Monthly Archives: December 2007

The Ten Funniest Scenes in Film: 2007

2007 has been a banner year for comedy. Movies like “Superbad”, “Knocked Up”, and “Hot Fuzz” reinvented the comedy genre. Here is a list of the funniest scenes in films this year.

10. “Lars and the Real Girl” – Lars introduces Bianca to Karin and Gus.
– The audience is aware of who Bianca is, but the moment she is introduced is terrific. The look on their faces is priceless, as is Lars’ interaction with her throughout the scene.

9. “The Darjeeling Limited” – The Tiger
– It only lasts a few seconds, but when Angelica Huston’s character explains that the tiger “ate one of the sister’s brothers” at the convent, everyone in the theater started to crack up. The movie was more serious than funny, but this scene really stuck out.

8. “Joshua” – Joshua talks to the homeless man
– Oh, this wasn’t supposed to be funny? Oops. I’m sorry, but when Joshua propositions the homeless guy with “I’ll give you five dollars if you let me throw a rock at you” I was laughing very hard. Yeah, it was a freaky movie and I probably shouldn’t have laughed as loud as I did in the small theater.

7. “Superbad” – I am McLovin
– The most repeated quote from any movie this year, in a completely genius scene. Christopher Mintz-Plasse did a terrific job as the single-named geek without a clue and will probably pop up in every comedy in the next few years.

6. “The Simpsons Movie” – Tom Hanks
– A great celebrity cameo. Tom Hanks is probably the nicest movie star and I bet if you met him in real life he would be totally awesome, and answer any questions and sign autographs, and just be normal. I love it when celebrities make fun of themselves.

5. “Knocked Up” – No more lies
– Kristen Wiig is the new it girl of comedy after starring roles in this film and in “Walk Hard.” She’s also the only good thing about “SNL” right now. This scene is the scene in which Katherine Heigl’s character lets the execs know about her pregnancy and Wiig’s character creepily opens up to how she wants to be friends, but wants “no more lies.” Hilarious!

4. “Juno” – Juno meets the Lorings
– The whole scene is funny from beginning to end, especially at the end when Juno tells them, “You should’ve gone to China, you know, ’cause I hear they give away babies like free iPods. You know, they pretty much just put them in those t-shirt guns and shoot them out at sporting events.” Also, the mock photos of Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner on the wall are priceless.

3. “Superbad” – Drawing penises disorder
– The term “a big veiny one” became a big addition to the American teenage dictionary this year after the unbelievable montage of Jonah Hill’s character’s awkwardly creepy childhood disorder. The credits of the movie also feature many different themed penis drawings that are definitely worth a watch.

2. “Knocked Up” – High, and sitting on chairs in the hotel
– The movie was unfortunately disappointing but it had some of the funniest scenes this year. Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen are high as kites and have a very difficult time choosing chairs to sit in in their hotel room. It sounds stupid, but it plays out hilariously.

1. “Hot Fuzz” – Romeo + Juliet
– Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s character’s find themselves at the theater seeing a terrible version of Romeo and Juliet. At the very end all the dead characters wake up and start singing “Lovefool” ala Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet.” I was almost on the floor laughing through the whole movie, but this scene had me in tears.

There you have it, let me know what you think!

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Filed under Best of list, Hot Fuzz, Joshua, Juno, Knocked Up, Superbad, The Darjeeling Limited

National Film Registry Announces Library of Congress Inductees

It’s always great to see these additions to the registry, ensuring their preservation. Many films released before 1950 have been destroyed due to their short lifespans. The fact that the National Film Registry has chosen “Back to the Future” makes me extremely happy, and brings a newfound faith to the organization. With the inclusion of these 25 films, the list has now risen to 475 films.

– “The Naked City”

– “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”

– “In a Lonely Place”

– “Oklahoma!”

– “Back to the Future”

– “12 Angry Men”

– “The Strong Man”

– “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”

– “Bullitt” (1968)

– “Dance, Girl, Dance” (1940)

– “Dances With Wolves” (1990)

– “Days of Heaven” (1978)

– “Glimpse of the Garden” (1957)

– “Grand Hotel” (1932)

– “The House I Live In” (1945)

– “Mighty Like a Moose” (1926)

– “Now, Voyager” (1942)

– “Our Day” (1938)

– “Peege” (1972)

– “The Sex Life of the Polyp” (1928)

– “Three Little Pigs” (1933)

– “Tol’able David” (1921)

– “Tom, Tom the Piper’s Son” (1969-71)

– “The Women” (1939)

– “Wuthering Heights” (1939)

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Review: Michael Clayton

At one point in his career George Clooney was never considered a great actor. After his Oscar win for 2005’s “Syriana” and multiple nominations for his sophomore directorial effort “Good Night, and Good Luck” he became bigger than ever. His portrayal in the new law drama “Michael Clayton” will most certainly bring him another nomination. The film itself is also unexpectedly accessible for its genre.

