The Final Destination Series

FINAL DESTINATION: 2000, BUDGET: $23 million GROSS: $53,302,314

FINAL DESTINATION 2: 2003, BUDGET: $26 million GROSS: $46,455,802

FINAL DESTINATION 3: 2006, BUDGET: $34 million GROSS: $54,098,051

THE FINAL DESTINATION: 2009, BUDGET: $43 million GROSS: $66,436,248

FINAL DESTINATION 5: 2011, BUDGET: $47 million GROSS: ?

 

WRITERS:

1: Glen Morgan/James Wong (screenplay), Jeffrey Reddick (screenplay & story)

2: J. Mackye Gruber/Eric Bress (screenplay & story), Jeffrey Reddick (story & characters)

3: Glen Morgan/James Wong, Jeffrey Reddick (characters)

4: Eric Bress, Jeffrey Reddick (characters)

5: Eric Heisserer, Jeffrey Reddick (characters)

 

DIRECTORS:

1,3: James Wong / 2,4: David R. Ellis / 5: Steven Quale

 

up until a couple weeks ago i hadn't seen any of the Final Destination films, but with the fifth one on the horizon i decided this was going to be my next series discussion so i started watching them all leading up to number fives release.

i remember when the first one came out in 2000 and i saw the trailer and i thought, "huh, that looks like a kinda interesting premise, maybe i'll check that out." well, i didn't, but why that is important is that skip ahead to 2002 and the release of the second film and there i am watching the trailer for that one and thinking, "hold on a second. isn't that the exact same premise/story/idea as the first film?"

the same thing happened with the release and trailer of the third, fourth and fifth films, but i didn't believe my eyes. as much as each film, based on the trailers, appeared to be the exact same thing, just with different actors/characters, i couldn't imagine that was actually the case. as lazy as hollywood is and as unoriginal as much of what they give us is, this seemed to take it to a whole other level. so i went in to this marathon viewing of the entire series really curious to see how different the films actually were and how wrong my trailer assumptions had been. now, having seen all five films i can tell you that i was soooo NOT wrong! and when trying to think about how to discuss the films, the first thing that came to mind was mad libs!

the film Final Destination __(film number)__, begins with a __(type of huge accident)___. after witnessing the accident we are brought back to the present moment and see that it was all just a premonition seen/felt by the main character __(name of premonition-having main character)____. however, as the their premonition begin to occur for real they start to freak out and warn people what is about to happen. no one believes them, but in their freak-out they end up saving a few of the others from certain death.

in the days that follow the first couple of survivors end up getting killed by some pretty random chains of events, like ___(random chain of events, another random chain of events)___. at this point the remaining survivors figure out that death is coming after them in the order in which they were supposed to have died in the __(type of huge accident)___. the rest of the film is them racing around trying to stop it from happening while figuring out how to get around deaths plan as more of them are killed in even more random and gruesome chains of events, like __(random and gruesome chain of event, another random and gruesome chain of events)___.

as i watched all five films i had taken notes about things to talk about. things like how the second film makes reference to the accident in the first one. and how, the way the characters figure out how to get around death's plan isn't the same in all the films. also, in some of the films the "premonition" character gets clues as to who the next victim will be and how they will die, but in the other films there are no hints at all. i was also going to mention that the fourth film, called The Final Destination seemed very much like it had been set-up as the last film in the series (the opening credits recap all the various ways people had died in the previous three films. the use of "The" in the title The Final Destination). and there was some more. but to be honest after watching all five movies i couldn't get over how they were basically all the same film.

i talk sometimes about "big cojones" film making. the idea of a film maker taking some real risks with story or characters or style. and how they trust the intelligence of the audience to go with them, when it's done well, and appreciate not being talked down. well the makers of the Final Destination series have shown big cojones, but in the complete opposite way!

rather than do something new or different or go against the grain in some way, they gave us the same film five times! actually, that is going against the grain. i can't think of any other film series that has produced such replica films. they made one movie five times and what makes me even angrier is that it worked. none of the movies were huge hits, but they all made a profit - obviously enough of one that they kept making them.

and its not like they tried to hide what they were doing either. The trailers put it all out there. like i said earlier, i hadn't seen any of them and yet i knew, based on the trailers, that the films were all copies of each other. they were brazen and incredibly obvious about it. now that takes balls!

i picture the film makers/producers/studio like the two old guys from Trading Places making a bet over how many of these Final Destination movies they can make before people realize what they are doing and stop going. then when we, the audience, have wasted our money and time watching the same thing for the fifth time we overhear them talking and laughing about it as one of them hands the other a one dollar bill! (if anything, this should make you want to avoid seeing anymore Final Destination movies and should make you want to go watch Trading Places again).

