I died for your sins, so accordingly, here are some inane musings to contemplate...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Films in 2010 - November (16 / 168)

No End In Sight - Iraq's Descent Into Chaos - a disturbing doco about just how royally screwed up the war in Iraq went and how just a few men in the White House made horrendously bad decisions that aided Iraq descending into turmoil and how frustrated the people on the ground were at the lack of vision from the top. Scary stuff to think how stupid and war mongering some people can be. A lot of this stuff I had absolutely no idea about, very educational. 4/5

*Gremlins 2- The New Batch - total classic, still love it. 4/5

Frozen - 3 idiots get trapped on a ski lift and non one's gonna come for them or miss them any time soon. Surprisingly entertaining, mostly so you can laugh at their dumb decisions - "yes, let's jump off this chair feet first onto hard snow, my legs will be fine!" 3/5

The Mist - absolutely idiotic horror film which only gets points for some interesting creature designs. Ending was obvious it was coming but fun all the same. 1.5/5

The Last Airbender - M Night Shyamalan takes a wonderfully funny, poignant and well scripted cartoon, chops off its head and shits down its neck. Points only for including Appa and Momo. 0.5/5

The Crazies - a remake of a John Romero film (which I haven't seen). It had its moments but is pretty much a ho-hum kinda horror film. Has a few annoying plot holes. 2.5/5

Fair Game - fascinating dramatisation of the CIA agent exposed by her own government because her husband spoke out about the lies that started the Iraq War. Sean Penn and Naomi Watts are both very strong and perfect for these roles. The more I read and see about how the US invaded Iraq the more I see just how evil a few men at the top truly are. 4/5

Gamer - quite gory and hyper-realistic frenetic mish-mash of a film. Had a few good moments but overall pretty stupid stuff where actual people are controlled by other humans in both a social networking game and a game of brutal death. Dumb and somewhat fun in parts. 2/5

Addicted To Plastic - quite a scary doco about just how much plastic we waste and how much of it ends up in our seas - seriously there are millions of tonnes of it out there - and how it ends up in our food chain. Has some interesting interviews with people and companies that are truly recycling plastics, and not just making pointless objects but some are putting it to great use. 4/5

The Disappearance of Alice Creed - a taut UK thriller that has a few surprises but ends up a little on the predictable side in the final third. Really goes to show you, though, what can be done with a tight script, 3 or 4 locations and only 3 actors in the entire film. 3.5/5

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 - not as bad as the last one, not as good as the third, better than the first. I think it was only watchable because I knew about the story but even then a few things still had me scratching my head. Extra 1.5 for the great 3 brothers animation. 3.5/5

*War of the Worlds - great fun. 3/5

*Forgetting Sarah Marshall - still such a great comedy, probably not something I could watch again and again and again but still great. Also still too much of Jason Segel's wang. 4/5

*Pineapple Express - another good stoner comedy, James Franco is brilliant in this. 3/5

*Wall-E - brilliant, Pixar only did better with Toy Story 3 and The Incredibles. 4.5/5

GasLand - scary doco about the process of Fracking for natural gas reserves across the US where people are being poisoned by the fracking water mixing with their drinking water and how the Federal Government changed the laws to allow it. Isn't brilliantly made but the message behind it is quite powerful, especially when they clearly show people setting their tap water on fire!!! 3/5

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Films in 2010 - October (7 / 152)

*Wargames - it's a bit dated but still good fun. 3/5

*The Shawshank Redemption - despite being beloved by idiotic footballers the world over, it really is quite a good film. 4.5/5

Buried - 97 minute film, 96mins 30secs of that is Ryan Reynolds in a box (and the 30 seconds that isn't ain't what you might think it is). Brilliant concept executed extremely well, the tension is ramped up to 10 from the beginning and never lets up. 4/5

*The Sixth Sense - only the second time I've seen this film and it really is Shyamalan's only truly great film (though I also love Unbreakable). 4.5/5

Made In Dagenham - interesting, funny, mildly historically accurate, well acted, quite enjoyable. 3.5/5

RED - great dumb fun with Malkovich, Willis, Mirren, Freeman and especially Cox tearing up the screen to great effect. Louise-Parker is annoying, Urban works well with what he's got, stupid action done well. 4/5

*Seabiscuit - classic and a great film. 4/5

Yeah, October was a little sparse on the moofie front.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Moofies in 2010 - September (5 / 145)

The month in which I re-re-re-re-re-re-re-kindled my love affair with The West Wing, hence the appallingly low amount of films I've seen. Sorry, but just can't get enough of Jed and the Gang.

The Swimsuit Issue - just wasn't as funny as I was hoping and was rather predictable. OK for a boring Sunday arvo. 3/5

*Iron Man - was on TV, was bored so watched it. Still don't think it's as brilliant as many seem to think though RDJ is always fun to watch. Still 3.5/5

Date Night - I liked it. It was totally silly but that's exactly what it's supposed to be. Not as funny as I was hoping but you get that with Carell movies. 3/5

*Iron Man 2 - housemate and her BF put it on so I watched it for the hell of it. Still think the ending is stupidly anti-climactic, but again RDJ is good fun and I do like the loose way the "script" moves. Still 3.5/5

Dinner For Schmucks - it had a few few rather amusing moments but overall this was a rather poor amalgamation of the brilliant Cable Guy with some Jerry Lewis leanings on the part of Steve Carell. It was just too flat for 95% of the film. 2.5/5

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Moofies in 2010 - August (42 / 140)

Ha! I saw the exact same amount of films in August as I did July... weird... Anywho:

International Shorts 3 - some great short films, some bad ones, some average ones.

Accelerator 2 - some great short films (The Kiss was stunning), some bad ones, some average ones.

Animation Shorts 2 - mostly crap animated shorts.

