Sonic Cinema

Sounds, Visions and Insights by Brian Skutle

Snooch to the Nooch!

Another summer come and gone. Sadly, not as productive as previous ones due to, well, a lot of things. Albums to finish. Pieces to record. Oxygen to wait for. And, well, a lot of other stuff. Still, what I saw ended up putting a smile on my face…well, the best stuff anyway. The rest of it? Well, that’s why we have freedom of choice…so I can choose to never watch some films again. Which were which? Read on, and you’ll also get a glimpse of the fall ahead, which looks to be one of the best in recent years. Enjoy!

(Yes, I do realize this is a couple of weeks late. I just haven’t been in the mood to finish it up. I still hope you enjoy it, though.)

Viva La Resistance!

Brian Skutle
www.sonic-cinema.com
www.myspace.com/brianskutle
www.myspace.com/cinemanouveau

End-of Summer Best/Worst/Oscar-Worthy:
Best Film: “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” (A+). I loved “Inception.” Seriously, L-O-V-E-D loved “Inception.” But you know what? Edgar Wright raised the bar for cinematic dream reality with this knockout adaptation of the graphic novel series by Brian Lee O’Malley wherein hero Scott Pilgrim (a never-better Michael Cera) must fend off the evil exes of his dream girl Ramona Flowers to date her, and discover himself. With pitch-perfect casting, music, and visual execution that makes me envious of the talent on display, Wright edges out Chris Nolan’s brilliant and exciting dream thriller for big ambitions in a summer that reeked of more of the same more often than not.

Best Entertainment: “Toy Story 3” (A); Pixar breaks the third-film curse with a gem that’s dark, funny, and pretty-damn emotional when the toy’s future is uncertain. Honestly, there really isn’t much more I can say about these guys- after 11 films, they have honed their craft to perfection from film to film.

Worst Film: “Marmaduke” (F); What a dog. Only the presence of irreverent actresses Judy Greer and Emma Stone (the former onscreen, the latter in voice) made this somewhat tolerable. The rest is just…ugh…

Worst Disappointment:: Honestly, of the ones I’ve seen (and keep in mind there are a lot I have yet to) there aren’t really any creatively (although I do wish the Robert Rodriguez-produced “Predators” (B+) had been slightly better, ditto Stallone’s “The Expendables” (B-)). Financially, my biggest letdown was the disappointing numbers for James Mangold’s “Knight and Day” (A-), which- bad title aside- is the most fun Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz have been onscreen in years. (And don’t even get me started on “Scott Pilgrim’s” non-start at the box-office…)

Biggest Laughs: “Dinner for Schmucks” (A); Scott Pilgrim aside, this summer’s comedies were significant for playing to their actor’s strengths and allowing the lunacy to grow from there (which is why “The Hangover” worked so well last year). But as much as I loved the wackiness of “The Other Guys” and the family-friendly hilarity of “Toy Story 3,” I gotta give Jay Roach’s remake of a french farce the gold medal for laughs, and not just for showing us Steve Carell at his hilarious and heartfelt best, but the way it made the idea of idiocy into a level of social commentary that Mike Judge’s “Idiocracy” could only dream of back in 2006.

Biggest/Best Surprise:: For me, from what little I ended up watching, there wasn’t really anything to put here, although my all-around love for “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” knows few bounds…

Biggest Dud: “The Last Airbender” (B-)- I mean, yeah it crossed $100 million, but has a film killed a filmmaker’s career more than this one from M. Night Shyamalan? I think not.

Most Gratuitous Cash-In: “Sex and the City 2” (D)- It’s no contest, really. When I finally saw the first “Sex and the City,” I felt like it had something to say on life, love, and all those things. When I screened the sequel, it proved that a chick flick could be every bit as crass, manipulative, and insulting to its’ audience as the average summer action blockbuster.

Favorite Performances: Instead of trying to come up with something to write about each performance/character, I’m just gonna be running them down for you: Steve Carell, “Dinner for Schmucks”; Will Farrell, “The Other Guys”; Tom Hanks, “Toy Story 3”; Leonardo DiCaprio, “Inception”; Ellen Page, “Inception”; Michael Cera, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”; Mary Elizabeth Winstead, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”; Tom Cruise, “Knight and Day”, Robert Downey Jr., “Iron Man 2”; Scarlett Johansson, “Iron Man 2”; Amanda Seyfried, “Letters to Juliet”; Kieran Culkin, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”; Michael Keaton, “The Other Guys” & “Toy Story 3”.

