Rene’s Best Of 2013 List
1. The Wolf Of Wall Street: This was a film that I just knew I had to see before the end of December and it was certainly everything I was hoping it would be. It’s damn funny and extremely crude, but we get to see Jonah Hill truly acting his heart out and who knew that Leo DiCaprio would be the best person to do hilarious physical comedy since Peter Sellers? If anyone ever wanted to know what a Martin Scorsese rude and crude comedy would look like then look no further because here it is wrapped up in dramatic moments about a douchebag and his buddies who took a lot of people’s money.
2. Escape Plan: Arnold and Sly finally together and making a movie where they are the leads. I didn’t get to see a whole lot of films in the theater this year, but I made damn sure I saw this one. This film truly showed off that Arnold was back by giving him all the big standout moments including one where he begins to ramble on in German.
3. Only God Forgives: Had it not been for these other two films this would have been my #1 film of the year. After not liking his art film that he tried to make commercial by throwing in some action scenes, Refn just full on went art film while throwing in a small one sided fight in the middle. The film is low on dialogue, but it doesn’t need any when each scene looks like a living painting just like so many of Kubrick’s films. The score beautiful and the lighting with its neon colors just made it all the amazing. Then there’s that amazing one sided fight with a song that to this day I will play for my daughter and she will light up because she loves the powerful synth music.
4. Maniac: In an era where most horror remakes are crap we have Alexandre Aja who is either directing or producing remakes that are just as good or even better than the original films. His remake that he produced takes a novel approach by being entirely in the first person. This makes the film even more disturbing since we see everything happen in first person save for a few instances where the camera pans out to show the scene play out. Another great synthesizer score that sounds like vintage 80’s music and the final track “Boum” is a big favorite of mine and my daughter. That’s yet another track that perks her right up and gets her smiling.
5. Ninja II: The sequel to the 2009 DTV entry Ninja is almost literally one fight after another and it’s all done without shaky cam and that’s a rarity nowadays. Scott Adkins kills a lot of bad guys and becomes NINJA MACGYVER at one point. Can’t say much else other than if you love martial arts films that try to stay as practical as possible, then you will love Ninja II.
6. Behind The Candelabra: The studio suits basically said “This movie is too gay to be released theatrically.” Thus Steven Soderbergh made the best HBO film I’ve seen in a very long time. Michael Douglas basically disappears into his role as Liberace as does Matt Damon. With a solid supporting cast that includes Dan Aykroyd wearing an intentionally obvious hair piece along with some big sparkly Grandpa glasses, Paul Reiser, and Rob Lowe as the dream client for The Surgeon Of Beverly Hills, we have a movie that had it been released theatrically would already be a front runner for several Academy Awards.
7. Man Of Steel: Probably the most divisive movie of the summer. I’ve never been a huge fan of Superman and up to this point the only one I really enjoyed was Superman III. I know that’s heresy to a lot of people but I don’t exactly follow popular opinion do I? It took several friends to convince me to check this one out and with the enthusiasm they had for it I decided to blind buy it rather than rent it as I didn’t get to see it in the theater. I had a blast with it and I’ve read the multitude of problems people have had with it. I’m not going to let that stuff get in the way of my enjoyment of this film. So this movie had problems. Big deal. Pacific Rim had problems, I didn’t care too much for that one, but that didn’t stop a lot of people from enjoying it. Bring on the sequel. I’m ready for Affleck vs. Cavill.
8. Bullet To The Head: Another action film that really shouldn’t have flopped as it’s a wonderful throwback to the action films of the 80’s with Sylvester Stallone right in front playing an anti-hero and still being in top shape in his late 60’s. He has an axe fight with Jason Momoa and the only thing that brings this down is a terribly miscast Sung Kang who does not belong in the film at all. Everything he says or does drags the film down.
