The past six months have just flown by, haven't they? It is time to reflect on all of the new movies I have seen on the big screen during that time and let you know which ones are the best. Well, we all know that "best" is relative and what I consider to be the best so far may be a far cry from what you consider to be the best. In any case, I know you could care less about my opening preamble, so let's just get to the list.
10. Rammbock. This is a very impressive horror feature out of Germany. Sure, it barely hits 60 minutes in length, but it doesn't waste any time. The movie is scary, features good characters, an interesting universe, and still manages to bring some new elements to the table. It is not likely to last the year on the top ten, but it certainly deserves some attention.
9. Adjustment Bureau. This movie exists at the crossroads of Dark City, Sliding Doors, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It is more than an action film whose antagonists are attempting to change someone's mind, it is much bigger that that, grander in scope. It is more about fate and either excepting it or taking on the consequences of fighting for a different choice. Definitely better than your average movie.
8. Jane Eyre. This adaptation is haunting, hopeless, and it is fantastically shot. I may be an ignorant clod when it comes to the original text, but there is no denying the effectiveness of this as a film.
7. X-Men: First Class. Yes, this is a good movie, indeed. Vaughn directs with a steady hand, never overplaying his cards while ensuring there is enough visual pyrotechnics to keep all involved interested. It is a movie that plays out on a grand stage where nothing is subtle, yet contains enough subtlety to give us interesting characters that are needed to become truly invested. It is not a movie that will speak to the human condition or mean much in the grand scheme of things, but what it does do is entertain with intelligence.
6. Midnight in Paris. The latest Woody Allen is something special. It is romantic and magical and subtly funny and I suspect if I knew more about literature I'd likely get more out of it, but that doesn't change how much I enjoyed it this time. Owen Wilson gives a great performance full of wonder and Marion Cotillard is deliciously enigmatic. Very good movie.
5. Rango. Rango is a triumph of design, cast, ad writing. It is a kids movie with a decidedly adult bent. It is told in a way that should appeal across demographics and leave everyone smiling. It is a movie that invites multiple viewings to make sure you find all of the references, see all of the fine detail, and just enjoy these characters.
4. Insidious. Insidious is indeed, well, insidious. The movie is seemingly harmless but grows increasingly treacherous. It is haunted house horror movie constructed from familiar bits of other films but crafted, worked, and molded into something fresh and new. James Wan's film relies on the repeated build of tension resulting in something of a jump scare release, not unlike a theme park attraction, be it a haunted house or roller coaster. It is more scary by implication than by what you see.
3. Source Code. This is a lot more than a clever science fiction film. It seeks to bring a sense of hope to the world, even while asking more questions and introducing questionable morality. The Source Code works as intended, but even more not as intended. Sure, its replaying of a sequence multiple times brings to mind Vantage Point and Dennis Quaid's "Stop! Rewind that." exclamation, but it goes beyond that. Little differences each time that could potentially display the faultiness of memory or perhaps something else. Source Code does not explain a lot, nor should it, it retains a mystery about Colter's reality, the origins of the Source Code, and our desire to do good.
2. Hanna. This really is an engrossing film. From the moment the film starts I was intrigued by Hanna, curious as to what made her tick, interested by why her father chose to raise her this way, and wondering why Veigler was so intent on getting her hands on the girl. Layer by layer, piece by piece the picture is put together, leaving enough space for you to fill in some of the gaps.
1. Super 8. Super 8 is a movie that fires on all cylinders. It takes me back to my younger days watching movies, it demonstrates the love of filmmaking by those involved, and is just great all around. Just thinking about it makes me smile and want to head back to the theater. This is a movie that doesn't play like a potential franchise, it has a goal of providing a great story for everyone while reminding us what made the 80's great. It is not merely a throwback film, it is a successful attempt at making a family friendly adventure without a cynical bone in its body.
See you at the end of the year!