January 30, 2010

Year In Review: 2009 Cinema Viewings

The first time I can ever remember going out to the movies was in 1989, to see Batman. I was only eight years old when my mother took me and my friend to see it. I was amped up on fuckin' candy and soda, had a pocket full of Garbage Pail Kids and Batman cards and was screaming Pee-Wee Style like a little idiot! When I think back on that day, I remember knowing that the movie was going to rock even before I saw it... but I was NOT however, expecting to piss my freakin' pants as the Joker joy-buzzered that son of a bitch and left his greasy, smoking skeleton in that suit and tie! That shit scared the crap out of me. No joke. F'n warped my brain, maaannn!

After that and throughout my teen years I would hit the Cineplexes, Drive-In and the Local One-Screen sporadically. It wasn't until around 2000 when I started going more and more, and around 2006 when it started becoming more than a hobby. After last year, I found that I had become addicted... and while I haven't really sat down and figured it all out, I know I'm going to go less this time around. In 2009 (click HERE later for my DVDAF listing), I kind of went off with my trips to the cinemas. By that I mean, I probably made about 69 or 70 showings. My 2008 could be somewhere around 44 showings. Why did I go that much? Aside from the fact that I feel really "at home" and excited in that dark place, there are a couple reasons and they're probably reasonably normal. I either, wanted to see the film, was bored and just went to see one, or was taken to one (which I didn't exactly want to see).

I was more than reluctant to see Hotel For Dogs, not that I have anything against Hotels... well, now that I think of it. Nah, you know what, Hotels and Dogs can both go to hell. But what was I going to do? Then there's The Proposal and The Ugly Truth, way to tarnish a good enough list but I guess sometimes it's ok to shut the old brain down for a while. All that drama aside, I had a lot of fun times, and I got lucky this year in that I got to see some of my absolute favorite films on the big screen (in a room full of weirdos, students, druggies and aging hipsters). Dario Argento's Suspiria, Wes Craven's Nightmare On Elm Street, Roman Polanski's Repulsion, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, OMFS... let's check the stats on some of the horror classics:

Alien (1979)
Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn (1987)
Friday the 13th (Alternate Version) (1980)
Gremlins (1984)
My Bloody Valentine (Edited) (1981)
Nightmare on Elm Street, A (1984)
Repulsion (1965)
Shining, The (1980)
Suspiria (Edited 'X-Rated' UK Version) (1977)

Not too bad. Suspiria was a 'rare British Technicolor print' and looked f'n amazing! The level of detail, clarity and color was spot-on perfect... but when the heart stabbing was skipped over there was a bit of rage that I felt clouding up in my brain. I clenched my jaw in anger, but tried to not let it bother me. And I kept trying as a few shots of the dog chowing down on his master's neck and my favorite straight razor throat slicing were nowhere to be seen as well.

Of all the above movies, My Bloody Valentine faired the worst in terms of the print. The film was CUT to shit, drained of color and scratchier than usual... and I like scratchy. Not that I regret anything about it, seeing this double feature with Friday The 13th, on Friday, February 13th was pretty sweet. But after staying late for this midnight showing, myself and the few that remained seemed fairly disappointed. Especially after the packed house of hollering, screaming and stoned people who made F13 a blast.

Nightmare On Elm Street was nightmare come true to see, as it is one of my few rare Full Stars favorites. It was supposed to play with Ghostbusters, but something happened there and I think when they opened the canisters found Gremlins inside instead. Oh well. Evil Dead 2 on Halloween was rowdy as all hell and just fantastic atmosphere. People were going nuts and some of them had to be restrained, almost... they probably just smoked some more weed and calmed down. Alien is a classic in Space Horror and there's nothing wrong with checking out Ripley's tee shirt at the end.

The Shining, which was the first movie I went to see in 2009, is simply put, meant to be seen on the big screen. Until then, I had only ever seen The Shining on home video, on small televisions. The cinematography inside that hotel and how Kubrik handles it is masterful. It was a whole new experience for me, and now that I've got my Home Cinema set up (minus extravagant sound system - sigh), I'm hoping to check it out again soon… The same as I will when I grab Repulsion on BluRay. Polanski's film is intoxicating and really got inside my head... it's high on my list of best films ever made. Next time you find a few hundred bucks in your wallet, I say go out and pick up the Criterion BD.

