2006 at the movies
Martin Scorsese is one of the most celebrated directors in Hollywood. He came of age during the golden years of Hollywood cinema and is probably best known for gangster films such as Casino and Goodfellas. Scorsese’s last two films (The Aviatorand Gangs of New York) were not his best work, but The Departed is a return to form–a story about organized crime in Boston. The movie features gruesome violence and a story that weaves the tale of corruption and power. Outstanding performances abound. Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon mirror each other throughout the film, as both of their characters are undercover in a different way. Supporting roles by Jack Nicholson, Alec Baldwin and Mark Wahlberg also showcase a broad range of talent. The Departed is Scorsese at his best–viscerally violent, but with depth that most movies lack.
A small movie about crime at a suburban high school, Brickstands out because of the stylishly written dialogue (in the fashion of classic film noir). The story winds its way through a brilliant whodunit plot, not necessarily original but, within the atypical setting, quite interesting. Lead actor Joseph Gordon Levitt (of Third Rock From the Sun fame) turns in an exact and inspired performance. Don’t sleep on this film. It’s well worth the cost of a rental.
Best (worst?) cock and ball torture
What’s the best way to introduce a new James Bond into the minds of the movie-going public? Apparently crushing his balls is the way to go. Newcomer Daniel Craig is the new face of the old franchise, but he brings a newfound grittiness and texture to the part. Casino Royale is actually a rather large departure from the Bond films of late. It’s less about gadgets and more about Bond kicking some ass (and getting his ass kicked). The aforementioned torture scene will have the male members of the audience squirming because you can feel the pain in Daniel Craig’s eyes. Ouch.
Runner-up: Hard Candy
A film about a teenage girl taking a pre-emptive strike against a child molester. The movie features some fairly cringe-worthy scenes, though the pain here is more psychological than physical.
Best uneasy laughing
Laughing at this film requires a certain level of self-deception. Laughing doesn’t mean that you are racist, sexist, nationalist, homophobic or just plain disgusting–it means that you’re laughing at people that are. Right? For all of its political incorrectness, Boratreally is a funny movie and it’s evident that Sacha Baron Cohen intended for it to be truly ridiculous in nature. People would still be well served to understand why they’re laughing, especially since everyone else is too.
Best movie demonstrating why Dane Cook sucks
Employee of the Month
Dane Cook is a sure sign that something will be unfunny. It doesn’t matter what he does, Cook just can’t help but be a giant douche bag. Employee of the Month‘s storyline doesn’t help–it literally posits that the new beautiful girl at a warehouse store (think Costco) will date the person chosen as employee of the month. Combining this barely-there plot with the acting talents of Cook and Jessica Simpson must have seemed like box-office dynamite…to a mentally disabled sea lion (I hear the normal sea lions balked at sending this one through).
Best lowbrow appeal
The story here is simple. Assassin Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) is injected by his arch-rival with a poison that will kill him if his heart rate drops below a certain point. The film that follows is a necessarily exhilarating ride to enact vengeance upon his poisoner. Crank succeeds because it makes mindless action and non-stop insanity a plot point rather than a distracting nuisance.
Best poorly researched "documentary"
America: Freedom to Fascism
Aaron Russo hinges this documentary on the fact that nowhere in the Constitution is it stated that the federal government is given the right to enforce an income tax. This would be a fascinating idea to explore–if it were true. See, there’s this wonderful process called "amending the constitution" and one of the amendments made by that process is the 16th. This amendment explicitly states that the federal government has the right to impose an income tax. The language isn’t unclear–Aaron Russo is just an idiot (as is anyone who believes anything they hear in this film).
Best music documentary
This film is deeply flawed in design, but strong in its subject matter. Based on the book by Steven Blush, the main problem with American Hardcoreis the thesis that hardcore died in 1986. While the early days were certainly inspiring, generating classic and important bands, the entire musical genre existed well after that point. What makes this movie the best of the year, however, is the sheer number of awesome bands and classic footage that is covered. Black Flag, Bad Brains and Minor Threat are some of the best bands that ever existed and any film that explores their existence automatically gets a few bonus points.
Snakes on a Plane
Did anyone actually end up seeing this movie? I know I didn’t, probably because my interest peaked a good six months before it was released. Turns out that when a film is a turd it can’t be saved no matter how cool Samuel L. Jackson is. The power of the internet compels stupid films like this to happen–not that the enticingly lowbrow concept really had much of a leg to stand on.