Entries Comments


The Projectionist’s Other Observations of 2007

Now that the lists are out of the way, I’ll dig deeper into the year’s moments, where I can discuss more of “the middle.”  Some movies didn’t make the top lists, but they had great moments, and they deserve to be discussed.  But, of course, many of the best and worst movies will be discussed here as well.

What disappointed?  What was overrated?  Underrated?  I list the moments in film this year that mattered to me, bad and good.  This is the forum for all that was on my mind in 2007.

Most Disappointing Movie of the Year

The nominees: The Darjeeling Limited, Spider-Man 3, Margot at the Wedding, Southland Tales, 30 Days of Night, We Own the Night, and Across the Universe

The “winner”: Spider-Man 3

After Spider-Man 2 ended on my year-end best list in 2004 and proved to be one of the best action films of all time, Spider-Man 3 had a lot to live up to.  But Spider-Man 3 committed some fouls that would have been easy to avoid.  

First, it called for three villains.  One was the “new” Goblin played by James Franco in a plotline they sort of backed themselves into a corner with the first two films.  By continually going back to Harry Osborne’s anguish over his dad’s death at the hands of Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire), it was almost required that they fully address this in the third film.  They either should have put this on hold or made Osborne the main villain.

The Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) really should have been the main villain, however, and he shouldn’t have had to “team up” with Venom (Topher Grace), who should have been saved for another chapter.  How great would it have been to have someone like Grace for a few more flicks?

With all this going on, Spidey/Peter Parker had to deal with his fragile relationship with Mary Jane, and the script was pulled into trying to make everything matter to everything else.

Most Underrated Film of the Year

The nominees: Vacancy, Mr. Brooks, Surf’s Up, and Shoot ‘Em Up

The winner: Mr. Brooks

No film this year had a greater critical-thrashing-to-actual-quality ratio than Mr. Brooks.  In general, I think many critics have never liked Kevin Costner or Demi Moore, and they especially hate Dane Cook.  And depending on what kind of movie he’s in, critics go both ways with William Hurt.  Hurt will be acclaimed as brilliant for something really small like his ten minutes or so in A History of Violence, but not so much for something like this.  I don’t think the movie ever had a chance.

Mr. Brooks was one of the most original films of 2007.  I loved the Costner/Hurt scenes, and the idea that his serial killing madness has passed on to his daughter (Danielle Panabaker) offers a rich viewing experience.  It’s also pretty damn scary too.  It also offers a titillating backstory towards the end, when we find out that Brooks has killed a lot more people than we think he has.  If only this could have been better received, we might have been privy to some sequels.  But maybe it’s best we get our one-and-done so we can never be disappointed.

Most Overrated Film of the Year

The nominees: Eastern Promises, Once, and I’m Not There

The “winner”: I’m Not There

This was a difficult category because both Once and I’m Not There appear regularly on year-end best lists.  But I liked the charm of Once even though I’m not buying it as anywhere near one of the best films of the year.  I’m Not There is one of those critical darlings in which I instantly get suspicious of all the acclaim.  But I must remember, opinion is opinion.

However, upon my viewing of I’m Not There, I saw a grand experiment that can be entertaining at times, but ultimately frustrating.  I think this could have worked better in a linear fashion, with the same idea of having six people play Dylan. 

If movies are storytelling, then imagine a guy coming up to you and telling you a story that frequently jumps around and the main character changes from jump to jump.  You wouldn’t listen much longer than three minutes.  Because I’m a guy who likes a gripping, compelling story, I very often don’t let a movie off the hook for merely being different, no matter the subject.  Of course, merely being different is good enough for some folks.

Moments of 2007 (The Good)

Because 2007 was one the best years in film we’ve seen in awhile, there were hundreds of moments to choose from.  When I do a list like this, there will be spoilers from time to time.  I will list the movie ahead of time, and if it’s a big spoiler, I’ll tag it “spoiler” and then describe the moment.  But if you don’t like spoilers of any kind, make sure you don’t read past the title.

Grindhouse

The movie trailers in the middle of the double feature stole the show for me, especially Edgar Wright’s “Don’t Scream” in which the trailer voice warns/beckons…”If YOU are THINKING of GOING inside this house…DON’T!!!”  The trailer then becomes a fast-paced DON’T-a-thon, filled with great images that alternately send up and revere the old horror trailers.

Southland Tales

Justin Timberlake’s lip-synch through The Killers’ “The Things That I’ve Done” was the best part of a ridiculously convoluted movie.

Blades of Glory

Will Ferrell tells Jon Heder about his Italian-made hairbrush: Believe me when I tell you, I could not love a human baby as much as I love this hairbrush.

And, Will Ferrell to Nancy Kerrigan: Are you an official?  Because you are officially giving me a boner.

