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Sunday, 26 December 2010

That's What Counts


I hope you're all having (or had, depending on where you live and the time you're reading this at) a great Christmas and even if you're not, well then happy holidays to you anyway and let's hope your New Year's Eve celebrations are much grander. Today's post won't be the usual. No "What I've Been Watching" or "Tidbits of Film News" sections for this particular post because it will be my last post for 2010! So why not look back and reflect on how great of a year it's been? As promised my top ten films of the year are below but before we get to there, I just want to say a few things about what this year has meant to me.


I've felt like I've learnt a lot this year. While there were a lot of times where I struggled to find my place within this scary yet exciting microcosm called "University", I also struggled with fears of what the future would have in store for me. For the most part though, I'd have to say that all of these natural fears have provided me with some much needed clarity and gave me a somewhat rewarding experience. I say rewarding because I learnt that it's important that I not fret about what may become of me in the future but instead do what is necessary now in the present to ensure that my goals and desires can still be within reach.

It's strange; once I assimilated into the life of a University student, I suddenly had these overbearing fears of what the future would become of me and that became a little frightening. I know I probably shouldn't have even thought about that as it is years away but it's a scary reality that I would've had to have faced eventually (and this is why people tell me that I think too much). Having said that, I'd like to think that by having decided to be an active volunteer at ACMI, not only would that help me build my confidence in interacting with people but also help me gain other skills such as public speaking. But alas, this is what 2010 was able to teach me and for that I thank you, 2010!


In The Mood For Love (2000) dir. Wong Kar-Wai

Okay, enough with the deeply personal stuff, what else did 2010 offer me? My love of film expanded even further this year thanks to my awesome University course as I was introduced to a slew of fantastic features - THANKS LA TROBE! From here on out, I'll never forget being introduced to the works of Wong Kar-Wai in my first year and being captivated by the utter coolness his films tend to exude. His 2000 masterpiece, "In the Mood for Love", was such an extraordinary piece of work that it now ranks within my top five favourite films of all time. I was also fortunate enough to have seen fantastic films, that I had already seen on DVD, up on a huge screen for the first time in my University's cinema. One truly needs to see "Spirited Away" in a big cinema screen to really feel the emotion eminating from the music and visuals.


As this was also my first year as a Uni student, I enjoyed having to go to school everyday in casual, everyday clothing. It's the small things you'd get a kick out of, really. Most days when I was lazy and couldn't be bothered putting proper clothing on, I'd just wear the same track pants I wore to bed and put a hoody over my top. Everyone at my Uni were too laid back to judge me for what I wore which was cool, I thought. It'd take too much effort to dress up everyday if I were going to a Uni that was in the city or something, lol. AND THE FREEDOM OF A UNI STUDENT! Oh the more than generous and flexible hours I had for Uni! The lectures where I should've stayed in but opted to skip out of in favour of hanging out with friends elsewhere. It really is the small things about being a Uni student that made 2010 feel so much more different and exciting than other years.


And what about my Christmas celebrations, this year? My dear friend, Thy, came down to visit me and we exchanged gifts. I bought her the heels that she really wanted (with help from one of her girl friends) and she in turn bought me five other awesome gifts! It sucks that she always buys me multiple things made of awesomeness and that I can only buy one thing that looks so sorely underwhelming compared to what she buys. So yeah, we just spent the Christmas at my place and just talked nonsense, had lunch and just had a really awesome time (as we usually have had with the last two Christmas').

I was sooooo proud of my Christmas wrapping - LOOK HOW WELL BOUND IT IS!!! I took the shoes to where I was volunteering and wrapped it like a boss.

And those were her insanely tall heels. I have no idea how she's going to get around in those...

I already had "The Bro Code" that was given to me for my birthday so Thy thought that to compliment it, I should also have "The Playbook". She also bought an awesome insults/comeback book that is just filled with hilarious things to say to people. It's provided me with a lot of laughter. People are gonna get burned now. :D

GPOY! This poster is so damn true of me.

Like I didn't have enough Star Wars themed shirts (but then again, there is no such thing as having enough Star Wars themed shirts!)

SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD ON BLU-RAY! After watching the "making of" documentary that is featured on the disc, I must say that the cast and crew are so damn close to each other, especially the cast. Must've been fun working on set.

