Schubert. On Film.


Posted in best of 2009 by schubertonfilm on February 16, 2010

It took me a while to get down to the business of this. Finding even ten movies that you really loved in today’s age is a tough task. I like a lot of a movies. But I rarely love a movie. These ten movies I loved:

10.  We Live In Public (Ondi Timoner)

Examining the effect of the Internet on modern society, Dig! director Ondi Timoner strikes gold again, documenting the exploits of Internet entrepreneur Josh Harris from the “fun” explosion of the Internet in the late 90’s to the sad state it’s in today. Technology addiction is a particularly fascinating subject for me and this film hit me right where it hurts. The more technologically “in touch” we are, the less the connection means. We Live In Public explains that point in shocking fashion and your eyes will not leave the screen for a moment.

9.  Big Fan (Robert D. Siegel)

Another performance that proves that, more often than not, comedic actors have more range than so-called  “dramatic” ones. Patton Oswalt is this movie. Kevin Corrigan, Michael Rapaport and the rest of the supporting cast are great, but Oswalt owns the film. Showing the depth of a veteran dramatic actor, Oswalt emotes with the best of them, pulling you into the sad mind of New York Giants mega-fan Paul Aufiero and simultaneously creating the most interesting silver screen loner since Travis Bickle turned on his cab light in 1976.

8.  The Informant! (Steven Soderbergh)

This movie is a great time. It isn’t overly heavy, it’s neither low budget or high budget, it’s just right. It’s the kind of mid-sized comedy Hollywood used to make until Dane Cook and Ashton Kutcher started butt-fucking the multiplexes. And again, it’s a one-man show: Matt Damon. He is pitch-perfect in the role of serial liar Mark Whitacre. I always knew Damon could be funny, but I never thought he could pull off a role like this. Another smart casting trick Soderbergh used was surrounding Damon with comedic actors in serious roles: Joel McHale, Tom Wilson, Scott Adsit, Tony Hale, Patton Oswalt, Dick Smothers. Scorsese used this idea in Casino as well with Don Rickles, Kevin Pollak and Smothers. Like I mentioned in the review for Big Fan, comedians have a lot to offer and it’s a shame that so few directors put them to good use.

7.  A Single Man (Tom Ford)

Is style really such a naughty word? It gets a bad rap when people say “style over substance”. I believe there is such a thing as style triumphing over substance and there’s a difference. When the style is so damn good and the visuals are as beautifully composed and appealing as they are in 1960’s-set A Single Man, it can make you forgive any shortcomings in its source material. But that’s not to say the screenplay for A Single Man is poor because it’s actually quite witty, even when it comes off as cold and distant. But it’s the look of the film that gets you and the amazing performance by Colin Firth. He won’t get it, but in my opinion, he deserves that Best Actor Oscar. And to think this is Tom Ford’s first film. Unbelievable.

6.  Drag Me To Hell (Sam Raimi)

A throwback to his classic style, Raimi brings it all back home with Drag Me To Hell. Seeing this movie was a relief. I both love and hate Sam Raimi; he can be an infuriating figure. He’ll give you campy brilliance with the Evil Dead trilogy and bring you a thoughtful, carefully-made moralistic drama like A Simple Plan. But then the bad Raimi can turn around and give you Spider-Man movies and For The Love of the Game. This time out Raimi hits an absolute home run. It’s a fun movie with no bullshit and no emotions. It tells its ghost story from A-Z and doesn’t let up from the first frame, thankfully using minimal CGI and, instead, installing the visual trickery that most horror movies utilized until computers took over the world. Thank you Sam Raimi for restoring my faith in you and, may I say, thanks in advance for not making Spider-Man 4.

