Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Monday, December 2, 2013

2009 Year in Review

Best of 2009 – originally written 1/6/2010 - transferring over items from another location!  Enjoy!

Once again, Entertainment Weekly has published their list of the top 25 movies you should see before the Academy Awards, which are on March 7th. Supposedly these are the quality movies of the year, the best of the best.  As you know, for me, quality doesn't always equal enjoyment and I often tend to disagree with their list. Here's their list - followed by mine!

1.  Up in the Air – A Jason Reitman directed film starring George Clooney as a man who is hired by companies to fly in and fire folks.  If you think that sounds depressing, and you don’t understand why it was marketed as a comedy, you are correct.  It also stars Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga.

2.  Avatar – Chances are you’ve seen this.  James Cameron’s new sci-fi epic with the super fantastic 3D.  Just enjoy it for the visuals, don’t think too much about the plot, or you’ll realize that you’ve seen this story about a dozen times before.
3. The Hurt Locker -  A war movie directed by James Cameron’s ex-wife, Kathryn Bigelow.  I hated it, but that’s just me.  It’s not an action movie, like they told me it was.  It’s Jeremy Renner doing an incredible job in character study of a soldier who has probably seen too much.  It’s well done, just not my cup of tea.
4. Precious (based on the novel Push by Sapphire).  Well done but difficult to watch - who knew Mo'Nique could act for real? And Mariah Carey?  And Lenny Kravitz?
5. Inglourious Basterds – Quentin Tarantino World War 2 Brad Pitt movie, ultra-violent, with a great performance by Kristoph Waltz.  No, I didn't see it - I don't really enjoy his movies.
6. Invictus – Welcome to Oscar season, which means Clint Eastwood directed a movie - this one is about Mandela and rugby and features Matt Damon doing a South African accent, and Morgan Freeman playing Mandela.

7. An Education – a tiny little drama by Lone Scherfig featuring Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, and Alfred Molina.  A coming-of-age story about a teenage girl in 1960s suburban London, and how her life changes with the arrival of a playboy nearly twice her age.  Yawn.
8. Up – Disney/Pixar annual submission to ensure they win another animation Oscar.  The first 10 minutes are virtually silent, and some of the most beautiful, heartbreaking filmmaking I’ve seen.  Then it launches into a pretty typical Disney flick.  It’s not bad, and it’s good for the whole family – so far the first on this list to be so.
9. A Serious Man – A Coen Brothers movie (I hate their movies) starring Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind and Sari Lennick.  A Midwestern math teacher watches his life unravel over multiple sudden incidents.  No, thank you.
10. The Messenger - Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster informing people their loved one has died in the war.  Depressing little drama from Oren Moverman.

11. Julie and Julia – Here’s a second one that may be family friendly.  Meryl Streep being awesome, and Amy Adams being annoying (like always).  Amy plays Julie, a woman who decides to try 365 recipes from Julia Childs’s cookbooks, then blog about it.  It’s based on a true story, and is fairly entertaining. 
12. A Single Man – Not to be confused with the Serious Man listed above, this is a Tom Ford directed movie starring Colin Firth, Julianne Moore and Matthew Goode.  An English professor (not the math teacher from Serious Man) is unable to cope with his typical days in 1960s Los Angeles after the death of his boyfriend.  That sounds depressing.
13. Crazy Heart – Because you were thinking, what would Colin Farrell be like as a country singer?  Well, then this Scott Cooper movie is for you.  Jeff Bridges plays an aging country singer who falls for a young woman with a young son.  The relationship is basically doomed from the start, but it inspires him to better himself.  I hated this movie, it just grated on me like nails on a chalkboard, but hey, maybe it’s up your alley.  The music is good (if you like Country/Folk), so you can look for another Oscar for T-Bone Burnett. 

14. The Blind Side – The fictionalized version of the true life story of Michael Oher, who was homeless and traumatized and then become an NFL player with the help of a caring woman and her family.  Directed by John Lee Hancock. 
15. The Last Station – This is a historical drama that illustrates Russian author Leo Tolstoy’s struggle to balance fame and wealth with his commitment to a life devoid of material things.  It’s directed by Michael Hoffman, and stars Helen Mirren, James McAvoy, and Christopher Plummer.  If you’re a huge Tolstoy fan, this one’s for you! 
16. Nine – This is a big time musical with Daniel Day Lewis, Penelope Cruz, Kate Hudson, and Fergie.  It’s directed by Rob Marshall – who did Chicago, and is the story of a famous film director who struggles to find harmony in his professional and personal lives, as he engages in dramatic relationships with his wife, mother, mistress, muse, and agent.  If you’re into musicals, here you are.