If Thy is reading this, THANKS AGAIN SO, SO MUCH! I do hope you enjoy those shoes as much as I am enjoying my books, shirt, poster and film! ;D

AND finally, here are my TOP TEN FAVOURITE FILMS (that I paid to see in cinemas) IN 2010! TAKE IT AWAY LIST!


10. Shutter Island

Martin Scorsese is a master of cinema and this film is yet another strong entry into Scorsese’s already legendary filmography. In "Shutter Island", Scorsese was able to create at foreboding atmosphere of dread and terror while at the same time working in some truly beautiful and magnificent scenes. The direction is great and the film has some great and steady pacing to keep audiences on their toes and wondering what’s around the corner. What more can you expect from a master at work?


9. Evangelion: 2.0: You (Are) Not Alone

The second part to the “Rebuild of Evangelion” project was absolutely mindblowing and is something one HAD to experience inside a cinema. Fans of the original anime series (myself included) will no longer know what is happening in this updated version and it’s for the best. Unlike the first film where that was mostly a condensed version of the first few episodes in the original series, this film carries with it a lot of exciting and new unknown elements that are sure to make many gaze in awe. I’d like to think that THIS is how Hideaki Anno would have made Evangelion had Gainax given him the proper funding he could’ve needed to bring his vision to life. Fantastic visuals, fantastic soundtrack – cannot wait for the third and fourth entries into this “Rebuild” series.


8. Let Me In

Matt Reeve’s underrated adaptation of Swedish film, “Let the Right One In”, was worthy enough of being called a good American remake. Reeve’s is able to make “Let Me In” feel like his own and it is very distinct from the original Swedish version. Just like the original, the film paces itself very slowly and is very patient but the slow burn works incredibly well and adds much more depth to the story and to the two fantastic leads, child actors Kodi-Smit McPhee and Chloe Moretz. The score is hauntingly beautiful and the film carries with it one of the most exciting scenes that I wish I had shot if I ever had the chance to make a film. Definitely not for everyone if you’re impatient and looking for a standard genre picture. Very rarely can one say that American remakes of European arthouse films are good but this one proves that things don’t always turn out bad.


7. Confessions

It’s no surprise why, “Confessions” was chosen to as Japan’s number one entry into Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards next year. The film is almost arthouse in its execution and deals with heavy themes of revenge, alienation, love and acceptance. Much like “Let Me In” the pacing is slow but highly rewarding and culminates into an ending that’s truly spectacular. The first scene of the film will most definitely hook you into the film as teacher Yuko Moriguchi tells her story to an uninterested class and slowly getting their attention with every new development in her confession. Splitting the film into different chapters (or “confessions”) helps to give a deeper understanding of the characters and their motives. “Confessions” also features a good soundtrack that only enhances the eeriness to some of the scenes shown in the film. It’s a film that’s unlike anything I’ve seen this year and will linger in your mind for a long while after it’s finished.


6. Buried

Rodrigo Cortes’ highly experimental film is one that not many people will flock to see and the feeling is understandable. I will say though that after watching the film, I find that it’s so hard to even talk about it without spoiling or ruining it. The film is set entirely within a coffin and sees Ryan Reynolds pull off what possibly may be the performance of his career thus far. The film is able to keep the tension mounting throughout the film which is a huge feat considering the constraints of the film. Cortes wisely uses the camera in a claustrophobic way, making you feel as confined as Reynolds’ Paul Conroy. The use of lighting in the film was very interesting as well and helped keep the film moving in it’s own unique way. If you really devote yourself to the film and give 100% attention to it you’ll definitely have a good time watching it and will be most likely talking about it a lot. Like the aforementioned "Confessions" this will grip you and stick with you for a long while.


5. Inception

This year’s biggest blockbuster movie event, “Inception” shows that you can still make a boat load of money off of original ideas! The strengths of “Inception” lie within its amazingly stacked cast, its heart-racing action scenes and the thought that went into creating this alternate universe where people can mind jack into a person’s subconscious and steal or plant an idea. The film is essentially an old school heist film and a damn exciting one at that. Christopher Nolan directs his cast perfectly, adds some great characterisation within this action-heavy script and his reliance on practical effects makes for some visually arresting scenes (Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s hotel hallway fight scene is will probably go down as the most memorable thing from that film).


