These are the films I have seen in 2007 AD. * in front of a film means I saw it sitting on my (or someone else's) couch. / at the front and back of a title indicates a repeat viewing. + indicates a projected video showing. Short subjects of less than 30 minutes duration are indicated with an sXX for its number and those between 30 and 60 minutes mXX. And away we go.

261. (31 Dec) /*Music & Lyrics/ (2007, Marc Lawrence) [B+]
260. (29 Dec) Persepolis (2007, Marjane Satrapi & Vincent Paronnaud) [B-]
259. (29 Dec) Charlie Wilson's War (2007, Mike Nichols) [B-]
258. (29 Dec) There Will Be Blood (2007, Paul Thomas Anderson) [A]
257. (27 Dec) *The Lost Continent (1968, Michael Carreras) [D+]
Silly genre fare that actually takes most of the running time to get to title location (which is actually a carnivorous Sargasso Sea), instead devoting most of its dramatic resources into making its sorry cast of characters as loathsome as possible. Prime bot-fodder, basically.
256. (24 Dec) I Am Legend (2007, Francis Lawerence) [B]
Neat to have what appeared to be an action/sci-fi blockbuster turn out to be a character study of a man at the edge of sanity. (Also nice to realize that Wil Smith is now comfortable with being both Wil Smith, the star, and Wil Smith, the actor, in the same movie.) Film's vision of an empty NYC excellently realized. Falls apart with the injection of God in the third act, which the film doesn't have the chops to handle.
255. (16 Dec) *Laura Smiles (2006, Jason Ruscio) [B-]
254. (16 Dec) *Lucky You (2007, Curtis Hanson) [C+]
Take out the large handful of lines that use poker as a metaphor for life, and you'd have a minor but diverting film with Hanson's key virtue, a pleasing blend of Hollywood gloss and strong sense of place.
253. (14 Dec) /*The Fugitive/ (1993, Andrew Davis) [A-]
252. (11 Dec) *1408 (2007, Mikael Hafstrom) [B-]
251. (09 Dec) *The Invisible (2007, David S. Goyer) [C+]
250. (08 Dec) The Golden Compass (2007, Chris Weitz) [C]
249. (08 Dec) Eraserhead (1977, David Lynch) [B+]
248. (08 Dec) Atonement (2007, Joe Wright) [B+]
247. (07 Dec) *Next (2007, Lee Tamahori) [D+]
I'm resigned to Cage being an entertaining ham in otherwise worthless movies (see GHOST RIDER, CON AIR, etc.) but this is bad even by his standards, a dimwitted sci-fi twisterooni that makes up the rules as it goes along.
246. (03 Dec) *Mr. Brooks (2007, Bruce A. Evans) [B]
Least promising cast of 2007 turns in the most pleasant surprise of 2007; oddball serial-killer character study turns out to be effective within its fairly narrow boundaries. Smartest decision: having the Hurt/Costner dialectic hinge not on good/evil, but superego/id. Also, single best comment about Dane Cook: "Even if he was charming and funny, I still wouldn't like him."
245. (02 Dec) *Snow Cake (2006, Marc Evans) [B]
244. (01 Dec) The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007, Julian Schabel) [B+]
243. (28 Nov) *To Paint or Make Love (2005, Arnaud & Jean-Marie Larrieu) [C+]
242. (27 Nov) *The Hoax (2006, Lasse Hallstrom) [C+]
241. (26 Nov) /*Talladega Nights/ (2006, Adam McKay) [B]
240. (25 Nov) *Mr. Majestyk (1974, Richard Fleischer) [B]
239. (24 Nov) /*The Eiger Sanction/ (1975, Clint Eastwood) [C+]
238. (23 Nov) Enchanted (2007, Kevin Lima) [B-]
Shame they didn't just go ahead and make this a full-blown musical, as the numbers are the clear highlight, good-natured send-ups of Disney cliches. Amy Adams's Giselle in the same class as Will Ferell in ELF, a thoroughly committed potrayal of unalloyed good cheer.
237. (23 Nov) American Gangster (2007, Ridley Scott) [B-]
236. (23 Nov) Beowulf (2007, Robert Zemeckis) [C-]
235. (22 Nov) /*The Incredibles/ (2004, Brad Bird) [A-]
234. (22 Nov) *Angel-A (2005, Luc Besson) [C]
233. (20 Nov) Summer with Monika (1953, Ingmar Bergman) [B+]
232. (20 Nov) Southland Tales (2006, Richard Kelly) [C]
231. (20 Nov) Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007, Sidney Lumet) [C+]
There's a reason this plot is normally done as black comedy: there's no tragedy in PSH's dilemma when the plot hinges on his character believing his obvious moron (a terrible Ethan Hawke) of a brother is capable of not screwing up a robbery. It's just pathetic fuckupitude.