17. Star Trek – J.J. Abrams reboot or reimagining of the original series.  His logic is that he has created an alternate timeline, so now he can have all new stories with the characters you have loved previously.  I suppose that makes sense, and the movie was certainly entertaining!
18. District 9 – Neil Blomkaamp’s amazing ‘what-if’ with aliens and South Africa.  Quietly brilliant and disturbing.
19. Fantastic Mr. Fox - Wes Anderson goes animated with George Clooney and his other regular players.
20. The Lovely Bones - Peter Jackson leaves the shire to direct this movie about a young girl who has been murdered and watches over her family – and her killer – from purgatory.  She must weigh her desire for vengeance against her desire for her family to heal.  Yikes, does that sound upsetting.  It stars Rachel Weisz, Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, and Saoirse Ronan. 

21. (500) Days of Summer - Joseph Gordon Levitt proves he's amazing in this fun non-linear romantic comedy from director Marc Webb.  It’s pretty wonderful.
22. It's Complicated – A romantic comedy starring Alec Baldwin attempting to hold his own with Meryl Streep and Steve Martin.  It’s directed by Nancy Meyers, who knows her comedy, and features some really great fringe playing by John Krasinski.
23. The Young Victoria - Emily blunt plays a young queen Victoria.  I think that’s about all you need to know about that one.
24. Bright Star – Abbie Cornish and Ben Whishaw in a Jane Campion directed period piece detailing the three year romance between poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne. 
25. The Informant! – That exclamation point is really misleading.  At no point is this Soderbergh movie that exciting.  It is long, and it is boring.  Matt Damon got pudgy and wears a silly mustache. Tony Hale, Patton Oswalt, Scott Bakula, and Joel McHale also appear in this movie about a man who becomes a witness when the government goes after an agro-business giant with price-fixing accusations.  

I have seen 12 of those, which is way more than I usually achieve.  Here's my list - keep in mind, this is in no way a list of the best movies of the year (I'll leave that to the critics).  This is purely a list of my favorite movies of the year. You should feel free to disagree; after all, it's only my opinion.

1.  Star Trek - I am admittedly biased, a longtime fan...one of the first things I ever remember seeing on tv is the episode of the original series where the crew had to stop the miners from breaking the eggs of that carpet monster thing, the Horta. It takes some serious talent to take something as beloved as star trek and reimagine it strongly enough that it has crossover appeal for everyone, not just longtime fans. It helps to have a great, hot, funny cast - and a proven director in J.J. Abrams. Hooray for big time genre summer movies that deliver what they promise and go beyond!  I will acknowledge there were some flaws, it was probably too long, and what was with all the camera flares? 
2. Sherlock Holmes - Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in the return of Guy Ritche from his dark period - you know, when he was married to Madonna. This movie is quick, clever, action packed, and really just downright good. 

3. Avatar - I almost never argue with James Cameron. Aliens is one of the best movies ever. Terminator is one of the best movies ever. True Lies?  T2?  The Abyss? All amazing. Yes, it is technologically the next step, and yes, it has a weak plot, and yes, it is a story you may have seen before.  However, aside from all that, it is a visually stunning, incredibly enjoyable movie. Get your popcorn and your 3D glasses, and get comfortable because it is three solid hours of good movie fun.
4. District 9 - the only movie this year that blew my mind. A director and cast I didn't know, shot for next to nothing, and I had no expectations going in, so it completely caught me off guard.  It is smart, sometimes disturbing and sometimes funny - great action and great effects. 

5. Zombieland - another one that caught me off guard. This is something that capitalizes on Jesse Eisenberg’s weirdness, and really, the rules were great.  It is gross at points, the violence against the zombies is high-level, but it really is laugh out loud funny start to finish. Thank goodness for Woody Harrleson.
6. G.I. Joe - I expect to be argued with on this one - but remember, just my opinion!  I loved this, but then, I love Stephen Sommers movies, the bigger the better.  I also love movies where everyone in them knows they're making a silly action movie and they all look like they're having fun (see Kull the Conqueror)!  Also – an entertaining global cast, and the continued rise of Channing Tatum.
7. (500) days of summer - the best non-romantic comedy ever. Equal parts funny and complicated = fantastic! 

