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“A heart that sighs has not what it desires” – Even More Films of 2008

My film watching has slowed considerably of late, but those films that I have seen since mid-to-late January have been unusually good (give or take the odd bad apple). Here, take a peak:

Beerfest 2 / 5
The problem with Beerfest (and Broken Lizard in general) is, in my opinion, Super Troopers. If you start your comedy career creating a cult-classic, pretty much everything else you do is going to have to either live up to that or be better. The chances of that are obviously pretty slim, and with Beerfest they were way off. It could have been an enjoyable film – the premise sets the scene for a great no-brainer comedy and there’s enough of a storyline to keep you watching – if only for the next ‘joke’. However, I think Ty Burr from The Boston Globe said it best: “Making a comedy that celebrates binge drinking and cretinous behavior isn’t a crime against nature. Making one that’s as brutally unfunny as ‘Beerfest’ is.

Knocked Up 3 / 5
Not your typical straight-laced comedy, Knocked Up definitely doesn’t fit into the ‘teen movie’ genre, even though it comes from the same team that wrote and produced Superbad and The 40-Year-Old Virgin. In my opinion it’s midway between both of these films; nowhere near as funny and witty as the former and (thankfully) not as base as the latter. It reminds me of Melinda and Melinda – but a more male-centric version.

Sunshine (2007) 3.5 / 5
One of the most impressive science fiction films I’ve had the pleasure to watch in a long time.
You can tell it comes from the pen of Alex Garland (The Beach) and was created under the direction of Danny Boyle (Trainspotting and 28 Days Later) – and they are both definitely good things. The problem with it, though? I think the ending was completely unnecessary.

The Simpsons Movie 2.5 / 5
Blasphemous, I know – but in my opinion The Simpsons definitely didn’t translate well to the big screen. I would have much preferred to have created a 90 minute playlist of my favourite episodes and watch them all consecutively. It’s not that it was bad; it was disappointing because I was expecting great things.

Juno 4.5 / 5
At first I couldn’t think of a single reason not to give this film five stars – it’s an incredibly beautiful and hip comedy/drama. With an amazing cast astonishing in their idiosyncratic youth; cinematography that’s as funky as hell; and with a flawless script to boot (the dialogue’s intelligent, quirky, and ever quotable), Juno was a pleasure to watch. However, I always reserve an entire star to be given on the basis of whether or not I think about the film days, weeks, or even months later. With Juno, I told people it was awesome, but a week or so later I stopped thinking about it: for that it gets half a star taken off. I’ll be watching it again though – it’s too human not too.

10 Items or Less 3.5 / 5
Everything I could say about this film has already been said perfectly on Metacritic. To save you a couple of clicks, here are a few choice critical quotes:
Ty Burr, Boston Globe: “10 Items or Less is nearly an acting class exercise.
Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader: “An amiable demonstration of how two charismatic actors and a relaxed writer-director can squeeze an enjoyable movie out of practically nothing.
Ruthe Stein, San Francisco Chronicle: “Proceeds at that pace to an ending that is as inevitable as it is poignant.

Away From Her 4.5 / 5
As the feature debut of a 28-year-old, Away From Her is an incredible achievement. I could list a thousand adjectives describing this film: beautiful; haunting; unafraid; comforting; the list goes on. This film of love lost – and love found – is a poignant reminder of how fragile the human spirit is and the sacrifices we will all – at some point in our life – have to make. It shows that letting go is the hardest thing to do, but a necessary step, nonetheless.

Me and You and Everyone We Know 4 / 5
Damn, Miranda July is so cool! Billed as “a poetic and penetrating observation of how people struggle to connect with one another in an isolating and contemporary world“, Me and You has triggered something in me – it has made me realise how fragile relationships can be. I’m taking drastic steps because of this film – you’ll see… in a couple of days.

Thank You for Smoking 4.5 / 5
A textbook example of critical thinking, perfect retorts, negotiation, spin, and satirical dark comedy. Smoking is a hilarious look at the life of a tobacco lobbyist. I loved this.

La Science des Rêves (The Science of Sleep) 4 / 5
Distinctly Gondry, this is one of those films that changes dramatically depending on your current ‘real life’ circumstances (just like his previous feature, Eternal Sunshine). In that vein, I think I was at the perfect time of my life for The Science of Sleep when I saw it for the first time about a month ago (as I was when I saw Eternal Sunshine just over a year ago).
Gael García Bernal (Amores perros and The Motorcycle Diaries) does a great job portraying a young man whose dreams are greater, more fun, and happier than his less-than-perfect reality.
Finally – like Juno – it is ever quotable, and I leave you with a few of my favourites (in addition to this post’s title):
In dreams, emotions are overwhelming.
Things will turn out the way you want, if you just stop doubting that I love you.
You have a serious problem of distorting reality. You could sleep with the entire planet and still feel rejected.
‘The Goat on the Cliff’, remember?
This girl is at once all the women that broke my heart. She is so beautiful and generous, and she’s asking me to leave… because she is dumping me. She’s dumping me because I am a cheap drug dealer, and I am a drug dealer because she wants to leave me. The police are going to get me now, this is all my fault.