Monday, January 31, 2011

January Movie Jamboree

Man, I can't believe we've already completed the first month of 2011.  Somehow, I have seen 10 movies on the big screen this month, keeping up my record-breaking pace from last year. Yet this has been a crappy movie month even by January standards.  I don't know how I do it... or why... but that's probably a question for my therapist to answer a few years down the road.  For now, let's take a look at what I've seen recently....

Country-StrongCOUNTRY STRONG -- This movie already had two strikes against it because (1) Country music blows, and (2) Gwyneth Paltrow blows.  It did manage to work the count full by featuring uber-hot Leighton Meester in her first major movie role.  Fouled off a few pitches after that, and then actually drew a walk as the movie managed to hold my interest despite a barrage of pretty much every country music cliche you could possibly think of (solid performance from TRON: LEGACY's Garrett Hedlund, too).  It stole second when Leighton appeared in sexy lingerie, but ultimately faltered big-time in the third act, got caught in a rundown and thrown out at third to end the inning.  Sorry, Gwyneth, you still blow.

Season-Of-The-WitchSEASON OF THE WITCH -- Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman as knights who turn their back on the Crusades and get caught up in a mission involving a woman suspected of being a witch who may be the source of the Black Plague... sounds like it could be one of the best worst movies ever, right?  Well, unfortunately, the movie's biggest problem is that it isn't bad ENOUGH. Cage & Perlman play it too straight -- sure, there are lots of anachronistic wisecracks, cheesy visuals, Christopher Lee in a bizarre cameo as a dying king, etc., but if they had gone crazy with this thing and really hammed it up, it could have been a work of mad genius.  As it stands, it's a prime example of why January is considered a cinematic dumping ground.

the-dilemmaTHE DILEMMA -- Oh, Vince Vaughn, what the hell are we going to do with you? You've been running your SWINGERS persona into the ground for the past 15+ years but only very rarely have you even come close to that movie's greatness.  This schlock is no exception -- it's unfunny, plodding and generally a mess.  Kevin James continues to be pretty much useless.  Winona Ryder is fine, I guess, and Jennifer Connelly is her usual super-hot self, but they are beside the point.  Frankly, seeing Ron Howard direct a movie of this craptitude does not fill me with confidence over the upcoming DARK TOWER adaptations -- unless perhaps this was his way of getting the mediocrity out of his system before tackling that epic project?  Let's hope so.

TGH_IT_1Sht_4C.qxdTHE GREEN HORNET -- At last, a pleasant surprise! At first, I was skeptical when they decided to dump a superhero franchise film in the dregs of January. Plus Seth Rogen's shtick has been slowly but surely wearing thin on me.  But while this movie is certainly no IRON MAN or SPIDER-MAN 2, it actually kept me entertained. It starts slow, but really picks up in the second half, and the final act is like a balls-out orgy of craziness.  I do wish that the great director Michel Gondry had been able to infuse more of his unique visual style, rather than being hamstrung by the studio and Rogen himself -- but the rare moments in which his stuff shines through are among the movie's best (in particular, a funky thought sequence in which Rogen tries to piece together what's going on). Fine supporting turns by Jay Chou as Kato and Christoph Waltz hamming it up as a supervillain with an inferiority complex (keep an eye out, also, for an Edward Furlong sighting... weird).  Still not sure how long Rogen can keep up this shtick of his, but here he gets a temporary reprieve. (Also, for the record, I did NOT see this movie in 3-D, and I did not miss it one bit.)

barneysversionBARNEY'S VERSION -- Here we have an outstanding, funny, politically incorrect and surprisingly poignant film starring Paul Giamatti as a schlump who is loveable in spite of himself -- in other words, the typical Giamatti role, but I mean that in a good way because it always makes for a great performance.  The film reflects on the life of Barney Panofsky through three marriages and a variety of misadventures and relationships with friends and family.  The heart of the story is Barney's relationship with Miriam (the luminous Rosamund Pike), whom he meets for the first time at his second wedding.  It's the thunderbolt, clear and true, and despite the fact that he just got married, Barney runs with it. She rebuffs him but he doesn't give up even as the years go by -- reminded me a lot of LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA, which I love.  The movie later takes an unexpected, earth-shattering turn that serves as proof that it's often a good thing to not know too much about a movie before seeing it.  Really good stuff -- Giamatti won a Golden Globe for his performance and I’m surprised Oscar didn’t come calling, too.  (You could make a Supporting Actor case for Dustin Hoffman's scene-stealing turn as Barney's rascally father, too.)

the_way_backTHE WAY BACK -- The latest from Peter Weir, director of such classic films as WITNESS, THE TRUMAN SHOW and CARS THAT EAT PEOPLE. Set during WWII, this epic tells the story of a group of prisoners who escape from a Siberian gulag and endure a 4,000 mile trek to freedom. It’s a remarkable story (regardless of whether or not it’s 100% true), highlighted by great performances and some breathtaking cinematography that really drives home the scope of their travels, the vastness of the terrain, the harshness of the elements. Unfortunately, it’s hard to really get emotionally attached to the characters -- the sweeping spectacle is front and center, visually, while the actual people are almost an afterthought. That said, Ed Harris is such an awesome presence -- he really needs to be in more movies. Saoirse Ronan, meanwhile, is outstanding as a runaway that the men meet along the way and provides further evidence that she is the best child actor out there right now (can’t wait to see her kick ass in the upcoming HANNA). Also worth noting that, with this movie, I have now seen all the Oscar nominees for Best Makeup. Go me!

theriteTHE RITE -- Ho-hum, another year, another exorcism movie or three. This one (“based on actual events”) stars the great Anthony Hopkins as Father Lucas Trevant, a Vatican priest who must make show the ropes to a young apprentice who is having his own crisis of faith. The young whippersnapper thinks that psychiatry could solve most of these cases; Father Lucas, with his icy stare, unorthodox ways and thousands of exorcisms under his belt, begs to differ. The film plods along uneventfully for a while -- a possessed pregnant woman here, cameos by respected actors there (Toby Jones and CIARAN HINDS!) -- but it’s the final act that gives you your money’s worth. I don’t want to give too much away, but it involves Anthony Hopkins, demonic possession and extreme overacting the likes of which I don’t think I’ve seen from a legendary actor since Pacino in THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE. Okay... maybe it’s still not worth sitting through the whole movie (I love THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE, and this, my friends, is no THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE), but eventually these climactic scenes will be on YouTube and then they will be a must-see!

