Monthly Archives: December 2009

2009: The Movies

This year I decided that rather than just write a top ten list, I’d list every 2009 movie I saw during the year and rank them from best to worst. The total- adding up press screenings, recreational trips to the theater, Netflix and DVD rentals, etc.- is 83, assuming I didn’t forget anything. Meanwhile, there were more than 200 2009 releases that I didn’t see.
My year-end top ten list, with commentary on each one, will be published in The Trend next week.
Speaking of lists, I’m happy not to be on this one. Happy new year everyone!
1. Up in the Air
2. Up
3. A Serious Man
4. The Hurt Locker
5. Where the WIld Things Are
6. In the Loop
7. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
8. Fantastic Mr. Fox
9. (500) Days of Summer
10. World’s Greatest Dad
11. The Informant!
12. Star Trek
13. Avatar
14. Precious: Based on the Novel Push By Sapphire
15. Adventureland
16. Anvil: The Story of Anvil
17. The Hangover
18. District 9
19. Duplicity
20. Me and Orson Welles
21. Two Lovers
22. Whip It
23. Invictus
24. The Girlfriend Experience
25. Observe and Report
26. The Blind Side
27. An Education
28. Extract
29. Tyson
30. Sugar
31. I Love You, Man
32. Taken
33. The Proposal
34. Zombieland
35. Outrage
36. Funny People
37. Inglourious Basterds
38. Julie and Julia
39. Notorious
40. Whatever Works
41. Taking Woodstock
42. The International
43. The Brothers Bloom
44. He’s Just Not That Into You
45. Public Enemies
46. Away We Go
47. Jennifer’s Body
48. State of Play
49. Gomorrah
50. Knowing
51. Drag Me to Hell
52. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
53. Angels & Demons
54. It’s Complicated
55. New World Order
56. Couples Retreat
57. Watchmen
58. Humpday
59. The Great Buck Howard
60. Cold Souls
61. The Soloist
62. Hannah Montana: The Movie
63. The Invention of Lying
64. Sunshine Cleaning
65. Fast & Furious
66. Everybody’s Fine
67. Monsters vs. Aliens
68. Taking of Pelham 123
69. I Love You Beth Cooper
70. Sherlock Holmes
71. The Twilight Saga: New Moon
72. Bruno
73. Confessions of a Shopaholic
74. Obsessed
75. The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard
76. Big Fan
77. Fame
78. Bride Wars
79. The Ugly Truth
80. New in Town
81. Michael Jackson’s This is It
82. Paper Heart
83. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Film Critic Quote of the Week

Mick LaSalle of Hearst, on “Sherlock Holmes”:

Guy Ritchie is the worst screenwriter in the world, but, to be fair, he is not the worst director. He is only the worst director of the people who actually get to make movies. As we speak, there are human beings walking the Earth — perhaps as many as a half dozen of them — with less directorial talent, but they’ve been safely diverted into other activities.

The Vikings’ Shame

Ugh, what a disaster last night, as the Vikings lost their third out of four, dropping an overtime game to the Bears.
It looks pretty clear that this team, which looked for three months like a Super Bowl contender, peaked a month too early. They lost the heart-and-soul of their defense (E.J. Henderson), their offensive line can’t play anymore, Adrian Peterson’s fumbles have started to get ridiculous, and the offense and defense are both capable of shutting down completely and without warning.
Sure, Favre looked good, even leading a fourth-quarter comeback to tie the game, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the mistakes, including a missed extra point that ended up being the difference in the game.
So now they need to both win on Sunday and hope for the Eagles to lose to Dallas in order to keep the #2 seed, which has looked inevitable since about Week 3. They’ll beat the Giants, but I wouldn’t count on the Eagles ending their six-game winning streak* against Wade Phillips and Tony Romo. And if Favre has to go on the road in January… forget about it.
At any rate, it’s going to be fun having opposite rooting interests from both my wife and my entire city for the next week. Then I get to do it again two weeks later when they probably play each other in the playoffs…
*Cataldi and the rest of the Anti-Eagles Media Movement are now officially just as wrong about the Eagles this year as Bill Kristol was about the war in Iraq. Didn’t Angelo write columns predicting the Eagles would win seven games, and that there’d be a McNabb/Vick quarterback controversy?

