FILMS SEEN IN 2012by redwriteandblue | created - 28 Jan 2012 | updated - 03 Jan 2015 | Public
I have a goal of seeing 50 new films per year - for 2012, watched 125!
- Instant Watch Options
- Movies or TV
- IMDb Rating
- In Theaters
- On TV
- Release Year
1. 30 Minutes or Less (2011)
R | 83 min | Action, Comedy, Crime
Two fledgling criminals kidnap a pizza delivery guy, strap a bomb to his chest, and inform him that he has mere hours to rob a bank or else...
Votes: 83,839 | Gross: $37.05M
**** out of five - VERY funny, well-written, and Eisenberg & Ansari are fantastic!
2. Fei chang wan mei (2009)
107 min | Comedy, Romance
Two ex-lovers work together to win back their lost loves, but not everything goes according to plan.
****-1/2 out of five - Funny, romantic, and charming film.
3. Beginners (2010)
R | 105 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
A young man is rocked by two announcements from his elderly father: that he has terminal cancer, and that he has a young male lover.
Votes: 80,642 | Gross: $5.79M
***-1/2 out of five - Christopher Plummer is BRILLIANT, in what would have otherwise been an average film (though McGregor, as always, gives the film heart).
4. Tere Bin Laden (2010)
Not Rated | 95 min | Comedy, Drama
A reporter casts a fake Bin Laden to act in his video message to America, so he can immigrate there.
**** out of five - Made me a HUGE fan of Ali Zafar, who is an amazing talent ... but this is, overall, a very funny comedy PERIOD.
5. Moneyball (2011)
PG-13 | 133 min | Biography, Drama, Sport
Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane's successful attempt to assemble a baseball team on a lean budget by employing computer-generated analysis to acquire new players.
Votes: 308,893 | Gross: $75.61M
****-1/2 out of five - Brad Pitt proves he's one of the finest actors working today, after all. The most excited I've gotten about baseball since I was maybe nine years old. Fantastic.
6. A Shriek in the Night (1933)
Unrated | 66 min | Crime, Mystery, Romance
Pat Morgan and Ted Kord are rival newspaper reporters always trying to outscoop each other. They join together to solve a series of murders being committed in an apartment building.
*** out of five - Vintage mystery with Ginger Rogers; actually kind of creepy in spots, was much better than I thought it'd be, in its low-budget way!
7. Shades of Ray (2008)
Not Rated | 86 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
Ray's half Pakistani and half white. When his parents' marriage dissolves, Ray's perspective of Ms. Right falls deeply into question.
**-1/2 out of five - Zachary Levi is great, as always, but overall would call the film an average love story/romantic comedy. Worth seeing for Levi, though.
8. The Man from Nowhere (2010)
R | 119 min | Action, Crime, Thriller
A quiet pawnshop keeper with a violent past takes on a drug-and-organ trafficking ring in hope of saving the child who is his only friend.
Votes: 50,583 | Gross: $0.01M
***** out of five - Action, humor, martial arts, gangsters, heart & soul, and an incredible performance by Bin Won; one of the best films I've seen this year so far, and I'm sure I will still be saying that 11 months from now.
9. The Artist (I) (2011)
PG-13 | 100 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
A silent movie star meets a young dancer, but the arrival of talking pictures sends their careers in opposite directions.
Votes: 207,789 | Gross: $44.67M
***** out of five - And worthy of every single award it's won, or will win. Jean Dujardin MAKES the film, which is both an homage to silent films (perfect in every detail), as well as a tender love story ... about a man and woman, but also a film for anyone who loves movies.
10. Sarangi museoweo (2011)
112 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
Sang-yeol, a 30-something loser stuck in a dead-end job as a home-shopping model, is able to marry the girl of his dreams - his modeling colleague So-yeon - when he discovers she's pregnant... See full summary »
*** out of five - Good comedy, touched with romance, that starts of slow ... but in the end winds up being pretty touching, warm, and tinged with more than a little charm.
11. The Descendants (2011)
R | 115 min | Comedy, Drama
A land baron tries to reconnect with his two daughters after his wife is seriously injured in a boating accident.
Votes: 216,819 | Gross: $82.58M
***-1/2 out of five - Featuring a great performance by George Clooney, and Hawai'i as almost another character in the story. Didn't like it as much as I thought I would, but a beautifully-written script and the performance by Clooney are Oscar nom-worthy for sure.
12. Real Steel (2011)
PG-13 | 127 min | Action, Drama, Family
In the near future, robot boxing is a top sport. A struggling promoter feels he's found a champion in a discarded robot.
Votes: 273,157 | Gross: $85.47M
**** out of five - 'Rocky' meets 'Max Max Beyond Thunderdome' meets 'The Champ' ... down to the rousing final battle in the ring!
13. Gantz: Perfect Answer (2011)
Not Rated | 141 min | Action, Horror, Mystery
Kato's (Ken'ichi Matsuyama) death changes Kurono's (Kazunari Ninomiya) view of life completely. He decides to keep fighting until he earns 100 points so that he can bring back Kato. GANTZ ... See full summary »
***** out of five - No, haven't read the manga or seen the series, but this sequel is going to be in my Top 10 of the year already; rousing, action-packed, and intensely emotional at the end. Fantastic.
14. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)
PG-13 | 118 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
An elite military unit comprised of special operatives known as G.I. Joe, operating out of The Pit, takes on an evil organization led by a notorious arms dealer.
Votes: 185,251 | Gross: $152.27M
*** out of five - liked this MUCH more than I thought I would; if you like mindless, check-your-brain-at-the-door action, you'll probably like it, too.
15. 50/50 (2011)
R | 100 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
Inspired by a true story, a comedy centered on a 27-year-old guy who learns of his cancer diagnosis, and his subsequent struggle to beat the disease.
Votes: 290,510 | Gross: $35.01M
**** out of five - funny, touching, and with a very heartfelt performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who is worth watching this film for alone.
16. Drive (I) (2011)
R | 100 min | Crime, Drama
A mysterious Hollywood stuntman and mechanic moonlights as a getaway driver and finds himself in trouble when he helps out his neighbor.
Votes: 488,974 | Gross: $35.06M
****-1/2 out of five - NOT the action-packed chase movie some people might think this is, going in ... instead, this one is a thoughtful, yet intense character study featuring an Oscar-worthy performance by Ryan Gosling, who goes from quiet loner to intense outcast in under two hours - and makes it achingly, convincingly real.
R | 78 min | Action, Crime, Drama
When her surrogate father who owns the casino she works in gets murdered, Modesty Blaise takes on those that killed him and are now at the casino to rob it. It turns out she is more than just a modest worker.
*-1/2 out of five - VERY disappointing "spy film" that is more about LOTS of talk and very little action. Bad casting, as well, with the lead actress - who looks more like an anorexic ex-model than a super-spy. Nice in spots, and with a good supporting performance by Raymond Cruz, but weak as a newborn kitten, overall.
18. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
PG-13 | 105 min | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
A substance designed to help the brain repair itself gives rise to a super-intelligent chimpanzee who leads an ape uprising.
Votes: 451,806 | Gross: $176.76M
**** out of five - Fully expected to hate this, as I am a HUGE fan of the original franchise ... but this one truly delivers, thanks to Caesar (played to total conviction, prior to all the CGI, by Andy Serkis). The humans are just along for the ride, here - this flick is all about Caesar, and his quest to give his fellow creatures freedom from being treated like both pets and guinea pigs. Rousing, exciting, and emotionally involving; great job!
19. OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (2006)
Not Rated | 99 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy
Secret agent OSS 117 foils Nazis, beds local beauties, and brings peace to the Middle East.
Votes: 15,353 | Gross: $0.30M
*** out of five - Had to watch this, after seeing Jean Dujardin's brilliance in 'The Artist'! In this French spy spoof, which is slow to start but gets infinitely better as it goes along, Dujardin is like a hot, suave and chauvinistic Inspector Clouseau - not the brightest bulb in the bunch, but still somehow able to find and get the bad guys. The film, very funny in spots, is certainly not hurt by the presence of Berenice Bejo, Dujardin's co-star in 'The Artist' who plays an Egyptian spy whose duty is to help Dujardin's character foil the evil plot.
20. Chico & Rita (2010)
Not Rated | 94 min | Animation, Crime, Drama
Chico is a young piano player with big dreams. Rita is a beautiful singer with an extraordinary voice. Music and romantic desire unites them, but their journey - in the tradition of the Latin ballad, the bolero - brings heartache and torment.
Votes: 7,574 | Gross: $0.35M
**** out of five - a wonderful, animated love story (and Spain's entry in the Best Animation category at this year's Oscars), this endearing and uplifting film starts in 1948 Cuba, where we are introduced to piano player Chico and the beautiful singer Rita - in a film that covers their love-hate relationship, as the grow together and come apart - over several decades. Beautiful music and hand-drawn animation.