2011 Oscar Predictions

 

WILL WIN are in bold

DID WIN are  big

MY SCORE: 18/24

despite anne hathaway's efforts and enthusiasm, the 2011 academy awards will go down as one of the worst i have ever seen. not because of who won or lost, but i'm talking the show itself.

besides the funny put-the-hosts-in-the-movies opening, there was barely a laugh or moment of excitement to be found (except when i won the pool i was in of course). the remixed songs was fun and the bob hope part was nice (although, seeing billy crystal out there to introduce it just made it more obvious what a great host he was and how anne and james just couldn't match up). but other than that the show was pretty dull.

as for my predictions: i did ok this year. 18/24 isn't bad and i did get 2/3 in the shorts categories which is where many pools are often won or lost. however, there were a few categories that, looking back, i'm not sure what i was thinking. i think i got a little too into the idea that The King's Speech wave would sweep up other categories that i missed, the now-obvious, Alice In Wonderland in art direction and costume design. and those of you who listened to the prediction episode of the podcast know how close i was to going with the winners in editing, documentary feature and foreign film (but, alas i didn't). so 18/24 it is. one better than last year and my second best showing since i started doing the podcast. how did you all do?

 

BEST PICTURE
The King's Speech
127 Hours
Black Swan
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone
Inception
The Kids Are All Right
The Fighter

 

 BEST DIRECTOR
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
David Fincher, The Social Network
Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
David O. Russell, The Fighter
Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams , The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
John Hawkes, Winter's Bone
Christian Bale , The Fighter
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Mark Ruffalo , The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech

BEST ACTRESS
Natalie Portman , Black Swan
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
Nicole Kidman , Rabbit Hole
Michelle Williams , Blue Valentine

BEST ACTOR
Javier Bardem , Biutiful
Jeff Bridges , True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth , The King's Speech
James Franco , 127 Hours

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Another Year , Mike Leigh
The Fighter , Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, and Keith Dorrington
Inception , Christopher Nolan
The Kids Are All Right , Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg
The King's Speech , David Seidler

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
127 Hours , Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy
The Social Network , Aaron Sorkin
Toy Story 3 , Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and Lee Unkrich
True Grit , Joel and Ethan Coen
Winter's Bone , Debra Granik and Anne Rossellini

BEST FOREIGN FILM
Biutiful
Dogtooth
In a Better World
Incendies
Outside the Law

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN ART DIRECTION
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Inception
The King's Speech
True Grit

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY
Black Swan
Inception
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN COSTUME DESIGN
Alice in Wonderland
I Am Love
The King's Speech
The Tempest
True Grit

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Gasland
Inside Job
Restrepo
Waste Land

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
Killing in the Name
Poster Girl
Strangers No More
Sun Come Up
The Warriors of Qiugang

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN FILM EDITING
Andrew Weisblum, Black Swan
Pamela Martin, The Fighter
Tariq Anwar, The King's Speech
Jon Harris, 127 Hours
Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter, The Social Network

ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKEUP
Adrien Morot, Barney's Version
Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng, The Way Back
Rick Baker and Dave Elsey, The Wolfman

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
John Powell, How to Train Your Dragon
Hans Zimmer, Inception
Alexandre Desplat, The King's Speech
A.R. Rahman, 127 Hours
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Social Network

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“Coming Home” from Country Strong, Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
“I See the Light” from Tangled, Music by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater
“If I Rise” from 127 Hours, Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong
“We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3, Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM
Day & Night
The Gruffalo
Let's Pollute
The Lost Thing
Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
The Confession
The Crush
God of Love
Na Wewe
Wish 143

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND EDITING
Inception
Toy Story 3
Tron: Legacy
True Grit
Unstoppable

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND MIXING
Inception
The King’s Speech
Salt
The Social Network
True Grit

ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL EFFECTS
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Hereafter
Inception
Iron Man 2

The Imaginarium Of Dr. Parnassus/Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

YEAR: 2009, WRITER: Terry Gilliam & Charles McKeown, DIRECTOR: Terry Gilliam, BUDGET: $30 million (estimated), GROSS: $7,689,458

YEAR: 2010, WRITER: Edgar Wright & Michael Bacall (screenplay), Bryan Lee O'Malley (graphic novels), DIRECTOR: Edgar Wright, BUDGET: $60 million (estimated), GROSS: $29,267,130 (as of Sept. 5th 2010)

while photography is pretty singularly a visual medium and books are a medium very much completely reliant on the words, film is an art form that spans mediums. the words are just as important a component to the success of a film (i mean artistic success - not commercial) as is how the film looks and what it does visually, both large and small (people who talk about film tend to sometimes forget that a low-budget film, or one that forgoes large sets and special effects, is still making a visual statement).

what is often the case though - and one of the reasons why i think so many pretentious film people tend to look down their nose at big-budget films and movies with lots of special effects - is that many film makers focus their attention on the visual aspect of film making but forget about how important the words/story/script are - which leads to films like The Transformers I and II, Terminator Salvation, Ecks Vs Sever and i could go on, but you get what i'm saying). i bring this up, because i recently watched two films with strong artistic visions that also remembered how important the text was as well: The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

no one familiar with terry gilliam's work could ever accuse him of not having a strong vision - but it could be said that sometimes that vision just doesn't always work beyond looking good - yes, i am talking about Tideland (having not seen it, i can't comment on The Brothers Grimm). what about Brazil you ask? well, that is another one of gilliam's visionary works, but it can be a little confusing to some.

