Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Town | Review

Who the hell would have thought Daredevil would direct one of the best films of the year?
The man has really risen from the ashes of being a joke of an actor to being this phenomenal director. With Gone Baby Gone and now The Town, Ben Affleck continues to solidify his talents in front of, and behind the camera.
The film takes place in Charlestown which the movie would have you believe is like the epicenter of crime in the United States. Criminal-ism is literally a profession passed from father to son. We follow a group of bank robbers led by Ben Affleck's character who at the beginning of the film robs a bank and takes Rebecca Hall as hostage. But in it's aftermath, Ben Affleck begins having a relationship with his hostage unbeknownst to her that h was her robber as dynamics in the group spiral out of control with the FBI closing in on them.
The Town is an electric heist film played out with an impressive ensemble cast, and grounded in a believably earnest sense of place. It portrays bank robbers in a way not many people will see, that beneath their twisted profession and violent nature, they are actually nice people who just chose the wrong profession.
All that applies except for Jeremy Renner who continues to amaze me. I didn't care so much for him in The Hurt Locker but he delivers a no holds barred, fuck-the-world, volatile insane character that was a joy to watch. I'd go as far as to compare him with Joe Pesci from Goodfellas. He walks that fine line as John Hawkes character did in Winter's Bone as in being an anti-hero type character where the audience loves him but is still afraid of him. Oh and he has one of the best end scenes I have ever seen a bank robber has. If I'm gonna go out, I'm going out like THAT. Minus the trashy drink.
However Renner's best scenes were always with Ben Affleck. These two have 3 really big bank robbery scenes in this and they play off each other so well, especially to the end. It's almost an orchestra in a way these two handle their heist scenes with great tension, build and clever but almost always gruesome conclusions.
But with all the hype surrounding the two, I feel it's also adequate I mention the great performances John Hamm, Rebecca Hall and Blake Lively gave as the film's supporting cast. I mean, it takes a hell lot to make Blake Lively look trashy but hell if they didn't do it. Still hot though. This is the first time I really saw Blake Lively act, and she's good! Really good. Jon Hamm is wonderful as an incorruptible cop as well as Rebecca Hall who plays a really torn up woman of conflicts and trauma because of her experiences in the film.
Some reviewers are dissing the climax of the film calling it misplaced and sluggish. But I wouldn't have had it play out any other way. The final shootout scene in the film is one of the absolute best I have ever seen since Michael Man's Heat. And I have also got to mention a brilliantly shot and edited car chase scene that is on par with The Dark Knight.
This is still far from a perfect film but it is one of the best I have seen all year long. The Town is a sharp heist film cum crime drama that will leave it's audience breathless.

RATING: 8/10

The Top 25 Films of 2010

It's that time of year again baby! Let just first say that 2010 has been one of the best years for me. When I first started the blog back in 2008, I would never imagine the site would reach up to 1,000 daily visitors per day. I have made great friends with people all over the world who share my love for film and I am truly humbled by all your support.

But enough of all this emo crap. You want my top 25 movie list, well here it is. As a disclaimer, I would like to note that yes, I have seen all these films and picked them after careful consideration because that's just the way I roll. For the films that don;t have a review yet, they will be up next year when I have time to write them. Some of these film, you may agree with, some you may not. Let me just say, that this is my list.. so go fuck yourself if you don't like it. Okay. Thanks. Bye.


Edgar Wright delivers yet another fantastic comedy in the style of a flashy video game come to life, featuring a fantastic string of memorable villains and a not so stoic Michael Cera.

Scott Pilgrim vs the World is the perfect geekgasm for comic book and video game lovers and also a fun popcorn flick for those who are just into watching a really good teen action cum comedy movie.

This is by no means Edgar Wright's masterpiece but it is a very entertaining, endearing, lo-fi mess that understands it's genres and makes no apologies for it. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World is lunacy with flash and noise but ultimately delivers heart.

This is a daring documentary film of the degenerating American intellect under the failing U.S education.

I love it's almost satirical commentary and narrative, following the lives of three kids as they hope to get picked to attend a prestigious school through a lottery draft.

The film did leave me somewhat depressed but does plant an empowering message about the importance of real education.