21. Contagion (2011)
PG-13 | 106 min | Drama, Thriller
Healthcare professionals, government officials and everyday people find themselves in the midst of a worldwide epidemic as the CDC works to find a cure.
Votes: 193,134 | Gross: $75.66M
**** out of five - while it might give some the creepy-crawlies - and certainly will have you thinking twice about how many germs you put yourself into contact with, every single day - Soderbergh's all-star cast make for one heck of a gripping movie that, in the end, is more about how the world comes together to try and solve an epic pandemic, than it is about the horrors of the disease itself. Great drama.
22. Casi divas (2008)
PG-13 | 107 min | Comedy, Musical
Four ambitious and beautiful young women. From four very different corners of Mexico. Just like hundreds of others, they are caught up in the frenzy that sweeps the nation when Alejandro ... See full summary »
Votes: 601 | Gross: $0.05M
**** - a wonderful, vibrant, funny, and touching film from Mexico, about the search for a new star when one of Mexico's most popular telenovelas (soap opera) decides to recast the female lead in a film version of the insanely popular series. A handful of girls from various parts - and various social/class backgrounds - of Mexico vie for the role ... and the film, while very funny, also touches on some of deeper issues that are a part of life in Mexico today. Loved it!
23. The Help (2011)
PG-13 | 146 min | Drama
An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African American maids' point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.
Votes: 365,107 | Gross: $169.71M
****-1/2 out of five - The brilliant and touching awards monster (deservedly so), set in the racially unsettled Jackson, Mississippi of the 1960s, shines with Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer as two best friends who "raise white babies" for their bigoted employers. Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Jessica Chastain (earning a well-deserved Supporting Actress Oscar nomination, herself) also add their brilliance to one of the best films of the year.
24. Sex mashin: Hiwai na kisetsu (2005)
64 min | Comedy
Near Kawahara, a young man on a bus connives to meet a single mother by knocking over her son's box of crickets. He's Hiroshi, she's Haruka, the boy is Yuichiro. Hiroshi pursues Haruka, and... See full summary »
*** out of five - Though FOR SURE not a film for everyone, I liked this much more than I thought I would. Hiroshi hooks up with a pretty young woman, and the two constantly have sex - often while her young son is being babysat by neighbors. In between, Hiroshi learns to deal with the woman's ex, temptations from other females, and even develops an obsession for cricket wrestling (don't ask). This crazy (and pretty explicit) sex comedy is about as bizarre as it gets, yet still - somehow - maintains its own charm.
25. Arahan jangpung daejakjeon (2004)
114 min | Action, Comedy
As a dorky cop falls in with five Tao masters who admire his c'hi, an ancient foe comes looking for them all.
**** out of five - Nerdy rookie policeman Sang-hwan, in pursuing a purse-snatcher who drives a motorcycle, ends up badly hurt. He's taken by the woman martial artist, who has caught the purse-snatcher, to be revived and healed by the Five Masters ... who recognizes, in Sang-hwan, the most powerful of chi - the makings of a genuine warrior. As they groom Sang-hwan (still a nerd) to become a legend, an outcast Master returns to modern-day Seoul to - among other things - enact his revenge on the Five Masters who used to be his comrades. Funny, exciting, and with great fight scenes (especially at the end), the film works largely due to the great performance of Seung-beom Ryu as Sang-hwan.
26. A Better Life (2011)
PG-13 | 98 min | Drama, Romance
A gardener in East L.A. struggles to keep his son away from gangs and immigration agents while trying to give his son the opportunities he never had.
Votes: 14,076 | Gross: $1.76M
****-1/2 out of five - Touching and wholly real, one of the best films of 2011 centers around Carlos, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, here in American for years and working as a gardener in Los Angeles, who wants nothing more than to be able to find a better life for his 14-year-old son Luis in this country. No matter your feelings on immigration or Mexicans or the like, at heart this is a truly effective story of a father who so loves his son, no sacrifice is too great. Demian Bichir's Oscar nom was deserved, he is brilliant here - his portrayal of Carlos one of the most genuine performances ever put onto film.
27. The Iron Lady (2011)
PG-13 | 105 min | Biography, Drama
An elderly Margaret Thatcher talks to the imagined presence of her recently deceased husband as she struggles to come to terms with his death while scenes from her past life, from girlhood to British prime minister, intervene.
Votes: 91,381 | Gross: $30.02M
****-1/2 out of five - Meryl Streep can do no wrong, and here her interpretation of Margaret Thatcher is nothing short of eerie. The story of England's most controversial Prime Minister is a grand tale, her narrowed down to the heart and soul of the woman who ran England from 10 Downing Street with nothing in mind but bettering her country - even at, sometimes, the cost of its people. A riveting performance worthy of the Oscar it got her.
28. My Week with Marilyn (2011)
R | 99 min | Biography, Drama
Votes: 76,697 | Gross: $14.60M
***** out of five - In trailers, photos, etc. I could only see Michelle Williams playing Marilyn ... NOT Marilyn. Thought the same, in the first few minutes of this film - but then the transformation began, and soon Michelle faded and Marilyn came through, luminously. Williams doesn't play Marilyn, she becomes the woman who was behind Marilyn - the confused, overwhelmed and incredibly insecure young woman for whom international fame was too much. An incredible performance that should have been honored with an Oscar as well, in a most brilliant film with a top-notch cast.
29. Chuecatown (2007)
Not Rated | 101 min | Comedy, Crime
In BOYSTOWN (Chuecatown), Victor (Pablo Puyol of 20 Centimeters) is a real estate agent in the quickly gentrifying neighborhood of Chueca in Madrid. But he hides a terrible secret; his ... See full summary »
**** out of five - This Spanish film, set in Madrid, is a very dark (and, at times, very funny) comedy set in Madrid, where an unscrupulous real estate agent named Victor decides to start killing off little old ladies in the Chueca neighborhood of Madrid, who refuse to sell their apartments to him, then flips their apartments and sells them to affluent gay couples in the up-and-coming neighborhood. When gay couple Rey and Leo inherit the apartment next to theirs from one of Victor's victims - and Rey decides to move his mother into it, instead of selling it to Victor - things go from bad to worse, in a comedy with some bizarre characters and situations, that somehow is also a lot of fun to watch. Loved it.
30. Hugo (2011)
PG | 126 min | Adventure, Drama, Family
In Paris in 1931, an orphan named Hugo Cabret who lives in the walls of a train station is wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton.
Votes: 270,711 | Gross: $73.86M
*** out of five - The Oscar-winning story of a small boy who takes care of all the clockwork at a huge train station in 1930's Paris is beautiful to look at and quirky in both story and characters ... but with all the technical perfection, the characters - especially that of Hugo, played with big, Disney-esque dewy eyes by Asa Butterfield - never felt fully-fleshed out to me. Worth seeing, even with a fairly predictable ending, but overall it felt a bit too long and drawn out for me.
31. Rango (2011)
PG | 107 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Rango is an ordinary chameleon who accidentally winds up in the town of Dirt, a lawless outpost in the Wild West in desperate need of a new sheriff.
Votes: 203,488 | Gross: $123.48M
****1/2 out of five - Well-deserving of its Oscar for Best Animated Film, this is the story of a lizard, used to a quiet life in his terrarium at home, who is suddenly thrust into the middle of the desert, where through a series of mishaps and misunderstandings he becomes both a Western legend and the sheriff of the small town of Dirt. Funny, heartfelt, and (especially as the film goes on) with some of THE coolest animation ever seen on the screen, this was a sweet surprise, and proof that Johnny Depp doesn't even have to physically appear on-screen to turn in a brilliant performance.
32. Bang-gwa-hoo-ock-sang (2006)
103 min | Comedy
The new boy accidentally gets on the wrong side of the high school bully, and is challenged to a fight after school.
**** out of five - I love films that surprise me; go somewhere I do not expect them to go, and for that reason this was a film that stuck with me awhile after seeing it. Namkoong Dahl is a loser - one of those guys that can never say or do ANYTHING correctly; if he had one hundred powered donuts in front of him - just ONE sprinkled with crushed arsenic instead of sugar - Namkoong would pick the poisoned one. After transferring to yet another new school, he takes the coaching of a fellow loser, about standing tough from the beginning by taking down another guy on his first day ... and by chance happens to pick a fight with THE toughest guy in the entire school. Now, Namkoong has just eight hours to figure out how to get out of the fight ... or else show up on the roof after school to be killed. Funny, strange, and in its own way very endearing, I ended up loving this slice-of-school-life comedy that packed more of an emotional wallop, in the end, than expected.
33. The Muppets (2011)
PG | 103 min | Adventure, Comedy, Family
A Muppet fanatic with some help from his 2 human compatriots must regroup the Muppet gang to stop an avaricious oil mogul from taking down one of their precious life-longing treasures.
