Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The year in film.

I am a big film buff and thought that as all the critics were assembling their best of lists, that I might do the same. It was a kind of interesting year cinematically. There was a seemingly endless list of bad horror films. Few really dominant blockbusters and some unexpected surprises. I will only discuss films that I have seen so some that seem to be appearing on many lists will not be on mine. Sometimes this will be because the films have had such limited releases that I have not yet had the opportunity to view them, and sometimes because I have had no interest in seeing them, and sometimes both. (Brokeback Mountain for example)

I will begin with films that I really enjoyed watching even though they are not great works of art. The Popcorns.

1. Mr. and Mrs. Smith - This film was far better than it had any business being. Both Brad Pitt, who I am only just beginning to appreciate, and Angelina Jolie, who I could generally live without, were enjoyably watchable. There was alot of witty dialouge and watching them circle each other in ignorance at first and then in suspicion was fun.

2. Red Eye - One of the best thrillers in years. Cillian Murphy was actually frightening. Most of the time roles like his are overblown to the point of being absurd. His character was so understated that he could have been a manipulative stalker. Rachel MacAdams was delightful. She was professional and hardworking and when push came to shove, she took no crap from him and made sure that he got what he had coming to him. She really impressed in this film. She seems to be recognized more for some of her other films, but she was very good in this one.

3. Constantine. Keanu Reeves in a role that he could handle. He usually seems best when not a lot of demands are made on him as an actor, but he has to ability to deliver within his range. I am curious why Rachel Weisz seems to costar with him so often. This is at least the second time they have done so.

Next we turn to the big fun films.

1. Serenity. Joss Whedon brought Firefly to life. The film did not do as well at the box office as many had hoped, but I suspect that it will grow on DVD just like the series did. Perhaps it will do well enough for him to keep it alive again.

2. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. The third best of the Star Wars films, Lucas finally came close to getting it right. The last two were just awful so he redeemed himself somewhat. It was rather disappointing though to realize that one of the greatest forces of darkness in universe was ulitmately brought about by teenage hormones and petulance. Instead of telling Anakin that he was chosen, perhaps they should have tried knocking some sense into the arrogant little twerp. Also, Hayden Christensen is awful.

2. Batman Begins. The best Batman film since the first one and the best Batman of them all. Michael Keaton was a very good Bruce Wayne, but not as strong as Batman. Christian Bale handled both sides of the job well. The new Batmobile ruled.

3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. With this film they seemed to have found the knack for compressing the rather lengthy books into a smaller more compact form suitable for film. They jetisoned most of the subplots and just kept the story on track. Voldemort was appropriately evil. As the characters age, the darkness they face does as well. I have to wonder if they will be able to continue to present that in a form suitable for children.

4. Sin City. Richard Rodriguez is one of the few directors that should be allowed to make films the way he does with the rampant use of CGI. He can do what George Lucas thinks he can. Sin City is a grand example of this style of filmmaking.

5. Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The ultimate object lesson on why children should not take candy from strangers. They often want something that you really don't want to give. The film was well made and Edmund is still a schmuck.


1. War of the Worlds. This film was just bad.

2. Fantastic Four. They ended just as the story began to climax. If you remember Spiderman, the Goblin was presented as a menace to more than just Spiderman prior to the final battle in the streets. In this film, the first public appearance of Doctor Doom is in the big battle. Also, Jessica Alba is just to young to be Susan Storm. This kind of thinking is anathema to Hollywood, but the character had a Ph.D from MIT and had been out of school for eight years. Alba is 24 years old. Sue Storm had to be at least 35.

3. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I am a huge fan of the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Gene Wilder's performance. Johnny Depp's Willy Wonka was a freak who should never be allowed near children. Also, their Umpa Lumpa was inferior to the original.

The one film I really wanted to see that never came to Oxford was A History of Violence.


Blogger exMI said...

I will take a pass on Star Wars. I despised Anakin too much to get involved. Constantine was an interesting idea but wa not developed enough as a movie to really cut it. taht and the Holy Shotgun of Antioch didn't really translate well to film from the comics.

8:33 AM  

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