Into the Wild

I nearly broke into tears when Hal Holbrook offers to adopt Emile Hirsch, who politely but devastatingly declines.  Holbrook’s anguish at seeing his new friend/surrogate son leaving him is heartbreaking.

300

300 was full of great images, including Lena Headey’s nude scene.  But the one I remember the most is when one of the soldiers throws a spear at a charging rhinoceros.  As the camera sweeps from right to left, it looks like the rhino will not be deterred, and the view then becomes momentarily blocked by the back of the onlooking soldier’s head, building suspense.  After the view clears, we see the once-hard-charging rhino sliding to a halt, dead.

28 Weeks Later

28 Days Later and its sequel have the very hypnotic theme music that was used in the trailer for this movie and for Beowulf.  It’s all at once dramatic and thrilling.  In the opening sequence of this year’s best horror movie, while this music plays, Robert Carlyle flees zombies from his house, leaving his once-thought-dead wife (Catherine McCormack) behind, thinking that it would be a suicide mission to go back.  So he leaves her screaming after him behind a closed window to run across the English countryside and get into a boat, barely getting away from scores more zombies.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (spoiler)

The best Potter adaptation to date keeps the devastating death from its source material intact, perhaps making it even more powerful.  As Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) fights off many of the evil elements in the movie’s climax, including Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter), he looks to be doing pretty well.  And in a seemingly offhanded way during the middle of all the action, Lestrange whips off an Avada Kedavra killing curse, which slams right into Black and takes Harry’s uncle away.

The Simpsons Movie

There were a couple of moments I thought about including here, like the brilliant “Bart’s privates get blocked” scene.  But I think what made me laugh the most was the cameo by Tom Hanks.  The government, looking for a way to cover up potentially blowing Springfield off the map, think about making it the site of a new Grand Canyon.  In the commercial advertising the new Grand Canyon, Hanks mentions, “It’s located in a place where nothing is or ever was.” 

This cover-up also leads to another great gag where Springfield gets taken off the GPS navigation: “You are now approaching…Nowhere.”

Shoot Em Up

The nutty action comedy didn’t get any love from mass audiences or critics, but damn was this an entertaining movie.  I especially like the scene in a factory where Clive Owen is listening to Paul Giamatti’s conversation with one of the workers, and very subtly you see Owen stringing up weapons here and there…but for what reason?  As Giamatti learns of Owen’s presence, his goons get caught up in this elaborate funhouse of rigged-up weapons, many of which we didn’t even see Owen set up in the first place, making it all the better.

Knocked Up

Be warned, with Knocked Up and Superbad there is some filthy dialogue I’m going to discuss. 

There are so many hilarious rants in Knocked Up, I don’t know if I can pick just one, but I will.  Leslie Mann goes crazy on a doorman played by Craig Robinson, calling him a fag for telling she and Katherine Heigl move to the end of the line.  She repeatedly calls him “doorman” in a derogatory fashion, and then he responds:

I know… you’re right. I’m so sorry, I fuckin’ hate this job. I don’t want to be the one to pass judgment, decide who gets in. Shit makes me sick to my stomach, I get the runs from the stress. It’s not cause you’re not hot, I would love to tap that ass. I would tear that ass up. I can’t let you in cause you’re old as fuck. For this club, you know, not for the earth.

Mann then says, “What?”

He continues: You old, she pregnant. Can’t have a bunch of old pregnant bitches running around. That’s crazy, I’m only allowed to let in five percent black people. He said that, that means if there’s 25 people here I get to let in one and a quarter black people. So I gotta hope there’s a midget in the crowd.  (a pause) Your old ass should know better than that.

Superbad

Much like Knocked Up, there’s so many funny things in this movie it’s nearly futile to come up with just one.  But my favorite bit of dialogue comes from Jonah Hill when the hopeful love of his life Jules (Emma Stone) asks him to get beer for her party (after they were paired together in home ec class) and afterwards tracks down his friend Evan (Michael Cera) to tell him the good news:

Dude! That means that by some fate we were paired together and she thought of me. Thought of me enough to want me to be responsible for the entire funness of her party! She wants to fuck me…She wants my dick…in and around her mouth!

and:

Momma’s making a pubie salad, and she wants some Seth’s Own dressing.

and, after saying that being with Jules would give him the whole summer of good solid sack time, he’d be going to college as a master of sex, or as he puts it:

I’d be like the Iron Chef of Pounding Vag!

Gone Baby Gone (spoiler)

Casey Affleck has a decision to make.  Does he give Amy Ryan’s abducted daughter back to her, knowing that she’ll be an absentee mom, or does he let her live with former police chief Morgan Freeman, who staged the abduction and takes care of her with much love and affection?  Also, making the lawful decision will break him up with his love Michelle Monaghan.  The great scene is when you find out what Affleck’s decision is, as he looks at Monaghan on the country road by Freeman’s house, and you start seeing a fleet of police cars approaching in the background.

