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Unfortunately, Twilight is a critic-proof saga and no matter how much I hate on it, it’ll still break box-office records. So with the last Twilight film upon us, I thought it would be rather interesting to explore the true story of how vampires came to being:
In 1454, a ruler emerged in Transylvania (of modern day Romania). His name was Vlad “the Impaler” Dracul. His sadistic methods of torture spread fear amongst his people. In a six-year reign, it is estimated he killed a total of 80,000 to 200,000 citizens. The story goes that Vlad lost his wife to suicide; his brother was buried alive and father was assassinated. When he was imprisoned, he would torture insects by driving needles through their bodies. Shortly after his release, he rose to power and used the same methods on humans. His favorite method of slaughter was forcing his victim to sit on a sharp stake; once pierced, he would use his victim’s blood and flesh for meals.
On one occasion, he gathered all beggars, cripples and elders to a hall. He asked them if they wanted to live the rest of their lives with no work whatsoever. Naturally, they all cheered. He smiled, left the room and burned the house down. Another time, a group of kids were caught stealing apples. He then ordered them to be buried with air holes and some water so they could eat each other alive and, in return, live longer. The last survivor was rewarded with freedom and gold.
It is said that an army of Ottoman soldiers marched to end his reign. When they saw the thousands of rotten bodies piled up around his empire, they fled in fear. So there you have it, the tale that inspired Bram Stoker to mix fact with fiction in Dracula. Plenty of vampire films soon followed. FW Murnau couldn’t secure copyrights, so he released his historic silent film under the title Nosfertu.
For nearly a century now, films revolving around so-called vampires have haunted the thoughts of many generations. My favorite two vampire films are Interview with a Vampire with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, and the most faithful adaptation of the legend, Bram Stoker’s Dracula by The Godfather director, Francis Ford Coppola.
Now, in this post-Bieber era (try saying that out loud), vampires have been reduced to star-crossed lovers instead of villains of the night. Utter the word “vampire” and the first thing that comes to mind is a vegetarian teenager who sparkles with glitter when exposed to sunlight. Long gone are the tales of shock and horror. If only someone could show Vlad the Impaler what his legacy has come down to, maybe he would have changed his bloodthirsty methods and spared us from all theTwilight movies.
Breaking Dawn: Part 2 isn’t even a full movie. The latest Hollywood trend is to split profitable films in half to milk as much green paper from eager fans as possible. For some franchises, this seems like a legitimately reasonable solution such as the upcoming Hobbit films. But here, there isn’t enough content to warrant a split in this case. In fact, it feels like a one-hour film stretched into two. Breaking Yawn would’ve been a much more suitable title.
Bella is now a vampire, her baby is growing rapidly and the Volturi see her as a threat to their power. It all builds up to this lame battle, and then the film pulls the rug from underneath us with perhaps the worst twist in film history. Did I see it coming? Nope. Though I wish I had because I would’ve walked out. It’s as easy and time-wasting as the old “it was all a dream” cliché.
My other problem is with Jacob’s subplot. I don’t care if “imprinting” is part of the wolf tribe or not, watching a fully-grown man in love and attached to a seven year-old girl isn’t only creepy; it’s just plain wrong. You know what else is wrong? Twilight is a billion dollar franchise and still showcases CGI effects worse than lame TV movies. But fear not, the horror has indeed come to an end.
1. It’s a Wonderful Life – “It’s a Wonderful life” is the most inspiring film ever made, it’s a film that feels fresh and new no matter how many times you view it. I doubt any film will ever replace this spot on my list. Frank Capra’s feel good film has acted as a savior to every dull experience in my life. It’s the film I watch whenever I’m down and it never fails to make me appreciate life. This is a very personal choice for me, for when film becomes as important as medicine, it transcends art.
2. Taxi Driver – Martin Scorsese’s dark urban tale is the most authentic and terrifyingly real character study ever depicted on film. The camera functions as image converters sending the protagonists’ distorted perspectives through virtual and real screen space into neural pathways connected to our brains. The viewer has no choice, we are forced to breathe the air, gaze through the pupils, experience and feel a nightmarish environment by slipping into the shoes of a twisted protagonist – the shoe laces tightly tied by none other than a master of his craft, Scorsese.
