Saturday, December 31, 2005

2005 TOP TEN

In alphabetical order
Beautifully crafted and superbly acted, this film about the famous author covers only a short period of his life. The movie conveys some idea as to how a book gets written as well as an insight to the people being written about.

Fact based drama
This is a movie about a group of high school athletes who are being held accountable for their actions. As such, there are lessons to be learned for all of us. It is an inspirational-type movie with excellent acting and a strong story line. The fact it happens to be true (or mostly true) is a bonus.

The movie provides an insight of how the executives of Enron (one of America’s biggest companies, seventh largest at one point in time) exploited loopholes in existing business law and created new business models to defraud the public. But beyond being an entertaining informative complex financial story, the movie is about human fallibility, greed, and arrogance.
Along the way new facts come to light: the involvement of the Bush family in this endeavour and how the company exploited deregulation to manipulate the California electricity crisis and the effects it had on the people living out there.

Charming, amusing, touching and suspenseful all come to mind in thinking about this movie. A documentary about some New York City fifth-graders taking a mandatory 10-week ballroom dancing course is in itself rather unusual. But so are the kids and that’s what makes it so enjoyable.

Animated cartoon
This is a fun movie with more than a few chuckles. It is bright and colourful. So are the four main characters (well maybe some of them aren’t all that bright) who share an adventure started easily enough with a “what if?”. After a slow start, things get going once they leave Grand Central Station. Although the target audience is certainly kids, there are some things only the adults will get. Several recreated scenes are from movies such as Chariots of Fire and Saturday Night Live that were playing in theatres 25 - 30 years ago. As a refreshing change, the movie is completely devoid of any crude humour or bad words. The only swear word comes about when a couple pieces of the big bamboo sign fall off.

Although it looks like an IMAX film with gorgeous scenery and huge close-ups, the voice-over is so much better. We are actually given a lot of information during the course of the film rather than just snippets once in a while. Consequently we get to learn a lot about the life cycle of emperor penguins living in Antarctica. Fascinating stuff.

Romantic comedy
A classic story beautifully filmed and marvellously acted. This movie will undoubtedly be nominated (and probably win) several Oscar awards including Best Picture, Cinematography, Production Design, Art Direction, Costume Design, Acting in a Leading Role, in a Supporting Role as well as several technical awards such as Sound Production. It is simply that good.

With such a mix of emotions, there’s something here for everyone. British comedy prevails (although spoken with an Irish accent) between insightful moments of reality. Hilarious at times, serious at others, it’s very entertaining.

Fact based drama
Sean Penn gives a terrific performance of a troubled and disturbed man who comes to believe that the Government is fundamentally corrupt. A great character-study movie that shows how someone can come to a “reasonable conclusion” based on the facts as they see them. What they do about it is something else again.

Fans of Johnny “The Man in Black” Cash will love the movie. It’s a well told story about a troubled person coupled with performances by the two lead actors which are nothing short of amazing. You forget you’re watching someone portray Johnny and June Carter. It is uncanny. The movie includes many of Johnny’s big hits, frequently cutting them short to keep the movie running time to a reasonable length.

Honourable Mention

A beautifully written story about interpersonal relations and how things do not always turn out as planned. There are great performances by all, particularly by the two lead actors. The stunning shots of the Wyoming mountainous countryside are a real bonus.

Probably no other movie explores the subject of racism as deeply as this one. We get to see seven groups of people living in Los Angeles, and how everyone has their own prejudices and intolerance. How they handle them makes for interesting comparisons. The acting throughout is uniformly excellent.

Historical drama
For those interested in American history and television journalism, this is a “must-see”. Others would find it a bore because the movie puts you right in the middle of the action. Mostly centred on the continuing battle between Senator McCarthy and the media, there are side issues brought to light as well. The acting is top-notch throughout.

Big Disappointments

Somewhere in all this confusion, there is an important message (we are running out of oil) but the story is so convoluted and complex that this gets lost in the telling.
Two things would make the movie intelligible: fewer people in it (there are over 70 speaking roles according to the official website) so you don’t have to keep track of so many characters and some straightforward explanations from time to time of what is going on. Otherwise we are left to our own resources to figure it out ourselves. That is a daunting task.

Maybe it got better, but after one hour of watching the antics of four unpleasant kids and the foolish antics of the cold, cruel, creepy, uncaring, sympathetic owner of the factory I had seen enough of this bizarre movie and left.

Given that the title pretty well says it all, most people would expect to see a movie about the famous brothers. Instead you get to see a dark, creepy film with lots of scary bits which are barely discernible in the dimly lit settings. Although there are short snippets of several well-known tales, something very frightening scares Little Red Riding Hood and we are left wondering why Gretel is screaming when she looks behind the tree. The whole premise of the movie is that there is a vile nasty witch lurking in the forest who is responsible for the disappearance of so many young girls. The brothers Grimm are out to do her in. Not the stuff of merrymaking.

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