Tuesday, December 29, 2009

1999 v 2009 / Reader Submission #3

This post comes to us from loyal R3 fan Oliver C. It is a simple look at 1999 movies compared to those that have come to us this year in 2009. While I do not agree with everything he says below, it is interesting to look back at 1999 and think about how you felt after seeing the movies he references below. Did you feel like you'd still be talking about them 10 years from the day you had your ticket ripped? Will you still be quoting The Hangover 10 years from now? Oliver's post looks at the end of 2 decades, and while you could just as simply compare 1999 to 2008 or 2006, it's still fun to look at the end of a decade and see where we were, where we've been, and where we're going... I should note that this was submitted to us before December movies were released.

Always feel free to email us your very own submissions to be posted on the site. Enjoy Oliver's contribution and here's to looking forward to 2010.

--------------------BEGIN SUBMISSION------------------

As we approach the end of the decade, many people will look back at the year and reminisce on the past movies that made 2009 the year that it was. I look back and I think… Really? Is that it??? What do we have to work with here? This year was marked off with remakes and sequels trying to be bigger and better then their first: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Terminator Salvation. Movies made to inspire us like Whip It fell flat. And even the biggest smallest horror movie was really just a re-imagination of the Blair Witch Project. All in all, once the dust settled from the battling robots, 2009 really went out with a fizzle. You’re probably asking, “geez, man, what do you expect?” I expected another 1999. Now that year truly ended the decade with a bang (I’m not eliminating Avatar to wow me… but I’m not holding my breath for it either).
1999 brought us a plethora of future classics, first-time directors, and even a sequel that lived up to the original in Toy Story 2.

1999 introduced the audience to M. Night Shyamalan(The Sixth Sense), Sam Mendes (American Beauty), Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich), Sophia Coppola (The Virgin Suicides), Alexander Payne (Election), and Brad Bird (The Iron Giant) all of which had their first wide releases in this year. Four of those directors were nominated for Oscars in their aforementioned debuts, with Mendes actually walking away with the trophy for Best Director. Since then Spike Jonze picked one up for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Sophia Coppola for Lost In Translation, Alexander Payne for Sideways, and Brad Bird for Ratatouille. And The Sixth Sense went ahead to be one of the highest grossing movie of all time.

It’s not just the directors that came out of the shadows, 1999 also introduced us to the on-screen talent who were once barely on the public’s radar to center-stage. Angelina Jolie not only outshined co-star Winona Ryder, but also took home Oscar gold with Girl, Interrupted. Reese Witherspoon proved that she wasn’t just another cute blonde with her Golden Globe nominated role in Election. Jake Gyllenhaal took his first adult role in October Sky. Michael Clarke Duncan went from bodyguard to the stars to Oscar Nominated actor in The Green Mile. And Russell Crowe went from Aussie bad-boy to future Academy Award Winning Aussie bad-boy in his Nominated performance in The Insider.

1999 was also a big comeback year. Whether it be from constant box-office flops like Julia Roberts or tabloid fodder like Martin Lawrence and Hugh Grant, each of these actors re-established themselves with Notting Hill and Blue Streak.

Two sets of brothers took us in opposite directions in the movie viewing experience. The Wachowski brothers taught us that Keanu Reeves can actually make a movie that will make you think in The Matrix. They also gave us a need to see everything in HD. The Weitz brothers taught us that you can have a sex-comedy with heart in American Pie. They also gave us a need to see everything in HD (I’m talking about you, Shannon Elizabeth).

Finally, 1999 taught us that Box Office grosses means nothing in the general scheme of things when it comes to making a movie that will always stick with the viewers. Fight Club, Boondock Saints, and Office Space suffered huge box-office hits (Boondock barely even saw the light of day), but each one resurfaced with a huge cult following in the DVD world.

All is not perfect though. 1999 brought us one thing that the true movie fan can do without. Jar-Jar-Binks and Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace.

I never said it was a perfect year.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas everyone!

We here at Really Reel Reviews would like to wish you and your family a very happy and safe holiday.

And have a happy and healthy 2010!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Should you see "Precious"?

"Precious" is a movie that has been getting quite a bit of buzz over the last few months. People are talking about newcomer Gabourey Sidibe and her portrayal of Precious, a poor, obese teen in Harlem in 1987. They are talking about comedienne Monique's revelation of a performance as Precious' sadistic and abusive mother. And they are talking about Mariah Carey's surprisingly competent job of playing a social worker and doing it without any makeup. This movie is also getting a lot of awards attention having been nominated for Best Picture-Drama at the Golden Globes, as well as both Sidibe ad Monique receiving nods. It is believed, especially where the field has been expanded to 10 movies for Best Picture, the movie and actors will be nominated for Academy Awards. I recently saw "Precious" and will say it's a very good movie, with excellent performances and I am happy I saw it. However, I don't know if I can or should tell you to see it.

I know how ridiculous that may sound. I saw this great movie, it's getting all this positive attention, how can I say I liked it and not recommend it? Well it's complicated.

