97.  Kill the Irishman

Based on a the true story of an Irish-American in 1970s Cleveland who works for and against the mob, surviving several assassination attempts.  Ray Stevenson delivers big time as main character Danny Greene.  Larger than life in every way imaginable, he was a lot of fun to watch.  Even overshadowing the stellar supporting cast of Vincent D’Onofrio, Val Kilmer, Christopher Walken, Vinnie Jones, and Linda Cardellini.  The story is surprisingly and disappointingly thin, eventually it just becomes the mob wanting to kill this guy and not being able to.  I guess that’s the problem with real life.

96.  A Better Life

I wrote up this movie in a longer post, but basically I loved Demian Bichir but found the points the movie made more interesting that the plot.

95.  Beastly

A fairly tale update that isn’t dark and gritty and violent?!  Some Hollywood executive must have gotten fired for that.  This take on Beauty and the Beast is set in the present and sees pretty boy Alex Pettyfer get turned into a tattooed freak by witch/fellow high school student Mary-Kate Olsen, a curse that can only be lifted if he finds someone to fall in love with him in a year, the usual deal.  His never-there dad (Peter Krause) moves/hides him away in a luxurious apartment and home schools him with blind tutor Neil Patrick Harris.  Who is awesome.  Through a series of circumstances, he gets classmate Vanessa Hudgens to stay in his place and you know the rest.  My two main problems were that there was so much prologue that the love story never really got a chance to develop and that Alex Pettyfer is something of a cipher at the moment.  My crush on Hudgens continues, but I think she did make the movie a lot more watchable than in the hands of a lesser Beauty.

94.  Beginners

I dunno, I just didn’t see what others did in the movie or in Christopher Plummer’s performance.  Not that I would take anything away from the guy.  The character just seemed kinda blah to me.  I didn’t get a lot of the creative decisions made in the movie, at times seeming quirky for the sake of being quirky.  The dog was pretty great, though.  It needed more dog.

93.  J. Edgar

The Academy finally said no to Clint Eastwood!  I saw this, improbably, at the Uptown with Adam and maybe four other people in the theater.  Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black does a poor job finding the story Hoover’s life.  He hits on all the high points, sure, but never figures out a way to make us care.  Even if it must have sucked having evil Judi Dench for a mom.

92.  The Music Never Stopped

A rare leading turn for J.K. Simmons as a father desperate to reconnect with his son (Lou Taylor Pucci) who is suffering from some sort of brain problem that prevents him from remembering anything new.  And for awhile from remembering anything at all.  But his therapist (Julia Ormand) soon realizes that music can be an aid to bring Pucci back to some sense of normalcy, as it were.  The film had some tender moments, some of which involved Tammy Blanchard.  I struggled a little bit because I didn’t think the film did a good job defining Pucci’s problems, so I wasn’t always sure what he could or couldn’t do.  Simmons was solid, of course.

91.  Ceremony

In this one, Michael Angarano cons Reece Thompson on a trip under the pretense of connecting better as friends, but really Angarano is hoping to somehow break up the wedding of his ex-girlfriend (Uma Thurman) to an award-winning filmmaker (Lee Pace).  The characters are all more interesting than I’d expect, given the romcom setup, a credit to the actors and to writer-director Max Winkler.  I would have liked to spend more time with them, actually, to given them time to fully develop.  Lee Pace was, naturally, so good as the douchey guy Thurman is going to marry.  Just a lot of fun to watch.

90.  Cougars, Inc.

So, OK.  Kyle Gallner (Beaver from Veronica Mars) stars as an unmotivated kid who has a history of expulsion and finds himself needing to pay for his tuition to a particular boarding school for whatever reason.  Obviously, the most logical way to make that kind of dough is to set up a gigolo service where he pimps out his friends to the titular cougars, who pay to have sex with these high schoolers because that’s a thing.  Said cougars include Denise Richards and Kathryn Morris.  Jim Belushi is the school’s headmasters and the love interest is Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland.  The movie couldn’t really figure out if it wanted to be a sex comedy or a romcom or a troubled kid finding his way film and so commited to none of them.

89.  Our Idiot Brother

A movie starring Paul Rudd with Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Kathryn Hahn, Rashida Jones, T.J. Miller, Emily Mortimer, and Adam Scott should be  funnier than this.  I almost have to believe there’s 90 minutes of hilarious footage somewhere.  Or if not, the director didn’t shoot enough.

88.  The Company Men

Stars Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, and Tommy Lee Jones as three guys high up in management in a shipbuilding company forced to undergo job cuts.  Also Kevin Costner as Ben Affleck’s father-in-law, Rosemarie DeWitt as his wife and Maria Bello as another employee.  I think John Wells’s film has some interesting things to say about jobs and how they define us and whether they should define us.  But given how high up the corporate ladder the main characters are, the ramifications of the downsizing don’t really resonate as much as had they been a little lower.  Because it is hard to have sympathetic characters with such nice toys.

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