You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2010.

63. The Missing Person

A film noir starring Michael Shannon as a constantly-drunk PI and featuring Amy Ryan should have been the stuff of legend.  As is, they salvage the movie into something halfway decent.  Writer/director Noah Buschel does a great job capturing the look, sound, and feel of a modern day noir.  But the story is just a little bit too plain, and the 9/11 references seem wedged in, a cheap attempt at poignancy.  Also, I hope there’s someone else out there who immediately thinks (with fondness) of Studio 60 whenever he sees Merritt Weaver.

62. Inglourious Basterds

Click here or on the sidebar to see our thoughts on this Oscar movie.  Gee, I wonder what Adam thought of the film.  I’m not sure I’m contributing anything new to the conversation at this point.  Not like anyone needs me to say that Christoph Waltz is fantastic.  I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I really think Quentin Tarantino desperately needs a writing partner to check his ego.  Don’t get me wrong, if someone wanted to call him a genius, I wouldn’t disagree.  But it sorta feels that he’s at the point where everyone is too scared to call him out on his excesses.

61. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Like there was any chance I was missing a Werner Herzog/Nicolas Cage collaboration.  My only complaint?  That it wasn’t crazy enough!  Well, and also that Val Kilmer (and Xzibit, to a lesser extent) are woefully underused.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s some insanity.  But honestly, this movie should have been just off the charts nuts.  So I feel little let down that the plot was generally coherent and there was no voiceover opining on the meaninglessness of life.

60. The Accidental Husband

I’ll admit to being a little confused as to why this romantic comedy went straight to DVD.  Wasn’t anything groundbreaking, but I’d have to believe it could find an audience.  Uma Thurman plays a radio talk host specializing in relationship advice.  Her advice leads a caller to break up with her fiance (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).  Thanks to a hacker friend, Morgan ends up legally married Thurman, who is about to marry this year’s Oscar nominee Colin Firth.  Romcom hijinks ensure.  It’s a perfectly serviceable movie.

59. Jennifer’s Body

An interesting flop.  Many were pointing to as a surefire summer hit, thanks to a script written by Diablo Cody and Megan Fox headlining the film.  I think the movie’s lack of a defined genre really hurt it.  It has the structure and many conventions of a horror movie, but isn’t really that scary.  The script doesn’t have the anywhere near the charm of Juno, though it certainly has its moments (and its annoying quirks, homeslice).  I’m a little bit biased, but I think Amanda Seyfried is the real star here.  Which is kinda impressive, given that she was playing a character named “Needy” and going up against the lovely Ms. Fox.  Fun fact that amuses me: in Veronica Mars, Amanda Seyfried played Kristen Bell’s best friend, a year below her in high school.  Here, she’s still in high school where we saw Bell was married to Jason Bateman in Couples Retreat.

58. Shrink

Wrote a little bit about this one.  Still holds true I think.  A good movie, but with definite potential to be great.  One of the best uses of an FNL actor.  Though really, is there any bad way to use Landry?  Her character is maybe a little bit pat, but I’m curious to see where a post-True Jackson Keke Palmer goes, she clearly has a broad range, in terms of comedy and drama.  Also, something to think about.  What was the last really good Kevin Spacey movie?  I know he’s been doing the theater thing, but still.  Maybe Casino Jack will be good?

57. 35 Shots of Rum

Slow, languid, almost entirely devoid of plot, this is a movie I should have hated.  I mean, the opening scene nearly put me to sleep, and I suppose would have to rank among my least favorite scenes of the year.  And yet there was something oh-so-compelling about the thinly-sketched out characters.  Maybe it was that they felt real, but I think it was more how much Claire Denis managed to say with so little.  Clearly I would have liked to have seen a little more meat here.  Or a lot more meat.  But there’s a few scenes, like the one where they dance in the restaurant, that are pure magic.

56. The Boys Are Back

There was a few days where Clive Owen was batted around as an Oscar contender, a notion quickly shot down.  He’s very good here, but the screenplay just didn’t find room to squeeze in enough Oscar moments.  I’d imagine the film resonates much more with someone who lost a spouse or parent early.  As is, I wouldn’t call it powerful, but there are certainly moments of insight.  One thing I appreciated is that it would have been very easy to sanctify Clive Owen’s character.  And while he still usually comes across as a good guy, if occasionally misguided, there are times where he’s a dick, and the film calls him out on it.