Splice - I had high expectations for this science gone too far film from the director of Cube, that may have been an issue as this was total shite. Performances were just dull, the script was laughably stupid (I mean I was literally laughing with derision at some points) the effects started off well and then just dive bombed. Avoid this at all costs as it's quite possible Sarah Polley, Adrien Brody and Vincent Natali's worst film ever. 0.5/5

She, A Chinese - This is the story of Mei, a young woman on a trip from East to West after her escape from her provincial Chinese village. Beginning in Chongqing and a disastrous factory job, Mei soon heads out for London and a marriage to an older man where her entrapment begins anew. It doesn't sound like much but I really quite liked this film, Huang Lu gave Mei a strong and quiet dignity as she struggles to find her place in a world that just doesn't want her. Abused physically and emotionally the story of her struggle to find a life of meaning is wonderfully shot and acted and accentuated by a thumpingly cool soundtrack. 3.5/5

The Robber - Tells the true story of Johannes Rettenberger, a marathon athlete who developed robbing banks as a hobby. Well shot and acted this is certainly a film that I liked but it'd not one I'd go out of my way to recommend. It has it's moments and the constrained acting of the main character, not to mention all the running he does, works quite well but there's nothing that really makes this film stand out. 2.5/5

Wild Target - bloody funny UK remake of a French comedy where a consummately professional hitman's life is turned upside down when he can't finish a job to kill a wild and beautiful woman, his life is even more complicated when a young man gets involved. Good acting, pretty good script, implausibly funny. 3/5

Rabbit a la Berlin & Nenette - two of the worst "docos" about animals (or even anything) I have ever seen. Neither have anything remotely good about them. 0.1/5 & 0.05/5

The Killer Inside Me - absolutely brutal film about a psychopath Sheriff's Deputy bashing several women to death and murdering some men as well. Still not sure if I liked this film or not, the scenes of abuse are really very full on. 2.5/5

The Strange Case of Angelica - left after 30 minutes, it was just dumb and going nowhere. 1/5

Taqwacore - pretty cool doco about the Islamic Punk movement in America, some interesting characters in a fairly well made doco shell, the scenes in Pakistan were particularly eye opening. 3/5

Brotherhood - well made, acted and scripted story of two Danish neo-Nazi guys falling in love with each other and how their feelings clash with their beliefs. Didn't end on a massive downer like I thought it would, I really quite liked this film, it had a lot to say and said it well and without being too "in your face" about it. 4/5

The Wedding Party - your rather standard Aussie ensemble rom com with plenty of drama added in. Good for a laugh but not all that memorable and an ending that leaves a lot of loose ends. 2.5/5

1981 - rather amusing tale of a French Canadian kid of Italian background who learns that his lying ways may be causing a lot more harm to his family and friends than he thinks. 3/5

Kosmos - I gave up halfway through, it was just going nowhere and making no sense at all. 1/5

World On A Wire - was falling asleep and so left after an hour into this German sci-fi TV classic. 0.5/5

Dancing Dreams - nice little doco about a bunch of school kids discovering the power of dance. 3/5

La Pivellina - pretty sure it had a rather fluid script but I quite liked this tale of an older circus couple who find an abandoned little girl and how she affects their lives. 3.5/5

Russian Lessons - harrowing doco detailing the hypocrisy and lies of the Russian invasion of Ossetia and how they manipulated the media in astounding ways. Contains some seriously disturbing footage. 4/5

Life During Wartime - yet another weird Todd Solondz film, not as good as Happiness but still has its moments. Was not expecting to see Allison Janney's tits. 3/5

Mammuth - bloody funny French film with Gerard Depardieu at his comedic best, has some bizarre moments, the car scene with Yolande Moreau was priceless, as was the mutual masturbation scene. From the directors of one of my faves from last year "Lousie-Michel" I highly recommend checking this - and Lousie-Michel - out. 3.5/5

I Love You Phillip Morris - bloody funny comedy with Jim Carrey at his over the top best as a gay conman and Ewan McGregor is pitch perfect in the titular role. I wonder how much of it is true, I really hope the final "con" is, bloody brilliant. 3.5/5

Lola - lovely little film where two Grandmothers bear the consequences of a crime involving their respective grandsons. Wonderful acting, a powerful and sad story, loved it. 3.5/5

Strange Birds in Paradise: A West Papuan Story - brilliant doco about the little known fight for independence in this, one of our closest neighbours. I honestly had no idea about any of this and I think this should be a doco shown in schools around Australia - basically they've been as screwed over by Indonesia as Timor Leste ever was, powerful stuff all with a musical undertone/base that works well to carry the narrative forward. 4.5/5

Lebanon - set in 1982 and the first Lebanon war, this technically masterful film is shot - apart from some bookending single shots - entirely inside and from the perspective of a tank that is ordered into Lebanon. You wouldn't think that it works but it does, and it works wonderfully. Great acting, a tight and taught story with some very good effect work, it's a claustrophobic and sometimes gut wrenching ride through the streets of Lebanon. 4/5

Gremlins - was great to see this classic in a cinema with a cheering and yelling appreciative audience. I forgot just how damn funny this movie is. 4.5/5

Catfish -not brilliantly made but fascinating all the same, this doco explores just how well you can know someone you meet across the internet. The end was actually, although expected, still quite sad and at times rather disturbing. 3.5/5

The Hunter - understated film about a man taking the law into his own hands when his wife and daughter are killed during a shootout between militants and police in Iran. Don't read the IMDB summary as it gives too much away for no reason. Not sure why but I really liked this film about a man pushed to the edge by circumstance and his own sense of powerlessness. 4/5

When You're Strange - brilliant doco detailing the history of The Doors with, of course, a real focus on Jim Morrison. Wonderfully narrated by Johnny Depp and, thankfully, featuring not a single modern interview, this is all about the archival footage from the time and telling their story as it happened, warts and all. 3.5/5

The Actresses - at MIFF, I'll see a film in the guide that sounds vaguely OK, maybe it won an award here or there or was even only nominated, apart from that I'll know nothing about it and only pick it 'cause there was nothing else on at the time that was more interesting. That's what happened with last year's "Still Walking", a Japanese film of the day in the life of a family, where it sounds kinda dull but turns out to be my favourite film of the festival (and quite possibly of all time). This year I had to wait until the second last day of the festival to get my "Quintessential MIFF" moment.

