I doubt I'm going to go past 50, but I thought I'd keep track of all the movies I watch (fully) this year anyway with this meme that's been floating around.
Updated: December 31. This is probably as good as it's going to get.
^ student films
- I watch 100 movies or more in 2009.
- I keep track of how many I watch in this post.
- I only record first-time movies.
- If you want to recommend any movies to me, go for it.
Updated: December 31. This is probably as good as it's going to get.
- Penélope (2006 | Christina Ricci, James McAvoy, Catherine O' Hara, Reese Witherspoon | Director: Mark Palansky | Trailer). I have mixed feelings about this movie. I liked it in general and if I don't think about it too much. I don't know whether to say the story was predictable or not because there was one major part--I won't say which--that really threw me off. It was done so weirdly. That part didn't totally negate the good things that the film had going for it--the set design/art direction/whatever you call it and the commentary on people's obsession with celebrity and weirdness, in particular--but I would've liked this a lot more if that part of the story went differently.
- Napoleon Dynamite (2004 | Jon Heder | Director: Jared Hess | Trailer). The opening credits were pretty much the only things I enjoyed. With the exception of Deb, I wanted to hit all the characters on the head at one point or another. Maybe because I was pretty stressed when I was watching this, but they all got on my nerves--Napoleon especially. I know that the point of the movie is to show that he doesn't try too hard, but...the movie tries too hard.
- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008 | Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett | Director: David Fincher | Trailer). I LOVED THIS. Surprisingly, Benjamin and Daisy's relationship affected me the least--which isn't to say that it didn't affect me at all, because God knows that I cried when...Well, I don't want to spoil anyone. I just found that the earlier scenes with them were the ones that dragged, and liked them more when they were separately thinking of each other, as opposed when they were together and around the same age. Everything else was just amazing. It was just so engrossing to watch Benjamin's exploits during his long life, and even though the ending montage could be considered cliched, it didn't really feel that way when I was watching.
- Lolita (1962 | James Mason, Sue Lyon, Shelley Winters, Peter Sellers | Director: Stanley Kubrick | Trailer). Considering the shitload of things that had to be cut out to get past the censors, this version was pretty faithful to the book. (Well, obviously, since Nabokov himself wrote the screenplay.) Lolita, despite being blonde and older, was almost how I imagined book!Lolita would act. Quilty never really got my attention until near the end of the book, but I liked how they played up his creepiness in the film (although the conversation with Humbert at the start was just too long for my enjoyment). I was more disappointed with Humbert than anything else, really--they didn't really show just how literary-minded he is, and his neediness came off as being too childish. And even if one could make the argument that his neediness really is infantile, or at least linked to childhood deprivation, I honestly would've wanted to be more repulsed by him for preying on Lolita instead of for breaking down like a baby. Just because the censors were in the way of the first scenario didn't mean we had to get that scene near the end after he gives Lolita the money. Shelley Winters-as-Charlotte Haze was more annoying than the book character, but not by so much. And can I just say, she is totally the kind of woman who would be a Twimom.
- The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros (Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros) (2005 | Nathan Lopez | Director: Auraeus Solito | Trailer) Before anything else, I admit to having zero knowledge of local cinema. With a couple of exceptions that I haven't watched yet, the recent films that didn't make me wish the Metro Manila Film Festival never existed all seemed to have something to do with prostitution, or something similar. And while I'm totally fine with realism, I don't necessarily watch films to get depressed, or for the commentary on the everything that's wrong with the world. Luckily, Maximo Oliveros was really good at presenting the latter without making me feel (too much of) the former. The film could've been heavy, but the fact that it was pretty light-hearted, considering all the things about poverty and discrimination in it, made the actual unpleasant stuff way sadder to watch than if I'd been hit repeatedly on the head with
my Socio 10 readingsone societal ill after another. I don't know what exactly made this film feel...I don't know, intimate, but it did so without making me feel like I'm too familiar with the setting or that I have preconceived ideas about how people like the characters in the movie live. It's a nice feeling, to be able to look at everyday things differently.
- Hallam Foe (2007 | Jamie Bell, Sophia Myles, Ciaran Hinds, Claire Forlani | Director: David Mackenzie | Trailer) They say that those who need love the most deserve it the least. Hallam Foe, then, needs a lot of love...and despite his complete and utter creepiness, I couldn't help but wish that he gets it anyway. Or maybe it's because of his complete and utter creepiness. In any case, I liked how the film treated Hallam's neediness--you can tell that he is the way he is ultimately because of his family life, but at the same time the pity-the-motherless-boy card isn't played in a way that would make it easier for someone watching to sympathize with Hallam but would also make the story, well, boring. I guess what I'm trying to say is that even though there were some images that made me feel uncomfortable, I'm glad that I wasn't so obviously forced to be understanding. It made Hallam's relationship with Kate more interesting to watch--I was torn between being weirded out by how maternal she was despite what had already happened between them, and wanting them to get their shit together. And I liked how nobody--well, almost nobody--was shown as a totally bad person, even the character that I thought had his/her role pretty much determined for him/her (until near the end, when I realized that that wasn't the case). The soundtrack is really good, too.
- Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008 | Michael Cera, Kat Dennings | Director: Peter Sollett | Trailer) TAKE ME TO NEW YORK NOW. I read an article about this movie that said that the city was as much a character in the film as the actual people in it. Well, then, it's my favorite character. I like seeing a city all lit up at night, so I loved just watching the characters drive around New York and seeing all the places I didn't get to go to when I went there two summers ago. It makes me feel exhilarated and envious at the same time--exhilarated because I just get the feeling that there's so much possibility out there, and envious because, well, I'm not there. Anyway, I really liked this movie, although Kat Dennings's (Dennings'?) voice annoyed me after a while. The (for lack of a better word) energy of the whole film, with these crazy kids actually talking their age and chasing after drunk girls and bands and each other, against the backdrop of a city that has always fascinated me, was just really enjoyable. Now if only I can get myself on a plane headed for JFK International Airport.
- Slumdog Millionaire (2008 | Dev Patel, Freida Pinto | Director: Danny Boyle | Trailer) I'm writing this right after watching the Oscars, and I have to say that this film deserved everything it got. Well, maybe that's not the right thing to say, since I haven't seen all the other nominees. But I love the score and the editing and the cinematography so much that I have no words to say, really. Some movies become dragging somewhere in the middle or towards the end, but the way the story was told--Jamal's interrogation at the police station with interspersed flashbacks--ensured that that never happened here. The child actors were amazing and even though Mumbai is so similar to Manila, the familiarity of the setting didn't bore me. Like Maximo Oliveros, I liked that the film was unapologetic (for lack of a better word) in showing the realities of the slums, although Slumdog was far more depressing. This helped build up the tension leading to the scenes when Jamal is on the quiz show, something that Maximo Oliveros didn't need to do. The ending was kind of spoiled for me by a GIF that I saw on ohnotheydidnt, but it didn't really matter because I think that even if I knew exactly how the ending was going to happen, it'd still feel like the huge boulder that had settled somewhere in the vicinity of my chest was lifted off and I can enjoy the very Bollywood final scene.
- Valkyrie (2008 | Tom Cruise | Director: Bryan Singer | Trailer) Honestly, even if I was really excited for this movie to come out, I was expecting it to suck. I can totally blame this assumption on all the things I heard and read about how Tom Cruise was really weak in the film. I wouldn't call him bad, exactly--probably just miscast. I agree that he was the weakest link in the cast, but I think it has more to do with his accent than anything else. It's common to see British people speaking in British accents play every nationality known to man, but Americans using an American accent don't have that same sort of believability, unfair as it can be. (The core Nazis--Hitler, Goebbels, etc.--also didn't have the opportunity to live up to the performances in Downfall (Der Untergang), so I was constantly comparing the two.) One may assume that since the lead doesn't give as good a performance as the rest of the cast, the movie isn't good. It is. I even cried at the end, something that didn't happen after I watched Slumdog Millionaire. Valkyrie was good at building up tension (I see a pattern in the films I watched this weekend) and for showing the reserve army's takeover of Berlin. That second thing makes the failure of the assassination attempt, because disregarding the officers' incorrect assumption about the success of the plot and the delay that Operation Valkyrie was initiated, I could see just how successful it could've been given how the reserve army acted afterwards. I think the last part was a more transparent attempt to make sure that someone in the audience cried, but since endings to historial films that say in text just who got executed and when always make me sad, I have to say that it worked. And goddamn do I love old-school military uniforms. (Merry Christmas (Joyeux Noel) was full of them and I loved it.)
- Stardust (2007 | Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert de Niro | Director: Matthew Vaughn | Trailer) Not much to say about this one, really. That probably has a lot to do with the fact that I'd watched this a long time ago, and only because I was too lazy to look for the DVD I really wanted to watch that evening. It was pretty entertaining, even if I think I've outgrown the fantasy genre. Neil Gaiman's works have always sounded, well, pretty boring to me *avoids tomatoes* and I enjoyed being proven wrong, although I probably won't be reading anything he's written anytime soon. (I do, however, want to watch Coraline.) Robert de Niro's pirate and the ghosts of the dead princes were especially funny. I did have a problem with the minor witches, though--why weren't they more powerful? One would think that after centuries of attempting to do what they were attempting to do in the film, they'd have at least improved their defenses.
