Archive for January, 2010

06
Jan
10

Top Ten Movies of 2009

What a year it has been for movies. From a film for fanboys (“Watchmen”) to a teeny-bopper supernatural romance (“New Moon”), from a Jarhead visiting a world of blue people (“Avatar”) to ugly aliens visiting our own (“District 9”), from man’s continuing struggle to against the machine (“Terminator Salvation”) to the machines having taken over and a scientist’s soul divided into mini-creations trying to survive (“9”), from the return of 80’s cartoons as live action (“G.I. Joe”) to the return of 80’s horror (“The Stepfather”) and everything in between (there were TWO movies about mall security cops), it truly has been a year.

As far as film goes and in my own opinion it’s been a tough year. One can blame the economic recession/depression for monetary aspects, but it’s been an overall success for the Industry for the year. This year was more about the aftermath of the 2007-2008 writers strike than any other single factor.

It was difficult making this year’s list because the overall feeling from watching movies this year was “meh.” I enjoyed quite a few movies, but the indies seemed to have peaked the year that “No Country for Old Men” saw release and the blockbusters haven’t held the caliber of “Iron Man” (although “G.I. Joe” was more fun than “Transformers 2”) Another problem with constructing the list was that three of my favorite films I saw this year (“Frost/Nixon,” ‘The Wrestler,” “Gran Torino”) were limited release 2008 in cities such as NY and LA and therefore had to be struck from the list.

Here, in order of release/when I viewed them, are my Top Ten movies of 2009 and my thoughts:

“Star Trek” – “Alias” and “Lost” creator JJ Abrams was given the keys to Kirk and Company and made a fun and enjoyable movie that was truly a reason to go to the movie theatre. Chris Pine channeled a bit of Shatner while Zach Quinto did a spot-on Spock. Some have called it “Star Trek for Star Wars fans” and that may have a bit of truth to it, but it doesn’t take away from being a solid, enjoyable film.

“Up” – If this year had a theme it would be “films that other people thought shouldn’t work but did.” “Up” was being crucified before it got to the theatres. I saw an article where “Wall Street” experts were predicting it as a failure for Pixar. The result? A heartfelt, beautifully colored solid story about a former balloon salesman uprooting his house for the ultimate adventure of his life taking along a stowaway who needs a father figure. It may not have the technology of “Avatar” but the story was original and solid and Pixar up’d their technology work with the brilliance of their color palette.

“The Hangover” – A movie I probably would not have watched had it not been for the free screening. The initial WB test screening went so well they ordered a sequel, which I had never heard of happening before. My brother and I went to a PACKED screening at the Commerce Crossings theatre two weeks in advance. Walking out of the movie my brother gave it the best endorsement I’ve ever heard for a movie: “I would pay to see that again.” So would I.

“District 9” – Following “Moon,” (which gets Honorable Mention) director Neil Blomkamp took racial prejudice in South Africa and changed it to alienation of aliens. Shot on a limited budget and handheld/doc-style, it was an innovative sci-fi film and one that should raise the bar for doing science fiction films.

“Inglourious Basterds” – Tarantino threw everything but the blender into this one: a hodge-podge of war films, exploitation, film geekness, and World War II. This film ran the risk of being exclusively for those who love films and/or Tarantino and while that concept may seem to be running on fumes, and trust me it has its faults, overall it tied together at the end. It’s not “Kill Bill” or “Pulp Fiction,” but it’s a worthwhile addition to the Tarantino catalog.

“Capitalism: A Love Story” – One of the most personal of Michael Moore’s films and his best since, “Bowling for Columbine.” It got snubbed for next year’s Academy Awards and that just goes to show Californians DO love their money…

“Paranormal Activity” – Most likened to being this decade “Blair Witch,” this really IS the little movie that could. Done for $15,000 and shot in one location this preyed on those times when you sit in a house, alone, and hear the creaking of the floors, strange noises, etc. This is a film that works best on people who have imaginations, as opposed to those who enjoy the “idiotic group of college teenagers going out to an abandoned shack” formula. I caught a late showing on a Tuesday night and couldn’t get the final scene outta my head. On DVD next week!

