#19: Ocean’s Eleven – Top 25 Films of the Decade

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Starring: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Carl Reiner, Elliott Gould, Edward Jemison, Bernie Mac, Shaobo Qin

Directed By: Steven Soderbergh
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TIFF 08: Day 2

If you’re wondering, no you did not miss my day one post. The Toronto International Film Festival started yesterday evening, but instead of going to movies, we saw the Blue Jays crush the Twins 8-0. So day 2 is my first day of TIFF. Follow along after the cut for musings on Passchendaele, RocknRolla, and JCVD. One note: these won’t be full-on reviews with my typical 5 star scale, as I’ll be seeing too many in too varied a frame of mind (i.e., outside factors like fatigue could come into play more significantly than they normally would). Instead, I’ll share my impressions with a pass/fail/adequate type verdict at the end.
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Movie Review Catch-up: Ziplist Edition

Here’s another five-pack of quickie reviews. This time, I’ve selected five movies I’ve watched recently on DVD through Zip.ca. Zip is one of the Netflix alternatives available here in Canada (Netflix is not available in Canada), where for a monthly fee, they mail you DVDs for rental. It’s been a good way to catch up on movies that may have skipped past me in theatres (often this means foreign language or documentary films), or older titles I’ve always thought about seeing, but never remember when it comes time to go to the video store (especially since it’s rare that I walk through the older stacks). I recommend it to DVD (or Blu-Ray) watchers in Canada, and, hey, if you’re interested, let me know. I get membership points when people I refer to Zip become members.
Read on for reviews of:
After the Wedding (2007)
Desert Blue (1998) 
In the Valley of Elah (2007)
The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)
A New Wave (2007)
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Top 5 Worst Movies of 2007

I wasn’t going to do this list this year, feeling so good overall about the year in movies. Then this happened, and I figured I might as well. I’ll be force-feeding myself some more 2007 movies in the coming weeks, so there’s a good chance that something else I’ll see would have contended for this list, but I figure at some point you have to accept that you’re either not going to see everything, or you’re never going to make a list (I choose A. On that note, expect my best movies of the year list soon).

More than any other list I write, I must stress that this is the Top 5 Worst Movies of 2007 That I Saw. Some of these are plenty bad, but I’m absolutely certain that I haven’t seen most of the worst movies of the year, as I generally make an effort to avoid bad movies (whereas I am pretty confident that I’ve seen the majority of great movies, so I like that list more). Still, it’s always fun to make fun of stuff, so here we go.
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Movie Review: Ocean’s Thirteen (2007)

Lazerbug stole the red poster from me.

Ocean’s Thirteen (2007)

Starring: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Ellen Barkin, Al Pacino, Elliott Gould, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Carl Reiner, Shaobo Qin, Eddie Jemison

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
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Movie Review: Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Just wait for the Ocean's 1-10 prequels.

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Starring: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Carl Reiner, Elliott Gould, Edward Jemison, Bernie Mac, Shaobo Qin

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
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Top 10 Movies of 2006

I gave myself til the end of January to post this list, hoping to catch up on all the end of the year releases that don’t reach most screens until January. Well, it’s the end of January, so it was time to commit to my list. After all, year end lists become less and less relevant the farther away from the end of the year they come.

I didn’t get a chance to see every movie I wanted to see from 2006, but I did catch a lot of them (46 and counting). Movies that I wanted to see by have not yet seen include Pan’s Labyrinth, The Last King of Scotland, Little Children, Flags of our Fathers, Jesus Camp, Deliver us from Evil, Hollywoodland, and The Good German, so that’s why none of them make the list. No worries, as this won’t be my last word on the year in movies (that’ll come around Oscar time).

For most of the year, I thought 2006 to be a pretty crappy year for movies. But, while putting this list together, I realised that it turns out that there was a lot of good movies this year, just not necessarily at the multiplex. Instead, it was a year of disappointing and diminishing returns for heavily promoted movies, especially during the summer. But if you sought out good movies, there was some great ones to be seen. So, if you’re down on the year in film, maybe you just weren’t seeing the right movies.
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POST #32: Movie Review: After the Sunset (2004)

Sadly, not a sequel to Before Sunset.
After the Sunset (2004)

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek, Woody Harrelson, Don Cheadle, Naomie Harris

Directed By: Brett Ratner

I watched this one a few weeks ago on Movie Central HD. It’s not the sort of film I’d normally seek out to watch, but for free? Why not. Plus, I’d been watching a lot of dour flicks that failed to impress me, so I figured I’d give something flashy and populist a shot, in the hopes that it would entertain me, if not impress me.

Judging it from that standard, I’d say it did its job… with qualifications. Directed by faux-teur Brett Ratner, After the Sunset is a slick, fast-paced heist flick shot at the gorgeous Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. It is certainly a pretty good looking film, if not particularly innovative.

The plotting and staging of the flick are pretty pedestrian, but push the right buttons for fans of the genre. Pierce Brosnan is the dazzling thief, Salma Hayek is his sexy partner, and Woody Harrelson is the meddling lawman determined to bring them down. The chemistry between the actors is solid, and Hayek is as gorgeous as she’s ever been. Honestly, the scenes with her in bathing suits and lingerie are reason enough to watch the movie.

In many ways, the movie play’s like a poor man’s version of the phenomenal heist flick Out of Sight. Brosnan is a poor man’s George Clooney, Hayek is an improved Jennifer Lopez (at least in terms of looks, but not really in terms of character or performance, but that’s where the storytelling comes in), Harrelson’s character is an extended version of Michael Keaton‘s cameo, Don Cheadle is, well, Don Cheadle, and Ratner is a hobo-version of Steven Soderbergh.

Sadly, the energy that sustains the movie’s first half, making you look past its flaws and enjoy the ride, starts to wear off as the film progresses. Ratner’s hackery starts to show when he takes the early comedic cat-and-mouse chemistry between Brosnan and Harrelson, and go too far for laughs. It takes the slick sheen off the relationship and movie, and devolves the characters into comedic characters, almost cartoon-like in their presentation. It’s as though they were shooting a action/suspense movie, then decided to change it into a buddy flick. They try to switch gears in the end back to the suspense, but by then, the atmosphere is broken and the movie never quite recovers.

In the end, it’s a fun diversion, but trips over itself and diminishes what was shaping up to be a pleasant surprise. If you come across in a similar fashion that I did, and have the time, then you should get a decent enough 97 minutes of entertainment. But I certainly don’t recommend you seek it out, unless I had you at “the scenes with her in bathing suits and lingerie are reason enough to watch the movie”.