8. Ninja Assassin – Crazy, violent and gory - let's take the biggest pop star in Korea and make the best worst ninja movie ever!  I have always be a Naomie Harris fan, so it’s fun to see her in this.
9. Terminator Salvation – Surprise, surprise, I love McG movies too.  I loved this movie.  I’m fine being in the minority on this one, but I did love the way it tied all the previous movies together.  I liked seeing the beginning of SkyNet, and the first T-800s, and I loved Bale’s performance as Conner and Worthington’s performance as one of the first of a new breed of HK.
10. Surrogates - can't go wrong with a solid sci-fi actioner with Bruce Willis in it. There are some creepy overtones to this – why wouldn’t we stay in a pod all day and let our robotic selves go out and live a dangerous life?  Unless of course, someone destroys our robot, then what?!  It’s fun and short, check it out.
11. Hangover - the funniest movie of the year? Maybe.  This movie finally showcased Bradley Cooper, who has been awesome for a long time.  However, it also had some solid ensemble work. It is definitely ‘frat-guy’ humor, just to warn you, but it is funny; and spawned tons of quotable moments. "I've found babies before."
12. I Love You Man - probably interchangable with Hangover for funniest of the year.  I actually liked this one better.  It is also ‘frat-guy’ humor, but it has Paul Rudd, which makes it way more quality. Jason Segel is also hilarious.  And the movie itself is also quotable – “slappin' da bass!” 

13.  Transformers 2 – You’re right, it’s not nearly as good as the first, but it’s still pretty to look at. Michael bay is my favorite director (not person, I know he’s an ass), and I love big action summer popcorn movies!
14. Wolverine – I know this wasn’t as great as everyone wanted it to be, but I liked it. I thought it was very entertaining.  Hugh Jackman really knows how to play this character by now, and thank goodness for finally seeing Gambit onscreen, even if his appearance in this didn’t really make sense with the existing Marvel storyline, since this is technically a prequel to the X-Men franchise.
15. 2012 - No one destroys the earth better than Roland Emmerich, and did he ever destroy it in this movie!  At least he thought to build some arks this time, and save some people and two of each animal.  Big time entertainment! Big time popcorn!  And again, thank goodness for Woody Harrelson. 

16. Harry Potter and the Half Blood prince, or HP6.  It’s good, not as good as the book, but good.  Harry and crew are barreling along towards their inevitable end, and things are getting more and more difficult.
17. Fast and Furious (technically the 4th). Back to basics, director Justin Lin broke down what worked about the first movie, then brought back all the original cast to make a quick-n-dirty actioner with all the original cast. It’s simple, it’s fun, it has a wide-ranging multi-ethnic cast, and it is the bottom line in what makes movies entertaining.
18. Street Fighter, the Legend of Chun-Li - awesomely terrible! Terribly awesome! Just completely ridiculous, but I loved it! Kristin Kruek goes on a revenge mission to determine who killed her father and to make them pay.  Neal McDonough gets creepy, Michael Clarke Duncan gets big, Chris Klein reminds you that he still exists, Moon Bloodgood is awesome, and Robin Shou crosses genres to go from Lui Kang to a mentor in this world.  Hooray!

19. Angels and Demons - way better than the Davinci Code, and clearly Ewan McGregor should have been playing villains all along, as he is awesome at it. Incidentally, the book was better, but the movie is pretty good.
20. Watchmen - crazy ambitious, insanely complicated - too long, and visually stunning.

There you have it.  For the record...here's my list of the worst movies of the year:

1. Watchmen - crazy ambitious, insanely complicated - too long, visually stunning, but not nearly enough to keep me from being really and truly irritated and annoyed...and what the hell was up with the blue tiger?  It was the coolest part, and it was eliminated almost immediately after being introduced!  The hell with you, Zack Synder.

2. He's Just Not That Into You – This was so incredibly terrible and insulting; all women are desperate for relationships and boyfriends and marriage and do nothing but sit around fixating on men?  Ick, throwing tons of celebrities into a horrible fakey romcom does not make it watchable.
3. Year One - yeah, it had some funny moments, but it just was not good. It was mostly just wasted potential, Michael Cera and Jack Black playing themselves, however, the one bright spot was Oliver Platt chewing the hell out of the scenery.

4. Fame – This was an odd choice to remake the classic.  It could have been great, but really just felt like an incomplete collection of short stories.
5. State of Play – this was a good story, but way too complicated.  I can't stand Russell Crowe even though I really like Ben Affleck.  Are we really supposed to believe they went to school together, and are the same age?  Maybe they are, but Crowe looks 15 years older.  Also, it’s a little tough to buy the intensity of rushing for a newspaper deadline in this day and age.
6. Push - cool idea, but really the definition of wasted potential.  Chris Evans and Dakota Fanning have mild super-powers.

There you go, a complete summary of 2009 movies! 

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