Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Grading 2008: Reflections on Movies I've Seen, and Why the Hell Did I Watch "Vantage Point"?

Above is a quick glimpse of the checklist of movies I kept this year. Obviously non-graded movies have yet to be seen. 29 isn't all that bad considering there was a stretch of about three months of no movie watching whatsoever. click the picture to enlarge it....sorry that's as big as I could get it. Some interesting things of note:

- In Bruges is far and away the most surprising film experience I had all year. I really was expecting that thing to suck. Boy I love being wrong sometimes.

- There may not be a more misguided, ultra-violent, vomit inducing film all decade than Stallone's Rambo. Just when you want to enjoy the film for its over-the-top violence and gore, Stallone gets all preachy on us and for some reason splices in all-too-real footage of Burmese villagers being massacred. I think Stallone thought he was making something valid and not exploitative. The movie was supposed to be a fun time at the movies; a call back to the glorious, ridiculously violent action films of the 1980's and 90's, and instead it ended up just being a big downer.

- Ladies and Gentleman the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture goes to...

Anne Hathaway for Rachel Getting Married.


This doesn't make up for the fact that while she's accepting the award, her newest movie Bride Wars will be in theaters....but still a damn fine performance.

- Ugh....yes I did waste two hours of my life watching Vantage Point. I was hoping it would be so bad it was good....but it was just bad. At least Matthew Fox wasn't a complete cinematic waste this year, he was in Speed Racer, a film that is probably the most visually entertaining movie (read: crap story) since Dick Tracy.

- Missed out on W. and Quantum of Solace even though I was really looking forward to them. Bond still may be seen as it continues to play in local theaters, but W. came and went, sadly, quicker than his time in office (I couldn't resist the all too easy George Bush bashing, I should rise above it, but meh).

- The Strangers sucked and American horror films needs Wes Craven more than ever.

- I actually saw my fair share of docs this year. I am proud of myself.

- Comedies were very hit and miss. Consider the amazingly funny Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Pineapple Express and contrast them with the painfully mediocre Tropic Thunder and Step Brothers. Luckily I didn't watch anything with Mike Myers or Adam Sandler.

- Despite what some may say The Dark Knight is not as serious and thought provoking as they may think, and despite what the other side may think, the film isn't edited poorly and is still one of the most entertaining films of the year. But it's all moot because Iron Man was far superior.

- I missed Argento's newest film Mother of Tears. Sad because I love Argento and Italian horror, but maybe it's a blessing because the reviews for the thing were awful.

- Despite the well deserved kudos Mickey Rourke and Clint Eastwood are getting this year from the award circuit, it's Michael Shannon of Shotgun Stories that turned in the years best performance.

- Finally I have to state that this was a great year for movies....and not because I was thinking it was going to be a crap year for movies, but because any year that can provide me with 20+ reasons to write on this here blog....well then I'm happy to be alive and to be a film buff. I think every year is a good year for film. You won't find any caveats here.

And a year at the movies wouldn't be complete without feeding my unhealthy infatuation with Keira Knightley who starred in The Duchess this year....sadly I never saw it, but I always have this to motivate me to rent it on DVD:

Now the fun part....making the obligatory (and arbitrary, albeit fun) year-end list. I'll shoot for next Friday (I have a test to take this weekend for grad school) to get the list up here; hopefully by then I'll have seen all of the movies without grades assigned to them....but I don't think that'll happen as some just aren't making their way to Portland in time. Be back shortly with some more quickie reviews.


  1. I want you to know W. is playing down here at the $1.50. If you make the drive down, I'll buy the soda and pop corn.

  2. Great stuff. I can't wait to see Rachel Getting Married. Or Bride Wars. More so Bride Wars.

    (It might have a Norbit effect on Hathaway's chances, you know)

  3. Larry:

    I may take you up on that. If you think the movie is going to still be playing by next weekend, then I may be down.


    I was thinking about the Norbit effect, too. It's a shame since the performance doesn't come off as Oscar bait at all.

    Thanks for the comments guys.

  4. Kevin, it is good to hear that you love Argento (and Italian horror). I do as well, as my review of Suspiria sugests.

  5. Alexander:

    Thanks for visiting and commenting. I loved your review of Suspiria.