Monday, January 30, 2012

The last day of January (Stuff)

After an initial flurry of posting to start off the year, I slacked off again, reverted to type, if you will. And I know, I know, if I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, but really, I've been busy. I'm a working man, folks, just trying to put a little money in my pocket. Working man, not as in: "at a job", but more like: "on stuff." I'll post something about all of that in the coming days and weeks, most likely. Also, I usually comment on the Oscars around this time of year, but have you seen the list? Sure, there's a couple of good nominations, but mostly this year's list seems like the best possible illustration of what a hum-drum year it was at the movies. I mean, I'll probably get around to that... maybe, but I'm not excited about it.

So, I can hear you now, Dear Reader, if I'm not going to blather on about all of that shit, then what exactly are we all here for?

Just some stuff, some stuff I like.

Let's take a look...

I almost forgot about this trailer. This is fantastic. The 2nd season of HBO's Game of Thrones. The books are great, the first season was perfect. I can't wait for this one. Of course it will take forever for me to see it, because HBO is full of assholes that won't let you just pay and download each episode like a normal god damn person and instead they demand that you subscribe to their shitty channel, just to get internet access to a STREAMING copy of each episode. Fuckers. I hate HBO. Too bad their shows are so good... Jerks. Anyway, this:

Love it. Book Two is even crazier than the first one. I can't wait.

This is the Ferris Bueller trailer that is going to show during the Superbowl.

Not bad, not great. A lot of the jokes seemed a little too easy, more of the "Remember this?" variety, then clever, you know? Am I an idiot for being a little disappointed? Probably. Is it wrong that I still want a full length movie? Yes, it is, I know it is, but still....

Moving on, Avatar the last Airbender was one of the best animated shows ever--great characters, great storyline, imaginative and fun. Highly recommended (the movie was absolute garbage, forget it ever happened). Anyway, here's the sequel to the cartoon. It's a new world, a new conflict, a new cast, and a new Avatar and she's a... What? A girl? That's crazy pants!

Looks awesome, can't wait. You can find more clips over at Io9.

Next is Bobcat Goldthwait's latest film. I've been a fan since Shakes the Clown--which was...genius, pure genius--and like all his stuff, God Bless America is dark and mean and funny.

I suppose there's something that could be said for the growing amount of "mad as hell and armed to the teeth" type of films lately that have been popping up out there, but... meh. Besides, I do hate people who talk in movie theatres. And honestly, I only watch My Sweet Sixteen on MTV to hate the people on it, so...

Here's a film recently nominated for Best Foreign Language film and it is getting a ton of buzz.

Hormone Mafia? If it was me, I'd want to change our group's name.

And this last one? Well, this last one here is called: Wastelander Panda

Uh... wha--what? I... hmmm. That was kind of awesome. But it'd probably work better as a cartoon, right? I mean, the key to it all is in the face, striking the balance between sympathetic human emotion and reminding us that he is still a bear when they need to, and that mask just doesn't quite cut it. It needs to be able to snarl. Still, pretty awesome.

Anyway, later Gators,

Saturday, January 14, 2012

20 Films I'm looking forward to in 2012

The list started out as my top 12 in 2012, which is nice and catchy, sure, but as I looked at it, I realized I had so many honorable mentions and also-maybes that it was actually a list of around twenty and I figured: Well, that's a good thing, right? I should just list them all.

Damn right I should.

Especially after this past year.

So yeah, rejoice! 2012 will not only be the End of the current Age according to the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar and the herald of a transformative (or possibly cataclysmic) event for this plane of existence, but it looks like we're also gonna have some pretty good movies to watch while waiting to see how things shake out.

20 Films to watch for in 2012

20. Moonrise Kingdom
Oh, Wes Anderson, a long time ago, we used to be friends, but you've actually kind of bored me in our more recent meetings and I can't help but notice certain... patterns... in your work that I've begun to wonder if perhaps you might be relying upon them a little too heavily. However, when I heard you had a new film coming out this year, I had to take a look. Apparently, I can not help but be drawn to you like a moth to the flame...

