Friday, June 30, 2017

MOVIE REVIEWS #137: "HACKSAW RIDGE", "HIDDEN FIGURES", "MOANA", "TROLLS", "CATFIGHT", "SNOWDEN", "THINGS TO COME", "ZERO DAYS", "DHEEPAN", "QUEEN OF KATWE", "EMELIE", "BAND OF ROBBERS", and MORE!

So, I've been unusually busy lately and have therefore only been able to devote a limited amount of time to the blog. That's unfortunate, although I'll be honest, it's not so bad to be so busy lately, so... (Yawn) that said, tsk, tsk. It's gotten me quite tired and overworked. And no, immediate end in sight, 'cause, well, that's the life of a writer. I'm constantly writing.

There's a few things going on in the entertainment world, but, most of it I address somewhere on either my Twitter, or more like the Facebook page, which you all should be following, I might add. you can find-,  what happened to my Contacts list? Goddamn it!

(TEN MINUTES LATER, TAKE 2)

Which you can find at my NEW CONTACTS links over on the right side of the page. I don't know what the hell happened to my Contacts List, or why I didn't notice it wasn't there anymore 'til now, but, oh well....

Alright, quickly running through some of the other films I got around to watching. I finally around to a couple older feature films that I hadn't before, John Carpenter's "They Live" and Dusan Makavejev's "Sweet Movie". I've always liked Makavejev, and while, "Sweet Movie" takes some, eh, getting used to, let's say, ultimately I appreciated it. It's definitely weird and fucked up, but.... Anyway, "They Live" was, I think conceptually as an idea than it was as a film, but it was still pretty good. I've, for whatever reason haven't really gotten around to a lot of John Carpenter movies before. What little experience I have with his work, I tend to think he's a bit overrated, but I definitely liked the ideas in "They Live", and of course, it's always nice to see Roddy Piper again.

I finally got around to "Norte, the End of History", which, is a four-hour slow Filipino movie that was a re-imagining of "Crime and Punishment". Eh, I think I admire it more than I liked it, but it was still quite good. I recommend it highly. I also got around to "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit", which, believe it or not, I've, until now, never seen a Jack Ryan film. It's just been somewhat of a blind spot for me, so I finally caught this latest one. I don't know quite what or how to compare it, but it mostly just seemed like a decent action film to me. Not much more or less, although I couldn't help notice how eerily prophetic it was either. I also got around to "They Came Together" a comedy with Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd from the guy behind "Wet Hot American Summer", which I think I can admit now, I've never really fully understood the appeal of. Sorry, it's got a couple funny moments, but...- Anyway, it's better than this "Airplane!"-esque send up, 90 rom-coms. I mean, there were times where I genuinely couldn't tell if this was a parody or just a remake of "You've Got Mail". Yeah, it felt more like he just didn't have much to say about the genre, so he tried to throw in a bunch of stuff, but it mostly just seemed like a collection of bad random sketches shoved together.

(Yawn) Alright, I'm tired and need some sleep. So, let's get to it. This week's edition of our MOVIE REVIEWS! Starting with the Oscar-Winning film, "Hacksaw Ridge"!



HACKSAW RIDGE (2016) Director: Mel Gibson

★★★1/2



So, somebody happened to point me towards a video essay by, eh, what's-his-name, (Looking up) Patrick (H) Willems, H with parentheses around it, apparently; (Oh-kay) I'm not actually too familiar with his work, yet, but his recent video was on the subject of "realism" in particular it's use in comic book movies.  It's a good video if you want to look it up, it's here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxuK4NQ2NHk

It's not anything particularly new you know, he talks Bazin and Kracaucer, formalism vs. realism, it's nothing particularly new, but it's done and told well and for anybody who's never taken a film theory class in college, it's useful. He's a formalist, moreso than I probably am, although I get his point, he admonished to some extent the notion that realism in a film is in some way, for lack of a better term, "a better approach" to certain films. And in general, I-, I probably do take a more realism approach to cinema, but here's the thing that missing from that analysis,  (Well, not missing, 'cause it's not relevant, but it's what I'm thinking about) is that realism, itself, is, subjective. What, I might consider more realistic and plausible and believable in real life, others might not. And this has been a constant struggle with cinema, since the beginning of film.

That thought, crossed my mind more than a few times while watching "Hacksaw Ridge", Mel Gibson's latest directorial achievement. Now, I don't think Gibson is a bad director, necessarily; I've never particularly been a fan of his filmmaking, but, he does tend to place much emphasis on "realism" with his work, but at times, his perspective on, reality, is somewhat questionable. Now, probably the most famous and controversial of his works in this instance are "The Passion of the Christ" and "Apocalypto", both of which, go for a realistic approach to their subject matter, and both can argued and not necessarily being the best or most appropriate or politically correct approaches to realism, because the perspective is somewhat skewed. Now, that said, I'd probably still rank both of those films as his best as a director, especially "Apocalypto" which I think is an underrated accomplishment, and while I'm not crazy about "The Passion...", it's an effective portrayal of his perspective on the subject. "Hacksaw Ridge", however, falls more into the "Braveheart" formalist side of his filmmaking approach. Especially in the beginning, and the reason that I'm bringing this up, is that I don't think that's intentional, or even the wrong approach, it's just awkward.

"Hacksaw Ridge" tells the story, and it's an inspriring story of Private Desmond Doss (Oscar-nominee Andrew Garfield), who during World War II, became the first man to win the Congressional Medal of Honor for his accomplishments on the battlefield, without firing a shot. He was a conscientious objector who joined the Army after Pearl Harbor, with the objective of becoming a medic. At this point, when that's revealed during the film, I thought, "Oh, that's great. Military needs more people like that. There's enough soldiers fighting, the people who have to go on the battlefield, during the battles and save people's lives, without having a weapon to protect themselves, while dealing with blood and guts all over the the place...; that alone is quite impressive. His fellow battalion members should appreciate him!", that's what I thought, and of course, right when I was thinking that, his battalion members beat the hell out of him for not brave and several people, including higher-ups in the military, tried to have him dismissed from the military for this. Huh.... Like I said, "Perspective". The perspective has shifted, in general, and let's be frank here, I do not have the perspective on the world that Mel Gibson has, a thought that only really calms me knowing that few people really do. (If you know about his youth, history and family, you'd be saying that too) Still however, "Hacksaw Ridge" isn't inaccurate, these events, as far as I can tell, actually happened to Desmond Doss, and he overcame them all, and in the last half of the movie, a long drawn-out multi-day battle scene and sequence that rivals "Saving Private Ryan" and possibly even "Heaven's Gate" for it's violence and excess, we see just why he won that Medal of Honor, and it's quite inspiring, and for the most part, effectively realistic in it's portrayal. The beginning of the film however, is going for a more, formalist style and approach, one that's very old-fashioned. There's a couple movies that can point to, regarding stories of hugely successful soldiers on the battlefield and how we see them before the war and how they grew up into the soldiers they became, the most recent one is of course, Clint Eastwood "American Sniper" and this is a better film than that one, but for the first twenty minutes or so of "Hacksaw Ridge", I thought I was watching "To Hell and Back". That's not a movie that's brought up much anybody, but it was based on the autobiography of Audie Murphy, a legendary World War II soldier, and the movie attempted to be as authentic in recreating Murphy's experience as possible, and that including, casting Audie Murphy in the lead role. Now, he had been an actor after the war, for some year before that movie, so it wasn't, so Dr. Haing S. Ngor getting cast in "The Killing Fields" for instance realism, art imitating life imitating art, but the film was also made in the '50s and with a mindset of American at that time. I think Gibson's trying to recreate a tone like that, but it's hard to tell whether or not he's aiming for that kind of tone and confluence of these juxtaposing ideas and images or if, this is a genuine perspective on how Gibson sees the world and sees this story. And I'm not sure which would be the best approach. I mean, he is telling a war story about a World War II war hero, if there's ever a time to imitate a tone similar to Audie Murphy, this is probably the one to do it with.

Still however, I think that's why I'm having trouble getting a full grasp of "Hacksaw Ridge", the perspective on creating realism; it might be based on Desmond Doss's actual reality and experiences, and by all accounts I can find, it seems like he succeeded at that, and even his perspective on the events and not Gibson, but it doesn't play that way; it feels more like Gibson's imitating or paying homage to an approach to film from a previous era, and whether or not that era relates to me, personally, is what's gonna ultiamte effect mine and the audience's appreciation of the film. It's a bad double-edged and I can't really blame Gibson this time for this, the same way that I usually blame him for "Braveheart" a far worst movie that also, struggles between it's realism and formalistic ideas regarding a real person who was a war hero. "Braveheart" just feels like a second-tier Hollywood epic made out of it's time, and hasn't held up well, at all, despite Gibson and the film winning Oscars. "Hacksaw Ridge", I suspect will hold up much better in time. Possibly because Doss is more relatable to us, and he does try to portray him ultimately as a brave and humble young man, while William Wallace, was already more myth than man to begin with and it's easier to recreate something so heavily documented from 70 years ago than it is, something so scarcely documented from centuries ago, but at least he went for recreation instead of myth this time.


HIDDEN FIGURES (2016) Director: Theodore Melfi

★★★



At the beginning of "Hidden Figures" we start with a young girl, Katherine (Lidya Jewell) a young math prodigy who happens to be African-American. Her county doesn't offer, at that time, education for African-Americans after the eighth grade, so she and her family went to a high school on the campus of West Virginia St. University. She was 14 when she graduated and would become the first African-American to attend West Virginia University, among several other accomplishments.

"Hidden Figures" is about a group of three legendary African-American women, who without them, we wouldn't be able to, well, basically do anything we ever did in space. Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), a "Computer" who is one of the great mathematical minds in NASA, Dorothy Vaughan (Oscar-nominee Octavia Spencer) the computer technical supervisor who lead the team that ran the IBM machine, and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) a master engineer, who earned her degree by taking University of Virginia night classes at a then-, Whites-only High School.

Did you realize what was wrong there? I didn't realize it at first myself either, but after I realized it, I couldn't ignore it. Why didn't we get childhood flashbacks of the other two women? Seriously, why not? Something? Anything? Literally, anything? I mean, this is the story of these three women, right? So, how come only one of them gets the flashback to their youth?

I knew there was something that bugged me about "Hidden Figures", but I couldn't quite place it until I realize that, really bizarre storytelling error, especially since, well, there's actually a really good opening introductory scene to the movie, when the three women are late for work, and get pulled over by a white cop, who is suspect, but at the end, impressed when they find out that they're working at Langley, and work at NASA. This is back in the early 1960s, so, yeah, the Space Race is of the utmost importance, and the movie shows that, they really did have, even at their advanced knowledge and skills, several milestones and barriers to breakthrough, nearly all of them, mostly trivial. Well-, that's the wrong word, it's not trivial, it's just, the usual. Sexism and racism interfering with, well, progress to be honest. Amy Nicholson's review of the film made a great point that I never realized when she points out that the Russians beat us to space, originally because they had women on an equal setting and in the rooms to begin with. Mostly because we had some preconceived notions about what women could and should do. Women, and minorities. The most famous sequence, and for reasons that I'm sure made sense in a writer's room at some point, Katharine, once she's promoted as a computer in the room, somebody who, essentially checks and double-checks the math for the other scientists and mathematicians, represented by her boss, Paul Stafford (Jim Parsons), who in real life were- (Research minute) a composite character, and the main boss, Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) who was, also a composite character. Well, those performances are strong, particularly Costner's, but-eh, I think we're starting to run into the problem with the film, but I'll get back to that...- Anyway, her big thing is that there's no colored women's bathrooms in the building she's now working for, so she has to travel across the entire complex, in order to get to the one women's colored bathroom. When finally Harrison confronts her on this, he realize the ridiculousness of it and personally desegregates everything, including the bathroom, knocking off the Colored Only signs with a sledgehammer himself. Now, that's a good idea and scene, but the way it's portrayed, it's like the biggest accomplishment Katherine had to fight through, and maybe it was, but, did they have to portray that, by having it be paired up with that "Running" song from Pharrel Williams? I get it, it's cute, and the song's good; it kinda reminded me of those scenes of George Segal running back-and-forth through Central Park in "Where's Poppa?" Sorry, it did.

Alright, onto the composite character barrage, and there's others in this film, Kirsten Dunst plays one, as well, I should add. I'm not against composite characters, but, it does, sorta cheapen this film and it's strengths. It's a movie, with basically one idea, showcase the importance and greatness of these three women, and their struggles. That's fine, and it's not done poorly, but it never feels realistic. It feels like a movie, and that's the one thing you don't want in this kind of film. I mean, it eventually pulls off the uplifting moments and drama, but it feels like this movie, kinda, couldn't figure out how to film people computing mathematics exciting, so they made a traditional biopic tale.

