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The 10 Best Films of the Century

The BBC has come out with a list of the greatest films of the 21st Century, compiled from top tens collected from numerous critics worldwide. Analyzing the modern movies that will sooner or later be called masterpieces is a subject matter I admit to finding highly intriguing.

More so, such documents are teaching tools, working as a map for budding cinephiles and those interested in something outside the usual Hollywood mediocrity. Top tens/hundreds/thousands are where I first read about Ozu and Kiarostami, amongst countless others. With BBC having no clue who I am, which I can handle, I promise, it remained a point of personal interest to collect my own brigade of the ten best films of the 21st Century.

And yes, for you loyal readers, the ten will actually be ranked as they were done in the BBC polls. So, here comes…

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10. The Royal Tenenbaums : Not the first Wes Anderson release to make me say wow and not the last, this feature has, for my money, Anderson’s finest blend of comedy and heart, with a mesmerizing Gene Hackman as the prickly, happy-to-lie lead that finally learns the damage he’s done to those that love him.

9. Spirited Away : The master may have retired in this century, though not before Miyazaki gave fans a few more great pieces of art. Spirited Away has boundless creativity and a sympathetic heart bundled up in this Alice in Wonderland-esque classic.

8. Inside Llewyn Davis : How to pick a favorite Coen film for a decade is tough, let alone closer to two. No Country for Old Men, A Serious Man and a few others could make anyone’s top ten and I wouldn’t bat an eye. Why Llewyn Davis? It’s just so damn earnest with how much of a fuck-up and asshole our oh-so-talented protagonist stands as, with Oscar Isaac in a performance that turned so many heads people are still counting them up to this day. 

7. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind : A lot of films can be called high concept. What makes Eternal so special is how it digs into every nook and cranny to explore the motivations and outcomes of erasing the memories of true love gone wrong.

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6. Mad Max: Fury Road : Thematically rich. Symphonically infectious. Visually beyond words. George Miller’s return to a character we never thought we’d actually see again defied all reasonable expectations and stands, even after a few dozens viewings, as exciting as the first time.

5. Carol : In this adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s groundbreaking, daring work, director Todd Haynes paints a romance between two women as passionate, invigorating, hopeful, and due to the times then and now, dangerous. 

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4. Moulin Rouge! : As boisterous, joyous and heartbreaking as they come, Baz Luhrmann’s masterpiece of a musical is gaudy done great. From the editing to the cinematography to those beautiful songs, be they original or via Elton John/The Police/etc, Moulin Rouge! remains either too hyper in tone for you or the magical dream one never imagined would actual hit theatres

3. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days : Cristian Mungui’s film may still be known to some as “That Romanian Abortion Movie,” as if that’s a bad thing. Not all pictures need to be rosy, nor should they be. What’s here is a frank, frightening and unforgettable look at the choices that were necessary in the recent past, and hopefully ones that will remain that way.

2. The Son : The Dardenne Brothers know how to bring raw emotion out of a viewer with the skill few have ever achieved. Their yarn of a quiet, simple man confronting the person that, unknowingly, changed his life forever is a picture of pure grace, preaching comfort and forgiveness, while wrestling with the complications of those same feelings at every turn.

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1. Before Sunset : Linklater has made more daring films. More devastating. More amusing. He hasn’t and may never make one more note perfect as his tale of two lovers who reconnect after spending years wondering what if and now, finally, coming face to face with what next.

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Seattle Cinema Survey -Historical Epics

Another week and another remake is upon us at the Seattle Cinema Survey. It is as it ever was.

So on this edition of that regular bothering of local writers and critics, with Ben-Hur hitting theatres in a new slab of paint and effects, I asked; What’s your favorite historical epic?

The details beyond that were kept broad. The reply merely had to be based in actual world history or settings aka there are no such things as Hobbits.That said, to narrow my own reply down a smidge, I kept it to pictures that are, by cinematic standards, based on real events. Thus, a little classic called Lawrence of Arabia takes my epic cake. The Oscar winning David Lean work is genuinely breathtaking, with vistas for days hanging on the horizon and of a story detailing the trouble with civil wars, alongside the arrogant nations that believe such issues can be solved with their assistance. Peter O’Toole gives a performance I’d be cool with anyone calling the greatest of all-time, celebrating on the bones of toppled-trains here and suffering utter humility there.

Tim Hall of The People’s Critic @peoplescrtic
I’d have to go with Glory. I never heard of the 54th and what they did. It was the first movie that was truly a history lesson for me. The cast was amazing – Denzel was just getting his groove, Freeman was fantastic and Matthew Broderick was still a thing back then.

There’s the emotional scene when Trip gets flogged and the “Oh My Lord” pre battle song. The scene that gets me is when they tear up their checks.