Votes: 79,749 | Gross: $88.63M
***** out of five - One of the best films of last years manages to be not only an homage to characters we all grew up with ... it also manages to be funny, full of heart, and not only keeps the original characters true to themselves, but also manages to re-awaken the kid in all of us - those better, by-gone days - in the process. You'd have to be totally heartless, or totally anti-Muppet, to not love this one.
34. Innocent (2005)
80 min | Drama, Romance
17-year-old Eric follows his parents to immigrate to Canada and is thus forced to confront different emotional and cultural problems. He must not only adjust to the new environment, but ... See full summary »
***1/2 out of five - Eric is a 16-year-old teen in Hong Kong who, with his parents and sister, travels to Toronto Canada for what he and his sister think is a vacation. Immediately upon their arrival, however, Eric and his sister learn that the move is permanent, and Eric has to not only deal with his displacement and loss of friends - but also with his sexual awakening as a gay male. From his hunky male cousin, who Eric often fantasizes about, to an older gentleman who becomes Eric's friend and on-again, off-again sex buddy, the film - seemingly with little plot - is actually an eerily realistic portrait of what it is like for a young teenaged guy and his search for love and who he is as a gay male. The ending isn't cut-and-dried, and the film isn't perfect, but Timothy Lee brings so much heart to the film as Eric, you can't help but care about what happens to him.
35. Carnage (2011)
R | 80 min | Comedy, Drama
Two pairs of parents hold a cordial meeting after their sons are involved in a fight, though as their time together progresses, increasingly childish behavior throws the discussion into chaos.
Votes: 105,990 | Gross: $2.55M
**1/2 out of five - With a dream cast like Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly (not to mention Roman Polanski directing), it's no surprise that this film - about two New York City couples who meet to resolve a fight between their two sons, after one cracks the other in the face with a tree branch on a Brooklyn playground - gets more and more intense as the story goes on, leaving you antsy in your seat. But as civility turns to hostility, loyalties changing with the wind, ultimately the film feels a bit too forced and false. Worth viewing for the powerhouse talent/performances - especially Foster, who crackles with nervous energy throughout.
36. The Three Musketeers (2011)
PG-13 | 110 min | Action, Adventure, Romance
The hot-headed young D'Artagnan along with three former legendary but now down on their luck Musketeers must unite and defeat a beautiful double agent and her villainous employer from seizing the French throne and engulfing Europe in war.
Votes: 95,074 | Gross: $20.38M
***1/2 out of five - Don't expect deep characterization or Oscar-worthy performances (in fact Logan Lerman, much as I like him as an actor, to me may have been a bit miscast here), but if you can check your brain at the door this version of the classic tale is energetic, fun, and dazzling on the eyes with sumptuous costumes, sets, and special effects. An all-star cast tells the story of young hot-head D'Artagnan (Lerman) who arrives in Paris to join the Musketeers, only to find them down-on-their-luck and out of business ... until the chance arises to foil a vicious plot against the new king and queen of France. Great summer-flick fun, I had a great time but if you're looking for something deeper or more substantial - look elsewhere!
37. The Adventures of Tintin (2011)
PG | 107 min | Animation, Action, Adventure
Intrepid reporter Tintin and Captain Haddock set off on a treasure hunt for a sunken ship commanded by Haddock's ancestor.
Votes: 192,393 | Gross: $77.59M
**** out of five - VERY nice action/adventure flick about the young reporter and his dog, who shares adventures and constantly save the world. The most fully-realized animation I've seen - for the first time I could forget, occasionally, that I was watching animation over real actors - and the story is fairly relentless with action sequences, even if the ending is a bit too tidy. Great film.
38. Hop (2011)
PG | 95 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy
E.B., the Easter Bunny's teenage son, heads to Hollywood, determined to become a drummer in a rock 'n' roll band. In LA, he's taken in by Fred after the out-of-work slacker hits E.B. with his car.
Votes: 26,716 | Gross: $108.09M
** out of five - Went back and forth on seeing this one, finally did due to James Marsden and knew I was in trouble when the ending of the film was told within the first three minutes of the film's opening! Animation is beautiful, at times, but the story and writing are fairly juvenile, with holes in the plot big enough to drive a bus through. Cute, but strictly for the under-7 age group; fairly lame, otherwise, with not-so-great, a bit over-the-top performances.
39. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)
PG-13 | 132 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller
The IMF is shut down when it's implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, causing Ethan Hunt and his new team to go rogue to clear their organization's name.
Votes: 396,349 | Gross: $209.40M
**1/2 out of five - Big Brad Bird fan, BIG Jeremy Renner fan, and even still a Tom Cruise fan ... but truly disappointed in this very mediocre film that's all about brainless action sequences, sacrificing story and especially character. A fan of the series, not so much of part three and definitely not of this one; nicely-shot, but in the end you just have this "who cares?" feel about all of it.
40. Be-seu-teu-sel-leo (2010)
Not Rated | 117 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
"Best Seller" is a thriller centered around writer Hee-Soo (Eom Jeong-Hwa) who moves to a small house in a rural area after becoming involved in a plagiarism scandal. Hee-Soo then hears a ... See full summary »
***1/2 out of five - South Korean "horror" film that's actually more of a mystery/thriller with a supernatural element, about a young bestselling novelist, suddenly accused of plagiarising her latest novel, who later retreats to a creepy old country house with her daughter to start anew - where odd goings-on in the house both keep her from writing yet inspire a new novel. Atmospheric, at times suspenseful, and with a pretty cool ending that goes on just a tad too long, as a thriller this is definitely worth watching.
41. Stake Land (2010)
R | 98 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi
In a world of vampires, an expert vampire hunter and his young protégé travel toward sanctuary.
Votes: 37,441 | Gross: $0.02M
** out of five - Heard so much about this, I had to take a look. Zombies with fans, whom you have to kill like vampires, have taken over the planet like a viral plague, and this is the story of a young kid taken under the wing of "Mister," when his own family is killed, to learn the ways of survival. I know end-of-the-world flicks like this are supposed to be bleak, but this one just left me depressed - though a few fine performances, like the brilliant Michael Cerveris as the crazed leader of a "Christian" group more dangerous to mankind than the vampire/zombies. Overall though, the film just left a bad taste in my mouth.
42. Muoi (2007)
Not Rated | 93 min | Drama, History, Horror
"Muoi" charts the path of a Korean writer who travels to Vietnam in search of stories for her second novel. There she learns about a mystery centered around a century-old vengeful spirit.
*** out of five - Okay suspense story about a young Korean writer who travels to a small village in Vietnam to both visit an old friend she wronged in the past ... and to investigate the legend of a VERY wronged woman, painted in a portrait, who is known for coming back to enact her revenge. Creepy and suspenseful, not as strong as I would have liked but overall worth watching. Okay Korean/Vietnamese dual effort, more atmospheric than outright scary.
43. Dao jiàn xiào (2010)
PG-13 | 92 min | Action, Comedy
A tale of revenge, honor and greed follows a group of misfits that gets involved with a kitchen cleaver made from the top five swords of the martial arts world in this wild and brash action comedy.
**** out of five - Fun, wacky and entertaining film from China, perfect for those who like 'Kung Fu Hustle', that tells three stories - of a fat butcher in love, a mute chef suddenly thrust into the limelight, and a swordsman seeking revenge - all centered around the same cleaver that was once forged from the weapons of legendary warriors. One of those check-your-brain-at-the-door-and-enjoy films, though there is a heart behind it as well. Nicely done.
44. Blue Valentine (2010)
R | 112 min | Drama, Romance
The relationship of a contemporary married couple, charting their evolution over a span of years by cross-cutting between time periods.
Votes: 159,718 | Gross: $9.74M
****1/2 out of five - Intensely real performances from Michelle Williams and especially Ryan Gosling (one of the finest actors working today) make this one a near must-see ... even if it's not the most uplifting film; certainly NOT a date movie! They play Cindy and Dean, a married couple with a young daughter who appear to be in the last days of their marriage, having grown apart and uncommunicative in the years they have been together. But the film flashes back and forth, from around the time they met and through their courtship and falling in love, to who they are now as a couple, and in the process becomes nothing less than a blueprint for how true love can fall apart. Dean fares as the much more sympathetic character, but overall the film is a master class in acting thanks to the two leads, who are truly brilliant here.
45. Union Station (1950)
Approved | 81 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir
A sharp-eyed woman spots a man with a gun on a train and her alert to the railroad police helps them in their search for a ruthless gang who have kidnapped a blind heiress.
***1/2 out of five - Tightly suspenseful film noir featuring an excellent lead performance from William Holden, who plays the head of the Union Station police force in New York City suddenly thrust into the middle of a kidnapping when the young, blind heiress to a fortune is snatched, the kidnappers using Union Station as their point of contact with the father. Barry Fitzgerald is also great as the head of the NYC police force, who come in to help, and Nancy Olson (Holden's co-star in the brilliant 'Sunset Boulevard') is also wonderful as the young girl who learns of the kidnapping and brings the whole mess to Holden in the first place. Fans of film noir will enjoy this one, right up to a pretty suspenseful ending, with the actors making it rise above an otherwise fairly standard plot.