There's this deleted scene from "Remember the Titans" that, I always liked, and it's not a bad scene, but they were absolutely right to cut it, where, the athletes go back to the restaurant that they were kicked out of because some of them were Black, and they really show up the owner with, I think a soldier or something that makes them change their ways. It's not a bad scene, again, but it doesn't belong in the movie, because it's too fantastical. We got the point when they were kicked out, we don't need closure on that by adding anymore, and the scene that you would've added anyway, is way too contrived for a story about a football team overcoming themselves and the racism of the community to succeed. "Hidden Figures" kinda feels like that scene, over and over again. I'm not panning it, I'm still recommending it, but I still feel like there's an alternate version and way of telling this story that would make the accomplishments of the three women stand out more, and make us care more. I've seen some criticism point to the fact that the director and writers of this film were White, even though the book it's based on is from an African-American writers, and a relative of a heroic major African-American figure in NASA, who predates all three of these girls involvements I might add. Eh, I think it might have more to do with the fact that Theodore Melfi is good at getting decent performances from his actors, but is a very limited storyteller. His previous feature film was the disastrously cliches "St. Vincent", a movie that I think of more thinks to despise about it the more I think about it. I think this switch to mainstream period piece spiritually uplifting bio-stories is an improvement for him over the cutesy, indy-darling quirky characters with little kids, cliche routes he took with "St. Vincent". I certainly admire his work in this film, than say Tate Taylor's recent films, and more than say, John Lee Hancock's "The Blind Side" for instance..... I don't know, I find "Hidden Figures" inspiring but disappointing. I can't pan it, 'cause the stories of these women and the performances, particularly Taraji P. Henson's work are too good to totally ignore, but I suspect there were more thoughtful and observant eyes out there that could've told their story better than this.

Oh, one more weird complaint, the sequence in the beginning where Mary Jackson is talked into becoming an engineer by her mentor, Karl Zielinski (Olek Krupa), it's a decent scene. Pointless, mostly, basically trailer fodder and not much else, but Zielinski has one last line near the climax of the movie, and those are the only two times we see this character, and ironically, he's one that's not a composite character. (Sigh) I feel like somebody needed an extra draft or two to this script, 'cause these are relatively easy fixes that aren't there.


MOANA (2016) Directors: Ron Clements, Co-Directed by Don Hall & John Musker, Co-Directed by Chris Williams

★★★★



So, something I always think gets overlooked about "Frozen" was how influenced from Broadway it was, specifically modern Broadway musicals. I mean, there's things in that movie that are closer to "Les Miserables" than a more tradition Disney musical, which, yes has always had some Broadway influence with it, it was rarely such a modern influence from it. Which made sense, especially since Robert Lopez was the composer of the music, but it was the structure of the film that had a Broadway influence to it, one that I hypothesized had been growing ever since the mid-nineties as Disney started adapting their own works to the Broadway stage. Now, with a "Moana" we get a film that's not only, really inspired by broadway storytelling patterns and tropes, the movie was practically sold on it's Broadway pedigree. More than even The Rock being involved, the main star of the movie was Lin-Manuel Miranda, the "Hamilton" creator who was the lead songwriter for the film. And the movie, while I think a little more difficult to recreate on the stage than "Frozen", is still essentially a theatrical arc. Or at least a minimum, a more theatre-influenced approach to a Disney arc.

"Moana", (Auli'i Cravalho) is a Chief's daughter, not a Princess, and similarly, to "Kubo and the Two Strings", there's a more fantasy element involved, although this one is more creation mythology-inspired as we learn about the island of  Motonui, (Which, there is an island called Moto Nui, that's SSW of Easter Island, but I find it a little hard to believe that's the island the film takes place on.) which is a paradise that her people have lived for generations. According to their creation myth, humanity was gifted by the demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) and then, he stole a stone from Te Fiti, the Island Goddess, as a gift to humanity, but, the stone got lost in the Ocean, along with his magic fishhook, after he was attacked by a lava monster, Te Ka. (Sigh) You have no idea how long it took me, right after seeing the movie to accurately recall and describe that, 'cause it's not that important. The thing that's important is that it's the Hero's Journey and Moana is the one that has to go through it. When her island starts to not be producing the fish that it used to, and the coconuts start rotting, she determines, despite her father, Chief Tui's (Temeura Morrison) objections not to sail past the reef, she decides that she has to in order to save the island. It doesn't hurt that she's been wanting to go out onto the Ocean since she was a baby, despite her constant insistence that she and everyone else must stay on the island, she heads off to find Maui and return the stone, believing that it's the cause of the island sudden spell of dire behavior, also, she was chosen to do this task, by, the Ocean. It's, weird, but the Ocean is a character. As is a really peculiar chicken named Heihei (Alan Tudyk) who I'm not sure how he survives.

I wasn't quite sure why, other than name recognition why Miranda's song "How Far I'll Go" receive so much praise including an Oscar nomination, but seeing the way it's used here and becomes an returning theme, over the course of the film, it becomes much more effective. There were other songs, that were all good, overall I don't think this story is as great or memorable as some of Disney's other recent fair, but "Moana" was inspiring, a great female lead character, who's superobjective is ultimately to find out just how strong and how powerful she is. It's this through line that really excels and takes "Moana" from a good movie, to a very good film.


TROLLS (2016) Director: Mike Mitchel; Co-Directed by Walt Dohrn

1/2★



Eh, "Trolls" is a cavalcade, of hack, shoved together between a perverse and bizarre collection of pop songs like some crazed ex-girlfriend's horrible karaoke mix tape she gives to her boyfriend. What the hell am I watching this for, it's like the demented version of the Care Bears, without the cuteness, or reason for existing. Look, you guys, might not have such a drastic negative reaction to this film, but, this one, just made me feel like I was banging my head against the wall. No, worst, it made me feel like I wanted to bang my head against a wall, 'cause it was preferable. It's just so, transparent how thoughtless and simple this movie is...-, ugh.

Alright, let's start at the beginning. Before "Trolls" meant horrible piece-of-shit assholes on the internet who have no life, and after meant, uh, what-the-hell were they, again? Norse mythological, bridge hiding-underers...? Something... (Internet search) Cave-dwelling monsters in Norse and Scandanavian mythology-, (Wait, caves? Where, the bridge trolls, come from then-, oh forget it)- Anyway, between those definitions, Trolls were these little annoying toys back in the nineties. "Good Time Trolls", apparently the were called. They were cheap, you can usually win dozens of them pretty easily with five dollars worth of gold coins, if you were any good at skee-ball at all, although I usually went for the small decks of cards, marbles, or the globe key chains. Most people I knew, had the ones that you can shove onto the back of your pencil, even though I'm not sure they worked as erasers. They either did that, or, the brushed their hair. They have, these weird long stiff hairs, with several random different colors, that would rat really easily, and I think that was the appeal of them. I don't know, if they were a cartoon or anything really, they were just a little trinket trend thing. that I thought ended years ago, and probably did, but unsurprisingly they stuck around and now they adapted to a feature film.

And that's not inherently a bad idea.  They're cute little things, trolls are strange enough to be unique and interesting, and since they're main attribute is that there's a bunch of them you can create their own little world and tell dozens of different stories with them. Where, singing, and being eaten by
Bergens and some, strange parable about happiness comes from, I have no idea. So, in this world, trolls live in a Troll tree, at least until they have to leave after getting eaten yearly. 

So, the trolls escape from this tree, in the middle of Bergentown, because once a year, Bergen's eat the trolls, because, it's the only thing that makes them happy. I'm dead serious. They eat the trolls, 'cause it's the only thing that makes them happy. The trolls, themselves are all very euphoric and happy people. They love to sing and dance and hug, and they're about to celebrate their 20th Anniversary of escaping the Bergen with a huge celebration, led by Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) who was a baby when her father King Peppy (Jeffrey Tambor) led the escape. All except Branch (Justin Timberlake, who was also the executive musical producer for the film) not only hates singing, dancing and touching, he's a paranoid hoarders who's built a huge bunker, fearing the day the Bergen discover their whereabouts. Which he claimed will be the huge loud, boisterous party filled with music, singing, dancing, fireworks, and wouldn't you frickin' know, that's exactly what happened. A few of the trolls got captured by Chef (Christine Baranski) who was kicked out of Bergentown after losing the Trolls originally, and decides to get back into town and present the trolls to the sad King Gristle (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who leads his sad kingdom 'cause he's never had a troll to eat. Also, there's Bridget, (Zooey Deschanel) a shy Bergen who's in love with King Gristle, and Poppy and Branch, along with the rest of the captured trolls who they've managed to find and work on helping to escape, decide to help her by having be in disguise to get Gristle's attention and Cyrano her on her date with Gristle. Anyway, if you can't get every beat here by now, and predict the events of the film, if for no other reason then because I've seen several other recent films like this.

I don't know how or why so many recent second-tier animated films based on some product or previously-established franchise, they always end with some strange simplistic tale that's about character's emotions, this and "The Angry Birds Movie" could easily pass as alternative Mad Libs of each other, except for the strange and bizarre song choices "Trolls" has. I imagine there's some childhood psychology involved in that decision, but it really just plays like, people were told to make a movie about these Trolls and had to come up with a story and that's what they came up with because they had to come up with something. What's the moral of this film anyway, "You don't have to eat a troll to be happy?" or "You don't always have to be happy, if you're a troll", I don't know. However or whatever emotional message they wanted to portray to kids, it's all lost in the framing.

Actually, come to think of it, why couldn't this have been The Care Bears? Think about it, a bunch of cute little anthropomorphic creatures who express goodness through multiple complex emotions, and help others to reach that emotional challenge, maybe even other creatures, like humans, since they're already a product aimed at humans? I mean, I'm not saying don't tell simplistic childlike stories about emotions to children, hell, "Inside Out" is one of the greatest movies this decade so far, and it does this perfectly, and in a way more adult and intelligent way than this film, but if you're gonna do this, couldn't they do this well? 



CATFIGHT (2017) Director: Onur Tukel

★★



In "Catfight", Anne Heche and Sandra Oh, beat the living hell out of each other. (Shrugs) Well, I wouldn't have booked it, at least not as a main event, but for an undercard match on a decent episode of "Celebrity Deathmatch", ehhhhh, alright.

(BELL RINGS THREE TIMES)

JIMMY LENNON, JR.
Okay, fight fans. Tonight's Special Attraction, schedule for three rounds, in coherence with the "Rule of Three" contrivance according to the Hollywood Screenplay Commission, and fought with Queensbury Rules, introducing first, in the Blue Corner, she's the brazen trophy wife-turned-mother, the wine connoisseur, who loves to fight, The Rich Bitch, Veronica, "Coarse" Salt! (Oh)
(Pause for applause)
And in the Red Corner, the painter with the stroke of death, the blood-soaked power lesbian who's the talk of the Manhattan art scene. A mother-to-be, who takes shit from no one, and is just as violent and graphic with a right hand as she is, with the brush,  The Artist Cunt, Ashley "War Machine", Miller! (Heche)

(DING)

ANNOUNCER
And we're into Round One, and remember, Queenbury Rules, the fight doesn't end, until a knockout is recorded, and in this fight in particular, being limited to three rounds, a knockout, of course, beating your opponent until they are in a coma for a minimum of two years. So, this is gonna get ugly folks,- OH! And it's getting ugly already! These two babes are just back and forth, rights and lefts, and- slamming heads into the wall, and-, hey foreign objects are not allowed, but the referee has lost control of this special attraction,

(Five minutes later)

Oh, and Veronica is down, she's not quite out, yet, still moving,- Oh, and she falls down the stairs! And, we're getting a ruling, and yes, she's in a coma!

(DING)

And back to the corners, oh, and Veronica looks pissed, but she's fully recovered from the coma, and looks very determined, while Ashley seems more confident and collected than before...

(DING)

Round two, oh, and Veronica attacks and has completely blindsided Ashley! Ashley's fighting back, but this is going out onto the streets, and these two bitches are going at it! Vicious, rights, lefts, kicks, this is a true beating. These two aren't messing around, they are trying to kill each other. Veronica, finally seems to have the upper hand, but Ashlet's got a hammer, and, oh, Veronica's a wrench, and they're battering each other. Oh, Ashley's seems out. She's just breathing, oh, and that bricks, lands right on her head. Let's see, yes, we have a coma!

(DING)

Two more years and now, it's the third and final round, both these women, they just hate each other. Really, really hate each other. They were in college together, we're told. Also, there's a war on terror happening, the draft has been reinstated, both these girls have lost their love ones and all there money just from hospital bills...- Um...- there's something else about a war, that's supposed to have a point, of satire, or something, but nobody really can tell what the hell that's supposed to be about.

