Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Year in Paul: 2004

What I’ve Seen

50 First Dates
Anchroman:The Legend of Ron Burgundy
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Fahrenheit 9/11
Friday Night Lights
Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Home on the Range
Howl’d Moving Castle
I, Robot
King Arthur
Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events
Mean Girls
Napoleon Dyamite
Ocean’s Twelve
Shark Tale
Shaun of the Dead
Shrek 2
Spider-Man 2
Super Size Me
Team America: World Police
The Aviator
The Bourne Supremacy
The Chronicles of Riddick
The Day After Tomorrow
The Forgotten
The Girl Next Door
The Incredibles
The Ladykillers
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
The Machinist
The Phantom of the Opera
The Polar Express
The Stepford Wives
The Terminal
Van Helsing
47 Total

The Best of What I’ve Seen

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Year in Paul: 2003

What I’ve Seen
A Mighty Wind
American Wedding
Brother Bear
Bruce Almighty
Cheaper By the Dozen
Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat
Finding Nemo
Freaky Firday
Goodbye Lenin!
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
Intolerable Cruelty
Kill Bill: Vol. 1
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Mystic River
Old School
Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
The School of Rock
Shortcut to Happiness
The Animatrix
The Corporation
The Fog of War
The Haunted Mansion
The Italian Job
The Jungle Book 2
The Last Samurai
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
The Matrix Reloaded
The Matrix Revolutions
Touching the Void
36 Total

A mild improvement over 2002, if only because there are more good movies. The amount of crap remains pretty high, and will for a few years after this, I’d imagine. I feel much better about my top five though, and don’t feel the need to name any runners up.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Film Reviews: Prometheus and Cross of Iron


While I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the Alien franchise, I was still thoroughly intrigued by Ridely Scott’s return. The first movie, the original Alien, is a little too high on the old Spook-o-meter for me, but I still liked it and respect what Scott did in the film. The second, James Cameron’s Aliens, is much more to my taste, and I mostly really enjoy it. Mostly. I haven’t seen movies three or four, and don’t plan to, but the first two contain plenty of good material worth revisiting*. So how does Scott do in his long-awaited return to sci-fi?

*However, I actually have seen the Aliens vs. Predators movie (the first one, anyway), which no one seems to dispute is essentially a big-budget fan fiction.

A prequel in the way that X-Men: First Class is a prequel, Prometheus tells the story of two scientists, Shaw and Holloway (Noomi Rapace and Logan Marshall-Green) who are able to demonstrate a recurring star pattern among ancient cave paintings that are otherwise unconnected. Funded by the gigantic Weyland Corporation, the two proceed to a star system that matches the pattern on the titular starship, looking for an alien civilization that may have influenced the creation (or at least development) of mankind. Also on the ship are a frosty Weyland representative named Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), the amusingly laconic captain (Idris Elba), and an android named David (Michael Fassbender), whose motives remain murky. The ship finds the target planet without incident, but (unsurprisingly) things start to go awry once they disembark and find a large facility of some sort, stocked with containers of a mysterious black ooze.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Year in Paul: 2002

What I’ve Seen

40 Days and 40 Nights
Austin Powers in Goldmember
Big Fat Liar
Blind Spot: Hitler’s Secretary
Catch Me If You Can
Gangs of New York
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Ice Age
In America
Kung Pow: Enter the Fist
Like Mike
Lilo and Stitch
Men in Black II
Minority Report
Mr. Deeds
Orange County
Pokemon 4
Punch-Drunk Love
Red Dragon
Reign of Fire
Return to Never Land
Snow Dogs
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams
Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones
The Bourne Identity
The Count of Monte Cristo
The Emperor’s Club
The Lord of Rings: The Two Towers
The Master of Disguise
The Powerpuff Girls
The Rookie
The Santa Clause 2
The Time Machine
The Tuxedo
Treasure Planet
Tuck Everlasting
Two Weeks Notice
Van Wilder
44 Total

2002 is the first year in a unfortunate time that will last for another few after this, during which I was finally old enough (12, for most of the year) to start seeing a lot of movies but not old enough to recognize when a movie is going to be, y’know, good. Consequently, I’ve seen a ton of terrible movies from 2002, and not a whole lot of good ones. I mean, look at that list above again. Yikes.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Film Reviews: 21 Jump Street and Vicky Cristina Barcelona

21 Jump Street

As time goes on, story ideas that were once relatively serious can seem increasingly comical. This is a trend that Hollywood has increasingly noticed; starting with 2004’s adaptation of Starsky and Hutch, it has become increasingly common to repurpose old properties into the new millennium with a fresh coat of irony. Just this year we’ve seen two, Dark Shadows and new Jonah Hill comedy, 21 Jump Street. The new film takes place in the same universe as the 80s TV show, and indeed several of the original cast members have brief cameos. Unlike the original show, however, this installment does not hesitate even slightly going for laughs above all else.

We begin with a brief prologue showing out two main characters, Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum), in high school. Schmidt is the smart dweeb who gets picked on by dumb jock Jenko, but when the two later attend the police academy together, both realize it is in their best interest to work together and they quickly become friends. However, neither is particularly good at the job—Schmidt is not assertive or confidant enough to be much of an intimidating presence to criminals, and Jenko too dumb to master the finer delicacies of the job*. The police chief (played in one hilarious scene by Ron Swanson himself, Nick Offerman) decides that the two nitwits would be better used in the newly restarted Jumpstreat program to infiltrate a local high school undercover and find the source of potent new drug that has found its way to the market. Unsurprisingly, things do not go smoothly.

