Thursday, January 31, 2008

Memory Lane

Happy Anniversary!!!

No, not for this blog and not to some family member who might be reading this. . .

To Heather. And me. It's four years now. . . Who would have thought it?!?!

I have to bring it up because it is a true feat and I am proud of our progress, not only as individuals, but as an awesomely compatible couple!

And now, for absolute kicks and giggles, I want to take you back four years into the past to see a young couple who have no idea where the next forty-eight months will take them. But wherever it takes them, I want to assure you that they never stray apart. In fact, the further apart they are physically, the closer they seem. It's uncanny. And it's good. (Although this picture here is far from good. . . I can't believe how little we are!!!)

And now here they are, just three months ago after having gotten engaged. Unbelievable. . .

Heather, you are my Best Friend. And as WEEZER says:

"When everything is wrong I'll come talk to you
You make things alright when I'm feeling blue

You are such a blessing and I wont be messing
With the one thing that brings light to all of my darkness

You're my best friend
and I love you, and I love you
Yes I do

There is no other one who can take your place
I feel happy inside when I see your face
I hope you believe me
Cause I speak sincerely
and I mean it when I tell you that I need you

You're my best friend
and I love you, and I love you
Yes I do

I'm here right beside you
I will never leave you
and I feel the pain you feel when you start crying

You're my best friend
and I love you, and I love you
Yes I do

You're my best friend
and I love you, and I love you
Yes I do
Yes I do...
Yes I do"

I'm making a special trip down to Pomona tonight (Thursday) even though I have to leave early on Friday to get to work, but it will be fun to actually see each other on our anniversary, something I don't think we have been able to do since maybe our first one. So you can bet good money that we will be happily in each other's arms. And yes, I know how lucky I am. I am reminded of it every day :)

I love you Heather! Always have - always will. . .

Monday, January 28, 2008

Respect Defined

I love Christopher Nolan. I have for some time. Ever since I saw MEMENTO for the first time, I knew that I was watching a talented director at work. Through his films INSOMNIA, THE PRESTIGE, and of course BATMAN BEGINS, I have been a vocal supporter of his work and greatly anticipate his newest film, the oft-mentioned THE DARK KNIGHT. Strictly based on his work, the man is one of my favorites out there.

But now, as a person, I respect him even more. In the wake of the death of Heath Ledger (I know I keep bringing it up - this is what happens when tragedies occur, though), the co-star of THE DARK KNIGHT, the first words that Nolan would speak about the death in relation to the film would be extremely important to fanboys everywhere. And now he has. But instead of talking about what he is going to do with the film, which, as difficult as it is to say, is JUST A FILM, Nolan went the classiest route possible and relayed his true feelings about the man who performed brilliantly for him (one can assume).

What follows is the piece that Nolan wrote for Newsweek, and think that people like John Gibson can certainly take notes about how to be both respectful and professional, but beyond that, simply a nice person. And all I have left to say is, thank you Christopher Nolan. I'll now let you have the floor. . .

"One night, as I'm standing on LaSalle Street in Chicago trying to line up a shot for "The Dark Knight," a production assistant skateboards into my line of sight. Silently, I curse the moment that Heath first skated onto our set in full character makeup. I'd fretted about the reaction of Batman fans to a skateboarding Joker, but the actual result was a proliferation of skateboards among the younger crew members. If you'd asked those kids why they had chosen to bring their boards to work, they would have answered honestly that they didn't know. That's real charisma—as invisible and natural as gravity. That's what Heath had.

Heath was bursting with creativity. It was in his every gesture. He once told me that he liked to wait between jobs until he was creatively hungry. Until he needed it again. He brought that attitude to our set every day. There aren't many actors who can make you feel ashamed of how often you complain about doing the best job in the world. Heath was one of them.

One time he and another actor were shooting a complex scene. We had two days to shoot it, and at the end of the first day, they'd really found something and Heath was worried that he might not have it if we stopped. He wanted to carry on and finish. It's tough to ask the crew to work late when we all know there's plenty of time to finish the next day. But everyone seemed to understand that Heath had something special and that we had to capture it before it disappeared. Months later, I learned that as Heath left the set that night, he quietly thanked each crew member for working late. Quietly. Not trying to make a point, just grateful for the chance to create that they'd given him.

Those nights on the streets of Chicago were filled with stunts. These can be boring times for an actor, but Heath was fascinated, eagerly accepting our invitation to ride in the camera car as we chased vehicles through movie traffic—not just for the thrill ride, but to be a part of it. Of everything. He'd brought his laptop along in the car, and we had a high-speed screening of two of his works-in-progress: short films he'd made that were exciting and haunting. Their exuberance made me feel jaded and leaden. I've never felt as old as I did watching Heath explore his talents. That night I made him an offer—knowing he wouldn't take me up on it—that he should feel free to come by the set when he had a night off so he could see what we were up to.

When you get into the edit suite after shooting a movie, you feel a responsibility to an actor who has trusted you, and Heath gave us everything. As we started my cut, I would wonder about each take we chose, each trim we made. I would visualize the screening where we'd have to show him the finished film—sitting three or four rows behind him, watching the movements of his head for clues to what he was thinking about what we'd done with all that he'd given us. Now that screening will never be real. I see him every day in my edit suite. I study his face, his voice. And I miss him terribly.

Back on LaSalle Street, I turn to my assistant director and I tell him to clear the skateboarding kid out of my line of sight when I realize—it's Heath, woolly hat pulled low over his eyes, here on his night off to take me up on my offer. I can't help but smile."

. . . . . .

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ass of the Week

I think what is potentially funny about this new series of posts that I'm starting today is that it could essentially be taken so many different ways. . . But since I'm not a flesh-sharing website, the true meaning of the new title is something in the vain of Keith Olbermann's "Worst Person in the World" or ESPN Radio guys Mike and Mike and their "Just Shut Up" segment.

This is going to be a weekly post, usually on Saturdays (as it is the end of a week) that will feature someone in the news who was, for lack of a better term (as of now. . . I'm still working on a potential change to the title) an ass. I think the term works better with out the hole on it, and that's just my opinion, but go with it for me won't you?!?!

And for the first ever version of the Ass of the Week, I went no further than to a place that has had its fair share of nominees for awards o so similar to this one:

Fox News.

As you heard, I'm sure, this week was saddened by the loss of 28-year-old actor Heath Ledger to what appears to be an accidental overdose. The shocking news was presented in a respectful manner by almost everyone out there in the news world. Except, that is, for John Gibson. On his radio show, just hours after the news of Ledger's passing came across the wire, Gibson began making jokes and cracking-not-so-wise about Ledger's role in BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, among other things. Riffing off of the movies' line (said about Ledger's character and not by him) "I wish I knew how to quit you" Gibson countered "Well, he found out how to quit you." Further mocking the young actor, he even called him a "weirdo with a serious drug problem" and went on to say the following, which is up there on the list of worst things to possibly say:

“Apparently Heath Ledger was suicidal and his friends saw it coming. I think he watched the Clinton-Obama debate last night. I think he was an Edwards guy, cause he saw his Edwards guy was completely irreverent.”

I understand that he was making jokes - I get that. But really, is this the best time (not that there is a good time) to be making SUICIDE JOKES! Running quotes from Ledger movies that have the word "dead" in them and running an intro to his show with funeral music and repeating the "We're dead" line like it was a sports score or weather or traffic update.

Gibson later apologized, but it was one of those half-assed attempts. You know the ones where they say, "sorry that some took my comments as anti-gay and insensitive." Well, I'm not really concerned about whether or not he used this as a platform to preach anti-gay messages (which, don't get me started on that - until we discover that gay people are in fact, not people at all or are all child rapists, then I think we should lay off of them, huh?) but I'm more about the whole "insensitive" part.

You see, Mr. Gibson, the reason some people took your comments to be insensitive was because they flat out were such. You ever heard that saying "Don't speak ill of the dead." - - yeah, that means you too! And if this was any other 28-year-old who accidentally overdosed then I would still have a problem with it. This man is no longer with us. His ex-fiancee' Michelle Williams and his two-year-old daughter, along with his family, are going through their mourning processes, but he also has fans who cared about whether or not this man lived or died. So the least you can do is respect not only him, but those who actually do respect other people, even if they did play a gay cowboy in a movie once.