55. Law Abiding Citizen

Kurt Wimmer has his name on a pretty interesting array of films.  Anyone who wrote the remake of The Thomas Crown Affair is OK in my book.  And Equilibrium deserves a wider audience.  I can’t speak to his other films, like The Recruit, Ultraviolet, or Street Kings, but neither can anyone else, I’d imagine.  He seems to be walking a fine line of action/suspense/scifi, which is great when his cleverness comes through.  This one had the potential for something really fun, but it never quite got there.  I’m still undecided on the casting (and the apparent role switch, where Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler were originally set to play each other’s roles).  I think it could have been better, probably.  Also, here’s Viola Davis again as an authority figure in a scenes with limited actual authority.  Can somebody please get her a decent-sized role?  Oh, and the next movie coming out written by Wimmer?  Salt.

54. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

You are getting exactly what you expect with this romcom.  A light, watchable take on A Christmas Carol.  Matthew McConaughey is the ladies man who needs to be taught a lesson.  Jennifer Garner is the sweet, slightly damaged take-charge girl.  The supporting cast is fun, with Lacey Chabert, Anne Archer, Robert Forster, a surprisingly decent Breckin Meyer.  Michael Douglas cashes a paycheck as a smooth-talking lothario.  He was getting the AFI lifetime achievement award as this movie was rolling out, which made that evening slightly more amusing.  And then there’s Emma Stone.  Who I’m madly in love with.  She’s great.  There’s a fun fact about this movie, I’ve been planning a post on it for some time now, hopefully I’ll get to it.  But the guys who wrote this movie also wrote 2009’s runaway breakout comedy.  Yup, these are the same guys that wrote The Hangover.

73. Big Fan

I’m not entirely certain there’s a huge crossover between cineastes and sports fans, but as someone in the middle of that Venn diagram, I was looking forward to this film, which stars Patton Oswalt and was directed by Robert D. Siegel.  Oswalt was a revelation and deserved, I felt, to at least be in the Oscar discussion.  His character felt very fresh, even if much of the plot was exceedingly familiar.  The film is pretty dark, which sometimes led it to be a little opaque.  The ending was certainly interesting, not sure anyone could claim they saw it coming.

72. Trucker

There was roughly a week last year where Michelle Monaghan received some Oscar buzz for this role, so on my queue it went.  I tend to have strong reactions to her roles, I adored her in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, thought she was a cipher in Gone Baby Gone.  I absolutely do think she could have entered the Oscar conversation with a few more scenes written for her (well, and a larger distributor wouldn’t have hurt).  The story is a little sparse, occasionally too much so.  I did think the reversal of traditional gender roles was used pretty effectively.  Also, let’s take a second to appreciate Nathan Fillion, who’s every bit as amazing as you’d expect him to be.  In a just world he would have at least been mentioned in supporting actor talks.

71. Year One

Seems like I may have rated this one a little bit higher than I expected, I’m sure that’s in no way related to Gavin calling that this film would be a huge dud.  Saw this one with Matt, Jess, and their new baby Grace.  Who I guess isn’t so new any more!  I’m not entirely certain what went wrong here.  The cast is solid, with tons of cool cameos.  It was directed and co-written by comedy legend Harold Ramis and co-written by The Office scribes…wait a second.  Did anyone else see this season of The Office?  Suddenly it all makes a little more sense.

70. Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant

I think there are many extra challenges to adapting a series (as opposed to a standalone novel).  One pitfall this film fell into was the desire to establish a franchise without laying the groundwork for one.  Much of the film felt like a giant prologue for stories to come.  Which, hey, may work great in a TV pilot.  John C. Reilly was his usual great self and Salma Hayek was the hottest bearded lady since Rebecca Romijn in Dirty Work.  Orlando Jones shows up, I think he continues to be criminally underused.

69. Me and Orson Welles

I’ve said it before, but there’s absolutely no good reason Matt Damon gets a nom for Invictus and Christian McKay get bupkis.  I refuse to believe anyone could watch the two films and choose Damon.  The thing is, I can’t even come up with a compelling argument as to how it could happen.  I mean, sure, Hollywood loves them some Clint Eastwood movies, that’s fine.  But Christian McKay is playing Orson freakin’ Welles.  Which tells me no one saw this movie.  Kinda like my theater, which included John and two other people.  Zac Efron acquits himself nicely, I think, and Claire Danes reminds us that she should have had a better career.  Eddie Marsan was a nice casting choice, as was Zoe Kazan who was in like everything I saw during one two week stretch.

68. 9

The second film on the list from the infamous Bengie’s drive-in triple feature.  Undeniably cool-looking, the film is about as far away from that other Nine as possible.  The apocalyptic steampunk feel is quite vivid.  I think we all agreed afterward that the film’s style could be described as “cool.”  But we all also agreed that the story needed some work.  Which is the big difference between Pixar and all other animation studios.  A case could be made that 9 was more aesthetically exciting than some of Pixar’s work.  But Pixar’s scripts are almost universally top-notch, which just wasn’t the case here.  Of course, that’s a pretty unfair bar to be trying to reach.

67. Sunshine Cleaning

There’s a lot of good stuff here, but it ultimately feels like a rough draft of a film.  To echo John, the subplot with Mary Lynn Raskjub is almost entire irrelevant and Alan Arkin’s character never escapes his character from Little Miss Sunshine.  Emily Blunt’s character never really gets well-defined, though she’s solid.  And Amy Adams has proven quite proficient at playing the eternal optimist who faced a giant moment of self-doubt at a pivotal point.   I also thought the film seemed a lot like a TV pilot.  I could definitely envision the continuing adventures of the crew.  And again to echo John, Clifton Collins, Jr. is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters actors.

66. State of Play

As I’m sure Brian would be happy to tell you, the DC geography in this one is…questionable.  But Russell Crowe does go into Ben’s Chili Bowl, so I’ve got no problems with it.  The resounding word that comes to mind when I think of this film is “average.”  It is an average conspiracy theory thriller with average characters and average intrigue.  The cast is quite stellar, I think you get down a dozen names before you get to underused Oscar nominee Viola Davis.  Rachel McAdams deserves to have better roles, I think.  Mirren got to have a little fun, but her character didn’t have nearly enough screen time for anything meaningful.  I’ve had the miniseries on my queue forever, I can see how the additional time would help flesh out the conspiracy theory plot.

65. Invictus

You can read all our thoughts on this Oscar nominee by clicking the link on the sidebar (or, to save you the energy, here).  I’ve spent a lot of time bringing this movie down, so I want to make it clear that I actually think it is a good movie, and I don’t have anything bad to say about the performances.  But it is an Oscar movie by pedigree and subject, not by actual merit.  I think John’s talked about the film’s spirit, and I agree.  If I were making a movie about the feel good can-do spirit of togetherness, I’d probably head directly to Clint Eastwood.  And then have my butt handed to me for being so presumptuous.  One thing I must continue to emphasize is how poorly the rugby scenes were shot.  They were made to seem almost incidental to the story.

64. Love Happens

I have absolutely no idea how I would have marketed this film.  So I can’t blame them for pitching it as a romantic comedy. The movie has many of the trappings of a romantic comedy: two attractive leads (Aaron Eckhart and Jennifer Aniston) each with a spunky best friend (Dan Fogler and Judy Greer) and a few other interesting characters (John Carroll Lynch and Martin Sheen).  But the movie is something else.  Something deeper and sadder.  Really, it is one of the better looks at grief I’ve seen.  The lack of definable genre was generally freeing, but at times it felt like the filmmakers themselves had lost sight of what the film was supposed to be.

83. Paper Heart

Documentary?  Mockumentary?  Entirely fiction?  Part of this film’s appeal was the mystery surrounding whether the screen relationship between Charlyne Yi and Michael Cera was real.  I’m not sure the movie made me care enough to look any further than imdb’s trivia page.  It is an interesting enough idea, there are plenty of comedy celebrity cameos, and Yi’s asides are kinda cool.  But too often the film is inconsistent, and the end feels muddled.

82. Everybody’s Fine

Saw this one on an airplane, which I found strange for two reasons.  First, the movie is kinda depressing.  Second, one of the characters has a heart attack on an airplane.  Seems like maybe not exactly the message an airline would want to send.  Anyway, the film was much darker than I was led to believe.  I’m not sure the twists were as effective as they could have been.  But the role definitely fit Robert De Niro, and it allowed him to get a little bit away from the incredibly broad stuff he seems to be doing lately.  I don’t think his children (Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale, and Sam Rockwell) were allowed to shine as much.

