Well it's been about a week, or over a week since I last updated you with my shit list, so this week I thought I'd go ahead and right this wheel spinning out of control and drop some brown-ass loving...that didn't sound right....on you.
As much crap as there was out there this past year, there were some really, really good movies that also came out. I truly feel it was the year of Robert Downey, JR. but 2008 was really good to a lot of people, too.
So here we go:
Top Ten Best Examples of Cinematic Glory in 2008:
10.) Young People Fucking.
That just sounds like it shouldn't be any good whatsoever. It really, really doesn't. It just comes off as something thats either going to be smut disguised as art (a la 'The Brown Bunny') , or it could've been highly pretentious like After Sex. But the end result from this practically no name cast is an independent masterstroke, destined for cult status. It's funny, well written, and smart. What impressed me most is the movie feels like it couldn't have been shot for more than 15 dollars, but the ambition of the film feels like that of a summer block buster. It's a movie with a lot of heart, a savvy view on modern day relationships. It's a lot more than just a title with a swear, it's got a lot of heart.
9.) In Bruges.
Collin Farrell is in top for in In Bruges, playing a role I think is best suited for him; a sardonic hitman trying to cut his teeth in the assassination business (I don't remember that table at Career Day) and is being mentored by an aging hitman looking forward to retirement, played by Brendan Gleeson. But apparently Farrell can be a fuck up, and Gleeson is hired to take him out. Hijinx ensue, accents to be had, twist endings galore!
8a.) Charlie Barlett.
This film got so many delays, and that sucks because I kind of feel it got overshadowed and buried. I think it could have done so much more if it would have gotten a proper push, but regardless this is still the little film that could. Kat Dennings, Anton Yelchin, Tyler Hilton (not related to Paris, thank God) and Robert Downey, JR. all give A+ performances.
As far as movies centered around High School, this one is much more believable than most of the other basically exploitation films out there. But Bartlett itself is part Catcher in the Rye, part Abbie Hoffman.
Not only is it a funny, smart, quirky, fast and endearing movie, I also feel parents who don't feel they understand their teenage kids should watch it to get either a reminder, or an idea of what they might be going through. Every kid has an identity crisis, sure, but so do adults when they work jobs that they don't have the heart to continue.
8b.) Step Brothers.
HI-LARIOUS. Thats all that can be said. The only reason it's not higher on this list is because it's more one-dimensional than the other films, but god damn it...funniest movie of the year. Long live the comedy team of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly!
Not to be over looked, Mary Steenburgen, Richard Jenkins, Adam Scott and Rob Riggle round out this ensemble perfectly. It's almost entirely worth owning this movie for hearing Steenburgen say, "What the fucking fuck?!" to be quite honest.
But only Ferrell and Reilly could make this premise work on any tangible level. Months before it was released, I found myself scratching my head every time I read about it wondering how in the hell they would pull it off, but they knocked it out of the park.
Their knack for improvisation is unparalleled (except maybe by another Frat Pack alumni, Steve Carrel) and I'd be surprised if the script had any actual dialogue whatsoever. The only thing that could have made this a bit better would have if Riggle would've gotten a bigger part.
7.) Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?
Morgan Spurlock is a fucking genius. Anyone who disagrees with that is a pinko bastard commie who doesn't deserve to not only watch movies, but is also not intelligent enough to enjoy a documentary that isn't about penguins (although it's a great documentary). Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden is an exercise in journalistic integrity and documentary film making that Michael Moore couldn't even fathom of doing on his best day.
It's interesting to see how vastly different our cultures are (including Spurlock having to grow a beard and tan in order to be safe in certain countries.)
Morgan Spurlock isn't afraid to ask the questions we're too scared to ask, or pursue a villain thats been pushed out of our minds eye in lieu of the Iraqi war. His brave style of film making, coupled with his razor sharp wit and daring add up to making such an documentary way it should be made.
I have such a great deal of respect for Spurlock, and everything he does seems to push the envelope of the boundaries we've made for ourselves in this post 9/11 world.
5.) Pineapple Express.
I want Seth Rogen inside of me. With his humor, not with his wang. That being said, this guy is on fire. It seems like almost anything he's ever touched has been nothing short of solid gold (minus the slight misstep with Zack and Miri Make a Porno) and you throw in Danny McBride, James Franco, Gary Cole, Craig Robinson and a cameo by Bill Hader; well...it's almost impossible for it to be anything less than noteworthy.
The concept was original; who doesn't like stoner comedies? Who doesn't like raucous adventure flicks? This movie had it all. Plus, it dabbled with teenage tang. You go, Rogen. Thats the American dream! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
4.) Iron Man.