The Actresses doesn't sound like much, here's the MIFF write-up:

There are three kinds of people in the world – men, women and actresses.

Six ravishingly beautiful Korean movie stars make light of their professional personae in this witty, tongue-in-cheek mockumentary.

Coming together for a Vogue Magazine photo shoot, each actress – Youn Yuh-jung (Hahaha, also showing in this year’s program), Lee Mi-sook (An Affair), Choi Ji-woo (Now and Forever), Ko Hyun-jung (Woman on the Beach), Kim Min-hee (Hellcats) and Kim Ok-vin (Thirst) – must try sharing a spotlight ordinarily reserved for themselves alone.

Despite being fully scripted, The Actresses exudes an ad-libbed aesthetic; director E J-yong (Untold Scandal) filmed many of the scenes using six hidden HD cameras simultaneously, and instructing his leading ladies to act as if they were in a theatre play.

For some reason it instantly clicked with me and I was in total heaven from start to finish. One small scene maybe went a little longer than it really had to, but it actually didn't matter at all. Loved it, loved it, loved it. Two friends who were in the same session both didn't like it at all but I guess that's the great thing about film, it is just so bloody subjective. 5/5

Dream Home - a woman goes psycho and murders a bunch of people as she is obsessed with buying her dream apartment. Has some great little twists and turns in the plot, especially revelations about why she's doing what she's doing, and has some very funny gore moments. 3/5

Monsters - I applaud the fact this really nice looking film was made on a shoestring budget, but when the title of the film is "Monsters" and write-ups and trailers give you the impressions you're gonna get some giant aliens stomping all over Mexico wreaking havoc and instead you get a 97 minute film where 91 minutes do not feature the titular "Monsters" then I'm sorry, but you just plain suck. 1.5/5

Teenage Paparazzo - interesting but far too self-indulgent doco by Adrian Grenier, exploring the life of celebrity through the lens of a young boy obsessed with getting the next shot. Was actually quite disturbing. 2/5

Scott Pilgrim Vs The World - coolest geek film ever, definitely not for everyone but it was a laugh a minute for me, with young Culkin almost stealing the movie from the main stars. Features a great cameo from Thomas Jane as a member of the Vegan Police. 5/5


Lucky Number Slevin (aka The Wrong Man) - a pretty stellar cast helps this whodunnit action thriller gangster type film but doesn't save it completely. The story was nice and convoluted, the acting all quite good, but the "twist" was obvious from the start (though I did think Lucy Liu's character had more to her than was shown, so I was wrong there) and making it obvious from the start kinda dulled the film a bit. Still, it was a fun romp. 3/5

The Wolfman - dumb boring gory idiocy. 1/5

Collapse - he's a total nut-job, but damn what the man has to say about the collapse of oil-based Western society is really starting to hit home. See this in conjunction with The Oil Crash and you'll feel like running for the hills. 4/5

Paradise Lost - The Child Murders At Robin Hood Hills - a very poorly made doco but oh so damn scary, not just because three apparently innocent boys are accused of the murders of 3 definitely innocent young children, but most because of the absolute conviction and scarily uneducated and rampant fundamentalist Christan beliefs that could exist in modern America, yeah even in the bible belt - I had no idea that people could just be so... I dunno, scarily swayed by their beliefs even if I do see it on the news every day. 3/5 *Warning, you see the murdered boys' bodies at the beginning of the movie, definitely not for the faint of heart

Inception - yeah ok, it was well made, well acted (for the most part) and I love the score. I just think the story was too linear and had plot holes and gaps where they didn't need to be. Supporters can say "well that's 'cause it was a dream and there are leaps in logic in dreams" but I don't care, I think it was lazy script writing. 2.5/5

Dear Zachary - A Letter To A Son About His Father - has some very annoying ways of going about telling this true tale of murder but damn, this has got to be one of the saddest stories I have ever heard. Don't read anything about it, just watch it. The only premise I would give you is that a young man is murdered and he has such loving family and friends they make this film to show his son just how wonderful a person he is. 3.5/5

Salt - good, dumb fun. Was easy to see who that bad guy was but that didn't matter. 3/5

Piranha 3D - awesome gory fun, see it drunk and it's even funnier. 3.5/5

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Moofies in 2010 - July (42 / 98)

The Pixar Story - a great doco about the formation of Pixar, the trials and failures of their beginnings, the trust and money that Steve Jobs poured into the business, and then their wonderful successes. Loved it and could easily watch it again, it's all about the business side of animation and really is quite fascinating. 4/5

Paranormal Activity - I really have to applaud the fact it was made for $15k and made millions at the box office (though I doubt the maker and actors saw much of that). Mostly done quite well but frankly I didn't care about the characters in the least and I was ambivalent as to what happened to them. Some pretty chilling scenes and effects through with a couple really cheesy ones. Some idiotic leaps in illogic, but overall good scary fun. 2.5/5

Shutter Island - wonderfully shot and fantastically acted Scorsese psychological drama. I picked the main "twist" from the very beginning but, surprisingly, that didn't actually detract from me enjoying the film at all. I really quite liked the slightly ambiguous ending. 4/5

*The Spongebob Squarepants Movie - idiotically stupid fun. I was hungover and tired and this was perfect for my mood. Not as many laughs as I recall though :( 2.5/5

The End of the Line - yet another scary doco about how the stupidity and greed of humans is destroying a precious and finite resource. I honestly don't think fish stocks will ever recover and I think we're going to see a lot more famine and desolation in the next few decades because of what this doco tells us of what we're doing to our oceans. The doco is slightly more hopeful. 2.5/5 - lost points for some poor directing and editing choices, it could have been shorter and packed more punch.