For most people, a movie is an escape. It's a way to break away from the mundane activities of life and watch a story of something extraordinary. Like watching giant blue cat people on a fictional planet fighting human controlled robots. It's also a way to cheer you up when you are feeling down. Like watching two men sneak their way into weddings and sleep with random guests while using aliases. And sometimes it's seeing a story of someone from meager beginnings rise to the top of their field. Like watching an undersized defensive end get the hell beaten out of him during countless practices only to make it on the field at the end of his last game and record a sack.

These are movies, and they make us cheer, they make us laugh and we remember the best moments. It's not a coincidence that when I was in Vegas this Fall I heard 20 different people say "This isn't the real Caesar's Palace, is it?" And I didn't even stay at Caesar's Palace. The point is movies are entertainment and they are mostly designed to obviously entertain us and for many people that's all they are looking for.

Precious does not do any of these things. The ending is uplifting, but not nearly enough to make up for the rest of the absolute hell this poor girl is put through her entire life. And it's not enough for when you walk out of the theater or shut off your DVD player for you to smile and be content. This movie will not entertain you and that's okay because that's not the point.

A movie can also do something besides entertain, it can educate and make you think of something from a different perspective you never considered before. Obviously documentaries are a prime example, but there are plenty of regular movies that can do so as well. I studied the Holocaust in high school and I read "Night" by Elie Wiesel. The scope of this tragic time in history never really hit me as hard as it should have until I saw "Schindler's List", a great movie that I doubt many could say was very "entertaining". And that is the other power movies have. To show people something that never would have had the same effect if they'd just read about or never even thought about it in the first place.

This is where the power of "Precious" lies and it's what makes it such a great movie. I'm a white male from a middle class suburban family that was skinny in high school. I could not have less in common with this character and to tell you the truth I never really thought about what it would be like for someone like her. That's what I liked about this movie though, it made me think and deeply care about a character who has many real life counterparts that I had never given a second thought about. I'm not saying the movie caused me to become an activist or anything like that, but just that I considered what it would be like to be this person and how tough she has it, shows how powerful a movie this.

So why wouldn't I recommend it? Because this movie is TOUGH to get through. This girl's life is something you would not wish on your worst enemy. She is molested by her father and has two kids from him. There's a scene of this abuse that is reason enough for me to never recommend someone seeing this movie. I mean how could you really tell a person that's something they should see? She's overweight and is verbally and physically abused by her mother who treats her as if she "stole" her man from her. One of her children has down syndrome. She's been suspended from school for getting pregnant for the second time. Her life is quite literally a living hell to the point she often fantasizes about herself in glamorous situations as an escape. Now she does end up attending an alternative school and finds a teacher who believes in her (Paula Patton, another strong performance), which sounds formulaic but is well done enough that it does not feel like you've seen it a million times before. Lenny Kravitz also shows up as a nurse who helps deliver Precious' second baby and makes it a toss up for which musician gives the better performance, Kravitz or Carey. Precious eventually gets her life close to turned around and as I said the ending is somewhat uplifting. But the ending doesn't stick with you for the next few days like the first 90 minutes do, which is another reason I find it difficult to tell someone to see this movie.

One thing I also found really sad as I watched "Precious" was the great performance Sidibe gave. This young actress did an outstanding job and is getting numerous nominations and attention. However, I couldn't help think how few roles like this there would be in Sidibe's future. She clearly has the talent, but how many movies have you seen with obese African-American women stars that are not comedies? This is no fault of Sidibe's, but more a sad commentary that this actress might not be in high demand after what should be a star making role.

I am glad I saw "Precious" and I think it was a very well done movie. I think the performances were a key part of the quality of the film, as anything less would have made the movie a lot more traumatic and not as redeeming. At the end of the day I would say if you're someone who only seeks entertainment from movies and only wants to watch them as an escape then feel free to skip "Precious", you will not walk away happy from it. However, if you're someone who likes movies that are on a higher level, movies looking to educate, movies that don't always give the happy ending wrapped up in a nice big bow then I would definitely recommend "Precious".

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I want you to hit me as hard as you can

“Fight Club” is one of my favorite movies of all-time (check my facebook info) and I thought a fitting way to honor the film about fighting strangers was to list my top 12 favorite “Fight Club” quotes. You might be asking, “Why 12?” Well I picked out all my favorite quotes and there were 12 of them and rather than cut two of them, I thought “What would Tyler Durden do?” (hey, that’s another website!) Tyler wouldn’t let his quote list be conformed down to some arbitrary number that David Letterman popularized. I am my own person with my own number of quotes and it shouldn’t matter if other people expect 10, I AM USING 12! NOW PUNCH ME IN THE FACE!!

(Note: I kept the curse words in because I feel using asterisks or the pound sign would take away from the quote. You’ve seen/said/heard the word before, it won’t fucking kill you. See, you’re fine.)