Friday the 13th (2009) (x2)
Jennifer's Body (2009)
Let the Right One In (2008)
My Bloody Valentine (3-D Version) (2009)
Orphan (2009)
Trick 'r Treat (2008)
Zombieland (2009) (x2)

Let the new horror classics come to pass! Let me start off by saying that I've seen quite a few 3-D films in the last two years at the Cinema, and NONE OF THEM can match the 3-D that My Bloody Valentine pulled off. I don't mind subtle 3-D, but I am not anti-gimmick shots. MBV was filled with sick ass slick shots that were right in your f'n face... case in point, that shotgun wielding old-dude with the sinister laugh. I could see that shotgun floating over the first fifteen rows, and it was killer! (How anyone could glorify Cameron like he f'n invented 3-D with Avatar need to get their damn heads checked. And anyways, there was hardly any of it going on with his movie... weak, at best). Oh, and not only did MBV wow me on the visuals but the movie was just f'n great, taking a pickaxe to the original with a furious vengeance.

Got to see two more that people all over the net were raving about, and after viewing them, I know now why. Trick 'R Treat and Let The Right one In... Both of these are instant classics and just so beyond greatness that it's almost scary. While the top grossing movie ever at the moment is giving people post-traumatic depression disorders (bullshit), these two movies which crush it by all means, are making people feel goooooood. Good like they smoked a fatty and drank all their dad's beer.

I dig the new Friday film. The intro was awesomeness, the nudity was total sweetness and I mean, who doesn't dig underground tunnels? Best damn "let's see them titties again" under the dock death ever created, and Jason even checks out his new mask in the mirror. Vanity? You bet your ass! A month after seeing this I snuck in and saw it again after seeing Taken. I just had to do it, it was too crusty and I needed to see it once more.

Zombieland is one that I didn't think would be too good, and while there's something about it that's a bit empty, it surpassed my expectations. That slow motion For Whom The Bell Tolls intro definitely didn't hurt... and neither did the biggest scare moment of my f'n life when they showed that clown creeping under the bathroom's stall door! Shocked the hell out of me, then left me laughing uncontrollably for ten minutes after to the point where I almost had to leave so other's could enjoy the rest.

A lot of people were talking shit about Orphan before they even saw it, but once they did, I guess most of them either changed their opinions or just shut up. I thought it kicked ass, and I didn't think it was going to. But things got Evil, Hot and even more Evil which you know I tend to enjoy.

Jennifer's Body is most definitely the best film of 2009. No doubt about it. Don't doubt me.

Best Worst Movie (2009)
Drag Me to Hell (2009)
Final Destination, The (3-D Version) (2009)
From Inside (2008)
H2 ( Halloween 2 ) (2009)
Last House on the Left, The (2009)
New Moon, The ( Twilight Saga ) (2009) (x2)
Paranormal Activity (2007)
Unborn, The (2009)
Uninvited, The (2009)

Best Worst Movie is Michael Stephenson's documentary on the film he starred in, Troll 2. It's an honest, intriguing, uplifting, sometimes saddening and fun film. He and star George Hardy were in attendance and talked a bit onstage afterwards. I've loved Troll 2 from the first time I saw it, probably around 1996. I think I may have rented it on VHS along with Bad Taste, hmm... and I'm definitely down with this whole T2 phenomenon that's going on with screenings and green food parties. It's badass.

The Final Destination in 3-D was pretty sweet for a movie featuring very uninteresting main characters. The 3-D was above average and from what I've seen, second best to MBV. That ‘Nascar’ destruction was particularly brutal and I smiled during every blood splattering second! Some of the film is laughable, and the whole pool sucking out the dude's insides scene had my eyes rolling in circles, I still liked it. Drag Me To Hell was also a fun little getaway from the horrors of living life. I don't think it was as good as others have said, but it does get up there on the average of other crap that's shoved down our gullets... not much unlike a fist elbow deep down our throats.