230. (16 Nov) Love in the Time of Cholera (2007, Mike Newell) [C+]
229. (16 Nov) Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium (2007, Zach Helm) [C]
228. (12 Nov) Bee Movie (2007, Steve Hickner & Simon J. Smith) [B]
227. (12 Nov) Lions for Lambs (2007, Robert Redford) [D+]
226. (11 Nov) Divorce, Italian Style (1961, Pietro Germi) [B]
225. (11 Nov) Diva (1981, Jean-Jacques Beneix) [C+]
224. (10 Nov) *I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (2007, Dennis Dugan) [B-]
223. (09 Nov) *Regarding Henry (1991, Mike Nichols) [B-]
222. (07 Nov) *As You Like It (2006, Kenneth Branagh) [B]
221. (03 Nov) Into the Wild (2007, Sean Penn) [A]
220. (03 Nov) Seduced & Abandoned (1964, Pietro Germi) [B]
219. (03 Nov) Dan in Real Life (2007, Peter Hedges) [B]
218. (31 Oct) /*The Dark Crystal/ (1983, Jim Henson & Frank Oz) [C+]
217. (29 Oct) Control (2007, Anton Corbijn) [C]
216. (29 Oct) Romance & Cigarettes (2005, John Turturro) [D]
215. (28 Oct) Gone Baby Gone (2007, Ben Affleck) [A]
214. (28 Oct) Lust, Caution (2007, Ang Lee) [A-]
213. (27 Oct) *Falling (2006, Barbara Albert) [B-]
212. (23 Oct) We Own the Night (2007, James Gray) [B+]
211. (22 Oct) Michael Clayton (2007, Tony Gilroy) [C]
210. (09 Oct) *Two Weeks (2006, Steve Stockman) [C]
209. (07 Oct) The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007, Andrew Dominik) [B+]
208. (07 Oct) The Darjeeling Limited (2007, Wes Anderson) [B]
207. (03 Oct) Sydney White (2007, Joe Nussbaum) [C]
206. (02 Oct) In the Valley of Elah (2007, Paul Haggis) [B-]
205. (29 Sep) Feast of Love (2007, Robert Benton) [C]
204. (28 Sep) Across the Universe (2007, Julie Taymor) [C+]
203. (23 Sep) 3:10 to Yuma (2007, James Mangold) [A-]
202. (22 Sep) /*Diamonds Are Forever/ (1971, Guy Hamilton) [C+]
201. (21 Sep) /*Scoop/ (2006, Woody Allen) [B]
200. (19 Sep) Silk (2007, Francois Girard) [C]
199. (15 Sep) Inside (2007, Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo) [B-]
198. (15 Sep) My Winnipeg (2007, Guy Maddin) [A-]
197. (15 Sep) The Duchess of Langeais (2007, Jacques Rivette) [B]
196. (15 Sep) Smiley Face (2007, Gregg Araki) [B]
195. (15 Sep) Encounters at the End of the World (2007, Werner Herzog) [B]
194. (14 Sep) The Man From London (2007, Bela Tarr) [C-]
193. (14 Sep) Chacun son Cinema (2007, various) [C+]
192. (14 Sep) I'm Not There (2007, Todd Haynes) [B+]
191. (14 Sep) Married Life (2007, Ira Sachs) [A-]
190. (13 Sep) A Gentle Breeze in the Village (2007, Nobohiro Yamashita) [B]
189. (13 Sep) Angel (2007, Francois Ozon) [B]
188. (13 Sep) Lars and the Real Girl (2007, Craig Gillespie) [C+]
187. (13 Sep) Margot at the Wedding (2007, Noah Baumbach) [B+]
186. (13 Sep) The Sun Also Rises (2007, Jiang Wen) [B]
185. (12 Sep) The Tracey Fragments (2007, Bruce McDonald) [C+]
184. (12 Sep) Corroborree (2007, Ben Hackworth) [C]
183. (12 Sep) The Savages (2007, Tamara Jenkins) [A-]
182. (12 Sep) It's a Free World (2007, Ken Loach) [C+]
181. (11 Sep) Paranoid Park (2007, Gus van Sant) [A]
180. (11 Sep) Help Me Eros (2007, Lee Kang-Sheng) [C]
179. (11 Sep) Here Is What Is (2007, Adam Vollick, Daniel Lanois, & Adam Samuels) [C+]
178. (11 Sep) Silent Light (2007, Carlos Reygadas) [A]
177. (10 Sep) Normal (2007, Carl Bessai) [C-]
176. (10 Sep) An Old Mistress (2007, Catherine Breillat) [C+]
175. (10 Sep) Juno (2007, Jason Reitman) [B]
174. (10 Sep) Chrysalis (2007, Julien Leclerq) [C]
173. (10 Sep) No Country for Old Men (2007, Ethan & Joel Coen) [B+]
172. (09 Sep) Chaotic Ana (2007, Julio Medem) [C]
171. (09 Sep) The Girl in the Park (2007, David Auburn) [B-]
170. (09 Sep) Songs of Love (2007, Christophe Honore) [D]
169. (09 Sep) Starting Out in the Evening (2007, Andrew Wagner) [B]
168. (09 Sep) Eastern Promises (2007, David Cronenberg) [B-]
s12. (08 Sep) Monica (2006, Enrico Mandirola) [D+]
s11. (08 Sep) The Butterfly in Winter (2006, Ute Aurand & Maria Lang) [D]
s10. (08 Sep) Echo (2007, Izabella Pruska-Oldenhof) [D+]
s09. (08 Sep) The Acrobat (2007, Chris Kennedy) [D]
