Project 101

Dan attempts to watch 101 movies in 12 months

Posts Tagged ‘favourites’

#33 This Is England

Posted by Dan on August 23, 2009

432px-This_is_england_film_posterThis is a movie I picked up almost by accident – I was looking at the dvd store a while ago, and happen to pick this up, thinking it was a different movie, then read the back and realised it was worth the hire. And now that I’ve watched it? Yeah, totally worth the hire.

The story’s about this young kid called Shaun, who’s father was killed in the Falklands War, gets the shit kicked out of him at school on a fairly regular basis. He’s on his way home from school one day all pissed off and frustrated at the world, when he runs into a group of skinheads who take pity on him and start to bring him into their group, lead by an older boy called Woody.

One day, a mate of Woody’s is released from prison, nicknamed Combo. Combo’s found a new streak of racism in him, and is wanting a team of followers, only Woody and his mates, who are more of the traditional non-political skinheads, want nothing of it. Shaun, however, chooses to side with Combo, who then takes him under his wing. Shaun is lead down a steep and dangerous path, which eventually ends up in a deadly confrontation and forces Shaun to have some solid realisations about where his life is heading.

This movie is definitely not for the faint of heart, and is fairly tough-going for most of the movie. The racism is incredibly confronting, and it’s quite sad to see a young child swayed so easily on his quest to look for a new role-model. Despite being so hard to watch, it’s even harder to turn away. A quality cast, a solid script and a genuinely great storyline that just drips of gritty realism.

I give This Is England 4 out of 5 St George’s Crosses.

Lovely, lovely, love you for that, that’s fucking great. A proud man, learn from him; that’s a proud man. That’s what we need, man. That’s what this nation has been built on, proud men. Proud fucking warriors! Two thousand years this little tiny fucking island has been raped and pillaged, by people who have come here and wanted a piece of it – two fucking world wars! Men have laid down their lives for this. For this… and for what? So people can stick their fucking flag in the ground and say, “Yeah! This is England.”

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#24 Burn After Reading

Posted by Dan on February 12, 2009

burn_after_readingYou can usually pick a Coen brothers movie from a mile away, and this one is no different. In fact, you could probably pick this from 5 miles away. Mind you though, I’m still undecided on whether or not this is a good thing. When you’re a filmmaker, you can either keep making the same type of movie again and again and get accused of just churning out the same photocopy on film again and again, or you can finally do something different, and get accused of selling out – I mean, shit, just ask Kevin Smith. I guess the secret is finding something to churn out time and time again that’s actually good. And as much as I’d hate to admit it, the Coens have probably found it. But, this isn’t an essay on the Coen brothers (although I would love to write one).

One of the things I love about a movie by the Coens’ is that they almost have a celebration of the ordinary. There’s usually themes of average people, even losers, who manage to think that they’ve made it big, that they’ve hit some deep hardcore problems. It was evident in one of my favourite movies ever, The Big Lebowski, and it reeks here.

Burn After Reading has an amazing cast – Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, John Malkovich, as well as some cult favourites like the always-amazing JK  Simmons. It’s kind of hard to go into the a simply synopsis of the movie without writing for pages and pages, but needless to say, if you’ve liked previous Coen movies, you’ll like this one too. There’s some kind of sick fascination that I have with watching idiots get in over their head, and just witnessing the painful scenes that play out – kind of like in the original version of The Office. I can only watch a couple of these shows in a row because it’s so awkward. This is similar – it’s so hilarious, yet oh so painful to see these idiots (well, mainly Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand’s characters) who think that they’ve stumbled on some high-class military FBI secrets. But really, it’s just a book that Osborne Cox (John Malkovich) has written about his life working in the FBI, which is nowhere near as insightful as it could be.

It’s one of those great movies that has lots of characters with seperate storylines that always seem to end up being the same storyline with the same characters. The plot twists are ridiculous to the point of hilarity, and at times you just have to accept that what you’re watching really is happening. It’s only during the last few minutes watching JK Simmons sum up what you’ve ultimately just watched, that makes you realise how stupid the events that have just unfolded have been – but it’s an amazing ride that’s definitely worth a second visit.