4. Summer Wars

Mamoru Hosoda has been praised as the next Hayao Miyazaki and rightfully so! His films are absolute fun and ensure a great time for everyone at the cinema. While this may seem like a film that should probably be a tad lower on my list, the fact that it was just damn entertaining and was so much fun made me put it up a lot higher. The crowd I saw it with loved it and it’s not hard to see why. Even without my level of enjoyment though, this film still would have made my top ten because it’s absolutely wonderful. Simply put, "Summer Wars" is a fun, light-hearted film that not only has the capacity to enthral viewers with wonderfully fluid and expressive animation but also provide a story that can carry across just enough emotional sentiment for viewers to feel for the characters and love them. I know what I want on Blu-ray.


3. Toy Story 3

What more can be said of "Toy Story 3’s" success that hasn’t already been said? Animation powerhouse, Pixar, brings with them the third entry into the "Toy Story" series and ends the series with one of the most powerful and resonant endings to a series ever committed to film. Yes, I went there. Much like the rest of Pixar’s films, the film is centred around a strong story built on nuance and maturity but most importantly is one that is most certainly crowd-pleasing. I guess the personal resonance for me was the fact that myself and anyone else in my age group practically grew up with these characters and we aged as Andy did. I guess this was why the film was so gripping as I really did feel like as if grew up with all these characters. Anyways, it’s a beautifully animated film and if you haven’t seen it yet – why are you reading this? GO... NOW!


2. The Social Network

When one looks back on the works of David Fincher, one will find that “The Social Network” cleanly assimilates itself perfectly within Fincher’s sometimes consistent themes of obsession, anarchy, evil and male bonding (see, "Se7en", "Fight Club" and "Zodiac"). The evil here is brought about from one, Mark Zuckerberg, the man that went on to become the youngest billionaire in history after creating the social storm known as Facebook. The film does not paint Zuckerberg in a flattering light at all but at times gives him redeemable qualities. Yes, he’s a smug guy who purportedly stole the idea of Facebook but underneath all that selfishness is a guy who just wanted to become known on campus and be accepted. And in the midst of all that craziness, he’d lose his only true friend. It’s a wonderfully tragic story with enough wit and sharp dialogue to keep you on the edge of your seat. It would be a crime for screenwriter Aaron Sorkin not to get the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay because it is perfect, as is Fincher’s direction over his amazing cast. Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and even singer-turned-actor Justin Timberlake commit to some incredible performances. Fantastic film and am not surprised it has sweeped a lot of the major critics awards across America so far.


1. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Okay, so I’m a fanboy at heart. No I never read the graphic novels but would love to after watching this extraordinary gem. You don’t understand how much this movie means to me and how many right buttons it pressed. There is no clear definition as to what "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" really is other than what is presented and what is presented is a wicked amalgamation of pop culture references, awesome rock music and young love. The film is genuinely funny whenever the situation calls for it; the action is always ramped up and is just a really entertaining piece of popcorn cinema. The cast of this film is fantastic, the film boasts a cool soundtrack and director Edgar Wright’s control over the film keeps the energy and pacing steady yet always at an all time high. Unfortunately, the film bombed at the box office but received much love from most people who went to see it as well garnering a lot of critical approval from professional critics. You can’t compare this to anything else because there quite literally is nothing else like it. It's extraordinary with its execution and is literally unlike anything I had ever seen before on film. "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" is this fanboy’s film of the year (and maybe even one of his favourite films of all time).



End post.


    i watched in the mood for love after one of my classmates did an oral presentation on it, and i found it delightful. great visual storytelling that doesn't lend itself to the obvious.

    very good top ten, have a great new years!

  2. The book of "Insults & Comebacks" looks awesome haha used any so far?
    Cool top 10! I enjoyed reading your movie reviews this year.
    Keep up the awesome work and stay awesome!
    Have a fun New Years :)

  3. I remember forcing myself to stay awake just to watch "confessions" on the plane few months ago and that movie is worth it =D

    after seeing trailers in your blog, I feel like want to watch let me in =D

    Happy new year!