Monday, September 12, 2011

True Blood and True BS (SPOILER HEAVY!)

I've always rather enjoyed HBO's True Blood, but this season tried my patience. Sure, the show has always lapsed into melodrama and bullshit soap opera-ness, but in past seasons, everytime the cheese starts to get too thick, the writers have always given audiences a great and gory "what the fuck" moment - such as the vampire king of Louisiana ripping the spine from a news anchor live on TV in season 3.

Season four layed on the cheese thicker than a Guy Fieri dish, and had very few moments of WTF to... well... cut said cheese. This season was so meandering it became boring; full of too many subplots and way too many characters... the number of shapeshifting denizens alone was almost too much to keep up with. Werewolves, shapeshifters, werepanthers... I was half expecting one of Tim Sullivan's biker-gay werebears from Chillerama (repeat screening October 14th at Metro Cinema!) to pop up. Not to mention, fairies, mediums, ghosts, and the season's big bad, witches.

None of it gelled like it did in previous seasons. In an effort to get from plotline to plotline, the show sacrificed heart, humor, and its trademark blood and guts. And don't even get me started on the head witch's Ronnie James Dio-esque spellcasting.

Truth be told, I kinda stopped caring about the show. But the fact that 90 percent of the other channels were chock full of 9/11 anniversary coverage, I summoned up a "meh" and gave tonight's season finale a shot. And although, like the entire season, the finale was meandering and felt tacked on, I actually had a pretty good time with it. The humor, the heart, and the gore were all back in spades... especially the humor.

The best parts of the show:

Jesus' warning that "you can't trade magic like fucking Pokemon cards";

Witch Marnie's final exclamation -  "this fucking sucks!" given with great delivery;

Bill liking Eric much better when he was "brain damaged";

finally seeing Jessica's ta-tas (and that little red riding hood getup was dead-hot too);

Sheriff Andy's pathetic yet somehow suave pick-up attempt;

Vamp Pam's rant about Sookie's "fairy vagina";

and that fucking love triangle BS that thankfully (we can hope) came to an end tonight - both the vamp and the shapeshifter ones. This pretty much derailed the season for me.

As expected, lots of characters bit it in the finale. Some shockingly, some sadly, and some gleefully (although I'll miss Nan's bitchiness, it was getting irritating). And some characters from past seasons are coming back into the mix, including a surprising new vampire and the ghost of a previous big bad.

The finale hooked me in just enough that I MAY tune in next season. But it better be more focused, streamlined, and fun than this one.

As for other TV, well my fave Curb Your Enthusiasm ended it's season tonight as well with a gut buster of an episode. Within the first FIVE MINUTES, we have a gay seven year old swastika-loving child and a Michael J. Fox Parkinson's joke. Before you send them hate mail, Mr. Fox guest starred playing himself as Larry's upstairs neighbor. In fact, after the Curb season finale, I'm convinced that 99% of the Michael J. Fox Parkinson's jokes were started by Fox himself.  I kid you not, MJF goes to get Larry a drink and says "I'll be back in two shakes." He is simply hilarious, and it was great to see him back on TV. From exploding pop bottles to late night stomping, he keeps Larry guessing whether he's getting fucked with or whether its part of the disease ("Pissed or Parkinson's? I'm not sure..."). And the young actor playing the seven year old of dubious sexual orientation almost stole the show away from Fox and David. One of the best shticks of the series is how obvious things are to Larry that everyone else is oblivious to. It was a great way to end a pretty... pretty... pretty damn good season.

And Entourage, a show both loved and reviled, wrapped up for good (until the movie at least) tonight. Lots of people rag on the show because its essentially about a bunch of spoiled rich boys driving hot cars, going to hot clubs, and banging hot women. Their point?

The show has always been about escapism. I work in film and TV (even in a small city like Edmonton), and I gotta say, whether you're making a documentary, working on local TV, or doing some other creative endeavor, I bet deep down inside most of us are in the biz because we want a little bit of that Hollywood magic. And for me, if I can't get it here, watching Entourage is probably the next best thing.

