Saturday, August 29, 2009


...and the movies were, well, fairly decent. More than a few of them stunk up the place, sure, but on the flipside of that, there really was a lot of fun to be had this season. As the kids head back to school and we adults get ready to start embracing the resulting silence, let's take a look back at some of the best films the summer had to offer. No particular order here, either. My apologies to those who feel everything must be ranked, numbered, lettered, staggered, and classified.

Star Trek - As a devoted JJ Abrams super-fanboy, I was beside myself with joy when it was revealed that my favorite television auteur this side of Stephen J. Cannell was taking on the monolithic task of breathing some new life into a franchise that has been DOA for more years than I can count. As much fun as 'Wrath of Khan' and 'The Voyage Home' are to watch in an ironically post-modern hipster douchebag kind of way, let's get real - Star Trek movies haven't been FUN to watch in years. 'Star Trek: The Movie' felt like homework, and with the exception of the two previously listed entries, every film in the franchise has been little more than a bunch of old guys standing around the holodeck talking space politics to each other for two hours. Yawn. I like dialogue, too, but come ON, Aunt Bea! Let's pick up the pace a bit.

In any case, JJ Abrams' eleventh entry in the Star Trek movie franchise was firing on all cylinders right from the jump. From the heartbreaking and heroic death scene of George Kirk to the absolutely spot-on delivery of Spock from Zachary Quinto to Simon Pegg playing Scotty as some sort of futuristic rendition of Ralph Kramden, 'Star Trek' completely nailed it. Penned by my 'Lost' and 'Fringe' nerd-heroes Bob Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof, this flick made me proud to raise the Vulcan hand gesture that no one else in my family can do. Live long and get moving on that sequel, dammit.

Inglourious Basterds - I'll be frank. A new Tarantino movie is like a religious experience for me, so perhaps my listing this movie as one of the summer's finest is a little biased and gratuitous. However, I couldn't really care less because dammit, the movie just rocked. We've all heard the stories about how Quentin has been working on the script for 'Basterds' since way back before 'Jackie Brown' was even made, and how he took on the enormous task of getting it finished, cast, shot, edited, and dumped in the laps of the Weinsteins to market the shit out of in time for Cannes this year. One might think that would be an odd way to cap off a career-spanning dream project, and rushing to get it all put together in that fashion might have an effect on the finished product, but in my opinion, the opposite couldn't be more true. 'Inglourious Basterds' is probably the most mature piece of writing QT has ever done, and it's quite arguable that it is his best work since 'Pulp Fiction'. I'm sure I don't have to tell you anymore about Eli Roth's performance now that the review from the lovely and talented Susie Shemp is posted on this very site, but as for everything else, yeah. It rocks. Christoph Waltz's cold, calculated reign of terror as Hans Landa, the stunningly beautiful and horrifying Nazi theater set, the spot-on use of David Bowie's 'Cat People' to make what was probably the best '80s music video never made... I could go on and on. A stunning success for Quentin that will finally put all those 'Death Proof' haters who can't wait to announce the end of his career in their place.

Up - A summer without a new Pixar release just isn't worth living, is it? Last year's Oscar-winning 'Wall-E' set the bar once again for animated films, but as per usual, the resident geniuses of Emeryville, California upped the ante with the story of widower Carl Fredrickson and his balloon-powered flying house. To wax poetic about how incredible the animation of a Pixar film is seems redundant at this point, but man... it really was. That shot of the little girl dancing in her window as Carl and his house float by, the ominous rock structures shooting through the fog as Carl and Russell descend into South America, the tension and horror of the post-dinner scene as Carl and Russell realize they should really get the hell out of the dirigible like NOW, and of course... um... squirrel?

District 9 - See, the main reason this movie blew me away was the sheer fact that it was made for $30 million by a first-time director. $30 million? Are you kidding me? Michael Bay spent that much on Axe Body Spray while shooting 'Transformers 2'. Neill Blomkamp's directorial debut was a marvel, and to see it doing so well at the box office fills me with joy and anticipation of his now-inevitable careeer in Hollywood. Good luck, my friend, but please - don't let them talk you into a sequel. 'District 9' stands on its own just fine, and you do not need to make 'District 10: The Re-Districting' to earn any more of my respect.


Coraline - You wanna see a good fight? Be a fly on the wall when the Academy needs to vote on whether this movie or 'Up' deserves the Best Animated Feature award.

GI Joe - Yes, it's about as intelligent, sincere and thoughtful as a Republican on shore leave, but if you want to see a quality two-hour movie about a bunch of toys kicking each other's asses, this was the one to throw your 8 bucks at. Not that... other one.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - I love how these movies keep turning out as multi-million dollar moody art pieces. Trust Snape!


The Hurt Locker - Seeing it on Monday! Hallelujah.

Bruno - DVD will be fine, thanks. Blu-Ray if I'm feeling especially masochistic.

Funny People - I'll be the judge of that.

Public Enemies - Love Depp, love Bale, love Mann, but I just couldn't make it out to the theater on time. Sorry guys.

Moon - Sam Rockwell is a god, and depressed supercomputers are my bread and butter.

The Hangover - This flick seems a little bro-tastic for me, but I'll give it a shot for Zach Galifianakis alone.

Drag Me To Hell - On second thought, I'll assign this one to Susie Shemp. I'm a pussy when it comes to horror movies.

Land of the Lost - Sorry, but I still can't get Anna Friel's ungodly gorgeous ass in those red shorts out of my head, and here it is nearly Oscar-bait season. I'm a man possessed.

Away We Go - Jim Halpert and Maya Rudolph being adorable in a quirky indie flick? Yes, please. To drink, I'll have a pear floating in perfume, served in a man's hat.

Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen - Yes, I'm the only person on the face of the Earth who didn't see this movie in theaters this summer. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. The horrendous reviews just killed it for me, but I'll be more than happy to crank up my Netflixed Blu-Ray copy of it in a few months. Reacting to Megan Fox's, um, 'performance' will be much more enjoyable that way, anyway.


Wolverine - I love ya Hugh, but good lord. What a piece of garbage. Here are some sets, here are the costumes. Now... fight!

Terminator: Salvation - Didn't see it, don't care. Can we let at least ONE part of the '80s die a silent death? Please?

Year One - Oh, Harold. Harold, Harold, Harold. Go write another 'Ghostbusters' videogame, man. Now THAT was cool.


  1. First Contact is clearly the best movie out of the series up until J.J. Abrams' film. Fuck the whales, that one was for civilians. Real Trekkers know where it's at.

    Loved the reboot, can't compare it to the old series. Finally, I get the Spock lust. Coincidentally (or not), Zachary Quinto bears a striking resemblance to Eli Roth. Hmmm.

    It's a crime that I haven't seen Drag Me To Hell yet. I hate living in the middle of nowhere.

  2. I admit I'm not a Trekker/Trekkie/whatever, but I found JJ's version a fuckload more entertaining than any of the previous films. Khan was awesome, but that shit's dated. Montalban's a god, but Nimoy even moreso.

    I think if I have to type the word 'Roth' one more time, I'm going to pull all my fingers off with a needlenose plier. :)