however, with Dr. Parnassus, he has created a gorgeous film that is a feast for the eyes and doesn't alienate the audience either. when characters are in the imaginarium it actually makes sense. you understand what is being represented and how it ties into the story. and speaking of the story, it is grand and interesting. gilliam isn't scared of grand story themes and here he takes on the classic deal-with-the devil scenario (in The Fisher King - my favorite of his films - he went with the holy grail).

what struck me about Scott Pilgrim, in regards to the graphic themes and ideas, was how well it used and stuck with the pop-up words and the video-game and comic book visual cues throughout the film.

there are so many movies out there that start strong when it comes to that sort of thing, but as the film progresses it fissiles out like it was just some kind of gimmick. but with Scott Pilgrim it is a core feature of the film and the vision of the film makers and they use it to full effect. and beyond that, the film is very funny, original and really fun.

although Scott Pilgrim and Dr. Parnassus are two very different films without any real connection, i couldn't help but think of them in the same discussion of visual ideas and the good and bad use of said ideas in movies. and these are two cases of good uses in very good films.

Equilibrium

YEAR: 2002

WRITER: Kurt Wimmer

DIRECTOR: Kurt Wimmer

BUDGET: $20 million (estimated)

GROSS: $1,203,974

 

some films i talk about on Filmed But Not Forgotten are films i come across randomly. others i know about through research or i check out because of the director or someone involved in the film. then others, like Equilibrium, are films that get recommended to me.

this film came out in 2002 and it has been recommended to me at various times by completely different people over the course of those eight years. i remember a friend of mine even had the poster up in their den back in '02 and at the time i had actually never even heard of it (which i am sure was/is the case for lots of people out there given the measly box office returns it generated upon its release).

so the other day i was dvd shopping as i love to do and i saw the blu-ray edition of the film on sale for about $15. i decided to get it (i also picked up Reservoir Dogs the 15th anniversary edition on blu-ray) and this week i threw it in my blu-ray player and checked it out.

Equilibrium is set in the future after world war III. society has realized that mankind won't be able to survive a world war IV. so the fascist regime as moved to eliminate what makes us human: feelings/emotions.literature, music and art are all being eliminated and society is on a drug called prozium which eliminates emotions. christian bale is cleric john preston. a top ranking government agent responsible for destroying those who resist the rules. but when he misses a dose himself, he begins to see things differently.

i knew from the dvd menu alone, and then once the film started, that the film had a strong visual style. however, we all know that visuals alone can't carry a film. and i was a little worried that the film was going to feel corny and melodramatic. a fascist future, a drone-like society, a resistance. if you watch any of these types of movies you know that those three things are almost must-haves for any dystopian future film.

and its obvious why. they allow for grand ideas and themes to be presented and for a positive look at the human spirit and how human nature can survive and win out against our evil and self-destructive nature (that has brought us to the point we are when these films begin). i get it. however, if you are giving us a grand presentation that we have seen many times before, you better do it well. and Equilibrium does.

there is also the beautiful cinematography and visually engaging fight sequences that all work together to create a world and a style that is more then just a pretty facade. and they did it all on a $20 million dollar budget which is incredible.

about half way through the film i started to get a little worried that it was heading down a very typical path and i wasn't sure it had given me enough to go there with it. but i stayed with it and it worked. sure, its a little predictable. but there are a couple nice little twists and turns which keep you on your toes and then there is just the really solid script that brings depth and emotion to characters and a story that could have been stale.

 

P.S. Equilibrium was kurt wimmer's directorial debut and he followed it up four years later with the also nice looking set in the future, but not at all as good (actually had it as #3 on my list of worst films of 2006) film Ultraviolet. but he has worked mostly as a writer on such films as The Thomas Crown Affaire (1999), The Recruit and Law Abiding Citizen. he also wrote the screenplay for the upcoming angelina jolie film Salt.

2010 Oscar Predictions

WILL WIN are in bold 

SHOULD WIN (where i have an opinion) is underlined 

 Did Win are BIG 

 

 

 

MY SCORE: 17/24

well, the oscars have come and gone and i had an average go with my predictions this year. it wasn't my most impressive performance, but it wasn't awful either. where i messed up this year was with the shorts (animation, live action, documentary). normally i get at least one of those right and this time nothing. and then, missing both screenplay winners is just awful. but, i went  17/19 for the rest of the awards and a perfect on the top 6 categories which isn't bad.... so, how did you all do?

