courage equal to their cruelty. John Hawkes is also stellar as Ree's uncle, who balances a menacing undercurrent with compassion and a slow-to-come sense of responsibility. This one will be staying with me for a long, long time.


#50 of 74 Adam Lenhardt

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Posted September 06 2010 - 06:51 PM

Rented my first Blu-Ray from Redbox, Diary of a Wimpy Kid. It turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Before the menu, I breezed through half a dozen trailers for worthless junk aimed at placating children and aiming for the lowest hanging fruit. Diary has a selfish, smug, arrogant protagonist, and proceeds to pummel him for the entire first hour as he indulges in these base instincts over and over again. We often hear (and remember) that middle school is hell, but it's all too easy to forget that it's we that make it so. There are decent people in this middle school universe, but in his quest to become popular our hero proceeds to alienate all of them. It's an incredibly uncomfortable movie to watch, but it rang all the more true because of it. Zachary Gordon does an excellent job of staying likable even as he does very unlikable things. Robert Capron is a force of nature as the best friend; what appeared to be dopey in the previews is dopey, but with a sort of unselfconscious enthusiasm that makes him fairly heroic. Chloë Moretz continues her streak of stellar supporting work, as the alienated and world-weary seventh grader who could be a real asset in the main character's corner, if only he'd exercise a modicum of civility. Devon Bostick manages to create a convincing, undiluted teenager within a PG movie, while Rachael Harris and Steve Zahn turn the bland parent characters into real personalities.



#51 of 74 Adam Lenhardt

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Posted September 08 2010 - 12:14 PM

I was downtown with a friend and we had some time to kill so we checked out The Kids Are All Right, about chaos that results from mingling three very flawed adults under very trying circumstances. Annette Bening and Julianne Moore play two long-time lesbian partners, now married, who have raised two children together. They each delivered one child, but used the same anonymous sperm donor for both. Mark Ruffalo is that sperm donor, and he floats through life with a breezy smile and non-judgmental judgments about the way people with substance choose to live their lives. The younger of the two children produced by this unlikely troika wants to meet his biological father, and his 18-year-old sister grudgingly agrees to make the call. Laser, who wanted a father so badly, is not impressed with Ruffalo's Paul at all. Joni, who had no interest in meeting her biological father, instantly finds in him something she didn't find from either of her mothers. What follows is an exploration of all the negative consequences built into a lesbian nuclear family, while embracing the lesbian nuclear family as something worth striving for. The introduction of Paul into their lives is on the surface nothing but bad news, as he genially wreaks destruction wherever he goes. By the end, however, it's increasingly clear that he was only the catalyst for a conflict that had long been waiting to erupt between Bening and Moore's characters. And while Paul has wounded Joni deeply, there are hints that the connection between them hasn't been permanently severed. Great acting from the entire cast, especially Bening, and a smart screenplay that starts with characters as they'd like to be seen and ends with characters as they really are. The idea of family isn't nearly so tidy as it once was, and it was gratifying to see a movie explore the consequences of that. Especially when it comes to sperm donors -- and the inescapable fact that mothers can't be fathers, no matter how much they fill that role -- it ventures into touchy territory and mines it successfully. Once Joni made that phone call, she changed all of their lives permanently, because that's one genie you can't put back into the bottle. And ironically enough, she might have been the only one to derive any benefit from it in the long-term.



#52 of 74 Michael Reuben

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Posted September 12 2010 - 08:47 AM

A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop is one of the most interesting cinematic experiments I've ever seen. The combination of Zhang Yimou and the Coen Brothers doesn't seem a likely one, but apparently Blood Simple made such an impression on Zhang that he decided to borrow its basic plot and make his own version. Most reviews have been unfavorable, primarily because the result isn't anything like the film noir that the Coens made.

 

Well, duh. What would you expect from the director of Hero and The House of Flying Daggers -- slavish imitation? I don't think so.

 

Zhang resets the story in medieval China (someone more knowledgeable will have to identify the specific period). The gun of the title is a novelty sold by a traveling Persian merchant. There's the same adulterous triangle, but Zhang highlights the farcical elements that were always there in the Coens' story, just submerged in the rain-soaked night. M. Emmet's Walsh's drawling P.I. has been replaced by a stone-faced cop, doing a little dirty work as a form of moonlighting. And since it's a Zhang Yimou film, almost every frame is art designed and composed to the nth degree. Fascinating, occasionally frustrating, ultimately satisfying (if you like dark endings).