Brent McKnight of Cinema Blend/The Last Thing I See @BrentMMcKnight
When it comes to the greatest historical epics of all-time, there’s a lot to choose from. You’ve got the biblical stuff, like The Ten Commandments and King of Kings; fictional epics, like multiple Ben-Hur adaptations and Master and Commander; as well as those (often loosely) based on actual history, like Aguirre: Wrath of God, Spartacus and Red Cliff.
Massive scale period pieces have been some of the biggest, most influential films in Hollywood history, but as far as favorites, I have to go with Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. Not only is it still hugely influential (later this year we get latest remake of The Magnificent Seven, itself an adaptation of Seven Samurai)—thematically and technically— but 60 plus years later, the saga of seven wayward ronin hired to protect a farming village is as thrilling and watchable as ever.

Watching Seven Samurai on a big screen, even today, is the goddamn dictionary definition of epic. And let’s be honest, I’ll watch Toshiro Mifune do anything.

Drew Powell of  Queen Anne News/Drew’s Movie Blog
A tough question to be sure. Gladiator, Braveheart, and Spartacus come to mind. I did have the pleasure of seeing Lawrence of Arabia on the big screen, which was quite an experience. Although I can’t say it’s a movie I’m dying to see again. So I’m going with Michael Mann’s breathless, stunning French and Indian war epic The Last of the Mohicans.

Right away Mann and cinematographer Dante Spinotti take advantage of the big screen as the camera swoops down into a mighty North American forest where it proceeds to track Hawkeye, Chingachgook and Uncas as they chase after an elk. It’s one of the great film openings of all time. The Last of the Mohicans is a film of high emotion, rousing battle sequences, a magnificent orchestral score from Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman, and superb performances, particularly the understated ones from Daniel Day Lewis as Hawkeye and Wes Studi as the villain Magua.

It does run out of steam in a few places…but then those final thirteen minutes kick in. Holy shit. Whenever I watch that final sequence, which takes place on a cliffside overlooking the forest, I always get chills and I always get choked up. It never fails. Sometimes I’ll watch the ending on YouTube; I guess when I feel like having a good cry. I remember one time in college I took a break from studying to watch it and ended up getting choked up in the middle of the library. Did I say one time? I meant like five times.

On top of all that, I grew up with The Last of the Mohicans. I remember watching it as a kid and being thrilled by the action scenes. In middle school it made me want to learn more about the real French and Indian War. I wrote a The Last of the Mohicans inspired story in 7th grade Language Arts. I bought a PBS miniseries about the war. All because of this Michael Mann film. It may not be Mann’s best film but it’s my favorite of his no doubt.

I have yet to see it on the big screen and I’m sure that when I do I’ll probably die from overexcitement but I don’t need to see it on a big screen to know it’s fucking epic.

Erik Samdahl of Film Jabber @FilmJabber

Easy. Braveheart. No explanation needed.

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Was I Nuts ? – Multiplicity

The 1996 run rolls on, as we revisit one more disappointment from that summer: Multiplicity. Before Michael Keaton’s career became a joke, which was before Keaton’s career became a thing of pure envy, he was a reliable funny-man. It seemed to happen overnight, or at least if felt that way as a kid. In my head Keaton went from comedic perfection in Beetlejuice to the nightmarishly abysmal Jack Frost in a split second.

That wasn’t the case. However, Keaton’s teaming with a three years removed from Groundhog Day Harold Ramis was supposed to be a piece of greatness. Multiplicity didn’t garner the love that the Bill Murray and Ramis collaboration did. Not by a long, oh-so-long, shot. Perhaps it wasn’t that bad though? Perhaps Keaton playing a father/husband and a bunch of his closes was a secret Ramis-Keaton gem. Perhaps, I was nuts.

The Film

Released on July 19th, 1996, Multiplicity arrived, um, poorly. Caught in the wake of that summer’s biggest blockbuster (Independence Day), as well as a big comedy hit (The Nutty Professor), the film barely beat out the Shaq pic Kazaam at the box-office, opening in seventh for its first weekend out. In the end, the film made a cough over $21 million, closing out at 78th for the year’s total releases, a shade above the re-issue of Oliver & Company.

Keaton plays Doug Kinney, you’re standard overworked 90s dad. Doug’s construction job takes up too many hours, and the ones left are too little for him to properly enjoy the time with his wife Laura (Andie MacDowell) or kids Zack (Zack Dunney) and Jennifer (Katie Schlossberg). What’s a modern man to do? Clone himself of course. Or at least that is the option put forth after Doug meets a doctor (Harris Yulin) who provides that opportunity. Desperate for a change, Doug goes all in and the usual wackiness ensues.

The Memory

This was dumb and annoying as hell, or so that’s how I recall it being. Not getting the HBO/Starz/whatever loop as the hits, the main thought I have of Multiplicity as a product itself is Keaton playing a clone of a clone in silly clothes mugging for the camera in a way that would embarrass Jim Carrey. As a then 14-year-old, I was fickle prick. I went from loving White Zombie one week to laughing at the idea of them the next. It happens. Teenagers, largely, are assholes. With Multiplicity, it dawned on me that Keaton was yesterday’s news and his every leading role for years was met with an eye-roll. His shtick was wearing thin, with every performance being a series of head tilts and screech-y yells.