Best motion picture of the year
  • Avatar
  • The Blind Side
  • District 9
  • An Education
  • The Hurt Locker
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • Precious
  • A Serious Man
  • Up
  • Up In the Air
Performance by an actress in a leading role
  • Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)
  • Helen Mirren (The Last Station)
  • Carey Mulligan (An Education)
  • Gabourey Sidibe (Precious)
  • Meryl Streep (Julie and Julia)
Performance by an actor in a leading role
  • Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)
  • George Clooney (Up In the Air)
  • Colin Firth (A Single Man)
  • Morgan Freeman (Invictus)
  • Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)
Performance by an actor in a supporting role
  • Matt Damon (Invictus)
  • Woody Harrellson (The Messenger)
  • Christopher Plummer (The Last Station)
  • Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones)
  • Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)
Performance by an actress in a supporting role
  • Penelope Cruz (Nine)
  • Vera Farmiga (Up In the Air)
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart)
  • Anna Kendrick (Up In the Air)
  • Mo'Nique (Precious)
Best animated feature film of the year
  • Coraline
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • The Princess and the Frog
  • The Secret of Kells
  • Up
Best Documentary Short Subject
  • China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province
  • The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner
  • The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant”
  • Music by Prudence
  • Rabbit à la Berlin
Best Short Film (Animated)
  • French Roast
  • Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty
  • The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)
  • Logorama
  • A Matter of Loaf and Death
Best Short Film (Live Action)
  • The Door
  • Instead of Abracadabra
  • Kavi
  • Miracle Fish
  • The New Tenants
Achievement in art direction
  • Avatar
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
  • Nine
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • The Young Victoria
Achievement in cinematography
  • Avatar, Mauro Fiore
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Bruno Delbonnel
  • The Hurt Locker, Barry Ackroyd
  • Inglourious Basterds, Robert Richardson
  • The White Ribbon, Christian Berger
Achievement in costume design
  • Bright Star, Janet Patterson
  • Coco before Chanel, Catherine Leterrier
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Monique Prudhomme
  • Nine, Colleen Atwood
  • The Young Victoria, Sandy Powell
Achievement in directing
  • James Cameron (Avatar)
  • Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
  • Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)
  • Lee Daniels (Precious)
  • Jason Reitman (Up In the Air)
Best documentary feature
  • Burma VJ
  • The Cove
  • Food, Inc.
  • The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
  • Which Way Home
ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKEUP
  • Il Divo, Aldo Signoretti and Vittorio Sodano
  • Star Trek, Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow
  • The Young Victoria, Jon Henry Gordon and Jenny Shircore
Achievement in film editing
  • Avatar, Stephen Rivkin, John Refoua and James Cameron
  • District 9, Julian Clarke
  • The Hurt Locker, Bob Murawski and Chris Innis
  • Inglourious Basterds, Sally Menke
  • Precious, Joe Klotz
Best foreign language film of the year
  • Ajami
  • El Secreto De Sus Ojos
  • The Milk of Sorrow
  • A Prophet
  • The White Ribbon
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
  • Avatar, James Horner
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox, Alexandre Desplat
  • The Hurt Locker, Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders
  • Sherlock Holmes, Hans Zimmer
  • Up, Michael Giacchino
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
  • "Almost There" from The Princess and the Frog Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
  • "Down in New Orleans" from The Princess and the Frog Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
  • "Loin de Paname" from Paris 36 Music by Reinhardt Wagner Lyric by Frank Thomas
  • "Take It All" from Nine Music and Lyric by Maury Yeston
  • "The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)" from Crazy Heart Music and Lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett
Achievement in sound editing
  • Avatar, Christopher Boyes and Gwendolyn Yates Whittle
  • The Hurt Locker, Paul N.J. Ottosson
  • Inglourious Basterds, Wylie Stateman
  • Star Trek, Mark Stoeckinger and Alan Rankin
  • Up, Michael Silvers and Tom Myers
Achievement in sound mixing
  • Avatar, Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson and Tony Johnson
  • The Hurt Locker, Paul N.J. Ottosson and Ray Beckett
  • Inglourious Basterds, Michael Minkler, Tony Lamberti and Mark Ulano
  • Star Trek, Anna Behlmer, Andy Nelson and Peter J. Devlin
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers and Geoffrey Patterson
Achievement in visual effects
  • Avatar, Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones
  • District 9, Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros and Matt Aitken
  • Star Trek, Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh and Burt Dalton
Adapted screenplay
  • Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell (District 9)
  • Nick Hornby (An Education)
  • Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche (In the Loop)
  • Geoffrey Fletcher (Precious)
  • Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner (Up In the Air)
Original screenplay
  • Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker)
  • Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)
  • Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman (The Messenger)
  • Joel and Ethan Coen (A Serious Man)
  • Screenplay by Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Story by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy (Up)

Best And Worst Of 2009

looking back, 2009 was a good year overall. however, that overall positive average comes from a rather okay to disappointing big blockbusters and general cinema-near-you fair, to a good to great smaller film and surprise blockbuster year...

the summer blockbuster season was generally a disappointment with films like Watchmen, Terminatore and Transformers all ending up on the "worst of" list. and how can we forget Avatar (i know it wasn't a summer release). sure, it was a huge sucess money-wise and with many critics, but it wasn't a good movie... there were some successesthough, like Star Trek, Inglourious Basterds and District 9 - but even then, you look at the budget for District 9 at $30 million and that is almost independent film budget level.

on the other hand, many of the smaller/foreign/independent/less-publicized films that grabbed my interest ended up living up to expectations - which is often not the case (with the exception of the painfully disappointing The Limits Of Control of course).

like i always say: i can't see everything. so, now is time to list some of the films that have been making the rounds on other list, and garnering awards nominations, that i hadn't seen when i put mine together. they include:

Crazy Heart, Up In The Air, State Of Play, Bright Star, A Single Man, Moon, Anvil: The Story Of Anvil, The Cove, Public Enemies, Me And The Orson Wells, Food Inc....

with all that being said, let the listing begin......