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#53 of 74 Adam Lenhardt

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Posted September 18 2010 - 02:30 PM

Saw Easy A this afternoon, and had a terrific time. The director was one of the creative forces behind the hilarious "Andy Richter Controls the Universe". This is former casting director Bert V. Royal's first screenplay, one of the best first scripts I've come across. While it's a bit overwritten (in the way that "Gilmore Girls" or most Joss Whedon productions can be overwritten), it works as the voice of this particular teenage girl. With Olive Pendergast, Emma Stone announces to the world---in case anyone had somehow missed it---that she is a star and one of the few true comediennes in a climate that likes the guys homely but funny and the girls attractive and accommodating. She is backed by a stellar supporting cast, among which Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson stand out from the pack as Olive's fantastic parents. They're allowed to be every bit as smart, funny and unpredictable as Olive herself, and the result is that the Pendergast is an incredibly warm, inviting place. This family is a unit, and they really are peas in a pod. It also means that home is a very necessary sanctuary when things go south at school. Thomas Haden Church is another standout as Olive's English teacher, who's been doing it long enough to be resigned to his students' bad decisions, intellectual laziness and general apathy but still idealistic enough to value it when a good student like Olive comes along. The overall result is farce with a heart along the same vein as Orange County.



#54 of 74 Adam Lenhardt

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Posted October 08 2010 - 02:58 PM

I'm very conflicted about It's Kind of a Funny Story, the mental ward comedy based on Ned Vizzini's semi-autobiographical 2006 teen novel. As a movie it works tremendously well, with a terrific cast that works extremely well together. The Dickensian cast of characters is well-rendered and involving. The problem is that it's a movie about mental illness that largely trivializes mental illness. It deals with the mental ward in the way every movie has since One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, because the more honest alternative is too depressing and disturbing to make a movie about. Noelle, the cutter, is a great romantic interest but not like any of the cutters I've known in my life. Every cutter I've known self-harms on arms, legs, stomachs, feet -- places that can be easily hidden. The main protagonist's roommate probably rang the most true, as the depressive Egyptian that never left bed except to use the bathroom for most of the film. Zach Galifianakis is phenomenal as the main character's suicidal mentor in the war. I wasn't sure there'd be anything left if you took away his schtick, but his Bobby is a very compelling character. He is a deeply troubled man, but for the most part keeps it out of sight. Galifianakis conveys the weariness of someone living with debilitating mental illness so long that he no longer has much of a connection to the world outside the system, someone who has worn the masking of a functioning person so long he almost forgets he's assuming a pose at all. The scenes involving his young daughter and her toxic mother are among the most powerful in the film. Once again, though, he was just a bit too functional and cuddly to be believed. I left feeling like the film was presenting mental illness as a cold that needs to be gotten over than something that destroys some lives and affects others until they die.



#55 of 74 Aaron Silverman

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Posted October 11 2010 - 03:30 AM

Originally Posted by Adam Lenhardt 

The problem is that it's a movie about mental illness that largely trivializes mental illness. It deals with the mental ward in the way every movie has since One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, because the more honest alternative is too depressing and disturbing to make a movie about.


Are you forgetting Shutter IslandPosted Image


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#56 of 74 Michael Reuben

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Posted October 11 2010 - 04:02 AM


Originally Posted by Adam Lenhardt 

Once again, though, he was just a bit too functional and cuddly to be believed. I left feeling like the film was presenting mental illness as a cold that needs to be gotten over than something that destroys some lives and affects others until they die.


This is where I disagree and where I most admire the film: in its handling of Galifianakis' Bobby. It doesn't try to have Bobby "saved" by his interaction with Craig and suddenly able to go back to his wife and daughter. Whenever Craig confronts Bobby on this, Bobby runs for cover. In the end, he can't even face saying goodbye to Craig and just slips away -- all of which makes it clear that his whole act with Craig is paper-thin, and that Bobby is nowhere near being able to deal with real challenges and real responsibilities. Like a lot of so-called "role models", he offers Craig a glimpse of something, and then he's gone.


One of the film's central devices is throwing the teenage and adult patients together on the same ward because the teenage ward is being renovated. For the teenagers there's hope, because they're still being formed. The adults are pretty much stuck with who they are. The film sticks closely to the teenagers' point of view, which is why it feels upbeat, but by having Bobby disappear without even a goodbye scene, it leaves a dark shadow over the end. And I respect the film for doing that.


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#57 of 74 Adam Lenhardt

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Posted October 11 2010 - 06:34 AM

Originally Posted by Aaron Silverman 

Are you forgetting Shutter IslandPosted Image


I would argue that Shutter Island isn't a movie about mental illness, but a gothic thriller that uses mental illness as its MacGuffin. As such, I wouldn't expect it to get mental illness right. The mental hospital is a gothic set piece with a long proud history, and that set piece has only a tangental connection to the reality. I would argue the reality is in many cases more depressing than even the prison style environment showcased in Scorcese's film.