Without a doubt, this was the best 3D experience post-Avatar.

A typical Dreamworks animation story that is set against amazing visuals, beautiful scores and great voice acting by Jay Baruchel, Craig Ferguson and Gerard Butler.

The flying sequences in Dragon were amazing, never had I had that feeling of flying or falling in a cinema for the longest time.

Ryan Gosling is literally on the cusp of becoming one of the best young actors of his generation.

The film weaves a dramatic love story of a married couple in non-linear motion, juxtaposing their happy times together with the not so great times.  

Blue Valentine is the darker, married version of (500) Days of Summer, featuring stellar performances from Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams.


The feel good movie of 2010.

Rob Reiner, director of Stand By Me, When Harry Met Sally and The Bucket List captures the story of a boy's first love perfectly.

Madeline Carroll gives a stand-out performance as the story effortlessly switches from her point of view to Callan McAuliffe's.

Flipped has all of the comedy, naiveté and bewilderment of first love. It's a cute film for anyone who fondly remembers the first time they fell in love.

It's films like these that reminds me that Nicole Kidman is an amazing actress. This film is also really fucked up.

Rabbit Hole isn't an original story and it does suffer for having many similarities to other films with the same plot but Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart saved this film with absolutely stellar performances.

It is however, still very depressing and might not be for everybody.

"Yeah.. that's great.. I... I love lesbians......... Great."

Finally, a gay movie where it's not so much about flashing out gayness all over the place and just portraying them as normal everyday people.

The entire cast here is gut bustingly hilarious. Anette Benning  and Mark Ruffalo were particularly good and Mia Wasikowska who redeemed herself from the rubbles of Alice in Wonderland.

Great story, great writing, great characters, good acting, wonderful direction, everything I love about indie comedies.

Director Matthew Vaughn is 3 for 3 after making this instant classic of a comic book film combining the gritty violence of Layer Cake and the spectacle of Stardust.

Featuring a literally bloodfilled stand-out performance by Chloe Moretz as Hit-Girl who will soon be a guaranteed cult character.

The film's over-the-top inclusion of violence, gore and profanities may make some uncomfortable but does offer it's fair share amount of fun and lunacy.

Easily one of the most suspenseful, creative, thrilling films ever to take place in one location.

The plot of the film is incredibly compact, weaving narrative with breakneck suspense.

Buried goes against all rules of filmmaking, backed by a visionary young director, a daring actor and a zero budget to produce one of the finest films to come out of 2010. Hitchcock would have been proud. Very proud.

The celebrated director of Babel and Javier Bardem of No Country For Old Men fame comes together to bring you a moving drama of a man conflicted between love for his children and his dedication to crime.

Bardem's performance presents a heavyweight menace for Best Actor come Oscar time and  Inarritu poised for his second directorial nomination.

Biutiful is a gritty, slowburner film that captivates it's audience with it's dark melodrama descent into Bardem's character's purgatory.

The film everyone except Michael Bay would like.

Taking place in a dystopian future that follows three teenagers who grow up in a seemingly idyllic boarding school only to discover a horrifying secret about themselves.

Never Let Me Go strikes a mournful chord and is one of the most haunting sci-fi films I have seen since Moon.

It boasts amazing British cinematography not to mention astounding performances from Carrie Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Kiera Knightley.

Those Brits can make a fine film out of literally anything with royalty in it, even with something as trivial as a 15 minute war speech.

The King's Speech at it's very element is a buddy comedy film set within the precincts of a historical drama.

I appreciate the film's direction of being whimsical yet still having wit and flair.

The film has wonderful dialog and story, brought to life stupendously by Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush.

At anytime if someone were to say Freida Pinto was the weakest link in Slumdog Millionaire, just utter the word "Miral"

Julian Schnabel returns with an fantastic drama centered on an orphaned girl in war ridden Israel.

This is by far Freida Pinto's best work as an actress, playing a strong, hardened teenager who is still a little girl inside as she is torn between the future of her people and love.

Miral is the foreign Deer Hunter. An excellent window into the Israel-Arab war with an endearing message from a strong heroine.

This is not a better film than Lost In Translation but I loved it nonetheless.

