Today is July 5th – the 186th day of the year with a 179 days remaining. If the year was a clock, we would have just passed the mid-day point, the second hand just passing 12pm.
I thought it would be a good opportunity to quickly run down some of my favourite movies of the year, and while I’m at it – some of the one’s I really didn’t like, and so we can ask ourselves whether the 2010 glass is half full, or half empty?
Right now, I think 2010 is looking pretty good. Certainly it’s been more enjoyable than the first half of 2009 but I’m wondering if that’s just because I made my first trip to the Cannes Film Festival this May, where I managed to catch three or four movies I really have a fancy for, and I think audiences will flip for them when they come out later in the year.
Certainly the strongest movie I’ve seen so far came from Cannes – Blue Valentine – Derek Cianfrance’s low budget and anguish full dissection of two young people who are in a failed marriage, where one of them is still in love and desperate to keep it working and the other isn’t. There’s a young girl in the middle of it all, which just further complicates matters.
The story itself isn’t particularly earth-shattering stuff. Told in two timelines – Blue Valentine is at once a touching ‘meet cute’ love story that runs in parallel to something much darker – an almost invasive look at lost love, and two people who are just coming to terms with it. I say invasive look, because the relationship between Ryan Reynolds and Michelle Williams, who on this form are kind of made for each on screen, is so intimate that you feel kinda dirty watching it. You are taken behind the curtain of something you are not supposed to be seeing.
You are a fly on the wall for a John Cassavetes style emotional suckerpunch which is amognst the most effective movies of anything you will see this year. The movie is getting a limited run at the end of the year where it very well could gather some awards momentum and I truly hope you make the trip to see it.
Other movies I flipped for at Cannes include Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (I reviewed it here) and I’m wondering if I might be the only one. I said in Cannes that it could be a contender for Best Picture if it lucks the right momentum wave in the latter half of the year and I truly believe it has a chance. Woody Allen’s fanciful You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger is easily on the upper-echloen of the veteran’s recent pics, especially those set in London and I was with it all the way. Funny film.
Mike Leigh’s Another Year (above) was actually more tolerable and better than I thought it would be, but it won’t change your opinion of him as a director. He still makes mostly pointless films, in truth. I also saw the 5 and a half hour cut of Oliver Assayas’s Carlos, which at the half way point became a tough ride. I loved the first half, hated the second. And like most biopics, it took the documentary style – i.e. this event happened, which led to this, which led to this and we don’t really learn anything more about the man.
Outside of Cannes, my favourite film is Toy Story 3 – that I caught at the Edinburgh Film Festival a couple of weeks ago;
“Marvelously entertaining, with high doses of pure fun, relentless thrills and heaps of emotional depth, it’s hard to see any other forthcoming movie working as effectively on the senses.
None will play at your heartstrings more. None will spark involuntary floods of tears for a whole 30 minute sequence. No movie will get you as caught up in it’s characters and their dark levels of anguish.
“No movie will make you smile wider, surprise and amaze you more on a technical level, or shift your memory from what it was like be four years old; to be eight years old, to be eleven, to be seventeen, or even the adult you are at interchanging emotional beats.
If Toy Story 2 was about the aging process and the cycle of life from the P.O.V. of the toys, Toy Story 3 switches the emphasis onto YOU and YOUR feelings of letting go of attachments and relationships”.
2010 also birthed two fascinating artistic endeavors from two vets I’ve long admired with Shutter Island (review HERE) from Martin Scorsese and Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer.
Where 2010 has suffered, and I say this just days a few short days before I get to see Inception - is a lackluster blockbuster season. I mean we expected this, we looked at Summer 2010 last year and thought ‘uh oh, that ain’t gonna be pretty‘ – but even The A-Team, which we thought might be fun, just didn’t work out that way. Disney shamefully dropped the ball on Prince of Persia and well, I would have loved to say I enjoyed Clash of the Titans but the 3D was so dark, I could barely see it.
I prefer when Paul Greengrass/Matt Damon make Bourne movies together and Green Zone was ok, but sub-Bourne. Iron Man 2 was heartbreakingly disappointing – the Spider-Man 3 of that franchise and I kind of loathed every minute of it after the thrilling Monaco sequence. A truly awful movie.
Alice In Wonderland is indicative of everything that is wrong with movies and I’m not going to spend anymore time on it.
Two blockbuster movies I did like were Kick-Ass, a smart post-modern comic book film and hopefully the moment Matthew Vaughn became the filmmaker in the eyes of the industry that everyone else has known for years.
Robin Hood, I surprisingly, had few problems with. Ridley Scott at his summer machismo best, a movie that is deftly put together, with quality direction. Ok, so it wasn’t the Hood mythology we all knew, but it was an interesting take on it, no? I actually like what they did and I’m surprised this movie didn’t catch on like Batman Begins.
It was also so great to see Mel Gibson back in bad-ass form with Edge of Darkness but he’s self combusted these past few weeks, and his return looks to be over. From Paris With Love tells us why John Travolta really needs a change in career roles.
In terms of comedy films, I actually laughed my ass off at Get Him To The Greek, and it was a welcomed spin-off to Forgetting Sarah Marshall. It’s much more worthy of being crowned this year’s version of The Hangover, rather than Hot Tub Time Machine which has a few laughs but it’s concept goes flat very fast, and is kinda stupid, all in all. I’m not particularly rushing out to see it again, which is a shame.
She’s Out of My League was surprisingly ok. As was Date Night (I’m still stunned I actually enjoyed a Shawn Levy movie).
Youth in Revolt was a cool exercise in something different for Michael Cera, but it’s pretentiousness of trying be a new wave French/Italian indie in the 21st century rubbed me the wrong way. I mean it cites Breathless and La Strada too many times, you feel like it’s trying desperately to say “look, I’ve seen this important movies – I’m cultured – I know what I’m talking about”.
The Bounty Hunter and Killers were both second-rate Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s.
Rom-coms I’ve seen in 2010nd a I can’t gather much enthusiasm for – Leap Year, Valentine’s Day, When in Rome
Greenberg is over rated and boring but Chloe was a smart, sexy thriller that has changed forever the way I see Amanda Seyfried. I just can’t watch her anymore… all I see is the disturbing character she plays here.
The Wolfman terrifies me over what Universal might do with the rest of their monsters they are trying to revive right now and I just don’t need to see The Invisible Man treated with such contempt. Legion was just bad. Cop Out, despite a cool ending, felt too much like Kevin Smith doing just that and I don’t see what purpose it served for him other than to alienate his fans.
Willis gives another one of his tired performances. He looks more interested in Red though, so we’ll see.
Onto horror then;
The Crazies was ok compared to other films we’ve seen in this genre lately I suppose, but I didn’t go crazy for it. It’s certainly no Romero. A Nightmare on Elm Street was so bad, I was hoping that Freddy Krueger would put me out of my misery whilst watching it. I kinda like the Freddy backstory but outside of that, it was terrible.
A couple of movies that got away and I didn’t get to catch;
The Book of Eli, Repo Men, The Losers.
Your turn – Let us know what movies you liked, what you didn’t and how you rate 2010 so far!