Seriously, I can't tell what that was about. I'm sure it was funny at some point, when this idea was probably first written, but now...  (Shrugs)

(DING)

Anyway, round three, fight starts a little more slowly, as they try to feel each other out, not like that, but they're at it. Both tenuous of each  other, oh, and it's a screaming match, and they're back outside, into the woods, near the stream, and there clawing and grappling and slaughtering.... That's about it. They fight, they fight, and they fight...., it's time to bring out the fart machine.


SNOWDEN (2016) Director: Oliver Stone

★★★1/2



So I don't normally go after performances, for, having a questionable accent. Accent's are tough and when done well are really impressive, but, they're not essential in terms of judging the performance or the performer. I mean, when the last time you saw a "Hamlet" with a Danish accent? Hardly ever, and normally I couldn't care less, but, I couldn't help to take a second and third look at "CitizenFour" while watching "Snowden" not for accuracy's sakes or anything, but just to compare Joseph Gordon-Levitt's work, and his accent in particular to the real, actual Edward Snowden. Snowden's a bit of a tricky accent, but there's something quite laid back and relaxing about it. It's very East Coast, but you could confuse it for a surfer's accent. Gordon-Leviit, I think is going for that much of the time, but it sounds weird and off. And sometimes it's clear that he slips into his normal voice a few times in the film too, so it does feel like he had trouble with this, which, frankly makes me wonder why he didn't just use his normal voice? In all other aspects, the performance is fine and strong, but when the person you're performing as, is not only still alive, but who's voices and recordings are pretty readily available to be heard, including as a subject of a recent Oscar-winning documentary, (Not to mention everything else he did and is now famous for.) and is one that is readily clear in my mind..., yeah, it gets noticed if it's off a bit.

Oliver Stone's "Snowden", is about what you would expect, and that's good and bad. The good is that this is a pretty good movie, in general, and makes a strong argument for Snowden's actions. The movie is also a bit redundant if you've seen "CitizenFour" and the best thing about it is that it shows us a little more, purportedly about Snowden. Snowden, was a hacker, and an uber-talented one who joined the NSA because he wasn't eligible to join the military, and he became more and more disturbed as the technological advances, in many ways advanced because of him and his inventions, and the Defense Department on all levels, basically found ways to use it to their advantage to circumvent laws and and spy on everyone, including regular civilians. And later, that technology would be adapted by companies, and now everything on the internet is a specially design advertisement, like the ones I have on the right of my blog here, which you guys should really be clicking on, 'cause I need the money!!!!!!!!!!< AHEM!!!!

Anyway, I myself have always been on two sides of the Snowden debate, I think what it really comes down to is that, I don't agree with his end game. It's not that, he was wrong to become the most famous government whistleblower since Daniel Ellsberg, it's that, I don't think the problem is as bad as he thinks. Here me out...- Yes, it's a problem, and it's clear in the movie, and yes, big shock, the government was and still remains ill-prepared for the several new laws they have to write to government internet privacy, even and especially when regarding a government level, because the landscape of what the internet is, is constantly growing and changing too fast for a government of middle age white men to understand, much less, combat effectively. That said, sure it's disturbing that the government may in fact be starring at me through this ViewSonic screen that doesn't original belong to this computer that I'm typing on, even though it doesn't have a camera attachment, that I'm aware, and can see that, I have like ten windows open and am constantly switching between them, even as I'm writing this, I don't know what use that information. I think I have the same argument against "Snowden", both the man and the movie, I have for defending "Zero Dark Thirty". Let's say hypothetically that it's true, and some information regarding Bin Laden's whereabouts were obtained illegally and through torture, in real life and in the movie, it didn't help them much, because they weren't investigated Bin Laden's whereabouts. That's the problem with me, yes, they're collecting our data, and yes, that really, really sucks, and should be illegal, but with much data on so many people, the data becomes useless because it's only collecting, it's not investigating.

Of course Stone, realizes that too, so instead of investigated, the data is used to coerse others into confessing by setting up situations where good citizens would otherwise make them criminals. That's kinda the thing that really, tips my hat in Snowden's favor, even though, sure, he was blinded by Obama when he said that he would improve things everywhere, and of course, he increased the size of Top Secret America, but... I don't know if I'm as anti-government as Snowden is. I do like that he focuses on the relationship between Snowden and he girlfriend Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley). The movie mostly takes place however, as a tale told by Snowden, in that infamous hotel room where Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald (Melissa Leo and Zachary Quinto), the filmmakers behind "CitizenFour", which this movie, quite simply was never gonna be better then. Oddly, considering it's Oliver Stone, the movie is quite tame and not that compelling in hindsight. It's entertaining enough, but his usual kinetic-paced information dumps aren't that interesting. I mean, especially considering after "The Big Short" last year, this feels flat and less memorable. I'm still gonna recommend it, 'cause there's a lot to like, and mostly I agree with Snowden, even though it's definitely a bit of a one-sided portrayal of him, although to be fair, I don't know how many sides there are to him. I think ultimately, this is a minor entry in Oliver Stone's filmography, and while there's some good performances here, including a few odd cameos from people like Nicholas Cage of all people, but most of them I've heard were composite characters, which makes sense, since most of them weren't that compelling. I do like the parts about how he sneaks off and goes into hiding when he finally decides to go public. The Rubik's Cube trick through airport security, is both ballsy, and genius.


THINGS TO COME (2016) Director: Mia Hansen Love

★★★★



A few films into her career, it's now apparent that Mia Hansen-Love's main interest in her films, is seeing character transform and evolve after life-shattering sudden changes. Simple, and she's not the only one doing things like that, hell, her mentor Olivier Assayas, who helped her start her career, originally as an actress, has basically been making and remaking that same movie for thirty years. But, that said, she's one of the better ones out there doing it, and one of the most interesting ones as well. I greatly admired both "The Father of My Children" and "Goodbye First Love", two of her more recent films, although "Things to Come", which is a bit of a generic title, although not that incorrect a translation from "L'Avenir", which is French for "The Future", and it's accurate, albeit accurate for nearly every movie ever made, but it's effective. Nathalie (Isabelle Huppert) is a headstrong philosophy professor at a Paris University. Things seem okay, with the exception of student protests sometimes getting in the way of her teaching class. Philosophy is a bit of a subtle metaphor into the film. Philosophy, for all the theories and naval-gazing it can instigate when being interrupted or analyzed, from the classic Greeks to the modern Eastern European names, to just basic modern conflict theory, is basically another form of "faith". Those who oblige by a philosophical perspective or two, eh, let's say,like me, I'm a Rene Descartes follower myself, find comfort and trust in their philosophical construct. When that gets challenged, just like a crisis of faith would for a religious person, it can be jarring. That's a long way of me saying that, nothing in particular happens during "Things to Come", but things occur, and therefore Nathalie's philosophical ideals are challenged. Sometimes literally in the classroom, but mostly, in her life. Her husband, Heinz (Andre Marcon), who's also a philosophy professor, is cheating on her, and he ends up leaving her for someone 25 years young. Then, her sick mother, Yvette (Edith Scob) passes away. At the same, she begins a slight, but flirtatious friendship with a former student, Fabien (Roman Kolinka) who challenges her philosophy at times as well. The thing about these incidents, in that in other hands, they're played like melodrama and tragedy, the fascinating part of Hansen-Love's work is how it's not. It's almost so subtle that you barely realize these people care, and yet, that's what they do. Say what you want, but they know that's more realistic. Life goes on, and you have to deal with it, all the while, you're trying to figure out, what exactly your future entails. You don't get to wait for change, change happens and you have to accept it. "Things to Come" despite Huppert's amazing performance, which some argued might've been more Oscar-worthy than her work in "Elle" last year, isn't to me, as good as either of Hansen-Love's earlier films, but I could possibly chalk that up to being more relatable to me, while from all accounts this seems like a more personal film for her, apparently growing up as a daughter of a couple philosophy professors herself, this film is more autobiographical than her previous works. It's definitely worth watching still though.


ZERO DAYS 
(2016) Director: Alex Gibney

★★★★




I always look forward to Alex Gibney's latest documentaries, although I don't exactly know why, considering the subject of his documentaries, and generally I get annoyed at the world, society, whoever the hell....- and the timing of watching "Zero Days,"- well, alright, let's-eh,- So, here's the thing, Russia hacked our election. That's a fact, and by doing this, they elected Trump. That's a fact. It's essentially a cyber coup-de-gras. Here's the thing, they may have had a decent reason to do that to us, 'cause we probably did it first.

I am not a computer so trying to understand the intricacies of cyberterrorism has always been an uphill climb for me and I suspect it is to several others. So, recognizing the importance of a story like Stuxnet Computer Virus attack, is something that, perhaps I slept on, at least in terms of it's importance, and "Zero Days" does a frightening good job of explaining why we shouldn't. So, Stuxnet, is the name given to a virus that was released onto the world computer, in and around the end of 2008 and early 2009. It was first recognized by a Belarussian securities agent, for a Russian client. Now, I'm not gonna explain all the ways this is different and more unique from other viruses, just trust me that it is and it was. So much so, that the people who are trained to look at and identify and protect us from such viruses, were caught off-guard by how complex and sophisticated the virus was, and that's before it became clear how treacherous it was. This attack, while it hit all over the world, was centered on and aimed at a nuclear plant in Iran, which was working on creating nuclear weapons. Sounds good so far, right? Well, the virus, was actually capable of blowing up nuclear centrifruges which, with the wrong mix of uranium in them, and if the wrong things happen, we got a blowout and nuclear meltdown, on top of, several deaths. Yeah, cyberterrorism is capable of killing, and not metaphorically either. Now, the reason for this, is of course, Iran was trying to build nuclear weapons and we wanted to dissuade them.

So, now, and you have figured, this was the U.S. Government, was behind the attack, along with Israel. The original plan originated under Bush, who had to work on a cyber threat to Iran, because he wasn't capable of a military attack, 'cause by that point, with Afghanistan and Iraq, he had lost all credibility with military options, particularly with Muslim, and, WOW!, there's an aspect of just how shitty the war with Iraq was that I never considered before, thanks Bush, you get worst everyday, when Trump isn't making you look like a genius. (Headslap) That said, the program was continued under Obama, and, understandably so, it was inevitable. If it wasn't us constructing a cyberterrorism war, it would've been someone else who'd be trying to take down the entire modern infrastructure as we know it. That said, when we got, it let everybody know that, if it was okay for us to do it, it's okay for everyone else. So yeah, nuclear arms treaties, those ones that took decades to hammer out, they're helpful, beneficial, and a common good, that's for sure, but yeah, a damn good laptop might logically be more dangerous, at least depending on who's running it.

"Zero Hour" is another strong Gibney documentary, one that's full of talking heads, but interesting ones, and a lot of graphics, including an intriguingly bizarre graphics interface used for an actress who's brought in to portray people who've been willing to leak particular information on the program, it's still classified by the U.S. Government, despite much of the public knowledge out there about it. It's haunting and you can feel Gibney's frustration, both through the off-camera questions he asks and through Peter Coyote's period narration.


DHEEPAN (2016) Director: Jacques Audiard

★★★★



Dheepan (Jesuthasan Antonythasan) is a Tamil soldier. He, his wife Yalini (Kalieaswari Srinivasan) and daughter Illayaal (Claudine Vinasithamby) are refugees from the war, and have found their way to France. Except, he's not Dheepan. That's not his wife, and that's not their daughter. They're three strangers, who are very quickly and suddenly brought together, in order to be refugees and escape Sri Lanka. They arrive in France, and have to keep up the charade as three strangers, not only have to rebuild their life from scratch, and have to suddenly live together and act and seem like a family, while they struggle to try to become a family.

I've spent the last few days trying to figure out how to talk about "Dheepan", the latest feature from Jacques Audiard, the French director of "Rust and Bone" a film that I rank as his best, and most complete and compelling work. "Dheppan" is not that good, and to be honest, I wondered if perhaps, "Rust and Bone" might've been a bit of a fluke. I hadn't been as impressed with his previous films before then, although I certainly respected both "A Prophet" and the other film of his I'd seen, "Read My Lips". That film, is probably what's throwing me off a bit about Audiard, his last few films, seem to be personal, and all deal with some rather conflicted characters in a situation where they have to completely adapt to their surroundings. "Read My Lips", is representative of some of his earlier films, which were more mystery and thriller based. His film before this run of films, for instance, "The Beat That My Heart Skipped" was a remake of James Toback's "Fingers" of all things.