s08. (08 Sep) Cross Worlds (2007, Cecile Fontaine) [B]
s07. (08 Sep) All That Rises (2007, Daichi Saito) [C-]
167. (08 Sep) One Hundred Nails (2007, Ermanno Olmi) [C-]
166. (08 Sep) Mutum (2007, Sondra Kogut) [C]
165. (08 Sep) Shoot 'Em Up (2007, Michael Davis) [B-]
164. (08 Sep) My Kid Could Paint That (2007, Amir Bar-Lev) [A-]
163. (08 Sep) The Romance of Astrea and Celadon (2007, Eric Rohmer) [B]
162. (07 Sep) Secret Sunshine (2007, Lee Chang-Don) [B+]
161. (07 Sep) The Edge of Heaven (2007, Fatih Akin) [B-]
160. (07 Sep) Flight of the Red Balloon (2007, Hou Hsiao-Hsien) [B-]
159. (07 Sep) The Mourning Forest (2007, Naomi Kawase) [C]
158. (07 Sep) You, the Living (2007, Roy Andersson) [B+]
157. (06 Sep) Le cedre plenche (2007, Rafael Ouillet) [C-]
s06. (06 Sep) Hymn to Pan (2007, Francois Mion) [D]
156. (06 Sep) La Vie en Rose (2007, Olivier Dahan) [D+]
155. (05 Sep) Hairspray (2007, Adam Shankman) [B]
154. (04 Sep) *Childhood's End (1997, Jeff Lipsky) [B-]
153. (03 Sep) The Ten (2007, David Wain) [B-]
Second episode where Gretchen Mol's wallflower librarian is romanced by Jesus Christ far and away the best bit, combining cheerful blasphemy, a sendup of florid Latin melodrama, and random silliness into a highly entertaining 15 minutes. The rest are content to take one idea and drive it into the ground (quite literally in one case), with varying results.
152. (27 Aug) /The Bourne Ultimatum/ (2007, Paul Greengrass) [A-; up from B+]
151. (24 Aug) The Nanny Diaries (2007, Robert Pulcini & Shari Springer Berman) [B]
150. (18 Aug) Superbad (2007, Gregg Mottola) [C]
149. (17 Aug) Becoming Jane (2007, Julian Jarrolds) [C+]
148. (15 Aug) No Reservations (2007, Scott Hicks) [C]
147. (11 Aug) Stardust (2007, Matthew Vaughn) [B+]
146. (11 Aug) Rocket Science (2007, Jeffrey Blitz) [B]
145. (11 Aug) 2 Days in Paris (2007, Julie Delpy) [B]
144. (07 Aug) *Live Free or Die (2006, Gregg Kavet & Andy Robin) [C]
143. (05 Aug) The Bourne Ultimatum (2007, Paul Greengrass) [B+]
142. (04 Aug) *Sylvia Scarlett (1935, George Cukor) [B+]
141. (01 Aug) Sunshine (2007, Danny Boyle) [C+]
140. (01 Aug) *Premonition (2007, Mennan Yapo) [B-]
139. (31 Jul) *Renaissance (2005, Christian Volkman) [C]
138. (30 Jul) The Simpsons Movie (2007, David Silverman) [B-]
For all the hullabaloo and hype, occupies the same space as the Star Trek: Next Generation movies -- a bigger, but only slightly-above-average episode of the series. Demerits for using the most overused plot from the show - Homer does something stupid, loses respect of Bart/Lisa/Marge, regains respect.
137. (26 Jul) *Sweet Land (2005, Ali Salem) [C+]
Sheesh, throw in some big sky vistas and an early 20th-century farm setting and you too can be compared to Terence Malick. Uh, no. Maybe because I saw it on DVD, the rather ham-handed immigrant plotline and Alan Cumming's spectacular miscasting as a down-and-out farmer with a large brood made more of an impression on me. Lovely performance from Elizabeth Reaser, though.
136. (19 Jul) /*Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban/ (2004, Alfonso Cuaron) [B+]
135. (18 Jul) /Ratatouille/ (2007, Brad Bird) [B - down from B+]
Maybe because I was in a bad mood, but second viewing makes this seem less remarkable.
134. (14 Jul) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007, David Yates) [A-]
133. (12 Jul) /*Return to Me/ (2000, Bonnie Hunt) [C+]
132. (08 Jul) *The Land That Time Forgot (1975, Kevin Connor) [C]
131. (07 Jul) Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007, Tim Story) [D+]
130. (07 Jul) Paprika (2006, Satoshi Kon) [B+]
129. (07 Jul) Le Doulos (1962, Jean-Pierre Melville) [B]
128. (07 Jul) Joshua (2007, George Ratliff) [B-]
127. (06 Jul) *Bitter Moon (1992, Roman Polanski) [B]
126. (06 Jul) *The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming (1966, Norman Jewison) [C-]
Great premise, but turns out to be one of those bloated mid-60's comedies that ends up squandering its potential with the slow pacing common to the decade and too-obvious flop sweat.
