|Posted on June 29, 2011 at 12:49 AM|
Movies of 2011 (So Far)
We’re about half way through (maybe a little further now) to the movie year so I thought I’d share some thoughts of movies so far and my favorite films of the year:
Rango: A shoe-in for my favorite animated movie. There’s nothing else coming up on the horizon this year and everything about Rango is just fun, unique and fresh. The characters are charming and the voices fantastic, notably Rango himself - a wonderfully realized character and personality.
Beginners: Probably going to be in my top 5 when all is said and done. A beautiful script and a unique approach visually, an honest and sincere film in an era of flash and special effects. McGregor and Plummer show a sense of honesty and subtlety in their emotionally-difficult characters and Mills's own personal stake in the film comes through with distinction and openess. "Is this how love feels?" It sounds so simple, but Beginners is an exploration of that question and the many answers it might conjure up.
Source Code: Is anyone making science fiction as well as Duncan Jones right now? I think not. It’s a thought provoking piece of a sci-fi thriller that are all too rare these days. The conceit of it is already complex yet is presented in a manner for easy digestion, then you throw in the deeper (and darker) elements of the story and you have something that's going to stand on its own for a while, the same way Jones' "Moon" did a few years back.
Hanna: It’s Art House meets raw action. It’s surprising because the film is more a drama than anything with the action mainly being heaviest in the first half. Just a well done and extremely well directed movie. Best soundtrack out there too.
Super 8: A blockbuster with a bit of heart. That’s a rarity. The script might have some issues, but the presentation and performances sell it, in particular how the actors and directors approach teenagers and kids. If the characters feel real, then you are already ahead of the curve. This cast just feels natural and together, not simply words on a page. I don't know what the future holds for Super 8 - whether it be forgotten or remembered fondly - but for this year it was a solid pic.
Thor: Thor has shown to be a polarizing movie. I can see why. The fact that it is so unabashedly “comic booky” and runs with it, not to mention managing to get some great characters and performances in the process, makes it one of the better superhero movies this year (so far the best this year).
I think it comes down to the casting for Thor that ended up making it as good as it ended up being. Hemsworth and Hiddleston are just fantastic and play their roles well with Hopkins bringing a good dose of class to the mix. Portman I could take or leave, as well as Skarsgard, but the primary beings are incredibly strong.
13 Assassins: This might end up my favorite movie of the year when it’s all said and done. Just frantic and amazing action combined with a classic approach of the height of samurai film in the 50s and 60s. Strong performances and some amazing moments.
Honestly, this is just one of those films where I can't see anyone not liking it. It's just incredibly well done action from start to finish and beautifully shot. I can see someone not enjoying Super 8, or Thor or even Rango. 13 Assassins is just a wonderful homage to the fine craft of killing people with sharp objects. And damn is it bloody...I mean damn bloody.
I Saw the Devil: Murder and revenge has never been so well crafted. A damn fine thriller that’s both brutal and cathartic. Ji-woon Kim is just a master in everything he touches. This is a dark but "in a good way" suspense movie that isn't as straightforward as you might assume.
Cold Weather, Midnight in Paris and Submarine: These three films I haven’t put reviews up yet on, but I enjoyed all immensely, so I’ll just say that for now. Look for actual reviews in the next week or so. I will say this: Cold Weather has one of my favorite soundtracks and it barely passes as music, if that makes any sense, and Midnight in Paris actually got me to like Owen Wilson again.
They’re Around (the Second Tier):
Attack the Block: Rough around the edges, but there’s nothing else like it in theaters this year. Fun characters and witty dialogue carry the cheesy everything else.
X-Men First Class: It may lack uniqueness, but well made, fun and hugely entertaining. Excellent cast and two very, very stong leads.
Kung Fu Panda 2: A solid (and gorgeous) follow up. The animation of bright and fluid and Po an endearing main character even if the movie feels a bit of a re-tread.
Paul: If only it wasn’t so preachy, but still my favorite comedy of the year. Frost and Pegg are just great and Seth Rogan lending his voice to our odd little alien is a surprising fit. Made by nerds for nerds, but good and even if it doesn't make a year-end grouping for me, I still had a good time.
