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Saturday, January 13, 2007

The 'Best' of 2006: Part 1

'Tis the season for everyone's Top 10/Best of/Yadda yadda lists of 2006. Sooo, I figured I'd start doing one as well. Not a specific number, just a chronological listing of movies that I dug. Now, this list may seem a little random, so here's my criteria. It's very simple. Below you will find a list of movies that I remember walking out of and saying "Damn, that was pretty damn good, dammit!". There were a ton of movies that I saw where I had the lingering "That was pretty damn good, but..." Not that there was anything inherently wrong with them, they just didn't measure up to the glory I hoped they would reach. Things like Pirates 2 and The Prestige. While both are thoroughly entertaining and well done, it just didn't live up to my over-hyped expectations. And yes, I've said it before, I get WAY too excited about stuff coming out down the road. But that's fine, why do I gotta be a hater and diss on stuff? No fun in that unless it's PURE crap. Take what joy you can from life, folks, no need to run on hate. So that being said, we'll go back to February...

Yes. You see it above. It's...Paul Walker. Yeah, yeah, I know. I, too, was once on the 'Paul Walker's a douchebag' campaign trail until I realized that I actually kinda LIKE Paul Walker. Fast & the Furious, Varsity Blues, Into the Blue, Eight Below, sure there's some weak-ass crap like Timeline and The Skulls in there, but you know how I feel about crappy movies. ESPECIALLY ones with time travel. But I digress. RUNNING SCARED is a FUCKED UP movie. In the most awesome of ways. It's one of those everything-bad-you-can-possibly think-of-can-and-will-happen-in-one-night type things. It's set up like dark, dark fairy tale and the end credits are some of the coolest, creepiest things I've seen. It's violent, creepy and the black-light showdown in the hockey rink at the end is fantastic. I didn't see this in the theaters, but have watched it a few times on DVD already and it's just as good each time. I tell you, watch this one and next time you watch LOST you'll see Juliette in a whoooooole new light.

2006 best movies

I love Aaron Eckhart. Ever since I saw the way-messed-up In The Company of Men, I've had a great appreciation for that sarcastic bite of his. This movie is hilarious from beginning to end and has an awesome supporting cast, especially Maria Bello and David Koechner as his fellow 'Merchants of Death'. He plays a lobbyist for Tobacco and they play Alcohol and Firearms, respectively. While walking out of the theater, laughing my ass off, Dinah pointed out to me that no one in the movie ever lit a cigarette. Wha? Sure enough, on a repeat viewing, people will hod cigarettes, put cigars in their mouth and there's never any smoke in the whole thing. THAT is cool. How you do a movie on smoking-is-cool and not have it actually pro or con is amazing. And funny as hell.


Oooooh, V. This was one of those I had been following for a while. I remember reading Alan Moore's graphic novel yeeeeaaaaarrrrrrs ago when I worked in a comic shop in High School. It was an awesome read and I went out to pick up a new copy to re-read before the movie came out. Now, here's the difference between reading a novel or a graphic novel before seeing the flick. A NOVEL has way too much information in it to translate to film. That's why they more-or-less have to be 'adaptations'. You have to convert what would most likely be a 10-12 hour mini-series into 2 hours. And you gotta give credit where credit's due, folks. Doing that is a BITCH. A graphic novel is lucky in that it's already been storyboarded, which makes it easier to move pieces around and remove the filler for a better flick. (MOSTLY. A bad example of this is League of Extraordinary Gentleman. How you mess that one up, short as the story was, is beyond me. Retard. Notice Norrington is back to lame effects work and no more directing.) But I digress. After re-reading V, I was ASTOUNDED how accurate the movie was, up to the end. There was never any actual 'love' between V and Evey, so the ending was a little weak. But they made up for it with that awesome scene where EVERYONE is wearing the costume. That wasn't in the book, and that was a fantastic visual. So all in all, it did NOT disappoint. Plus, Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman are two of my favorite performers, so this was a treat all around.


Crappy poster #1 on my list. Probably followed by The Departed. WTF, man? How hard is it to make a poster without a floating head or plain text?! Geez. Anyway! I have some serious man-love for Clive Owen. The man can do no wrong in my eyes. I was SHOCKED when I saw him in the abortion that is Steve Martin's 'Pink Panther' remake, but he played a 2-minute role as '006', a spy that foils a casino heist and disappears quickly, so I forgive him. Anyway, him as a brilliant bank robber against Denzel (who I also really enjoy) was a great pairing. Ever see Devil In A Blue Dress? Probably my favorite Denzel flick. I like him when he plays investigators. Plus, Denzel's right-hand man is Chiwetel Ejiofor (sadly, I have no idea how to pronounce his name) who I've been a fan of since Serenity and now notice in everything else he's in like Love Actually, Kinky Boots, Four Brothers and Children of Men. Plus, it's a heist flick. I LOOOOOOVE heist flicks. There are a few things that there are not enough of in the film world: Heists, Treasure Hunts, Quicksand and Ninjas. And this heist flick is TIGHT. I had only one gripe after it was over and it was purely of a spacial perspective to a storage room. I won't say more.