Film Reviews: Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer and American Wedding

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
The middle of the last decade was not a good time for superhero movies. The current crop (which started with 2000’s X-Men) had begun to feel stale; the best of the early franchises, the X-Men and Spider-Man movies, were reaching their respective putrid third installments, and as a whole the genre was beginning to feel tired. In 2005, Fox released a Fantastic Four movie that could generously be labeled mediocre. Though already strained for creativity (aside from Michael Chiklis’ touching and energetic take on The Thing), box office returns necessitated a sequel by Hollywood conventional wisdom, so two years later we got Rise of the Silver Surfer. Its acronym, ROTSS, is an appropriate description of the result.

Taking place sometime after the first movie concluded, Rise of the Silver Surfer deals with the immanent threat of Galactus, a major marvel villain (here, somewhat inexplicitly, depicted as a huge cloud) who devours a planet in the film’s opening scene. We transition back to Earth, where we learn that the Four’s mega-celebrity status is getting in the way of the nuptials of Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) and Susan Storm (Jessica Alba). As they get ready for another attempt to tie the knot, strange things are happening worldwide, seemingly connected to a silver streak that appears in the sky. Can our heroes figure out a way to stop the impending threat before it’s too late?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Year in Paul: 2001

What I’ve Seen

A Beautiful Mind
A Knight’s Tale
American Pie 2
Atlantis: The Lost Empire
A Beautiful Mind
Black Hawk Down
Black Knight
Cats & Dogs
Cowboy Bebop: The Movie
Donnie Darko
Dr. Doolittle 2
Enemy at the Gates
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius
Legally Blonde
Millennium Actress
Monsters, Inc.
Not Another Tean Movie
Ocean’s 11
Pearl Harbor
Planet of the Ape
Recess: School’s Out
Rush Hour 2
Spirited Away
Spy Kids
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The Mark of Cain
The One
The Princess Diaries
The Royal Tenenbaums
34 Total

Monday, May 28, 2012

Movie Reviews: Chronicle, Men in Black III, Cars 2


With very few exceptions, I don’t watch horror movies. I don’t like the sensation of being scared, and so I have little interest in spending time and/or money watching something that is primarily interested in scaring me. One of the consequences of this avoidance, however, is that I have no real experience with the increasingly popular “found footage” genre, which (other than Cloverfield and a few other minor films that I have not seen) is mostly contained to the horror genre. As a result, this approach—especially in the context of a superhero origin story—seemed fresh and interesting.

Chronicle is the story of how three relatively normal teenage boys gain superpowers. Andrew, played by Dane DeHaan, is shy and introverted, frequently bullied both at school and by his unemployed, alcoholic father. His cousin Matt (Alex Russell) is a stoner with a fondness for pretentious philosophy, but is still able to fit in much better than Andrew. Matt’s friend Stephen (Michael B. Jordan, of The Wire and Friday Night Lights) is an extroverted golden boy, good at seemingly anything he tries and an aspiring politician. One night at a rave that Matt convinces Andrew to attend, the three find a mysterious meteorite (or something….) that grants them the power of telekinesis. As the boys use their powers, they grow stronger and stronger, eventually allowing the boys to fly, lift cars, and more. But although the three become fast friends, all is not well with Andrew, who remains lonely and isolated.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Year in Paul: 2000

What I’ve Seen

Almost Famous
American Psycho
Battle Royale
Best in Show
Chicken Run
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Dungeons & Dragons
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Miss Congeniality
Mission: Impossible II
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Pitch Black
Remember the Titans
Requiem for a Dream
Rugrats in Paris
Scary Movie
The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle
The Emperor’s New Groove
The Endurance
The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas
Titan A.E.
29 Total

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The 2012 I'm Right Awards

Welcome to the second annual I’m Right awards, we’re so delighted to have you! There are going to be a few changes from last year. For one, I’m abandoning the whole “random order” gimmick, on account of the fact that it was dumb. Instead, I’m replacing it with a new, better gimmick—original categories! I’ve dispensed with some categories, and will be replacing them with new and better ones. The eliminated categories: the three Shorts categories*, Best Documentary (I might have an opinion on this one in a few years, but I have yet to see any 2011 documentaries), Best Foreign Language Film (ditto), Best Original Song (stupid category), and Best Makeup (ditto). That’s seven eliminated categories, so I need to come up with seven new ones. We’ll see how I do.

*Although I actually did see the live-action shorts this year, I just don’t think they belong in the show with the feature films. For the record, my pick would be The Shore.

Also, this year I’m going to ignore what the Academy did altogether, and instead present my nominees in each category and the winner. That should make the presentation less messy. A few categories might have less than five nominees, if I just haven’t seen enough films that qualify. In roughly descending order of importance (interspersed with my new categories), as determined by Wikipedia:

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Year in Paul: 1999

The long-delayed cinema chronology is back. In honor of the fact that we've finally reached the point where it makes sense to go year-by-year, the series will continue under a new name.

What I’ve Seen

10 Things I Hate About You
All About My Mother
American Beauty
American Pie
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
Baby Geniuses
Bicentennial Man
Fantasia 2000
Fight Club
Galaxy Quest
Inspector Gadget
The Iron Gian
The Matrix
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
My Favorite Martian
Mystery Men
October Sky
Office Space
Pokemon: The First Movie
The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc
The Simple Life of Noah Dearborne
The Sixth Sense
The Virgin Suicides
South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut
Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace
Stuart Little
The Talented Mr. Ripley
Toy Story 2
Wakko’s Wish
The War Zone
32 Total