(Note 2: Also, I didn’t include the Rules of Fight Club quote. I just felt like it was played out and has been used in so many lame ways since so why bother. i.e. The first rule about the Willingham’s Family Bowl Night is you don’t talk about the Willingham’s Family Bowl Night)

12. It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything. – Tyler
I love stuff, love it. I love my HDTV, my Mac, my Xbox 360, and my collection of sports jerseys featuring a Golden State Warriors Chris Webber jersey. So don’t mistake my adoration of this movie or this quote in particular as me being some kind of minimalist. But I do think I am a bit held down by my possessions and hey maybe if I lost them all I’d be happier living in a broken down old house making soap. Doubtful, but I like the quote so it stays. Also, I do realize I just laid out a nice checklist for any robber casing my place.

11. This is your life and it's ending one minute at a time. – Narrator
I never really thought about that until I heard this quote. It’s sad, it’s scary and in no way uplifting. But I am sucker for things I never considered before.

10. All the ways you wish you could be, that's me. I look like you wanna look, I fuck like you wanna fuck, I am smart, capable, and most importantly, I am free in all the ways that you are not. – Tyler
I frequently imagine this is what Tom Brady would say to me if we ever met. Would I like him less if he did? Absolutely not.

9. You're the worst thing that's ever happened to me. – Marla
I think most people have wanted to say this to another person at some point in our lives and it always made me laugh how matter-of-factly Marla says it. I think Helena Bonham Carter is pretty by the way. I don’t care that she is always in Us Weekly dressed like a bag lady, I’m down with HBC.

8. You don't know where I've been. You don't know where I've been. Just let us have the basement, Lou! – Tyler
For those of you not familiar with this scene, it’s when the bar owner finds out about the Fight Club in the basement and proceeds to beat Tyler Durden’s face into oblivion. When he gets up to leave, a bloodied Tyler jumps up screaming and coughing blood on him until he lets them stay. I really like this scene and am fully aware that’s unsettling. Just to further add on to my psychosis, this would be my defense if I got into a fight that I knew I couldn’t win. Take a few hits to the face, play dead, then cough blood on the guy/girl when he/she turns away and yell “Remember when this happened in ‘Fight Club’”? How could they not run away crying, it’s bulletproof

7. Tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of Raymond K. Hessel's life. His breakfast will taste better than any meal you and I have ever tasted. – Tyler
This is when Tyler threatens to kill the shop clerk and then lets him live and through this act gives him a new lease on life. I always liked when Tyler finds a community college id in the clerk’s wallet and asks what he studied. The clerk replies “Stuff” and Tyler says “Stuff? Were the midterms hard?” That’s classic Tyler.

6. Is that your blood?
Some of it, yeah. – Narrator

It’s great that Edward Norton is talking to his boss when he says this, but the quote would be great regardless. He’s just so nonchalant about having his and another person’s blood on his clothes at work that it’s almost impossible to continue questioning it. But the weird thing is imagine if you saw someone at work with blood on their clothes. Would you ask them if it’s theirs? Hell no, the guy has blood on him at work! You smile at them, send a quick email to HR and then take the next week off and let the people who were too slow to realize they were working with Psycho McBloodstain deal with the madness.

5. WHOA! WHOA! WHOA! Ok, you are now firing a gun at your 'imaginary friend' near 400 GALLONS OF NITROGLYCERINE! – Tyler
I really liked how this movie can take the most serious situations, like firing a gun at a truck full of explosives, and make it hilarious. Not much else to add here as this quote kind of speaks for itself.

4. Look, the people you are after are the people you depend on. We cook your meals, we haul your trash, we connect your calls, we drive your ambulances. We guard you while you sleep. Do not... fuck with us. – Tyler
I feel like this would be extremely terrifying to hear if you were rich, and I love rich people being scared. I should have said this to the woman in the BMW who cut me off the other day but saying “We are the people you depend on to review movies on a podcast you don’t listen to” doesn’t have the same effect.

3. You met me at a very strange time in my life. – Narrator
The last line in the movie is so priceless because throughout the entire film characters are constantly exaggerating their circumstances and speaking in hyperbole, but this is one of the biggest understatements I have ever heard. That’s why I love it.

2. Motherfucker! You hit me in the ear! – Tyler
This is the first fight scene and I give major credit to it because it plays out the way two guys who don’t know how to fight hit each other. It’s not like Rocky IV where it’s carefully choreographed and guys simply trade punches to the face. If someone’s in a fight for the first time things like an ear punch, hair pull, elbow in the armpit, or grab to the balls will probably happen.

1. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off. –Tyler
I was raised on television. I did think I’d be famous someday. I am kinda pissed off about this. Certainly not the level of pissed where I wanna hit someone or burn my hand or destroy the country’s credit system, but pissed nonetheless. And that’s why this is my favorite quote from “Fight Club”. Sadly, I never got the chance to drunkenly recite this in college to the people waiting in line at Taco Bell at 2am.

So there’s my list. Hopefully you saw some of your own favorite quotes on here and if not, feel free to email me yours. And remember, the first rule about Really Reel Reviews is talk about it as much as possible to as many people as possible. Seriously.