July 8, 2011

Half-Way, Holmes: The Top 10 Movies I Re-Watched This Year

It's Friday, which means it's list time once again. In case you missed last week's list and are too lazy to scroll down a couple of posts, I'm spending the month reflecting on what stood out as far as the movies I watched this year so far. This week's list will probably be the most uninteresting of the bunch for you all to read, but whatever... it was easy to put together, so yeah. Shut up. The title of the post speaks for itself, so let's get crackin'. Also, my pal Dusty from Playground of Doom did his own version of the list I posted last week, which you can check out here.

#10 OCEAN'S TWELVE - I'd probably put this higher on the list, but it doesn't really count as a re-watch. The first time I saw it I didn't really pay much attention to it, so when I watched it again a few months ago it was basically like watching it again for the first time. I'm a huge fan of director Steven Soderbergh because of how versatile he is in terms of both the style and substance of his work, and the first two OCEAN'S movies are good examples of his A-films. Let's also not forget that Soderbergh is a great cinematographer as well, and this film is absolutely spectacular on a visual level. There are certain things about OCEAN'S TWELVE that annoy the shit out of me, but for the most part it's a lot of fun and I can see it holding up well should I re-watch it again in the near future.

#9 CLEAN, SHAVEN - Director Lodge Kerrigan brings schizophrenia to the screen in perhaps the best cinematic representation of mental illness ever made. The film follows a mentally-disturbed man (Peter Greene) as he attempts to adapt to life outside of an institution and track down his estranged adolescent daughter. I first watched this movie during my high school years and was quite disturbed by it, and there were moments in the film that stuck with me through the years (including one of the gnarliest fingernail-removing scenes ever and a haircut that gets a little too close to the scalp). The film's been on my mind a lot in the last year, so I thought I'd revisit it a few months ago to see if it held up. Watching it now, I have a new appreciation for it on many levels: Greene's performance, its importance as an indie film, and how Kerrigan uses sound and editing to convey the impact that schizophrenia has on a person. On a side note, the Criterion release features an excellent commentary track with Kerrigan and Steven Soderbergh, which ties into the previous entry on the list and segues into the next...

#8 TRAFFIC - The first time I saw TRAFFIC was right around the time it came out on DVD. I hated it. I expected a thriller and didn't really get that. I also had no idea who the fuck Steven Soderbergh was back then. In the last couple of months I've been on a bit of a Soderbergh kick that ended when I watched the awful GOOD GERMAN but will likely pick up again in the near future as I still have a desire to watch pretty much everything he's directed up to this point. That being said, I gave TRAFFIC another chance, and I think the means of when and how I watched the film had a lot to do with how much it won me over this time around. Just me in a dark room, in a speedo, watching it on my laptop with my earphones plugged in. It was an intimate experience, just me and TRAFFIC, and I found it to be very rewarding. Great score and solid performances from the impressive ensemble cast (especially Michael Douglas), and I loved the look of the film. Surprisingly, wearing only a speedo did nothing to enhance my viewing experience.

#7 VINYAN - I was a little worried about this one. That initial viewing was a motherfucker, and based on the strength of that first viewing I considered it to be one of the best representations of New French Extreme cinema. However, I put the risk of it not holding up aside in favor of a strong desire to see it once again, and thankfully it held up just as well but I can't see myself watching it again anytime soon for the same reason I was hesitant to revisit it in the first place. Director Fabrice Du Welz created an equal parts nightmarish, atmospheric, and gorgeous horror film with VINYAN, and the exotic-looking Emmanuelle BĂ©art was just as mesmerizing as the movie itself. To say that I'm highly anticipating Du Welz's next project would be an understatement.

#6 BLADE II and BLADE: TRINITY - I'm sure you're sick of hearing about the BLADE movies by now if you caught any of the ill-fated Death Rattle Arena posts I did a while back, so I'll keep this one short. BLADE II has always been a very entertaining and re-watchable film for me, but up until a couple of months ago I only saw BLADE: TRINITY the once and I fucking hated it. For some reason, I really enjoyed the shit out of it the second time around for a number of reasons. For one, it's both surreal and extremely cool to see Parker Posey and Triple H as members of the same vampire posse. Also, Jessica Biel is one of the sexiest women alive and I've kinda lightened up on Ryan Reynolds as of late. Those abs! Fun fact: I couldn't remember how to spell "posse" while writing this ("possie", "possey"). What the fuck. Thanks, spell-check.

#5 THE CRUCIBLE - Another movie I saw in high school and didn't watch again until recently. I didn't like it too much back then, probably because it was too long or something. It's so fucking solid on just about every level. I love the inherently over the top and chaotic nature of the film's performances; the fact that it's based on a play really shows. And, as always, Daniel Day-Lewis kills it.

#4 THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE - I'm probably in the minority when I say that I love the loud, scenery-devouring post-SCARFACE Al Pacino more than the old-school Pacino. He has a great voice and delivers lines of screaming dialogue like no one else; his whole monologue about God being an "ABSENTEE LANDLORD!" at the end of this movie is a prime example of this. Now that I think about it, I'd easily put the whole back end of this film on a list of my all-time favorite movie climaxes, and this is partly due to "Paint it Black" closing out the film, which always brings a smile to my face when I watch this. I've only seen this film about four times, maybe five, and it always holds up really well.

#3 V FOR VENDETTA - Yet another movie on the list that I only saw the once back it first came out. I caught it on television a few times since but never watched it all the way through. I think the space of time between my first and most recent viewings (five years?!) were key in how much I enjoyed it this time around. It was almost like watching it again for the first time even though I already knew what was going to happen and how it would end. There's really not a lot to say about this movie. It's a well-crafted, entertaining film and wonderfully acted by one of my favorite actresses, Natalie Portman. Hugo Weaving did a stellar job, considering.

#2 THE PRESTIGE - Abracadabra, bitches. Easily my favorite Christopher Nolan film (fuck INCEPTION) and legitimately in my top twenty movies of all time. To me, this is one of the most well-paced movies I've ever seen and brilliant on so many levels. I love this movie so much that I can't even write about it right now. Also, I promise not to include the phrase "on so many levels" in any of my posts for at least a week.

#1 ROAD HOUSE - True story: Late last year I watched this movie three times in a row. Three fucking times in a row! I barely ever watch three movies in a single day let alone the same movie three times in one sitting! Absolutely ridiculous. And not, like, having it on in the background, but sitting there and actually watching it. You know what, though? I probably could have watched it a fourth time. Just a couple of months ago I found myself missing the late Patrick Swayze and reflecting on his career, so I watched ROAD HOUSE once again and it was still a blast. A combination of this film being a product of its time and the fact that - as a former bouncer - I can relate to the profession that serves as the focus of most of the film are just a couple of the many reasons why I love it so much. By the time you read this, I may have watched or am at least considering watching ROAD HOUSE again. Just sayin'.


  1. The problem with V for Vendetta is not that it's boring. Very, very boring. There are plenty of boring movies that warrant attention. The problem is that it is, at the same time, nihilistic AND self-righteous. As in, there is no truth, man is dumb to reality, and I am right and everyone else is evil because I know the truth, even though the truth is unknowable, and I'll prove it by throwing knives at you in slow motion.

    This movie is for teenagers, but I suppose that's just my opinion.

    Road House is perfect. Like, Casablanca perfect.

  2. PallidBust: Valid points on V FOR VENDETTA, but at least we agree on ROAD HOUSE.

    Matt: Be nice.