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A look back


It’s important to reflect on the year’s films and recognize the best ones. But usually that’s what the Oscars are for. I don’t always agree with the Oscars, and so it’s good to usually reserve lists like these until they recognize “the best” films of the year.

But a lot of good films won’t make it. And a lot of overhyped films will.

Here are seven.

1) INCEPTION – Lauded for its brilliant and effortless looking dream-within-a-dream structure, this film fails to impress upon reflection of its own logic. For instance, in a dream you can wake up if you commit suicide or die. Therefore death is not the worst case scenario. It’s limbo. But what happens when you die in limbo? The same thing that happens when you die in a dream. Apparently it’s more difficult to get out of limbo because it feels like reality. If building a city out of your memory is what constitutes reality. Here we have a third act shackled by inept “rules” of how dreams are supposed to work, and the arbitrary reasons you can’t leave them. The solutions presented to all these problems are created just as arbitrarily, manufactured for the sake of the plot. The stakes therefore, fail to draw our interest. And the action sequences look borrowed out of a badly generic James Bond movie.

2) WINTER’S BONE – It’s an authentic look at the Ozarks, through the point of a view of a girl who is searching for her meth-dealing father. This isn’t a bright, happy time at the movies. It’s a claustrophobic story caged in by its own preoccupation with its own “reality” that under more suited hands might actually be fun to watch. It ends with the girl finding a hand in a lake, something the Coen Brothers could probably make very entertaining. Great performances from newcomers, but the hype sent it to a place it never should have gone. It’s bleak and nothing worth seeing twice.

3) THE KILLER INSIDE ME – No person in his or her right mind could see a good crime film here. What I saw was an abuse of actors by a director who doesn’t know where the line of respectability is. Winterbottom should do a porn next.

4) SALT – Audiences were convinced of Angelina Jolie’s charm. They realized the grim truth after enduring “The Tourist”, but I found plenty of evidence here to suggest she shouldn’t be in any more action movies. Her adventurous spirit peaked with “Girl, Interrupted”. We thought it was acting. Turns out she’s really that crazy. If “Girl, Interrupted” were released today I don’t think anybody would see a breakthrough role. They’d see more of the same, which is what “Salt” was.

5) SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD – Fans of this movie probably enjoyed the comic book, too. That’s just a problem of seeing the forest from the trees. Here is one of the most prized geek films of 2010, and I think it should sit on the mantle next to “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” or some other schlock. At its core, it’s about a lazy guy who doesn’t try to pick up the girl, it just sort of happens for him. Lots of effects, emphasizing visuals over story. Is this different from any other SFX heavy film? No. It’s just “based on a comic book” and caters to people like myself who played Super Mario growing up, so it’s off the hook. Not with me it’s not. Oh and the music sucks.

6) JACKASS 3D – At the opposite end of the spectrum, we have the third installment of the beloved Jackass films. This is easily the worst of the lot, and I never expected it to make a run for the Oscars, and maybe it didn’t warrant any more scrutiny than it deserved, but I think the consensus here was that it was just another solid Jackass film. To me it felt like a lot of good stuff was left out. I doubt it’s in the upcoming Jackass 3.5. Rather I think it was an imagination breakdown. Tons of great skits were to be had, like the Midget fight in the bar. That was funny just to watch, and also funny on a conceptual level. Usually the Jackass team is good at combining heady funny with fart joke funny. This time out I just saw lots of ass and dick, and could have used more elaborate, thoughtful sketches.

7) UNSTOPPABLE – I have an idea. Get Denzel Washington the hell away from Tony Scott. Please! Every time I watch their films I feel like I’ve seen them before. It’s that feeling of deja vu (which may have been the only strong movie out of this tiresome duo). The editing and look pounds you over the head until you’re too dumb to notice it’s still happening. With their films they’ve been beating us with the tools and tricks for about 8 hours. Finally I think I understand what Andy Warhol was talking about. If I had the choice between Washington/Scott’s films, and that 8 hour New York skyline movie, I’d watch the one that doesn’t make me feel like jumping off the Empire State Building.


2 responses to “A look back

  1. B Rock ⋅

    01: I read the back cover of A Short Introduction to Jung and then thought to myself, “What if I wrote a heist movie in which everyone had six fingers on each hand?” Right?
    02: Haven’t seen it. (Hereafter, hsi.)
    03: Hsi. And wasn’t 9 Songs enough for you? You want more porn?
    04: Hsi.
    05: Your synopsis of this film is deeply unfair. It, picking up the girl, just sort of happens? I mean isn’t the movie about how he has to defeat seven of the girl’s exes literally in physical combat?
    06: Enjoyed it, but it is kind of indefensible.
    07: Oh come on. Except for how they all forget at the end about their dead friend, it was enjoyable.

  2. 05: It could have been a more rewarding experience if it wasn’t so literal. He battles her seven exes in physical combat, sure. But what are we *really* addressing with that? Is it about a guy who must accept the baggage of this girl? He defeats the exes, but we’re watching fights without subtext. It was a concept that didn’t have anything to say between the lines.

    07: The whole time I kept thinking, just go to the front of the train and stop it. It takes them 2 hours to figure out how to do it!

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