125. (05 Jul) You Kill Me (2007, John Dahl) [C]
124. (04 Jul) Transformers (2007, Michael Bay) [B]
123. (02 Jul) *Celestial Clockwork (1995, Fina Torres) [C+]
122. (01 Jul) Live Free or Die Hard (2007, Len Wiseman) [C]
121. (01 Jul) Ratatouille (2007, Brad Bird) [B+]
120. (30 Jun) El Dorado (1966, Howard Hawks) [A]
119. (30 Jun) The Marrying Kind (1952, George Cukor) [A-]
118. (30 Jun) Morocco (1930, Josef von Sternberg) [C]
117. (30 Jun) Evening (2007, Lajos Koltai) [C]
116. (28 Jun) /*Love Serenade/ (1996, Shirley Barrett) [C+]
115. (24 Jun) Lady Chatterley (2006, Pascale Ferran) [B-]
114. (23 Jun) *Swimmers (2005, Doug Sadler) [B]
113. (20 Jun) *Gray Matters (2006, Sue Kramer) [C-]
112. (17 Jun) *Ghost Rider (2007, Mark Steven Johnson) [C]
111. (16 Jun) /13 Lakes/ (2004, James Benning) [B]
110. (16 Jun) 27 Years Later (2005, James Benning) [C-]
109. (16 Jun) One Way Boogie Woogie (1977, James Benning) [B-]
108. (16 Jun) Nancy Drew (2007, Andrew Fleming) [B]
107. (09 Jun) Ocean's Thirteen (2007, Steven Soderbergh) [C]
A little better than 12, but that's not saying much. Some pretty pictures and mildy amusing one-liners, but there's no energy or suspense. Sign of how weightless this series is: 13 keeps making reference to elements of the previous films that I have no recollection of.
106. (09 Jun) 12:08 East of Bucharest (2006, Corneliu Porumbiou) [A-]
105. (09 Jun) Surf's Up (2007, Ash Brannon & Chris Buck) [B]
Passable trifle, largely redeemed by Jeff Bridges reprising Lebowski in the context of a kiddie movie.
104. (02 Jun) Once (2006, John Carney) [B+]
Quite a bit better than Damien Rice: The Musical I prejudged it as (though that's still not entirely wrong), thanks to some nicely conceived musical numbers and a bittersweet romantic core. Looks like absolute shit, though.
103. (02 Jun) I'm Reed Fish (2006, Zachary Adler) [C]
Establishes an easy-going quirky small-town charm and then proceeds to do nothing very interesting with it. Metacinematic gesture glued on, and feels more like a workaround for cast scheduling problems than organic device. Schuyler Fisk sings quite nicely.
102. (02 Jun) Knocked Up (2007, Judd Apatow) [A-]
101. (29 May) *Nuts in May (1976, Mike Leigh) [B]
Hampered by a succession of scenes at film's end that feel like the final scene, but aren't, but Roger Sloman's Keith is the greatest embodiment of pedantic, pretentious twittery in the history of film.
100. (26 May) Golden Door (2006, Emanuele Crialese) [B-]
099. (26 May) The Boss of It All (2006, Lars von Trier) [B-]
Frustating as hell, as the basic setup of this is the most diabolically brilliant farce framework in years, but Von Trier's cinematic gamesmanship leads to a half-assed execution.
098. (26 May) Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007, Gore Verbinski) [B]
097. (20 May) The Treatment (2006, Oren Rudavsky) [B]
096. (20 May) *Rich in Love (1993, Bruce Beresford) [C+]
095. (18 May) *Lady in Cement (1968, Gordon Douglas) [C]
094. (17 May) /*The Italian Job/ (2003, F. Gary Gray) [B]
093. (16 May) /*Wimbledon/ (2004, Richard Loncraine) [B+]
092. (15 May) /*Stealing Beauty/ (1996, Bernardo Bertolucci) [B-]
091. (13 May) /*Kissing Jessica Stein/ (2001, Charles Herman-Wurmfeld) [B+]
090. (13 May) *Sex & Fury (1973, Norifumi Suzuki) [C+]
089. (12 May) The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962, John Ford) [B+]
088. (12 May) Prime Cut (1972, Michael Ritchie) [A-]
087. (12 May) Away From Her (2006, Sarah Polley) [B]
086. (09 May) *Hi-Life (1998, Roger Hedden) [B-]
085. (06 May) /*Back to the Future, Part III/ (1990, Robert Zemeckis) [B+]
084. (05 May) Waitress (2007, Adrienne Shelley) [B]
083. (05 May) L'Iceberg (2005, Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon & Bruno Romy) [C]
082. (05 May) Spider-Man 3 (2007, Sam Raimi) [B]
081. (04 May) *10 Items or Less (2006, Brad Silberling) [C+]
080. (04 May) *Night at the Museum (2006, Shawn Levy) [D+]
Cute idea for an animated short, but this family comedy is a bore. Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan as toy-size cowboy and Roman emperor only fitfully entertaining bit; otherwise, Stiller's at his most annoying, the divorced dad subplot leaden, and no imagination in execution.
