Saturday, January 16, 2010

The David's: 2009

So a while ago my friend Chase was telling me about how good of a year 2009 had been for movies. I kinda shrugged my shoulders and smiled while nodding my head. It was pretty good, I thought to myself, nothing spectacular. District 9, Inglourious Basterds, and Up were pretty good--but I didn't see anything on the horizon that I thought was really going to floor me.

And then I started to see them. Moon. The Cove. (500) Days of Summer. Avatar. Up in the Air and The Hurt Locker.

Each of these movies floored me with their ambition and risk-taking. Where was the Hollywood Oscar bait movies? The only musical that was in sight was Nine, and apparently that sucked. So what we were left with was original films from audacious filmmakers. 2009 really was one of the best years for film.

And with that I present "The David's". First a list of 10 movies that I felt were the best the year had to offer (in no real order)--then a few personal little recognitions.

Best Films:
The Hurt Locker
Up In The Air
Inglourious Basterds
District 9
(500) Days of Summer
The Cove
Where the Wild Things Are
Star Trek

Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker

Best Actor: Sam Rockwell in Moon

Best Actress: Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia

Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds

Best Supporting Actress: Anna Kendrick in Up in the Air

Best Original Screenplay: Tie between The Hurt Locker and Moon

Best Adapted Screenplay: Up in the Air

Best Special Effects: Avatar

Best Score: Michael Giacchino for Up

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Moon: See It Now

Moon is one of those movies that proves all that you need to make a classic film is original ideas, a good script, and a powerhouse performance. I will say that not only does Sam Rockwell deserve to be nominated for an oscar--but he deserves to win the damn thing. It is the best performance since Daniel Day-Lewis' in There Will Be Blood.

The flick's set-up is a rather simple one. You have a guy, Sam, who works on a space station (located on the moon, obviously) harvesting H-3, which is being used for energy down on Earth. It is just him and a helpful robot, Gerty. The deal is: he works on the station for 3 years, by himself, after which he gets to go home to his wife and daughter. Of course, things never go as planned and Sam runs into several obstacles (which i will remain spoiler-free on).

In my opinion this flick ranks up there with the great Hard-Sci-Fi films like Children of Men and Blade Runner. It is emotionally-riveting and the philosophical questions that it raises are more than thought-provoking. Im gonna keep this blog a bit short because, simply, words escape me on this film, as I was so surprised and impressed by it. All I really need to say is Moon is my favorite film of the year, and I think you at least need to go see it.

Oh, by the way--it was made for only 5 million dollars. Incredible.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Someone's Going to Emergency, Someone's Going to Jail

Lately I havent been able to stop listening to the Don Henley song "New York Minute." Really it's just the first two verses that really hook me in and after that the song never really let's go of its grip. The verses go like this:

Harry got up
Dressed all in black
Went down to the station
And he never came back
They found his clothing
Scattered somewhere down the track
And he won't be down on wall street in the morning

He had a home
The love of a girl
But men get lost sometimes
As years unfold
One day he crossed some line
And he was too much in this world
But I guess it doesn't matter anymore

The song goes on to state that in a "New York minute everything can change." I think that the brutal honesty of the song is its strong point. That life is flying by at a speed we can't wrap our heads around--so we need to take every chance we can get to do what we love. In a Six Feet Under episode a character once raised this sentiment by stating "You can't take a picture of this." No matter what you do--nothing lasts forever.

Now what got me hooked on the song is the West Wing episode "Someone's Going to Emergency, Someone's Going to Jail," where one of the main characters, Sam, has been working long hours because he found out that his father carried on an affair for years with his mother. It's an understated episode that starts off with a beautiful montage of Washington DC at dawn set to the Don Henley tune. But I didn't necessarily take anything about "fathers" per say from the episode. What I found more intriguing is how heartbreaking it can be to find out the truth--in anything. Sometimes the most damaging thing to a person's heart is to find out that the things you believe in are not necessarily true--or in some cases may actually just be wrong. I guess the idea of "ignorance being bliss" is really true, to a certain extent.

Would I rather my parents hadn't told me the details of their divorce? Maybe, it hurts to think of them as flawed human beings. But what happens when I find out the truth as I get older? What happens when I realize that the morals that I modeled my life after, never really existed in the first place? The truth always comes out and when it does--it can be devastating. I am proud of my parents and who they are. I guess all we can do is try our best to be as honest and as good--because we have no idea how much a facade can hurt someone.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Avatar: The Experience of 2009

So I saw Avatar (in 3D, of course) with my fiance and my Dad the Friday before the "Blizzard of '09". In fact the blizzard started while we were in the theater--when we came out there was already a good four inch white fuzzy blanket covering everything. It was a surreal experience going into a theater seeing just light flurries and coming out to a winter wonderland. But perhaps the only thing that could trump the sights outside of the theater would be the visual specticle we saw inside the theater.