DON'T FORGET (BEST)

1.  Inglourious Basterds
2A Serious Man
3Humpday
4Hunger
5500 Days Of Summer
6.  In The Loop
7.  Distric 9 & I'm Not Your Friend
8.  Fantastic Mr. Fox
9World's Greatest Dad
10.Bronson

don't forget (honorable mention): Up, Where The Wild Things Are, Away We Go, Precious, Star Trek, I Love You Man, Tyson, Adventurland, The White Ribbon, FAQ About Time Travel

 

FORGET (WORST)

if you want to read some short discussions on these crappy films, you can see a write-up on some of them at www.notgoodmovies.com 

1.   Terminator Salvation
2.   Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen
3.   Surrogates
4.   The Limits Of Control
5.   G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra
6.   Watchmen
7.   Angels And Demons
8.   The Invention Of Lying
9.   Gamer
10. Avatar

Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel

Year: 2009

Writer: Jamie Mathieson

director: Gareth Carrivick

Budget: ?

Gross: ?

 

we are an audience that has seen it all. we know the conventions of genres and the way things have gone from having been exposed to decades of films and film making. we are a generation that knows it and has no problem telling people that we know it. so what do film makers do for audiences like that? well, they show them that they know it also.

these postmodern films, or is it post postmodern (i don't even know anymore) not only embrace the conventions of their genres, but they directly reference them and tell the audience they are doing it. and when it is done well we get films like Scream and Shaun Of The Dead. and what those two films did to horror and zombie movies respectively, Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel does to movies about... yup, you guessed it... time travel.

this little gem of a film from the u.k. brings us three friends: two are nerds (although, they don't like that word and prefer the term imaginear) and one guy who likes calling them nerds (he watched one Star Wars movie, hated it and hasn't looked back).

one night they are at their local pub talking about the latest piece of crap hollywood film they saw, writing a letter to hollywood telling them how they can fix things when ray, one of the imaginears who is obsessed with time travel, goes up to get three pints and runs into a hot babe from the future.... comedy, science-fiction and time-travel ensue.

the film is only 80-minutes long, but it does in those 80-minutes what many films don't do in 100-minutes or more: tell a good, complete and satisfying story (which is good, because in the letter the guys write to hollywood, they start off by saying that "story is king. always has been and always will be." so if the Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel story had been unsuccessful it would have been some sad irony).

i often take films to task for forgetting about the story or for feeling cut short and not providing enough development of character or plot to make the film feel complete, or the audience emotionally invested. however, FAQ About Time Travel does all that in 80-minutes. and, it will make you laugh all the way through.

given the wierd, random events and internet clicks that lead to me finding out about this film, i am going to assume that most of you haven't seen it, or even heard of its existence. regardless, you should find yourself a copy and enjoy.

Best And Worst Of 2008

i kind of feel bad for 2008.  i mean, having to follow 2007 is like being an amateur comic at a comedy club and having chris rock pop in to do a set just before you go on - no matter how good your material is, it just isn't going to be as good...

2007 was one of the best years for movies in a long long time.  not only did you have two films, No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood, that i would not hesitate to call masterpieces, but then there was Juno, Eastern Promises, The Diving Bell And The Butterfly and Once which were all excellent films that all could have easily been 'best films of the year' almost any other year (check out the best and worst of 2007 lists)...

2008 however, turned out to be a good year all around, although up until the last couple months of the year, except for a few standouts, it wasn't looking like that was the case.  but, these last couple months have brought with them some quality films, and in the end i actually had a little bit of a hard time narrowing down my list.

and finally, i will mention, as i always do, the films that i haven't seen, as i put my lists together, that seem to be making other top lists: Seven Pounds, The Reader, Revolutionary Road, Australia, Ballast, The Class, Rachel Getting Married, Happy Go Lucky, Waltz With Bashir, W., The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Doubt, Paranoid Park, Baghead and My Winnipeg.

click the links for the written discussions and listen to the podcast to hear discussions about all the films on the lists, the ones that just missed, and more - with all that being said, let the listing begin...