So congratulations John Gibson! You are the first ever A RAMBLER'S RAMBLING, "Ass of the Week"!!!

Take a bow, sir. And don't let the collective boot up your ass get ya on the way out.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

An Absolute Mess

So the weather here in southern California is just plain terrible. The rain is coming down like crazy - I swear, at times it's like God turned on the faucet full-force and just forget to turn it off after he finished brushing his teeth. Or some other analogy that means the weather is not nice. . .

I got to experience the wonderful weather in full force this evening as I came home from school in the middle of, get this, a snow storm! As I went through the mountains on the 14 freeway, the pouring rain turned into slush which gradually turned into those little white speckles that began furiously flying horizontally at my car (that's when you know it's snow - when it begins attacking you instead of nicely - or in today's case, roughly - falling on top of you).

That's right - I'm back in school. And I am none too thrilled. It's not that I hate school or the idea of learning something new, it's just the damn drive that is already getting to me two days in. Yes, I love my car (who, by the way, I have decided to name Marty. Why Marty? Well, my favorite film character besides Han Solo is definitely Marty McFly from Back to the Future. I mentioned the thought of naming a very distant future son Marty to Heather and she quickly declined, which I understand, but something has to be named Marty for me. Maybe a future dog. . . we'll see. . .) but it's still an hour drive there and an hour return which I get to look forward to during the three hour classes that I sit through. It's tough knowing you have to sit through some traffic and inch along the same freeway four days a week. . .

O yeah, my schedule is awful. The only workable schedule I was allowed (due to the fact that some 35,000 people are trying to get the same 45 seats as me) was Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 1620-1850 and Wednesday from 1800-2045. That's four classes in four days. One a day. That sucks. But, all of my classes are of specific interest to me in one way or another, and I am looking forward to getting what I can out of them. The more I think about my future, the more I get excited and scared at the same time. I'm really no different than the weather, really. I am, for lack of a better term, an absolute mess. . .

But I'm always fighting. Always. No one will ever stop me from working hard and doing my best. Not even stupid customers that buy nothing from me (more on the tragically-slow MW in the days to come). Not my deceitful store manager who gets nothing but good luck when it comes to sales while the rest of us struggle to get by. And certainly not me, the cynical-as-always person in charge of all of my actions - and I am the most difficult adversary when it comes to me. No one is tougher on me than me. . . And no one is gonna convince me otherwise.

But enough of that for now - I'll be back soon with another update. Once I go to my last first class on Monday (did you follow that time table?) I'll completely recap my entire schedule, which you have already heard about. But more in depth, of course. It wouldn't be A RAMBLER'S RAMBLING if I didn't :)

Happy trails for now and as always - - -

Until later,

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

In Utter Disbelief

Ok, so school started today and I can't believe how fast my vacation went by. I've gone through a slow period at work and let's not forget the extremely awesome CLOVERFIELD experience I had last week that left me with the same feeling as the title says. . .

But none of that compares to the sadness that I felt when I heard the news this morning that Heath Ledger had passed away.

I am still so absolutely excited about seeing him act as the Joker in this summer's THE DARK KNIGHT, but it will be with a heavier heart that I enjoy his (assuredly) masterful performance. The actor, known most notably for his roles in THE PATRIOT, A KNIGHT'S TALE, and BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, was found dead this morning by a hired masseuse and his housekeeper. There were pills near the scene of his death and it is rumored to have been an accidental overdose that did in the talented 28-year-old.

I still can't believe it. . .

R.I.P. Heath. . .

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Another First-Third Movie Preview: Part Two

Continued from Part One, which I posted last night. . .

05. LEATHERHEADS (April 04)

Another film that has been postponed from its original release date (it was originally slated for this past Christmas), this one stars was directed and co-written by lead actor George Clooney (you might have heard of him). The film involves football in the 1920's and is a romantic comedy that also stars The Office's John Krasinksi and the usually great Renee Zellweger. The trailer shows a good mixture of humor and drama that should result in a good flick for both the guys and the gals. Plus it's got both Krasinski and Clooney, so the cool guys are featured quite prominently and I am a softie when it comes to forking over my money for movies that have actors that I think are pretty cool. So, yeah, that's the case here.