The Bourne Ultimatum

There are numerous great action scenes in The Bourne Ultimatum.  The one that won me over the most was Matt Damon’s rooftop chase after another assassin, ending up crashing into a window and into a world-ending fistfight that jars all the senses.

We Own the Night (spoiler)

We Own the Night will have the distinction of appearing on the good moments and the bad moments list.  But first, the good: In a rain-soaked action scene in Queens, Joaquin Phoenix drives a car behind his father Robert Duvall.  The bad guys show up and start ramming Duvall’s car.  From Phoenix’s persepective, we see one of the bad guys coming out a window with a huge rifle.  We hear nearly toneless gunshots.  We see Duvall’s figure firing his gun, again, nearly toneless gunshots.  Eventually one of the Bad Guy bullets hits and we see Duvall’s head swing back as the car swerves off the street.  The minimal music and soundtrack added to the perspective and phenomenal editing makes this scene tight and scary.

Enchanted

Amy Adams sings a song for all the creatures of New York City to come help her clean the place.  This means pigeons, cockroaches, and rats, who get into the spirit.

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (spoiler)

Steve Wiebe is going to do what everyone in the classic video game-playing community, including Donkey Kong record holder Billy Mitchell, has asked him to do: set the record in front of them, live, at an annual event.  Mitchell stays home as Wiebe sets the record.  Just as he’s about to get his name enshrined as the best Donkey Kong player, a videotape from Mitchell showing him breaking a million points (and Wiebe’s record) shows up.  That Mitchell doesn’t do it live isn’t unnoticed by Wiebe, and the videotape has mysterious static around the time the million is achieved, but nonetheless the record stands.

Juno

Perhaps my favorite scene is when Juno (Ellen Page) asks Jennifer Garner why she didn’t try to adopt from China, since they seem to “give them out like free IPods.”  And, even more hilarious, “put them in one of those T-shirt guns and shoot them out at sporting events.”

There Will Be Blood (spoiler)

Daniel Day-Lewis says and does some truly brutal things to people in this movie.  It’s hard to decide which one is the most memorable, but at the end of the film, Paul Dano is asking him to drill some other parts of Little Boston because he’s in debt and needs the money.  Day-Lewis agrees, but only if Dano admits he’s a false prophet, with the intensity of one of his sermons.  So Dano, desperate, shockingly does, several times as Day-Lewis beckons.  Finally, Dano asks if Day-Lewis will drill in those places he’s talking about.  Day-Lewis says, “They’ve already been drilled.”

No Country For Old Men (spoiler)

The best film of the year had great action scenes, none better than when Javier Bardem tracks Josh Brolin down in a motel.  We know Bardem uses a tracker that has a hidden transmitter in the bag of money, and it makes a simple “blip” noise.  While Brolin sits in his room, he hears the blip noise outside, not knowing exactly what it is.  Then he sees the shadow of shoes under his doorway.  The shadow goes away, then the light in the hallway is turned off.  Brolin readies his gun.  Unnervingly, what comes next is the inevitable sound of the keyhole of the doorknob getting shot out by Bardem’s oxygen tank.  Brolin and Bardem have the most suspensful shootout I’ve seen in a long time shortly afterwards.

That scene right there probably sealed the deal for it being my favorite movie this year.

Moments of 2007 (The Bad)

Yep, there were plenty of bad moments as well:

Epic Movie

I discussed this in my Bottom 12, but the joke about Harry Potter actors being too old was one of the most shortsighted jokes I have ever witnessed.  Daniel Radcliffe (Harry) is currently 18, Emma Watson (Hermione) is 17, and Rupert Grint is 19.  When the series ends in 2010, Radcliffe will be 21, Watson 20, and Grint 22.  Hardly the age that Epic Movie (and apparently other people) can say is ridiculously old.

We Own the Night (spoiler)

Someone explain this.  Vadim Nezhinski is the main bad guy in the movie, and he gets wise to Joaquin Phoenix’s ruse during a drug deal and is ready to kill him.  Cops come in and save the day, and Nezhinski is put in the back seat of a cop car.  Then Nezhinski finds out that Robert Duvall, a cop, is Phoenix’s dad.  He then says, looking at Phoenix from inside the car, ”He is a dead man.”  Uh…didn’t you already want to do that before?

Reign Over Me

Reign Over Me was one of the best of the middle-of-the-pack films this year.  Both Don Cheadle and Adam Sandler turned in good performances.  But when oddball 9/11 widower Sandler goes to court over money left by his deceased wife, there’s a scene where his craziness boils over as he turns up the volume of The Who’s “Reign O’er Me” and he begins screaming the lyrics in the middle of the courtroom.