s04. (03 May) *House Hunting (2003, Amy Lippman) [B]
s03. (03 May) *Land Weiner (2001, Philip Euling) [C+]
s02. (03 May) *DysEnchanted (2005, Terri Edda Miller) [C]
079. (02 May) /*Back to the Future, Part II/ (1989, Robert Zemeckis) [B]
078. (01 May) /*Back to the Future/ (1985, Robert Zemeckis) [A-]
077. (29 Apr) *The Parole Officer (2001, John Duigan) [B-]
Steve Coogan caper comedy vehicle. As such, Coogan is funny enough that this is worth a look by fans, though others may not be as entertained. The plotting is dodgy, even by the standards of this genre.
076. (22 Apr) *Man of the Year (2006, Barry Levinson) [C-]
Debate scene almost a victory of form over content, but the rest of the film is dire, confusing vapid barstool populism with coherent political thought. I'm on the fence on whether the computer bug that's the film's key plot point is incredibly stupid, or so incredibly stupid that it actually makes weird sense as the type of bug no one would catch until it's too late.
075. (22 Apr) *Silas Marner (1985, Giles Foster) [C]
074. (21 Apr) In the Land of Women (2007, Jonathan Kasdan) [C+]
073. (21 Apr) Fracture (2007, Gregory Hoblit) [B]
072. (20 Apr) Avenue Montaigne (2006, Daniele Thompson) [B]
Charming, if unsubstantial, look at the artists and the fringe that hang around them boosted considerably both by Cecile de France's sunny ingenue and Valerie Lemercier's fantastically entertaining performance as a neurotic, self-absorbed, yet strangely likable actress.
071. (20 Apr) Stephanie Daley (2006, Hilary Brougher) [C]
070. (20 Apr) Hot Fuzz (2007, Edgar Wright) [B-]
Final act hilarious send-up of buddy cop movies, but it does take its sweet time going there, with sledgehammer editing and fish-out-of-water comedy coexisting ungracefully. Great use of the Kinks, though perhaps a bit too-on-the-nose.
069. (19 Apr) *Smokin' Aces (2007, Joe Carnahan) [D]
068. (18 Apr) Disturbia (2007, D.J. Caruso) [B]
Will never win any awards for originality, but it goes through the genre motions with crisp efficiency and appealing performances.
067. (18 Apr) Year of the Dog (2007, Mike White) [C (down from initial C+)]
I have no love for PETA, but sheesh, this film is at its most condescending when it's being sympathetic, reducing character motivations to trite psychology like a menopausal midlife crisis.
066. (17 Apr) /*Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King/ (2003, Peter Jackson) [A]
065. (17 Apr) /*Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers/ (2002, Peter Jackson) [A]
064. (16 Apr) /*Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring/ (2001, Peter Jackson) [A]
063. (15 Apr) /*For Your Eyes Only/ (1981, John Glen) [B-]
The focus on old-fashioned stuntwork makes this the second-best Moore Bond, but that's rather like saying THE WEDDING SINGER is the second-best Sandler comedy.
062. (14 Apr) Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters (2007, Matt Maiellaro & Dave Willis) [B]
Sustains the surreal absurdity of the TV show surprisingly well over its 80 minutes, but with the exception of its brilliant aggro-metal take on movie theater policy clips, it's very hard to remember what the funny bits were.
061. (11 Apr) *Woman Is the Future of Man (2004, Hong Sang-Soo) [C]
060. (08 Apr) Muriel (1962, Alain Resnais) [C+]
059. (08 Apr) The Long Day Closes (1992, Terence Davies) [A]
058. (07 Apr) *Tarzan and His Mate (1934, Cedric Gibbons) [B]
Definitely a step up from the preceding film, with lots of fairly convincing action. But it's blatantly clear that these films' Achelles' heel is Johnny Weismuller's take on Tarzan as jungle retard boy.
057. (06 Apr) Shooter (2007, Antoine Fuqua) [D+]
056. (06 Apr) Blades of Glory (2007, Will Speck & Josh Gordon) [C]
Eh. Not without some amusing moments, but has the distinctive taste of actors going through very familiar motions. Will Ferrell - narcissistic lunkhead, check. Craig T. Nelson - gruff authority figure and coach, check. Will Arnett - preening, self-absorbed twit, check.
055. (06 Apr) Death Proof (2007, Quentin Tarantino) [B+]
Grindhouse as a whole - [B]. Not without a few problems (Thoms proves conclusively that the only person who can get away with Tarantino's patented Samuel L. Jackson dialogue is Jackson himself. It sounds completely ridiculous from anyone else.), but the film's first half has some nice grace notes, and while the awesome car duel that closes the film may not the best ever, it certainly is the best-shot.
054. (06 Apr) Planet Terror (2007, Robert Rodriguez) [C+]
I think I'd be more impressed by this if the last several years didn't include such films as SHAUN OF THE DEAD, LAND OF THE DEAD, SLITHER, WILD ZERO, etc. Only thing that distinguishes this from the recent tongue-in-cheek zombie pics is the meta-jokes about the film medium and the approriately scuzzy opening titles.