Kristen Stewart and Ashley Green are mad hot. Ashley's that kind of mad hot where you close your eyes in the shower and get soap stinging afterwards. New Moon's dream scene introduction was great, and one of the definite standout scenes. Apart from the hot, overflowing, teen Melodrama and depression there were some pretty funny scenes to balance it all out and make the film enjoyable overall. Overall that is, despite the horrible direction Chris Weitz brought. I don't mind them changing directors each film, but this guy is just bland as shit. Catherine Hardwicke delivered the absolute perfection in the way she framed and shot the first film. Weitz just doesn't make the cut with his simple style that couldn't be saved by his overrated CGI "expertise". Oh, and way too many shirtless dudes.

The Uninvited was a sleek and sexy remake of "A Tale of Two Sisters" which had me drooling over the three beautiful leads, Emily Browning, Arielle Kebbel and Liz Banks. That's just damn good casting right there, no doubt about. There were a lot of really nice touches like how nobody ever talks to Alex during the movie, but you won't really notice if you're not thinking about it. The Uninvited played through smoothly and didn't drop out like The Unborn did. Thanks are due, however, to that film's saving grace, Odette Yustman. She basically is the movie. Drop dead gorgeous she is, and I wouldn't have been able to give the film what little praise I do without her looking so f'n good in every shot.

Paranormal Activity was really slow and the two leads were rather annoying, but it was interesting to catch this in the Cinema with a whole load of superstitious people and scared middle aged women out for a thrill. All these comparisons to The Blair Witch Project obviously won't ever end, but while TBWP is perhaps the worst film ever made (!), Paranormal isn't nearly as bad as it could have been. But it's still only "ok" enough to get a passing grade from me.

Rob Zombie's H2 gave me a powerful migraine headache, and from a guy who never gets headaches, I knew it had to be something awful. The loud annoying beats, pounding drums, flickering lights and dark baron fields which Mikey slowly makes his way across left my brain in pain.

John Bergin's slow still-picture animated film From Inside nearly put me to death. Sorry dude. It was a great effort on his part, doing it all himself like that, but damn, man... it should have been a 30 minute short.

I can't remember the Last House remake, as I was OBLITERATED at time of viewing.

Bugs! A Rainforest Experience (3-D Version) (2003)
District 9 (2009)
Gamer (2009)
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)
Moon (2009)
NeverEnding Story, The (1984)
Race to Witch Mountain (2009)
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (IMAX) (2009)
Watchmen (IMAX) (2009) (x2,one Regular Cinema)
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

Starting to get further away from Horror, there's still some level of disturbing imagary to be had. I first saw Watchmen at the IMAX, and was blown away. It's visually stunning, sometimes overwhelming (in a good way), the music was dead correct (some may say controversial, I don't think so), the material was class, the direction was splendid, and the violence... sigh... half the general public, hell maybe even more, were not expecting Watchmen to be what it is. Those are the facts as I say them. People were Aghast at the meat cleaver to the skull. The silence during the near rape sequence was so quiet that you could start to hear the ‘uncomfortableness.’ I counted quite a few kids there, ages six up, heh. One woman brought her twelve year old daughter to see the movie. I watched them as they walked up the isle, before they sat somewhere behind me. When that rape scene hit, then the blue tube sock, and then the steamy hot Sex on the Blimp... I just couldn't help but try to picture the look on that woman's face.

The Rise of Cobra was non-stop turn your brain off pretty action and just proceded to kick major ass! While all the characters were pretty much ruined from their cartoon counterparts in some way or another, it really didn't stop this one from ruling teh schools. Baroness and Storm Shadow have always been my favorite two characters and they're in nearly every scene. I'm cool with that. The ending leaves open what could potentially fix a lot of the film's flaws (which there were quite a few character-wise) and be an even superior sequel. I hope it all goes down that way. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was a mishmash of me wanting to rip MY OWN face off, and me somewhat enjoying a bit of what I was seeing. The Decepticons get a lot more talking time, which isn't much and they're "fleshed out" a bit more... but I'm not a fan of The Fallen himself, nor am I of Megatron calling him "master". What the fuck is that? The IMAX scenes were awesome looking and the fight in the forest where SPOILERS Optimus Prime is brutally murdered by Megatron BOOYAH! was rather enjoyable. Soundwave with his tentacle rapishness on that satellite was hot too. But it could have been so much better! Michael Bay, I hope your films become stepping stones for much better and less ‘humany’ sequels, preferably made by someone else with a lot of money. Not James Cameron.