anniehall_manhattanANNIE HALL / MANHATTAN -- As you should know by now, I consider myself quite the connoisseur of the NYC movie-going experience... and this past weekend, I made a great discovery. Every Sunday night, the luxurious Tribeca Grand Hotel hosts special movie screenings in its Grand Screening Room. These screenings are 100% FREE to the public. You get FREE popcorn. You settle into a cozy seat and watch classic movies in an intimate setting. You can even bring in drinks from the swanky hotel bar, the Church Lounge (also a fine spot 19to hang out for a pre-movie beverage). Judging by the sparse crowd, I think I may have stumbled upon one of NYC’s great hidden gems -- and now I am passing along the info to you dear readers. Here is the upcoming screening schedule -- please use this information wisely and if you see me there, say hi! By the way, ANNIE HALL and MANHATTAN? Big screen double-features don’t get much better than that. Still two of the greatest, funniest, truest movies about relationships and most heartfelt love letters to New York that have ever been made, and the reason why I, for one, will always give Woody Allen the benefit of the doubt.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ben's Oscar Picks & Predictions


At last, the most wonderful time of the year is upon us -- OSCAR SEASON!  The nominations have been announced and the big show is exactly one month away... and boy oh boy, do I have a lot to say about this year's crazy crop of contenders.  In some cases (TOY STORY 3 for Best Picture!), I am very happy; in others (Natalie Portman for Best Actress and FOUR nods for the abysmal ALICE IN WONDERLAND), I am shaking my head in disgust; and in others still (no TRON: LEGACY for Best Score or Andrew Garfield for Supporting Actor or Ryan Gosling for Best Actor?), I am flat-out puzzled.  So, without further ado, let's take a look at the categories and see what there is to see.  As always, I will also provide my predictions based on who I want to win in my heart and who I think will win in the sometimes-harsh reality of life. Ready? GO! 


You know, I really hope that this is the last time they decide to have ten Best Picture nominees because it’s already gotten old. Think of it this way: If there were only five nominees and they were BLACK SWAN, THE FIGHTER, THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT, 127 HOURS and WINTER’S BONE, the prevailing opinion would be that 2010 was a dud of a movie year. Not that the movies are bad (well, except for BLACK SWAN, which sucks)... they’re just ts3not Best Picture material. For the remaining big guns, it’s a tough call. In a perfect world, I would love to see TOY STORY 3 win because (a) it’s the best movie of the year on my list, and (b) it would honor the complete trilogy as a whole, a la THE RETURN OF THE KING in 2003. I suppose it’s not outside the realm of possibility, but not very likely. INCEPTION would be a bold choice, but it’s too heady for the Academy. No, it’s going to be a three-horse race between THE SOCIAL NETWORK, THE KING’S SPEECH and TRUE GRIT -- for the big award and probably for most of the night. I hope hope HOPE that it’s TRUE GRIT, which is sheer cinematic perfection that only the Coen Bros. can provide. THE KING’S SPEECH has a lot of momentum right now, and it’s a very good film, but I don’t know... it doesn’t do it for me on that level. In the end, I think that this is the Facebook movie’s year. It is, after, the movie that defines this generation! And it is a truly tremendous film. (But man, wouldn’t it be great if TOY STORY won?)

I'M ROOTING FOR: Toy Story 3 or True Grit
WILL PROBABLY WIN: The Social Network

Javier Bardem, BIUTIFUL
Jeff Bridges, TRUE GRIT
James Franco, 127 HOURS

Sorry to see that Ryan Gosling got snubbed here -- he was outstanding in BLUE VALENTINE and it almost doesn’t make sense to have nominated Michelle Williams but not him. I would have given him a nod over Bardem or Franco, mainly because I liked BLUE more than BIUTIFUL or 127 HOURS. (By the way, I also wouldn’t have minded seeing Robert Duvall for the completely-forgotten GET LOW. WTF, Academy?) But really, you can’t go wrong with any of these guys. I’ve been touting Jesse Eisenberg’s virtues for more than a decade and finally, I have been vindicated! Colin Firth was tremendous in THE KING’S SPEECH and jeff-bridges-roosteris probably the favorite – plus that film’s acting is its strongest suit. But I have to root for Jeff Bridges, who wrested the character of Rooster Cogburn away from John Wayne and made it his own. I don’t know if it WILL happen, but the Dude SHOULD win his second straight Oscar, which would make him the first to do that since Tom Hanks for PHILADELPHIA/FORREST GUMP. Come on, Academy… abide!


Nicole Kidman, RABBIT HOLE
Jennifer Lawrence, WINTER'S BONE
Natalie Portman, BLACK SWAN
Michelle Williams, BLUE VALENTINE

Funny thing is, this could be Annette Bening’s year if for no other reason than that Hilary Swank isn’t nominated (you may recall that Swank beat Bening the last two times they were both up for gold). But she shouldn’t win, because while she was good, the emotionally-wrenching performances of Kidman (a big return to winters_bone03-550x366form for her) and Williams and the determination of Jennifer Lawrence were much better (in fact, I’m pretty sure Lawrence is my #1 pick). Of course, that is all moot because of Natalie f’ing Portman. I’m sure she will win for the overrated pile of horse manure that is BLACK SWAN and I have been trying to mentally prepare myself for that so I don’t punch a hole in the wall. *sigh*

I'M ROOTING FOR: Jennifer Lawrence (or Nicole or Michelle or even Annette)
WILL PROBABLY WIN: Natalie Portman (ugh)

Darren Aronofsky, BLACK SWAN
David O. Russell, THE FIGHTER
The Coen Bros., TRUE GRIT

Puzzling that Christopher Nolan got snubbed here. I mean, for me, it’s a bit of a joke recognizing Aronofsky for what is basically a ripoff of his own movie (THE WRESTLER), while Nolan is left off despite crafting such a wildly original, mind-bending jigsaw puzzle of a film. But since the Academy has BLACK SWAN fever just like coen_brothersthe rest of this sexually-repressed country, I’m not surprised. Could’ve easily left out David O. Russell, too... THE FIGHTER is good but INCEPTION is a billion times better. Again, it’s going to come down to THE KING’S SPEECH, THE SOCIAL NETWORK and TRUE GRIT. The Coens get my vote; Fincher will probably get the Academy’s.

I'M ROOTING FOR: The Coen Bros.