If the title to this sequel doesn't even ring a bell, then you have no idea what I'm talking about here and could never understand why this movie is number four on the list. But it's here and it's not going anywhere. Just like me when I sit down in the theater when this comes out!

03. CLOVERFIELD (January 18)

What can be said that hasn't already been brought up about this little flick about a mysterious monster that terrorizes New York City? All of the promotional material that has been around since July when this first teaser came out before TRANSFORMERS

is beyond anything since, well, SNAKES ON A PLANE. That might scare some people (although I thought SOAP was everything that it should have been) but this looks like a completely different type of picture. It looks scary, creepy, interesting, entertaining, and most of all, secretive! There has yet to be a sneaky picture of the monster or a featured article with the big guy in all his glory. And I love it. I'm probably gonna go at midnight here on Thursday night because I'm so excited to see what all the fuss is about. . . And I'll let you know after that!

02. BE KIND REWIND (February 22)

The final film that was postponed from its original date, this very original film stars Jack Black and Mos Def and is directed by Michel Gondry, who directed the brilliant ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND. The film is about a man (Black) whose brain becomes magnetized and unintentionally destroys every tape in his friend's video store. In order to satisfy the store's most loyal renter, an aging woman with signs of dementia, the two men set out to remake the lost films, which include Back to the Future, The Lion King, and Robocop. How could you not love that premise!?!?

01. PRIDE AND GLORY (March 14)

I knew nothing about this movie until I saw the trailer before AMERICAN GANGSTER and I was immediately aware of the fact that I would be spending money to see this movie and it is all about one guy: Edward Norton. With the exception of 2006's THE ILLUSIONIST, Norton has not starred in a widely released film in four years! He has been doing very small independent films that no one sees and that's it. Well this year, he will star in three anticipated films, including this summer's THE INCREDIBLE HULK, in which he takes over the role of Dr. Bruce Banner from Eric Bana. But it's this film, which co-stars Colin Farrell and Jon Voight, that has me really excited. The classic cop family movie (you know the one where there is good and bad cops, but lo and behold, one of each of those is from the same family. . .) to be sure, but with Norton and Farrell (almost always guaranteed to be at his best) headlining, there is no way that it can miss. Get ready for the year of Edward Norton everyone. . . And I for one could not be happier for the guy.

And that's that! Hit me up with comments on these movies and any that you think I might have left out (I have good reasons -- trust me!).

Hope you enjoyed it all! Take care - - -

Until later,

Monday, January 14, 2008

Another First-Third Movie Preview: Part One

But this one is for 2008. . .

I know I have posted a lot about movies recently (seeing that 3 out of my 4 posts so far in this new year were the three parts of my BEST MOVIES OF 2007 series - which was completed here. . .) but maybe I'm trying to lean towards that over, ya know, the goings-on of my life. Not that I won't still cover that - -

But I'm kinda on a roll here with this movie thing, so I'm gonna keep it up!

Anyway. . .

Last year's FIRST-THIRD MOVIE PREVIEW contained fifteen movies and I only saw 8 in the theaters and only one more once it came out on DVD. So I looked at the release dates for the next four months and I realized that there quite a few movies coming out that I have no desire to see at all. I could have done 15 again, but 5 of them were really just fillers anyway.

So I'm going with 10 this time around and I'm sticking to it, seeing that I'll probably end up seeing closer to 7 or 8 anyway. . . but here we go:

10. DOOMSDAY (March 14)

There isn't much out there plot-wise that I can really follow (this is why I think trailers are really what convince me to go to a film and not the people involved) but what I do know is that this is the new film from director Neil Marshall who directed the British horror film THE DESCENT, which is one of the best horror films of recent years. The film involves a virus, which of course has been done many times, but I'm interested to see how Marshall handles it all and how he can possibly re-invent the genre like he did the "creepy cave" horror in the previously mentioned film.