“The Blind Side” – So I had to put another “heartwarming” movie on the list. It wasn’t groundbreaking and you could tell the smarminess from the get-go, but I enjoyed the film. Not everything I watch has to be earth-shattering or socially conscious; sometimes it’s nice to fit in an “uplifting” movie.

“Me and Orson Welles” – Charming, amusing movie rooted in its when and where. I am not a big fan of Orson Welles as a person or his personality, but Christian McKay did such a spot-on job with playing Orson Welles it’s uncanny. It was great speaking with Ed Hart about this one; it truly deserves to be recognized. I wish it luck.

“Avatar” – I initially thought against putting this in the Top Ten but Cameron’s attention to detail and use of 3-D technology make this one to be seen. It’s not a great story; in fact, you’ve already seen it as “Dune,” “Dances with Wolves,” etc. The attention to detail and world of Pandora that Cameron created are what sets this above the others.

There are others that deserve mention (“Moon,” “Zombieland”) but these were the ten best for the year (that I watched). Feel free to give your comments. Happy holidays and see you at the movies!

Chas Andrews

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06
Jan
10

In Passing… 2009

The following is a list of entertainers who have passed on in 2009. Rest in Peace.

Pat Hingle (July 19, 1924 – January 3, 2009)

Patrick McGoohan (March 19, 1928 – January 13, 2009)

Ricardo Montalban (November 25, 1920 – January 14, 2009)

James Whitmore (October 1, 1921 – February 6, 2009)

Ron Silver (July 2, 1946 – March 15, 2009)

Natasha Richardson (May 11, 1963 – March 18, 2009)

Bea Arthur (May 13, 1922 – April 25, 2009)

Dom DeLuise (August 1, 1933 – May 4, 2009)

David Carradine (December 8, 1936 – June 3, 2009)

Ed McMahon (March 6, 1923 – June 23, 2009)

Farrah Fawcett (February 2, 1947 – June 25, 2009)

Michael Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009)

Billy Mays (July 20, 1958 – June 28, 2009)

Karl Malden (March 22, 1942 – July 1, 2009)

Walter Cronkite (November 4, 1916 – July 17, 2009)

John Hughes (February 18, 1950 – August 6, 2009)

Patrick Swayze (August 18, 1952 – September 14, 2009)

Soupy Sales (January 28, 1926 – October 22, 2009)

Edward Woodward (June 1, 1930 – November 16, 2009)

Brittany Murphy (November 10, 1977 – December 20, 2009)

06
Jan
10

January Movie Release Schedule

“Daybreakers” – 2017. A plague has changed most of the human race into vampires, which are threatened with a dwindling blood supply. Meanwhile a researcher (Ethan Hawke) struggles to find a way to save the human race. Opens January 8, 2010

“Leap Year” – Amy Adams to follow an Irish tradition that allows women to propose to men on Feb. 29th and the man has to say “yes.” So, she follows her boyfriend to Dublin to do so but falls in love with someone else. Opens January 8, 2010

“Youth in Revolt” – Michael Cera is a teenager who falls for the girl of his dreams and develops a split personality who creates havoc. Wasn’t this “Fight Club?” Also stars Ray Liotta, Steve Buscemi, M. Emmet Walsh, Justin Long, and Fred Willard. Opens January 8, 2010

“The Book of Eli” – Denzel Washington is a lone man who is trying to bring society redemption through knowledge culmed from the aforementioned book. Gary Oldman is the sheriff of a small town determined to take the book. Opens January 15, 2010

“The Lovely Bones” – Peter Jackson (“LOTR,” “King Kong”) movie based on the Alice Sebold novel about a girl who views life after death –literally. Stars Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Stanley Tucci, and Susan Sarandon. Opens January 15, 2010

“The Spy Next Door” – Jackie Chan babysits some kids when one of them downloads a secret code. Suddenly he’s forced to fend off secret agents. Also stars George Lopez and Billy Ray Cyrus. Opens January 15, 2010

