After starting the book page, I thought, "Why stop there?" So I'll do a list of all the movies seen throughout the year, too.
I read far more books than I see movies, so I'll just list the movies, with a minimal description and an accompanying thought as to whether you should see it or not. I'll start with the movies I have seen since February, 2003. There we go. Recommended films are starred.
The Flick List (in reverse order of viewing)
*La Marche de L'Empereur (The Emperor's Walk) - Documentary about the annual migration of penguins to where they go to amte/give birth/protect their young. Although the music and voiceovers were TERRIBLY annoying, the footage was absolutely magnificent. I was also surprised to see how penguins survive. Truly a remarkable thing. The film itself was mediocre, but the penguins' story was phenomenal.
*The Aviator - Big budget film by Scorcese starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Apparently it was nominated for all kinds of things. I thought it was interesting to learn the story of Howard Hughes' life, mainly because I had studied his work without having any idea of what the man himself was like. There was very interesting aspects to the film, and I suppose I enjoyed it a reasonable amount, but I think it would have been a better film were it 40 minutes shorter.
*Closer - Interesting flick about four people and their intertwined love/sex lives. Leaving the theater, I felt very empty and alone, I guess because the film is so dark and upsetting. I thought it was a little long, but overall pretty good.
**Garden State - This movie about an awkward guy and an awkward girl finding love in New Jersey is not for everyone. I really liked it, however. It took me awhile to get comfortable with how uncomfortable the film was, but I ended up enjoying it quite a bit.
***Maria Pleine de Grace (Maria Full of Grace) - Unbelievably good film about a young Colombian woman who transports drugs in her stomach to the United States. It left me thinking about it for days afterwards; very moving and wonderfully acted.
Wicker Park - I think I would have been a little upset if I had gone to the theater to see this flick, but given that I watched it during a seven-hour plane ride, I found it more or less ok. The obsessional love storyline gets a little old after awhile, though.
Collataral - Why did everybody like this movie so much? I thought it was really boring and long and pretty stupid. And I even watched it on a plane, when my standards are significantly lower than usual.
*Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason - Well, whatever. If you liked the first Bridget Jones, you'll probably like this one (although it's not quite as good). The tripping mushroom scene almost had me piss my pants, though, so there's that.
*The Incredibles - Not as good as other Pixar flicks, but still entertaining and worth my money anyway.
*She Hate Me - One review called this film "a train wreck." Storyline? Guy sleeps with ex-girlfriend-now-lesbian and impregnates her for money and then does that as a side profession when he is fired from his job for being the whistlblower in a big corporate scandal. While I could have done without the corporate scandal overkill (or the random scenes of Nixon with a mask on, wtf?) I'll admit to laughing my ass off in more than one scene. I also think the film deserves props for only being filmed in 26 days.
Nobody Knows - Japanese film based on the true story of a group of children abandoned by their mother in Tokyo. It started off super cute, then got really boring, and then the last few minutes were sorta heartbreaking. Overall, not recommended.
***In America - A great, wonderful, beautiful film about an Irish family that moves to New York after the death of the youngest son in order to start life over again. It was moving and funny and sad and hilarious all at once. My brother and father disliked it, but my mother and I thought it was great... so I give it three stars but you might not agree.
***The Motorcycle Diaries - Nothing will give you wanderlust quite like this film. It traces Che Guevera's motorcycle trip from Buenos Aires to Venezuala with a friend when they were in their early 20's. You see little of the Che of later years. But, you do see a human story and some really, really beautifully-filmed countryside. I knew within the first ten minutes that I would love this film, and I did. Lots.
2046 - Everybody was going on and on about the new Wong Kar Wai film, but Christ Almighty, I wanted to leave that theater after the first twenty minutes. The problem? It lasts TWO WHOLE HOURS. That would be one hour, forty minutes too many, for those who are counting.
La Demoiselle d'honneur - A very, very weird French film that I didn't exactly dislike, but I didn't exactly like, either. It's about a crazy girl who asks her boyfriend to kill someone to prove his love.
