01 January 2005

Movies 2004...

We're giving him blood transfusions now...
Wait, who's blood?
It's from our stock-
Oh- he's not going to like that.

I've been putting off the movies in 2004 post, so put-off no more: especially since it's now 2005, and time's getting away from me. Saw The Aviator recently- fantastic, fantastic movie. I'm not always one for bio-pics, either, mostly because they're more often than not interested in whitewashing the subject (ie, The Hurricane, A Beautiful Mind) and ignoring their less-savory moments.

The Aviator isn't a life sum-up, first of all. The film looks at Howard Hughes' formative years, spent making great innovations in aviation, directing the classic films Hell's Angels and Scarface: Shame of a Nation. The movie culminates in the Brewster Hearings in Washington, hinting at the massive psychosis and mental fizz-out that would be the long, pathetic coda on his life.

At 2 hours, 45 minutes, the film sustains itself by never conforming to some sort of hypothesis or conclusion on the character, instead depicting him in a frame of time. Beneficially then, it's more of a story inhabited by characters than it is an attempt to biograph a real-life human being, something I'd bet is nearly impossible to do in sum. Being about someone so fiercely in the public eye, there is the very good chance that it becomes an effort in impersonation, sort of like a CourTV crime re-creating. But to Scorsese, DiCaprio, Blanchett and Beckinsale's credit(s), it never comes to this. Some of these types of movies want you to watch and remember them as they were and recall as closely as possible, their mannerisms. The good ones, like The Aviator, want them to be characters- fully formed and in no way informed by their extensive cultural standing.

So the Hercules eventually flew, and it was truly a very well-made movie, able to avoid the many pratfalls that could do in a movie about a character like Hughes. The mental-freakouts are never short of genuine, and the allusions to it from both his past and future never heavy handed. DiCaprio was really, really great, as was Cate Blanchett, who managed to turn someone as iconic as Katherine Hepburn into a real, tangible human being.

And the scene where he crashes the plane- holy shit. Pure Martin Scorsese. Good stuff.



  1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, (Michel Gondry)

  2. The Incredibles, (Brad Bird)

  3. Kill Bill, Vol. 2, (Quentin Tarantino)

  4. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, (Wes Anderson)

  5. The Aviator, (Martin Scorsese)

  6. Sideways, (Alexander Payne)

  7. Million Dollar Baby, (Clint Eastwood)

  8. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, (Adam McKay)

  9. Collateral, (Michael Mann)

  10. Spiderman 2, (Sam Raimi)

  11. Napoleon Dynamite, (Jared Hess)

  12. Dawn of the Dead, (Zack Snyder)

  13. I Huckabees, (David O Russell)

...the worst:

  1. The Village, (M Night Shyamalan)

  2. The Terminal, (Steven Spielberg)

Now, admittedly, I've not yet seen Million Dollar Baby, the new Clint Eastwood. So, you know- check back to see if I slap that one on there, cos it's Clint.

At the end of the day, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was really one of the more unbelievable movies I've ever seen- and even though it was a tough call for which I liked better, it or The Incredibles, in the end I chose Spotless because it was so much better than the sum of it's parts, and was such a refreshing change in general. An absolutely new way of making movies. Charlie Kaufman is so far and away ahead of everyone and everything else, it's ridiculous. The great thing about Spotless was, it was a great Kaufman-esque idea with a lot of heart and soul.

The Incredibles is a product of Pixar, one of the few absolutely, purely good things left on earth. It was just amazing fun from the beginning to the end, from how it looked, sounded, played out and how it made me feel. I felt like I was taking drugs watching it. Ditto that for Kill Bill, Vol. 2, a movie that, when paired with the first installment, are flawless. The first was like a mixtape, a skipping and scanning and pure plotless fun. The second was the development, the characters, the big payoff. And it wasn't a "big" payoff, but it was great. The coffin scene was fucked up, too.

I've written in this post about The Aviator, and I've gone off on both The Life Aquatic and Sideways in the past as well. Great, great movies.

Anchorman ("Their periods attract bears") was the funniest movie I saw all year, Collateral had the best scene of the year ("Hey homie, can I help you?") and Spiderman 2 was one of my favorite superhero movies of all time. The action was well done (unlike the first one), the villain was really cool (unlike the first one) and there was a really, really solid ending (unlike the first one). Napoleon Dynamite though, at the end of the day, had the time machine scene, which sticks it a notch above the (ever-improving, in my eyes) Dawn of the Dead.

Bill Murray, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (I'm sure Jamie Foxx was great in Ray too, but I didn't see it.)
Paul Giamatti, Sideways
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Aviator
Jim Carrey, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Craig T Nelson, The Incredibles

Uma Thurman, Kill Bill, Vol. 2
Kate Winslet, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby
Meryl Streep, The Manchurian Candidate

Thomas Haden Church, Sideways
Mark Wahlberg, I Huckabees
David Carradine, Kill Bill, Vol. 2
Tom Cruise, Collateral
Mark Ruffalo, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Cate Blanchett, The Aviator and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Virginia Madsen, Sideways
Brad Bird, The Incredibles
Lily Tomlin, I Huckabees
Natalie Portman, Garden State

Charlie Kaufman, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Wes Anderson & Noah Baumbach, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor, Sideways
Quentin Tarantino, Kill Bill, Vol. 2
Brad Bird, The Incredibles

Michel Gondry, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Martin Scorsese, The Aviator
Brad Bird, The Incredibles
Wes Anderson, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Quentin Tarantino, Kill Bill, Vol. 2

That's my pair of pennies...


The Boston Globe has an article up on Johnny Damon's recent wedding, pictures included. Sounds like it was a real party...

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