District 9 and Moon are both cool new worthy submissions to the Sci-Fi genre. They've both got some really creepy elements of terror, and are well made in design and graphics. Plus, Sam Rockwell is the man. Gamer is a decent Cyberpunk addition that is a lot more fun than it looks at first. Definitely check it out if you haven't yet, because there is some whacky-ass shit goin' on! Wolverine was cool for what it was, despite screwing around certain characters, but that's expected in any X-Men film, obviously. Hugh and Liev did bang-up jobs, and the rest of the cast was ok, but any of the film's wrongdoing can't be blamed on the supporting cast for after all it's the scriptwriter (and the people who gave his documents the OK) that's to blame. If Race to Witch Mountain was Rated R it would have been a hell of a lot better. The cast was good enough (love AnnaSophia Robb and Carla Gudino) and this may just be your last chance to see The Rock sporting testicles on film.

Did I mention that I got to see one of my very favorite films from my childhood years in a one day only showing? The NeverEnding Story! It's bloody brilliant. Some of the elements, mainly which this is a scary movie for kids, are now funnier than ever since we've grown older. For instance how Bastian talks to himself like a complete dork, or how all the characters seem a little bit gay. Especially that Luck Dragon, what the hell was up with that guy? Always grabbing Atreyu's butt cheeks and winking. Anyways, seeing this at the theatre marked a great f'n day in the year that was my 2009. And there weren't many, trust me.

9 (2009)
Avatar (3-D Version) (2009)
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (3-D Version) (2009)
Coraline (3-D Version) (2009)
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
G-Force (2-D Version) (2009)
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (3-D Version) (2009)
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
Looney Tunes: Hair-Raising Hare (1946)
Looney Tunes: Claws for Alarm (1954)
Looney Tunes: Water, Water Every Hare (1952) (x2)
Monsters vs. Aliens (IMAX) (2009)

Monsters Vs Aliens was bland, but looked pretty and Ginormica is cute for a Toon. But it was too kiddy for me, whereas Cloudy With A Chance was just so randomly funny, nerdish and weird that I couldn't help but feel good after seeing it. Coraline had a way darker tone and is a pretty f'n sweet stop motion animated film, despite the 3-D being for the most part subtle. 9 was dark as all hell, which is great, but could have used a little something to spice things up. Something seemed off, or uh, unfinished about it.

Ice Age: Dawn had only about two good characters, but wasn't a full on waste of time as there were some good parts here and there. Still, I'm no fan of those films. G-Force sucked major arse. Please, no more... and Avatar: Pocahontas meets Dances with Wolves on a Blue alien planet. I don't mind both of those films, and I even think Wolves is downright beautiful. But this guy in Avatar is no Kevin Costner, baby, let me tell you. And despite the money this movie raked in, I'm really not seeing what's so "revolutionary" about it. The 3-D, quite frankly, fuckin' stunk. And there were a lot of cliché type things going on story wise, total recycled business. The hair tip feeler / organic bonding mechanisms were just plain gross. I however did like the graphics, and the way spots of the trees would light up as they were walked upon. Nice touch. I don't want to start hating this film because of the press its getting, but it's all affecting me in a negative way to the point where it just may do so. Because I don't really dislike the film as it is now, but it's not at all powerful as people are trying to make it.

Fantastic Mr. Fox is pure visual brilliance on the other hand. It's a definite must own ones it comes out in the high def format. I always love it when stop motion animation hits the screen or gets public attention, as it's one of my favorite types of film to watch. While I'm only moderately into Wes Anderson, this was great no matter what. On Halloween, apart from seeing Trick 'R Treat and Evil Dead 2, I got a free showing of Charlie Brown's It's the Great Pumpkin and some Looney Tunes Halloween shorts. The Great Pumpkin is kind of boring, but clever as Peanuts always is, and Bugs Bunny is definitely fruity.