9. The Last Stand: Yet another action film that unfairly flopped. The biggest complaint a lot had about it was that Arnold wasn’t the star. That’s not entirely true. He’s the center of an ensemble cast that he pulls together to defend his sleepy town from the likes of Peter Stormare and his big Colt revolver. With a cast that includes Luis Guzman as one of his deputies and Johnny Knoxville as a curator of an antique weapons museum, we have a solid action film that also has a cameo from Harry Dean Stanton who can still be badass and wield a shotgun at 86 years of age as well as the aforementioned Peter Stormare who has a blast as the main henchman. There’s plenty of actual blood squibs that seem right out of the Savini school of bloody deaths and a guy gets blown up with a flare. Did I mention that Arnold uses an antique World War I machine gun to mow down a bunch of bad guys from the back of a bus and says “Welcome To Sumerton? Well he totally does.
10. V/H/S/2: The original film had more misses than hits in its segments and this one wisely cuts back on the entries as well as the run time. The wraparound is still not good (but the guy’s room full of videotapes reminded me of my room at my parents’ house when I was living there) and the first segment flat out sucks, but the zombie/go pro segment is cool and the real standout is the entry from Gareth Evans who really needs to turn it into a full length feature film or at least do a horror film. He draws from real life horrors like the Jim Jones and David Koresh cults and then throws in a goat man. No not Goat Boy from “Hey Remember The 80’s?” on Saturday Night Live back in the late 90’s. A friggin’ giant goat man that is surrounded by undead ghouls. The movie is worth watching just for this entry.
11. G.I. Joe: Retaliation: Another fun entry in the G.I. Joe film franchise that I was glad I got to see in the theater. It brings in a few new characters and sadly eliminates a few old ones. We get more of the same good action although the film feels much smaller than the grand initial entry that really brought to live action what made the cartoon and toys so much fun. I look forward to the next entry.
12. Iron Man 3: Another of the few movies I got to see theatrically. It also holds the distinction of being my daughter’s first theatrical film viewing. It’s a fabulous start for her because the film is a HUGE improvement on the second film that was unfulfilled potential. A lot of people didn’t like the twist with The Mandarin, but I loved the subversion of the character and it’s even funnier when you see it as Ben Kingsley playing Dudley Moore as Arthur Bach. RDJ and Shane Black go together so well that we need another Iron Man film from them before RDJ hangs up the suit.
13. Olympus Has Fallen: This one surprised me with being as great as it was. It was basically a remake of Under Siege this time at the White House and I had a lot of fun with the movie when I caught it at the dollar movies. The fact we’re getting a London based sequel shows how great it is and that MIKE BANNING is the franchise character Gerard Butler has been needing.
14. White House Down: The other movie about the White House under fire, this one had a better villain than Olympus Has Fallen, and a better death than any in Olympus (GRENADE NECKLACE!) as well as Channing Tatum as a John McClane-esque hero, but it’s just a hair below Olympus for the PG-13 rating. It still has the better setpieces though and the Presidential Limo chase is one of the best action sequences of the year.
15. World War Z: Pretty much the big surprise of the summer. Everyone expected it to flop and it turned out to be a solid horror film even at a PG-13 rating. The last section of the film which was heavily re-written now resembles a Resident Evil game and that endeared the film even more to me. Certainly one of my favorites of the year.
16. This Is The End: More sleazy humor from the Apatow crew resulted in the funniest film about the apocalypse ever. Danny McBride is the MVP of the film playing his asshole persona to the hilt and we’ve got a fey Jonah Hill saying “Bang-Bang!” while having his wrist limp and holding a revolver along with James Franco threatening to shoot Danny McBride’s dick off because he keeps jizzing on all his stuff. Oh yeah, and Jonah Hill gets possessed by a demon and says he’s going to titty fuck Seth Rogen. If you haven’t seen it, SEE IT.
17. Anchorman 2: Easily a better film than the first we’ve got Ron Burgundy and his crew back to now work for a 24 news station and tell people what they want to hear It has been several days since I’ve seen it and I’m still laughing about little things like Ron saying “Fuck you.” under his breath and the slow motion turn over of the RV.
18. Elysium: Definitely not as good as District 9, but still worth seeing for Sharlto Copely with a samurai sword along with a friggin’ EXPLOIDING SHURIKEN! The overpopulated world and the different kinds of weapons are standouts. The CHEMRAIL is a devastating weapon of carnage.