19. Django Unchained
The buzz on the script is hot, but you can never believe that about anything Quentin Tarantino, as the motherfucker is practically a cult leader of Internet movie nerds, but that aside, I'm interested. I'm interested, despite the fact that over the past couple of films, I've felt like his whole fetishism/homage schtick is getting a bit out of control. I know people shit themselves with love for Inglorious Basterds, but with the exception of a few stand-outs, it really missed the mark for me. It felt like an uneven mish-mash of two movies, both of which kept the other from really shining. Also, I found the period incongruities to be distracting. Eli Roth bugs me. And I think killing Hitler in any kind of fiction is the ultimate act of impotence and should just be avoided. That being said, the son of a bitch is another Director, like Wes Anderson, whose work I can't look away from. Kill Bill had it's problems, most of which was due to the unwieldy burden of excess pop culture and fetish ticks, but it did do one thing to me: Made me very interested in seeing what the man could do with a Spaghetti Western.

And here we are...

18. Snow White and the Huntsman
I know, I know. It's a Kristen Stewart movie, but it also has Thor throwing axes and Charlize Theron drenched in milk. Honestly, it also looks like it might be kind of fantasy film cool. Maybe? I know. I know, but really... watch the trailer.

17. Wreck-it Ralph
This is an interesting sounding movie. It's a cartoon, but not a Pixar (which can always be a little bit of an iffy bet). It's set in an old school arcade where each night the games mingle and hang out and most likely make some clever and probably some not-so-clever video game references during their interactions. John C. Reilly voices the main character: Wreck-it Ralph, a Donkey Kong type of video game bad guy who one day realizes that he no longer wants to be the bad guy, he wants to be the hero, but when he enters a First Person Shooter and unleashes a horrible monster, well wackiness and trouble and questions about pre-destination and the expectations of society and what it means to be a hero ensue.

16. The Amazing Spider-man
Hmmm... I'm not sure if it's too soon for a reboot of this franchise or if a reboot (and it is a reboot, NOT a remake) is even really needed in the first place and I'm definitely NOT a fan of the hidden story of Peter's parents--which I found to be an unnecessary dud--and I don't know... so much CGI, but the trailer looks like it might be fun, so that, coupled with the fact that I am an unabashed Marvelhead and that I love Emma Stone, not to mention Martin Sheen, means I'll be there.

15. G.I. Joe: Retaliation
I feel a little dirty for being so excited about this film, but the trailer kills, folks, it kills. Now, sure, maybe it's just that the first stunk so bad and maybe this one seems more like the G.I. Joe film the 10 year old inside me imagined all those days on the porch surrounded by the toys and creating adventures, but good god damn, this looks like fun. Ugh. I'm so embarrassed, but it is what it is.

14. The Dark Knight Rises
Some people might rank this film higher and I'm okay with that. I'm a Batman fan. I like Christopher Nolan and I enjoyed these movies, but I never really went ga-ga for them. They're good, but they're not my favorite, so this--the third and final film of Nolan's Batman saga--is one I will see, but... I don't know. Everything I'm hearing sounds like the film may not be able to stand up under the weight, not just of expectations, but of the story itself. Plus, I think I'm still disappointed they're not doing the seminal Dark Knight Returns storyline. Anyway, watch the trailer, maybe you'll feel the same. To me, it seems a little muddled. It seems a little bit of a mess, but time will tell, I guess.

13. Skyfall (James Bond)
I loved Casino Royale and thought Quantum of Solace was mostly a confusing, boring, and forgettable blur and a huge pity for being so, because I liked Casino Royale so much. But that was a while ago and now, finally, here's the latest one. The name may be kind of awful, but at least it's a step up from Quantum of Solace. And hopefully that won't be the only way Skyfall will be a step-up from that film. So far the prospects are promising. They've taken some time with it. Daniel Craig is returning, who I consider to be the second best Bond after Connery, and Sam Mendes is directing. This is all hopeful news to me, so... fingers crossed.

12. World War Z
After years of lumbering through the system, the movie adaptation of Max Brooks' faux-oral history of ten years after a zombie apocalypse is finally almost here. Brad Pitt produced this and he stars in it and he generally seems to have a good handle on his projects of late, but I've heard horrible shit about J. Michael Straczynski's script and I've read the book, which isn't so much a whole story, but a series of vignettes of which some work, others are kind of cool, and a couple really thud. Now, it sounds like they've made some tweaks to tie it all together a bit more tightly, but we'll see. In the end, I'll be there for a big budget zombie apocalypse regardless and just hope the stink of the Walking Dead TV adaptation isn't contagious.