(500) Days of Summer (2009)
Adventureland (2009)
Brothers (2009)
Brüno (2009)
Gran Torino (2008)
Greatest Places, The (IMAX 180° OMNIDOME Version) (1998)
Hangover, The (2009)
Hotel for Dogs (2009)
JCVD (2008)
Law Abiding Citizen (2009)
Ninja Assassin (2009)
Observe and Report (2009)
Proposal, The (2009)
Soloist, The (2009)
State of Play (2009)
Taken - Extended Cut (2008)
Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, The (2009)
Ugly Truth, The (2009)
Wrestler, The (2008)

JCVD is a brave step for Van Damme, but who knows what's going to happen with him these days. Ninja Assassin is incredibly violent, shocking and gross (with mucho CG) but pretty much brainless. Taken was better than expected, and Maggie Grace as the most lust-inducing movie daughter of all time was quite a treat. The Wrestler was a powerful film which I wish Aronofsky could have used a lot less tracking from behind on. There were standout performances from Mickey and Marissa (who spends nearly every single one of her scenes naked), nice, and another good showing from my main stalkee Evan Rachael Wood. Oh, and Todd Barry caught masturbating, PRICELESS!

The Ugly Truth and The Proposal each had about two or three good and/or funny scenes, and aren't as horrible as most every other film of that type. There's at least something for the guys in both of these, so it's not a total waste. Gran Torino and The Soloist both probably should have gotten more recognition than they did, as they're both well done dramas that creep up and get'cha. Brothers is a slow to boil pot burster, that is pretty much "a long version of the trailer." You've seen the trailer, that's the film, only drawn out to get deeper into emotional realms before shit goes boom! I'm not saying don't see the film and instead watch the trailer, but whoever wrote that was right about the movie. Taking of Pelham remake was ok at best, and Law Abiding Citizen was stunningly outlandish.

Observe and Report, and Brüno... hmm...

(500) Days of Summer and Adventureland were both pretty good non-comedy romantic comedies. I'd say give both of them a view, though, (500) is more quirkish and depending on your views on these kinds of people (I'm not going to use any annoying terms), might bug you. However, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has got to be one of the best actors around, so you can't go wrong there. The whole Reality vs. Expectations split screen was great, and how the film jumped around kept things more interesting than usual. Adventureland is somewhat dry, but it still feels good to the senses… even if Jesse Eisenberg is there. The Hangover was decent. I don't really see how it got as huge as it did, but I'm not really complaining. Personally I thought Pineapple Express the year before is far, far superior... but what do I know about comedies meant for seventeen year old drinkers and occasional weed users anyways?

So I guess that was my 2009 in the big dark, sticky floored, squeaky seat filled room. I'm not proud of all of it, but there’s nothing I can do about it either. And I don’t regret watching films either, for the most part. I think it was a Girl who once said, “If you don’t watch everything, then how do you know what’s bad?” Or something like that… My question usually isn’t if it’s going to be bad, but rather, how bad?

2 comments:

KFelon said...

Why do you think Jennifer's Body was the best movie of last year? It wasn't horrible, but to me it wasn't all that great other than Amanda Seyfried's acting.... and that kiss.

District 9 and Trick 'r Treat would be 2 of my top picks for best movies to get released in 2009 that I actually saw.

I also agree that G.I. Joe wasn't as terrible as people were saying if you turn off your brain.

DWizard said...

Why did I like Jennifer's Body? Because it was stupid as shit. It was horrible by all means and that's what made it good. I'm sick of all these movies trying to be slick, but looking like shit. This was the film of the year, despite how people feel about the writer (and how she gays shit up with her terms). Plus, 2009 sucked arse.

Look at this list, and tell me that Jennifer's Body isn't the best up there:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_in_film

My words are my own and as of posted from their creation forward I hereby claim originality to them. Pictures may prove to be promotional items and are the sole possessions of their respectful owners and/or companies. I do not sell, nor do I buy. I only rent, so therefore, nothing I own is truly mine.