Cinepub


The Best and The Worst of 2009: Part 1 by Jamie
28/12/2009, 8:00 am
Filed under: Lists, Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Originally I was going to finish this year with my top 50 of the past decade with maybe my top 10 worst, but I seem to have accidentally not saved my shortlist and so I’ve decided to just do this instead. Maybe I’ll try and sort out that decade list in January. Who knows? Not I… Anyway, In my opinion, 2009 was a pretty mediocre year for film. Of course this is skewed slightly by the fact that I didn’t get to see quite a lot of the films that I wanted to see and was left less than impressed by others.

Yes, this was a year for unnecessary sequels (Terminator: Salvation, Fast & Furious, The Final Destination), unnecessary remakes (Friday The 13th, Race To Witch Mountain) and terrible adaptations of popular things from other media (Dragonball Evolution, Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun-Li) but there were a few diamonds that shone through the rough… And since I can’t think of a better way to segue into the list, here are the top five of the ones that I saw (Probable spoilers ahead. You have been warned.):

5. Avatar

If you’ve seen Ferngully, you’ve basically seen Avatar. You just have to replace fairies with 11 foot tall blue people and Tim Curry’s oily dude with a cartoonish army general. Oh, and replace that Lizard that’s voiced by Tone Lōc with a giant Pterodactyl thing. Now, this film just barely made the top five because, well, I honestly wasn’t as impressed with it as most of the world seems to have been. Yeah, the CGI was pretty impressive but the way this film was hyped up you’d think the special effects cured AIDs or something. Did they cure AIDs? Well, I don’t know, I don’t have AIDs but I’m guessing they probably don’t. All I know is that I didn’t get the same sense of awe as I did when I saw living, breathing dinosaurs for the first time in Jurassic Park or when I saw that giant mother-ship hovering over Johannesburg in District 9.
I think it’s the CGI which actually brings this film down a little. Not because it looks bad but it’s because whole scenes of this film are completely dedicated to showing it off. In fact that seems to be the main point of the entire middle of them film. It just doesn’t make for good pacing in a movie. If they’d wanted t show of the world so much then I personally think that Avatar would have worked much better as a television series where they could have layered it in throughout episodes and had a lot more time available to just show off.
Still, it has to be said that I did enjoy this film, particularly the last part which is basically one long, awesome battle. Good times. As I’ve stated before the plot is cheesy and clichéd but it’s a James Cameron movie so I was kind of expecting that and James Cameron can take the clichés and make them work.

4. Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans

What? I can’t put a Nicolas Cage film in my top five list of the year? Well, fuck you buddy. It’s my list and if I loved a Nicolas Cage film then I loved a Nicolas Cage film. You know what? I fucking loved a Nicolas Cage film. Bad Lieutenant pretty much takes all of the things that makes Nic Cage bad in all the films he’s been in recently and makes it fucking work.
Does he overact? Hell yes, he overacts! Is it to his benefit? Hell yes, it’s to his benefit! Seriously, I’ve never seen overacting work so well in a movie. It’s like the reverse of The Wicker Man or something. If I ever meet Werner Herzog I want to shake his hand for casting Nic in this film. And if you’ve been in a room with me and I’ve decided to talk about this film then you already know what my favourite scene in this film is. If you haven’t seen it and I haven’t told you about it then I’ll just say this. It involves an old lady and her carer, a breathing tube and the use of the word cunt. It’s a glorious thing to behold.