81. Nine

Don’t miss everything we’ve said about Nine by clicking on the link in the sidebar (or here).  I made sure to watch 8 1/2 before seeing this film, and I think that was the right call.  I definitely had a better understanding of what was happening.  Of course, I found the Fellini film pretty boring, which probably didn’t help my appreciation of this one.  Too often it felt like it was just hitting the high points of 8 1/2, without every getting into any sort of interesting story.  Which might have been OK if the songs were good, but they weren’t.  I know John disagrees, but I thought the Kate Hudson song was the best song of the batch.  I do agree that the Marion Cotillard scene as a whole was solid, only partially due to the skin Ms. Cotillard shows.  And like Adam has said, that Penelope Cruz bit is really friggin’ sexy.  Not entirely certain I understand the Oscar nomination for it, though.

80. Bart Got A Room

I just can’t figure out why I keep putting dorky guy searching for a girl movies on my queue.  Notable castmembers here are Cheryl Hines, William H. Macy (in a ridiculous hairdo), and Alia Shawkat, who appears to finally be on a post-Arrested Development bounce.  This film takes a slightly different angle on the looking for a prom date trope.  It also more prominently features the main character’s parents and their love lives than some other similar films.  It isn’t related to what I thought of the film, but I did appreciate that the movie seems to be one of the few where the prom isn’t held at some ridiculously swanky complex.

79. Uncertainty

More proof that I’ll watch anything starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  The dialogue is pretty weak and the plot is surprisingly thin (imdb says the script was written without dialogue).  But the film does probe into some interesting topics surrounding decisions and the impact they have on people’s lives.  Never got quite as clever as I thought it could have been.  Lynn Collins is much more suited to this role than her character in Wolverine, I thought.  And Olivia Thirlby shows up, which is always nice.

78. Disgrace

John Malkovich is awesome.  And I hope he never ever stops playing creepy dudes.  The film felt a little bit disjointed to me.  I didn’t quite see the parallels between Malkovich’s professor character sleeping with a student and what ends up going down on his daughter’s farm.  I mean, yes, there’s some obvious stuff there.  But they are never really integrated well in the film, I thought.  Didn’t quite spur me on to read J.M. Coetzee’s novel.

77. The Road

What a dark, bleak, grim film.  You can check out our thoughts on the movie by clicking the link on the sidebar (or go here).  Brian thought Viggo should have received a Best Actor nom, and John wrote an eloquent piece delving into the point of the film.  I struggled to get involved with the characters.  Maybe that was partially due to the overriding sense of hopelessness, where the concept of morality is meaningless in a world where every day is a complete and total struggle for survival.  Anyway, the other Grouches yelled at me a bit when we were talking about the ending and I said I didn’t really care about the interpretation.  Which is fair, but if the film never lets me get into the characters, it is hard to care about what happens to them.

76. Ponyo

John’s the expert on animated films (see his animated film wrapup here).  I was told (by Dylan) to watch the English-dubbed version of the film, and I think I’m happy I did so.  I had this discussion with Adam, but Liam Neeson manages to be badass in every role he plays.  Which apparently extends to voice work.  I thought the film was a little bit sloppy.  It definitely had some elements I’d associate with Japanese insanity.  And the story isn’t always explained very well.  I can only find it in Spanish on youtube, but one of my favorite movie moments of the year was when they were talking on the radio and the mom says hi to the dad, and the kid says that he is taking care of things and then Ponyo screams, “HAM!!!”  I’m a simple man.

75. Bronson

A criticism I’ve read of this movie is that it never really goes anywhere beyond what it is shown in the trailer.  Which is fair, I think.  There’s a mishmash of neat stylistic flourishes, sometimes coming at the expense of a solid flow.  Certainly unlike any jail movie I’ve ever seen.  Tom Hardy is undoubtedly a revelation here.  I’ve apparently seen him in three or four other things, but his role in this movie is a textbook breakout performance.  It is based on a true story, though I’d never heard of the man before.  I wonder how that affected my perception.

74. Shall We Kiss?

Maybe this makes me a heretic, but it sure seems to me that the French have some wacky ideas about love.  I kinda dug the story within a story aspect, even if it was maybe a bit forced.  I had some difficult relating to the story, it is a cop out to say it was because the story was “French”, I guess it was more the obstacles placed in the way of the relationship, and the reasons to start the relationship, felt very different to what I was used to seeing.  Certainly a case where I could see a remake improving upon the product.  I’m definitely a Virginie Ledoyen fan, now.