**Les Invasions Barbares - Canadian film about a father and son who reconcile as the father lie dying. Sorta. But it's about a lot more than that. I spent the first thirty minutes adjusting to the French-Canadian accent (and trying desperately not to make fun of it) but once I got over that, I thought the film was fabulous.
La Confiance Regne - A French film that won't go down in history as anything worth watching. I don't even think it's worth describing.
Under the Tuscan Sun - Really bad in that really great way. Cheesy romance-ish film about a woman who up and moves to Italy when she finds out her husband has been cheating on her. Blah blah blah, learns about Italy and finds happiness. Still, I was in the mood for something light and somewhat along the lines of, I don't know, "Pretty Woman" or something. While nowhere near as good, it did the trick.
**Calendar Girls - I'll admit it. I liked it. Sure, it's gimmicky: old ladies posing (nude) for a calendar rediscover themselves. I don't care. It was cute.
Arsene Lupin - A French film that has easily made it into the top five worst films I have ever seen in the theater. I would have left early if I hadn't been sitting in the middle of a HUGE row on opening night.
*Shark Tale - I don't know how I feel about using rap in Pixar films. I sorta thought it worked at some parts, but not in others. I also don't appreciate the bunk remix of "Car Wash" that was used at the end. Otherwise, entertaining film, as are all Pixar flicks. The "sexy" fish sorta crept me out, though.
*The Village - Am I crazy because I kinda thought this film was cool? I knew nothing about it going in, and think that's the best way to see it. I had some issues with the way things were done (like, why did everybody have an accent?) but I enjoyed it. And liked the twist ending, too.
Un long dimanche de fiancailles - Everybody was talking about this film by Jeunet (director of Amélie) and starring Audrey Tatou. "Ooo..." they all said, "It's the dynamic duo teaming up again." But you know what? Nothing dynamic about this film whatsoever. Besides a few good war scenes (like that hasn't been done before), this film ended up being two hours of really, really, really, REALLY boring cinema.
**Farenheit 9/11 - Micheal Moore's documentary about Bush and the war in Iraq. I shouldn't have to explain any more. I am in the camp of people who liked this film, even though I recognize that it is flawed in a couple of ways. Still, I thought it was interesting and entertaining and it might have made me cry a bit, too.
The Terminal - It's Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta Jones. Moving on.
**Todo sobre mi madre - More Almodovar. My least favorite of the three I've seen, but still a great film. My lower rating might have something to do with the fact that I watched at 3am on an airplane. BUT, it was good enough to keep me awake, so that means it was pretty good.
**Hablé con ella - Another Almodovar film. Excellent, but profoundly sad, so don't watch it if you're not ok with crying some.
Hidalgo - Admittedly, I didn't watch the entire film. I couldn't stomach it. Even my dad agrees that this is a terrible, terrible film. I mean, really, really bad.
*Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind - Interesting idea, film about erasing painful memories. Something about the film bugged me, but I can't figure out what it was. I liked the actors, the premise, even most of the execution. Maybe I just got tired of Jim Carrey's caracter trying to save himself from fading memories. Still, I liked it overall.
*Mean Girls - I'm lame, but I liked it. How can you not like high school films about bringing down the "in" crowd?
*13 Going on 30 - Ok, let's get this straight: the film was pretty bad. But for some reason I enjoyed it. I think it had something to do with the unexpected dance to Thriller at the magazine's kickoff party. I mean, hell, everyone danced to "Thriller"! I laughed so hard I started crying, right there in my plane seat.
**Super Size Me - Amusing yet worthwhile documentary about McDonald's and the American food industry in general. It's not mindblowing, but it's entertaining and pretty well-executed; I enjoyed it.
***La Mala Educaccion - Almodovar's awesome, awesome, awesome film that I cannot stop thinking about. If you only go to see one film this year, go see this one. Halfway through the film, I thought to myself, "Wow, this film is really good." And it only got better.
50 First Dates - Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, together again in cute, young, romance flicks. Whatever. I watched it on an airplane, so I was glad to have it around. If you like this kind of movie, you'll like it; basically, you get exactly what you expect from this duo.