Sure, what you have heard about Avatar is true in a certain sense--it's long and the dialogue is a bit hokey--but to me those a strengths rather than weaknesses. It is long because Cameron wants to envelope you in this world that he has created. He wants you to go on the same journey of discovery as the main character, Jake Sully. The dialogue is hokey--but only in a fun way. The type of way that puts a smile on your face rather than makes you roll your eyes. It's a fantasy/sci-fi movie--so the writing will feel a bit different, if not odd.

One reviewer stated that Avatar is "the closest we will get to visiting another planet." and I whole-heartedly agree with her. Cameron's attention to detail is what makes this film special, and this is due to the innovative 3D technology that was created specifically for the film. Once you get used to the 3D--which I will admit takes about 15 minutes--you forget that you are even wearing 3D glasses, or that you are even watching a 3D movie. You are literally watching an experience, and it works best if you simply let yourself get lost in it.

I guess the best way to sum the whole experience up is I felt like a kid watching Star Wars for the very first time. I wasn't critiquing it. I wasnt trying to spot things that looked fake or felt unreal. I was simply marvelling at a created universe that felt enormous and mysterious. I wanted to know more about this place that seemed so alien--yet somehow still made sense. I never doubted what was on (or in this case, in) the screen. I accepted it and came out giddy like I was when I was 8 years old and Luke Skywalker just blew up the Death Star without his radar.

In the Arcade Fire song "Wake Up" Win Butler sings "Now that I'm older, my heart's colder". I've always found myself able to relate to that particular line. Sure Im still more optimistic than most people my age, but I can still feel that when I was young the world was full of possibility and you literally could do anything that you wanted--even if it meant something as fantastic as exploring another world. When you're a kid you just think Sure, it's easy to visit another world. You just build a space ship and you go there. Done. Another film this year expressed a similar sentiment to which I wrote about earlier: Where the Wild Things Are. While Where the Wild Things Are showed me what is lost from growing up, Avatar reminded me of what it felt like to be a kid. And if a movie can do that--if it can make you feel like a kid for two-and-a-half hours-- then God bless it.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Interesting to say the least...

I know, I've already posted quite a bit today but this was just too interesting to pass up. took the time to tally up notable best-of-the-decade lists and you may be surprised who made the cut. Of course, to me, it is no surprise that There Will Be Blood is the number one film, as I whole-heartedly agree, it is interesting to see what else is on the list.


On a sidenote...

Congratulations to the Steelers for pulling out a winning record of a season that was plagued by injuries and mistakes. Even though they didn't make the playoffs they still had a fairly good season, especially considering what they went through. Regaurdless, my interest in the the playoffs just dropped by about 80%. I guess I'll be pulling for the Saints, considering after Katrina I've had an unexplained bleeding-heart affinity for anything New Orleans. I also think Brees is a class act quaterback. I guess we'll see. My biggest dilemma now is to figure out what to do on Sundays...

Harry Potter, Africa, Film Clubs, And Friends

So Lia and I are going to be watching the new Harry Potter flick tonight. We got it a while ago in netflix and just havent really been able to muster up theinterest for it to put it in our dvd player--especially while were are in the midst of intense family melodrama on the first season of Brothers & Sisters. Im sure it will be interesting enough--even though I really thought the Order of the Phoenix was quite boring and repetitive. I was tempted to send it back and get something else today but I feel guilty sending a netflix back without even watching it. For some strange reason it feels as though the "starving children in Africa" saying applies here. Like there are kids in Africa who would love to watch the new Harry Potter--so you shouldn't just let an oppurtunity pass so easily. Im weird, I know.

Although one of my New Year's resolutions (I have quite a few) is to not let oppurtunities pass. For instance I've always dreamed of finding a job writing about film or music in a magazine or some sort of publication. It doesn't need to be a paid position--although that certainly would be ideal--anything will do. I think what I'm really tackling with this reesolution is laziness. I need to work out more, I need to read more, I just in general need and want to do more.

Not to say I'm not happy. I certainly am--more so than Ive ever been in my entire life. I just think I need to get involved in things more. For instance there is this film society down at E-Street Cinema in DC (my favorite movie theatre actually) where people simply watch a certain film and then discuss it afterwards. Doesn't sound like much, but I think it'd be a pretty good way to meet people.

If I could say one thing that would be a goal to go along with my "opportunities" resolution, it would be to somehow meet new friends. I love and miss my friends from home a lot. I look at the rediculous mock-music videos that they make on facebook and I laugh--but I also feel a sense of melancholy. I could easily have been part of those shenanigans. Perhaps that is the worst part about work, there is noone really my age who has the same interests as I do. Not like Wilmington did. Perhaps this is simply a part of growing up. My main New Years resolution: to be a better friend to those in Wilmington, meanwhile making new relationships here in DC. It sounds like a simple enough goal--I think I can do it.