93. Gigantic

Another one of the solid cast/relatively weak script films that seem to keep popping up around here.  In case you missed it, in this one, Paul Dano plays a mattress salesman ferociously intent on adopting a Chinese baby.  Ed Asner is his dad, Zooey Deschanel plays the absolute exact character you’d expect her to, and John Goodman is her dad.  Oh, and Zach Galifianakis is in a few scenes as…well…he’s listed as “Homeless guy”, but his character kinda tries to attack Paul Dano’s on multiple occasions.  For reasons still not entirely clear to me.  A decent enough, mostly forgettable flick.

92. Old Dogs

So, yeah.  Saw this one in theaters with most of my family after a particularly vicious fight over what movie to see.  There’s not really much to say.  You know pretty much exactly what you are getting going into the film, so you’ll probably like it exactly as much as you think you will.

91. The Lovely Bones

I’m probably going to be ripped by my fellow Grouches for placing the film this high, to be honest .  One of 2009’s most interesting tumbles, both at the box office and at Oscar time, the film was a presumed contender in nearly every single category, but was left with a solitary nomination – Stanley Tucci for supporting actor.  I’m not going to defend the film, I mean, I do have it sandwiched between movies that were nominated by the Razzies for worst film of the year.  I just never found it aggressively awful, I guess.  The pacing was definitely off, and there are stretches where it got kinda boring.

90. All About Steve

In my opinion, one of the most mis-marketed films of the year.  I mean, you might have noticed, Sandra Bullock had a pretty decent year, and yet this film still flopped something fierce (and garnered her a couple of Razzies).  The problem, I think, is that this film should never have been pitched as a romantic comedy, because it doesn’t play out like one.  It is way more character-driven than relationship-driven.  And it  is more about Sandra Bullock’s character growing and experiencing the real world.  Yes, it is a broad comedy where the humor doesn’t always hit its mark.  But it is also something approaching touching, at times.  I’m not necessarily suggesting people go out and see the film, even if it does boast a stellar supporting cast, including Beth Grant, M.C. Gainey, Keith David, and Ken Jeong.  But I think Sandra Bullock was right: people judged this film on the trailer (which does a very poor job of establishing how Bullock’s character could be likable), not the movie itself.

89. Good Dick

The film pushs Woody Allen-like neurotic romantic comedy to a whole new level.  I’m not a huge fan of the trailer above, I think it paints the movie in too cutesy a light.  I wrote about this one a little bit ago (nice joke, past Jared!) and I’ll stand by what I wrote.  The film can be a bit tough to watch at times, because of just how awkward things can get.  But the movie can also feel at times like a breath of fresh, if postmodern, air.  In a lot of ways, I think this this the 2009 indie response to traditional romantic comedies, because so often in those you get these completely outgoing characters who never hesitate to interact with anyone and everyone in the outside world.  In Good Dick, other people are scary, figuring out how to interact with them even scarier.

88. What Goes Up

Steve Coogan keeps getting lead roles like this one, and I keep just not seeing it.  That Molly Shannon was also cast might make you think there was an issue with casting.  But the other main roles are filled by Hilary Duff, Olivia Thirlby, and Josh Peck, plus imdb trivia (and the end credits) make it seem like most other young actresses I like were in those first two roles.  So I don’t know.  The film itself, like the students it portrays, is a misfit.  The choice of time period is kinda odd and I’m not sure it is ever quite justified.  There’s lots of potential here, it just gets blocked some by the film’s moralizing and devotion to being offbeat.

87. The Great Buck Howard

John Malkovich is great as a middle-aged magician who still living in a world where his appearances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson were the stuff of, well, magic.  Colin Hanks is, as his wont, the straight man, playing Buck’s traveling assistant.  The film has a pretty interesting premise, its fundamental flaw is that it can’t quite figure out if it wants to tell Buck Howard’s story through the eyes of Colin Hanks, or Colin Hanks’s story, in which Buck Howard is a prominent player.  Also, the subplot with Emily Blunt seems shoehorned in.  Though it does get us Emily Blunt, so it can’t be all bad.  Don’t let the trailer fool you, Ricky Jay and Tom Hanks have glorified cameos.

86. Crazy Heart

I rag on John a lot, but honestly, that’s only for the five to ten percent of the time where we disagree.  We see eye to eye much of the time.  Like here, where I don’t think I could sum up my thoughts any better than John did.  The movie is very flat.  There aren’t really ever any consequences and the stakes are never raised.  Like John says, the music tails off badly after “The Weary Kind”, not a good thing for a movie like this one.  I’m a fan of Maggie Gyllenhaal, but her nomination here was off.  The most surprising thing about the movie was casting Colin Farrell as a country singer.  It worked, somehow.