I guess this explains, why, at the end of the film, he chose to bring the film back to his action roots, although it works 'cause the movie is basically a look at how, both worlds can be considered both literal and metaphorical battlefields for them, but I wonder if that decision was too simplistic in hindsight. I liked the story itself, the struggle to communicate with the outside world and with each other, seems like enough. Of course, there is more, and since they're refugees, the work they get and the places they live, are on the lowest end of the economic spectrum, so yeah, them, ending up at the unwitting bystanders in the middle of a gang/drug war that turns violent, (Sigh) it makes sense, I just wish that wasn't the ultimate focus of the film. I like the regular personal struggles, of them trying to understand everyone else, relating to the customs, in the little girl's instance, getting used to a new school, getting used to their new work and their new clients, etc. Getting used to each other, if that's even possible.... I mean, they're already risking their lives and breaking the law to do all this, shouldn't that be enough? (Sigh) I guess, that's the point too though.


QUEEN OF KATWE 
(2016) Director: Mira Nair

★★1/2



I've been trying to figure out the angle to take on "Queen of Katwe" but every one I try seems to be a little bit off. Then, I saw all the really, huge rave reviews the film got, and- maybe I'm just confused by all the praise the film's got. Are we not just tired of all these Disney sports movies yet? I've only watched like five of these, and I'm tired of them, and this one,- look, I love chess, but...- Anyway, this movie is about a young chess protege, Phiona (Madina Natwanga) and her coach Robert Katende (David Oyelowo). Phiona lives in Katwe, which is a section of Kampala, the capital of Uganda, and, I guess, it's weird for there to be a chess master sprung from the streets of Kampala, I guess? I mean, I think that's about all the movie's really going off of. I mean, her life's not ideal, her mother Nakku (Lupita Nyong'o) is just annoying. She's basically got a couple moods, one where she bitches and complains about how Phiona isn't going out and selling maize on the streets, which is what they do, and complaining about her chess. She also has an older sister, Night (Taryn "Kay" Kyaze) who's tall and pretty and gets the attraction of the men in town. I guess there's another arch about Robert and his struggle for work in engineering being his way of getting into competitive chess, but, mostly this whole movie is based on the notion that somehow, because Phiona is from Katwe, that somehow she's not supposed to become this chess champion?

I-, I feel like their next overcoming obstacles film is gonna be about how much of a struggle and torment it was for Michael Jordan to win his sixth championship. Like, yeah, that was hard, and an accomplishment, and you can probably tell that story...- but,- Apparently this started as an ESPN story, that became and apparently Mira Nair, who can and has been a great director, with films like "Monsoon Wedding" and "The Namesake" over the years and she wanted to make this, but I just don't see the appeal. I didn't care much for another movie about young chess champions recently, "The Dark Horse', which was about chess players in New Zealand, I believe, and that one has a more interesting main character I guess, but it was basically the same story. It's about where this character was from that was inspirational, and I just don't see it. Maybe it is, because it's chess, and sure, it's mostly a game taken over by Russians and computers in recent, but it was also invented in India. It's never really been an upscale a game as people think. "Why Uganda?" "Why not Uganda?" I guess it might be that I'm an American and our chess myth is Bobby Fischer, who for many other several reasons is probably not the most likely chess champion either, but I just don't see what was so unlikely here. This isn't the inspirational story that I find compelling or interesting anymore. Maybe it's that it's chess, which isn't the most dramatic or compelling sport to do a film about, but-, but that's not a great excuse either, 'cause I think of a few good movies that have used chess before. Sometimes it works better metaphorically like in Boaz Yakim's "Fresh", and there is that part of it in "Queen of Katwe", where Phiona clearly sees life more and more like a game of chess, and as a way to escape; in fact it's literally spoken out loud that way, a couple times even, (That's the other thing, why is the writing so dense in this film?) but there's better ways of doing that even. In fact, now that I think about it, they don't really bring up chess much. We see people playing chess, sometimes I'm not sure how accurate it is, but think of the best chess of all-time, "Searching for Bobby Fischer", also a film about a young chess protege, and the masters teaching him, the intricacies of the game are front and center throughout the film; it's even a major plot point in the climatic finale. I've played chess since I was like seven, and sometimes I'm noticing the board and seeing, "That's not how that move would work." and maybe I was wrong and it was a weird camera angle, but, that's a problem. This movie doesn't care about chess that much. Basically, they show the rules in a cliche scene, and a few other little scenes, but they're not outlined or necessarily explained in great detail. I don't know, this movie doesn't impress as an inspirational underdog sports story, it doesn't impress me as somebody who knows and loves the game of chess,... the acting's good. The location scouting' fine, apparently they shot the film in Uganda, that's impressive, but not really. I mean, where the hell else wold you try to shoot it? It's got mostly unknown actors outside of Oyelowo and Nyong'o, and that's admirable and not a bad choice, but I found myself entirely cold to this film. I've seen this story before, and I've seen it told and done way better than this. 


EMELIE (2016) Director: Michael Thelin


ZERO STARS



I know, that somebody, somewhere is gonna come at me for this review. Somebody's gonna say that I just didn't get it, and that it was Grand Guignal  comedy or it's supposed to a be funny horror, an over-the-top Raimi-esque horror, or that they legitimately found this movie, creepy, which, to the latter argument, yes, I did find "Emelie" to be creepy. That said, I think I'm one of the few people I know who's never found "Halloween" scary. And, yes, it's a good, albeit overrated movie, but frankly, I always found that one to be more comedic than most supposed horror-comedies out there. Hell, I still get shit for giving ZERO STARS to "You're Next" a few years ago, which I named the Worst Movie of that Year. I didn't get it, it was supposed to be funny; it meant to be stupid... or some other complaints that, frankly don't improve the film for me. Even stupid needs to be smart stupid, or else, it's just stupid, and that's just not enough.

This movie, is not as stupid as "You're Next", but it's much more nauseating and disturbing. Basically, we spend much of this movie, watching a young woman torturing little kids. I don't care that she's the villain and gets her comeuppance in this instance, 'cause I couldn't sit through this movie. I did, eventually, not for lack of trying not too. The day before I had sat through a four and a half hour Filipino movie that was their take on "Crime and Punishment" that had a pretty gruesome and violent rape and murder scene at around the three hour fifty minute mark, and the movie was incrementally slow for most of the film, so, yeah, I was annoyed by that, but I would gladly sit through that a hundred times over than watching this piece of shit again.

So, the babysitter is named "Anna" (Sarah Bolger) who is of course, Emelie, 'cause we she her attack the actual babysitter, kill her and replace her, and since the parents don't know her, 'cause she's a trusted friend of their normal babysitter, she comes in and watches the three kids. And for awhile, everything seems normal, until they're not. Except it's never normal, 'cause we know this already. And sure the oldest kids Sally and Christopher (Carly Adams and Thomas Bair) eventually put the pieces together. The wallet with the wrong name, the fact that she reveals herself on the toilet, her bizarre choice of films to show the kids, just everything, everything wrong. And I get it, it makes us uncomfortable, it makes us hate her, and in that respect Sara Bolger, who I never stop remembering her as the little girl in "In America" a movie, which I find myself thinking back fondly on and loving more than I realized I did...- anyway she's pretty good here.

You see, it's not that, the kids are being tortured by this presumably adult person pretending to be a teenager, I can think of movies I love where this has happened. Hell, even recently, M. Night Shyamalan's "The Visit" wasn't much different plot-wise than this film, but I liked that one, because it was about the mystery, and we weren't 100% sure what the problem was and the discovery put the events in a creepier light when we realize how much trouble our characters were in. With "Emelie", there is no problem with the character; there's no character really. We're told she has a past and a friend, which, I guess is supposed to be a reason why she did this, but it's not. You see, in other movies, the bad guy is torturing the kids, in this movie, the filmmakers are torturing us by making us watch this person just do some horrible, horrible things. We know she's evil and bad, and her activities don't dissuade that or make us wonder, it's just, us, being trapped in a room, staring at a snake and a mouse, and waiting for the inevitable, literally. This is not a time for a howcatchem story. That's not a character hurting another character, that's just hurting us, the viewer. And frankly, I don't feel like taking that. This was just, torture, plain and simple. It wasn't done for a reason, or for anything, just, let's come up with some bad things somebody can do to them, and let's make a babysitter who's doing it to kids.

Also, not to belabor the point, but I didn't have anywhere else to put this in the review;  there's also a weird scene in this movie about somebody having tickets to the Sprint Cup race, which A. is not a race, the Sprint Cup is the Award given to the best driver in NASCAR for the whole season, but then, when we see a driver's license in the film, it says that they're in Canada, and there's no Sprint Cup races this year, in Canada, anywhere. (Sigh)

Fuck this movie!


BAND OF ROBBERS (2016) Aaron Nee & Adam Nee

★★1/2



I'm gonna have to admit to being a little, light on my Mark Twain than I'd prefer to be, but somehow, I never pictured Tom Sawyer (Adam Nee) growing up to become a cop. Huck Finn (Kyle Gallner) becoming a criminal who's coming out of jail, that makes sense, but Tom Saywer as a cop? I guess, but...- Of course, you're already jumping the shark a bit by transporting these characters to modern times to begin with. The movie begins with Mark Twain's "Persons attempting to find a narrative will be prosecuted..."quote, which is kinda dumb, 'cause this is a retelling of "Tom Sawyer", and not "Huckleberry Finn", which is much more lacking a narrative than "Tom Saywer" is, although "Tom Sawyer" is fairly episodic, and if I remember correctly, kinda weird. It's got some important scenes, and images, and they co-opt a few of the more famous ones; their twist on Tom & Huck hiding in the casket is kinda cute, but really, they do kinda find a narrative in this, and it basically boils down to a search for missing gold. You see, this kind of works in the book, because they're kids, and they get into trouble. When they're adults, yeah, that makes them just crooks. I mean, it's a funny idea, Tom Sawyer gets stuck with Becky Thatcher (Melissa Benoist) as his new partner, who he gets to work with on the same day he's preparing with Huck and his partners to rob a pawn shop using a plan that's too stupid to describe. Huck living with the widow for instance, there's some good thoughts and ideas here, and I guess if I was being generous I might recommend the film for it's novelty, but the more I thought about it afterwards, why? I mean, it's cute, it's got a sub Coen Brothers/early Wes Anderson thing kinda going, and the premise is cute enough. I don't know, maybe I'm just not that generous this week, but this doesn't feel as much like a modern-day retelling of "Tom Sawyer as it does a remake of the story, without the really interesting bits. "Band of Robbers", is okay, and there's nothing too wrong with it, but is it worth the time and money for a few jokes and winks and nods at the references it gets, eh, probably not. I mean, think of something like "The Handmaiden" recently, which was also a retelling of a famous novel, but the way it was told and transformed through it's filmmaker helped give it a new interpretation that made it powerful in of itself, and I don't think "Band of Robbers" had to do something that drastic or even that high-quality, but I wish I could up with a reason this film exists.


HEART OF A DOG (2015) Director: Laurie Anderson

★★1/2



I know of Laurie Anderson, more through reputation than I do through her work unfortunately. She's definitely one of those artists who's always intrigued me, but I just haven't had the appropriate time to truly go through any of her work until now. I say, artist, 'cause calling her a filmmaker is a bit of a misnomer. I think the proper term is "multimedia artist"; 'cause she seems to thrive in mixed media. She first came up in both sculpture and as a violinist, she's mostly known as an avant-garde electronica filmmaker. She had a Top Ten British hit "O Superman" back in the '70s, although when it comes to her music career I tend to think of her more interesting work in the early, early, early days of music video, back when MTV was populated by, whoever-the-hell managed to put something on film to music, and she was one of the first artists to really experiment with the artistic possibilities of music videos. She's worked with everybody from Andy Warhol to Frank Zappa to William S. Burroughs to Spalding Gray to Wim Wenders to Timothy Leary to Andy Kaufman,- pretty much anybody over the last forty years you can label as being on the avant-garde of their art forms. She was once artist-in-residence at NASA, of all places, which...- I'm not gonna lie, I'm not sure why they have a such a position, but I can't honestly think of anybody else more qualified for that position. She's not the kind of just creates intriguing new music, she's the kind who invents new musical instruments, so, yeah, she's kinda hard to label and pin down. There's several media she's involved with and her work naturally involves several different kinds of media. Which is sorta what makes this particular film intriguing, 'cause, despite filmmaking being, in some ways the ultimate multimedia art film, she actually hasn't made that many feature films. She's made some erratic works in films here and there, mostly shorts, and even when it's not a short, it's often some form of a concert documentary of her performance. "Heart of a Dog," her first real feature film in 28 years is, an avant-garde documentary, about, about, the death of her dog. Archie. I believe his name is Archie.