Something's Gotta Give - I was in the mood for a cheesy romance movie and that's what I got. It was cute and funny, but maybe something better watched on video or on an airplane.
Starsky and Hutch - I was embarrasingly entertained by this movie. I blame Snoop.
**Monster - Worth all the praise it got. More a love story than a murder story. My dad hated it and my mom liked it, if that gives any sort of guidelines.
**La Vie est Un Miracle (Life is a Miracle?) - Emir Kusturica film about a family that lives up in the mountains. You have to see it to understand why it's so good. Highly, highly recommended.
**Le Retour (The Return?) - Russian film about two boys and their father who comes back after years of absence. Quiet, beautiful, and captivating. Excellent film that I have thought about many times since seeing it.
Big Fish - It's not Edward Scissorhands but it has its merits. I wouldn't gush over it, but I enjoyed it.
The Last Samorai - I went to this movie despite the voice in my head saying, "No! No! It's Tom Cruise and Hollywood galore! Stay away! Stay away!" But everyone told me that it was really, really good, and that I really, really had to see it. But whoa, dude. Can you GET any more Hollywood than that? And could Tom Cruise possibly be a worse actor? And could the scriptwriting sink any lower? I actually started laughing halfway through the film, and had a hard time controlling myself during particularly touching, dramatic moments. I think my co-cinema-goers hated me, but that movie was such crap it deserved to be laughed at. My recommendation: go see it for misplaced comedic value, if anything.
Lost in Translation - So could someone please tell me what all the fuss it about? Yeah, Tokyo looked interesting. And aww... I still have a soft spot for Bill Murray. But why all the bru-ha-ha over this movie?
***21 Grams - Wow, this movie fucking blew me away. I went in expecting something quite boring and drab, and realized halfway through that I had been gloriously mistaken: my entire body was into the movie; I was so absorbed that I had been clenching both my stomach muscles and my teeth for at least half an hour before I had to tell myself I could relax because, after all, it's just a movie. I wouldn't be doing the film any justice to give a little synopsis here, so I'll just tell you all that it's a great film and worth your time. A definite winner. And Sean Penn was quite good, too. I may even have to see it again, that's how much I liked it. Although, don't get me wrong: it's a terribly disturbing film at base.
Kill Bill: Vol I - Despite what I had heard, I was still excited to see this Quentin flick, if only because I'm a fan of both him and Uma. And although I didn't think it was stellar or amazing, it had some high points and I'm sure I'll be off to see Vol II whenever it comes out. Still, not necessarily on my recommended list for the year.
Printempts, automne, hiver, été et... printemps - This is a Korean film that made no sense to me.
In the Cut - If there is one thing that you learn on this page, please let it be that NOBODY should EVER go see this film.
Anything Else - Woody Allen film about a fucked-up couple and their problems. I would have thought it was a good film had Cristina Ricci not been the absolute most annoying character ever seen on the widescreen. I don't think she did a bad job doing the acting; I just think the part itself was terrically irritating.
France Boutique - Stupid French comedy about infomercials. We were in the mood for something mindless and funny, which it was. I thought it was going to be a far worse film than it turned out to be, though, so I was pleasantly surprised.
Ivre de femmes et de peinture - Korean film about a drunk artist in the late 1800's. Beautiful, beautiful film. But, and this is really horrible to put in words, I really couldn't keep the characters straight. They all looked the same to me and their names were too difficult to keep track of. That sort of made it less easy to follow the plot. But it was still a really pretty film.
**Mystic River - Clint Eastwood directed it. And you know what? Everyone keeps acting surprised when they see a film Clint directed and they like, but are we all forgetting he won an Oscar? Good film, although I would have preferred it only last 2 hours, not 2.5. Oh, and Kevin Bacon is so outrageously hot.
Elephant - Gus Van Sant's film based loosely on the Columbine shootings. I have mixed feelings about this film.
Hic - Weird Hungarian film about a bunch of women who poison their husbands, all set against the backdrop of a hiccoughing man. No dialogue in the film whatsoever. Very strange film. Kinda good, in it's strangeness, but I wouldn't feel comfortable recommending it to anyone.