09. RUN FATBOY FUN (March 28)

Previously mentioned in my last movie preview, the directorial debut of David Schwimmer of "Friends" fame stars Simon Pegg of both SHAUN OF THE DEAD and HOT FUZZ as a guy trying to remake his life in order to win back his ex-girlfriend (Thandie Newton, of CRASH). I love the cast (which also includes the always-funny Hank Azaria) and the premise and I will absolutely support Dr. Ross Gellar in his pursuit of directing.

08. 21 (March 28)

A card-counting tale in Vegas that does not feature a guy called Rain Man. . . although I'm willing to bet that there is a joke in here about that movie! Kevin Spacey plays a teacher who encourages a group of students (one of which is brilliant at mathematics) to head to Las Vegas to make enough money to pay for their college education. Now, of course, they succeed, and what are their prevailing thoughts once they start rolling in the dough. . . That's where the drama kicks in, I suppose. Anything involving gambling has me interested (except for the looks-awful Matthew Mcconaughey movie TWO FOR THE MONEY from a few years ago) and definitely anything with Kevin Spacey gets me excited, so I'll probably be checking this one out in theaters!

07. THE ROCKER (April 18)

What appears to be the first starring vehicle for The Office's Rainn Wilson (that's Dwight for those who don't know) is attracting by plot alone. It seems to be a bit like SCHOOL OF ROCK but without the substitute teacher thing. I'm looking forward to a trailer just to see the type of funny that it's gonna bring - meaning if it will be more dumb like Adam Sandler (who has regressed in my mind) or smart (like the recent Apatow films or even the previously mentioned SOR). Either way, I gotta get my Shrute-fix somehow and with no new Office episodes, this may be the only way!

06. CHARLIE BARTLETT (February 22)

This film was supposed to come out last August (this seems to be a trend with a lot of these movies, and will actually continue with two more on this list) and I have only gotten more excited as the time has gone on. Anything with Robert Downey Jr. of course has me ready to watch (a tangent: KISS KISS BANG BANG has been on HBO a lot lately and the more times that I see it - even though I own it, I watch it every time it's on - the more I absolutely love it! It is certainly in my top 5 films of all-time and just might be penned in - instead of penciled - to the number 2 slot shortly!) and the plot itself is quite funny. Briefly, it's about a spoiled high schooler who uses his personal psychiatrist to learn how to provide his own evaluations to kids at the new high school he is attending. He becomes popular through his sessions and the prescription drugs he begins to prescribe. A weird funny, if anything.

I'll be back with numbers 05-01 tomorrow! Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

My New Baby

I'm trying to come up with a name for it, but as of right now, it will just have to go by it's given birth name:

Scion xD

That's right, I have a new car! I have been putting crazy miles on my 2000 Volkswagen Jetta for some time now (with the commute to school and frequent trips to Pomona to see Heather). I recently crossed the 122,000 mile mark to be exact.

But the xD had 14 miles on it when I picked it up today.

And that's just one reason why I did this. Others include the fact that it gets better gas mileage than the Jetta, is naturally more trustworthy of a vehicle by being a brand new vehicle, and despite being exponentially greater than the Jetta, is only $100 more a month due from me than I paid for the Jetta.

And o yeah, here it is (it's the red one, only mine is a silver color):

I also added a GPS Navigation System (which is the same system that is in the Toyota Avalon - Scion is a separate company from, but an affiliate of, Toyota - which is the luxury vehicle of Toyota), a light kit that makes the interior light up, a sporty shift knob (this is an automatic, unlike the 5-speed Jetta), and the Bluetooth capability (which I have to figure out soon since it's illegal to talk on your cell phone nowadays. . .) which will allow me to answer my phone through my car and hear my callers through the speakers of the car.

I'm so excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

More news on it as I drive it around a bit more (I've only driven from the dealer to work and then home from work) and that should be after my trip to Pomona - I'm heading out there to see Heather tomorrow and coming home on Saturday morning before I work at noon.

So, yeah :)

What do you think!!!