The Expectations

Two movies into this summer program of watching past disappointments has been zero-for-two in finding new pleasures. That said, it’s also probably the one that could have the best potential for improvement. Ramis, never the most consistent filmmaker, did manage to make quality work again after Multiplicity, while Keaton is arguably in the best spot his career has ever seen, with leading roles in back-to-back Best Picture winners. But…I have literally heard zero people bring this up as a lost classic, or even as a film in and of itself. So, mediocrity is the highest my expectations can go.

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The Verdict

The reason nobody talks about Multiplicity these days is simple. It’s not funny.

This is in a very literal sense. There are no jokes worth laughing at in the entire film. An absurd notion, particularly with the talent involved. This is nonetheless a fact as there is such a vacuum of worthwhile humor that it feels like a Producers con of some sort must have been brainstormed.

If Multiplicity were made today it would feature Adam Sandler and probably have been released in 2007. The only difference would be more t-shirts worn by the lead and a wife played by an actress, oh, eight years younger at least. The comedy is meant to derive from a Mr. Mom-esque routine meets a spoonful of men-gotta-be-men nonsense. Keaton’s pre-cloned character does indeed moan about having to work too much, while balking at the difficulties of his spouse’s daily activities. Soon, the routine of getting the kid wherever and sipping tea-cups becomes his duty, and thus we get a trio of Keatons added to the tale, with the hijinks of hiding the truth from wifey and their oh-so-zany differences being the butt of the jokes.

These variables on how each Doug acts are, well, offensive could be a word for it. Troubling is definitely befitting. The first clone is a near-perfect replica of the original Doug’s personality, if slightly blunter. Doug #3 though, is clearly meant to be a gay Doug, but I guess 1996 wasn’t cool with that notion yet. Keaton portrays this edition as stereotypically fey, with a higher-pitched vocal octave, floaty hand gestures and whatever other ways you’d expect a decades old Hollywood movie to envision a gay man without the guts to call him as such. Then there is Doug #4 aka the mentally challenged one, since he is a clone of a clone. The less said of this one the better, suffice it to say the aforementioned mugging is as remembered, embarrassing,

What’s more annoying about Multiplicity is its portrayal of marriage, managing to even have the line, “Some guys are whipped. It’s okay,” in there from one Doug to another. A lovely notion really. There is nothing wrong about a story on the challenges of raising kids, loving and living with one another, nor the particular troubles that might come from the male perspective. This is whining though. Hovering around family discourse makes sense, as two of the scripts hands created Parenthood, but this telling negates the mother’s role to that of nag. Andie MacDowell, an actress who’s always split viewers, is perfunctory here. Her part is arrive, say that Doug needs to do this or that and then leave, with the exception being the uncomfortable scene where she mistakenly sleeps with all of the Dougs in one evening…which I’m pretty sure would qualify as rape.

But hey, this movie has a lot of saxophones blaring to note that something silly is happening, so laugh why don’t you. Ramis just can’t find that tone he conjured with Groundhog Day; too goofy and undercut by a rushed sense of heart at the end. More than a forgettable dud, Multiplicity is a comedic dud of embarrassing levels. Now, please go back to ignoring it.

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Seattle Cinema Survey – Meryl Streep

Hello all and welcome to another edition of the Seattle Cinema Survey, home to local critics and writers kindly responding to the – likely – inane things I ask.

With Meryl Steep’s latest arriving in the form of Florence Foster Jenkins, there’s some regular chit-chat about an actress that many consider the best talent in this country’s history. So, the pondering went ; What’s your favorite Meryl Streep performance?

This, of course, is a ridiculous query. Most actors and actresses would punch a Pope to have a career with as vital of turns as Streep gives in a decade. Any of her decades. The troubling mindset seems to be that The Streep is merely a piece of pretige fodder, always grasping for acclaim and awards. This. Is. Nonsense. Streep is an agent to warm hearts and quickly break them, inspire distress and cause empathy for her pain, and make one laugh, laugh, laugh. Yes, she has an army of Oscar noms and victories, but an honest look reveals that even The Queen manages to be overlooked for her comedy stylings by the Academy.

So, I stand here to sing the praises for Madeline Ashton, Streep’s wickedly youth obsessed, increasingly demented figure from Death Becomes Her. Be it the sharp glares when Goldie Hawn’s paws begin to crawl back into the realm of Madeline’s husband (an underrated bit of madcappery by Bruce Willis) or Streep’s pure-as-snow pronouncement of “I’m a girl” when she sips upon a rejuvenating elixir, Death Becomes Her is a reminder that few have the comedic chops of Le Streep.