46. OSS 117: Lost in Rio (2009)
Not Rated | 101 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy
Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath, aka OSS 117, is the French spy considered by his superiors to be the best in the business. The year is 1967 - he's been sent on a mission to Rio de Janeiro, to ... See full summary »
Votes: 10,822 | Gross: $0.09M
**** out of five - Jean Dujardin of 'The Artist' comes back for a second time as the outspoken chauvinistic and bigoted French secret agent, this time heading to cold-war era Rio in search of a top-secret microfilm. Dujardin is terrific here, making his bumbling character actually quite endearing (even as the guy spouts some of his more over-the-top opinions on everything from women to Jews to Germans, and more), in a James Bond-type spoof that, to me, is even better (and funnier) than the first.
47. Tidal Wave (2009)
R | 120 min | Action, Comedy, Drama
Professor Kim, a marine geologist, recognizes the impending danger of a mega tsunami headed straight for Haeundae, a popular vacation spot on the south coast of Korea. He desperately ... See full summary »
****1/2 out of five - one of the best "disaster" films I've seen in years, mainly because it gets the main point of a disaster film right: it takes its time (the first half of the film, in fact) bringing you into the lives of the main characters, so that when the disaster hits you have a genuine emotional investment in them! Set in the seaside Korean tourist spot Haeundae, known for its beautiful beaches and the site of a terrible tsunami four yeas earlier, the film is about what happens when those in charge ignore the ever-worsening warnings of a scientist who insists that undersea earthquakes threaten a mega-tsunami that will make the previous one look like a spring shower. The ensuing disaster, when it hits, is well worth the wait - and by then, your emotional connection to the main characters will have you watching intensely to see what happens to them. Awesome film with the right touches of drama, melodrama, and even (when needed) humor.
48. Spygirl (2004)
102 min | Action, Comedy, Romance
Go-Bong has a huge crush on Gye-Soon who works at a fast food restaurant without knowing that the girl he love is a spy from North Korea.
**** out of five - Simply great Korean romantic comedy, about a beautiful North Korean spy who sneaks across the border into South Korea in search of an agent who has absconded with a whole lot of money. Going undercover, she takes a job behind the counter of a Burger King where the rogue spy has been known to dine - and, as the restaurant is next door to a prep school, immediately becomes the object of affection for every boy who spots her ... including a tall, handsome doofus who falls in love and is determined to win her. Funny, charming, romantic, even touching - a really sweet film.
49. Mei nui sik sun (2007)
**1/2 out of five - English title: 'The Lady Iron Chef'. Restaurateur S.K. and his extremely rich and powerful mother are a pair of the harshest culinary critics in China, two real peas in a pod - but when S.K. is kidnapped by some of the dumbest kidnappers ever, he's rescued by small-town model and actress Ceci, who can't even cook noodles without a disaster ... and chooses to spend a few days getting to knokw her before going home, realizing how much more fun and relaxed life is when out from under his mother's thumb. But when back in the fold and already in love with Ceci, Mom throws a wrench into things by insisting S.K. instead marry culinary genius Jade, whose family are legendary cooks from the north. Ceci, determined to win over S.K.'s mom and the man she's fallen for, turns to the wonderful (and hilarious) Lady Green, the descendant of a line of culinary experets from the south, to learn to become a master chef - and the challenge begins. Good performances by the actors, but otherwise a fairly standard, slightly goofy romantic comedy that comes off more goofy than charming. Worth a watch.
50. Negatibu happî chênsô ejji (2007)
109 min | Comedy, Horror
Yosuke, a typical slacker kid dozing his way through school, showing nothing in the way of ambition as he quietly mulls over the death of a close friend the year before. He is clever enough... See full summary »
**** out of five - Maybe the most bizarre title of any film I've seen so far - EVER - this one is NOTHING like you'd think from the illustration! Japanese slacker student Yosuke, having lost his best friend and idol Noto to a motorbike accident a year before, is sort of just drifting through life when he runs across a beautiful girl in park named Eri ... and the huge, hood-covered monster, bearing a chainsaw, who arrives to fight her. Eri, an expert fighter, defeats Chainsaw Man for the night, with more battles to come until she can kill him or he kills her (the reason for these battles is revealed), and with nothing else to fight for in life anymore, Yosuke decides to become Eri's companion, and help her in killing the Chainsaw Man for good. No real violence, no blood and gore at all, this instead was a nice surprise - a story about love, redemption, and finding both your self-confidence and reason for living again. Most of all, I loved how the film makes the point that you can achieve so much in life while remaining yourself; that even a "wuss," in the end, can be both the underdog and a hero at the same time. This was a terrific surprise.
51. Joyful Noise (2012)
PG-13 | 118 min | Comedy, Drama, Music
G.G. Sparrow faces off with her choir's newly appointed director, Vi Rose Hill, over the group's direction as they head into a national competition.
Votes: 7,193 | Gross: $30.92M
****1/2 out of five - Uplifting, funny, and engaging ... SO much more than I thought it would be. Great music/singing, and a very talented cast in a story that shamelessly tugs at the heart and stirs the soul. VERY nice.
52. Haywire (2011)
R | 93 min | Action, Thriller
A black ops super soldier seeks payback after she is betrayed and set up during a mission.
Votes: 76,441 | Gross: $18.94M
*** out of five - Liked the film, just not as much as I thought I would ... especially with this cast. Entertaining but ultimately felt kind of "meh" about it, probably from being unable to emotionally connect with some of the characters (including the lead, whose I felt was pretty wooden in her performance). Worth a watch, though, for the awesome supporting cast alone (none of whom seem to mind playing second fiddle to an unknown lead, which was pretty cool), plus a couple of nifty fight scenes.
53. Yogen (2004)
R | 95 min | Horror
While stopped at a roadside phone booth for transmitting his work through the Internet to the university, Professor Hideki Satomi finds a scrap of newspaper with the picture of his ... See full summary »
*** out of five - Nifty Japanese thriller with some touching moments, though more of a drama than a horror film. Nice performances and direction, but overall just slightly above average.
54. Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth (2000 Video)
R | 86 min | Comedy
A reporter investigates a series of murders, dubbed the Spring Break Massacre, which leads to further mayhem.
* out of five stars - Saw it based on some reviews that said it was funnier than the 'Scary Movie' films, but almost each joke in this one falls flatter than the top of Frankenstein's head. Tom Arnold starring should have been my first warning ...
55. Shame (2011)
NC-17 | 101 min | Drama
A man's carefully cultivated private life is disrupted when his sister arrives for an indefinite stay.
Votes: 162,818 | Gross: $4.00M
**** out of five - Like 'Drive' and 'Blue Valentine' (though this one without Ryan Gosling), this isn't the most uplifting story ... but should be seen for the lead performances alone. Yep, the full frontal nudity and sex scenes are very graphic, and this isn't really a film with a plot - but for the character study of a NYC man obsessed with sex, and for Michael Fassbender's performance as that same man ... the film should be seen for these two points alone
56. Contracorriente (2009)
Not Rated | 97 min | Drama, Romance
An unusual ghost story set on the Peruvian seaside; a married fisherman struggles to reconcile his devotion to his male lover within his town's rigid traditions.
***** out of five - A romantic ghost story with the emotional wallop of 'Ghost' (only here, the wallop is more authentic than "Hollywood"), to say anything about this film might give too much away. It should just be seen - more than once. A wonderful, original, and beautifully written and acted drama/love story.
57. The Darkest Hour (2011)
PG-13 | 89 min | Action, Adventure, Horror
In Moscow, five young people lead the charge against an alien race who have attacked Earth via our power supply.
Votes: 52,987 | Gross: $21.43M
** out of five - Love alien movies, really like Emile Hirsch, REALLY like Max Minghella ... and can even check my brain at the door and just enjoy a fairly stupid action or sci-fi flick, when need be (see 'Cowboys & Alien' below) - but this one strained both credibility AND my nerves. Weak writing and performances - along with a very rushed film that took no time for either story or character development - make for a tough watch, even at barely an hour and a half.
58. The Woman in Black (2012)
PG-13 | 95 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror
A young solicitor travels to a remote village where he discovers the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman is terrorizing the locals.
Votes: 157,383 | Gross: $54.33M
****1/2 out of five - Radcliffe leaves Harry Potter behind for good, and the Hammer house of horror film logo is back on the screen for this creepy, atmospheric ghost story that relies on what made horror/suspense films of the past so great - building tension and making the audience jump, over the crap blood and gore of today's American horror films. Loved it, and even though his character doesn't give him much of an emotional range to work with, I also loved Radcliffe in it.
