Monday, January 22, 2007

My Favorite movies of 2006

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I feel guilty writing a top ten list.

The truth is I don't watch nearly enough movies to really justify doing it.

For example I haven't watched Dreamgirls, Babel, Half-Nelson, Little Children, Notes on a Scandal, The Queen, Blood Diamond, Inland Empire, Scanner Darkly and Pan's Labyrinth among others.

I suppose that having access to free DVD rentals, and being a member of the Screen Actors Guild, I'm obligated to be up to date with the going's on in the film industry.

But I'm not.

The truth is....I'm too much of a sports fan.

A fiercely loyal, die hard Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Los Angeles Lakers fan.

Which....obviously.... takes up a lot of my free time.

I also, in the past year and a half, find myself watching more television than ever before.

For whatever reason, I'm finding quality television more fulfilling than the standard two hour film.

I've been hooked like a drug fiend on Rome, L Word, Dexter, Battlestar Galactica, Sopranos, Deadwood, and Extras. Occasionally I'll watch Ghost Hunters, The Unit and Big Love.

That's a full TV schedule I'm working around.

As well as writing for this blog.

Not to mention that I have a wife, child...and a little dog, that I prefer spending my precious free time with.

But I thought for posterity's sake that I should make a top ten movie list.

I'm thinking, years from now, that it will be fun to look back.

To relive what films moved, and inspired me during this time in my life.

Makes sense right?

So I started looking over my reviews in the past year, and then I realized that I never posted a list for 2005.

So for the record, here are my favorite movies for 2005.

Some of them.... I actually reviewed for the blog.

10. Frank Miller's Sin City

9. Grizzly Man

8. Me, You, and Everyone you Know

7. Munich

6. Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith

5. Match Point

4. Broken Flowers

3. Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang

2. The New World

And my favorite movie of 2005 was........

1. Batman Begins

I think that's a pretty good group of films.

I'm really disappointed that there are no foreign films on my list though.

In previous years films like City of God, Kung Fu Hustle, Oldboy, I'm not Scared, Silmido, and Infernal Affairs would've easily made my list.

But 2005 wasn't a foreign film kind of year for me.

A part of me feels like my list isn't well rounded enough.

Making matters worse there's not a foreign film on this year's list either.

Oh well.

In any case here we go with my favorite movies of 2006....(that I've far.)

(I've created a link to my previous reviews in the title of each film.)

10. Edmond

This one's cheating.

I didn't even write a review for this film on the blog.

I'm a big David Mamet fan.

Really big.


So the truth is, even if this were a bad movie.....which it isn't, I would have probably loved it.

I was familiar with the play after reading it over a decade ago.

It's extremely fascinating, and provocative material, and it was exciting to see it finally realized dramatically on film.

But like I said, I'm a huge David Mamet fan.


No joke.

My dog..... is named Mamet.


So, for the record, I admit that I can't objectively comment on the merits of this film.

Even though it's pretty freaking great.

I love the dialogue.

Love it.

I love the economy, through-line, purpose and thought Mamet puts into each, and every one of the scenes.

The performances are all good.

It's shot interestingly, and effectively. The direction is solid.

But for me it's really all about the writing.

It's brilliant.

The rhythms, the tones, the dialogue, and scene arcs, it all works for me.

For me, nobody does it better than Mamet.

Throw in a great performance by W.H. Macy and the movie is an instant classic.....admitedly.... probably to only me.

9. Rocky Balboa

Not surprisingly, I haven't seen this film on too many top ten lists.

The funny thing is I can't find anyone who didn't like it.

In fact most people who've seen..... loved it.


Doesn't matter who they

They loved it.

They even will admit that they were emotionally moved, and touched by the film.


By a Rocky film......seriously.

As proof, the first Rocky is renting like crazy at the store.

People want to relive the memories. The movie just lingers with people.

Yet, for some reason... as far as top ten love.

I'm guessing that people are embarrassed to admit they loved the film.

I'm not.

8. Inside Man

It's nice to see Spike Lee having fun.

The truth is, he's a great filmmaker that can sometimes get sidetracked by his political views.

I thought his last film 25th Hour was amazing. But, honestly the subject matter is extremely dark, depressing, and at times hard to watch.

Which doesn't make for enjoyable repeat viewing....which is common complaint about Spike Lee's work.

