Movies this year: 2011

Here it is, in descending order- my favorite films of 2011!

I have not seen Take Shelter, Tree of Life, Week with Marilyn or Martha Marcy May Marelene yet- so they are sadly left to the wayside on this list. (I can’t see everything) This is culled from films that I saw in 2011 that were released in 2011. I did not see everything. This is merely the favorites of what I DID see.

1: Midnight in Paris

This is the story of Gil, a screenwriter on vacation with his fiancé and in-laws in Paris. He is a romantic, and loves the world of 1920’s Paris. His Fiance is the wrong woman for him. He knows this, but is committed to the relationship. She wants him to be realistic and stay in Hollywood writing crappy scripts. He wants to move to Paris and become a novelist. He gets her a pretty moonstone necklace as a gift, and she complains that it is not pearls. Her mother supports her in this “cheap is cheap”. Following this particularly crappy day, he goes walking off into the city late at night…and finds himself transported in time to the 1920’s! Every night, he meets all the luminaries of the period (Hemingway, Picasso, Fitzgerald) all while returning to 2010 during the day. The film follows his epiphanies as he sees what his life is really like.

Owen Wilson has turned in his finest performance yet as Gil, the protagonist of our tale. Rachel McAdams is delightfully annoying as his fiancé, every man’s potential worst nightmare of a wife. Michael Sheen is perfect as the douchey know-it-all that McAdams find so fascinating. The revolving door of classic figures from the 20’s were perfectly cast- with Adrian Brody receiving particular praise for his Salvador Dali! Marion Cotillard is absolutely perfect as Adriana- the woman Gil meets in the 20’s. She is at the forefront of a series of amazing French actresses that have been rocking my world for a while. Ludivine Sagnier and Melanie Laurent make appearances on this list although I wonder where  Audrey Tautou is!? She had no films this year

Woody Allen has written and directed a wonderful movie, which is clearly the film of the year. I do not know of one person who dislikes it. Well worth your time.

2: Sherlock Holmes 2

I delved into it more fully in my blog, but this film was a wonderful continuation of the Sherlock Holmes that Guy Ritchie gave us 2 years ago. Jared Harris is terrific as Professor Moriarty– the great nemesis of Holmes. RDJ continues his great performance as the master detective of 221B Baker Street, but Jude Law continues to rise to the challenge as gives us a terrific Watson. The chemistry between these 2 is flawless. They need to make more movies together.

3: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I had little hope for this film. Of the original Planet of the Apes films (I refuse to acknowledge the Tim Burton remake- with the exception of a great Paul Giamatti performance) one of the best was part 4: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. This film is a reimagining of it. What could have been a bad, bad thing became one of the best science fiction films made in years. Andy Serkis delivers an Oscar worthy motion capture performance as Caesar, the intelligent ape. John Lithgow is great as a man suffering from Alzheimers. What this film does that is so awesome is that it gives us a believable premise for how the Apes could realistically take over the earth. This is the best Apes film since the original, and is worth your time.

4: X-Men 1st Class

Talk about another come from behind victory. While the Planet of the Apes films slowly descended into garbage over 40 years, X-Men nosedived in short order from one of the best superhero films ever made (X-Men 2) to the abyss that was X-Men 3 and continued to slide in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. This movie flat out ignores the fact that #3 or Wolverine ever happened (something wolverine 2 is also said to be doing). It jumps back to the early 1960’s, as a young Professor Xavier puts together his team of Mutant heroes. The character of Magneto, as in the previous films, steals the show. While Ian McKellan is a fantastic actor, it is clear that he cannot be believably de-aged to appear as if he was in his late 20’s. Luckily, we had one of the best friggin actors on the planet ready to jump in: Michael Fassbender.

michael-fassbender-inglourious-basterds

You may remember how he stole the show in Inglorious Basterds…not an easy thing to do with Christoph Waltz also stealing the show.

2012-10-31-christoph_waltz_header

Essentially,  Inglorious Basterds was a huge act of grand larceny against Brad Pitt…

but I digress. Fassbender is on a hell of a roll in the last few years. I have a funny feeling that his recent film “Shame” would have made it on this list, but I did not get a chance to see it. Based on reviews from critics I trust Shame is awesome. I have no doubt that this man will be getting an Oscar really soon. I don’t know which film it will be for, but it is coming.

This film, like any, is not without its flaws. I am looking at you Betty Draper…

Seriously now. How on earth could the inclusion of the above image be a BAD thing in a movie? She is just that damn untalented.