053. (05 Apr) /*Memoirs of an Invisible Man/ (1992, John Carpenter) [C]
Competent mediocrity; even the most diehard Carpenter auterist would struggle to find anything interesting about this.
052. (02 Apr) *Ben-Hur (1959, William Wyler) [B]
Never seen the whole thing before, but have caught the chariot race several times before when channel-surfing. (My memory is that TNT showed this pretty regularly on Sunday afternoons about a decade ago.) Chariot race still awesome, but the rest of the film has a pageant mustiness. To its credit, Charlton Heston less irritaing than normal.
051. (31 Mar) The Lookout (2007, Scott Frank) [C+]
050. (31 Mar) After the Wedding (2006, Susanne Bier) [C]
049. (31 Mar) Killer of Sheep (1977, Charles Burnett) [B]
s01. (31 Mar) Draw (1993, Bill Plympton) [B]
048. (25 Mar) *Angels in America (2003, Mike Nichols) [B+]
047. (24 Mar) Reign Over Me (2007, Mike Binder) [B-]
Don Cheadle's terrific performance pretty much holds this odd mix of therapy movie and buddy comedy together, though even he can't do anything with the Saffron Burrows subplot, which reminds us Mike Binder also made the wretched THE SEX MONSTER.
046. (24 Mar) The Last Mimzy (2007, Bob Shaye) [B]
Completely daft (the plot, AFAICT, involves using the secret language of spiders to build wormholes for time travel) but zips along nicely with two rather understated kid performances and a distinct whiff of Eighties Spielberg. Probably would have skipped the dopey prologue & epilogue, though.
045. (18 Mar) 300 (2007, Zach Snyder) [D+]
044. (18 Mar) The Namesake (2006, Mira Nair) [C+]
043. (17 Mar) /*Goldfinger/ (1964, Guy Hamilton) [B+]
042. (17 Mar) *Hollywoodland (2006, Allen Coulter) [C]
Ben Affleck's performance as George Reeves is erratic, but the sporadic scenes where he mines the pathos of semi-successful stardom are still the only things with any life in this handsome but inert production.
041. (08 Mar) *Billion Dollar Brain (1967, Ken Russell) [C]
Plot is Bond silliness (deranged Texas oil billionaire launches invasion of the Soviet Union), but the tone is world-weary. Don't know how it compares to the other Harry Palmer movies, but little action and suspense (deranged lunatic is, in fact, a raving idiot and gets what raving idiots deserve) makes this a pretty dreary exercise. Some interesting transitions provide a flicker of cinematic interest.
040. (06 Mar) /*Return to Oz/ (1985, Walter Murch) [C+]
With all due respect to Nathan Rabin who covered this in his "Year of Flops" running series on the AV Club blog, this is not a secret success, but an occasionally interesting misfire. It does have a fair amount of dark and disturbing moments for a kid's film, but there's little depth to it that would suggest something more interesting than an expensive replica of sixties-era kiddie matinee fare. Murch is one of the great technicians of film history, but as a director, he's anonymously competent.
039. (04 Mar) Ambitious (2006, Catherine Corsini) [C]
038. (04 Mar) Tell No One (2006, Guillame Canet) [B]
037. (04 Mar) Bridge to Terabithia (2007, Gabor Csupo) [B-]
If it wasn't for two misguided directorial decisions -- the overuse of CGI to depict the kids' shared fantasy world and some clumsy musical foreshadowing -- this would be one of the better children's movies in some time with a terrific performance from Josh Hutcherson.
036. (03 Mar) Black Snake Moan (2007, Craig Brewer) [B-]
035. (03 Mar) Zodiac (2007, David Fincher) [A-]
034. (28 Feb) *A Good Year (2006, Ridley Scott) [D+]
Alas, exactly the type of movie its excruciating trailer portended: cutesy "life-is-good" material further burdened by an overflow of greeting-card homilies.
033. (26 Feb) *Keeping Mum (2005, Niall Johnson) [C+]
An attempt at adding three dimensions to the very, very English black comedy that only goes halfway. Kristin Scott Thomas (and where has she been, anyway?) is a well-rounded, complex character that would be right at home in a more conventional drama and Rowan Atkinson(!) imbues his stereotypical fuddy-duddy vicar with psychological depth. Yet these two are bracketed by work from Maggie Smith and Patrick Swayze that remain mired in stock archetypes.
032. (24 Feb) 13 Lakes (2004, James Benning) [B]
More than I expected (which was the cinematic equivalent of landscape photography) in that several of the segments make canny use of the soundtrack in juxtaposition to the image. Each of the 13 segments is based on a key idea, some aural, some visual, and while only the first segment (Jackson Lake, depicting the changing light of a sunrise behind the camera on the mountains in front) actually needs the 10 minutes each shot lasts, all end up having such a hypnotic effect that I was surprised when the leader separating each segment finally broke out. Not all of Benning's ideas work out; the random gunshots punctuating the soundtrack to Crater Lake are a too-facile counterpoint to the symmetric stillness of the visual.