Blindness - an extremely bleak tale of people coping with a sudden mass onset of blindness with one woman still being able to see. A bit of an allegory on how badly society can break down and even though someone has the power of sight they are only moved to act in great desperation - reacting instead of acting. A brilliant performance by Julianne Moore and I really am starting to dig Mark Ruffalo as an actor. Gael Garcia Bernal was great in his role as well. 3.5/5

Daybreakers - an ambitious vampire movie by the Aussie Spierig brothers that almost works but just doesn't quite find its legs. Had a really great premise where the majority of people have become vampires and Humans have become an increasingly rare food source. Once again it was weird seeing so many Aussie actors act with American accents - when there's one or two it ain't bad, when 90% of the cast are Aussie it's just plain weird. Some pretty good effects, some dodgy ones, and some extremely wooden acting from most involved. 2.5/5

The Men Who Stare At Goats - some truly funny moments and a brilliantly snide turn by Kevin Spacey couldn't save this somewhat pedestrian comedy. Ewan McGregor doesn't quite manage to engage the audience as he tells the tale of Lyn Cassady (George Clooney), one of the US Army's most successful Psy Ops agents. Clooney himself once again proves he can do comedy without sinking to absurdity but it's just not enough to save this film. 1.5/5

Red - Avery Ludlow (Brian Cox) is accosted by three teenagers who attempt to rob him and then, cruelly and with no reason, shoot dead his dog Red, the only living link he has to his departed wife. With a burning intensity, he seeks redress from the boys that killed his dog - all he really wants is for them to admit what they did and apologise for it - but he is constantly stymied in his attempts at justice by not only the boys' uncaring father (Tom Sizemore) but also a justice system that considers animals no more than property. With reporter Carrie (Kim Dickens) helping to get his story out into the public, Avery's quest for justice starts to spiral out of control as we see his dogged determination - deeply seated in an horrific event from his past, revealed in a scene of masterfully understated acting on Cox' part - start to spiral out of control. A simple story of a man's search for justice and how one event can twist the lives of many until only tragedy can stop the landslide. 4.5/5

Winter's Bone - was part of MIFF but I got to see an advance screening the week before thanks to ABC 774. It's a rather bleak tale of a young woman in search of her drug dealing and drug addicted missing father without whom she and her dirt-poor family are likely to lose their home. Well acted but shot so bleakly and with an extremely grey colour palette, this is really quite a depressing film. Even so, I still quite enjoyed it. 3/5

Repo Men - over the top sci-fi gore-fest with Jude Law going from a psycho serial killer with a licence to kill as he repossesses artificial organs where the owners are late on their payments to one of the victims themselves. It's over the top, silly and great fun. For once the ending surprised me, I really wasn't expecting it but it was just so perfectly appropriate for this film and where it was headed. Features the sexiest self-surgery/butchery scene in film history. 3.5/5

Creation - I went into this free screening of the tale of Charles Darwin and how he had a crisis of conscience whilst writing "On the Origin of Species" really not wanting to see the film and thinking I'd be dead bored. Instead I was mesmerised from the very beginning mostly due to Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly's absolutely stellar performances as Darwin and his wife. The tale has elements of tragedy in it which are handled perfectly by cutting up the timeline (notably with no visual clue beyond the actions/look of the main characters, an affectation I absolutely loved - it never needs to be obvious and is easy to follow) and truly by the end I was almost brought to tears by Darwin's self recrimination and self loathing. It's an almost perfect film let down by occasionally poor edits and running ever so slightly too long. 4.5/5


Mai Mai Miracle (Japan) - young Shinko befriends new girl Kiiko, they spend their days running through the wheat fields imagining what life was like in the area 1000 years ago with real life constantly imposing itself on their daydreams, they can't always avoid the harsh realities of things they don't quite understand. A lovely little anime with some interesting themes about death, loss and how lives can change. Has a number of quite funny moments and some really touching ones too. 2.5/5

Osadné (Czech Republic/Slovakia) - a quirky little doco focusing on the Slovak village of Osadné, where the local priest has, in the past five years, buried 50 residents and baptised only two - the young people are moving away in droves and the town, and the resident native Rusyn population, is dying. Ha some quite amusing characters whom we follow as they work hard to think of ideas to attract tourists to their little slice of heaven in the middle of nowhere. 3/5

Cities on Speed - Shanghai & Mumbai - two interesting docos about the changes coming to these megalopolis cities. The Mumbai one was quite amusing as ti focused on people from 3 different levels of society with regards to transportation.3/5 & 4/5

Air Doll - quirky Japanese film where a man's sex toy comes to life and wanders out into the world to discover what it means to be human. Interesting premise with some genuinely funny moments and a reasonably disturbing conclusion. 3.5/5

Red Hill - predictable but still fun Aussie revenge thriller set in a little country town. Over the top performance by Steve Bisley gives it that great tongue-in-cheek nod while Ryan Kwanten acquits himself well as the main protagonist. 3.5/5

World's Greatest Dad - Robin Williams stars in this very black comedy about a high school teacher trying to deal with his delinquent son whilst trying to write the next great American novel and keep his new relationship with a fellow teacher intact. Didn't end on the dark note I was hoping for but was dark enough I suppose. 3.5/5

1428 - extremely poorly made "doco" showing the aftermath of the 2008 China earthquake. Fascinating subject, appallingly made doco, I walked out 3/4 through. 0.5/5

City of Life and Death - brilliant black and white film about the Rape of Nanking as seen from the invaded Chinese soldiers and civilians and a select few of the Japanese soldiers. Features some truly disturbing moments, though I suspect much worse occurred, and some great and understated performances. 4.5/5

The Housemaid - interesting premise but it unfortunately ultimately pulls its punches a little. I was hoping for a bit more oomph but was still an interesting film with some high standard performances. 3/5

Love in a Puff - rather amusing but somewhat stilted romantic comedy about people meeting on their smoko breaks. 3/5