But under the glitz and glamour, the show's always been about loyalty and the "bro-code". And it's never lost that theme. So by the end of the episode (and the series), everyone winds up happy. Including Ari Gold, who manages to save his marriage in one of the best scenes of the entire run. Entourage wrapped with an ok episode with a few sentimental moments (and a great post-credits bit).

So that's it for TV's more interesting moments of the summer. For now, I'll wait with baited breath for new seasons of Bored to Death (a series that got MUCH better in its second season), Boardwalk Empire, and down the road, Californication.
Sunday, August 14, 2011

Blood, Body Horror and Boobies at the Fringe!!

For those of you breathlessly anticipating DEDfest (and we hope you are!), there are a few offerings at this year's Fringe Festival to tide you over!

For the blood, there's an adaptation of Bram Stoker's classic DRACULA that's sure to chill the blood. And for another kind of undead experience, check out NOTES FROM A ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE.  If you're a sick person (like me) and love to see what kinds of punishments the body can withstand, check out our good friends' Ryan Stock and Amber Lynn's freakshow called - appropriately enough - SICK?.

From blood to boobies, check out the Hook'Em Revue Burlesque at Wunderbar.

For the comic geeks, there's the epic tale of HAROLD OF GALACTUS, and for those of you that caught the comedy of Mostly Water Theatre a few years ago at DEDfest, MWT's Trent Wilkie has a one man show at Filthy McNasty's called AACHEN about a crusty old bastard.

Happy Fringing... see you at NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD this Friday at Metro Cinema!
Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Transformers 3: AKA You Got One More Chance Michael Bay!

I’m not going to go into some long-winded bullshit about Transformer toys, Michael Bay raping childhood, etc. etc.  I did own the toys when I was a kid, but they never really matched in scale to my GI Joes and Star Wars figures, so I didn’t really give much thought to them. I tried to pair up the two but when you folded up the transformers they looked like bumper cars compared to the Joes.  And I now have officially gone on too long about the toys.

Didn’t really give a shit when the first Transformers film came out, but caught it in the theatre and was underwhelmed to say the least. I couldn’t, for the life of me, tell the difference between Optimus Prime and Megatron. And the spastic way the fight scenes were filmed didn’t help... it looked like those old Tasmanian Devil cartoons where he’d whip himself into a dervish and shit would fly out of the tornado.

Second film? Even worse. Had no fucking clue what was going on. Plus they had little Spike Lee-looking “afro-bots” that completely blew with me what little goodwill Bay had for making the awesome THE ROCK.
Third film? Not excited. Bay had two chances to give us all what we really wanted to see: giant robots fighting; and he buggered it both times. But whether it was the marketing or the early positive reviews... or the fact the Rio had a midnight screening and I had nothing else to do, I was suckered out of $15 and two and a half hours of my life.

And surprisingly, I LIKED it. In fact, it may very well be the only summer film so far that I’ll see twice – for sheer spectacle alone. Third time for a franchise is usually far from a charm, but with Transformers, Bay seemed to finally get it. It’s not without flaws – after some really cool retro NASA business (albeit with a badly rendered CGI John Kennedy) the first chunk of the movie is dedicated to Shia Lebeouf looking for a job. The film beats you over the head with the utterly ridiculous fact that this college grad who hangs with giant robots, and got medals for saving the world twice (and in the second, had a shitload of alien knowledge pumped into his brain – can’t believe I remembered that) can’t get a job. That’s right; our hero’s biggest dilemma isn’t robots or alien conquest, but paying the rent. This whole subplot could have been dropped with a snap of Bay’s fingers, leaving more time for ‘splosions. The whole point of this seemed to be to bring in an odd-looking (and I hope those aren’t his real teeth) John Malkovich, who comes on screen, acts a bit goofy, and then is never seen again. The writers should have simply made Shia “liaison to the bots” or some bullshit, and got on with it.