59. Jeuk sing (2005)
137 min | Comedy
Another gambling movie from Wong Jing, this time he combines the fun of kung fu and mahjong.
***1/2 out of five - Definitely for 'Kung Fu Hustle' fans (especially with the Landlady and her husband also costarring here!), though not nearly as good ... but still quite funny, and even with a serious storyline, within the humor, that will touch the heart. Not so sure I liked the ending - it felt sort of rushed/cut off - but overall a fun film, though I now wish I knew how to play Mahjong so could have understood those scenes a bit more!
60. Cowboys & Aliens (2011)
PG-13 | 119 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
A spaceship arrives in Arizona, 1873, to take over the Earth, starting with the Wild West region. A posse of cowboys and natives are all that stand in their way.
Votes: 187,084 | Gross: $100.24M
**** out of five - My guiltiest guilty pleasure of the year, so far - can't help it, but had a LOT of fun with this genre-mix of old-time western meets sci-fi alien infestation flick. Daniel Craig takes himself a bit too seriously here, Harrison Ford getting it exactly right, and this is definitely a film where you have to check your brain at the door AND be willing to suspend your logic for awhile. The VERY talented supporting cast, especially, are terrific here at supporting the bigger names; without them, even with Craig and Ford starring, I don't think I would have enjoyed this as much as all. NOTE: See the extended version (2:15 minutes) over the theatrical release (1:59 minutes), if possible!
61. Romeos (2011)
Not Rated | 94 min | Drama, Romance
A drama centered on the relationship between a two young men, as one of them navigates the difficulties of life as a transgender man.
Votes: 2,822 | Gross: $0.00M
**** out of five - The kind of true, touching film that you think about for awhile after it's over; I couldn't get it out of my mind for awhile. Not for everyone, especially if you're closed-minded or a homophobe, this German film explores the reality of what it's truly like to feel different, to be alone in the world, even as you try to accept yourself. The two leads are brilliant, in a film that is a honest in a way very few other films - especially American films - ever are.
62. One for the Money (2012)
PG-13 | 91 min | Action, Comedy, Crime
Unemployed and newly-divorced Stephanie Plum lands a job at her cousin's bail-bond business, where her first assignment puts her on the trail of a wanted local cop from her romantic past.
Votes: 36,894 | Gross: $26.41M
*** out of five - LIKE Stephanie Plum; do NOT like Katherine Heigl. Watched this for Daniel Sunjata, Jason O'Mara and John Leguiamo. That said, this was actually a pretty entertaining, lighthearted comedy/mystery worth a view. Happily surprised!
63. This Means War (2012)
PG-13 | 103 min | Action, Comedy, Romance
A pair of CIA operatives wage an epic battle against one another when they discover they are dating the same woman.
Votes: 160,490 | Gross: $54.76M
**1/2 out of five - very weak date comedy about a woman who is oblivious to the fact she is dating two different guys who happen to be best friends ... and co-workers, in the form of CIA intelligence agents; agents who eventually use all their spy skills and surveillance gear to keep tabs on each other (and sabotage each other) to win the girl. Pine's okay, Hardy's great, Witherspoon is meh - the movie overall silly, but okay if you have nothing else to watch.
64. Boy (I) (2009)
Unrated | 80 min | Drama, Romance
A poet sells his collection of comic books and action figures in order to afford to hire a male stripper on New Years Eve.
****1/2 out of five - a simple, yet genuinely eloquent and lyrical story about first love, when a sensitive young man in the Philippines falls for a macho dancer he hires for the evening (after selling his comic book collection to do so). Bare-bones filmmaking on a near-non-existent budget, there is just something so genuinely real and affecting (especially via the two male leads), that by the end you may have a tear or two in your eye. A prime example of just how effective and good a film can be, even without a big budget.
65. Lung Fu Moon (2006)
94 min | Action, Drama
Three young martial arts masters emerge from the back streets of Hong Kong to help the powerless fight injustice.
****1/2 out of five - awesome martial arts choreography, matched with characters you do grow to care about, this film - if you sort of check your brain at the door, and just have fun with it - is one of the most way-cool ways to spend two hours. Two brothers, separated from the martial arts training school they lived in when the older one was forced to leave with his mother, grow up on the opposite sides of good and evil (so to speak) ... until the ultimate challenge of a very powerful bad guy may just be what brings them together again, if they're going to take him down for good.
66. Plan B (I) (2009)
Not Rated | 103 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
After girlfriend Laura dumps him for another man, Bruno plots to come between the new lovers. But his plan takes an unexpected turn, causing Bruno to question his own sexuality.
***1/2 out of five - about a very jealous man who, determined to break up his ex and her new boyfriend, learns that the new boyfriend once had a one-time dalliance with another guy ... which is when his "plan B" becomes to get to know, and flirt like hell with, the new boyfriend instead, behind the ex's back. When he starts to actually have romantic and sexual feelings for the other guy, however, the whole plan travels down a road he's not sure he's prepared to follow. My description's weak, but the emotional content of this film packs a wallop; it's slower paced, but that allows you to keep up with both men, their growing attraction, and their humongous resistance to it - all at the same time. Well-done.
67. Shaolin Grandma (2008)
72 min | Action, Comedy
**1/2 out of five - 'Shaolin Grandma' in English, this wasn't as goofy/funny as I'd hoped, but still a nice little film chronicling the life of an older lady who was the master of her own kung fu academy - who, one day, is literally booted out (after losing her first fight) by a much younger female rival and one of her goons. Escaping to the streets with her two most loyal students, Granny for the first time has to learn to fend for herself - finding love and loss on the way. Worth a look.
68. Singh Is Kinng (2008)
Not Rated | 135 min | Action, Comedy, Crime
A comic caper about Happy Singh, a Punjabi villager who goes through a series of misadventures and eventually becomes the Kinng of the Australian underworld.
**** out of five stars - Charming, funny, often silly but very engaging, this Bollywood feature (complete with great songs and dance numbers) follows poor villager Happy - someone who, in his quest to do good, creates nothing but disaster and bad luck in his own village - as he makes his way to the big city to urge one of the village's former residents (now a big-time mob boss) to come home due to his ailing father. A weird set of circumstances, and Happy is suddenly king of the gang of criminals - power he starts to use to do good for the downtrodden instead of hurting them. VERY funny in spots, great music, and yeah I'm a sucker but I loved it!
69. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2010)
R | 99 min | Fantasy, Horror, Thriller
A young girl sent to live with her father and his new girlfriend believes that she has released creatures from a sealed ash pit in the basement of her new home.
Votes: 43,141 | Gross: $24.04M
** out of five - the look of the film is top-notch; breathtaking sets, gloomy atmosphere, beautiful cinematography - everything you'd expect with Guillermo del Toro co-producing. Too bad the movie's a mess, not very scary, and full of illogical character reactions or actions that will have you yelling "What the HELL are you doing? Just turn on the freaking LIGHTS!" more than once. The original TV-movie remains the best, so creepy it will have you looking over your shoulder after a viewing; this one, not even close.
70. Weekend (II) (2011)
Not Rated | 97 min | Drama, Romance
After a drunken house party with his straight mates, Russell heads out to a gay club. Just before closing time he picks up Glen but what's expected to be just a one-night stand becomes something else, something special.
Votes: 23,330 | Gross: $0.46M
***** out of five - one of the most honest, eloquently written (in terms of dialogue, especially) films I've seen in years, 'Weekend' chronicles what happens between two men in the UK, very opposite and with seemingly little in common, who meet in a bar and have a one-night stand each of them understands as nothing more than a drunken, lustful hook-up ... only to find they actually start having feelings for each other. Tom Cullen as Russell etches every thought of his character on his face, and Chris New as the more brazen and out Glenn may just provide the catalyst for Russell to at last be who he really is to the world. Sensitive, smart, thought-provoking, and a genuinely romantic film to rival any other tale of love told on-screen, this will be my next DVD buy as soon as the Criterion Collection's edition is released this summer. Brilliant.
71. Jjakpae (2006)
92 min | Action
Tae-su, a detective fighting organized crime, returns to his hometown for his high school friend Wang-jae's funeral. At the funeral, he meets his old friends Pil-ho, Dong-hwan and Seok-hwan... See full summary »
**** out of five - a gangster movie set in South Korea, with kick-ass martial arts and a storyline about five best friends who grow up on all sides of the law (one of them now an exceptionally coldhearted crime boss wannabe). When one of the friends is killed, a top Seoul detective (another of the friends) comes back to his hometown, after the funeral determined to get to the bottom of what happened, even as the powers that be don't want him to ... starting, naturally, a whole bunch of buttkicking that includes homages to both 'The Warriors' and 'Kill Bill Vol. 1'. Fairly violent, very entertaining, and all of it tinged with an irony/sadness of what, for the five young boys (who once thought they'd all get together again, as successes, twenty years later), might otherwise have been.