Rubber - one of the most bizarre films I've ever seen - an old rubber tire goes on a psychic killing rampage whilst an audience watches. Achieves what it aims for which is a lot of laughs and a major WTF was the point of that? 3.5/5

Poetry - beautifully shot, scripted and acted film about an old Korean grandmother looking after her grandson. She is trying to rediscover the poetry in her life whilst also dealing with the horrendous actions of her son and his friends. One of the best ending to a film in years. 4.5/5

The Red Chapel - piss funny doco about a coupe of South Korean born Danish comedians (one a spastic) being allowed into North Korea to perform a comedy routine. Hi-jinks soon ensue when the straight laced Korean minders step in to try and change the performance more to their liking. Darkly satirical and often crazy in what they get away with, it also had a sadness to it that they really explore in the film. 4/5

The Tree - bit of a ho-hum Aussie/French film about a girl who thinks her dead father lives on in the giant tree next to their proerty. Has a pretty good turn by Martin Csokas but I just can not like Charlotte Gainsbourg and was constantly unsympathetic to her character. The kids were all pretty good. 2.5/5

Garbo: The Spy - fascinating doco (although a little too long and with a really cool but strange soundtrack) about the guy that pretty much started the end of WW2 by becoming a double agent for the British - through him the Nazis pretty much funded the British intelligence service! Absolutely amazing that this could happen, truth really is far stranger than fiction. 4/5

The Messenger - heartfelt and realistic film focusing on two soldiers tasked with the awful task of delivering news of a soldier's death to their loved ones. A brilliant turn by Woody Harrelson and a damn good one by Ben Foster turn what could have been a very maudlin weeper into a strong and uncompromising look at an often overlooked aspect of war. 4.5/5

Border - walked out 15 minutes in - I'm not gonna spend an hour and a half watching a water buffalo do nothing. 0/5

Apart Together - wasn't sure what to expect but came to really enjoy this quirky film about a man returning to Shanghai to see his wife and family after being forced to live in Taiwan for many years for political reasons. Has a real heart to it and captures the love held between the main characters perfectly. 4/5

The Day Will Come - Alice tracks down her mother who abandoned her daughter when she went into hiding with a German terrorist group. The mother has a new family now but Alice wants her to give herself up and admit to all her past misdeeds. Interesting story, executed well with some fine performances. 3.5/5

The Special Relationship - fantastic film about the relationship between Bill Clinton and Tony Blair during the former's sex scandals being aired and the Balkan war. Brilliantly acted - Dennis Quaid is startlingly spot on as Clinton, with a great script and wonderful direction. 4.5/5

The Kids Are All Right - funny drama about the children of two lesbian parents wanting to find out about their sperm donor father, only bringing him into their life might nto be the best idea ever. Has some brilliant laughs and a real heart its core with great performances all round. 4/5

[b]Boy[/b] - an absolutely hilarious NZ film about a young boy in the 80s who thinks his absent father is away on amazing adventures, only to find out his dad was in jail and upon his return isn't all he's cracked up to be. Laugh-a-minute kinda film with an hilarious performance by writer/director Taika Waititi as the father. Seriously go and see this film as soon as you can. 5/5

The Unloved - sad tale of an abused young girl as she gets processed through the welfare system after one too many hits from her dad. A bit of an autobiography from Emily Mortimer there are some good performances here, and it's not as depressing as it sounds, but some of the direction just left me a little cold. Still, it's a good film. 3/5

The Trotsky - quite a funny Canadian film about a young man who thinks he is the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky, he tries to unionise his school and so comes into conflict with the school Principal and Board. Probably the funniest thing Jay Baruchel has been in, I certainly laughed a number of times, but the script just seemed to jump around too much to be a smooth experience. 3/5

Four Lions - I was expecting a lot of laughs from this black comedy about UK Muslin extremists, and I got them, but it just didn't have the kind of appeal I was looking for - I think it's another case of the best jokes going into the trailer. The end really was quite disturbing and sad. 3/5

Cities on Speed - Bogota & Cairo - more insight into the way other major cities of the world work. The Cairo one was dead boring (being all about garbage) but the Bogota one was absolutely fascinating. Seriously see this doco and see how one or two men wanting social change can enact it if they just push hard enough. 4.5/5 and 0/5/5 respectively.

Piggies - disturbing little film about young Polish kids on the German border going into the sex trade to earn cash. All non-actors perform admirably in their roles and the script was solid. 3.5/5

Paju - confusing Korean film that I gave 30 minutes and then left, I was drunk at the time but really it made no sense at all. 0/5

Doco Shorts - some good docos, some bad ones, some very average ones.

Accelerator 1 - some great short films, some bad ones, some average ones.

Moofies in 2010 - June (14 / 56)

Mother & Child - really great drama with some fantastic acting by Annette Bening, Naomi Watts and Kerry Washington. Focuses on mothers and the relationship they have with their child, Annette Bening's prickly and unlikeable character and the act of giving her child up for adoption that has so tainted the rest of her life was such a powerful story to watch. Bening was just pure perfection in it. Wrapped up a [i]little[/i] too neatly but I guess that's kinda where it was "supposed" to head anyway. Will make every mother out there cry (even I teared up a little), guaranteed. 4.5/5

Traitor - quite an interesting take on the whole terrorism thing, kept me interested the whole way through. 3.5/5

The Number 23 - meh, was just plain silly really. 1/5

Pathfinder - interesting premise - Vikings attacking Native Americans (or Canadians) and a Viking child grows up to be a warrior for the Indians - but poorly executed. 2/5

I Sell The Dead - rather amusing but not brilliant story about some 18th century grave robbers who end up getting into the lucrative undead market. Some genuinely funny parts, especially the sci-fi grave. 2.5/5

Prince of Persia - The Sands of Time - good, dumb fun with an obvious story, frenetic action, silly romance and good comedic relief. 2.5/5