85. Somers Town

Absolutely no clue how I ended up watching this one.  Falls on the arthouse side of the spectrum, but there’s nothing inherently “arty” about it, I think.  Was a little slow at times, and I wouldn’t have complained if more stuff happened.  I imagine I’d appreciate the film more if I lived in England.  But it often was an interesting look at the relationship between two outcast teenage boys.

84. Humpday

My first real introduction into mumblecore, and I gotta say, I’m not particularly impressed.  The biggest stumbling block to me may be the improvised feel of the dialogue.  Improv can obviously work in the hands of a comedy troupe, like in the Christopher Guest movies, for example.  But here, it sometimes felt like people talking just for the sake of talking.  Basically, it wasn’t as interesting as it thought it was.  Don’t get me wrong, wasn’t a bad movie, just not really deserving of all the buzz it seemed to receive.

Coming up next time: another Oscar film, an animated flick, and possible the most badass prisoner I’ve ever seen.

I’m taking a short break from my 2009 recap to discuss the MTV Movie Awards.  A lot of people heap on the production, but I maintain it is the most fun awards show of the year.  There’s no pressure to win, everyone is just enjoying themselves.  And I think the show is way more representative of the state of the industry than anything else.  The Oscars are, essentially, Hollywood patting itself on the back for being awesome.  The MTV Movies Awards are Hollywood patting its target audience on the back for being awesome.

The nominees weren’t as strong as in recent years (and of course overloaded with Twilight and Harry Potter stars), but there was lots of love for The Hangover, plus Amanda Seyfried and Zombieland each picked up two noms.

Some thoughts on the show, in chronological order:

The first three faces in the audience shown on camera: Taylor Lautner, Robert Pattinson, and Betty White.  That says something about the state of the entertainment industry, just not sure what.

One of the big headlines surrounding the awards was the return of Les Grossman.  I honestly didn’t find the character all that funny to begin with, and Tropic Thunder has kinda faded from the radar some, hasn’t it?  Still, it was entertaining to see Tom Cruise in a fat suit with the Twilight stars, Michael Cera, and Will and Jaden Smith.

I didn’t think the Aziz Ansari opening bit was good.  Didn’t really have a point, wasn’t particularly funny.  But he did sneak in a Remember Me joke.

And a joke that Grownups was the sequel to Babies.

I don’t think Russell Brand and Jonah Hill are particularly funny together (and yet I’m still looking forward to Get Him to the Greek), but their bit comparing Team Edward vs. Team Jacob to Israel/Palestine, and then explaining to Diddy that it was like East Coast/West Coast was entertaining.

They awarded Anna Kendrick the breakout star award.  Actual breakout star?  Anna Kendrick’s dress.  Yowza!

In a particularly surreal five minutes, Ed Helms in a cloud outfit played piano and sang his song from The Hangover while Ken Jeong in a tiger suit/thong did an interpretive dance.  Then Les Grossman comes out, runs them offstage asks video screen  Ludacris to drop a beat, and then dances with Jennifer Lopez.  I hate to say it, but we are getting to the point where most of the people watching this thing can’t remember a time when Tom Cruise and J-Lo were cool.

Amanda Seyfried won an award!  For Jennifer’s Body which she says she is really proud of, even no one saw it.  I saw it, Amanda!

Perhaps the most inspired idea of the evening was the additional of Kiss Cam.  It appears that after starting with Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens, the rest of the couples were planned, but I think they could have gotten a lot of mileage out of it.

When Jason Segel and Miranda Cosgrove, Segel began gushing about how much he likes iCarly.  That should make my brothers happy.

They introduced Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg’s “California Gurls”.  I don’t particularly like the song, even if it has gotten in my head once or twice.  I do think it will be this year’s summer jam.  Also, Katy Perry is ridiculously attractive.

One of the filmed Aziz Ansari interlude was something called Stunt Kidz.  Thought it was terrible.

OK, so the big news out of the evening came from the presentation of the Generation Award to Sandra Bullock.  Bradley Cooper, Betty White, and Scarlett Johansson came out, and in a manner reminiscent of the Oscars two years ago, Cooper spent some time saying nice things about Sandra Bullock, then Better White said some nice things and did her confused elderly woman schtick, and then Bradley Cooper, in an actually funny moment, asks Scarlett if she has any thing to add, and she politely says, “No, I’m good.”  So then Sandra Bullock came on stage and gave her speech, which wasn’t one of her better ones, but seemed cathartic, and then she ends up kissing Scarlett.  It seems like it did the trick, as that’s what people are writing about, but it seems forced and not as funny as it should have been.

