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It is a particularly exciting year for me at the movies. My two favorite directors, Wong Kar Wai and Brian De Palma released new movies, and a bunch of sleepers are dominating the list.
A Few months ago - I thought that 2013 might have been a pretty weak year for movies, but now that I've come to the end of the watchlist, it was actually a VERY GOOD year for movies. Seldom do I have so many 9's in my top 25, and seldom do the 8's go nearly to the bottom of the list like this. By the time I'm done there may not be a 7 on the whole list. Amazing.
will edit as I see films that deserve a spot on the list. (last edit was out of NINETY films viewed from 2013). Will likely/eventually be out of about 100.
Sometimes my top 25 lists(see previous yrs) might include films that imdb says were released the previous yr... but I go by the us dvd or major u.s. theatrical release dates... not festivals etc..
at times it was rough. had to cycle through some rough patches... Spring Breakers... looked good but what the heck was that about?, Pain and Gain... much, mUCH more pain than gain... Rapture Palooza? Take me Away.
here's the Just missed list:26.StarTrek:Into Darkness 27.Maniac, 28.Fruitvale Station, 29.Before Midnight, 30.Rush, Eden, Side Effects, 42, Man of Steel, Gangster Squad, The World's End, Oblivion, Captain Phillips, Last Vegas, Trance, Redemption, Red 2, Extracted, Hatchet 3, Stoker, Olympus Has Fallen, Dark Skies
I suggest inverting the list.............................................\/
just missed:Downfall, Harold and Kumar Go To WHite Castle, Howl's Moving Castle
just missed: Broadcast News, Last Emperor, Dirty Dancing, Some Kind of Wonderful, The Living Daylights
Sap ji sang ciu (2012)
I keep reading that this was a 'send-off' - problem is the send off happened in "New Police Story" '04
The first half-hour is fine. Starts with a pretty good action sequence. My wife and I were off and running, and well-aware of what we were getting into - or at least we thought. This had a decent score here on IMDb, and I figured, given the track-record of Jackie's previous films, that it might have been even better than the score..
You see, the wife and I have watched many Jackie Chan action flicks throughout our time together - so we know that they usually contain amazing action sequences, thin plots, questionable acting, and childish humor. We have no problem with that, like I said, we thought we knew what we were getting into. And at the 30minute mark - we were fine with the film. It was "Silly Jackie Chan Movie-Night" at our house, and we were pretty excited to escape in the silliness.
But BOY DOES THIS THING GO SOUTH QUICK after that first half-hour. The biggest problem isn't the plot(which is record setting bad even for Jackie), but the main problems are with some terrible production shortcuts in the films second-half. Terribly fake painted backdrops, awful cgi, stupid character stereotypes, and just plain despicable film-making. Honestly, this thing makes the effects and action sequences in "King Solomon's Mines" from the 80's look good.
Easily the worst film I've seen a long, long time.
The editing/direction of the action sequences in the second half are deplorable, and the action from Jackie himself goes into terrible gimmick territory. The last hour is truly cringe-worthy. Go back and rent "New Police Story", a film that I only gave a 5/10, but looks like a best picture winner next to this piece of junk.
I still love you Jackie, but for goodness sakes man, let someone else sit in the directors chair.
33/100 I truly can't believe the positive reviews - and that comes from someone who has really enjoyed some of Jackie's silly action flicks throughout the years.
This might be his worst.
You Might like this if you like(d):drinking drain cleaner, jumping off high story buildings headfirst, getting kicked between the legs, and Master of Disguise(slightly worse).
Don't say I didn't warn you.
strange balance going on here.
Seann William Scott absolutely makes this movie. He plays the dumb, sweet-yet-tough Doug Glatt to perfection. Amongst all the f-bombs(250+), debauchery, violence, and comedy, lies a heart.
Now this is a character that we can root for. A man capable of knocking your block-off, but with absolutely no emotional connection with the victim whatsoever. He means well when he knocks you out. He has no perception of reality, but his brutal honesty and his unusual talent make him the perfect hero.