3. The Thin Red Line – It is a film about the beauty and cruelty of nature, about the blessing and curse of life, the good and bad, the weak and strong, the brave and cowardice. In other words it’s about the two extremes constantly clashing in conflict; one tries to overcome the other but no victor rises above the other and the battle rages on till the end of time. Terence Malick’s masterpiece can be about anything you want it to be. It isn’t simply a canvas of ideas; it’s a series of questions or anecdotes on life. Like all Malick films, the answers aren’t laid out in front of us, but rather the viewer fills in the gaps. We therefore end up with an experience that is whole, personal and emotionally satisfying. . I would die in peace if this becomes the last work of art that flickered before my eyes.
4. 2001: A Space Odyssey – Stanley Kubrick is a master of cinema, perhaps the most talented director the world has seen and this is his crowning masterpiece. At its core, the greatest science fiction film of all time reveals more truth about the meaning of life and the insignificance of human beings than any work of fiction. Scratch that -it captures the essence of our universe better than any piece of art regardless of the medium.
5. Citizen Kane – The film most often cited as the greatest of all time is indeed the grandfather of cinema. Orson Welles exploits light, shadow and space inventively to express meaning. Everything you need to know about film can be found here from great performances to striking cinematography and the brilliance of mise-en-scene.
6. El ángel exterminador - In the midst of the golden age of art films, a director by the name of Luis Bunuel directed probably the greatest surreal European art film of all time. “The Exterminating Angel” breaks every cinematic rule established by traditional classical cinema. It’s a timeless masterpiece with a deep understanding of human behavior. Human beings are trapped within the limitations of social, religious and moral rules, a lesson learned from a life changing film.
7. Psycho – We all have our favorite Shakespeare play or Mozart symphony. There is no need to argue for them and against the rest, for all are truly great in their own right. Hitchcock fans don’t dispute one another; they simply nod in respect, for unlike lesser directors, he doesn’t have one obvious masterpiece but an entire body of them. My favorite Hitchcock is “Psycho”. There’s a dark side to every human being. We’re not 100% good. Occasionally we slip into that dark side. If you’re lucky and smart you can save yourself from letting the darkness overcome you. Here lies the true horror of “Psycho”, the dark side of the psyche.
8. Das Boot – The most authentic war film ever made is also the most psychologically exhausting one. “Das Boot” brings experiencing a war to life like no other. With perhaps the most powerful use of irony put to film, “Das Boot” is a journey into hell. I strongly recommend the uncut 293 minute version. That is if you have it in you to submerge into the claustorphobic depth of the Atlantic.
9. Heat – I doubt anyone expected to see this film on my list, but I would be betraying my feelings in excluding it. Michael Mann created the perfect crime film. Two lonely souls wander in a silent milieu of isolation. This is the grandeur film that every crime film should be measured up to. It includes the loudest heist scene in history, but it’s in its silence that I find harmonic solitude.
10. On the Waterfront – Elia Kazan’s masterpiece is mostly remembered for Marlon Brando’s groundbreaking exercise in method acting, but it lands on this list for encapsulating my love for film history. “On the Waterfront” is a boxing film in disguise; it’s about a time in history when some Americans named names before the House of Un-American Activities Committee. It has also been argued to be Kazan’s answer to Arthur Miller’s play “The Crucible” or his redemption and justification for falling victim of Joseph McCarthy’s witch-hunt of the 1950′s. To this day I cite the cab scene as the most emotionally nerve-wracking scene in film history. It gets me every time.
11. Eyes Wide Shut – Kubrick’s last masterpiece is arguably the best film to ever capture the psychology behind jealousy. “Raging Bull” is another masterpiece about jealousy corrupting the soul, but “Eyes Wide Shut” simply explores the subject on a much more subconscious level. Every single shot in this film feels like a masterpiece of photography. “Eyes Wide Shut” is a flawless film rich with symbolism and cinematic metaphors.
The Driver is the best at what he does. “You put this kid behind the wheel, there’s nothing he can’t do.” He doesn’t rely on luck and spontaneous driving; he knows what he’s doing. He studies his environment, analyzes human behavior and acts accordingly.
As he drives you can tell that every move was planned ahead of time, every turn calculated with absolute precision. His plan is unpredictable; that’s why watching it unfold in real time is so damn electrifying. He comes out of nowhere surprising his foes and disappears in plain sight just as easily. The driver is always in total control of the situation.