Matt Oakes of Silver Screen Riot @SSRdotcom
It’s hard to parse my favorite performance of hers from my favorite
film starring her so I’ll meet somewhere in the middle with Adaptation. Streep delivers an unusual tour de force as a lovestruck author wrapped up in Charlie Kaufmann’s pseudo-biographical quest to adapt her character’s celebrated novel. Streep plays both sides of theaisle here, waffling between lover and killer, artist and maniac and thrives giving a performance that is complex and unique without
reeking of prestige.

Erik Samdahl of Film Jabber @FilmJabber
Meryl Streep is absolutely fabulous in Doubt. That final scene, that final moment, is just killer.

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Seattle Cinema Survey: Favorite Summer Seasons

I say good-day to all of you readers, followers and the like, and welcome to the latest edition of the Seattle Cinema Survey, where local writers answer the various, probably odd, questions I lob there way.

This week, in honor (?) of seemingly everybody and their cat being disappointed by this summer’s run of high-profile films, I asked: What’s your favorite summer movie season?

Sara Michelle Fetters of MovieFreak & The Seattle Gay News @MovieFreakSara

Considering a number of my favorite films of all-time saw their release during the summer of 1982, this ends up being a remarkably easy question for me to find an answer to. John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing, Steven Spielberg’s E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, George Miller’s The Road Warrior, John Milius’ Conan the Barbarian, Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist, Nicholas Meyer’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Steven Lisberger’s TRON and Clint Eastwood’s Firefox make this one of the greatest science fiction/horror/fantasy stretches in all of Hollywood history, each film making an indelible mark on the cinematic landscape that is still being felt today.

But that’s not it. Woody Allen’s A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy, Taylor Hackford’s An Officer and a Gentleman, Ron Howard’s Night Shift, Alan Parker’s Pink Floyd The Wall, George Roy Hill’s The World According to Garp, Don Bluth’s The Secret of NIMH, John Huston’s Annie and Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky III all hit theatres as well, each proving to stand the test of time rather nicely (and, in some instances, rather surprisingly). This was also the summer of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, Friday the 13th Part III, Young Doctors in Love, Grease 2, The Last American Virgin, Megaforce and The Beastmaster, and while no one is going to mark any of those as classics to say none of them still don’t have their rather vociferous supporters would be Trump-sized lie. Heck, speaking of that whack-a-doo Presidential candidate, even that bizarre, close to unwatchable teen sex comedy featuring everyone’s favorite Donald supporter Scott Baio Zapped! premiered, and if that doesn’t put 1982 over the top I’m not sure what else does.

Oh. Wait. Yes, I do. Star Wars, Bambi and Raiders of the Lost Ark all saw major reissues, each playing once again to enthusiastic sold-out houses.

Erik Samdahl of Film Jabber @FilmJabber

Well, I imagine that some people may scour the summers of the last three to four decades looking for the greatest collection of movies to be released in any given year. But since I haven’t been alive for four decades, and certainly didn’t care what summer movies were coming out when I was eight years old, I restricted my search to 1995 and later, a time period where I can confidently say I actively sought out movies.

It may be odd that the year I’ve selected boasts one of the biggest summer disasters of all time – an infamous film I’m certain no one has watched in the last decade called Wild Wild West – but it also was home to the release some great movies, and at least a bunch of solidly good ones. This summer saw the release of The Iron Giant, The Sixth Sense, Arlington Road, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, The Blair Witch Project, Eyes Wide Shut, The Wood, American Pie, Deep Blue Sea, Tarzan, Run Lola Run, The Red Violin, South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, Election, The Mummy, Notting Hill, and yes, Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace, not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, but one that kicked off the summer in high fashion nonetheless.

The year was 1999, and it was the best summer movie season I can remember.

Brent McKnight of Cinema Blend & The Last Thing I See @BrentMMcKnight

To be honest, I could probably pick any summer movie season from like 1982 to 1989 and be satisfied with my choice. 1982 gave us E.T., The Road Warrior, Conan the Barbarian, and more favorites. 1985 dropped The Goonies, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Fletch, and Weird Science into our laps. And 1989 introduced us to Dalton in Road House (I thought he’d be bigger), Michael Keaton’s Batman, and everyone’s favorite English teacher in Dead Poet’s Society.

But I have to go with 1984. That summer gave us The Karate Kid, Gremlins, The Never Ending Story, Purple Rain, Once Upon a Time in America, Revenge of the Nerds, The Natural, and Bachelor Party. Val Kilmer has still never topped Top Secret! Ghostbusters remains one of my all-time favorite movies. I have an Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom tattoo for Christ’s sake. I may have even pitched a book-length essay about Red Dawn to a publisher once upon a time. (Perhaps more than any of these other movies, Red Dawn had a massive formative influence on my life for many, many years.)