Most of the cast of Scott Pilgrim came out to introduce the What the F**k award (though strangely not Mary Elizabeth Winstead).  I’m a huge fan of the graphic novels, for the record.  Anywhere, they cursed up a storm, but amazingly Ken Jeong won it.  And I gotta say, his speech was the best of the night.  It careened all over the place, from funny to crying to touching (as he talked about his wife’s struggle with breast cancer) to ridiculous.  It is odd to me that Ken Jeong is winning MTV Movie Awards, but totally awesome.

Aziz Ansari’s impression of R. Kelly singing about Avatar was spot-on and yet pretty much useless.

I am really really really not looking forward to The Other Guys.  Last night’s stunt did nothing to change my opinion.

Jessica Alba and Vanessa Hudgens came out to present something or other.  I was too brain-melted to notice.  I guess they do look vaguely similar, but that the former is in The Killer Inside Me and the latter in Beastly says volumes about the types of roles they can pull off, I think.

Oh, they were announcing Christina Aguilera.  I haven’t really liked anything I’ve heard from her new album.

The final Aziz Ansari bit was as a swagga coach for Zach Galifianakis, which came in handy as the star of The Hangover won the very next award.

In a ridiculous moment, Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise were presenting the final award when someone shouted out: “Show me the money!”  Cruise actually laughed.

Twilight of course won movie of the year.  And Peter Facinelli’s speech, in the spirit on the evening, contained many many F-bombs.  Only this time, a few of them made it past the censors.  My virgin ears were very much offended, let me tell you.

Overall, a decent show.  I wasn’t entirely sold on Ansari as a host, though that shouldn’t stop anyone from watching the incredibly awesome Parks and Recreation.  Not sure any awards show has really figured out how to integrate the host well, to be honest.  I think the show will also be a little more interesting when Twilight doesn’t dominate so ferociously.

Double digits, baby!

103. Killshot

I wrote about this film eleven months ago.  It is always nice when past Jared agrees with present Jared.  The biggest mystery about this action thriller based on an Elmore Leonard novel (in a related note, you should be watching Justified on FX) is how it managed to miss the mark.  It was scripted by an Oscar nominee, directed by an Oscar nominee, stars Oscar nominees Mickey Rourke and Diane Lane along with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Thomas Jane.  And yet, bupkis.  Never so bad that you’ll want to turn off the film, but never so good that you’ll be happy you decided to watch the film.

102. Moon

I consider thought-provoking sci-fi one my favorite film genres.  But there’s a certain strain of brainy sci-fi that I must admit I do not get at all.  I think 2001 is just dreadful.  It took me four tries to get through Blade Runner without falling asleep.  And though my hopes were high, I just was not a fan of Moon at all.  It has an interesting premise, a contained setting (which I tend to love) and a great actor in Sam Rockwell.  But wow was it boring.  Rod Serling would have turned this into a thirty-minute masterpiece.  Instead, Duncan Jones turns in a plodding affair not nearly as awesome as people think it is.  Sorry this was no Journey to the Far Side of the Sun, Dad.

101. Knowing

Speaking of disappointing sci-fi films!  Roger Ebert is a fan of the film, which created some buzz around the movie blogs I read.  I know other people found it epically stupid, I wouldn’t count myself in that camp.  I’m one of Nicholas Cage’s biggest defenders, and I really like supporting actress Rose Byrne.  But Knowing never delivers on its initially intriguing premise.  It ineffectively incorporates creepy elements of horror and at times feels rote.  And I found the ending very unsatisfying and completely out of nowhere.

100. The Proposal

I know!  I’m stunned it isn’t higher on my list, too.  Interesting thought experiment: if this movie doesn’t exist, does Sandra Bullock get an Oscar win and does Betty White host SNL?  I think you could build convincing arguments for both not happening.  Anyway, I really did not see this as the rom-com everyone else does.  Sure, I applaud the gender-reversal where Ryan Reynolds is the young innocent and Sandra Bullock is the hard-bitten older character.  And yup, Betty White was kooky and funny.  Malin Akerman even shows up.  And Oscar from The Office is probably the highlight of the film.   But I think there are fundamental problems with the main characters, specifically around their relationship.  The film, in my mind, never builds any sort of convincing case as to why the two should fall in love.  Plenty of guys and girls have worked together in close proximity or spent time together without falling in love, it is the good romcom that shows how a couple happens.

