Saturday, April 25, 2009


*Posted May 13, 2008*
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 - Quentin Tarantino (2003)
I am not the biggest fan of Tarantino, I think Pulp Fiction is vastly overrated, but I really enjoyed this film. Tarantino displays a lot of style. The opening scene is great with the black and white bride being shot in the head by Bill. I just love the fact that you don’t know the brides name and you never see Bill’s face. These facets are lost in a lesser Vol. 2. The last third of the movie is great. The cartoon re-telling of O-Ren Ishii is violent, pure, and quite entertaining. The slasher fight with the crazy 88s is a great action scene and it shows the height of Tarantino’s style as a director. Cliffhanger endings are great, Reloaded i.e., and Vol. 1 does not disappoint. “One more thing, Sofie... is she aware her daughter is still alive?”

9.There Will Be Blood - Paul Thomas Anderson (2007)
Stanley Kubrick is my favorite director, and There Will Be Blood is very reminiscent of the late film genius. Stark, classical orchestra type music, extended scenes without a lot of dialogue, and gorgeous cinematography. A+ already for style, and it goes without saying the performance of Daniel-Day Lewis. Easily up there with Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs and Joe Pesci in GoodFellas as the best acting performances in the past 20 years. A lot of people blast Paul Dano’s performance but he does an adequate job as Plainview’s antagonist. “I’m finished.”

8. Apocalypto - Mel Gibson (2006)

Gibson is slowly becoming one of the better directors in the world. It is difficult to completely enwrap a movie audience with subtitles, but Gibson pulls it off. Great cinematography, quick humor, and solid epic style performances make this the best film of 2006. I prefer it to the slightly overrated The Departed. The last segment of the film, with Jaguar Paw racing back to his family while being chased by the Mayan War Party, is a joy in action, adventure, and suspense. “We must go to the forest. To seek a new beginning. Come, Turtles Run...”

7. The Return of the King - Peter Jackson (2003)

Return of the King is a fine conclusion to the best trilogy since Star Wars. A grand epic that goes slightly beyond the grandness of The Two Towers. The beginning with the story of Smeagol is awesome. All the scenes at Gondor are equally awesome. One that sticks out is when Pippin is singing to Denethor as Faramir rides to eventual defeat. It shows that Peter Jackson can actually direct behind all of the special effects. Theoden’s battle speech is also a top highlight. ROTK slightly suffers as a result of trying to follow the book too closely. I am not a big fan of the “ghost army” and the ending seems to drag unnecessarily at times. For these reasons, I have it slightly behind Fellowship, but it is still a grand epic and an all-round spectacular motion picture. “Well, I'm back.”

6. The Matrix Reloaded - Wachowski Brothers (2003)

There was a lot of build up for this movie after the tremendous success of The Matrix, and Reloaded did not disappoint. There were so many questions following the original and many were answered in this film: a view into Zion, another trip to the Oracle, and a conversation with the Architect. After meeting with the Merovingian and Persephone, the final portion of the film is total overdrive. The highway chase is of epic proportions. People make fun of it, but the talk with the Architect is possibly the central theme of the entire trilogy. It is what the Matrix is about. This was seriously one of the most powerful movie experiences I have ever felt. You should quit making fun of it and go watch it again. “I believe this night holds for each and every one of us, the very meaning of our lives.”

5. Revenge of the Sith - George Lucas (2005)

These prequels almost had no chance. The buildup was so strong and Lucas could hardly do anything that would capture the nostalgia and success of the original trilogy. With all that being said, he made a very good trilogy with The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones being underrated, and the finale, Revenge of the Sith, will eventually stand on equal footing with the originals. A critic once said, “when it comes to technical wizardry, no one - not Peter Jackson, James Cameron, or Steven Spielberg - can top Lucas, who has been on the special effects cutting edge since he pioneered various techniques in Star Wars” (JB). This is certainly true. The simultaneous lightsaber duels between Obi-Wan and Anakin as well as Yoda and Palpatine are highlights. Even though the tacky dialogue is still there, Revenge of the Sith bridges the gap between the originals and the prequels and beats out Batman Begins as the highlight of the summer of 2005. “Oh, I have a bad feeling about this.”

4. Sin City - Robert Rodriguez (2005)

This movie is so cool. Black and white, specs of color, slick dialogue, and really hot girls. Sin City is broken down into three main stories that have connections to each other but are basically viewed on their own. Even with that tough task, it seems to flow effortlessly. The opening and closing scenes with Josh Hartnett, albeit a loser, brings Sin City full circle. If I could pick one movie that bleeds with style and flair, in a Tarantinoesque way, it would definitely be Sin City. This is Rodriguez’s best film, and probably a better film than anything his mentor, Quentin Tarantino, has ever made. “Turn the right corner in Sin City, and you can find anything...”

3. The Fellowship of the Ring - Peter Jackson (2001)

The three movies in this trilogy are fairly close in terms of greatness, much closer than say the original Star Wars trilogy. In my opinion, Return of the King is slightly better than The Two Towers and Fellowship is slightly better than Return of the King. Fellowship gives an excellent background for the history of Middle Earth, which is the highlight of the film for me. The true Fellowship that brings hobbits, elves, dwarfs, and humans together is perhaps the central theme of Tolkein’s trilogy. All of Middle Earth is coming together to rise up against Sauron, and this theme is exemplified with Fellowship. Cate Blanchett is spooky pure, Aragorn was better as Strider, and the cliffhanger type ending is excellent for setting up the rest of the trilogy. “It is a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt over so small a thing. Such a little thing.”

2. No Country For Old Men - Coen Brothers (2007)

There are a lot of well working parts in No Country For Old Men. The acting is top-notch. Javier Bardem won an Oscar, Josh Brolin is excellent as Bardem’s adversary, and Tommy Lee Jones is always dependable. Cinematography is excellent, and the film has many interesting nuances that include no music throughout the film, but fitting and eerie music for the ending credits. A lot of people complained about the ending, but it seems to me that the whiners were missing the entire point of the movie. The battle between Chigurh and Moss was just a backdrop for the overriding theme of a no country for old men, literally. NCFOM beats out There Will Be Blood for the best movie of 2007 and will remain a thought provoking film that represents the height of the Coen Brothers already successful career. “And then I woke up.”

1.The Passion of the Christ - Mel Gibson (2004)

I might get some flack for this choice, but this movie by far has been the most powerful cinematic performance I have ever experienced in a theater or at home. Whether you are Catholic or not, this is a powerful re-telling of history and an all-around strong drama. As with Apocalypto, Gibson directs the film in such an effortless way that a viewer totally forgets that there are even subtitles. The brutality in the film has been well-documented, and in terms of violence it is arguably the most real and ferocious movie I have ever seen. The highlights of this film for me, where those that contained the devil, played by a female actor. Whether it be film or TV, dream sequences have always interested me and the ones in the Passion are necessary, chilling, and excellent. The Passion is sandwiched in-between Braveheart and Apocalypto for director Mel Gibson. All three are excellent films, but the Passion represents his best effort and one of the greatest motion pictures ever made.

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