I give Burn After Reading 4 out of 5 hard-bodies.

Rather than give the usual quotes from the movie, I’ll give you an excert from a great article I read about the movie:

Pitt, who plays a particularly unintelligent character in Burn After Reading, said of his role, “After reading the part, which they said was hand-written for myself, I was not sure if I should be flattered or insulted.” Pitt also said when he was shown the script, he told the Coens he did not know how to play the part because the character was such an idiot: “There was a pause and then Joel goes…’You’ll be fine.'”

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#22 Bad Santa

Posted by Dan on January 4, 2009

bad_santa_filmThere’s something to be said about expectations in movies, especially when it comes to Christmas movies. I usually avoid them like the plague, because they’re pretty much the same story archetype. It’s nice to see one that doesn’t quite fit it as much. Well, it still fits the mould, but rather than fitting it nicely, it’s squashed and jammed in, not being before doused in booze in the hope that making it wet makes it more malleable.

Bad Santa is the story of Willie, played by Billy-Bob Thorton, who’s an alcoholic and a criminal. His scam is working as a Santa at the local mall, and with the help of his friend Marcus (Tony Cox), who plays his elf side-kick, they sneak back in after hours and rob the place. Everything is fairly routine until Willie befriends a local kid and starts dating a local barmaid (Lauren Graham) who has a kinky fetish for having sex with ‘Santa’.

There’s also a number of great supporting actors, including both the late Bernie Mac and John Ritter. This is actually John Ritter’s final acting role. He died 2 months before the release of the movie, and as such, the movie has been dedicated to his memory. Seeing them both in a scene together seems a bit odd, but both of them are fucking hilarious. The funniest bit comes from Marcus’s dialogue though. Marcus is the voice of reason and makes sure that Willie stays on track and doesn’t drink himself into too much oblivion, but every now and then he needs to give him one of Marcus’s extra special pep talks.

Sometimes I get the feeling that Billy-Bob was just playing himself in most of this. Willie is just a terrible terrible person, and only just starts to become a regular human as the movie progresses until the end, when… well, you can just go and watch it.

This is worth a watch just to finally see a movie with Santa Claus in it that has Santa not being his usual jolly self. He’s a real sad, bitter bastard … and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I give Bad Santa 4 out of five reindeers

Willie: You know, I think I’ve turned a corner.
Marcus: Yeah? You fucking petite chicks now?
Willie: No, I’m not talking about that. I beat the shit out of some kids today. But it was for a purpose. It made me feel good about myself. It was like I did something constructive with my life or something, I dunno, like I accomplished something.
Marcus: You need many years of therapy. Many, many fuckin’ years of therapy.

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#20 Dan In Real Life

Posted by Dan on January 4, 2009

dan_in_real_lifeWell, here we are, 1/5th of the way through the list! Thanks for sticking by (that is, if there are actually people reading this. If you’re reading this, you should comment! Don’t be afraid!). I think I might have to put the brakes on a little bit – I’ve gone through 20 movies and I’ve only been doing this for a month!

This is one of the movies that was on my own personal ‘must see’ list for quite a while, but not because I’m a Steve Carrell fan – I’m actually fairly impartial to him. I kinda got this feeling that he was becoming a bit typecast, and while some of the movies that he’s been in I’ve really enjoyed, I was kinda wondering when he was going to actually start acting.

Dan In Real Life is the story of Dan Burns, who writes an advice column for his local paper, and is a widower with 3 bratty daughters, as he takes them up to the grandparents house for their annual family holiday. His family is like any others – they seem nice and normal, but with Dan around, there’s always that thin layer on tension that you’re never quite sure when it’s going to break. Dan’s life isn’t really full of pleasure and his family begin to take pity on his subservient ways, especially romantically. His family is played by a fantastic ensemble cast, including Dianne Wiest as his mother, and John Mahony (the old guy from Frasier) as the father. There’s even a great job done by Dane Cook, who plays one of Dan’s brothers, Mitch, which I never saw coming!