All this is projected in one of the most intense opening scenes in recent memory. The driver is a stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver. “Drive” begins at night minutes before a getaway. Most chase scenes lack this kind of intensity, for the driver doesn’t rely on sheer speed to grab our attention.
He drifts from his day job to his night job unchallenged. In fact the driver is so good at what he does, his remarkable street maneuvering and stunts seem effortlessly achieved. He must have felt the thrill of it once but at this point in his life he’s overconfident and doesn’t feel any kick to the dangerous line of work. Maybe this isolation is the reason he seems sad and unhappy. His own brilliance drove him to a state of loneliness that fueled his need to find companionship.If you read any review of Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive”, you’re bound to see critics and reviewers pointing out references to different movies, “Taxi Driver”, “Risky Business”, “Shane”, “Scorpio Rising”, “Bullitt”, “Collateral”, “Le Samourai”, and countless other films. While “Drive” does in fact reference a lot of films, it somehow remains fresh, unique and unlike any of the previous mentioned. Refn took a deep look at the history of film, recognized what he admired in various films and used those elements to paint his own canvas. The story of “Drive” is one that has been told numerous times but Refn reinvented the plot using hypnotic mise-en-scenethat steadily plunges the viewer into a bloody fairy tale. If you haven’t seen this instant cult classic by now, I advise you to stop reading as I’ll discuss scenes in detail.
After the almost dialogue-free yet surprisingly involving opening scene, the screen fades to black and cuts to a beautiful nightscape view of Los Angeles reminiscent of the LA Michael Mann showed us in “Collateral” and “Heat”. There’s an 80′s vibe to the title sequence as the electro track by Kavinsky called “Nightcall” kicks in and pink-”Risky Business”-like font appears over various striking shots of our protagonist driving around the city and moving into a new apartment. Somewhere in there we see the first of four key elevator scenes that display the development of a bond between the driver and Irene (Carey Mulligan), his innocent looking neighbor.
Our driver walks towards the elevator as Irene walks out of it. This is their first encounter. After they walk past one another, the scene cuts to a POV shot from within the elevator. We see Irene as she walks away when the elevator door closes between them. Not much happens here in terms of interaction, as the characters don’t know each other at this point. The second elevator scene occurs right after the title sequence. Our protagonist is on his way up when the elevator stops and Irene walks in. He asks her what floor she headed to and she replies “Four. Thanks.” He doesn’t push a button as it’s already lit. They experience an awkward silence on the way up. The driver catches Irene looking at him and smiles for a brief second and they both look away. This happens a lot throughout the film, their chemistry is delightful because it feels real and natural. By the end of that elevator journey they barely know one another but at least they know they’re neighbors living on the same floor.
The third elevator sequence occurs after her car engine breaks down and he drives her home. This time, there’s a third party in the elevator, a young boy- her son. The boy and the driver look at one another for the duration of the ride. They’re playing the blinking game (seeing who will last longer without blinking). He wins but that’s not important. What’s important is the fact that he starts to bond with the kid. Afterwards he drops her groceries at her place and they get to know one another a bit more. He learns that her husband is in prison and she finds out he’s a stunt man. Following this proper introduction their bond strengthens. She later drops by to get her car fixed, and while fixing it he plays the blinking game with kid again. Their way back is one of my favorite scenes in the film. He asks her “Hey do you want to see something?” before taking Irene and her son on a fun ride down an empty closed down highway. Bright sunlight strikes their faces, as “A Real Hero” plays in the background. This is probably the first time we see the driver genuinely happy. By the end of the unofficial date he carries Irene’s sleeping son over his shoulder to the apartment. Irene watches this kind fatherly act and she’s almost love-struck. It’s a beautiful moment.
More scenes of the driver spending time with the family follow including one where Irene puts her hand on his, their fingers lace together as he drives. Another worth mentioning comes after the driver has a talk with Bernie Ross, a ruthless gangster played by Albert Brooks. Through their common link, the Driver’s friend and acting agent Shannon (Bryan Cranston), Ross is willing to invest thousands of dollars to back up the driver as a potential professional racer. Their dialogue is a subtle threat from the gangster to the driver. He shares a tale about how Nino (Ron Perlman) broke Shannon’s legs after being disappointed.