I was seven-years-old that summer, and probably way, way too young to reasonably watch and understand a number of these movies. But this year, and maybe one or two on either side, was the era where I really fell in love with movies. This is where I became a more active viewer, where movies became something more than a collection of images on screen, and where film took on a place of great importance. And we all know where that lead.

Matt Oakes of Silver Screen Riot @SSRdotcom

First a qualifier: I’m only going to select a year in which I’ve been (semi-) professionally writing about film so although there might some years that blow the roof off, I’m sticking solidly with modernity. Ok, onward. In 2014, I wrote an editorial praising the alarming population of quality flicks (http://silverscreenriot.com/695-has-the-summer-of-2014-been-the-best-in-years/), from indie sleepers to popcorn hits. Its sparkling, gilded quality only seems more apparent in summer 2016, which has seen a verifiable dearth of good films. Seriously, even the Bourne movie was a solid let down. Let me just list some flicks from summer ’14, shall I? Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a superb highlight of heady intellectualism and top-notch effects work; X-Men: Days of Future Past, one of the finest in a standout franchise; Snowpiecer, Bong Joon-ho’s madcap Occupy Earth parable; Edge of Tomorrow, underperforming though it was, this remains one of the best action films of the decade; 22 Jump Street, where a hysterical pairing meant bristling satirical overload; Guardians of the Galaxy was an unexpectedly weird jolt of energy for the Marvel camp (and even though I’m not on record as being a huge fan, Captain America: The Winter Soldier admittedly drove many fans mental); As Above So Below was a shockingly effective horror/thriller; The Rover kicked a malevolent storm of dust in our faces; Luc Besson’s Lucy was utterly insane, an undeniably unique deconstruction of the genre; Godzilla, though admittedly not perfect, had major high highs; Chef from Jon Favreau was a scrumptious father-son dramedy; Obvious Child as thoughtful as it was hilarious; Calvary from John Michael; McDonagh was a moving portrait of faith in humanity, misplaced; How to Train Your Dragon 2, easily the best animated film of the year, unless we factor in The LEGO Movie which was far better than it had any right to be; oh and Richard Linklater’s Boyhood was naught but the cherry on top. Seriously, look through that list. It’s insane. Insane. If we’re factoring in the last decade, you just can’t compete with 2014.

Tim Hall of The People’s Critic @peoplescrtic

BZ!!! This is too easy. The Summer of 2008! Check out this amazing list

Iron Man
Sex and the City
Kung Fu Panda
Wall-E
The Dark Knight
The Pineapple Express
Tropic Thunder
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Wanted

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Review – Jason Bourne

Matt Damon is back as Jason Bourne in…um…Jason Bourne. Does more need to be said? Alright, if we must. Damon’s character is nearly a decade removed from taking down those that transformed a young man looking to better his country into a ruthless killing machine. Knowing the level of trouble he has already caused, Bourne lives on the fringes of society where cameras are rare and meals are bought with the bucks earned from a street fight. This existence takes a turn when a friend/colleague/love-interest from the past reveals that, yet again, there are still secrets about Bourne and the program that molded him.

If this sounds familiar, that would be an accurate insight. Even with director Paul Greengrass at the helm once more, having crafted The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, plus an intriguing cast of Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander and Vincent Cassell, this latest installment is too familiar. There is a pattern to this series, especially since Greengrass took over the directing chair. There’s the scene of officials in Washington D.C. asking for live camera footage from around the world, Bourne walking between the masses controlling the chaos in quiet, an unwitting fool caught between these two forces and an eventual car chase. Jason Bourne rolls through that scenario once more, then does it again about twenty minutes later. Then twenty minutes later at a slightly different angle. Then again.

These pieces work, somewhat, in a vacuum. An opening piece of anarchy in an unstable Greece has some visual pop, with the camera swirling amidst and above burning alleys and the men who fight for their opinions in them, all while Bourne stalks the scene like a phantom. As part of a larger narrative, that includes three previous movies with the same character, it’s a bit of old hat. Lines of dialogue feel lifted from past scripts, with the names of the specific shady government agency or figurehead substituted for whatever new adjective-plus-noun. The cast is a bit of the ol’ walking dead, spouting off lines with the kind of monotone that calls to mind kids forced to read a paragraph aloud in history class. Vikander, an actress with talent for days, is stearn and dull, eyes popped for blank stares and an accent from nowhere U.S.A. Only Tommy Lee Jones appears to be having a glimmer of fun here, screwing around with Bourne with near glee.

There are crumbs to admire in Jason Bourne, from the scale of it’s action staging to the attempt to bring in a modern sense of personal data paranoia. However, it takes more than Bourne popping out of another train to deck a dude or saying Snowden seven times to round out a movie.

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Seattle Cinema Survey: Favorite Matt Damon Film

Welcome to another edition of the Seattle Cinema Survey, home to know-it-alls disagreeing with one another.

