2008: A Cinematic Odyssey

Film Reviews and Other Pop Culture Happenings

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2009: Ratings

Posted by Jesse on December 28, 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen / F
Fame / D-
The Last House on the Left
/ D
Brüno / D+
Amelia / D+
He’s Just Not That Into You / D+
The Blind Side / C-
The Proposal / C
Watchmen / C
17 Again / C
Brothers / C
I Love You, Man
/ C+
Sunshine Cleaning / C+
Glorious 39 / C+
The Hangover / B-
The Private Lives of Pippa Lee / B-
Julie & Julia / B-
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
/ B
Away We Go / B
Los abrazos rotos (Broken Embraces) / B+
It’s Complicated / B+
Star Trek / B+
Drag Me To Hell / B+
Avatar / B+
Where the Wild Things Are / A-
The Princess and the Frog / A-
J’ai tué ma mère (I Killed My Mother) / A-
Nine / A-
An Education / A
(500) Days of Summer / A
Inglourious Basterds / A+
A Serious Man / A+
Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire / A+
Up / A+
A Single Man / A+
The Hurt Locker / A+
Up in the Air / A+


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Long time no see! A 2009 Recap.

Posted by Jesse on December 28, 2009

So it’s been a while.. a long while!
After this year long hiatus, I am back and ready to maintain this blog.

I’ll start, like last year, by listing the major film-related events in pointform that happened to me this year:

  • Went to theatres to see the remake of Wes Craven’s cult classic The Last House on the Left… not impressed.
  • Saw, with friends, He’s Just Not that Into You… And I just wasn’t into it.
  • Was extremely excited for, but ultimately let down by Zack Snyder’s Watchmen.
  • Caught up with a friend and saw Up. The most fun I had at a movie all summer.
  • Saw the unfortunate sequel to the unfortunate film TransformersTransformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
  • Saw the embarrassing docu-style comedy Brüno.
  • Star Trek-ed it up and had an amazing time.
  • Was very impressed by the breakout comedy The Hangover.
  • Went to the midnight screening of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince after a long, long wait.
  • After a Jason Mraz concert in Toronto, finally saw (500) Days of Summer and it remained my favourite film of ’09 for most of the summer…
  • Until I saw Inglourious Basterds.
  • Saw the atrocious remake of Fame.
  • Attended TIFF ’09! ——- My second Toronto Film Festival experience.
  • Bought tickets for Valhalla  Rising, I Killed My Mother, Glorious 39 and The Private Lives of Pippa Lee.
  • First film I saw was Valhalla Rising. I expected more, it was mediocre at best.
  • A friend and I then saw Stephen Poliakoff’s Glorious 39. In attendance was Poliakoff, Romola Garai, Bill Nighy and acting legend Julie Christie (the stars of the film). Overall, the film was more like a Hallmark TV movie, but I enjoyed it.
  • Third was Xavier Dolan’s critically acclaimed French-Canadian film I Killed My Mother. It was the best movie I saw all festival and one of the best I’ve seen this year. It’s also Canada’s submission to the Foreign Language Film category at this year’s Oscars.
  • Another friend and I waited in the rush line for Precious tickets for 4 hours, but were unlucky. We were lucky at celeb spotting that day, however: Oprah Winfrey, Gabourey Sidibe, Mariah Carey, Paula Patton, Robin Thicke, Mary J. Blige, Sherri Shepherd, Tyler Perry, Atom Egoyan and Julianne Moore. It was very exciting.
  • Lastly, I saw The Private Lives of Pippa Lee. In attendance were director Rebecca Miller, Robin Wright and Keanu Reeves. The film was solid and I enjoyed it very much. A nice conclusion to my TIFF ’09 experience.
  • Saw Where the Wild Things Are and was extremely impressed. Very fun and very charming film.
  • Was terribly disappointed by the mega-hyped Amelia after seeing it at an advanced screening.
  • Went to see the critically acclaimed and Oscar-buzzed An Education.
  • Saw one of my most anticipated films of the year, A Serious Man. It’s easily 2009’s best.
  • After being jipped at TIFF, finally got to see Precious. Astounding piece of filmmaking.
  • Saw Tom Ford’s directorial debut A Single Man. One of the best films of the year. Absolutely mesmerizing.
  • Saw a double feature: The Princess and the Frog and Brothers. Loved the first, disliked the latter.
  • Saw The Blind Side in theatres with friends. The trailer made it look like utter crap… and it was. Bullock was okay. Oscar-worthy? Not a chance.
  • Finally caught up and watched Julie & Julia. Meryl could win a third Oscar for this.
  • Watched The Hurt Locker after having it on my computer for months. All the hype over this film is deserved. It’s a masterpiece.
  • During my trip to Ottawa, saw Up in the Air with a friend.
  • My holiday break started with a 3-D experience: Avatar. Very disappointed. Doesn’t live up to the hype at all.
  • Finished off the year with another double feature: It’s Complicated and Nine. Both were wonderful.