Originally Posted by Michael Reuben 

This is where I disagree and where I most admire the film: in its handling of Galifianakis' Bobby. It doesn't try to have Bobby "saved" by his interaction with Craig and suddenly able to go back to his wife and daughter. Whenever Craig confronts Bobby on this, Bobby runs for cover. In the end, he can't even face saying goodbye to Craig and just slips away -- all of which makes it clear that his whole act with Craig is paper-thin, and that Bobby is nowhere near being able to deal with real challenges and real responsibilities. Like a lot of so-called "role models", he offers Craig a glimpse of something, and then he's gone.


One of the film's central devices is throwing the teenage and adult patients together on the same ward because the teenage ward is being renovated. For the teenagers there's hope, because they're still being formed. The adults are pretty much stuck with who they are. The film sticks closely to the teenagers' point of view, which is why it feels upbeat, but by having Bobby disappear without even a goodbye scene, it leaves a dark shadow over the end. And I respect the film for doing that.

I pretty much agree with what your analysis; dramatically, the movie is very sound. My experience with it is colored by my experience with mental illness among the young. Teenage mental illness is no more or less destructive than adult mental illness, and the movie's assertion that it is is what bothered me. Craig likely isn't mentally ill, just a highly stressed kid with an unfortunate response to anxiety in the form of vomiting. I can buy that ~ five days in the mental ward, giving him a break from the stress through a highly structured environment, would be enough to break him out of his depression. If he is mentally ill, he seems to function normally while properly medicated. At any given time, roughly 10 percent of the U.S. population meets the criteria for depression, and not all of those people are mentally ill. Noelle, however, clearly is mentally ill and I think the film glossed over that to provide Craig with an attractive romantic interest. From what I understand, the young adult novel the movie was adapted from when much further in depth into her problems and how she ended up there. Without the film providing explanation, the slashes on her face rang a false note, because cutters almost never selfharm in places that can't be easily hidden by clothing. The most realistic moment for Noelle was when Craig catches a glimse of the scars on her arm and she instinctually yanked her sleeve down to hide them.


Getting back to Bobby, I agree that the movie should be admired for not "saving" Bobby; his situation is more or less as screwed up as it was when the movie started. His mental illness still rang false to me as a cinematic sort of mental illness, though. He tried to kill himself several times, so we assume he's depressive. But he also went postal to the point of having to be restrained, which implies some sort of anger management issue. What's driving his behavior? What fuels his illness? What is it that prevents him from tackling a life on the outside? Galifianakis gets it, as I said, with a performance that reflects my experience with functioning adults who've suffered from long-term mental illness. His attack on the bookcase helped justify how he could have such anger issues without being a threat to the other patients; if Bobby can't control how his anger manifests, he has at least found ways to direct it so it doesn't harm anyone other than himself. But at the end of the day, I think more thought had to going into weaving the illness and the person, because the one very much informs the other.



#58 of 74 Michael Reuben

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Posted October 11 2010 - 07:28 AM

I do agree that the Noelle character is underdeveloped. The slashes on her face are a distraction that raise unnecessary questions and add nothing dramatically.


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#59 of 74 Adam Lenhardt

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Posted October 15 2010 - 01:47 PM

Added Red, which edges out Easy A as the most fun I've had at the movies since Kick-Ass. The film locks onto a certain tone from the very first beats, and never lets it go. There's this really strange balance between over-the-top action and very understated humor that kept my rolling through half the film. Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren show why their movie stars, with pitch perfect performances the whole way through. They bring an eye-rolling weariness to the whole affair that's just absolutely hysterical. Especially Malkovich. Mary-Louise Parker is also terrific as customer service associate in the CIA's pension services hotline who treats her kidnapping as a date that's pretty horrible but not the worst she's been on. Karl Urban slips in and out of DeForest Kelley's as the CIA agent who handles ethically messy situations but has a genuine love for his country. Brian Cox is a real hoot as the former Soviet assassin who still carries a flame for the MI-6 agent that put three bullets in his chest. And Ernest Borgnine is a delight as the records keeper who's nostalgic for the old days.



#60 of 74 Adam Lenhardt

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Posted October 31 2010 - 06:08 PM

Added Saw 3D, which -- much like the more recent Final Destination movies, abandoned any pretense of being a horror movie and dedicated itself to being flat out torture porn: the most inventive mutilation wins. Unfortunately, even by that standard the movie feels tired and derivative. The formula by this point is so polished and well-established that the movie feels like its merely checking off boxes. Having skipped the last few entries, the whole business with the detectives and Jaw's wife made no sense to me. The opening scene with the public display of one of Jigsaw's games was intriguing, promising an escalation of the concept and a nice microstory while it all plays out, but it was completely disconnected from the rest of the movie. What tension the series once had went out the window when Jigsaw's rules went out the window. If there's no way to survive, there's no stakes to involve the audience. There's no investment in simply watching someone get killed if we know they don't have a prayer.