On the eve of the return of the Bourne franchise, now seems a good as time as any to ask; What’s your favorite Matt Damon film?

The list is ample, with Damon having quality blockbusters (The Martian, the aforementioned Bourne films), comedies (The Informant) and a string of exceptional dramas (The Talented Mr. Ripley, Gerry, many more). It oddly enough comes down two top picks I debated between a few weeks back when inquiring on the century’s best remake; The Departed or Ocean’s Eleven. As there, it’s Marty’s masterful cops and robbers piece that I must shout for most vigorously. Damon uses his innate charm and likability in a conniving manner here as a first-class manipulator and liar, forging personal success via the downfall and deaths of others.

Brent McKnight of Cinema Blend/The Last Thing I See @BrentMMcKnight
I enjoy the Bourne movies well enough, he carries The Martian, and Good Will Hunting is great. But my favorite Matt Damon movie, or at least my favorite Matt Damon role—the movie is a hot, steamy, raccoon-infested trash heap—has to be Donny in 2003’s Eurotrip. The front-man for a snotty suburban punk rock band, he sings a song about fucking the main character’s girlfriend. It’s even better because he did as a favor to three college buddies who happened to be the writer/directors. It’s not Damon’s best performance, and it’s damn sure not the best movie he’s appeared in, but Donny is far and away the most (maybe only) memorable thing about Eurotrip.

Matt Oakes of Silver Screen Riot @SSRDotcom

Tim Hall of The People’s Critic @peoplescrtic

I really enjoyed Matt Damon in Interstellar as Dr. Mann. Damon’s “Do you see your children? It’s okay. They’re right there with you” scene is one of my favorites.

My favorite Matt Damon movie is The Talented Mr Ripley. When I originally saw it back in 1999, I HATED it. I even referred to it as The Talented Mr Ripoff.

Years later, I learned to love the film, and especially Damon’s performance as Ripley. Damon’s even more impressive when Ripley is trying to live Dickie’s life. There’s that great piano scene when Ripley is confronted by Freddie (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the opening sequence, and the final scene with Peter when he says “I came out to find you” is fantastic.

Erik Samdahl of Film Jabber @Filmjabber
Wow. Tough one. Matt Damon has been in so many good movies, and has been instrumental to the quality of most of those movies. I’d say Saving Private Ryan, except he’s really a bit player (despite being the title character). Ocean’s Eleven is fantastic, but he’s just one of many. The Bourne Supremacy is one of my all-time favorite action movies.
But I’m going to go with Good Will Hunting, a fantastic and entertaining drama that showcases Damon’s brilliance. Perhaps more than any of his other films—especially the films most people would consider “great”—Good Will Hunting relies on Damon’s talent. The movie features one of his most complex characters, and one of his best performances.

Baylen, Liz –– B58990834Z.1 SUNDAY CALENDAR STORY FOR JANUARY 23, 2011. DO NOT USE PRIOR TO PUBLICATION@@*@@*@@*@@*@@*@@*@@*@@*@@*@@* LOS ANGELES, CA – JANUARY 15, 2011 – Director David Fincher, (Social Network), at the Los Angeles Times Round Table discussion at The Times on January 15, 2011. ( Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times )

Seattle Cinema Survey – Directors Trying Sci-Fi

Hello nerds and welcome to the latest edition of the Seattle Cinema Survey where other nerds reply to the nerdy questions I ask them. Nerds.

Speaking of nerd-stuff, a little franchise by the name of Star Trek has a new installment arriving this weekend. At the helm is Justin Lin, best know for his work revitalizing the Fast & Furious series, having directed the third through sixth films. Lin is now trying something seemingly different, if still about a bunch of gadgets and the racially diverse teammates that use said gadgets. So I pondered; what director would you like to play around in the science fiction genre?

Wes Anderson is the answer for myself. Sci-fi, perhaps too often, can be drowned in a self-serious tone. There are oodles of classics that do this, with just as commonly the genre spurring action for action-sake; the laughter can be a tad lacking. Give me Anderson in a world where aliens, blasters, teleportation and the like can be fiddled with for a gag. The visuals would be an equal treat, surely a step away from the shiny steel or washed out dystopias that, in the wrong hands, read as solely cliche.