American Splendor - Independent American film about a comic book writer guy. Neat film, interesting mix of documentary and re-enactement. Pretty good film, but it may not be for everyone. I didn't know that the story was a real one until near the end, which basically changed the whole film for me.
**Whalerider - Film produced and shot in New Zealand, apparently enjoying an unexpected success in the US. Read about the storyline here, because it's too complicated for me to desribe accurately. At first I couldn't get into it, but I enjoyed the film and its characters in the end. I can't seem to stop thinking about it, which means it must have been a pretty good flick. The Maori/New Zealand accent is also really great.
**Depuis qu'Otar est parti - French-produced film, shot in Tbilissi, Georgia. Story of a grandmother/mother who misses her son, who has taken off for France. When the daughter and granddaughter learn he has died, they hide the truth from the elderly woman. A very quiet, wonderful film more about the characters in it than the actual storyline. Subtle comments and details marking the impact of governmental change (one character is still clinging to the "better days" of Stalinism) makes the film even better. Highly, highly recommended.
Power and Terror: Noam Chomsky on 9/11 - Documentary on collected speeches given by Noam Chomsky following the 9/11 attacks. I'm a Chomsky fan, so I can't see this film objectively, but I enjoyed it quite a bit.
Bruce Almighty - Jim Carrey film. That's about all you need to know.
General Idi Amin Dada - documentary on Ugandan leader/dictator Idi Amin Dada from the 70's. Not the best film ever, but interesting. The format of it makes it feel like it's something I should be watching in school, though.
**Goodbye Lenin - German film about the fall of the Berlin wall and a desperate attempt to keep the main character's mother from knowing about its collapse after she wakes up from a coma. Excellent, fabulous film. Recommend it to everyone. Funny at times, touching at others.
Punch-Drunk Love - So I really don't know what to say about this film. It was very, very bizarre. Good, in a bizarre sort of way. I was totally surprised by it. It's very unsettling to see Adam Sandler in such a role. Worthwhile, if you're into anything that isn't Hollywood-esque; the film is intentionally extremely awkward.
Planet Tresor - American Disney film. I don't know what it's called in English and am too lazy to look it up. I saw it on a plane. I wouldn't have watched it all the way through had I seen it at my house.
Sept Ans de Mariage - French film about a couple that realizes their sex life needs some work. Funny, kooky, silly. I liked it. But I'm sure plenty of people found it terrifically stupid.
Les Triplettes de Belleville - French cartoon about a singing trio, a grandmother (mother?), and her cycling champion of a son. With only about three words spoken throughout, this film is incredibly amusing and different. Excellent artwork, too.
**Tan de Repente - Argentinian film in black and white about a lesbian couple that "kidnap" (read: convince a hestitant) girl to go on a "road trip" with them. Excellent film. Fabulous character development. Low budget. Just my style.
**In the Mood for Love - Chinese film about two neighbors in Hong Kong who discover their respective spouses are having an affair with one another -beautiful, somber, amazing colors and cinematography, but don't go expecting a comedy or anything uplifting (I loved the film despite an awkward viewing experience)
**Y Tu Mama Tambien - Mexican film about a trio that goes on a road trip and talks about sex a lot - entertaining, oddly sobering, a good flick. It sticks with you afterwards for awhile.
**The Pianist - Roman Polanski's film based on the true story of a Jewish Polish piano player during WWII (it goes far deeper than that, my friends) - whoa, holy shit, oh my God, blow-my-mind, everybody should see this movie
The Hours - women doing stupid women things - boring, boring, boring
25th Hour - Spike Lee's most recent flick about the last day before the protaganist goes to prison - disappointing
8 Mile - if you don't know what 8 Mile is, I'm worried - entertaining, but not knock-your-socks-off material
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid to Ask - Woody Allen flick made up of a combination of shorts - goofy, the last short makes up for what lacks in the rest of the film
Sweet Home Alabama - cheesy Reese Witherspoon movie where she has the most terrible accent - never, ever see this movie
The Truth About Charlie - crappy policy flick - horrible, horrible piece of crap