The film is surprisingly well paced unlike most law-related films. It would be easy to assume it would be boring and unremarkable but it is quite the opposite. It tells the story of its titular character, a man who is the “janitor” of a law firm. He fixes problems no matter how tedious. His law firm, in the middle of a deposition involving a lawsuit against its biggest client U-North, faces a huge setback when one of their most prestigious lawyers Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson) suffers a mental breakdown.

Michael puts the case into his own hands, trying to use evidence found by Arthur to bring down the corporation. Unluckily for Michael he is thwarted by U-North’s counsel Karen Crowder (Tilda Swinton) on many occasions.

The film is held up by both its stars and its unbelievably strong script. Michael Clayton is a very layered character. There seems to be a weakness to him, but it does not affect his ability to do his job. He suffers from money problems and a gambling vice, but he still figures out how to bring people to their knees. George Clooney does a superb job at bringing this man to life. He gets the attention of both his adversaries and the audience. Clooney still infuses the character with his unmistakable charm, but Clayton has many dark sides that set him apart from other roles that the actor has played.

Tilda Swinton also does a very good job as the sneaky, scheming Karen Crowder. She is extremely vulnerable and Swinton does a very good job at showing how someone in Karen’s position would behave. There are many scenes involving Karen’s many preparations for her representational speeches for U-North that are notably realistic. It seems that Swinton really got into her character’s mind.

Tom Wilkinson is probably the most memorable part about “Michael Clayton.” Arthur Edens is one of Wilkinson’s best performances of all time. We get to witness an intense mental breakdown through his execution of a wonderful achievement on screen. The film actually opens with shots of New York City and an answering machine message from Arthur to Michael that sets up both characters. Just that simple narration sets up the tight rope of acting that Wilkinson easily crosses through the film.

“Michael Clayton” is a film that could have easily floundered with a lesser script and a weak cast. Fortunately, first time director Tony Gilroy put all the pieces together that all made a great flick, one that should not be missed. Everything is intelligently tied up at the very end. There is nothing missing or excessive, and the whole film becomes very satisfying when all of the plot points begin to click together in one of the coolest endings in recent film history. “Michael Clayton” is a serious film that doesn’t flop over, which often happens with movies in its genre and is just a genuinely refreshing piece of work.

Grade: A

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Review: Juno

If there was a movie that could represent the year 2007, it would be “Juno.” In the twelve months of this year, there hasn’t been one movie that has been as spectacularly extraordinary as Jason Reitman’s newest opus of quirk and celluloid genius. No other film has taken its viewers and wrapped them up in the kind of love like this unforgettable gem. There is no other film released in 2007 that is better than “Juno.”

The adorable and wonderfully talented Ellen Page plays the titular character, a girl who unfortunately finds herself with child and must face the challenges of teenage pregnancy. After telling the baby’s benefactor Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera), she tells her father (J.K. Simmons) and her step-mother (Allison Janney) about her setback and while they are very concerned they give her their support. She decides to give the baby up for adoption to a pair of yuppies Vanessa (Jennifer Garner) and Mark (Jason Bateman). After that the movie tells ordeal that is the pregnancy of Juno.

Juno is an offbeat teenage girl, someone who seems very confident about who she is as a person but is actually quite layered and weak as you watch her go through her unlucky misfortune. Ellen Page turns in this remarkable performance, one of the best this year. The character of Juno felt completely real because Page made her real. You don’t feel like you are watching Ellen Page playing the character Juno, you feel as though this is a real girl with real emotions just living the life she has always known. Ellen Page grabbed onto this juicy role and just let everything out.

Last year Ellen Page wowed critics and audiences with her chilling performance in the cautionary film “Hard Candy.” With her performance in Juno, she truly shows her range as an actress. In one particular scene, she scolds Bleeker about his lack of support during her knocked up months. Juno’s hormones are obviously in a complete imbalance and Page brings out strong, believable feelings. You can sense the true emotions that are occurring on the screen.

Luckily for Page, she also has a formidable supporting cast. Michael Cera has had a huge following since his hilarious job on the short-lived series “Arrested Development.” He is flourishing into a wonderful young actor and with his job in this film he will become huge. Janney and Simmons also turn in superb performances and steal every scene they’re in. Jason Bateman (who also starred on “Arrested Development”) is quite memorable, and shows that his comeback is still going on and that we’ve got a lot to see from him.

Jennifer Garner is an actress who has gotten a lot of flack for some bad choices in films (“Elektra”, “Catch and Release”). All of the bad criticism she received for those movies can be totally thrown away after her touching role in “Juno.” She was unquestionably one of the reasons this film was so lovable.

