Best of 2005

We Are All Fools in Love

by Alan Rapp on February 10, 2011

in Movie Reviews , Theme Week

  • Title: Pride & Prejudice
  • IMDB: link

pride-and-prejudice-posterLet me start out by saying I’m not a big Jane Austen fan and just the thought of reading a novel of hers makes me drowsy.  Joe Wright‘s new version of Pride & Prejudice is anything but dreary.  With a wonderful eye, energetic performances, and a droll since of humor and wit this piece of Austen’s work comes alive on screen and not only is fresh, inviting, and enjoyable it just happens to be one of the best movies of the year.

In England during the Georgian era Austen’s tale follows the lives of the Bennet women especially the headstrong Elizabeth (Keira Knightley).  The Bennet clan is headed by Mr. Bennet (Donald Sutherland) and lorded over by his wife (Brenda Blethyn) who spends all her time trying to wed off her five daughters and improve the family’s fortunes.  Into the picture arrives Mr. Bingley (Simon Woods) a wealthy suitor who takes a fancy in the eldest Bennet daughter Jane (Rosamund Pike) and his rather drab companion Mr. Darcy (Matthew McFadyen) who raises the ire of Elizabeth.  What follows is the tale of love found and lost and the consequences of choices made.

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As I made up my list of my top ten films of the year I noticed something – not one was a box office hit in terms of Hollywood executive standards.  None of my ten grossed $100 million at the box office, in fact only one grossed more than $50 million.  Though most pulled in an excess of what it took to make, or at least enough to break even, very few people saw the films that I would consider to be the class of 2005.

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A History of Violence

by Alan Rapp on December 29, 2005

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: A History of Violence
  • IMDB: link

a-history-of-violenceA History of Violence is only 96 minutes long and everything you need to know about the film can be found in that amount of time.  It’s a streamlined and stripped down story that doesn’t waste a single frame or a single performance.  And for its short running time it is amazingly effective, disturbing, distressing, and haunting.

Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) and his wife Edie (Mario Bello) own a diner in a sleepy little town of Millbrook, Indiana.  They are raising a son (Ashton Holmes) who is tortured by bullies but has been taught to turn the other cheek, and a young daughter (Heidi Hayes).  Their life seems idyllic until a pair of thugs attempt to rob the diner and kill the witnesses.  Tom kills both men with brutal efficiency that is unusual in a diner owner of a sleepy town.

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Spielberg’s Best Film in 12 Years

by Alan Rapp on December 23, 2005

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Munich
  • IMDB: link

munich-posterStephen Spielberg‘s Munich is a personal story that is deeply moving and emotionally challenging to the viewer.  Hard questions are asked about the nature of revenge, assassination, and the right of a people to protect themselves through any means necessary.  Not since Schindler’s List has Spielberg taken on such a momentous undertaking that produced such extraordinary results.  This is his best film in over a decade and, it can be argued, the best film of his entire career.  In Munich Spielberg becomes the storyteller of a very personal story of pain, loss, vengeance, betrayal, murder, and death.  Munich is tremendous filmmaking and one of the best movies of the year.

The film begins with the abduction and murder of eleven Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.  Munich tells the story of the fallout of this tragedy as Avner (Eric Bana), a Mossad officer and son of a hero, is chosen by the Israeli Prime Minister (Lynn Cohen) to lead a team and hunt down and kill all 11 of the terrorists responsible.  Avner accept the assignment and leaves his pregnant wife; he travels to Europe with his team to track down and assassinate the members of Black September.

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RENT to Own

by Alan Rapp on November 23, 2005

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: RENT
  • IMDB: link

rent-posterRENT explores the issues and of friendship, death, drugs, and AIDS during one year.  Terrific casting, most of the broadway leads hired for the film, and a terrific score only underpin the import of the story.  The music unveils the plot rather than just put on a show.

The movie examines the life of seven Bohemians living in the east village of New York from 1989 through 1990.  The movie begins with the mugging of Tom Collins (Jesse L. Martin) who is mugged on the night he has returned to New York just outside his friend’s apartment.  He is assisted by Angel (Wilson Jermaine Heredia) a crossdresser who helps him up to Mark and Roger’s apartment.

Mark (Anthony Rapp) is a struggling documentary filmmaker who’s girlfriend Maureen (Idina Menzel), a popular artist with the Bohemian crowd, has left for an attorney named Joanne (Tracie Thoms).  Roger (Adam Pascal) is a musician struggling to write one last song worthy to leave behind.  Mimi (Rosario Dawson) is a dancer at the nearby strip club who lives downstairs and burns a candle for Roger.  The eighth figure is Benny (Taye Diggs) a friend who owns the building and used to live with them but has gone corporate and wants to evict everyone and rebuild the neighborhood.