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Best Movies of 2007 - Part Three

(Continued from Saturday's post and last night's post)

05. 3:10 TO YUMA - (A)

I'm not a real big fan of all of the epic Western classics. I can't say that I've seen even a handful of them over my entire life, to be honest. But when you put Christian Bale (who, by just being Batman at all, flew up my favorite actor list - and by being the best Batman ever, went to the very top!) and Russell Crowe together in a film directed by James Mangold (director of WALK THE LINE, a film I love because of the Cash factor), well, I wasn't going to miss it. And when I experienced the movie for the first time (I'll let you know about a second visit after I watch it again this week - it comes out on DVD tomorrow) I was absolutely blown away! There is a regular dose of action and deception as is the case with any Western, but it is the chemistry between the actors through the tight dialogue that causes it to rise so high on the list. And the most amazing thing of all about the film in my mind was the performance by supporting actor Ben Foster. The young actor (previously in films like X-MEN 3 - as the character called Angel - and the TV show Six Feet Under) is delightfully evil as Crowe's right-hand man. People can debate the ending and whether or not it's great or whatever but for me, it was just another perfect step to conclude a very near-perfect modern Western.

04. TALK TO ME - (A)

One of the two best performances this year by a Lead Actor is in this film, starring Don Cheadle as real-life DJ Petey Greene. The biopic (or sorts) tells the true story of how Petey Greene rose to prominence in 1960s Washington D.C. Cheadle has been one of my most favorite actors for a long time now and here he proves that he can handle the lead role just fine. Entertaining from the first scene on, the film is highlighted by great performances all around. I would love to see nominations for not only Cheadle, but also Chiwetel Ejiofor for Supporting Actor and Taraji P. Henson for Supporting Actress. Also fantastic in small roles are Martin Sheen and Cedric the Entertainer. This one had my support through the classic tunes, the groovy outfits (sorry, I got a little carried away there. . .) and the powerful messages portrayed by the filmmakers.

03. KNOCKED UP - (A)

This year's THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN. No coincidence that the creators of this film (namely, Judd Apatow) were behind that gem as well. This run of brutally raunchy films that at their center are truly sweet at heart is just plain fantastic. Not for everyone to be sure, KNOCKED UP carries with it several of the funniest scenes from any movie over the last several years (with the best of these being the entire scene in Las Vegas with Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd!). But not only does it make you laugh (which it will!) but it also makes you think while taking successful strides towards being a truly sweet romantic comedy. Seth Rogen is now a leading comedic presence and Paul Rudd is without a doubt the funniest wingman out there right now (see: ANCHORMAN, VIRGIN). There was no comedy better this year than KNOCKED UP.


A confusing, fast-paced, and incredibly intense thriller. This George Clooney vehicle is (and I'm borrowing from critics here with this quote, but I thought it too while watching it) a fantastic John Grisham novel that is just, well, not one. Of that same ilk, MC is an absolute winner of a film. Clooney is toned way down here in a very bare performance that shows his real acting chops. Beyond Clooney, Tom Wilkinson provides pure insanity (or is it?) to the film and Tilda Swinton, in a very daring role (consider her first scene where she attempts to dry off her heavily perspiring underarms before a highly stressful interview), is also nomination-worthy. And I promise that you will never look at horses in a field the same way. I'm looking forward to watching it again once it comes out on DVD to recapture that feeling I had while I was watching the amazing final shot that continues for several awe-inspiring minutes. Who knew something so simple can be considered so brilliant!


The easiest decision of the entire bunch, hands down. I have watched this absolutely perfect Pixar-animated film over five times already and it truly gets better each time. Everything from the practically perfect CGI (the graphics are so life-like you forget that you are watching an animated film) to the top notch voice cast (Patton Oswalt of "King of Queens" fame is the perfect choice for Remy, the main character, but the best of the best is certainly Peter O' Toole as the food critic Anton Ego) is precise and exact to the point that I'm positive that there are no useless scenes or unnecessary lines throughout the entire movie. Another note about O' Toole briefly: his monologue at the end of the film (his review of Gusteau's restaurant) may be one of the best written and spoken pieces of film I have ever heard. Just plain brilliant!