11. Argo
This is an interesting project, the supposed true story of the CIA exfiltration of six Americans from Iran on the eve of the Iranian revolution. What makes it crazy is that the CIA apparently went in under the cover of being a Hollywood crew filming a Sci-fi movie using designs created by the late, great Jack "the King" Kirby. It was like a whole, giant, real-life, crazy Mission: Impossible type spy thing. True story. Supposedly. Anyway, it's got Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Clea Duvall, and Alan Arkin. Ben Affleck stars and directs. Right now, he's an up and down Director for me. I loved Gone, baby, gone, but I thought the Town was a lump of cliched crap, so that makes this film the decider, right? Ben Affleck, Director: Cool or Crap? We shall see.

10. Haywire
This opens soon, a few days, I think... or maybe it's open now. If so, check it out. It's the latest Soderbergh and its got a huge cast. Sure, sure, it may be just another Jason Bourne and sure, sure what's-her-face, the MMA fighter lady who's starring in this film may or may not be as engaging as a brick on screen, but hey, Sasha Grey was pretty good in The Girlfriend Experience, so who knows, maybe Soderbergh has an eye for people who can, at the very least, appear natural on screen. They posted the first five minutes on line to whet your appetite a bit, so check it out.

 9. Cogan's Trade
There's no trailer or anything yet, but Andrew Dominik is the writer and director of both Chopper and The Assassination of Jesse James by the coward Robert Ford. That's all you really need to say and I'm really interested in seeing this film. REALLY interested.

8. John Carter
I've blogged about this before, you can find it here. I couldn't really say why this film is so on my radar, but it is. I love the books, the pulp era they came from, plus the trailer looks great and has a real high adventure old star wars feel to it. I'm not making any promises here, it's a definite wild card, with a high probability of crap, but... It pokes at me and draws my attention...

 7. The Grandmasters
The oft-told and fabled tale of Ip Man, teacher of Bruce Lee and near God-like badass, a mixture of Yoda and the Dali lama and Chuck Norris, as told by the legendary Wong Kar Wei? Yes, please. Hopefully he'll complete it before 2013... hopefully.

6. Brave
Everybody gets sick now and then. Everybody has had a bad case of diarrhea, the Hershey squirts, the runs, the mud butt, the fiery poop-water, if you will. Cars 2 was Pixar with a bad case of the Burnin' O Ring, as if the people from Dreamworks animation came over and they brought some bad dairy with them. And just like how you always feel better once you've thoroughly destroyed your toilet with a case of the green apple splatters, Pixar has apparently now recovered as well, moving back into the territory of story first, rather than marketing, with their next movie: Brave. It's an original story--as far as I can tell--about a Princess standing against a Monster's curse. Plus, she's voiced by Kelly MacDonald, who I've loved since Trainspotting. Can't wait. I'm glad Pixar is back.

5. The Cabin in the Woods
This film was a victim of the Miramax/Weinstein split, if I remember right, and it sat on the shelf for a long time while exactly who owned the thing was ironed out. It was actually supposed to be Chris Hemsworth's first big movie, but then he made Thor during the wait. Anyway, this is a total geek movie, legendary during the anticipation and the festival buzz is phenomenal with critics going back two or three times to see the thing. It's also written by Joss Whedon. All that was fine for me, but I'm not a big horror fan and like Tarantino, Whedon is a Cult Leader amongst the nerd crowd, as well, so any hype has to come with grains of salt. And while, yes, I myself give Whedon much more leeway than Tarantino, no matter how snarky and self-aware a horror film about teenagers getting killed in the woods gets, it's still not really my bag, so I never gave a shit really if this film ever came out. Been there, done that, yawn, know what I mean? But then I saw the trailer and theres some stuff that happens there that makes me go: Hmmm... Interesting.

