Ah, summer — the time of tentpole blockbuster films that are meant to pad out the studios’ budgets for the next few months. I believe I saw most of the major films released during this period, at least at some point in the year, if not the theatre: The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, Men in Black 3, Battleship… Overall, it was a more than satisfying year for quality summer blockbusters that pleased both audiences and critics. … Well, probably not Battleship. That movie was awful.
With so many films that release in theatres that are best seen actually on the big screen, though, it was only inevitable that smaller and/or less interesting films fell by the wayside of my attention span. Critically acclaimed features like Beasts of the Southern Wild and Oslo, August 31st would get unfortunately lumped in with similarly ignored-by-me crap like Step Up Revolution and That’s My Boy this past summer, which isn’t a commentary on their quality as much as it is a reflection of my time and budgetary restrictions. (I subscribe to a number of rental services and still buy and go see movies in theatres, but I can only do so much and thus prioritize quality spectacle films usually over the quality comedies and dramas.)
So while I do believe I got the most out of my summertime viewings that I possibly could, let’s go over the films that I somehow managed to not see as of the time of this writing, for better or for worse. Read more…
Produced by: Christopher Nolan, Charles Roven, Emma Thomas
Written by: Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan (screenplay), David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan (story)
Cinematography by: Wally Pfister
Music by: Hans Zimmer
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman
In the wake of the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, I felt a bit odd about writing my previous review and preparing for my next, as I was writing it in the late night hours as the events were unfolding, unknown to me until the next morning. Much of what I wrote about The Dark Knight reflected a lot of what was happening there, none of it necessarily original or new information, but it was stirring, all the same.
I had no common connection to any of the victims there beyond our similar interest in seeing this new Batman film, all of us anxious in seeing how this trilogy would end, and, unfortunately, many of them never got to see this film, and many more will forever see this film and be reminded of the horrible things they saw that night. What was supposed to be night of fun and entertainment turned into a nightmare, and it affected me, and still does a great deal the more I hear about the events, much more than I thought it would — not because I thought of myself as some tough, emotionless, apathetic person but because it made me realize how even the most mundane things we take for granted can connect strangers based on a mundane commonality.
This just happened to revolve around a movie theatre, a highly anticipated film, and audiences across the world who waited, maybe not in the same proximity, but with the same spirit that united us all in excitement and, unfortunately, also in an unexpected tragedy. In that spirit, if there is anyone out there who is reading this and was affected in some way to those events, I hope you know that, even if I don’t know you, I send my prayers and condolences to you and your families.
Let me just say this now: Christopher Nolan is destined to go down in history as, if not one of the most influential or important filmmakers in blockbuster history, at the very least one of the most revered and respected. The man hasn’t made a bad movie in… well pretty much ever! Some have varied in quality and appeal, of course, but none have been able to cross the general consensus threshold of being considered anything less than a quality film: Following. Memento. Batman Begins. The Prestige. The Dark Knight. Inception. All masterful works of not only high art, but high entertainment. No other filmmaker since maybe Spielberg has managed to pull this synthesis of style, spectacle, and skill as well as Nolan has. And now, with The Dark Knight Rises, we have been given this amazing film that not only provides plenty of thrilling action, but is also an intelligent and thought-provoking conclusion to what will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the greatest film series of all time, The Dark Knight Trilogy. Read more…
It’s hard for me to pick a favorite film of all time, but with a year like 2011, it wasn’t that hard to narrow down my choices for favorite films over the past year.
After making my selections and arranging them, I’ve realized a lot of my choices for 2011 involved some combination of whimsy, science fiction, or fantasy elements. While I love a good realistic film — and indeed, had this blog existed at the beginning of 2011, I would have likely been talking about how much I loved True Grit and The King’s Speech – I always seem to go back to the more whimsical ones the most, and 2011, for all its faults, was full of some wonderful films of this ilk.
I had originally intended to place all ten of my favorite films here in this one article, but around the time I had completed the tenth place film and began writing the entry for the ninth (the rankings of which continued to evolve themselves, so that was its own dilemma for me as I love them all, some more equally than others), I began to realize just how much I had to say about the films I loved this past year. If you read my past articles on the films I didn’t see in 2011, the ones I liked, and the ones I hated, you can see that there wasn’t a huge number of films that I especially wanted to see that was new, so perhaps that is why I ended up feeling so compelled to write so much about these films.
Ultimately, I am my own editor, and I know I can be quite wordy, but it is my hope that, in writing these analyses on my favorite films of 2011, I can impress upon you what it is about these films that I love so much and maybe compel you to love them similarly and, if not, defend your position, retort with your own, and perhaps feel compelled to introduce others, including me, to something they had never considered seeing before. That being said, this is a perfect jumping off point for the first entry on my list, so here they are, Entries 10 – 8 of My 10 Favorite Films of 2011: Read more…
As I stated many times over in my overviews of films I didn’t see in 2011, I was a pretty poor person this past year, which limited the number of films I could see in theatres. Luckily, I was able to make up for much of these missed showings through rentals.
Of the films I saw in 2011, few of them were truly bad films. A few were disappointing, many were just about as average as I expected, and a few turned out to be surprises. While none of the films on this list were truly awful in my eyes, not all of them were that remarkable either, with few exceptions. Before I tell you which films I considered to be the worst and which were my favorites, I am once again going to lead you through the year in review of the mostly average films that I actually did see throughout and from 2011 by the time I made this list.
You may have already seen the teaser trailer: , but this new trailer, somehow bleaker than all the previous films’ trailers, gives us an actual glimpse at all the new characters and actors (Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, for instance) who have joined the third and, yes, final entry in the Christopher Nolan Batman film series! The most prominent, of course, are Anne Hathaway and a masked Tom Hardy. Read more…
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Produced by: Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher, Gregory Jacobs
Written by: Scott Z. Burns
Starring: Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow
Music by: Cliff Martinez
If you’ve ever seen a disaster movie, particularly one by The Day After Tomorrow director Roland Emmerich, and knowing what the genre usually holds in store for audiences, you’d be forgiven for not expecting much from this recent take on the genre from Steven Soderbergh. Contagion makes use of many of the same tropes every disaster movie since Airplane opened in 1970: A big cast of well-knowns face an unrelenting threat from an out of nowhere force (usually of nature) that threatens the very existence of themselves and/or humanity.
In The Day After Tomorrow, it was Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, and several others facing global warming. Cue giant wave and running from the cold front. In Contagion, it’s Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet, and many, many others facing a deadly, highly contagious disease. However, unlike most disaster films, Soderbergh takes a quieter, much more intimate approach and brings the tired genre up to a level that is at once riveting, emotionally resonant, and artfully produced. Read more…