Monthly Archives: January 2012

The 10 Worst Movies of 2011

There were a BUNCH of really bad movies in 2011. In fact, it is getting harder to make this list than the one for best movies of the year due to the amount of choices I had to turn away. A general lack of originality, the same old structures, the same action scenes with three point landing… 2011 bored my tits off!

10. Cowboys & Aliens
This movie has Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde and a solid filmmaking team behind it, yet somehow turned out to be one big turd. I just can’t give movies like this a pass anymore because there are too many pluses for it to stink. It just feels like everyone was patting themselves on the back for making a kick-ass movie before they even attempted to make it. What you’re left with is another alien abduction movie, only this time the aliens aren’t just after us… they are after our gold!! That’s right, you read it here… GOLD. What, are they looking to buy some cool space gear with it? That, plus the very obvious Syd Field screenwriting 101 structure make this one tired movie where you feel nothing for characters and you just want it to end.

9. Green Lantern
Not the most famous or coolest of comic book heroes, the Green Lantern rides to the screen and no one cared. The movie is so by-the-numbers that you can see every plot twist coming 10,000 miles away. Do we really need to see the entire opening in which Hal Whatever His Name’s Dad dies in a Top Gun pilot crash only to see the entire scene again in flashback 5 minutes later? Come on. And what is with Peter Sarsgaard’s character? He looks like a sex offender.

8. Priest
This movie shouldn’t be on my list, but it is. Movies like this are supposed to be bad, but acceptable due to the viewer at least having some fun… not here. Everyone is so serious and brooding that you are bored to tears in a matter of minutes. In fact, it only takes a moment to realize you are watching the exact same movie as Sylvester Stallone’s Judge Dredd. So to sum up, Priest is just a boring collage of stolen images and wooden characters that have been replicated so many times that it is coma inducing.

7. Just Go With It
Sometimes I feel like Adam Sandler is making movies as a means of testing the human race to see how they will react when shit is placed in front of them. Seriously. There is so little effort on display in this movie that they can barely string scenes together to make a plausible story. And the scenes are so long! I would say that this is the kind of movie they show prisoners at Guantanamo Bay to get them to talk.

6. Arthur
Why? That is all I could think while watching this saccharine excuse for a remake. Sure, Russell Brand can be funny but, here, his flighty schtick wears thin fast and all you have left is the story of a barely functional autistic man with tons of cash. The original CLASSIC film was all about a man’s sorrow and loneliness which drives him to drink because it’s the only place he finds solace. Here, Arthur is just a bumbling “touched” tard, who doesn’t have a shred of humanity and we are supposed to think it’s whimsical and charming. Mind you, not because his character earns it, but because the film TELLS YOU THAT OVER AND OVER.

5. Anonymous
Can I just say that I hate revisionist history and leave it at that?

4. The Lincoln Lawyer
Usually, I love every bad MM movie, but this time he seems like he is trying… too bad. I can find humor in the idea that McConaughey is solving legal cases in the back of a Lincoln, but it is everything else this movie is trying to do that shuts my brain down. I can’t even begin to tell you what it’s about because I zoned out after 10 minutes. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past this is not!!

3. Conan The Barbarian
Conan is at the heart of my very being. I have read the novels, comics, seen the movies, worn the loin cloth… I even have a replica of his sword. I should be excited for a new Conan movie… I’m not. In fact, I was totally against it because I knew it would be a farce. With all that being said, even I wasn’t prepared for how God awful this is. Here are 10 points of bullshit that sum up this film…

– The overly dense prologue is narrated by Morgan Freeman.
– Conan’s dad is Ron Pearlman.
– Conan is a bad-ass from the age of six making you feel like he earns nothing. He knows it all, so he should be able to kill everyone easily, right?
– Lack of HOT CHICKS.
– Rose McGowan pretending she is Witchypoo.
– The sand skeleton attackers… no point and seemingly no end to a super droll action scene.
– Lack of HOT CHICKS.
– Conan smirks, doing one-liners, then yells for no reason. In every scene!!
– The entire incomprehensible ending where the bad guys move from a perfectly good temple (where they have all their bad guy shit set up) to another shoddily built, remote temple just so we can have Conan fight in a skull cave that falls apart.
– Conan gets it on with the hideously miscast leading lady.