5.  Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (Werner Herzog)

I loathe to use the parlance of our times, but WTF? I know Herzog. I know what madness he’s capable of. I’ve seen Fitzcarraldo, I’ve seen Aguirre: The Wrath Of God. But I never could have expected this. Pure. Unadulterated. Cinematic. Madness. This movie is fucking insane and no plot points should be given away. Nicolas Cage gives one of two of my “comeback” performances of the year. I thought I hated you, Nicolas. I thought your spirit had vanished into the ether. But it turns out you needed a man like Herzog to coax you back to life, and did he ever succeed in glorious fashion. From the notorious Iguana-cam to Cage’s drug-fueled death rant against an innocent senior citizen, whether you like this movie or not, it’s guaranteed you will never be bored.

4.  Anvil! The Story of Anvil (Sacha Gervasi)

It’s hard to believe Anvil! is only 80 minutes long. It feels much, much longer. Usually if a movie feels long it’s a bad thing. But not in this case. Maybe it feels long because it contains the story of two people’s entire lives: bandmates Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner. Anvil! tells a very funny and sad tale about the thin line between success and failure and the effect that line has on your psyche. These people are raw, damaged and, most importantly, real. These guys work shitty day jobs and, at times, play in front of 2 people for thirty years, all in the hopes of one day hitting it big. Their story could not resonate with me more, a struggling musician. A couple tears even withered out of my stupid eyelids watching these guys go about their lives. This is powerful stuff; one of the most heartfelt and inspiring documentaries you will ever see.

3.  A Serious Man (The Coen Brothers)

Watching poor schlub Lawrence Gopnik go through his painful trials, scene by scene, is the main sadistic pleasure of the Coen Brothers’ fantastic A Serious Man. Combining two of my favorite film elements, period pieces and Jewish-themed coming-of-age stories (both young and old), the Coens’ latest is a wry, darkly funny study of one man’s search for a break in a world that refuses to let him off easy. The 1970 production design provides retro-fabulous eye candy, unknown  Broadway actor Michael Stuhlbarg’s performance is spot-on and Fred Melamed’s extremely quotable Sy Ableman will go down as one of the most memorable characters of the year. “I fucked your wife, Larry! I seriously fucked her!”

2.  World’s Greatest Dad (Bobcat Goldthwait)

Nicolas Cage gave the first comeback performance of the year. Now, Robin Williams steps up to the plate. To say I   thought there was even a speck of hope that Williams could ever do anything good again would be pushing it. I was convinced he was completely dead. And then I saw World’s Greatest Dad. There are a lot of great things in this movie, namely Daryl Sabara’s performance as Kyle, the most evil son on the planet. But it’s Williams that holds the entire thing together. He never slips from his character and stays in his element the entire time, without the obligatory Robin Williams camera-mug fest. He plays his role with honesty, emotion and genuine heart and it’s incredibly refreshing. But an even bigger surprise is that comedian Bobcat Goldthwait is capable of creating such a brilliant black comedy. The writing is focused and bitingly satiric, condensing exactly what is wrong with today’s society into a 99 minute film. The most underrated movie of the year, hands-down.

1.  Inglorious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)

Big surprise, I suppose, but what else could be number one? Quentin has simply outdone himself. After the self-indulgent pile of shit that was Death Proof, he’s back with a vengeance, authoring his most mature and un-Quentin-like movie yet. What else could one say about Basterds that hasn’t already been said? It’s layered, it’s intricate, it’s entertaining, it’s romantic, it’s cleverly-written and it’s expertly-directed. To be precise, it’s both the most fun and intelligent movie of the year. Thank you, Quentin, for always being there when we need you most.


5 Responses

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  1. Sharon Schubert said, on February 19, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Your brutal honesty elevates and authenticates your praise. Well-written and not to be missed reviewing.

    • schubertonfilm said, on February 19, 2010 at 3:26 pm

      Thanks mom..I know you’re not just saying that because I’m your son and you have to like it.

  2. shermer85 said, on February 25, 2010 at 12:30 am

    you are intelligent.

  3. Mr. Steele said, on February 27, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    Well said. I will have to check out that We Live In Public.

  4. Jonny Shizzbang said, on March 18, 2010 at 1:19 am

    When will there be something new?

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