Monday, December 28, 2009


Jason Reitman's third film Up In the Air is definitely on par with his previous two films, Juno and Thanks for Smoking. He is really coming into his own. Every scene looks very professional and the story is taut and intriguing. The one knock I have on the film is it isn't very grandiose. You could say that about all of Reitman's films, but I feel this one needed to be. It needed to have a few larger-than-life scenes. The final scene with stars George Clooney and Vera Farmiga was indeed very good, but the film left me wanting more. It was a very good film, and very relevant to the times, but most importantly it was a serious and adult film. Something missing from the Honorable Mentions listed below. This was a real film, with real emotion. And I loved it for that, but I felt it was missing a few scenes that could have put it higher on this list.

Honorable Mention: 2012, WATCHMEN, TRANSFORMERS 2


I'm a huge Coen Brothers fan, so I see everything they make, but I wasn't too sure what to expect from the no name cast of A Serious Man. The opening scene is confusing and esoteric as is the conclusion. I don't want to give too much away, but I don't think I could if I tried. A Serious Man is a very layered film filled to the brim with Jewish traditions. It's hilarious, odd, but most importantly human. The main character struggles with insecurities in his romantic, family, and professional life. Supposedly he is cursed, but it just comes off as a person who has to deal with life.


2009 was the year of the Clooney. The star of the #10 film is also the star of the #8 film Fantastic Mr. Fox. Director Wes Anderson has made a career of making small films about underachieving, upper-class outcasts. To say this is a departure from those films would be an understatement. This is Wes' first animated feature and the cast of characters are all animals. Yet it stills feel like a Wes Anderson film. There's the strange family dynamic that is present in all of Wes' movies, but most importantly it's got that quirky sense of humor that no one can pull off but Wes.


We already posted our feelings about Inglorious Basterds on Popcorn Junkies, and my feelings have not changed. Everything Tarantino touches is amazing. His love for film spills out onto the other side of the screen. He seems like he's having so much fun making his films, it's hard not to have a ton of fun watching them. And I still felt Inglorious Basterds was a let down because it wasn't the best film of the year. But, it was a very good film and there were some very amazing set pieces and the cinematography was incredible, not to mention one of the best bad guys of the decade. I smell a few Oscar nominations for this film coming next month.


Notorious is the accurate and well told story of slain rapper Notorious B.I.G. I remember being one of the only people who thought this film was great when it was released earlier this year. I find that baffling. First time actor Jamal Woolard did a great job making me believe that he was really Biggie Smalls. Even if you didn't like the story-telling or the acting, you got an hour and a half of music from the B.I.G. This movie hit the head of the heart for me, because Biggie's death marked the beginning of the end for real Hip-Hop.


For all us fanboys Avatar was a huge deal simply because it was the first James Cameron movie in 12 years, and for a lot of Cameron fans Titanic didn't really count. So when Avatar was released a couple weeks ago and was actually amazing, it was a huge sigh of relief. The film contained some of the most breath-taking special effects ever captured on film and seeing it in IMAX 3-D made it a very unique movie-going experience. You could tell that Cameron really spent a long time on this film. The world they created on Pandora was so intricate, you almost believe that Cameron had been there before. I hope this means James is back and will be releasing more mind-blowing sci-fi for us in the near future.


I saw the preview for The Road earlier this year and I knew immediately that I had to see this film. I love hard R-Rated films that hold nothing back and treat the viewer like a grown up who can handle some real shit. There are some scenes in this film that will have you talking for days. The story is about a post-apocalyptic Earth where the few humans that are left are probably cannibals. It's dark, pessimistic, scary, and honest. In other words its damn near perfect.


District 9 is a rare movie, nay film. It's got great action sequences, mind-blowing special effects, and a personal, well-constructed story. Disctrict 9 is very similar to Avatar, but I will almost always take the Rated R version over the PG-13 one. What impressed me so much about the film was its originality. I haven't really seen anything like it. The first half hour feels like something you would see on the Discovery channel, while that last hour and a half or so feels like Cloverfield. I would have to say this was the biggest surprise of the year and an instant classic. Can't wait for the sequel.


