Saturday, January 30, 2010

Worst film in 2009

The worst film I saw in 2009 feels sort of like deja vu for me. If you go back to the December 2006 archives you'll see a post on all the films I really loathed during that year. Lo and behold the first film on the list is the Pink Panther! Three years later, the remake that has Peter Sellers spinning in his grave strikes again!

Putrid is the one word that best describes this horrible cash-grab that actually stars some people who have talent: Steve Martin, Emily Mortimer, John Cleese, Alfred Molina, Andy Garcia and Jean Reno. I hope they enjoy their boats, apartments, beach front property and whatever else they bought from unleashing this sewer on the unfortunate who had to watch it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sarah Jesse's tops in 2009

Sarah Jesse lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma by way of Detroit, Michigan. She loves documentaries, beards and sweltering summer days. These are her ten favorite films from 2009.

1. The Hurt Locker---usa
2. The Cove---usa
3. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans---usa
4. (500) Days of Summer---usa
5. Fish Tank---england
6. Up in the Air---usa
7. Valentino: The Last Emperor---usa
8. Fantastic Mr. Fox---usa
9. Good Hair---usa
10. Precious---usa

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Larry Terry's tops/worsts in 2009

Larry Terry lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma and loves movies, bocce ball and has an intense fondness for all things relating to The Dude. These are his favorites and not so favorites from 2009. 

Top ten 

1.      The Hurt Locker
2.      An Education
3.      Everlasting Moments
4.      A Serious Man
5.      Harvard Beats Yale 29-29
6.      Bright Star
7.      Tell No One
8.      Ive Loved You So Long
9.      Gomorra
10.     Doubt

Just missing the cut (in no particular order)

Valentino: The Last Emperor, Objectified, The Gates, Frost/Nixon, Gran Torino, Vicky Christina Barcelona

The Worst

1.      Sin Nombre
2.      Happy Go Lucky
3.      Public Enemies
4.      Pirate Radio

Good movies discovered as a result of CineRobot (with a tip of the hat to Replicant aka JBP)

1.      Metropolitan
2.      Barcelona
3.      The Last Days of Disco

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dylan Skolnick's tops in 2009

Dylan Skolnick is the Co-Director of the Cinema Arts Centre, Long Island's leading venue for alternative Cinema in Huntington, New York ( The following are his favorite films from 2009 with some thoughts he had on each one:

Film critic Peter Wollen once wrote that Ten-Best Lists are more of a reflection of a critic’s values than an objective list of the year’s best movies. I’m not sure what this list says about my values, but here in no particular order are my choices for the best films of 2009.

A Town Called Panic: When Horse, Cowboy and Indian attempt to build a barbecue, they inadvertently propel themselves on a non-stop adventure that features mischievous scientists, mean sea monsters, music lessons and a snowball-throwing robot penguin. No film in recent memory packs more energy and imagination into every second on-screen as this animated adventure comedy from Belgium.

Precious: Lee Daniels’ powerful adaptation of the novel Push by Sapphire is an arrow straight at your heart. Without a false or sentimental note, Daniels tells the truly heartwarming story of a young African-American woman who uses the power of education to pull herself out of her own private hell.

Antichrist: A couple torn apart by the tragic death of their son start literally tearing each other apart in Lars von Trier’s disturbing art horror film. Fantastic performances by Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Defoe keep von Trier’s mad masterpiece from tipping over into absurdity.

A Serious Man: Set in the 1960s Minnesota of their childhood, this hilarious yet devastating tale of the Job-like suffering brought upon the head of a Jewish professor is the Coen Brothers’ most personal work.

Hunger: Steve McQueen’s stunning drama about Bobby Sands and Irish hunger strikers is without a doubt the most scorching cinematic experience of the year. Noted visual artist McQueen’s film is an absolutely beautiful vision of an almost unbearably painful story.

Inglourious Basterds: Quentin Tarantino’s alternate version of World War II about a band of Jewish-American soldiers and a French Jewish woman fighting the Nazis is both the ultimate Jewish revenge fantasy and a deliriously entertaining celebration of the power of movies.

Coraline: Henry Selick’s lovely stop-motion animation perfectly captures the dark magic of author Roald Dahl in this bewitching tale of a dissatisfied young girl who discovers a door to a seemingly perfect world.

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus: Terry Gilliam is back at the top of his game in this ambitious fantasy about a magical showman trying to win a bet with the Devil. Excellent performances by Christopher Plummer, Tom Waits and Heath Ledger (in his final performance) highlight this madly colorful tale.

The White Ribbon: Michael Haneke’s work (Cache, The Piano Teacher, Funny Games) is always uncompromising in its cold, harsh vision of humanity and his latest is no exception. When authorities in a small village in pre-war Austria try to investigate a series of inexplicable crimes, they uncover a corrupt heart of darkness that is too shocking for them to contemplate.