DON'T FORGET (BEST)

1.  Slumdog Millionaire
2.   The Fall & The Class (Entre Les Murs)
3.   Vicky Cristina Barcelona
4.   The Dark Knight
5.   The Wrestler
6.   Milk
7.   Young People Fucking
8.   Man On Wire
9.   Tropic Thunder
10. Tell No One & Wendy And Lucy

don't forget (honorable mention): Teeth, The Wackness, Elegy, Frost/Nixon, Wall-E, Be Kind Rewind, Body Of Lies, Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired, Synecdoche New York,

 



FORGET (WORST)

if you want to read some short discussions on these crappy films, you can see a write-up on most of them at www.notgoodmovies.com 

1.   Righteous Kill
2.  Quantum Of Solace
3.   Jumper
4.   Vantage Point
5.   21
6.   Wanted
7.   The Day The Earth Stood Still
8.   The Incredible Hulk
9.   Untraceable
10. Burn After Reading

The Happening & Unbreakable

The_happening_2 listen to the podcast

 

The Happening:                                                                                                                                   Year: 2008, Writer & Director: M. Night Shayamalan, Budget: $57 million (estimated), Gross: $30 517 109 (as of June 15th, 1008)

Unbreakable_2Unbreakable:                                                                                                                                    Year: 2000, Writer & Director: M. Night Shayamalan, Budget: $75 million (estimated), Gross: $94 999 143

it's happening!!! it started with a few critics and then as more and more people saw the film, the negative comments and reviews continued, and continue, to grow.  it is becoming an epidemic of mass proportions and i, along with ebert, roeper and about %18 of the rotten tomatoes critics are the only ones left to fight it...

ya, i liked The Happening.  no, i didn't love it, and it is m. night's worst film (although i haven't seen Wide Awake), but ya, i liked it.  that does, however, work out well, because this week i want to talk about The Happening, his worst film, in conjunction with my favorite of his movies, Unbreakable.

m. night is such an interesting and dichotomous film maker to me.  on one end he is brilliant:  he creates some very interesting and thrilling stories and is pretty masterful at creating a mood and getting the audience to feel and react as he wants them to, without us feeling manipulated. 

then on the other hand his dialogue can be stilted and feel forced and he can really ruin great ideas by taking them too far and not trusting himself (like in The Lady In The Water when he shows us the creatures at the end and they look like dudes in bad costumes, rather then keeping them in the shadows and keeping the fear psychological and partially unknown for example).

and yet, problems and all, i really do enjoy his films.  there is just something about his stories and the way he tells them that engages me and overrides problems that in other films would be the reason i didn't like the movie.  i can't always fully explain it, but there it is.  for all the intellectual discussions we have about films and our judgments of them, much of it in the end comes down to, at least for me, how i 'feel' about it.  and from that comes the critiques and discussion points and ideas...

so lets get to the movies: we got our 70s sci-fi movie, The Happening and our superhero movie, Unbreakable.

in The Happening, some event/happening is taking place across the northeastern united states that is causing masses of people to start killing themselves.  as it spreads out of the cities, people flee.  but what is it? what is happening?

in Unbreakable, a man is in a massive train accident and, not only is he the only survivor, but he is completely unharmed in any way.  what does this mean?  who is this man?  who is he supposed to be?

m. night loves films with questions.  he wants you to ask them and think about them and then he gives us the answers and sometimes they aren't the ones we expected.  but, either way, the discovery, for me, in his films is always interesting.

i mentioned how both these films were archetypes of different genres (the sci-fi movie and the superhero film) and that they are.  from how they are shot, to the score they use, to the mythology behind the stories, especially with Unbreakable which does it so damn well. 

watching The Happening i couldn't help thinking about films like 28 days later and the 70s version of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers.  the unknown threat, the population being killed, the few remaining people trying to survive and figure out the rules to what it is so that they can protect themselves.  with the use of the landscape as a character and the sometimes over-the-top score, the film recognizes what it is doing. 

in Unbreakable we have a wonderful superhero mythology created.  not that i have time to get into a whole joseph campbell 'hero's journey' here, but anyone who reads comic books, or has seen superhero movies will recognize this story.  what the film is really, is the origin story. 

in the special features on the dvd m. night talks about how the film was initially three parts with the hero discovering who he is being just the first part like it is in most superhero movies, followed by the hero using his powers part and the conclusion.... (think Spider-man, Ironman, Batman, etc.....).  however, that wasn't working for him and so he instead decided to turn the origin story into the whole film, and that worked brilliantly. 

this is also his best filmed film.  a comic book is really a movie told in still images and m. night and his cinematographer eduardo serra use that idea to create wonderful still images within the context of moving ones, with the use of long takes and interesting framing and angles and lighting and colors . 

i have no problem with mark wahlberg.  in fact, his performance in Boogie Nights is one of the best and most underrated performances of the last decade (ok 11 years).  however, in this thing he just isn't that good.  this probably isn't helped by a script that is at times good and at others really not.  m. night's writing, like i mentioned before, is often on the verge of stilted and in this film it falls over into it often.  as for Unbreakable, it is the opposite.  the performances by bruce willis and samuel l. jackson are very good and the script is wonderful.