The purpose of their talk is to scare the driver into giving it his all, because he wouldn’t like Ross’ right hand man when he’s angry. The driver doesn’t respond but a facial expression eclipses his face not of fear but of worry. That same expression can be seen moments later when the driver is watching a cartoon with Benicio. He asks the kid how he can tell that one of the cartoon characters is the bad guy. “Because he’s a shark.”, he assures him. “There’s no good sharks?” he asks. “No. I mean just look at him. Does he look like a good guy to you?” The same look of worry takes over his face. He’s thinking of Bernie Ross concerned about what he’s getting into.
That’s when the tone of the film begins to shift from romance to crime. The exact turning point however comes later when Irene’s husband comes home. “Drive” surprised me in many ways; the portrayal of the husband is one of those pleasant surprises. Betraying conventional cinema, the ex-con who returns home just as things seemed to get better for Irene and her son turns out to be a decent guy embarrassed of his past and willing to change. Oscar Isaac plays the husband, Standard, and while I’m probably in the minority here, I personally believe he gave the best male supporting performance in the film. His speech in the welcome back party is very tricky for it requires the performer to convince viewers that he’s not a bad person and asks the audience to forgive the fact that he’s interrupting the film’s central romance. Isaac does exactly that by delivering his lines with honesty and shame. We can’t help but forgive him and in return feel sorry for Irene’s current dilemma.
Through a series of shots cutting back and forth between them, we can see that both have the other in mind, they seem sad. The driver then does what any guy would do in a situation like this; he goes to a bar. Once there, a man recognizes the getaway driver and proposes a heist job. The driver probably upset about the husband situation, stressing on the gangster threat and unpleased by the fact that the guy is asking him to take part a second heist, flips out with a badass line fans will be quoting for years, “How ’bout this. You shut your mouth, or I’ll kick your teeth down your throat and I’ll shut it for you.” The driver releases a vicious stare and the guy backs off.
This is the first time we get to see the driver’s violent side and the violence only builds up from this point on. Refn understands how to display violence. He managed it well in his previous two pictures, “Valhallang Rising” and the excellent “Bronson” and here his approach is even more impressive. His use of violent content is relevant here for unlike most pictures it serves a purpose. Up till that point not a drop of blood has been spilled and as far as we know the driver is a romantic loner. But then he shocks us with a verbal threat that is too detailed for any set of ears. Later we see him blow Standard’s killers to pieces with a shotgun and stab a gangster’s chest with a shower curtain rod. The driver slowly moves off camera his face entirely covered in blood.
Now the audience pretty much knows how dangerous and violent the driver can get and we’re quite surprised by this sudden transformation. Right from the start we get the sense that there’s something mysterious about him, we don’t know his past and don’t need to but Refn gradually peels off layers of characterization till we get to the core of the driver, a trapped monster.
This eventually leads to the most violent scene in the picture and probably the most memorable one too, the fourth and final elevator scene. By now the driver is a wanted man, the gangsters he killed happen to be connected to Nino and Ross. After explaining how he was helping Standard pay a debt from prison resulting in his death, Irene slaps the driver. He looks at the ground in shame; “I just thought you could get out of here if you wanted. I could come with you. I could look out for you.” His almost pathetic communication skills remind me of a frustrated Travis Bickle confused of what went wrong after Betsy rejects him for taking her to a porn theater. He looks up at her and the elevator doors open. One of Nino’s hitmen is in there; unknowingly they hop in for the ride.
Notice how this is the first time we see the elevator descend, silently to inevitable doom. Most of the scene takes place in slow motion, which only adds to the building tension. When the driver spots a gun tucked in the man’s suit. All sound fades away, he extends his arm and pushes Irene to a corner, the lights dim, Cliff Martinez’ haunting score breaks the silence as the driver kisses Irene in probably the most passionate kiss I’ve seen on film in quite a while. This is the best-directed scene of the year. We see all elements of mise-en-scene poetically merge in harmony. Cinematically, this is the most visually artistic moment in “Drive”. Dimed lights light up the scene again, the music fades away and slow motion is no longer used when suddenly both males attempt to strike one another. Seconds later the driver knocks the man to the floor and stomps his head repeatedly. We see his boot smashing into the dead hitman’s face till nothing is left but bits and pieces. I love how the scene switches from utter beauty to disgusting violence in a fraction of second.