Who would have thought that the 11th Star Trek film would have been the biggest film of the year? With J.J. Abrams at the helm, much needed new life was brought to the Star Trek franchise. J.J. Abrams started in TV, creating hit shows like "Felicity" and "Lost" then made his directorial debut in 2006 with the incredibly under-appreciated Mission Impossible III (which suffered at the box office because of Tom Cruise's crazy antics on Oprah). He Executive Produced last year's phenomenal Cloverfield, which would make Star Trek only the second film he's directed. I don't know if there is another director who took on such a hefty task for their first two films with such great success. The story is intriguing, the special effects are great, and the cast, especially the unrecognizable Eric Bana are top notch.


District 9 was probably the biggest surprise hit of 2009, but the lack of success for Funny People was probably equally surprising. Judd Apatow's third film which starred Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen should have crossed the $100 million mark easily, but it barely squeaked passed $50 million. Not only did it fail at the box-office, but it wasn't very well-received with fans either. I thought the story was equal parts dramatic and hilarious. I love the usual Apatow suspects of Jonah Hill and Leslie Mann as well as crazy cameos from the likes of Eric Bana (again), Eminem, RZA, Ray Romano, and way too many to name. The film brought us into the celebrity world in a way not many films have been able to. It blurs the line between reality and fiction, but most importantly it is entertaining for each one of it's 146 minutes.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


By Keyvon Pierre

I recently saw 2012. And by golly it was one of the best films of the year. I love disaster flicks and Roland Emmerich, the mind behind Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow, serves up another look into our short future. There was everything you could want, including one of the most ridiculous action scenes ever. No seriously, this movie makes John Cusack's scenes in Con-Air seem like documentary footage.

But what makes 2012 a real disaster movie is that the President is black. I love Obama and Election Day 2008 was one of the greatest days of my life, but whenever the president is played by a black actor you know the end of the world is near. And of course in 2012 Mr. Danny Glover portrays our fearless leader. Now I have to ask the very important question... "Did they hire Danny Glover before or after Obama won?" The obvious answer is of course they hired him after. But that wasn't until November '08. Are you telling me they didn't cast this huge blockbuster until 11 months before it's release? The time table is just too close to determine. But if you haven't noticed, whenever there is a black president in film or TV it spells the end of the world.

Morgan Freeman in Deep Impact

Tiny Lister in The Fifth Element

Dennis Haysbert in "24"

And honestly Barack Obama in real life.

I also saw the amazing film The Road recently. It is very similar to 2012, a post-apocalyptic thriller where a father has to save his family from inevitable doom - minus the special effects and huge budget. The beginning of the movie, when the apocalypse starts, seems to take place in modern day, where Obama would have been our president. Just saying.

But back to 2012: The movie was unbelievably entertaining. At over 2 and a half hours it kept moving. And there were scenes that were beyond unbelievable. It felt like a James Cameron movie. The last third you're wondering what could they possibly do next. It is a great popcorn movie, and at Popcorn Junkies we love our popcorn!

Grade: A-

Friday, November 27, 2009


By Leslie Adams

Hopefully everyone realizes that Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox opened in theaters last week. I like to go see what I think will be the best movie of the week before anyones else does, because I hate when people tell me about the movie before I get a chance to see it for myself. That's how I treated this movie, except I did see the review on "At the Movies" with whoever the hell is on there now. Like them, I am pleased to report the movie was worth my time, and money.

Finally an animated full length feature film for adults. That was definitely an attraction for me. I don't think most children would appreciate the imaginative stop-motion animation or the colorful, offbeat story. And sure enough on Thanksgiving evening, on the cool and beautiful Santa Monica Promenade, there was not a single child in the theater. Which is a good thing because the subject matter was mostly adult situations.

You've heard the story before. Girl (Meryl Streep) meets bad boy (George Clooney), bad boy promises that if girl marries him, no more bad boy. Then, for the rest of his life he's sneaking around, until what's been done in the dark comes to light. Then there's the dysfunctional family, where the son (Jason Schwartzman) can never possibly live up to Dad's reputation of being the best athlete in his school's history, and when his over-achieving cousin comes to live with the family it only makes matters worse.

