Here’s numbers 20-11 on my list for last year. As usual the rules I laid out before still apply. SPOILER WARNINGS for crybabies are still in effect.
20. Let Me In (saw for free from work): It’s been a little while now since I saw this film, and thinking back I did still enjoy it. I don’t know how much merit there is in comparing it to Let the Right One In, the Swedish original, as they both do a pretty good job within the accepted film language of their home country. The original is a bit slower-paced, the remake plays around with time a bit more, but they both do an acceptable job with the subject material. I will say the CGI speedy-vampire stuff was a little lame, but some other scenes more than make up for that. The scene that salon.com has selected from this film for their “scene of the year” was also one of my favorites (you can see their play-by-play analysis on it here: http://www.salon.com/entertainment/movies/film_salon/2010/12/31/scenes_2010_let_me_in, one thing they do not mention very much is how well the music on the radio works, too.
19. Get Him to the Greek (paid to see): While it wasn’t as good as Forgetting Sarah Marshall (which felt so raw and real to me, it could have been a real story re-interpreted for all I know), Get Him to the Greek was pretty funny in its own right. All the stuff with Puff Daddy was pretty great, and Colm Meaney played a pretty douchey father, a far cry from the Miles O’Brien I know and love. Can’t really think of anything else to say, the threesome was pretty funny as well.
18. The Girl Who Played with Fire (saw at the Princess): This was my favorite of the three books, but only my second favorite of the movies. Probably due to the fact that the novel had more time to develop the new characters who join the Millennium team, where the film feels like it takes place maybe a week after the first movie. I also liked the scenes in the book where Lisbeth flits around the Caribbean using Wennerstrom’s ill gotten gains, but I completely understand why that was excised. What is it about Sweden and the girl-revenge genre? Does it have something to do with Pippi Longstocking? On that topic, what North American children’s book character will Daniel Craig’s character be named after in the remake, maybe Encyclopedia Brown or something like that?
17. Kick-Ass (paid to see): Full disclosure: I don’t really care for much for Mark Millar’s output. Wanted was only okay (I still wish the movie version would have gone with the kid as being a descendant of a Deadshot-type character and heir to a world of supervillainy rather than just ripping off Assassin’s Creed as they did, but getting rid of the idea of having Eminem be the main character was a good idea), I outright despised Civil War, and the only one I’ve really enjoyed so far was Marvel 1985. This being said, I ended up really enjoying Kick-Ass the Movie. I really liked the way the bad guy planned on revealing Kick-Ass and Big Daddy’s identities online, that was pretty nice, and Chloe Moretz as Hit-Girl was pretty great. There’s only one real qualm I had with the film (other than the fact that a jetpack with guns is pretty stupid) which was the Bazooka Issue. Listen, I’m no Batman or anything, but don’t you think Hit-Girl and Big Daddy could have just set up in an apartment across the street from the villain’s place, then shot the bazooka at his house when they saw him through the giant windows? You know, at basically any point during the proceedings? And don’t go saying to me “The bazooka was in the movie for the exciting finale, don’t overthink it so much!”, no! Call it a Reverse Chekhov’s Gun technique: yes, the gun is going to be used at some point, but it should be used in a way that makes sense, and isn’t a cheap sight gag.
16. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One (paid to see): Just a solidly-crafted film. I’m still pretty sure that Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is still my favorite movie, but this one’s probably a solid second place. I do have some difficulty telling them apart after all this time, though, and reading through each book in one day also compounds this issue as I don’t really remember the sequence of events that well either. The absolute desperation on display was more palatable than it was in the book, for me, as it took a lot less time. I’m still kind of hoping that they retcon Ginny and Harry out of getting together for the last movie, that always struck me false. Probably not going to happen, but I can still dream. We spent a long time hemming and hawing over whether to watch this one, so by the time we did, we were treated to the experience of teenage girls on clearly their second or third viewing giggling at things that were just about to happen. That was pretty irritating.
15. The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights (saw at the Metro): Just a lovely rock documentary, and it even featured a concert I was at! Why was Meg crying at the end though?
14. Splice (paid to see, then the studio sent me a free DVD): This was another one I watched after listening to Moviebob. He’s probably correct about the sorts of movies I’d like to see about 60% of the time. This was a lot cooler than I thought it could be, descending into a sort of Cronenburgian body horror right at the very end. I liked this bitter little pill quite a bit in the end.
13. Iron Man 2 (saw for free): Nowhere near as good as the first one, but decent none the less. It’s weird, the things I thought I wasn’t going to like ended up being the things I liked the most, and vice versa. I was worried that Mickey Rourke would accent the place up too much as Whiplash, but he turned out to be really restrained. Whereas I thought I’d like Don Cheadle as Rhodey, but he was nowhere near as bombastic enough as he needed to be to stand his ground against the rest of the cast. I also really hated how Rhodey sold Stark out to the U.S. government and gave them the Iron Man armor, that was lame. It was during this movie that I started to notice a weird effect in the audience, particularly on some of the people I saw it with. When a scene from the trailer was about to occur, everyone tenses up and gets all excited, which is weird because shouldn’t they be doing this at parts they haven’t seen yet? I’m sure you could go all Baudrillardian on it and say that they’ve taken control of that image by repeatedly seeing it in the trailer, or something, but it still felt really weird to me. Also, I still don’t like Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. Yes, I know Ultimate Nick Fury is specifically drawn to look like him, but nothing else in the film was that much like the Ultimates (thankfully). He just seems to act as his own cool self all the time these days, rather than as any “character”. I suppose we can thank Quentin Tarantino for that, can’t we? I liked John Slattery as Stark’s dad, that was pretty inspired casting.
12. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (saw for free from work): When I was typing the title just now, I originally wrote “The Girl With the Dagon Tattoo.” That’s just too good an idea to be true, someone should start a Call of Cthulhu campaign based on that premise right now! Go do it! Anyway, I liked this the best of the three Millennium films, but I have to say, if the American one is going to be anywhere near as good as the three originals, we should be in for a treat. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’s sort of like Star Wars: A New Hope. You can watch it and get a pretty good experience without really feeling the need to delve more into the mythology, whereas I feel the sequels would be incomprehensible on their own. E. was a little disturbed by how the pleased the audience was with Bjurman’s ultimate fate, but I found that the resolution to that storyline had the cathartic effect you’d find in a good slasher movie. Sometimes it’s nice to see someone wronged get revenge, and this doesn’t (to me) take away from the wrongs inflicted by Lisbeth’s guardian. I’m willing to bet they’ll tone that shit down considerably in the American version, for sure.
11. Machete (paid to see): Probably the most fun I had at the movies this year. I love that old grindhousey-type shit, almost to a fault. My brother and I seem to be the only people who can stomach watching all the way through any of the 42nd Street Forever trailer DVDs in one sitting, and even then there’s a bit of a dulling-feeling after a while. This movie definitely comes from that sort of tradition, as is as awesome as any movie can be. Roger Ebert was bemoaning the current cinema’s lack of “casual” nudity, but this one definitely covers that, even if they used a body double for Lindsay Lohan. Other than maybe being 10 minutes too long, I absolutely loved this thing.
Coming next time, the exciting conclusion to this year’s Sitting in the Dark With Strangers! Who’ll be Number One?