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Posts Tagged ‘Slumdog Millionaire’

    

1. Synecdoche, New York – Although I saw this months ago, random scenes still pop into my head like I’m trying to piece together a fever-dream from the night before. Charlie Kaufman has yet again outdone himself, this time taking over as director as well. While more somber than anything Kaufman has put out yet, it is truly an incredible experience watching Caden’s bizarro-world and the simply bizarre “reality” of the film drift closer together before climaxing in the most beautiful and touching ending I have seen at the cinema in ages.

2. Rachel Getting Married – Director Jonathan Demme shot this entire film with hand-held cameras, much like you would ask a close friend to do at your own wedding. The difference is, instead of shooting the generic footage of the ceremony and people dancing around afterwards, Demme sticks around for all of it – the fighting, the sadness, the ugliness, the lies, and ultimately the forgiveness. Working with an incredible first script by Jenny Lumet, Rachel Getting Married doesn’t just make you feel like you are attending a wedding, it lets you in so close that you feel like you are a member of the family, whether you want to be or not.

3. Let the Right One In – Since I like vampires so much, few of my friends took my advice of going to see this Swedish vampire film thinking I’m merely a slut for anything with fangs. This might be true, but while they were out wasting their money on Twilight, they missed one of the best films of the year. The film is about the brief relationship between a bullied, young boy and a mysterious girl who moves in next door to him. A series of gruesome murders take place as the two kids become friends, and she slowly starts to open up about certain aspects of her personality.

   

4. A Christmas Tale – Similar to Royal Tenenbaums in plot, but not at all in character, this French film from director Arnaud Desplechin is the story of a relatives reuniting over Christmas when the matriarch of the family has fallen ill. The ensemble consists of some supremely depressed children, their lives ruined by love and loss, and there extended family of children, aunts, uncles, etc. Featuring an incredible and massive cast including Catherine Deneuve and Mathieu Amalric, we officially have a new Christmas classic.

5. Dark Knight – The most hyped movie of the year (and possibly one of the most hyped ever, due to the death of Heath Ledger and blog-talk) turned out to be just about as good as everyone thought it would be. The sequel to Batman Begins has set a new standard for comic book movies. Seriously though, get Batman some throat lozenges.

     

6. Wall-E – Every year there’s a new Pixar film to put on this list. While I didn’t like this quite as much as last year’s Ratatouille, you can’t help but marvel at a film that finds so much emotion and amusement in two robots who can barely speak.

7. Shotgun Stories – First time director Jeff Nichols wrote this small tragedy about two sets of sons with the same recently deceased father. One set knows him as an abusive monster, and the other knows him as a loving, born-again Christian. With a focus on the first set of brothers (their names are literally Boy, Kid and Son), Michael Shannon in particular emerges as one of the best male actors working today (he’s also great in Revolutionary Road – too bad the movie wasn’t as good). The film is quiet, and patiently shot in a way that echoes David Gordon Green, which is not surprising as he was one of the film’s producers.

8. Reprise – Time is manipulated in interesting ways in this Norwegian film, where two friends send their novels to publishing companies at the same time with hopes of fame, fortune and women. When we move ahead six months we find that the one who has achieved success has since been hospitalized after a breakdown, and the one who hasn’t achieved success has narcisistically broken up with his girlfriend and is trying to track down his favorite writer and help re-adjust his friend. The film and its narrative shoot back and forth in both real and hypothetical time, using innovative filming techniques to tell a great story.

               

9. Forgetting Sarah Marshall – Jason Segal wrote this fun Apatow-produced comedy about a guy who is dumped and goes to Hawaii only to find that he is staying at the same resort as his ex-girlfriend. It’s a pretty stupid and entirely unlikely plot, but the film itself is sweet and consistently funny from start to finish. Segal included several moments from his actual life, including being dumped by his girlfriend while naked as well as music from a Dracula musical he was writing. This was easily the funniest movie I saw in 2008.

10. Slumdog Millionaire – There’s always a movie like Juno, or My Big Fat Greek Wedding or Little Miss Sunshine that people label as “the little movie that could.” The movies usually have a pretty small budget and are crowd pleasers that no one expected to be huge hits. Sometimes they are good, sometimes they’re not. This year that movie is Slumdog Millionaire and yes, it was pretty damn good.