Oscar-Worthy Mentions:
In a break from my usual practice, I’m just gonna go with the ones I’d most like to see nominated (and so far occupy slots in my own Oscar ballot) rather than listing everything.

Best Picture: “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”; “Inception”; “Toy Story 3”; “The Kids Are All Right”; “Someone Else in the Evening”; “Dinner for Schmucks”; “Best Worst Movie”; “Road to Victory”

Best Director: Edgar Wright, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”; Christopher Nolan, “Inception”; Lisa Cholodenko, “The Kids Are All Right”; Edgar Muniz, “Someone Else in the Evening”

Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, “Inception”; Michael Cera, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”; John C. Reilly, “Cyrus”; Mike Reilly, “Road to Victory”; Tom Cruise, “Knight and Day”; Paul Rudd, “Dinner for Schmucks”

Best Actress: Annette Bening, “The Kids Are All Right”; Julianne Moore, “The Kids Are All Right”; Laura Brown, “Someone Else in the Evening”; Angelina Jolie, “Salt”; Amanda Seyfried, “Letters to Juliet”

Best Supporting Actor: Kieran Culkin, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”; Steve Carell, “Dinner for Schmucks”; Michael Keaton, “The Other Guys” & “Toy Story 3”; Mark Ruffalo, “The Kids Are All Right”; Josh Hutcherson, “The Kids Are All Right”; Jonah Hill, “Cyrus”; Jason Schwartzman, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”; Joseph Gordon-Levitt, “Inception”; Tom Hardy, “Inception”

Best Supporting Actress: Marion Cotillard, “Inception”; Anna Kendrick, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”; Mia Wasikowska, “The Kids Are All Right”; Marisa Tomei, “Cyrus”; Mary Elizabeth Winstead, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”; Ellen Page, “Inception”

Best Original Screenplay: “Inception” (Christopher Nolan); “The Kids Are All Right” (Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg); “Someone Else in the Evening” (Edgar Muniz); “Road to Victory” (Mike Reilly)

Best Adapted Screenplay: “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” (Edgar Wright, Michael Bacall); “Toy Story 3” (Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich); “Dinner for Schmucks” (David Guilon, Michael Handelman)

Best Original Score: “Inception” (Hans Zimmer); “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” (Nigel Godrich); “Toy Story 3” (Randy Newman); “Knight and Day” (John Powell)

Best Original Song: “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3” (Randy Newman)

Technical Oscars Run-Down: Honestly, beyond “Inception” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” it doesn’t really matter. Everything else is a tired also-ran.

Summer 2009: The Complete Moviewatching List:
The A’s: “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” (A+); “Inception” (A+); “Toy Story 3” (A); “Dinner for Schmucks” (A); “The Kids Are All Right” (A); “Someone Else in the Evening” (A); “Best Worst Movie” (A); “Road to Victory” (A); “Cyrus” (A-); “The Other Guys” (A-); “Iron Man 2” (A-); “Knight and Day” (A-); “Splice” (A-); “Despicable Me” (A-); “Salt” (A-); “Letters to Juliet” (A-)

The B’s: “The Switch” (B+); “Predators” (B+); “The A-Team” (B); “Homeland” (B-); “Grown Ups” (B-); “The Last Exorcism” (B-); “The Expendables” (B-); “The Last Airbender” (B-)

The C’s: “Robin Hood” (C+); “Shrek Forever After” (C)

The D’s: “Sex and the City 2” (D)

The F’s: “Marmaduke” (F)

Brian’s 10 “Must-See” Movies of Fall 2010
1. “Tron: Legacy” (December 17)
2. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1” (November 19)
3. “The Social Network” (October 1)
4. “True Grit” (December 25)
5. “Machete” (A-)
6. “Let Me In” (10/1)
7. “Black Swan” (12/1)
8. “Due Date” (11/5)
9. “The Town” (9/17)
10. “Waiting for ‘Superman'” (9/24)

Other Fall Films to Be on the Lookout For:
A closer look at this Fall reveals a lot of interesting projects on the horizon, both high-brow and low. Among the selections are: “The Tillman Story” (9/3); “I’m Still Here” (9/10); “Never Let Me Go” (9/15); “Easy A” (9/17); “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” (9/24); “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga-Hoole” (9/24); “Saw 3-D” (10/22); “Hereafter” (10/22); “Megamind” (11/5); “127 Hours” (11/5); “Morning Glory” (11/12); “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” (12/10); “How Do You Know” (12/17); “Blue Valentine” (12/31)

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