District 9: Neill Blomkamp’s thrilling saga of aliens from another planet who land on Earth and get treated like illegal immigrants was a fantastic reminder that science fiction films can still be intelligent, thought-provoking AND edge-of-your-seat exciting.

Friday, January 22, 2010

UTW review of A Single Man + The Private Lives of Pippa Lee

Go here if you want to read my reviews for A Single Man and The Private Lives of Pippa Lee in Urban Tulsa. One of them I liked. The other? Not so much.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tops of 2009

Don't know if you've noticed but I've upped the posts to one every two days the rest of January and into February so I can post all kinds of things related to 2009's best and worst moments. I've gotten some best/worst lists of a few movie loving readers of CineRobot that I'll be posting in the upcoming weeks. I'll start off with my own list of ten films that I liked most in 2009. It's hard to put these films in an order but here's my list of films I enjoyed the most during the year.

I should admit that I did not see such films as Precious, The Informant!, The Messenger, Crazy Heart, Where the Wild Things Are and Police, Adjective (I really want to see this Romanian film) so they weren't up for consideration.

1. The Hurt Locker: Kathryn Bigelow's career defining film shoved me back in my seat and never let me catch a breath. Set among a bomb squad in Iraq, this is a war film that lets the raw depravity of war itself guide its message. Visceral from start to finish and with Jeremy Renner delivering an intense, swaggering performance. See it.

2. District 9: South African director Neill Blomkamp's debut is the first of three science fiction films to make my top ten. Blomkamp takes an incredibly cool idea--alien ship is stranded above Johannesburg and the inhabitants are forced to live in a militarized slum called District 9. The film follows aliens and locals alike as paths cross, do battle with crazed Nigerians as the aliens just want to leave the planet. Amazingly executed by Blomkamp, District 9 is a fun, entertaining thrill ride.

3. Sugar: I thought I'd seen the last of the great films set around baseball years ago but along comes Sugar to add to the list. The film tells the story of a young Dominican who comes to the United States to play baseball in the minor leagues. At times feeling like a documentary, we follow Miguel "Sugar" Santos as he struggles to adapt to life off the diamond while fighting the pressures to succeed on it.

4. Anvil: Documentary about a forgotten Canadian heavy metal band called Anvil that attempts to give them their due and new time in the limelight. The trio struggle to maintain hope they'll cut a new record that will alter their future while working soul-crushing jobs, go on a flaming disaster of a European tour, scream and fight with each other and try to get that record made. Sad, hilarious and inspiring.

5. Star Trek: That's right. I put Star Trek in my top five for the year. The most fun I had watching a film all year was Star Trek--and I had that fun three times over and almost a fourth. I was extremely worried about this origin story about the early days of all the iconic characters from my youth and for the most part J.J. Abrams and co. deliver all that I could want and more and actually made Star Trek cool. Shudder to think! It's still kind of hard to think about Spock and Uhura though. Live long and prosper.

6. Bright Star: Now for something totally different from Star Trek, Jane Campion's ode to the written word, poetry, love, romance and nature that is Bright Star. Hyper-literate, heart-wrenching and sensitive to its core, Bright Star makes me want to move to pastoral England, whip out my quill and unleash a torrent of verse on everything in my path.

7. Everlasting Moments: Harsh Swedish realism at the start of the 20th century is on display in this historical drama from Jan Troell. The film has a slow and methodical bent to it that only makes it more intense. Some of the subjects in the film (early photography, socialists on a violent strike) are things I love to see in movies which may have upped my love for it.

8. Up in the Air: Jason Reitman is on quite a roll and his latest is the best thing he's done. He's created a contained world where every little moment feels right. Perfectly cast and with every single actor nailing it, from the leads to the known supporting actors to the unknowns who appear as if they are in a documentary, Up in the Air is smart as a whip, darkly humorous and a bold statement on the current fragile American psyche.

9. (500) Days of Summer: I love romantic comedies but the sad fact is that it seems that every single one of them that comes out now is full of nincompoops and is predictable, saccharine drivel. (500) Days of Summer is something old-fashioned and that's maybe why I liked it so much--it's got smart, complicated characters; it's got chemistry between the leads; it's full of the pains of being ga-ga in love that only youth can inspire; it's got great music by The Smiths and it's got maybe the most over-the-top joyous scene to appear in a film all year. You'll know it when/if you've seen it.

10. Avatar: Sure, James Cameron's epic is a box-office monster, crushing all-comers with its hokey story. Sure, it could have had better written dialogue and the story was a bit of a re-tread but it's also the biggest "must see" film of the year and that's for a reason. Visually, Avatar is absolutely stunning and jaw-droppingly gorgeous. It's making my top ten just for the experience of seeing it was unlike anything I've gone through in a film in years and that should count for a lot. See it in its intended manner of IMAX 3D to get the full onslaught of the first film that has embraced a new genre I've dubbed--immersion cinema.

