Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Movie Listing (2005)

A turning point, that year. Things changed in the most unexpected way - or at least, I decided to change them. And thank the gods for that! But changing is never an easy process... That aside, helluva of a year for movies! I try not to talk too much about too many movies, but the selection for this post was a hard one.

My favorite movies of 2005:
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith: directed by George Lucas, starring Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson and Christopher Lee. Being a Star Wars fan had been quite the shame for the previous years, with the advent of Episode I - The Phantom Menace and Episode II - Attack of the Clones. I'm not even gonna talk about Jar Jar Binks, apparently the most hated Star Wars character of all times. And what is there to say about Padmé and Anakin's extremely farfetched romance?... (btw: had I been Padmé, I'd have felt like a pedophile...). However, Lucas makes it up with this third movie. Still not up to the standard he created with the original trilogy, mind, but damn close to it nevertheless. I totally bought that McGregor's Kenobi would, 20 years later, be Alec Guiness's Kenobi; the bond between master and apprentice was truly believable, making way for the tragedy of Anakin's getting caught in Palpatine's web. That the special effects were mind-blowing goes without saying. Now: the only thing that didn't quite work for me was Anakin's turning to the Dark Side - too quick, if you ask me. Anyway: the story was led in such a way that it allowed the original trilogy to pick it up right where it ended, just as it should be, with no loose ends, methinks. Nice job.

Kingdom of Heaven: directed by Ridley Scott, starring Orlando Bloom, Eva Green, Liam Neeson, Jeremy Irons and Edward Norton. Just like Gladiator, it does not fall short of greatness; and one true great thing about this movie is its lack of manicheism. Good and bad are slightly less simple here - Sibylla eventually reproaches Balian, saying someday he'll regret not having done a small evil for a greater good. Well, will he really? There's no right answer, and so the film goes on dwelling on such matters. Eva Green is, as always, stunning, and Orlando Bloom does a fine job as Baliam; and nothing could've given more nobility to king Baldwin than Norton's voice. Irons and Neeson only add up to it, they're awesome in everything they do. And to Ghassan Massoud's Saladin: bravo. The battle scenes are fantastic, and the ambiance is right on the spot. No, it's not historically accurate, but who cares? Entertaining from beginning to end, and it might make you wanna leave the simple dull smithy in a quest for something bigger than yourself, something worth fighting for. Not the best movie of the year, for sure, but one of my personal favorites - I actually know most of it by heart...

Batman Begins: directed by Christopher Nolan, starring Christian Bale, Katie Holmes, Michael Cane, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy. Well, FINALLY! About time someone made a decent Batman movie! All the previous movies are endurable at best. I love Tim Burton, but c'mon, he's never read a Batman comic in his life! And neither Michael Keaton nor Val Kilmer correspond to my idea of Bruce Wayne/Batman. (I'm ignoring George Clooney in this category, as should you all). Thank you, Mr. Nolan, thank you! Batman's origins, his training, his connection to Ra's Al Ghul, how he came up with his symbol and name - it's all there! And it all falls right into place! This is how it's done. And all of that laureled by amazing performances! Christian Bale is amazing as both Bruce and the The Bat. Murphy is a truly scary scarecrow, and as for Neeson, Cane, Oldman and Freeman, pff. Needless to say they're more than perfect. The expectations for such actors are sky-high, and they exceeded them. Mrs. Cruise was bound to be the weakest link here, but a harmless one; her acting was way better than I'd expected, and the role didn't demand much in that movie. The rare moments of humor were perfect, dry as anything. There was much rejoice in the geek comunity when the movie came out, I'll tell u that! And in the end, when Gordon tells Batman about a new criminal, showing him the Joker card, I had shivers down my spine, and thought "pleeeeease let there be a Nolan movie with the Joker!!!!". I knew something great would come out of it, and boy was I right!

Lord of War: directed by Andrew Niccol, starring Nicholas Cage, Bridget Moynahan, Jared Leto and Ethan Hawke. Fabulous movie, story-telling at its best. Cage plays the gunrunner wonderfully, actually making us sympathize, even if it's just a little, with Yuri Orlov; Jared Leto is a great surprise as his brother, who's also Yuri's counterpart, who enventually realizes what they've both become; and Hawke is just so very good here as the idealist Jack Valentine. The narration (done by Cage's character) is subtly detached from what it's telling, and the dry humor is just superb: "Back then, I didn't sell to Osama Bin Laden. Not because of moral reasons, but because he was always bouncing checks." Haha! Other rationalizations, however, are chilling, such as the echoing "Evail prevails". Brilliant, one of the very best movies that year.

Pride and Prejudice: directed by Jow Wright, starring Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen, Rosamund Pike, Donald Sutherland and Judi Dench. I simply worship Jane Austen (though admitting she basically wrote the same story over and over again. But that's not the point) and I'm also real fussy when it comes to adaptations. But this one... talk about being beautifully done. Keira Knightley is downright perfect for Elizabeth Bennet, even if a little bit prettier than readers learn to imagine her to be; the vulgar and irritating mother is played to perfection, just as the even more annoying younger sisters; and Mr. Darcy... Mr. Darcy is just dashing! He's perfect, from appearance to attitude, and it looked as though he couldn't take a wrong step even if he wanted to. The photography and musical score were simply ridiculolus, outrageously perfect. Albeit being a difficult task, that of adapting this adored novel into a 2-hour movie, it was rightly done, leaving no important scenes behind. A movie to be seen over and over again.

Others worthy of notice that year:
Sin City, Elizabeth Town, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Just Like Heaven, Rent, Fantastic Four, The Chronicles of Narnia, Oliver Twist, Madagascar, Match Point, King Kong, Walk The Line, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Constantine, Capote, Good night, and Good Luck, Corpse Bride, March of the Penguins, Brokeback Mountain, Thank You for Smoking, The Zodiac.
(Phew! Quite the list...)

Movies I regret having watched in 2005:
The Matador: really Pierce? Like... really? If u were gonna play the role of a matador, might've as well stuck with James Bond! A much better choice would've that been!

The Skeleton Key: childish. And Kate should take part in better stuff.

Cheaper by the Dozen 2: I could live with the first one. Far from being the funniest thing I've ever seen, but I can deal with it. But one was more than enough! And Tom Welling's acting is just pitiable... a shame, his being so handsome and all... oh well... and: Hillary Duff? Pff... those two side by side AGAIN is much more than I can bear...

The Pacifier: ok Vin Diesel, you ARE the new Arnold, no need to try that hard...

The Producers: I'm a fan of silliness. I'm a fan of musicals. But this... hated it, hated it, hated it - I usually deny having watched it. Seriously. I go like: "The Producers? No... never watched it" - while in my head I try to push back all the horrible moments I had in front of the screen...