After that rather long update of my 2009 cinematic journey, I’m going to leave you with my top 10 films of 2009.
I still have a few to see (The Lovely Bones, Invictus, Sherlock Holmes, Fantastic Mr. Fox, District 9, The Last Station, Coraline, The Road, Bright Star, The Messenger and The White Ribbon, but I’m getting there).

Top 10 of 2009:

  4. UP
  8. (500) DAYS OF SUMMER
  10. NINE

Until next post, Auf Wiedersehen. —–

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Film Update – 15 December 2008

Posted by Jesse on December 14, 2008

Here’s a re-cap of the films I’ve seen from 2008 so far and what I think of them:

  • Jumper / F
  • High School Musical 3: Senior Year / D-
  • You Don’t Mess With the Zohan / D-
  • Rambo / D-
  • 27 Dresses / D+
  • The Incredible Hulk / C-
  • I Could Never Be Your Woman / C-
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull / C-
  • 21 / C
  • Bonneville / C+
  • Cloverfield / C+
  • Then She Found Me / B-
  • Charlie Bartlett / B-
  • Get Smart / B-
  • Religulous / B-
  • The Life Before Her Eyes / B
  • Pineapple Express / B
  • Quantum of Solace / B
  • Forgetting Sarah Marshall / B
  • Be Kind Rewind / B
  • Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day / B+
  • Wanted / B+
  • Tropic Thunder / B+
  • Kung Fu Panda / B+
  • Iron Man / B+
  • Blindness / B+
  • Funny Games / B+
  • Changeling / B+
  • Gran Torino / B+
  • [Rec] / A-
  • Burn After Reading / A-
  • In Bruges / A-
  • Happy-Go-Lucky / A-
  • Frost/Nixon / A-
  • The Reader / A-
  • Rachel Getting Married / A
  • The Wrestler / A
  • Doubt / A
  • WALL-E / A+
  • The Dark Knight / A+
  • Milk / A+
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button / A+
  • Slumdog Millionaire / A+

I still need to see Revolutionary Road, I’ve Loved You So Long, Frozen River, The Visitor, Bolt, Defiance and a few others before I can sum up the year.

But for now, this is what I rate the year as a whole:

2008 / A-

A great year for film… not nearly as good as 2007, but better than most other years this decade.

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Oscar Predictions – 8 December 2008

Posted by Jesse on December 8, 2008

Okay, let’s get right into this. My predictions for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design and Best Animated Film will be posted here today.

