2010: The First 51

Over the course of the last five or six years, I’ve averaged about 70-80 trips to the movie theaters annually. In revisiting my trips while writing last year’s report, however, I noticed that I had made it a record 98 times. This was probably due to two reasons. 1) As far as graduate school was concerned, I was on my own, finished with classes dating back to the beginning of the school year. 2) I had started purchasing Regal tickets in bulk on eBay (50 at a time). Anyway, given my proximity to the century mark, I wanted to up the ante this calendar year, and so far, I’m on pace – barely. Since we’ve hit the halfway point*, I’m taking a look back at the noteworthy of the first half of 2010.

*…and inspiration on other writing subjects has been severely lacking

Bottom of the Barrel

I’ve never walked out of a movie in my life. But literally two minutes into Cop-Out, I seriously considered it. Remember the previews where Tracy Morgan’s cop character inexplicably does bad impressions of other (far superior) movie characters during an interrogation scene? Well, that’s how Cop-Out starts off, only the scene is excruciatingly longer and much more unfunny in the actual movie. Bruce Willis’ detective even identifies every single terrible impression aloud as Morgan goes through them. The movie doesn’t get any worse from there – if only because that would have been impossible – but overall, it’s utter garbage. Morgan, who I love on 30 Rock, plays arguably the worst onscreen character this year (except maybe the creepy kid from The Yellow Handkerchief).

Me Me Me

  • I’ve never fallen asleep in a movie… prior to The Secret of Kells.
  • I kept thinking “pedophile!” and “statutory!” watching An Education.
  • The most content I felt all year was during Leap Year, which was basically Amy Adams porn, without actually being porn.
  • I’m generally a big ‘mid-life crisis’ movie guy, but both Greenberg and Solitary Man were pretty lacking.

Who’s in Your Fave 5?

Honorable Mentions:

– The Karate Kid, The Prince of Persia, A Prophet

At the Irvine Spectrum, my regular theater, there are these big pillars in the main hallway. And for the past month, one was wrapped with a poster of Gemma Arterton. And every time I’d exit a movie, I’d walk past it, see her image, and… well, you know that scene from Ocean’s Eleven, where Linus (Matt Damon) says “This is the best part of my day.” I mean, I know it’s just a poster, but if he can say that about Julia fucking Roberts, then I can say this. TMI? Probably. But man…

5. Robin Hood: Okay, so this probably won’t show up in my Top 10 when it’s all said and done. But in the case of both #5 and #4, I was kind of having shitty days that I mitigated by going to the theater, so there’s some bonus points there. As I said previously, this isn’t really a Robin Hood movie. It’s a strong historical epic, with a compelling script, solid fight sequences, beautiful cinematography, and one hell of a final scene. Prince John (Oscar Isaac) is a magnificent bastard.

4. North Face: There are some genres of movies that just seem to work – whose subject matters are inherently compelling. Firefighting is one. Mountain climbing, another. And North Face, which tells the story of two German climbers under the Third Reich, is absolutely gripping. The story itself is astonishing, and it’s enhanced – both by the natural rapport that the main characters have with one another, and by the awe-inspiring camerawork involved in the production.

3. How to Train Your Dragon

2. The Secret in Their Eyes: It features one of the best constructed stories I can recall in recent memory, reflecting seamlessly upon a mystery of the past while relating the events of the present. It has a ‘twist’ ending that holds incredible meaning, feeling not just natural, but altogether logical. There are moments of levity throughout, and a romance that is hinted at in the present, while budding in the past. Everything about the film is just impeccable.

1. Toy Story 3: The first Toy Story hit you like a ton of bricks, even if it went overboard on the Randy Newman songs (then again, I still listen to “Strange Things” on iTunes). The second one was unlike anything else I’ve ever seen – fast-paced, frenetic, and simply, balls to the walls fun. Toy Story 3 manages to take the best elements from its predecessors. Because of those previous installments, our developed attachment to the familiar characters not only infuses the film with meaning, but allows it to introduce a variety of new toys without ever feeling too busy. The movie is so funny, so well-done, and just so engaging and involving (at one point, my eyes went wide and I nearly shouted “You BASTARD!” at the villain), while the last 20 or so minutes are absolutely gut-wrenching. It really has nothing to do with age. Toy Story 3 is magnificent.***Along with Finding Nemo, Toy Story 2 is what I consider Pixar’s pinnacle. For the record, I didn’t think the world of Up, Wall-E, or The Incredibles, so I’m definitely not some rabid Pixar fanboy.

**So this list includes two animated films and two in foreign languages. Man, I love movies.

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