Interesting stuff here. Again, just eliminate THE FIGHTER and THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT because they’re not winning anything other inception2than perhaps an acting award apiece. INCEPTION would be a bold choice, and it certainly the most original story with ideas and themes and twists that have had people buzzing ever since it came out, but I don’t see it happening unless the Academy wants to make up for snubbing Nolan for Director. THE KING’S SPEECH has a shot if it sweeps (though, again, that movie owes its goodness more to the performances of the actors than the actual words they were saying). To be honest, I think we’ll see the great Mike Leigh get honored here for his latest great, moving, devastating film -- I’m actually surprised that this is ANOTHER YEAR’s only nod.

I'M ROOTING FOR: Inception


I’m a little confused here. What, exactly, is TOY STORY 3 adapted from? Is there a 18th century novel entitled “The Toy Story” that I don’t know about? Just kidding... I learned toystory3-oscarad-incineratorthat the Academy considers “true film sequels” (that is, sequels to a film that is not based on previously-written material) to be adapted from the original film. So there you have it.  (Sucks, though, because this is a much stronger category than Original Screenplay, and thus TS3’s chances of winning are much more slim.) Happy to see so much love for WINTER’S BONE, this year’s “little indie movie that could,” but it will probably miss out once again. 127 HOURS getting any of these major nods is kind of ridiculous. I’d love to see TRUE GRIT win because the Coens did an INCREDIBLE job of transferring Portis’ crazy written word to the screen -- it was like the book was written specifically for their eventual adaptation. But clearly this is THE SOCIAL NETWORK and Aaron Sorkin’s award to lose -- his script is so intense and loaded with whip-snappy dialogue that, at times, it feels like an action movie. I’ll have no problem seeing it win.

I'M ROOTING FOR: Toy Story 3 or True Grit
WILL PROBABLY WIN: The Social Network

Christian Bale, THE FIGHTER
John Hawkes, WINTER'S BONE
Jeremy Renner, THE TOWN
Geoffrey Rush, THE KING'S SPEECH

Another category full of surprises. But still, as nice as it is to see Hawkes get a nod, and as good an actor as Renner is, I can’t believe they couldn’t find a way to make room for Andrew Garfield from THE SOCIAL NETWORK. (A case could also be made for Justin Timberlake, who pretty much stole every scene he was in. And actually, Garfield was also excellent in NEVER LET ME GO, a great film that was completely snubbed. P.S., I would have also accepted nods for Barry Pepper and/or Matt Damon from TRUE GRIT) Huge props to my boy Mark Ruffalo, finally getting rewarded christian-balefor basically playing his usual Mark Ruffalo role (that is not a knock against him -- Mark Ruffalo rules). Geoffrey Rush is always great, but this is going to be Christian Bale’s award to lose. He was the best part of THE FIGHTER -- makes you wonder if he really became a crack addict to prepare for the role.

I'M ROOTING FOR: Christian Bale

Helena Bonham Carter, THE KING'S SPEECH
Melissa Leo, THE FIGHTER
Hailee Steinfeld, TRUE GRIT

Man, two nominees from THE FIGHTER and neither of them are the Crazy Evil Sisters?? Hopefully those scary bitches will get a collective nomination for Best Villain at the MTV Movie Awards. I love me some Amy Adams, so I’d love to see her pick up some gold -- though I will settle for seeing her looking super hot on the red carpet. Melissa Leo appears to be the frontrunner at the moment, seemingly for no other reason than that she is Melissa Leo. Helena Bonham Carter was good (very nice to see her outside of Tim Burton’s world for a change), but I think she’s vastly overshadowed here. I literally just watched ANIMAL KINGDOM tonight and I’ve already forgotten what Jacki Weaver Hailee-Steinfeldlooks like... not that it matters because I am 100% rooting for Hailee Steinfeld! Granted, she should be in the Lead Actress category... but I think she might have a better chance of winning here, so I’ll allow it. The girl has grit and she deserves Oscar gold! (Incidentally, kind of surprised to not see Lesley Manville from ANOTHER YEAR on this list -- she gave an outstanding performance in a film full of outstanding performances. Oh well.)

I'M ROOTING FOR: Hailee Steinfeld

Hans Zimmer, INCEPTION
Alexandre Desplat, THE KING'S SPEECH
A.R. Rahman, 127 HOURS
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, THE SOCIAL NETWORK

Here, folks, we have the biggest Oscar snub so far. WHERE THE FUCK IS DAFT PUNK’S TRON: LEGACY SCORE?! Such an intense, relentless piece of work that drives the movie more than any other score I’ve heard all year. Damn shame of a snub. (I also would have liked to see Randy Newman’s TOY STORY 3 score because all it takes is a few notes here and there and I’m tsn-eduardo-algorithmbawling. That’s a sign of a memorable score.) All that being said, Reznor & Ross’ SOCIAL NETWORK score is awesome and, I think, the clear favorite -- hell, it helps makes writing an algorithm on a window pane seem like a kick-ass action sequence. I also love the thundering INCEPTION score, which is Hans Zimmer’s finest work in years. Don’t really remember much about the music from DRAGON, SPEECH and HOURS (though if Desplat had been nominated for HARRY POTTER 7, we might have a tighter race on our hands).

I'M ROOTING FOR: The Social Network
WILL PROBABLY WIN: The Social Network

"I See the Light," TANGLED
"If I Rise," 127 HOURS
"We Belong Together," TOY STORY 3

andy-woodyEh, nothing too exciting here. I’ll be rooting for the TOY STORY 3 song because it’s from TOY STORY 3 and thus will probably make me get all misty-eyed (hell, I felt a lump in my throat when I found that photo to the left). All of the TANGLED songs were pretty good, though I personally preferred “I’ve Got a Dream.” Don’t remember the 127 HOURS song, and don’t care for the COUNTRY STRONG song. So there you have it. Now here’s hoping for a Naked Underwater Ballet interpretation of each nominee during the telecast, a la the infamous scene in PIRHANA 3-D! (NSFW)

I'M ROOTING FOR: "We Belong Together"
WILL PROBABLY WIN: "We Belong Together"


Can’t really argue with any of these nominees... except THE KING’S SPEECH. Not quite sure I understand that one. Basically the movie is one guy sitting around teaching another guy how to speak properly. Not a whole lot of groundbreaking camerawork involved in that. Or maybe I just don’t understand cinematography as much as I thought. But whatever. Much as I hate BLACK SWAN, at least it was well-shot. THE SOCIAL NETWORK is probably the frontrunner -- it felt like it could have truegrit-cinemataken place in David Fincher’s twisted universe. INCEPTION had all sorts of crazy dreamlike visuals. But I gotta go with TRUE GRIT, the best-looking full-fledged sweeping and, yes, gritty western we’ve seen in a long time.

