It’s the last day of the month, so I thought I’d take a gander at the home viewing options released in October, ranking these 15 titles from best to worst. Click on hyperinks for the full reviews.
1. The Tree of Life: I haven’t seen it yet, and audiences are typically very divided on Terrence Malick. I have yet to really connect with one of his movies, but Daniel absolutely loved Tree of Life and I’d guess if he were to rank his best of 2011 so far, he’d place it atop the list. It’s also one of the best written reviews you’ll ever read.
2. Attack the Block: Attack the Block is one of those films that was so hyped by the movie blogging community that, if you followed more than a couple of movie blogs, it’d be hard to get out of the way of this movie. I think that has something to do with the Edgar Wright connection (Edgar Wright feeds the ego of a lot of movie bloggers and they stroke his back, in return) and while I didn’t love the film, TK was a big admirer, writing that “it’s not what I’d call a ‘great’ film. But it’s a hell of a time, and it wears its genre love shamelessly on its sleeve. It takes a flurry of different inspirations and brands them with its own style, and feels like one of those pictures that was likely a blast to make.”
3. Winnie the Pooh: I see 90 percent of all major releases in any given year, except for the kid’s flicks, which I generally avoid. The one exception in 2011 was Winnie the Pooh, the first film I ever took my four year old too. He loved it, and for good reason, as Agent Bedhead writes: “A.A. Milne would be proud, and illustrator EH Shepard would have absolutely nothing to complain about either. In Winnie the Pooh, the former’s characters remain true to themselves as they are brought back to life and illustrated with slightly more polish but unmistakably akin to the latter’s classic hand-drawn animation, all derived from a pleasingly pastel palette. For this latest addition to the Pooh franchise, the filmmakers have clearly gone old school and largely abandoned the jazzed-up look of the more recent movies; and for this new film, the screenplay draws upon the first Winnie the Pooh book while some of it takes inspiration from the literary followup, The House at Pooh Corner.”
4. Horrible Bosses: There’s nothing revolutionary about Horrible Bosses, as Dan writes, but it is “a simple, nimble, consistently pleasing comedy that gets a laugh with almost every joke, and it does so while playing around with everything from revenge fantasies to action. It gets its job done with energy and charm to spare.”
5. Page One: Inside the New York Times: A big hit on the festival circuit this year, Seth appreciated it for a its “broader attempt at a study about the idea of old media versus new media and the value and place of journalism going forward.” He faulted the documentary for not getting into as much depth as it should have, but noted that it was a good starting point for a conversation.
6. Submarine: I loved this coming-of-age love story film from Richard Ayoade, but if you don’t like dark whimsy or Harold and Maude, it probably won’t sit well with you.
7. Captain America: The First Avenger: I thought Captain America was fun, but mediocre: A good, undemanding and forgettable summer blockbuster, but nothing lasting. Like all the other Marvel flicks, save for the first Iron Man.
8. Red State: Here is what I wrote about Kevin Smith’s latest at Sundance, and I stand behind it: “Red State is a great fucking flick. Not that you’re going to believe me, nor should you. And while I’m not the ultimate arbiter for anyone but myself, I came out seriously impressed. Impressed because Red State is not the Kevin Smith movie anyone would expect; impressed that it’s a grown-up movie; and impressed that Smith has come as far as he has as a filmmaker. He made a fucking grown-up movie, folks, one with themes instead of rants, one with substance instead of dick jokes, and one with goddamn performances instead of friends fucking around in front of a camera.” I will, however, side with those who argue that Red State is not really a horror movie.
9. Terri: Terri is a really well done film about a fat kid with social problems, but it’s seriously uncomfortable to watch. John C. Reilly, however, puts on one hell of a performance.
10. Fast Five: Personally, I thought it was the best of the five Fast and Furious films, but that doesn’t mean much. Dan sums it up nicely, “It’s choppy and ugly, and it betrays a total lack of effort on the part of the filmmakers to win over anyone who isn’t in the series’ crowd of enthusiasts and hangers-on. It’s a nickname made official. This is the problem that runs throughout Fast Five: its utter lack of ideas.”
11. Scream 4: It didn’t lack for fun, but it certainly wasn’t a reinvention of the Scream franchise: Just more of the same. “Expected is the new unexpected! And that’s what Scream 4 amounts to, a remake within a sequel, a meta joke inside a meta joke. It’s a real-life motherfucking reborquel, people. It’s not just satirizing the conventions of slasher films; it’s satirizing the satirized conventions of the Scream films. Hell, there’s more layers to Scream 4 than Inception, but has all the intelligence of a shallow pool of Karo Syrup.
12. Bad Teacher: “What do you call a shitty film peppered with a profanity every 62 seconds featuring the insanely hot body of Cameron Diaz? You call it a shitty movie, dumbass. Don’t be so dim, because you’re playing right into the hands of Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, the screenwriters of Bad Teacher and the massive brain trust behind the script for Jack Black’s Year One. You can almost tell exactly what happened with their screenplay for Bad Teacher, too. It was a terrible, unfunny overly-broad comedy script, and after it was rejected by half a dozen studios, someone got the bright idea to add curse words.”
13. Green Lantern: This was a rare movie for which we posted two reviews. I thought it stunk (“The Green Lantern is a pus-filled bedsore of a film, a wacky incoherent mess of Ryan Reynolds’ forehead, Blake Lively’s legs, and cheap CGI-creatures straight out of a Sid and Marty Krofft television show”) while TK was more forgiving (“It’s one of those movies that I mostly enjoyed as I was watching it, but when I left the theater and began to really think about it and deconstruct it a little, it began to fall apart.”)
14. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: “Neither Depp nor Rush can obscure the fact that we’re all being taken on a ride, one that is neither thrilling nor amusing. On Stranger Tides is like any Disneyland roller coaster: They cultivate long lines to give the illusion of excitement, make you stand around for two hours eating overpriced concessions, and reward you by jostling you around in a circle, dropping you off exactly where they left you, a pound heavier and $20 lighter.
15. Zookeeper: Ah, yes: Zookeeper. The movie that caused me to pass out. “I can’t pinpoint exactly what it was that caused me to black out, but I suspect it had something to do with the obscene product placement, the ’70s classic rock that permeates through all of Happy Madison’s films (seriously, is Kansas on his speed dial?), or the deafening silence of a movie theater full of children, young teenagers and parents who must have thought that they’d never experience laughter again. Or maybe it was just the tidal wave of stupidity and laziness crashing down on me from the big screen that knocked me out. It could have simply been the confluence of all those factors, combined with the level of disgust I had for what supposedly passes for entertainment. Or it could have just been my body’s natural defense mechanism shutting me down to spare me from further torture.”