Huh. Didn't I just bash a movie that made the some newspaper Top 25 of the Century so far last week, for just being about a girl and her dog? I did, didn't I? (Sigh) Man, dog lovers are gonna go after me this week aren't I? Ugh, alright, well, it's not really about her emotional loss of a dog, it's basically an emotional, messy emotional analysis of all emotions dealing with grief. That's, the most I got out of it. I'm gonna be honest, I fell asleep the first time I tried to sit through this. I mean, it was fascinating and interesting for a bit, but man, this is a collage of, well, a lot. I mean, it's the kind of stream-of-consciousness film about those emotions, and it's the film that can suddenly fly into tangents about 9/11 and Penn Station and,- just about everything. At the end of the movie, there's some dedication about her husband who recently passed, who, by the way if you didn't know was Lou Reed. I'm not gonna say that, she shouldn't have made a movie focused on her emotional strain over her dog's death, but-eh, I think Lou Reed's death and life might make for a more interesting avant-garde film? Perhaps? (Shrugs) I tried, and for about a half-hour I was willing to follow her on her tangents and trains-of-thought, and it's not that any of this bad, it's actually not, but I just suspect there's better from her. I've seen some reviews compare this to some of her albums, particularly her spoken word albums; I can see that, but I suspect that some of her other albums might be more intriguing and fulfilling than the film is. I can't see myself really appreciating "Heart of a Dog", even if I were in the mood for something like this. (Sigh) That's a shame really. Still want to explore more of her work though.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

CANON OF FILM: "A CLOCKWORK ORANGE"

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971)

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Screenplay: Stanley Kubrick based on the novel by Anthony Burgess



Kubrick’s most controversial film, “A Clockwork Orange,” has been discussed, argued, debated, and analyzed since it was released with strong advocates on both camps, but even those who are against it admit that it must be considered. Me personally, I've never really known which side of the fence I fall on this one, although I generally err on the side of it being a masterpiece, but I can see why some wouldn't rank it so high. Honestly, it's a frustrating film for me, more or less I tend to think of it as the kind of film, that you have to see, and then only see again to show other people who haven't seen it, so that they know it exists.

After “2001…” Kubrick seemed to go for nothing but extremes with this film, which takes duality of man and reversals of roles to his orgasmic zenith. The movie goes so far outside of any realm known up to this point, and since, that it’s hard to quite distinguish what it is. It’s a violent film, it’s a political film, it’s a science-fiction film, it’s even considered a comedy, there’s hardly any genre it fits perfectly into. Yet, the movie also is the first film to note of gang violence, some twenty or so years before it would become a popular term. The opening sequences involves the film’s, and I use this term exceptionally satirically, “hero,” Alex (Malcolm McDowell) and his gang of droods, (the film stays true to the Anthony Burgess’s “Nadsat,” language he created in the book, a mix of English, Russian and slang) as they spend time at a Milkbar in a semi-futuristic London, where milk is dispensed from statues of naked girls. They then beat up an old man under a bridge, get in a gangfight in a casino with another gang, drive to the country, causing half a dozen car wrecks, before going to a house where they beat up and gag and old man as Alex rapes his wife, and forever altering the meaning to the lyrics of “Singin’ in the Rain.” That’s the first six minutes. Alex is one of the most maniacal villains in film history. A lover of the ultra-violence, a sadistic rapist, who goes off on these crime spree adventures, for no other purpose other than because he wants to and can. Yet, he is a lover of Beethoven, particularly the Ninth, even hitting his own droods, when they make fun of a woman singing it.

Eventually Alex kills a woman, using, a blatantly phallic object, to understates it severely, and sent to prison, where he undergoes Ludovico treatments which attempt to have him lose all of his urges to do evil, and become a good person in society. Now sprout with feelings of desperate pain at even the thought of doing “evil,” activities like violence and rape, he is now subject to the animalistic natures of the supposedly civilized society. Are we supposed to suddenly look at this degenerate among degenerates as the film’s human? He is our humble narrate-tor, but either way, Kubrick doesn’t seem to give us much choice, like Hitchcock, forcing us to see the film through his eyes, manipulating the screen, with such shots including bizarre angles on faces of characters, with acting that seems sardonically detached, and even a comically fast-forwarded orgy done to the William Tell overture.

I think that's where ultimately "A Clockwork Orange" continues to lose it's power for me. Kubrick's main theme was the duality of man, and of course, it's arguably explored more here in this film that in any other he's done, but the problem is that it's too simplistic. The only thing that's explored is whether or not society created Alex or whether Alex alters society and nothing else in particular. The movie itself, ends only 2/3rds the way through where the book does, which shows a more character arc for Alex, and here, Alex isn't so much a character as a construct. a representation. He's that in the book, but in the novel it's more of a parable for growing up as a society and a person, taken to extremes but here however, he's more a representative of the two extremes of human nature, and there is no third level.

Of course it wasn't Kubrick's intention to make us care or sympathize with Alex, or even with his victims, which is why I’m still in the camp that this film is one of Kubrick’s best, but it’s subjective alright. I have to be as detached from the film as the characters in the film, which not only was Kubrick's intention, but, essentially what the film is about. It's always a good idea when it's somebody else we're talking about....  

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

IS GORDON RAMSAY THE BIGGEST TV STAR OF ALL-TIME? Stop laughing, he might be. Time to consider his place.




So, this Emmy season, is very competitive. I mean, have you looked at how many series and actors and-, just everybody, everybody has submitted their names for an Emmy this year. Hell, I'm slightly amazed that I'm not on any of the ballots, although I haven't checked them all, so maybe I am and just haven't found it yet. Here you guys check it you want:

http://www.emmys.com/ballots/2017

but it got me thinking about the state of television at this moment. And then, I started thinking about television, all-time, and comparing it today, and that's when, something kinda dawned on me, something that I hadn't really noticed before, but frankly I couldn't ignore. Gordon Ramsay might be the biggest television star of all-time!

I know, that- that seems, weird. nonsensical even. I can hear everybody listing other names right now, "Hey, wait a minute, what about so-and-so, and so-and-so, and hold on, he's not even an actor! I mean, sure he's on TV, but that's not the same as being a legitimate star, he's just a chef!? Cooking shows don't make someone the biggest television star! Especially the angry Scottish Chef we tolerate, right? Right?

Um, do you guys just know how long he's been on television? 


Tubi's cheap and free people, get it. This is "Ramsay's Boiling Point", this was a documentary series made in 1998, about him opening up a new restaurant. He was already famous in the foodie community at this point, but it's this docu-series that made him a television star, back in, again, 1998! He's been basically on television consistently on two continents for almost twenty years now, and it doesn't look like it's gonna stop anytime soon. And let's keep that in mind too, almost nobody, has had hugely successful television shows as a performer, on both sides of the Atlantic, at the same time. Not to mention, multiple shows, on both sides of the Atlantic, at the same time.

Also, if you, only consider actors among a list of television stars, then you're just blind to television dynamics and celebrity. You know, who the First Emmy for Television personality? Beat out Mr. Television himself, Milton Berle, and this was before Lucy broke? Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen! Seriously, a televangelist. In fact, he won that category twice. And, in the world where Reality Television is often king, especially on network, it should not be a surprise, that a non-actor gets that mark. "American Idol" was the number one show on television, for a record seven straight years. Hell, "Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scout", which, was basically, just the 1950s version of "Star Search", was the number one rated show in 1952, and even during the reign of "I Love Lucy", "The $64,000 Question, actually topped it in the ratings during one year, and over the years since, "60 Minutes" "Survivor", 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" , those shows made TV stars, as much as "Friends" or "Seinfeld" ever did.  Regis Philbin holds the world record for most amount of time on television, people, when analyzing television stars, don't immediately just think "actors". 

So, what else is there? How about money? Well, the highest paid person on television is Judge Judy, also, not an actor, and is only on one show, although she does produce a couple others, and more importantly, those are daytime series, which do not have the ratings that Primetime shows have. But still they're important, so,  let's check the celebrity money lists.

https://www.forbes.com/celebrities/list/#tab:overall

Here's the Forbes, list of richest celebrities, let's see, musician, musician, author, musician, athlete, musicians, number seven is Howard Stern, doesn't make the majority of his money being a television star, he's a radio star. Dr. Phil McGraw, is number 15, Daytime television, produces a few things outside of his show, doesn't star in much outside of his show, (and owes everything to Oprah Winfrey I might add), #16, Ellen DeGenerous, as a performer, two successful television shows in her career, the Daytime show, much more successful than she ever was on Primetime, still also, stand-up comedy money, doesn't have a current Primetime show as a performer. #18. Jerry Seinfeld, does have a Primetime show at the moment, "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee", so that counts. Most of his money was made on Primetime television however, in the past, when he only had one successful show on television, although, syndication money is huge. That's the one show to have if you're only gonna have one. (He probably is a bigger TV star than Ramsay, overall, but not in terms of the Primetime landscape at the moment)  #19. Mark Wahlberg, does have a TV show on at the moment, and it's in the reality genre, "Wahlburgers". Mostly a film actor however, which is where he made most of his money, most of his television credits are as a producer. There's one other actor and television star ahead of Gordon Ramsay, and that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. TV show, he's got "Ballers" on HBO. He also became famous, originally as a TV star. Can't ignore. However, by nearly every measure you can think, biggest movie star in the world, half his biggest fans, probably aren't aware he's got a television show on.

Gordon Ramsay is number #26 on this list. One higher than Ryan Seacrest, and he's known for television. He does radio as well, but in front of and behind the camera, Ryan Seacrest is a television star. He's 24 spots ahead of Simon Cowell, 20 spots ahead of Judge Judy. Not that this is even relevant, but there isn't another Chef, anywhere on this list, and there could've been. There are plenty of TV stars, who are chefs now, many in terms of critical acclaim, are way more successful that Gordon Ramsay. Tom Colicchio, for instance. Anthony Bourdain, for instance, Mario Batali, Rachel Ray.... At a certain point in his career, Emeril LaGasse, was big enough he could've hypothetically been on this list, not as high as Gordon Ramsay is, and for all the supposed "Food Network Stars" there are, none of them are near this list. 

Currently, Gordon Ramsay, star in "MasterChef", "MasterChef Junior", "Hell's Kitchen", "The F Word" and "Hotel Hell", and those are just the big concurrently-running shows he does in America. "Kitchen Nightmares" ended, after seven seasons, that's a very good run for a show, and it wasn't canceled, he ended it. Big difference there, you can presume if it kept going, it might've stayed on the air. That's not counted limited series and one-offs he's had. And that's only counting the U.S. In England, "The F Word", five year run, that's big in England especially. "Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares" the British version of that show, three years. We're not even gonna count, how many other countries some of his series have been adapted to. Seven shows, you can legitimately call "Hits", in less than a 15-year-span.  

There's one other statute that I would normally use, to determine the biggest television star, and I can't, for Ramsay, because I can't do it for anybody, 'cause the results of the rating aren't revealed publicly, and those are the TVQ ratings. I think I've mentioned them before here, but if you don't know what they are, they're basically a rating system, that to this day is taken very seriously within the industry. You can how they determine the scores here on their website: 
http://qscores.com/

They do other, "quotient" scores as well, they've even separated TVQ and CableQ nowadays, but, this is a strange rating that determines not, how talented or major your show is, but how popular and well-known you are, and how much you're liked. The way, the television industry has always explained it, is, "Whether or not you'd want to invite this person, into you're home," which, is what you're doing when you're watching television. If there are actors, that, you recognize that, seem to always get on all your favorite television shows, but you might not know or remember their name, they have a very good TVQ rating. 

Now normally, if I were to guess, I would not think Gordon Ramsay would have a good TVQ rating. I wouldn't. Knowing what I know about the system I would've thought, "This guy just yells and screams at everybody all day, why would I want him in my house? He's entertaining at it, but do I want him in my house? Do I like him, is he a favorite star of mine? Probably not. That said, Simon Cowell, huge on both sides of the Atlantic, still has hit television shows, Piers Morgan, still inexplicably in some cases still has hit television shows,... there's other precedents for somebody, who's a bit tempermental and at times abusive, but, people realize it's for a reason, and that they care about what they do so much that it makes them freak out, and yes, in the Chef world, he's got dozens of restaurants worldwide, including a three-star Michelin ranking, he cares about his craft, even today, enough, and no, he's not an anomaly in that world. He might be the most famous or infamous example of a Chef with that kind of dictatorial personality, but he ain't the only one, not by a longshot. People, probably like him. FOX, would not, basically, devote, I don't even know, it feels like half their weekly Primetime lineup to his shows, every year. I end up watching his shows, and I don't even like most of his shows. Yeah, this is not a recommendation article, I like "MasterChef" and "MasterChef Junior", and "Kitchen Nightmares", as series; they're okay, but none of them I would go out of my way to watch. If someone else puts it on, they're fine enough, I won't stop them, and half the time they are the best thing on TV at that moment, but no, there's no sane analyses out there where any of his shows rank among the best on television, even within the reality genre. And I really don't like "Hell's Kitchen" much at all, never have. vastly prefer "Top Chef" in terms of reality cooking competition shows, in fact, I don't even compare the two; they're not in the same league to me, and I honestly can't imagine why one would watch "Hell's Kitchen" when there's such a far superior alternative on the air. But "Hell's Kitchen" is still around, and "MasterChef" and "MasterChef Junior", they're not bad shows. They're not the greatest thing in the subgenre, but they're fine. If you're a foodie, you'll probably watch them and not necessarily feel ashamed. So, bottom line, he probably has a higher TVQ than we might think.