“Creation” – Paul Bettany is Charles Darwin as he struggles between his scientific theories and his religious wife. Opens January 22, 2010

“Extraordinary Measures” – Brendan Fraser is a corporate up-and-comer who finds that his two kids have a fatal disease. He walks away from it all and teams up with an unconventional, underappreciated scientist (Harrison Ford) to create a bio-tech company focused on making a life-saving drug. Opens January 22, 2010

“Legion” – Paul Bettany is an archangel trying to save humanity after God gives up on it and sends an army of angels to begin the apocalypse. Mankind’s future rests on a woman about t give birth to a child who will be the next Christ. Also stars Dennis Quaid and Tyrese Gibson. Opens January 22, 2010

“The Tooth Fairy” – Dwayne Johnson is a hockey player that brutalizes on the field as well as off. One night he’s given a new charge: being a tooth fairy. Also stars Julie Andrews. Opens January 22, 2010

“Edge of Darkness” – Mel Gibson is a cop whose daughter’s death is cover-up by the government. He teams with a hit man (Ray Winstone) and sets out to avenge her death. Opens January 29, 2010

“When in Rome” – Kristen Bell is disillusioned with romance. While on a trip to Rome she plucks a coin from a fountain, suddenly bringing her suitors. But whose love is for real? Opens January 29, 2010

06
Jan
10

Movie News and Views December 28, 2009 Trailer Edition

“Frozen” – A horror movie set on a ski resort. I guess everything IS eventual. Opens February 5, 2010

“Valentine’s Day” – The complexities of love and life in L.A. Stars Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Biel, Jennifer Garner, Topher Grace, Patrick Dempsey, Jamie Foxx, etc. Opens February 12, 2010

“Bounty Hunter” – A bounty hunter (Gerard Butler) has to retrieve his ex-wife (Jennifer Aniston) who has skipped bail. No doubt romance and hilarity will ensue… Opens March 19, 2010

“Repo Men” – Following all the previous genetic “repo” movies, this one follows a man (Jude Law) who is one of the best repo men in the biz and finds that he’s a payment or two behind. Opens April 2, 2010

“Back-Up Plan” – J. Lo stars as a woman who conceives twins via artificial insemination only to meet the man of her dreams the next day. Is anyone going to really watch this? Opens April 16, 2010

“Iron Man 2” – Director Jon Favreau ups the ante on the sequel to 2008’s “Iron Man.” This time around Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) faces off between a new weapons manufacturer (Sam Rockwell), a Russian prisoner who creates his own suit (Mickey Rourke), and a new assistant (Scarlett Johansson) who has an evil altar ego. Opens May 7, 2010

“Robin Hood” – Russell Crowe plays the titular character in this epic directed by Ridley Scott. Also stars Cate Blanchett, William Hurt, Mark Strong, and Max von Sydow. Opens May 14, 2010

“Shrek Forever After” – The fourth –and final- installment of the green ogre franchise. Opens May 21, 2010

“Sex and the City 2” – Women. Shopping. Sex. Manhattan. Sequel. Based on HBO series. Opens May 28, 2010

“Marmaduke” – Movie based on the havoc-wreaking Great Dane from the comic strip of the same name (located somewhere in your local newspaper around Family Circle). Stars Owen Wilson, Emma Stone, Ron Perlman, William H. Macy, and George Lopez. Opens June 4, 2010

“The Karate Kid” – A remake/reboot/re-ignite of the film that made Ralph Macchio a star, this time around it’s about a kid (Jaden Smith) who moves to China and learns the ways of “wax on, wax off,” from Mr. Han (Jackie Chan). Opens June 11, 2010

“Toy Story 3” – It’s to the day care for the gang as Any goes to college. Opens June 18, 2010

“Knight and Day” – Cameron Diaz is a lonely woman whose blind date (Tom Cruise) happens to be a super-spy on a mission that just got a little more… impossible. Opens July 2, 2010