1.Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol - As soon as I saw the Bad Robot logo, I was reminded of JJ's involvement with the M:I films (we're on a first name basis). I don't know why this always escapes me when I refer to Undercovers as his only disappointing project. That's not true. He wrote and directed Mission: Impossible III and that was a really shitty film. As with the previous 2, it was just a bunch of action sequences held together by a really thin, really ridiculous plot. When Ghost Protocol arrived in theaters I had very little interest, that is until everyone started raving about it. I still never got the chance to see it in theaters and I admit I regret it. It would have been glorious on an IMAX screen and is by far the best of the M:I films (which still isn't saying much). I had seen clips of the Burj Khalifa scene during promotion of the film and was rightfully impressed, but watching the entire sequence blew my mind. It is absolutely stunning. I would say everything else about the film is decent. Decent action, decent fight scenes, decent actors. I give credit to Brad Bird for turning a franchise that I despise into something "decent". I did love that there were a few Alias references in there ("green car number 47" and the character name Leonid Lisenker). I'm sure there were Lost references as well, but I have hard time catching those because everything in the history of the world could be a reference to Lost. The Alias references are a nice nod to the JJ fans that were supporting him from the beginning (Felicity doesn't really count at this point, right?).
2. Shame - With only 2 feature films under his belt, Steve McQueen has already distinguished himself as a true artist. Shame is undeniably a refined masterpiece. The long tracking shot of Brandon (Michael Fassbender) jogging through the streets of New York City will be burned in my memory forever. I was mesmerized. I watched it 3 times in a row because I just couldn't comprehend how expertly it was executed. I still can't. Fucking sublime. Anyway, the story is a very brutal tale of self-destruction. It made me think. A lot. When Brandon is on the subway the first time, eye-fucking the girl across the way, I thought about how hard it must be for successful businessman to find nice, intelligent girls in NYC who aren't on their own path of self-destruction. Any sane girl would run in the opposite direction at the sight of Brandon (Patrick Bateman. Anyone?). When Brandon is on that extremely awkward dinner date, I thought about how glad I am that I don't torture myself like that. The part that really made me think (for days) is when Brandon's sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan), said "We're not bad people. We just come from a bad place." I appreciate that the story never divulges what this "bad place" was, but it frustrates me when people place blame on their past to justify their actions. Even though I don't relate to the characters, I can still sympathize with them as the addiction, destruction and selfishness unfolds. *****MAJOR spoiler ahead**** The only real fault in the film, for me, was when Sissy reveals that she is a cutter. My brain instantly flashed-forward to the end with Brandon carelessly satisfying his own needs as she attempts suicide. If it was never alluded to, the ending would have been even more poetic. Also, a friend of mine called the film homophobic because him having sex with a man was seen as destructive (which is a valid complaint). I can see the point, but I wholeheartedly disagree. By that point in the film, Brandon is so empty and soul-less. I think the intention was to show how disconnected he is with humanity and his own feelings. I honestly think the standard romantic comedy is much more homophobic than this film.
3. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - I didn't really like this film. It was unnecessarily long, had a ridiculous plot and the kid was really annoying (both as an actor and a character). However, it touched on something that happened to New Yorkers after 9/11, that really hit close to my heart. I read several reviews that questioned the necessity of using 9/11 as the tragedy, calling it a ploy to tug at the viewers emotions. I actually found it essential to the story. If the boys father died in a car accident, not one person would open their door to him. What happened after that tragic day is exactly that: New Yorkers opened their doors. They needed to be heard, to tell their story and to listen to others. My mother's husband was in one of the towers that morning. He survived. When the subject comes up, people are fascinated by his story and he has a need to tell it. It breaks my heart to hear him talk about when he sleeps he still pictures all of the people he passed on his way out of the building. It's a hard story to hear, but I still sit and patiently listen to him tell it. The film was about a boy telling his story and I listened to every word. I really expected to be an emotional wreck while watching it, but I really didn't break too much. The film successfully found my weak spot when the mother (Sandra Bullock - my favorite person ever) was on the phone trying to contact her husband and she just kept getting the "all circuits are busy" message. That is actually my only clear memory of that day - everything else is a blur.
4. The Sitter - So the big question: Was it supposed to be a complete rip-off of the fantastically awesome 80's flick, Adventures in Babysitting? I've read that it was supposed to be a "loose remake" and that it was supposed to "pay homage" to it, but really it was just offensively similar (but not even close to the awesomeness). The Sitter is really fucking stupid. I didn't laugh once, which just feels wrong for a film that stars both Jonah Hill and Ari Graynor. Sam Rockwell was pretty entertaining, but that is probably the only positive thing I can say about the film. Oh and the song for the end credits was Biz Markie "Just a Friend" which made me very happy. I had it in my head for days afterwards. "You, you got what I neeeed. But you say he's just a friend, you say he's just a friend. Oh baby, yooooouuu....."
5. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - A film described as an "international espionage thriller" should not be this fucking boring. It had absolutely no emotion, no intensity and really no point. The acting was good yet I couldn't care less about any of the characters, which is a weird phenomenon. The fact that I have nothing else to say about the film really tells you all you need to know....