4. Prometheus
Ridley Scott doing an original Sci-fi story that, at the same time, may or may not be a prequel to Alien? Yes, this is good. Plus, check out the cast: Michael Fassbinder, Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba? Brilliant. I also love the secrecy surrounding the project, that's a rare thing these days. I'm really looking forward to this one.

3. Looper
Looper is the story of a killer who works for the mob from the future. Apparently the idea is, that when the mob needs someone disposed of, they send them back in time where the main character kills them. There's no body for cops in the future to find and no crime in the past, since technically the victim is still alive somewhere. Which is a pretty cool idea. But then one day the person who appears is the killer's future self. Which would probably suck. It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Wilson and they're playing the same person. Awesome.

2. The Avengers
I don't really need to explain this, right? I mean, come on. Who's list is it again? It's mine, so yeah: The Avengers. Fuckin' A right, Duke boys. This is the biggest of the big summer, explodey, ka-pow, boom-boom, popcorn flicks made maybe in the history of ever and I am helpless before its awesome behemoth Hollywood power. Also, after you watch the trailer, watch the sweded version, because it's great too.

1. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The only geek film capable of unseating the Avengers for my number one most anticipated film slot. That probably says a lot toward my origins as a geek, but it's true. Everything about this film seems right, mostly because it's the same people who did the seemingly impossible last time out. I'm even more wild for the idea that the story is going to be told in two parts. Oh, Smaug, I can't wait.

And that's it. That's my top 20 films I'm looking forward to in 2012. It looks like a fun year, yeah? And the best part is, these are just the big ones, the ones you can see coming. My favorite part is the surprises, the films you don't expect to love until you stumble across them. Who knows what we'll see. I'm looking forward to a fun year of movies.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Worst films of 2011

The other day I posted my top 10 favorite movies of 2011 list and so, in the interest of symmetry, today I present to you the opposite side of that coin--the dark and smelly side of that coin: The top 10 worst films of 2011. And believe me, while I may have had some difficulty filling out the Best of list, this one practically wrote itself. You can find my previous lists here and here

The rules here are easy. Often times when you see these lists it's yet another film snob contest to see who can find the worst, most embarrassing, most under-funded and awful films out there, the ones that were made with unreasonable goals and delusional beliefs for terrible reasons by really untalented people with zero chance of ever exceeding at anything except maybe being unwatchably bad. They then drag these films up out of their much deserved obscurity, hold them up to the harsh light of day in all their wretched and slimy glory and then they point and laugh at the poor wretches like a bunch of jerks.

I don't do that.

You see, bad films are made all the time by people who will never realize they should be doing something else with their lives. This is the dark side of the dream. This is why American Idol can do two full hours of screeching freaks desperate to humiliate themselves in front of millions. It isn't worth pointing them out. It's too easy, because they were never going to be good in the first place. They had no chance. They were never in the running, so they're not a consideration. That being said, I also do not include films like Jack and Jill, or Dylan Dog, or Zookeeper. I mean... come on. So, no, this list is about the criminally bad, the films that could have afforded to take the time and the extra effort needed to ensure a good product. Especially at the cost. In the end, that's what this list is really about: the films that cost way too much to suck this hard.

So, here we go...

The Top Ten Worst Films of 2011 as chosen by me, Jonathan Hansen

10. Transformers 3: Take that, you cocksuckers!
You may have noticed that a few years ago I rated Transformers 2 as the worst movie of the year and that this year, I have rated Transformers 3 as only the 10th worst movie of the year. How can this be, you ask? Well, that is due to a very marked and noticeable improvement between this film and the last one. That's right, kids, I'll freely admit it: Transformers 3 is better than Transformers 2. That being said, however, it still sucked balls.

9. Pirates of the Caribbean 4: Up yours, Universe!
This one is just crazy pants. It's so bad, I sometimes forget it exists, which at the amount of money it cost to make this wretched thing is unforgivable. It's not even good enough to be bad. The fourth movie in a series that cost millions to make and is based on an amusement park ride, isn't even good at being a piece of shit. Plus, it's got Melonhead Penelope Cruz in it wearing a giant fucking pirate hat that must have taken at least three Disney owned Chinese villages to make--given it's massive size--and yet, it still isn't able to really suck. Johnny Depp is a drunk pirate, for God's sake! Again! Why is this still happening? Who are you people that go to this shit? What the fuck is wrong with you? And then... and then--I can just hear you--you all come out of the theatre afterwards and are like: "Uh-hur... that movie sucked."