There's also a great supporting cast of critters headlined by Wes Anderson regulars Bill Murray and Owen Wilson. It's a movie that parallels all of our lives in some way and is fun to witness through this type of story telling and animation. It's a great date movie or a great movie to see if you just need to get out the house.


Monday, August 31, 2009


Inglorious Basterds is Quentin Tarantino's entertaining and stylish take on an alternate World War II where Jews kill Nazis. Tarantino is my favorite filmmaker to come out of the 90's. I follow everything this dude does. I've seen every Tarantino movie since Pulp Fiction opening day. Yes even Four Rooms. So maybe I came in with abnormally high expectations, but his most recent films Kill Bill & Grindhouse exceeded my lofty expectations. And though Basterds was entertaining and a very good movie it was one of my least favorite Tarantino films.

I might be a little hard on QT by saying the movie was somewhat of a letdown, but it was still one of the best movies of the year. Sorta how
I felt about Curious Case of Benjamin Button or There Will Be Blood. There was so much potential and such a great cast and crew, I just didn't feel it was all I thought it could be. I mean it was a war movie with no battle scenes. Come on. The best thing about the film had to be actor Christoph Waltz. Who played Colonel Hans Landa, by far and away the best villain of the year. He made me so uncomfortable with every scene he was in I was scared to see what happened next. Like in Pulp Fiction and Death Proof, Tarantino brings that frightening suspense that is almost unbearable to watch. And of course Tarantino brought his quarky film-making to the screen, with references about movies, cool cameos, and awesome visuals. Even an average Tarantino movie is still better than most.

Grade: B+

Let me just start by saying how seriously Kev and I take QT films.We bought tickets ass early in the morning for Kill Bill Vol. 1 on opening night, and of course a bunch of Jokers snuck into the theater without tickets, so the theater was oversold with nowhere to sit. We parked our asses in the aisle and watched as the opening sequence rolled, prepared to sit uncomfortably for the whole film. Then some asshole usher told us we were a fire hazard and had to leave right as the bride got her brains blasted in black & white over Nancy Sinatra's "Bang Bang." We never went back to that theater.

I left Quentin Tarantino's latest movie wondering if my grandmother, who survived Auschwitz, would enjoy the film. There's something about seeing violence against Nazi's that isn't hard to stomach. Sure, there are plenty of cringe worthy moments in
Inglorious Basterds; a veritable buffet of brutal Nazi murdering, scalping and other assorted variations of ultra-violence. But you don't feel bad for any of the Nazi's, and I think that's what our man was going for.

The film is well cast, and to my surprise, Brad Pitt was not the most compelling actor. Props to Eli Roth, The Bear Jew, for being the most bad ass Heeb in film since Munich, and to Christoph Waltz who portrays Colonel Hans Landa, possibly my favorite Tarantino character ever. After the first few minutes of the movie, you yearn to see Colonel Hans get his comeupance. He's the villain to end all villains. Pitt is solid and fun to watch, but you don't learn enough about Aldo Raine to care about him or what happens to him.

The story is a departure for Tarantino in that the story is chronological. We have some of the usual QT trademarks- the film is divided into chapters, his signature dialogue is at full tilt, the female characters are strong willed, and there's a close-up of some feet. No red apple cigarettes, and to my surprise, no kick ass soundtrack. The music suits the film, and there is one brilliant musical moment courtesy of David Bowie, but it's the first film that I haven't wondered "who did that song" and I won't be looking for the soundtrack. But minor flaws aside, the acting is great, the story flows and it doesn't feel as long as it is.

I've heard there's rumors of a prequel. Maybe we get to learn how Aldo, the Bear Jew, and the rest of the Basterds came to be such stone cold killers... and that's something I'll look forward to. Even if he doesn't get around to the prequel, Basterds, and its amazing rewrite of history is a film i'll be glad to watch again.

Grade: A-


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