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Everything Must Go (2010)
Best one I've seen all year
I caught this at the London Film Festival and thought it was the best film I'd seen all year, or in quite a few years, for that matter, though I've yet to see Social Network. I'm partial to small, low-key movies where you have to kind of fill in the blanks for yourself. This is one of those movies, and I like its honest approach, refusing to ingratiate itself with potential audiences that like their dramas "gut-wrenching" and "captivating" (translation: over-acted and on the nose).
The cast is great, Will Ferrell is just spot-on, as good as I've ever seen him, including Stranger Than Fiction (well, maybe he'll never top Ron Burgundy, which is pure genius, but this is a whole different thing, obviously): funny, moving, serious... And yet he does very little, and the rest of the cast follow his lead: they just inhabit these characters and let the writing do its job. There are no big, Oscar-bait turns in this film, despite its boasting an "award-friendly" theme, so to speak. There are just these small, honest gestures that speak volumes for themselves. There's no need to amp them up over the top with a sappy score, huge fights, people falling apart, crying and screaming... The film successfully takes it down a notch, and I for one appreciate that.
To sum up, it was fresh, honest, funny, moving. I think its humanity will connect with people who are willing to seek this out, and I think they'll be pleasantly surprised if they do.
Trivia side note: In the print that was screened at the London Film Festival, Will Ferrell's character was called Nick Porter in the end credits. That was the character's original name, but apparently they couldn't clear it because there was a Nick Porter living in the area, where they were literally about to start shooting that day, or the next. So they had to consider a long list of names before Halsey was finally approved, but they didn't have time to change it in the credits in time for the festival release. This according to writer/director Dan Rush, who was there for a Q&A.
Things to Do (2006)
uh, WAY better than Napoleon Dynamite, and not a copy
Why is everyone comparing this to Napoleon Dynamite?? It had nothing to do with that movie. People just throw that out because it's not mainstream and quirky, and the latest non-mainstream, quirky movie was ND. But the movie has a lot more in common with Bottle Rocket, by Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson.
I think Theodore Bezaire, Mike Stasko and Daniel Wilson (Owen, Andrew and Luke's cousin) did a great job with this. I totally get what the movie is about and I absolutely loved it. It's NOT a chick flick, either, whoever said that! It's a total guy movie. Whip out a couple of brewskies and enjoy a great buddy comedy about making up your mind about what you want to do with your life.
To the people who didn't get it, why are you wasting yours and everyone else's time by bashing this movie? It's clearly not for you, OK fine. But the people who do get it love it (and I mean the ones who truly get it), so it can't be all that bad. If even one person loves a film, it has to have something. And this one is beloved by many. I just hope it reaches out to many more.
"It's about beer time."