Best Animated Feature Film

  • Kung Fu Panda
  • WALL-E
  • Waltz with Bashir

Best Costume Design

  • Catherine Martin / Australia
  • Jacqueline West / The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Jenny Beavan / Defiance
  • Michael O’Connor / The Duchess
  • Albert Wolsky / Revolutionary Road

Best Art Direction

  • Catherine Martin / Australia
  • Donald Graham Burt / The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Nathan Crowley / The Dark Knight
  • Briggite Broch / The Reader
  • Kristi Zea / Revolutionary Road

Best Cinematography

  • Mandy Walker / Australia
  • Claudio Miranda / The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Wally Pfister / The Dark Knight
  • Chris Menges / The Reader
  • Roger Deakins / Revolutionary Road

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Eric Roth / The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • John Patrick Shanley / Doubt
  • Peter Morgan / Frost/Nixon
  • Justin Haythe / Revolutionary Road
  • Simon Beaufoy / Slumdog Millionaire

Best Original Screenplay

  • Dustin Lance Black / Milk
  • Jenny Lumet / Rachel Getting Married
  • Woody Allen / Vicky Cristina Barcelona
  • Andrew Stanton / WALL-E
  • Robert D. Siegel / The Wrestler

Best Supporting Actress

  • Taraji P. Henson / The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Viola Davis / Doubt
  • Rosemarie DeWitt / Rachel Getting Married
  • Kate Winslet / The Reader
  • Penélope Cruz / Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Best Supporting Actor

  • Heath Ledger / The Dark Knight
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman / Doubt
  • Josh Brolin / Milk
  • James Franco / Milk
  • Michael Shannon / Revolutionary Road

Best Actress

  • Cate Blanchett / The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Meryl Streep / Doubt
  • Sally Hawkins / Happy-Go-Lucky
  • Anne Hathaway / Rachel Getting Married
  • Kate Winslet / Revolutionary Road

Best Actor

  • Frank Langella / Frost/Nixon
  • Clint Eastwood / Gran Torino
  • Sean Penn / Milk
  • Leonardo DiCaprio / Revolutionary Road
  • Mickey Rourke / The Wrestler

Best Director

  • David Fincher / The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Christopher Nolan / The Dark Knight
  • Ron Howard / Frost/Nixon
  • Gus Van Sant / Milk
  • Danny Boyle / Slumdog Millionaire

Best Picture

  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • The Dark Knight
  • Frost/Nixon
  • Milk
  • Slumdog Millionaire

Well, that’s what I have to say for now. My next predictions will come after the Golden Globe Awards are announced on Thursday, December 11th. I will review these and post updated ones in a week.

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Film Update – 8 December 2008

Posted by Jesse on December 8, 2008

Since I haven’t utilized this blog since July, I will take it upon me to update my top 10 of 2008, my Oscar predictions and everything else that has happened in the film world since July. At least I will try…

Here’s a point form list of what I have done relating to film since the end of July:

  • Attended the gala premiere of the film Blindness at the Toronto International Film Festival
  • Attended a screening of the film The Wrestler at the Toronto International Film Festival
  • Saw the Coen Brothers’ new film Burn After Reading in the theaters
  • Saw the disgusting sequel High School Musical 3: Senior Year in theaters
  • Attended a special presentation at my school, York University, from cinematographer Paul Sarossy. He screened one of Atom Egoyan’s films that he worked on: Where the Truth Lies.
  • Saw the 22nd Bond film, Quantum of Solace, in theaters
  • Saw Clint Eastwood’s film Changeling
  • Attended a special screening of David Fincher’s new film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button at an AMC in downtown Toronto on December 3rd
  • Finally watched WALL-E on DVD

That’s pretty much all that has happened since the beginning of August. Sad, I know.

But I also have three exciting films that I will be seeing all in one day on Wednesday, December 10th, 2008. These films are: Milk, Frost/Nixon and Slumdog Millionaire.

I will post here with an even more up-to-date top 10 of 2008 list after I see those films.

But for now, this is my current top 10 of 2008:

  1. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  2. The Dark Knight
  3. WALL-E
  4. The Wrestler
  5. Changeling
  6. In Bruges
  7. Burn After Reading
  8. [Rec]
  9. Funny Games U.S.
  10. Blindness

I have to say I am pleased with this list so far… but I know [Rec], Funny Games and Blindness will not be on the list for much longer.