72. Iggi (2010)
163 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
A mysterious person calls a young man and informs him that his estranged father has died in a country village. The curious son travels to the town to discover what happened. From there out ... See full summary »
***1/2 out of five - in this South Korean mystery thriller, a young Korean man receives a call that his father - leader of a small village whom he'd become estranged from years ago - has died. Visiting the village, the son quickly becomes aware that not only do mysterious circumstances surround his father's death ... but that the quirky and somewhat menacing villagers in no way want him to stick around anywhere long enough to discover the truth. A very long film (over 2-1/2 hours), with some nice twists and turns, and although never truly scary the atmosphere is creepy and sinister up until the end (where one final surprise awaits, literally within the last few seconds of the film). Nicely done!
73. West 32nd (2007)
86 min | Crime, Drama
A lawyer gets mixed up with Korean gangsters in New York City.
**** out of five - John Cho stars in this suspense thriller, set mostly in New York's City Koreatown neighborhoods and providing a unique peek into the world of crime, corruption, and what happens when a lawyer trying to make it to the top (Cho) meets a small-time hood trying to make it to the criminal top ... and realizes the two of them aren't so different from each other. Violent but well-made, with a story and characters that will draw you in.
74. Toast (2010 TV Movie)
96 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama
The ultimate nostalgia trip through everything edible in 1960s Britain.
** out of five - really love Freddie Highmore, and REALLY love Helena Bonham Carter ... but beyond Bonham Carter's terrific performance as Mrs. Potter, I just couldn't get into this film. Set in Britain in the late 1960s, this one's about a young boy named Nigel (played by Highmore, as an adult) who has always doted on his mother - whose cooking is so bad, her best meal is toast. Nigel grows to have a fascination with food and cooking, and when his mother dies from asthma and his father soon after starts dating the cleaning lady (Bonham Carter) - who can cook like a professional chef - Nigel takes up the gauntlet to out-do her. Highmore's performance here is so sterile and one-note, it's hard to even like the adult Nigel - perhaps the film's biggest weakness, and why I give this one only two stars.
75. 21 Jump Street (2012)
R | 109 min | Action, Comedy, Crime
A pair of underachieving cops are sent back to a local high school to blend in and bring down a synthetic drug ring.
Votes: 452,425 | Gross: $138.45M
**** out of five - could not BELIEVE how much I enjoyed this action comedy, but they really got it right. An homage to the classic '80s TV series as opposed to a crass update (though yeah, the film is pretty crass), Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are PERFECT as a pair of failed cops who - as a last resort to save their jobs - are sent back to high school undercover, to break up a new drug ring supplying a fresh new high to young kids. Equal parts comedy and action, the film is awesome, even to featuring cameo appearances from most of the actors from the original show (yeah, including Depp). Funny, foul-mouthed, and a truly terrific ride.
76. Hwa-i-teu: Jeo-woo-eui mel-lo-di (2011)
106 min | Horror, Music, Mystery
Girl group "Pink Dolls" is always pushed into the background by other popular idols. When the girls release their new song "White", a remake from unknown origins they become instant sensations.
***1/2 out of five - one of those strange, quirky, creepy horror films you sort of like ... even is not 100% sure why. But then, that's how a lot of South Korean horror flicks work - and this one I did like. The Pink Dolls are a struggling all-girl singing group, always outdone by other girl groups in competitions and on the charts ... until, in their new recording studio, one of the girls finds an old videotape of a music video for a song called "White" that was never released - and whose history involves the tragic death of the lead girl singing it. When the girls end up redoing and releasing the song as their own, it becomes a blockbuster hit, catapulting the girls to the top of the charts and unlimited fame ... but they soon learn, as a great cost. A few nice jumps to jolt you out of your seat, and good creepy atmosphere make this a fun watch, though (as with most Korean horror) you have to really watch - and think - to understand all that occurs, as well as the back-story for WHY it's all going down. But that's what makes Korean horror films stand out from many of their much weaker American counterparts; you can't just watch, you have to THINK.
77. Ping Pong Playa (2007)
PG-13 | 96 min | Comedy, Sport
A kid dreams of playing professional basketball in order to escape his dead-end job, living in the suburbs, his bossy older brother and running his Mom's ping pong classes.
Votes: 2,795 | Gross: $0.08M
****1/2 out of five - a little (and pretty darned funny) movie with one of the biggest hearts you'll ever find, centering around a Chinese slacker names Christopher 'C-Dub' Wang, who dreams of one day playing pro basketball while otherwise just sleepwalking through life. Lazy at home, unable to hold a job, and with no real goals in life, C-Dub's life changes when a car accident sidelines both his ping pong champion brother, and his mother - who teaches kids ping pong at a local youth center. When C-Dub is forced to take over her ping pong lessons, he bucks every form of responsibility at first ... but eventually gets into working with the kids he teaches, and even starts wondering if he could possibly even defend his brother's titles in the upcoming ping pong championship games. Funny, charming, and with an undeniably lovable lead character in C-Dub (thanks to Jimmy Tsai), this is a sweet, funny "Little Engine That Could" story that will charm and satisfy.
78. Rock Haven (2007)
78 min | Drama, Romance
Brady (Sean Hoagland), who will shortly be going away to college, is a shy, introspective 18 year old, who moves to the coastal seaside town of Rock Haven with his overprotective, widowed ... See full summary »
*** out of five - even with a flawed script, over-direction (all those WAVES!), and some uneven performances (the woman playing Brady's mom is just awful), this film's heart is in the right place, and I think could speak volumes for many young Christian teens trying to come to terms with their own sexuality. A young man and devout Christian, Brady, relocates with his mother to the seaside town of Rock Haven ... where his faith, and previous desire for other boys, are both put to the test when he finds himself attracted to (and falling for) a local young man named Clifford, who is both gay and unapologetic about it. Each both tries to teach the other about his side of the coin, even as the two grow closer and indeed a relationship beyond friends develops between them. But can faith win out over love - or are the two intertwined? The film doesn't fully succeed in its intent, but still has a strong message for young people ... and still packs an emotional punch.
79. White Zombie (1932)
Passed | 69 min | Horror
A young man turns to a witch doctor to lure the woman he loves away from her fiancé, but instead turns her into a zombie slave.
*** out of five - Monsieur Beaumont is a rich, vain and selfish plantation owner in Haiti, who meets a young couple who are engaged to be married while on a trip. He talks the couple into coming to Haiti to be married at his lavish home ... but in reality, schemes to make the bride to be, Madeleine, his own. Enlisting the aid of a local mill owner Legendre (Bela Lugosi, perfectly evil here), who runs his mill using slave labor made from people he has turned into living zombies, Madeleine is "killed off" - and after her burial, when the groom goes away to grieve, Beaumont has Legendre brings Madeleine back from the dead. Things get complicated when Beaumont can't stand the lifeless, corpse-like Madeleine - nothing like the woman he fell for - and the grieving fiancee gets wind that his girl is still alive, but Legendre has his own plans for them all. Cool flick, Lugosi wonderfully evil in it.
80. 7 gwanggu (2011)
Not Rated | 101 min | Action, Adventure, Horror
Something awaits 2,500 meters under the deep sea off the southern tip of Jeju Island...Directed by Kim Ji-hoon and produced by JK Youn, the sci-fi action thriller Sector 7 revolves around ... See full summary »
**** out of five - compared to 'Alien' for good reason, this South Korean mega-hit (and the first film to be released in Korea in both 3D and Imax) has, as its setting, an oil drilling rig set way out to see off the coast of Korea, in sector 7. For a long time now, the drilling for offshore oil has not been going well, but when a skeletal crew is left behind to give it one last try, said crew inadvertently unleashes a very (okay, VERY) nasty creature that starts showing them what happens when you "f" around with someone's quiet time. Great action sequences, really strong CGI (that only falters in a couple of spots, otherwise very realistic), and the exact dollop of humor mixed in with the action-terror make this one I really wish I HAD seen in 3D. And DAMN can that creature even BE killed?!?
81. Today's Special (2009)
R | 99 min | Comedy
In this super-feel-good foodie comedy, young Manhattan chef Samir rediscovers his heritage and his passion for life through the enchanting art of cooking Indian food.
Votes: 5,166 | Gross: $0.40M
****1/2 out of five - this film popped up as a recommend on Netflix, and the description of Indian food and cooking got me curious. What I was NOT expecting was a warm, sweet, and very funny confection of a film that is not only about Indian cooking/food ... but also about father-son relationships, love, and how following your dream may also include having the faith to stay on the detours life sometimes throws you. A young Indian man/chef in Manhattan named Samir (Aasif Mandvi, who also co-wrote the script), a bit of a hot-head who quits his job when passed over for a promotion, is forced to give up his plans to relocate to Paris to study the culinary arts when his father suffers a heart attack ... and Samir has to take over the family's restaurant. The problem? Samir has never cooked an Indian dish, and indeed has never had the slightest bit of interest in either the food of his culture OR his father's tiny little restaurant. A chance meeting with an Indian cab driver changes everything, and through food Samir finds his zest for both life and his culture all over again. A wonderful comedy/drama that will leave you both hungry and feeling good inside - with, major, a tear or two shed before the credits roll. Loved it.