DAMN. This is a great noir flick. Set in a current-day high school with 50's detective banter, a self-created slang dictionary and an amazing cast, this movie blew me away. The whole time you're watching it, trying to figure out where the influences came from (Twin Peaks? Bogart? Veronica Mars?) and in the end it doesn't even matter, because you stop trying to guess and start trying to figure out the mystery. Keeping the audience on track with a mystery movie is tricky. You have to show them clues that they THINK they can use to figure it out, but not really. I'm not that smart. I can't write noir like this, simply because I start with a problem and work backwards to cut off future problems. Destroy the breadcrumbs. I'd be the villain that kills the hero the second I have him, without saying a word. I also wouldn't have man-sized air ducts. And my goons wouldn't have full masks. One of my favorite things about this is that two of the main characters are Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lukas Haas. Who ever thought they would a) work again or b) in something this cool? Well done!


SLIME!!!!! MORE SLIME!!!! I like James Gunn. I think he's funny. Ever since i saw The Specials, way back when, I've been a fan (his brother is Sean Gunn of Gilmore Girls 'Kirk' fame). He also wrote the Scooby Doo live-action flicks, which weren't THAT bad and he had a damn good grasp on the subversive stuff (the fact that Scappy-Doo was the villain in one of them as AWESOME and there's some Velma lesbian stuff edited from the first movie where Fred and Velma are watching Daphne walk into a room) and he wrote the Dawn of the Dead remake, which was FANTASTIC. So here's Mr. Gunn with an 80's-throwback horror comedy that is just grosser than gross. A cross between From Beyond, Night of the Creeps, the Blob (remake) and all that. And the cast is freakin' AWESOME. Nate Fillion, of Firefly/Serenity fame (who, in my opinion, would make a GREAT Indiana Jones for future installments of the character), Elizabeth Banks of Scrubs & 40-Year Old Virgin, Michael Rooker of awesomeness and GREGG HENRY. I LOVE Gregg Henry. He plays such a smarmy douchebag in everything he's in and does it sooooo well. Plus gore. Lots and lots of gore. Just nastiness, but in that John-Waters-glee type way.


Ah, Jerri Blank. Amy Sedaris is one of the funniest people there is. Pair that with Steven Colbert and Paul Dinello in an R-rated movie version of one of my favorite TV shows and you have gold. Pure gold. One of the many, many, many treats in this one is the attention to the set pieces. The props and set decor were made by the cast and there is some AWESOME stuff hidden in there. For example, in the science lab there's a poster of a frog disection and the frog is in the crucifixtion pose and there's an periodic element chart in the shape of a cross. Plus add in some awesome cameos by Alison Janney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker and you're good to go. The cool thing about these cameos is that these are actually friends of Amy's and did it for nothing. I read an interview with Ileana Douglas and she said she couldn't even get into the movie because there wasn't a role for her. That's the kind of awesome this one is. The only downside is that I had to leave the comfort of my Arclight Cinemas for the Laemmle Sunset 5. Listen people, 'indie' doesn't need to be 'crappy'. What a SHIT HOLE. I hate that place. Like most "indie" theaters it's one step above a homeless shelter.


Things I like to see back on track: Toned-down Sci-Fi, Richard Linklater, Robert Downey Jr. This flick as DOPE, and between Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and this, Robert Downey Jr. is back in the god-like status he once possessed 10 years ago. (plus, he's playing Iron Man, so he gets extra points for that). On the sci-fi side, I really dig the Phillip K Dick adaptations. Mostly because they have a more future-is-now quality that doesn't really have anything to do with space-travel or whatever. It's more believable technology. Blade Runner, Total Recall, Abre Los Ojos (Vanilla Sky was a remake of this), Minority Report and Paycheck were all based on his work as well. (Notice the trend of 'seeing' the future flicks? Deja Vu was like that as well) Mr. Linklater! This was a nice bounce back from Bad News Bears. Please don't remake anything again, please, sir. Then again, your adaptation of Fast Food Nation didn't get any love either. Leave that stuff to actual documentarians (is that a word?), please. The rest of the cast was great, too. Winona, Keanu and Woody (they sound like hosts of 90's kids television shows) are are pretty solid and Rory Cochrane is awesome with bugs crawling all over him throughout the movie.

OK, my hand hurts and there's still 12 to go, so I am gonna break this up into 3 parts. We'll continue this later! (oh, hey, look at that. 12 more makes an even 20. go figure.)

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