2. Sucker Punch
I really wanted this to be #1 on the list, but there was something that was even worse, go figure. You REALLY have to try to mess up a movie this bad and they REALLY DID. It has super hot girls, boner-inducing nerd action stuff like giant guns, Nazi fights and samurai swords – how can it be bad?! IT IS!! The greatest sin is that the movie is boring. BORING! There is nothing to ground you to the characters, so you don’t really feel a connection and they try to employ so many twists and turns that it seems to have confused the very people making it. Another problem is the action, or lack of. Every scene is presented like a video game level with Scott Glen essentially telling you what is going to happen ad nauseam prior to us seeing it unfold onscreen. Blah, blah, blah.

1. The Hangover Part II
No one even tried with this one. Everyone got paid tons of cash and they all feel put out to finish delivering their insipid dialogue. The entire movie is humorless and the tedious call-backs to the original make you want to shoot yourself. Really, this isn’t just the worst movie of the year, it might have to be crowned worst of the decade and we’ve only just started! Monkeys, guys with little dicks, Bangkok chick boys, off-colour, racist humor… this movie is just ugly.


Top Five Japanese Dramas of 2011

In keeping with previous posts, I am looking back at 2011 and recalling my top picks in the world of entertainment. This time up it is the top five Japanese dramas from last year.

2011 was a strange year for Japanese drama in that there were definite trends each network tried to follow. They had cop shows, doctor shows, then then the idea of cop and doctor dramas with kids mixed in! All three are bummers as far as I am concerned. One of the reason I stopped watching most American TV was down to it all being same cop, medical or legal series time after time. I certainly hope it wears off because no one needs to watch a second-rate CSI Tokyo type show.

OK, here goes…

5. Zenkai Girl (全開ガール)
Of course, the first one up is about a young woman hoping to be a high powered lawyer, but finds herself having to become the boss’ nanny to get a foot in the door. Lawyer show with kids… ding! I know, I have just put my foot in my mouth. Really, this series is so much more than that and it is all down to the relationship between the two main characters played by Aragaki Yui and Nishikido Ryo. Their budding romance is a constant source of frustration and elation making for one of the most entertaining series of the year.

Devoted to becoming an international lawyer, Ayukawa Wakaba is full of ambition. Her hard work pays off when she lands a job at an international law firm, but to her disappointment, the first prestigious assignment that is given to her is to babysit the boss’ 5 year old daughter, Hinata. Wakaba loathes kids and nursing, but unwillingly takes on the job as she is fixated on wealth and success. One day when she goes to a preschool to pick up Hinata, she meets a man named Yamada Sota. Sota is a man without higher education, wealth, or a future goal, someone that Wakaba absolutely cannot stand, the complete opposite of her ideals. Once again, contrary to her will, she ends up looking after Hinata and a few other kids along with Sota. Despite being exhausted from all the first-time experiences in child care, Wakaba begins to realize what is truly important to her. A heart-warming comedy about work, relationships and love.

4. Taisetsu na Koto wa Subete Kimi ga Oshiete Kureta (大切なことはすべて君が教えてくれた)
That’s a mouthful for a title, huh?! This drama stars Erika Toda and Haruma Miura as teachers working at the same high school who are set to get married in the coming months. However, the night before the school year’s opening ceremony, Miura becomes involved with a young woman (played by Emi Takei), without realizing that she will be a student in his class starting the next day. As the revelation comes to light, it leads the three on a path that will see what they hold dear destroyed.

Taking up a prestigious Monday night slot, this TV series had a mixed reaction after its release. I found it to be both tragic and hopeful, cementing a very good character based series where emotional struggles are key. The acting is understated and controlled and the production design is top notch. A really great drama.

