My supremely valid professional archive of reviews, critiques and compositions. In other words, a resume worthy digest. Lately I have just been copying and pasting stuff I write for my school paper. WHO SAID YOU CAN'T FIND WORK WITH AN ENGLISH DEGREE?
While making this list, I came to two realizations: I spend a lot of money at the movie theaters (too much money for a student), and I watched a lot of movies in 2011. Not all were great, I really wish I could have seen more independent films but I unfortunately do not have the resources (legal resources, anyway). Regardless, here are my top three films of 2011.
3. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Despite only seeing the first (original) Planet of the Apes a while ago, I walked into Rise… not expecting too much- just expecting it to be a fun, action film featuring James Franco and (always entertaining) John Lithgow. However, mainly due to the talent of Andy Serkis as the chimpanzee “Caesar” and the powerful moments that are brought to the surface from the ensuing story of a somewhat realistic story. It also featured the best moment of theater-going experiences for 2011, when Caesar finally shouts out “NO!” and the theater audience actually hushed, it was really something to see in an age of numbingly absent teenagers who are only concerned with social networking.
2. The Muppets
Again, I wasn’t expecting much with The Muppets, but I saw that it had decent reviews and was in the mood to watch something light. The Muppets is just a really funny, entertaining and, at sometimes, heartfelt movie in the nostalgic sense. The TV series didn’t play a major factor in going to see the film (I watched it as a very young child but it never played a huge role in my life), but The Muppets has some exciting moments and it made me laugh the hardest throughout the entire year. It is also the host of at least 3 very great musical numbers (“Man or Muppet” is the first thing that comes to mind, I won’t ruin the guest appearance because it’s a better surprise if you don’t know) and features at least 5 surprising cameos (Again, won’t ruin any of them here, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised).
As a person who actively despises musicals, The Muppets is self-reflexive enough to poke fun at the musical campiness that others fail to immerse me in. Amy Adams and Jason Segel are perfectly cheerful but not in a sugary-headache sort of way. And the Muppet characters achieve the emotional notes they set to; Overall, this film is just plainly entertaining, and I highly recommend it for any ages.
The developmental stages of unnamed protagonist and Irene (played innocently enough by Carey Mulligan) started to make me lose interest in Drive before it really shifts into motion. They speak (barely) to each other in an awkward manner, but not comically so. Ryan Gosling’s character is just quiet, something that is rarely featured in action movies; Even the dumb action heroes have one-liners. But the quiet natured protagonist is what stuck with me after the film ended, and into several days after watching Drive. In a lot of ways, Drive can be compared to the Grand Theft Auto series: both are crime dramas, with silent and mysterious protagonists that just “do the job for the money”, the protagonists have pasts that only develop in the latter half of the material, each flaunt stylized pink and cursive fonts, the 80s soundtrack and both feature hyper-violence.
When the protagonist reluctantly offers help to Irene’s freshly out of jail tough-guy boyfriend, the situation goes awry and this is when Drive turns into the played-outGrand Theft Auto fantasy. Said boyfriend steps out of a pawn shop with a duffel bag of money, gets shotgunned in the parking lot, and the narrator speeds off in an expensive car with the less-than willing prostitute (played by Christina Hendricks). Stuck in the middle of an awful situation (aren’t they all?), Gosling seeks revenge and then things get gruesome. In the most sickeningly gross sounding moments of 2011, after he kisses Irene in the elevator, he proceeds to stomp a sizable hole in a henchmen of the villains, and doesn’t let up. The seeking of revenge continues until the climax and tragic ending of the film; Without saying much more, just know that all neo-noir films have tragic endings and guess what, Drive has no happy ending, either.
What I enjoyed most is this mentioned aura of quiet-natured protagonists that most action films simply do not portray. Pseudo-turned-real badassness of Gosling when that elevator scene happens, and the audience realizes that hey, the Scorpion itched on his shiny jacket may just be symbolism, because Scorpions only strike when threatened.
FILMS THAT I SAW AFTER THE BREAK (Bold were the one’s considered):
1. Red Riding Hood
4. Your Highness
6. Scream 4
7. Fast Five
10. The Hangover 2
11. Super 8
12. Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop
13. Horrible Bosses
14. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
15. 30 Minutes or Less
16. Final Destination 5
19. The Muppets
20. Cedar Rapids
21. Battle: Los Angeles
22. Our Idiot Brother
25. The Adventures of Tintin
26. Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol