Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Reviewers are always expected to indicate their top movies of the year, and critics are, as experts, meant to offer a subjectivity more readily accepted by the blithely ignorant movie public. Cinema Siren openly admits to endeavoring to find something to like about all the movies placed on her visual palate. Of course, sometimes that’s impossible, but CS is never snarky or smarmy for smarmy’s sake. It is for that reason that here you’ll find the good, the bad, and the ugly, but not inside a hierarchy of best and worst of 2010. One man’s filet mignon, say, Tron: Legacy’s adrenaline-fused splendor, is another man’s inedibly chewy beef jerky of Tron’s inexplicable yet morally heavy handed plot.

So, here in terms both film and food lovers can understand, is a breakdown of some of the movies you may want to buy, see, or avoid… like a near fatal case of botulism. Hopefully this list will inspire those of you who have not yet seen some of the most artistic, intriguing, entertaining, or comforting movies of the year to seek them out…

Comfort Food:

These are movies that leave you feeling warm and filled up when they are over.
They may be heavy, but they are nourishing.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Reviewed onsite*
Harry Potter 7.1 is a beautiful visual field trip away from Hogwarts that further builds the characters film and book series lovers have watched grow up and have grown to love. There are moments of sadness and poignancy, and the landscapes are bleak and expansive. Nominated for production design, it’s worth seeing for the scenery alone, but after the last movie, it actually has some more positive aspects that fill the gaping hole of hunger HP fans were left with at the end of HP6.

True Grit:
One of Cinema Siren’s favorite movies of 2010, and another triumph for actor chameleon Jeff Bridges, True Grit is the Coen brothers at their best. The performance by Hailee Steinfeld as a 14 year old avenging her father’s murder is another example of the Coen’s ability to channel amazing new talent. The movie spans from the darkest to most triumphant, and shows one man’s ability to transcend his own less admirable traits.

Tangled: Reviewed onsite*
While largely ignored by the Academy (nominated for the song “I See the Light”) this is like eating a candy apple–a bit of junk food, a bit of what keeps the doctor away…Mandy Moore is wonderful as Rapunzel, the computer animation shows huge advancements worth seeing not least for how close it mimics 2D, and it mixes scenes of one of the worst villains in Disney history with romantic moments that all optimists will hope to stumble into with lovers of your own someday. The sidekicks and secondary characters are also memorable. See it.

Toy Story 3:
Cinema Siren did NOT review this movie, since it got almost 100% positive reviews and everyone frequenting the site would be going anyway. It got the 3rd ever Oscar nomination by an animated feature ever for best picture. That’s all that needs to be said. If you have teenaged children, you might cry at the end.
Fair warning.

How to Train Your Dragon: Reviewed onsite*
Wow. It’s rib sticking stew from your grandma. It’s “feel good” factor is off the charts. Cinema Siren preferred this movie to Toy Story 3. Let the hate mail begin…

The King’s Speech:
This movie is a mix of comfort food and haut cuisine. For anyone who suffers from a childhood impediment or the disappointment of unfulfilled dreams, The King’s Speech is a tonic. While there was some controversy about the accuracy of the script and the political sympathies of the royal family, script writer David Seidler, a jew who lost his parents in the Holocaust, used the info from speech therapist Logue’s diaries of the time for some of the most memorable quotes in the movie. The set decoration and production design in the last scenes of the movie are visual poetry, and are set to the Beethoven’s 7th symphony allegretto.

Easy A:
A teen comedy is as comforting as it gets, and this one has a big heart, albeit one plastered with a big red A. The secret of Emma Stone’s awesomeness has leaked out from the fanboys and girls who loaded their ipods with her movies, from Zombieland, to The Rocker to Superbad, she is a geek goddess. This edgy coming of age Ferris Bueller/Mean Girls mix is fun from beginning to end, and everyone will recognize their high school selves represented somewhere in the movie…

Junk Food:

Some movies are just for fun’s sake. They aren’t necessarily going to be good for you, but you’ll enjoy every minute of it as you eat them up.

Tron: Legacy Reviewed onsite
Tron: Legacy is a challenge in that it was a wonderful eyepopping 2 hours in 3D–but may fall a bit shorter in simple HD. It’s like red bull, tastes nasty, but it’s addictive and makes your heart race… Taken for what it is, an adrenaline cycle ride populated by pretty pretty people, (or programs and users, as they call them) it comes highly recommended. Just race by the preachier plot points, and you’ll have a wonderful time.

Iron Man 2: Reviewed onsite
Robert Downy Jr., his acting, his smile, his haircut. Sam Rockwell, Samuel L. Jackson, Mickey Rourke, and Scarlett Johansson all playing their roles to the hilt…if you like superheroes, better see this great movie before you get inundated with the crap soon to be released in a theatre near you. Even “serious” moviegoers loved this one, and you will too.

An acronym for Retired-Extremely Dangerous. Based on a comic book, starring some serious talent like Helen Mirren (sporting a machine gun!) John Malkovich and Morgan Freeman, as well as everyone’s favorite action hero Bruce Willis, and new(ish)comer Karl Urban (Bones in the new Star Trek) Red is killer fun that doesn’t take itself too seriously. They all look like they burst into milewide grins after every take. Toss credulity aside for its gun-blazing good time.

Kickass: Reviewed onsite*
A weird mix of teen angst indy com and blood bathed action pic, this movie isn’t for everyone, it’s the chocolate covered insect of the list. You eat it for the shock factor, and then, to your own repulsion, discover you like the taste. If a mass murdering 13 year old “superhero” named Hitgirl makes you feel icky, back away slowly. If the idea of a blend of “The Professional” and “American Pie” appeals, go for it. Extremely bloody, morally questionable, and extremely underrated.

