Posts Tagged ‘Chloe Moretz’

Top 10 of 2010!

January 5, 2011

 

And here we are again!  Another year down and another slew of movies to comprehend and compare.  Unlike the last few years, 2010 brought a cavalcade of competent cinema that was absolutely unprecedented.  I was fully unprepared for the likes of the last few months and the intense entries into the Oscar season that began to give way as the year came to a close.  Now, as always, I’m certain that this list will be viewed as juvenile and haphazard (story of my life) but these are MY top 10 movies of the year.  I wish I could watch all of these entries over again to more properly gauge my level of enthusiasm and their prowess, however, I will stand by every one of these entries and will fight you to the death for any of them!  (Though I will admit, I give major kudos to originality and ingenuity in form over traditional cinematic bravado)  Let the ranking begin!

10.  127 Hours


Danny Boyle does so much with so very little.  In this masterful retelling of the infamous expedition-gone-wrong of Aron Ralston, Boyle makes the story of a man trapped in the desert for five days into a life-affirming, absurdly inspirational tale.  Boyle deserves immense credit for taking  a cinematically antithetical story and turning it into one of the most captivating of the year.

9.  Never Let Me Go


Mark Romanek made a big splash on the screen this year with this film, which delves into themes of humanity, fate, and despondency at the hands of one’s own demise.  All against the backdrop of a beautifully filmed, beautifully performed script.  Never Let Me Go reaffirmed Andrew Garfield’s, Carey Mulligan’s, and Keira Knightley’s prowess all in one fail swoop.

8.  True Grit


Being the second Coen brothers movie I have ever ACTUALLY enjoyed, True Grit put multiple stereotypes of mine to rest.  I was concerned about ANOTHER overly hyped Coen flick, I was concerned about another update of a classic western, and I was concerned about a story with a cliche, precocious, young female protagonist who comes across as seemingly unflappable.  But when you realize that the Coen’s entire body of work details the lives of larger-than-life characters that are seemingly unflappable, you begin to forgive this mini masterpiece for its very few flaws.

7.  The Kids Are All Right


Easily one of the best pieces of acting this year, the raw talent in this film makes me question how more fuss wasn’t made over it.  Annette Bening and Julianne Moore are irreplaceable in this comedy about the inner-workings of family and the importance of love, understanding, and functionality in the face of adversity, stress, and life’s constant ambiguity.  Did I mention that the performances are incredible?

 

6.  The Social Network


One of my more traditional choice for the year, Fincher’s techno-epic about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is truly as efficient as the hype made it out to be.  With a spot-on score produced by Trent Reznor, and cinematography that would make lawn-mowing a fascinating, IMAX-worthy venture, the film is almost incapable of NOT delighting audiences.

5.  I Love You Phillip Morris

Ironically, this may be the most contested movie on this list, as it does have its fair share of tonal anomalies and inconsistencies, however, Phillip Morris simply cannot be overlooked as one of the most adventurous and insightful picks of the year.  It takes risks and utilizes techniques just as well as 127 Hours and The Social Network, both.  It merely uses them in different regards and for different outcomes.  Not to mention that the performances are absolutely fabulous.

4.  Kick-Ass

Again, this film can be RIDICULOUSLY tonally inconsistent at times.  It can even leave viewers borderline disenchanted and at a loss.  But for fans of the genre, and just movie geeks in general, Kick-Ass lives to deliver both a send-up of the entire superhero canon, as well as overtly-indulgent entry in and of itself.

3.  Toy Story 3

If you would have told me that a three-quel to one of the biggest Disney franchises of all time would make my top 3 of ANY year, I would be forced to furrow my brow at you in extreme doubt, but Toy Story 3 is one of the most adroit offerings that Pixar has put out since…well, I guess since Up.  Still, it speaks incredibly highly of a studio that is capable of making sequels to films without losing any of the magic and without giving in to any sense of pandering or desperation.  Pixar should literally be a class that all film executives at EVERY studio should have to take.

2.  The Fighter

Going into this movie with little to no expectations of what I was about to see gave way to easily one of the most enjoyable movie-going experiences of this year.  David O. Russell truly knows how to make an incredible film, both critically and for mainstream audiences.  Visually arresting, with performances that are EASILY Oscar-worthy (I’m looking at you, Christian Bale and Amy Adams) this entry came out of nowhere and proved to be my second favorite of the year AS WELL AS my technical #2.  The film simply cannot be denied as a masterpiece on multiple fronts.

1. Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World

If you ever wanted to confirm my absolute geekiness, look no further than this #1 pick.  Is it a stereotypical selection?  Sure.  Is it a smidge over-praised by moi?  Perhaps.  But I simply don’t care.  Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World was easily my favorite movie of the year and easily one of my top 10 favorite films of all time, as well, perhaps even top 5 (I told you I was willing to acquiesce that I may be a bit blind to this movie).  Everything about this movie takes the extravagances of previous cinematic treasures and expounds upon them.  I challenge you to find a faster-paced, funnier, better-choreographed film that speaks so directly to an entire culture and properly adapts six graphic novels into a story under two hours long.  Did that sentence just blow your mind?  Well that’s how you feel for the entirety of the movie, even after the tenth viewing.  I know from experience.

P.S. And to be fair, here is a list of the most-talked-abouts that I have yet to see:

_The King’s Speech

_Shutter Island

_Waiting for Superman

_The Town

_Fair Game

_Mother

_Tangled

_Despicable Me

_Catfish

_Blue Valentine

_Animal Kingdom

Film Reviews!: Let Me In

October 8, 2010

Despite the fact that I am an unabashed opponent of 90% of all remakes done in cinema, there is occasionally an actual, valid excuse for producing one.  Whether time has lapsed and a story of yesteryear feels as though it can benefit from being reincarnated in the present pop-culture landscape (Ocean’s Eleven), or a director has been saving a passion project for years that he feels can only be served best by his own, personal spin on the tale (The Fly), there are reasonable means for endeavoring a remake of a production.  Unfortunately, Let Me In does not contain a single one of them. 

Let Me In is an American remake of the Swedish film entitled Let the Right One In, which was an adaptation of the Swedish novel of the same name.  The best way one can describe the original is as the most dark, disturbing, and grotesque, yet PASSIONATE love story you will ever see.  The production is so smooth and engrossing, you don’t even realize the severity of the stakes and the absurdity of the entire nature of the story until long after you’ve left the theatre.  In the most succinct, secretive nutshell that I can keep it, a scrawny little boy, Oskar, befriends a young girl, Eli, who recently moved into the apartment across the hall from him.  She is shrouded in awkward secrecy and her only relative appears to be her much older father.  Throughout his blossoming relationship with Eli, Oskar comes to stand up for himself and learns to choose his own path in life, in regards to love, self-fulfillment, and destiny.

The story is fantastic and is further bolstered by the overall mood, tone, and acting styles of the cast involved.  An overbearing, depressing schematic is draped over the entirety of the production, making all the little beats of magic and wonder that coalesce between the two, young lovers all the more enchanting.  There is nary a negative word to be said about the picture, other than the fact that it tries to bite off a bit more than it can chew from the novel (Pun quota: filled).  However, one obvious detriment to the film’s success (not detriment to the actual film itself, mind you, but detriment to its financial SUCCESS) is that it was produced in Swedish with English subtitles.  Heaven forbid.

Flash forward to two, yes, I said TWO, years later when American director Matt Reeves decided to remake this literary adaptation for obvious reasons…obvious reasons, like…like the fact that the original isn’t in English…and that the original requires non-Swedish speakers…to read…Le Sigh.  While a bit snarky (believe it or not, ladies and gentlemen, I CAN be snarky) it’s the honest truth.  Reeves’ remake is an admitted (Reeves has been quoted numerous times on his desire to ‘retain’ quintessential aspects of the film, “So my intention was to take the story and to, as much as possible, honor that story and tell it but in an American context.” (Bloody Disgusting interview)) almost-shot-for-shot rediscovery of the original which is an astounding TWO years old.  While I never condone ABSOLUTE, shot-for-shot recreations of past works (what, honestly then, is the point?), I will acquiesce that I would at least be able to see the merit in recreating an absolute classic shot-for-shot if it was decades old and the crew felt as though modern-day technology could truly benefit the new production.  This, however, is simply not the case in the example of Let Me In.  Modern cinematic techniques have SURELY not so-greatly surpassed those of the ancient era of 2008.  In fact, parts of this remake feel technically clunkier than it’s former.  The CGI in almost every scene that’s laden with it feels completely out-of-place and off the mark.  Rather than letting the film marinate in the simplicity and natural ebb and flow of the reality it has set up, just as the original did, Let Me In forcefully inserts scenes comprised primarily of CGI and effects that simply make the entire production come to a screeching halt.  In one of the first scenes in which we find out just WHAT Eli is (or Abby, in the American version, which is something else that will be discussed in a minute) the tone, the feel, and the entire gravitas of the film as a whole becomes completely stunted as what was a beautifully-paced production takes an immediate right turn and begins to jerk the audience around in what can only best be described as a cheap thrill-scare.  Further, every time that Eli’s ‘secret’ is expounded upon from that point forward (I’m doing my best to not uncover any full-on spoilers in this review, I feel like I can successfully vivisect this movie without ruining the first) some form of awful CG or some equally garish effect is utilized that feels completely anachronistic to the rest of the story’s flow.   It’s as though the studio saw the gorgeously crafted Swedish version and said “While we obviously HAVE to change this movie into English, another added improvement would be making it more DYNAMIC!  YEAH!  Why does everything have to be so blase and pouty?  ‘Boo hoo, I’m a little weak boy with no friends!’  We need more action, more epicness, more LEAPING!!!”  And that’s the stuff Hollywood failures are made out of.