But once the action gets rolling about 30 minutes in, the film becomes a juggernaut. And most importantly, instead of badly choreographed fights and choppy action, we get some truly thrilling beat downs, car chases, and mayhem. It’s as if filming in 3D was like Ritalin for Bay... he finally slowed down and learned how to properly stage his set pieces. Even the human-based action scenes are fluid and well structured. Unlike the first two films, Bay lets the audience know what the fuck is going on.

And the 3D is incredible. What I assumed would be the typical marketing gimmick designed to lift a few more bucks from wallets ends up being quite the masterful use of the tech. I’m not even getting to the best part yet. Quick plot rundown: turns out some cybertron (that’s the bot’s home world) shit crashed on the moon, hence NASA spending most of the ‘60’s trying to get there. Some shit goes down, the Autobots find out about their junk being up there, and head up in a rocket to find the near-death Sentinel Prime (voiced very cooly by Leonard Nimoy – who in a goosebump-inducing moment even throws in a very familiar line from Wrath of Khan). They resurrect the old Prime, and that’s when the shit hits the fan. Soon Shia and his hot new girlfriend are being chased by Decepticons after some space-age macguffin that will destroy mankind.

And I haven’t even got to the best part – the full on invasion of Chicago by an army of Decepticons. We’re talking War of the Worlds/Mars Attacks style mass destruction. Bay and crew manage to pull off the near apocalypse of the Windy City, complete with human incinerations, in a sequence that will most surely win the CG team an Oscar. Add in a shitload of soldiers actually delivering some payback to the ‘cons, some amazing (real) skydiving stunts in glorious 3D, and some well-done robot battles, and we essentially have the epic battle we’ve been waiting for with the Terminator franchise.

The film overall has a more adult sensibility. Gone are the fetchit-bots, the testicle references, the scat and urine humor, and most of the clowning around that marred the first two films. The violence is definitely more visceral – the robots even bleed red – and the ‘bot invasion is quite intense. Hell, even Turturro manages to steal his scenes without resorting to too much muggery. The whole thing is played, thankfully, with a much more serious tone.

Before you think this review is a Michael Bay circle jerk, the film is far from perfect. There are some head scratching moments, including (SPOILER) why the Autobots wait until most of Chicago’s populace is either incinerated down to their skulls, crushed or exploded before joining the battle. I don’t ask for much, but a simple line saying “we tried to make it sooner” would have sufficed. Instead, the autobots come across as dicks. And character development? You expect that from a giant robot flick? Robot Jox had more character development that this. Even the Autobots seem more believable than the human characters.

But if you’re looking for some cheap summer thrills that deliver, and are actually worthy of the 3D technology... I can’t believe I’m saying this... go see Dark of the Moon.

(hangs head in shame)
Friday, June 10, 2011


Hey all,

Last blog was January so I figured time to update! As some of you know, The Dedmontonian - me, has moved to the coast, making me the... Vancleaverian? I'll work on that. I moved out here for work and to also spread the good word of DEDfest, but don't worry kiddies. I will return for our yearly marathon of madness. And the added bonus? We (and our amazing friends at Metro Cinema) will be bringing you the bad-assed-ness from the historic Garneau Theatre this fall!  Once we make our dates final, we'll make an announcement. Stay peeled to for more details.

I figure with all the strangeness, wonderment, and sometimes the frustrations of a new city - especially a city with such roots in the entertainment and film industries - I'll have more fodder for this blog. I'll get into the pole dancing busker on Commercial Drive and the lingerie photoshoot in a store window in Gastown some other time (and those were just from yesterday afternoon!). I should start things off again... and appropriately... with a movie blog.