Besides Page and Garner, there is another star that makes this film as wondrous as it is: Diablo Cody. At one point in her life she was a stripper, and now she’s writing genius film. The witty dialogue, the inspired narration, and every little detail can all be attributed to her extraordinarily hilarious and touching screenplay. It’s easy to think that the hype towards her script was associated with her unorthodox background. The hype is there because the script is just terrific. This film is essentially her baby (no pun intended), and it must be amazingly refreshing to see it born into such beauty.

Jason Reitman will most certainly become the new go-to director. He is the son of comedy directing giant Ivan Reitman, and it’s obvious that the talent is genetic. He crafted a very great film using unbelievably talented actors, a wonderfully detailed production design, and a spectacular soundtrack featuring excellent artists such as The Kinks, Belle & Sebastian, and The Moldy Peaches (whose tune “Anyone Else But You” turns out to be the anthem of the entire film).

From beginning to end, “Juno” is a sparkling gem that delivers laughs, tears, and that warm feeling that very few films can bring. In a year full of films that disappointed a lot of people, it is very nice to say that “Juno” is completely satisfactory and affecting on many levels. Go see Juno.

Grade: A

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A Look at "Where the Wild Things Are"

Spike Jonze, who directed one of the best films of the 90s “Being John Malkovich”, has been working on a live action adaptation of one of my favorite children’s books “Where the Wild Things Are.” With a cast including Paul Dano, Forest Whitaker, Catherine O’Hara, Catherine Keener, Lauren Ambrose, and Tony Soprano this should be something to keep an eye on. Take a look, and click for a bigger view!

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DVD Review: Broken English

Over the past fifteen years Parker Posey has become one of the main queens of the indie screen. She has appeared in a few Hollywood blockbusters (“Superman Returns”, “Blade: Trinity”) but she usually is more recognized for her great indie work in the Christopher Guest films and in other small movies like “The Daytrippers” and “Party Girl.” She returned her indie roots this year with Zoe Cassavetes’ much anticipated Sundance hit “Broken English.”

Unfortunately, “Broken English” is a complete letdown. The entire film plays like a boring, meaningless episode of “Sex in the City.” Posey plays Nora Wilder, a sexy New York single who has a successful job at a hotel, but just finds she wants more out of life. She dates many guys from an actor to a blind date but doesn’t find the man of her dreams until she meet mysterious Frenchman Julian at a party. But Nora’s insecurities keep getting in her way of getting what she wants, so she loses Julian and must go to France to track him down.

The film does not play out like real life. It’s absolutely impossible to connect to Posey’s character or any of the other characters for that matter. Every scene gives a little hope towards plot/character development, and the whole time one can’t help but ask what the point of this movie is. It is truly a pointless movie.

We’re supposed to understand the social troubles of Nora, and it’s very hard when every thing her character does is erratic. Nothing about her character connects from one scene to another and nothing about the film makes any sense. Another downside to Nora is her lack of likeability. She has friends which makes no sense because she is always in a bad mood, and she is constantly lying to everyone for no reason.

Parker Posey does perform as well as she possibly could with such a weak script. There are many scenes in which she appears to be drunk, for absolutely no reason whatsoever. It’s possible that Posey wanted her character to seem afraid, but instead it just comes off as awkward and annoying. She’s up for an Independent Spirit Award, which is very confusing because she really has done better in her previous films.

It’s easy to feel bad for the director. Zoe Cassavetes comes from a big filmmaking family. Her sister Xan had a wondrous debut with the documentary “Z Channel” last year while her brother Nick came out with the heartfelt “The Notebook” a few years back. Her father is the legendary actor/director John Cassavetes. The directing niche does not seem to have transferred to Zoe, which is very disappointing. If she decides to go behind the camera again, it would be wiser to get a better script.

It is also easy to feel bad for the supporting cast which includes legends such as Gena Rowlands and Peter Bogdanovich (both of which are completely underused) and new indie actors like Drea de Matteo and Justin Theroux. Justin Theroux is actually the highlight of the film, playing an actor who is completely in love with himself. Drea de Matteo should have been like her alter ego on “The Sopranos” and stayed dead instead of being in this piece of garbage.

With a weak script and awkward acting, “Broken English” just falls flat. Nothing about the film is worthy of merit except for Posey’s somewhat commendable job and Theroux’s few memorable scenes. Parker Posey has a long line of hits and misses, and this is another miss to add to that list. Ms. Posey, for the love of film, stick with Christopher Guest… please.

Grade: C-

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What We’ve Seen From Watchmen So Far

I haven’t been posting anything about the “Watchmen” movie up until this point, and I have no idea because what we’ve been given is amazing. This has the potential to be a really great comic book movie (even better than the previous adaptation of an Alan Moore comic, V for Vendetta).

Here’s what we got a couple of weeks ago (click for much bigger versions):

Here’s what was posted on Zak Snyder’s blog today… it’s Dave Gibbons (the original comic artist) with the older Nite Owl costume… Mmmmm…

It looks like they’re staying very faithful and if you read Gibbons’ set visit note, you’ll see how happy he is with what is going on.

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