- Frost/Nixon (2008 | Frank Langella, Michael Sheen | Director: Ron Howard | Trailer) Don't watch this film in an airplane. I did, and wasn't able to hear everything clearly, which is sad for such a talky film. Regardless, I found the audible parts interesting enough to prevent me from changing channels on my flight from Hong Kong to Tokyo. But the parts I enjoyed the most weren't the actual interview sessions. The researching on the part of the interview team, and the strategizing of Nixon and his aides, were way more fascinating. Except for the one that happened on the last day of filming, the interviews we're shown consists mostly of Nixon's maneuvering of the conversation and Frost's inability to trap him. Since the film (and the play on which it was based) was based on actual interviews, of course it would've been impossible to drastically change anything. And I guess if the conversations had turned out differently, the ending would've felt less satisfying. I feel that there was too little of the interviews shown--but the thing is, I don't know what parts they could've cut out to make room for it. At first I'd thought of the parts when Frost approaches and is rejected by the TV networks, but too little of that would lessen the, I don't know, sense of urgency in the interview team's efforts. So maybe I would've liked more this if it were longer--or if I wasn't flying through rough air while watching it.
- Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008 | Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz | Director: Woody Allen | Trailer) I need to watch an old Woody Allen film to understand why people say that his latest ones don't live up to the rest. Because I liked Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Each of the main characters felt whole, if that makes sense. Rebecca Hall and Penélope Cruz were especially good in their respective roles--I can't imagine their neuroses and tantrums to belong to any of the other characters except theirs. Rebecca Hall was in Frost/Nixon too, but she didn't have much of a part to work with there. She's really, really good here. Vicky, funnily enough, kind of reminds me of Scarlett Johansson's character in Lost in Translation but I like Vicky more than Charlotte because a) Vicky isn't played by Scarlett Johansson (biased, not in the mood to explain) and b) the wordier script made Vicky's rationalizations feel more real. And I can totally see why Penélope Cruz won that Best Supporting Actress Oscar despite appearing only in the second half of the film--Maria Elena is so batshit crazy 95% of the time, but she establishes her character's moodiness well enough that the remaining 5% of her appearance, wherein she's not wielding dangerous objects or hitting someone, doesn't seem out of place. Javier Bardem had some lines that really had my sister and me going, "Mehn, did he really say that?" but his delivery was so smooth and deadpan that it didn't come off as awkward--full of himself, maybe, but not like he wasn't used to saying things like that. The film was helped by the setting, which was oh so prettyful and really complemented by the cinematography and music. Like even the cameraman felt so laid-back, just hanging out under the Spanish sun, and the crew was accompanied by a bossa nova singer and a guitarist who sang just off-camera. As one might have already guessed, Scarlett Johansson isn't exactly my favorite actress. That said, I think she played Cristina naturally, despite some of the more cringe-inducing lines in the entire film being hers. And that's all I have to say about her.
- Pineapple Express (2008 | Seth Rogen, James Franco | Director: David Gordon Green | Trailer) Were the filmmakers trying to replicate the effects of marijuana for the people who watched this? Not that I'd know how that really feels, of course. :P I just felt like I was getting bombed out of my own head during this movie. It's just so fucking HILARIOUS, in the same way that Tropic Thunder and, in a more serious way, In Bruges were hilarious to me--practically every person gets offended and there's a lot of swearing and more blood than what I'd expect a comedy to have, but I couldn't stop myself from laughing anyway. The sequences get crazier and crazier until the end, but they aren't hard to stomach because it makes sense, especially given how the characters are and how they got into the mess in the first place, that all these things are happening. It's a comedy about drugs, for crying out loud. Of course someone is going to drive with his leg sticking out of the windshield.