Somewhere is a sort of coming-of-age film about a bad boy actor who begins to reexamine his lifestyle after his estranged daughter  enters his life.

This is one beautiful film. A quiet film, a slow film, but a beautiful film.

Somewhere is a hypnotic, seductively pensive meditation on the nature of celebrity, anchored by a charming performance from Stephen Dorff and a starmaking one by Elle Fanning.

The most amazing thing about this movie is that Christian Bale and David O Russell didn't blow up on each other during shooting.

A lot of people are comparing this to Raging Bull and I disagree with them. But The Fighter is by far one of the closest a boxing film has ever been on par with Raging Bull.

Christian Bale steals the film with his best performance in his career, a true dedicated method actor who's poised to win his first Oscar.

The story is simple and predictable yet engaging and gritty under the direction of O Russell. Wonderful performances. Wonderful direction. I say bravo.
 10. 127 HOURS

The best movie to ever be based on a dumbass.

Danny Boyle truly shines as a director in turning a one man show into a strong internal drama of survival.

James Franco gives an amazing performance that is as gut-wrenching as it is inspirational, worthy of accolades.

The film is beautifully and creatively shot, astounding cinematography with one of the most disturbing amputation scenes in the history of film.

Who would have thought that Daredevil would direct one of the best films of the year.

This is one heck of a thriller. Affleck really knows how to direct great crime cum heist cum action movies. There was not a moment in this film were I wasn't at the edge of my seat.

The film has wonderful acting from Jeremy Renner, John Hamm, Rebecca Hall and Blake Lively. And one of the best cat chase and shoot out scenes I have seen since The Dark Knight.

The Town is a very satisfying crime thriller that I would love to see get nominated for Best Picture.

There are not enough words in the English language to describe the praise Darren Aronofsky and Natalie Portman deserves for Black Swan.

Black Swan is an enthralling and visceral experience from beginning to end. Aronofsky has used what he has learned from making the raw and unflinching The Wrestler and the cerebral horror and incredibly disturbing Requiem for a Dream, and has crafted a film that you will simply not be able to take your eyes off of.

A beautiful and nightmarish masterpiece.

Neo noir with a twist of Southern culture.

On surface, Winter's Bone moves at snail pace but underneath it is a character study that is borderline volatile and horrific with unblinking ferocity and emotions.

Jennifer Lawrence gives a star-making performance. Her acting is depressing & bleak yet somewhat hopeful. Lawrence has created a modern day heroine which is definitely going to land her a nomination for Best Lead Actress come Oscar time.

John Hawkes was also a standout. His character is menacing yet endearing, walking that very brittle wall between scum and hero.

With the exception of Toy Story 3, Piano Fingers is probably my favorite movie of the year.

The story of an aging musical couple whom were once famous back in the day, who have entombed themselves in their rotting house filled with memorabilia of their musical careers. When the wife begins losing her memory to Alzheimer, the husband tries to rekindle their marriage by taking her down a nostalgic trip of their life together.

In every way, Piano Fingers is as sweet and heartfelt as it is crushing of a film. Nancy Linehan Charles and Steve Vinovich were stunning to watch in this. A definite must see.


David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin pulls out a winner with one of the best courtroom drama ala documentaries I have seen in years.

The Social Network is engaging from start to finish, sucking in it's audience with it's brilliant writing and stunning performances.

Jesse Eissenberg, Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake were a joy to watch as their characters claw their way through a very intense narrative of a story.

High praise to David Fincher for directing a masterpiece out of one of the most common human things. His Oscar is long overdue.

Not since Unforgiven have I seen a ballsy western such as this masterpiece.

We are presented here with a beautiful, frightening, amusing piece of 'Americana. A reincarnation of a film classic that blows John Wayne with extreme bravura and real grit.

Hailee Steinfeld steals the show and that's saying a lot since that show also stars Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin. A performance well beyond her age with grace, ferocity and also vulnerability. Oscar nom? Yes.

The Coen brothers have proven they are one of the best directors in Hollywood today. True Grit comes so close to greatness it blows my mind.

I call this the epic of the year.