19. Warm Bodies: A movie that takes the concept of the zombie film and turns it on its head by introducing a few new concepts that take the stale zombie genre and inject something fresh. This one was another surprise that I was initially expecting would just be ok. Give it a look.
20. John Dies At The End: Don Coscarelli doesn’t do films as frequently as a lot of us want him too, but whenever he does something it is brilliant. This film is full of juvenile humor and has Clancy Brown in it. Those are two things that make me automatically love this film. There’s bizarre stuff like a monster made out of meat, a door handle turning into a man’s dong, and lines like “Well I don’t like big black dicks, so we don’t have that in common.” All of this in addition to a drug called SOY SAUCE and a dog that can save the universe called BARK LEE and we have a movie that more people need to see. It’s got a bizarre sense of humor so it’s not for everyone, but if you like the aforementioned stuff then this is the film for you.
21. The World’s End: The final entry in the Cornetto trilogy this time goes the sci-fi route and is like Invasion Of The Body Snatchers by way of the robots from Halloween III. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost switching roles is a lot easier to believe than you’d think and there’s still plenty of the trademark Wright/Pegg humor in it.
22. The Great Gatsby: I ended up liking this a lot more than I thought I would. The party sequences were lively and Leo Dicaprio does his other amazing role of the year in a film that is really all about a guy who can’t get over losing the girl he could have once had and wants to relive the past.
23. Despicable Me 2: A fun sequel that has just as much humor for adults as it has for kids. Don’t dismiss it just because it’s an animated film. Plenty of fun for everyone and it will get you wanting a chip hat that has guacamole in it.
24. Oblivion: Tom Cruise has started making sci-fi and it’s damn good stuff. A wonderful score by M83 and despite being a mish-mash of stuff we’ve already seen it’s still a beautiful film to look at and Cruise delivers a performance that is anything but phoned in.
25. 2 Guns: Lots of fun banter between Washington and Wahlberg made this a solid action buddy comedy and there weren’t too many of those this year. We also got Edward James Olmos as an aging gangster and Bill Paxton doing what Richard Lynch did in Invasion U.S.A. o Billy Drago in order to get information.
Rene’s “It was decent entertainment” list.
1. Star Trek Into Darkness: A decent film that was otherwise marred by J.J. Abrams and his secrecy bullshit. Lots hated on it, but it’s a Star Trek film and I had a good time with it. Never have seen the Enterprise under water so that was cool.
2. Fast & Furious 6: The high bar for this franchise was set with Fast Five and I was actually slightly disappointed that this one wasn’t as great as that one. It still had two moments that made me laugh at how silly they were.
3. A Good Day To Die Hard: Didn’t think I’d leave this one off did you? Pretty much universally hated I had a fine time seeing this film in the theater and it was filled with pretty much non-stop action.
4. Insidious: Chapter 2: Good scares and a good follow up to a very great first film. The old school spooky nature really kept my attention and got me liking it. I’m looking forward to the third film now.
5. The Purge: Lots hated this film, but after finally seeing it the other day I have to say that I enjoyed it. It has some major story problems but at its core it’s a home invasion film that while not up to par like The Strangers which was really well done, is still watchable and the concept can be used for many more sequels like the one that is already being made.
6. Texas Chainsaw (Massacre) 3D: I’ll be honest. Outside of the opening of the film this is a steaming pile of crap. I just put it in here because I found it to be really hilarious with all the stupidity on display.
Rene’s “eh” list.
1. The Conjuring: Some nice scares, but it felt very boring for the most part. It did turn into Amityville II: The Possession at the end, but that was also too little too late.
2. Hatchet III: If it wasn’t for the cool gore, Sid Haig, and the rest of the horror actors that turned up I would have put this on my shitlist. The movie is essentially an 81 minute extended ending to Hatchet II which was pretty damn great. I was expecting a lot more from this one.
1. Evil Dead remake: Fuck this stupid useless remake. So much potential squandered with a boring cast save for Lou Taylor Pucci who is the only one who looks and acts the part for a film like this. They took a simple plot and over complicated it with too much backstory.