031. (24 Feb) Longing (2006, Valeska Grisebach) [B]
Difficult to discuss since most of what I like about this film is due entirely to the coda, which cannily reminds us of the beginning of the movie and recasts the emotionally flat landscape of the romantic triangle that forms the "narrative" of the movie (tonally, it reminded me of a Dumont who doesn't hate humanity) into a greater whole.
030. (22 Feb) /*Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace/ (1999, George Lucas) [D - was C-]
Actually watched this to the accompaniment of a RiffTrax (an MP3 track recorded by MST3K's Mike Nelson and Kevin Murphy), which made the experience bearable (though the track had more dead air than the usual MST3k episode), but repeat viewing makes it clear that my opinion was actually much too kind when it came out. This is a godawful exercise in tedium, with the most loathsome comic relief of the last ten years (Sample crack: "The problem with Jar Jar isn't that he's racially insensitive, but that he's metaphysically offensive." "Are you saying that he bugs your soul?" "Well, yes.") and an even worse child performance.
029. (21 Feb) *Demon Seed (1977, Donald Cammell) [D+]
Given its ludicrous premise, the last thing I expected was for this to be dull. Doesn't even have the benefit of Cammell's greatest strength, the electrifying editing he utilized in parts of WHITE OF THE EYE and PERFORMANCE.
028. (17 Feb) Play It As It Lays (1972, Frank Perry) [C+]
All idiosyncratic editing and bitchy campiness in the dialogue, but fundamentally hollow as Tuesday Weld's performance suggests nothing more than a stoned drifter through life. Basically all fall, and nothing that indicates the peak.
027. (17 Feb) Exterminating Angels (2006, Jean-Claude Brisseau) [B]
Given the real-life circumstances, the most impressive thing about Brisseau's self-rationalization is how brazen it is -- suggesting that one's accusers are possessed by the Devil is taking it a bit far. (For all I know, Brisseau may actually believe this; it isn't like his films indicate a completely sober personality.) Not up with his best, since Brisseau's rather outlandish worldview works best with pulp material, though his compositional sense makes the hot stuff actually hot (a rarity in art cinema) and the film occasionally flirts with slapstick goofiness.
026. (17 Feb) Music and Lyrics (2007, Marc Lawrence) [B+]
Terrific Hugh Grant performance, but what makes this such a superlative romcom is that it takes the music industry trappings seriously and treats its Grant's rumpled, but unbitter has-been with dignity. It's anti-snark, and makes an impassioned plea for the benefit of silly pop songs.
025. (17 Feb) Breach (2007, Billy Ray) [B+]
024. (17 Feb) *Evil Under the Sun (1982, Guy Hamilton) [B-]
I liked this a bit more than the better-regarded Orient Express. Ustinov's Poirot is a mere caricature compared to the qrotesquerie that was Albert Finney, and (save Roddy McDowall) the acting is much less irritating. Still not much more than a pleasant time-killer, though. Also I now realize I rather hate Cole Porter. Customer aside: Let me put in a kind word for Flix which, outside of TCM and the Sundance Channel, tends to have the most eclectic and interesting selection of the the pay cable channels available in the US.
023. (16 Feb) *Murder on the Orient Express (1974, Sidney Lumet) [B-]
Credit to Christie's plotting that the Detective-Poirot-lays-it-all-out scene still works like gangbusters, despite the cornucopia of irritatingly broad acting that surrounds it.
022. (13 Feb) *Wild Camp (2005, Christophe Ali & Nicolas Bonilauri) [C-]
021. (11 Feb) White of the Eye (1987, Donald Cammell) [C-]
Starts off great, with the same jagged, violent montage that powered the exemplary first half-hour of PERFORMANCE, but slowly devolves into a ludicrous psycho killer thriller.
020. (11 Feb) The Lives of Others (2006, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck) [B]
Would make a great double bill with INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN, as both concern mid-level authoritarians whose tragic "flaw" is that they are honest believers in a landscape of cynics and opportunists. The lesser of the two films, as Petri's descent into Bunuelian surrealism ultimately has more bite than FHVD's humanism, but I'll be a liar if I said I didn't find the final scene of LIVES tremendously moving.
019. (10 Feb) *Krakatoa, East of Java (1969, Bernard L. Kowalski) [C]
Largely notorious for its geographically inaccurate title, it's otherwise a pedestrian film that's only interesting for the kinda-cool volcano effects and the archaic-by-even-1969-standards feel of the film.
018. (03 Feb) Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970, Elio Petri) [A-]
017. (03 Feb) Puccini for Beginners (2006, Maria Maggenti) [C+]
I'm being much more kind to this than the cutesy script and mediocre visual sense deserve; credit a fine cast (including Chateau fave Julianne Nicholson) for getting as much out of the material as anybody can.
016. (03 Feb) *The Chatterley Affair (2006, Peter Hawes) [C]
In case what you're wondering what this is, this is a BBC TV movie written by Andrew Davies (king of the period adaptation mini) set during the 1960 Lady Chatterley's Lover trial that counterpoints a (fictional) affair between two jurors with the trial testimony. Unfortunately, Davies' worst work; tedious and obvious, with a half-assed framing device.