As for what has happened Awards-wise… the National Board of Review announced its winners on December 4th. They were as follows:

Best Picture of 2008 Slumdog Millionaire

Best Director – David Fincher for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Best Actor – Clint Eastwood for Gran Torino

Best Actress – Anne Hathaway for Rachel Getting Married

Best Supporting Actor – Josh Brolin for Milk

Best Supporting Actress – Penélope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Best Original Screenplay – Nick Schenk for Gran Torino

Best Adapted Screenplay – Eric Roth for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button & Simon Beaufoy for Slumdog Millionaire

Best Foreign Film Mongol

Best Documentary Man on Wire

Best Animated Feature WALL-E

Best Breakthrough Performance by an Actor – Dev Patel for Slumdog Millionaire

Best Breakthrough Performance by an Actress – Viola Davis for Doubt

Best Directorial Debut – Courtney Hunt for Frozen River

Spotlight Award – Melissa Leo for Frozen River & Richard Jenkins for The Visitor

Best Ensemble Cast Doubt

Top Five Foreign Films The Edge of Heaven, Let the Right One In, Roman de Gare, A Secret, Waltz with Bashir

Top Five Documentaries American Teen, The Betrayal (Nerakhoon), Dear Zachary, Encounters at the End of the World, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired

Top Ten Independent Films Frozen River, In Bruges, In Search of a Midnight Kiss, Mr. Foe, Rachel Getting Married, Snow Angels, Son of Rambow, Wendy and Lucy, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, The Visitor

Top Ten Films Burn After Reading, Changeling, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Defiance, Frost/Nixon, Gran Torino, Milk, WALL-E, The Wrestler

Overall, I was pleased with the winners. The ones that surprised me the most were Clint Eastwood for Best Actor and Gran Torino for Original Screenplay. I haven’t seen the film yet, but I just don’t understand the constant Eastwood love. I hope the film is great and Eastwood deserves it, otherwise I will be very angry. I also don’t quite understand why Mongol, a film nominated for the Foreign Film Oscar in 2007, won the award here for this year. Either way, the awards were all great and undoubtedly well deserved.

In my next post I will discuss my Oscar Predictions as of now.

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TIFF ’08: The Toronto International Film Festival

Posted by Jesse on December 8, 2008

On September 6th and September 13th, I attended The Toronto International Film Festival. The Festival, which started on September 5th, was full of wonderful films this year and I was lucky enough to see two of them. On September 6th, I attended the gala premiere of Fernando Meirelles’ new film Blindness. On the 13th, which was the closing day of the festvial, I attended a screening of Darren Aronofsky’s new film The Wrestler. Both of these films were great and the experience will stick with me for a long time. It was my first film festival experience, but it definitely won’t be my last.

Alice Braga in Blindness (2008)

Alice Braga in Blindness (2008)

The best part of the festival had to be seeing all of the stars walk down the red carpet at the gala premiere of Blindness. Stars like John Malkovich, Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo, Gael Garcia Bernal, Geoffrey Rush, Evangeline Lily, Dominic Monaghan, Danny Glover, Sandra Oh and the extremely lovely Julianne Moore walked only steps in front of me down that luminous carpet. After waiting outside for a long time to get into the theatre, a friend and I took our seats in the second row and awaited the speech from director Fernando Meirelles. Once he walked out onto the stage I was in awe. He was literally six feet away from me speaking about his work on the film and how proud he was to be presenting it at the Toronto International Film Festival. Meirelles is one of my favourite directors and watching him speak with such passion about his art was really inspirational. After he spoke, he introduced his cast and had them walk out on stage. Having Julianne Moore stand only eight feet away from me is something I will never erase from my memory. She looked fantastic and I was so lucky to share the viewing of this film with its fantastic cast and director.

Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler (2008)

Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler (2008)

The screening of The Wrestler, however, was not a gala premiere. There were no stars or director on a red carpet, but the experience was still wonderful. The film screened in one of Ryerson University’s theatres and we once again got decent seats. This film was miles better than Blindness and I was in shock over Mickey Rourke’s performance. I never knew the man could act like he did. This is a film that will, or at least should, be recognized come Oscar season.

