December 17, 2007

Top 5 Movies of 2007

Here they are, the much anticipated, often disputed, never refuted, authoritatively spew ted - Watch It top 5 movies of 2007.

5) The Bourne Ultimatum

This was just a great all around action movie. Smart and intense with a fast pace and an entertaining storyline. Even the acting and writing were alright. Full Review

4) Into the Wild

It would be difficult to not be intrigued by the story of Into the Wild. This movie is beautifully shot and well executed in every way. Full Review

3) Fugitive Pieces

A haunting tale that nobody should miss if you have the good fortune of being within driving distance of a theatre that will play it. Look for Fugitive Pieces in a slightly less limited release in the spring. Full Review

2) American Gangster

American Gangster is not being universally loved, but for me it was almost perfect. I don't think I've ever seen Denzel Washington better. Full Review

1) The Darjeeling Limited

The Darjeeling Limited is another one that is getting mixed reviews but not from me. This movie hit on every emotion in existence and may be Wes Anderson's best movie to date. Full Review

Check out the Large Association of Movie Blogs (LAMBs) here if you haven't been there yet. There will be a top 5 list for 2007 posted there at the end of December based on a compilation of LAMB reviewers top 5 picks. You've just read my contribution.

December 7, 2007

American Gangster - $9

The true story of Frank Lucas comes to life in American Gangster and in the end the audience is left with so much more than a bio movie, this is one of the best movies of 2007.

Frank Lucas took over the heroin trade in New York after the French Connection dope dried up in the 1970's. Lucas found a way to bring better heroin to the US for a fraction of its normal price by going straight to the source in Thailand and having US soldiers in Vietnam smuggle the drugs back into the US for him. This massive advantage gave Lucas instant power and notoriety in a world where the Italian mob normally had no competition.

Lucas does not horde his success but lavishes his family with a great life and never forgets to be a good and respectful man to his mother and for the most part his wife. He involves all his brothers in the wildly successful family "business" which at its height took in a million dollars a day in profit.

In American Gangster's parallel story we follow an honest cop named Richie Roberts who is heading up a drug task force that ends up hot on the tail of Lucas' entire operation. As honest as Roberts is as a cop he is an equally terrible husband and father and cannot get his private life together.

It is this play between good and evil, light and dark, and the many shades of grey in between that fascinated me the most about American Gangster. I found myself painfully aware of the evil in Lucas and yet I was able to also see the good in the man as well. The sames goes for Roberts. The writing in this movie achieves this tension in a way that had me never quite knowing who to route for and enjoying every single minute.

The performances are spot on in American Gangster, each supporting role is played tremendously well and Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe each bring their best performance in years playing Lucas and Roberts respectively. Washington to me should be the early favorite for actor of the year for his portrayal of Lucas, a gentleman who knows how to smooth talk anyone but who also has breaking point and will snap on those who disappoint him. Another performance worth noting is that of Chiwetel Ejiofor who plays one of Lucas' brothers. I've enjoyed Ejiofor in several roles in recent years and he is brilliant in this supporting role alongside Washington.

Ridley Scott directs American Gangster and while his work it hit or miss for me this one is right on the mark. Everything in the look and feel of this movie had me involved and along for the ride from start to finish.

American Gangster is not to be missed. I put it on my 'Watch It' list and give it a value of $9.

December 1, 2007

Last Days - $4

There are those who will love Last Days for the movie makers' courage, and for the originality with which this story is told. I am not one of those people.

I loved a few of the moments in this movie but overall I can't shake the feeling that Last Days was mostly a directionless voyeuristic movie that left me feeling very unsatisfied.

Last Days is loosely based on the final days of Kurt Cobain's life and mostly follows a character named Blake who is meant to be some sort of representation of Cobain. The movie is set in a large and beautiful house in which Blake is hiding from everyone and anyone. There are several friends he is allowing to stay in the house with him seemingly because they purposefully leave him alone and aid him in his desire to stay hidden.

Blake spends the movie in a daze, drifting in and out of sleep and in and out of the house and its many rooms. He is portrayed mostly as an absolute mess, mumbling to himself and at one point unable to carry out the simple task of making a bowl of cereal. Blake has his moments though, he writes and mumbles his thoughts in a notebook in a moment of inspiration and the bits of his inner monologue that are audible are deep and powerful. There are also a couple of incredible scenes where Blake is creating music by himself in the house and these glimpses into the creative mind and talent of his character are amazing.

I also especially enjoyed a scene which involved a Yellow Pages salesman coming to the door, in a case of mistaken identity he tries to sell ad space to Blake believing him to be the owner of a locomotive company.

Last Days is not a bad movie. Gus Van Sant has once again created a unique film experience and as I said earlier, there will be those who will love it. I appreciated parts of Last Days such as the cinematography where many things happen off camera and the audience is left listening and knowing exactly what is happening without seeing it. It undoubtedly took courage to make this movie.

For me though, besides some exceptional moments in the film, I was left waiting the entire time for a story to be told and I never felt like that was accomplished. There were some very small stories told in between long moments of nothing but overall Last Days just didn't have enough holding it together to make me enjoy it.

I hesitantly put Last Days on my 'Don't Watch It' list and give it a value of $4.

- Please leave a comment if you agree or disagree, I'm really curious to know how others of you interacted with this film.