015. (01 Feb) *Crank (2006, Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor) [B]
Hands down, the most insane genre film of 2006. (And this is the year of RUNNING SCARED and HAPPY FEET, so it had competition...) Throws every directing and editing goof its directors have thought up their whole lives (and some I suspect on a crack binge the night before shooting..), but shot through with an absurdist sense of humor and some stronger performances than usual for this kind of fare. Amy Smart's cheerful stoner ditz is a particular standout.
014. (31 Jan) *The Night Listener (2006, Patrick Stettner) [C-]
An 80-minute exercise in is it real-or-not, when it's blindingly clear halfway through what the answer can only be. Williams's performance as snooze-inducing as his warm, relaxing radio voice.
013. (28 Jan) Breaking and Entering (2006, Anthony Minghella) [C+]
Either an ambitious failure or a modest domestic melodrama crushed under a dog's breakfast of trendy topics du jour (parkour, autism, urban renewal); I'm leaning toward the latter.
012. (28 Jan) Mafioso (1962, Alberto Lattuada) [A-]
Exactly the type of half-forgotten film that benefits from rediscovery, MAFIOSO is a canny little shapeshifter of a movie. What starts out as a neorealist-inflected comedy of culture clash (the reaction shots of Nino's wife Marta to her Sicilian in-laws are priceless) morphs into a superior existential tragedy.
011. (27 Jan) Seraphim Falls (2006, David Von Ancken) [B]
Generally solid if unexceptional western whose greatest assets are a refreshing taciturness and cinematography that even on the desert floor captures the cold winter light. The film's turn toward mysticism near the end, though -- Bad Idea. (It's early, but I think Anjelica Huston has the award for 2007's Worst Cameo sewn up...)
010. (27 Jan) Catch & Release (2006, Susannah Grant) [C+]
009. (25 Jan) *The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959, Terence Fisher) [C]
Peter Cushing makes for an entertaining Holmes, but otherwise this is pretty humdrum Hammer fare.
008. (20 Jan) Tears of the Black Tiger (2000, Wisit Sasanatieng) [B]
Essentially a mash-up between an over-the-top sendup of spaghetti Westerns and a stylized but basically sincere romantic weepie, the tonal discrepancy between the two sides never gets resolved satisfactorily. (It doen't help that the central romance has zero heat.) But Wisit's stylistic brio does provide for several awesome moments to wow the most jaded midnight viewer, and several achingly beatiful shots that mimic the faded glory of time-worn lobby cards.
007. (20 Jan) Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson (1976, Robert Altman) [B+]
A bit of a mess, as the film's thematic strands of legend replacing reality ultimately seem as much about Method acting as the manufacture of "history". Of course, the film's own revisionism goes much the other way; while some of Cody's exploits were manufactured, he wasn't anywhere near the narcissistic fool the film portrays him as. Quibbles aside, it's still a gloriously entertaining Altman free-wheeler, with a cacophonous cast and a sense of barely-controlled chaos. Only a series of faux-endings ends up killing the film's comic momentum. Also, awesome bit of casting against type with Harvey Keitel as Cody's nebbishy nephew. (I didn't even realize it was him until the end credits; he looked so young then...)
006. (13 Jan) Letters from Iwo Jima (2006, Clint Eastwood) [B+]
Certainly a vast improvement from FLAGS, though it shares that film's flaw of being at least 20 minutes too long.
005. (13 Jan) Pan's Labyrinth (2006, Guillermo del Toro) [B-]
004. (06 Jan) Dreamgirls (2006, Bill Condon) [C+]
A mediocre Broadway musical with one mammoth showstopper turns into a a mediocre movie musical with one mammoth showstopper. You'd think at least someone would have had the good sense to take some of the schmaltz out of the arrangements. And I'm having a hard time thinking of any supposed lead performances less present in their films than Beyonce Knowles here.
003. (06 Jan) Miss Potter (2006, Chris Noonan) [C+]
Insufferably twee in the early going, but gets less irritating as it goes along though it never offers up a compelling reason for its existence.
002. (01 Jan) Notes on a Scandal (2006, Richard Eyre) [B]
Rather overbearing Glass score (when Siouxsie and the Banshees comes across as relaxing in context, you know the score's been laid on a bit thick), but the sharp performances and some tart dialogue makes this an enjoyably middlebrow take on tawdry material, perched comfortably between Chabrol's iciness and Lifetime histrionics.
001. (01 Jan) Children of Men (2006, Alfonso Cuaron) [B+]
For better and worse, comes across more like Spielberg in his aping-Kubrick phase than anything else. The long, long apparent-one-take set pieces are magnificent, and the film's depiction of civilization in collapse creates a simmering sense of tension. (I kept expecting in one scene for a pig balloon to blow up. And just what was with the random Pink Floyd reference.) But alas this material needs either a misanthrope or a true believer, and not this half-hearted embrace of its blatant Second Coming trappings.