WILL PROBABLY WIN: The Social Network


More bullshit here. I cannot believe that TRON: LEGACY didn’t get nominated -- it had the best and most groundbreaking visual effects of the year, by far! Also, SCOTT PILGRIM vs. THE WORLD should be in there. The Academy must have been smoking Christian Bale’s leftover crack when they instead voted for HEREAFTER -- absolutely nothing worthwhile in that movie -- and ALICE IN WONDERLAND getting any nominations at this ceremony, let alone four, is a joke, too. (Fun fact: This is the first time ever that an Oscar category has contained not one but TWO movies inception-hallwayfrom my Bottom 10 of the year.) I’m not a huge fan of IRON MAN 2, which was inferior to the original in every way. This will be between POTTER and INCEPTION -- both are worthy, but INCEPTION is more memorable (rotating hallway fight, anyone?), original and probably wins.

I'M ROOTING FOR: Potter or Inception


Once again, I think BLACK SWAN and THE FIGHTER can be eliminated right off the bat because neither of those movies are winning anything except for the one acting award for which they are most associated (Actress and Supporting Actress, respectively). THE KING’S SPEECH could pull this out if it sweeps. But I think this should be between 127 HOURS, which required some crafty editing to make a single-location, one-actor film seem intense and full of life (though, to be honest, I preferred BURIED as far as “one guy trapped in a small, The-Social-Network-openingconfined spot” movies are concerned) and THE SOCIAL NETWORK, which, as I mentioned, feels like an action movie at times, using dialogue and quick cuts as weapons (the opening scene alone... d’gah). Like!

I'M ROOTING FOR: The Social Network
WILL PROBABLY WIN: The Social Network


BiutifulCan’t believe I saw 141 movies in 2010, but only ONE of these nominees. I am such an uncultured ass. Then again, it may not have been my fault because I don’t ever recall these movies playing in NYC. Could be wrong about that, but for now, that’s my excuse, dammit. I did see BIUTIFUL and it was an excruciating movie indeed -- very good and seemingly Oscar-worthy. I have heard great things about DOGTOOTH and, in fact, it is at the very top of my Netflix Instant queue. Hopefully I’ll get to see some of the others, too, before the big show.

I'M ROOTING FOR: Biutiful, by default (so far)
WILL PROBABLY WIN: Oh, let’s say... Dogtooth


restrepoOoh, ooh, I’ve actually seen two of these, thanks to the wonders of Netflix Instant! I watched EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP the other day and even though I don’t really care much about street art, it is a fun doc & even better practical joke on the whole scene. RESTREPO, meanwhile, is anything but fun -- it’s a visceral, very real look at life in Afghanistan for a platoon of U.S. soldiers. Crazy, intense and a must-see. I hope to see the other three films if possible, but for now it’s a two-horse race in my mind. My guess is that the Academy goes for the “fun” choice, if for no other reason than to see what kind of crazy shit Banksy pulls during the live show (and that would be cool indeed) -- but the “important” film is definitely the more worthy choice. (By the way, speaking of important -- and controversial -- films, where's WAITING FOR "SUPERMAN?" Oh well.)

WILL PROBABLY WIN: Exit Through the Gift Shop


No surprises here, except that they easily could have included TANGLED and MEGAMIND and had five very solid nominees. This really was a Toy-Story-3-sunnytremendous year for animation across the board... but once again, Pixar comes out on top and this belongs to TOY STORY 3. Also, I mean, think about it: How could TOY STORY 3 lose this award when it’s also nominated for the Best Picture of ANY kind? That would not make a damn bit of sense. Props to DRAGON and ILLUSIONIST, though -- both excellent films in their own rights. (In fact, I wonder if it would make more sense to just give Pixar a Special Achievement Award every year so that the other animated films have a shot to win the regular award? Just a thought.)

I'M ROOTING FOR: Toy Story 3


Huh, so BARNEY’S VERSION is considered a 2010 movie by the Academy after all? Kinda surprised we didn’t see Golden Globe barneysversionwinner Giamatti snag a Best Actor nod, in that case (would have booted Bardem or Franco for him, too) -- not to mention scene-stealing Dustin Hoffman for Supporting Actor. Anyway, I think it will win here because there was some fine aging technology on display in that movie. I haven’t seen THE WAY BACK yet, though I plan on doing so ASAP because I’m a Peter Weir fan. As for THE WOLFMAN... meh... the movie sucked, and Benicio Del Toro already kind of looks like a werewolf, so any makeup they may have used was just overkill.

I'M ROOTING FOR: Barney's Version
WILL PROBABLY WIN: Barney's Version


Some might argue that ALICE IN WONDERLAND is worthy for this category if nothing else, but I’m disqualifying it on the grounds that it sucks my arse through a straw. I AM LOVE was an artsy Italian melodrama and thus everyone was dressed as such -- I didn’t love the film but it definitely looked good. Everyone in THE KING’S SPEECH was dressed ever-so-British but it was nothing spectacular. I didn’t see THE TEMPEST, but you can never count true_grit_costumesout Shakespeare. Which brings us once again to TRUE GRIT. Can’t see how anyone can look at Rooster’s disheveled getup, Mattie Ross’ oversized hat and LaBoeuf’s spurs and not give it this award.



Funny thing is, if ALICE IN WONDERLAND hadn’t been such a god-awful train wreck, I might actually have been able to appreciate whatever aesthetic value it may have had. But as it stands, Tim Burton can kiss my aforementioned arse. I have no problem with THE KING’S SPEECH competing strong in the acting categories, but in these technical ahp7reas it pales next to the competition. This is another triple-threat match in my book: HP7.1 looked and felt as if it was shrouded in darkness and despair from act 1, scene 1. INCEPTION is filled with some of the most memorable images of the year and could be the frontrunner. TRUE GRIT captures the visual essence of an old-time western and Portis’ written word. It could go any of those ways, but I’m sticking with TRUE GRIT for the sweep.

I'M ROOTING FOR: Potter or Grit or Inception


Oh, hey, look at that, the Academy remembered that TRON: LEGACY exists. That being said, I’d be lying if I said that I fully understand the sound Tron-Legacyediting process... I think it has to do with the creation of sound, and sound effects, and that sort of thing? I don’t know. Actually, if that’s the case, then TRON or TOY STORY 3 could win because they’re both full of crazy sounds. TRUE GRIT definitely features the best use of gunfire in a movie. UNSTOPPABLE is an odd choice, but admittedly, few sounds are more intense than that of an onrushing train. But my guess is that INCEPTION (sleep)walks away with this one.

