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Monday, January 04, 2010  

Movies 4Q09 Part 2

Here's what I saw in the final sprint to the end of the year. Trash suggested I go see something on New Year's Eve, but her heart wasn't really in it. Plus I wanted to start a third new decade with my special person. And there wasn't anything I wanted to see anyway.

The Road

Hmm, a scraggly, bearded Viggo Mortenson shepherds a small person who represents the only faint hope for the future through a gray, blighted landscape populated with flesh-eating monsters. Tempting to dismiss this as Lord of the Rings: Just Kill Yourself Already.

Yes, The Man does do some pretty fucked-up shit to and around and in front of The Boy, but one hopes that one would be as good a father in similar circumstances. There's a lot of stuff they have to go through that really puts that morning we were out of milk into perspective.

Pirate Radio

I saw this with Chao, a former metal radio DJ who enjoyed seeing all the equipment he used to use. Considering this movie is set in 1966 (and a day or two of 1967), that should tell you something about the radio station where he worked.

Funny thing, while watching this I couldn't stop thinking about Love Actually, and I didn’t think it was just because Bill Nighy was in both. It wasn't until later that I learned that both movies were made by the same writer/director. Which would explain why I spent a lot of this movie asking myself, And the point of all this is…?

Up in the Air

Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is broken in some fundamental way. I’m not just talking about his fear of commitment, which is common enough, or his soul-scorching job, which we've all had at one point or another (I once worked for Ticketmaster, so I win). I’m talking about the fact that he enjoys business travel, to the point where it, in and of itself, is the reason for his existence. I didn't even like it all that much when I did it for a job I loved.

That said, I do appreciate how quickly and efficiently the movie deals with the worst part of air travel. Right at the beginning, a series of rapid cuts demonstrates how Ryan has a system for getting through the metal detectors. Which is good, because otherwise you'd be sitting through the whole movie thinking,What is wrong with this guy when flying sucks so much? But getting this major roadblock out of the way lets us settle into the story without worrying about other minor obstacles he must have, like where he gets his laundry and dry cleaning done. And hopefully, a whole generation of filmgoers will learn from his example in dealing with airport security: pack light, wear slip-on shoes, and bring an editing crew.

I did appreciate the number of clichés that were dodged, though. For instance, I absolutely knew, upon reading in the press that Ryan's shooting for ten million miles, that he would end up walking away from that goal (he actually ends up walking away from an entirely different goal). And he goes through a lot of changes yet seems to end up largely where he was before. So his character doesn't have an arc so much as a circle.

But I liked it. Not as much as American Airlines and Hertz probably did, but I liked it.

Sherlock Holmes

It's kind of embarrassing how many Sherlock Holmes stories I know that aren't by Conan Doyle. Many more than the original mysteries, that's for certain. So I'm really not in a position to address this movie's fidelity to the source material. I will simply rank it highly, somewhere between Laurie R. King's Holmes & Russell series and Without a Clue.

And of course I'm a sucker for RDJ. Apparently I'll see him in anything, as long as it's not The Soloist.

And now, for no other reason than to offend you and start arguments (#18), here is my ranking of the 25 films I saw in the theaters in 2009, from best to worst. Keep in mind that this is all highly subjective, and takes into account everything from my own expectations going in (#19, #22) to the resources available to the filmmakers (#4, #10), to the use of 3D (#3, #15, #25), to whether I was able to physically withstand it (#24, and I wasn't). It does not, however, include my moviegoing companions, which in every instance were nothing less than exemplary. Aside from #1, #4, #8, #10, #11, and #13, which I saw alone.

1. Inglourious Basterds
2. Star Trek
3. Up
4. District 9
5. Up in the Air
6. The Wrestler
7. Coraline
8. The Road
9. Where the Wild Things Are
10. Paranormal Activity
11. Sherlock Holmes
12. Doubt
13. Zombieland
14. State of Play
15. Monsters vs. Aliens
16. Watchmen
17. Quantum of Solace
18. Drag Me to Hell
19. Year One
20. Pirate Radio
21. Yes Man
22. Public Enemies
23. Observe and Report
24. Audition
25. The Lollipop Girls in Hard Candy

Since I got a lot of movie passes for Christmas this year, expect a similar showing in 2010. But I'll try not to go so heavy on the Oscar-bait this time.

posted by M. Giant 2:03 PM 0 comments


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