City Island - dead-set funny film about a family of New Yorkers who are all keeping secrets from each other. Genuinely good comedy with a script that is acted to perfection. Doesn't rely on smut or rudeness and I think this is the kind of film that could be genuinely appreciated by all comers. Everyone in the cinema was laughing quite loudly throughout all of the appropriate parts. If you liked Little Miss Sunshine or films of that ilk, you'll love this. 4.5/5
2012 - stupid story, dumb acting, over the top effects and situations, great fun! It was completely idiotic but there's just something I love about watching the world get destroyed. 3/5

She's Out Of My League - rather ho-hum comedy, still not sure if I like Jay Baruchel or not, maybe only as a voice actor. 1.5/5

The Road - bloody depressing and very well acted all the way through. Hillcoat really likes his dark and dreary films eh? 3/5

Percy Jackson and the Olympians - The Lightning Thief - totally stupid and ridiculous but good, dumb fun. 2.5/5

Green Zone - actually really quite good, it has a relentless pace to it and not over the top use of shaky cam. 4/5

Hot Tub Time Machine - it's stupid from the beginning, it knows it and revels in it, has some seriously funny moment. 3/5

Toy Story 3 - absolute Pixar perfection. Loved it, loved it, loved it! Better than the second, on par with the first but with better animation. Saw it in 3D which was nice but would be just as good in 2D, still not 100% sold on 3D. 5/5

Moofies in 2010 - May (5 / 42)

Iron Man 2 - a lot of great one liners, the interplay between characters was spot on, but in the end it was quite pedestrian story with minimal action. They're really using this as a vehicle to set up the other Marvel films and the Avengers with more about S.H.I.E.L.D. and nods to Captain America and Thor. Was more of a Tony Stark character study and growth story more than anything. The 30 seconds after the credits was a waste of time and should have been before the credits or maybe just into them. 2.5/5

Harry Brown - Michael Caine brilliantly portrays a sad old pensioner looking forlornly into the last few years of his life who finds renewed anger, vigor and purpose when his best friend is murdered by local thugs and he decides someone needs to stand up and be a man. Although quite violent at times and rather shocking, it's Caine's performance as the titular Harry Brown that just mesmerised me. He gives no justification for his actions, he gives very little reason, he's just a man who decides something needs to be done and then tries to do it.

Also has a great turn from Emily Mortimer as a Detective Inspector with an empathic response to Harry's situation and features a twist that for once I did not see coming - probably 'cause I was just so involved in the film. I have to reiterate how great Caine is, especially in the quiet moments where the camera just focuses on his face and you can see the inner turmoil burning through his eyes. A very dark palette is used with some very murky sets and situations and it suits the film perfectly. 5/5

The Girl Who Played With Fire - second in the Millenium Trilogy. Meh it was OK, a bit contrived in parts but pretty good. I'll check out the third but it doesn't make me want to read the books despite all the great praise they have garnered. 2.5/5

*Star Trek
- came home drunk from the pub and my housemate had just started watching it so figured it was worth yet another re-watch. It's still a great, fun flim with some plot developments that are just plain stupid (the whole Old Spock thing and really the villain in general) but whatevs.

The Darjeeling Limited - weird and wacky and really not my kind of flim. I watched it 'cause my sister wanted to but if she hadn't been there I'd have switched it off half way through. I'm really not that much of a fan of Wes Anderson's films though I do still want to see Fantastic Mr Fox. 1/5

Moofies in 2010 - April (2 / 37

The Invention of Lying - was mildly amusing in parts but it irked me that just because you can't lie it doesn't mean you need to tell everyone exactly what you think or are doing. DVD extras and outtakes were funnier than the film. 1/5

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - a pretty good murder mystery and I'll certainly be checking out the sequels. There were a few skips or jumps in logic and the story that irked me but basically it's a very entertaining film. Has 2 quite rough rape scenes so you wanna be careful going in. 3/5

Moofies in 2010 - March (11 / 35)

*The Mothman Prophecies - one of my favourites for a supernatural freaky film. 4/5

Bastardy - interesting doco, he has certainly lived a hell of a life. 3/5

*The Hurt Locker - confirmation that it deserved the Best Picture Oscar and I still liked it the second time around. 4.5/5

C.R.A.Z.Y. - quite a good film but not quite great. Some good performances. 3/5

Planet 51 - so-so which is a shame as I was looking forward to it. A few good jokes but overall far too predictable. 2/5

Tooth Fairy - actually quite enjoyed it, The Rock is a legend. 3.5/5

Zombieland - watched it again with housemate, still just as funny and main chick still just as gorgeous.

The Eclipse - such a weird mix of romance, comedy, supernatural/ghosts and sadness but strangely it really works. Some really good performances (who knew Aidan Quinn could be such a dick?) and a very understated but lyrical directing style with pitch perfect cinematography of a dreary but beautiful Irish seaside town. 4/5

How To Train Your Dragon - a predictable storyline doesn't detract from this well paces and funny romp from Dreamworks animation. I'd say on par with Kung-fu Panda. The 3D aspect was good but I'm still not sold on it as something that truly adds to a film experience - it is what it is. Only qualm was the fact the adults were all Scottish and the kids were all American, I thought they could have put something funny in there along the lines of you only gain your accent when you kill your first dragon or something, but it was a very minor point. One or two slightly scary bits for he very small kids but otherwise it's a total larf and good fun. 4.5/5

*Signs - caught it on TV the other night and I still really enjoyed it despite this being viewing number 8 or so. One of Shyamalan's better films with a great premise, good acting and some really freaky moments. I know the water thing is a little dumb but whatever, I still like it. 4/5

Welcome - Bilal is an Iraqi refugee in France trying to make his way to his girlfriend in the UK, Simon is a local who takes pity on the boy and starts training him to swim the English channel. A rather sweet and quiet film, I really enjoyed it. The minimalism in the acting was spot on and the film ended the way it should have ended (thank Christ they didn't go too mushy). 4/5

Moofies in 2010 - February (7 / 24)

Fish! A Japanese Obsession where a UK guy traveled all around Japan for 6 weeks exploring all aspects that the Japanese have with seafood and with sea life. It really was quite interesting to see all the aspects of it and how pervasive a food stuff is within the history of a culture. He even went to Taiji and ate whale meat and although he was against the idea of whaling, he wasn't all preachy about it - he showed that this was part of their culture and how the pressure from the rest of the world was making these basic fishermen seem like monsters.