One day, Dan makes a quick trip into town to get some supplies when he meets Marie, played by Juliette Binoche (who you might recognise from the Three Colours movie trilogy). Instantly the two hit it off, and what starts off as a quick 5 minute trip to the shops for Dan ends up a day-long impromptu ‘date’ and for once you see Dan come out of his shell and he finally looks happy. After Marie leaves to also head off to a family holiday, Dan practically floats back to the house only just maintaining to not burst out of his skin with joy. He tells the family about the girl and everyone’s esctatic for him. However while this is going on, Dan’s brother Mitch has been busy telling everyone about how nervous he is about bringing his new girlfriend to spend holidays with the family and how this girl could almost be “the one”. So when she shows up– that’s right, Mitch’s girlfriend is Marie.

It’s at this point that the movie can go either way – it can become an all-out slapstick humourous movie or can becoming incredibly saddening and depressing. Luckily, it seems to tread a thin line straight down the middle of both of these options, resulting in what is a thoroughly enjoyable movie. There are laughs there, but they’re not the usual set-em-up-and-knock-em-down jokes, and you find yourself either whincing or laughing because there is, at least for me, that sense of an air of familiarity, which is the movie’s, especially Steve Carell’s greatest asset. There’s a beautiful subtlety to every single piece of dialogue, and it’s reaction to those that hear it.

I really liked everything about this movie and is definitely one of those movies where the more you think back on it, the more you remember the bits about it that you liked. It’s a great story about love that never goes according to plan, with a great cast full of some amazing performances. It’s funny, sad and downright frustrating at all the appropriate moments and is definitely original enough to keep you wondering how the rest will pan out.

I give Dan In Real Life 4 out of 5 single parents.

“Instead of telling our young people to plan ahead, we should tell them to plan to be surprised”

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#13 Definitely, Maybe

Posted by Dan on December 20, 2008

maybeposter1I know that any last shred of credibility has probably now flown out the window at the mere reading of this title, but please bare with me faithful reader, it’s worth it in the end.

I probably should’ve given up on the romantic-comedy thing after watching Elizabethtown, which was fucking woeful. But you know, as much as I wouldn’t normally like to admit it in public, I still have a soft spot for a good romantic comedy. I did say good romantic comedy. There are some shockers, trust me. Apparently “sarcasm is the lowest form of wit”, but generally, you can replace the word “sarcasm” with “romantic comedy” and replace “wit” with “film making”. It’s such a terrible cookie-cutter of a plot-line that it’s easy to dismiss it entirely.  While you can pretty much write off anything with Meg Ryan in it, every now and again, on a very rare occasion, a genuinely enjoyable romantic comedy comes along.

Definitely, Maybe is a movie that surrounds the tale of boy-meets-girl which starts after Wil Hayes (Ryan Reynolds) picks up his daughter Maya (Abigail “Little Miss Sunshine” Breslin) to find commotion at the school after the kids were taught some rather graphic and brutal sex education classes. Maya’s a naturally inquisitive girl, and eventually the questions turned to the typical “how did you and mummy meet?”. The story it tells, however, is anything but typical. Wil then tells the story to Maya, but changes the names along the way of his story of growing up and the 3 main relationships in his life, leading Maya to try and guess which one is her real mother.

I know it sounds really cheesey, and I guess in a way, it sort of is – but the cheese isn’t laid on thick. But it’s a nice story that’s told really well, and there are a lot of genuinely funny moments. I think the reason why I enjoyed this movie so much is because I wasn’t expecting to. It’s a very sweet story told lovingly by writer and director Adam Brooks, who’s previously brought us Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason, Wimbeldon and French Kiss. Fortunately though, this movie is far more enjoyable than anything else that Brooks has done before. Whether or not you’re a girl or a guy or whether or not you love or hate romantic comedy movies, if you’re looking for a nice feel-good movie about love lost, then won then lost again, this is the perfect one.

I give Definitely Maybe 4 pelvic thrusts out of 5.