5: Captain America

captain-america-the-winter-soldier

The epitome of a Marvel Comics film. In fact, the best entry into the Marvel Avengers film series. Chris Evans nails it. Hugo Weaving nails it. Everyone is on the money. Tommy Lee Jones and Stanley Tucci were perfectly cast. Dominic Cooper (who appears below) was great as Tony Stark’s Father. If you have not seen this yet, why are you reading my Blog? Get your ass out there a rent it.

6: Beginners

I covered this fully in my Blog as well. In fact, I am just going to be lazy and repost what I originally wrote: (hehe)

Ewan McGregor will always be remembered for Star Wars, Moulin Rouge, and his other big budget fare. I think this is a sad thing. Beginners is a great example of the type of film Ewan McGregor excels at.

The story of a man who’s father is dying and reveals a secret- He is gay. The film follows how the son deals with the news, and his father’s cancer, as he meets and falls in love with a lovely actress who, like he, has issues with making long lasting connections. Christopher Plummer delivers a terrific performance as the father, while Melanie Laurent, one of my favorite actresses who is FINALLY breaking into American Cinema, is the love interest. This movie reminds me a lot of 500 days of Summer, and in a good way.

This is a charming film that delivers its message of life, death, regret, and love in an outstanding way. Worth your time.

7: Devil’s Double

I also covered this one in a previous blog (with text stolen from it) but suffice it to say: that if Michael Fassbender loses the Oscar race to anyone this year, it should be to Dominic Cooper…

I have certain habits when I am on the computer. One is that I always have the TV on. it has become one of the better ways for me to discern how good/bad a movie/tv show is. If it can grab my attention and keep it while the wonders of the Web lay before me, then its pretty good.

The First film in my reactivated Netflix queue is The Devil’s Double, based on an autobiography of a body double for Saddam Huessein’s eldest son- Uday. Dominic Cooper, who came to my notice as Howard Stark in Captain America plays the 2 roles of Uday, and Latif the double.

Sadistically evil is the only way to describe Uday. Dominic Cooper has shot forward in my estimation as one of the best actors out there. He is on a tear right now, with this, Captain American, and My week with Marilyn (review forthcoming) all out this year. Mark my words- he is an actor to watch.

The lovely Ludivine Sangnier, who blew me away 8 years ago in The Swimming Pool, finally returns to my film viewing as Sarrab, one of Uday’s girlfriends.

If you have not seen this movie yet, I encourage you to do so. Lee Tamahori has finally redeemed himself after Die Another Day with this amazing film. I expect this to be among the “Best Picture” nominees come Oscar Sunday.

8: Muppets

Come on! You know you love them! Pure Nostalgic heaven. Muppets are back.

9: Harry Potter 7 Part 2

The grand finale to the Harry Potter extravaganza! The three kids in these films: Dan Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson were surrounded by the greatest actors that their country has to offer…No…actually ALL of them. Something had to rub off, and much rubbing off was going on in the making of this series (they were teenagers after all). Ralph Fiennes FINALLY gets to act in one of these films (he performances thus far were essentially cameos) and Alan Rickman, who has been setting up the character of Severus Snape for 10 years, finally gets his payoff as the hero of this series. Snape is awesome, and Alan Rickman is the reason.

10: Paul

See that orgasmic look on Simon Pegg’s face? That was me every summer..in the exact same spot he is walking.

A movie that was made specifically for me. That is the only possible explanation. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost go to Comic-Con. That was the set up of this film. I love Comic-Con. As an 8 time veteran, I am about as in love with that show as you can get. Like me, their characters are completely gaga over Comic-Con. After the show, they decide to go see the famous UFO sites of America…and pick up an Alien. Luckily this alien has the voice and mannerisms of Seth Rogen, which serves to elevate this film into the stratosphere. Their great adventure takes them on a geek ride for the ages, all while Sigourney Weaver is trying to catch them. Ripley….Epic. Literally everyone I know emailed me immediately after seeing this film and wanted to tell me about it. That’s a sign of great film.