Anyway, great doco and I highly recommend it. 4/5

I Heart Huckabees - I gave up after 30 minutes, couldn't stand Jason Schwartzman's character. 0/5

*Avatar - saw it at IMAX, no real difference between that and the normal big screen.

*Return of the Jedi - wow, I forgot just how clunky it is, ah well, was still good fun. 2.5/5

Julie & Julia - brilliant turn by Meryl Streep and good performance by Stanley Tucci. Good, fun film. 3.5/5

Fighting - quite dull and predictable, I can't stand Terrence Howard's mumbling. 1/5

*Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - fun but not brilliant. 3/5

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Final Reading List For 2009

Was a pretty good year for reading with Erikson releasing the stunning Dust Of Dreams and I started the really fun Shadows of the Apt series. Chelsea Cain came close to a major disappointment mainly due to the unthinkably stupid ending to her second Gretchen Lowell novel.

01. Richard Morgan - Black Man (A)
02. Paul Carter - Don't Tell Mum I Work On The Oil Rigs She Thinks I'm A Piano Player In A Whore House (B-)
03. John Lindqvist - Let The Right One In (A+)
04. Michael Capuzzo - Close to Shore (C+)
05. Hugh Cook - The Wizards and the Warriors (Chronicles of an Age of Darkness 1) (B)
06. Hugh Cook - The Wordsmiths and the Warguild (Chronicles of an Age of Darkness 2) (B-)
07. Greg Keyes - The Charnel Prince (Kingdoms of Thorn & Bone 2) (B+)
08. Greg Keyes - The Blood Knight (Kingdoms of Thorn & Bone 3) (B+)
09. Raymond E Feist - Rides A Dread Legion (Demonwar Saga 1) (B)
10. Alfred Bester - The Stars My Destination (B)
11. Brent Weeks - The Way of Shadows (Night Angel Trilogy 1) (B+)
12. Greg Keyes - The Born Queen (Kingdoms of Thorn & Bone 4) (B-)
13. David Gunn - Death's Head: Maximum Offence (Sven Tveskoeg 2) (A-)
14. Brian Aldiss - Non-Stop (A-)
15. Joe Abercrombie - Best Served Cold (A+)
16. Brent Weeks - Shadow's Edge (Night Angel Trilogy 2) (A-)
17. Brent Weeks - Way of Shadows (Night Angel Trilogy 3) (B+)
18. Peter Kocan - The Treatment and The Cure (A+)
19. Fritz Leiber - Ill Met In Lankhmar (B+)
20. Neil Gaiman - The Graveyard Book (A-)
21. Hugh Cook - The Women and the Warlords (Chronicles of an Age of Darkness 3) (B-)
22. Adrian Tchaikovsky - Empire in Black and Gold (Shadows of the Apt 1) (A-)
23. Adrian Tchaikovsky - Dragonfly Falling (Shadows of the Apt 2) (A-)
24. Steven Erikson - Dust of Dreams (Malazan 9) (A+++)
25. Adrian Tchaikovsky - Blood of the Mantis (Shadows of the Apt 3) (A)
26. John Scalzi - Zoe's Tale (A)
27. Terry Pratchett - Unseen Academicals (Discworld 37) (B+)
28. Ken Grimwood - Replay (A)
29. Chelsea Cain - Sweetheart (C+)
30. Peter F Hamilton - A Second Chance At Eden (B+)
31. Ursula K Le Guin - The Dispossessed (A-)

Moofies in 2010 - January (17 / 17)

Attempted to watch In The Name of the King - A Dungeon Siege Tale - and gave up an hour into it. It was absolutely awful but I was hoping so awful it was good, but that was not to be. I was just amazed that so many known actors would actually go for this tripe - the production values were quite high but the acting and script were just appalling. 0.1/5 (for some OK CGI and costumes)

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs - meh, so-so. 1.5/5

Funny People - actually rather engaging and interesting. 3.5/5

Zombieland - absolutely FREAKIN' HILARIOUS!!! 5/5

Bottle Shock - good fun if predictable drama about a father and son trying to produce quality wine in Claifornia in the late 70s and a British wine snob who wnats to pit the US against the Frenchies to get on the good side of the Frenchies, little does he know... Exceptionally good performances from Bill Pullman and Freddie Rodriguez. 4/5

The Soloist - Robert Downey Jr plays a reporter who discovers a Julliard trained cellist who lives on the streets of LA battling with his schizophrenia. Actually quite good in the end with a real pathos given to the story by RDJ's great mumble/off the cuff acting style. 3.5/5

Sherlock Holmes - good fun with Downey saving what could have been a very dull flim. His banter with Jude Law worked wonderfully and apart from some very dreary greyness the film looked great as well. 3/5

The Blind Side - meh, it was OK. Really dunno why people are going all crazy over it. It was an interesting story but ultimately rather pedestrian. 2.5/5

Punisher War Zone - ultra violent, average story line, but lots f good fun at the same time. Shame no Thomas Jane as Frank Castle but at least there was no John Travolta. 2.5/5

I Love You Beth Cooper - average teen comedy that had a few laughs but was nothing special. Did get to see Hayden Paniterre side boob, so extra half point for that. 1.5/5

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies - rather dull and short cartoon with a fairly pedestrian story and some middling animation. 1/5

Angels & Demons - I haven't seen The Davinci Code or read any of the books but this was easy to jump into and had quite an interesting story to it. I figured out who was the bad guy pretty early on (the Red Herrings were just way too obvious) but it was still an interesting and fun ride. 3/5

Into The Wild - fascinating tale about a guy who, really, was totally nuts. Obviously some was overly dramatised but it worked quite well. A standout performance from Emile Hirsch and features the always luminous Catherine Keener. 4/5

