Saturday, January 1, 2011

Wrapping Up 2010


Somewhere along the way in 2010, "Let's Not Talk About Movies" sailed past 100 steady followers, and the 1,000 mark for posts. We joined "The Large Association of Movie Blogs" and created a Facebook presence for LNTAM (was that before or after The Social Network?), and battled Blogger Fatigue, some days just not posting anything (with close to fifty reviews in various stages of a-borning—they're still there, but closer to being finished than before).

It was an odd year, the best of times and the worst of times. We reviewed more movies, and did less feature-work than ever, but added more widgets and gadgets to watch the traffic slowly building.  It's always amazed me who in the world might be reading my stuff (I have regular readers in Canada, okay, but...Maldives?).

Since Blogger started keeping Stats (May, 2010), the most looked-at post was the "The Three Lives of The Cat People" (from June, 2009), followed by reviews of Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, both from this year.  Odd...until you know what I know.  You may or may not be aware that my posts fairly bristle with hidden links—to other reviews, IMDB listings, wikipedia articles, even images from those films from other spires of the web.  Both the Cat People run-down, and the Coco Chanel review, true to form, have those links, but, due to the nature of the films, some links contain nude images.  The Prince of Persia review has lots of non-nude images of Jake Gyllenhaal and Gemma Arterton, beef-and cheese-cake (this is why I put a lot of links to pics of Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis in my review of Black Swan, and, naturally, it's getting a lot of "hits" these days (But then, so are the tumbleweed of True Grit articles, without the fly-paper of pretty pictures).

It's a little tough to get all stuck-up on your popularity when you realize that your most visited articles are for the naughty bits.  Rounding out the top five are an excoriating review of The Lovely Bones (where most of the images are of the protagonist's vision of Heaven), and the "Don't Make a Scene" from The Big Lebowski...either because of the cluster of "f"-bombs inside it...or...there really are a lot of Lebowski fans out there.  It just proves to me that if I go by stats for my enjoyment of doing this, I'm going to be disappointed.  As Mike Meyers so sagely noted, at some point, you have to cash in your own chips.

We're getting a regular spate of comments since joining LAMB, and for that, I'm grateful for the attention and the cameraderie and the debating.  The most number of comments came from my denunciation of Kick-Ass, which got a little testy for awhile and then dissolved into a sunny mutual rib-poking.  The second most comments came from "Speculations in the Bond Market" (I figured it might...Sean Connery as the third best Bond?  Sacrilege!), and the review of Black Swan, where the comments are interesting. 

We saw fewer Full-Price Ticket movies (economic influence?) and more Time-Wasters (...guess not), and, as we contrarily (and grumpily) don't do Top Ten Lists, here's the rundown of our version of the Best and the Worst, in the order seen:

Full-Price Tickets of 2010:
The Ghost Writer (Roman Polanski)
The Prophet (Jacques Audiard)
The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke)
The Square (Nash Edgerton)
Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich)
Inception (Graham Nolan)
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (Edgar Wright)
Hereafter (Clint Eastwood)
Fair Game (Doug Liman) 
127 Hours (Danny Boyle)
Tangled (Nathan Greno, Byron Howard)
Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky)
True Grit (2010) (The Coen Brothers)

Matinees of 2010:
Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese)
Alice in Wonderland (Tim Burton)
The Runaways (Floria Sigismondi)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Niels Arden Oplev)
The Losers (Silvain White)
Repo Men (Miguel Sapochnik)
How to Train Your Dragon (Chris Sanders, Dean Deblois)
Sweetgrass (Ilisa Barbash, Lucien Castaing-Taylor)
Mother (Joon-ho Bong)
Iron Man 2 (Jon Favreau)
Robin Hood (Ridley Scott)
Prince of Persia (Mike Newell)
Night and Day (James Mangold) 
Despicable Me (Pierre Coffin)
The Girl Who Played with Fire (Daniel Alfredson)
Predators (Nimród Anta)
Restrepo (Sebastian Junger and Tim Harrington) 
Get Low (Aaron Schneider)
The American (Anton Corbjin)
The Town (Ben Affleck)
The Social Network (David Fincher)
Waiting for Superman (Davis Guggenheim)
Let Me In (Matt Reeves) 
Megamind (Tom McGrath)
Conviction (Tony Goldwyn)
Nowhere Boy (Sam Taylor-Wood)
Inside Job (Charles Ferguson) 