3. Watashi ga Renai Dekinai Riyuu (私が恋愛できない理由)
According to research, more than half of Japanese women in their 20’s to 30’s admit to “currently lacking a boyfriend” and that’s what is at the heart of this drama. Men, love, sex, work, marriage… All the issues women face today are tackled by a trio of young ladies sharing a house in Tokyo.

Taking up the prestigious Monday night time, Watashi has been a pretty huge success. All the ladies, Karina, Yoshitaka Yuriko and Yuko Oshima, have wonderful chemistry and they really get you to care about what is happening in their life.

2. Shiawase ni Narou yo (幸せになろうよ)
Katori Shingo stars as a successful advisor at a marriage consultation agency who finds himself conflicted after falling in love with one of his clients. At first, he is skeptical about the girl’s (Meisa Kuroki) true intentions, but then gets to know that she is way more than he could have ever thought… she is the woman of his dreams.

It took a bit for me to warm up to this drama… about 15 minutes. It is just what I like in a drama, sad, melancholy, equally hopeful and filled with bits of genuine humor. It also has Meisa Kuroki and no drama starring her can go wrong, not even the one about the Yakuza who take over an old folks home!

1. Soredemo, Ikite Yuku (それでも、生きてゆく)
This is a hauntingly sad tale of loss and how one act of violence reverberates through two families. Eita stars as a man whose younger sister was killed by a friend, then meets that friend’s sister 15 years after the incident. Both of their families have been burdened with grief, but through their meeting they struggle to find a brighter tomorrow.

This is a very heavy, emotional drama and I really wasn’t expecting it to be so good and engaging. The performances are brilliant and writing is so dead on… you just want one ray of light to fall on them and make the future seem bright. Be prepared to weep because it had me trapped in my own glass cage of emotion!

Top Five Korean Dramas of 2011

Lists! In keeping with my movie list, here are my five favorite Korean Dramas of 2011! There are a few that didn’t make the cut and it pained me to leave them off! Here goes…

5. City Hunter
Based on the Japanese Manga, City Hunter is a cool action / romance with really great performances, plus an acting debut from KARA’s Goo Hara. Action dramas usually stink, but this one really makes the cut due to an increased budget and skilled fight choreography. This one, as with all of my top five, are must sees!!

4. All That Glitters
This is one of those heavy, emotional dramas that makes you pull your hair out. That’s right, if I had hair I would have totally pulled it out watching the trials and tribulations of Han Jung Won! Not only does she have to deal with being switched at birth, she has the relentless abuse at the hand of her fellow switchee, Hwang Geum Ran, to deal with! Aigoo! This was a winner of 5 MBC drama awards in the serial drama categories.

3. The Greatest Love
This drama snuck up on me and punched me straight in the face during the latter half of the summer. For some reason, it didn’t seem all that appealing to me, then I watched and was hooked! It is a very funny series, but is also very sad and melancholy, the sign of a truly great series! Winner of 7 MBC drama awards, including Best Drama.

2. My Princess
Here is another that punched me in the face! I ignored it at first, then after sticking to watching the second episode, I was swept up into it. Kim Tae Hee is the greatest and I would watch her in anything… even that terrible drama she did set at Harvard University! Get ready to laugh and cry!

1. Dream High
From the moment it aired it was my favorite drama no matter what. It is like a Korean version of fame with Suzy Bae and IU… you can’t lose! It’s corny, funny, sad and tragic, everything you want from a drama of this ilk. The series also sports some really good pop music including this little number below by Suzy. Oh, er, I mean, anyone catch that Steelers game…

Top Ten Movies of 2011

Here are my entries for the 10 best movies of 2011!

10. Patisserie Coin de Rue
A delightful comedy/drama about a young woman who goes searching for her boyfriend and ends up finding something more, her life’s true calling. Both funny and melancholy, the film has a slow pace that draws you in and you can’t help but hope that Aoi Yu’s character, Natsume, will finally make her mark. This movie was never released in the US, so an overseas DVD or a digital download is in order for you to sample the delights.