8. The Green Hornet
Make no mistake. This movie is bad. The problem is, and the reason it's on this list, is that it isn't bad due to Michel Gondry or Seth Rogan or even the character of the Green Hornet. No, this movie sucks because it was very obviously destroyed by idiot studio interference. Now, word around the campfire is: Sony was expecting something more like Iron Man and were shocked to discover that when shown the dailies, Michel Gondry, the crazy french artsy director guy, and, the internationally famous fat guy stoner, Seth Rogan had instead delivered a superhero comedy... How dumb and out of touch do you have to be to be shocked by that? Didn't they hire these people? You don't hire a house painter to paint your car and then get mad about the results. So, as a result, the film was torn up and turned into a barely coherent mess of something that might once have been cool. Pity.

7. Conan the Barbarian
Wow. I did not know they made movies like this anymore. I mean, direct to DVD, sure, but for real? Like to put in a movie theater and shit? Where regular people can just go and see it? That's insane. It's like the cast and crew of the Barbarian Brothers movie got put in suspended animation during the wrap party and then 30 years later were unfrozen and given a real budget and no supervision. P. U.! Didn't anyone read this script? Ever? This one stinks and not even funny stinks. And the worst part is, you can tell everyone just thought they were the most awesome ever while making this film. Like they were parading around, filming, just thinking they were King Awesome of Awesome town, ruler of the land of Awesomeness. And... they just aren't.

6. Red State
Oh look, it's Kevin Smith working well outside of his comfort zone... how terrible and completely underwhelming...

5. I am Number Four
This movie was like puke on film. The only reason it's not the number one worst film this year is because I have a bigger beef with the other films. Otherwise, make no mistake, this is a completely 100% vanilla bland, awful, forgettable, craptastic, stupid, terrible movie made with real money, studio support and industry connections. It's a really bad, poorly thought out, failed TV show pilot for the WB that is suffering from delusions of grandeur. The fact that people spent millions of dollars on this should result in all of them receiving prison terms. It's so completely uninteresting and mediocre, it's offensive that a group of people so lacking in talent got paid so well to showcase their inability to the world. No one involved with this film deserves any kind of fame. It's so awful, but let's be clear, this isn't MST-awful, it's just bland bad. It's uninspired. Terrible.

4. Green Lantern
These last four movies are not bad films, per se, not like some of the others on this list. In fact, all four films could be said to be very good when it comes to certain aspects, but yet, they all have one giant glaring and unforgivable flaw that completely ruins them. And in the case of Green Lantern it is simple to see that flaw: This movie is boring. BORING. How does that happen? How do you make a film about a hot shot pilot who is given a magical wish ring by a dying alien and then becomes a part of a space police force called the Green Lanterns boring? The funny part is, whoever made the trailers completely understood what was cool about the film, something the creators of the film couldn't quite grasp: It's a space opera super hero story starring a guy whose can use his ring to make a green light version of whatever he can imagine. And it is soooo boring, people. I am telling you. BORING. I'm sure there are supernerds out there (Pre-New 52 DC fans...) who can go on about the minutiae, but all that shit is secondary to the fact that this film is a cinematic sleeping pill.

3. Hobo with a Shotgun
This film commits the most heinous film crime possible to my mind and that is: Trying to pretend that intentional camp has any value at all. Films that are intentionally campy/gonzo/schlocky are like non-racist skinheads, they don't actually exist to anyone outside the immediate circle of involvement. You see, Hobo with a Shotgun is nothing but a big in-joke that is funnier in the abstract. The reality of trying to be a terrible, so-bad-it's-funny type of movie (like the one that I posted about a few days ago called The Carrier) on purpose is a different matter all together. See, the Carrier is a terrible film. It's terrible because it was the 80s and the film had no money and no real talent to speak of, but everybody involved tried, they tried REALLY hard. They tried their stupid little untalented hearts out. Which makes it hilarious and insane and a joy to watch. Those types of films are great. They're an experience to share with friends. They're a secret language, a private club. They're a good time, because they're SINCERE. Unfortunately, there are buttholes out there who don't get that those very same jokes AREN'T FUNNY when they're done on purpose, that it's just a waist of time. It's like the difference between the documentaries Trekkies and Trekkies 2. Trekkies features a lot of good hearted geeks and weird-os who genuinely love what they love and are unashamed to share that love with you. It's sincere and great. Trekkies 2 (with a few exceptions) is mostly full of ironic Star Trek themed Hipster bar bands and other smug, worthless douchebags. This film is Trekkies 2.