A true story of a group of escapees who trek 4000 miles over deserts, oceans and mountains to their freedom. Directed by Peter Weir, The Way Back has every ingredient of an epic on the scale of Lawrence of Arabia and delivers in fine form.

Breathtaking vistas that serve as the backdrop to the cast's efforts lend The Way Back an epic feel, echoed by mature editing & marvelously restrained use of music.

This is the best film of the year from a film making standpoint, whether the mainstream public recognizes it or not.

What kind of radioactive performance enhancing drug are the people in Pixar taking? These people just can't make a bad movie. I don't think it even computes for them.

Toy Story 3 is Pixar's crowning glory. The film is much darker than the previous two, he way it is written is so much more mature and yet it never loses the original flavor of Toy Story.

Never has a film made me cry my eyes out then laugh my ass off within a span of a minute. Toy Story 3 is the perfect ending to a long, melancholy meditation on loss, impermanence and that noble, stubborn, foolish thing called love.

Really? Was there any surprise this is No. 1?

Christopher Nolan along with an elite cast of actors spins a dark tapestry of visceral action and intellectual mind fucks.

This film is so complex, so deep, delving deeper and deeper into the labyrinth of the mind. The pace moves break neck fast I could barely catch my breath.

Inception is every sense of the word storytelling brilliance and it's beginning, build, climax and ambiguous ending is going to be the subject of many discussions for years to come.

Now let's kill that third Batman movie! Muahahahaha.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Winter's Bone | Review

And the award for best acting by an ensemble goes to..... a bunch of really ugly rednecks.
Remember when I said that the cast of A Serious Man were the ugliest cast I have ever seen assembled into one movie, well.. I'd like to take that back and bestow that award of these people right here. Oh My God are these people ugly. But Holly Shit is this movie amazing.
In Winter's Bone, Jennifer Lawrence plays Ree Dolly; a 17 year old teenager who is forced to care for her impoverished family after her mother went crazy. When the law threatens to take away her house if her criminal father does not show up for his court hearing, Ree travels into the underbelly of the drug and feud ridden world of the Ozarks to look for him.
Winter's Bone is every bit of a movie that many people just can't appreciate. It is a slow burner of a film with a driving force of a script and a team of actors anchored by a young and daring Jennifer Lawrence that brings to life a dark and haunting film on the magnitude of The Road.
This movie is 2 hours long, has no soundtrack, and is mostly Jennifer Lawrence talking to a bunch of really ugly people, but this is one compelling story. On surface, Winter's Bone moves at snail pace but underneath the dialog and stunning scenery is a character study that is borderline volatile and horrific with with unblinking ferocity and emotions.
Jennifer Lawrence gives a star-making performance in this. She is every bit of Will Smith's character in The Pursuit of Happyness, only that she is 17 and facing down drug fiends and murdering rednecks instead of stockbrokers. Her acting is depressing, bleak and haunting yet somewhat hopeful. Lawrence has created a modern day heroine with her role which is definitely going to land her a nomination for Best Lead Actress come Oscar time.
However, Lawrence did have an amazing ensemble of actors to play off of. One stand out being John Hawkes who plays Ree's uncle. His character is menacing yet endearing, walking that very brittle wall between scum and hero. You love him, yet you never know if you can trust him. But ultimately, he is the villain with a heart of gold that will do the right thing. John Hawkes is one of the dark horses in the race, but he is my choice to win Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars.
Another actor I am absolutely loved in the film was Dale Dickey, who is without a doubt the ugliest actress working in Hollywood today. Her character is one strong woman, sometimes coming off as a bad person more often than not but I do appreciate her character's arc during the climax of the film which is also one of the most thrilling night water scenes I have watched since The Cove. Which is also another testament of how great Dickey's menacing performance was, her character is just so scary, you simply do not trust Jennifer Lawrence with her, even if she is trying to help.
I also have got to praise Debra Granik for directing this. The gathering storm of a narrative and heavy performances set across a bleak Ozarks world was an absolute pleasure to watch coming from a person who enjoys truly stirring movies.
Winter's Bone is dark, brooding, slow, character driven and is one of the cathartic cinematic experiences I have ever had.

RATING: 9/10

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