The Film Festival experience of mine was truly memorable. I shared it with good friends and I know they won’t forget it anytime soon either. I cannot wait until next year for TIFF ’09! I will certainly be going and seeing even more films in the upcoming year.

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Film Update – 20 July 2008

Posted by Jesse on July 20, 2008

This is my first film update on this blog. In these film updates I will be talking about the films I have seen in the past few days, what reviews are coming soon and some brief thoughts on the week film-wise and otherwise. Lists will undoubtedly be common to these posts, too.

This past weekend (18 July – 20 July), I’ve seen some very amazing films. Some new ones and some that I decided to re-watch.

On July 18, I went to the local Cineplex to try and buy tickets for The Dark Knight. I knew I was going to be unsuccessful, but I thought I’d try anyways. There was over 1,000 people in line and it was way passed the sold out point. So I just bought tickets for the Saturday night show (10:30). I came back on Saturday and waited in line for forty-five minutes. I must say it was worth the wait. The Dark Knight is not only the greatest film of 2008 thus far, but one of the best films I have seen. It had everything I was looking for and it blew my expectations right out of the water. It was brilliant and I will definitely be seeing it again very soon.

Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight (2008)

Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight (2008)

Apparently The Dark Knight has set two box office records, also. It has the highest opening day numbers with well over $67 million and the highest three-day weekend numbers with well over $155 million. It just surpassed Spider-Man 3‘s numbers by a few million dollars to take the record. The Dark Knight was also successful on www.imdb.com. As of July 20, it has been voted by its users to be the #1 film of all time. Naturally, it will drop back down on the list, but this is quite the achievement. The Godfather has been holding that position firmly for many, many years and only one film has come close to dislodging it; The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King in early 2004 (which peaked at #2). I wish the film good luck and I hope it will break more records and be successful not only in North America, but worldwide.

I also have to mention the late, great Heath Ledger. His performance in the film as The Joker was absolutely phenomenal. Talks of a posthumous Oscar are undeniably possible. He makes Jack Nicholson look like Betty Boop and brings a new meaning to “comic book villain”. I will write more on Heath in the upcoming review of the film (which I am very excited about).

So far, this year has been good. Not as impressive as 2006 or 2007 yet, but we still have Awards season to get through which I have high hopes for.

My ten most anticipated films of 2008:

  1. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Fincher, USA)
  2. The Dark Knight (Nolan, USA)
  3. Revolutionary Road (Mendes, USA/UK)
  4. Blindness (Meirelles, CAN/BRZ/JAP)
  5. Burn After Reading (Coen, USA)
  6. Vicky Christina Barcelona (Allen, USA/SPN)
  7. Changeling (Eastwood, USA)
  8. Australia (Luhrmann, USA/AUSL)
  9. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Yates, UK/USA)
  10. Iron Man (Favreau, USA)

Also, here’s a list of what I consider to be the ten best films of the year so far. Keep in mind, I haven’t seen many films. I’ve only seen a few, but these ten stood out.

Top 10 of 2008 Thus Far:

  1. The Dark Knight
  2. [Rec]
  3. Funny Games (U.S.)
  4. Kung Fu Panda
  5. Iron Man
  6. Wanted
  7. Be Kind Rewind
  8. The Life Before Her Eyes
  9. Charlie Bartlett
  10. Then She Found Me

I also re-watched the following movies this week (and updated some ratings):

  • Fight Club (1999, Fincher) [10/10] ♥30
  • The Usual Suspects (1995, Singer) [10/10] ♥50
  • Paris, je t’aime (2007, various) [9.5/10] ♥150
  • Hable con ella [Talk to Her] (2002, Almodóvar) [10/10] ♥30
  • Goodfellas (1990, Scorsese) [10/10] ♥20

* s indicate the placement of the film on my favourite films list (eg., ♥50 means the film is in my top 50 of all time)

That’s it for this update. A review of The Dark Knight will be coming soon along with reviews of Taxi Driver and The Edge of Heaven (Auf der anderen Seite).


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