One of the niceties of living in a film-centric community is the chance to do things like, say, walk down the road and catch a midnight screening of J.J. Abrams' new film Super 8. The verdict? Well aside from my initial thought of "Spielberg with lens flare", Super 8 turned out to be a fun, yet flawed retro mashup of Mr. Spielberg's greatest hits (Spielberg was producer on Super 8 by the way).  If anything, the film is like a very entertaining cover band.

The plot? Essentially it's ET meets Cloverfield. Precocious kids making zombie flick, strange and nasty alien caught on film, even nastier government soldiers, themes of loss and heartfelt family drama - that pretty much sums it up. What worked about the film? Abrams, like Senor Spielbergo before him, nails the casting. These kids are naturals, especially the leads Elle Fanning and Joel Courtney. And the rest of the group are fun to watch. Abrams never paints these characters with broad strokes or falls prey to cliches. The fat kid isn't funny because he's portly, he's funny because he's a bossy director; the small kid is funny not because of his size but because of his pyromaniac tendencies; and so on. And these kids can hold their own alongside most of this year's adult action heroes. On that note, the grown ups in the film (Kyle Chandler and Ron Eldard as the respective dads) are great too.

I also dug the film's retro setting. Replace the CGI with some practical effects and drag the film print around the parking lot a few times and you could sell someone on this film actually being made in 1979. There are references to pot, disco, The Knack, etc., and for the geeks, we got nice mentions of Aurora Models, Dick Smith makeup, and Fangoria Magazine. Although quite a few critics have criticized Abrams for it, I never found those nostalgic touches too heavy handed.

What was heavy handed, and what nearly derailed the film for me, was the ending. Not plot-wise, but in the way Abrams trotted out the "core" of the film, so to speak, in a very hammy way. And strangely, I'm not quite sure why it felt cheeseball. Perhaps when Spielberg did it in the 70s and 80s, it felt kinda fresh in the context of an event movie. I think as well that in those iconic films, Spielberg had been drawing on his own experiences and influence to give audiences that extra depth - there just seemed to be that something personal in his films. Abrams seems to be drawing on his memories of Spielberg's influences and experiences rather than infusing the film with his own.

And that is what Super 8 feels like: a photocopy of a Spielberg film. A very entertaining and enjoyable copy, but a photocopy nonetheless. Despite that, and because we've had more than enough "event" films over the past few years that had no heart or character at all (looking at YOU Transformers), I'd gladly take a summer movie that dares to put story and character over spectacle any day.

Oh and once last thing, you nancies that like to leave as soon as the credits roll? Stick around to see the finished Super 8 zombie film!
Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Top Terrors of 2010!

I’m not normally too keen on doing these things as it seems every blogger or critic is spewing out their own top ten lists, but this year has definitely called for a look back – not just in terms of film, but life in general.  2010 wasn’t what I would call a “good” year, but it has been a year of accomplishments.  Those accomplishments came despite major obstacles.

We bookended the year with two big sell-outs – January’s screening of The Thing and December’s premiere of Rare Exports.  And despite having to change our dates and compete against the Fringe Fest, DEDfest was better attended than in 2009. Thanks to all you sick fuckers for continuing your support this year.

I personally learned some harsh lessons this year that have made me stronger and wiser. We do DEDfest because Kevin and I love horror films and our city’s wicked horror fans. But I also have an ulterior motive.  As a member of this city’s film and TV industry, I want to see it grow.  For me, DEDfest has provided an opportunity to highlight this city as both a great place to watch horror movies AND make horror movies too.  If we build on, and showcase our city’s amazing genre community, we could both grow local talent and draw the best in the genre to film in our city (incidentally, Darren Bousman, who was here with Fear Itself, filmed recently in Winnipeg).

The lesson learned?  If you try to renovate a small pond, the big fish will get pissed off. Big fish like being big fish and sometimes they like making sure little guppies like me stay small and edible. As a result of pissing off a big fish, I spent most of 2010 semi/unemployed. I went “from Guinness to Lucky Lager” as an acquaintance so eloquently put it.