Now, how are the Neilsen Ratings? Well, they're patchy. Yeah, they're not great at the moment, they have been in the past. Still though,  two shows in the Top 100, and deep in the bottom half, but he's consistent, and the Neilsen ratings, well, they're not as relevant as they used to be with streaming, and they are going downhill now. (And considering that this is a Primetime schedules where there's maybe up and over 500 different options to watch, top 100, is pretty much a big hit show now) That's natural though, they've been on forever and like most shows these days, it gets it's core audience, and that audience sticks with it, and since it is reality, it costs less than to produce those shows than others, so they stay on the air. Ramsay is good at that. He's become a personality just through sheer force. He came up at the perfect time, when the conclave of star chefs met with the upswing of Simon Cowell popularity, and he parlayed that to a lot of fame and money, and to successful concurrent television programs running on two continents at once. Even if you combine the rating for his two top shows last year, "MasterChef Junior" and "Hell's Kitchen", he's a Top 20 TV stars. Those were only two of his shows, and with that alone, he produces the same average ratings as "Scandal".

I have no idea, whether he actually is the biggest TV star of all-time, but he's gotta be considered at this point. Sure, less people are watching television these days and unless you're a Super Bowl, you're not getting a 10.0 rating and that doesn't even mean what it meant beforehand anyway. Even adjusting for today though, he's on the list. The only other person I can think of that tried to, as a performer, juggle this many shows at once, at the same time was Alex Trebek in '91, and he only had three shows and it lasted, only for a couple months. Ramsay's had a few failures, but not as many as, others in similar positions have had. I'm not the biggest fan of the Scottish Chef, but I think it's a fair argument to say that he's one of the biggest television stars of all-time, and you can make a case for him being the biggest even. Why that is, is anybody's guess. He fluked into a successful and cheap formula, or FOX and BBC just keeping him the time slots for series and he produced them, 'til they found something better and just never got around to it, it could be that he's just popular and his shows usually become strong enough hits to keep around. It could just be that like an angry Scottish Chef to berate his own potential sous chefs, while simultaneously, being unusually nice to others in the industry or those who want in. Could just be that we like food, and he provides it on network television, although I can't help but notice that most other Primetime network reality food series have failed, besides his shows. (Did anybody watch more than one episode of "The Taste"?)

Yeah, I hate to admit it, but (Sigh) if you're trying to figure out who the biggest stars of Television are, don't leave off Gordon Ramsay. He belongs on the list and really high too. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

MY TOP 25 FILMS THIS CENTURY SO FAR LIST...!- Yeah, Yeah, I know, jumping on the bandwagon, (Annoyed sigh) We'll talk about the New York Times List, and I'll make out my own, for all of you to praise and bash.

(Annoyed sigh)

(David stares towards computer screenplay, where there's a section labels, BLOG IDEA SUBJECTS, under which read this list:)

TV ACTING-Are drama series, feeling a little too, soap opera-y in their acting and dialogue, lately?

MILO???????????

TOP TEN MOST UNDERSERVEDLY UNDERPLAYED SONGS ON CLASSIC ROCK RADIO

SOUTH PARK-LIBERTARIAN EDGE-ANALYSIS?
Why everybody's looking into "South Park" generation.

MOZART IN THE JUNGLE

SOAP-MOST UNDERRATED TELEVISION SHOW OF ALL-TIME!

IN DEFENSE OF "RENT"....

LIONSGATE/STARZ MERGER
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/lionsgate-starz-get-shareholder-approval-44-billion-merger-950417?utm_source=twitter&utm_source=t.co&utm_medium=referral

(Sigh)

I'm not writing that Milo thing. (Deletes "Milo"). I'm not writing about TV Acting, that idea was half-assed. (Deletes line) I need time to do that Top Ten. How long has that "Bitter Script Reader" post been on my thing? Oh that's a year old, nevermind. I'm never getting around to that. (Delete that line) What else? Eh, do I feel like talking about old TV? Eh, I wish "Soap" was streaming somewhere so that I can detail exactly the order of all the events. That's a fun mind exercise. Eh, I'll save that for later. I'll save "Mozart" for later. Eh, defending "Rent", ehhhhhh. Nope, never mind. (Deletes that line, looks up) Well, maybe I'll talk about that in a Mixed Bag Blog at some point. (Puts line back) When was the Lionsgate Merger? Last year as well. God, I don't even remember what I wanted to write about with that. (Deletes that line.)

What else do I have to talk about?

(Scrolls down)

DO ALL THESE TELEVISION REVIVALS MEAN THAT TELEVISION IS DEAD?!
(Below is a long list of TV shows and films that are suddenly being revived

Oh right, TV Revivals. That list keeps growing, but everybody's writing about how Hollywood is unoriginal. I've written on it, like nine times. At this point, I'm just being unoriginal! What else, anything else happen lately?

KATHY GRIFFIN VS. DONALD TRUMP

Oh God. Do I want to flush my career in Hollywood down the toilet this week? (Shrugs) Yeah, why not. He's trying to Rosie her, she's standing up, she shouldn't have apologize, blah, blah, blah, I can make a blog out of that. I get to dump on Trump, that'll be good. Besides, it's not like there's gonna be any other comedians with a political edge getting int trouble this-,

Bill Maher, HBO Face Backlash After Host Uses Racial Slur on 'Real Time...'
http://variety.com/2017/tv/news/bill-maher-n-word-backlash-reaction-1202453193/

AHHHHH! GOD DAMMIT BILL! WHAT THE FUCK! I haven't even written my Kathy Griffin piece yet, and now...-!!!!!!!!!!!!!! what did you do, now that's suddenly pissed everyone off?

(20 minutes of research, sigh)

Okay, that was a little funny, but, No! No! I'm not defending "house nigger", Bill, you already get me in enough trouble for liking you. I mean, I got it, you switched to a character-, you know what, NO! I'm not in the mood! Sorry, Kathy, sorry Bill, I'll defend you guys another day. (Which would be a lot easier to do if you guys would stop apologizing every time you piss someone off!!!! [Sigh] Well...- eh, never mind, apologizing was the right thing to do here, at least for Bill. (Eye roll) And for Kathy, I guess, sorta. Definitely for Bill, you definitely apologize!)

You know, this is an entertainment blog let's find something about entertainment, anything going on? What'g going in the Facebook groups, anything? Why's everybody doing their Top 25 films of the Century so far? Oh, 'cause of the New York Times? I just did a Top Ten List, it wore me out. I'm not doing another one. Besides, I'm waiting for AFI to do there's! Seriously, does anybody know if that's coming up or not, it's been ten years since the last one, and I can't even get confirmation if they're actually doing a Top 100 this year? Anybody know? Seriously, does anybody know?

(Long pause, silence)

Yeah, what the hell, let's do a couple thousand words on Television Revivals.

(David begins typing)

ONE HOUR LATER

(David finishes typing frantically and looks up at the screen, which just reads.)

Television revivals suck! Stop doing them! 

(David continues to stare at the article.)

Seriously, any word on the AFI?

"Last time I heard, they’re gonna update the list for its 25th Anniversary Edition which would be 2021 or 2022, since 2007 was its 10th Anniversary if I’m not mistaken.
Idk I saw that article years ago already so maybe i’m wrong!"---thesuperkian on Goldderby.com
2021!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You're supposed to do them every ten year-! Ah fuck it! Alright, The New York Times, folks! 


Alright, first thing first, let's talk about their list. Who exactly are the New York Times for instance. Well, in this case, while they did ask for opinions and recommendations on Facebook, and full disclosure, I'm one of the ones that responded to their poll on Facebook, so, yeah, there's a chance I had some influence on this list, but basically, they're Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott, the two film critics for the Times. (Or the two "Chief Critics", and yes, that's their official title, there's also people like Glenn Kenny, Jeanette Catsoulis, Neil Genzlinger, Andy Webster, Alessandra Stanley, Ken Jaworski, Nicole Herrington, Daniel M. Gold, Brian Seibert, eh, Mike Hale, occasionally, there's a lot of critics, for the Times, but A.O. and Manohla are the two critics who everybody will immediately associate with the paper instantly.) The reason I happened to know about the poll and responded, is because I follow Manohla Dargis on Facebook, who I genuinely consider the best film critic working today, and A.O. Scott, is by no means a slouch; these are two of the top people out there and their opinions holds weight, as does the reputation and status of the Times, especially in their entertainment and criticism sections. (Does confuse that statement with meaning that I always agree with them, 'cause naturally I don't)

Still, though,  this is kind of random. I mean I did focus and had/have tentative plans to respond to AFI's list, if and when a new one comes, is because there's a established tradition with that list, and also because it's,-, well, it's from the American Film Institute. I mean, it makes any shortlist of the most important and respected film school in the nation and it's list of successful alumnae is incredibly reputable. I know people who have gone to AFI; I actually know people who have participated in these lists, and they're quite talented and know their shit. And that's not counting the dozens I can name who've made success careers after going through the program, so, to me, while they're process of selecting movies and their reasoning behind their selections, to me, is a bit questionable, compared to say, BFI's annual list that "Sight & Sound" has every ten years, but, in a way, they're America's version of that.

The New York Times, they do produce films now, actually there, and some good ones in fact, you should check out their Youtube page, they're getting up there in the Documentary Shorts category, but they're not industry, they're not, well, they are critics, but there's just a few of them, it's only a Top 25, and even still, it's narrowed to just, this century. I mean, it's the best in the last fifteen years. Well, 16 and a half? I mean, I wasn't being facetious above there, with that rant, I was honestly thinking of just ignoring this, for several reasons, but, the main one, is, how important or relevant is this list?

(Sigh)

It's about as important or relevant as everyone else's. I mean, yeah if Watchmojo.com, made it, yeah, I probably wouldn't do this blog, and you'd just be reading about how Kathy Griffin holding a Donald Trump head was funny, or something else probably.

Another reason, is because I've made a bunch of my own lists, and to really criticize this, is mainly to combat it with a list of your own. And why not, in this case? At least, with the AFI and Sight & Sound list, you can argue that they're pretty good and official barometers of our thoughts at the time, based on the level of the experts participating, and quantifying it into a formula. And here, it's a couple people opinion, so.... (Shrugs), sure, why not. We're all already obsessive list-makers, so it's no surprise that basically half my Facebook friends have already posted on their FB pages and groups their top 25 choices, most of whom, I'm fairly certain have already had some pre-made or predetermined lists out there that they had ready to go, for such an event when prompt.

The reason I know that, is because I'm one of them. That should come as no surprise to anybody. I've made no secret about how I keep track of every film I've ever seen, and I've not only posted Top Ten Lists, for every years I've been doing this blog, but also Top Tens for every year, of this century already. You can find them on the TOP TENS page at the top. So yeah, that's the other reason I was ignoring this, was because, this is easy. I know, we all want to express ourselves through our lists and make out how difficult it truly is to deliberate and debate with outselves just to determine what we really consider to be the best of the best, but trust a guy who knows, some list are harder than others. I did Geekcast Radio Network Top 100 Animated Characters of All-Time list, that was un-fucking-believably hard. I also did their Top 100 TV Series list, and that was, difficult, but not as hard as the Animated Characters one. And on my own, I did that Top Ten Worst TV Theme Songs List very recently, that was painfully difficult! Much, much harder than the animated characters list. I had to do a lot of research for that list, and I'm still not 100% sure I did enough to truly, effectively do that list. And that was only a Top Ten. (Well, two top tens, but still, that's how hard it was, it turned into two, as I was working on it.) Top 25 Films of all-time, pretty easy. There's a reason why everybody else, immediately began doing it. Hell, I can basically, go up and just take those list I've already made and play eenie, meanie, miney, mo, or something like that, and boom, I'll be done pretty quickly.

I won't, just so you know. I'm gonna do this right as soon as I'm done with this introduction, I'm gonna legitimately revisit and re-evalutate the time period and reconsider my thoughts and see if I have stuck to basically the same expected list, or if my thoughts have changed somewhat. (If I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna do it right)

Before I do that, some thought on their list: First off, I haven't seen everything on their list. "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu" is on my Netflix and I'm hoping to get around to it sooner rather than later, as it's on my primary library waiting list, and last I checked, they have a copy. "The Gleaners and I" and "Silent Light", were not on my Netflix at the time the list was put out, nor are they available at my library, although I can assure you, that as soon as they can, they will be on there soon enough. I try to get to everything, but that's a fool's errand and things slip by occasionally.