Will: I had two serious girlfriends… and then some other smattering of other women.
Maya: What’s the boy word for ‘slut’?
Will: They still haven’t come up with one yet. But I’m sure they’re working on it.

Charm, if you’re reading this, I know you’re going to want to comment, and I know what you’re going to say. Don’t bother, because I’ll never approve the comment.

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#11 Suburban Mayhem

Posted by Dan on December 20, 2008

Suburban MayhemFor all of it’s pride, Australian cinema still struggles to get real mainstream recognition. I’ll be the first to admit, that there’s a lot of stinkers that we put out, but it’s because of these mainstream flops that a lot of other smaller indie movies never get the exposure that they deserve. For every Fat Pizza: The Movie, there’s a dozen 2:37‘s, which I have to say that for the larger part of it, it breaks my true blue heart.

Suburban Mayhem, when it was released, seemed to get a fair bit of press, but nobody I know actually went to see it at the movies. I’ve always liked a good Aussie indie movie, but this is one that kept slipping down my To See list.

Suburban Mayhem is the quintessential tale of “where did it all go wrong?”, and at the end of the movie, you kinda realise that your life aint too bad. The story centres around Kat, a hormone-charged 19 year old single mum who seems to exist in her own separate world compared to everyone else – one that’s full of drugs, petty crime, cheap sex, fast cars and manicures. Her life then quickly starts to fall around her after her older brother Danny goes to jail for murder. Kat idolises Danny to almost disturbing levels of loyalty. He’s not a bad guy,  just a stupid kid with a bad temper. The true tragedy is that it appears that Danny is the most level-headed member of the family.

Kat’s mum was a drug addict that abandoned the family when Kat was a young girl, yet she’ll always be a little princess to her dad, John, played by Aussie screen stalwart, Robert Morgan. John’s a honest hard working tradie who just wants the best for his kids, which ends up with Kat walking all over him and treating him like her own personal ATM. Then there’s family friend Dianne, but to be honest, she has very little baring on the movie and her role seems to be nothing more than a mere afterthought.

One day, John decides that enough is enough and cuts off Kat’s financial flow, so Kat does whatever she can to make sure that someone’s looking out for her – and she gets it no matter what she has to do. Kat betrays and uses people left right and centre, and becomes more and more dillusioned about the world she’s living in, and to boot, she’s a truly awful parent, to the extent that John and Kat’s boyfriend Rusty are constantly being visited by police and Child Welfare. The main driver of the movie, is Kat’s obsession with the idea that Danny can get out of jail, if only she can raise the money to pay for court costs to appeal his sentence. It’s  then suddenly Kat gets an idea of how to get money – by killing her dad and selling the house. What happens then, well, you’ll have to find out for yourself.

Kat is played fantastically by Emily Barclay, who won an IF Award for Best Actress for this role. She’s supported by a great ensemble cast. Why Laurence Beuls, who plays Danny, hasn’t starred in more roles than he has is just beyond me.

All in all, this is a really enjoyable movie. It’s a very gritty, often confronting story about a group of people off the rails who will do anything within their grasp to get back the control of their lives that they once had.

I give Suburban Mayhem 4 out of 5 life sentances.

“I knew the mother, she was mad. I knew the grandmother, she was madder. It’s genetics I reckon. That’s the only thing I can come up with. You just can’t get clean water from a dirty tank.”

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#7 Zak & Miri Make A Porno

Posted by Dan on December 10, 2008

ooOOOoooh, lookie at Dan, watching a movie that hasn’t come out yet (I believe it’s coming to Australian cinemas in March)! Blah blah, I’m sure half you motherfuckers have already seen this anyway. If you haven’t, please call me, and I’ll make you a copy, because this is seriously one of the funniest movies I’ve seen all year.

Zak and Miri, starring Seth Rogan (who’s totally awesome) and Elizabeth Banks (who’s totally hot) is about two childhood friends who live together, but can’t afford to pay their bills. Eventually after their power and water get shut off, that they get the idea to make a porno to raise the cash, after Zak chats to a guy at their high school reunion, who tells Zak how much money he makes each year.