2. Super 8
This film is the perfect example of two powerful Hollywood figures not having the restraining hand of editorial when they most need one. The story is (admitted by JJ Abrams in the special features) a mash up of two ideas. One, the blind with nostalgia love that he and Spielberg share about how they both used to gather their friends and make amateur movies with their super 8 cameras when they were kids and 2. a vague idea about a secret government train hauling a monster and then crashing. The mash up does not work. Ok, so these kids are making a zombie movie in the mid 80s (the best part of the film) and they witness the just mentioned train crash. After that we get an awkward smushing of E.T. and Cloverfield that can't quiet figure out it's tone or what it wants to say or how. Themes are brought up and then dropped. The monster is a monster and yet the music plays sympathetically. The resolution to the main boy's feelings about the death of his mother is that he loses his last piece of her to the monster that has been eating the town? And how exactly was the town drunk responsible for the mom's death? You can actually see the moment where Abrams and Spielberg lost their balls and backed out on that idea. This is a beautifully shot, amazing looking film that visually could have sprung straight out of that early 80's Spielberg catalog that we all love. And the kids are great, especially the younger Fanning girl (she's way better than everything in this film), but ultimately, the film makes no sense and fails because it not only has no idea what it wants to be, but it half-assedly tries to be several things at once. This film, more than anything, needed a good strong rewrite and a critical eye who was willing to tell these guys "No". Huge failure.

1. Sucker Punch
You know, before this film came out, I couldn't figure out why the hell that was the title.

Now I know. God help me, now I know.

This movie suffers from everything the last three films on this list suffered from, only more so. It's a terrible idea that should have been put through more rewrites, helmed by a Director who needed a constraining hand more than anything, and ultimately when it all comes down to it... it was boring as hell. How is that possible? It looked so bad ass. It's like everything you want all poured together (okay, maybe not you, but me, certainly), but no. It's a lie. A boring, boring lie. But how? How does this become boring:

Fucking A right, we were unprepared. Good Lord, how could we be? It was astounding how bad this film was. Astounding. During the build-up for the movie's release, I often said: "This will either be the coolest thing ever or the stupidest." And yeah, it was the stupidest. How stupid? How bad? This film is so God awful that interference from the Studio actually made it better! That's right. Better. Those of you who suffered through this, did you know that besides every thing else that was terrible that went on in this film, there were also full on dance scenes that someone somewhere saw and went: "Oh no, no. We can't have that. No." Oh yeah, it's true. We have no idea how bad, how interminable this film could have been. Ugh. Awful. Sucker Punch is right.

Honorable mention

I didn't see this film, but... Come on... a 4% on Rotten Tomatoes? Although, I guess you could say that the best part of this film is that at least we can now rest easy, having irrefutable proof that Taylor Lautner's career will be done once the last Twilight film comes out.

Well, at least 2012 is a new year.

Here's hoping,

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Best films of 2011

2011 was a pretty crappy year for films.

Maybe crappy is too harsh. Mediocre is better. Lackluster fits. Hoo-hum for sure.

Sure there were some bright spots--bright spots we will be discussing today--but mostly it was all pretty blah. It was so blah that I had a little trouble putting this list together. Now, granted there are some films out there I haven't seen yet, films that people consider to be good. However, judging by the general tone of the critical reactions to those films, it doesn't sound too likely that any of the missing films would go rocketing to the top of my list, so... here we are. This is something I try to every year. I think it's a nice way to wrap things up. You can see my previous lists here and here.

So yeah, it's time to do this. If I wait any longer, this list will lose what little relevance it may have ever had. Let's go.


The rules here are pretty easy. These are movies I like and enjoy and will most likely watch more than once, some of them much more than that.