Movie Review Roundup

“It’s Complicated.” Here’s my full review on The usual Nancy Meyers middle-aged woman wish fulfillment, although it has its moments, especially due to a herculean performance by Alec Baldwin.
“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ By Sapphire”– This is a movie that touches on, literally, every bad thing in the world: rape, incest, poverty, child abuse, teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, urban hopelessness, illiteracy and welfare fraud; only the period setting keeps out 9/11 and the Holocaust. (The above list doubles as likely material for Sarah Silverman’s next comedy routine.) But the originality of the premise and the powerful performances are quite impressive.
The most shocking thing about it: Mo’Nique, who two years ago was the host of “Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School,” is going to win an Oscar.
The movie also provides us with the best keywords ever, published along with Armond White’s review: oprahpreciousblacktylerperrywinfreyleedanielsitsmoniquelennykravitzrapedmolestedbeatensexfried chickenpigs feetbirthnationkkkku klux klanhalleberrymonstersballincestmariahcareypedophilia
“Sherlock Holmes.” What an abominable film- Holmes and Watson dropped into a rejected Dan Brown novel. An insipid plot- based on none of the 60-some canonical Arthur Conan Doyle stories- and ugly visual style drown out a pretty damn good performance by Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes.
“New World Order.” A documentary that takes the inane rumblings of radio/Interet nut Alex Jones and his various paranoid followers and pretty much takes them at face value. Sure, these sorts of subcultures can be interesting, but why couldn’t the film have challenged these people more?

Political Radio Moment of the Day

During a debate on Michael Smerconish’s show Tuesday (with a guest host whose name I don’t remember), callers were asked whether Israel would be justified in nuking Iran. One caller’s solution: the U.S. should solve the problem by nuking both Israel AND Iran. Always hilarious when talk show callers nonchalantly propose the deaths of tens of millions of people.

The Attempted Attack, In Perspective

Nate Silver, right as always:

Over the past decade, there have been, by my count, six attempted terrorist incidents on board a commercial airliner than landed in or departed from the United States: the four planes that were hijacked on 9/11, the shoe bomber incident in December 2001, and the NWA flight 253 incident on Christmas.
The Bureau of Transportation Statistics provides a wealth of statistical information on air traffic. For this exercise, I will look at both domestic flights within the US, and international flights whose origin or destination was within the United States. I will not look at flights that transported cargo and crew only. I will look at flights spanning the decade from October 1999 through September 2009 inclusive (the BTS does not yet have data available for the past couple of months).
Over the past decade, according to BTS, there have been 99,320,309 commercial airline departures that either originated or landed within the United States. Dividing by six, we get one terrorist incident per 16,553,385 departures.
These departures flew a collective 69,415,786,000 miles. That means there has been one terrorist incident per 11,569,297,667 mles flown. This distance is equivalent to 1,459,664 trips around the diameter of the Earth, 24,218 round trips to the Moon, or two round trips to Neptune.
Assuming an average airborne speed of 425 miles per hour, these airplanes were aloft for a total of 163,331,261 hours. Therefore, there has been one terrorist incident per 27,221,877 hours airborne. This can also be expressed as one incident per 1,134,245 days airborne, or one incident per 3,105 years airborne.
There were a total of 674 passengers, not counting crew or the terrorists themselves, on the flights on which these incidents occurred. By contrast, there have been 7,015,630,000 passenger enplanements over the past decade. Therefore, the odds of being on given departure which is the subject of a terrorist incident have been 1 in 10,408,947 over the past decade. By contrast, the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are about 1 in 500,000. This means that you could board 20 flights per year and still be less likely to be the subject of an attempted terrorist attack than to be struck by lightning.

I’m just upset that I’m going to have to wait in line for hours before I fly to Vegas next month, all for essentially no reason. I mean, the Nigerian guy last week didn’t even get on a plane in the U.S.