Honorable Mention:

Bad Teacher

I had no intention of seeing this film. The wave of stink was flowing off of this, and I decided to never see it. However, being bored this week, I threw it onto my netflix queue. When it arrived, I popped it in my dvd player and holy shit was I wrong. This film delivers a flawless comedy. Justin Timberlake was fantastic. Jason Segel was awesome as a Gym teacher. Actually, the entire cast of this film was phenomenal. I cannot think of one actor that did not perfectly fit the role. Cameron Diaz has made her best performance in years. To those that squawk that Hangover 2 is not on this list, I will admit that it was very funny, but was essentially a carbon copy of the original, and was not as great (sorry). I also did not get to see “Your Highness”, “Horrible Bosses”, or “Bridesmaids” yet, so they were not in the running.

Now….

The Fucking worst movie of the year.

There could only be one choice really.

Now answer me- What is BEST in Life?

Not this.

What a horrific pile of dogshit. Offensive to me on all levels. I cannot fault the cast, but I can sure as shit fault the writers and director. Here are their names. Ban them from making movies.

Writers:

Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer: The geniuses that gave us Dylan Dog.

Sean Hood: This guy is actually not a bad writer. He did “Sick Girl” for Lucky Mckee years ago and he was the guy brought in to attempt a fix on this armpit of a script…and after a little research (research? moi?!) I have found that this is what he had to say:

“Unfortunately, the work I do as a script doctor is hard to defend if the movie flops. I know that those who have read my Conan shooting script agree that much of the work I did on story and character never made it to screen. I myself know that given the difficulties of rewriting a script in the middle of production, I made vast improvements on the draft that came before me. But its still much like doing great work on a losing campaign. All anyone in the general public knows, all anyone in the industry remembers, is the flop. A loss is a loss.”

I kinda feel bad for the guy now. Not for Oppenheimer and Donnelly though. They need to stop writing movies.

Director: Marcus Nispel. This douchebag has been fouling the silver screen for years now. This semi-sentient queef got his start directing music videos  and he has somehow since broken into hollywood with an amazing cavalcade of original productions:

2003: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Horrific remake of the original, and not horrific in the good sense.

2004: Frankenstein: Ok, come on. Who actually knew that there was a 2004 remake of Frankenstein? I live for this and I was clueless.

2007: Pathfinder: remake of a well regarded 80’s film from Norway. I have not seen it, but Its likely crap. But I will give him a pass on this one.

2009: Friday the 13th: It had plenty of boobs, but essentially ruined Jason Voorhees while shitting all over the original in the process. very bad.

2011: Conan the Barbarian: nuff said.

At least he is not going after another classic film I love as his next project…

2012: The Fly… son of a…

Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen has made his best film in decades.

Owen Wilson has proven himself a first rate actor.

Marion Cotillard was perfection, as always.

I have never disliked Michael Sheen or Rachel McAdams characters more. This is a success.

The best of the year.

 

Damn you SWTOR!!!!

After a solid week of access to Star Wars: The Old Republic, I can hereby state that the game is a tremendous success, and I am going to miss writing for this column. hehe.

The newest (and best) Star Wars MMO dropped into my life last Wednesday right after I picked up my comics. I rushed home, played the game, and when I turned my computer off, it was suddenly Friday morning and I had to work! Where did the time go?!

I worked through the weekend, attended a Christmas Party on Monday, and on Tuesday went to a Masonic Meeting of Bristol Lodge in N. Attleboro, MA which featured Scott Wolter- writer of “The Hooked X” and the central figure in the 2009 History Channel special “Holy Grail in America”, which had a cameo by my friend and Brother- Rick Lynch.

Wolter recapped his prior research into the various Runic inscriptions scattered across America by Pre-Columbian expeditions, and presented some of his more recent discoveries (which I cannot talk about). Although I was in the beginning stages of the mother of all cold viruses, I enjoyed the chance to meet Scott, and get my copy of the book autographed. I anxiously await his next project, and recommend that every American look into this research and discover that the facts written in our history books are neither complete, nor accurate.

Besides reorganizing the knick knacks and doo-dads which populate my computer desk, that has been my week. I did manage to get through the 2 weeks of comic books that were amassed on my shelf, and the bests of the bunch had to be Leviathan Strikes: The first part of the Grand Finale to Grant Morrison’s Batman Saga, and the latest issues of Uncanny X-Force.

Batman was terrific. Many people hate it when Morrison goes off the reservation, but I love it. No one writes insane trippy Batman like him, and I am sorry to see this story, which began in 2006, end with the Leviathan mini-series.