I'M ROOTING FOR: TRON or Toy Story 3


This category, as I understand it, deals with the way the various sounds, effects, dialogue, etc. are slapped together (or “mixed,” in the parlance of our times). Um, SALT is a very odd choice, and an unmemorable one at that (though the film was fun in the moment). THE KING’S SPEECH, again, did not seem like much of a technical marvel in this area, even though it was all inception_sleepabout speech & dialogue. THE SOCIAL NETWORK and TRUE GRIT are perfect films through-and-through so I’d have no issue with them winning, but I think INCEPTION takes this one, too. Sounds on top of sounds in multiple layers of dream worlds... insane. (The way they use Edith Piaf’s “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” is the first example that comes to mind.) 

I'M ROOTING FOR: Inception

I am also very excited to once again spend the day at the IFC Center checking out the Oscar-nominated Short Films -- they should be released within the next couple of weeks, and you can bet that I’ll provide a full report (aside from Live Action and Animation, this year they will also be showing the Documentary Shorts for the first time!). Oscar Night is Sunday, February 27th, and you should definitely bookmark this site if you haven’t already, because I will be right here, for the sixth straight year, conducting my epic, entertaining, informative LIVE MOMENT-BY-MOMENT OSCAR COMMENTARY! But in the meantime, let’s discuss the nominees! GO!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Natalie & Me

First and foremost, I’d like to set the record straight about one thing: I like Natalie Portman as a human being. I think Natalie Portman is one of the most gorgeous actresses alive. She’s smart, funny, was involved in one of the great SNL skits of the past decade, has a excellent sense of humor, has a dorky laugh, and (for better or worse, and whether she likes to admit it or not) is a major part of the canon of my favorite movie saga of all time.

However, over the years, I’ve made no secret of the fact that I just don’t think Natalie Portman is a very good actress. Never really has been, with a couple of notable exceptions, one of which occurred when she was 12 years old. She is rarely convincing in any role, making it difficult, if not impossible, to suspend disbelief. She has, by my count, three facial expressions: Smiley, Crying and Expressionless (if you can consider that an expression). Nothing she has done recently has made me think otherwise -- especially the wildly overrated BLACK SWAN, for which she will likely, undeservedly, win a Best Actress Oscar.

But hey, while my status as an faceless, amateur film critic may give me a self-appointed right to judge her professionally, I would never hold that against her on a personal level! I would still very much like to be friends with Natalie Portman because I bet she’s super cool and fun in real life. And I sure as hell wouldn’t mind being friends with benefits with Natalie Portman... which brings us to NO STRINGS ATTACHED, a mind-numbing, by-the-numbers romantic comedy nostringsin which Natalie and Ashton Kutcher attempt just that kind of relationship before a nasty little thing called “love” gets in the way.

Suffice to say, the film is not very good. It’s wildly unoriginal, ripping off everything from WHEN HARRY MET SALLY to SEINFELD (most notably the scene in which Natalie and Ashton decide to set “ground rules” for their no-strings relationship, a la Jerry and Elaine in that one classic episode); hell, even the recent LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS tackled similar subject matter -- and while that movie also sucked, at least it featured more believable chemistry between its stars. It’s not very funny, save for a handful of amusing moments (tip of the cap to the "period mix CD"). As much as I love a good R-rated raunchy comedy, this one just seems raunchy for the sake of being raunchy. The supporting characters are grossly, almost insultingly, generic: There's the goofy friend and the black friend and the gay friend and the sassy friend and so on. Character development is nil -- for example, why is Natalie's character so emotionally stunted, besides the fact that there wouldn't be much of a movie otherwise? Though only 100 minutes or so, it feels laboriously long, bogged down by painfully extended moments and lingering shots. Of course, Natalie isn't very good and Ashton is exponentially worse. Director Ivan Reitman has certainly fallen from grace, himself -- GHOSTBUSTERS seems like a very, very long time ago.

gretaIf there’s one positive thing I can say, it’s that the actors portraying the generic supporting characters try their damnedest to rise above the material, particularly indie darling Greta Gerwig. She plays one of the “best friend” roles, and at first glance, you’d think that she’d be out of her element in such a generic Hollywood picture (a far cry from her mumblecore roots, or even last year’s GREENBERG) -- but then you realize that she's acting circles around pretty much everyone on screen. I wish the movie had been about her character and relationship instead of what’shername and what’shisface! More good stuff stuff, too, from Kevin Kline, Mindy Kaling, Lake Bell and an odd cameo from Cary Elwes.

It’s also worth noting that Natalie Portman has never looked sexier on a movie screen. D’gah. Clearly my relationship with her is complicated... and, come to think of it, might make a good romantic comedy in its own right: Dorky unknown movie blogger loves actress as a person but is quite vocal about disliking her as an actress, an opinion for which he is very much in the minority. While at an advance screening of her latest film, the two "meet cute" (obviously, he doesn't mention the blog) and she's every bit as awesome in real life as he imagined. Even though she's a movie star and he's a regular guy, she can't help but fall for him, too, and the escape from the Hollywood limelight that he provides. Can his feelings for her personally override his disdain for her acting career in the long run? And what happens when she stumbles upon his blog and finds out the truth?

That's Hollywood gold, right there. Or, at least, a heck of a lot better than NO STRINGS ATTACHED.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Ben's Top 10 Netflix Rentals of 2010

benflixNot only was 2010 a record-breaking year for me on the big screen, but because I am an insane person, I also watched more movies via the wonders of Netflix than ever before -- a total of 120 movies, either on Blu-Ray/DVD or streaming video directly through my Blu-Ray player. I believe the previous record was 108 movies, set in 2008, so it wasn’t even close. As you might imagine, my Netflix queue is kind of on crack -- it contains a random mix of mainstream films that I missed/skipped in theatres, indies I’d never heard of, foreign films, classics, etc. -- and despite so much movie-watching, I can never seen to make a dent because I’m always adding new stuff. I do love me some Netflix... and here’s the crème de la crème of my 2010 rental experience....