since The Sixth Sense you can't talk about an m. night movie without talking about the ending.  he unfortunately worked himself into a niche corner with that film and for many films after that one people were expecting a surprise ending (many probably still do when they go see his films).  the point is that the ending of both The Happening and Unbreakable are important to any discussion of the films and for different reasons.

with Unbreakable the ending is wonderful.  it provides a nice little surprise that makes you think back over the film and provides a different perspective upon a second viewing, but it doesn't feel so out of left field that the previous 90 minutes you spent watching the movie feel wasted.

as for The Happening, the ending, not giving anything away, is very anti-climactic.  it just kind of ends and for an audience having taken the ride it is natural to want something with more ooumph!! i also kind of felt that way at the end, but it was in thinking about the film afterward that i appreciated it more.  i am often the first to complain about a film that builds slowly only to fall into the trap of feeling the need to give us action or effects or something big, killing what they had spent the majority of the movie building up and creating (I Am Legend is a great example of this).  with The Happening however, that isn't the case.  the film and, especially the ending, just happen.

and yet, like i said in the beginning.  i liked it.  i didn't think the acting was very good and some of the dialogue doesn't work and there are probably a few holes in the story, but i liked it.  i was involved and in the end i appreciated the simplicity of it.  there is even a great coda at the end of the film that, of course, you see coming, but smile in appreciation of it none the less as it fits perfectly into the genre.

The Happening is far from a great film.  but, even with the problems i was engaged till the end and thinking about it afterward i appreciated some of the things even more: like how it plays the 70s sci-fi genre and how the ending just ends, etc...

as for Unbreakable, this is a great movie, and although it did make money at the box office it is one that is, for some reason, often forgotten when people talk about m. night shamaylan.  if you notice the trailers for his most recent films they always say 'from the director who brought you The Sixth Sense and Signs', they just leave Unbreakable off the list.  well, i am here to put it back on that list, and not only on the list, but at the top of it.

Oscar 2008 Predictions

sing it with me... oscar, oscar oscar, who will win?  well here is my answer to that question:

MY SCORE: 13/24 (my worst showing ever. embarrassing)

Performance by an actor in a leading role
George Clooney in "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.)
Daniel Day-Lewis in "There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
Johnny Depp in "Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
Tommy Lee Jones in "In the Valley of Elah" (Warner Independent)
Viggo Mortensen in "Eastern Promises" (Focus Features)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Casey Affleck in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (Warner Bros.)
Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Charlie Wilson's War" (Universal)
Hal Holbrook in "Into the Wild" (Paramount Vantage and River Road Entertainment)
Tom Wilkinson in "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.)

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Cate Blanchett in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (Universal)
Julie Christie in "Away from Her" (Lionsgate)
Marion Cotillard in "La Vie en Rose" (Picturehouse)
Laura Linney in "The Savages" (Fox Searchlight)
Ellen Page in "Juno" (A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production)

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Cate Blanchett in "I'm Not There" (The Weinstein Company)
Ruby Dee in "American Gangster" (Universal)
Saoirse Ronan in "Atonement" (Focus Features)
Amy Ryan in "Gone Baby Gone" (Miramax)
Tilda Swinton in "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.)

Best animated feature film of the year
"Persepolis" (Sony Pictures Classics): Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney): Brad Bird
"Surf's Up" (Sony Pictures Releasing): Ash Brannon and Chris Buck

Achievement in art direction
"American Gangster" (Universal): Art Direction: Arthur Max; Set Decoration: Beth A. Rubino
"Atonement" (Focus Features): Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
"The Golden Compass" (New Line in association with Ingenious Film Partners): Art Direction: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
"Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount): Art Direction: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax): Art Direction: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

Achievement in cinematography
"The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (Warner Bros.): Roger Deakins
"Atonement" (Focus Features): Seamus McGarvey
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn): Janusz Kaminski
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage): Roger Deakins
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax): Robert Elswit

Achievement in costume design
"Across the Universe" (Sony Pictures Releasing) Albert Wolsky
"Atonement" (Focus Features) Jacqueline Durran
"Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (Universal) Alexandra Byrne
"La Vie en Rose" (Picturehouse) Marit Allen
"Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount) Colleen Atwood

Achievement in directing
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn), Julian Schnabel
"Juno" (A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production), Jason Reitman
"Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.), Tony Gilroy
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage), Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax), Paul Thomas Anderson

Best documentary feature
"No End in Sight" (Magnolia Pictures) A Representational Pictures Production: Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
"Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience" (The Documentary Group) A Documentary Group Production: Richard E. Robbins
"Sicko" (Lionsgate and The Weinstein Company) A Dog Eat Dog Films Production: Michael Moore and Meghan O'Hara
"Taxi to the Dark Side" (THINKFilm) An X-Ray Production: Alex Gibney and Eva Orner
"War/Dance" (THINKFilm) A Shine Global and Fine Films Production: Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine

Best documentary short subject
"Freeheld" A Lieutenant Films Production: Cynthia Wade and Vanessa Roth
"La Corona (The Crown)" A Runaway Films and Vega Films Production: Amanda Micheli and Isabel Vega
"Salim Baba" A Ropa Vieja Films and Paradox Smoke Production: Tim Sternberg and Francisco Bello
"Sari's Mother" (Cinema Guild) A Daylight Factory Production: James LongleyS

Achievement in film editing
"The Bourne Ultimatum" (Universal): Christopher Rouse
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn): Juliette Welfling
"Into the Wild" (Paramount Vantage and River Road Entertainment): Jay Cassidy
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) Roderick Jaynes
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax): Dylan Tichenor

Best foreign language film of the year
"Beaufort" Israel
"The Counterfeiters" Austria
"Katyn" Poland
"Mongol" Kazakhstan
"12" Russia

Achievement in makeup
"La Vie en Rose" (Picturehouse) Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald
"Norbit" (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount): Rick Baker and Kazuhiro Tsuji
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" (Walt Disney): Ve Neill and Martin Samuel

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
"Atonement" (Focus Features) Dario Marianelli
"The Kite Runner" (DreamWorks, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and Participant Productions, Distributed by Paramount Classics): Alberto Iglesias
"Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.) James Newton Howard
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney) Michael Giacchino
"3:10 to Yuma" (Lionsgate) Marco Beltrami

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
"Falling Slowly" from "Once" (Fox Searchlight) Music and Lyric by Glen Hansard and: Marketa Irglova
"Happy Working Song" from "Enchanted" (Walt Disney): Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
"Raise It Up" from "August Rush" (Warner Bros.): Music and Lyric by Jamal Joseph, Charles Mack and Tevin Thomas 
"So Close" from "Enchanted" (Walt Disney): Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
"That's How You Know" from "Enchanted" (Walt Disney): Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz


Best motion picture of the year
"Atonement" (Focus Features) A Working Title Production: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Paul Webster, Producers
"Juno" (A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production) A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production: Lianne Halfon, Mason Novick and Russell Smith, Producers
"Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.) A Clayton Productions, LLC Production: Sydney Pollack, Jennifer Fox and Kerry Orent, Producers
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) A Scott Rudin/Mike Zoss Production: Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax) A JoAnne Sellar/Ghoulardi Film Company Production: JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Lupi, Producers

Best animated short film
"I Met the Walrus" A Kids & Explosions Production: Josh Raskin
"Madame Tutli-Putli" (National Film Board of Canada) A National Film Board of Canada Production Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski
"Même les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven)" (Premium Films) A BUF Compagnie Production Samuel Tourneux and Simon Vanesse
"My Love (Moya Lyubov)" (Channel One Russia) A Dago-Film Studio, Channel One Russia and Dentsu Tec Production Alexander Petrov
"Peter & the Wolf" (BreakThru Films) A BreakThru Films/Se-ma-for Studios Production Suzie Templeton and Hugh Welchman

Best live action short film
"At Night" A Zentropa Entertainments 10 Production: Christian E. Christiansen and Louise Vesth
"Il Supplente (The Substitute)" (Sky Cinema Italia) A Frame by Frame Italia Production: Andrea Jublin
"Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)" (Premium Films) A Karé Production: Philippe Pollet-Villard
"Tanghi Argentini" (Premium Films) An Another Dimension of an Idea Production: Guido Thys and Anja Daelemans
"The Tonto Woman" A Knucklehead, Little Mo and Rose Hackney Barber Production: Daniel Barber and Matthew Brown

Achievement in sound editing
"The Bourne Ultimatum" (Universal): Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage): Skip Lievsay
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney): Randy Thom and Michael Silvers
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax): Christopher Scarabosio and Matthew Wood
"Transformers" (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro): Ethan Van der Ryn and Mike Hopkins

Achievement in sound mixing
"The Bourne Ultimatum" (Universal) Scott Millan, David Parker and Kirk Francis
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage): Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter Kurland
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney): Randy Thom, Michael Semanick and Doc Kane
"3:10 to Yuma" (Lionsgate): Paul Massey, David Giammarco and Jim Stuebe
"Transformers" (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro): Kevin O'Connell, Greg P. Russell and Peter J. Devlin

Achievement in visual effects
"The Golden Compass" (New Line in association with Ingenious Film Partners): Michael Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris and Trevor Wood
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" (Walt Disney): John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and John Frazier 
"Transformers" (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro): Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Russell Earl and John Frazier

Adapted screenplay
"Atonement" (Focus Features), Screenplay by Christopher Hampton
"Away from Her" (Lionsgate), Written by Sarah Polley
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn), Screenplay by Ronald Harwood
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage), Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax), Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson

Original screenplay
"Juno" (A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production), Written by Diablo Cody
"Lars and the Real Girl" (MGM), Written by Nancy Oliver
"Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.), Written by Tony Gilroy
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney), Screenplay by Brad Bird; Story by Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco, Brad Bird
"The Savages" (Fox Searchlight), Written by Tamara Jenkins