I visited my mother a few weeks ago, and decided to watch this again(thanks Netflix/mom). A few minutes-in my conservative 65 yr-old mother joined me. At first I was cringing because I knew the film couldn't get one sentence out without dropping an expletive, but I stood my ground because I knew the film had it's heart in the right place. Sure enough, she loved it. I think that speaks volumes. It shows the versatility of the film. It's perhaps the best 'MAN'-flick of the last 5 years, yet an older-conservative woman can appreciate the film for it's more serious subplots, and big heart.
HIGHLY recommended. Granted, there aren't many films to line-up against it, but "Goon" is my favorite hockey film. Yes, I love slap shot, but I love "Goon" even more.
you'll find what you're lookin' for...
It's not perfect. There are some far-fetched procedural things that really don't work, but past that, this is a pretty solid, straight-forward action flick.
James Franco works as the villain here - even though the film doesn't really develop as smoothly as it should. Some of the other players in this are there merely as punching bags, and while the dialog is fine, the film rushes a bit and lacks some intimate hero vs. villain moments. THere's really only one of those moments, but it lacks the grit and intimacy I would have liked to have seen between these two actors. Perhaps it's because that meeting happens in a public place, but more likely it's just an oversight in what amounts to an all-too-tidy film.
WHere the film excels is in the action sequences. If your a revenge-factor, or just knock-em-sock-em lover, you'll like this movie. THe fight scenes are well-choreographed and realistic. The first sequence is a bit sloppy, but the rest are spot-on.
All in all this is a straight-forward action flick. A Throwback from the 1980's. And that's not necessarily a bad thing at all. Aside from some unrealistic situations involving confidential information - "Homefront" is a pleasant return home for Sly, Stathom, and action movie fans.
You'll like this if you liked:Commando(about even), Shooter(about even), Stone Cold(not as good), or THe Punisher(Jane/about even).
Sidenotes: Whoever made the trailer deserves the most props - it was excellent - the main reason why I rented this from the redbox. Nice to see Winona Ryder too.
About Time (2013)
not bad, but terribly over-rated at the time @ 7.8?!?
Good concept. The acting is fine. BUT, there are some issues.
For one, both leads are miscast. The male lead here needs to be charming or funny, and while he seems like a fine actor, he's not that charming or that funny. I also don't understand why they felt like Rachel McAdams was a good casting choice. There's not enough background information about her character, and to put it mildly, there is absolutely NO chemistry between the two leads in the film.
THe film reminded me of "Mr. Nobody" - only it wasn't nearly as good.
I like the point of the film - which is that it's actually better to appreciate the less-than-perfect moments of your life, have no regrets, but just takes so long to get to this. It's spoonfed to the audience in the last 5 minutes like the film did a bad job of expressing it, AND IT DID! I also didn't care for some of 'the rules of time travel' which seemed like they were written on the fly.
I went in with high expectations, but that's not the only reason that this fell flat. 7.8? THis was no better than the slightly above-average "Delivery Man" that I also watched last night.
THe bottom-line is that I just didn't find anything interesting about these characters - other than the ever-so-obvious ability to travel in time. I'd probably skip it.
Biyeolhan geori (2006)
WIth just over 3,000 ratings on IMDb, "A Dirty Carnival" probably qualifies as my #1 film most people have never heard of.
THere's something quite genuine about the lead character here. It's more of a mediocre rise to the top compared to say "Scarface", and the comedy really sets an entirely different tone compared to all other gangster films with heavy themes and/or endings.
The film is an absolute gem. The acting, the fight choreography, the laughs, and evolution of the lead character in the storyline will keep you glued to the screen.
"Twilight Samurai" is a 10 for me, but it has 15,000 votes, and a bit more notoriety. A Dirty Carnival is a total departure. WHereas Samurai is dead serious and slow burning, "Carnival" is light-hearted and fast-paced.
This is one to move to the top of your list.
91/100 FOr what it's worth - I loved the ending - couldn't have been any other way. Sleeper gem. There's just something special about this.
I usually include a list of "You'll like this if you liked___,___,___", and I say whether I liked them better or not, but if I make that list and then say I like it as much or more than say Casino, Scarface, State of Grace, or whatever - it wouldn't do justice for my "useful" ratings, or for what is a truly original, great film here. Rent it, heck, BUY it.
very well-executed in terms of performances and look, but could have been even better.