(NOTE: The criteria for inclusion on this list are films that I’d either never seen before, or was revisiting for the first time in a long time. Old favorites or recent films that I decided to re-watch -- for example, KICK-ASS, which I saw in the theatre in 2010 and then rented a few months later -- do not count. Just FYI.)

best_worst_movie10.  BEST WORST MOVIE (2009) -- Gotta admit, I’ve never really fallen into the cult that worships at the altar of TROLL 2. I’ve seen the film and acknowledge that it is quite possibly the worst movie of all time, but personally, my guilty pleasure is the original TROLL. (Fun fact: my friends and I loved this movie so much that we once made big plans to film our own version, shot-for-shot. Sadly, this never moved beyond the casting stages -- I was going to be Harry Potter, Sr.!) However, this documentary that tells the story behind TROLL 2 is truly fascinating. The making of the film and its eventual leap to cult status is one thing, but I was particularly enthralled by the reflections of the cast about their place in film history. Some of these non-actors are, um, characters to say the least. Whether you’re a TROLL 2 disciple or not, this doc is highly entertaining, funny, bizarre, semi-disturbing and even poignant at times.

never-sleep-again9.  NEVER SLEEP AGAIN: THE ELM STREET LEGACY (2010) -- I’m a gigantic fan of the NIGHTMARE series, so I was excited to learn about this epic, four-hour documentary that examines, in extraordinary detail, each installment of the saga. I watched it one night till about 3:00 in the morning and it is seriously the most comprehensive documentary I’ve ever seen about anything. They go all-out with the behind-the-scenes stories and cast interviews, revealing and debunking of rumors & legends. Aside from interviewing such luminaries as Wes Craven, Robert Englund and Heather Langenkamp, they pulled almost every other obscure actor out of the woodwork, too (Lisa Wilcox, who played Alice in parts 4 & 5, is still hot!). An outstanding exploration of the greatest slasher film series of all time. Unlike BEST WORST MOVIE, this doc is really only relevant and enjoyable if you’re a Freddy fan -- but if that is the case, this is a must-see.

the-magdalene-sisters8.  THE MAGDALENE SISTERS (2002) -- A unsettling film about several Irish girls in the 1960’s, considered “fallen” women in the eyes of their families, society and the Catholic Church, who are sent to a Magdalene Asylum where they are forced to basically live in slavery and endure unspeakable hardships, mental and physical suffering in order to be “cleansed” of their supposed sins. The abuse that these girls endure is unrelenting and hard to watch. Kind of crazy to think that this sort of thing was not only the norm back in the old days, but actually lasted through the ‘90s! This movie is a major indictment of the actions and hypocrisy of the Church -- which of course is just as relevant today as it was back then, not to mention the past couple of millennia.

gomorrah7.  GOMORRAH (2008) -- This exposé on the Camorra crime syndicate in Naples is not officially a documentary, but let’s put it this way: The author who wrote the book upon which the film is based has been living under intense police protection for the past few years because the mob wants him dead. Yikes. The film gets off to an explosive start as a bunch of gangsters are executed in a tanning salon, and doesn’t let up for a moment -- completely gripping even as it gets more introspective, with five intersecting storylines dealing with various individuals whose lives are affected by the Camorra in different ways. This is an unflinching look at the brutal reality of Italian organized crime -- a brilliant film, to be sure -- though personally, I’ll take the glamorized mafia as depicted in THE GODFATHER any day of the week.

girl_with_the_dragon_tatto6.  THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (2009) -- I’m usually a little behind when it comes to popular book series. I didn’t start reading HARRY POTTER until shortly before the first movie came out. Same with CHRONICLES OF NARNIA and THE GOLDEN COMPASS. Hell, I’d never even read LORD OF THE RINGS until the movies were announced! And I sure as hell had never heard of the MILLENNIUM trilogy until the Swedish film adaptations came to the U.S. I missed this one in theatres but caught it on Blu-Ray and I liked it a lot. The story is gripping, characters intriguing, and I was actually taken aback by the violence, sex, brutality and general fucked-uppedness. I was expecting another young adult-type thing, and this clearly is not that. Good stuff. Unfortunately, the trilogy gets less interesting as it goes along -- but this first installment is top-notch. Very curious to see what David Fincher does with the material in the upcoming Americanized version.

shampoo5.  SHAMPOO (1975) -- At some point last year, I think after seeing NINE, which starred a crappier-than-usual Kate Hudson, I decided to watch a bunch of of Goldie Hawn movies to remind myself of how much better she is than her crappy daughter. This one, starring Warren Beatty as a womanizing hairdresser, was by far my favorite. Kind of shocked I’d never seen this movie before, because it is outstanding -- equal parts raunchy sex comedy and cautionary tale about the consequences of Free Love as the ‘60s begat the ‘70s. Beatty is at the height of his powers (pop quiz for all you ladies out there: who would you rather bone -- Beatty in the ‘70s or Clooney in the ‘10s?), Goldie is as vivacious and adorable as ever, and oh yeah, how about super-young Carrie Fisher in her movie debut?

alfie4.  ALFIE (1966) -- Hey, another one about a ‘60s womanizer, this time starring Michael Caine in what is arguably his defining role. I re-watched this movie as part of a big Michael Caine Netflix kick, which I began after seeing the recent HARRY BROWN, a solid film in which Caine returned to his ass-kicking roots. Of course, it could be argued (and I would agree) that Caine has never stopped kicking ass and breathes life into every movie he is in, good or bad -- but that’s a discussion for another time. In this classic, Caine is at his best as the promiscuous cad who, after a series of life-altering events, begins to reassess himself in order to answer the age-old question, “What’s it all about?” Smart, funny and poignant, with a look & sound that just breathes London in the swinging ‘60s.

white-ribbon3.  THE WHITE RIBBON (2009) -- Winner of the Palm D’Or at Cannes and an Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Film, this is an ominous, disturbing masterpiece that delves into the darkness of humanity as a means of foreshadowing an even greater darkness still to come. Set in a small German village shortly before World War I, the story traces a series of brutal, unexplained events that send the community into a downward spiral of suspicion and fear. Featuring some incredible cinematography in stark black-and-white (really wish I had caught this one on the big screen -- it was on my radar for months but I never got around to it), this is the kind of affecting, thought-provoking film that grips you as you watch it and then doesn’t let go.

conversation2.  THE CONVERSATION (1974) -- Francis Ford Coppola’s classic starring Gene Hackman as Harry Caul, an audio surveillance expert who is socially-awkward, paranoid and wracked with guilt over a past job that led to several deaths. While attempting to decipher a conversation between a man and a woman, he begins to suspect that the subjects may be in grave danger and a new moral quandary kicks in as he tries to uncover the truth. A riveting film, featuring some outstanding performances (Hackman, John Cazale, Teri Garr, even Harrison Ford in one of his earliest roles) and tremendous use of sound to illustrate its themes of perception vs. reality. The 1970s are often thought to be the pinnacle of American filmmaking, and this is certainly among the best. (Side note: Has any filmmaker ever had a better year than Coppola in 1974 with THE CONVERSATION and THE GODFATHER PART 2? I mean, damn.)