I've always wondered what a commercial Spike Lee film would look like.

Which is exactly what Inside Man is.

It's refreshing, and actually exciting to see him direct a fun, mystery/suspense heist thriller.

Scarcely a trace of a political or social agenda.

Just good old fashioned fun.

It makes me excited to see more of his upcoming work.

However, the movie is by no means perfect.

I think the main Grift in the film reminds me a little too much of Bill Murray's Quick Change.

But it's a fun, suspenseful, popcorn crowd pleaser, with a dramatic edge.

Definitely one of the best movies of the year.

7. The Prestige

A lot of people get caught up with trying to figure out the twist in the film.

Which really isn't that hard to figure out.

The truth is this movie isn't about the twist or illusion, or the surprise ending.

It's a character study about runaway ambition, greed, competition, and the damaging affects of the quest for fame and power.

It's a character exploration into the dark side of the human psyche.

The fact that it stars two incredibly likable and affable movie stars like Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman makes the film even more fascinating, and multi-dimensional.

6. Miami Vice

Lots of people had problems with this film.

I'm not exactly sure why.

I keep hearing about how the film should have been more like the show.


That they should have played the theme song, that the film didn't have the same 80's cool feeling, that it needed more neon, more sex appeal, that Sonny needed a pet alligator.


Get over it. The show is on DVD...and the truth is.... it doesn't age well.

At all.

Which is why initially the film was going to be a the Brady Bunch, and Starsky and Hutch.

Michael Mann refused, and took the film in a different, more realistic, and dramatic direction. In the same vein as his crime classics Heat and Collateral.

It worked.

The film has some of the best action sequences of the year.

It has speedboats, fast cars, drug deals, jet planes, heart pounding suspense.

Attractive, affable characters,in sticky, exciting situations.

Freaking-crazy-loud-stomach-churning gunfire.

What more does one want in a film?

5. Casino Royale

This one was a surprise.

To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to this film.

But it easily makes my top ten list.

Excellent story, exotic locales, it's funny, moving, breathtaking.

I like the serious approach the franchise is taking, yet it keeps the original mystique alive.

Daniel Craig is fantastic.

I know it's blasphemy, but I think he's going to be the best Bond.....ever.

4. The Departed

The only reason why this movie isn't number one is because it's a remake.

A remake of a good film that I happened to watch several times, over a year before watching this film.

So the movie, and more importantly the last 3o minutes of the film for me didn't feel fresh, or innovative, or exciting.

It felt like Deja Vu.

I'm aware this film is better than the original.

But the reality is, I knew what was going to happen before it happened. So that took away a lot of the fun, and suspense of the movie going experience for me.

That being said, don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, it's still an amazing film.

Easily one of, if not, the best movies of the year.

Jack Nicholson, MarkWahlberg and Alec Baldwin are fantastic, and Scorsese's direction is always.

This is a fantastic film that will surely become a classic.

I can't wait to own the DVD so I can enjoy the film..... again..... on yet another level.

3. Borat

One of the funniest movies..... ever.

It's the only movie on my list that I actually watched twice in the theatre.

It was the most fun I had in a movie theatre in years.

It reminded me why I even go to the movie theatre in the first place.

To experience something amazing in a group atmosphere, while following an excellent story.

The truth is, I can't remember laughing harder in a movie theatre, and being in a crowd that felt exactly the same way.

People were standing and applauding in my screening.

No joke.

A standing ovation.... for flickering lights.

Sacha Baron Cohen is a genius. He's in the same mold as Peter Sellers and Andy Kaufman.

Simply Brilliant.

2006 will forever be remembered as the year of Borat.

It was a movie going experience that I'll never forget.

2. V for Vendetta


It boggles my mind that this movie isn't being recognized more during awards season.

The movie represents everything that is great about movies....and art.

Exciting action, thought provoking storyline, excellent acting, wonderful suspense, and profound themes that are relevant, and sensitive to the times and the future of this country.

Natalie Portman has never been more impressive, and Stephen Rea, and Hugo Weaving are remarkable.

This movie challenges, and inspires us to make a difference in the world, to stand up, and make one's voice heard, to stand up to corruption and fight.

In some ways, it's the One flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest of our generation.

It's also an excellent companion piece to my favorite film of the year for 2006.......