'The Hunt' looks fantastic. THe hand-held aspect is carefully executed adding realism without being annoying at all, and the overall 'look' is fantastic.
Madds is spectacular.
The story is disturbing, shocking, unnerving, and more often than not, frustrating. They managed to throw just a little humor and positive vibes, but not nearly enough to balance the overall dreary tone.
The film had me glued and locked for the duration, but there is no payoff, or at least much of one. I really wish the film would have either explained any agenda's of some of the other adult characters, or had some better explained shock-ending, but instead the film decides to follow the very realistic approach, which probably won't endear it to larger audiences. Call me a Hollywood-ending lover, but I'd almost rather seen "The Hunt" meets "Taken", or "The HUnt" meets "Kill Bill", and had Madds turn all madman on the town,... but I CAN still appreciate this for what it is... a very well-made, likely under-viewed top-15 film from 2013(u.s. release anyways).
The whole 'children don't lie' aspect is not only unrealistic, but it's actually drilled into your brain here, but the philosophy still doesn't work.. and that open-ending too... those aspect made this potentially great film, simply good.
You'll like this if you liked: The GIrl WIth The Dragon Tattoo(both u.s. and French versions), Trust, Shallow Grave, Session 12, and Vinyan. All are good except Vinyan. Not that it's terrible, but the reviewed film plus the rest mentioned here are really strong flicks.
The Counselor (2013)
apple ....... .............. ............ ................ ......... ................ ............ ...... ....... tree
The Counselor looks slick, and most of you know that Michael Fassbender and Javier Bardem are about as good as it gets. And they're good here.I feel for these two guys. They make the film watchable.
The problem with this film is that it really doesn't tell much of a story. The script is really spotty too. At times it's pitch perfect(like late when Fassbender is bartering for his wife - good stuff) - at other times it's teeth-grindingly painful(the first 30 min).
The story is very simple, and the dialog sheds absolutely NO light on the details. We know what's going-on but there's no specifics about anything or anyone. We don't know anything about these characters. N-O-T-H-I-N-G. And it's a shame because these people can act, and these characters SEEM interesting.
The "numbers" conversation between Pitt and Fassbender is the most vague and ridiculous drug-meandering mess of an explanation you'll ever see about anything. I'm a brewer. The equivalent would be me giving you a recipe that says, "you take some malt, heat some water, put it on that malt, strain it, boil it, throw it in a bucket with some yeast, and bottle it, AND THAT'S EXACTLY HOW YOU MAKE THAT AMAZING BEER OF MINE", and then expect somebody to draw something from it. Aside from frustration.
The story reminds me of "Traffic", but the execution and look reminds me of "Miami Vice", and sometimes in an even-worse way.
It's not terrible - unless you consider it's directed by Ridley Scott and stars two of the finest screen actors in the world. Then yeah.. it's not-so-good.
51/100 You !MIGHT! like this if you liked:Savages(about even), Alpha Dog(even), Runner Runner(ever-so-slightly better), Miami Vice(even - wew), and No Country For Old Men(in a different ballpark).
probably sitting around 57/83 for 2013.
Escape Plan (2013)
better than expected. flawed, but welcome throwback. very mild spoilers.
Let's face it - there's a number of reasons to have NOT expected much from this one. I'll spare you the list.
The film is far from perfect. I think it jumps into the main storyline a bit fast, 50 Cent can't act(awful), and a bit more violence(perhaps a little more blood) might have gone a long way(I mean it's rated R anyway - so how about a bit more - after all there's no sex/nudity, and not much bad language either - I wonder why they didn't just scale back 1 scene or something to get a pg-13 - it seems as if they did already). The ending is as rushed as the set-up, and overall, the script is a bit rigid. Seems like everyone is in a five word contest for two hours.
Now for the good. And there's quite a bit of it. Sly and Arnold are great. Both individually and together their characters just work. This is an upgrade in quality for both the actor's recent work.