Prior to this scene, only the viewer has witnessed the driver’s violent nature yet even such aggression is bound to shock anyone. A stunned Irene moves to the corner and watches the frenzied attack in fear. The elevator door opens and she backs away. Driver turns around and looks at Irene who’s looking back at him in complete shock. Mirroring the first elevator scene the doors close between them. Only this time it does so while she looks at out protagonist. She sees him in his true form. Driver probably preferred to conceal his boiling monstrous side from Irene but when cornered and with no choice he kissed her goodbye.
The final act is upon us; a showdown between the driver and Ross is foreseeable. He calls the boss and asks, “You know the story about the scorpion of the frog?” For those of you don’t know the fable, it goes like this. A scorpion asks a frog to carry him across the river. The frog is afraid of being stung during the trip, but the scorpion insists that if it stung the frog, both would drown. The frog finally agrees to carry the scorpion across the river. Midway across the river the scorpion does indeed sting the frog, dooming them both. When asked why he did this, the scorpion point out that it’s in his nature to do so.
“Your friend Nino didn’t make it across the river.” This was symbolically expressed almost quite literally in a visually beautiful scene where the driver forces Nino’s head below the water. Erin Benach’s choice of having a big scorpion on the hero’s iconic jacket makes perfect sense now. In the fable both the scorpion and the frog meet their demise, so if familiar with the tale viewers would expect the same to happen to both protagonist and antagonist. The driver knows for Irene and Benicio to be safe, he has to go. It’s the only way.
The driver meets Bernie Ross and indeed both stab one another in broad daylight. Two shadows fall to the ground, one barely alive the other dead, we see the driver with a fatal wound to his stomach.
Hitchcock once said, “I enjoy playing the audience like a piano.” The following shot is a perfect example of a director interacting with his audience. The camera pans up revealing the bloodied and perfectly still driver sitting in the front seat of his car. We reach his head motionless on the seat’s headrest, his eyes remain ever-fixed, unblinking, piercing empty space. When I first saw this scene, I studied his face in search of the slightest proof of life, a twitch, a blink, anything. The frame remains fixed for quite some time. At this point we can’t afford to blink because we could miss the fate of our hero. Refn is directly forcing the viewer to play the blinking game with the driver. He blinks and drives.
|Best Picture: THE ARTIST|
|Leading Actor: Jean Dujardin, THE ARTIST|
|Leading Actress: Viola Davis, THE HELP|
|Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius, THE ARTIST|
|Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, BEGINNERS|
|Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, THE HELP|
|Best Original Screenplay: Woody Allen, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS|
|Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, MONEYBALL|
|Best Art Direction: HUGO|
|Best Cinematography: THE TREE OF LIFE|
|Best Foreign Film: A SEPARATION|
|Best Original Score: THE ARTIST|
|Best Animated Film: RANGO|
|Best Costume Design: THE ARTIST|
|Best Visual Effects: RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES|
|Best Original Song: “Man or Muppet,” THE MUPPETS|
|Best Film Editing: THE ARTIST|
|Best Make Up: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 2|
|Best Sound Editing: HUGO|
|Best Sound Mixing: HUGO|
|Best Documentary Feature: HELL AND BACK AGAIN|
|Best Documentary Short: “God is the Bigger Elvis”|
|Best Short Film Animated: “La Luna”|
|Best Short Film Live Action: “Tuba Atlantic”|
“How about this – shut your mouth or I’ll kick your teeth down your throat and I’ll shut it for you. “
Mark my words; upon looking at posters of the driver, future generations will recognize an icon the same way we acknowledge James Dean’s Jim Stark and Marlon Brando’s Stanley Kowalski as symbols of an era. “Drive” is in my opinion the best directorial effort of the year. Nicolas Refn directs every single scene with near perfect precision and flawless lighting. If you’re a fan of Michael Mann’s visceral vision of a silent isolated Los Angeles as seen in “Heat” and “Collateral”, you’ll plunge into this moody atmosphere from the opening scene till the end. Speaking of opening scenes, “Drive” contains the coolest opening scene of the past two decades. I’ve seen this film six times within a month and can’t wait to see it again. I’m fighting my urge to write about everything I love in this movie. I’ll save my words for an in-depth analysis on Roger Ebert’s blog.