Writer/Director Brad Bird (who previously struck gold with THE INCREDIBLES, another genius Pixar flick) is clearly among the best animator filmmakers out there and Pixar can do absolutely no wrong (consider their lineup: TOY STORY, MONSTERS INC, FINDING NEMO, and both of the films by Bird). Just thinking about this film makes me smile. It went directly to my TOP 25 all-time list and I would have to admit that after all of my viewings, it has to be in the TOP 10. I am not ashamed to say that this animated film about a rat who wants to be a world class chef in Paris was my favorite film of 2007 and I think that's exactly right. There is nothing wrong with RATATOUILLE. And since I used the word already about ten times in this paragraph, I'll say it again and leave it at that. In my mind, RATATOUILLE is perfect.

. . . . . . .

I hope you enjoyed the list - - hit me back with all sorts of comments!

I'll be back later on in the week with an updating post about all sorts of new things including something very exciting from my neck of the woods. Let's just say that the commute to school this semester is going to be a bit more bearable. . .

Until later,

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Best Movies of 2007 - Part Two

(Continued from yesterday's post)

10. JUNO - (A-)

This year's independent movie that got incredible word-of-mouth and made lots of money at the box office (a la last year's LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE) is indeed worth all of the praise that it has been getting. The at-times over-the-top dialogue (Are these real people talking like this?) grows on you as the movie moves along and you really grow to absolutely love these characters. For me, I thought every moment featuring J.K. Simmons' character was pure gold and one worthy of a Supporting Actor nomination for sure. Michael Cera plays the same guy as he did in SUPERBAD, but he still makes it seem different - it's either great acting or the guy is just one awkward force to be reckoned with. Memorable roles from Allison Janney, Jason Bateman, and Jennifer Garner should not go overlooked, but it's the tour de force performance by young Ellen Page that has put her completely on the map as one of those up-and-coming actresses to look out for (along with Amy Adams. . . but we'll get to her shortly).

09. ZODIAC - (A-)

Long, drawn out, and at times severely monotonous. But pure brilliance. David Fincher returns with his first directorial effort since Panic Room and knocks this one out of the park like his films from the past (both masterpieces SEVEN and FIGHT CLUB, as well as the underappreciated THE GAME). I love Robert Downey Jr. as always, but it was Jake Gyllenhaal that really surprised me with his intense performance here. But the real star of the film is the tension that Fincher creates throughout the picture. In the end, you are left to believe that it is eerily possible for the actual Zodiac killer to be sitting right next to you. . . even though it's highly unlikely, Fincher makes it just that plausible. And for a film about a serial killer, the blood level is low, although when it comes, it's heavy. But even the faint of heart should make an effort here as this police procedural is more than just average. It's highly above that.

08. ENCHANTED - (A-)

I know I will get all sorts of crap from men everywhere, but I absolutely dug the Disney film that spoofed, well, Disney films! Amy Adams gives one of the most believable performances in an absolutely unbelievable position. This film would have been completely D.O.A. if it wasn't for the way that Adams makes you believe that this story could very easily be true. She is a princess straight out of the fairy tales of old and her naivety is added up with her innocence and hilarity ensues. I was even willing to deal with Dr. McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey) in the lead male role, although the perfect film for me would have had The Office's John Krasinski (Jim on the show) in the lead role. But that's just me! This one is truly for everyone willing to have an enjoyable 90 minutes! And let's start the Amy Adams for Oscar nomination publicity right now - - she's that good!

07. HOT FUZZ - (A-)

Pretty much forgotten amongst all of the Judd Apatow-produced or directed comedies of the year (one of which is still to come tomorrow), this send-up of buddy cop films by the guys who made the almost-as-funny SHAUN OF THE DEAD is absolutely top notch. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost continue their perfect chemistry (it's amazing what being friends will do for you when you act off of each other!) and Edgar Wright does everything right for a director in this type of movie. There's the right amount of action, comedy, suspense, and just plain entertainment to please anyone who has ever watched BAD BOYS, POINT BREAK, or LETHAL WEAPON and enjoyed the nonsense that those types of film present.