Secondly, as to the ones I have seen, the only I would legitimately argue that it's not a good movie, at all, is Kelly Reichardt's "Wendy and Lucy". I like Reichardt's work, in general, and Michelle Williams gives a great performance, although I don't know if she's capable of anything else, and I do understand what Ms. Williams mentioned about Reichardt's work being both politically and timely, in hindsight that does make sense. That said, that movie was basically just, a homeless girl and her dog, and the big tragedy is that, she has to eventually get rid of the dog. (Shrugs) Sorry, I'm not a dog lover; I don't get the emotional attachment people are supposed to make to this film. Sure, she loves the dog, steals food for the dog, tries to still have her dog, even when homeless, which, already is a bit of a weird move, but-, we don't see much of how why she's so devoted to the dog, and frankly when the ending comes, I don't see it as emotionally compelling. I'm totally disagreeing with them on that one.

Everything else, (Shrugs, nods) seemed like a decent list. There's some that I thought were better than others, sure, but there's nothing on there that necessarily surprises or annoys me. I know some people, were a little shocked and surprised that Judd Apatow's "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" made the list, eh, yeah, I guess that's sorta the odd duck in the list, but I don't know, I gave that film 5 STARS when I first saw it, and I've seen it since; it more than holds up; it's a great movie. Um, if I had to pick an Apatow for the list, I might take "Trainwreck" instead, 'cause I think there's more interesting storytelling and perspectives going on, plus I'm fascinated by the Mae West aspects of it, but "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" was also a great film, and still remains funny, so... (Shrugs) honestly I didn't see it as that strange a choice. Maybe it was to people who don't realize that film critics don't just like obscure artsy foreign films but-eh, you know, I wasn't; I seem to remember A.O. Scott once putting "Superbad" on his Top Ten List, and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" was a better film than that one, so... yeah, don't just look at the Rotten Tomatoes score, you gotta check and look at the reviews themselves, people.

Anyway, nothing else, really pops out to me. "There Will Be Blood" was their number one, okay. I'm a little surprised they thought that highly of  "White Material" and "Summer Hours" but, (Shrugs)  you know, I don't judge these on whether or not, I agree with them; I judge them on whether or not, they're reasonable, plausible, defendable, can I see these films, making a legitimate list like this. "Wendy and Lucy" is one I'd question on that level, but everything else, yeah, I can see a good argument or defense for them. (And if you really, really, really, are a dog person, than maybe I can see a defense of "Wendy and Lucy'" as well)

So, good list. Is it mine? Well, I have to make it so, I don't know 100% for sure, but probably not, but I recommend 96% of the films they chose, that's pretty good.

Alright, Manohla, Tony, thanks for the imput. Everybody else who's made their list and splattered it all over Facebook and Twitter and whatnot, thank you. Now, it's my turn.

(15 HOURS LATER)

Okay, here what I did. I decided to take an honest re-look at each of my annual lists, not only the Top Tens, but the Top 25s, I have for each years of the century., and decided to re-rank each film, in a separate list, going year by year. So, I start, with one year's Top 25, and then, I put each film of a different year's list, into the spots, and then did a another year and so on. I did this for every year, except 2016, because I haven't seen every film from that year yet. I decided to only consider ten films so far from that year, that I've seen. So, in total, I considered, 410 movies, which I narrowed down to Twenty-five. These are the 25, that I considered of the century, today. Tomorrow, maybe I'll think otherwise. But for now, this is where I stand, and if you're really curious, I'll leave an alphabetized list of every other film I considered at the bottom. I won't say much about each film, especially since I've written on pretty much all of them at some point, so, I'll try to leave the best links if possible.

Well, the Times went Top-to-bottom, so I guess I will too this time. So, what do I consider the best? Well, I thought about it and there were a few films I definitely considered among the best and most important. That said, I didn't change much at the top. My number one is "Lost in Translation"!


1. Lost in Translation 



I think what really separates this out for me, is how difficult it is to make a movie to express this kind of ennui emotion so well, and still be so amazing. I think it's masterful. That said, one film came close.


2. Moonlight



I hate to be the one to spoil my own Top Ten Lists later this year, and who knows, I haven't seen everything, but "Moonlight" might be one of the best movies ever made. It really could be.


3. The Tree of Life



It's a shame that Malick made such a great movie this late in his career, 'cause I think his later films would be more highly looked upon if he hadn't made this, but my God, this is such an epic masterpiece. This is probably the closest anybody's ever gonna come to making a movie about everything.


4. Almost Famous 



I actually do know some people who don't like this film; I cannot figure out why?


5. Life of Pi



On top of being a great cinematic achievement, the reason I rank "Life of Pi" so high is because of how it's really about the power of storytelling, and how important it can be, even during some people's darkest moments.


6. The Social Network



This is one of the few films on my list that I haven't written about extensively here before. I will at some point. This is David Fincher's best film by the way, and it's not a coincidence that it's the one with the Aaron Sorkin screenplay.


7. A Separation



When somebody brings up who the best filmmaker in the world is today, a name that constantly pops up to me is Asghar Farhadi. "A Separation" is the best film. Few people make movies with such classic form these days, and he's one of the best.


8. Adaptation. 




I know that while, most people seem to single out "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" as Charlie Kaufman's greatest work, I tend to find "Adaptation." far more experimental and ingenious. Trust me, I know, some day I'll post my 22-page analysis of it that I did in college years ago.


9. City of God



I just added this one to the Canon of Film, and yeah, it's a masterpiece. I literally don't know anybody who has seen it and hasn't been affected by it.


10. INLAND EMPIRE




I don't have "Mulholland Dr." on my list. I do think that's a masterpiece as well, but "INLAND EMPIRE" is the one David Lynch that I keep going to. If "Mulholland Dr." is Lynch's "La Dolce Vita", "INLAND EMPIRE" is his "8 1/2", and I find that I'm more of an "8 1/2" guy.


11. Once



John Carney's main motif might be music, but let's be frank, "Once" is visual poetry through music. This movie gets better every time, like a great album gets better with every listen.


12. Before Midnight



Richard Linklater's arguably the greatest American director working today; he's certainly the most compelling. And his "The Before Trilogy" of films gets better and better with each film.


13. Sideways



"Sideways" is about as perfect a movie as you can ever find. Watching it over and over again, I love how the movie reveals information, so quietly. You don't have to beat people over-the-head with exposition, sometimes you have to reveal it slowly, and "Sideways" knows how to do that brilliantly. (knock, knock, knock)


14. The Big Short




There's a few movies I guess I could've picked, about the recession and elsewise about money in America, but I think "The Big Short" is the most important and successful one at getting it's point across..


15. Mad Max: Fury Road



I never ranked George Miller as one of the great fimmakers before "Mad Max: Fury Road", despite generally liking most of his films, but after "...Fury Road", I'll never dismiss him again. Easily the best action film this century so far.


16. Samsara



Ron Fricke's "Samsara" is the highest-ranked documentary on my list, it's not the only one, but it's definitely the most visually-enthralling. This film deserved an Oscar-nomination for Cinematography.


17. Minority Report



I'm amazed when people don't talk about this as one of Steven Spielberg's very best films. It's up there, even among his very best.


18. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans



Another film by a great director that gets overlooked in his filmography. "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans" might be Herzog's strangest movie yet, and arguably Nicholas Cage's greatest performance. Whoever thought to put those two together was genius. Insane and mad, but genius.


19. How to Survive a Plague



I don't know what the most important film this century is, but I think this film makes any short list of that. It's also just compulsively watchable. "How to Survive a Plague" will be taught in high school history classes for decades. It might be the seminal work about the AIDS epidemic.


20. Boyhood



One of the boldest and most experimental films of all-time, only Richard Linklater could've made this masterful gem. Just the attempt is pretty damn bold in of itself, and the fact that it's utterly fascinating and entertaining as well, it's a great bonus.


21. WALL-E



I considered a few different animated features, many of them came close to making this list, eventually, I decided on "WALL-E" to be the top one, but it's certainly not the only great one. It is the best one though.


22. The Diary of a Teenage Girl



I've seen a few people put this film on their Worst Lists occasionally, and I have no idea what they're looking at. "The Diary of a Teenage Girl" is one of the most visually striking and fascinating movies I've ever seen, and one of the best coming-of-age films ever as well. Marielle Heller's storytelling is just amazing, she uses every trick in the filmmaker's book and it all works to tell a troubling but amazing story. One of the most overlooked films this century so far.


23. Hooligan Sparrow



This documentary about human rights' activist and ultimate badass Ye Haiyan, is amazing just for the fact that it was made at all; it's one of the most fascinating looks at the world today and an unprecedented look inside the fight of equality in China.


24. Munich



I think now, some people are finally coming around to how great Steven Spielberg's "Munich" is. There's so much going on in the film that people don't realize. It's not just a story of terrorism and it's effects, but it's a great look at just how tragedy and a mindset can lead to justifying the act, to delusion of the act. It's also just great action story and film that holds up on multiple viewings and on several levels. Perhaps Spielberg's riskiest film ever too, people don't realize or remember that part sometimes.


25. Moonrise Kingdom



And finally, I decided on Wes Anderson's best film, "Moonrise Kingdom", a film that actually comes off and feels like all those movies based on children's lit works lately should seem and feel like. Wes Anderson's always had literature as a key motif before, but it's never felt so much like a good book 'til this one.

Alright, I did it. There's what I consider the Top 25 the Century so far. Hope you enjoy, agree/disagree, let me know. Here's an alphabetized list of all of the other films I seriously considered for the list. Why...- I don't know, I just felt like it. Perhaps it's a fun game to play to see what you think got close, or what might've just missed from my other Top Tens, see what surprisingly wasn't even considered-, I- I don't know, I overdo everything, so here....  Here's some other great films to watch!