Plus we nearly lost the damn festival.  Venue renos meant that in order to put DEDfest on in 2010, we had to find an alternate location. In a town with only one independent theatre (don’t listen to what those guys on the south side tell ya... they’re a chain), it’s an almost impossible feat.  Yet with the help and support of our friends and partners at Metro Cinema, the city’s awesome underground community, and you the fans, we were able to bring you DEDfest again.

There were more obstacles... too many to mention. As many of you know, i’ll be spending much of 2011 in a different city.  I’ve decided to head to Vancouver, where I can hopefully get enough ammo under my belt to come back here for a figurative shootout with those who, for ego-based reasons, don’t wanna see the film industry grow out here.  I’m kicking the big fish out of our small pond, and making a goddamn lake.

But enough about the old pigeon-feeding fuckers. Here are my favourite genre films of 2010! Please note that although I program a horror film fest, I didn’t get as many films as I wanted to this year.  As a result, I missed out on a number of films that might have easily captured a spot or two... films like Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, Phobia 2, The Loved Ones, The Last Lovecraft, Insidious, Rubber, Cold Fish, and I Saw the Devil. Here’s hoping these films get to our fair city in 2011.

Black Swan
Holy shit did this film come out of nowhere and knock me on my ass.  I’ve been a modest fan of director Darren Aronofsky’s work, but Black Swan floored me. What starts out as an edgier version of Altman’s ballet film The Company turns into the type of body-horror flick that Cronenberg would have made. And Natalie Portman gives a stunning performance as the tightly wound, crumbling lead ballerina. Her very face, as beautiful as it is, looks like it’s about to crack apart in nearly every frame.  And the lesbian scene between Portman and Mila Kunis is worth the price of admission alone.

Piranha 3D
Fuck James Cameron.  What happened to the guy who used to love our genre?  What happened to the director that made The Terminator and Aliens (and Piranha 2)? It seems his little 3D smurf film gave him a case of the snobbies, evidenced by his criticism of this popcorn flick. In addition to the hate on from the self professed “king of the world”, the film was criminally underseen. Why audiences flocked to shittily post-converted 3D versions of Last Airbender and Alice in Wonderland, yet stayed away from a film that embraced and used to the utmost the latest 3D tech is beyond me.  Was the 3D in this film more of a gimmick? Hell yes. And it worked. Seeing the lesbian 3D underwater swim scene was worth the price of admission alone.

Despite the financial failure of 2006’s Grindhouse, the exploitation boom is still going strong.  2010 brought us the first bit of glory promised by that film’s many fake trailers, and it was glorious indeed.  What was originally supposed to be a direct-to-DVD film soon began drawing the likes of Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, and Steven Seagal. With an all-star cast, over the top direction from Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis, and one stone cold Mexi-killer performance from Danny Trejo, Machete was the crowd-pleaser to beat for the year. And the lesbian scene between Jessica Alba and Michelle Rodriguez was worth the price of admission alone. Wait, that part was in my head.

The Human Centipede: First Sequence
I had no idea what to expect with this film. It entered the pop-culture consciousness like no other horror film had all year; it was even referenced by TV talk show hosts. Thankfully, the film lived up to the hype, mainly due to the performance by Dieter Laser (yes that’s his name) as the mad scientist intent on making a fleshy, poopy masterpiece.  The film wasn’t nearly as gory as it could have been, yet it polarized the audience at this year’s DEDfest screening. Let’s see what director Tom Six has in store for us with 2011’s Second Sequence.

I Spit on Your Grave
Besides Machete, this was the other great crowd pleaser of 2010. Many criticized the film as being too “Saw-like”, but I loved the fact that the film turfed the original’s uncomfortable attempts at titillation and made it a balls-out revenge flick. The rape scene was suitably unpleasant, making the kill scenes all the more satisfying.  Anal shotgun rape? Check. Eye gouging? Check. Requisite manhood mutilation? Motherfucking check. And Sarah Butler gave a performance one step above the typical scream queen and created a character I would gladly see in numerous sequels... perhaps this is Death Wish for a new generation?  If you missed it in August, check it out when it hits Blu Ray this February.

