Thursday, December 17, 2009

There Were Movies This Decade

This list reads like the Anti-Oscars. I went back and looked over all the Academy Awards since 2000, and man, it’s just one woofer/snoozer after another. I didn’t see many of them. Gee, what a shame.

RAMBO- Based on my nonstop reactions in the theater, you could also call this movie “WHOAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!” or “OHHHHHHHHHHHH!” or “I SEE THAT THE THX SOUND WORKS VERY WELL IN THIS THEATER!” Loud bloody violence, surprisingly badass expendable mercenary sidekicks, and wondering what would happen first- Sly’s head expanding to the width of the screen, or his face falling off his skull. But wait, did I mention the violence? The finale is like the opening of Saving Private Ryan, but with one dude firing nine trillion huge caliber rounds from a jeep-mounted machine gun. Yes please. Also, if you thought Tiger Woods had a long driveway (topical!), stick around for the end credits when Rambo walks home. He may just be getting to the front door as I write this.

ANCHORMAN- “Funniest movie since Naked Gun,” I announced as I left the theater, and I stand by that. While the pure absurdity of the lines may not have the same effect on further viewings, you forget just how many absurd, fall-down-laughing lines there were. The supporting cast is fantastic- even the normally intolerable Vince Vaughn and the eye-gougingly grating Jack Black are perfect in (thankfully) small roles.

TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE- Sure, the puppets are hilarious, but the real strength of the movie is the soundtrack, with such gems as “Everyone Has AIDS”, “I’m So Ronery”, “Montage”, the unheralded “Pearl Harbor Sucks” (I missed you more than Michael Bay missed the mark/when he made Pearl Harbor/I miss you more than Ben Affleck needs acting school/he was terrible in that film), and of course, a thousand times of course, “America Fuck Yeah”. Fuck yeah. (Also, yes Bryan, MATT DAAAMON. And America’s greatest actor, Arec Bahhhhwin.)

INFERNAL AFFAIRS TRILOGY- Hey, America, here, watch The Departed, we dumbed down the original and gave it a tacked-on, crowd pleasing ending just for you guys! Well, thanks, Mr. Scorcese. The Hong Kong original remains perhaps the only foreign language movie I’ve ever seen in which I can appreciate the acting despite not understanding a single word. Andy Lau (my man) and Tony Leung are tremendous, the rooftop showdown makes the movie, the ending is perfect (and totally unexpected). The following prequel was solid but a bit lacking since we knew what would happen, but part 3, as a direct sequel to the original, was nearly as engaging as the first and unlike most sequels, actually advanced the story and tied up the loose ends.

GANGS OF NEW YORK- It’s sheer bloat definitely hurts its rewatchability, but I remember seeing this in theaters and being blown away by Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance as Bill the Butcher. It’s also the movie that- to my surprise- made me appreciate Leo DiCaprio as more than “the kid from the end of Growing Pains”. Also, it’s impressively violent. That cannot be overlooked. The only downside- and it’s a big one- is Cameron Diaz’ atrocious performance as whoever. Man, she was terrible.
(Postscript: One of many reasons the Oscars are hogwash- the travesty of Daniel Day-Lewis losing Best Actor to Adrien Brody (slapping forehead). This was as bad as Jack Nicholson not being nominated for Batman. But guess who won that year? Daniel Day-Lewis. So, um, evens out?)
(Post-postscript- No, it doesn’t. remember, we’re talking Adrien Brody. He is bad. At acting.)

IDIOCRACY- Inspired, ah, idiocy. When you hear “electrolytes”, how can you now think of anything but Brawndo (what plants crave)? When Obama makes a speech, don’t you wish it had the showmanship of President of America Hector Camacho’s opening line “I know shit's bad right now with all that starvin' bullshit.” If the Oscar-winning movie-mentioned-in-the-movie (Ass) existed, I know some people who would have put it on their all-decade list. The scary thing is, are we really all that far away from some of this stupidity?

SHAOLIN SOCCER- The comedic sensibilities of Stephen Chow- and of Hong Kong films as a whole- don’t really translate to an American audience, but if the humor is couched in the universal language of the underdog sports movie, it works like a charm. The cast shows a great gift for physical comedy and comedic timing, and the sports scenes turn the clich├ęs of the genre on their head. Fun times all around.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO- Who’da thunk Robert Rodriguez could top Desperado? He left it in the dust with this completely over-the-top (in all ways) sequel. A great cast of overactors (Banderas, Dafoe, Depp, Rourke) service a ludicrously complex plot that, in turn, leads to more and more crazy shooting, and that is what’s important. Enrique Iglesias as a moody badass? If you can get me to buy that, you’ve done something right.

SIMPSONS MOVIE- Sure, I’m still an unabashed Simpsons fan. I don’t pretend that it’s anywhere near what it was 15 years ago, but it’s like comfort food, and it’s still more entertaining than at least 75% of the garbage on TV today. The movie’s gorgeous animation was like a breath of fresh air, and many of the gags (such as the fake Simpsons-looking family arrested in the convenience store) hearkened back to the good old days. The writers could have coasted to easy jokes and just relied upon built-in Simpsons loyalty, but they didn’t, and this movie was way better than most (myself included) expected.

BORAT/BRUNO- I don’t necessarily find these rewatchable, but that’s only because the nature of the movies (guerilla comedy), not because of the content. Any cringeworthiness is more than outweighed by the absurdity of the questions and the situations. Ali G is a genius.


FIVE WORST

Eviscerating movies is WAY more fun.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END- The first one was surprisingly entertaining. Then we saw it again disguised as a sequel. Aaaand then we saw both again, plus an extra hour of padding, plus 8000 supporting characters and way too much Orlando Bloom in the super-tedious, super-loud part 3.

TRANSFORMERS- It’s called “Transformers”. Not “Some Lame Transformers, Sometimes, But Mostly Humans.” And what annoying humans at that. Shia LaBoo shows up to ruin yet another movie (see next entry). Every scene can be summed up thusly: “What just happened?”

INDIANA JONES AND WHATEVER- The only time I have ever booed at the screen in a theater (during the feature, that is- previews are fair game). The only time I have smacked my head in disgust in a theater. The only time I have yelled at the screen “No! NOOO!” (that was either at the CGI monkeys, or at the big reveal). In case you didn’t hear- it was aliens. Their treasure was knowledge. Bite me.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: AI- OK, this was actually the first time I booed at the screen during the feature. Must have blocked out the memory, because I was digging the movie until- well, if you saw the movie, you know where, because you hated it too. Come on, you know… yup, when the aliens showed up. Wait… Spielberg took over after Kubrick died and suddenly there were aliens… see previous entry. All that needs to be said is that we got up after 2 hours, thinking the movie had come to its logical, satisfying ending- and then we were subjected to another half hour of schmaltzy nonsense.

THE HANGOVER- Oh, I’m sorry, I had to mindlessly like it because it was so cool? This movie sucked. Hard, largely because it fell so far from it’s (inexplicably) ;lofty reviews. Fat guy not funny just because he has a beard. Asian guy not funny just because he’s Asian and curses. Bachelor party unfolding in real life: likely entertaining. Watching a bachelor party unfold on screen, with ten times the contrived wackiness (fat guy and tiger! Fat guy and baby! Fat guy in underwear! Vegas wedding! Ruh roh!): not necessarily hilarious. More like interminable.

Oh, I’ve got more. I dare you to ask for more.