Trollhunter: Not much else like it, that’s for sure. A small gem from Norway with effective special effects and a good sense of humor.
Insidious: Not a hugely original horror film, but a well done one even if the ending is weird. I particularly liked the approach to the camerawork.
Black Death: I can’t help but think of 1970s period exploitation movies when thinking of this one, and it lives up to those heights (as in entertaining and overall well done)
Sucker Punch: It may lack some meat, but it’s probably the most visually gorgeous film you’ll see this year.
Super: Yes, this type of film is already old, but Rainn Wilson and Ellen Paige are just really, really good in it.
Win Win: A hard film to pin down (get it...wrestling pun...I suppose it's not a pun if I have to point it out). I'll put a review of this up later this week, actually, but it's a nice little and very unique movie.
Your Highness: Not without some faults, but it's a simple, dumb good time. Like Paul, this one would be on the lower-end of a year end look back from me, but for what it was, I laughed.
Cedar Rapids: I haven’t put my review of this one up, but a solid comedy. Helms can be richly funny if the material suits him.
Not in Consideration:
The Hangover 2: Just an ugly and half-assed comedy that makes you feel worse after watching.
Battle LA: So much potential but so little really fulfilled. The idea is good, and approach is too, but you still need a story and appealing characters.
Pirates of the Caribbean 4: A cash-in if I’ve ever seen one. An unmemorable bore of a movie.
Drive Angry: Certainly not horrible, but I don’t see it in my best of the year, that’s for sure.
The Adjustment Bureau: Another that isn’t horrible, but far from great either. Damn is solid and I liked the directing, but the script feels just a mess.
Green Lantern: Quite possibly the most disappointing comic-book movie since Wolverine, and about as bad.
Still need to see:
Bridesmaids and Tree of Life and The Lincoln Lawyer, which I’ll be watching this holiday weekend. Hopefully the Conspirator as well if I have time and Kill the Irishman if I can find it. There’s also some really small films, like Jane Eyre and Meek’s Cutoff on my "to see" list as well - both of which have been receiving really good reviews. Maybe Rubber, though I’ve heard more bad than good on that one as well.
As for more foreign films, I tend to not pay much attention until the Awards season unless they’re hugely well-received (like 13 Assassins and I Saw the Devil). There’s some that are getting some buzz, but I might be waiting for screeners rather than hunt them down. It’s easier that way for some. I recently caught Cold Fish, but haven't really developed much to say about it yet.
Still Don’t Want to See:
Green Hornet, Fast Five, all rom-coms (Just Go With It, No Strings Attached etc..), Hop, Atlas Shrugged.
Now I might see Green Hornet and Fast Five eventually, but I’m in absolutely no rush. If I want to turn by brain off, then I will do it for those. But I really can't see myself absolutely showering either with praise.
Also Mr. Popper's Penguins. Anything involving live action with animation is probably going to be something I'll just avoid entirely.
So that’s it really. There’s still a lot to be seen and more coming out, but I think this year has been alright in terms of quality films and variety. As for the summer stuff: man, a pretty dissapointing summer, isn't it? There's some good stuff, don't get me wrong, but there's nothing "great" happening. I will say it's better than last year's.
We've heard for a good year or so how "amazing" this summer was going to be, and boy has it just been a let down. That's why I've found more entertainment in the smaller scale that's out there. Movies like Super, Win Win and even Black Death have been just as enjoyable as anything that a studio pumps millions in to market to you. Don't discount a movie simply because you've never heard of it. Some of the best films of any year are the ones you, I and a lot of people haven't heard about. Do some googling (I never would have heard of Trollhunter or Black Death if I didn't do a search for movies not to miss in 2011).
So if you haven’t had the chance to see some of these, do so. If there’s some you feel I should see that I didn’t mention, let me know. What's to look forward to the rest of the year? I have some I can't wait for, but I'll get to those when they are actually out.
As of now, I give this year a solid B in the rating department.