I've said it a thousand times, I'll say it once more: 2008 was the year of Downey, JR. If you disagree (which you're entitled too) you probably thought Speed Racer was criminally underrated. Raise your hand if you feel that way, then look around and notice you're all alone, and you've just become King of the Assholes.
Terrance Howard is in top form, as is Jeff Bridges. This ensemble set the tone for what comic book movies could really be, and how mainstream audiences perceived the genre as well.
Iron Man succeeds because even though it's a big budget movie, every cent was wisely spent, and I'm not even going to pretend I'm not salivating for the moment the sequel is released. I could watch RDJ zip around in a red suit of armor, and Terrance Howard be Terrance Howard for two hours, and I'd pay 13 dollars for the privilege happily.
3.) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
I really didn't expect this movie to be as amazing as it was. It had a lot working against it, being nearly three hours long and being based off of the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Obviously some liberties were going to be taken given the fact that there wasn't as much content to work with, but in the end every decision made paid off royally. Brad Pitt delivers ten-fold with his performance, and every moment of this movie is just entrancing.
I really like that with this kind of a movie they took time to go into depth with the characters, and really flesh them out so they didn't stand as just pawns in a chess game. It wasn't rushed at all, and you'd think that being nearly three hours long would hurt the movie, but to be honest you get lost in it so easily you barely even notice it.
What I found particularly interesting was they way the handled events happening during the time-line, and I won't spoil it for you, but it's one of those little nuances that for me make a movie more than just a few hours of entertainment.
Cate Blanchett...I don't think I've ever seen her do better, truthfully. This is a role where she was used so properly, and how she rose to the occasion is just great to see. I really think she should be a shoe-in for Lead Actress.
2.) Slumdog Millionaire.
This is the little movie that could. Theres a lot of hype around this movie, and for good cause too--it's just amazing. Nothing short of flawless. Danny Boyle brought his A-game with newcomers Freida Pinto (this was her debut movie!) and Dev Patel.
Boyle doesn't know what the definition of mediocre, and I'm convinced he may be an unstoppable tour de force.
I had no idea what to expect from Slumdog, other than Boyles' name was attached. That's honestly enough for me to check it out. But I was surprised to find out that it was at the core of it all, a love story. Damn it! Fooled!
Jamal and Latika had some real serious problems, yet through it all they persevered. Suck on that, Romeo and Juliet, you immature pricks.
But this film shows the transition India is facing; one of staunch tradition to a more modern society; poverty to vast wealth. The evolution of each of the characters is endlessly fascinating, and I left this movie feeling like I'd gained something.
Theres so much depth, heart and soul in Slumdog that it's nearly impossible not to fall in love with this movie. People have asked why I like this movie so much, and I wish I could explain it. If you haven't seen it, I highly suggest you remedy that as soon as possible, if not sooner.
1.) The Spirit...Okay, thats just a bold face lie, but drumroll please!
1.) The Dark Knight.
No surprises here. Heath Ledger brought something to the legacy of one of Batman comics' fans favorite villains of all time in the Joker.
Initially I felt it was absurd to say Ledgers performance was on the level with Jack Nicholson's portrayal, but after watching it I have to say it's just impossible to compare either because they are so monumentally different.
Christian Bale is my favorite Bruce Wayne thats been cast, but as Batman...that voice he does is irksome, though I appreciate the effort of disguising it.
But the cast here...Morgan Freeman, Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, and Michael Caine all make bring nothing less than their collective bests. And none of them seem to try to upstage each other, which is amazing to me. Every one of the aforementioned actors could quite easily be a marquee draw themselves, but in working together they've built something thats going to stand the test of time.
For everything that Iron Man did for the comic book genre, the Dark Knight flipped it on its ear entirely.
Despite the passing of Ledger, it doesn't over shadow the film itself. I feel the attention, while deserved after having seen it for myself, on the Joker takes away from how amazing Eckhart did with Two-Face/Dent. Aaron brings such a phenomenal performance to the table thats criminally overlooked, yet understandably so.
Maggie Gyllenhaal is in my opinion the only weak link in this movie. That sad faced turtle made me nearly want to scream at the screen every time her dopey face came into view. Bruce Wayne is a billionaire, and bad ass vigilante--Harvey Dent is regarded as Gotham's White Knight. You mean to tell me that ugly broad is who their scrapping over? Thats the hardest part of this movie for me to believe.
But the writing, the cinematography, the delivery...everything here was done so masterfully that it's not hard to see why this film grossed nearly a billion dollars world wide.
Well thats it. Tune in soon for my wrap up of books, honorable mention movies and music of 2008. It won't be a week between this time I hope.
See ya in the lobby!