2. Midnight in Paris
“Nostalgia is denial – denial of the painful present… the name for this denial is golden age thinking – the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one ones living in – its a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present.”
The current era is a future’s generation’s golden age; yet we can’t help but look at the past with envious eyes. Woody Allen’s best film in years captures the beauty of Paris and everything we love about the city’s past and present with passion and dedication. “Midnight in Paris” is a film I’ll watch whenever I feel the need to time travel to a better time. Or was it really a better time? Are we bound to admire the past and miss the present when it’s over? The fact that the film poses the question and encourages discussion through a neat balance of comedy and intellectual dialogue makes it worthy of any film fans time.
“Your hard drive is filthy, right? We got your computer back, I mean it is…it is dirrrty! You think it was your intern?”
“Shame” reminded me of the in-depth character studies of the 70’s. Like “Taxi Driver” and “Last Tango in Paris”, it’s a fearless film that exposes the true nature of a sex addict like none before. Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan deliver great performances as dysfunctional siblings living in a bleak New York. We can’t help but feel sorry for the main character and his incapability to care for someone else. Little happens in terms of action but so much change happens within this character. “Shame” is the best character study of the year.
“If you ever wonder where your dreams come from, look around: this is where they’re made.”
As we disappointingly walk towards a three dimensional era of film, Martin Scorsese embraces it by reminding us of a simple time in film history when audiences walked into movie palaces to escape reality. “Hugo” is an adventure to thrill the younger audiences and a Georges Melies tribute that will excite any film historian.
5. “Take Shelter”
“You think I’m crazy? Well, listen up, there’s a storm coming like nothing you’ve ever seen, and not a one of you is prepared for it.”
Michael Shannon is one of the best actor’s working today and his powerhouse performance here will take your breath away. “Take Shelter” tells the story of a man with a family history of mental illness. When apocalyptic dreams trouble his sleep and the line between reality and hallucinations fades away he begins to question his sanity. For some reason the fact the he questioned his insanity made me think of that quote about how insane people are not aware of their insanity. This is a thinking man’s film. It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve seen this masterpiece and I still think about its depth and themes. One thing is for sure, I will never forget that last scene or shot and neither will you.
6. “ The Artist”
“The Artist” comes out in a year that seems to pay tribute to the past. We visited decades of Paris in “Midnight in Paris”, witnessed the birth of fantasy films in “Hugo”, reminisced about earlier Spielberg films in “Super 8″ and remembered John Hughes while watching “Drive”. Now, a film shot entirely in black and white and mostly silent comes out reminding us of why we love silent cinema. My twin brother never sat through a black and white film in his life and after seeing “The Artist” he decided to start watching the real classics that inspired this heartwarming tale of fame and love. The film is set around a time when studios encouraged talkies over silent movies. I think “Singing in the Rain” will always be my favorite representation of that time period, but “The Artist” is still a fun and passionate work of art.
“That is a beautiful dog.”
A self-destructive man with uncontrollable rage finds himself frustrated and lost till he meets a sad yet hopeful shop worker. Peter Mullen delivers the best performance of the year and he probably won’t even get nominated for an Oscar. The same can be said about his female costar, Olivia Colman, in a role that couldn’t have been performed any better. “Tyrannosaur” is the most brutal film of the year. A film so real and ruthless, you won’t be able to look away even though you will want to.
“Why are we still in this house!”
Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz are parents discussing a bullying incident involving their sons. I have not seen the play this was based on and maybe that’s why I enjoyed it so much. Out of all four A-list actors I have to give it to Jodie Foster for stealing the show as the uptight, emotionally over reacting mother of a “disfigured” young boy. “Carnage” relies primarily on it’s four central performances and an extremely humorous screenplay and you know what? It works. This is the satirical comedy of the year.
9. “Tree of Life”
“The nuns taught us there were two ways through life – the way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow.”
Terrence Malick always comes out of nowhere with a film that is simply breath taking and when we see his films it’s as relaxing as listening to ocean waves crashing against the shore. His films are different, and almost always seem to be about everything. His last effort is nothing short of a masterpiece of epic proportions. Though not his best film to date, it’s still a trip from the dawn of time to modern day civilization you’ll want to take.