06. I AM LEGEND - (A-)

I had only marginal expectations for this CAST AWAY-like film starring Will Smith as the "Last Man on Earth" so when this film totally blew my mind, it flew to the top of my list for the year. Not only does Smith turn in his best performance since ALI (I was not a fan of last year's sap-fest THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS), but the film never crawls along, which is certainly possible given the plot. And even though many critics are knocking the CGI effects with the zombie-guys, I thought that it was just fine for what was needed, as they were not the story. The graphics are not what is important. That's not what we want to potentially take away from our concentration on the film itself and the passionate performance from the former Fresh Prince. And although there are some questions that, when brought up, potentially derail the film, I for one never even considered them. I thought the ending was perfect too! There was not much at all that I did not like about this one!

That's all for tonight, but don't forget to stop by tomorrow for the top 5 films of 2007!

Until then,

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Best Movies of 2007 - Part One

Simply put, I love movies. If you visit this blog with any frequency, you know this to be true already. Of all of the films (and there were many) that were released this calendar year, I saw 31 of them. And the thing with this year's group of flicks is that a majority of them were really top notch. And there's even more (eleven, actually) that I want to see (the ones I really want to see are INTO THE WILD, CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR, and GONE BABY GONE).

But of the 31 that I did see, I created a top 15 list (with a tie for that 15th spot - just because) of the films that rocked my world in one way or another and I'll tell you why you should take the time to see them yourself. I've included the letter grade that I gave each film and you can see that there was not much that was wrong with movies this year (except of course for the awful sequels National Treasure 2 and Pirates of the Caribbean 3, both of which are on my Worst Films of 2007 list). . . Enjoy! (Due to time reasonings, this will be a three-part post with numbers 10-6 coming tomorrow and 5-1 coming on Monday!)

15. (Tie) 300 - (B+)

The best film this year about Ancient Greece featuring ripped Spartans in red leather briefs. . . O wait. . . Well it's undeniable the effect that 300 had on filmgoers this year. The visuals are stunning and the action is non-stop. For flat out fun, this has to be your go-to. For my full review, which I wrote back after I saw it, head here.

15. (Tie) GRINDHOUSE - (B+)

If you have three hours to kill and you enjoy films that have an overabundance of blood, zombies (in the case of part one, PLANET TERROR), and Kurt Russell (in the case of part two, DEATH PROOF), then make sure you pick up the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez celebration of, well, those previously mentioned features of the movies. And for the record, PT is better. Sorry Quentin.


A perfect end to a fantastic trilogy. Arguably the best of the three films featuring Matt Damon as the lead character Jason Bourne, TBU keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time thanks to fantastic acting by Damon (of course), David Strathairn, and Joan Allen and a fast-paced script that takes you all over the globe. Put Bourne on the level right below James Bond - if we get several more of these Matt Damon flicks, however, Bond there might have some competition.

13. SUPERBAD - (A-)

Filled with brutally awkward, excessively dirty, and shockingly hilarious humor SUPERBAD was one of the biggest surprises of the year. Written by KNOCKED UP's Seth Rogen and his pal Evan Goldberg, the film masterfully portrays the last week of a group of partying high schoolers' time in grade twelve. The film concludes surprisingly sweet and leaves you both laughing and thinking about the time you spent with your friends. Quality humor all around.


Criminally unappreciated. Samuel L. Jackson gives a haunting performance as a righteous man trying to find both his soul and a cure for a scandalous woman (Christina Ricci, in a daring role). Sure, it's probably better known for the fact that he chains her up to a water heater in her underwear, but the powerful blues music and the heartbreaking final minutes leave an undeniable memory for the viewer. This is HUSTLE AND FLOW director Craig Brewer's second film and he is now two-for-two. I look forward with great expectations to his next one!


When I got home from seeing it, I gave it no grade. The next day, I decided I would give it a B-. One week later, since I still could not get the haunting power of Javier Bardem's performance, the Coen brothers' direction, or the frustrating ending out of my head, I moved it up to a solid B. Now, after having read the book by Cormac McCarthy (from which the movie is adapted from), and contemplating the ending and all that surrounds it, it has become more of a masterpiece in my mind. I truly believe that after another viewing, this one is gonna fly up the charts (much to Heather's chagrin -- she absolutely hated it haha!). Check this one out if you really love the art of movie-making and take in every bit of it. You won't regret it!

Ok, I'll be back with the next set tomorrow! Thanks for reading!!!

Until later,