82. The Seminarian (2010)
Unrated | 101 min | Drama, Romance
A closeted student at a conservative theological seminary, struggles to come to terms with his nurtured beliefs and coming out to himself, his friends, and his only surviving family member. At this low point mentally and emotionally, Ryan ends up in a troubled online relationship which leads him to question everything he has known about God and Love.
*** out of five - another Christianity vs. Homosexuality film, this time emphasizing that the two can actually coincide ... in the form of Ryan (Mark Cirillo), a seminarian student who also happens to be one of a handful of closeted gay students at his school. Working on his thesis paper, which is about the nature of love and whether God IS love, Ryan tries hard to balance his own desire to be in a committed relationship with his love for his friends, with the lust he occasionally succumbs to that leaves him feeling empty and alone afterward. The film is about Ryan's quest to find love, what love is, and what all of it has to do with God, so the film is slower-paced but never boring. Low budget yet, and it shows in some of the direction and performances, but overall this is a polished production that - for those who appreciate it, as well as its targeted audience - also proves to be thought-provoking via the issues it raises.
83. We Bought a Zoo (2011)
PG | 124 min | Comedy, Drama, Family
Set in Southern California, a father moves his young family to the countryside to renovate and re-open a struggling zoo.
Votes: 121,188 | Gross: $75.62M
**** out of five - Matt Damon plays Benjamin Mee, a real-life writer who, still grieving from the death of his wife, decides to relocate his teen son and young daughter to the country - specifically buying an old, rundown zoo he intends to renovate and reopen to the public. Both Mee and the zoo have their issues, Mee trying to get himself and kids together as he and the zoo's small staff work to get the zoo together in time to pass inspection ... and in between romance blossoms and the film has enough genuine laughs to make it family-friendly but not hokey. Sweet film.
84. Chronicle (2012)
PG-13 | 84 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Three high school friends gain superpowers after making an incredible discovery underground. Soon they find their lives spinning out of control and their bond tested as they embrace their darker sides.
Votes: 220,543 | Gross: $64.58M
****1/2 out of five - three young men - cousins Andrew (who has recently taken to taking a video camera with him everywhere, chronicling everything) and Matt, and Matt's friend Steve - discover, in the woods near a party they are attending, a hole in the ground that leads them to what looks like an alien ship buried underground. The boys get a little too close, eventually being knocked unconscious - and when they awaken the ship-thing is gone ... and the guys discover they now have telekinetic powers. Powers that grow only stronger as they use them. As Matt and Steve have fun with their new-found powers, testing them, Andrew (whose home life is rotten, to say the least) finds the powers appealing more to his darker side ... and soon the "fun" gets out of hand, and turns decidedly sinister as Andrew in particular pulls away from his buddies, able now to fight back against all the injustices that have piled against him over the years. The ending "battle" is killer here (I saw the director's cut, six minutes longer and way-cool), and you grow to know and care about the three main characters and what will happen to them. Loved it!
85. 184.108.40.206. (2010)
Not Rated | 117 min | Crime, Thriller
4 girls out on a 3 days trip in to 2 cities, if they survive. While Jo is working in a supermarket, her 3 friends are all out on their adventures. A chance encounter with diamond thieves sends them on a collision course with fate itself.
**** out of five - 4 girls, 3 days, 2 cities, 1 chance ... and an interesting film weaving together what happens to four BFFs Jo, Shannon, Cassandra and Kerrys, over the course of three days, when a batch of stolen diamonds accidentally falls into the hands of one of them, the thieves who want them back not far behind. I LOVED the girls, these gals can take care of themselves and don't take crap from anyone (well, almost) ... and the script, written by the film's co-director Noel Clarke (who also plays Tee in the film), is very clever in playing out each girl's individual story, while tying up every loose end in how their stories all play off against each other, as well. This is pure entertainment, fluff, but fun fluff that keeps you tensed up and caught up the whole time.
86. The Three Stooges (2012)
PG | 92 min | Comedy, Family
While trying to save their childhood orphanage, Moe, Larry and Curly inadvertently stumble into a murder plot and wind up starring in a reality television show.
Votes: 27,285 | Gross: $44.34M
***1/2 out of five - was truly, GENUINELY surprised by how much I liked this film ... mainly because they got it RIGHT. Will Sasso, Sean Hayes and Chris Diamantopoulos have Curly, Larry and Moe (respectively) down to perfection; so much so, after awhile you forget it's them, which is a real feat for a die-hard Stooge fan like me. The story, much like a Stooges short, is about the boys leaving their orphanage and heading for the big city, trying to raise enough money to keep the orphanage from being sold and all the kids from going to foster homes - and the ensuing pratfalls and sight gags and eye pokes, etc. that ensue are genuinely funny and engaging, even seeing the stooges in a more modern-day setting. A supporting cast that includes Sofia Vergara, Craig Bierko, Jane Lynch, Jennifer Hudson, Stephen Collins, Larry David (hilarious!), Brian Doyle-Murray, and cast members of "Jersey Shore" (yes, you read that right) only add to the bizarre appeal of what is actually a very good homage to one of the greatest comedy teams in film history. VERY surprised by how much I enjoyed this, and a real treat.
87. Casa de mi Padre (2012)
R | 84 min | Comedy, Western
Scheming on a way to save their father's ranch, the Alvarez brothers find themselves in a war with Mexico's most feared drug lord.
Votes: 18,467 | Gross: $5.90M
*** out of five - have never been a fan of Will Ferrell, but Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna (who have supporting roles in this) are a different story. A Spanish-language comedy (swear to God) that is actually a pretty sharp send-up of low-budget Mexican dramas that has more genuinely-funny moments than it does pathetic groans of despair. If you're in on the jokes - understand the send-up/parody - than you'll enjoy this; otherwise, you may well think this is the biggest, most unfunny piece of crap film you've seen in awhile. Will Ferrell fans will like it - and, as proven by me, even some non-Ferrell fans will give it three stars, as well.
88. Eon-ni-ga-gan-da (2007)
112 min | Comedy, Romance
Feeling her age at thirty, Jung-joo despises how her life has turned out. Relegated to doing simple chores for a designer, she believes that the turning point of her life was hooking up ... See full summary »
**** out of five - sweeter than you'd think Korean dramedy about a thirty-year-old woman eking out a meager existence as an assistant to a designer, who considers her failures in life to be because she never became the girlfriend of the hot boy she didn't have the nerve to pursue in high school (who is now a Korean pop star). When given the chance to go back in time for one week, she tracks down her younger self and is determined to change things for the better. Everything, of course, goes more wrong as the film goes on ... the film ending on a surprising, touching note that tinges the comedy with genuine tenderness.
89. Battleship (2012)
PG-13 | 131 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
A fleet of ships is forced to do battle with an armada of unknown origins in order to discover and thwart their destructive goals.
Votes: 216,911 | Gross: $65.42M
**1/2 out of five - not sure why so many people hate on this film so badly; have to admit I wasn't too hyped on a film based on a board game ... but I loved that game growing up, and really like a few of the cast members here, so with incredibly low expectations I started to watch. Maybe that was why I liked it - I went in expecting just mindless entertainment, and on that score this film succeeded (at least to me). Aliens threaten the world, the Navy steps in and gets its ass kicked, and then just before turning tail the Navy gets all pro-American and comes back kicking (ass) and screaming. Shut your brain down, this one isn't that bad (though Rihanna kind of got on my nerves).
90. The Lucky One (2012)
PG-13 | 101 min | Drama, Romance
A Marine travels to Louisiana after serving three tours in Iraq and searches for the unknown woman he believes was his good luck charm during the war.
Votes: 88,027 | Gross: $60.46M
** out of five - Zac Efron, I watched this 'cause of you, even if I COULD tell how it would end about five minutes into the film. Sadly, I was quite accurate - but still stuck around for the journey, which sort of seemed to last forever. PERFECT for the romance novel or Debbie Macomber fan, for me it was all pretty meh. Blythe Danner was awesome, but this tale's just been done before. Many, many, MANY times. =0)
91. Juan of the Dead (2011)
Not Rated | 92 min | Action, Comedy, Horror
A group of slackers face an army of zombies. The Cuban government and media claim the living dead are dissidents revolting against the government.
Votes: 8,626 | Gross: $0.02M
*** out of five - a zombie comedy with touches of drama, that's also a political parable about the Castro regime, this hybrid of a film works pretty much on all levels but first and foremost is a nice little comedy set in Cuba (though, I believe, filmed in Peru?), about a group of misfit friends who decide to profit on the zombie apocalypse by charging their friends and neighbors a fee to kill off their dead loved ones when they come back to eat their brains. Yeah, I know how it sounds - but I still really liked it. A LOT.