One of my biggest regrets of 2010 was that i couldn’t bring this film to the big screen here in Edmonton. The best Zom-Com since Shaun of the Dead, Doghouse shows how good a horror film can be when all the characters are worth investing in. In addition to a great cast, wickedly inventive makeup effects (the best Deadites since Army of Darkness) and a fun story, its also the ultimate bloke’s film -  a great movie to watch with some good buddies and beer.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
Another film that surprised the shit out of me (and helped us sell out the Metro this December!) was Rare Exports, a yuletide horror flick out of Finland that despite the dark subject matter, actually succeeded in being a great holiday film. Although light on gore (and heavy on old man penis), Rare Exports felt like the kind of film Joe Dante would have made in between The Howling and Gremlins. My only complaint: I wanted to see what the real Santa looked like!

The Crazies
While working on Fear Itself in 2008, I had the chance to talk with Breck Eisner.  The only work Eisner had done up until that point was the modest but serviceable adventure flick Sahara, but I knew he was remaking the Romero classic, so I had to ask him about it.  After chatting with him in the lunch room, I was pleasantly surprised because he seemed to get it.  He wasn’t just a hired gun like the Platinum Dunes hacks, Eisner seemed to be a genuine, reverent fan of the original. And when the film finally came out in early 2010, my suspicions that Eisner had done good were proven.  While the original played on people’s newly formed mistrust of government, the remake took things even further and played with our modern age’s many paranoias and fears – fears of disease, terrorism, our own military and even our own neighbours. And it delivers on the sauce and scares.

Never Sleep Again
It’s funny (and sad) that a documentary on the Nightmare On Elm Street series was ten times more entertaining than the remake. The most comprehensive, yet well paced film documentary I’ve seen in a long time, NSA brought up things about the Elm Street series I never knew – like the extent of Peter Jackson’s involvement. The interviews were refreshingly candid as well, especially with regards to the working relationship between original director Wes Craven and New Line head honcho Robert Shaye. A must see for all horror fans.

[REC]2 was the rare follow-up that not only expands on the original, but takes the franchise in a whole new direction.  By following up on a minor plot detail in the first (a detail that was completely ignored in the US remake), this standard but chilling zombie flick becomes a demonic thriller a la Prince of Darkness. I was happy as the front end of a human centipede that we got to screen this off a glorious 35mm print this August.

Bonus: Splice
I finally caught this fantastic creature feature late in 2010, and loved it. Like an art house version of Species, Splice kept the gore red and the sex ample, yet had some very eloquent warnings about the dangers of science going too far.  It preached the old “don’t play God” lesson without being preachy.  Kudos to the KNB team for a great creature – a mix of practical makeup and CGI that I hope will be remembered come Oscar season, and extra kudos to awards darling Adrien Brody for taking on this and three other genre films this year (Predators, The Experiment, and the unfortunate Giallo).

Honourable mentions: Predators, Night of the Demons, House of the Devil, Black Death

The Shitheap:
Suicide Girls Must Die
They can’t all be winners, as we discovered when we screened this in June. A slasher flick with naked, tattooed chicks as victims should have been a no-brainer. Instead, it was a film programmer’s lesson on why you should always get a screener first. The filmmakers couldn’t decide if they wanted to make a legitimate slasher or a promotional video for the website. Skimping on the gore didn’t help either. And none of them even die at the end! That shit worked for April Fools Day because the characters were somewhat endearing.  When you bill your film as Suicide Girls Must Die, then subject the audience to 90 minutes of exposition without any payoff... well that’s a hand job without a happy ending.