9. Attack The Block
This movie is great, believe. A little, exciting movie that takes very well worn sci-fi themes and manages to spin them into something new and fresh. The recent Chav Summer meltdown in London actually makes this movie seem poignant and puts a face on the movie’s deeper message. Trust, you’ll like it, believe. Available on DVD and Blu Ray in these United States through places likes Amazon and Best Buy.

8. My Black Mini Dress (마이 블랙 미니드레스)
Let the teasing begin! What can I say, I simply love Yoon Eun Hye! Add to that the bonus of Yoo In-Na and we are in business!! This is movie explores the hopes, dreams and failures of four friends living in Seoul and was my movie of the spring! This is another that is only available on DVD and Blu Ray in Asia or through a digital download on the internet.

7. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
A cold, slow, twisty English thriller in the old sense that never fails to deliver. From it’s stark art direction, to the sparse score, to the winding narrative… it is to be seen and taken in. Who cares if you don’t really know what’s going on… you just know something is.

6. Moneyball
Nothing tugs at my heart more than sports statistics and making lists… this movie has them both! It’s a sports movie of a different kind, the one going on in the heads of the back room staff. Brad Pitt is excellent as Billy Beane in this semi-true, yet fictionalized account of the Oakland A’s attempt to change the system of baseball during the 2002 season. Jonah Hill is also excellent, especially in that scene where he wears a sensitive purple sweater.

5. Nothing To Declare
Dany Boon follows up his smash comedy “Welcome to the Sticks” with a tale of two warring customs agents on opposite sides of the border between France and Belgium. It is brash, ingenious and utterly hilarious and, one would hope, will be released in the US someday soon. This was another classic from the COLCOA festival held at the DGA.

4. Fast Five
That’s right… I did it! I put Fast Five in my top 5 for the year. Sure, it is a dumb, brawny movie with outlandish action, tons of bro moments and super silly dialogue, but who cares… I love it!! You have to a love a movie where the Rock gets so Buff that Vin Diesel is forced to ‘roid it up, too, or else look like a pussy. In fact, Diesel’s neck is so yoked that you can barely understand what he is saying! Oh, and I am not sure why the Rock is constantly glistening… maybe it is the weather. You also can’t deny a movie that uses that Jesus statue in EVERY establishing shot to remind you that you are STILL in Rio. Genius!!!

3. Midnight in Paris
Woody Allen has been a hero of mine since I was young and it has been so great to see him recapture his form after so many years in the woods. With “Midnight in Paris”, Woody finds a very rich, funny subject matter that captures a spirit of melancholy often missing from his movies over the last few decades. Owen Wilson is wonderful as a wide-eyed writer getting to meet his literary heroes in a strange alternate reality and brings his own brand of charm to the usual “Woody Allen” role. Marion Cotillard is equally charming and it is her sense of longing that gives the movie the sad undercurrent that I love. I know many people are split over this movie and I just don’t understand why. Maybe it’s because it deals with literary giants and the allure of being a writer in Paris… or maybe they are just dicks.

2. The Women on the 6th Floor (Les Femmes du 6ème étage)
Another gem from this year’s COLCOA festival, this little movie is just wonderful. It is so funny and endearing, you can’t help but cheer for Fabrice Luchini and fall for the lively Spanish women living on the 6th floor. This film actually received a US release and I believe it is due for DVD and Blu Ray in the near future. I highly recommend you watch and enjoy!

1. Jane Eyre
Nothing quite sums me up more than a melancholy tale of cold, English repression and regret. “Jane Eyre” is a film of remarkable quality, from its beautiful photography and art direction, to its subtle score and performances, it is just amazing. This is the year of Michael Fassbender and he is as powerful and tragic here as any character he’s portrayed… it is brilliant. Mia Wasikowska is equally brilliant in the title role and sets herself apart from every actress that has portrayed this character in the past. By far the best adaptation of the classic novel… this “Jane Eyre” is not to be missed.