Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Year-End Movie Review Round-Up

And so we come to the end of another year, the second for which there's been a Net-flixation and I've been, publicly, Half a Film Student. How did the year shape up? How did it compare to '09? Will I avoid referring to the horrible flood of snow that's made my city a big grey/white disaster?

Well, I went to the theaters a bit more, actually. Inception, all 3 "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" movies, several midnite flix... I was out at the movies a lot more in 2010. Still, the variety was lower, and I took a chance less often - in other words, I went in knowing whether the pic was horrible or not, and I didn't see anything painful in the theaters this year.

Of course, this means I was a happier reviewer, in general. That's just the way it goes.  I did miss some flicks, though: Black Swan is at the top of the list - though I can still catch it in theaters, I know that it may never happen. I get a little better about seeing movies, but still can't find the time to catch everything I want to; hardly a huge problem...

Still, there were unexpected catastrophes and such, and you can read about them below. Please enjoy my little 2010 Movie Round-Up, which is far less "wordy" than the '09 entry.

Best New Release (that I actually saw) - Inception. I knew this picture was great before I even saw it. Even avoiding spoilers, the rep was simply amazing, and I knew Nolan could live up to it. "Inception" didn't disappoint in any way.

Although I haven't written a real review yet: I was excited and completely blown away by solid acting, a nifty story, and brilliant execution from Chris Nolan (of course). It was amazing to see a new movie that nailed so many of the feats pulled off by "The Matrix."

No, "Inception" wasn't the greatest movie ever made, but it was an accomplishment. It was thoughtful and thought-provoking, emotional but full of incredible, beautiful action scenes. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Best Out-of-the-Blue Release - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I hadn't read the books, and had only just heard about them by the time this movie came out here, in New York City. Fortunately, my friend Katie had read the novels and was terribly interested in watching the film, so we were off to Sunshine Cinemas on Houston Street. You can find my review of "tGwtDT" here.

I was spellbound, not just by some really difficult scenes, but by solid acting, lovely camera-work, and an engrossing story. I really wish this movie had been given a broad theatrical release, and not just been slated for the inevitable American remake.

Most Internal-Conflict-Causing Release - The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. It's awkward, because I will review this movie soon-ish. What I can say now is that this movie showed some big flaws that didn't exist in the two prior installments.

For one thing, there's a "now the heroes don't have the advantage sequence" that is clumsy, forced, and laughable. For another, there was too much plot to condense in this third story. How could I tell without having reading the book? The movie at some point just has a series of two-shots in which two people have a quick conversation that does little more than advance the story slightly or provide little tidbits which will play into the story later. In fact, I almost started laughing out loud as one scene after another just showed two folks having a 10- to 30-second conversation.

And yet the end was satisfying, the characters were good, and I didn't feel annoyed at all. When you want to mockingly laugh at the screen but didn't think the pic sucked, that's a fine example of internal conflict..

Worst Movie - Splice. Awful, awful, awful, in every way. I can't do this again. Just read or skim my massive review from earlier this year. "Splice" was not a shame - that movie IS shame.

Best Theatrical Re-release - Evil Dead 2. My friend Ash and I went down to the Sunshine Cinemas to enjoy a midnite showing of this Sam Raimi horror classic. It was every bit as funny as I remember, and a real joy to watch on a big screen, with tons of fellow ED2-lovers to wince and groan and laugh along with. Sweet.

Best Re-watch - Penn & Teller Get Killed. I hadn't seen this since college, even though I could never forget Penn & Teller. The movie was fun, just as I recalled. The jokes popped and the characters were even more enjoyable than I had recalled. Still, it had lots of flat segments which I didn't quite remember before. It was an interesting experience, watching a well-loved cult classic for no other reason than to post my film review on it.

Best I-Should've-Seen-This-Before - Black Dynamite. I was so happy to see this on Netflix Streaming, and I was the exact opposite of disappointed. The makers of this movie must have a lot of fun, and I wish them great success in the future. I needed a laugh and they gave me 50 gut-busters... My review is here.

Best Anticipated Rental - Mirageman. Amazingly, this movie was directed by the man who made the winner in this same category last year, Ernesto Diaz Espinoza. Mirageman is like "The Dark Knight," but with a tiny budget. In fact, it has even more emotion and solid character work than "TDK." Also, it provides a much more realistic look at real-life super-hero work. This really was a fantastic movie and, as you can tell from my ecstatic review I recommend it to everyone...

Biggest Vicarious Disappointment - Tron 2.0. No, I haven't seen it, and I'm sure not going to. This movie has been ripped apart every which way. I'm truly amazed, because the first "Tron" was not an incredible movie on the same scale as "The Godfather" or even "The Matrix." The first picture was just a silly fun ride. This movie apparently has tons of boring exposition which does nothing to make the premise and setting any less confusing. It also apparently has visual fx problems, and isn't even full of cool action. Given that a "Tron" sequel was obviously and totally unnecessary, I really am disappointed - without having seen it - that they couldn't at least replicate the appeal of the original. Some folks just have too much money on their hands, I guess...

That's pretty much it. My little 2010 Movie Review Round-Up is done, and although I may use slightly different - or more - categories next year, I'm happy with this list. I hope you are too. =)

I've already posted about what's to come for the site, so let me say a few words about what's happened: my writing has improved, I think, and I started a redesign that really makes the whole site look better; my brother chimed in for a review of multiple TV shows, as well as a great look at "An Education;" I've tried many new types of posts, and I write much more often than I did in '09. This will be just the 4th time I can offer 6 posts in one month! That number will go up, and it will happen more often...

In closing, this year has been a banner year for Net-flixation. Christopher Nolan stepped up to give me exactly the sort of blockbuster that I'd love to see more often (i.e., one that's not stupid). Also, I'm seeing foreign movies at a pace that's almost close to the one I kept up in college. I think that 2011 will just see this site getting better and better. Naturally, I hope that the movie industry (in general) improves next year too.

Thanks for reading, thanks for the support and comments. I may take a small break at the start of 2011 - I'm more likely to post news than I am reviews or articles. And, of course: Happy New Year, everyone!

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