It’s one of those movies that is fairly predictable, but yet is so damn enjoyable that you just don’t care. They talk about how they promise that “nothing will change after they have sex”, but you know it will, and that it’s “just for money”, which you know it’s not, but there’s a shitload of laughs all the way through it, from Justin Long’s flat-out hilarious performance as Brandon, the gay porn star from California. And there’s also Craig Robinson, who I love, playing, well, Craig Robinson.

A lot of Kevin Smith’s movies, while being enjoyable, really do end up catering for the Kevin Smith key demographic, but I think that this is definitely one you can recommend to almost anyone (Nan, if you’re reading this, please, don’t). It has that Kevin Smith feel to it, without having that Kevin Smith feel to it, if that makes sense?

Either way, I’m trying to talk about this movie without giving too much away. So please, in the words of Molly Meldrum, do yourself a favour, and go see this movie. It’s a really sweet comedy, with some really distasteful jokes in it … as well as Jason Mewes’s penis – but I’ll let you decide whether or not that last point is a ‘pro’ or a ‘con’.

I give Zack & Miri Make A Porno 4 out of 5 Dutch Rudders
(no, I’m not going to explain what a Dutch Rudder is, just go and see the movie)

Miriam: Nobody wants to see us fuck, Zack!
Zack: EVERYBODY wants to see ANYBODY fuck. I hate Rosie O’Donell, but if somebody said “I got a tape of Rosie O’Donell getting fucked stupid” I’d be like “Why the fuck aren’t we watching that right now?”

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#5 Notes On A Scandal

Posted by Dan on December 7, 2008

Okay, now this is the reason why I wanted to do the 101 Movies list. I was supposed to go to the gym today, but I decided to delay it to watch a movie, so flicked on Notes On A Scandal, and what a great decision it was.

Notes On A Scandal is the story of Barbara, played amazingly by Judi Dench, a lonely elderly teacher, despised by both students and her fellow teachers, who befriends the new art teacher to her school, Sheba Hart, played by Cate Blanchett. Barbara stumbles across Sheba’s dark secret that she’s having an affair with a 15 year old student. Barbara then sees this as a chance to seek benefit from knowledge of the secret, and to bond a close friendship with Sheba.

It also stars Bill Nighy, as Cate’s husband, who’s always a delight to watch on screen and supports Dench and Blanchette beautifully. The acting is fantastic, even from Andrew Simpson, who playes the pubescent paramore, Steven Connolley. It’s one of those movies that makes you feel kinda dirty and guilty after the movie’s over. It’s this type of incredibly immersive cinema that I love, and this doesn’t fail to impress.

This is an amazing movie that I cannot highly recommend enough. All the performances are amazing, probably one of the best I’ve seen from Judi Dench, and Cate Blanchett is fantastic as always. The script is terrific, and with all the other elements put together, makes for amazing filmmaking. If you’re looking for an immersive drama full of believable and intense characters, then look no further.

“Now, more than ever, we are bound by the secrets we share.”

5 gold stars

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#2 Super Troopers

Posted by Dan on December 3, 2008

well damned if this isn’t a funny movie, meow. I can’t believe I haven’t watched this meow before! It’s catch-phrase-o-plenty on this one meow, and I can easily see meowself going back for repeated watchings for this one, especially after a few meow cones.

The one bad thing though was that I didn’t like Farve, the fat guy. Like, I know you weren’t really supposed to like him, but I didn’t like him AT ALL. He was really fucking annoying. But then again, the main chick in it was cute, so I guess everything evens out in the end

I haven’t seen Club Dread, but it’s definitely better meow than Beerfest, and if meow Slammin’ Salmon ever comes out, I can meow compare it to that too. Although that apparently has Coby meow Smulders in it, so with that fact alone, it’s my favourite Broken Lizard movie.


Not that I want to get into the habit of ‘grading’ movies as I go along, but I’d give this one a definite B+

“aaahhh. …. biker. I’m an idiot”

Champagne comedy.

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