Jason Roestel @filmbastard
Easy. David Fincher’s recently shelved project Rendezvous With Rama is perhaps one of the great tragic losses of the 21st century. I can’t help but believe that if Ridley Scott had ignored science fiction early in his career his career wouldn’t carry the same weight and wouldn’t be nearly as prolific as it is now. Fincher’s tailor made to create the perfect storm of hard science fiction and popcorn art. I can’t imagine why he hasn’t yet. Rama was all geared up to be something fresh and thoughtful – and, I firmly believe – radical in a genre now mass franchised by super studios like Disney. For every 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek The Motion Picture (you heard me) Under The Skin, and Sunshine (Danny Boyle’s film) there’s fifty Guardians Of The Galaxy. Not that I’m complaining, but science fiction should never settle for softcore. I’ve still got my fingers crossed that David will pick up the script for Rama someday, blow the dust off the dust-cover, and finally get to work making it. Also…. why didn’t Michael Mann ever dip his toe in this well?
Brent McKnight of Cinema Blend/The Last Thing I See @BrentMMcKnight
He’s talked about it a number of times over the years, though it has never come to pass, but holy fuck goddamn do I want Quentin Tarantino to make a sci-fi movie. Once a year or so, the Pulp Fiction mastermind teases an idea for a foray into the genre he has, at least up to this point, never touched on film.
Though he rarely reveals much in the way of details, he’s said that it’ll be earthbound rather than “spaceship sci-fi.” Back in 2014, however, he did say he was interested in putting his own spin on Invasion of the Body Snatchers, showing it from the pod people’s perspective, making the audience root for the extraterrestrial trespassers. He’s made a career out of aligning us with murderers and outlaws, making us empathize with hoodlums and general ne’er do wells, so it makes perfect sense he’d want tell a story like this.

I doubt we’ll ever see a QT sci-fi movie. If he does retire after his tenth movie, which seems unlikely (remember when Steven Soderbergh “retired”?), that means he only has two left in the clip. Even if he does keep making movies at his usual leisurely pace, he doesn’t sound super stoked on sci-fi, but wouldn’t that rule? I can’t help but imagine a paranoid, John Carpenter-eque thriller, packed with references to obscure movies that can only be found on grainy bootleg VHS tapes.

Matt Oakes of Silver Screen Riot @SSRdotcom
I would go ga-ga to see The Coen Bros take on sci-fi. Their astute idiosyncrasies lends itself to finely tuned worlds – I mean, hell, even the otherwise straight-forward Raising Arizona almost operates as a fantasy film – and that kind of narrative construction is where sci-fi lives and dies. When you’re dealing with science fiction, tone is king and these boys are absolute maestros of tone. I would imagine that their brand of sci-fi would much more resemble a 1984 dystopia, a la Blade Runner, than an all-out hard, action-tilted sci-fi the likes of The Matrix but what I wouldn’t pay to see the Minnesota Boys give it a whirl. They’ve slayed the Western genre, why not expand the horizons even further? To infinity and beyond.

Drew Powell of  Queen Anne/Drew’s Movie Blog
David Fincher. But I don’t want him to direct a franchise film like Star Wars or Star Trek (I doubt he would even do it unless he was guaranteed total artistic freedom). Considering his expertise in making dark crime drama/thrillers, it would be cool to see him tackle a smaller more intimate Sci fi noir in the vein of Blade Runner.

Tim Hall of The People’s Critic Blog @peoplescrtic
I would love to see Kathryn Bigelow try her hand at sci fi. She’s got a knack for creating tension and shooting action. I think she’d be great. Imagine Zero Dark Thirty as a space hunt for an evil alien. I would be first in line for that movie.

Erik Samdahl of Film Jabber @Filmjabber
While I’d be curious to see what Quentin Tarantino would do with a sci-fi movie, I’m going to have to say Sam Mendes. The Spectre disappointment aside, the guy makes some fantastic movies and has proven his ability to go big budget while still telling a great story with deep characters. At the very least, whatever he does, we know it would be a gorgeously crafted film.

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Seattle Cinema Survey – 21st Century Remakes

Remakes are in the air, and always will be. However, a lot of dumb ones are convinced the latest one – Ghostbusters – will be bad because girls are gross and definitely not funny.

So, on this week of a weirdly controversial remake, I asked a variety of Seattle’s critics, writers and general movie nerds; What’s your favorite remake of the 21st Century?

The answer is tougher than one might think, since remakes, understandably, are easily mocked. There are quality remakes for horror (Dawn of the DeadThe Ring), comedy (Freaky Friday) fantasy (King Kong), period action (13 Assassins) and surprisingly more. For me, it’s a toss-up between two basically perfect films; The Departed and Ocean’s Eleven. Both are nearly impossible to stop watching once they begin, each distinctly tight narratives of large casts and twists, with one honing in on anxious tension and the other double-downing on more of “How can they get away with it this time” variety. I love them both dearly, but in the end, The Departed kicks me in the gut each time, and in that original go-around even more so. Plus, it has the advantage of remaking a superb film (Infernal Affairs), without merely being a copy and paste job.
Erik Samdahl of Film Jabber @Filmjabber
There are a couple solid selections here (Ocean’s Eleven being a standout), but I’ll say Dawn of the Dead. I know a lot of people hold George A. Romero’s original in high regard, as they should, but if you watch that film now, its low budget and pacing have not aged particularly well. On the other hand, the new Dawn of the Dead is an extremely tense, exciting and entertaining piece of work.

