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No Strings Attached


... although I say that, mostly because I thought it would be terrible and I didn't end up hating it. It's nice to see Portman lighten up a little bit since she tends to take on heavier roles. Kutcher is exactly the same as he always is... just kinda there.

There isn't a whole lot to say about No Strings Attached. It's a good date movie in that women will like it and men won't hate it. If you're looking for something like that, here it is.

The Green Hornet


Once again we have a director making a movie he shouldn't be making with an actor that shouldn't be in the movie. Michel Gondry directed one of my favorite movies of all time, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a beautiful, mind bending science fiction love story with an Oscar nominated performance by Kate Winslet and an Oscar snubbed performance by Jim Carrey. He's had some fun in the past, helming Dave Chapelle's Block Party and episodes of Jimmy Kimmel Live and HBO's Flight of the Conchords, but he's known primarily for his quirky sensibilities, taking on projects like The Science of Sleep, Be Kind Rewind, and Eternal Sunshine; all lower budget dramedies. To see him take a step back and jump behind the wheel of this schlock is almost heartbreaking. It raises so many questions, namely, why he would give up on his art. The answer is obviously, money, and that's really, really sad.

The Green Hornet stars Seth Rogen which is also pretty bizarre. Whoever thought casting Rogen as an action hero (bumbling though he may be) was an acceptable alternative to just about anything else, should be shot.

The movie is choppy and all over the place. The movie opens wit a scene in the past in which Rogen's character (as a child) is being berated by his father... only so that Rogen could tell the story later. He could have just told the story; we didn't need to see it first. Later after his father's funeral, he apparently fires his entire household staff, an emotional scene during which we see the character's vulnerability, resentment and mourning... but they didn't show it. They told us it happened by having Rogen ask the only maid left where the staff is. The literally left every ounce of humanity on the cutting room floor, I assume because the cast couldn't act it.

The Green Hornet is solely a money machine and you are supposed to be the cogs. Don't be a cog.

The Dilemma

Uhhh... no.

The Dilemma is sort of a weird film. It's really more of a drama with funny parts than it is a comedy.

The second weekend in January is a weekend of strange marriages between director and material. I thought it was odd from the get go that Ron Howard was attached to direct this movie. I find it hard to believe that, in his right mind, the Academy Award winning director of A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, and Frost/Nixon chose to produce this heaping pile of crud. The Dilemma is Ron Howard's version of a Corvette in the driveway and we're the disillusioned spouse who walk out of the theatre, looks at Ronny and asks, "Who's movie is that in the driveway?"

I don't like Vince Vaughn. Let me just take a minute to go over some movies that Vince Vaughn was actually in. Keep in mind that they aren't necessarily good movies, but the do show that he has a little bit more range than he's limited himself to. Here goes: Domestic Disturbance, Swingers, Return to Paradise, Jurassic Park II, Psycho, Made, The Cell, Clay Pigeons. Then he made Old School, which some people apparently liked, and Vince Vaughn's destiny was set. From that day forward, he's played the same fast talking clown in every movie he's made with the occasional acknowledgement of worthy projects like Thumbsucker and Into the Wild.

Kevin James has fallen into the wrong crowd. I hate that he's best friends with the Sandler clan and it's a little off putting. I loved his stand-up routine, but it's been pretty downhill since. Jennifer Connelly was clearly just doing a favor for the director responsible for her Academy Award and apparently Winona Ryder is on some kind of a comeback tour with small roles in Star Trek and Black Swan. She probably thought she'd found her very own version of John Travolta's Pulp Fiction when she landed a major role in a Ron Howard film. Unfortunately, the joke was on her.

I case you haven't figured it out yet, there's little to nothing that I can say I liked about The Dilemma... but that's just because it's a terrible movie.

Season of the Witch


I think the movie industry is the only group that doesn't believe in "starting the year off right". Season of the Witch is an enormously terrible piece of garbage.

My biggest issue is that Nicholas Cage is NOT the worst part of this movie. My biggest issue is actually with Stephen Graham. Stephen Graham is a british actor who has had roles in Gangs of New York, Snatch, and Public Enemies and most recently has been seen on Martin Scorsese's Boardwalk Empire playing Al Capone. I don't know why, but he uses the worst New York accent throughout the whole movie. I was expecting all of the actors to have British accents, but I guess when they realized that Cage and Ron Perlman couldn't do British accents, the decided it would be easier to have the British actors try to sound more like Cage and Perlman. That being said, I still hate Nicolas Cage. I also really hate Ron Perlman...

Season of the Witch is like a good Uwe Boll movie... and that's not a compliment. Once again, my message to the studio's is this: Stop making these crap movies and  spread out the good ones. People go to the movies all year round. If you make a good movie, they'll go see it no matter what time of year you release it.

2010: The 20 Best Films of the Year

2010 was a year fueled by powerful performances. What ultimately helped me decide which was my favorite movie of the year was the fact the most of the competitors were films that I liked mostly because of the amazing performances by their casts, but not necessarily the full package.

20. The Crazies

The Crazies represents how rational people in a small town might handle a zombie apocalypse. The characters never do anything thats blatantly stupid and any risks they take are necessary ones. This remake got pretty good reviews at the time of it's theatrical release but I was still skeptical and hence was very pleasantly surprised when it was as good as it was.

19. Dinner For Schmucks

Dinner for Schmucks is one of the most unrealistic movies of the year and it's chock full of characters that would never exist in real life. That doesn't mean it isn't one of the funniest movies of the year, though. The chemistry between Rudd and Carell is perfect and there are some scenes in it with the two of them that made me laugh so hard I couldn't breathe.

18. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World  is tailor-made for people suffering from attention deficit disorder in that there are no (or very few) scene transitions, it's very colorful and there's always something cool to grab your attention that pops onto the screen every couple of seconds. It's frenetic fun; visually exciting, aurally engrossing and intellectually numbing.

17. The Town

Ben Affleck is doing a great job as a director. This wasn't as good as his directorial debut (Gone Baby Gone), but both of his movies have made my top 20, so I guess that's saying something. It's actually gotten to the point where I kinda can't wait for him to direct another movie.

16. Easy A

Strangely, I actually really liked Easy A. It's seemingly geared towards teenage girls, but was still really entertaining. The writer very cleverly transformed very R-rated material into content that is PG-13 appropriate.

15. True Grit

I really don't enjoy westerns, but True Grit has enough really good portrayals of very interesting characters to keep me interested. That along with some great writing and directing from the Coen brothers puts this western at number 15.

14. The Kids Are Alright

Besides the stellar performances from the entire cast, The Kids Are Alright has an original, quirky storyline, great dialogue, and an intriguing look into the concept of family without ever exploiting its subject matter. As long as you have an open mind, this fresh look at the contemporary family unit has the perfect mixture of wit, charm, intelligence and earnest.

13. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

This is a dark, scary, depressing movie. Due to the nature of the story, it's lost some of it's charm, but from a technical standpoint, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is the best in the series so far.

12. Iron Man 2

As a stand alone movie it's great. As a sequel? It's less great, but still OK. I feel like instead of Iron Man 2, it should have been called Iron Man Again. As entertaining, well written, acted and directed it was, Iron Man 2 doesn't do anything to move the characters or the story forward. It really didn't need to be made and so as a sequel, it leaves a lot to be desired. That doesn't mean you won't have a blast watching it. Iron Man 2 is highly entertaining.

11. The King's Speech

While The King's Speech may not be for everyone, the story is wonderful and the relationship between Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush is what propels the movie forward. The ability of the film makers to elevate the "buddy cop" genre and make a british period piece is what ultimately lands The King's Speech in my top 20 films of the year.

10. The Fighter

The Fighter is a success because of Christian Bale with really strong support from Amy Adams and Melissa Leo. The movie was well made, but the writing and direction were just average and Mark Wahlberg was only at his best (which isn't necessarily a compliment), but Bale, Adams, and Leo were exceptional.

9. Winter's Bone

Winter's Bone brought me into a world that I'd heard about, but then quickly dismissed as an exaggeration of how it used to be. This is an eye opening film about poverty in our country and it belongs to actors Jennifer Lawrence and John Hawkes. Lawrence is able to convey hope in a world that seems to have none and Hawkes embodies exactly how I would envision what a mountain man drug dealer would be. Winter's Bone relies almost entirely on the skill of it's cast, and the cast delivers.

8. Unstoppable

I'm just as surprised as you are that Unstoppable made it into my top 10 films of the year. The fact is, I was pleasantly surprised by Unstoppable. The movie is short, which is good. The very opening scene sets the plot in motion (pun intended) and it rolls along (pun intended again) for 98 minutes without ever letting up. Unstoppable is pure popcorn fun. It's easily forgettable, but definitely worth the trip (PUN).

7. Kick-Ass

It's in the title. Kick-Ass is kick-ass... it's just violent, vulgar fun.

6. Toy Story 3

The Toy Story trilogy has had messages ranging from friendship and family, to jealousy, to loss and moving on. Pixar has made family friendly films with mature themes and no pop-culture references. They have never sacrificed the integrity of the characters or the story and for these reasons, the Toy Story films are truly timeless. The end of Toy Story 3 is so overwhelmingly heartwarming, that even the most cynical viewers will be brought to tears. What a perfect way to say goodbye.

5. Black Swan

Black Swan is a horror movie for snobs. It's very slowly paced, but is sufficiently creepy. The entire cast is perfect and Darren Aronofsky's direction is spot on. If dark psychological thrillers that mess with your head as much as it messes with the characters is your thing, do not wait another day to see Black Swan.

4. How To Train Your Dragon 3D

From the first time I saw the trailer for How To Train Your Dragon, I knew I was going to love it. The scene where Hiccup is testing Toothless's boundaries and they become friends was so heartwarming I almost threw up. The animation is beautiful, the story is exciting, and friendship is refreshing.

3. The Social Network

The Social Network is essentially a Rock n Roll movie for a nerds. It's stylish, clever, and well written, directed and acted. The characters are all intelligent fast talking and quirky; thanks to both the talented cast, the amazing writer and director and, presumably the actual people they are based on.

2. 127 Hours

This is my version of a horror movie. Supernatural shit doesn't scare me; it may make me jump, but rarely frightens me to my core. What happens in 127 Hours represents one of my biggest fears. I'm claustrophobic, but there's more to it than just being in a confined space. It's being stuck and being alone. It's hopelessness that scares me. In the hands of such an electric director as Danny Boyle, my fears have come to glorious life.

1. Inception

There are no words to describe the epic nature of Inception, the closest I can get would be with "Brilliant", or "Mind-blowing", or "Astounding". Inception is one of the most extraordinary pieces of film making to hit the screen in... forever(?). The fact that anyone could put something like Inception together in a way that is even remotely coherent, is staggering. The writing and direction are unbelievably good. The acting is stellar all around; there isn't a single weak link in the cast. The visual and sound effects seamlessly bring you in the world of the dreams, and the orchestral score is emotive and exciting. The action sequences will keep you on the edge of your seat and the love story is absolutely heart-breaking.