Nightmare on Elm Street
The genius casting of Jackie Earle Haley in the role of Freddy couldn’t save this piss stained mattress of a film. In fact, Haley seemed to be the only one to care about this tepid remake. Apparently the producers went to director Samuel Bayer three times to make this film. And it shows. Bayer not only sleepwalks through this flick, he downright denigrates the originals. I’ve heard him in interviews say that he felt the original’s dream sequences were uninspired. Yet with a huge FX budget at his disposal, he pisses away any opportunity to be frightening. Despite the fact that they were milking the original series to death, at least New Line tried to keep each installment somewhat fresh. With the remake, we got the answer to the question “How the fuck can you make a Freddy movie boring?”

The Wolfman
Well, i gotta admit that i stayed away from a lot of the shit this year, so my worst list is relatively light. The Wolfman probably falls more into the “biggest disappointment” category. Man... I really wanted to like this film. The transformation scenes were pretty decent (although the best transformation since American Werewolf in London is in Trick ‘r’ Treat), the film was atmospheric and moody, and Anthony Hopkins was a hoot to watch onscreen. Why did it fail? Upon viewing the original, I realized what made it – and other transformation movies like Cronenberg’s The Fly – so resonant. Lon Chaney Jr.’s Larry Talbot is a nice guy cursed with being a monster.  You like the guy... he’s got that hang dog face and natural charm that makes the ladies want to date him and the dudes want to sling beers with him. There’s a horror to watching a nice guy become a beast against his will. In the remake, Benicio Del Toro’s Talbot is an asshole from start to finish. In fact, he’s less of a mopey arrogant dick as a wolf. Whether that’s a fault of Del Toro or the screenplay, it makes for a less engaging film.

Favourite Non-Horror Films of 2010:

Toy Story 3
The scene where the toys, nearly meeting their demise, hold hands for what they think could be the last time, is as harrowing, heart warming, and Oscar-worthy a scene as any of the usual arthouse awards bait. If this film doesn’t get a best picture nomination the voters should be relegated to the “old toys home”.

Jackass 3D
Whoever thought a 3 foot vertical shit, dildos fired from air cannons, and a homemade “helicockter” could outdo Avatar? Jackass 3D used Cameron’s technology to its fullest, and showed that unless you use 3D to make your movie more fun, you’re just gouging the audience for an extra three bucks.

Hot Tub Time Machine
Although it was unfavorably compared to The Hangover, the team of John Cusack, Craig Robinson, Rob Cordry and Clark Duke were funnier and more likeable than their Vegas counterparts. A perfect ode to the 80’s – reverential and retro without feeling out of date, the film even manages to poke fun at some of Cusack’s early work. And Cordry steals the show like no one else did in 2010.

The Social Network
I was on the fence about this one, but at the end of the day only David Fincher could take something as dull sounding as the creation of Facebook and make it as engaging as a heist film, as volatile as a gangster flick, and as hyperkinetic as an action movie. And believe it or not, Justin Timberlake is actually very good in this.  But really, why this is on my list? The score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Finch.  The fact that we may see Mr. Nine Inch Nail onstage at the Oscars is one of the finest achievements of the year.

Sure, it’s overrated somewhat (see the South Park episode), and it suffers from a gaping plothole (why didn’t Cobb just have his Dad fly the kids to France?), but Inception turned out to be one of those films I could watch over and over again. Special note to Joseph Gordon Levitt, who, if Nolan ever has the balls to replace Heath Ledger, is the only choice for me in the role of the Joker. Hearing Hans Zimmer’s bombastic (and now iconic) score on the big screen didn’t hurt either.

The A-Team
I loved this show when I was a runt, so I thoroughly expected to be disappointed by the film.  But kudos to Joe Carnahan for getting it right and assembling a cast with enough chemistry to shine through the bombastic ridiculousness of this big budget action flick. Sharlto Copley as Howlin’ Mad Murdock steals this one. (and kudos to the art direction Mr. Gallagher! 

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