 

Honorable Mention: Paranoid Park, The Band’s Visit, In Bruges, Iron Man, The Fall, Milk, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Right At Your Door, Man On Wire, Pineapple Express, The Wrestler

Some movies I Haven’t Seen Yet so Don’t Get Mad: Wendy and Lucy, Ballast, Che, Happy Go Lucky, Chop Shop, Waltz with Bashir, The Class, My Winnipeg, Momma’s Man, Trouble the Water, Frozen River

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Quantum of Solace

The Plot: James Bond is pissed off. Seriously, why’d you have to go and piss off James Bond?

Is It Worth Eleven Dollars?: Most probably. In what is surely the most puzzling film title since Synecdoche, New York (and by the way Sunshine Theater, please don’t correct my pronunciation, especially when you’re wrong), Daniel Craig resumes his role as Britain’s ultimate super spy. Casino Royale was an incredible reinvention of the Bond franchise, comparable to the way Batman Begins reinvented the caped crusader. Unfortunately Quantum of Solace is not getting as much praise as Dark Knight received. All the same, critics seem to be agreeing that it is a worthy installment. The film also has a new director. Marc Forster, director of quirky comedies like Stranger than Fiction, wrist-slitting dramas like Monster’s Ball and flaming shit-piles like Finding Neverland, has taken over for Royale (and Goldeneye) director Martin Campbell. The writing team of Robert Wade, Neil Purvis and Paul Haggis remains the same. I just said “Purvis” and “Haggis” in the same sentence. Gross. 

Where is it Playing in Brooklyn/Manhattan?: Park Slope Pavilion, United Artists on Court Street, Regal at Union Square.

Paul Haggis.

Paul Haggis.

Slumdog Millionaire

The Plot: A kid tells his life story after being accused of cheating on the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

Is It Worth Eleven Dollars?: Definitely. This is already getting some of the best reviews of the year. The screenplay was adapted from the novel Q and A by screenwriter Simon Beaufroy, who most recently scripted Ms. Pettigrew Lives for a Day. The director, Danny Boyle (Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, 28 Days Later) is one of the most criminally underrated directors working today. Seriously, name a bad movie he’s made. If you named The Beach or A Life Less Ordinary, then I guess you’re right. But two out of ten isn’t bad, right?

Where is it Playing in Brooklyn/Manhattan?: The Angelika.

A Christmas Tale

The Plot: A family comes together when their mother is diagnosed with cancer. So it’s a lot like Royal Tenenbaums. Only it’s at Christmas. And it’s French.

Is It Worth Eleven Dollars?: Yes. Wow! This is a good week. Brooklyn Skeptic came back just in time. This film stars the amazing (and still incredibly good looking) Catherine Deneuve, as well as Mathieu Amalric (who is also playing the creepy villain in Quantum of Solace). This is being marketed in the United States with a trailer featuring goofy Christmas music that probably belongs in something like Love Actually (sorry Reckles). I somehow don’t think this is the holiday romp that people will expect, but something slightly more somber and interesting. In any case, definitely worth seeing.

Where is it Playing in Brooklyn/Manhattan?: The IFC Center.

Fuel

The Plot: A documentary about America’s addiction to oil.

Is it Worth Eleven Dollars?: Again I would say yes. The film won the audience award for best documentary at Sundance, and director Josh Tickell seems like a less annoying version of Michael Moore. Plus, if you watch the trailer, Luke Perry is in the movie! It must be said though, Luke Perry most likely contributed to the depletion of the ozone layer a lot during the 90’s with his hair products alone.

I brought this out from under my pillow, just for you.

I brought this out from under my pillow, just for you.

Where is this playing in Brooklyn/Manhattan?: I can’t seem to figure that out, but I’ll get back to you.

Otherwise, the incredible Rachel Getting Married is at Cobble Hill Cinemas (as well as BAM). Also, JCVD, the film about Jean Claude Van Damme has just started at Brooklyn Heights Cinema (they’re finally getting a new-ish movie!). In Manhattan, there’s a midnight showing of Grindhouse tonight at the Sunshine, and David Cronenberg’s Videodrome is playing at midnight at the IFC Center.

And finally, We Are Wizards, which is a documentary about the creative drive that has been inspired by Harry Potter, is playing at Cinema Village on 12th Street. It features BS faves Harry and the Potters.

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