Spider-Man 3

Topher Grace as Venom goes to Thomas Haden Church as The Sandman and says, “I want to kill the Spider, you want to kill the Spider.”  Not only do I hate the dialogue, I hate the team-up.  We got into Batman Forever and Batman & Robin territory there.

The Invisible

Man, did I hate it when Justin Chadwick screamed at people when he knew no one could understand him.  Watching that for an hour and a half drained my patience.

National Treasure: Book of Secrets

There’s a famous saying on the Statue of Liberty in France.  You’d think these words could be found by simply looking on the internet.  But Nicolas Cage and Justin Bartha go all the way to Paris, send up some remote-controlled toy helicopter with a camera, and get the information.  I admit, that’s almost as fast as looking it up at home.

This Christmas

Sharon Leal’s got a vibrator (I’ll plug in the Mitch Fatel joke, “Why do women masturbate?  You don’t need to do that.  Just call.”) and she turns it on, then back off as mom Loretta Devine enters.  There’s a discussion, and Devine leaves, but then she pokes her head back in, “You need some batteries?”  Oh, how progressive movie moms are.

Premonition (spoiler)

The dumbest scene of the decade comes in Premonition.  Sandra Bullock knows her husband Julian McMahon is going to die in a car accident on a particular stretch of road.  She frantically calls her husband on the day of death, driving to the exact point where he’s going to die.  She tells him to meet her on the side of the road, and she says, “You’ve got to trust me, get out of the car,” and when he gets out, she doesn’t seem to think there’s any danger anymore…in the middle of the fucking road.  Instead of telling him to get the hell off the road, they just stare at each other while death approaches and the inevitable occurs. 

This probably seemed like a clever ending at first, considering that Bullock’s premonition actually causes the death.  But considering she has numerous chances to save him, even as danger approaches, and doesn’t, is classic stupidity.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Lots of dumb moments here, of course.  But the worst is when our heroes ask Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris) if she’s so good at bringing people like Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) back from the dead, why can’t she get Captain Jack Sparrow back from purgatory.  The answer: Because Captain Barbossa was only dead!  Oh yeah.  That seems so easy now that I think about it.  Purgatory must be a real bitch in comparison.

And I’m going to take a shot at some critics here:

Throughout the year-end fun I’ve been mentioning that opinion is opinion, and the way a movie hits someone is going to be different for each person.  But when someone hates a movie for a reason that is clearly besides the point, it angers me.

This year’s award for Worst Critics of the Year go to all the people who mention, when reviewing movies like Knocked Up or Juno, that “there’d be no movie if she just got an abortion.”

Oh yeah.  Abortion.  Hilarious. 

And I suppose that everyone who has an accidental pregnancy just goes to their local abortion clinic these days.  It’s clearly the trend.  100% of all babies being born in the world are wanted, according to the latest Census.

So therefore, no one can make a comedy about a mismatched couple who actually keeps the baby, because what a fantasy land that is.  Even soeven so…the creators of Knocked Up and Juno shouldn’t be derided for taking this approach.

Those are my thoughts on 2007.  I hoped you enjoyed it.

The Projectionist’s Top 12 Films of 2007

The Projectionist’s Bottom 12 Films of 2007

Dr. Sam Loomis’ 10 Best Films of 2007

Dr. Sam Loomis’ 10 Worst Films of 2007

2006: The Year in Film

 

Comments

Comment from Doc
Time: January 3, 2008, 3:13 pm

Excellent. You make some good points on there, and it’s a very enjoyable read. Good for you for not succumbing to only the “best and worst lists,” but taking time to actually analyze the movie moments and impacts. Looking forward to the coming year, especially that damn Cloverfield project that may or may not make any sense at all. Not that it matters. A big ass monster’s fucking up NYC!!! AWESOME!!!

Comment from Sam Loomis
Time: January 6, 2008, 4:34 pm

I don’t have the memory you have to conjure up that many sequences from the year, but I agree with all of the ones you brought up.

I will say I thought the Harry Osborne storyline was actually handled very well, and if they had just had him joining Spiderman to fight Sandman by himself that would have been fine, and maybe even Raimi’s first choice, instead of Venom, The Vulture. The Vulture and Sandman would have been a more likely team-up. Venom should have been saved for down the line when a director who actually liked the character could do him justice. Raimi obviously had no interest in having the character in the film and it showed.

I think you missed the most ridiculous moment of the year though. In “Rush Hour 3″ there was a scene where Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan have an argument and they both go their seperate ways with an Elton John song playing over the sequence. The funniest part of this was when Jackie Chan orders Fried Chicken and Sweet Potato Pie to be delivered to his hotel room while Chris Tucker goes to a Chinese Restaurant to have some Moo-Shoo. Wow! We’ve come a long way haven’t we?

Just thought that deserved a mention. Great stuff, though!

Write a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.