Gone Baby Gone - sad and interesting tale, well directed by Ben Affleck and with Casey Affleck really proving his acting chops. 4/5

*A.I. - Artificial Intelligence - the effects stand up really well, the story is interesting and the acting by Frances O'Connor and Haley Joel Osment was quite great. The ending is a bit hit and miss with some people but I've always liked it. 3.5/5

Lions For Lambs
- I like films that have multiple story lines like this one but there was just something missing from this. Robert Redford seemed a little too preachy maybe, but the scenes with Cruise and Streep worked perfectly. 3/5

In The Valley Of Elah - Tommy Lee Jones is just marvelous in what turns out to be a very sad and depressing story. His controlled fury mixed with soul destroying sadness is just perfect. Sarandon's relatively small role was also played to perfection. Not the happiest of films but certainly a good one. 4.5/5

PROJECT 365: 190 - 209

Only made it to 209, ah well, shit happens.

190. Capitalism: A Love Story - typical Michael Moore fare where a lot of it is about himself rather than the problem at large. This is a lot more personal than Farenheit 9/11 or even Sicko and I think it weakens what could ahve otherwise been a very powerful film. Nonetheless it's quite entertaining whilst still delivering an important message, although he really does bang on the drum of "Capitalism is evil" a little too hard. 2.5/5

191. New World Order - absolutely pathetic pile of crap supposedly documenting the NWO that controls the world. In reality it's a half dozen absolute nut jobs spouting lies and filth about the most inane things with not a single "fact" even explored for accuracy - they just spout it off as truth and expect you to believe. Actually fascinating to watc in a way but still quite ridiculous, I fast forwarded the last 45 minutes or so. -50/5

192. The Answer Man - a quirky rom com about a reclusive author (Jeff Daniels) who wrote a book where he was in conversation with God and received all the answers to the big questions, it became a sensation and he fled all publicity. 20 years later he's a crotchety old dude trying to become one with the universe and not quite succeeding. Not your typical romantic comedy and for this I reason I quite liked it. Good performances and a relatively tight script, and although it goes into cliched areas it does it well enough that it's n0t a problem. Good Sunday arvo flick. 3.5/5

193. The Thaw (aka Frozen) - great idea, poorly executed and atrociously acted yet it still has an interesting take on what it could take for Humanity to finally wake up and smell the rotting mammoth. Quite ridiculous but amusing nonetheless. 1.5/5

194. *Moon - watched it again as made the housemate watch it and the ending didn't piss me off as much as the first time. Still an awesome film.

195. *Kill Bill (Vol. 2) - great film, better than the first, loved the confrontation with Bill at the end. 4/5

196. Pandorum - gave up a third through, truly awful film that had me angry after 5 minutes. DETESTED IT. -10/5.

197. The Informant - rather funny film where Matt Damon gets to really shine as a corporate whistle blower - but is he telling the entire truth? Fantastic music throughout and some real guffaws. 3.5/5

198. The Taking of Pelham 123 - I haven't seen the original but this was good, dumb, fun. 3/5

199. Where The Wild Things Are - I'd been waiting for over 2 years to see this film and apart from some minor soundtrack quibbles (I am not a Karen Oh fan) I absolutely loved it. 5/5

200. 9 - beautiful animation, great voice cast, intriguing story, quite a good script, I'd say this is one of the top animated films of 2009. 4/5

201. Up In The Air - George Clooney is great in the lead and for once Jason Bateman doesn't go over the top. The real stand outs are the two female leads with Vera Farmiga looking absolutely stunning (and she can act to boot!). Slightly depressing film but well worth it. 4.5/5

202. Avatar - stunning visuals, pedestrian but not boring story line, quite good acting. Cameron's restrained use of 3D (nothing charges out of the screen at you, it is used to give the visuals an added depth) is a big plus. 4.5/5

203. Downloading Nancy - 3 stunning performances - especially, I thought, from Rufus Sewell - give what could have otherwise been a sadistic torture-porn film a real edge and quality that was refreshing. When a woman can't stand to live her life and be in the body that has been damaged by past traumas, can she find some stranger to help her end her suffering? Based on an extremely sad but true event in the US, I was mesmerised from start to finish. Can be difficult to watch but worth it. 4.75/5

204. Ils (Them) - French thriller done quite intelligently and using suspense to great effect - almost no blood and guts, it's all about being scared out of your mind by strangers invading your home. Chilling ending as well. 3.5/5

205. Wyvern - SciFi channel schlock film that was so stupid it was fun. An Alaskan town is being attacked by a prehistoric Wyvern. It doesn't beat around the bush but gets straight into the silliness and gore, a great over-the-top performance by Don S. Davis in one of his last roles also has a simply hysterical exposition on the origin of the Wyvern. 3/5

206. The French Kissers - rather amusing French film about a group of young teenagers just discovering girls and wondering what it'd be like to pash on with them. Is genuinely funny in many places with a few "blink and you'll miss it" moments (I was the only person in the very small cinema who laughed out loud to the Rocco Siffredi joke). Some of the dead pan humour was great. 3.5/5

207. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time - a young girl suddenly finds that she can leap back in time to change the outcome of her various actions only to discover that the more she tries to change things or set thing right, the worse she is making everyone's lives around her. I had no idea I'd love this film as much as I did as I am not a huge anime fan but the humour and gentle beauty of this story just grabbed me from go to woe. Has some very very funny moments and a heart warming tale at its core helped along by some great animation. 4.75/5

208. Surrogates - typical Hollywood schlock that was still reasonably entertaining, thankfully quite short though - I get the feeling a lot of stuff was cut. 2/5

209. *Fight Club - watched it on Austar on the big screen at my folks' place at Christmas. Such a great, great film 5/5.

And so that was it. Didn't quite make the 365 but had fun trying, now I'll just watch films as often as I can... Just as I have for all previous years anyway!