Remender is out of his friggin mind. He has reached a level of talent that is making nearly all of his colleagues look very bad. Since the title launched in October 2010, they have published 19 issues in 15 months. These days you are lucky to get 12 issues a year! This week’s installment had the very tough job of following the release of (last week’s) Uncanny X-Force 18- the end of the Dark Angel Saga. which also makes this list:

#18, with it’s Poly-bagged goodness, was a delight. The team goes all out to take down Archangel before he kills all life on Earth. Probably the best written comic of this title, and that is saying an awful lot.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

In 2009. I trepidatiously entered the local cinema to see the latest incarnation of my favorite literary character- Sherlock Holmes. I have seen Basil Rathbone play Holmes, and my personal (and everyone’s) favorite Jeremy Brett play Holmes.

Brett played the “Classic” Holmes that we hear in our heads when reading the stories. very British, upper class, well put together. What Robert Downey Jr did was actually a bit more honest in my opinion. When Holmes was between cases, he was intolerable, and often descended into cocaine fueled periods of malaise. When off the case, he would liberally use cocaine to speed up his genius to keep his mind occupied. The thing about drug addicts- they are not pretty, and tend to smell pretty bad.

While a bit “amped up”, RDJ’s Holmes displays all you would expect of a drug addled GENIUS. His humor and amazing chemistry with Jude Law (who is becoming the definitive Dr Watson) makes these films something special.

In the first film, there was a shadowy figure manipulating all the events facing Holmes. He is of course the legendary James Moriarty- arch Nemesis of Sherlock Holmes. Their story together- The Final Problem shocked me as a boy. Moriarty is easily the greatest villain ever committed to paper. He is, in every way, the equal of our hero, and it was scary to see Holmes face him.The ending was impossible for an 11 year old to fathom… The hero of these tales, who outsmarts everyone, dies at Reichenbach Falls in a battle to the death with Moriarty. I had this thing going where I would read the Sherlock Holmes stories during the week after the next episode aired on PBS. When I saw that particular episode of the Brett Series (which I knew was at the end of the book I owned) I was horrified. I tried to read Hound of the Baskervilles after this, but kept putting it off. I was dumbstruck that my hero had died. I avoided everything Holmes for over a year.

Now, many of you have read the stories and know damn well that Holmes survives the battle and has many more adventures with Dr Watson…but I was a kid, and there was no internet in those days of the late 80’s early 90’s. I only had Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes with Hound of the Baskervilles…Thats it. I was missing all the later stories. What is worse is that the following episodes of the series were not being broadcast at that time! The next week the series repeated to the first episode. I was heartbroken, and that was the end of Holmes for me. Little did I know that I was experiencing the exact same emotions that readers in 1893 experienced, only a century or so late!

What brought me back to Holmes was that the episodes were showing on television in a mini-marathon every night of the week on PBS. I had made my peace with Sherlock’s end, and watched the series every night. I viewed the final problem once again…and it was immediately followed by The Adventure of the empty house… what was this? Holmes Lives?! I hounded my mother and she took me out to find the next book in the series. Thus, my fascination continued and I ended up reading all of Doyle’s Holmes work, as well as a few later tales by other authors (Holmes in WW1? an 89 year old beekeeper during WW2?!!)

Now, it is 2011, and A game of Shadows is released. This film is not heavy on clues or deduction for the audience. This, like the first, is us living in Holmes’ world. The film loves to slow down to show us how he processes the world. It is a film that shows Holmes at his best, facing his equal. There is little for us to figure out, we are along for the ride- to see the evil genius of Moriarty, and Holmes’ quest to outsmart his equal. Jared Harris nearly steals this movie from Downey Jr.  His Moriarty is terrifically sadistic, but always reasonably so. While Holmes is compelled to see justice done, Moriarty is compelled to cheat, steal, and attain power- all while using similar methods and thought patterns as Holmes. The final showdown of the film- at Reichenbach falls (gasp!…spoilers- yes, they go there with this story) was exquisitely done.

People are going to complain, they are going to rail against the modern bastardization of Arthur Conan Doyle’s masterpiece. There is nothing that can be done to stop them. I simply feel that they are wrong. Those that would pass over this movie over the aesthetics of Guy RItchie’s Holmes universe is doing themselves a huge disservice. Check it out- well worth your time.

Comix This Week!

It is actually impossible for me to pick a best comic for 12-7-11. Of the 11 comics I purchased, 4 are outstanding, and the rest are Awesome.

Outstanding:

X-Men 22:The Army of Sentinels have been activated and the X-Men, with War Machine, must stop them.

Red Lanterns 4: Atrocitus gives sentience back to several of his lanterns in hopes of building allies to stand against an uprising within the ranks.