Almost making the cut, in no order: The Damned United, An Education, The Road, Moon, Bad Lieutenant, Two Lovers, Gomorra, Still Walking, Valentino: The Last Emperor, Goodbye Solo, Fantastic Mr. Fox and Tricks.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Five star films I saw in 2009

Of the 218 films I watched in 2009, I only scored ten of them five stars. That's about 4.6% of the films I see. I never give five stars to a film I've seen only one time--only films seen multiple times get that kind of praise and respect. Here is the list of five star films I saw in 2009 in the order I saw them.

Dirty Harry--1971--usa
The Big Lebowski--1998--usa
Pulp Fiction--1994--usa
16 Candles--1984--usa
Out of Sight--1998--usa
The Thing--1982--usa
Rear Window--1954--usa
Close Encounters of the Third Kind--1977--usa

Saturday, January 16, 2010

UTW review of Leap Year

Go here if you want to read my review of the romantic comedy Leap Year. It's kind of negative and I hope kind of funny. Pardon the typo at the end...should not be an "s" on ilk.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dead Cinema: Charleston, South Carolina

I forgot to include another image I took while on my recent trip in the low country. The Gloria Theatre qualifies for my "Dead Cinema" project since it's not being used for movies anymore (community based theatre performances are common use for these one time film houses) and based on the damage on the bottom of the marquee. It looks like some kind of truck or tall vehicle attempted to pass beneath the marquee and didn't quite fit. That's painful to look at.

Check out the first comment for a long history The Gloria by Justin. Thanks Justin!

Top films coming soon

I'm waiting to see a couple of more films that haven't hit Tulsa (A Single Man for one) before making my official list of my favorite films of 2009. I will also be publishing some lists from other people who see a lot of movies and are dedicated readers of CineRobot. If you have watched enough movies to compile a list (if you've only watched twenty or so new films, that's probably not enough to have a list. You need to see more movies in 2010!) and want to publish your best of 2009 list let me know and I'll get yours on the docket.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

2009 totals

Here it is--the complete 2009 statistic totals of who, what, where, etc etc etc.

Total # of films seen: 218


January: 23
February: 9
March: 14
April: 15
May: 33
June: 18
July: 17
August: 14
September: 21
October: 13
November: 19
December: 23


1920-29: 1
1940-49: 4
1950-59: 5
1960-69: 2
1970-79: 17
1980-89: 14
1990-99: 7
2000-09: 167


84: Alone
62: Sarah Jesse
40: David Nofire
10: Tim Spindle
7: Lillian Blevins
5: Peter Klein; Brandon Pleake
4: Silas Fitzhume, Jeff Martin
3: Scott Booker; Nancy Churillo; Cassie Tudyk
2: Gunter Bostwick; Paige Bostwick; Maggie Brown; Larry Terry
1: Mary Beth Babcock; Steven Barrett; Jacob Booker; Matthew Booker; Sara Booker; Donnie Bostwick; Kade Bostwick; Kylie Bostwick; Sheri Bostwick; April Brooks; Christina Burke; Jamie Eby; Shane Davis; Will Gibson; Susan Green; Tom Huettner; Molly Martin; Lance Miller; Sharon Terry; Steve Warde; Greg Younger; Sara Younger


167: Tulsa, Oklahoma
13: Seattle, Washington
8: Jenks, Oklahoma
5: London, England; on a jet
4: Edinburgh, Scotland; Santa Fe, New Mexico
3: Pryor Creek, Oklahoma
2: Savannah, Georgia; Virginia Water, England
1: Atlanta, Georgia; Miami, Oklahoma; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; St. Louis, Missouri


144: United States of America
13: England
11: France
8: Denmark
6: Japan
4: Hong Kong; Sweden
3: Norway; Spain
2: Australia; Canada; Germany; Italy; Mexico; Poland; South Korea
1: Brazil; Cypress; Finland; Greece; Ireland; Israel; South Africa

In a theatre: 105
Documentaries: 25
Tearjerkers: 11

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bad movies in early 2010

The first few days in 2010 has not been good for me when it comes to good movies. I've seen seven films already but five of them I'd consider not very good and have garnered ratings from 1.5 to 2 stars. Included in the mix: The Blind Side, The Open Road, Hell Ride, He's Just Not That Into You and Leap Year (I didn't see that by choice as it is my Urban Tulsa film for the week). Here's a few more negative thoughts on  all except Leap Year (I'll provide a link to that review in a few days). A few of these might vie for worst of 2010 despite the fact I'm only a few days into the year.