92. The Old Dark House (1932)
TV-G | 72 min | Comedy, Horror, Thriller
Seeking shelter from a storm, five travelers are in for a bizarre and terrifying night when they stumble upon the Femm family estate.
Votes: 6,437 | Gross: $0.03M
*** out of five - effective, occasionally creepy little suspense thriller, featuring Charles Laughton and an unrecognizable Boris Karloff, about a group of strangers forced to hole up in a gloomy, decaying old mansion on a hillside, during a torrential rainstorm that's threatening to wash the hillside away. Turns out, of course, that what's in the house (wacky brother and sister, a servant that looks like the love-child of a werewolf and the Geico caveman, and a Terrible Secret") might be even worse than being swept away by the mud and rain. Not quite as hokey as it sounds, thanks to the cast!
93. Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
PG-13 | 127 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
In a twist to the fairy tale, the Huntsman ordered to take Snow White into the woods to be killed winds up becoming her protector and mentor in a quest to vanquish the Evil Queen.
Votes: 247,824 | Gross: $155.33M
*** out of five - a film I liked MUCH better than I thought I would ... and worth seeing not because of Kristen Stewart (whose acting range is that of cardboard), but rather in spite of her. Same story; evil queen (Charlize Theron, EXCELLENT here!) needs to off her "fairest one of all" stepdaughter Snow White, hires hunky huntsman (Chris Hemsworth, also very good here in mini-Thor mode) to do the deed and bring back the girl's heart. Huntsman can't do the deed, they hook up with seven dwarfs (sorry, "little people"), and then Snow White goes all Terminator and gathers an army together to take back her kingdom and stop the evil queen's dark tyranny over the entire land. Nice fight and action sequences, cinematography, and Theron's icy queen make it worth a look, for sure.
94. 3 Idiots (2009)
PG-13 | 170 min | Comedy, Drama
Two friends are searching for their long lost companion. They revisit their college days and recall the memories of their friend who inspired them to think differently, even as the rest of the world called them "idiots".
Votes: 266,157 | Gross: $6.53M
***** out of five - quite possibly my favorite film of the year, this three-hour ride is a road trip/buddy picture, comedy, drama, Bollywood musical, and romance all rolled into one hell of a great film. Starting off in modern day, a pair of friends reunited before taking off on a trek to find their close friend Rancho, the fellow student they knew back in engineering school who changed both their lives forever ... and disappeared almost immediately after graduating. Thinking they have a line on him, they instead come across another of their fellow students from back in the day - this time not a friend, but a guy who wants to get back at Rancho and the boys for the way he was treated back in their school days. Via flashbacks (the bulk of the film) showing how the friends met and became close, to their days at the engineering school and the supreme pressure they and their peers were put under, to typical college-style pranks and the first times of falling in love, this film has everything; you'll laugh out loud, shed more than a few tears ... but more than anything else, in the end really feel like you were on a journey, and really got to know and care for these characters as though they were friends of your own. A stellar film, worth not only seeing but owning. Brilliant.
95. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)
PG-13 | 129 min | Action, Adventure, Crime
Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson join forces to outwit and bring down their fiercest adversary, Professor Moriarty.
Votes: 373,742 | Gross: $186.85M
**1/2 out of five - disappointing sequel finds Watson getting married but Holmes not letting that stop him from dragging Watson into the investigation of a series of deaths and bombings that threaten to start war. Professor Moriarty, Holmes' greatest foe, is behind it all, and while there are some pretty awesome moments in this film, overall it just feels like it's missing the humanity the first one achieved so well. This one is more about elaborate fight scenes and action sequences and explosions, and at times Holmes here comes off almost more annoying/grating than ever in the first. Not a bad film certainly, but just lackluster compared to its predecessor.
96. Chatroom (2010)
R | 97 min | Drama, Thriller
5 teenagers are introduced to each other in a chatroom called "Chelsea Teens!", all with different personalities. But when one shows its darker side, it threatens the life of the others.
*** out of five - Aaron Taylor-Johnson shines in nearly everything he does, no more so than here as William, a sociopath that sets up a small, private chatroom online to attract fellow misfits ... then has a field day manipulating each and every one of them, to suit his own needs or to just *beep* with their heads and lives. Nicely done, the film depicts the online chatroom as a real room that all five of them are sitting in, representing cyberspace while imbuing the claustrophobic, tension-filled atmosphere of online chatting when it goes ugly. Not the fastest-moving film, trying as it does to build up in suspense as we wonder what crap William will pull next, but it all builds up to a thriller-style conclusion, as William gets out of control, that satisfies (even if it's not so upbeat) in the end. Nicely shot, especially the scenes in various chatrooms represented by real places in time onscreen, and another great performance by Taylor-Johnson.
97. The Conspirator (2010)
PG-13 | 122 min | Crime, Drama, History
Mary Surratt is the lone female charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination trial of Abraham Lincoln. As the whole nation turns against her, she is forced to rely on her reluctant lawyer to uncover the truth and save her life.
Votes: 25,401 | Gross: $11.54M
***1/2 out of five - Robert Redford's films always come off very dry to me; stoic, and with little to no genuinely-felt emotional content. That said, this is very good film that maybe works because of Redford's style, telling the story of the lone female accused of being part of the conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. Mary Surratt (Robin Wright, in a nicely nuanced performance) ran the boarding house where John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators (including Mary's own son) plan Lincoln's (as well as other) assassination, and when her son escapes justice its almost as if the law arrests Mary in his place. She swears she had no knowledge of any of the plans discussed in her own home, and with even her court-appointed attorney (James McAvoy) unsure of what to believe, the case against Mary Surratt heads to trial as he tries to find evidence of her innocence. Not just a courtroom melodrama, the film features some fine performances, and nice suspense as McAvoy pokes around and finds evidence that comes more and more to make him believe Mary may have been set up ... though whether it will help or not, when the powers that be have already tried and convicted Mary in their heads, is a different matter.
98. Red Eye (2005)
96 min | Horror
A supernatural story about a mystic events occurring on the train, which had the route similar to the train which crashed many years ago.
**1/2 out of five - unique, moody and well-shot little Korean horror film, about a young woman who starts a new job as a night attendant on a train - this particular train's last run, I think - on the night of her birthday. Sixteen years ago, a horrible accident on the same train resulted in the loss of 100+ lives, and some of the same cars from that train are still attached to this one ... which is maybe why, from when the train first starts its run, our attendant begins to see flashes of the old train on the night it crashed in 1988. Ghosts abound - or is she seeing things? The mysteries (and deaths) begin again, getting creepier as the train rolls on picking up more passengers (victims?) ... but in the end, the plot is a bit of a mish-mash that makes for a nice horror flick visually, but nothing you can really get emotionally attached to as a film. Average, worth a look if you like Asian horror films!
99. Prometheus (I) (2012)
R | 124 min | Adventure, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Following clues to the origin of mankind, a team finds a structure on a distant moon, but they soon realize they are not alone.
Votes: 514,453 | Gross: $126.48M
** out of five - was SO looking forward to this one, being a big fan of the original 'Alien' films, and sad to say this precursor to the "quadrology" isn't worthy of them. Visually nice, the story falls downs on itself right away; a group of scientists discover, on a far, FAR distant planet, a link to the origins of mankind, questioning the whole God thing and all, and are financed for an expedition to go and check out and gather the possible evidence. Once there they discover a lot more than they wanted to, including learning that the entire human race is in imminent danger of being wiped out. Sadly (especially sad, consider Ridley Scott directed this), the script and plot both contain holes big enough to drive a tank through, and as always in such films it is BEYOND AGGRAVATING to watch characters - supposedly highly-trained and educated scientists - do the truly idiotic/lame things they do, here, to get themselves into trouble. Just a very unsatisfying watch, even with good performances by a couple of cast members, because you can't get past some of the dumb things both story and characters do.
100. The Avengers (2012)
PG-13 | 143 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Earth's mightiest heroes must come together and learn to fight as a team if they are going to stop the mischievous Loki and his alien army from enslaving humanity.
Votes: 1,091,040 | Gross: $623.36M
****1/2 out of five - tried to make my 100th for the year a kick-ass one, and boy was it; LOVE this film! When Loki (see 'Thor') strives to bring an army of demons (who, once seen, give new meaning to the word "bad-ass ugly") through a portal to attack earth, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) of S.H.I.E.L.D. brings together a band of superheroes - Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Captain America, Black Widow, and one very grudging Incredible Hulk - together to save mankind. Joss Whedon's script blends the seriousness and humor together with near perfection, and the kick-ass finale between the gang and Loki and his butt-ugly mutants in and over New York City is worth watching the film for ALONE. One of my favorites of the year, and a guaranteed MUST-SEE if you haven't seen it already!