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Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

by Alan Rapp on November 11, 2005

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
  • IMDB: link

kiss-kiss-bang-bang-poster

“This isn’t good cop / bad cop.
This is fag and New Yorker.”

Any movie that contains an argument over the phone about why someone has urinated on a dead body he finds in his hotel room shower deserves some attention.  Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is one of the most entertaining movies of the year.  Part Hollywood satire and part dime-store novel this is great fun with terrific performances from Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer.  Simply put folks, this is the best comedy of 2005.

Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) is a small time thief who stumbles into an audition for a detective show while fleeing from the police.  Whisked away to Hollywood Harry meets Perry (Val Kilmer) a gay detective who is the consultant to the show.  At a party Harry also runs into Harmony Lane (Michelle Monaghan) the girl who got away so many years ago.

So far sounds like a pretty normal film right?  Well here’s where things start to get interesting.  Larry takes Harry on a stakeout to teach him more about detective work, but unfortunately they run into a car with a dead body.  For reasons to difficult to describe here the two abandon the body only for Larry to find it in his hotel room shower early the next morning.

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Good Night = Great Movie

by Alan Rapp on October 21, 2005

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Good Night, and Good Luck
  • IMDB: link

good-night-and-good-luck-posterGeorge Clooney has this natural ability to act with such effortlessness; as a director he has taken this same gift and now has made a movie that flows so easily, moves so naturally, that it really is a wonder.  There are still films coming out this holiday season that I have yet to see; I’m not quite prepared to call this the best movie of 2005, but I will say that it is the most important film of the year.

After WWII in the late 40’s and early 50’s America was attacked by the threat of Communism.  One man made it his life mission to root out all Communists and sympathizers out of the government and the media (film, television, and radio).  The country was trapped in a never ending witch hunt where only the inference or gossip was enough to bring you before the self appointed savior of our country, Senator Joseph McCarthy.

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Everything is Illuminated

by Alan Rapp on September 23, 2005

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Everything is Illuminated
  • IMDB: link

everything-is-illuminated-posterStrange.  Quirky.  Moving.  Poignant.  Wonderful.  There are so many words to describe Everything is Illuminated that I find it hard to choose them.  It is simply one of the best movies of the year.

Jonathan Safran Foer (Elijah Wood) collects everything dealing with his family.  After receiving a photograph from his grandmother, he decides to travel to the Ukraine to meet Augustine, the woman in the photograph with his grandfather, who he believes saved his life during WWII.  He procures the services of Alex (Eugene Hutz) and his grandfather (Boris Leskin) who is a driver who sometimes believes he is blind and will not go anywhere without his seeing-eye-bitch Sammy Davis Jr. Jr. The trio and dog travel to try and find the small town and the woman in the picture amid the emptiness of the Ukrainian countryside.

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Frank Miller’s Sin City

by Alan Rapp on August 19, 2005

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Sin City
  • IMDB: link

Walk down the right back alley in Sin City, and you can find anything…

It might seem strange to call a movie as violent and bloody as Sin City beautiful but no other word quite fits.  After all the movie vividly contains decapitation, canibalism, castration, severed limbs, truckloads of guns and explosions, and blood in all different shades and colors.  It’s a film noir overflowing with deceit, treachery, torture, murder and death.  Yet somehow this is all captured as originally drawn by Frank Miller and transferred so lovingly onto screen that one can not help but sit back with wonder and appreciation.  Beautiful?  ‘Bet your ass!

The plot of the film blends three main stories, with one or two small ones,  compiled from Frank Miller’s successful Sin City graphic novels.  We get three hardboiled protagonists in the sinful setting of Basin City. 

Hardigan (Bruce Willis) is one honest cop in a city owned by the crooks.  On his last day on the job he saves 11 year old skinny little Nancy Callahan (played as an adult by Jessica Alba) from a senator’s demented son (Nick Stahl) only to be shot by his partner and put in prison for Junior’s crimes. 

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  • Title: The Aristocrats
  • IMDB: link

One joke told over and over for ninety minutes.  It may be fair to say that The Aristocrats is the funniest documentary ever made; it is easily one of the most profane.  To be completely honest the film is a little uneven; there are more than a few slow points, but when the joke is given to the right comedian prepare to roll around the aisle in tears.  I laughed my ass off!

The documentary examines one aspect of comedians, a private joke told among themselves.  The joke it seems is as old as the comic profession.  The object of the joke is to make it as disgusting and vulgar and humorous as possible; anything is fair game.  The movie goes back and forth from analyzing the joke to actually having a host of comedians tell it.  Hold your hats folks, the folks they found can tell a joke.  Everybody’s here, it is a who’s who of comedians:  Billy Connolly, Eric Idle, Richard Lewis, Chris Rock, Lewis Black, Whoopi Goldberg, the South Park gang, Paul Reiser, Howie Mandel, the Smothers Brothers, Steven Wright, oh god I could go on and on.

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