The Blind Side: I read the book by Michael Lewis this film is based on and advise you to skip the filmed version. It's one of the hokey, ridiculous, uplifting sports movies (USM) that come out every year like clockwork. The story of this homeless kid who gets taken in and discovers football is pretty amazing on its on--without the alterations to it to jazz it up for the masses by Hollywood. Infuriating. And if Sandra Bullock gets nominated for an Oscar for this one-note performance--someone ought to set the red carpet on fire when she arrives all dolled up.

The Open Road: Was this a straight to video film from last year? I don't recall it in theatres and for good reason--it's awful! Stuffed with cliches at every turn involving road films, father/son and boy/girl relationships, The Open Road lets Justin Timberlake try to show off his dramatic acting chops and guess what? He's got none. Just stick to showin' us the "sexy" JT and leave acting to actors, please?

He's Just Not That Into You: Huge casted romantic comedy/drama that is so mundane and pedestrian that it is gone from memory the second it ends (a good thing in this case). Some of the characters are so annoying and can only exist in "movieland" that I wanted to slap some sense into them (Ginnifer Goodwin in particular).

Hell Ride: 1970s drive-in genre wannabe that reeks despite lots of violence between biker gangs and wall-to-wall nudity. Writer/director Larry Bishop gives one of the worst performances in recent memory, sort of channeling Al Pacino with too much spray tan as supposedly the baddest mofo on two wheels. It's comical just how far removed from that he is as real bikers would laugh right in his face and then beat him to a pulp.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Low country movie theatres

I love old movie theatres. Not all that shocking, I know. Whenever I'm travelling I always take pictures of old theatres. Always. There is nothing more beautiful than an old theatre that is being taken care of and loved with their marquees of neon and vivid colors. I can't get enough of these places. My ultimate dream in life would be to live in one! I was completely blown away by The SCAD and its Art Deco lobby. I would love to have gotten to see Notorious there on January 15th.

That being said, there is nothing more architecturally sad than a dilapidated, empty movie theatre that is crumbling, fading and falling apart. For years I've been taking photos of these ghostly structures in a project I've dubbed "Dead Cinema." See The Lyric below for an example of Dead Cinema. No telling how long it has sat, being ignored, dying, in its small town street. Gut wrenching.

On our recent trip through the low country, SJ and I came across some theatres in Georgia. These photos are more happy than depressing as there are three examples of the magnificent and one of the heartbreaking. That's a nice ratio for this kind of thing, three to one.

Savannah, Georgia
December 2009

The Lucas
Savannah, Georgia
December 2009

The Lyric
Waycross, Georgia
January 2010

The Dosta
Valdosta, Georgia
January 2010

New poll question

New poll question on the home page. It concerns the increased number of films being nominated for best picture at the Oscars this year.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

December movies/2009 year stats soon

It was a busy month with twenty-three films on the docket. I saw back-to-back five stars too with Close Encounters of the Third Kind (one of my all-time favorites) and Vertigo. Blu-ray inspired me to re-watch a couple of films I hadn't seen in a while that I love in Full Metal Jacket and Say Anything. Awh, wonderful blu-ray player. I also went on a Scandinavian binge with four films from Denmark and one each from Sweden and Norway.

In a post or two I'll publish the much anticipated yearly stats for 2009. It includes everything from amount of films I saw in a theatre to every place I saw a film and every person I was with when I saw it. I love the yearly stats!

The Five Obstructions---2004---denmark   ****
The Rocker---2008---usa   **1/2
Full Metal Jacket---1987---usa   ****1/2
Brothers---2009---usa   **1/2
Songs from the Second Floor---2000---sweden   ****1/2
Allegro---2005---denmark   ***
Taken---2008---usa   ***
Invictus---2009---usa   ***1/2
Reconstruction---2003---denmark   ***1/2
Close Encounters of the Third Kind---1977---usa   *****!
Vertigo---1958---usa   *****!
Me and Orson Welles---2009---usa   ***1/2
Avatar---2009---usa    ****
Body of Lies---2008---usa   ***
The Road---2009---usa   ****
Carny---1980---usa   ***1/2
Say Anything---1989---usa   ****1/2
Futureworld---1976---usa   **
Monster Thursday---2004---norway   ***
Chinaman---2005---denmark   ***1/2
Up In the Air---2009---usa   ****
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans---2009---usa   ***1/2
It's Complicated---2009---usa   ***

Sunday, January 03, 2010

UTW review of Nine/layoff

Sorry for the long layoff. Went on a nearly 3,000 mile road trip from Tulsa to the Atlantic Ocean. Just got back late, late last night.

Go here if you want to read my negative review of the musical Nine. I even do something that I hate to do--ridicule Daniel Day-Lewis!