With a shoutout to commenter Sarah.  Not sure we’ve ever met, but you said I made you LOL, which make you A-OK in my book.

104. Flipped

Maybe my expectations were too high.  Not sure why, Rob Reiner hasn’t directed a really good movie since…geez…The American President fifteen years ago?  Flipped is a story of puppy love.  Not literally.  Sadly.  It tells the tale of two kids growing up across the street from each other in the 50s.  Madeline Carroll falls in love with Callan McAuliffe the minute she sees his family moving in, where McAuliffe is more in the “girls are yucky” phase.  As they grow up they learn about themselves and each other and life, etc.  The film utilized the neat trick of switching between the points of view of the two main character every so often.  Not sure how effectively it was used, though.

103. Unthinkable

Is it OK to torture someone if you believe they have information about nuclear bombs due to go off?  If so, how much torture?  Quintessential questions that I’m not going to touch, but ones that Unthinkable at least tries to portray.  Carrie-Anne Moss is the FBI agent protagonist, Samuel L. Jackson is the mysterious closer brought in to do the dirty stuff, and the terrorist is the always excellent Michael Sheen.  I’m bringing some personal taste to it, but I think the film wasted a lot of time setting things up, establishing certain details about the FBI, that sort of thing, until we get to the bulk of the action, which is Michael Sheen locked in a small room, and a bunch of people observing the interrogation in a larger room just outside.  I would have limited the action to just those two rooms, would have made the mind games a lot more effective and the suspense more taut.  Also, it is probably really challenging to resolve the problem without feeling like it was a cop out, in regards to the moral dilemmas posed, and this film didn’t figure out a way to do so.

102. Dear John

I find reaction to this movie pretty confusing.  If you haven’t seen the movie, you are most likely like: “Jared.  Seriously.  Dear John?  Really?”.  And if you have, then you are most likely a teenage girl who propelled it into $80 million domestic and a handful of Teen Choice and MTV Movie nominations (including a Teen Choice win for Best Chemistry between Amanda Seyfried and Channing Tatum).  But honestly, it is a pretty average movie, not really worth getting worked up over either way.  Tatum is a strong/silent solider with a bit of a past and a father (Richard Jenkins) battling some mental problems.  Seyfried is a college student, not yet wise to the ways of the world who is first kinda with Scott Porter, which is hilarious (to me, at least).  Most of the plot is rote, but the end kinda jumps time a lot and throws in some unexpected twists that probably should have been set up a little better.  Again, not the tearjerker I’d expect a Nick Sparks movie to be.

101. The Last Exorcism

We discussed The Last Exorcism briefly in our Spirit Awards chat.  I tend not to watch too many horror films, but the film felt like rather unexceptional horror fare to me.  I’m getting a little tired of documentary-style films (District 9 is the only one I can remember really liking), but of course, I’m not big on documentaries.  The film is about a preacher/exorcist (Patrick Fabian) who is a self-professed huckster, out to do one last exorcism to prove it is all hogwash.  He goes to a remote locale and a religious family that keeps itself even more tucked away from civilization where the daughter (Ashley Bell) is seemingly possessed.  The plot then, of course, thickens.  I liked Fabian, perhaps partially because he looked vaguely familiar, it took a check of imdb to realize he was Professor Landry from Veronica Mars.

100. Wild Target

I’m a little surprised this hitman screwball  comedy starring Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt, and Rupert Grint (and delightful supporting turns by Rupert Everett, Martin Freeman and Eileen Atkins) couldn’t find some sort of audience at the box office.  Nighy plays the world’s best assassin, following in his father’s footsteps and egged on by his mother.  Tasked with killing Blunt, he finds himself unable to do so and takes her under his protection, picking up Grint as a protege along the way.  The movie never commits to true madcap screwball style, but isn’t funny enough otherwise.  And the characters are never really developed, instead displaying traits that arbitrarily change, which makes the resolution not terribly satisfying.

99. The Other Guys

I do have a pretty strict no-Will Ferrell policy, but I was visiting Ben and he put it on while I was doing work, I’m going to say it doesn’t violate my rule, on a technicality.  Besides, I couldn’t not watch, right?  The Other Guys is a decent-enough 90s buddy cop throwback.  It has some funny moments (Samuel L. Jackson and Dwyane Johnson kill) and a ton of fun people in the sprawling cast (e.g. Michael Keaton, Natalie Zea, Bobby Cannivale).  For whatever reason, I just don’t find Ferrell and McKay’s brand of humor funny.  They can distract me with a fun cast and throwback storyline, but in the end it is still the same junk.  I feel like a bad person saying it, but I enjoyed the Derek Jeter cameo.

98. Finding Bliss

Xiaoyu has accused me of making up some of these movies, and I’m guessing he’s going to think the same about this one.  But it is real, I swear!  And I had to check it out because it stars the matron saint of our blog, Leelee Sobieski, as a doe-eyed film school grad who can’t land a job in Hollywood until she reluctantly decides to accept a job editing a porn film so she can covertly use the porn’s studio to film her own movie.  Matthew Davis (Legally Blonde) co-stars as the hotshot porn director.  The film is a typical exercise in learning to expand your comfort zone: Leelee has to learn to accept her sexuality, Davis to break back into the mainstream or something like that, the porn stars that they are capable of more traditional acting.  The oddest subplot involves the dual role of Denise Richards as Bliss, which is apparently supposed to be a big reveal at the end, even though fresh-faced not-Denise Richards looks exactly like porn star Denise Richards, just with different wigs.  The film tried to get a little arty here, but I’m not sure the storyline was fleshed out enough.

97. Secretariat

Saw this one on an airplane.  I realize that’s not the most important piece of information, but I feel obligated to share it because it probably affected my movie-watching experience in one way or another.  Anyway, Secretariat is a fairly unremarkable movie.  For so much of the film, the stakes just didn’t really seem raised, and there’s only so long Diane Lane juggling running a horse farm and a family states away without really doing anything is watchable.  John Malkovich clearly had a lot of fun playing the wacky Quebecois trainer, and it is always nice to see Margo Martindale (Justified what what).

96. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Up until about fifteen minutes before this movie ended, I was set to rate Prince of Persia one of my least favorite films of the year, but I found the ending solid enough to bump its rating up thirty slots or so.  My irrational dislike of Sir Ben Kingsley aside, the story was just so linear and so uninteresting.  And the action, save the last bits, wasn’t even really all that engaging.  Another miss in what should have been Gemma Arterton’s year, we’ll see her one more time before we even get to the top half of the list.  And I’ll keep checking Netflix daily to see if St. Trinian’s 2 is finally available stateside.

95. Heartbreaker

My annual disappointing French romcom.  Heartbreaker stars Romain Duris as…well…a professional heartbreaker.  He gets paid, by a variety of interested parties, to seduce women in order to break up relationships.  Which, yeah, sounds exactly like a profession you’d find in a romcom.  And I’m certain you can figure out the rest of the plot from here.  He takes a job to stop a wedding that will happen in a week, but falls in love with the bride to be (Vanessa Paradis).  Now, to be fair, he normally only takes jobs where there’s time for a solid plan and he feels the couple truly is unhappy.  Which does provide a pretty fun beginning.  But this time he (and his crew, which includes his practical sister and her goofy sweetheart) needs the money.  So yeah, adequate idea, adequate execution.

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