...and finally....

red_riding1.  RED RIDING TRILOGY (2009) -- Watch all three parts of this trilogy in one six-hour sitting and you have yourself one of the best, darkest, most complex and enthralling movie-watching experiences of the year. Originally aired on British TV and based both on actual events and a fictionalized book series, it traces the search for the infamous Yorkshire Ripper over a number of years, from several different angles, using various intersecting storylines and characters. Part noir, part crime thriller, part introspective study of human nature, the trilogy features stellar filmmaking from three directors, all of whom use different techniques and perspectives; outstanding performances from such actors as Andrew Garfield, Rebecca Hall, Sean Bean and Paddy Considine; plenty of dark and brutal visuals and unsettling events. It’s a dense work that requires lots of attention to detail, but it’s well worth the effort. My biggest movie regret of 2010 was missing this when they showed the complete trilogy at the IFC Center for like $20 -- but that is why God created the glory that is Netflix!


Other Noteworthy Titles (in no particular order):

Barry Munday. Me and Orson Welles. Battle Royale. Cannibal Holocaust. Two of Us. The Brothers Bloom. The Cove. The Slammin' Salmon. Pirate Radio. After.Life. Tyson. Diner. Trucker. Deathtrap. Get Carter. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. The Italian Job. Dead Ringers. I Spit On Your Grave. Audition. Dead Snow. In the Loop. Cactus Flower. The Secret in Their Eyes. Escape From New York. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.


And now... The Top 10 WORST Netflix Rentals of 2010:

5.  THE EXPLODING GIRL (2009) -- This kind of pretentious Brooklyn hipster bullshit is bad enough in real life; it’s even worse in this movie about a girl with epilepsy who must deal with her feelings and whatnot. Zoe Kazan has been touted as one of the better young actresses around, but she’s going to need to do better than this.
4.  TWILIGHT: NEW MOON (2009) -- You may have noticed in a previous blog post that the most recent TWILIGHT film (which I saw on the big screen at an advance screening) did NOT make my Bottom 10 of 2010. It was bad, but surprisingly did not suck quite as much as the previous installments -- the second of which I watched on Blu-Ray earlier in the year. The worst of the series so far.
3.  HITLER MEETS CHRIST (2007) -- Based on title alone, you’d think this could be a tremendous satire/philosophical mash-up... but it fails miserably. A rambling, ultimately laughable mess of a film (written by and starring Michael Moriarty, which is odd in itself) -- an unfortunate waste of a potentially intriguing concept.
2.  HALLOWEEN II (2009) -- I’ve made no secret of my disdain for Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN remakes. The first one was a wildly unnecessary travesty of epic proportion, and this sequel takes that and basically takes a gigantic, wet, steaming shit upon the whole franchise. Ridiculous.
1.  TIPTOES (2003) -- Matthew McConaughey as a regular-sized person from a family of dwarfs. Kate Beckinsale as his pregnant, freaked out girlfriend. Gary Oldman digitally transformed into a dwarf!? Lots of other dwarfs, including Peter Dinklage (natch) as a French Marxist. Material that tries to be PC but ends up making fun of dwarfs half the time. Unintentional hilarity & ridiculousness. This movie is astonishingly bad -- I cannot believe this movie actually got made and, unfortunately, I cannot un-see it.

By the way, it’s also worth noting that aside from seeing 141 movies in theatres and 120 via Netflix, I also watched another 92 via miscellaneous means -- random stuff on TV, stuff from my personal movie library, etc. That’s a grand total of 353 complete movies watched in 2010. I’ll give you a moment to allow that number to sink in...... Clearly, my goal for 2011 should be to watch an average of one per day. Can it be done? Time will tell... but be sure to keep track of my progress (and the most-recent movies I’ve seen) with the little widget over there in the sidebar. Exciting!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ben’s 2010 Movies By the Numbers

Aw yeah, it's time for one of my favorite blogs of the year, in which we go through my very detailed spreadsheets, daily planner and ticket stub album so that we may break down and examine my 2010 movie-going stubsexperience and figure out... well... I'm not exactly sure what we're figuring out, but dammit, it's fun. Ready? GO!

I saw 136 different movies in theatres in 2010... though I actually went to the movies 141 times, because I saw five movies twice each (this included TOY STORY 3, TRUE GRIT, HOT TUB TIME MACHINE, INCEPTION and AVATAR way back in January). This, my friends, is a NEW PERSONAL RECORD, breaking my previous mark of 120 set way back in 2001 (my first full year living in NYC after moving out of my parents' house in NJ). Funny thing is, in all these years, I'd only even really gotten close to breaking the record once (117 movies in 2004) -- and this year, not only did I break it, but I obliterated it! Crazy! And, I might add, I did it without the benefit of performance-enhancing drugs! Up yours, Barry Bonds!

This also marks the 10th consecutive year in which I surpassed the 100-movie mark -- a remarkable achievement, to be sure, but it is pretty much par for the course at this point.



January: 9
February: 10
March: 11
April: 8
May: 9
June: 10
July: 15
August: 10
September: 17
October: 16
November: 10
December: 16

In order to see 141 movies in a calendar year, a pretty intense level of consistency is required, and as you can see, I was indeed very consistent from month to month. I started off strong and never let up. By comparison, I only saw 18 movies in January, February and March in 2009 -- but this year, I saw 30! That’s a LOT for what is usually a dumping ground for crappy movies! (Wasn’t quite as bad in 2010, though -- I saw two of my Top 10 movies in February: SHUTTER ISLAND and HOT TUB TIME MACHINE.)

The closest I ever came to a "lull" was April and May -- no idea why. Summer was busy, as usual (I even saw a movie while on vacation in Las Vegas!), but the real surprises here are September and October -- I saw 33 movies between those two months, which is just ridiculous. This can be attributed to two factors: (1) A stronger-than-usual crop of films for that point in the year, including THE SOCIAL NETWORK, THE TOWN, NEVER LET ME GO, BURIED, LET ME IN, NOWHERE BOY, and more, and (2) a big influx of free advance screenings -- 11 of the 33 Sept./Oct. movies were freebies. I saw my 121st movie on November 10th, thus breaking my long-standing record, so I clearly took a "break" after that for the rest of that month. But then I kicked it into overdrive again in December, and saw my 141st & final movie on New Year’s Eve, mere hours before cracking open the bubbly. And the rest is history.

My guess? This record is unbreakable. But hey, you never know.