- Todo Sobre Mi Madre (All About My Mother) (1999 | Cecilia Roth, Marisa Paredes, Candela Peña, Antonia San Juan, Penélope Cruz, Rosa Maria Sardà | Director: Pedro Almodovar | Trailer) I was originally going to put just Penélope Cruz and Cecilia Roth in the cast list before this cut, but it would have been unfair. It's hard to not feel for all the women in the movie, whether they were born women or not. All of the actresses were really great and believable in their roles. And even if the film takes on a lot of hard issues, it never feels like I'm watching a movie about those issues. Not to disregard how important they are, but the way that they're treated without being drummed into the audience is a good thing. Otherwise, it would've felt less like situations that actual people go through and more like a documentary about a set of statistics that are so far removed from everyday life. And much like Maximo Oliveros and Slumdog Millionaire, it's not always about how everything sucks. I liked the character of Agarado, in particular, because even though some really bad stuff happened to her (him?), even if the weight of her past was hanging from her shoulders, she didn't mope about it (most of the time). Something else I really liked about this film was the cinematography, especially during the part when Manuela's son gets hit by the car. The way the camera was like Esteban, lying sideways on the pavement, was really sad, since you can see Manuela's reactions close-up. What I could've lived without, though, was the slight feeling of squickiness when Esteban interacted with Manuela. IDC that he's good-looking, how he looked at her was vaguely Oedipal to me. Still, I'm going to have to watch more of Almodovar because of this movie.
- M (1931 | Peter Lorre | Director: Fritz Lang | Trailer [not in English, though]) Yeah, I'm never going to watch this with my parents. Otherwise, they'll never let me out of the house again. The age of the film is still kind of obvious in the graininess of the restored version I watched, but in a way it adds to the atmosphere of the film, the nervousness among the upstanding citizens and the criminal underground of Berlin. I liked the idea that these two sides were both working to find who the child molester/murderer was. Peter Lorre creeps me out, especially during his last few scenes, where if it weren't for the nature of his crimes, I felt almost bad for him and then bad that I even felt just a little bad for him.
- Angels & Demons (2009 | Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgård | Director: Ron Howard | Trailer) I don't care what anyone says, I actually liked this movie. Except for the characters that they didn't include from the book (namely Kohler) and the parts that deviated from the original story--although I could see what problems following the novel to the letter would pose for the pace of the movie. At least I got to accept Ewan McGregor as the Camerlengo, if only because he was so earnest and book!Camerlengo-like anyway. Ayelet Zurer wasn't who I had in mind for Vittoria either but with Tom Hanks as Langdon, who wouldn't be believable as a hot middle-aged professor, I'm glad that they made Vittoria more scholarly and less vixen-y. The movie moved way more quickly than in the novel, which worked well, considering the main plot--and I didn't even feel too bad about the fact that Vittoria's dad didn't appear at all. The presence of all the Catholics awaiting a new Pope was a nice touch. I didn't really feel the sheer number of the faithful in the novel, so I guess in this respect the movie was more realistic--and even I, an agnostic, felt the importance of having a Pope elected, or at least its importance to millions of people in the world, even if the feeling only lasted ten minutes maximum. And one thing that the movie already had going for it was the setting. I really want to go to Rome now and join the Path of Illumination tour or whatever. Watching Angels & Demons was already like a tour, and an enjoyable one at that. My biggest complaint is actually the ending. It felt...contrived, for lack of a better word, because of the neatness of it. If the rest of the movie was like a fun educational field trip, the ending was like the reaction paper you submitted about it, full of "I learned that..."s just to satisfy your teacher.
- Son of Rambow (2007 | Bill Milner, Will Poulter, Ed Westwick | Director: Garth Jennings | Trailer)
- The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009 | Denzel Washington, John Travolta | Director: Tony Scott | Trailer)
- Franklyn (2008 | Eva Green, Ryan Philippe, Sam Riley | Director: Gerald McMorrow | Trailer)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009 | Daniel Radcliffe, Ruper Grint, Emma Watson | Director: David Yates | Trailer) TOO MUCH HARRY/GINNY. Not enough Snape, Draco, and exposition. Let's see how they explain the remaining Horcruxes in the next two movies. But at least Emma Watson's eyebrows weren't about to leap off her face.
- Volver (2006 | Penélope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Lola Dueñas, Blanca Portillo, Yohana Cobo | Director: Pedro Almodóvar | Trailer)
- Die Welle (The Wave) (2008 | Jürgen Vogel, Frederick Lau, Max Riemelt, Jennifer Ulrich | Director: Dennis Gansel | Trailer)
- Coraline (2009 | Voices of: Dakota Fanning, Terri Hatcher, Ian McShane | Director: Henry Selick | Trailer) AMAAAZING.
- Rear Window (1954 | James Stewart, Grace Kelly | Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Trailer) New favorite Hitchcock film.
- Trois Couleurs: Rouge (Three Colors: Red) (1994 | Irène Jacob, Jean-Louis Trintignant | Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski | Trailer [in French])
- The Wizard of Oz (1939 | Judy Garland | Director: Victor Fleming | Trailer)
- Dancer in the Dark (2000 | Björk, Catherine Deneuve, David Morse, Peter Stormare | Director: Lars von Trier | Trailer) I can't decide if I like this film or not, if I appreciate films that leave me confused about what I feel about them enough to actually like them.