You fans of the action movie genre should know what you’ll get with a Tony Scott directed film. His best work is all nailbiting, amped up excitement, and unapologetic thrillseeking. Look no deeper than a runaway train and Chris Pine’s endless blue eyes. He and his co-star Denzel Washington make a perfect action team.

Hot Tub Time Machine
This nacho chees-fest delivers a silly plot and sophomoric beerfueled bad choices so winningly, by such endearing losers–all played by excellent actors in a great ensemble cast–that you root for them to the end hoping for whatever best conclusion the crazy plot can muster. Silly, gross, and fun.

It’s about time Danny Trejo, who eternally plays the squinty bad guy, gets to chew the scenery through an entire movie as the star. Bassasses abound in this flick, including Robert De Niro, Don Johnson, Cheech Marin, and Steven Seagal. Uberhottie Jessica Alba and semi-hotties/uber-trainwrecks Lindsay Lohan and Michelle Rodriguez fill out the cast. Robert Rodriguez does his best interpretation of 70s exploitation film to date.

The Legend of the Guardians – reviewed onsite
Although Cinema Siren laughed in inappropriate spots during this film, it was still the backgrounds and spot-on animations of owls from a variety of species that most impressed. Absolutely worth seeing, take the battleporn scenes, all claws and feathers, with a grain of salt, and instead enjoy the reality based backgrounds of Tasmania that will have you running to your local travel agent.

Haut Cuisine:

These are the movies that reach artistic heights. They stay on your palate. Like haut cuisine, they may also be a bit exotically flavored or hard to eat–but you’re told this is the best there is, so you want to partake.

It seems that lots of Hollywood insiders just don’t like Christopher Nolan. Who knows why? Inception is one of those movies that was loved or hated with a passion….a dream within a dream within a dream within deception… Celebrate the originality of the idea, suspend disbelief, and choose for yourself which side you’re on. All this controversy can’t be for nothing.

Black Swan:
The sexual repression harkens back to Polanski’s “Repulsion” in this latest Aronosfky offering of personal disintegration that takes the viewer inside the tortured mind of Nina the soon to be prima ballerina, played to brittle brilliance by Natalie Portman. Be prepared to squirm in your seat with discomfort and tension, but see it for Portman’s performance, which is Oscar worthy.

Winters Bone:
Some would say the Oscar noms for this stark yet haunting indy came out of nowhere, but it won the Grand Jury prize at Sundance. The Ozark mountain teenager searching for her meth-cooking bail-jumping dad is played by newcomer Jennifer Lawrence, and won’t but should give Natalie Portman a run for her Oscar money. John Hawkes, who plays her mysterious sadsack uncle Teardrop, is also nominated for best supporting actor. Slow and sad and intense, this is a great movie for indy fans who love precise, subtle acting.

The Social Network:
David Fincher has sent you a message: The brilliant yet verbose script by Aaron Sorkin, Jesse Eisenberg’s performance, and a gorgeous Brian Eno inspired electronic soundtrack, (which is likely to win an Oscar for Trent Reznor and ) will keep you fascinated. The Social Network tells the checkered backstory behind the success of Facebook. While Cinema Siren prefers The King’s Speech for the Best Picture Oscar, this timely docudrama is still worth your attention. We click “like”.

Blind mention: The Illusionist, the French Oscar nominated cartoon–which Cinema Siren should have seen this summer, but was getting married instead of going on the yearly jaunt to Paris.

Food Poisoning:

These movies are either so bad they’re good, or you watch them as a favor. They span from mediocre to downright awful. Either way, once they are over you wish for those 2 hours back. Or you might learn not to put anything like it on your plate ever again.

Sex and the City 2: reviewed onsite
Only for the most diehard fans, although even some of those walked out of the theatre insulted by the negative representation of their favorite fashionable New Yorkers. Pretty fashions and pretty men, but even that’s not enough to sustain interest. Watch the white wedding featuring Liza Minelli, and the rest on fast forward.

Painfully slow, this latest installment of the tug of war between Team Jacob and Team Edward begs for a stake and a silver bullet. Take a valium and read the book again, the time will go much faster.

One of the funniest movies of the year. It is a comedy, isn’t it? If it isn’t, why did they hire Xtina in a hackneyed script to play an ingenue? So bad even pasties, an ocean of eyeliner, and Aguilera’s vocal range can’t save it. But still, Cher, Stanley Tucci, Xtina, Alan Cummins, and Eric Dane? What the hell…

Clash of the Titans:
Release the Kraken! Why? So it can eat all the actors and end the pain. Another example of the remake of a mediocre movie outdoing its predecessor in mediocrity, only using a much higher budget.

The Tourist:
How can two such gorgeous and talented actors have so little chemistry? When watching the locale is more interesting than the two multimillion dollar stars, the movie has a problem.

Eat Pray Love:
Even with a solid performance by Julia Roberts, James Franco charming his way through 1/3 of the movie, and latin intellectual hunk Javier Bardem lighting up the last 3rd, EPL falls on it’s own self absorbed, bloated self like a badly made souffle. While tolerable enough, it should have been much better. Narcissistic drivel. Of course, you can play it on mute and look at all the pretty.

Yogi Bear:
In perfect alignment with the trailer, which looked awful. Arrived with an open mind, and shut down it like a national park overrun with killer grizzlies 20 minutes into it.

There are other movies Cinema Siren wants to recommend, but hasn’t gotten to see yet. There will be more added as more movies can be accessed. In the meantime, you know you haven’t seen all of these, so all you cinophiles starving for a tasty movie, start watching!