1. Children of Men

It's been several weeks, and this film still haunts me.

There are scenes, and action sequences that must be seen to be believed.

The production design is amazing, stunning like nothing one has seen before. The cinematography is jaw dropping.

The performances are all excellent....across the board.

This is the best directed film of the year.

The movie is fantastic, in every way, the writing, music, and themes.

At times it's touching, other times funny, it's also moving, not to mention dramatic, heart poundingly suspenseful and visually exciting.

It has everything, and in time will probably be recognized as one of the best films of the decade.

It's interesting to me that the themes, and ideas in this film echo that of V for Vendetta.

Although I try very hard not to comment on my political position, it's obvious that by having these two films at the top of my list, it represents my frame of mind about the current political administration in power, and the dark path that the country is on.

It's a reflection, and representation of my political, as well as artistic feelings and thoughts during this past year.

Which is..... ironically..... exactly what I want when documenting my opinions for posterity.

These were my favorite movies of 2006.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Children of Men

Just when all the nominees for award season seemed to have arrived, and predictably lined up firmly for their Oscar runs. One of the finest films of the year arrives with a thunderous blast.
Alfonso Cuaron delivers one of the most powerful, moving and profound films of the year with the stunning Children of Men.
The movie is a fascinating, and breathtaking experience that will have one shaking their head in impressive disbelief for days.
Even weeks.
Besides being perhaps the greatest directed movie of the year, the film features a production design which is possibly one of the most fantastic, disturbing, and remarkable accomplishments in film history.
There are scenes, and sequences in the film which are as jaw dropping, and awe inspiring as anything audiences will ever see in the history of film.
What's even more impressive (or depressing, depending on how one looks at the film) is that the film feels like a legitimate vision of the future.
This isn't Star Trek, Blade Runner, or even the excellent Clockwork Orange, where a certain amount of suspension of disbelief is required for viewing.
The events which transpire in this film feel like the direct result of the current path that the world, and it's government's are on right now.
Issues of global warming, terrorism, deteriorating health care, corrupt governments, racism against immigrants, passive indifference by most of society's view of politics, and it's leadership.
It all leads to this disturbing future.
So while watching the film, not only are we being fabulously entertained, the audience is consistently reminded how the harsh, careless, realities of today can lead to this bleak and disturbing future.
Wanna get a glimpse of the End of Days?
Get in line for Children of Men.
This powerful film takes place in the year 2027, where seemingly all hope for the future of humanity is lost. All governments are either violently out of control, or no longer in power.
Major cities now resemble the slums of border towns, and the only way to legally endure the harsh realities of the day is by living one's life in passive acceptance of the world's plight, or by legalized medical suicide.
To make matters even worse, humanity is no longer able to procreate.
The youngest human being on earth is eighteen years old.....and has just been stabbed to death.
Theodore Faron (played by an impressive Clive Owen) sleepwalks through his meager existence, until a run in with his ex-lover Julian Taylor (Julianne Moore) gets him unwittingly tangled up with the charge of protecting perhaps mankind's only hope.
A young, illegal immigrant named Kee, who is miraculously pregnant, played by the spirited Claire-Hope Ashitey.
In order to save humanity Theodore must escort Kee to a sea boat where a group called the human project can help solve the procreation problem.
The film is indeed bleak and dark, but surprisingly there are moments of much needed humor, touching character interactions, and refreshing messages of hope spread throughout the film.
But what makes the movie memorable, and extraordinary are the outstanding visuals, and remarkably choreographed action sequences.
Moments that are impossible to describe, and must be seen to believed.
In a meager, and rather generic attempt of a description, I'll state that during the film at times the viewer feels like they've been dropped into a war zone with the characters.
I caught myself several times dodging on screen bullets, and debris.
Simply put the film is beyond a doubt one of the five best films of the year.
It's an excellent triumph for Alfonso Cuaron, who directed the best Harry Potter movie, the Prisoner of Azkaban, he throws down the gauntlet and establishes himself as one of the premiere directors working today.
The movie is an amazing accomplishment, I'll save myself the trouble and stop trying to describe my enthusiasm for the film.
I'll simply state that I can't recommend it any higher, and no amount of vocabulary will accurately describe the wonders one will see in this film.
Run out, and see it.