- (500) Days of Summer (2009 | Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel | Director: Marc Webb| Trailer) ♥♥♥ x infinity
- Arsène Lupin (2004 | Romain Duris, Kristin Scott Thomas, Eva Green | Director: Jean-Paul Salomé | Trailer) The more...unrealistic parts threw me off for a while, but only for a while because the action is really engrossing. And the costumes and sets are so nice to look at. I feel like the character of Arsène should be hotter, though. And that Clarisse shouldn't have forgiven him so easily.
- Badkonake sefid (The White Balloon) (1995 | Aida Mohammadkhani, Mohsen Kafili | Director: Jafar Panahi | I can't find a trailer)
- Bulong (Whisper)*^ (2008 | Sid Lucero, Maita Ponce | Director: Joaquin Valdes | Can't find a trailer) If this is the future of Philippine cinema, then I'm so looking forward to it. And Bulong is a student's thesis, okay. But if someone were to ask me if I wanted to watch it, like in an actual cinema, I would after knowing the premise. I've been very unpatriotic with my taste in movies thus far--there are very, very few local films that I'd actually watch, because to me the vast majority either a) look dumb or b) are the kind of gritty stories about brutalized people that go around the international film festival circuits but don't really appeal to me. Bulong's story reminded me of 1984, but I like how it was treated, and it looked so professionally shot. It was really a revelation to discover that there were films here like this.
- Ticker* (2002 | Clive Owen, Don Cheadle | Director: Joe Carnahan | The whole thing)
- Un viaje (The Trip)*^ (2004 | Daniel Giménez Cacho, Mauricio Bueno | Director: Gabriela Monroy | Can't find a trailer)
- Danya*^ (2005 | Maddi Newling, Ian Bliss, Lija Veikins | Director: Beth Armstrong | Can't find a trailer)
- Citizen Kane (1941 | Orson Welles | Director: Orson Welles | Trailer) This is the movie that many critics say is the greatest American movie ever. I don't know about that, but I do know that I really liked the composition that was used for many of the shots here--with one or just a few characters really close up dominating the frame, but not so much that they're all you can see. I don't know how to describe it accurately, but it worked because the characters looked almost out-of-place with their hugeness, which is kind of reflective of the film being about someone grandiose and ambitious. And I kind of love how Kane is consistently himself the whole time, even when he's pleading with Susan to not leave him. The character made the film for me, pretty much, but I also love the distincitivness of the supporting characters and how the flashbacks would sometimes be redone from multiple perspectives. I'm going to watch this again someday because I think I'd appreciate it more (I was late to my film class and didn't see Kane's death or the newsreel). The only thing I didn't like--and I was spoiled for this by my film textbook already--was what Rosebud turned out to be. I'm sure there's some deep meaning behind it being a sled but it was pretty anticlimactic.
- Inglourious Basterds (2009 | Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Diane Kruger, Mélanie Laurent | Director: Quentin Tarantino | Trailer) I finally watched this! And it did not disappoint. Of course I had to cringe during the actual scalping/forehead-carving scenes, and pretty much anything that had bloodshed. But there was never a dull moment throughout, even during the quieter moments, and I really like the cinematography, sets, costumes, and the period-inappropriate soundtrack. It could've been way campy but the actors were all great. I finally know what the big deal is with Christoph Waltz.
- An Education (2009 | Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Rosamund Pike, Dominic Cooper | Director: Lone Scherfig | Trailer) What an amazing cast. Seriously, the actors are all great. But Carey Mulligan, of course, takes the cake--her face is just so expressive, not just of her character's feelings but of the repression of those feelings. This is a movie that I'd rather not watch with my parents because them lording it over with their parental wisdom would be annoying, but the moral of the story doesn't feel forced at all, and the pacing felt right. The only thing I'm unsure of liking is the ending--on the one hand, I liked how the voiceover didn't have a tone of finality but on the other hand...there was a voiceover at the ending.
- Ghost Town (2008 | Ricky Gervais, Téa Leoni, Greg Kinnear | Director: David Koepp | Trailer)
- The Boat That Rocked (2009 | Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Rhys Ifans, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Sturridge | Director: Richard Curtis | Trailer)
- It's A Wonderful Life (1946 | James Stewart, Donna Reed | Director: Frank Capra | Trailer) Perfect movie to watch at the end of the year, I think. Really puts things into perspective.
- The September Issue (2009 | Featuring: Anna Wintour, the staff of American Vogue, some designers | Director: R.J. Cutler | Trailer)
^ student films