Now, being that these are films I like, then it stands to reason that I also think of them as good films. Of course, this is not meant to infer that this list contains the absolute best made, most original, and/or most technically astounding and artistically pure films of the year. No, you see, in my world, first and foremost is my own personal enjoyment. There are many undeniably great, insightful, well-made and beautiful films out there that I have no desire to ever see again under any circumstance... these do not make my list.

I also didn't go to enough films this year that I could go very obscure either. And wouldn't, even if I had. In fact, I find critics who engage in that kind of scenester-snob cinematic one-ups-manship wack-off crap to be repulsive and I wish I could tear their noses off with my teeth while we stood in the middle of a Hampton's Garden Party, like something out of the Great Gatsby, while all the guests watch us, their faces frozen in pale little open-mouthed Os as the blood flowed and the screaming turned hoarse, until I turn and face the gathered guests, spitting the hunk of nose to the grass and arming the blood from my chin and say: "No ticket."

...but then, there have been some who accuse me of occasionally overreacting, so I digress.

My point is: I like these films and not always for wholly defensible reasons.

So, all that being said, shall we begin?

10. Captain America, Thor, X-men: First Class:

It should come as no surprise to anyone who's read this blog more than once that I am a comic book fan. I write about them occasionally. So it should be equally unsurprising that I would include the Marvel movies in my top ten list. Do they have their issues? Yes, they are not perfect films, but they do have great casts and an obvious love of the source material (and yet are inventive enough to not be constrained by it), so I was either surprised by how well done they were, really entertained, or both. I've already reviewed Captain America here. The other two I didn't talk about much except to generally track their progress and sometimes make fun of them. I even named X-men in my list of films I wasn't looking forward too. And yet, I was wrong. Both surprised me and entertained me and that's not an easy thing, especially for a summer popcorn flick.

9. Hanna:

At first glance, Hanna could be dismissed out of hand as nothing more than another in the long line of the bastard children of Jason Bourne. Director Joe Wright took that weary framework and draped it in great performances, brilliant shots, and some fantastic action pieces. Saoirse Ronan, a poor son of a bitch if there ever was one and whose parents deserve a good smacking, is a ghostly pale wisp who believably exudes the ingrained confidence and ability of a raised since birth assassin. But while she's believable whooping so much ass, her best performances come while she explores the outside world for the first time in her life, the wonder and awe is apparent on her face. A great movie and a good time.

8. Trollhunter:

Trollhunter is a Norweigian POV film in which a group of students shooting a documentary discover one of Norway's biggest secret: It's full of Trolls. Full on Hans Christain Anderson, stay out of the sunlight, grind your bones into bread Trolls. It's scary and funny and, most importantly, it is one of those rare beasts, it is believable as a POV film, which is usually where these things fail: You have to make it believable that the filmmakers, once confronted with the craziness, would keep filming. This is why Cloverfield was so stupid (one of the reasons). I'll buy reporters and documentarians, but Joe Schmoo going back for the dropped camera? No. You have to give them a reason to keep filming and Trollhunter does it easily. In the end, it looks good, it's fun to watch, and it's totally worth your time.

7. I Saw the Devil:

I rarely include horror films on this list. I'm not a big fan. I find most of them to be a waste of time because the majority of them seem to completely depend upon one of the characters doing something really, obviously stupid and I have a hard time getting behind the films because of that. Plus, since they rely so much on the scares, it's hard to get much second-viewing value. And even worse/lower (scumbags) are the ones that are nothing but gore porn, the blood on the boobs type of films that are more concerned with the effects than the story. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule and this film is one of them. This is a South Korean film that starts with a horrifying act and then turns into a vicious game of cat and mouse between a vengeance-driven Secret Agent and a loathsome serial killer and it's... crazy. Crazy. Insane and even more so, because it lacks that stupid false American morality bullshit and doesn't even try to redeem either character. Completely engrossing. Completely terrifying. You should absolutely watch it.

6. Bridesmaids:

Funniest movie of the year. Loved it. Great cast. Just awkward and gross and hilarious all the way through. The only thing missing from this movie is the fact that it was obviously edited for time in places because the studios didn't have faith the film would find an audience. Of course, now that it's made a metric ton of money off a nothing budget, well, I am totally looking forward to future efforts by this group. Hopefully there'll be more pooping in the sink.

