Known Johnson

January 31, 2006

2005 in filmic adventures

Filed under: General — Tom @ 11:24 am

We watch a lot of TV. Too much TV. We watched a lot of TV (too much) before Amanda, but now that Amanda’s come along, she makes a good excuse as to why we watch so much TV (you know, because we don’t get out so much anymore.)

The sad fact that I faced today is that not only did I not see any of the Oscar best-film nominees, I didn’t even want to see any of them. I can’t think of another year where this has happened, but it confirms my suspicion that last year was one of the worst movie-years ever. The unfortunately short list, with explanations:

Fever Pitch: This was pretty light fare, but I found the heart of the film, about the love and devotion a fan gives to his chosen obsession, really resonated with me. I know the kind of love that the main character, played by Jimmy Fallon (who is actually okay here, and whose character’s name I forget – it doesn’t matter,) has for his team. It’s what I feel for my most-favorite music. The fanatical drive to be there for every game is like my desire to buy every release by a number of bands, just to have experienced it all. Nothing earth-shattering or important in this one, but I would think anyone who has that kind of love of something would find something to enjoy here, and being a Nick Hornby project, it’s just an enjoyable distraction overall.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Well, I had high hopes but did what I could to remain realistic. The books are just too odd and the humor just too internal to really recreate well visually. What worked worked really well. What didn’t fell flat in a most embarassing way.

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith: Oh, jeez, what more can be said about this that hasn’t been said? Overall, a disappointment, but I’ll give it that back-handed compliment of being the best of the prequels. But it could have been so much more than what it was.

War of the Worlds: It’s really unfortunate that Tom Cruise picked 2005 to be the year he flew his freak-flag, because his antics overshadowed what was basically a very good sci-fi/action film. I don’t know why it has to be this way, but people can’t seem to divorce the real idiots from the characters they play and wind up using that as an excuse to not see their movies. I have this feeling that it’s more because they don’t want to actually say to others that they went and saw a Cruise flick in light of his Oprah couch-jumping and Today Show BS-philosophizing, fearing that they will appear to somehow be sympathetic to his moronic public behavior. Luckily for me, I don’t care. The original 1953 War of the Worlds is one of my favorite movies of all time, so an updating by Spielberg, who says the original was one of the reasons he became a filmmaker, is a must-see. I will tell you now what other people are ashamed to say: Spielberg’s remake is really, really good. Putting aside his unnecessary changes to the story to include allegories for terrorism in our back yards, this was one of the most intense and realistic action films I’ve seen in a long, long time. What made it most effective was a claustrophic sense of urgency, the panicky desperation that drives people to do stupid things in large numbers, and an incredibly deft use of special effects that were so realistic that you forgot you were looking at things that don’t even exist (take that, George Lucas.) And for the complainers out there, the ending that you all hate so much? It’s in the book, and it works perfectly!

Murderball: I can’t say it much better than my original review did, so go read it.

The 40-Year Old Virgin: I didn’t really have high expectations for this, but I like Steve Carell, and it was co-written by Freaks and Geeks‘ Judd Apatow and Carell, so it couldn’t be all bad, right? Right! It was hilarious – dirty, crude, even disgusting in spots, but a hell of a lot of fun. Especially fun was seeing Freak Seth Rogen in a supporting role (which was very similar to his role in F&R, and apparently I’m not the only one to think so as Apatow is creating a film around him next (this one, I believe.) This also has the distinction of being the last movie Alissa and I would see as non-parents. Twenty-four hours later, Amanda made her way into the world.

Shopgirl: I’m a sucker for Steve Martin. He’s generally very good in all of his roles, but that’s probably because he always seems to play himself. Not so here – even though he penned the novella and the screenplay, he’s cast as the elder gentleman who puts the moves on a willingly naive young woman, and it’s just plain creepy. Read my thoughts on it here. (As good as Martin is, I will not be seeing The Pink Panther. Are you friggin’ kidding me?)

And that was it – our year in movies. There were more than a few films that slipped through our fingers – either in theaters for too short of a time or that we just plain didn’t know about until it was too late, but that’s what DVDs are for, right?


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