All those past indiscretions aside, the few liberties that Reeves’ does take with his remake just act as glaring reminders as to how much better the original is and how frivolous this entire escapade was to begin with.  The few things that have literally been changed for American audiences are that the main characters names have been changed from Oskar to Owen, and Eli to Abby, and the story now takes place in Los Almos, New Mexico rather than Stockholm, Sweden.  That, my friends, is basically it.  There is nothing else to it.  And once you watch the two films back-to-back and realize that other than those facts, very little has been changed, you become very, very angry.

My largest arguments are not that the film, in and of itself, is bad.  It certainly is not.  Taking almost the ENTIRETY of its cues from its excellent Swedish source material, Reeves’ adaptation comes out as a fairly beautiful portrayal.  The acting is actually quite good in most areas (though not as strong as the original…I’m not gonna let this go) and the overall tone, pacing, and feel, when not broken up by unnecessary, ridiculous effects, is kept intact.  Additionally, there is one plot element that is left out of the American version that actually feels warranted, not because it doesn’t work, but because time simply does not permit its involvement (if I go any further, we will be in spoiler country, so I’ll just say that it deals with gender).  The film, overall, is ‘good.’  But the question that keeps plaguing me is how in the world ‘good’ merited a $20 million remake two years after the fact.  The subtleties and changes of the flick are so minute and redundant when aligned with the original that it hardly deserves the cash that it has been attributed.  What I’ve been wrestling with since this project was announced, was how something as trite as this was allowed to be produced when that $20 million (which I’m sure doesn’t take into account Prints and Advertising) could have been so much better allotted to either another lower budget, ORIGINAL flick, two VERY low budget flicks, or ten SUPER-LOW budget mumblecore movies.  In the grand scheme of things it’s all very disheartening, and I think I can sum it up perfectly with a direct quote from one of the producers of Hammer Films, one of the partners of the production studio responsible for the American version.  When asked by Fearnet.com what Matt Reeves was bringing to the table in terms of his adaptation of the film, Chief Simon Oakes spewed that:

I think the original is fascinating in its exposition, but at the same time there is a doggerel element to it in terms of the mood and setting. So I think it takes it out into a more accessible setting. I think perhaps there is a little more characterization in terms of the two central characters. To be perfectly frank with you, this is making an astonishing story – which however hard you might try or I might try to get people to go see the original, they’re never going to do it – more accessible to a much larger audience. I think perhaps, again, the roughness of the original is great – and when I talk about faithful, I don’t want to put words in Matt’s mouth, because he is the creative filmmaker here, and we very much protect that with our directors – but I think it’ll just have perhaps a little sheen to it that makes it a little more accessible I think.

So the ADMITTED intention of the production company of this film is to make the film more ‘accessible’ to a ‘wider’ audience.  They wanted to give it a ‘sheen’ so as to clean up the ‘roughness’ of the original.  And people wonder why I have so much hatred and cynicism towards the mainstream.

Performances: 78/100

Cinematography/Aesthetics: 62/100

Score: 68/100

Script: 80/100

Final: 78/100

P.S.  I realize that after that scathing review I am giving the film an incredibly high score.  This is because I disagreed with the film FUNDAMENTALLY, however, as a film, most of the technical aspects are still pretty tight, especially since it takes so much from the original which I would give an even HIGHER score.  Le sigh.