10. “Attack the Block”
“Well, ‘ere, lads, you’ve discovered a species hitherto unknown to science, quite possibly non-terrestrial in origin, and you kicked its fuckin’ head in! “
Fans of “Shaun of the Dead” will love this horror comedy about an alien invasion set in South London. It’s up to a gang of young lads to save the world. As silly as this may sound, “Attack the Block” had me laughing all the way through. With a killer dubstep soundtrack “Attack the Block” is filled with memorable and instantly quotable lines. Although some of the lines dare to cross the line of what many might consider offensive, it works because of the hilarious nature in which those lines are delivered. This is as much fun as you’ll have at the movies.
Best Documentary: “Senna”
Best Foreign Film: “A Separation”
We Need to Talk About Kevin
Ride Of the Planet of the Apes
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
When “Iron Man” was released two years ago, I remember leaving the theater hungry for more. Now that Jon Favreau has come up with the sequel I can’t help but want less. By less I mean less of a lot of things. Less characters, that’s for sure. The film introduces so many new characters without taking the time to develop them, it becomes almost repetitive.
I constantly found myself saying “Oh, there’s Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow; Mickey Rourke looking badass as always. Wait a minute Don Cheadle replaced Terrence Howard? Sam Rockwell is in this too? Oh looky here, it’s Samuel L. Jackson in yet another below average superhero movie.”
Don’t get me wrong I have nothing against ensemble casts, as long as each character has purpose, is well-developed and supports the overall flow of the film.Unfortunately, this is not the case here. Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson’s characters did nothing for me. They were both unnecessary to the plot and quite frankly felt like characters from another movie who just happened to run into the set of “Iron Man 2″. I have no problem with Don Cheadle replacing Terrence Howard though, he stayed true to Howrard’s performance in the predecessor. While Rourke needed more character development, Rockwell was the surprise showstealer.
Less storylines and more focus is another thing this film needed. Favreau should’ve focused on one basic storyline instead of losing grip of the direction of the plotline and wasting what could have been a great sequel. The film starts with Ivan Vanko also known as Whiplash (Rourke) witnessing the death of his father. We get that Tony Stark is somehow responsible for it and so in an attempt to avenge his father’s death, Ivan builds his own cheap electronic vest. Meanwhile Tony Stark is busy trying to prevent the US army from getting their desperate hands on his suit. We also learn that the arc reactor attached to his chest is both keeping him alive and killing him.
After completion of his vest, Rourke takes a shot against our hero during a Formula 1 race. Yes, a Formula 1 race. Why you ask? Well, apparently we need hundreds of people watching as Rourke stands up against Stark, in addition to that, there also has to be some explosive action like cars flipping into the air and crashing into one another. The location is a lame desperate excuse to make the standoff a fireworks show. The “he did it to show people Stark wasn’t invincible” is a stupid argument. Did everyone forget about Jeff Bridges using Iron Man as a metallic frisby?
Suddenly, the story switches focus from Whiplash to Stark’s main business competitor, Justin Hammer (Rockwell). Hammer is sick of living in Stark’s shadow and so teams up with, well you guessed it. The main villain becomes a minor one and then returns once again to the center of attention. In addition to all that you have subplots including a childish fight with his best friend, Col. Rhodes (Cheadle), Pepper Potts (Paltrow) getting promoted, Stark (Downey Jr.) coming to terms with some Daddy issues, and an introduction to the Avengers.
Another negative aspect in “Iron Man 2″ is the over use of far-fetched technology. It was fun in the first film but they overdid it with the sequel. It was almost an in your face display of the bigger budget. Part of what made “Iron Man” so special was the relevant theme of terrorism, which is absent here. Also, in the first picture, there was something about that suit that made it unique and special. However, “Iron Man 2″ introduces so many different armour suits with special attachments, our hero’s suit only becomes less impressive. In fact, we get so many suits in this film, I’m surprised they didn’t just title the film, “Iron Men”.
Now that I’m done discussing the negative aspect, I’ll point out that the action sequences were somewhat impressive in terms of editing. Thank God, this wasn’t filmed in 3-D because it would’ve resulted in me adding another paragraph to my negative review.