April 14, 2007

Top 5 Movies of 2006

I know 2006 is long gone but I wait for the dvd with most movies so I'm always a little behind on my viewing. Here is my list of the best 5 movies of 2006 that I have seen.

5) The Departed

The academy's choice for #1 is my choice for #5. Not the best movie made in 2006 but if you like the genre you likely enjoyed it as much as I did. Also if you admire strong individual acting performances there are about 10 in The Departed. Full Review

4) Talladega Nights

This movie isn't for everyone but I love it. I love Will Ferrell and this is Will Ferrell at his best. John C. Reilly is also fantastic as Ferrell's sidekick, who knew he could do comedy.

3) Stranger Than Fiction

This is another underrated movie. Very funny and touching and surprisingly well made in every way. Full Review

2) Little Miss Sunshine

Maybe the best all around comedy I've ever seen. If you haven't seen this movie yet your life is incomplete. Full Review

1) Pan's Labyrinth

This movie is a treat for the senses and deserved more accolades than it received from the assorted Hollywood movie awards. Full Review

April 7, 2007

Children of Men - $4

I expected a lot from Children of Men, it has been widely praised and reviewed as an outstanding science fiction movie with stark imagery and a frighteningly prophetic look into the future. For me it did not live up to this high billing.

Children of Men takes place in 2027, no person on earth has had a baby in over 18 years and humanity is in complete and total chaos. Set in England, Children of Men also shows a future where illegal immigrants are being rounded up and deported or killed. There are massive refugee camps everywhere and anarchy reigns in these camps. The story follows Theo, a former activist who is thrust back into a rebel movement he left long ago to help a miraculously pregnant woman avoid government detection.

Where Children of Men is successful is in some of it's imagery, there are some incredible cinematographic moments in this movie, particularly in the battle scenes in the storey's climax.

Where Children of Men fails for me is nearly everywhere else. While at times the cinematography was gripping, at other times it had the feel of a home movie. This method of going back and forth between regular movie making and documentary style filming was unconvincing and left Children of Men with a TV movie feel.

The writing does not make up for the choppy filming style. The characters are one dimensional and the dialogue reminded me of an airport novel. Even Michael Caine could not make up for the bad script he was given, though he and Clive Owen (Theo) deserve credit for their effort.

Though there is some creative imagery, overall this is a movie full of unexplained plot lines, cheesy stereotypical characters and a picture of the future so bleak it's laughable. It was never clear to me what connection the lack of fertility on earth had with the complete and total crumbling of society. I suppose there is an implication that with no children there is no future, but why that would make people all over the world give up on any sense of order is never explained.

Children of Men is on my 'Don't Watch It' list and I give it a somewhat generous value of $4 due to it's imagery and a couple of adequate acting performances.

April 3, 2007

Stranger Than Fiction - $9

My movie watching this spring has produced a series of surprises for me, some very pleasant surprises like The Illusionist and Blood Diamond and some movies that I expected to like and surprisingly loathed, like Borat. Even though I am a huge Will Ferrell fan I would have to say it was another pleasant surprise to watch Stranger Than Fiction and enjoy it immensely. I did not expect the touching and superbly written dialogue that Stranger Than Fiction delivered.

Stranger Than Fiction is the story of Harold Crick, an IRS agent who finds one day that he can hear a voice narrating his dull and mundane life. Very quickly this voice, which only Crick can hear, begins to affect every facet of his boring life, even to the point of telling him he is going to die.

Telling you more about this movie would spoil it and I think the best way to experience Stranger Than Fiction is without knowing much about it beforehand. If you're anything like me you will be pleasantly surprised.

Directed by Marc Forster, (Monster's Ball, Finding Neverland) Stranger Than Fiction brings the audience into Harold Crick's world in a creative visual way that was simple but drew me in.

As for the writing, I can't say enough about it. This movie centers around the world of literature; Crick receives help from Jules Hilbert, a literature Professor, as he tries to find the author who is currently writing about him and whose voice he is hearing. These themes seemed to prompt the writer of Stranger Than Fiction to use intelligent and witty dialogue that is so often missing in movies today.

The performances in this movie are also very well executed. Will Ferrell is deserving of his Golden Globe nomination in what has to be considered his most understated and well acted role to date. I love Ferrell's purely comedic characters as well but this is the first time I've seen him really act and he did not disappoint. Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson are also nearly flawless as supporting characters in this great story.

I'm guessing that not everyone will love this movie as much as I did, and that's fine, but as I said Stranger Than Fiction was a delightful surprise for me. I laughed, I was moved and I was most certainly entertained.

I put this movie on my 'Watch It' list and give it a value of $9.