• Full price admissions: 71
• Free advance screenings: 41
• Free passes/awards programs/gift cards/etc.: 29

Here, I think, we have the most eye-opening stats of all. When someone hears about how often I go to the movies, they almost always say, "Holy shit, do you realize that you've spent X amount of dollars on movies?!" Yes, it’s true, going to the movies in NYC can be a very expensive hobby -- but as you can see, I have been able to bring the cost down considerably. Out of 141 movies, I only paid full price for 71 of them -- just over half. That is pretty amazing, and the main reason is that I saw more free advance screenings in 2010 than ever before -- I think the previous record was, like, in the low 20's. This total included such good AND bad films as HOT TUB TIME MACHINE, COP OUT, TRUE GRIT, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, SPLICE, TWILIGHT: ECLIPSE, THE SOCIAL NETWORK, TANGLED, CONVICTION, THE KIDS ARE ALL schmucksRIGHT, JONAH HEX and many more, and each one was $13 (or more) back in my pocket. I even saw three red carpet premieres: DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS at the Ziegfeld (where my camera had a close encounter with Paul Rudd), FROM PARIS WITH LOVE at the Ziegfeld, and best of all, THE EXPENDABLES at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, where I had a moment with Dolph Lundgren (as he walked by, I said, “If he dies, he dies,” and he totally heard & acknowledged me!). Special thanks to such websites as Cinemit (for whom I’ve also been doing some movie writing lately -- check’em out out!), 43kixNYC, NYC Movie Screenings, Gofobo, the random guys who hang out outside of movie theatres and hand out passes, and more!

Of course, no matter how you look at it, I still paid around $900 for those 71 full-price movies, which is more than the average American moviegoer will pay in a decade. But that sure as hell beats $1,800, right? Right? Anyone?



Monday: 8
Tuesday: 17
Wednesday: 22
Thursday: 20
Friday: 54
Saturday: 4
Sunday: 16

No major surprises here. Friday remains the biggest movie-going day of the week… though this was the first time I saw more Friday movies than there were Fridays in the year! Heh. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are popcornbig days for advance screenings, hence the influx of activity on those days (not to mention Free Popcorn Tuesdays at Regal theatres and Free Popcorn Wednesdays at AMC!). I guess the biggest surprise is that I only saw four movies on Saturdays! I guess I was busy doing other things? Or something? Who knew!

(Also, for the sake of curiosity, there were only two weeks in the entire year in which I didn’t see ANY movies: The week of Feb. 1-7 and the week of April 29 to May 4. Every other week, I saw at least one. Usually more. Yeah.)



AMC Empire: 28
Loews Lincoln Square: 21
Regal 42nd St. E-Walk: 14
Regal Union Square: 10
Landmark Sunshine Cinema: 9
Loews Lincoln Square IMAX: 7
Lincoln Plaza: 7
Loews 34th Street: 7
IFC Center: 5
Clearview Chelsea: 5
Coliseum Theatre: 4
Ziegfeld Theatre: 4
Loews 19th Street: 4
Village East: 3
Paris Theatre: 2
Loews Orpheum: 2
Film Forum: 2
Loews 84th Street: 2
Regal Hadley Center (NJ): 2
Angelika Film Center: 1
Pier I @ 70th Street: 1
Planet Hollywood Theatre (NV): 1

lincolnsquareWell, well, well… looks like we’ve got ourselves a TIE for my most-visited theatre of 2010! For regular movies, the AMC Empire is tops once again -- to be expected, since my job moved to a new office that is around the corner from the place. BUT! Taking into account IMAX screenings, I also saw 28 total movies at Loews Lincoln Square! So there you have it. I like those theatres very much.

Interesting to note that I actually visited the Empire and Lincoln Square LESS often than I did in 2009 -- this is because I spread the wealth a little more in 2010. Nice to see that I visited such theatres as the Ziegfeld, IFC Center and the Paris a handful of times each -- really need to get to those theatres more often in 2011, though, especially the Paris, which is a magnificent theatre. Spent a lot of time at the E-Walk, since it, like the Empire, is right around the corner from work. Surprised that I went to Regal Union Square so often -- not a big fan of that coliseumtheatre. Actually made it down to the Film Forum a couple of times, and frequently my crazy neighborhood theatre, the Coliseum, a handful of times, too (need to do that more often in ‘11, too, because not only is it 10 minutes away from home, but it’s only $9… granted it’s a shithole… but still). This also marked the first time since 2001 that I saw movies in THREE different U.S. states -- NY, NJ and Nevada. (But only two movies at the good ol’ Regal theatre in good ol’ South Plainfield, NJ... that, sadly, is a record low... haven’t seen so few movies in the state of New Jersey since, like, 1993, which was before I started keeping track of these things.)



I saw 20 double-features during the year… also a new record. As always, there were some odd/interesting/awesome/unfortunate pairings:


I also saw my first-ever QUADRUPLE-FEATURE, which included four very different films: THE SWITCH, PIRANHA 3-D, A FILM UNFINISHED and SCOTT PILGRIM vs. THE WORLD. You can read all about that experience in this post from August 20th!

As far as my movie-going companions in 2010… well, they were few and far between. Out of 141 movies, I saw an even 100 of them all by my lonesome. (That is way up from 2009, when I saw 63 of 108 movies alone.) Of course, this means I saw 41 movies br_3dwith other people -- most often, my lovely girlfriend Rachel, with whom I saw 36 movies during the year (though that is also down from 40 in ‘09... go figure). My friends Murphy and Justine also acted as movie buddies here in NYC. Meanwhile, both times I went to the movies in NJ, it was with my friend Jill (we kept the Christmas Night Movie tradition alive for the umpteenth year in a row, but unfortunately, the Thanksgiving Night Movie tradition ended). But perhaps the craziest stat of all, at least to me: Only once -- ONCE, out of 141 movies -- did I go to the movies with more than one other person. (It was BLACK SWAN, which I saw with Rachel and her friend Alyssa.) Man... I remember back in the day when going to the movies was always a Big Event and we’d have groups of 10-20 people gathering to see such blockbusters as INDEPENDENCE DAY, MEN IN BLACK and THE LOST WORLD. Clearly those days are long gone... but I’d like to take this moment to give a tip of the cap to my movie-going compadres of yore... you guys & gals know who you are... let’s do it again someday, for old time’s sake!

COMING SOON: My Top 10 Netflix Rentals of 2010! Probably some words about the Golden Globes when that bullshit happens. All sorts of Oscar Madness when those nominations are announced. And, um, maybe, y’know, some movie reviews? Other lists? We shall see!