I already reviewed this film and you can find it here. I called it the best film of the summer then, and it still is. If you haven't seen it, you should.

4. 13 Assassins:

This is Takashi Miike's ode to the age of the samurai and it is fantastic. Let's forget the scenery, the actors, the shocking sudden bits of Miike-ness--all of that alone would usually make a great movie--instead, let's focus on the last forty-five minutes. A full-on battle to the death, thirteen samurais on a suicide mission to kill an evil Lord (hence the title). But to get to them, the samurai have to take out hundreds of soldiers. There's no other word for this film. It's awesome. So awesome. I bought it right away. Love it.

3. Young Adult:

I'm a fan of Diablo Cody and of Jason Reitman. I like what they do. Sure you could say that Reitman is a less saccharine and trite and somewhat cooler version of Cameron Crowe, but so what? Cameron Crowe was cool once too. And yes, there are those of you who seem to think that Cody's dialogue is unrealistic and that, for some reason, this really fucking matters to you (jackass), to which I say: Shut up, stupid. And continue to like what they do. Young Adult is a sad and funny story about someone who refused to grow up and refused to let go and it all comes to a bad end. There's no redemption, just bad choices and Charlize Theron and Patton Oswald are brilliant. Great film.

2. Attack the Block:

Attack the Block is a British film that starts out with the great set-up of aliens invading a tower block in London and a group of young thugs having to fend them off, and it becomes a tale of personal responsibility and sacrifice and learning that actions have consequences. It's quick and exciting, it's funny and serious and it carries it's lessons easily without ever getting preachy. Even better, it works well within its budget and still looks good. This is a great film and a great surprise for the year.

1. Drive:

An all around great film, one I intend on buying. It's an homage to the 80s set in the present day. It's arty as hell and totally kick ass at the same time. It's noir to the hilt and blood, blood red. It's a classic tale about a stunt driver who moonlights as a wheelman, who meets a dame that he loves, and then goes on a heist that goes bad and after that, the bullets start to fly. Great cast. Great movie. Hands down.

Honorable mentions:

Immortals: Greek Gods and the not-really-the-actual myth of Theseus. Beautiful but shallow and silly. All style, no substance. The style was great though. Really great.

Limitless: The story of a man who takes a pill to become super smart and realizes that powerful people want what he's got. I expected this to be really stupid, but it turned out to be more like an interesting episode of the Twilight Zone, so... good for them.

Blackthorn: The story of the last ride of Butch Cassidy after years of hiding in Bolivia. Pretty cool. Really enjoyed it, but then it turned into one of those movies that realizes toward the end that it doesn't really have an ending, so it just kind of does.

Bellflower: Two young men who build apocalyptic toys and hang out with hipster girls. This is one of those films like I mentioned above: Great, no doubt, but... I'll never watch it again.

Source Code: The story of a man sent back in time over and over again in order to try to figure out how a terrorist bombing of a train happened and who that terrorist was. Great film. Love the Director's work. Great. For 98% of it, this film was one of the best of the year. The problem is, there's a point where the movie SHOULD HAVE ended, and then there's the horrible last five minutes more where the film ACTUALLY ends... and ruins it.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: The story of a journalist and a hacker chasing a killer in Sweden. I love David Fincher and the cast and the look and the movie was good time. But the thing that kept it from becoming a great film was that in the end it was really nothing more than a cooler version of the original films and of course, the fact that books are kind of dumb.

The films I haven't seen that might have made the list:

In Time
Being Elmo
The Muppets
The Descendants
The Idea of March
Sherlock Holmes 2
Exporting Raymond
Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Elite Squad: The enemy within
Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol

See? I told you. I'm a little behind this year. I'll catch up on them in the next few weeks and update the list as needed, but like I said, I don't expect any of these films to really blow my skirt up in a major way, you know? What do you think? Did I miss anything? Let me know. Otherwise, tune in later this week for my Worst of 2011 list (which was remarkably easier to put together than this list) and my 20 films in 2012 that I'm looking forward to, which is actually a pretty exciting list.

Later kids,