3. Inglorious Basterds

Inglorious Basterds is very obviously a Quentin Tarantino film. In fact, it could almost be considered another part of Grindhouse, although I suppose that most of his films could be, some are just more obvious than others.
I know there was a lot of criticism when this film came out because there were a lot of scenes with people just talking punctuated throughout with sudden, short bursts of violence. The problem being of course that people walked into the film expecting a World War 2 film like Saving Private Ryan and what they got was a Quentin Tarantino film. I suppose there’s nothing you can really do about this kind of thing really, except for maybe hand out pamphlets explaining what the film is and what the film isn’t before they go in and see it but that seems impractical at best and stupid at worst.
One thing I really loved about this film was that most of it was in German and French with subtitles except for when it obviously benefited the characters to speak in English. I hate it when films have characters speak in English for apparently no reason except so that the audience can understand them. For example, I was watching Scarface the other night, an otherwise brilliant film, but there’s a scene where Tony is talking to his sister and mother and they are all talking in English. Why? Wouldn’t it be more natural for them to speak in Spanish? Whatever. I suppose it’s that suspension of disbelief thing that I have problems with from time to time.
Perhaps my biggest problem with the film, and to be fair it’s fairly minor, is Mike Myers as the British General. His performance was fine but his accent just seemed to slip one to many times for me to buy it,
Ooh, before I move on, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the awesome finale in the French cinema. It’s probably one of the most awesome scenes in any film I’ve seen not just this year but in the past decade. Watching two Jewish men spray bullets from boxes into the highest echelons of Nazi society below them who are in turn trying to escape from a fire, whilst the visage of a women speaking about Jewish vengeance is being projected onto the screen and then the smoke, is a truly, truly incredible thing to watch.

2. Star Trek

I would by no means consider myself a Trekkie, though I have enjoyed many a Star Trek thing over the years, in particular the original series. It’s certainly a much better series than Next Generation, with barely any of the techno-babble that haunted the later series. It was basically about three best friends in space discovering new peoples whilst one of them tried to have sex with them. Good times.
So I was a little bit wary of this film when I heard about it. Still, it turns out I had no reason to be. This film was fucking awesome on so many levels. If you’ve never seen anything Star Trek before, then you can appreciate it as a great Sci-Fi film. If you’ve seen the original series then you can appreciate it on a whole different level. There are so many little references thrown in through out the film then you’ll be a thousand times more entertained.
I really have to commend the cast of this film, in particular Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine who I thought got Spock and Kirk down perfectly. Quinto did an excellent job portraying a character who had the problem of being both part Human and part Vulcan and Pine managed to pull off that likeable cockiness that made Kirk such an enjoyable character to watch.
Now, I’m as usual I’m not afraid to admit when I’ve cried during a film and I was surprised that I got a little teary eyed on more than one occasion watching this film. Perhaps most surprising was when I welled up a little at the end when Leonard Nimoy is quoting the famous ‘Space, The Final Frontier’ speech. It’s truly a wonderful thing that completely sums up what Star Trek, nay, the human spirit is all about, the yearning to explore and discover and I had no idea that it had it ingrained itself on my psyche and affected me so much until I heard it booming from the speakers in a cinema. Still, I will agree with my mother, who’s complaining that William Shatner wasn’t in the film drove me to near insanity. It would have been nice if JJ Abrahms had gotten Shatner in to read that speech, maybe just have Spock listening to some old Captain’s Log or something. Ah well, maybe in the sequel.

1. District 9

What can I say about this film that I haven’t already said? Well, as I said earlier, I felt more awe from the special effects in this film then I did from Avatar, except the mecha-prawn which on occasion looked a little ropey. I think, in all honesty, I’m just more impressed when you can take something completely CGI and blend it with the real world, like the mothership and the prawns in this film. I don’t get too excited by a world which is pretty much totally computer-generated. That and I really, really like insectoid aliens.
This film also inspired a last minute costume change for the Saturday of Bestival, my original plan being to go as Krang’s Robot Body from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Instead I spent an entire night building a prawn arm out of bin bags, paper and a glove and went and Wikus Van De Merwe. Good times.
There is so much in this film and it can be enjoyed on so many different levels. You can enjoy it on an action and sci-fi level or on a political level or even on a comedic level, the film manages to balance all these different elements exquisitely without ever feeling bloated or boring. Ever frame of this film had me on the edge of my seat and if it isn’t recognised at the Oscars then, well, fuck the Oscars.

So that’s it. That’s my top 5 films of 2009. But I know the internet. I know what the internet likes. The internet thrives on negativity, a raw powerful anger and hatred that the anonymity the internet provides and is generally just more entertaining for all concerned. So with that in mind come back tomorrow for my Worst 5 films of 2009 and I certainly do have a large buffet of shit to choose from. Laterz.

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