Time-Wasters of 2010:
MacGruber (Jorma Taccona)
Jonah Hex (Jimmy Hayward)
Salt (Philip Noyce)
The Expendables (Sylvester Stallone)
Paranormal Activity 2 (Tod Williams)
Legend of the Guardians: the Owls of Ga'hoole (Zack Snyder)
Skyline (The Brothers Strauss)

No regrets on the Full-Pricers and Time-Wasters, but I winced when looking at the Matinees*....The Losers on the same list as The Social Network? ("Really, Yojimbo?") and...Repo Men has been consigned to the dust-heap of History as "crap." 

But, going back over the reviews re-invigorated my feeling about these movies.  The Losers and Repo Men are really quite clever entertainments on low budgets, and I think Miguel Sapochnik is a good visual stylist for less money than a lot of the big-name, splice-happy A-listers out there (like Jon Favreau, for instance).  I won't spend too much time beating my breast about it, but I've grown accustomed to this list, duly noting that some of them are listed with qualifiers ("Cheap Matinee" and such).

And The Social Network?  Time will tell. It's as cold as they come, and maybe that's the point of a movie about Facebook.  I left it, curiously anything in it.  And I think a lot of its reputation might be situational identification.  Give it time.  Give them all time.

Best Use of Sound: A toss-up between the imagined graphically loud sounds of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World that illustrate what's going on in the collective heads of the gang....and Black Swan where the scraping, shrieking, creaking, snapping sounds on the soundtrack just might be solely in Nina's head.

Best Music: Alexander Desplat's Herrmannesque insistence of a score: The Ghost Writer

Best Soundtrack: Varese Sarabande's 6-disc presentation of Alex North's score for Spartacus (including an amazingly ecelectic disc of interpretations of hius "Love Theme").  A life-long obsession for producer Robert Thownson to bring a definitive version to disc involved several composers participation (including North and Jerry Goldsmith, who both died before being able to turn attention to it), it is an amazing accomplishment.  Bravo!

Pieces of Time: As always, here are some moments that jumped back into my head when considering the Best Movies of the Year, after the on-going series by Kathleen Murphy and Richard T. Jameson, which, for this year's installment, you can find here:

LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) allows a moment of humility before a shot he must make: a breath, a whispered "Oh, Lord" and squeezes off "some bully shot." True Grit

The toys see a version of Hell that they could not have conceived of before, and instinctively do the only thing possible: grab each others' hands: Toy Story 3

"Lovely Day," Bill Withers' song may be inappropriate for the moment, but it certainly reflects the 15 minutes Aron Ralston (James Franco) has to luxuriate in the sunshine: 127 Hours

John Lennon (Aaron Johnson) sizes up Paul McCartney (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) as he plays "Twenty Flight Rock"—he's impressed, but also a bit jealous, and goes with it, adding him to the Quarreymen:  Nowhere Boy

One less eye-roll to suffer this year—Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) has one more challenge before completely winning Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead)for himself—his evil self, which is neatly handled within the space of a single edit: "Nothing. We just shot the shit. We have a lot of things in common!" Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

First time in the dream-state, Ariadne (Ellen Page) starts to re-do the architecture a bit: Inception.

A shriek of a whip-pan that precedes the bitch-fest with beth (Winona Ryder): Black Swan.

Robert Duvall's Mr. Bush recalls a fire: his sense-memory kicks in and hisses between his teeth: Get Low

Hope Springs Eternal:  F5, F5, F5, F5: The Social Network

"You know, Claire, we are a national organization" Jon Hamm's "just-the-facts" FBI guy Adam Frawley doesn't reveal too much as he realizes his sting has been thwarted: The Town

A universe of floating lamps above and below—the love song interlude of Tangled.

Max Von Sydow's entire performance: Robin Hood

And Sam Shapard's: Fair Game

And, especially, Juliette Lewis' entire performance: Conviction

The fierceness of Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) comes out in pillow-talk: "I. Do. Not. Have. A breaking. Point." Fair Game

Roy Miller (Tom Cruise), committed as always: "Nobody follow us or I kill myself and then her!" Night and Day

The first image of The Ghost Writer, Polanski channelling Hitchcock: A night-time ferry unloads normally...except for one unoccupied car.

A bear rides out of the snowy woods: True Grit

Metroman, much to his shock, discovers he's been discovered: Megamind

Noland (Laurence Fishburne) gone Native, not unlike Col. Kurtz from Fishburne's firs film: Predators

"No, they're trying to fly that tank."—the special effects crew toss in a giddily-absurd warning label in their CGI: The A-Team

Early on in Restrepo: riding inside a HumVee, when a sudden IED tosses the world ass over teakettle.

Melanie (Bryce Dallas Howard) learns what George Lonegan (Matt Damon) already knows—there are no secrets with a psychic: Hereafter

On the way to the cinema to better learn English, Clara (Violanta Placido) lags behind to give "The American" she knows as "Edward" (George Clooney) a discreet kiss, unseen and unnoticed—they were made for each other: The American

A giddy hallway fight in zero-gravity: Dream-level 2, influenced by level 1's falling SUV: Inception

Darren Aronofsky pulls out all the stops on what could, or even might, go wrong before a ballet performance—developing clubbed feet, breaking your legs, stabbing your understudy in your dressing room: Black Swan

The six word mantra throughout Hereafter: "The chance of a normal life."

"Keep your seat, trash:" A grown-up Mattie Ross (Elizabeth Marvel) is even more so: True Grit

"Both:" Nowhere Boy

"Mr. Butterfly" breaks the furrowed brow for just an instant to greet his new love—an instant is all he'll get: The American

Lucky Ned Pepper (Barry Pepper) emphasizes a point to Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), using a distinctive move from the ouvre of his predecessor in the role: True Grit

Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot—

Auld Lang Syne.  On to the movies of 2011.

* Couldn't do a year-end without one asterisk, could I?  Several film were left off the list because they are officially 2009 films: Of the Matinees, The Young Victoria (Jean-Marc Valée), The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (Terry Gilliam),  Broken Embraces (Pedro Almodovar), The Messenger (Oren Moverman) and The Last Station (Michael Hoffman).  The only Full-Pricer off the list is Me and Orson Welles (Richard Linklater).  We can quibble about The White Ribbon and Sweetgrass and The Prophet being 2009 films, but...must we?


Mike Lippert said...

Nice wrap-up. I'm getting tired of seeing all the lists because they are all basically the same: Inception, Toy Story 3, Social Network, etc. I think mine will at least throw a couple curve balls when I get around to it.

Yojimbo_5 said...

Love the curve-balls, as they tend to smash the January ice of consensus (let me guess, The A-Team is in your Top Ten ;D ) Looking forward to it, Mike!

Yojimbo_5 said...

Apologies for the "TCM Remembers" video not working. I swapped it out for a channel-sanctioned one that may last longer.

Scotty said...

As for the Bond discussion, I don't recall much controversy around your ranking of Connery as number 3. What bugged me was your refusing to put Moore in his well earned position as "worst ever"!

However, having a three year old has made attending movies more of a challenge than it used to be -- and your blog has guided me to making some pretty good decisions. Most recently, the decision to take the family to Tangled.

Happy New Year. I'm looking forward to it.

Yojimbo_5 said...

Thanks, Scotty--gosh, that was almost inspiring enough for me to go see Yogi Bear for you. (I said "almost")