Isn't it great to see an action movie that doesn't have to rely on a bunch of CGI? This is definitely a throwback in more ways than one, and what better way to get it with two aging stars in a re-watchable action yarn.
The idea of the character of Breslin is great. We've seen similar stuff in "Sneakers" and other films, but the idea is handled quite well here. Interesting storyline.
Vinnie Jones(henchman/head-guard) and Jim Caviezel(warden) are great as the villains - especially Caviezel who gets the nod for best performance in the film. I also loved the look of the guards. I loved the idea of the prison. Amy Ryan, Vincent D'Onofrio, Sam Neil, and Faran Tahir were also good in smaller roles, and may have really been the saving grace of the film. Something of Sly's(Breslin's) life outside of his profession would have helped.
Definitely in the top half of the 70 or so films I've seen from 2013. Probably around #30-32, and considering what I was expecting, that's not bad. That makes two 'commemorative surprises' this week(see "Last Vegas" too). Both cheap rentals that are worth your time.
You'll like this if you liked: Sneakers(better), Tango and Cash(equal or ever-so-slightly better), Lock-Up(not as good), and Eraser(ever-so-slightly below). 62/100 Thanks for reading. Hope it helps.
Last Vegas (2013)
Morality, Meet Mortality. only very mild spoilers.
Where to start. I guess you start with expectations. These commemorative flicks are usually terrible. You know the one's, and they don't have to be young actors or old actors, just some haphazardly thrown together comedy with only one goal in mind - Money.
Not the case here.
"Last Vegas" has been one of the biggest surprises of the 2013 offerings. I'm actually considering this at #24 or #25 for my top 25 of 2013. Now, I've only seen 65 or so films from last year, and still have Gravity, 12 Years, American hustle, and W.O.W. left on the watchlist, so even if it makes the list it probably won't stay there, but it was a surprise of epic proportions none-the-less.
Lifelong friendship is the theme here, but the film tackles some other subplots head-on.
One thing I really admired about the film was how all the characters were given equal screen time, and they WERE these characters. Morgan was the 'life of the party' that could be again. Kevin the 'boring academic in search of his libido'. Deniro the 'once leader turned grouch/hermit'. And Douglas the 'flamboyant betrayer'. The roles were perfectly cast.
When we're young, groups of friends tend to like the same things, act the same way, but as we age we go our own directions. That doesn't mean, however, that you lose your friends. After all, accepting people for who they are(or who they become) just makes the bond stronger between close friends. The acceptance of where you are in life tends to make one stronger whether you live in a high rise apartment, a Hollywood mansion, or modest house on the hill. When a friend asks you later in life if you're fine - and you tell them,"I AM", it's the equalizer. It brings everyone back to the same playing field. Social status means everything to people you don't REALLY know, and nothing to those who really know you.
The film isn't necessarily 'laugh out-loud' funny, but it's still thoroughly entertaining.
Cliché'd? Yes. Predictable? Sometimes. But, this is cliché'd, predictable fun, and with a big heart to boot.
Highly recommend this. Especially from the redbox at $1.52. Can't beat that with a stick.
late edit:A big run of great films has moved this all the way to my #34 out of 89 viewed from 2013. Still enjoyable.
Don Jon (2013)
has everything, except....
love the characters. all the actors do a fantastic job. the film has style. it really brings you in.
the film has an important message, but it fails to complete the story. we get to know this guy, we root for him, we feel bad for him, maybe a tad disgusted by him, and then his life seemingly starts to change, but the movie ends abruptly, just when it had a head of steam it stops dead.
this is 3/4 of a movie... with sooooo much potential in how it could have finished. Joseph is great, but how could he have watched his work, and where it ends, and been happy with it? I don't know.
see it for the beautiful people, but if your one of those that hates abrupt endings that didn't finish any of the storyline - you'll hate this.
it was all right there for the taking too.... could have easily been an 8 and a top 10 film for 2013, but this is the worst example of "no ending whatsoever" that I've had to endure in quite some time.
I have to give it up for the acting though - top notch across the board. Good idea. Great characters. Interesting storyline. Tough-subject matter handed rather deftly. BUT. No ending.