99. Lymelife

Another one I covered when talking about movies with solid casts that aren’t quite given the script with which to shine.  Honestly, the film just isn’t that memorable.  Fairly standard plot, nothing extremely witty about the dialogue, and I never thought I’d write this, but it needs more Lyme disease.  If I ever saw this movie on TV, maybe I’d put it on when I had some reading or writing to do.

98. Fanboys

If you follow movie news at all, you probably heard all about the issues this film faced in post-production.  The Weinsteins (the producers) were apparently unhappy with how things were going, so they may have brought in a new director and ordered a pretty pivotal subplot cut.  There was much back and forth with the, well, fanboys, who were up in arms.  And after much delay, something resembling the original film was released to little fanfare.  It sure seems like a can’t miss movie: a road trip about Star Wars, with lots of cameos (Seth Rogen, Danny Trejo, William Shatner, etc).  Sure, the main group of guys is extremely white bread, but I’m a Jay Baruchel fan, and Chris Marquette is like the one guy who hasn’t made it huge out of The Girl Next Door.  I guess Sam Huntingdon is milquetoast, and Dan Fogler, well, admittedly, I don’t really get him.  Plus, Kristen Bell!  But as with most films seeing delays and a fight with the studio, the script had some serious flaws.  The cameos got a little indulgent, the humor wasn’t really there at times, and the dramatic subplots were often held on the backburner too long.  If the premise sounds interesting, the film is probably worth seeing, so long as you aren’t expecting anything that’ll blow your mind.  And hey, Kristen Bell in a slave Leia costume.

97. Duplicity

Maybe I just don’t like Tony Gilroy, I dunno.  I find his stuff nowhere near as smart as other people do.  Which is going to be a problem in a spy movie filled with double and triple crosses.  There’s definitely some interesting stuff in here, and it gets high plaudits for how it chooses to end things.  Plus Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti were inspired casting choices.  But ultimately the movie rests too much on Julia Roberts and Clive Owen playing to their strengths and not enough on substance.

96. The Edge of Love

Not sure which is more shocking: Keira Knightley starring in a period piece or that a film about the women who loved Dylan Thomas couldn’t find an audience.  Knightley and Sienna Miller play a little against type, and I actually think it worked out pretty well.  Not entirely certain I’m sold on Matthew Rhys, maybe a bit of a problem since he was playing Thomas and I think Cillian Murphy is best reserved for roles where he can be creepy all of the time.  The film has its moments, but more often than not it is a drab, dry look at the relationship between two women who love the same man.  The women aren’t usually at the front of a movie like this, so that was a little refreshing.

95. Public Enemies

Talk about a can’t miss Oscar movie.  Michael Mann and Johnny Depp as John Dillinger?  Marion Cotillard and Christian Bale were just icing on the cake.  But it seems that finally, everyone collectively realized the fundamental truth about Michael Mann.  He makes boring movies!  And the worst part is that he takes exciting topics and sucks the life out of them.  In watching Public Enemies it occurred to me that Mann has a keen eye for what people find exciting, things like bank heists and shootouts.  But he has absolutely no concept of what makes them so interesting.  Before this movie I did not think it was possible to make robbing a bank look boring.  The cast is a veritable cornucopia of That Guys and fleeting cameos, which only further proves my contention about Michael Mann, I think.  You probably already know that the year’s Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan is in the film for a few seconds.  I kinda liked Emile de Ravin and Lili Taylor showing up.  And I’d of course be remiss not to mention that Leelee Sobieski, the matron saint of our blog, is in the film.

94. Sugar

I had mixed feelings when I heard about this film, because I tend to get excited about any and every baseball movie, but it is from the people who Half-Nelson into the world, and that movie was a blight on humanity.  Fortunately, at no point during this movie did I want to claw my eyes out.  Unfortunately, Sugar is no baseball classic.  I kinda liked the first half of the film.  Was a little bit slow-moving, but there’s lots of interesting things that can be done with the life of Dominican prospects in the game.  And I’m not suggesting they should have changed the choices the main character made.  But the second half the film went off the rails.  The pace slowed down to a crawl and the film attempted to turn into, I don’t know, a character study that just wasn’t happening.

Coming up next: Steve, Dick, and Buck.  Plus a couple of Oscar nominees.

June 2010