Omac 4: Kevin heads home, and is attacked by bio-mechanical Alligators in the subway. This comic is cool.

Justice League International 4: Peraxxus is the name of the alien who is going to destroy the Earth to claim its mineral rights! Also, Batman gets his junk felt up by Lady Godiva’s hair.

Awesome:

The Fearless 4: The hunt for the Hammers continues as Sin heads under the sea, and fights Namor. Valkyrie heads to NYC and the baxter Building to face the Thing.

The Defenders 1: I was not too sure about this, but issue #1 was great. The Black Hulk must be stopped! Namor, Silver Surfer, Iron Fist, Red She Hulk, and leader Doctor Strange fly off to face the danger! fraction wrote a good comic! Hooray!

Detective Comics 4: The Dollmaker story concludes as Batman saves Gordon and the Joker remains faceless. Literally faceless. His severed face skin is in a glass case.

Action Comics 4: All hell breaks loose. The army is chasing Superman. Braniac has unleashed his robots into metropolis and promptly bottles it. John Corben has become Metallo and goes after Superman. John Henry Irons dons the suit and becomes STEEL. By the end of the issue, metropolis is gone, braniac is preparing to take out the Earth, and the only hope…Superman. I think the world is about to go from fearing to loving Superman over the next couple issues.

Amazing Spider-Man 675: I Love, Love, Love, Love the Vulture. Old Adrian Toombs is back as his new squad of young Vultures are robbing NYC blind. Peter teams up with former gf Carlie Cooper, and defeat the threat. Vulture escapes to fight another day.

Avenging Spider-Man 2: Red Hulk and Spidey venture under the earth to fight in the Moloid civil war! very good.

PICKS OF THE WEEK

yup, its another one of those weeks.

by Lemire and Foreman

and

Swamp Thing 4

These two comics are probably the best DC is making right now. In Animal man, Buddy and his daugther fight off two agents of “THE ROT”, which is the force of DEATH in the universe. This battle happens within “THE RED”, the force of animal life in the universe. Thier leadership is the “Parliament of Limbs”, who has had many avatars over the milennia to fight THE ROT. The current avatar is Buddy’s daughter, who he must protect.

From time to time, THE RED has joined forces with…

“THE GREEN”, who is led by the “Parliament of Trees”. Like The RED, The GREEN also has an avatar….

Forgive me if this sometihng you already knew. hehe

Swamp Thing chases after Billy Arcane, Avatar of THE ROT as he spreads awesomely depicted death wherever he goes. Although Alec Holland is fighting the Parliament, he must soon become Swamp Thing and face this threat.

These comics, written by 2 seperate amazing writers are heading towards the mother of all crossovers. If you don’t like this, you don’t know comics.

Fall of the Destroyer….Deathwing is down.

I have never gotten a major endgame boss down during the run of the expansion he is in. I never downed Ragnaros in Vanilla WoW. I never got Quel’thas or Illidan in Burning Crusade. I did not down Ulduar, nor did I kill Arthas during Wrath of the Lich King. Cataclysm started out much the same. I did not down the new Ragnaros (yet) but thanks to the new  “Looking for Raid” feature, Deathwing is down.

With my trusty Imp Bizpad, and faithful Winterspring cub by my side, I ventured into Wyrmrest Temple and deafeated all the first three bosses.

I then traveled to the eye of eternity for the 4th boss.

I duked it out with the 5th aboard the Skybreaker airship.

Following a skydive with Captain swayze and K’eanu Reaves (awesome) I dropped onto Deathwing and attacked his spine!

Then, surrounded by the heroic Dragon Aspects, we fought on the edge of the maelstrom and finally defeated the Destroyer!

Ponte….Wins.

Beginners

Ewan McGregor will always be remembered for Star Wars, Moulin Rouge, and his other big budget fare. I think this is a sad thing. Beginners is a great example of the type of film Ewan McGregor excels at.

The story of a man who’s father is dying and reveals a secret- He is gay. The film follows how the son deals with the news, and his father’s cancer, as he meets and falls in love with a lovely actress who, like he, has issues with making long lasting connections. Christopher Plummer delivers a terrific performance as the father, while Melanie Laurent, one of my favorite actresses who is FINALLY breaking into American Cinema, is the love interest. This movie reminds me a lot of 500 days of Summer, and in a good way.

This is a charming film that delivers its message of life, death, regret, and love in an outstanding way. Worth your time.