Some may forget, and you perhaps wouldn’t even realize when watching the movie, that it was directed by Zack Snyder, now known for making somewhat emotionally flat action pieces with lots of special effects. Dawn of the Dead was Snyder’s first feature-length film, and it offers everything that many people would say his current films do not: likable, engaging characters; tight storytelling; and fun factor.

With my wife out of town this weekend, I’ve now thought of a movie I should pop in…

Matt Oakes of Silver Screen Riot @ SSRdotcom
Although I admire what Fede Alvarez was able to do with Sam Raimi’s demented love child Evil Dead, the honor of greatest remake must be bequeathed to Marty. That it took a remake for the Scors to earn his first Best Picture win and a little slice of Oscar gold of his own in the form of a Best Director statue, the value of The Departed should not be understated. Bleak, darkly comic and set ablaze by a cast that seems beamed in from some fantasy draft of actors (Dicaprio! Nicholson! Damon! Wahlberg! Sheen! Winstone! Baldwin!) The Departed adapts Andrew Lau and Alan Mak’s 2002 Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs, giving it an identity of its own through a novel cultural lens without muddying what made the predecessor work so well. A grubby, unsettling, brilliant shitkicker of a crime epic, it’s hard not to include The Departed among the very finest of Scorsese’s career, a career that includes such masterworks as Taxi Driver and Goodfellas. This is how you do a remake.

Brent McKnight of Cinema Blend/The Last Thing I See @BrentMMcKnight
Whether it’s remaking hardcore cult classics or American filmmakers reworking international films because domestic audiences don’t want to read, horror has more solid remakes than any other genre. Sure, we’ve had to wade through the new Nightmare on Elm Street, those Texas Chainsaw Massacre debacles, and countless other subpar rehashes, but we’ve also had exemplary updates like Dawn of the Dead (still Zach Snyder’s best movie), The Hills Have Eyes, and Evil Dead. Then there are English-language translations of modern foreign horror joints like The Ring, Let Me In, and We Are What We Are, which all stand close to the originals.

For my favorite remake of this millennium, however, I have to go with 2010’s Piranha 3D. French maniac Alexandre Aja took the manic camp of Joe Dante’s 1978 schlock fest about a swarm of killer fish devouring spring break and jacked that shit up to absurdist highs. No joke, it was my favorite movie that year by a landslide. Like the back end of a drive-in double feature, this is nudity and gore and the best use of 3D technology I’ve ever seen. (I don’t care about being immersed in some fully realized alien world, throw a chainsaw at my face and give me geysers of blood and we’re gold.) This movie makes me clap and giggle just thinking about it.

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Review – Ghostbusters

Erin is on the verge of getting tenure at a top-notch university. A respected scientific mind, Erin (Kristen Wiig) does happen to have one skeleton in her closet, and it’s one whose moldy bones are freshly rattling once more. Years earlier, Erin wrote a lengthy book on the existence and study of the paranormal with her former best friend Abby (Melissa McCarthy). This thoroughly detailed work suddenly pops back onto the internet and sends Erin into a paranoid spiral, leading her to reconnect with Abby, who just so happens to be the one pushing the book’s existence of late. Also, a plethora of ghosts are, you know, showing their spooky faces all over New York City. So that’s something.

A remake of the beloved Ivan Reitman 80s comedy, this edition of Ghostbusters comes from Paul Feig and it sures feels like It. Feig, one of the creators of “Freaks and Geeks,” has risen to cinematic prominence this decade with a trio of hilarious hits; Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy. While the inventive vulgarity or swearing of those pics has been cut back with Ghostbusters, the tone is very much the same. This movie is wall-to-wall jokes, the characters have a fluid banter and people always, always underestimate ours leads. This is the Feig formula and its works smashingly here, as this new Ghostbusters is thoroughly packed with laughs.

A great deal of this comes from that Feig formula. Writing alongside Katie Dippold after The Heat, the pair concoct the right scenarios for improv, setting the character traits down first so the gags have a root in something. We get the moments of Erin being uncomfortable about getting back into the other-worldly, her history with it, how Abby fits into that, as well as the utter glee over meeting something wicked face-to-face. The bond between the two and the bringing into that family of the inventive, eccentric Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and skeptical, take-no-crap Patty (Leslie Jones) can give the warm and fuzzies alongside the chuckles. The chuckles though; they are ample. McKinnon gets to go wild with a cartoonish mad-scientist, giddily tinkering with her toys, even if half of them could level the city. For Jones, there are plenty of highlights, with the best being an interaction with a dumby come-to-life on her first mission.

Then there are the numerous asides and ridiculous bits, including a poltician who does not take kindly to being compared to the mayor from Jaws and Chris Hemsworth playing the most delightful of dimwits. I mean truly, a dumb, dumb man. The only person I can think of as dumber is the one who’d go onto the internet and relentlessly trash a film they haven’t seen because it has women. That person is the dumbest of them all.