HONORABLE MENTIONS
3 Idiots-Rajkumar Hirana
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days-Christian Mungiu
6ixtynin9-Pen-Ek Ratanaruang
12-Nikita Mikhalkov
12 Years a Slave-Steve McQueen
13 Conversations About One Thing-Jill Sprecher
20 Feet of Stardom-Morgan Neville
24 Hour Party People-Michael Winterbottom
25th Hour-Spike Lee
The 40-Year-Old Virgin-Judd Apatow
50/50-Jonathan Levine
127 Hours-Danny Boyle
(500) Days of Summer-Marc Webb
A.I. Artificial Intelligence-Steven Spielberg
About a Boy-Chris and Paul Weitz
About Elly-Asghar Farhadi
Adventureland-Greg Mottola
Ali Zaoua: Prince of the Streets-Nabil Ayouch
All is Lost-J.C. Chandor
All or Nothing-Mike Leigh
All the Real Girls-David Gordon Green
Amelie-Jean-Pierre Jeunet
American Hustle-David O. Russell
Amores Perros-Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Amour-Micheal Haneke
Anatomy of Hell-Catherine Breillat
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy-Adam McKay
Angel-A-Luc Besson
Anomalisa-Duke Johnson and Charlie Kaufman
Another Year-Mike Leigh
Anvil! The Story of Anvil-Sacha Gervasi
Antwone Fisher-Denzel Washington
Arrival-Denis Villeneuve
The Artist-Michel Hazanavicius
At Berkeley-Frederick Wiseman
Audition-Takashi Miike
The Aviator-Martin Scorsese
Baadassss!-Mario Van Peebles
The Baader-Meinhof Complex-Uli Edel
Babel-Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Bad Santa-Terry Zwigoff
The Bank Job-Roger Donaldson
The Barbarian Invasions-Denys Arcand
Batman Begins-Christopher Nolan
A Beautiful Mind-Ron Howard
Before Sunset-Richard Linklater
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead-Sidney Lumet
Best in Show-Christopher Guest
A Better Life-Chris Weitz
The Big Kahuna-John Swanbeck
Billy Elliot-Stephen Daldry
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)-Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Black Swan-Darren Aronofsky
Blindness-Fernando Meirelles
Bloody Sunday-Paul Greengrass
Blue is the Warmest Color-Abdellatif Kechiche
Blue Valentine-Derek Cianfrance
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazahkstan-Larry Charles
Bowling for Columbine-Michael Moore
Brokeback Mountain-Ang Lee
The Broken Circle Breakdown-Felix van Groeningen
Broken Flowers-Jim Jarmusch
Bubble-Steven Soderbergh
Bully-Lee Hirsch
Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country-Anders Ostergaard
Burn After Reading-Joel & Ethan Coen
Cache (aka Hidden)-Michael Haneke
Capitalism: A Love Story-Michael Moore
Capote-Bennett Miller
Carol-Todd Haynes
Casino Royale-Martin Campbell
Cast Away-Robert Zemeckis
The Cell-Tarsem
Changeling-Clint Eastwood
Chaos-Colline Serreau
Che-Steven Soderbergh
Chi-Raq-Spike Lee
Children of Men-Alfonso Cuaron
Chinese Coffee-Al Pacino
Chocolat-Lasse Hallstrom
Chop Shop-Ramin Bahrani
Chopper-Andrew Dominick
City of Gold-Laura Gabbert
The Class-Laurent Canter
Cloud Atlas-Tom Tykwer and Lana & Andy Wachowski
Clouds of Sils Maria-Olivier Assayas
Coming Home-Yimou Zhang
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind-George Clooney
The Contender-Rod Lurie
Control Room-Jehane Noujaim
The Cooler-Wayne Kramer
Crash-Paul Haggis
The Crash Reel-Lucy Walker
A Dangerous Method-David Cronenberg
The Dark Knight-Christopher Nolan
Day Night Day Night-Julia Loktev
Death Proof-Quentin Tarantino
The Departed-Martin Scorsese
The Descendants-Alexander Payne
Diamond Men-Daniel M. Cohen
Dinner Rush-Bob Giraldi
Dirty Pretty Things-Stephen Frears
Divided We Fall-Jan Hrebejk
Django Unchained-Quentin Tarantino
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly-Julian Schnabel
Doubt-John Patrick Shanley
Dr. T & the Women-Robert Altman
The Duke of Burgundy-Peter Strickland
Edmond-Stuart Gordon
An Education-Lone Scherfig
Elephant-Gus Van Sant
Encounters at the End of the World-Werner Herzog
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind-Michel Gondry
Exit Through the Gift Shop-Bansky
Fahrenheit 9/11-Michael Moore
Fantastic Mr. Fox-Wes Anderson
Far From Heaven-Todd Haynes
Finding Forrester-Gus Van Sant
Far From Heaven-Todd Haynes
Femme Fatale-Brian De Palma
A Film Unfinished-Yael Hersonski
Fish Tank-Andrea Arnold
The Five Obstructions-Jorgen Leth and Lars von Trier
The Fog of War-Errol Morris
Footnote-Joseph Cedar
Force Majeure-Rube Ostlund
The Freebie-Katie Aselton
Frida-Julie Taymor
From Hell-Albert & Allen Hughes
Frost/Nixon-Ron Howard
Frozen-Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
Frozen River-Courtney Hunt
Ghost World-Terry Zwigoff
Ginger & Rosa-Sally Potter
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo-Niels Arden Oplev
The Girlfriend Experience-Steven Soderbergh
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief-Alex Gibney
The Good Girl-Miguel Arteta
Good Night, and Good Luck.-George Clooney
Gosford Park-Robert Altman
Gravity-Alfonso Cuaron
The Grand Budapest Hotel-Wes Anderson
Grindhouse-Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino w/Eli Roth, Edgar Wright and Rob Zombie
Grizzly Man-Werner Herzog
Hairspray-Adam Shankman
The Handmaiden-Chan-wook Park
Hard Candy-David Slade
Heaven Knows What-Benny & Josh Safdie
Her-Spike Jonze
High Fidelity-Stephen Frears
Higher Ground-Vera Farmiga
A History of Violence-David Cronenberg
A Home at the End of the World-Michael Mayer
Hot Fuzz-Edgar Wright
Hotel Rwanda-Terry George
House of Sand and Fog-Vadim Perelman
Hugo-Martin Scorsese
The Hurt Locker-Kathryn Bigelow
The Imposter-Bart Layton
In a better World-Susanne Bier
In Bruges-Martin McDonagh
In the Bedroom-Todd Field
Incendies-Denis Villeneuve
Inception-Christopher Nolan
An Inconvenient Truth-Davis Guggenheim
The Incredibles-Brad Bird
Infernal Affairs-Andrew Lau and Alan Mak
The Informant!-Steven Soderbergh
Inglourious Basterds-Quentin Tarantino
Inside Job-Charles Ferguson
Inside Llewyn Davis-Joel & Ethan Coen
Inside Out-Pete Doctor; Co-Director: Ronnie Del Carmen
Into the Abyss-Werner Herzog
Into the Wild-Sean Penn
Invictus-Clint Eastwood
The Invisible War-Kirby Dick
Jack Goes Boating-Philip Seymour Hoffman
Juno-Jason Reitman
The Kid Stays in the Picture-Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgan
The Kid with a Bike-Jean-Luc & Luc Dardenne
The Kids Are All Right-Lisa Cholodenko
Kill Bill Volume 1-Quentin Tarantino
Kill Bill Volume 2-Quentin Tarantino
The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters-Seth Gordon
The King's Speech-Tom Hooper
Kubo and the Two Strings-Travis Knight
Lantana-Ray Lawrence
Laurel Canyon-Lisa Cholodenko
Leap Year (aka Ano Bisiesto)-Michael Rowe
Le Havre-Aki Kaurismaki
Les Miserables-Tom Hooper
Let the Fire Burn-Jason Osder
Leviathan-Andrey Zvyagintsev
Life in a Day-Kevin MacDonald
Life Itself-Steve James
Like Father, Like Son-Hirokazu Koreeda
Lila Says-Ziad Doueiri
Lincoln-Steven Spielberg
Little Children-Todd Field
Little Miss Sunshine-Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris
The Lives of Others-Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Locke-Steven Knight
The Look of Silence-Joshua Oppenheimer
The Lookout-Scott Frank
Lost in La Mancha-Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe
Love, Actually-Richard Curtis
Love is Strange-Ira Sachs
Lovely & Amazing-Nicole Holofcener
Lust, Caution-Ang Lee
Magic Mike XXL-Gregory Jacobs
Man of Wire-James Marsh
Margin Call-J.C. Chandor
Maria Full of Grace-Joshua Marston
Marie Antoinette-Sofia Coppola
Martha Marcy May Marlene-Sean Durkin
Mary and Max-Adam Elliot
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World-Peter Weir
A Master Builder-Jonathan Demme
Match Point-Woody Allen
Me and You and Everyone We Know-Miranda July
Melinda and Melinda-Woody Allen
Me and Orson Welles-Richard Linklater
Mea Maxima Culps: Silence in the House of God-Alex Gibney
Melancholia-Lars von Trier
Memento-Christopher Nolan
The Merchant of Venice-Michael Radford
The Mermaid-Stephen Chow
Midnight in Paris-Woody Allen
Million Dollar Baby-Clint Eastwood
Mistress America-Noah Baumbach
Moebius-Kim Ki-Duk
Mommy-Xavier Dolan
Monsoon Wedding-Mira Nair
Monster-Patty Jenkins
Monsters, Inc.-Pete Doctor; Co-Director: David Silverman and Lee Unkrich
Monster's Ball-Marc Forster
More than Honey-Markus Imhoof
A Most Violent Year-J.C. Chandor
Mother-Joon-Ho Bong
Mother and Child-Rodrigo Garcia
The Motorcycle Diaries-Walter Salles
Mountains May Depart-Zhangke Jia
Mulholland Dr.-David Lynch
Mysterious Skin-Gregg Araki
The New World-Terrence Malick
Nightcrawler-Dan Gilroy
No Country for Old Men-Joel & Ethan Coen
No End in Sight-Charles Ferguson
O Brother, Where Art Thou?-Joel Coen
O.J.: Made in America-Ezra Edelman
Obvious Child-Gillian Robespierre
Our Children-Joachim Lafosse
An Oversimplification of Her Beauty-Terence Nance
Pan's Labyrinth-Guillermo Del Toro
ParaNorman-Chris Butler & Sam Fell
Passing Strange-Spike Lee
The Perks of Being a Wallflower-Stephen Chbosky
Persepolis-Marjane Satrapi
The Pianist-Roman Polanski
The Piano Teacher-Michael Haneke
Pina-Wim Wenders
Pineapple Express-David Gordon Green
The Place Beyond the Pines-Derek Cianfrance
Poetry-Chang-dong Lee
The Polar Express-Robert Zemeckis
Pollack-Ed Harris
Pride & Prejudice-Joe Wright
Proof-John Madden
The Puffy Chair-Jay Duplass
The Queen-Stephen Frears
The Queen of Versailles-Lauren Greenfield
Rampart-Oren Moverman
Ratatouille-Brad Bird
Ray-Taylor Hackford
Requiem for a Dream-Darren Aronofsky
Revolutionary Road-Sam Mendes
Ripley's Game-Liliana Caviani
Road to Perdition-Sam Mendes
Room-Lenny Abrahamson
The Royal Tenenbaums-Wes Anderson
Rush-Ron Howard
Rust and Bone-Jacques Audiard
Safety Not Guaranteed-Colin Trevorrow
Saluun-Nikhil Bhat
Saraband-Ingmar Bergman
Saved!-Brian Dannelly
Secretary-Steven Shainberg
Selma-Ava DuVernay
The Seven Five-Tiller Russell
Shallow Hal-Bobby & Peter Farrelly
Shame-Steve McQueen
The Shape of Things-Neil Labute
She's Beautiful When She's Angry-Mary Dore
Sherrybaby-Laurie Collyer
Short Term 12-Destin Daniel Cretton
Shortbus-James Michael Cameron
Shrek-Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson
Sicko-Michael Moore
A Simple Life-Ann Hui
Sin City-Robert Rodriguez
Sing Street-John Carney
Sita Sings the Blues-Nina Paley
Sketches of Frank Gehry-Sydney Pollack
Slumdog Millionaire-Danny Boyle
Somewhere-Sofia Coppola
The Son (Le Fils)-Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne
Son of Saul-Nemes Laszlo
Songs from the Second Floor-Roy Andersson
Sound of Noise-Ola Simonsson & Johannes Stjarne Nilsson
Spirited Away-Hayao Miyazaki
Spotlight-Tom McCarthy
The Squid and the Whale-Noah Baumbach
Stand Up Guys-Fisher Stevens
Standard Operating Procedure-Errol Morris
Starting Out in the Evening-Andrew Wagner
State and Main-David Mamet
The Station Agent-Tom McCarthy
Steve Jobs-Danny Boyle
Still Alice-Richard Glatzer & Wash Westmoreland
Stories We Tell-Sarah Polley
Stranger than Fiction-Marc Forster
Sugar-Ryan Fleck & Anna Boden
Sunshine State-John Sayles
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street-Tim Burton
Synecdoche, New York-Charlie Kaufman
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya-Isao Takahata
The Tao of Steve-Jenniphr Goodman
Tape-Richard Linklater
Terri-Azazel Jacobs
Thank You for Smoking-Jason Reitman
There Will Be Blood-Paul Thomas Anderson
Thirteen-Catherine Hardwicke
This Film is Not Yet Rater-Kirby Dick
Tiny Furniture-Lena Dunham
A Touch of Sin-Zhangke Jia
Touching the Void-Kevin MacDonald
Traffic-Steven Soderberg
Trainwreck-Judd Apatow
The Tribe-Myroslav Slaboshpytskyi
The Trouble with the Truth-Jim Hemphill
Trucker-James Mottern
True Grit-Joel & Ethan Coen
Trust Me-Clark Greggg
Tupac: Resurrection-Lauren Lazin
The Twilight Samurai-Yoji Yamada
Under the Sand-Francois Ozon
Under the Skin-Jonathan Glazer
United 93-Paul Greengrass
Up in the Air-Jason Reitman
The Upside of Anger-Mike Binder
Vanilla Sky-Cameron Crowe
Venus Noire (aka Black Venus)-Abdellatif Kechiche
Vera Drake-Mike Leigh
Vicky Cristina Barcelona-Woody Allen
The Visitor-Tom McCarthy
Volver-Pedro Almodovar
Waiting for 'Superman'-Davis Guggenheim
Waking Life-Richard Linklater
Watchmen-Zach Snyder
We Need to Talk About Kevin-Lynne Ramsay
Welcome to Leith-Michael Beach Nichols & Christopher K. Walker
Werckmeister Harmonies-Bela Tarr
What Maisie Knew-Scott McGehee & David Siegel
When Marnie Was There-Hiromasa Yonebayashi
When Will I Be Loved-James Toback
Where the Truth Lies-Atom Egoyan
Whiplash-Damian Chazelle
Wild-Jean-Marc Vallee
Wild Tales-Damian Szifron
Winter's Bone-Debra Granik
The Wolf of Wall Street-Martin Scorsese
Wonder Boys-Curtis Hanson
Wreck-It Ralph-Rich Moore
The Wrestler-Danny Aronofsky
XXY-Lucia Puenzo
Y Tu Mama Tambien-Alfonso Cuaron
Yes-Sally Potter
Yi Yi-Edward Yang
You Can Count on Me-Kenneth Lonergan
Young Adult-Jason Reitman
Youth-Paolo Sorrentino
Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman-Takeshi Kitano
Zodiac-David Fincher
Zombieland-Ruben Fleischer